Minimalism. It’s everywhere. From our homes to our offices, the art of purposeful simplicity has gained a lot of attention over recent years. Not without good reason, either. Minimalism provides elegant, satisfying, effortless solutions to our every day problems.  

And when it comes to minimalist graphic design, we can see that less really is more, and simplicity reigns supreme. 

In essence, minimalism is about stripping away unnecessary elements, leaving nothing but the bare (but essential) bones. In a design sense, it’s about finding the meaning and heart of the visual message you’re communicating. 

By thoughtfully and creatively taking away the excess, we’re allowing the most important elements to come forward. But minimalism isn’t just about doing less, it’s about doing more with less. Just like with anything else, there’s an art to it. So in this post we’re going to look at how minimalist design works, and how it can be used for effective branding and marketing. 

Utilise white space

White space is an incredibly effective tool for creating a sense of minimalism in design. 

It provides a stark focal point, highlighting whatever visual elements are present, and lends a feeling of simplicity to the overall aesthetic. 

White space helps to create a balanced and crisp aesthetic, which makes the visual message easier to comprehend. It also directs and focusses your audience’s attention on the core imagery. Because there’s no clutter, there’s no confusion, so it provides space for your core message to come through without obstruction.

Colours: harmonise and minimise

One of the surest paths to cluttered design is the overuse of colour. To keep things simple, it’s always a good idea to restrict your colour palette

Many minimalistic designs tend to stick with the classic black-and-white combination, which is of course the ultimate in visual minimalism. But it’s not essential for achieving simplistic harmony. Brands like Deliveroo, McDonald’s, and the National Trust all employ limited yet colourful designs.   

A great approach is to select no more than two colours to be used throughout your entire design. By sticking with two, you’ll find it much easier to create the kind of visual harmony that minimalistic design demands.

Choose clear fonts

Choosing suitable typography is another key to successful minimalistic design. And if we think of minimalism (at least from a design perspective) as trying to achieve the most comprehension from the fewest visual elements, it becomes clear why.

When we create simplistic designs, we want them to exude clarity and a sense of ease. One way of achieving this is through using clear and uncomplicated fonts. Simply put, too many loops and flourishes risk complicating the image and making the words more difficult to read

When selecting fonts for a minimal effect, make sure they’re an easy-to-read size, with a good amount of line spacing. Both serif and sans serif can work fine, although sans serif might have a slight edge when it comes to readability.

Don’t forget that with fewer visual elements to compliment it, your text will play a much more vital aesthetic role. It will become a bigger part of the overall design, and so it needs to compliment the minimalistic style. 

Keep it simple and get to the point

Minimalist design is strict design. There’s no room in the minimal space for bells and whistles. As William Faulkner once said, “You must kill all your darlings”. And though he may have been talking about writing, the same principle also applies to graphic design.

With creative projects it’s easy to let the imagination run wild, and whilst that’s often a good thing, it needs to be tempered when our aim is minimalism. Make it your goal to communicate the message as efficiently and elegantly as possible. With this in mind, you can take an objective look at your ideas and cut away the ones that don’t speak to the design’s core message. 

Just remember KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It won’t steer you wrong. 

Roll out the icons

If a picture says a thousand words, an icon says at least ten. Icons are excellent tools for the minimalist designer. They’re simple communication symbols that help to reduce the space required to convey messages. 

Icons can serve as useful visual guides and add satisfying aesthetic pops to your designs, all whilst reducing the amount of text required. Just remember to use them sparingly, and try to create a sense of symmetry if you’re going to be including several icons in the same design.  

Less is more

For more on minimalism in design, take a look at The Hidden Advantages Of Minimalist Advertising. Or, for some stripped-down inspiration, see 8 Minimalist Print Ads That Show Why Less Is More.