The world is full of marketing noise—and breaking through to catch the attention of your target audience is not always easy.
One of the more strategic ways you can do it is to adopt a minimalist approach to your marketing.
You might assume minimalist marketing would be ineffective, but done well it can set you well apart from your noisy competition.
In this article, we’ll show you how to create big impact, minimalist flyer designs for your own brand.
You’ll come across Canva flyer templates throughout this article. Clicking on these will open the template in your own Canva account, for you to customize and use in your next offline marketing campaign.
To know which ones are customizable Canva templates, look for the “Edit this design in Canva” caption.
You’re not restricted to working on a bright, white canvas when aiming to create a minimalist flyer. You make white space any color you like. The key lies in adding only what is essential to the page and avoiding busying negative space, whatever color it may be.
Designer Benjamin Puffer used both black and a beautiful blue to color the canvas of his flyer for his project, “A Freshman Survival Kit.” If white isn’t working for you, select any color you’d like to use as a solid background or, better yet, one of the colors in your Canva Brand Kit.
As you begin to place elements on a page, white space becomes active and speaks just as much as the words you are laying on it. Be mindful of how you are shaping white space and make sure it continues to work for you, not against you.
Consider Rubin’s vase, an optical illusion often used to showcase the power of white/negative space. In it, the negative space around the vase forms two faces. Let’s say Rubin was designing a flyer advertising a new line of vases and did not intend to create the two faces. The flyer would be a total flop if his audience saw only the faces.
Above, Emili Svensson does an awesome job of keeping white space neutral. It is working for her, helping her create a harmonious composition, and isn’t creating imagery that she did not purposefully shape.
Neglect the use of white space and you’ll wind up with a cluttered page. Use too much of it and the elements on your page will feel like they are lost in space and an unfinished feel. When shaping white space, you want to find a balance that makes your design feel “grounded” and purposeful.
You also want to balance your flyer’s layout, making sure the placement of your elements feel balanced and not like your page is about to topple over.
Consider the example above. In it, blue copy is set comfortably with enough white space around it to let it breathe. The different blocks of text are distributed in a manner that feels stable. If we divided the content of the page in 2 and placed them on a scale, both side of it would be level.
When defining colors for your minimalist flyer, shoot for no more than 3. When working on a minimalist piece, I like to stick to black, white, and one accent color.
In the example above, you’ll see a simple palette being used on a simple flyer for Fluechtlingsrat Berlin. Teal is used as a dominant color, black as supporting, and white for accents. If you’re still getting comfortable with color and minimalist, give the strategy a shot.
And I’m not talking about your layout–curate all the design elements you choose to use in your minimalist flyer and make sure they all are as simple as possible.
Estudio Puerca’s flyer for Pescado en Buenos Aires perfectly showcases my advice. Note how they’ve included only essential bits of information, have selected a clean typeface and gone with a single icon touching on the restaurant’s specialty: seafood.
Note also how the layout is pretty straightforward. They’ve used a simple grid to beautifully layout every element in the flyer.
We’ve said minimalist flyers are characterized by using only what’s needed and no more. Apply this also to your graphics, creating them with as few shapes as possible.
Check out the icons in Barthelemy Chalvet’s awesome flyer above, each created with just enough shapes to convey what they are but no extra detail.
Minimalism doesn’t have to static–I love how the graphics in the flyer above seem to have been tossed up in the air.
If you’re working strictly with graphics, consider arranging them in a manner that makes your minimalist flyer dynamic.
White space in the photographs you choose for your flyer should be considered just as much as the white space on within your layout.
Just as Madelyn Bilsborough did above, opt for stark photographs with interesting crops. At a quick glance, all the 3 images feel like minimal compositions created with clean, simple shapes.
At first, nailing a minimalist layout can be a daunting task. As you begin to work with the style, use a grid to organize your elements and balance out your compositions. Avoid breaking it as much as possible when you start out and begin to take chances after you have a few minimalist designs under your belt.
You can appreciate how a grid can also help you shape white space in the flyer by Empatia above. Notice how, by adhering to the grid, the text heavy bottom section feels masterfully set.
Check out the two flyer variations above. In both versions, the bottom section is covered in geometric shapes while the header is reserved for copy. Content is set in the same areas within the header, making the set feel cohesive.
With how easy printing is these days, I often make variations of flyers. They become super handy when whatever you are advertising on your flyer spans over a period of time. The consistent layout not only helps you share information pertinent to different dates, it also makes the set feel branded and cohesive.
You can easily create a minimalist piece by styling content according to its function. Above, for example, headers are bold and dates are set in a light weight. Not only will the differences in type weight help you add visual interest to you flyer, they’ll build hierarchy, making it easy for your audience to navigate information.
Keep in mind that it is also important to shape white space surrounding each letter as well. We kern large headings set in uppercase and add leading between lines in a paragraph, for example. Not only will it improve your copy’s aesthetics, it will make it easier for your audience to read.
Vidmantas Staniunas has increased the space between the letters, or kerning, in the words LORETA SVAIKAUSKIENÉ. The words breathe and match the contemporary feel of the art piece in the photograph.
Typography is a robust discipline and among the toughest to master. If you wish to learn more about letterspacing and all the ins and outs of type-setting, check out this article on the subject.
Envision the flyer above without the fine white linework. Not as striking, right? Small, simple details are often the difference between a bland stark piece and a minimalist one. Without the linework, the flyer would feel unfinished, lacking that special bit of “magic” characteristic of professional design.
Struggling to find a design solution for your minimalist flyer? Consider creating an abstract piece with solid color geometric shapes, as showcased above. Once you’re happy, add copy to the mix, and you’ll be golden.
If we look closely, we can break most objects up into geometric shapes. With a little time and observation, you’ll be able to create an abstraction for your flyer in no time.
If you’re struggling to come up with design elements or details, let your type be the star of your minimalist flyer. In the flyer above, Victor Luna used textured type alone to arrive at a modern solution.
To add sophisticated details to your flyer, explore different printing methods like letterpressing or foil stamping as Petr Kudlacek has done above. It is a simple way to add tasteful finishes to your flyer that will stick in your audience’s mind.
Big, bold, large copy on a solid background is a tried and true solution that can help you create an impactful flyer with just a few minutes. To better understand what I am typing about, check out the example above.
The key to this approach is carefully selecting the bit of copy you want to showcase on your flyer. So spend a few extra minutes with your copywriter nailing the perfect words.
This doesn’t necessarily mean between colors, like black and white. You can create contrast using different size text on your flyer or by varying the amount of content you’ve set in different areas of your layout.
I do love the high contrast minimalist flyer above, though. I especially enjoy how my eyes are prompted by the large arrows to navigate the piece from the bottom up, unlike most others.
It is common to think of minimalist pieces that feature muted colors in their design. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. If you brand color palette is made up of bright colors or a neon green, like the one in the example above suits your flyers purpose, give it a shot.
Remember, white space isn’t always white.
Finally, explore hidden relationships and the possibility to delight and surprise your audience. David TJ Powell does it excellently in his poster above.
"Less is more” is perhaps one of the most overused expressions in the world.
But it wouldn’t have endured the ravages of time and change if it wasn’t true. When you strip a design down to the essential message using purposeful graphic elements, you’ll have a meaningful communication material that gets your message across right off the bat. What’s more, a minimalist design will save you a lot of money come printing time.
You don’t even have to be able to gauge visual weight to do minimalism. Pick your favorite minimalist flyer template from our selection above and calculate your return on investment.