As creative software becomes more accessible through subscriptions such as Adobe Creative Cloud and online platforms like Canva, clients now have the power to create better looking materials to promote their ideas and services. While most Marcom professionals and savvy small business owners can tackle the technical side of communications capably, there’s a level of finesse that only comes from formal design training and years of practice. (This is where having experienced creative partners in your corner can make a major difference in branding and marketing impact.) But by applying some basic design principles to your presentations, proposals and social media posts, you can elevate your messages and your brand.  Here are five tips to help when you can’t hire a graphic designer. 1. Choose your color palette. Keep it to three colors, plus one or two lighter hues as backgrounds for sidebars (e.g. orange type in a cream sidebar). Select a dark color for legible type, a brighter color for headlines, and a medium color for subheads, pull quotes, etc. Keep in mind universal color meanings, too: red can be aggressive and signal stop or a warning; green is softer, optimistic and can indicate something is eco-friendly, etc.  One