Our agency, like most others, has our secret arsenal of design tools and resources that we utilize to produce great work. Unlike the other agencies, we are going to reveal our favorite tools and resources to empower marketing teams and other designers alike to create great pieces.
Before we get started, you may be wondering, why on earth would a design agency share trade secrets? The answer is simple. Our clients pay us for our thinking, process, and expertise. Execution of these projects (where these tools come in handy) is only a small fraction of what we do—a fraction that we are happy to empower others to try for themselves when possible.
Let’s get started!
Stock photography is a great way to visually aid the message you are trying to share with your audience. When you don’t have original, high-quality photos to use, there are many libraries of royalty-free photos on the web waiting to be used!
Our Favorite Stock Photo Libraries:
Pexels has been a longtime favorite of ours! This massive library of free photography can cover nearly all of your stock photo needs. The only catch: a lot of people use it. If you’re not careful, you’ll find the same photo you chose for your website on other websites across the internet. My advice: select a top search result on their site, and then browse related images to find lesser-used images. Pexels’ hidden super power: it has free video content too!
Unsplash (Free and Paid Options)
Unsplash is very similar to Pexels and even has many of the same assets. Typically my second option due to its lack of video content, this is still a fantastic resource that you should utilize as needed.
Adobe Stock (Paid) (Full Circle is a contributor)
As far as quality and quantity go, Adobe Stock is the winner! The only downside is that it isn’t very affordable for many projects, and tends to cut sharply into project budgets. Depending on the quantity of photos you will need, you might want to just hire a photographer and capture original photos.
Mockups help you contextualize your designs by applying them to real devices, stationery, and signage to name a few items. This helps bridge the gap between concept and completion when presenting ideas to your clients, and even your boss.
Our Favorite Mockup Libraries:
is.graphics (Free and Paid Options)
These stunning device and print mockups look like they came from Apple itself. They offer free mockup templates, but for ~$100/year you get access to their entire library of assets. Totally worth it! My favorite assets are the Adobe After Effects device mockups—they are incredible!
Mockup World (Free and Paid Assets)
Mockup World has a huge library of great assets, most of which are free! These come from a variety of sources, unlike is.graphics, making it a little harder to achieve a consistent aesthetic across multiple assets. While Mockup World is a more introductory-level library, it is very useful and has a larger variety of assets than its competitors.
Typography is the foundation of all graphic design and marketing projects. Having good font libraries is absolutely essential to a successful project, whether digital, print or mixed media.
Our Favorite Type Libraries:
Adobe Fonts (Paid)
Adobe Fonts is hands-down the winner of online font libraries. Its extensive lists are easy to browse and filter by style, weight, contrast, and other characteristics—all licensed for Adobe users to utilize on their projects. The only downside: your clients may not have Adobe, either requiring them to purchase a license for the font directly from the foundry or finding an alternative look-alike (not usually recommended).
Google Fonts (Free)
This is our second favorite font library. Full of great fonts and similar sorting functions as Adobe Fonts, this is a great resource for clients who don’t have an Adobe account and also don’t want to purchase licenses from the font foundries. We use this for exactly those cases and it has never steered us wrong!
Font Squirrel (Free)
Font Squirrel is another good free resource for downloading fonts. This site’s library, while a little limited compared to its competitors’, is still very useful when choosing free fonts for clients to use without additional licenses or subscriptions. We have certainly discovered great fonts for agency projects on this site!
Fonts.com is a reputable online font store. There are no subscriptions so all products must be purchased individually which makes this option a bit pricey if you have to buy a lot of weights and styles—especially because web licenses are purchased separately. I reserve this option for clients who have a larger budget and don’t mind purchasing additional licenses.
It is likely that if you are working with videos and motion graphics that you will need good audio, loops, and sound effects. These audible elements will help bring your content to life and engage viewers by giving them a more sensory experience.
Our Favorite Audio/Loops Libraries:
YouTube Studio (Free)
This audio library has a lot of good, free audio for video content and motion graphics. We have used audio from YouTube’s library for even a few high-visibility projects. While this is a great and convenient tool, you do have to do a little digging to find something that matches your desired genre and vibe.
Adobe Stock (Paid)
Adobe Stock has more to offer than just photos! We use audio from Adobe Stock for videos fairly often as it has plenty of high-quality options to choose from. We tend use chillwave LoFi audio for B-roll videos.
Logic Pro X (Paid)
This is only an option if you are a musician—but, you can dip into a massive library of audio and loops and piece them together to achieve the exact audio you want to match with your visual aesthetic. This will require at least a basic understanding of time and key signatures, but, if you have this knowledge and time, Logic Pro X is a great tool to have at your disposal.