If you own a business, chances are you'll need to write a proposal sooner or later. A great proposal can mean all the difference between landing a partnership, closing a deal or securing the necessary funding for your business.
While the content of your proposal is important, so is the business proposal design. No matter how logical and compelling your proposal is, if it looks bad, it'll probably wind up in the reject pile. Don’t let that happen to you.
In this post, we’ve gathered the best business proposal design examples and tips that'll help you make better proposals in 2019 and beyond. Learn how to make a business proposal that'll help close deals.
1. Create an Engaging Cover
Our first tip for how to make a proposal is to create an engaging cover for your proposal. While there's nothing wrong with a solid color cover paired with your business name and logo, you can make a better impression by adding an interesting photo. This could be a photo of you, your business or a photo that represents the project that the proposal is for.
Consider how this business proposal template uses a photo that would be a great way to put a person behind a company name and give it a more personal touch.
2. Stick to Your Brand Guidelines
Your brand guidelines exist for a reason. They tell you and everyone else in your company what fonts and colors visually represent your brand and how they should be used. Reusing your brand assets and sticking to your brand guidelines builds brand recognition and makes it easier to single out your proposal from others.
3. Don’t Omit Your Logo
As important it is to stick to your brand guidelines, so is including your logo on the proposal. This is yet another way to build brand recognition and make it easier for your proposal to stand out.
You can include your logo on the cover as well as on the inner pages. Consider adding it in the top right corner or in the top middle of every page.
4. Try a Minimalistic Approach
Consider adopting a minimalistic approach and keep the business proposal design elements to a minimum. Stick to one color for adding accents when necessary and use one or two fonts throughout the proposal.
Not only will this make it easier to focus on the important information, it'll also make your business proposal look more polished.
Take a look at this business proposal template that uses a minimalistic approach if you need some inspiration:
5. Avoid Clutter
Make sure each element in your proposal, whether it’s text, images, charts, or any other element, has enough white space around it. This will make your proposal look clean and easy to read.
You can use guides to make a visual representation of how far apart the elements should be as well as the margins around the edges of your pages.
6. Pay Attention to Your Fonts
Since a proposal is usually text-heavy, you’ll want to make sure the information is legible. Sticking to your brand fonts is important but if you’re not sure what they are, it’s best to err on the side of caution and use easy-to-read fonts.
However, be sure to add some hierarchy to your text by using a different font for headings or using a different weight of the font used in the body. This will make your proposal more visually appealing.
Take cues from this elegant business proposal with beautiful typography.
7. Use Photos
Bring your presentation to life by using photos throughout. There are several ways to make use of photos:
- to present your key stakeholders and team members
- if you need to showcase how the end product would look like
- to help illustrate the key milestones
- to showcase testimonials or past clients
The following proposal template is a great example of how you can use photos in your proposal to help you tell the story and showcase how the project will go.
8. Use Guides to Align Your Text and Elements
Using guides will help ensure your text and other elements are aligned in a visually pleasing way. It'll add balance and hierarchy to your business proposal design without making it feel too cluttered.
Consider the placement of the elements in this business proposal and adopt a similar approach:
9. Show Data With Charts or Infographic Elements
Using charts, graphs, and other infographic elements can help the client visualize data better. Use them to share important statistics or for cost estimations and budget considerations.
You can also use other visual aids such as icons or tables to help present and highlight important information in a more compelling way.
Take a look at this business proposal and how effectively charts can be used to represent data.
10. Incorporate Proof
Make your entire proposal more compelling and convincing by incorporating testimonials. Make them more noticeable by using a colored background around them or a border and don’t forget to include a photo of the person who gave you the testimonial.
For example, you could easily duplicate a page in your proposal that includes information about the company founder and use it to display testimonials:
11. Break Up Long Paragraphs
We mentioned earlier the importance of typography and how it’s crucial that your proposal is easy to ready. In line with that is this tip. Be sure to break up long paragraphs of text to make the information on the page easier to digest. You can also insert images between paragraphs to provide more context.
This business proposal is a great example of breaking up long paragraphs into shorter ones and using images to not only provide more context and make the proposal easier to read.
12. Use Shapes to Create Interesting Overlays
Get creative and make your proposal stand out by using shapes to create a visually appealing overlay. This is a great idea to incorporate on your cover or when you want to mark a new section in your proposal. However, you can also use these overlays on any page of your proposal.
If you need an example, take cues from this stunning business proposal template that makes creative use of the shapes on the cover page.
13. Experiment With Layout
Who says your business proposal has to be in the standard portrait layout? If you've got a lot of information to cover and you fear that your proposal will be too long, consider switching to landscape layout.
The benefit of using a landscape layout is that you'll be able to fit more information on one page. Another benefit is that not a lot of proposals will follow this format so it’s a good way to stand out.
14. Keep Contrast In Mind
Color can add visual interest to your proposal and make certain pages stand out. However, be sure to use colors carefully to ensure you maintain contrast between the colored background and the text.
For example, avoid using dark-colored text on a dark background as it'll be impossible to read it. Similarly, avoid using colors that are too similar or a lighter shade of the same color background. High contrasting colors and color pairs that follow the basic principle of light + dark color combinations work best.
15. Don’t Forget the CTA
You’ve spent all this time making a great proposal and now you’ve reached the end. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by not dedicating enough time to your call to action.
Each proposal should end with a clear next step that tells potential clients or partners what they should do to get the ball rolling. That’s why your call to action needs to be carefully designed. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- If there are multiple steps involved in getting the project started, use a numbered list to tell them what to do.
- Use clear language that doesn’t leave them guessing.
- Consider adding a colored background around your text to make your call to action stand out more or use a bold font to make it easily noticeable.
16. Use a Business Proposal Template to Save Time
Our last tip for how to make a proposal will help you save time designing your business proposal. Use a professionally designed business proposal template. The benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to start from scratch when it comes to designing your proposal.
There are plenty of business proposal templates available online that have the basic design layout and structure in place so all you really need to do is customize the template with your choice of fonts and colors.
By saving time on the design of your business proposal, you can focus more on the copy and the contents to ensure you cover all the bases and add all the necessary information that'll help you get a positive reply.
Where to Find Great Business Proposal Templates
Ready to take your business proposal design to the next level and save time in the process? Then you need to check out all the business proposal templates we've got available over on Envato Elements.
Envato Elements is a subscription-based marketplace full of design assets and templates such as business proposals, stock photos, fonts, and more. You can download as many items as you need and use them in an unlimited number of projects.
All of the templates and assets are included when you sign up for Envato Elements so be sure to take advantage of this low monthly price.
However, if you only need a single business proposal template and don’t need any other assets, you should stop by GraphicRiver. This marketplace lets you browse hundreds of business proposal templates and buy one template at a time.
Learn More About How to Create a Business Proposal
Now that you know where to find business proposal templates and you're armed with business proposal design tips that'll help you create a better business proposal, it’s time to take that knowledge to the next level.
Below, you'll find a few of our most popular tutorials about business proposals to help you learn how to make a good business proposal.
- How to Customize a Simple Business Proposal Template in MS WordLaura Spencer23 Dec 2015
- How to Write & Design a Winning Business Proposal in 2021Laura Spencer18 May 2021
- How to Charge Premium Prices and Write Winning ProposalsJoyce Akiko14 May 2023
Apply Pro Tips to Design a Better Business Proposal
Designing a better business proposal is possible once you've got the right tools and know the basic business proposal design principles that should be applied to your design. With the tips in this article, you'll be well on your way towards making a better business proposal.
And if you’re in a hurry and need a business proposal fast, don’t forget to stop by Envato Elements and check out our collection of beautiful and professional business proposal templates. Or, get a single business proposal template from GraphicRiver if you don’t need additional assets and downloads.