Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seven Essential Questions To Ask When Designing An Ad

This post was written for Women Wise Marketing blog by Nikki Matarasso of Blue Crane Design. All photos and images copyright to their respective owners.

Designing An Ad

This guest post on ad design is written by Nikki Matarasso, a graphic designer and marketing coordinator for Blue Crane Design.

Advertising is to design as a violin is to a bow. Just like it’s impossible to make good music without a bow, it’s almost impossible to have an effective advertisement without incorporating good design.

Good ad design can grab attention, focus that attention, and create action. Bad design will be overlooked entirely or create a negative impression.

So what are the most important things to think about when designing an advertisement? What should you avoid?

The Seven Questions For Good Graphic Design

To tell if your ad design is effective, ask yourself the following seven questions:

1. Does it lead your eye to the product? A good composition will bring the product front and center.

2. Do the colors fit the product and brand? Your color scheme can not only capture attention but trigger emotions. For example: red is often used for passion or anger, and blue for tranquility.

3. Is the space used effectively? Remember to leave some empty space for visual “breathing room.” No one likes a cluttered ad.

4. Is the font interesting? Does it fit with your product/image? Times New Roman may be great for Word documents, but it may not fit your product.

5. Does this advertisement fit with marketing previous campaigns? This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to look the same or have the same colors, it might just have a similar feel.

6. Does it appeal to your target demographic? If you’re marketing to middle-aged women, for example, hiring a hip-hop artist as your spokesperson probably isn’t the best choice. Similarly, your ad should be attractive and relevant to your target market.

7. Does it have a clear message? When designing your ad, you should have a clear “take away” message that will lead the viewer to a desired action: most commonly, a sale.

Remember: it’s better to have no advert than a bad advert. If you don’t feel confident in designing an ad yourself, it might be in your best interests to seek the help of a graphic design professional.

You may know good ad design when you see it. But that doesn’t make designing your own ads any easier. Here are some examples of great ad design with an explanation of how each one works, to set your creative gears in motion the next time you have to design an ad.

Focus Attention On The Product

Black And White Ad Design

One popular design technique is to make everything in your advertisement black and white, except for the product. This draws attention to the product.

(Check out the example at left: an ad for Victoria Beckham’s new fragrance, “Intimately Beckham for Her.”)

Similarly, some advertisements have everything but the product out of focus, or all the design elements pointing toward the product. These are all visual aids that direct attention to the product and reinforce the reason for the ad.

Consistency Is Key

Consistency is another key to successful ad design. Think about the advertising for Apple Computers. Each ad is different, but they all follow the same color scheme and theme. When you see one of the ads, you know it’s for an Apple product even before the logo appears.

Apple Silhouette

One advertisement doesn’t create a good brand image; that takes time and dedication. But by incorporating a few of the same elements into every ad design, you’ll build a strong foundation for a memorable brand.

Think Outside The Box

Birdseye Ad DesignOkay, the phrase has become a cliche in recent years. But unique design can really improve an ad’s success. Want proof? Check out this sign for Birdseye Fish Fillets.

Usually this sort of signage has plain posters, but the Birdseye version incorporates movement, bright colors, a clear message (their fish is so fresh, it’s practically still in the ocean!) and logo branding. As with the first two examples, the focus is on the product.

This clever design creates interest in the product and gets its message across. Its effectiveness is evident by the crowd that has gathered round to see how it worked. You can bet no other advertisement attracts this kind of crowd.

To Sum It Up

When designing any marketing material, have a clear vision of your message and the action you want customers to take. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new: it will likely make your ad more memorable.

If you need feedback, ask coworkers, friends, customers or even family members. Someone who isn’t as emotionally invested in your business will be able to provide a candid response and give you an impression of whether your ad’s message was understood, or if you need to go back to the drawing board.