The whole issue of the role of graphic design in advertising is something that generates endless discussion and argument.
To give you some clarity, this article takes a pragmatic view and comes back to basic PRINCIPLES. You can draw on these fundamentals when assessing your particular project.
Let’s look at four things good design can do to improve your advertisements.
1. Good graphic design attracts attention.
There is no doubt that a strong design element can get people’s attention, and it is a tool that should be used. We do it all the time.
When planning this however, make sure that the image you use:
- Attracts the right audience.
- Supports the message.
Let me give you an example of what NOT to do…
A while ago, there was a billboard campaign being run by a major charity in the health care sector. They do great work, with medical professionals who make home visits to the elderly and others who can’t get out of their home.
The billboard featured one of their vehicles, (a small sized 2-door) with some added striping and a shot that made it look like a racing car. From a technical perspective, it was beautifully done and would no doubt have gone onto the agency’s trophy wall.
The headline of the billboard talked about super fast/amazing speed.
It worked. It got my attention.
The REASON it got my attention was that I was in the market at the time for a new car! I saw it, paid attention, discovered it was about a home-nursing service — and dismissed it a nanosecond.
A friend of mine however, had an aged parent who was ill at the time and needed care. He drove past the thing every day on the way to work and didn’t even SEE it!
So, the great visual element successfully captured the WRONG market and completely missed the RIGHT market.
Don’t confuse “being clever” with being pragmatic. An image of an elderly person getting bedside assistance would have been FAR more effective. It may not cause a shiver of excitement in the art department — but it sure would have gotten the target market’s attention!
2. Good graphic design aids perception — by helping the reader to understand the offer
We have talked about the importance of the offer or ‘call to action’ in the past — and about ways to increase its perceived value so as to increase uptake.
In many cases, good design can make a SIGNIFICANT contribution to this. Your designer MUST seek out ways to add value with visuals, whether it is:
- An image of a product in action,
- A close-up of an element of an image or even
- The careful use of type.
A professional designer will have the habit of READING the advert, brochure or web page BEFORE they get started. They want to know what the main points are:
- What should be emphasised...
- What issues give our client a competitive advantage...
- Who we are targeting etc.
This may seem like a no-brainer. But you would be surprised at the number of designers who don’t do this. The desire to create ‘artwork’ is their driving motivation, when it SHOULD be the desire to create a ‘sales piece’.
Your designer should work with your copywriter to seek out opportunities to illustrate the key selling points of your offer — especially the BENEFITS people will get as a result of responding.
3. Good graphic design enables you to ‘sell’ more ‘sizzle’
When people send in material for our complimentary document review, they will often do so with their own assessment of its weaknesses.
And, right at the top of the list, is the statement “I know it is too busy with too much information”. Often, this is NOT the case. Mostly, the problem is poor use of type and design, which makes it LOOK busy and difficult to read.
Cutting out copy often means unnecessarily cutting out powerful benefits and reasons to buy — when in fact a good designer could have worked with the copy to make it look more appealing and still retained the message.
Be careful here!
When I say ‘worked with the copy to make it look more appealing’, I DON’T mean using weird fonts or shaping the paragraphs into elephants, giraffes or kangaroos. I mean basic, clean, common-practice typesetting — with sub-heads and captions to draw the eye and break the information into chunks.
Handled correctly, an all-text ad can work extremely well. For example, if you typeset a text-rich advert to mimic the editorial style of the newspaper or magazine, it can appear more credible. This makes it more persuasive to the reader.
Adding an illustration goes a long way to increase the appeal of your ad; provided it is relevant and makes a contribution to the message!
4. Good graphic design builds credibility
Winning the trust of people so they are willing to hand over their hard-earned dollars is one of the biggest challenges in marketing.
And this is one area where good graphic design makes a profound difference.
For example, when it comes to the use of images, our designers work closely with our writers, ESPECIALLY when it comes to selecting illustrations that will make people want to find out more about your product.
In some cases, they use photographs that show-off the product and glamorise it a little. At other times (for example when illustrating a case study) they may go for an image that shows some of the “raw” qualities of a real life situation (which lends authenticity to the case study).
Part of the skill of design is in knowing when and how to use images so that they complement the product and further the aims of the marketing material.
Get help and get it right!
Since the advent of desktop publishing technology, it seems that everyone thinks that they are a graphic designer pretty well from birth. After all, it really is just a matter of pointing and clicking. Isn’t it?
Nope. It isn’t.
Good designers who think COMMERCIALLY will make an important contribution to your success, helping you to make the most of every advert, brochure, web page, Powerpoint or poster.
Looking for professional graphic designers to take your advertising to the next level?
We'd love to help you to grow your business, and you can be sure we will take a genuine interest in you, your ideas, your objectives and your challenges. So get in touch with us today by arranging a no-obligation chat about your graphic design and marketing needs.