I’ve been keeping track of my blog’s visitor statistics and my first post about newspaper ads is the most popular of any I’ve written, with an average of 15-20 views a day. It also is ranked high in search engines when searching for ‘how to make great advertisements.’
With that knowledge, I decided that I would write part two…
In part one, I talked about some reasons to be different, aesthetically. Here are a few more reasons, along with thoughts about the ad’s message.
- limit the amount of content you have. An ad should grab attention not inform the viewer of every single detail.
- Use only a few sentences, bullet points or short phrases. Similar to writing for the web, you want to give the viewer a break from the massive amount of content in the stories surrounding the ad.
- Aim your message at a targeted audience. Be sure your audience isn’t just all males or all females.. that’s way too broad. The broader your target audience the less effective your message becomes!
- Try to portray the uniqueness of your product/service that is being advertised.
- Steer clear from using most free fonts in the ad. They are generally very poorly designed, have poor default kerning, etc. There are some great free fonts out there, but be picky and be prepared to do a lot of work on your typography to fix the flaws.
- Be sure your ad is appropriate for where it is placed in the newspaper. Newspapers usually control this, but just in case… it’s probably not a good idea to put a beer ad next to the comics. Your kids will end up seeing that ad.
- Take advantage of the placement, if possible. If you know the page your ad will be on, try tying your message to the subject matter of the surrounding stories. Or ask if your ad can be placed near certain subjects/stories.
Some of these items apply to graphic design and advertising in general as well as newspaper advertising. Are there any other tips you would add?
I just received the book MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer by Hillman Curtis I skimmed through it and caught some insightful words:
A common mistake of designers is thinking of themselves only as visual communicators. We’re fortunate to speak the visual language fluently, but we also need to translate literal and thematic messages. In other words, we need to be bilingual. As a designer I need to listen and ask questions… …without (that), I’m as good as blind.
I’ve talked a lot lately about branding myself as a designer, so it was nice to hear what Hillman had to say about it. I came across the part where the author talks about designing his design firm’s website (hillmancurtis inc.) Hillman had some insightful words:
My thought was to design something bold and cutting-edge, so I studied the work of my peers: designers who I thought were doing new and exciting work. Still nothing was working. The designs I turned out fell flat, and every night I went home empty and depressed.
He goes on to say that his wife told him about a poetry conference she went to at which C.K. Williams said that when he’s creatively blocked, he falls in love with a master. He looks back to those who perfected their craft and takes cues from their mastery. For designers, that might be Paul Rand, Saul Bass and many others.
Who are you looking back to, that perfected their craft?
Posters should have a definite style or brand yet carry that style out with minimal content. Here are few posters I’ve designed in the past.
This was created in conjunction with a pamphlet that targeted the idea that finding WMD was a slam dunk case. And yes, the CIA director actually said that. I put statistics of the war and came up with the tag “Not Quite a Slam Dunk” This was intended to have a David Carson feel, with the typography… I’ve realized I’m not the “experimental typography” sort of person.
I created this poster for my senior portfolio, along with a CD design, website and bar coasters. I drew the guitar in Illustrator and then finished it in Photoshop. Check out Paul’s music at Myspace.
For an ongoing freelance job for Meadow Heights Church. This concept started out as a small web ad and later became this 11×17 poster.
Do you need a poster designed?
If you are looking for someone to help you design a poster or anything (business card, brochure, website, logo, etc). I’m your man. You can get in contact with me and I’ll create something meaningful and awesome for you next project.
I don’t know too much about logo design, since I focus most of my time with magazine design and web design, although I will try to list some things I’ve learned.
- …are distinctive
- …are visible
- …are usable
- …are memorable
- …are universal
- …are durable
- …are timeless
- …do not sell, only identifies.
- …derives its meaning from the quality of what it symbolizes
Here are a two of my more successful logos. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on branding/logo design. Leave me a comment!
Here are a few of the blogs I follow that give me inspiration, knowledge and cool design resources.
- Design View / Andy Rutledge
This guy always has some great thoughts about web design and web standards. His personal portfolio is pretty amazing too!
- CSS Newbie
Very cool website that has some useful resources for web design, programming and CSS. This guy actually works in the IT Department where I’m interning – August Home.
- Creative Curio
This gal writes pretty interesting stuff about graphic design. If you are looking for web design info, you’re in the wrong place here, but there are great tutorials for the Adobe Suite.
- Just Creative Design
This dude is three years younger than I am but blogs about some pretty interesting stuff. His blog is similar to mine, in that we are both in college and blogging about our experience doing freelance work and about we are currently learning. He is a little different than I am, because he actively searches for freelance work, via his website, while I never search for work and yet it still finds me. He seems to have more of a business and a central website for his blog/website/portfolio, while I keep mine separate for various reasons. I should take some cues from his overal model though!
- Seth’s Blog
He isn’t a designer but is certainly relavant to designers. Seth blogs mostly about common sense business and marketing practices. His posts are eye-openers for me.
- Tom’s MAD Blog
Tom is an illustrator for MAD Magazine. He does some pretty cool caracatures and has great thoughts about the design process. He has some cool video tutorials on illustrating with a tablet and Photoshop.
Do you have a cool web design/graphic design blog you follow? Let me know about it.
Psychographics – the use of demographics to determine the attitudes and tastes of a particular segment of a population, as in marketing studies.
I was watching a video about a viral marketing campaign from BMW and Jack Pitney, VP of Marketing at BMW said something pretty cool. He said that BMW targets an audience based on psychographics rather than demographics.
“What kind of mindset do we think this vehicle will really resonate with?”
That’s different than most people who might ask, “What age group is our target audience.”
That title isn’t meant to be sarcastic either. I love that the design of Obama’s latest podium front has made the news. Finally, political campaigns are setting a standard in the design world, instead of being the worst of the worst when it comes to design. Obama’s website is the best designed, most standards-compliant and user friendly of any presidential candidate’s website in history (the last two elections). His overall brand is also a cut-above. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that obama’s circle logo resembles a corn field and sunset. Afterall, he did start this campaign in Iowa, the corn state… where he won big. The first time I saw the Obama circle logo was on a large yard sign in Iowa City and directly behind the sign were corn fields.. very interesting.
I think it’s hilarious that people are getting worked up about great marketing and design. We also got worked up about McCain’s lack of great design and color choice – the use of a green backdrop. One design choice was well made and one wasn’t.
The Obama seal is a clever way to brand Obama as a presidential candidate. There were no copyright laws broken. If you look closely, the eagle’s are totally different renderings, the colors and font choices are different. It also doesn’t say “President of the United States”, It says “Obama FOR President”. The repetitive stars also weren’t used from the presidential seal… that’s more than can be said about McCain’s website and its overuse of stars. I think Obama’s designers need to be hired to redesign the white house website, government websites and heck why not the presidential seal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with beautifull design in a political campaign.
McCain seems to have taken notice of how awesome Obama’s website design was and revamped his whole website a few months ago… before then he had no direct links to his social networking profiles (bad choice to leave this out – maybe that’s why mccain has 9 times fewer facebook supporters than obama who has over a million) I spent the semester researching the presidential candidate’s websites and how to reach young voters with them. I focused on McCain and getting him the young vote through a “students for mccain” website.
Lastly, I think Obama’s website and overall branding resembles who he is: hopeful, ready for change, different than usual. His website resembles these phrases through his color scheme (not typical red/white/blue), spotlight effect with white highlights around the edge of the page and around photos of people, great typography and attention to detail with his pages for states and people groups (he uses imagery specific to each state and people group). His logo area of the website is very clever – using a photo of him looking up, in a hopeful manner.
What are your thoughts?
“Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.”
I watched the second episode of the new series of HGTV’s Design Star. I like watching these sort of shows that redesign rooms in your house, because it’s fun to see the overlap that interior design has with graphic design.
I caught the last few minutes of the season premiere and contestant Michael Stribling said something cool. He was asked what his design style was. He said, “Whatever my client wants” He got blank stares from the judges.
But isn’t that what it’s all about?
Meeting the client’s needs while at the same time creating something you are proud to put in your portfolio. That’s the number one difficulty when working with clients: giving the client what they want while making great design (because we all know that clients will go for bad design, if you let them).