Stay consistent with your brand
As mentioned in the branding tips section of this site, staying consistent with yur brand is essential for maximising the impact of your promotional material in the wider context of your campaign. This is not to say that you have to do the exact same thing over and over again, but more that you should make sure that whatever you do conforms to the general style of what you have done before.
Don’t be afraid to evolve but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water when making changes to your message.
Empty space is not your enemy!
One of the most common misconceptions about graphic design is the notion that empty space serves no useful function. In reality it can be crucial to ensuring that people see what you want them to see as it can help guide their eye to important content, or it can allow space for text to ‘breathe’ which helps with legibility and thus getting your point across.
When designing an ad for a billboard, it is very important to remember that the majority of your audience will either be drivers or passengers in moving cars. This gives them a fraction of a second to view your ad. This does not mean that the ad will have no effect – far from it – but it does have an impact on how the ad should be designed in order to maximise its effect.
You’ll need a good copywriter. With such little time to get your message across you need to make your point in an extremely succinct and punchy way, so make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing here. You also want a strong image, so whether that’s a sharp, clean photo relating to what you do which makes you look good or a good illustration, make sure it all contributes to a strong message that has impact.
Your customers have more time to read an ad in print, but that does not necessarily mean that they will. Interestingly, a researcher by the name of J. Laufer found that people were more likely to remember an ad with less text in it than they are to remember one with a lot.
In this way, once again you want a punchy message and a good artworker who can create an image that people can associate with what you do so they remember you when it comes to the point of making a decision whether to buy or not.
If you have an unfamiliar product that requires explanation and so have to have a fair amount of text, then you are best to describe the product in an anecdotal way or with a diagram, rather than with bullet points as these are more effective ways to get a point across.
The size of the ad is also important. A study by Werner Kroeber-Riel of the University of Saarland in Germany found that people will view a double page spread for an average of 2.8 seconds, while a half page ad or less was viewed for just over half a second. For this reason, it’s worth investing in a larger ad if you can.
With brochures and leaflets, legibility is key. Make sure that your typography is clean. Remember that bigger will not necessarily have more impact. When walking through a forest to you stop and notice every tree because it is big? Or are you more likely to notice a tree standing by itself because there is a lot of space around it?
In the same way it’s worth keeping text to a tasteful size that is relevant to your target market. By all means use large body text if you are aiming something at children or people with poor eyesight, but 10pt text is usually a comfortable size to get information across.
Also, as described above with regards to press ads, complex ideas are more effectively described with diagrams and as part of anecdotes that enable people to fit these ideas into the bigger picture of what they already know.
Know your market
At the end of the day, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to promoting yourself for the simple reason that all target markets are drastically different, have different tastes and are looking for different things. The best way to deal with this is to make sure that research has been done on your audience, what they are looking for, and also to pay attention to what your competitors are doing and to find out what’s working or going wrong for them.
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For more tips on promoting yourself more effectively, check out our Media Masterclass articles.