Why is it we remember certain designs or messages, even if the campaign or product is no longer in existence? There are several contributing factors to a successful messaging, but the measure of true success is retention. Certain brands have become iconic and are recognized just by the silhouette of their product (e.g. Apple®, Coca- Cola® and the Volkswagen Beetle). Here are five essential elements to consider when it comes to developing a visual campaign, drafting your copy and delivering your message whether in print or online:
Ever think about where your eye goes to first when presented with a piece of reading material? Odds are it doesn’t follow a chronological order, but rather is drawn to various pieces of the article before making its way through the rest of the piece. Thoughtful/intentional layout will cause a reader’s eye to follow a predetermined path to your call of action, or to whichever path you’d like them to see first. Marketers have more control over how consumers read advertisements or articles/messages than previously thought, so taking advantage of this through strategic positioning and design layout is key.
2. White space
Convincing copy and visuals are vital to creating an effective message–too much or too little can have an enormous impact (positive or negative) on the consumer. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram everything about your company/brand into one page, small ad or copy area. Brevity and short body copy is desirable. Think like an editor; become an editor. White space gives the reader a break from stimulation and a chance to absorb your message. White space is your friend.
Studies show that readers are more likely to read entire articles if the text is broken up by short paragraphs rather than presented in large chunks of copy. Body copy is an essential tool in crafting an effective message. This is the time to talk about what differentiates you from your competition, or to let the consumer know who you are. Your body copy can include studies, descriptions of your product lines and what your competitor’s don’t do in creative layouts and segmented chunks of information. Your message should should follow a logical progression (e.g. headline, main visual, sub-headline, body copy, and call to action) but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try to mix it up with your design in order to move your audience into new areas and pockets of information.
Visuals are a must in any message; knowing how many and where to place them is an art itself. Visuals aren’t just limited to graphs, charts, images or logos. Text can be utilized as a visual as well (e.g. listing copy in bullet or numerical). Even using visuals to play against the headline will provoke the reader to take a second look. Anything you can do to show examples of what you’re talking about helps to break up the copy and provide the reader with some breathing room, so to speak, when it comes to reading. Color is another essential aspect to be taken into consideration for print and online messages. Think about where your message will be seen and which colors make the most sense (e.g. you don’t want an online message to be set up on a dark background using dark typeface). Think about the effects of color as well; they can evoke and trigger strong emotions with your audience.
5. Call to action
Success! You’ve gotten your reader to stay engaged all the way to your call to action. Now, what do you want them to do? This is your last chance to convince your on-the-fence potential consumers, offer additional education and information or give your readers an incentive. Design a clear and concise call to action and, at the very least, make sure your contact information is legible and easy to find. Getting too off-the-wall creative when it comes to your final message or contact information make it hard for your audience to find you and follow through with that call to action you so succinctly crafted.
Want one last piece of advice? Even though Coco Chanel was a fashion designer, she did impart a vital ritual anyone can apply. Before you send it to the printer or coder, take a moment to look it over from the consumer’s perspective and remove one thing. If you think an important piece of information was removed during your editing process, encourage or direct your audience as to where they can find it on their own time (e.g. websites, blogs, social media, etc.). Keep it simple, clear and direct.