Both the Studio 22 office and my home are in a small rural town in the hills of Central Maryland. Aside from our news channels, you’d never guess that we’re only an hour north of DC, and an hour west of Baltimore. Things move at a slower pace here – and that’s just how we like it.
One recent day while running errands, I passed a sign near the road. It was a small, hand written one on a stick that read: DOG FOUND. It had an arrow on it, pointing down a side road to a single house.
All the way back to the office, I smiled, reveling in the powerful simplicity of the communication. As a “professional communicator” my first reaction was: YEAH, AND? So often, we (and our clients) feel the need to include ever more details in advertisements or marketing pieces, fearing that the audience will lose interest or fail to get the facts. In reality, too many details can muddle the point and stifle the call to action. (You’ve heard us creative-types talk about needing more white space? This is really what we mean.)
So after I got over my initial reaction of wanting more details, I realized there were several reasons why this simple sign was an effective piece of advertising:
- It identified the target audience: 1 dog = 1 owner. The sign-maker knew that they didn’t have to provide more details about the found dog. The owner missing his dog would know where to go.
- Well-crafted visuals: The dog finders knew that people would be passing by this sign at 30 mph – not enough time to read and absorb more than a few words. They used their allotted space (8.5 x 11″) as effectively as possible with bold, black, capital letters.
- Strong call to action: The call to action on this piece was actually a symbol – the arrow pointing down the side road. (Side note: Symbols are powerful communication tools! Think hieroglyphics, road signs and…LOGOS.) The creator saved valuable real estate on the sign by using a single mark that says: THIS WAY, LONELY DOG OWNER. YOU CAN CLAIM YOUR PUP AT THE ONLY HOUSE ON THIS ROAD.
Similar to DOG FOUND, here's a sample I snapped in town that follows suit.
Next time you’re crafting a new communications piece for your brand, try applying the DOG FOUND tactic. It’s not necessary to give all of the information, all at once. The idea is to engage your target audience so that they want to seek out more details from you and learn about your brand. Be strategic as you begin building a relationship with them.
Maybe you read our recent post about the clean design on some new Ad Council ads. Quaker has caught on with its new “Go humans go” campaign.
The television spots are cute, with people propelling themselves into their day wearing jet packs fueled with two Quaker Oats canisters.
We like the billboards much better, though:
A little mysterious, and definitely engaging as you’re flying by at 70 55 mph.
What’s also cool is that Quaker is relying on its brand recognition for the success of the ad. No extra logo placement, no web address, no commercial call to action – just the assumption that most viewing the ad will recognize their iconic figure.
This Ad Council ad caught my eye on a local shopping center wall.
I thought it to be so simple, yet very effective. Design is not always about using all of your tricks in one piece. Allowing a strong call to action to remain the focal point in the layout can be the best option. The thought process that goes into concepting a layout like this is just as intense as a graphic-heavy design.
I grew up seeing Ad Council ads on TV and billboards. Who can forget Smokey Bear? I didn’t want to leave him out of this post. His ads have gotten a great facelift.
As Steve McKee said on Business Week’s Small Business website this summer, “Marketing is muscle, not fat. Be careful about cutting it.”
Don’t risk losing market share to your competitors in a downturn. This is a time when a slow — but steady — marketing presence can help you come out on top when things turn around.
Can’t justify the cost of a full-page ad series? Cut the size to a half-page. Not sure if you should print the full-sized catalog you planned…and mail it? Reduce the page count or change the dimensions. The point is to maintain your presence.
Your clients and customers still need what your company provides, even during economic lows. If your competitors are cutting their marketing budgets, you can gain some of their market share by being the more visible company to your prospective clients.
In the spirit of Seth Stevenson’s Ad Report Card on Slate, I thought I’d do a little advertising critique of my own. While looking through my local paper a few days ago, I found these two ads — conveniently placed side-by-side in an advertising section.
I initially assessed the two ads strictly as the average newspaper reader (I swear). The ads are selling the same service. I determined that if I were to choose between the two schools based solely on these ads, I would pick the one on the right. You can probably guess the reason…
Here’s where I switch to graphic-designer-as-newspaper-reader. The advertiser on the right is portraying a more professional (read: reputable) image than the advertiser on the left. The ad on the right conveys a good amount of information to the reader, while maintaining a clean look with simplistic fonts in varying sizes to guide the eye around the ad. The use of a single, strong image creates impact in a small space.
The photos and fonts in the ad on the left are a bit too crowded, leaving no room to direct the viewer around the ad. While the company logo is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle, some valuable real estate could have been saved by reducing its size in this case—providing more room to explain why their school is the choice for you, for example.
Here’s a test for you to try at home:
Cut out ads of your organization’s competitors.
Place them along with your own advertisement in a mock magazine/newspaper layout.
Does your ad stand out above the rest?
If not, contact us for a consultation!
*Note: Studio 22 did not create either ad featured in this post.