OR ... 5 Top Tips that you should just take as read, from creative pros
Like many industries, creative/digital/advertising agencies are filled with people of all different ages and levels experience – some fulfilling roles that are client facing and some that aren’t.
Amusingly, at least to those of us that are in the industry – some of the people that should be dealing speaking with clients - imparting their wisdom… well… aren’t speaking with them.
Why is that? Well… it’s probably because some of these people are thoroughly jaded by the time they’ve spent in the creative industry and would be far too blunt with clients, possibly bordering on offensive.
So, they either hide themselves away – and are hidden away by their managers – left to focus on creating often wonderful work that hopefully sees the light of day but often gets watered down and doesn’t truly work for the client – and differentiate their business in highly competitive market places.
In some instances – but certainly not all – it’s the person that has been in the industry for many years and invested enormous amounts of time trying to convey to clients why it’s important to keep things simple, sharp, accessible and pay an appropriate level of respect to the communication medium of choice.
Not only have some of these industry professionals invested years trying to convey these concepts – many times over, the client then goes off and does their own thing, or ‘tweaks’ the design to something they like more (forgetting that they are an audience of one); adding a drop shadow here, an extra colour there, changing the font or the logo that the agency has invested days, weeks or months developing.
Unlike many industries where things are black and white, yes and no – where you just don’t question the professional because they’re a brain surgeon, a lawyer or an accountant because surgery, law or accounting aren’t really ‘your thing’ – people experience design; logos, fonts, colours, typography, animation, illustration, video etc – every day of their lives.
For the most part – we live in a highly visual world and so, often by osmosis – we have a tendency to think our design opinions are valid and will ‘hold water’.
Now – very often they do – because we may well understand the target audience, the product or industry category (what works and what doesn’t) and we may even have ‘an eye for these things’.
That said – the bulk of people aren’t trained in design and communication.
They haven’t completed many years of study and progressed to working in agencies where they’re exposed to brands, companies and industries of all shapes and sizes – knowing that less is often more, that just because there’s space on a page, every square centimetre doesn’t need to be filled and that changing the font you use on a daily basis because ‘I feel like using Comic Sans today’ is a bad idea.
So – with that very long intro – here’s 5 top tips that those jaded industry pros would secretly love to forcefully hammer home the point:
1) Making the logo bigger doesn’t equal better
A bigger logo isn’t going to get you more airtime with you target audience. Ever notice how premium or quality brands tend to make their logo smaller, not bigger.
Let the quality of your products and services build your brand equity. Your logo mark is really the endorsement that signifies to your customer that they are making or have made the right choice. It’s not the hero in the equation.
2) More colours and more fonts doesn’t equal better
A close graphic design friend had commented that they hate driving past rows of small businesses because it feels like someone has just vomited up fonts and colours without thinking about it.
This is the blunt way of saying that less is more. If the shop next door is using 5 fonts and 10 colours, this doesn’t mean you should using 8 fonts and 15 colours.
Professional, established, high profile brands mostly have a very basic selection of fonts and colours. Take a leaf out of their book(s) and keep the selection to a minimum.
Especially for small businesses – it’s a great way to differentiate, as the default for small businesses tends to be more is better. Be the smart one in the crowd and know that that isn’t the case.
More equals distraction from the message, not more money in your pocket
3) "But there’s so much space left on the page… let’s fill it up." - No. Just no.
Good design communicates clearly and effectively. Putting too many messages on a printed page or web page may well confuse your target audience.
What am I supposed to be reading here? What’s the point of all this?
If the designer has left a lot of white space – it’s likely they’ve done that to enhance readability and ensure that the key message is being communicated to your target audience as clearly as it can be.
4) "I have these photos I’ve taken – we can just use those." - No…. unless you’re a professional photographer
Communicating in a professional manner in the highly visual, highly technological world we live in today is tough. No two ways about it.
Even small screens can display an incredible number of pixels.
In an age where people are busier than they have ever been – messages are increasingly being passed on through still photography or video.
Anything that is ‘sub par’ – ie. not professionally shot, is likely to impact your brand in a negative way when people line how you look, up against the competition.
If you don’t have the budget for commercial photography – ask your designer for creative ways to communicate your brand message. Even applying a graphical solution to stock photography is often better than trying to work with poorly shot amateur photography.
5) "Clip art is okay." - Err… no… it isn’t.
You’re looking to convey a message...
"I know – I’ll just type ‘Start button clip art’ as a search in to Google Images."
What does it say to your target audience?
- I don’t really have time to do anything better so this is the best your getting
- I don’t really want to differentiate myself from every other business that has used the same clip art image
- I don’t believe enough in the quality or my product or business to invest in something that conveys its quality and uniqueness
- I’m lazy… and well… you’ll get what I’m trying to say
For a few hours of your designers time – get something done that’s unqiue, attracts attention and you may even be able to use the design in more than one instance – giving you greater value for more, and very likely – a much better financial outcome. Customers are likely to see that you actually care about how you are communicating to them.
Well… hopefully you found those tips useful.
Until next time.