Over the years, I have learned valuable lessons through tough experience.
Once, I was urged to immediately start work on a brochure by doing the layout and placing the images; the client would deliver the text later. When I finally read the text, I realized that the chosen images were all wrong for the piece. Either they had no relevance or they actually contradicted the message.
Bottom line: Design, layout and content work together to deliver your message. They cannot be developed in isolation from each other.
It makes sense from the point of view of your audience that the content and the design need to be developed together. Research shows that people absorb information simultaneously using all of their senses. The most effective communication will take advantage of those different ways of learning. It is critical that the reader get the same message with each of his or her senses.
So where do you begin when you want to develop your next marketing piece? Start by answering some fundamental questions about the project. In short, you need to clearly define the message. Ask yourself,
- Who is the audience?
- What do you want the audience to remember?
- What is the point of the project? Are you advertising a new product or a grand opening, or is this an introduction to your business?
- Do you want them to act on what they have learned or are you just putting your name in front of them?
- How do you want to deliver the message – seriously or with humour, subtly or with a straight-from-the-hip attitude?
The next step is to explore concepts and ideas. What style of delivery best reflects your message and style of doing business? What will get your reader’s attention? Will the piece highlight a problem that your product or service will solve? Maybe an impact on lifestyle will be the focus.
With these questions answered, developing a library of images will be easier. Your photographer, if using one, will clearly understand not only what you want a picture of, but what the context is and how will be used. If you are using stock images, it will be easier to find just the right ones.
Each image tells a story. Remember the adage: an image is worth a thousand words? It’s true. Images not only need to be top-notch quality, but they need to contribute to your message intentionally.
Text is critical. There is a skill to getting into the head of the intended reader. What phrases will trigger the appropriate response? An ad aimed at teenagers will be very differently worded from one for senior executives or homemakers. There also needs to be some verbal link to the images, whether the copy actually refers to the image or the images reinforce the words, either thematically or through a visual pun.
Lastly comes the actual layout—bringing it all together. By this time, the designer already knows where the project is headed. Ideas been brewing all through the development process. Bringing it all together is simpler and chances are, everybody will be much happier with the end product.
The creativity of the designer is important throughout the process. Why? Experience. You may see the work of your designer only in the context of the current project or other work that has been done for you. But the designer brings in a wealth of experience for a variety of clients and projects. Chances are, this is not new territory for him/her and has a good sense of how to convey the message you want with the most impact.
Your marketing materials are a major investment in your business. By developing all of the the content and the design together as part of the message, you are sure to develop a winning marketing piece. Remember, it’s a simple formula: Content + Design = Success.