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12 Essential Advertisement Design Tips From Legendary Brands

The world is full of advertisements for every product under the sun, but what makes one pitch stand out while the rest fold quietly into the crowd? Today’s consumers are extremely savvy, and it takes a creative approach to hold a reader’s attention long enough to have an impact. If you’re looking to launch a new campaign for your brand, an innovative approach can make your voice louder in the competitive marketplace. With that in mind, here are 12 advertisement design tips from legendary brands and advertisers.

1. CREATE AN OPTICAL ILLUSION
Image from adsoftheworld.com

The goal of advertising is to get someone to stop and look, and few things accomplish this task better than an optical illusion. Not only will readers spend extra time examining a unique advertisement, but they’ll probably also tell their friends about it, which gets your company’s name out to even more people. You can also achieve this effect by using an image with a subtle detail, but illusions are much more fun.
This Benjamin Moore ad is a great example of an optical illusion, as it channels the stereogram posters that were popular during the early 1990s. If you stare long enough at the seemingly random patterns, a three-dimensional image of a paint roller will eventually start to emerge. The campaign also used two other versions with pictures of other paint-related accessories.

2. PROVOKE AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE
Image from adsoftheworld.com
If an advertisement fails to appeal to a viewer’s emotions, it’s highly likely the viewer will forget it quickly. No matter if the intended emotion is amusement, fear, sadness, sympathy or happiness, you should carefully choose your words and imagery to create a connection with the audience. One thing to keep in mind is how each person can read text differently, so it’s up to you to leave no room for ambiguity about your message.
While emotional symbols will vary across cultures, some are universal, like a cute baby. This ad from Libre by Nexus takes full advantage of that fact. While the idea of deportation breaking families apart is emotional on its own, a baby outfit designed to look like a prison jumpsuit drives the point home with no questions about the intent of the advertisement.

3. USE SYMBOLS
Image from adsoftheworld.com
A symbol is a great way to get a point across quickly, as they’re clear representations of an idea, activity, or object. Take a look at the world around you, and you’ll likely see symbols everywhere, from the restroom doors of your office to the screen of your smartphone. Symbology can also come in handy while marketing to people who don’t necessarily speak your language.
When election season rolls around, businesses always try to cash in on political fervor, and McDonald’s does it well in this ad. The check mark is an understood symbol of voting, so this advertisement recreated it with two of the company’s iconic fries. Especially in the context of a contentious campaign, the restaurant was able to capitalize on current events without picking either side.

4. EMBRACE SIMPLICITY
Image from adsoftheworld.com
It wasn’t long ago that advertisements used massive amounts of copy to describe the value and features of a product, but it’s not necessary with today’s creative tools and techniques. If you have a particularly powerful or clever image, you might only need a few words to get the point across. With attention spans getting shorter every year, a reader might move on from advertisements that contain large blocks of text.
This ad for the Volkswagen Beetle Denim uses a creative image to sell the concept of this new vehicle model. It uses a close-up of a pair of jeans with stitching to simulate the double-yellow line of a road. Since the picture can’t tell enough of a story on its own, the company announces the arrival of the product with simple copy.

5. LET THE AUDIENCE FIGURE IT OUT
Image from adsoftheworld.com
Sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all, as your picture conveys your entire message. In this case, the adage of a picture being worth 1,000 words rings true. People are clever, and a well-executed minimalist advertisement can provide a sense of accomplishment and maybe even a laugh to the reader when he or she figures it out.
FedEx offers a service that isn’t particularly flashy, but the company has a reputation of providing easy shipping to destinations all over the world. In the case of this advertisement, the artist merged the silhouettes of the Statue of Liberty with Christ the Redeemer in the iconic FedEx colors. The story being told here is the company’s ability to ship your package from New York to Rio de Janeiro.

6. HAVE FUN WITH SCALE
Image from adsoftheworld.com
As a human being, you’re probably used to seeing the world in one particular way, and an advertisement that changes your perspective can have an impact. By rescaling small objects, you can make your product appear larger than life. Scale can also provide a bold visual that sticks in the mind of the reader, but you should be careful not to go too far into the realm of the absurd.
The d-CON pest control company makes great use of scale to tell the story of one of its products in this ad. You’re seeing the world from a rodent’s point of view with a fire hydrant that looks massive. The missing poster, which would probably look like a postage stamp to a human, tells the story about how the product makes mice go “missing.” What could be more dramatic than that?

7. HYPERBOLE CAN BE YOUR FRIEND
Image from adsoftheworld.com
Since the earliest days of advertising, companies have made wild claims about their products to convince consumers to make a purchase. Advertisers still do the same thing today, but it’s done ethically in a lighthearted manner to make it clear to the audience that the claim is an exaggeration. Embracing hyperbole is one of the most useful banner ad design tips, but it’s important to do it properly. You should be careful with this technique, as you’ll lose credibility with customers who take your message literally.
In this ad for the Smart Car, the artist makes a play on the concept of a vehicle being able to turn on a dime. Since this small automobile has an extremely small turning radius, the claim here is that it doesn’t need the entire coin to make a course correction. The proclamation is so absurd, the reader has no choice but to treat it as a joke.

8. CREATE MOTION
Image from adsoftheworld.com
One of the drawbacks of print is its stationary nature, which is why one of the most popular advertisement design tips is to create movement whenever possible. By utilizing an image that evokes motion, you can turn an otherwise flat medium into a dynamic platform to demonstrate your product. There are numerous ways to accomplish this feat, such as using blurred backgrounds, speed lines and shading.
For this ad, Stripes Convenience Stores uses motion in two different ways. In the background, the various flavors of soda cascade down from the fountain nozzles to create a makeshift waterfall. In the center of the image, the company’s logo seems to burst forth from the falling liquid, which sends a spray of color outward across the advertisement. For someone seeing this piece on a hot day, it might make a drink from the store feel like a refreshing dip in the pool.

9. USE WHITE SPACE
Image from adsoftheworld.com
When you buy an advertisement, you’re paying for every square inch, so why wouldn’t you want to pack as much as possible in the frame? Sometimes this isn’t the answer. White space (or negative space) can be a powerful advertising tool, as it leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that your product is the focus of attention. The result is a clean layout that doesn’t run the risk of looking cluttered and confusing.
As a product that’s famous for its monochrome appearance, Oreo cookies are a perfect candidate to functionally utilize whitespace. This ad is part of a series that commemorates famous historic milestones during the century of existence for this confection. The minimalist design draws the eye to the cookie, and the alternating black and white areas slowly shrink towards the footprint in the middle.

10. THINK BEYOND FONTS
Image from adsoftheworld.com
While many advertisement design tips focus on limiting the number of words in your piece, there are times when it’s necessary to write things out. If your idea calls for putting letters on the page, why not display them in a unique way? Look past the typical fonts in your toolkit and consider stylizing part of the message or the entire statement.
Keurig’s ad uses a normal serif font for the bulk of the text, but the centerpiece of the ad is the word “courage,” which is spelled out in spilled coffee. The story being told here is that the word was created by the morning beverage, just as the same drink creates the emotion in the person who drinks it.

11. UTILISE CLASSIC ICONS
Image from adsoftheworld.com
Iconic status means a person or concept is recognized everywhere, and you can take advantage of this notoriety in your advertisements. When you find a new way to use a popular figure from the past, you can inspire a sense of familiarity for your product, even in first-time consumers. It can also be funny to see famous people out of their element, and humor is a great component of a memorable ad.
The normally stoic visage of Uncle Sam evokes sensations of Americana and patriotism, but the Nu-Way Weiner Stand smears his face with chili in this ad. Not only does the drawing make the reader laugh, but it also combines the patriotic icon with another American classic: hot dogs. It’s a clever decision that pairs irreverence with respect for the country’s traditions.

12. ILLUSTRATE A METAPHOR
Image from adsoftheworld.com
Metaphors are a simple way to make a connection between two concepts, which is why many lists of print and banner ad design tips encourage advertisers to incorporate them whenever possible. While you can make the comparison verbally, an illustrated metaphor can often work much better. Don’t try to get too sophisticated with this strategy, as you want the reader to figure it out quickly.
The Utah Department of Highway Safety makes a powerful comparison in this piece, which illustrates the penalties for drunk driving. As the cocktail splashes out of the glass, the ripples of liquid form the shape of handcuffs as if to say there’s a potential arrest lurking in that last drink before you hit the road. You don’t need any words to get your point across when you have an image that is this compelling.

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  • Advertising
  • Tips
  • Campaigns

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