Direct Mail

Advertising printing, marketing printing, redesign advertising

Printips: January 2004

Renew, Refresh, Rejuvenate: Redesign
When is it time to consider a redesign of your company's advertising material? Some may answer, "When its effectiveness drops" or "When the competition does" or "When we hire a new marketing director". We agree that these are good reasons, but we also would add that periodic redesign should be part of your regular advertising cycle. A good redesign will refresh your ads and renew them for your loyal customers and your prospects alike.

Signs that a redesign may be needed
Your company's advertising material may need a redesign if any of these conditions exist:
* It has been more than five years since you first developed the advertising material.
* Your company today is much different than it was when the advertising material was developed.
* The target audience for your product or service has changed since the advertising material was developed.

Your advertising material may also show signs of aging its typeface, the layout or the color palette.

Redesigning ads and flyers using the Ogilvy layout
Advertising legend David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency and creator of well-known copy ("At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from this electric clock") and characters (the man in the Hathaway Shirt; Schweppes and Commander Whitehead), developed an ad layout formula so successful that it became known as the Ogilvy. The formula adheres to the order in which researchers tell us readers typically look at ads:

* Visual (photograph or graphic)
* Caption
* Headline
* Copy
* Signature (advertiser's name and contact information)

Here is a basic Ogilvy layout:

(Carrie: here put in an Ogilvy ad. I will FAX one to you)

The basic Ogilvy layout can be altered to include a coupon (set ad copy in a three-column grid and place the coupon in the third column); headline moved above the visual (when the headline carries more weight than the visual); or copy set in a two-column grid and the headline moved to the right of the visual.

Other layout options
The rules of good page layout apply to ads just as they apply to other types of documents. In addition, ads must provoke the reader to action. The layout of an ad can definitely help accomplish this goal. Besides the Ogilvy layout, try these other options:
* Z layout: organize the elements of the ad in a "Z" pattern with the most important element in the upper left corner and the call to action and signature in the lower right corner.
* Layout with illustrations: photographs, drawing or illustrations can be used to show how a product is used; show the benefits of using the product; or demonstrate difficult-to-understand instructions or concepts.
* Simple visual layout: a single strong visual combined with a short, punchy headline over the ad copy can be a very powerful layout.
* Super-sized layout: Filling the top half or even two-thirds of the ad space with oversized text or graphics, including bleeding the image off the edges, draws the reader's attention immediately. Readers associate size with importance, so reserve this treatment for the dominant part of the message.

Coupons are known to increase reader response. If you have room in your ad, do include a coupon. If your ad is small, put a heavy dashed border around the entire ad to create the feel and appearance of a coupon.

You can also direct the reader's attention by placing the ad's most important element in the visual center. The visual center is located slightly to the right and above the actual center of the ad. The visual center acts as a natural focal point regardless of where the design focus is. Remember this when you are deciding where to place the individual ad elements.

Using ad templates for redesign
Templates are pre-designed documents that contain placeholders (such as boxes, dummy text and headlines) that can be overwritten with actual copy and photographs or graphics. Templates may be purchased or you can create your own.

A template can be a great time-saver, can provide design inspiration and can augment the design capabilities of an amateur designer. Using a template as a basis for your ad will also provide consistency among your ads.

If you choose to use an ad template, select one that is appropriate for the job at hand. Begin by selecting a template whose ad is the correct size and does not require extensive alterations. Other tips for customization include:

* Use your own graphics. Substitute your own graphics or clip art for what was included in the template. Since graphics also include rules and boxes, you can change the size or location to better fit your needs.
* Alter the type. Change the template's typeface, change the leading (the space between lines), or type justification. When selecting a new typeface, be sure not to stray too far away from the original design. For example, substituting a casual typeface for a formal one will likely compromise the design.
* Change the color. Sometimes a dramatic change can occur when color is changed, even if the design is unaltered.
* Change the background. Create a reverse (white or light text on a dark background) to draw the reader's eye. The reverse can be an entire headline or just the single capital letter that begins the headline. Do remember that not all typefaces and sizes are suitable for reverses. Fine serifs can disappear in a reverse.

Need help? Ask us!
If you suspect your advertising material needs a makeover but are unsure how to proceed, please give us a call at 877-816-4448. We will be happy to evaluate your existing ads and make suggestions for updating them to conform to current trends in graphic design and advertising.

Call to action: a marketing and sales device that tells the customer how to take the next step towards a purchase or execute an activity; often uses an imperative verb.
Focal point: the area of an ad that attracts the viewer's attention first. Contrast, location, isolation, convergence and the unusual can be used to create focal points.
Leading: (pronounced led'-ing) the distance between lines of type, measured in points. 1 point=1/72 inch.
Ogilvy layout: ad layout formula developed by advertising expert David Ogilvy (1911-1999).
Reverse: the technique of printing white or light-colored text on a black or dark background for emphasis. A reverse reduces legibility, especially with small type.
Signature: in an Ogilvy layout, the advertiser's name and contact information.
Template: a predesigned document for a particular purpose. For example, an ad template enables a person to generate an advertisement with formatting already complete.
Visual center: the area of an advertisement located slightly above and to the right of the mathematical center. Serves as a focal point of the ad.

Q. My yellow pages ad representative tells me that my ad will be designed for free. Is there any reason why I should pay someone to makeup my ad instead of using the free service?
A. That is an interesting question. The answer is - it depends. If you have no experience in display ad makeup, then you may want to take advantage of the free offer, especially if the ad is very small. But before you let the yellow pages ad representative go, do be sure he or she understands the central concept you wish to get across in your ad. You may even want to give the representative the headline, body copy, visual and signature for use in your ad layout.

Alternatively, we will be happy to design your ad. Yes, there is a charge for this service. But we will take you through a series of steps designed to determine the focus of your ad and we will suggest visuals to help get this point across. You will also be able to see and modify proofs until the ad is perfect in your eyes.

Contact for an estimate of cost and to schedule an appointment.

Tricks & Tips
You will find it easier to produce a successful ad if you follow a standard approach to gathering the ad's elements. Here are the steps we suggest for easy ad makeup:
Step 1: Read through a few publications and pick out ads that appeal to you. Analyze what you have selected to see if there is any commonality - perhaps the use of white space or typography. Note these features for use later when you are designing your ad.
Step 2: Write the headline for your ad. The headline should be succinct and express the main idea of your ad. By keeping the headline short, you will be able to use a large point size to draw attention to your ad.
Step 3: Select the visual. Your visual may be a photo, a drawing or illustration, or even an oversized alphabet letter or number. Just be sure it is distinctive and that it enhances or explains the message you are conveying. The headline and visual should naturally go together.
Step 4: Write the copy. A good way to generate copy is to pretend you are talking to someone about the product or service you are featuring in your ad. Remember to emphasize the benefits to the customer or prospect rather than the features of your product or service. Do be careful not to write too much copy so that your ad becomes crowded or busy.
Step 5: Organize the ad's signature. The signature is the name of your company and the contact information. It may also include the ad's call to action.

Now that you have gathered all the elements, you are ready to begin layout of your ad. You should find it much easier to place the elements now that you know the size and shape each will take.

Idea Corner
When designing an ad, keep in mind where it will be used and how many other ads it will compete with. If your ad will have lots of competition (such as in the yellow pages or in the advertising section of a program), consider these ways to make your ad stand out from all the rest:

Use lots of white space. A large buffer of white space surrounding the text or graphics in your ad will draw the eye first among other ads that are full of type and graphics.
Be dramatic. Use an oversized graphic to overwhelm the eye of the reader.
Use contrast. Contrasting type, size, color or other visual effects will create interest and the reader's eye.