Biz: designing an advert

Advertising in magazines

It’s half term and I have both N.B and S.B at home so I have to be super quick before they get bored and drive me crazy! So let’s get down to business. Literally. Before though.. if you’re new to my blog, please feel free to browse my previous business (or other regular columns – e.g. Ask the Designer, Design Inspiration & Trends)posts on the sidebar. Anyway, today I’m talking about advertising. Specifically adverts for prints – magazines and newspapers.

In my previous businesses we did loads of them. We started with Grand Design and Self-Builder magazines and then expanded into other publications – local and national. I briefly touched on that in my post called “Is magazine advertising for your business?”, but basically if you think that print magazine advertising would be beneficial to your brand awareness and your business, I say you go for it. Do your calculations and know your expectations. Ask yourself:

1. What do you want the readers to do? What actions they suppose to take?
2. What are your expectations? In terms of awareness, visitors, sales?
3. How are you going to achieve them with your campaign?

So how is your advert going to stand out? Few things we learnt over the years, so here are my tips:

1. Use bold header with a catchy or funny headline
Something that grabs attention. Learn from big companies like supermarkets, car manufacturers or beauty/fashion brands. They are always on the forth front of advertising techniques and strategies. They use psychology and know how general public will react to certain headlines. If you want to have the best headline, you need to take inspiration from other brands that do it well. Study them and apply it to your industry/product/service.

2.  Use the best image that represents your product/service
Advertising is a visual discipline. Use only the best quality image, at least 300dpi, otherwise it will come out blurry in print. Also think about the way the product is displayed or used on the image. Can readers relate to it? Can they see it in their home/everyday use?

3. Include your contact details, logo and website
Always include your contact details, logo and website on the ad. Usually this is on the bottom left, right or centre of the ad. The font size can be small but big enough for people to read even when they speed read or glance on your ad. Play with different colours and backgrounds to see what works best. Include phone number and website as the bare minimum for contacting you.

4. Offer some incentive for readers
I found that adverts with special promotions, discounts or sales were generating more inquiries as a result than adverts launching a new product/service. If you include the promo code next to your website details, you will see an increase in your website traffic from that. That way you can also monitor how effective the ad is and your ROI (return on investment) rate.

Note: if you agree to 3/6/12 months advert plan with your magazine you can control your advert design before each publish so you can change the ad to see what’s converting most. However, be aware that print ads are performing best with repetitions. The more often people see your ad (the same one), the more familiar they will be with your brand. Did you notice for example how Mercedes is “promoting” the same product/image across wide range of magazines, TV ads, banners and billboards which you see “everywhere”? This is to do one thing: to get you subconsciously familiarised with whatever they promote at that time. The same thing applies to magazines. Do you wonder why you see each ad exactly the same as last month? Over time, you know for example (even though you think you don’t pay an attention to it) that Lancome has new anti-aging serum! And that’s exactly what you want to create. A brand/product/promo/service awareness.

5. Use your brand identity
This should be the obvious one, so I wasn’t sure whether to include it but, you know, while creating ads you can get little bit side tracked and forget the obvious elements. So always, always design with your core brand colours and fonts. Even if you use black & white logo, or transparent in fact as well, use your colours on borders, small contact text and headlines. Keep it consistent with your other promotional materials such as brochures, catalogues and website design.

One extra tip: if you are going for a quarter page sized ad or smaller, basically any size where you know you have to share the space with other advertisers, put your ad in a frame in bolder/ contrasting colour. This will allow your ad to stand out more!

Have you got any questions related to ad design or print advertising in general? Shoot me an email and I will cover it next week. Or you can comment below and have your say now!

Karolina Barnes Studio

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