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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

The FEI Tribe Discovers the Secrets to Designing 'Eye-Catching' Marketing Materials (Part I)

Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) communications director Cecil the Cyclops discussed how effective copywriting can create promotional pieces that drive sales growth. This week, Cecil begins a discussion on best design practices for printed marketing communications. Remember, fire = print.

The hour grew late at the Red Argus, as Marka and Cecil ordered another round of grog.

“I never figured you for a design whiz,” Marka said, resting her arms on the bar counter.

“You know, I’ve been told I have a real ‘eye’ for design,” Cecil replied wryly, pointing to the big veiny eye stuck in his forehead.

“Oh brother,” Marka groaned. “I’ll listen to your ideas, but please—no more ‘eye’ puns.”

“I’ll try my best, but no promises,” Cecil said, digging three tablets out of his other pocket. “Let’s start at the beginning.”

Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #1: Design for design’s sake is out. Your design and layout should derive from the size and shape of your promotion, not the other way around.

“That makes sense,” Marka said.

“A one-size-fits-all design model will end up fitting none,” Cecil explained. “For example, the design elements of a one-sixth-page trade ad will probably look lousy if converted into a one-page flyer. Similarly, the features of a self-mailer will largely determine what types of design should and should not be used.”

“What else?” Marka asked.

Cecil removed a second tablet that read:

Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #2: For small ads, rely on snappy copy and simple graphics.

“The success of smaller ads largely depends on how well your headline functions as a ‘grabber,’” Cecil said. “In ads that are a quarter page or smaller, headers should occupy the dominant (top) position, and function as the largest design element.”

“So what’s the second most prominent element?” Marka asked.

“Your call to action—phone number, O-site address, etc.—which should be positioned at the bottom of the ad,” Cecil answered.

“Any more design tips?” Marka asked.

“You bet,” Cecil said, slurping the dregs from the bottom of his glass of grog.

“Keep 'em coming,” Marka prompted. “After all, if our printed ads don’t feature captivating, smart designs, they’ll go unnoticed, like a plain toga without gold trim.”

“Hey!” Cecil cried. “My toga is plain without gold trim!”

Today’s FIRE! Point:
Don’t make design an afterthought in your marketing program. The designs of your printed communications should both complement and enhance their intended messages. Attractive and memorable designs will create powerful brand associations in the minds of your readers. It’s common sense—a company that cares how things look will also be conscious of the small details that contribute to overall business success.

Fire! in Action
When in Doubt, Keep Your Designs Simple

The Lance Armstrong Foundation has sold 45 million yellow wristbands, raising millions for cancer research. The Lesson? A simple design can become iconic.

Next week: Design talk concludes with a discussion on smart placement techniques for printed ads.

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