Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) communications director Cecil the cyclops and Marka the marketer began a discussion on best design practices for printed marketing communications. This week, Cecil concludes his lecture with the help of some visual aids. Remember, fire = print.
Cecil slurped the last dregs of his grog. “All this design talk is making me thirsty. This time, I’m going to let my tablets do the talking.” He pulled out a third tablet and dropped it onto the table with a thud.Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #3: Follow the “Z” Path to Design Success
On the tablet was this “Z” shape:
“Whether we’re reading a full page ad or a single page flier, our eyes naturally flow from the upper left corner, across to the right, down to the lower left and finally over to the lower right,” Cecil said.
Marka was impressed. This sure sounded right.
“This means that you can increase your ad’s effectiveness by placing your most important design elements along this ‘Z’ path,” Cecil continued. “Headers are important because they’re at the beginning of the Z. Calls to action are important because they’re at the bottom of the Z. Don’t assume your readers know what to do; tell and show them with copy positioned in the right places.”
“Beware of two main graphical ‘dead’ zones that fall outside the Z,” Cecil warned. “If you put important copy—like unique selling propositions, core competencies and contact information in either zone—you’ll run the risk that they won’t be seen. Instead, fill dead zones with background imagery, disclaimer copy and white space...Or else.”
“Or else what?” Marka challenged.
“Or else I might just have to eat you,” joked Cecil, flashing a shining row of sharp teeth. Cecil’s Brilliant Design Idea #4: Follow the “U” Rule for 2-page spreads
“What’s with all the letters?” Marka asked. “Is this an episode of ‘Olympus Street?’”
“Like it or not, ‘U’ better not forget the ‘U’ Rule,” Cecil said, wagging a thick finger at his friend.
“Not another pun!” Marka groaned.
“The ‘U’ Rule states that we typically view two-page spreads differently than full-page ones,” Cecil explained. “Most readers will scan two-page ads along a U pattern. Avoid putting important copy and design features in ‘dead’ space outside this U form.”
Marka scrunched her face up in confusion. “So the top-center of a page is a so-called ‘dead zone’? I’m no designer, but it seems like that area should be the center of attention. Oh no—now I’m starting with the puns!”
“It’s a bit counterintuitive,” Cecil agreed. “But read an ad yourself and see where your eyes go. Always request that your print ad run along the U board to maximize your brand’s impression.”
“I see,” Marka said, nodding.
“Exactly,” Cecil observed with a wink. Today’s FIRE! Point:
Print advertisements that simply “look good” won’t win you business unless the important elements are read. Ads should be designed to appeal to typical reading habits of consumers. A prospect that reads your ad all the way through will be more likely to remember it—and your brand—when he or she is in need of a graphic arts solution.FIRE! in ActionSometimes Your E-mail Design Just Needs a Tune-up.
Smithsonian magazine revamped its broadcast e-mail campaign, creating a more legible design with a distinct call-to-action. The result? Smithsonian’s next e-mailing yielded an 11% higher subscription rate
than the previous campaign.Next week: The discussion on big picture marketing strategy resumes with an overview of push vs. pull marketing.