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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 Tribe Discovers the Secrets to Designing 'Eye-Catching' Marketing Materials (part II)

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

Z patternOn 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.”
U pattern

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 Action
Sometimes 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.


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