7 Advertising Design Tips You Can’t Live Without

Tips for advertising design

Whether you’re an awesome content marketing agency doing the job of an advertising agency, or an advertising agency doing the job of, well, yourself, good advertising design is an essential part of your delivery. Here are 7 advertising design tips you really can’t live without.

Understand your medium

Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel with felt tip pens. There are of course two reasons for this – felt tip pens didn’t exist at the time, and it wouldn’t have been the right medium for the masterpiece he wished to create or the space in which it would be hosted.

Nowadays when we talk about understanding your medium it’s more about understanding the nature of the platform itself, whether that’s traditional media or digital design. It’s important to understand and research where the advert will be hosted in advance. Is it a newspaper, social media, or a billboard?

There are obviously huge differences depending on the platform you’re working with. A newspaper advert wouldn’t fit in an online advertising banner or vice versa. When it comes to digital platforms in particular, you have to factor in specific rules such as file sizes, text limits and all sorts of unique design elements depending on the particular platform.

A picture tells a thousand words

This is a bad proverb, and as a copywriter, I find it very offensive. I could write a thousand words about how offensive it is, but you could probably design an image to convey that sentiment more quickly. It will probably be a smiley poo.

There are a whole range of absurdly misappropriated statistics around visual processing bandied around by over-eager designers on the internet. If you want to a bit more scientific, there’s clear evidence that the human brain can process an entire image in around 13 milliseconds. That’s about the time it takes to think about making a good cup of tea.

The point is, if you want to design an advert with impact, visual storytelling should be the cornerstone of the journey. Great advertising, whether digital or physical, almost always leads with pictures, and carries the text along to do the rest.

Make your designer a cup of tea

This is a bit of an aside, but since we mentioned a good cup of tea – it doesn’t hurt to make your designer one every now and again. There’s no secret industry reason for this, it’s just a nice thing to do. Happy designers make better design.

Don’t align your life away

Alignment. Alignment. Alignment.

Seriously. Alignment.

There is nothing worse than a beautifully crafted advertising design that is born into the world, only for you to notice that the image is just a tiny bit off-centre, and oh wait a minute, little Timmy is now a freakish half-formed figure emerging from behind a monstrous letter P . If only I’d double checked that alignment before it went to print!


Make sure it’s palatable

A well-worked colour palate is the basis of all good design, and that’s most certainly true of advertising. Sure, you want advertising to stand out, but that doesn’t mean you should be throwing down a vibrant multi-coloured assault on the senses.

If you’re a freelancer or working in an agency, make sure you understand the brand colours for your particular client, and use them appropriately in guiding your advert design. If you’re working in-house with a brand or company, make sure you’ve got a defined colour palate for continuity, and don’t go overboard on the colour clashes.

Equally important is ensuring that your text and your background colour don’t bleed into each other. There is nothing more frustrating than crafting cunning copy that’s lost to the quirks of a manic palette. Choose a text colour that stands out against the copy in a natural and inoffensive way.

Careful with the kerning

It’s only words, what about my beautiful rainbow-coloured unicorn? Well it’s going to look like a right pony if you don’t get the letter spacing right. Different fonts generally have their own set of rules for kerning, but that also means they present their own unique challenges. 

The worst thing about kerning is the more you know about design, the more likely you are to notice when the kerning goes bad. So essentially you’re shaming yourself in front of a group of learned peers. What a night m a re.

Remember to proofread

What’s this madness? I thought we were talking about design! Sure we are, but even the most beautifully designed advert in the word is going to fall apart if you use the wrong vowel in shut.

Good advertising design isn’t just about lining up the letters to look pretty, it’s making sure you have the right letters ready to go in the first place. Otherwise you’re going to be in the middle of a right shut storm with your client.

Avoid your own advertising shut storm, speak to us about how oustanding advertising design can help build your brand visibility

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