How to Design Small Ads That Pay Off

In this week economy, this is exactly what you need. It’s a free step-by-step guide on how to help your advertising dollars work harder. Click above and you’ll learn how to pack a lot of information into an effective small space print ad.

How can you develop an effective print ad that fits a lot of information into a little space?

This is a good question, one that truly taxes the talents of any great designer.

But right now I’d like to give you a broad answer and then something a little more specific and finally I’ll point to a example that well help you understand my points.

First, you can develop an effective ad by establishing a visual hierarchy for your ad. And to do that you first need to rough-in the different elements of your ad using the Rule of Thirds. We’ll see an example of this Rule of Thirds a little bit later.

The rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is:

  • Use l/3 of your ad’s space for the headline
  • l/3 for the illustration
  • And l/3 for the copy and signature or the logo

To understand this Rule better go to the web and Google the search terms:

  • Golden Mean
  • Golden Rule
  • Or the Golden Ratio

By using this rule, you make your ad inviting to look at—enticing the reader to dig deeper into your message.

How to guide the reader’s eye

Once your ad is roughed-out, you must help guide your reader’s attention through your ad.

Getting back to the idea of visual hierarchy, have a visual starting place in your ad, emphasize one part, whether it be the weight of the headline or an intriguing illustration, let it capture your reader’s eye. By doing this you set up a pattern and a pattern will allow you to order your information in a logical way. If you can do that then you can increase the amount of information in your ad without it looking cluttered.

Using the grid

A helpful device for setting up a pattern is the grid.

Using a grid is easy. Just overlay an imaginary grid on your ad and use it to lineup your body copy, illustration, or logo. The grid will give your ad structure and structure will allow you to place more information in a space because your reader’s eye will use the grid to jump form one item to another.

Besides adding structure to your ad, there are some strategic benefits to using the grid.

For example, if you will refer to my Creative Rx, inside on the right-hand page, in figure 1, you can see how in the Mid Oregon Credit Union ad the logo at the bottom loosely lines up with the word “Way” in the headline above. Moreover, notice how the address block at the bottom of the ad aligns to a vertical axis first created by the two faces meeting in the photo, and again echoed in the middle margins of the two columns of body copy. These vertical axes direct the eye to what we want the reader to do: read about the offer at the bottom of the ad and remember the credit union or call or visit a branch.

In addition, notice how I have used the Rule of Thirds in this ad:

  • You have a photo and headline grouping
  • A body copy grouping
  • And a logo, address grouping
  • Finally, notice how the eye is drawn into the ad by the large photo and the unique handwritten treatment of the headline.

To conclude, I hope that by applying the Rule of Thirds, by giving your ad a visual emphasis and by setting up grids inside your ads, you find new ways to increase the amount of information in your ads.

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