You’ve heard the expression ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ or ‘You can never tell a book by its cover.’ No matter the phrasing, it holds true in today’s world. And it relates to the importance of creative. From ads and memes to reels and podcasts, we are flooded with shiny, attention-grabbing designs everyday. The overwhelming amount of content and ways to consume that content has reduced our attention spans tremendously. So much so, that the “cover” may be all someone uses to judge you and make the decision to either dive deeper or not engage at all. That leads to the next well-known expression, ‘You never have a second chance to make a first impression.’ Today, quality creative is critical in capturing your target audience and engaging with them.
Whether it is an image, song or graphic, we all experience that initial tug at our emotions that makes us pause. When it comes to social media, we call that thumb-stopping creative. The first step of success and knowing you have quality creative is when you stop someone and capture their attention – even if just for a few seconds. With all the technology available today, including social media, everyone is producing content. Therefore, businesses need to be strategic and smart when producing their own content. The opportunity to reach a vast amount of people and speak directly to them in an instant is an asset that leads to profitability. Accordingly, developing quality creative is an extremely important component for a company wanting to push brand awareness, a product or service to reach an audience. Just like everything else in life, there are good and bad consequences to the creative you produce and publish.
Engage and Impress or Repel and Discourage
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Buehler
Who doesn’t remember that quote from Ferris Buehler’s Day Off? Life does move fast. We want to be able to grab someone’s attention and slow them down for a minute. Strategically designed creative makes audiences want to engage, which gives you the opportunity to impress. Bad creative will make the audience take notice enough to repel the message and discourage them from investigating further. Here are a few important tips when designing creative that engages your audience for a hit and not a miss.
A single message
When you are passionate about something, it’s human nature to want to tell every single person about every single detail, so they will love it as much as you do. However, the opposite effect can happen. Your audience can disengage if you overwhelm them with information. Simplifying your message to the most important facts makes your idea or product approachable and manageable. A best practice is to focus on one clear, concise idea or thought and a single call to action. When you do that, it is easier to present that idea or thought successfully through graphics and images.
Organization and readability
Be sure to place text in an organized and thoughtful manner. Keep in mind that we tend to read from left to right and then up and down in columns. Place your text where it’s not only pleasing to the eye, but also in a column-like format for easy readability. This leads to easy, quick comprehension.
To reach a wide demographic, including all ages and those with eyesight issues, a few items to consider are size of font and color of text. Small fonts and text with very little space between lines is difficult to read. If the text placement in the design looks attractive yet hard to read, you lose the attention. The contrast between text and the background color should be strong. For example, white text on a black background is easier to read than white text on a light green background. There are free tools you can use to test your contrast ratio.
Always remember to edit creative
Have you ever bypassed reading something because your eye didn’t know where to land? Just like overwhelming your audience with too much information, too many elements in one design can turn someone off. Editing down the elements can be a challenge even for those with a great amount of experience, but it is essential. In your editing process, consider the number of fonts, colors and shapes.
Too many fonts or different styles of fonts mixed can be distracting. Limiting to one or two fonts is recommended. Additionally, too many colors or an unsettling combination of colors can be distracting. The brand colors and brand fonts should always take the lead with complementary colors and fonts playing second fiddle. Also, use shapes and other design elements in a complementary way to help communicate the focused message. It’s okay to add everything you have in your mind into the design and then start the editing process. It can be cathartic to spill everything out onto a design and see how it transforms as you remove elements.
Everyone’s time is valuable. Between short attention spans and the amount of information people are exposed to, it’s a waste of everyone’s time to create something distracting. You want to give your message a chance to speak. This process takes more planning and time, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Consequences: Flip Open the Book or Leave It Closed
At this point, the “cover” is complete with a focused idea, organized text and narrowed design elements. This will help your overall design make the message shine.
When you develop quality creative through a strategic and organized process, the audience will not only pay attention to the “cover,” but also make the decision to explore the whole book. In other words, this is a chance for a profitable consequence. If the creative is mindlessly thrown together, then the audience disengages before they get a chance to see the message. The cover is so unappealing that the book remains closed, and your audience puts your story back on the shelf. This is why it’s so important to have quality creative. Whether you have a bestseller or not resides solely in your own hands.