Don’t Let Design Get in the Way of Your Message

We’ve all seen it. A TV spot that’s funny but you ultimately miss the product message and can’t recall the sponsor. The same is true of design. A great message can be masked by an overpowering design.

This is one of the first mistakes a marketer makes: letting the design or clever idea overpower your message. Of course, you want your marketing to be powerful and attractive, but don’t let your design decisions overrule your message. Every piece of design should be used only to further your message. And to help further results for your client.

The first step is to answer these overarching questions:

  • What is the tone I want my brand to possess and convey?
  • What is my brand personality?
  • What single message do I want to leave with my prospect?
  • Have I given them a reason to want my product?
  • How do I want them to respond?

All the answers will help lead the design in the right direction.

Take a step back from your work. Try to look at it objectively, from the observer’s point of view. If you’re working with a professional designer and they appear to be going overboard or moving in the wrong direction, ask for their rationale. Maybe it’s valid – maybe it’s not. Give them a chance to state their reasoning. If it’s still not working, try giving examples, PDFs, screen shots, etc., of what you’re envisioning so they can change direction appropriately.

Questions to ask about the design:

  1. Is it conveying the right tone for the brand?
  2. Is it clean, simple, organized, easy to read and understand?
  3. Is anything getting in the way of the message? If so, delete it.
  4. Is the font point size legible for the medium? Consider your target audience.
  5. Is there plenty of contrast between colors?
  6. Is it clear and obvious how I want the prospect to respond?
  7. Is the hierarchy of the messaging and design working properly?
  8. Is the design/copy leading the prospect through the story easily?
  9. Is the design/idea focusing only on cleverness, so much so that the message is getting lost?
  10. Is your design/message persuasive, provocative, engaging, entertaining? Don’t forget the emotional aspect.

Utilize some Direct Response best practices.
Whether it’s print, digital or video, if your purpose is to drive sales immediately, you want your design to employ some direct response best practices:

  • Give your prospect a reason to want your product. Make the prospect an offer or give a discount.
  • Use a strong call-to-action. Tell your prospect what you want to them to do (call, click, visit etc.). It may sound simple and obvious at first, but you’d be surprised at how many lose sight of this.
  • Include urgency. Give a deadline, an expiration date, otherwise why would they respond now versus in the future – or never?
  • Make sure it’s interactive. Whether it’s a tangible item like coupon or card, or a game or p
  • Test the design against another. Reevaluate and improve. Good design is measurable. So is good copy. A good design can’t improve poor copy.

Choose your approach.
If you’re in the market for a design professional, you may notice differing design philosophies depending on the focus of the agency or artist. Brand awareness agencies utilize conceptual practices with emotional tie-ins (think perfume ads).
These can be quite effective for awareness but may fall short if your goal is to generate leads.

Direct response agencies, like Conversion Alliance, utilize strong messaging and calls-to action to get results.

For example, one of our clients saw a 68% increase in year-over-year response rates, resulting in a five-figure increase in sales leads, due to targeted, results focused messaging.

So consider your message. Determine which approach best fits your goal. Make sure you communicate that goal with your agency or designer. Then create a winning campaign.

To learn more about how message and design come together to get results, contact Conversion Alliance, we would be glad to brainstorm with you.