In the face of growing information noise, design plays a much more important role than the traditional “make it pretty.” Modern communication design is a way to communicate with users, find common ground with them, attract attention and evoke a response.
Communication design can work in any advertising and information channels. We use it in all of our online communications: when creating banners, web links, advertising creations for SMM. And we use it to increase the number of job seekers who notice ads in their feeds, click through to pages and leave applications.
Maxim Chirin, BetaOnline designer, is telling us how to create communication design and which techniques are helpful in increasing its efficiency.
Everything starts with a concept.
Quality design does not come from a blank sheet – it is built as a system with its own principles, rules and techniques.
We begin by gathering information: we study the positioning of the client’s brand, analyze the target audience, and look for references from a variety of sources, from successful advertising cases to Pinterest.
Then we have a brainstorming session with the project’s designers and copywriters. In the course of the discussion, a strategy, a story, and an idea emerge that reflects the company’s success and positive features. It is important that all team members are equally involved in this process: the designer can offer ideas for texts, and the copywriter to find key visions.
All this gives the basis for creating the concept: the collected ideas need to be passed through a filter, rethought and lined up in a series of creatives – different formats for different venues.
Where is communication design needed?
First and foremost, this approach shows itself on social media. Users scroll through dozens of ads in their Instagram or Vkontakte feeds. He filters out most of them, almost without noticing – “banner blindness” has long been a side effect of the constant information noise. We have literally fractions of a second to catch his eye. Just for this you need communication design: properly chosen visual allows you to stand out from the competition and at the same time cause interest.
In addition to social networks, there are also ppc platforms: MyTarget, РСЯ, Instagram and other banner networks. Here, the importance of design has different degrees: while in Instagram, which is originally grounded on the visual content, high-quality creativity is very important, in the Search market it’s more important to work with the settings.
But in any case, in any channel, high-quality, bright visuals can increase the effectiveness of advertising and even reduce the cost of conversions.
Quality creative – what is it?
Ironically, the visual is not necessarily “beautiful” in the common sense of the word. And it’s not even that the concept of beauty in principle, everyone has their own. In communication design, the message is more important than the picture, and attracting attention is more valuable than aesthetics. Bright color, outrage, style that gets to the right audience – everything that helps to play on people’s emotions becomes the flagship.
If we talk about formats, most often we use static creations without animation. There were some attempts to use HTML5, interactive banners and videos – but practice shows that static banners work better. They allow the user in a minimum amount of time to cover all the information, without waiting for the change of frames, and without performing unnecessary actions. And in addition, they quickly load at any speed of the Internet.
Color as a communication tool
It is axiomatic that the brightest and juiciest colors are the most effective in communications. White and pastel colors complicate the first contact: they are more often used as a background for web pages to soothe and not distract from the main content. If so will be the same light banner, he merges with the main background of the site, is lost in the strip. We have the exact opposite task – to catch the eye and distract, to increase the number of views.
It’s interesting to note that black is a bright color in this sense. It attracts more attention, in addition, it is easier to read information from it.
Practice shows that a good color tool is a gradient. It’s not often found in general ribbon, and therefore works well – and even in pastel shades. Although if you use clean, bright colors, creative success is even more likely to be high. The only option that might be discouraged is gradient, in which mixing colors gives something “dirty” and gray on average.
Choosing a font – creatives have their own rules
On Web pages most often selected spectacular font pair – for example, spectacular accent font for the title and humanistic, easy to read, for the main text. In advertising creatives, however, other principles work.
There’s not much information on the creative, it’s important to get it across as quickly as possible, so it makes sense to do with a single font. It is important to find the best option on the verge of beauty and comfort: too fancy will attract attention, but badly read, but familiar to all (some Arial) will not catch the eye.
The text itself should not be bulky: the title is no longer than 8 words and a short description. Despite the desire to show all the benefits of the company is already on the banner, it should strive for brevity, to focus on the main. The task of creativity – to get the first contact and create an incentive to move to the site.
Brandbook: restriction or support?
Brandbook – an important tool in the work of the designer. Of course, it always sets some kind of framework that limits the flight of fancy designer. But their severity may be different, different will be the result.
Some brandbooks fix corporate identity as rigid as possible, without the possibility to make a step to the side. In this approach can be a complicating factor for the advertising campaign. For example, if the corporate gamut is built on the use of white or pastel shades – this may look stylish in itself, but will be very unprofitable in advertising. It is also not easy to work with a brandbook developed quite a long time ago. For example, in the 2000s when the colors and fonts were chosen on the basis of the level of development of polygraphy, which has gone far ahead since then. In such cases we discuss design options with the client and suggest using bright colors, for example, in the same range.
The opposite option – although rare, but still encounter companies without a brand book. It would seem that this would completely untie the hands of the designer, but in the complete absence of visual references is more difficult to find a reference point. Corporate website is not well suited to this role, as created by entirely different rules. But even worse, without a brandbook, a key function of corporate identity – brand recognition – doesn’t work.
Photography – creativity with a human face
Photos often become a designer’s pain – in cases where the company doesn’t provide them. How do you close this gap?
The most common way is to go to photostock and look for a suitable image. But there are several difficulties.
More often than not, stock photos depict “cover models”: perfect girls with perfect hairstyles and makeup and men with gym or barbershop subscriptions. The majority of ordinary people who make up the audience of the mass selection cannot associate themselves with these glossy images and unconsciously screen both the picture and the ad itself for themselves.
Another problem has to do with brand identification in stock photos. If we’re talking about a vacancy, for example, for a cashier at a well-known supermarket chain or delivery service, the potential candidate will have a feeling of “unreality” of the ad, because he knows the staff uniform well enough and won’t see it on the photo.
What can the designer do if there are no authentic photos?
You can pick up a stock photo with the most non-model characters in clothes that are close to the corporate colors. But there is still some artificiality in this solution.
Another option is to build your visuals on associative images, without people in the frame.
You can also use vector illustrations instead of photos, where you can draw all the attributes of the desired image. You should not overuse images, they quickly get boring. But sometimes it’s a working way to solve a problem.
However, the companies themselves can solve it better – just prepare pictures. It doesn’t require global efforts, expensive photo shoots with professional equipment and light. Now even the phone gives enough high-quality photos that meet the main goal: to show the company from the inside, with real people at real work.
The audience is the addressee and the point of reference
Different audiences need different approaches – a clear universal principle. How does it work in design?
For example, the color scheme and overall image should relate to the gender of the CA. If you make a banner about the vacancy of a loader in pastel colors with floral ornaments – a potential applicant will flip through it, even without looking, unconsciously put a mark “not for me”. And accordingly, the brutal visual will reject many applicants-girls.
However, it’s not all that clear-cut. On the opposite side is the effect of contrast and surprise, which, if skillfully used, can play even better than the exact hit in the audience.
Through design, it is possible to find an approach to the audience of different ages. The simplest method works literally: the age of the character in the picture the user associates with himself. That is why it is so important to know the target audience when developing a design: to attract the young and the mature applicants different photos are needed (as well as different messages in general).
This principle can have the added effect of opening up to new audience segments.
There are patterns that can enhance the visuals and increase the success of the concept for all users, while others will only attract a certain segment of the audience. Young people are more willing to respond to experiments: toxic colors, pop art style, and so on, while people 50+ will be less receptive.
An interesting example in this vein is the stylistics of a flyer. The generation that grew up in the 21st century will see it as trendy and fresh minimalism, while the older generation will have an irritating association with the pasted-up walls of the 90s.
We believe that it is important to consider the principles and framework of design and working with the audience, but sometimes you can find a place for experimentation. If you work out the concept consciously, understand what you are doing and for whom you are doing it, there is a high chance of being a winner, even if you break the rules.
However, the risk of failure is also present – both performers and customers must be prepared for this. Experiments are necessary and appropriate when the budget, conditions and circumstances allow, and sometimes it’s better to play it safe and tested.
At the same time, even without “sudden moves” the result can never be predicted for sure. For example, two pairs of creatives in similar stylistics, which showed a very marked difference in CTR. Why? We do not know 🙂 The users just liked one more than the other, it was their choice in the end.
Our creative team gives out about 10 variants of creatives for each project. The traffic specialists always have a choice: if one banner in a series did not go well, they can switch to a more successful one. Even if all go badly – a task will be set and new ones developed. If some line shows a clearly better return and gives more bids – we will continue to work with it more actively.
In conclusion – a little more useful information. We have prepared a check-list that will help you choose an agency for the tasks, which in one way or another involves work with creativity and design.
It is obligatory to be collected in one place: a website, Behance, Dribbble. Pay attention to completed projects, not concepts: creative work and real cases are often two big differences.
Learn about how the work process is structured. You’ll be presented with cases that are already described, but it’s a good idea to show them in conjunction with a portfolio.
It’s important what questions the designer asks. A good designer always goes beyond the TOR.
Evaluate how the layouts are handed over to you. If in the form of a folder with pictures – it is unprofessional. At a minimum there should be a presentation, and it is better to have specialists to defend it.
Yes, the result should be a presentation, but it is always useful if the performer gives a cross-section of the work done. For example, if the project lasts a month – do not hesitate to ask the result for a week. The main thing is not to make changes before time.
Well, the final conclusion is that the development of a visual is only the beginning of the project. Only constant control, tracking campaign indicators and readiness for online management can guarantee a high result.