The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines advertising as "the action of calling something to the attention of the public." If you boil it down to that definition, you can really open your mind to the fact that just about everything you do for your company or organization is advertising. Of course, that full page ad in the local newspaper is advertising, and that glossy tri-panel brochure is too. But so is the giant sign on your building, the tiny business card you drop in a meeting (as well as the BACK of that same card!) and even the voice that answers the office telephone.
Advertising is a wonderful concoction of elements that must be harnessed to achieve a desired result. To help explain, think about how we speak to one another. The use of different intonation, volume and speed can give even a single word more power or even change its meaning. The magic of advertising has a similar effect.
So what are the ingredients that make your advertising successful?
First and foremost it needs to communicate the intended message in an interesting way. It's the glitz, the glamour, and the fun — but it's also the puzzle of graphic design. The art of understanding how to use a canvas (be it a magazine cover, package, website, etc.) and visual cues to pull a person's eyes, create a mood and excite the senses. Done properly, intended message is bolstered and empowered.
The second tier is a bit more tricky. It's the art of making certain that the message discovered in the advertising is properly linked to the company or brand that is presenting it. (This seems like it should be obvious, but how many times have you seen a really great print ad or TV commercial, and you realize after it's over that you have no idea who or what it is advertising?) Linking your message with a corporate identity is done through the effective use of branding on the advertisement you have created.
That then leads us to the big picture of developing a seamless campaign of advertising. Repetition of advertising and delivery of similar messages in a variety of formats strengthens the experience. This does not always mean massive media buys — more often, it means making sure that everything you do (print advertising, brochures, direct mail, internet, etc.) works as a cohesive attack of communication that never loses sight of the core brand.
It's a lot to consider, but when the art of advertising is in full effect, each individual design piece is much easier to put together. It gives clear direction and forms an image of cohesiveness and professionalism that your audience will respect — taking the brand experience to the level of brand culture. And once that culture is in place (think of companies like Hershey's, Apple, Target, Coca Cola, etc.) the audience will actually rally around the brand as it becomes a lifestyle for them.
Gee whiz! Advertising is powerful stuff.
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