Design and Layout of Printed Marketing Materials

By Alexander Hiam

Design refers to the look, tone, and feel (overall style) of your ad or other printed marketing materials. Design is an aesthetic concept and, thus, hard to put into precise terms. But design is vitally important: It has to take the basic appeal of your product and make that appeal work visually on paper.

Specifically, the design must overcome the marketer’s constant problem: Nobody cares about advertising. So your design must somehow reach out to readers, grab their attention, and hold it long enough to communicate the appeal of the product you’re advertising and attach that appeal to your brand name in readers’ memories.

A memorable photograph is often the easiest way to grab the reader. If you don’t have a better idea, try using a photo of an interesting face or of a child, as long as you can make the image relevant in some way to your product. Beautiful nature scenes are also good eye-catchers.

Great advertising has to rise off the page, reach out, and grab you by the eyeballs. In the cluttered world of modern print-based marketing, this design goal is the only one that really works! So tape up a bunch of ads from the same publication(s) yours will go in (or use samples of competitor brochures, catalog sheets, or whatever it is you’ll be designing in print).

Put a draft of your design up along with these benchmarks and then step back — way back. Now, does your design grab the eye more than all the others? If not … back to the drawing board!

One good way to make your design stand out from the rest is to edit it down so you can have fewer words that are set in larger type. Less is often more when it comes to good print marketing design and writing.