Design Tips for Your Business's Collateral Ad - dummies

Design Tips for Your Business’s Collateral Ad

By Gary Dahl

Collateral advertising pieces often require you to transmit a lot of information in a small space. Add to that a customer who won’t give the ad much of his or her time, and it’s easy to see how your collateral ad piece’s design becomes very important. Here are some simple rules that apply to all types of collateral ads:

  • Keep it attractive, relevant, simple, and above all, reader friendly.

  • Don’t expect the recipients to give it much time (they’re on the receiving end of tons of this stuff, just like you are).

  • Use interesting graphics and a provocative headline to make customers curious enough to open and read it.

  • If you have room anywhere in your ad, and if you’re selling a product that can be shipped to the customer, include an order form, like the one shown in this figure.


Here are the various elements of a good collateral piece, which help deliver your all-important sales message:

  • Important copy points at the top: Feature the most significant points of your ad boldly in order to make an instant impact on the reader. Write an eye-stopping headline and brief, succinct body copy.

  • The right typeface: Use a typeface that best expresses the tone of your brochure. For example, if you’re sending out a mailer to announce a big sale, use a typeface that’s big, bold, and direct.

    Don’t use more than two or three different typefaces. Numerous typefaces tend to confuse and distract the reader’s eye rather than focus it. Also, where possible, avoid underlines, boldfaces, italics, outlines, borders, stars, bars, and any other visual distractions. These cutesy elements only add clutter and distract your readers from your message.

  • Graphic elements: Use graphics if they add to the sell of the collateral advertising. Choose the graphic element that best conveys the essence of what you’re trying to sell, and what you’re attempting to accomplish with the printed piece you’re creating. Don’t include graphics purely as design elements if they just distract from the message. Don’t clutter your design with multiple graphic images unless each of them has some relevance to the piece. The biggest mistake made by retail advertisers is trying to fit too much information into a single ad.

  • Color: Although color does add interest and impact, it’s not always necessary. You can do many effective brochures and mailers in black and white.

  • The right paper: A paper with a rich appearance and feel adds greatly to the ambience of your finished piece.