Leaf through the pages of many small to medium market newspapers, supplements, magazines, or look at other advertising mediums,  and one thing immediately stands out: Ad designs that suck. There’s very little that attracts the eye.  There’s no focus that draws the eye to key areas of the design. And most ads look like they’re from the 1970s School of Ad Design. Blech.

Many businesses and organizations spend huge dollars on advertising. The trouble is, very few look at the dollar value they receive for the creative end result. They simply put the design process into the hands of the media property that will be publishing the ads. You speak to a sales rep. And then, woosh, your design work goes into the hands of a person you will never meet or speak to.

FACT: Good ad design costs money. That cost is usually a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the advertising space being purchased.

THE UGLY

Three easy ways to spot inferior ad design so common in small to medium markets:

1. Heavy use of black reverses and heavy use of amateurish clipart. Oh, this is painful. It starts with those ugly black boxes with white lettering. When used too extensively, they are hard on the eyes. This is an outdated technique used to solve issues when an ad design has no colour. The pain continues with the overabundance of goofy clipart. In fact, you’ll frequently see the same cartoonish clipart characters recycled through many ads over time…. including your ad. There’s little originality.

2. Too much text crammed into too small a space & fonts that are a mish-mash. This is a common fault with junior ad designers who simply follow instructions rather than provide input and creative solutions, and have so many ad designs on their plate that they must churn out many designs quickly and use as many different fonts as possible so they look different.

3. Typos. And more typos. With inferior ad design, there’s seldom any quality control. You usually end up with a typo. Or two. Or three.

THE GOOD, COURTESY OF SKILLED DESIGNERS

Three easy ways a skilled designer will make sure you shine through affordable ad design:

1. Communication. You get direct communication with the person designing your ad. That’s right. The designer. Not a sales rep. A skilled designer will meet directly with you before the design process begins. A skilled designer will keep in contact with you during the creative process. A skilled designer will offer suggestions, rather than just say ‘yes’ to everything.

2. Your designs will stand out. With so many inferior ad designs blighting products out there, having your ad professionally designed will make sure you stand out from all those ad designs that suck. That means eye contact for your design! Skilled designers understand the power of white space, the power of choosing the right colours, and the power of choosing complementary fonts. Skilled designers also deal directly with stock image agencies to acquire the rights to professional photos and illustrations.

3. Time. This is a biggee. A skilled designer will put his/her time into your project. Your ad work isn’t treated like another widget on a fast-moving assembly line, and then shoved out the door.

The point here is that professional ad design is worth every penny. Your brand is a huge investment. Having a skilled designer create your ad design is a small price to pay to ensure your brand’s image is being projected with thoughtfulness, creativity and  flare.

Don’t spend, for example, $2,000 for a full page ad, and end up with a dud. Hire a skilled designer. Be involved in the creative process. And end up with a design that rocks your message!