Advert design

For the purposes of this article, ‘advertising’ covers all one way communications with the consumer. This include advertising via internet banners, magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, billboards, and the multitude of other media available as advertising space. Designing a good advert can mean the difference between success and failure and is worth investing in.

Understand your customer

Getting to know your customer is vital to designing a successful advert. Use market research to divide the consumer into relevant customer groups, then target them effectively and in as fine a resolution as you can manage using media that they will come into contact with. Read more about segmentation in our article on promotional strategy.

Treat the customer with respect – golden rules

Most consumers are wary about advertising – they come into contact with it every day, regard it as intrusive and are skeptical of marketing messages. You’re already treading on thin ice so don’t do anything which will further annoy or irritate.

  • Don’t use false or outrageous claims. These may make a good headline and grab attention, but when you are discovered as a fraud, the resulting negative word of mouth will have the potential to destroy your brand.
  • Avoid clichés. These will cause the ‘I’ve heard this before’ reaction which will prevent any further message being absorbed.
  • Don’t patronise your audience – they’re smart and like to be treated that way.
  • Don’t be aggressive in your style or techniques – this will only cause the audience to become.

Attracting attention – how to write a good headline

Advertisers get a very brief opportunity to catch the consumer’s attention. Use language which the viewer / listener will relate to and give them something that switches their brain from ‘ignore’ to ‘ok I’m listening’. You can use techniques such as those listed below to gain a few extra valuable seconds of your audience’s time.


Reaction: ‘So what’s this all about then?’

  • Five great reasons to give up smoking
  • The secret to making people like you
  • How a new discovery made a plain girl beautiful
  • Do you make these mistakes?
  • Are you ready to become a millionaire in 12 months?


Reaction: Stirring feelings or memories

  • The child who won the hearts of all
  • Often a bridesmaid, never a bride
  • Are your loved ones worth £10 to you?
  • When was the last time a hot girl checked you out?
  • How to take command at any meeting
  • Have you lost touch with old friends?


Reaction: ‘I can relate to that’

  • Are you ever tongue tied at a party?
  • Do you feel overweight?
  • How many times are you caught out without a pen
  • Fed up of rising fuel costs?

Identify a problem

Reaction: ‘I wish there was a solution to that’

  • Do you have dandruff?
  • Tired of doing the dishes?
  • Is your shower clogged with limescale?
  • Having trouble sleeping?

Making a claim

Reaction: ‘That sounds interesting’

  • How to make up to £40,000 a year working from home
  • “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the ticking of its electric clock” – Ogilvy
  • This new moisturiser will make you look younger, or your money back

Generating interest and desire

Ok, so you’ve got their attention for a few seconds – how do you hold their interest and get them in the mood to buy? To make your advert appealing you need to tap into the emotional and practical sides of human nature and show how your product can help…

  • Reduce or avoid effort
  • Save time
  • Make them money
  • Save money
  • Gain knowledge
  • Become more successful
  • Avoid a missed opportunity
  • Improve their image
  • Be more popular
  • Give them a great experience

The list goes on and on. If your advert is to the point and appeals to the customer on a personal level, they may be ready to take the next step.

Using the right images and layout

Selecting the right image can make a huge difference to the impact of the ad. People will make quick assumptions about your product and brand from the images you use in your adverts. Ensure the imagery used reflects your brand values – premium brands invest large sums of money grading and retouching images to ensure they give the right impression, but cheaper products can often get away with lower quality photography or video. Using a professional photographer or film crew may be a large investment for a small business, but can contribute much more to your brand perception.

Demonstrate how the consumer can take action

Make the next steps you would like the consumer to take incredibly obvious and as easy as possible, whether this is visiting a website, dialing a number or walking into a high street shop. Make it clear how they can obtain what you are selling, and give them some motivation to do it quickly. Limited offers are a great way of stimulating short term interest. One the potential customer makes the next move they have entered your purchase funnel, and you must ensure your marketing mix and all consumer touch points encourage the next step to be taken towards purchase.

Final words

Although a good advert is a valuable method of attracting attention to your brand and generating awareness, they can be less successful at generating sales, especially with more premium and expensive products. If you are trying to market a premium product, consider using more personal methods of communication as part of your marketing strategy such as experiential marketing.