top of page

Renew, Refresh, Rejuvenate… Redesigning Your Ads

“I don’t know the rules of grammar… if you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”

– David Ogilvy

When is it time to consider a redesign of your company’s advertising material? Some may answer, “when its effectiveness drops,” or “when the competition does,” or “when we hire a new marketing director.” We agree that these are good reasons, but we also would add that periodic redesign should be part of your regular advertising cycle. A good redesign will refresh your ads and renew them for your loyal customers and your prospects alike.

Signs That a Redesign May be Needed

Your company’s advertising material may need a redesign if any of these conditions exist:

• It has been more than five years since you first developed the advertising material.

• Your company today is much different than it was when the advertising material was developed.

• The target audience for your product or service has changed since the advertising material was developed.

Your advertising material may also show signs of aging in the selection of typeface, the layout, or the color palette.

Redesigning Ads and Flyers Using the Ogilvy Layout

Advertising legend David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency and creator of well-known copy (“At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from this electric clock.”) and characters (the man in the Hathaway Shirt; Schweppes, and Commander Whitehead), developed an ad layout formula so successful that it became known as the Ogilvy. The formula adheres to the order in which researchers say readers typically look at ads:

• Visual (photograph or graphic)

• Caption

• Headline

• Copy

• Signature (advertiser’s name and contact information)

The basic Ogilvy layout can be altered as follows: to include a coupon (set ad copy in a three-column grid and place the coupon in the third column); to move the headline above the visual (when the headline carries more weight than the visual); or to set copy in a two-column grid and to move the headline to the right of the visual.

Other Layout Options

The rules of good page layout apply to ads just as they apply to other types of documents. In addition, ads must provoke the reader to action. The layout of an ad can definitely help accomplish this goal. In addition to the Ogilvy layout, try these other options:

Z layout: organize the elements of the ad in a “Z” pattern with the most important element in the upper left corner and the call to action and signature in the lower right corner.

Layout with illustrations: photographs, drawings, or illustrations can be used to show how a product is used; show the benefits of using the product; or demonstrate difficult-to-understand

instructions or concepts.

Simple visual layout: a single strong visual, combined with a short, punchy headline over the ad copy, can be a very powerful layout.

Super-sized layout: filling the top half or even two-thirds of the ad space with oversized text or graphics, including bleeding the image off the edges, draws the reader’s attention immediately. Readers associate size with importance, so reserve this treatment for the dominant part of the message.

Coupons are known to increase reader response. If you have room in your ad, do include a coupon. If your ad is small, put a heavy dashed border around the entire ad to create the feel and appearance of a coupon.

You can also direct the reader’s attention by placing the ad’s most important element in the visual center. The visual center is located slightly to the right and above the actual center of the ad. The visual center acts as a natural focal point regardless of where the design focus is. Remember this when you are deciding where to place the individual ad elements.

Using Ad Templates for Redesign

Templates are pre-designed documents that contain placeholders (such as boxes, dummy text, and headlines) that can be overwritten with actual copy and photographs or graphics. Templates may be purchased, or you can create your own.

A template can be a great time-saver, can provide design inspiration, and can augment the design capabilities of an amateur designer. Using a template as a basis for your ad will also provide consistency among your ads.

If you choose to use an ad template, select one that is appropriate for the job at hand. Begin by selecting a template whose ad is the correct size and does not require extensive alterations. Other tips for customization include:

Use your own graphics. Substitute your own graphics or clip art for what was included in the template. Since graphics also include rules and boxes, you can change the size or location to better fit your needs.

Alter the type. Change the template’s typeface, change the leading (the space between lines), or type justification. When selecting a new typeface, be sure not to stray too far away from the original design. For example, substituting a casual typeface for a formal one will likely compromise the design.

Change the color. Sometimes a dramatic change can occur when color is changed, even if the

design is unaltered.

Change the background. Create a reverse (white or light text on a dark background) to draw the reader’s eye. The reverse can be an entire headline or only the single capital letter that begins the headline. Do remember that not all typefaces and sizes are suitable for reverses. Fine serifs can disappear in a reverse.

Need help? Ask us!

If you suspect your advertising material needs a makeover but are unsure how to proceed, please give us a call at 781.337.0002. We will be happy to evaluate your existing ads and make suggestions for updating them to conform to current trends in graphic design and advertising.

bottom of page