Part 2 on the Elements of Good Design

Lamborghini Driving Ad

Do you ever stop to look at an ad in a magazine, billboard or newspaper just because it looks great?

That’s what advertisers are hoping – even if you’re not the target market.

Getting folks to stop and look at a printed ad or an online banner ad is the name of the game. Some marketing executives estimate we are bombarded by upwards of 10,000 messages a day, all vying for our attention. That makes getting the elements of good design across in your ads even more crucial.

Last week we looked at two of the most important elements of good design: light and movement. One example’s at the top of the page. Here is another:
Adidas Ad - Olympics Basketball

You may have noticed in the above examples a few other elements of great design. With movement often comes Tension and Balance. Will the Lamborghini bust through the fourth wall? (Into our laps!) Will the basketball player make the shot? Will the pile of people supporting the hoop and backboard collapse in a heap? All of this makes for great tension.

Balance can be a mix of many elements within the ad.  Within the Adidas ad, the focus is balanced between the figure and basketball hoop (as a combined focal point) with the text for the 2008 Olympic game headline on the right.

In the Volvo ad below, balance is achieved by positioning Snow White in the lower left anchor position on the page, with the headline and Volvo logo anchoring the upper right corner. The ad is not symmetrical, but it is balanced asymmetrically.
Snow White Volkswagen Ad

TIP: Tension and Balance go hand in hand in the layout of artwork or an ad. And even if you don’t have a person or a car in motion in your ad, you can give the illusion of motion and create tension by positioning key elements of your ad in strategic positions.

Frequently the bottom right corner of an ad is considered an anchor position. It is common to see the company’s logo and/or contact information in this spot. Why? Because most of Western society reads left to right, top to bottom. The bottom right corner is where the last impression is made.

Of course, there are many exceptions. The above Volvo ad is a clear example of breaking the rule. But sometimes that is best. Look for positioning opposites in your ad. Maybe your headline is in the upper left corner while your logo and contact information is displayed in the lower right corner.

Here’s a perfect example of this rule:
Loctite Glue Ad "As Strong as a Chain"

“Strong as a chain!” – Loctite Glue.
Here’s a more traditional print ad:
Burger King Ad

While I’m personally not a big fast food fan, I can admire the clean, well-balanced layout of this ad. It does a great job of moving your eye from left to right and then down to do the same. Both text and images get equal weight and work equally well. Balance and tension. Made ya look!

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