We are all partial to pretty things. People, products, pictures or pets – everybody is attracted to attractive stuff – hence the word “attracted”. This, for designers, means that every ad, brochure, poster or website has to look attractive. Which makes sense.
However, the world happens to be full of ads, brochures, posters and websites, and they’re all competing with each other for the consumers’ attention. This, of course, means that people are bombarded by attractiveness (or attempted attractiveness, at least). If an ad, brochure, poster or website is to stand out from this barrage, the designer must ensure that it is extra attractive or, as I like to call it – superttractive (my word, feel free to slip it into everyday conversation).
Bear in mind, even before the consumer has the inclination, time or desire to discover the content of the ad, brochure, poster or website, they first need to notice it. Unless you’ve got them cornered in a bank queue, church or other sheltered spot free from marketing collateral, your challenge is to get the consumer to notice your marketing communication long before they will actually see it, absorb it, or act upon it. That is where the skill of the graphic designer is.
A short digression: There is a psychological phenomenon called “Illusive Superiority”, which basically means that most people think they are better at a particular task than they really are. Almost by definition, only 50% of a population can be “above average”, and a large chunk of the “below average” group are just delusional. Creativity is one of those areas where many people, designers and non-designers alike, suffer from this delusion.
Assuming that most designers are, in fact, above average in the creativity department, seeing as they became designers in the first place (rather than, say, auditors), it’s normally a good idea to leave the creativity to the designer, regardless of how creative the non-designer thinks he or she is. Side note: A 2- week course in Photoshop Essentials doesn’t make you a designer.
The skill of the graphic designer is in transforming the communication goal of a product, company or campaign, into a superttractive visual, emotional and informative message (that’s right – my word again). And the skill of a talented designer lies in choosing which of those three attributes is the most important, and conveying it in the best way. There’s only one answer and it doesn’t matter what the brief is, the most important attribute of any design in any format is emotion.
Attractive things are that way because of the emotion they invoke in people, whether it’s lust, love, surprise, happiness, anger or jealousy. In order to make a communication noticeable and memorable, it needs to attach itself to an emotion of some sort – any sort. That’s why funny designs, shocking designs, beautiful designs and unusual designs work. Consumers attach an emotion to them when they see them for the first time, and that emotional attachment is what provides the recall for that ad, brochure, poster or website later on.
The next time you’re briefed on a project, before you consider the layout, the photos, the illustrations or fonts that you would like to use, think about the emotion that you would like to convey. If you’re focused on that throughout the project, and are able to convey that emotion through your design, then your ad, poster, brochure or website will be far more superttractive than most others.