This week we have been looking at the concept of a visual system for your travel practice – the graphical elements that represent your brand. Now, let’s zero in on the creation of an advertisement as a concrete example. Creating great visual advertising is both an art and a skill. The graphic design of a print or banner ad has to be clean and uncluttered, yet interesting enough to grab the viewer and pull them in. Good graphic artists know this and use a mix of graphic elements, text, color and white space in exactly the right proportions to create an attractive and professional advertisement.
The travel professional hoping to also become a great advertiser has to become a student of advertising. Look at the advertising on websites, in magazines and in your local newspaper. Study how the larger tour companies advertise in print and online. Note the font sizes for headlines versus body text and determine how placement and areas of white space are used.
The key visual elements of an advertisement to observe are:
- A headline that grabs the attention of the viewer and draws him in;
- The Logo and other graphic elements that identify the company and attract the eye;
- White space that makes the ad pleasant and readable;
- Colors that set the tone of the advertisement and identify the brand;
- Fonts that are identified with the brand and easily readable;
- Copy that stresses benefits;
- A call to action.
Remember most of the people who see your visual ad will not be looking for it. Therefore, you have to command their attention immediately. This is typically the job of either the headline, the graphic elements or both. With sufficient white space and a readable font selection they will quickly scan the ad for anything that interests them: benefits. Their eye then comes to rest on a call to action – call us, come to our office, email us or even “click here” when online. In essence, then, the ad must capture attention, persuade the reader of benefits and then get the reader to act.
A visual ad can be either strategic and brand building, or tactical – calling for an immediate buying decision. Most ads carry elements of both. However, in the fleeting few seconds your readers have with your ad you must either create a relationship or play on a pre-existing one. Thus, the more times your readership has been exposed to your brand (logo, company name, reputation, word of mouth), the more likely they are to respond to your print ad. This indicates that print ads are best used in conjunction with a matrix of other marketing tactics, each of which refers to the others and builds brand familiarity over the course of time. A single, one-off ad or even the first few ads in a series are unlikely to have impact until the reader’s eye is familiar with either your company or is actually looking for your product – travel services or a particular destination or theme.
Put together all of these elements together creatively and with an eye to maintaining your visual identity and you will have an attractive ad with a good chance of actually working!