What am I looking for?

Have you ever been handed off a piece or marketing material for review and you are not really sure what you are supposed to look for from the design aspect? From a marketing perspective I'm sure you'll make sure the copy reads right and has no typos, and that there's no information missing. From the design perspective, you are not so sure what you are supposed to be looking at. Even though you don't have an art director or graphic designer in house to help you, there are only 5 main things you need to pay attention to:

  1. The focal point. If you are not familiar with it, the focal point is mandatory in any design piece, not only in marketing but also, in advertising, architecture, fashion, industrial design, and any other industry that utilizes design as a way to communicate. The focal point is the visual element that will drag people into your design so that they will read your message. The focal point is what will catch their attention. And bigger will not make it better. You might even have a large blank area and that might do it. Remember that Volkswagen 70's ad campaign "think small"?

    Think Small was an advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle, created  at the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency in 1959.It was ranked as the best advertising campaign of the twentieth century by Ad Age, in a survey of North American advertisements.

  2. The eye path. Once the eye finds the focal point, it needs to follow a path to walk the user through the piece. That path should guide users through that visual piece and direct them to find the way out to finally leave them with a message in mind.
  3. Give me break. In between visual elements, that is. The reader needs to take a break as s/he reads your piece of collateral just as you need to breath in between sentences when you speak. I'm sure you have a lot to say in that little space available but a piece of collateral filled up with information from top to bottom will not be noticed by the recipient.
  4. Readability. The type needs to be laid in a hierarchical manner so that the recipient can skim through it and pick up the most important information as s/he looks at it at first sight.
  5. Negative vs. positive space. The alignment of all design elements (words and images) will generate spaces in between them. That space needs to be balanced out. Too much white space that is not well utilized, or too many contrasting images together will be too distracting for the recipient.

  6. Your logo is not important. This might sounds painful but it's true. Your logo is not your focal point, it is not your positioning, and it is not your call to action therefore it doesn't need to be big as a melon on your collateral. What will make your organization recognizable is your overall branding, meaning the way your organization interacts with your audience at each touch point, not your logo.