Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Ad design to grab attention and response

Effective ad design requires visual impact

In the world of print ad design, there’s constant clamor for attention … “look at me, me me!” Despite today’s proliferation of online channels, print ad design is still valuable as part of an integrated strategy.

What does it take to stand out on a crowded page and compel response?


This ad for Salem Convention Center won a silver SIAAward.

Page dominance and visual impact


This ad earned a sliver Summit International Award

On a magazine or newspaper page, one of the quickest ways to draw the eye and grab attention is “go big.” Half page at minimum, larger if possible. Your ad design will dominate the page and, simply by its size, be the first ad seen.

But the best way to stand out is to design for visual impact. In most publications this means large type, simple visuals and good use of white space. In fact, we have found that oversized type in a brief, succinct headline or series of simple words grabs the eye.

Take a look at the publication. Is it filled with crowded ads packed with lots of tiny type? Think contrast. You’ll stand out more when your ad looks different from all of the others, even if your ad is small.

Today our audiences seldom read lengthy content of any kind. They’re going to first scan for images and specific words or phrases. If those work together in your ad design to pique their interest, they’ll read further.


This ad, although a quarter page, draws the eye with a large photo

What else draws the eye? Faces. People looking at the reader. As humans we’re naturally drawn in when someone is looking at us. Just be sure it makes sense in the context of your ad and message.

Ad design to drive web traffic

Depending on your audiences and category, ad design can be a valuable component of an integrated marketing strategy. When the target market is narrow, and there are well-read publications to serve that market, great ad design will send prospects to a landing page and your website.

Thanks to the internet, an ad today doesn’t have to tell the whole story and provide all the details. It just needs to be strong enough to grab interest and send someone online for details.

Frequency and consistency


This headline and image tied the whole campaign together


This is just one ad in the award-winning campaign for the brand launch for Real Estate Professionals

Building attention to a campaign demands consistency and frequency. When using multiple editions or publications, such as different newspapers in different regions, ensure the ads you’ve designed visually relate and reinforce the core messages. In a short-term medium such as a newspaper, frequency will build recognition, especially when the ads have visual impact.

A simple, strong headline and consistent imagery, even in different ad sizes, goes a long way. The simpler the better. Instead of clutter and complexity, be laser focused on one idea for words and pictures.

As one pundit said, “be clear, not clever.”

Takeaways, how to achieve better ad design

  • Dominate the page with a larger ad size when your budget allows
  • Build visual consistency with frequency in short-term publications
  • Use your ad to grab attention and interest, then send readers to your website for details
  • Big type and simple headlines stand out on a crowded page
  • People’s faces draw the eye, especially when that face fits your message
What are your ad design challenges? Any questions or thoughts to add?

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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