Making Memories with Advertising Design

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“Tripledent gum will make you smile! Tripledent gum will last a while! Tripledent gum will help you mister….. to punch that breath right in the kisser!” This snappy jingle from the movie Inside Out terrorized the protagonist character’s anthropomorphized emotions. They quickly quashed that annoying memory of the song every time it popped into her head. The Tripledent Gum’s marketing team achieved their goal.

Albeit annoying, the catchy jingle’s intent was to be memorable. The tune’s uplifting tones lodged itself into the memories of its consumers, leading to brand recognition and to clarity about the product’s purpose. Overall, that’s the goal of a great advertising design, right?

Obviously, as designers, the last thing desired is to annoy our audience as this jingle does. But, to make a lasting impression… well, that’s striking gold for any brand.

Let’s take a look at how visual communication makes a similar, lasting impression on the targeted audience without annoying them. The Advertising Design course through HOW Design University and Sessions College explains how the right persuasive tools and strategic design components can engrave the brand’s product into the long-term memories of its consumers. Read the preview of this course below to glean tips on making advertising design memorable.


Memory and Familiarity

It is a sometimes frustrating fact of life in our modern society that people are bombarded with one-way communication from every imaginable source and angle, with little opportunity to answer back. For this reason, neither the viewer nor the designer can give equal importance to everything.

Due to the limited attention span of today’s viewer, much of what you’ll create in advertising will be a general impression. Because there is generally a considerable time lapse between a consumer’s exposure to an ad and a purchase, you must strive to make your ads memorable. Keep in mind that the human mind is pre-wired toward associative memory. That is, people will remember your ad conceptually more so than literally. The memory of your ad must be positive, rather than negative, to be effective—even though both positive and negative ads can stand out at first glance.

 Whether the "C" from Coca-Cola is "written" with a lemon peel like in this ad or in the traditional red font, it remains memorable.

Whether the “C” from Coca-Cola is “written” with a lemon peel like in this ad or in the traditional red font, it remains memorable.

How to Capture the Audience’s Attention

So, how do you capture attention? People notice and remember what stands out. The more outlandish or remarkable the ad, the more memorable. If the goal were simply to create a memorable ad, this would be simple. However, the goal is to create an ad which results in the viewer remembering the product. And this is where an enormous number of advertisers miss out.

A popular commercial ran during the Super Bowl and featured a baby talking about stock trading. The idea was so funny and memorable that it was talked about at the water cooler the next day. Yet few people who saw the ad remember the company associated with it (E-Trade) because the visuals did not mesh with the product.

If viewers remember the ad positively, but can’t recall what it was for, you haven’t done your job! But when you watch TV tonight, notice how many ads break this rule—you’ll often see 27 seconds of a memorable scene, then 3 seconds of a brand name that in no way relates to the scene.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Memorability is reinforced through repetition, in ad campaigns that span a range of media, from print, TV, to the Web. The reason that advertising campaigns and collateral must be cohesive is to multiply the impact of your work. Naturally, repetition aids memory.

Einstein said it’s not possible to make an observation unless the observer has a theory to bring to bear on what he is looking at. We all see in terms of what we know and believe. It’s a general rule that we tend to like anything familiar and we tend to back off from anything unfamiliar. Manufacturers are aware of this, thus, what’s on the market at any given point in time generally looks much like everything else. This is much like our discussion on rhythm and randomness. Your ad must fit into an overall pattern of ads for similar products, yet stand out just enough to make your specific product memorable.

Persuasion also depends greatly on audience — particularly how targeted the audience will be and what background they will have. The more life experience or sophistication people have, the more things they are familiar with and the wider their tastes. The more “mass” the market, the more conservative or conventional the advertising presentation.

Like any other communication, visual communication is a transaction requiring some familiarity. The most important premise in the psychology of vision and recognition is that people see and notice what they are looking for. People see what interests them.

Related resources: 

The Advertising Design course covers every aspect of creating a persuasive and memorable design. It helps designers find ways to push through the visual communication barriers that prevent the audience from responding to a design.

Another helpful resource that gives a comprehensive overview of advertising design strategies is Advertising Design and Typography. It helps designers understand how to create ads that cut through the clutter.