If I can summarize last week’s Visual Language class into a single thought, it will be this: Good design tells a story.
I’ve always believed in the power of stories. To borrow from John Keating of Dead Poet’s society, “medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love; these stories are what we stay alive for.”
“Stories” in the Context of Marketing and Advertising
As a marketer, we were always trained to go beyond advertising and into storytelling. And for good reason. Today, consumers are better informed than ever, and a recent Nielsen study points to the fact that that consumers prefer to gather information from their peers or from the “wisdom of the crowds” rather than from advertising materials or marketing campaigns. As a result, brands need to be more like ‘friends’, telling stories and sharing experiences. Storytelling is then the most authentic way to create and sustain longer lasting engagement with consumers. Creative storytelling, especially when designed well, can evoke emotions and generate greater personal connections to a brand, its mission, and ultimately, its products.
An Ad that Tells a Story
Below is an example of a well designed piece of print advertising that tells a great story. The ad is entitled ‘Fat to Fit’ by Art Directors Lauren Hom, Jessie Gang, students from New York’s SVA, for Gold’s Gym. The piece went viral and at the same time shortlisted in 2012’s Clio Awards. It highlights the story of a man’s journey from being fat to being fit with a little help from Gold’s Gym.
The underlying grid highlights two (2) of the ad’s most important elements: the image of man and the simple text that accompanies him. The grid also places the image of the man at the center of the ad, and at the center is his story of transformation. The grid cleverly leads the eye from the “fat” man on top to the “fit” man on the bottom and ultimately leads the eye to the ‘Gold’s Gym’ logo, making the brand the “hero” of the story.
The artists chose to use a simple but BOLD typeface called ‘Salvo Sans ExtraCond Bold.’ It is the perfect typeface because it is bold enough to stand out but not enough to grab attention from the central figure, the man. It should also must be noted that use of the all caps in the ad is symbolic of the almost impossible task of getting thin. Like the text, getting thin is a BIG challenge and often times a huge hindrance to personal growth. The type is also reminding us that in order overcome this challenge, one must BOLDLY commit (as the man standing out and standing proud).
Use of color
The choice of color is also simple. The artists chose black, the color of the type face as well as the color yellow, the color of the brand. The use of the black is strategic so as not to distract the eyes from the central figure of the ad, the man. The choice of yellow is for optimal brand recall.
Negative Space and Hierarchy
The negative space envelopes the central theme of the ad: the man’s journey from ‘fat’ to ‘fit.’ In terms of hierarchy, we can see that the negative space propels the figure of the man forward, highlighting him as the central figure.