How to Redesign an Ad
Before I show the steps taken to redesign an ad, I have to be bluntly honest here: I have never taken the proper steps to redesign an ad before. I know, crazy, right? Being someone with as much art background as I have tends to have the opposite effect on me: I skip all preliminary sketches and do all of my “sketching” right on the computer. For me, it’s more fun that way. My guess as to why, is that I’ve been bored with the typical physical art mediums and have been utterly awestruck at all things artistic being created digitally. However, there is a very powerful step in graphic design when laying out your ideas where real physical sketching is completely necessary and that’s at the preliminary stages: before anything ever makes it onto a computer screen. Believe me, creating layouts, using the 4 main elements of design: alignment, proximity, repetition, and contrast – were, collectively, a massive Achilles’ heel of mine. I mean, I’m an artist! I know what looks good, right? I already use design principles, why would I ever need to learn “new” ones? Ha! The yolks on me, folks, nyuck, nyuck, nyuck……
In all earnestness, though, I was feebly wading around trying to use “good design” to create “art”, when I really should have been “artistically” trying to create “good design”. There is a difference, and the divide between is miles wide with many a bridge to make the oh-so-similar worlds meet. The bridges are the aforementioned 4 design principles, and oh, do I mean to take advantage of them.
To emphasize I must repeat myself: Sketching is extraordinarily important when putting down your 8 million design ideas, this way you forget less of them, and as a side effect, enables you to be able to create MORE of them! So without further adieu, let’s go on with the process.
Step 1: Get an ad
If this is something you are doing in your spare time and not for your workplace (in which case, the ad will be given to you) then simply open up your phone book’s yellow pages and look for a poorly designed ad. This is easier than it sounds, believe me, just look for something that definitely needs re-working, the more messed-up, the better. Here is the example I am using:
This one needs some serious work using stronger examples of the 4 design principles. Does the ad strike you as something you would pause to look at while perusing through the yellow pages? It looks like a preliminary, or practice piece that was made by a designer back in the early 1990’s when all text was centered and extremely boring to look at. Your eye follows the four birds into the corners but to what avail? What purpose? Are we supposed to want to buy an eagle or get construction work done? Think about your message and how you want the viewer’s eye to naturally progress through your ad. What are the most important parts you really want to strike the viewer and get the message across as quick as possible?
Step 2) Problem-solve using the 4 Design Principles
What are the 4 design principles? C’mon, you know the answer to this one. Right? Let’s do a quick review:
I.) Contrast : juxtaposition of dissimilar elements (as color, tone, or emotion) in a work of art.
III.) Alignment: the act of aligning or state of being aligned; especially : the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts (as of a mechanical or electronic device) in relation to each other.
IV.) Proximity: nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation.
Step 3) Appropriately Represent the Content of the Message
This step could possibly be the hardest of them all, mainly because this activity seems to take your head outside the design game for a few moments. Really, though, just think about the overall message and how the client or company wants/needs to be represented and what they are trying to say. When advertising the overall message has very little to do with art or imagery or something that looks slick. It’s ALL about the MESSAGE. The design is only there to aid the message, or to put it into movie terms, your design is basically “Driver”s Ryan Gosling to the advertisements muscle car. It’s all about proximity, simply group all of the related content together appropriately, mark the MAIN pieces, headline them is some not overly-grotesque way and pick a couple of fonts that relay the way you want to convey the message in it’s hardest-hitting, easiest-to-digest format.
Step 4) Sketch, sketch, sketch, sketch, sketch!
Here is where I actually sketched, yes, using a pencil, out some thumbnails of layouts I thought better to suit the ad:
and here is the image of the sketch I made using the best laid out thumbnail in the bunch:
I used proximity to group the related content together. Ex: Headlining with the company’s name in bold dramatic text (the company’s name tends to be the most important part of the message, followed by the next important: what they are, and the next – what they do: services offered, products for sale, entertainment, etc.).
I used alignment to create a much more interesting and easier to read format by right-flushing all of the content except for the services offered in the middle making that part easier to read when not cramming all of that information together uncomfortably.
I used repetition, not over-doing it, but subtly doing it by repeating the star pattern throughout the advertisement. Ex: using the star in all 4 corners, as bullet points for the services offered, and as background prints in the boxes so as not to leave huge dark boxes to distract your eye from the overall message. Line breaks were also used repeatedly throughout the ad.
Contrast was the easiest design principle to incorporate in this advertisement because it’s a black and white advertisement and contrast is a natural development when using such starkly different colors as black and white.