Creative and content

Creative Concept

The right idea

If content is King, then creative concept must at the very least aspire to be Prince. More often than not, truly memorable or even loved visual communications have at heart a concept that resonates with an audience on a visceral level. Great creative concept is rather more than polished design execution. Arguably this is the most difficult aspect of any advertising campaign or branding effort. It is also the most regularly ignored. It should be the area that receives the most attention at the earliest opportunity.

The crux of the matter

If you are not scared when you think about this stuff, you should be. Bad or non existent creative can make or break a campaign, your brand and ultimately the continued health of your company. Ideally it should present a synergistic fit with marketing intelligence and business positioning. The level of difficulty is reflected in Designforge’s cost structure. It is the most expensive item for a reason. The good news is, great creative is more like God than King.


Short or Long form?

Generally, short form copy that is clear, concise and convincing is more likely to relate to a modern audience. However, the long form copy approach can also be extremely effective in an appropriate context. This approach has a venerable heritage and is less utilised today, primarily due to (often) ill conceived budgetary constraints.

Writing Style

For all forms of writing, an insightful style and artful cadence can be just as important as factual accuracy. These skills are not acquired by chance, so consider the benefits of having a professional get involved. Excellent quality writing does cost, but it can continue to add value long after the original financial sting has faded.

Be Practical

From a practical point of view, ensure that the amount and visual presentation of text is suitable to the media at hand. If budgetary considerations provide natural limits to length, take heed — don’t try to pack a novel onto a postage stamp! It also makes sense to utilise only the media appropriate in its ability to present a required density and length of information. This would also necessarily presume that the budget allows for enough physical area and length to accommodate long form copy.

Photography, Illustration and Graphics

Invest in quality imagery

A picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps, but the real heart of the matter is that people are essentially visual beasts. Our brains are well keyed to pattern recognition. It probably doesn’t matter if this is necessary to detect predators, to hunt game, or to detect social cues. The obvious fact is that visuals and visualisation are a core part of who we are at the most basic level. Appeal to everyone’s inner monkey, invest in quality imagery.

What makes a quality image?

Determining just what quality imagery is, no matter if it takes the form of a Photograph, an Illustration, or a graphic is a tricky matter indeed. You may well say that it comes down to personal taste, however there are a number of generally accepted rules. These rules become more solid the more the material ventures into the realm of the everyday, or the conceptually well defined. Essentially, make sure it looks like what it is meant to be.

For example, If the artwork is meant to be a portrait photo for a corporate tree in an annual report, ensure that it is in focus, well lit, composed and cropped, and that the subject looks like someone you would like to meet. This would include the subject looking suitably well dressed and groomed, awake, calm, happy and healthy. No sneezing or blinking allowed! Relatively simple stuff, but too often overlooked. A good photographer would take a portrait shot and mystically extract the personality of the subject. A great photographer would do so for the entire company and ensure that images were consistent by a variety of significant measures so they present well side by side. As you can see by this example, there are many variables involved.

In summary, all images must look intentional, even subjects which are not figurative in nature. All images have their own internal logic and rules, just like the example listed above. Becoming attuned to the rules to pick great artwork is difficult. In circumstances where clients must produce or supply their own artwork, please attempt to identify and operate by the rules. In all other cases, let me commission a professional photographer if required — or more often, purchase stock photography that meets standards for both artistic and technical criteria.

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