Taking control of ad space is like moving into a new home. Sometimes new residents have a large house to work with, a building that delivers so much square footage that interior designers and decorators drool; other times people are moving into a studio apartment, one with hardly any space beyond the bed and kitchenette.
When it comes to advertising, more space does provide greater creative license and an opportunity to grab attention with large fonts and jumbo-sized visuals, but it’s also true that a skillful graphic artist paired with a witty copywriter can draw consumers to products, services and brands regardless of the size of the ad space.
They do it in the same way that a team of expert interior designers and decorators can create magic inside the smallest of homes. Sometimes, in fact, they relish the challenge.
Make it Clutter Free
Regardless of ad size, clutter is almost always a problem – a problem that grows as the ad space shrinks. That’s why creative agencies start by honing in on a central message; then they have to trust that message and avoid reducing its impact by trying to say too much.
Build Balance and Use Negative space
Expert graphic designers know how to balance font sizes with visual elements and use negative space to make the aforementioned central message stand out. This newspaper advertisement, for example, uses negative space to set it apart from the clutter surrounding it.
Likewise, this Starburst ad employs negative space and sharp colors to draw attention to the witty copy, all of which reinforces a simple message – Starburst candy is fun; it provides a mini vacation but also keeps you focused.
Copywriting – Make it Short and Very Sweet
It’s no secret that ad consumers crave simplicity, and great copywriters honor this by saying it short and very sweet in both headlines and body copy.
There are several ways to produce short but sweet headlines. One way is to ask a question. Got Milk? Where’s the Beef? These may seem like overused phrases, but they became overused because they were incredibly effective.
Other headlines read more like sentences. They grab attention for being different, and can sometimes remove the need for body copy, such as in this tiny outdoor Kellogg’s® All-Bran® ad.
Following in the footsteps of a great headline, great body copy should continue with a crisp and punchy tone, and a popular way to accomplish that is by, well, ignoring your elementary school English teacher – the one who told you that every sentence must have a subject, a verb and a complete idea.
Instead, feel free to treat phrases as complete sentences in order to create a declarative, emphatic tone, as in this ad for double-sided tape, which declares it is “Sticky on both sides.”
Of course, going against the “short and punchy” trend also has its advantages, and, while it’s not a small ad space per se, this Beck’s Beer advertisement proves the idea that when everyone else zigs, zagging might just be the thing to do.