June 14, 2024


Inspired By Shop

Ad industry needs to adopt a design-centric thinking approach

3 min read
Ad industry needs to adopt a design-centric thinking approach

By Rich Shelton, VMLY&R Cape Town Creative Director. It’s no secret that in today’s connected world we are exposed to a constant stream of advertisements, content and information. With all the ads and content bombarding us every day, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and, simultaneously, underwhelmed by the ads we see. It’s important that advertising agencies have a good understanding of design-centric thinking and use it effectively to give their brand partners the edge over the competition. With so much visual overload, a design-centric advertisement could be that edge.

Design-centric thinking is a fundamental aspect of any creative industry, especially in advertising. It is the art of creating thoughtful and purposeful visual communication that resonates with an audience beyond a clever idea. Great design should never be seen, but rather felt. It should be seamless and integrated into the overall campaign message and objectives, without drawing attention to itself. The goal of great design is to create a natural flow that leads the viewer’s attention to the intended message without distracting from it.

Rich Shelton
  • Elements of design: You can think of design like a recipe, with ingredients such as balance, contrast, colour, typography, imagery, and layout as the ingredients. Like a chef combines just the right amount of a recipe’s ingredients to create a delicious dish infused with texture, structure and taste, designers use these design components to create effective visual communication that not only conveys a message but also connects with viewers on an emotional level. For example, think about Coca-Cola. The unique script font, combined with the iconic red and white colour scheme and unforgettable bottle shape has remained consistent over the years and has become synonymous with the brand. When people see Coca-Cola content, they don’t just see an ad; they feel a sense of nostalgia and happiness. This is the power of great design.
  • Start with design: Of course, these days, the work we do is not always tangible, like a cooldrink bottle. A lot of it happens on screens. Technology has also created a culture of urgency that requires more content to be churned out, faster. Does that mean it’s time to lament the end of good design? No. Because the main issue has nothing to do with good or bad design. The truth is that the world is full of both. What makes design effective, however, is how we use it – and that means thinking design first.

By embracing design-centric thinking as a foundation rather than an executional end phase, campaigns can become more effective and memorable. Design should be the framework or backdrop for everything else. Like the music in a movie, it should be there, but you don’t notice it until it’s gone (or terrible!). And yet, without it, the movie – or in our case, campaign – would lose its impact.

Ultimately, design is a fundamental aspect of the advertising industry, and design-centric thinking is essential for catapulting the industry forward. So, next time you see an ad that really grabs your attention and keeps it – take a closer look at the design that makes it effective and consider how you can apply those principles to your own work.


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