An interview with Melanie Steinke, graphic designer at Simplaex
To run a successful marketing campaign, you need two things above all: cutting-edge technology and brilliant creatives. Tools like artificial intelligence and app retargeting are indispensable to the modern marketer. But they’re not a replacement for good old-fashioned skills like design and copywriting. No amount of technology can compensate for a lack of creativity.
At Simplaex, we’ve developed a sharp eye for what works. Today we’ll share some of our wisdom with you.
In this interview, our superstar designer Melanie Steinke from our in-house studio, walks you through the basics of designing an ad that people will remember. Over to you, Melanie…
The first rule of creative advertising – keep it simple. With a mobile ad, you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. Your message should be clear, concise, and appealing.
Many people think of creativity as a spontaneous process. In fact, most professional creatives follow a well-defined plan. When I design an ad, I typically do it in three stages.
Step 1: Making sense of the creative brief
Most advertising projects begin with a brief, which is a set of instructions that explain what the ad is meant to achieve. Once I’ve read through the brief, I start tossing around a few ideas. This is the fun part. Whatever pops into my head, I scribble it down on a piece of paper — notes, sketches, random ideas.
To get the creative juices flowing, I’ll often spend some time collecting images and vectors from the web. Pinterest and Google Images are great places to find inspiration.
Step 2: Creating the layout concept
Once I’ve gathered some inspiring material and developed a few ideas, it’s time to put together a layout concept. This is a rough sketch of what the final ad will look like. The word “rough” should be emphasized here. On an average project, the concept will change about five times before we settle on a final layout. And that’s fine — it’s all part of the process. As the famous painting instructor Bob Ross used to say, we don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.
Step 3: Fine-tuning the details
Once I’ve got the basic layout under control, I start thinking about the finer details. What kinds of images should the ad include? What font should I use? What’s the best color palette?
I start by choosing the images because they are the most important element. Images are the first thing people notice. A single photo or graphic can tell an incredibly rich and vivid story.
Once I’ve chosen an image or two, I search over them carefully for interesting patterns and colors. I then design the rest of the ad in the same style. I choose a color scheme that complements the main image, while also conveying the right kind of emotion — happiness, laughter, sadness, or whatever it might be. Your choice of colors should leave a lasting impression on the viewer.
Another important design choice is typography. To keep my design clean and consistent, I never use more than two different fonts. I also use as little text as possible, with plenty of whitespaces around and between the lines. Text-heavy ads are visually unattractive and difficult to read.
Finally, we can’t forget the call-to-action. Getting people to click the button is the whole point of running the ad, so it’s important to get the design right. The button should be big, clear, and prominently displayed. It’s a good idea to use a contrasting color, e.g. a dark button on a light background.
Design in action
It’s time we put all of this into practice! So let’s create an ad together. It’s for a fictional cartoon game called Black Flags.
Our goal is to get people curious about the game. To create a sense of novelty and excitement, we’re going to emphasize the fact that we have new levels available.
To avoid giving our audience “ad fatigue”, we’ll create several versions of our ad, and then test which one works best.
Why these designs work
We’ve chosen images that fit together nicely in terms of color, subject and style. To achieve this effect, you often need to do some editing and re-coloring.
The color scheme is bright, friendly and inviting. Because this is a pirate game, we’ve chosen colors that remind us of the ocean, beaches, ships, and treasure. Beige, yellow, brown, lots of blue and a bit of pink and violet here and there.
The call-to-action stands out clearly. Against the blue background, the red button catches the eye. To emphasize this effect, we’ve turned up the color saturation.
Calibri is a good choice of font. It’s very readable, even on small screens. The letters are slightly rounded at the edges, which gives the font a clean and gentle appearance. Calibri also supports lots of glyphs, which is important for mobile advertising when ads are translated into many languages.
Now it’s your turn!
By now, you should understand the basics of creating a memorable ad that will deliver business results. But like any skill, the only way to get better at design is practice, practice, practice. So grab your sketchbook and get to it!