December 1, 2015
Communicating with a headline and an image
I've always been fascinated by advertising. To me, it's the highest art form of simple communication. And like all art forms, seeing it done with mastery is a pleasure, and seeing it done poorly is a pain. Unfortunately, most advertising is pretty painful. But the advertising that isn't painful hardly seems like advertising at all. It's simple communication, and it's done with a headline and an image.
Advertising is one place where you do want people to "jump to conclusions". If someone can glance at a headline and an image and immediate understand the message, that's some pretty darn good advertising, and communication.
So take care in writing your headlines and choosing your images. This is no place for subtlety, or irony. This is no place to bury the message several paragraphs in. Yeah, that's why it's an art form.
So, if you're trying to communicate, put your emphasis on the headline and the image. Sure, you can write more "fine print" if you want to, but very few people will pay attention to that.
This is how you do it:
• Come up with a headline. The shorter the better, but it shouldn't be so short that it make no sense. The headline is the most important part of communicating simply, so make it your priority, not something that you add on later. And write is as a sentence, not as a traffic sign. And no abbreviations!
• Keep the image simple. And no, not some stock illustration, or stock photograph. Those are painfully obvious. And besides, you're throwing away 50% of your communication message. Throwing in "just any old image" is like writing a bad headline.
So there you go. A tough assignment, I know! But if you can do this, you can be very successful.
Posted by Brad Hall