The average time a commuter or passenger has to read and process your billboard is only six seconds. Within that ultra-brief window of opportunity you creative must be able to get your message across and your brand noticed. This concept holds true for many other forms of art, especially in advertising where your ad creative can easily get lost amidst the noise.
Whether you’re planning on creating directional signs for new construction, or need a banner to be strung across a building, a grasp of design principles will help you achieve the goal of reaching your customers in a timely fashion. I will mention three below that I use on a day-to-day basis, and are guaranteed to improve your company's creative.
The first design principle, and most important, is referred to as Hierarchy. Although it can be seen almost everywhere, many don't recognize the important role it plays in structuring good designs. Hierarchy is the organization of different design elements ranked one above the other in order of the importance. As the designer, you can bring attention to certain elements using size, color or even contrasting shapes. The possibilities are endless, and this principle is a powerful tool for designers to be able to “guide” the customer’s eye through the piece effectively and efficiently by organizing different elements.
Another valuable principle of design is called Balance. Balance refers to the visual weight of an image, and can relate to symmetry, asymmetry or radial balance. Whether you want your piece to be symmetrical, or create a sense of motion through asymmetry…you need to be able to place the elements in way that creates an optical equilibrium. Balance is vital to any piece, and can be achieved through color, shape, line and size.
The last principle that is vital to your art piece is Scale. When scale is used in a design, it can greatly influence the meaning of your work. It is the dimensional element that can be defined by other elements relative to the art, or in relation to humans. If you want to show off a new product of yours, why not make it larger than life so people can walk around what would normally be the size of a pencil? Whenever you introduce scale into a piece it will be sure to grasp the attention of its viewers.
If you keep these three design principles in mind when creating your next piece, you will be sure to turn heads. Some principles are more subtle than others, but once you learn and understand them, it will change the way you convey your message. Remember, you only have a precious few seconds to capture the attention your brand needs from that billboard…so why not apply the same rule to a poster, flyer, banner or even a life-size promo item so you don’t lose those potential new customers and that valuable brand awareness opportunity?