The human brain takes in a tremendous amount of information in an instant and decides for us what is important enough to call to our attention, as well as what is so unimportant or ordinary that it is filtered from our awareness completely.
This is why you can see familiar shapes in clouds, trees, rock formations, ink blotches, or even cracks in the ceiling – while at the same time you can drive down the road and not be aware of things you see every day.
In marketing we use this to our advantage. We create images that trigger the pattern recognition to call attention to a subject, or use the same concept to hide something altogether to guide the focus of attention along a path to another subject.
Every idea is only as good as its execution. It doesn’t matter how great the idea – for an advertisement, a website, a sales letter, or ad campaign if its execution detracts from the intent or purpose of the idea itself.
For example, a poorly designed website communicates volumes to the visitor that the owner or designer never intended – or even thought of. The dated design, the confusing user experience, the encyclopedic copy keeps the visitors focus on the lamentable execution rather than the message or intent of the site itself.
An overly designed or decorated website or advertisement is often an attempt to mask the lack of content or creativity. Often designers will overuse fonts, colors, and other design elements to try and make their work look more professional, but in reality it only highlights an amateur design.
Effective ideas in design and in writing always come from taking away everything that doesn’t help or add to the communication or purpose of the work itself. The most effective ideas are those that are reduced to the simplest and most essential elements required to achieve its purpose.
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is something I learned from years of working in other people’s businesses. It’s so easy to take the default path in your marketing, your websites, your advertising. That’s why so many industries and markets do everything the same. They watch each other, they follow each other, they copy each other.
What results is a never ending cycle of sameness and usually a whole bunch of ventures and campaigns that don’t work.
The default path is the lazy path. It is the quick and easy – the gamble.
I’ve watched many competitors each doing the same thing (that didn’t work) because everyone else is doing it. And because each sees their competitors doing it, they persist – even if by their own calculations it is a failure and should be abandoned.
What they see is the appearance of success from the outside. What they didn’t see was the internal meetings after the fact where the boss says “never do that again!” (more…)