Duration: 2015 – 2017
Client: Harland Clarke, Vericast, Expressionery, iPrint
Role: Graphic Designer
Mediums: Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign
Designing magazine advertorials feels a tiny bit like product design, but within the realm of graphic design. There are many moving pieces and is a beautiful blend of creative direction, marketing, copywriting, photography and design. There are typical design elements to consider from color palette, mood, messaging, typography and more but really enjoy the cross-team effort to send one to production.
Kickoff & Research
Advertorials can convey useful info, but the primary objective is to market a company’s product(s). It is vital to have a kick-off meeting with stakeholders / marketing team to identify the intended target audience, review marketing personas, discuss inspiration, details, budget, specs and review any precedent pieces from previous campaigns. During this phase, everything from mood boards, to a list of keywords to convey the overall emotion, and inspiration is helpful.
Layout & Sketching
I typically begin by laying out the spec sized pages in Adobe InDesign. Having a past issue of the publication the advertorial will be going into is helpful to know where they typically place page numbers, titles, etc. I tend to mock these out on the pages as “unsafe zones” for my creative work. If the copy is already established, we can begin to block those areas out on the page in 10 – 12pt font. They may not be exact, but it helps me visual the space left over for photography and/or illustrations. I go to the sketchbooks and begin to thumbnail how the graphics can work together visually across the page(s).
There is a better chance for reader engagement if the piece is in step with the overall look/feel of the publication vs. being ad-heavy. With my background in product photography, I like to bring a more lifestyle/in-use look to the imagery used in advertorials, taking cues from the colors, textures and lighting used throughout.
Final Deliverables and Lessons Learned
As a designer, it can be all to easy to take advertorial projects and run with it, but with multiple teams involved who each have their own vision, it is vital to maintain close client and team collaboration to minimize revisions and maximize results. I learned so much in my work with advertorials – everything from the importance of collaboration, communication, vision, curated copy writing, and even how to package files up for seamless delivery for production.
Below are a few advertorials I have formatted in the past of which I am proud to showcase my own in-house product photography and illustrations. There is not a scientific equation on how to create a winning piece, but there are some elements of design that can steer you in the right direction. Most of these pieces have an emphasis on call-to-action (CTA), hierarchy, balance, eye-movement, white space, and a basic visual unity for a cohesive look.
Disclaimer: The thoughts shared in this blog are solely my own and do not represent the perspectives of my professional relationships or clientele.