This weekend I gave in and decided that enough was enough and I had to tidy my six year old daughter’s room.

Nobody is particularly tidy in our house, but there are limits and we could no longer see the floor in her bedroom. After a morning of winging and moaning and ‘I’m bored’ I got out my Mary Poppins apron and spit spot we all set out to tidy up the nursery (bear pit).

Of course, after five minutes both my son and daughter found toys they hadn’t seen for ages hidden in the murky depths of her bedroom and started a game together. I quietly got on with sneaking out broken bits of tatty plastic and clothes that were too small into the black bag hidden in my room listening to the sounds of happy children playing nicely together.

And in true Mary Poppins style the more floor we exposed and the more care we took over getting her toys sorted out, redressed in the right outfits, hanging up the princess dresses and putting the doll’s house furniture back the more involved she became in getting it all looking lovely. We even started to make some pictures to hang on the doll’s house walls.

What started off in boredom turned into play. Once they could see their toys they could focus and create a game. I left the two of them playing house and went and sat down with a cuppa – bliss (and rare!)

It’s just the same when you are trying to get your message across in your marketing. Whether you are selling a product, an idea or a service you need to get rid of the clutter, otherwise your message can easily get lost or forgotten.

Really good design will centre itself around ONE core message. Whether it is an ad, web page, flyer or meme, the more focus you place on the message, the easier it is to communicate and get your customers to take action.

room-to-breatheHere are a eight top design tips to help you to think about reducing your marketing messaging down to the basic elements and get your core message shining at the centre of your designs.

This will work across all your marketing and make your visuals and copy start to sell for you.

1.       What is the core message you want to communicate in this design?

eg: 50% off all October treatments, live an environmentally friendly life with this new product, create a beautiful home using old clothes, boost your biz in 30 days to live the life you dream of, lose weight for good and be happy, make money through Facebook

2.        Write down everything you think you need to say

You’ll probably find you have lists of information about your product, lists of benefits your customers will get and lots of info about why they should buy from you.

3.       Look again at your core message and cross off everything that doesn’t communicate that ONE thing

This is the hard part. Condensing everything we know and love about our offer to the bare minimum can be very scary. What if they don’t understand my product? What if it’s not persuasive enough? Don’t they need to know about everything I offer? Don’t they need to know my background so they can trust me?

But the more information you put on your marketing material the less focused it will be and, just like my daughter, your customer will lose interest and not engage, let alone buy.

  • For a one sided flyer you need no more than a punchy headline, a strong picture, 4 or 5 bullet points, your branding  and a call to action.
  • For a Facebook ad you need should rely on the image to communicate your core message with a punchy headline, your branding and a call to action.
  • For a display banner, you may have more room but don’t be tempted to fill the space with words. Stick to one large image, a headline,  4/5 bullets points, your branding and a call to action.

4.       Pick a strong image that sums up your core message

Show the benefits and show the results of your product or service. It’s true that pictures speak louder than words and this is a key part of getting your core message across – instantly.

This image will be the centre of your ad / web page / flyer so pick one that doesn’t have a lot of clutter or a busy background.

5.       Focus in on the image

You don’t have to use the image just as you found it. If just a part of the image says more about your core message, zoom in and crop it down.

6.       Choose your fonts wisely

Keep to only two fonts. You can use a more characterful font for your headline but make sure it is easy to read!

7.       No rainbows please

Stick to 2 or 3 strong colours. Just using too many colours, bolds, italics, underlines or font sizes can make a design look very cluttered.

8.       Give your core message room to breathe

Now that you’ve cut your copy down to the minimum you can make sure to leave lots and lots of room around it. Increase the space between lines, especially for smaller text. Leave lots of space around your headline. And make sure that the image, your logo, your headline and your text are very easy to read.