by Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

Let’s say we have a client who needs an ad or piece of literature focused on a new series of machines. After I understand the creative and marketing strategies, I start experimenting with layouts. For inspiration, I avoid looking at the typical B-to-B magazines and go straight for my car magazines. Car magazines are filled with very creative and technical ads for new car models and ads for safety innovations. That car is the focal point of the ad. I look at the advertisers’ use of space, color, tone, purpose, and whether or not it makes me excited like a 15yr old boy on a beach. I also explore social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and blogs for the latest creative trends and dos and don’ts.

Keeping in mind that the copy often drives the design, I work with layout options that presents the information our clients want to get across most effectively. I’ll never go back to a copywriter and tell them that their copy doesn’t fit my design. I frequently make adjustments to my concepts in order to accommodate the size of content. The exciting part about this is that it keeps me on my toes creatively and allows me to continue producing unique looks for each project. I also like experimenting with page orientation. Vertical layouts are traditional. Horizontal layouts are rare. If I think the information presents better horizontally, I’m all over it like ugly on an ape. It’s unique and stands out from the other ads in the publication. However, I’m still waiting on a client approval for an upside ad. Waiting… still waiting… I should grab a Snickers®

Now that I have some layout options and I know the tone of the copy, I pull keywords from the copy and start researching images focused on the targeted audience. I’m looking for those digital, high tech, sophisticated images. Not the ones that are plain, dull and straightforward – I’m after the dramatic angles, abstract views and well-taken photography.

While images are key, I also explore new ways of incorporating color to prevent pieces from blending in with those template driven ads. Most of our clients have their main corporate color palettes but also include secondary color palettes. As much as possible, I try to work in these secondary colors to add more depth to the creative. Today’s consumer market color trends are very minimalistic. A lot of black, darker colors or whites, lighter colors are being used in printed materials to achieve that sleek, elegant look. I work from this in my own style to give each ad that high level sophistication that presents the product as if it’s the best of the best.

With the layout structure, dramatic imagery, highly technical copy and sophisticated color scheme together, I feel we have developed an ad that presents the information effectively and also stands out in a magazine.

The Wrap

Looking back on the evolution of my design process over the last five and a half years, combined with the collaborative dgs approach, I feel we have been able to develop some highly effective and influential creative designs. No designer has it all figured out. We have to keep our eyes open and minds alert for new ways to help clients evolve, while remembering who we are marketing to – people. Even though B-to-B consumers rarely make spontaneous purchases like Apple enthusiasts do when the latest product is released, there is still an emotional element that should be acknowledged and respected.

A machine tool or a spindle will never obtain the same excitement for a buyer as the latest Corvette or iPhone, but emotions control much of what we do, and when communicating to a person whose purchases have the power to change the way his or her company does business, finding ways to engage, entice and persuade them is vital to any advertiser’s success.

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