Category: Branding

Designing To Sell

A few weeks ago, a local real estate agent asked us to help him design a two page advertising marketing piece, which would appear in an upcoming magazine publication here on Oahu.

While the Publication had originally offered and actually did produce an ad design for him, it ultimately failed to meet his expectations, which is where I came in.

So here’s a look at the proposed ad that was initially sent to him (Note: While the layout is the same, we’ve changed some of the content, as I have not been given permission to use the original design).



Without getting into everything that’s wrong with this design, we do want to quickly highlight what we see as its biggest problem; which is its “Compositional Flow,”  or the way your “eye” is led through the design. Looking quickly at the piece, you’re eyes (aka focus) will probably be drawn to either:

  • The Agent’s Photo
  • The Black Bar in the upper right of the page, containing the Agent’s name, website and company logo.

After reading the Headline, which in this case is the Agent’s name and website, the next logical element or piece of information, would be the CTA or Call To Action, which (to the designer’s credit) does appear next.

The problem is that the weight of the CTA’s font is a bit too light in comparison with the other fonts that are in the design. This means, that instead of your eye moving naturally down the page like it should, it will instead be distracted and drawn to, the more prominent design elements, which in this case, would be either:

  • The agent’s picture, or
  • The bold black copy text directly below it

Having now taken about 2-3 seconds, coupled with the fact that there’s nothing that really draws your focus back up to the top of the page, in most cases, you’ll probably stop reading and totally miss the CTA, which is really the most important part of the ad.

So with that being said, here is a look at one of the preliminary ad comps that I submitted to the agent (Again, the design has been altered for the purposes of this email).


Once again focussing on the design’s composition flow; at first glance, your eye should immediately be drawn to either:
  • The Main Image, which subtly leads your eye down the page (from left to right) along the “leading (coast) line”, to a short headline, followed by the CTA. Or…
  • The Agent’s Photo, which would also lead you (from left to right) to her contact info, and then the CTA, which in both cases, is ultimately the most valuable part of the ad.
And while not as bold and graphic heavy as it’s predecessor, this version:
  • Strips away the excess information and content,
  • Focussing directly on the Ad’s message and CTA, which is
  • Reinforced by a clear and direct compositional design flow

This not only creates a much cleaner and effective design/message, but also reinforces idea of luxury real estate services in Hawaii.

In short, when the time comes for you to create an effective marketing piece that sells, always remember to:

  1. Create a compelling Headline and Call to Action that speaks directly to your Audience and
  2. Pay close attention to the Compositional Flow, using it Guide and Direct Them To Action.”
Have questions or need help creating a marketing piece that sells? Contact us to schedule a complimentary planning session for your business today!  – jz

Creating Your Logo

It’s no secret that there are a number of affordable (i.e. $200 or less) online services and options that you could use to design and create a logo (or entire brand package for that matter).

But rather than wasting your time trying to justify a $2,400+ price tag by breaking down the entire planning/design process to you –  I’d like to instead take a moment to quickly highlight two main areas, along with a few important items that you should focus on when creating a logo; regardless if you are working with a Professional Designer, Agency or Design App.

1. The Design Brief

No matter who’s designing your logo, first and foremost, you should always start with a basic design brief or brand style guide. While it doesn’t need to be a long or elaborate document, it does need to address the following:
  • Name of Company
  • Products/Services
  • Competitors (optional)
  • Target Market
  • Values
  • Vision

Example: Green Apron HI Design Brief

To give you an idea of how this is put into practice when creating a logo, here is a rough outline of the design brief, created and used for Green Apron HI’s logo design.
  • Name: Green Apron HI
  • Product/Services: Heart healthy catering + meal delivery services
  • Target Market: Business Professionals in the Downtown Area of Honolulu
  • Values: Clean eating, sustainability, “support local”
  • Vision: “Become the premiere plant based delivery meal service and caterer on Oahu”

2. Your Brand Mark

When creating a logo design always remember to:
  • Use your Design Brief. From your color choices to font selection, everything contained in your logo should reflect the ideas and values found in your design brief/brand style
  • Keep it simple.  Remember: logos are symbols, not illustrations. And while there are definitely exceptions to the rule, it’s important you don’t overcomplicate your brand’s message with a bunch of graphic images or decorative font styles.
  • Think outside the box. Your brand should be both special and unique – avoid using the same generic stock graphics and imagery as your competitors.


  • Consider a variety of options. Whether you are crowd sourcing, commissioning or creating the design yourself, it is important to get as many ideas down on paper – even if 99% of them absolutely suck.
  • Create a color palette. It’s important that the colors you choose not only reflect and reinforce your brand’s message, but also don’t overwhelm the design itself. Once again, keep it simple and try your best to contain your palette to 4 colors or less.
  • Choose your fonts wisely. Last but not least, make sure that the fonts you choose not only reflect your brand’s message, but are also able to be read at a quick glance – in other words: Avoid using calligraphy, scripts and other highly decorative typefaces.
If you are interested in seeing how these guidelines were applied to Green Apron HI’s logo design, you can read more about the design process here.

Have questions or need help creating a brand style or identity for your business? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation for your business today!