Choosing Graphics for Your Posters, Flyers and Other Marketing Materials

You know those billboards downtown that just grab your eye and won’t let go? Have you ever looked and wondered, “Why can’t I come up with something like that”? We’ve all had those moments. Even the most talented designers in the world take a look at the country’s hottest advertisements and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Your graphics don’t have to be carbon copies of ideas from those super talented individuals that make you sick with their creativity (I have a few of them running around here myself) but with a basic understanding of graphics, human ingenuity and the psychology of pictures you can use your own ideas to come up with posters, flyers, pictures, brochures and billboards guaranteed to make your customers’ eyes pop.

Before there was "Be All That You Can Be", Uncle Sam wanted YOU for the US Army!

First and foremost, let’s talk color. As I was sitting with my kids watching “The Incredibles” last night (an amazing movie, by the way) I got a first-hand look at color psychology in action. As a superhero, Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible) dons a super suit of bright blue, then fire-engine red, to go out and fight evil. The colors are dynamic, the contrast is sharp. In turn, Bob Parr works in a mono-chromatic office that relies heavily on whites, browns and beiges. Even his colors appear washed out by the blasé white shirt he’s wearing. As people, we respond to bright colors and contrasts. It catches our eye, gets us excited, and ultimately delivers the message you want your customers to hear.

But what pictures should you use? Successful advertisements, including posters and flyers, tend to pull their inspiration from one of the following categories:

a) Real objects. If you look inside a Panera you’ll see line drawings of real foods and other objects. Their abstract nature makes them noticeable, but we relate because they’re rooted in fact.

b) People. You know the saying, “Kids like kids”? Well, people like people. We like to see other people out there living their lives, living our dreams, and continuing to move on. It makes us feel as though we can relate to them and, in turn, as though what they’re promoting relates to us.

c) Photographs. Pictures make inanimate objects real to us. When we see a photo, it stimulates our senses and encourages us to pay attention to what it’s trying to say.

d) Cartoons. Have you heard of a process called “Down Aging”? If not, stay tuned, because I’m going to be talking about it tomorrow! For now, however, it’s enough to know that people remember cartoons fondly from their childhood and, when they see a cartoon, are more likely to pay attention to it because they expect to be entertained.

e) Abstract images. Abstract images are extremely popular in logos, because they can immediately be branded to the company without much effort on your part.

Choose an image in one of these categories that are brightly colored, have plenty of contrast and relate to what your company has to offer is the single best way to guarantee that customers will take the time to listen to what you have to say.