Bringing a Healthy Ad to Life: A Danya Designer’s Process

Since April 2009, Danya has been providing graphics support to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Act Against AIDS (AAA) campaign. Act Against AIDS aims to combat complacency about the HIV crisis in the United States. The campaign features national public service announcements as well as targeted messages and outreach to populations most severely affected by HIV.

For the past 3 years, Danya’s creative services team has designed a series of ads for the AAA partnership with UPSCALE magazine. UPSCALE is a lifestyle magazine that provides news on entertainment, beauty, fashion, health, fitness, and travel. UPSCALE readers are mostly female professionals in a wide age range (74 percent are between 25–49 years old) with an average household income of nearly $70,000.

While some may think that print is dead, print advertising can greatly benefit campaigns because it’s tangible, credible, and can solidify a brand’s identity by effectively engaging and reaching niche audiences who are difficult to target online. For these reasons, Danya has worked with AAA to create 13 ads that have been published in UPSCALE since 2009.

Samples of Danya’s printed ads in UPSCALE

Let’s see how the last of these ads came into existence.

Step 1: Get to Know the Project.

The design process for these ads begins with a review of the creative brief or production request that’s provided by the client and project manager. My design work usually begins with reviewing a creative brief or request that’s sent by the project manager (PM). A creative brief includes details such as:

  • Background information on the client
  • Insight into the target audience
  • Business objectives
  • A call to action
  • Supporting data, if needed

Our aim is to consistently provide strong visuals that support the campaign’s message, imagery that captivates the audience, and a vision that inspires the reader to take action.

For the October 2012 issue of UPSCALE, the ad focused on “Fall Must-Haves.” We sought to visually communicate the idea that taking an HIV test should be a fall must-have for readers. It might seem like a stretch to show that concept visually, but by combining the expertise of our creative services team and the insight from the client and project manager, we were actually able to do just that!

Step 2: Do Your Research.

In preparation for the “Fall Must-Haves” ad, our graphics team spent hours on istockphoto.com  and thinkstockphotos.com searching for an image that had:

  • Visuals that complemented the look-and-feel of UPSCALE
  • A model that the readers could identify with in a setting that was believable
  • A color scheme that would complement the campaign’s red, black, and white palette and supported the fall theme
  • Copy space that could accommodate the required text and logo placement

Thinkstockphotos is a site that we often use to view and purchase stock photo images. It has an extensive collection of photos and graphics from nearly 50 stock photo vendors. Creating lightboxes (or folders that store your selected images) is a great way to track which images are being considered for use. Lightboxes can be organized according to client, publication date, or other criteria, and can be easily e-mailed for review by the client before purchasing.

Our research for the AAA project yielded these images that met those specifications:

There were two photos that really caught our eye and we felt would be the strongest. The first was of an African American woman deciding on what would be her must-have shoe for the fall and the second was of a selection of fall fashion staples: an animal print pump, a chocolate handbag, and gold jewelry.

Step 3: Get Creative!

The next step is to build the final product. During the times when the design ideas drip out like a leaky faucet, it’s good to go back to brainstorming. I’ll often flip through the pages of that particular publication or a competitor’s publication to formulate ideas. In addition, I’ll brainstorm with my colleagues, conduct a Google Image Search, view Pinterest boards for photo ideas, or glance at the pages of AIGA, the professional association for design inspiration. A great idea can come from anywhere!

Using Outlook to capture RSS feeds also provides me with ample resources to find design inspiration and stay on task. Some of my favorite design blogs that I have in my RSS feed are:

Now inspired, our team developed these drafts for client approval with the images we found:

The image of the woman trying on the shoes was chosen by the client because it had a modern feel, was eye-catching, provided ample space for the copy, and featured a key element—a red pump that gloriously tied in with the red of the HIV awareness movement.

After a few more rounds of edits by the client and project manager, the final design printed in UPSCALE looked like this:

Tips to Designing Success

Depending on your client, workload, and resources, your design process may need many more than these three simple steps. But regardless of the work you’re facing—whether it’s a print or web design—here are six great tips from Abnormal Marketing to consider before jumping into the designing process:

  1. Focus in on the message.
  2. Sketch your layout. Think about the kind of layout that will appeal to your intended audience.
  3. Create image appeal by using imagery that will quickly catch the eye.
  4. Stick with one color scheme.
  5. Offer short, simple text.
  6. Leave enough of an impression on the viewer so that they’ll want to learn more information on the campaign.

Happy designing!

By Novia Knight

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