How to Connect with your Audience in Advertisement

I have mentioned many times in the past in conversation and in writing, that we are living in a world that is oversaturated with advertisements. It is a relatively recent phenomenon that came with the age of the internet, but the gist of the concept is that people are bombarded with so much advertisement, that they start tuning out the ads that do not feel relevant to their interests, emotions, or personal values. To put it plainly: If there is no emotional connection between the ad and the viewer, it will have no impact whatsoever on the intended audience.  In response to this phenomenon, advertising companies have been changing their tactics by creating ads with the intent of getting people to emotionally connect with their brand directly, with mixed results.

After some analysis on my part, I have determined the three components behind advertisements that connect with their audience: A strong emotional message, A targeted audience, and alignment of company values with the values of the audience.

 

When creating any sort of advertisement, you need to carefully consider:

 

  • What you are trying to say- Your Message
  • Who are you trying to say it to- Your Audience
  • Does your message line up with your company values – Do You Say What You Mean

 

Context Done Right- State Farm | Neighborhood of Good

 

 

This commercial is sort of underrated, and it is a damn shame that it is because it handles the complex matter that it introduces with the right tone, conveys the right message to the viewer, and offers a solution to the complex subject matter in a tasteful way.

The ad starts off gentle music combined with a visual of a gentleman who is sitting on a subway and reading a poster that is about pet adoption, he is interrupted by a dog whining beside him and the camera pans to the same dog from the poster, that has somehow materialized as a tangible byproduct of that nagging guilt that most people feel after seeing or hearing a pet adoption ad.   Already, I can identify with this ad, emotionally, I want to adopt all the dogs to prevent their suffering but logistically I know that I cannot afford to do all those things, so the guilt slightly weighs me down just like the man on the subway.

The dog from the poster follows the man down the street and to his office, where the man comes across a Facebook ad that tells him to support the vets on his work computer. He turns to his right and sure enough, the veteran materializes and nods at the man. Again, emotionally, you want to help all the vets, but logistically, most people watching the commercial are burdened with the knowledge that they can’t afford to do that.

Cue the man sitting at a bar with his friends, being followed by the dog and the vet, seeing a news piece on the television about the rise of dropout rates among high schoolers, you know by now that the boy will materialize and follow this man around.  He is now followed by an entourage of various people in need that represent different causes that need to be addressed and it overwhelms this man that just wants to live his daily life without the weight of the world on his shoulders. But it keeps growing ever so larger.

It concludes when the man stops by a local community outreach center and decides that he is going to volunteer his time to this specific cause. The apparition of the boy nods in acknowledgment of his decision, and they all disappear as he enters the building.  A voiceover states, “You can lift the weight of caring by doing” and promotes State Farms Neighborhood of Good, encouraging others to volunteer.

Conclusion:

  • They were sending a clear message to the audience that was easily understood, that message being, “Life sucks, and you can’t fix it all, but you can at least do your part to help.”
  • They knew who they were sending the message to, sensitive people who feel an almost helpless sense of compassion.
  • They knew that the message was in line with their company values, being there as a good neighbor in times of crisis like an insurance company is supposed to do.

 

Context Done Wrong – Pepsi | Protest is the New Selfie?

 

Kyle Jenner Pepsi Ad

 

Pepsi caught hell the moment the company released the possibly well-intentioned but utterly tone deaf protest commercial on YouTube. On a surface level, it seemed like a hell of an overreaction from the public to a seemingly harmless promotion, but if you analyze it piece by piece, you can realize why it was an insult to the audience they were trying to communicate with.

They start off with protest imagery with a crowd of young people with various races, religions, and hobbies. They are all smiling and interacting with each other like they are going to a concert instead of acting like they are legitimately angry or anxious about the issue they are protesting about.  It doesn’t sound bad at first, but if you saw a video of everybody crying at a 5-year-old’s birthday party as the boy blows out his candles, wouldn’t that sort of dissonance just seem a little out of place?

Then Pepsi muddles the message further by a celebrity appearance by someone who has never really been associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, who stops in the middle of a photoshoot to protest because a guy in the crowd flirts with her. Again, there is no context and it confuses the hell out of the audience.  Are they saying protesting is sexy? A fun activity that all the kids are doing just to hook up? And what does this have to do with Pepsi?

In an even more bewildering crescendo in this hodgepodge of a commercial, it ends with the celebrity just simply picking up a Pepsi and handing it to an armed policeman which lead to him drinking it and the crowd cheering like they just achieved world peace.  Wait, what did I just watch?

For the entirety Pepsi’s branding history, the company identified itself as Coke’s main rival and was known in the 90’s as the ‘cool kids’ kind of soda. Their core values were based less on political and somber topics and more on the latest fads in music and pop culture. Coca-Cola was the company that identified itself more politically and internationally. So for Pepsi to try and identify themselves with any sort of political movement kinda makes their brand and soda just fall flat. It is a pale imitation at best and outright identity theft at worst.

So what is their message? Are they saying Pepsi is so cool that it leads to world peace? That Pepsi is the key to preventing all the police brutality?  Policemen are just thirsty and it makes them cranky? What are you telling me Pepsi?

 

Conclusion:

  • We don’t know what they were trying to say except “Buy Pepsi”.
  • We don’t really know who the message was for, while it alludes to the young crowd, there seems to be no real attempt at a connection with the intended audience.
  • We don’t know what sort of values that this company has, it just slapped together imagery of young people doing random things that Pepsi thought was ‘cool’ at the time instead of getting to know the demographic which is outright insulting if you think about it.

 

So if you want to avoid another flop, Pepsi,  when working on an advertisement that is emotional or that is supposed to connect with a specific audience, in general, it is a good idea to be clear in your message, your values, and your identity. When connecting with a specific audience, in general, it is a good idea to be clear in your message, your values, and your identity. Remember, an ounce of prevention in the board meetings is worth far more than the pound of cure that is apologies and wasted money on damage control.

By | 2017-06-16T14:18:09+00:00 May 30th, 2017|mistakes|Comments Off on How to Connect with your Audience in Advertisement

7 Deadly Sins of Web Design

I am going to be brutally honest here, readers. Culturally speaking, the United States doesn’t see art-related careers as an important skill set.  At worst things like designing graphics and building websites are publicly viewed a useless talent that leads to little hope for a career prospect and at best it is treated as a quaint hobby that anybody can do with a bit of hard work and no formal training.

Too often I have seen business owners and students with very little aesthetic know how, try their hand at designing a website only to have abandoned their project halfway through or worse, created one of the most outdated and worst looking websites known to the internet.

However, that does not mean that someone must have a formal education in order to do web design, but it does mean that they just have to take the time to learn the important rules of aesthetic appeal.  Because in the world of marketing and advertising, appearances matter.

That is why I decided to make a list of the worst mistakes that someone new to web design should their hardest to avoid.

 


Number 7: Lack of Content Organization

 

 

 

When you were taught to write in school, you started learning the structure speech, then words, then eventually you could sort them into essays and/or books with multiple paragraphs in a standard format that everyone could understand.

Web content has the same structure that makes it easy to convey the message of the site to the audience through both the use of words and illustrations.

The content in the center of the web page (much like the paragraphs in an essay) is supposed to be structured in such a way that the viewer can tell which section the content is supposed to belong to.  If the sections are clustered together with little space or too far apart, your website will look like an untidy mess, not unlike a kindergartner who has yet to master penmanship or grammar structure.

Content for your website needs to sorted in such a way that it looks cohesive to the audience and should follow the path that naturally draws the eye in a top to down and left to right direction with enough space in between for the reader which section is which.

 

Here are a few resources that can better explain what I mean:

 


Number 6:  Lazy Use of Graphics

 

poor website graphics

Have you ever watched an old television show or a movie at some point in your life and noticed that the quality of the footage was filled with grainy squiggle lines, or that you could see the edge of the film strip?  These visual hiccups deter the audience from focusing on the film completely and ruins the immersive experience almost completely.

So, when customers see your website with an image that has a watermark on it from the stock site that you took your image from, or left-over pixels where the background of an image used to be or just blurry photos, these visitors are not going to be interested in your business. Because these errors reek of unprofessionalism, possible copyright infringement, and outright laziness.

The general rule of thumb when selecting your images is that it needs to be at the highest resolution possible, aka the size with the highest number of pixels, only use your own images or images that are free for public use and to make sure that you download png images so that the backgrounds are transparent and not white.

 

For further resources, check these pages out:

 


Number 5:  Bad Color/Pattern/Texture Combinations

terrible website color

 

It is almost surprising how much colors, shapes, and visual textures could influence how people communicate with each other. The right combination of those elements can send either an intended message that can attract an audience and the wrong combination relay a poorly made, unintentional message that can turn potential customers and connections away.

Oftentimes I have seen websites that either too many textures, blinding/inappropriate colors, and patterns that make no sense.

Here are a few resources that will help if you are struggling with colors and patterns.

 

For further resources, check these pages out:

Number 4:  Bad Typography

 

When it comes to building a website, typography, aka the way that your letters and words are styled and sorted, is almost more important than your choice of colors and patterns for your website.  Good typography serves two important functions. It both must be easy for your audience to read your content and it must set the proper tone.

You would not believe how many times, I have seen site owners choose an ill-fitting font for their main typeface, or that the size of the chosen font was too small for anyone to read properly.  And if your customer or audience has to struggle with either the identity of your website or with reading the necessary text, they will not bother sticking around to try to figure it out.

Here is a link to a couple of resources that put you in the right direction as far as what fonts to use, and what to avoid.

 

 


Number 3: Lack of Site Updates

 

With various professional fields (especially when technology or medicine is involved), it is crucial to keep up with the ever-consistent changing tide of progress, lest you get swallowed in a sea of competition.  Web design is no exception to these rapid changes in not only aesthetics but in user experience and functionality.

Between the constant creation and updates for both mobile devices and computer programs it is important that you consistently update your design to keep the structure ‘up to code’. In layman’s terms check and see if the website builder you use is up to date or if the program is discontinued.

But even that is more forgivable than the lack of content updates to your website. If you have changed your address, your phone number, or if you no longer offer a service then it would be important to take the extra time to notify your customers of these major changes.  But I have seen many a website fail to make these updates and wind up literally turning their own customers away, simply because of the unnecessary confusion.

 

Below is a list of top website building programs and hosts that are more recent to more outdated:

 


Number 2:  Poor Grammar

 

a website with bad grammar

The English language is hard to grasp sometimes, and nobody is grammatically correct 24/7 when it comes to sending text messages or typing out paragraphs. However, it takes a special kind of trolling or an almost brilliant form of laziness, if your customer requires translation for the rampant chat-speak in your blog.  With no periods at the end of your sentences, no capitalization at the beginning of your sentences, and atrocious spelling that can make a third-grade teacher cry, virtually no one will have the patience or the time to take your website seriously or do business with your establishment.

 

To avoid this web design sin, you can either have someone edit your content for you, or you can consult the multitude of websites that can help you with spelling and grammar errors in the links below:

 


Number 1:  Audio Automatically Playing in the Background

 

Back in the days of Myspace yore, web pages took ridiculously long to load, and you have a very limited amount of RAM to navigate with on your home computer, so when you loaded a friend’s profile page and you heard the latest pop ballad or television theme song, you were pleasantly surprised and entertained while you were looking at the photos of your latest outing.

10 years later, you have at least 20 web page tabs open, along with a word processor program and a playlist of your own music and when you click on a link, you hear a second audio track that is playing loudly and you don’t know where it is coming from.

What has been an amusing gimmick in the early 2000’s has now become an utter annoyance that is not unlike having nails screeching on a chalkboard and unless you are a musician with a playlist that can be turned on and off, you have no business embedding any audio of any sort on your blog or website.

 

For a list of reasons why this would be a great design handicap for your website, check out the links below:

 


 

Do you agree or disagree with me? Or maybe there was something I missed on the list. If you want to talk about it, comment on this page or on our Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/purpletieguys

 

Image Sources:

http://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com/

http://philsandovals.com/

http://chainsawtreeservice.com/

http://www.danstours.net/

http://www.stereoandalarm.co.uk/

http://www.benefitadvisory.com/new/benefitadvisory/

By | 2017-06-07T13:17:22+00:00 April 10th, 2017|list, mistakes, Post, top ten|Comments Off on 7 Deadly Sins of Web Design

How to Avoid the 6 Biggest Financial Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make

Inc.com has a magnificent article on financial mistakes new business owners must inevitably face. Filed under hard knocks, this list is a great example of what kind of problems inexperience brings. How many of these things have you encountered in your ventures? Let us know in the comments.

How to Avoid the 6 Biggest Financial Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make | via Inc.com

By | 2017-05-01T16:15:00+00:00 January 19th, 2015|list, mistakes|Comments Off on How to Avoid the 6 Biggest Financial Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make