Almost every business owner or executive has heard that today’s consumers are simply more sophisticated than the consumers of the past. Advertising firms and graphic design companies tend to promote highly sophisticated marketing materials and websites to business owners. Many experts in the social sciences and the field of media studies have researched whether or not today’s consumers are really more sophisticated in terms of aesthetics and appreciation of great graphic design.
The response has been a resounding yes with a few caveats thrown into the mix. On the whole, consumers do expect more of graphic design, especially in advertising. An investment in high-quality graphic design and great advertising materials almost always pays off in the long run. In order to understand increasing consumer sophistication, business leaders should keep a few things in mind.
Don’t confuse sophisticated with complicated. There’s a big difference between designs that are sophisticated and designs that are complicated. Business owners don’t need to go with overly complex marketing campaigns to attract consumers. One of the hallmarks of sophistication is ease of understanding, meaning that consumers will understand a marketing campaign quickly. Sophistication is about wit and thoughtfulness, not an overabundance of design techniques.
Sophisticated graphic design communicates quickly. It’s good to make consumers think, but it’s not good to make them solve brainteasers on a routine basis. Consumers should be able to understand the message of an advertising campaign within a few seconds of viewing an ad. Remember that sophistication is a matter of wit. If an ad campaign is witty enough, consumers will feel that it is both sophisticated and fun.
Consistent branding matters to today’s consumers. In a sense, consumers have been sophisticated for decades insofar as consistent branding is concerned. Consumers expect that all of a business’s messages fit with that brand’s overall image. Businesses that frequently change their branding materials or can’t stick to one logo tend to lack credibility in the consumer’s eye.
Stock photos can be a consumer turn-off. Stock photos provide a convenient graphics solution for businesses and designers. It is possible to find a stock photo for almost any purpose that is ready-to-download and inexpensive to use. However, stock photos can be a turn-off to consumers if they have been used too frequently or are overly cliched. When possible, designers should shoot photos themselves. Business leaders should remember to avoid cliches, which do not appeal to sophisticated consumers in the least.
The average consumer has visited hundreds of business websites and has seen tens of thousands of ads during his or her lifetime. In order to appeal to these consumers, business leaders must work closely with designers to craft sophisticated advertising campaigns. Remember that sophisticated campaigns are sleek, chic and easy-to-understand but aren’t overly complicated.
Toby Danylchuk writes for 39 Celsius Web Marketing Consulting, a boutique online marketing agency located in San Diego, CA. Toby has years of practical hands-on experience in developing advertising creative from concept to production in both traditional and online ads.