Here’s an entertaining video, well-crafted to be virally passed along. Your designer might already have sent it to you. It was passed along to me, I snickered, and sent it to some fellow marketing geeks in my office.
You can study it as a useful example of how to make a video that will get passed along, and it does well at that. But I thought it was interesting that the advice it implies isn’t, necessarily very good.
There’s clearly some mockery of magic bean thinking here–the idea that if you spent a cubic buttload of money on that logo, by damn, you want it big as hell on everything. But notice also the reaction to wanting to get rid of white space. Primitive, right? Philistine. Only an ignoramus with no design sense would consider it.
Unless you’d done any research comparing how well ads pull set against what they cost. Then you might agree with the ignoramus. Leaving lots of expensive white space makes an ad look good, but it typically doesn’t make it pull any better.
Which means your marketing ROI is shrinking proportionate to the ego of your design team. Which isn’t smart.
The starbursts they’re making fun of are indeed hideous, but the practice of having an impossible-to-miss graphic element that tells customers exactly what to do is actually a pretty damned good one. (This is also known as the Big Red Fez principle.)
My point is not to make marketing and advertising more hideous, but to encourage you to think critically about the advice you get from every source, including me. Is your designer pitching a fit over something tacky you want to try? Does your father-in-law call you a naive moron for the approach you want to try in your newsletter? Does your friend’s friend who works for an ad agency (and spends 150% of his paycheck on shoes) sneer at your copywriting?
There is, in fact, one right answer: "Let’s test it."
The people who matter
At the end of the day, no one matters except your customers. (However you define that term.)
And actually, the only customers who matter are the ones who buy from you. Your paying clients or your foundation’s donors or the folks who come to your church services. They’re the ones you have to convince, and the ones you have to please.
If your communication moves them to behavior that you want, it is good communication. And you cannot know whether or not you’ve met that standard if you don’t test.
Not everything tasteful is good. (Not everything tasteful is bad either–you’re no better off listening to some of the cranky old-school hardasses who insist that nothing has changed since John Caples.)
Keep asking questions. Keep testing. And find out for yourself what that white space is doing for you.