Five tips for great design.

Bill Bernbach (the founder of ad agency DDB) once said “A great ad has four things: Intelligence. Insight. Wit. Surprise.” I totally agree: here are 5 more things that contribute to a great final design.

1. Everything must be wonderful.

Great work draws out more great work: it’s a positive feedback cycle. Therefore it’s important that everything from the tiniest detail to the largest billboard is approached with the mindset that it matters. All these tiny puzzle pieces build to that successful whole. The primary philosophy is one of making things well, independent of timelines or how “small” the element your building is.

And really, if it can’t be done well, why bother?

Poor work doesn’t benefit businesses, customers or designers. In short, if it’s important (and why would we be creating it if it wasn’t??) then it should be done well.

2. Be charming.

You are entering someone’s home, office place or the daily trails that they walk in their cities: it’s common courtesy to be respectful of your audience’s time, intelligence and feelings. A stranger lecturing you about what you’re doing wrong is rarely a compelling technique. Instead, offer viewers some delight and enjoyment! Make them glad that they looked at your ad, app, website or poster. “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”: in other words, be charming!

3. Honesty really is the best policy.

You can tell when someone is lying or withholding information from you – and so can customers. Be honest about your business, what you want and what you’re doing, and you’ll tend to build trust with everyone (employees, customers, suppliers, friends, even your dog). Funnily, people like working with people they like, and buying from brands they trust. Who would have thought?!

4. Everything starts with a story.

Everything starts with a story and a good story inclines your audience to care – emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically. A good story draws the audience in: it makes them want to be a participant in what you’re doing. The key is to figure out what your story is, what’s relatable about it, and why your audience cares.

5. Find the small idea.

Life these days can be overwhelming. Handling things one at a time doesn’t just apply for your personal To Do list: it’s also relevant for how you build and share marketing campaigns. Focus on one thing at a time and do it superbly well. It doesn’t mean you can’t communicate a million messages: it just means those messages will be most successful (i.e. retained and engaged with) if you share them one at a time. A small idea executed well becomes a big idea.