Interesting Words Need Boring Graphics. And Advertising Could Use Some Interesting Words.

Alex Charchar over at Retinart has a fantastic article where he gives his own spin on the design thoughts of Bob Gill, co-founder of Pentagram. One of my favorites is “Interesting words need boring graphics.” Charchar writes:

A stupid designer grows intoxicated on their own greatness and self-worth.

Gill gives an example I could not top so wont try; We cure cancer for free.

There is one design solution for this. White background, big, black, heavy as a whale text, left aligned. Want to go out on a limb? Center it (but dont).

I love this. You could write the best copy in the world but if you bury it in too much razzmatazz, the effect is lost. And modern advertising, Lord help us, thrives on razzmatazz.

The real tragedy is that copy is largely ignored today. As I was taking advertising and marketing classes, professors often talked about how hard it is to get your message through. We’ve heard it a hundred times, “In this media soaked culture, people see thousands of visuals a day! Your visual needs to find a way to stand out.” Or maybe this is a time to differentiate by having the visuals take a backseat. If everyone is focusing on flash, why not focus on words?

A perfect example is the Google Superbowl commercial from last year. When I asked people why they liked it, I got one answer over and over. It was cute. Not because there was a young, attractive couple being lovey-dovey in washed vintage colors. It was because it told a story. The hero was the copy. It told a story. It gave the ad a heart and the clean visuals didn’t get in the way. The whole ad is a perfect example of copy can still make a great impact in our flashy, image driven culture.

Below are bits from Bob Gill’s book about the subject of simple graphics for interesting words.

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