Excellent design draws attention, sets a tone and makes an impression. Compelling copy informs, creates desire and motivates action. In tandem, design and copy are powerful forces that influence millions of purchasing decisions every day. They complement one another, and with the right design techniques you can highlight copy so it stands out better and sparks an incredible response rate that results in more sales and more jobs.
Unless you’re writing the copy and illustrating the design, it’s imperative that you communicate with your copywriter to make sure you’re on the same page. Most large agencies couple at least one copywriter and designer into a creative team that bounce ideas off one another to define a starting point. If you’re up to a bit of give ‘n’ take, you’ll quickly learn the pleasures of working within a similar system and might be surprised that sometimes a copywriter can lend incredible design advice while a designer can pitch the perfect tagline. Remember that two heads are better than one and work together to develop an outstanding idea neither of you could top alone.
Colors and typefaces
Color and typefaces are perhaps the most obvious tools for enhancing a written message, though they can be tricky to pull off without coming across as gaudy or convoluted. Nuanced typefaces that can be identified with a single company are great for branding through headlines and taglines, but a familiar font should be used for body text for ease of reading. Highlighting key points with colorful copy is an excellent device when used in moderation, but when the color is laid on thick it loses its effect and does little more than clutter the page. Use these tricks sparingly and you can enhance the visual effect of any copy.
Boxes, lines and highlights
Visual devices that separate copy you want to divert attention to are popular in designing for sales, whether you’re printing brochures and posters or designing websites and e-mail autoresponders. Use lines to separate columns and rows, boxes to pull out a separate thought or to emphasize a key quote or line from the main copy, and try background highlights (yellow, blue, etc.) to lend importance. Underline key copy and bold text when appropriate – again, all of these technique should be used sparingly. The more you use them, the less influence each has overall.
Icons and images
No professional design would be complete without imagery, and that applies to sales copy and design as well. Use appropriate images that match the tone and voice of the copy to help motivate customers to take the next step in the purchasing process. Draw attention to bulleted lists, numbers, key points, highlights, and other pull-outs and important information with custom icons that help brand your piece. If you have to use the other techniques listed here sparingly, remember that you should also be consistent: If you have 10 icons, five colors and four typefaces, no one will ever be able to get through your design and copy and be left with a meaningful message.