Before you go public…

While doing my usual web scan of Facebook, Twitter, current events and music sites I came across a really well developed blog via Ragan. It’s called Occam’s RazR, and blogger Ike Pigott suggested in yesterday’s post that “Communicators need to remember that it’s not what you meant to say, but what was heard that matters.”

He was referring to the image above, explaining that when he drove past this billboard on an Alabama highway he thought it said “Aerosmith.” Every time he sees the sign he thinks about the band rather than an anti-meth campaign.

I was interested to find other examples of failed visual communication attempts, and in doing so I thought about four key points to keep in mind before your final product goes public.

1. Design:

  • See the above example. There is nothing more discouraging than putting months of work into a visual concept that people don’t get, especially when you thought it was your best idea to date. I’ve been taught to run a “test drive” of anything that is going to go public, including survey questions, logos, and Facebook tactics. Find out what people think before it’s too late, make improvements, and test drive again.

2. Grammar: Don’t let these be your fault. Enough said.

3. Environment

  • This is simple. And obvious. But mistakes happen! Once an advertisement or piece of collateral material is released from your control, many other factors can affect its impact and meaning. This means that you are in charge of monitoring the visual’s environment to make sure there aren’t any fatal changes or additions. Like this:

4. Location

Similar to the environment, the location of the visual is equally as threatening. The good news is that you have control of where you put the product. If the location has a threatening environment, don’t put it there. You don’t want your ad showing up next to a news story that is as off-putting as it is comedic to your audience, like this:


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