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Top Five Tips For 2014: Tip #2 Harness The Power Of Design

The Plenty Team
January 7, 2014

[Editors Note: Over the holidays, in addition to consuming vast quantities of butter and potentially wearing a dangerous sweater or two, the Plenty team spent its time reading fundraising advice from the past year and combing through the numerous advice columns for 2014.

We thought we’d follow tradition and offer you our top five pieces of advice for the year ahead.]

Tip #2: Harness the power of design.

Seven…Six…Five…Four…Three…Two…One. That’s it, times up.

Seven seconds is exactly how long your brand has to capture the attention of your audience. It seems to be a seemingly impossible amount of time, right? How can you be expected to draw someone in so fast while still sharing your message? My guess is your mission alone takes longer than seven seconds to explain. The answer is simple, both figuratively and literally.

Captivating your audience, differentiating your brand, sharing your cause, and ultimately driving donations all boils down to one thing, design.

Design encompasses many different aspects of marketing, anything from user experience to packaging. I find it is best described by Adam Swann as a “broad and deliberately applied discipline, with the aim of creating simpler, more meaningful, rewarding experiences…” While the content you develop is important, and your cause worthy of expanded explanation, it is no longer a viable way of communicating. The days of wordy emails and bland mailers are over. Let’s face it, attention spans are limited and expectations of brands are high. Design can no longer be an after thought; it should be the driving-force behind your message and frankly, your entire campaign.

Still not convinced? Design is the reason you left that item in your online shopping cart after the checkout process became too complicated. It is the reason you click the “button” above the fold on a webpage, as opposed to the one below it. It is the reason you most likely shop with companies like Amazon and Apple. They integrate design into every aspect of their business and, in return, their customer loyalty and revenue continue to grow at astonishing rates.

Yes, these are corporate behemoths, but don’t begin to think that clever and impactful design is out of your grasp. You have one thing on your side that these companies do not: a powerful mission that speaks to the emotions of your audience. Start using simple, visually stimulating marketing to tell your story. Cut back on text, invest in good photography that can support your cause, and consider the medium and ease at which your audience is receiving your communications. Make their experience with your brand memorable and uncomplicated.

Recognizing the importance of design is key. From there, slowly begin to incorporate it into your decision making process. Before sending out any type of communication, think to yourself, ‘Would I read this? Would this compel me to click-through, or donate, or take any type of action?’

Most importantly, does it tell your story in seven seconds or less?

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