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Should You Design for a Big Firm or Small Company?

Should You Design for a Big Firm or Small Company?

Elisha-Rio Apilado

The many worlds of ad design companies.

It’s amazing where you can find design. From packaging, to stationary, ads, and cd cover art. You see it on the water bottle you drink out of when you’re at the gym. You read through it in a magazine at the hair salon. Even the places where design is created varies — from a studio apartment you call home if you’re a freelancer, to a small town office building or a skyscraper downtown towering above the busy city streets.

As for me, I call the second floor, suite #25 my design home.

I’ve designed for two companies; both heavily involved in advertising. One was a well known out-of-home advertising company that focuses mainly on designing in the outside environment, and the other was a publishing company that mostly does small ads within a 32-page newspaper.

Now, obviously, the greatest difference is the size of the ads.

The out-of home company had advertisements that would wrap around city buses, trains, and large bulletin boards. Sometimes they were even printed on the floor or printed on windows where people could interact with the ad. My InDesign files mostly contained canvases that were measured in feet!

At the publishing company, the sizes were in inches and always, ALWAYS rectangular. You’d find these ads only when flipping through a newspaper or magazine.

Designing at two very different canvas sizes obviously affects the way you have to create the advertisement. You wouldn’t use a small font on a 30 feet ad hanging on a driving bus. Why? Because getting close enough to read it (a moving bus…) would be dangerous and the ad has to be legible at speeds of 30 mph.

Big ads need enlarged text. And the less textual information, the better. Out-of-home ads are quick and easy, similar to a 30 second commercial. They have to be able to tell you as much information as possible in the shortest amount of time. Out-of-home ads are placed in busy areas where business men and women are getting on the bus to get home, etc. They’re on the go. These ads have to grab their attention while they’re preoccupied with their daily routine.

Magazine and newspaper advertisements are small and personal. The audience has the advantage of having the ads in their hands. The reader’s eye is constantly moving around the page and each ad is set next to one another, competing for attention. Small ads usually have much more textual information, and can be, of course, at small point sizes. These designs rely on bold and bold-italics. Similar to the editorial designs of a newspaper, these ads are packed full of information.

The deadlines also vary between both these ad types. Publishing companies have a set schedule of deadlines depending on when their publication is sent out. The company I currently work for sends their newspaper out every week on Wednesdays, so Mondays and Tuesdays are the busiest days of the work week. Sales reps are quickly trying to sell ad space to reach their quota. Ad designers, editorial designers and production artists are working together and constantly communicating to make sure everybody is on the same page (literally), and laying out all the elements correctly.

Out-of-home ad deadlines are a little more laid back and are according to the client’s schedule. The inventory space they have to fill is the outside world and vehicles. Unlike newspaper ads that last a week, out-of-home advertisements stay active for months, even years!

Out-of-home ads also have the ability to spread out and claim whole areas. For example, clients have the opportunity to buy out an entire train station and dominate it with various ads pertaining to their campaign. They have the option of outfitting a car on the L train with interior ads above each seat.

The great thing about out-of-home ads is, instead of having to compete with another advertisement right next to them, they’re able to run in armies of 10+ ads — the aim, to conquer the minds of consumers.

Next: Another Difference, Ad/Design Size →


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