Creative CheatSheet

Essentials in Creating Effective Ads

There is more than meets the eye when you are creating effective ads. Here is a cheat sheet with some of the best practices I follow.


Do your homework

Study the product that you are going to advertise. Take advantage of this information by thinking of the people you want to attract with your design. Make sure that people can connect with and recall your ad.


AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)

AIDA is an acronym with roots reaching as far back as 1898, when Advertising Hall of Famer (yes, such a thing exists) Elias St. Elmo Lewis first coined it.It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action—and it’s still pretty much how almost every ad works.


Attention is the hook, something to immediately captivate the audience. If they’re not paying attention, it’s all for naught. This might be a shocking headline, a dash of humor, an eye-catching design, or a short, sweet, surprising statement.


Interest involves the reader on a deeper level, exploring their pain points and introducing the problem that your product or service will be solving.


Desire kicks things up a notch. Here you go full force into the benefits of your solution. Intriguing isn’t enough—you need to be irresistible.


Action. You’ve got their attention, developed interest, stirred desire—now you close: tell the audience exactly what you want them to do with a clear call-to-action (CTA). Whether the audience should “sign up now,” “call this number,” or “click here,” don’t leave anything to chance—give it to them straight.


Make the brand’s position clear

Positioning makes it clear to consumers where the product or service fits into the market. Without proper positioning, there is no valid reason for people to choose that brand over one that already exists. So in the ad, make sure that the brand’s positioning / key feature / unique selling point is clearly called out.


Test what works

Try different layouts and combination so that the brand can test to know what works best for the brand’s audience. They might like crazy, over-the-top messaging or they may respond best to something that’s simple and direct. Test different types of photos. For example, a before-and-after photos may work well for some products. For others, a “crazy” image that makes the reader laugh or wince may work. Using photos of dogs or smiling children may work for other brands. However, always push the boundaries so that the brand can test options they may have never thought of as long as it is on brand,


After all, the designer’s first and foremost responsibility to the brand is for the ad to grab the people’s attention and for the consumer to click through.


Lois Ruiz

Graphic designer, video editor and all round hard worker who is very passionate about what he does. Likes a good challenge and always looking for ways to improve.