Within the next 15 seconds, you are probably going to stop reading this.

In fact 55% of people spend less than that time reading content on a web page. So, once marketers have brought visitors to our content, how do we keep them there longer than the time it takes to tie your shoe? Answer: use good creative.

Although creative is just one slice of the marketing pie, it is undeniably essential if you want to engage your audience in a meaningful way. But a cringe-inducing stock photo devoid of any visual appeal just won’t cut it (you know exactly what I’m talking about). The impact of your visual marketing can make or break the perception of both your brand and your brand’s message.

You need quality creative, and it needs to follow these simple guidelines:

1. Your creative should reflect your brand’s personality.

When you look at most major brands, you’ll notice at least some consistency between each of its creative pieces. This isn’t an accident, nor is it a sign that they are running out of coffee and creative ideas.

Good creative cuts through the noise and highlights the heart of your brand. Good creative combined with good strategy involves broadcasting this personality consistently across channels.



For example, Pantone carries it’s muted, but vibrant personality throughout its advertising. Their ads are all about conveying the authenticity of their color offerings. Here and in several other adverts, they cleverly evince the natural hues of everyday life situations. It’s cheeky, but in an understated way, as Pantone steps aside and lets the color speak for itself.

Heinz Hot Ketchup


Conversely, Heinz is known for having a bit more palpable fun in its advertising. But while playfulness takes on a bigger role for the brand, the messaging and product appeal is never lost (after all, that’s got to be one spicy ketchup). The heart of Heinz’s brand is clear and it’s present throughout all of its campaigns. When personality meets consistency, the brand wins.

2. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

A long time ago, some guy hanging out at Walden Pond gave this advice about life, but it still rings true about excellent display marketing.

Consumers are exposed to an unbelievable amount of content on any given day and, as marketers, we are always looking for the edge that will help consumers sift through the clutter and latch on to our own message. After injecting your brand’s personality and determining the appropriate look behind its creative, make the overall message easily digestible.

The brain processes visual data 600,000 times faster than text. So, allow your image to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting your point across (“show, don’t tell”). The faster your audience can understand your brand’s message, the more likely it will be committed to their memory.

Lego ad


The message in this Lego ad can be understood almost immediately. What’s better, they achieve this without using a single word.

More often than not, to get the most out of your creative, less is more.

3. Tell a story.

Subaru knows that 66% of Subaru drivers own a pet. Subaru also knows that consumers are increasingly dodging brands that are explicitly “selling” their product or service. So, to win the hearts of their potential customers, Subaru beautifully demonstrated our third guideline: they told a story.

The “Dog tested. Dog approved.” campaign tells an engaging story that both illustrates the utility of its vehicles and panders directly to Subaru’s primary customer-base. It speaks without talking, and sells without selling. After all, who wouldn’t want to watch a video of a dog driving a car? I sure would.

Marketers need to adjust their strategies in order to cut through the saturation of content people see everyday by all means necessary. Deploying quality, meaningful creative as part of print, digital and social campaigns is a large part of this equation.

So, ask yourself next time you are about finalize a piece of creative: will this drive engagement, or will it only achieve that 15 seconds of fame?

“Quality” creative is just one piece of the puzzle. Check out our blog on aligning your creative with your business goals to get a deeper dive.