One of the best habits I ever got into was screenshotting ads, copy, and type designs that I thought were particularly well done. I have a notebook stack in Evernote dedicated to these screenshots, and I scroll through it when I’m looking for inspiration for a marketing campaign.
I’ll write a post about that soon, but today I’m going to write something related yet more immediately useful: a strategy for designing Facebook ads. If you’re advertising a podcast, you’re especially lucky. The ads we’ll be looking at were for a podcast. The principles can be applied to all kinds of Facebook ads though.
Here are 4 images we’re going to dissect:
3 Elements Max!
All of these ads are composed of 2-3 elements max. See what I mean:
Any more than 3 elements and one of two things will happen: either Facebook will deny our ad (saying there’s too much text), or the image will look too cluttered.
You’ll notice that I didn’t use stock photos in my ads. All the stock photos I could find were cheesy and hard to work with, so I opted for solid colors instead (variations on our brand colors). If you’re planning on using a stock photo, that’s cool. But I’d count it as one of your “3 elements” because there’s a lot of visual interest in photos.
If you’re going to go a similar path and use solid colors instead of photos, you may run into challenges with choosing colors that look well together. Picking colors is both an art and a science. I’ll explain the science side, and you’ll get the hang of the art side as you practice and make more and more ads.
So I learned this in a post on Medium by this fantastic designer, Erik Kennedy. If you want to improve your design skills at all, I highly recommend getting on his email list! Okay, enough fangirling. Time to pick colors.
Forget about all that color wheel, color picker, and HEX code nonsense. The key to picking colors is hue, saturation, and brightness.
The actual color (blue, yellow, etc) is determined by hue. Saturation is “how much” of the color there is (100% saturation – pure color; 0% saturation – gray). Brightness is how much black or white there is. Let me show you want I mean.
If you’re still lost, just go experiment. And even if you do get the idea, it’ll take some experimentation to really master the practice of pairing colors.
Back to our Facebook ads. Here is the principle I use for my ads (that I got from that Erik Kennedy fellow I mentioned earlier!):
All my blacks, grays, and whites aren’t actually black, gray, or white. They’re blue. They’re the same hue as my main blue – or close to it anyway. This makes an enormous difference.
What if your main branding color were orange? No problem! This principle works across the board. Get the hue of the color, keep it the same, and then adjust the saturation and brightness.
So that’s the key to getting colors to mesh well. Make them all the same hue as your main branding color, and then adjust the saturation/brightness levels to create your blacks, grays, and whites.
Another thing you should notice is that saturation and brightness are inversely proportional. When you want to create a white-ish color, you INCREASE brightness and DECREASE saturation. When you want to create a darker color, you DECREASE brightness and INCREASE saturation. When one goes up, the other goes down.
The last piece of advice I’ll give you is about making the words look all fancy and pretty.
So if you’re doing contract work or creating this for your company, you likely don’t get a lot of freedom to play with typefaces (aka fonts). Type ties into branding. In my case, I’m “limited” to Open Sans. Just Open Sans.
But there’s still a lot you can do to make your ads pop even if you’re given one typeface to work with. Let’s take a look at how I made the most of Open Sans:
If all the type were the exact same style, the ad would look like this:
Compare what I did with what I could have done if I didn’t use different font weights. Size and spacing matters too. So try increasing or decreasing space between lines and characters, and making some elements larger or smaller than others!
Now let’s look at what it’d look like if all the type were the same style:
Gross, right? It’s like night and day. Variation in type weights/size/spacing makes a huge difference!
Remember that if you’re posting something on Facebook, make sure that the featured image is 1200×650 pixels or 600×325 pixels. Otherwise part of your image will get cut off like this:
It takes thought and practice to get the hang of creating beautiful ads and thumbnail images. But if you put in a little bit of time here and a little bit of practice there, eventually you’ll develop a 6th sense for what to do.
Good luck all and happy marketing!
This post is a part of The Budding Marketer’s Guide to Marketing.