Design vs Advertising


How Design Can Learn from Advertising and Vice Versa

What is Design?

A problem will not disappear if it is left unsolved. As human beings, we have a desire of making life easier by solving problems that are around us. Any design starts with a problem; the process of solving that problem is the process of design.

Design is when two or more pieces of knowledge combine together to form a new whole, and that new whole should mean something in life, however it doesn’t just finish there. To design is more than simply to assemble, it is also to add value, to add meaning, to simplify, to dramatize, to persuade and perhaps to amuse? To understand the meaning of design is to sense the common thread that weaves its way through the art of painting, architecture, graphic design and other form of art that are around us. Design broadens our perceptions and our visions by teaching us new experiences; it is the product of feelings and awareness of problems that are around us.

What is Advertising?

Advertising comes in when a design or a product is completed; it is necessary for a successful promotion of that design or product. The function of advertising design is primarily a practical one, and is directed toward a particular end. It must communicate quickly and clearly and in doing so:

  1. attract attention,
  2. lodge the advertising message in the conscious or unconscious mind,
  3. induce an active, positive attitude to the message instead of a passive one, and
  4. Impress a favorable memory of the message on the mind.

There are three points I would like to discuss on how advertising can learn from design:

  1. A lot of advertising nowadays have a tendency to become too decorative due to lack of decision making without a real reason. It can therefore learn from design where every decision made has real reasons behind them, such as logical solutions, aesthetic values, and artistic requirements. In that way not only the final product as a whole makes a vital impact, but all the components in it have genuine qualities as well.
  2. Some advertising designers are very limited in their use of resources and materials. They are often afraid to experiment and to try new things. They can learn from design where everything is possible. Advertising becomes art when the designer has an original, free, and open mind.
  3. A very important feature in design is structure. This is particular important when designing on a flat surface. A lot of two dimensional advertising lack precisely this structure, where everything tends to float on the surface. Advertising can learn from typographers on how type is set up on a page structurally, where the content is not framed within the background, as the background is just as important as the content.

Design can also learn from advertising:

  1. Advertising communicates quickly and clearly and usually gets its messages into our conscious or sub-conscious mind.
  2. Some designs tend to be complicated and consist of too many layers, that it is not always easy to understand their underlying messages quickly and clearly. Design can therefore learn the efficiency of communication from advertising.
  3. Advertising takes advantage of different types of media, for example, television, film, radio, and newspaper. An advertising can appear as 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional, sound or animation. Graphic design can learn from advertising by exploring into the 3 dimensional, animation or sounds, and experiment on all possible media that are available.
  4. Tropes of language are used in advertising to get their messages across. Designers can learn from advertising by picking out different kinds of tropes used in advertising, learning from asking ‘how’ instead of getting the final solution at the very beginning.

New technologies develop all the time and there will be more resources and new media available. As new technologies develop, more demands are required for designers and advertisers to learn new skills and solve new problems; they need to work together and learn by communicating with each other, the problem solving methods and how to develop ideas and concepts. It is impossible to complete a project successfully, before thorough communication was established. To communicate is to understand each other, to fulfill ones requirements and solve problems accordingly. Good logic can only develop after thorough understanding of the tasks at hand, and logic is believed to be universal.

Design is a tool for advertising, and advertising is a tool for design. Design and advertising co-exist in our society symbiotically; they are not to fight but to compliment each other, they exist because there are demands for them. The purpose of their existence is to benefit our society, and to make life more joyful.

Something Funny to lighten up your day

Warning: Language may offend some viewer!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

July 18, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Interesting article about design. Good points raised here. Thanks for sharing.

July 18, 2010 at 11:12 pm
– In reply to: David

Joseph KuThanks David, I have been ‘educating’ my client, and thought it would be good to write in my blog on this topic. Blogging is a good way to document my design thoughts and progress.