If you’re a fan of country music, you are probably familiar with an oldie-but-goldie from Johnny Cash. Cash sings about a bad boy trying to be good, “Because you’re mine; I walk the line.” It’s a familiar refrain and one that can be applied in many places. It especially holds true for promotional material or advertising for businesses. The line comes between what the customer really needs, and what the graphic artist envisions. Sometimes the customer is as bad as the graphic artist and encourages them to boldly run way past that line.

Generally it backfires and one of three things happens:

  1. Your customer just doesn’t get it. Your business card is so artsy your potential customer cannot figure out what you do.
  2. Your concept is so wonderful that your business is totally eclipsed by the medium or the message. This happens a lot to very clever Superbowl ads. You remember the cowboy, the girl and the porcupine; you just can’t remember what company produced that ad.
  3. Your audience thinks you are an idiot. You’ve seen it happen, or done it yourself. You’re staring at a flyer, business card, brochure, or listening to an ad and your head is shaking in disbelief, “What were they thinking?”

So let’s talk about the fine line between clever and stupid. First, don’t omit the basics. Make sure that your name is prominently visible and memorable in some way. Next, make sure people know how to contact you and where to get your products. Maybe even why, if it is a new product line you are introducing.

Then have your designer create something fresh, new, and eye-catching so people who see it smile or admire it. No more, “What were they thinking,” the reaction you want is, “Now, that’s a great concept.”

Now, here’s the hard part and we will talk about it more in a future blog post. You have to get your message to your target audience. If it is a business card it needs to be handed to the right people. If it is a television ad, it needs to be shown at the right time for your target audience.

If your business is more eye-catching than effective, give us a call and we’ll make things better. We know how to find the line!