A competing college has come up with a new advertising scheme. It is based on dots and a representative piece is shown to the left. The dots are on everything they do and take up at least 30% of each piece they do (In that thing to the left they take up the whole thing). The rest of the piece is normally a large chunk of single color with a single sans-serif font (Universal).
The designer, or the person who hired the designer, wrote an explanation of the dots to be placed inside their catalog which was the design kickoff. The person who hired the designer also held a college-wide meeting to explain what the design meant.
In that entire room, apparently, not one of these fine educators stood up and asked, “Hey, if you have to explain this to a bunch of eggheads like us, what are the chances that our potential students are going to make anything out of this?”
I showed the card that had been developed to the BAG. She picked it up with the dot-covered side up. She quickly flipped it over. She saw the unbroken green expanse with some small writing at the bottom. She flipped it over again, and once again. She looked up and asked, “which is the front?”
I laughed and said it was the dots. She shook her head in understanding and stared at it for about a minute. She shook her head and finally dropped it. “I don’t know, I just don’t see the word or picture in the dots.” I laughed my head off as I had tried to discover the same thing.
But, sometimes dots are just dots.
And if you have to explain a marketing approach to your audience? It just might be bad marketing.