You have been asked to design an A3 poster and an accompanying double sided A6 flyer to promote a singing course run by an organisation called SingOut (all one word). They have very little money so want to print these posters on their black and white
photocopier. You can use a colour paper if you want.
The information they want to give is:
• Do you love to sing?
• Join us for an exciting opportunity during the day with a professional vocal coach.
Learn to sing different types of music, vocal techniques, meet new people and have
• 10.30 to 12.00 every Tuesday from 11 March
• The Community Centre, Charlotte Church Road
• £60 for the course
• No experience needed/no requirement to read music
• For more information call 011779 8765432 http://www.singout.com
The brief does not state any specific objectives but I assume the objective of the poster and flier is to get people to sign up to the singing course.
The information that I feel is missing from the brief is:
- Who is the target audience for the singing course? Is it aimed more at women or is it aimed at women and men equally. What is their age group? (The time of day of the course and the benefit of ‘meeting new people’ suggests that it is not intended for children.)
- What kind of people is the course targeted at? e.g. are they affluent or price conscious?
- Where are the posters and fliers intended to be displayed? e.g. are the posters intended for notice boards where people will stop and read them, or are they intended for a location where people are walking past.
- What is the main objective of the poster / flyer?
- How serious / formal is the course? Is the emphasis more on really learning to sing or on having fun?
- What style of music will be taught? e.g. folk / trad, pop etc.
- What would the ‘next steps’ be to sign up for the course (i.e. what is the ‘Call to Action’)? A phone number and web address are given but how do you sign up for the course?
To fill in the gaps for the information missing from the brief, I assumed that the singing course was aimed at middle class, reasonably affluent women. Men would also be welcome but the marketing of the course would not be specifically aimed at them.
As the course runs on a weekday morning, I assumed that the course would most likely be aimed at stay-at-home Mums, housewives or retired women.
Having fun is important but because a professional vocal coach was running the course, I also assumed that the course was reasonably serious and that there would be considerable emphasis on learning how to sing.
The style of music would be modern, pop covers and rock choir.
The key words that I wanted to convey in my poster/flyer were:
- love to sing
I started with a mind map of thoughts on what words and symbols typically suggest singing.
I then looked for images and typical visual symbols and motifs associated with singing. My aim was to identify these symbols so that I could try to avoid simply replicating them in my design.
I researched on-line looking for images and ideas that conveyed my sentiments of singing, having fun and togetherness.
I also researched the websites of vocal coaches and choirs. A lot of vocal coach websites feature images of the coach themselves singing, common images include people with headphones, mouths open singing, microphones and musical notes:
The VoxSkool (http://voxskool.com/wordpress/index.php/voxskool/) website banner (below) uses quite dramatic colours, has a smiling female mouth to suggest singing and images of musical notes, sound waves and stars, dots and light rays all suggesting stage lighting. It also has quite a ‘groovy’ 70’s vibe. I really like this styling – I think it really communicates the sense of what this singing group is about.
I decided that I wanted my poster and flier to have a strong visual element in the form of a black and white illustration. This would be the first thing that people would see, so I wanted it to catch the attention of my target audience (women), be obviously about singing, suggest ‘fun’ and be welcoming and not too serious. My aim was that a women would see the illustration on the poster/flyer and connect with it.
I reviewed each of my design ideas together with my husband.
My first idea was a simple drawing of the iconic ‘Sound of Music’ image of Maria on the mountain top. To me this image epitomises the joy of singing.
Although this image conveyed the right sentiment, we felt that it could be mistaken for a ‘Sound of Music sing-along’. I also wasn’t sure if there would be copyright issues with an illustration of such an iconic image.
My next idea was an illustration of a singing bird (or birds for a better sense of ‘togetherness’). The illustration would be quite contemporary and feminine to appeal to women.
We thought the illustration would be quite effective in attracting attention but that it possibly suggested too much of a folk / trad style singing.
My next idea was a series of singing female mouths, possibly on a musical stave.
We quite liked this idea but felt that maybe it wasn’t impactful enough to attract attention on a poster.
Next was a line drawing of a singer holding a microphone. In an effort to try to make this a less stereotypical ‘singing’ image, I made the women’s hair out of musical notes.
Although we both like the impact of this illustration, we both felt that it was quite a ‘serious’ singing image and may be a bit intimidating to people interested in the course but nervous about joining it. Singing solo into a microphone would be a lot of people’s worst nightmare!
I took the line drawing image and attempted to make it less intimidating by making it look like someone having fun singing in the shower. I replace the microphone with a shampoo bottle.
We both felt that this image did the job of being clearly about singing, but also conveying a sense of fun and being welcoming.
I decided to use this final image for my poster/flyer.
I also decided to keep the illustration purely black and white as the contrast would be more eye catching.
I analysed the information that needed to be on the poster and decided that the most important text was ‘Do you Love to Sing?’ This is the ‘hook’ that, together with my image, would grab people’s attention. This would be the largest sized text on my poster and flyer.
Next was ‘the offering’, i.e. ‘learn to sing with a professional vocal coach’. This is effectively what is on offer and the main purpose of the poster / flyer. This would be mid-sized text.
The detail of the course, i.e. ‘Join us to sing different types of music etc.’ was additional to the ‘offering’ was less important, so did not need to be the same size as ‘learn to sing with a professional vocal coach’. I made this the smaller sized text.
Also important is the ‘response to objections’. Someone viewing the poster may think ‘yes, I love to sing’ and then, ‘learning to sing with a professional coach sounds good’ but then may immediately think that the course may be a bit intimidating or might not be for them. The ‘No experience necessary’ text is important to immediately reassure that everyone is welcome, I made this text mid-sized.
The ‘when, where and how much’ information, for me, is the least important. If the viewer is interested in the course they will make the effort to read the logistical details of the course. All this text was small sized.
Choice of Typeface
I wanted a bold, heavyweight and eye-catching font for the poster / flier. I also wanted a sans serif font for its contemporary and uncluttered feel. I looked on Google Fonts and selected three possible typefaces:
I selected ‘Montserrat Alternates’ as I liked the slight roundness and curves in some of the letter forms. I felt this gave a more friendly, welcoming and slightly feminine feel to the font.
Thoughts on This Exercise
I am not very confident working with colour, so I was very happy to produce designs in black and white for this exercise. I decided to use only pure black and white for maximum contrast and therefore visual impact (rather than shades of grey).
I was pleased with the final results. I think the illustration works well to visually communicate ‘singing’ and fun’. The image, and particularly the polka dot pattern of the shower cap, together with the large ‘Do you love to sing?’ text really catch the attention. A different image may have also been able to incorporate the idea of ‘togetherness’ which is something that I think this illustration lacks.
The black panel at the bottom half of the poster was the result of experimentation with the layout in Adobe Illustrator and was added when I thought the poster was looking too white. I like the visual impact this block of black adds and I think it neatly balances the black shampoo bottle and polka dot shower cap.
I followed this idea through to the flyer where I made the background on the back of the flyer black, again I think it makes the flyer more visually interesting.
With this exercise, I learnt a very painful lesson of how easy it is to completely miss a typo or incorrect text when you are completely absorbed in finessing the layout of a document using design software. I had temporarily hidden some text when creating the poster in Adobe Illustrator, and completely forgot to unhide it so that I designed the entire poster layout with some text missing. There was much cursing when I discovered my mistake and had to go back and redesign the layout.
My tutor made the following comments on this exercise:
“Love your idea for this ; conceptually top-notch as it creates a game of someone singing out of context being brought into a useful space for their passions. I like the spots on the shower cap and the illustration and type choices – I think your layout could be pushed more in terms of making this a more dynamic composition and using black and white tones could add more interest. It could suit a pop art treatment? Some halftone or further texture?”
Rework Following Tutor Feedback
I experimented with two further layouts, following feedback from my tutor, to try to make the layout a bit more dynamic. The additional versions of the poster are below:
I don’t feel that the halftone effect in this poster is really adding anything to the deign other than making it look a bit cluttered.
This layout works better and is, I think, an improvement on the original poster. The angled split between the black and white sections of the poster is more dynamic. I changed the angle of the shampoo bottle to line up with the angle of the black section for a balanced effect and offset the text to the left and right, which is think is more visually interesting that the centred text of the original poster. I think this has the effect of ‘pulling’ the eye down the page.