Category: Design

5 Mistakes in Your Ads That Keep Customers Away

It’s not hard to find a place for your advertisements—websites, social media and mailers (to name a few) are all great places for reaching your customers. But is your ad itself ready to be shown to the world?

An advertisement is like a cake: it needs to be carefully constructed because one wrong ingredient can ruin the whole experience. Take a look at these 5 common advertising mistakes to make sure your ads are good enough to make sales.

Mistake #1: Having too many goals

Each ad you put in a mailbox or on a webpage should have only one goal. Are you trying to introduce your brand for the first time? Want to entice your viewer into your store or onto your website? Or are you simply reminding your audience that you exist?

Having one goal can help steer how you make your ad while stuffing in too many objectives can confuse the reader so much that they move onto the next ad and ignore yours altogether.

Too many goals get lost in the noise. This ad has two calls-to-action plus coupon offers.

This ad has one simple goal that you can’t miss.

Keep your goal as simple as possible. Try one of these objectives:

  • I want them to fill out a form
  • I want them to know my company exists
  • I want them to call my number
  • I want them to change their mind
  • I want them to make a purchase
  • I want them to avoid a competitor
  • I want them to know where my store is
  • I want them to ask for a quote


Mistake #2: Using random colors, fonts and voices

Think of your ad as if you’re calling your customer on the phone or showing up at their door—they should be able to recognize you within a few seconds.

Using your branded colors, fonts, voice and marketing styles will make you identifiable (and can make your company appear strong and grounded).

Zerorez uses its branded colors and styles for a clean, recognizable look.

If you use randomly chosen colors and typefaces, you run the risk of not only poor design but also not standing out among the thousands of ads people see each month.

Aside from the logo, QuickenLoans uses so little branding that this ad barely stands out.

If you don’t have defined branding, use colors that stand out but don’t over-stimulate, typefaces that are legible for the media (don’t use thin, small lettering on a billboard), and a brand voice that your target audience wants to hear.

Mistake #3: Stuffing in too many elements

Aside from having too many goals, using too many on-page elements within the ad is an easy way to become background noise.

This ad has so much going on, it’s hard to tell who the company is.

Don’t get caught up in the unnecessary details:

  • Too many images
  • The word “phone” before your phone number
  • The word “email” before your email address
  • Design just to fill white space
  • The “www.” before your web address
  • Multiple calls-to-action
  • Social media icons

This ad has a logo, a simple message and attractive art. Even the revere leaves out unnecessary clutter.

Mistake #4: Making your logo too large

You understandably want your logo to be seen, but customers care more about what they can get from you, not necessarily who you are.

Making your logo too large takes away valuable space in other parts of your ad.

It can also attract too much attention—instead of guiding your readers’ eyes to the main purpose of the ad (headline, call-to-action, button), they may spend their few viewing seconds on your logo and move onto the next ad.

There’s little reason for Waste Management’s logo to take up most of the ad.

Well-designed logos are also recognizable even if they are placed smaller in an ad. Unless you’re introducing your brand for the first time, it’s okay to leave your logo readable, but smaller in size.

Irwin’s logo stands out even at 2% the size of the ad.

Mistake #5: Not knowing your audience

Having a defined target audience will make all other aspects of an ad fall into place. Certain demographics view more billboards. Some are more enticed by bright, flashy colors. Others prefer to read several paragraphs of copy.

If you haven’t yet, figure out exactly who your target audience is and use their habits and interests while marketing to them. This can be done via market research, checking out your Google analytics or creating a profile of the majority of your current customers.

Google Analytics gives you an in-depth look at your audience.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

See How You Can Improve Your Marketing

How To Brand Your Business

Having the right branding can do wonders for your sales figures. A logo, company look and ad designs can grab the attention of your specific audience, while your brand voice can speak to them in just the right way to urge them to buy.

Brand Personality

The first step in nailing down your branding is to decide what your brand personality is. If your brand were a person, what would they be like? Would they be loud and happy, like Kool-Aid, or soft and emotional, like Dove?

You can narrow down your brand’s personality characteristics by deciding who your target audience is, what problem your products solve, and from what position your brand helps your audience:

Friend to friend

Acquaintance to acquaintance

Mentor to student

Superstar to super fan

Advisor to advisee

Mother to child

Host to guest

This will help you see how a “human” version of your company would be. Your brand personality also helps dictate your overall look and voice.

Brand Colors

Humans see colors before they see any other element of your marketing, including shapes, images and words (in that order). This makes colors extremely important to both potential and current customers.

Your brand colors should be appealing to your specific audience. Business professionals appreciate blues and grays. Children react to yellows and bright blues. Eco-conscious consumers favor greens and browns, while wealthy customers tend to favor whites and beiges.

brand colors marketing materials demographics

While there’s plenty of room for overlap between color choice, a graphic designer can create a color profile of shades and hues for your company that’s versatile and complement each other.

Just be aware of colors that are recognizable to one brand, like T-Mobile’s bright pink and black, or Coca-Cola’s red and white. In many cases, the colors of a brand aren’t protected and can be used by other brands (though some colors are protected in certain industries).

Brand Typefaces/Fonts

Typefaces (often called fonts) are the styles of the letters in your marketing materials. There are thousands of letter styles in the world and, like colors, your typefaces should appeal to your target audience and work with your brand across print and digital marketing materials.

Loud, wild, fun brands may use a thick and uncommon typeface, like Chalkduster:

marketing message chalkduster

Warm, welcoming, motherly companies may use a thin, wispy typeface, like Savoye LET.

marketing message savoye let

Serious, technical businesses may use a strong, straight, proportional typeface, like Gotham.

marketing message gotham

Logo Design

Now that you have an idea about your brand look, let’s talk logos. Your brand logo will be a defining mark of your company and often the first impression to new customers.

Good logos are three things:

Simple. Adding too much detail will make your logo hard to read and stand out less.

Branded. Use your brand colors, typeface and appropriate graphics so viewers can associate it with your company.

Usable anywhere. From online to print to promotional items, your logo should be easy to use in ink, pixels and stitching.

spotify logo design

Marketing Designs

There’s more to your mailers, brochures, website and advertisements than colors and typefaces. More often than not, companies have strict and detailed design rules that help their marketing both stand out and be instantly recognized.

Graphic designers often customize branding as detailed as object spacing, image gradient, even the angle size of geometric shapes.

medium marketing branding guide design

Brand Voice and Writing Style

Your brand voice should be one that your audience really connects with. Go back to your brand personality: think about if your brand is a friend, mentor, parental figure, etc. How would they speak if they were talking to your audience?

The voice spectrum stretches beyond serious-to-casual. Consider these types when choosing a voice style:

Professional and straightforward, like IBM or Zastro:

brand voice professional

Empowering and emotional, like Dove or Apple:

brand voice empowering emotional

Welcoming and friendly, like First Round Capital or Starbucks:

brand voice welcoming friendly

Entertaining and witty, like Gym It or Old Spice:

entertaining witty brand voice

Creative and quirky, like Man Crates or Innocent Drinks:

brand voice creative quirky

Aggressive and snarky, like Cards Against Humanity:

brand voice aggressive snarky

It’s important to know that while your brand voice will remain relatively the same, your tone may change based on location and situation.

Your website should be conversational, so use first-person (you, your) and second-person (we, us, our) language. Social media organic content is more casual and informative while social media paid ads are persuasive.

Even if your brand is goofy, things like error messages and warnings should have a more serious tone.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For A Free Consultation

Looks That Kill: Expert Advice On Graphic Design

Vince Neil and the boys weren’t singing about graphic design, but we’ll act like they were and sing it louder than hell. See that? Two Mötley Crüe references in one sentence!

Glam Metal had something very right: People love visual stimulation. This applies just as much today as it did back in the ‘80s. Actually, it might apply even more!

People are on their mobile devices constantly now, and some of the most popular social media channels are Instagram and YouTube. Consumers are attracted to visuals that make them feel a connection to people and brands.

To get some expert opinions on what’s important in design these days, we asked a few questions from our rockstar graphic designer, Sharee.

1) What makes a great logo design?

A logo plays a major role in how your customers will perceive your brand, so understanding the brand is key and a great logo can tell a story about that brand. Picking the right colors also carries a lot of weight. Colors can evoke specific emotions and ideas.

2) What do you think are the most important elements of web design?

Providing a good user experience through a quality user interface. Websites need to be clean, simple and easy to navigate while getting the key message across. Also, speed!

As a designer, you feel like you need to pack a bunch of cool elements into the site, but you have to keep in mind how much bandwidth those cool elements are taking up. Waiting for things to load and using laggy, slow interfaces is frustrating for users.

3) How important is branding and what are the best approaches to branding content?

So important! It’s the face of your company and it’s the way your customer perceives you. Having a unified story and look leaves a memorable impression on consumers, which in turn creates trust. People are more likely to purchase from a business that appears polished and legitimate.

The best approach for me when helping our clients build their brands is to do my homework to learn about the company.  Learn what they want to accomplish, who their audience is and who their competitors are.

I always try to figure out what the brand voice is; is the company professional, friendly, quirky, authoritative, technical, promotional, conversational, passionate? This information will set the tone when designing.

4) What should be considered when choosing web page images?

  1. Quality should always matter. Grainy and poorly reproduced photographs on a small business website can be an instant deal-killer.
  2. Taking photos or finding images that cohesively work with the brand. When choosing images, I strive for originality. I suggest that every company hire a photographer so that they have original and unique photos that can connect with their audience.
  3. Color, cropping, filters, style, and orientation should all be taken into consideration.

5) What qualities are important to being a graphic designer?

Good communication. A designer’s job is to communicate a client’s story, brand, and ideas. You’ll also need good communication skills in order to present, charm and negotiate for your work.

The ability to take criticism is also essential, which is possibly the toughest thing for any designer. It’s important to be receptive and open-minded and understand that when our work is under criticism there’s no need to take it personally.

As a designer, you have to be good at taking direction to improve your work and build on communication. It’s an evolving process and often produces positives in the end.

Lastly, keep positive. There are enough assholes around already.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For A Free Consultation

Your Browser’s “Reader View” Proves Bad Web Design Is Still Rampant

You might use a “reader view” when surfing the web—you may even be using one right now. (If you don’t use one, get ready to have your socks blown clear off.) Reader views not only show a stripped and simplified version of a webpage, but they also show us that bad web design is alive and well.

What is Reader View?

Have you ever wanted to read an article on a website but the font is too small? Or maybe an annoying popup gets in the way of the text? Even slow-loading pages can make you frustrated while you wait for banner ads, videos, and graphics to finish rendering.

A reader view solves this. Every major web browser (and even many smaller ones) has an option for the user to strip a webpage of everything but the headline, text, and images or videos that pertain to the article.

reader view simplified website design neptune facts

And nothing else. Just large, easy-to-read black text floating in a white, purgatory-like space where no distractions can get in the way of you and your reading. It’s blissful. It’s effective. It’s truly magical.

Nothing New But Only Growing

Reader view isn’t new. Safari introduced their reader view back in 2010 (some simple-text apps even predate this). Microsoft developed a simple reading option in 2013 for Internet Explorer, then again in 2015 for Microsoft Edge—the same year Firefox introduced their version.

reader view button browser

Google Chrome had an experimental reader view in 2015, and now have a more robust add-on in the works (though only for Andriod OS at the moment).

Some browsers even let you customize your reading view with different typefaces, font sizes and colors (like white text on a black background for easy-on-the-eyes night reading).

neptune facts night broswer reading

And while some webpages don’t allow using a reader view, it works on most news articles, blog and product pages to make reading distraction-free.

What This Means For Web Design

The growing use of reader views shows that web users (and browser developers) know that simple, straightforward design is preferred. The people want what they came for and not everything that gets in the way, like:

  • intrusive popups
  • slow loading speeds
  • unorganized webpage layouts
  • chaotic colors
  • fonts that aren’t legible
  • annoying banner ads
  • auto-play videos

When more and more web browsers are adding features to declutter webpages, the blame falls on bad website designers, developers and advertisers. Trying to create something noticeable and wanting to make money often overtake one of the golden rules of the web—design for the user.

Getting Better Design

When users opt for reader view on your site, they end up not seeing your branding, your navigation links and other elements that move them toward a purchase.

Want to avoid users gravitating to the reader view button when they land on your website? Here are a few tips:

1. Design your website well. Great sites aren’t flashy—they’re easy. Hire someone to develop your site to make words readable, colors compatible and layouts simple and appealing.

the medium clean webpage design walmart article

Medium’s website is awesomely simple. You’d almost think it was already in reader view.

2. Increase your loading speeds. Your website should load in a second or two—any longer and users get impatient and click away. Remove unnecessary videos, decrease your image file sizes and ditch banner ads if they add too much time for your site to load. Google has a neat tool for measuring page speed.

website page speed desktop mobile

3. Quit adding things. One of the biggest rules of design is that every element must have a purpose. Don’t add an image if it doesn’t help the user. Don’t include a sidebar if your page can do without it. Keep colors simple and useful.

website bad design intrusive ads colors

4. Work for the user, not yourself. All businesses want to make money, but that doesn’t mean you should let sales overtake user experience. If you make your site a place where people can get the info they came for (which doesn’t include a popup asking for their email or to purchase an additional product), they’re likely to stay on the site longer and may give you more business.

If you follow these rules and make it easier for customers to use your website, they’ll be more inclined to use your actual site instead of a “reader view” version.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

New Menu Law Calls For New Design and Print

The FDA’s new law

Beginning May 7th, chain restaurants in the US are now required to list the calorie counts of food items on their menus. The law is an effort to encourage Americans to choose healthier options when eating out. This law, enforced on chains with over 20 locations, includes:

  • Restaurants
  • Movie theaters
  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Pizza chains
  • Vending machines

Why it may affect every food business

While the FDA is only requiring certain sellers to list their calorie counts, there’s always a chance the law could change. In the future, all businesses that sell food may need to include calorie counts.

Customers may also begin to expect calorie counts to be on menus wherever they purchase food. With businesses under this new law along with places that already list calorie counts by choice (like Starbucks and Chipotle), it may become habit for consumers to choose menu items—at least in part—based off of calories.

New menu designs

Adding new information requires a new design. Simply inserting the calorie count into the existing menu can increase clutter, especially with the food names, prices, descriptions and images already present. More clutter means difficulty reading and can be a less pleasing experience for your customers.

Adding calorie counts involves choosing specific design elements, like:

  • Typeface
  • Font
  • Placement
  • Sizing
  • Spacing
  • Color

Carefully choosing these elements allows customers to read a menu that’s easy to digest. This is also a good time to update your outdated design to one that’s more modern.

Even digital menus will need an upgrade. Since customers view website menus on their phone, tablets and computers, the information needs to be able to automatically resize and reshape to fit each device. You need to make sure adding calorie counts won’t disrupt how your menu looks on a screen.

New menu printing

After calorie counts are added, you’ll need to print new menus. This is a good time to think about your print options.

Your menu can look cheap and outdated if you’re using a Microsoft Word template, a desktop printer or average printer paper. Consider everything you can do to make your menus stand out and match your branding:

  • Thickness
  • Sizing
  • Single-sided vs. double-sided
  • Color vs. black and white
  • Bound vs. folded
  • Colored background vs. blank background

How we help

Graphic design

Our designers can create, recreate or revamp a menu that is anywhere your customers may see one:

  • Food menus
  • Drink menus
  • Happy hour displays
  • POS menus
  • In-store digital displays
  • Foamcore menus
  • Table tents
  • Website menus

Send us your menu info, and we can create a new design that fits your branding, is easy to read and is appealing to both look at and hold. Even if your menus change weekly or daily, we can design each one or create a template for you to input the menu items yourself.


We have a full-service printing team, so we can print high volumes of menus often at lower costs than a business can with a desktop printer. We use high-performance printing equipment, so your color won’t fade or misalign like the typical office printers.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Our Most Requested Services By Business Owners

From our start over forty years ago, we’ve built up our offerings from just printing to include digital marketing and strategy, and we continue to add more services every year. Here are our most requested services by business owners from all around the Twin Cities.

1. Logo Design

Our graphic designers craft logos for businesses all around Minnesota. We take your company branding and look at modern design trends to create a logo that defines your business and speaks to your customers.

Have a sketch of what you want? Even better. We’ll draft it up and give you an option or two of what will appear best across print, digital and apparel.

2. Websites

Your website is often the first thing potential customers see from you, and it should reflect you and your message accurately. It should have your brand colors, fonts and writing style to keep you separate from your competition.

Even current customers should look forward to returning to your site. It should be easy to navigate and full of relevant written content. We’ll design brand new sites and revamp outdated websites for companies in almost any industry.

3. Marketing Mentor

Our Marketing Mentor program is ideal for companies who have a great product or service, but little time or effort to spend on marketing. Our strategists, designers, writers and developers come together to offer you:

A successful business needs both great products and great marketing. We’ll help you get the attention of customers and retain their relationship to build your sales.

4. Printing

We print thousands of flyers, brochures, letterhead, mailers and more every year. Our print operators know how to make marketing materials come out looking professional, and we even have 5,000 square feet of warehouse to store your prints until you’re ready to use them.

Even if you don’t have a layout or graphics ready, our designers can take your message and create an entire piece from scratch, all at your approval.

5. SEO

Many people don’t know that Google results aren’t random, and you can actually control where you show up when customers search for your products.

This practice is called SEO – search engine optimization. When we tweak parts of your website like your content, images and layout, Google relists you closer to the number one spot in the search results.

This listing is important because users rarely venture past the first page of Google, and the majority only pays attention to the top five results.

We’ve helped companies get huge boosts. One Minneapolis business moved from listing on the 7th page to the number 4 spot on the first page in a matter of days. Where do you rank when customers search your product?

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

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