Use white space

15 Aug

I get this incredulous look every time I advise clients to use more white space in their ads. But I can’t blame them. Ads are not free and sometimes outrageously expensive. Anyone in his right sense of mind would probably want to get the most bang for the buck. Use up every inch of space paid for. Feature all 16 functions of the product. Stuff it with 25 lines of disclaimers. You get the idea.

Showing just the product in the centre amidst a sea of white with a simple header and a few lines of introduction takes courage. It’s a leap of faith and I understand why many are hesistant to employ this technique. What if the reader’s curiosity isn’t piqued by a lack of information? What if he wants to see the side and backview of the product? What if…? These are just some of the questions that bother clients who have paid for media coverage and who believe that space should be utilised down to the last square inch.

I’m a fan of white space and I believe if used wisely, it says much more about the product than a page chock-full of information, both useful and useless. There’s a difference between choosing the best features to display and merely stuffing the advertisement like a Christmas turkey. Ads that are jammed with product shots of all imaginable angles and fancy technical information remind me of letters from the past. You see, postage a century ago was expensive. People who wanted to save that extra dime would write diagonally over the original content in a lighter ink. Money saved.

White space can be beautiful. White space need not be scoffed at.

To declutter your ad and use more white space, the first step is to think of the information that can be eliminated. Highlight only those features that differentiate your product, not those that every other product has. Choose the most flattering image, not a compilation of shots from the side, bottom and top. If the reader has any interest, it’s likely he’ll scoot down to the store for a touch-and-feel. Then consider if your ad really needs a ‘snazzy’ background simply because it looks bare. Resist the temptation. A busy background that exists merely to fill up space does more harm to your product than good.

Let your product breathe. Let it speak for itself. The clean, white simplicity draws more attention because there are no other distractions. The eyes go straight to what you’re selling. Set up a proposition and you’ve essentially created a territory where the reader knows how to explore without getting lost or confused.

Revisit some of your past ads and see if they can use white space. Sometimes, less is more.

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