Advertising design is more important than ever in the modern digital marketing landscape. With endless content competing for our attention across websites, apps, and social media, companies must create eye-catching and creative ads that break through the noise. But what actually makes for effective advertising in the age of information overload?

In this article will highlight 11 extremely innovative and memorable examples of recent advertising design covering various mediums. Analyzing these award-winning campaigns provides key takeaways for designers and marketers on how to develop aesthetically pleasing visuals, witty concepts, and impactful messages that achieve critical business objectives like increased brand awareness and sales.

List of Best Advertising Design Examples:

1. Revolution Cooking: Toaster Swatches
2. IKEA: Proudly the Second Best
3. Apple: Display Ad for the Apple TV Gift Card
4. Pepsi: Tastes Ok
5. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS): You Are What You Eat
6. McDonalds: Open all night
7. Nintendo: Make The Switch
8. Adobe: Take it Make it
9. Ilyon: Bubbles Empire Champions
10. AirFrance: Price Offers
11. Mailchimp: A Play On the Brand Name

What Makes Good Advertising Design?

There are several key elements that set apart great advertising design from the average or mediocre. While aspects like brand consistency across design assets are important, what really makes an ad stand out comes down to creativity.

The Importance of Good Creativity in Advertising Design

Creative advertising design is able to grab attention, spark interest, be easily understood, and motivate the consumer to take action. This creativity comes across in various dimensions:

  • Concept – The underlying idea or message needs to feel fresh yet aligned to the brand. Creative ads take a unique angle on communicating product benefits rather than stating the obvious. For example, IKEA’s “Proudly the Second Best” campaign humorously plays into public perceptions rather than ignoring them, demonstrating advertisement design done right with a strong message.
  • Copy – Words choice, messaging, and tone set the stage for the visuals. Clever word play, puns, and conversational language engage readers rather than dense blocks of text, exemplifying the power of typography in good ad design. Slogans are particularly important as a takeaway for audiences.
  • Visual Identity – Consistent and distinctive visual styling is how brands become recognizable at a glance. Custom fonts, color palettes, typography, and recurring design elements like logos all build cohesion across campaigns, showcasing good ad principles and the essence of graphic design. Apple’s use of clean, minimalist aesthetics makes their ads identifiable as Apple.
  • Layout and Composition – Principles like the rule of thirds apply to ad layouts just like photography composition. Balancing images, text hierarchy, white space, size relationships and other elements impacts aesthetics.
  • Adaptability – Campaigns today often span different formats like digital banners, social videos, websites. Maintaining a cohesive identity but adapting the assets for each use case is key. Nintendo’s series retained consistent visual motifs tailored for various mediums.

By analyzing these dimensions in award-winning ads, designers can apply similarly creative thinking for new campaigns instead of template solutions.

Now let’s examine some of the most eye-catching and innovative advertising designs across print, digital, and outdoor mediums seen in recent years.

11 Examples of the Best Advertising Design

Now lets take a look at some great ads which companies have created to boost their brand and products.

1. Revolution Cooking: Toaster Swatches

Most toasters seem to really only have 2 settings – burnt and not burnt. The R180 toaster from Revolution wants to not fall into that trap. It lets you toast exactly how you want – your choice!

The idea was simple, there are hundreds or even thousands of shades of pink in the world, therefore the concept of color swatches could be the perfect way to illustrate the number of toast settings available. This creative approach aimed to increase consumers’ appetite to buy the product both in stores and online, directing them to the Revolution Cooking website for more information.

This promotional campaign, named ‘Toaster Swatches’, was launched in the United States in March of 2020. It was created by the advertising agency MMB for a brand named Revolution Cooking. This campaign was via print media, demonstrating the timeless relevance of traditional types of advertising design.

Revolution Cooking: Toaster Swatches

2. IKEA: Proudly the Second Best

This IKEA ad campaign features scenes of parents bonding with their children while some of IKEA’s most popular products, like cribs and highchairs, sit empty and unused. As most ads showcase products being used, IKEA’s ads highlight the company’s values – that parents come first, and they are “proudly second best” to the relationships between parents and kids. The ads promote IKEA’s brand values rather than just trying to sell more products, showing that the company understands what really matters most to its customers.

It has clear concise imagery and subtle information about the products for sale. Branding is not glaring but it gets its message across.

3. Apple: Display Ad for the Apple TV Gift Card

Apple is famous for its simple but effective design style. This same concept is also used in their display advertisements, which reflect the look of their products. The mix of clear graphics and straight-to-the-point language makes their ads both appealing and relevant.

Apple Display Ad for the Apple TV Gift Card

4. Pepsi: Tastes Ok

Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been engaged in friendly competition for quite a while, but this ingenious ad stands out for being very witty. Pepsi, renowned for its classic “Tastes better” slogan, spun the story differently for this Australian campaign, implying that its competitor is merely “ok”.

In Pepsi’s “Tastes ok” campaign, they exploited a design mistake in Coca-Cola’s packaging to hint at its substandard quality. It’s a brilliant yet risky move to base your advertising on your rival’s product, but when there’s a brilliant marketing possibility hiding in plain view, it becomes an excellent chance to outdo the competition.

Pepsi Max Australia
Image credit: Pepsi Max Australia

5. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS): You Are What You Eat

The volume of plastic waste being released into the ocean is so vast that it’s hard for us to even imagine. However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the issue. This is brought to our attention by the German advertising company Ogilvy in a campaign they conducted for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) – a global non-profit organization focused on preserving marine wildlife. The print ad campaign features images of various fish distorted by pieces of plastic, with the tagline ‘You eat what they eat’. The message of the ad is to motivate people to contribute to cleaning our oceans by donating to Sea Shepherd.

6. McDonalds: Open all night

This clever advertisement from McDonald’s came from the creative minds at Leo Burnett. They continued McDonald’s trend of modern and simple designs with this visually appealing ad. By smartly using an illustration, they transformed the well-known ‘M’ logo into lights glowing in the darkness. This sends a clear message to viewers: no matter how late at night it may be, McDonald’s is always ready to serve you.

7. Nintendo: Make The Switch

Nintendo has employed striking graphics and simple, clear CTA and direct language to communicate their message effectively. The display advertisement centers around the product and includes a to-the-point slogan that accurately relays the intended message.

Nintendo Switch Display Ad

8. Adobe: Take it Make it

Adobe is famous for its inventive marketing strategies, which is fitting since they promote tools for creativity. This company elevates their marketing by being unique and innovative with their display advertisements. Beyond just presenting relevant and engaging images, the text used effectively represents the brand and the aim of the advertisement.

A well-designed ad is a powerful advertising tool, and Adobe excels in both of these aspects.

Adobe Ad Take It Make It

9. Ilyon: Bubbles Empire Champions

The initial three seconds of this Ilyon video ad immediately captivate the viewer and the concentrated messaging emphasizes the product

It’s crucial to understand that display advertisements aren’t confined to still messages. In the case of video-based ads, it’s imperative to immediately capture your viewers’ attention. People are continuously scrolling and have limited time and attention spans. This is why Ilyon’s ad, produced in collaboration with yellowSTUDIO, is very effective: it maximizes the impact of the first three seconds. Then concentrates its messaging on the product using a plain, straightforward method, which makes it more noticeable.


10. AirFrance: Price Offers

Airfrance uses a vibrant color scheme in their install that easily grabs the user’s attention. The ad’s message is communicated effectively without any confusing text or images.

Here’s why this display ad is effective: The main point of the ad is obvious – reduced prices for selected destinations. But that’s not all. In addition to its eye-catching visuals, Airfrance cleverly utilizes Google’s location-based services to exhibit special deals tied to specific regions.

The intense colors are literally impossible to overlook and do an excellent job of engaging viewers, while the text provides a clear and unambiguous message.

11. Mailchimp: A Play On the Brand Name

Mailchimp, a well-known email marketing platform, has decided to elevate its advertising strategy by incorporating elements of humor and crazyness. This unique angle has proven successful, allowing them to distinguish themselves among numerous competitors.

This ad is effective because humor is really a fail-safe method to capture the interest of a viewer. Mailchimp cleverly combines this with the use of rhyme to not only relay their message but to also make it memorable for the user, showcasing a strong message through smart typography. The design adds to the overall appeal with a soothing pastel color scheme consistently applied.

Diving Into the Process: How Great Ad Designs Are Born

While creativity and execution make memorable advertising design, getting to that point involves comprehensive strategic planning and an iterative approach. Breaking down a few key phases of the advertising design process provides context on how great ads are created.

The Initial Brainstorming Phase: Getting Creative

The spark for standout design often begins in collaborative brainstorming sessions. Agencies assemble cross-functional teams of copywriters, art directors, designers, strategists to generate ideas based on the brand’s objectives, target segments, competitive landscape and more.

Sessions use creative thinking techniques like listing unexpected metaphors, envisioning future lifestyles, and reversing assumptions to build an initial pool of concepts. Creative freedom rules at this phase – there are no bad ideas. Campaign objectives, key messages, tones, and potential visual directions emerge from the collective thinking.

From Sketch to Final Product: The Design Process

With strategic direction set, the visual design process starts translating ideas to reality. Everything begins visually as rough pencil sketches depicting possible compositions. Art directors provide rapid visual ideation first before committing time to finished digital layouts and presentations.

Design then iterates through stakeholder reviews, testing concepts with focus groups, refining messages so that the final product aligns to brand guidelines and campaign goals. For digital and video, animation storyboards depict the flow and sequence for interactive concepts. The path from sketches to final polished design assets involves continual refinement and testing.

Working with a Design Team vs Going In-House

Brands have a choice between relying on an external creative agency team or building internal marketing design teams. External agencies provide fresh perspectives, specialized skill sets, and bandwidth to handle large campaigns. However they come with higher costs and potential continuity issues after a project finishes.

Internal marketing teams understand nuances of the brand identity and operations for consistent, long-term design oversight. But they can be limited by bandwidth on expanded projects or lack diversity in skill sets. Weighing these dynamics to decide between external or internal resources ensures better outcomes.

The path from initial brainstorms to fully polished campaign design involves extensive collaboration, testing, and iterations on initial ideas. Understanding this process allows setting proper expectations on delivering truly exceptional, creative advertising.

The Role of Print Ads in the Digital Age

While digital channels now enable more targeted, measurable advertising, the medium of print retains unique advantages for branding and engagement. Understanding current effective practices in print design ensures it remains relevant for campaigns.

Why Print Ads Still Matter: A Look at Effective Design

Though criticized as antiquated, print ads deliver tangible impact if executed correctly. Full page magazine spreads make for visually-commanding statements. Layouts with breathing room, contrast, typographic hierarchy guide the eye through messages. And focused readers spend more time with print actively processing information than rapid digital skimming.

Brands like Apple still allocate significant print advertising budgets. Their 2015 Shot on iPhone campaign series featured stunning product photography guiding readers through text captions on a clean white background. This print-centric approach magnified focus on the visual details.

Creating an Ad That Stands Out in Print Magazines

While digital banners compete in crowded feeds, print ads only layout against editorial content. This allows more prominent visual presence if following core design principles:

  • Contrast colors and elements so the eye knows where to look
  • Align text and graphic components to invisible grid lines
  • Scale up key visuals for immediate impact
  • Use white space and borders to contain important messages

Epica award winner, Mint Velvet used massive product shots as strong focal points to stand out against magazine editorial with minimal text captions.

Combining Print and Digital: A New Strategy

Print’s advantages in visual storytelling combine powerfully with digital’s direct response capabilities forming an omnichannel strategy. QR codes can drive traffic to online destinations while print spreads spark initial intrigue.

Augmented reality also bridges physical and digital – enabling interactive experiences through scanning print ads. As seen in Lidl’s fruit AR campaign bringing healthy recipes to life via mobile cameras.

While print design requires adapting to the shrinking market, it still delivers tangible impact for memorable messaging and campaigns.

The Wrap Up

As we come to the end of these outstanding advertising designs, it’s clear that creativity, strategic planning, innovative use of design principles, and effective message delivery with a strong message are key. Brands like Revolution Cooking, IKEA, Apple, and more have pushed the envelope of what’s possible, utilizing impressive visuals, unique design elements, and clear, compelling messages to cut through the clutter and engage effectively with their audiences.

From the strategic use of print media by Apple to the engaging digital campaigns by Nintendo, there are powerful examples of how good advertising design can impact brand recognition and customer engagement. Key lessons from these brands include the importance of brand consistency, the effective use of space around images, impactful message delivery, and most importantly, the courage to think outside the box.

Bottom line, effective advertising designs are not just about aesthetics but delivering strong, resonating messages that prompt audiences to action. Whether you’re a design team or an in-house designer, these inspiring trends, practices, and examples should serve as a guide in creating compelling, memorable, and impactful advertisements.

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