Don’t be Guilty of Ransom Note Communications

I was complaining about a print newsletter published years ago by a local nonprofit. A different font for each section, and in different sizes. The thing was nearly unreadable.

A designer friend nodded and said, “We used to call that ‘ransom note design’.”

I get the intention: make things fun and interesting to read. But that’s not what design is supposed to do.

Good design makes things clear. It’s not supposed to be pretty, it’s supposed to be effective.

You can have design that’s fun and interesting and effective at the same time. The same applies to writing.

The key to great communications is clarity. It doesn’t matter what the context is, or the method. You can choose to entertain, educate, or inspire, but you have to begin with your core message, and pay attention to your core audience.

And you have to keep it simple.

Too many messages is like too many fonts. The reader doesn’t know where to look first, or what’s most important. Trying to say everything at once is confusing. If your audience can’t decide, they won’t decide, and you’ve invested time, effort, and possibly money, into driving people away.

Plan your communications carefully, one step at a time. Make each message clear.

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, or who you sell to. Communication is a human interaction. A connection point. Give people a chance to know, like, and trust you, so you can build credibility and a solid relationship.

Ransom notes? They grab attention in the moment, but they will — by design — render you anonymous.

 

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