Negative Space Marketing: Stand Out By Dialing It Back

This is a blog post about negative space. But, it's not about negative space as a design technique. It's about the idea of negative space as a way to differentiate your marketing communications in an overly crowded marketplace.

Every day we encounter hundreds of brands, all vying for our attention. Brands are shouting at us from bus stops, while we're at the urinal and from over designed flyers that are stuffed on our cars. TV commercials are interruptive by nature -- turning up the volume merely to get our attention. Banner ads flash, play video and kick in audio the second you get to a site.

Luckily, humans are great at adaptation. In response to these encounters, we've developed filters that help us block everything out. We've developed selective vision, and selective hearing. We're experts at ignoring.

So what actually gets noticed anymore? Marketing that doesn't try so hard -- that's understated, respectful and has value. Seth Stevenson of Slate recently referred to it as the soft sell approach. Coke's David Butler aptly described it in an older interview in Fast Company as well (Hat tip to the IQ Interactive blog for reminding me about the fast company article.):

As life gets visually noisier, brands that dial back to their core essence stand out by contrast

So next time you're creating a new marketing execution, think about dialing it back a bit. Give an overloaded mind a place to rest and focus. You might just get their attention in the process.

Written by Adam Harrell on February 4, 2010


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Adam Harrell