Breaking the Rules

This week I received a “flyer” for a new grocery store that is coming to town. In contrast to most grocery store marketing materials that emphasize graphics and include product pictures and white space, this flyer was full of dense text and few pictures, printed on cheap paper. Reading through their flyer made me wonder when it is a good idea to break communications rules, and how content and design principles evolve.trader joes flyer

Why Open Design over Dense Text?

Contemporary design offers a way to catch the attention of an audience. Since you are competing for attention, and you only have a few seconds to connect with an audience, an image that grabs attention is used to draw the reader to your message. This design emphasis has evolved in recent years, to the extent that design is often more important than content in connecting with an audience.

Having the Confidence to Break the Rules

So why are the marketing professionals for this grocery store chain breaking the rules of marketing communications? They have established their brand identity as different from the average grocery store experience. So from that basis, it makes sense that their communications vehicles set them apart from other stores. This is a confident move that can produce great results if it works, but if you try to be quirky and fun but aren’t quite, then your marketing materials might look more pathetic than proudly unusual.

Deciding how to communicate your brand identity and the tone that works for your organization is based on knowing your audience and evaluating your results. Even if you don’t have a huge research budget, you can show samples of marketing materials to people in your core customer audience and evaluate their reactions to your materials, adjusting messages as necessary.

Finally, the ultimate measure of any marketing communication is the result that it produces. Are your messages creating loyal customers? If your customer base is growing, then your messaging is working, whether it follows the rules or not. In the case of this grocery store chain, people in my state have been waiting for years for them to arrive on the scene and the social media buzz related to their store openings is huge, so even though they break the rules, it is working for them.

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