Whether it’s print or interactive, A is for Action


Every couple of months Communication Arts comes out with their annual on advertising, photography, design, and interactive. It’s always a visual feast flipping through the Annuals and my jaw drops when I see all the creativity that comes from each book. WhileI’m normally not a big fan of the Interactive Annual, probably because it takes too much effort to get into the content since you actually have to visit and dive into the websites, the Interactive Annual, as well as all the others, comes with an interesting look and analysis on the visual art world and what’s pushing the boundaries of communication. The March/April 2013 Interactive Annual didn’t disappoint.

What I found most interesting with the Interactive Annual (cover design above) isn’t so much the Annual winners but the case studies like Sam McMillan’s environmental column on Sparkwise. Like most of the Annuals, the visual designs and execution of briefs catches the attention, but underlying it all is getting to the essence of an idea, finding the best way to implement them, and being able to see what others don’t. Hambly and Wolley’s Creative Director Bob Hambly’s column on creativity “Be on the Lookout” hits this point home. He says that excellent skills in observation makes us better designers, and that “as designers, learning to trust our ability to see things others don’t is an invaluable asset”. This also goes for anyone working on any aspect of communication – the business of storytelling and, ultimately, getting people to take action comes from knowing what people want and what they don’t want.


Healing Histories, like most of theinteractive websites and apps featured in the Interactive Annual, highlights the fact that we now have different ways to tell stories and get visitors to take some sort of action, and design (thinking) has an important part to play in the process.Fritz Klaetke, the Founder ofVisual Dialogue, says, “Research and strategy are about understanding audiences and what we want to tell them. That leads to messaging, from big picture positioning right down to the details of copy. And design brings it all to life visually. Work that is visually compelling but also communicates something meaningful and memorable a ‘visual dialogue,’ if you will.” What it really comes down to is that content has value and communication has impact when we understand the complete process of how we access information, turn it into knowledge, and which eventually helps us make decisions or change our behaviors.

What really sparked my interest in this Annual was actually from the last paragraph in the featured article on Hub Strategy.

The classic AIDA decision pyramid that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action – the sequence of events consumers experience as they engage with advertising – is at the core of Hub Strategy. O’Neil explains, ” You can’t get to the last A without the first A”.

The process of advertising, or just getting people to take action once they receive a message, is a very interesting idea and there’s plenty of ways to categorize how this happens – AIDA is probably the most commonly known. American advertising and sales pioneer Elias. St. Elmo Lewis came up with the phrase and approach toAIDA back in 1899 when Lewis talked about “catching the eye of the reader, to inform him, to make a customer of him.”

  • A – Attention (Awareness): attract the attention of the customer.
  • I – Interest: raise customer interest by focusing on and demonstrating advantages and benefits (instead of focusing on features, as in traditional advertising).
  • D – Desire: convince customers that they want and desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs.
  • A – Action: lead customers towards taking action and/or purchasing.

Another common acronym that I’ve come across is DAGMAR which refers to ‘Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results’, an advertising model proposed by Russel H. Colley in 1961. It really doesn’t matter what kind of changes models have gone through the years, the common thread is that “Action” is prevalent in all of them. Whether it’s print or interactive, the business of communication, such as marketing, advertising, and advocacy, comes down to taking action by the person receiving the message – and with interactive and mobile being the way of the future, there’s plenty of ways to get people involved.

For a breakdown of how even the simplest of all communication – the poster – follows the AIDA process, check out this blog post “How 10 Fantastic Poster Designs Conform to A.I.D.A“.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *