I just read a Seth Godin post; Great design = getting people to do what you want. It’s not about sticker design per se but it brings up some interesting points to consider. And, the designer’s question, “what do you want user (or viewer) to do”, brings up a dilemma when it comes to effective promotional sticker design.
For most advertising projects a designer is designing for one viewer or user – trying to grab their attention and impart the desired action (“pick up the phone”, “note these amazing benefits”, “act now!”, “remember us”, etc.). But, when custom printing stickers, it is a two stage process. There are actually two different people and two different actions you are targeting.
First, your sticker design must attract the shopper, the trade show attendee, the direct mail recipient… whoever the sticker is being handed (distributed) to. The design (and method of distribution) will determine whether the stickers resonate and are held on to, or are thrown in the trash. At this stage of custom printing stickers what you want the “user to do” is simply apply the sticker somewhere – show off their affiliation with you and start conversations. Just as with social media, you need to post the picture or comment before anyone can be influenced or interact with it.
The second stage of effective sticker design comes after the sticker is posted or displayed. Now the design needs to resonate with a different viewer in a different circumstance. The sticker on the car bumper, the sticker on the ski helmet, the sticker on the laptop computer… new location, new target, new goal of what you want viewer to do (laugh, be shocked, start a conversation, remember your business or slogan, etc.)
Effective sticker design for marketing stickers is not easy. With today’s technologies for custom printing stickers it seems everyone is a “designer” but it takes an experienced designer to truly create an effective marketing piece – something that actually “sticks” in the mind of the viewer and encourages a particular action. I quote Seth Godin again; “Great design is pushing/focusing the user to do something that he’ll thank you for later.”
With stickers great design is all the more difficult with the need to address multiple users/viewers. Unfortunately, that as design becomes more important and essential for effective marketing, inexperienced buyers and marketers are encouraged more than ever to ‘do it themselves’. Sure, doing it yourself is always cheaper in the short term. But, is “cheap” and “short term” really what you want your message, business or marketing to be about?