For the first time, we welcomed Asha Mody of Mindsy Design to one of our Design Cuts live sessions. Asha has worked for over 10 years in the design industry, both in the U.S. and India, and draws on her authentic roots and international experience in her approach to clean, mindful design. We were thrilled to have her share her knowledge with us.

As an extra treat, Asha offered a 30% discount on her course How to Create Packaging Design That Sells for a limited time only!

Understand Advertising

As quoted by William Bernbach, “Advertising is the art of preservation and persuasion to be not a science, but an art.” The example shown below represents a campaign, ‘Think Small’ by Volkswagon. At the time, it was one of the best advertisements in the industry because it got results and was one of the early ads to send a message.

Impact of Advertisements in the Market

Advertising has a huge impact on our economy, as evidenced through the statistics below:

Advertisement Facts

The most expensive advertising campaign created was to promote a lavish perfume by Chanel in 2004. ‘No.5 the Film’ was directed by Baz Luhrmann starring Nicole Kidman, and the ad approximately cost them $33 million. Another advertisement called 'Tipping Point' that was released in 2007 cost $16 million.

Advertisements are extremely expensive and typography makes a huge impact. 

Examples of Impactful Print-Ads

Example 1 is from the KitKat chocolate brand with the tagline, “Have a break, have a kit-kat”.

Example 2 showcases a print ad for Ikea. It cleverly names the product iDEALISK with an ‘i’ as a prefix, just like Apple does for their products.

Understand Typography

Importance of Typography in Advertising

Typography has the power to evoke emotions. It creates a personal connection with the brand. For example, the confidence that a buyer feels when they wear Nike shoes builds a connecting emotion between the two. Typography builds trust amongst its competitors.

Typography is used as a great advertising tool to grab the reader’s attention and give them a clear understanding of the message. Strategic typography can make the reading process effortless and build interest in the products or services. It doesn’t just increase revenue and sales but helps create brand loyalty.

For example, McDonald’s, “Eat fast, die young” is a simple yet impactful message. The copywriting, as well as the message, plays a huge role in its advertising.

Another example: the U.S. government propaganda poster was designed back in 1943. It was a government campaign to urge the public to conserve the resources necessary for the war effort. The typography is bold and the message is clear, “When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler”. The word alone in all caps evokes an emotion within the viewer. At the same time, they're inviting people to join the car-sharing club.

In the second poster, Opel had launched a campaign about the consequences of texting while driving. They used short lines of text, blank spaces and a minimalistic approach to send a clear message across, keeping it simple yet impactful.

In the third poster, Absolute addressed the abuse of alcohol at a young age, while also promoting their brand. The visuals speak for themselves and send across the message to their consumers of drinking in moderation.

Pro tip: if an advertisement can grab your attention for more than 3 seconds then it is considered to be an impactful advertisement.

Anatomy of an Advertisement

The headline first gets the attention of the user. It has to be bold, fun, strong, and easy to read. The background imagery should complement and convey some message. For example, the running shoes and the calf muscles convey the message, as shown in the image below.

The subheading, body copy, brandmark, and call to action are important elements of an advertisement. A call to action conveys what the ad wants you to do next.

Principles of Effective Advertising

For effective advertising, a couple of principles need to be kept in mind while designing. Make sure it’s easy to understand, has a directed goal, is persuasive, has a hierarchy of information and is distinctive. Avoid adding too many details and keep the advertisement clean.

Use Typography in Advertisements

As Asha best describes it, letters are like people that form a relationship. Some relationships are close, some are loose, but they should always work well when put together. See the images below for reference.

For example, “If staying home is more dangerous, speak up” is handcrafted typography. It holds sentiment to it while the eyes connect emotionally.

In the second example, the poster conveys that when you lose a leg, you don't just lose a part of the body but emotions that are attached to it. Using a different shade of gray and different sizes of the font creates the feeling of loss. It creates pain within the viewer.

In the third example, Reebok uses powerful, strong and bold strokes that are handwritten brush strokes. It carries momentum with a “be more human” call to action. The ‘more’ and the sole of the shoes are both in red, shouting a clear message. 

So typography and visuals, when put together, form a good relationship.

Use Fonts to Evoke Emotions

It is important to understand which fonts can evoke emotions and personality traits. 

Sans serifs don't have a positive or negative personality but create a modern business aesthetic. They stand for quality and efficiency. They are best used for web and digital ads, so if you wish to portray a bold message, this font works wonders. Serifs have a decorative element. They are practical, relatable, and friendly in nature. Scripts are fluid in nature. They create momentum and personal attention. Modern fonts are assertive with thick strokes. They also work best for digital advertisements. Monospaced fonts are plain and imaginative in nature.

Test it Out for Yourself

In this session, Asha played a game. Here’s how you can play along and answer the questions for yourself. See the image below and choose the correct answer.

Here are the answers:

Q1 - D - The boldness showcases strength.

Q2 - C - The graceful vibe showcases sophistication and the essence of Rome’s architecture.

Q3 - B - The fun vibe showcases what people can expect when they visit the circus.

Think about what kind of typography connects most with the word. It's important to observe and think which type is appropriate in order to send out a correct message. 

Reading Sequence

A reading sequence is important to understand how viewers process messages in a certain order. This is a crucial part of ad design. Visual hierarchy is used as stopping points for readers. It answers questions such as what is the first thing you would want your reader to see, where would you want them to head next, etc. This rule is also applied in packaging design to understand where you want to hold your viewer’s attention first.

For example, in the image shown below, the crucial points in a hierarchy are the headline, the name on the bottle, the confined text, and the logo.

Font Choices

Good font choices are bold, easy to read, have a good shape of the letters and a good amount of spacing between each letter. They look balanced and work best for headliners. Bad font choices are squished with words that look like a blob, are difficult to read and confusing.

Pro tip: Austin Font is used in the 'Good Font' example shared in the image above.

Visual Tone

Typography has power for visual tones. For example, see the image below for reference. If you squint your eyes and see the text below, you will notice that different areas of the text have different tones of greys. Tracking and leading also play a vital role.


The horizontal white space between the lines of the text influences its readability. The general formula in any computer is 10 point type x 20%. As a general rule of thumb, adding an extra 1-2 points will make the text more readable.

Please see the image below for reference. If you have Option A with x-height with a longer ascender and descender, it looks better with a loose leading. With Option B, it looks better if the x-height is a little shorter. If you have Option C, with a script font, the looser leading fits best. This is because display fonts have extra swishes and decorative elements.

Color of Type

Colors give tones and textures. They define optimal readability for a viewer. Contrast colors increase legibility but be careful of HALO effects.

Size Differentiation

The headline consists of the first words that are noticed by the readers. It stands out and sets the tone of the document. It is often large, bold, colored and maybe fun depending on the content type. It’s usually in contrast with the body copy and is sized either between 20-24 points or larger.

Complementary Type Pairs

Using few fonts gets dull whereas using too many gets chaotic. Make sure to use a balanced amount of fonts that complement each other. As a rule of thumb, designers use two to three fonts in a design. Make sure to distinguish between different types and choose complementary ones for legibility.

Choose the Right Combinations

In order to differentiate and choose the right font combinations, play the following exercise. Set the fonts in similar headlines and body copy sizes to see how they appear individually and then compare them side by side.

Ask these questions to pick the best combination: do they work well together or conflict with each other? Which headline is better and which copy is better? Does it look better in bold or italic? Which complementary pairs feel right for the job. Once you’re able to answer these questions and vote along with the types, you’ll obtain the right combinations to work with.

See the image below for reference.

Another advertisement example is shown below, where the ad sends out the clear message of, “Stay away from corporations, they want you to lie for them”. There are two or more typographies involved with pictorial fragments.

As a handy tool, Asha prepared a cheat sheet for teaching students to work with font pairings. It has quick combinations of complementary type. Please see the image below for reference.

Understand Digital Ads

Digital users have a short attention span so the ads need to be clear and to the point. Maintaining a hierarchy of the context, sharing a solution to an existing problem, and bringing attention to the ads are key aspects of creating a digital ad. It is also essential for an advertisement to have a call to action or a clickable button to redirect potential buyers to buy the service or product.

Below, each ad has a different motive and is subjected to different calls to action.

Design Digital Ads

As a part of the session, Asha shared her methods and procedures of designing a digital ad on Photoshop. For this, she chose to design an ad for Earth and how we should conserve it.


Start by writing down the first things that come to your mind when a brief is given. Understand the objective and the purpose while creating emotion to restore the earth. Then sketch out a few ideas that are in your mind.

Write the Text

Put down the words in a hierarchy and add the visuals that have been sketched. Think of various elements related to conserving the earth such as the sun, penguins, and a melting vision of the earth, like ice cream. Highlight the words that are of utmost importance.

Set the Canvas

Choose 300 resolution and an appropriate size on Photoshop. Set the RGB color mode and add a new canvas. Create a basic layout and pick the guide. Choose a 6 x 8 grid and keep some margin.

Add Visuals

Go to the library and choose a suitable image for the background. For this, you can also use Adobe Stock or Getty Images.

Add Text

Add a headline and text. Highlight the important words such as the headline. Choose Bison Font for the heading. From the gradient, pick a background color and add it onto the composition.

For inspiration, pick an ice cream graphic. Make sure to delete the background of the ice cream image with the Magic Wand.

Add the image to the main composition and make adjustments. Place the image in different areas to see where it fits best. For this particular composition, Asha chose to place it right in the center.

Add Effects

Adjust the color and gradation. Adjust the lighting and add effects. Add a drop shadow and create a contrast.

Zoom in and on a new layer, add a mask effect on ‘Melts’. Make sure that the word looks legible.

Adjust the text and add the logo at the bottom.

Finally, add a melting iceberg effect in the background to give it more depth.

Congratulations, you have successfully created a digital design ad.