[Creative Thinking] HOW TO: Make a Clever Ad – Creative Thinking & Brainstorming Tips

I will take you through some basics which I think are essential for a creative ad design. Remember, there are many ways to get the job done and several techniques to get the creative juices flowing. In this article,  I will share one way to go about it and I will include some relevant ideas that you may find helpful.

Before I begin, just to get your brains thinking take a look at these 2 images below,

Baby of the future
Modern Day Pacifier (Istockphoto)

Pretty creative eh? I do not know who did the work on top, but if you do, you can leave a comment letting me know.

ok…now we can begin.

Market Research:
Make sure you know your audience.  The company’s main goal is usually to sell something to their target market.  If you are working for a client who has already done market research for the company, try to get as much information from them as you can.  If you don’t know who you are trying to attract, it may be hard to communicate.  If you are trying to sell “Humous” to people in Denver, you will need a different approach then the one you would take while trying to sell “Humous” to people in the middle east.

Focus on 1 selling point:
What is the  company trying to sell? Sometimes it is a product and sometimes it is a service, and sometimes they may be trying to sell a message to the minds of the public ( i.e., an awareness – this is usually for Non-profit organizations) . Write a list of all the product’s selling points.  There are 2 general paths:

  1. POSITIVE: List the positive points of the product/service
  2. NEGATIVE: List the negative points if  someone lacks the product/service

The positive path is usually the way to go.  Now, it’s time to choose the most suitable  point to focus your ad on. Focus on 1 strong point.  This point will be your “Selling Point”.  Which point to choose will depend on the market research and other various company factors.

Now that you have your “Selling Point”, you need to start brainstorming ideas with this “point” in mind.
This concept done here below is for SOHO high heels.  I would say that their selling point is that they offer “
very high heels“. 
As you can see they focused on that 1 point and they get the message across. With a sense of humor of course. Which is good. People like to laugh (-:

Advertising Agency: Wirz/BBDO, Switzerland Creative Director: Matthias Freuler Art Directors: Kim Sokola, Rahel Boesinger Photographer: www.svengermann.ch Retoucher: Daniel Bracher

Focusing on more than one selling point could sometimes lead to a mess, so be careful. Some clients would really like to sell everything that they offer in one single ad, which is great, if it was possible, but I think focusing on “one point” and emphasizing that point is the way to go. As they say: “Less is More”.  People can only grasp a certain amount of information at once. Ok,  I hope I was clear, now, let’s try doing one of our own. Imagine the company name is WooGlue and for this example your “selling point” is “Very Strong Glue”. Now Spend time brainstorming up a long word list of everything you think of when you hear the word “strong”.  Even if it sounds weird at first.  Don’t throw it away till it’s final. You never know what other ideas this can trigger from each word. Then after you have a nice long list of word, you can work on trying to combine some of the “strong” related words that you came up with and the glue itself. The bottom line is to portray the glue to be very strong.

QUICK SAMPLE  BRAINSTORMING LIST OF things that come to mind when I heard the word “strong”:
Bungee Jumping Cord
Bricks/ rocks

ok, for this example, I chose to work with cement. I  am going to try to creatively combine  “Cement”  with “Glue” in an attempt to portray WooGlue as being very strong. Cement is pretty strong – so for this example I will go with it.  If you can think of a stronger substance that may work even better.  Glue being as strong as cement is an exaggeration and that is exactly the point that will drive the message home. Now remember, I am doing this on the spot.  A relatively short time has been spent on this “cement /glue combination”  The more time you spend, chances are that more ideas will come to you (-:

What came to me was the following concept: A cement mixer Truck with the “WooGlue”  logo on it and a little glue dripping out of the back instead of cement….and the text could say something like this:
“When Cement lets you down. WooGlue”

That is just my example, but the sky is the limit…

Some things to try and play with…

• Use of sense of Humor
• Use of Major Exaggeration
• Be Literal with words

Once you have the image and copy in your head or in mockup version, it’s time to get into Photoshop and really make this thing look beautiful!

Expanding the Campaign
Now that you have 1 good advertisement down – you can work on a set of ads that follow this same theme by replacing the cement mixer truck for something else. It takes time, thought and research, you will be surprised of what creativity can be achieved.

Remember, there are many ways to get the job done. In this article,  I shared one way to go about it. I hope this gives you insight and helps you – when you next approach an ad design/campaign.

If you think you can come up with a better ad for “WooGlue” then create one in Photoshop  and submit it to PhotoshopCandy  – I will aim to publish the good ads on Photoshopcandy Homepage.
Interested? send me a message
(WooGlue is not a real company – this project is for fun – ENJOY!)

Personal message to you: Thank G-d for the human mind. It’s a gift. Use it wisely. Use it for the good!


  1. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. But imagine if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this website could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its niche. Fantastic blog!

  2. Nice post; lots to consider. I think all of us have missed our muse from time to time and since creativity is not on a switch, these ideas are really helpful.

    The cheese-grater toilet paper is giving me the creeps though!

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