Through a Designer’s Eyes: How to Build an Interesting Advertising Concept

Take a walk through the process of concepting with our Senior Art Director Kolleen Kilduff.

Good advertising is so much more than pretty pictures and clever words. The foundation for a great campaign is an attention-grabbing and strategic concept. But what exactly is a concept?

From Merriam-Webster: concept: n. something conceived in the mind; thought, notion; an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances

In the world of advertising, a concept is an answer to a client’s question. How do I reach certain customers? How do we increase client retention? How do I boost sales? It all starts with a concept.

Concepting Basics: Where to Begin

To develop a great concept, advertising agencies like Devaney & Associates begin by taking a deep dive into your brand. This typically starts with a discovery meeting to uncover what makes your brand unique, what you want to accomplish with your campaign, who your target audience is—the list goes on and on! The more you share with your agency, the easier it is to get a concept that meets your needs and your budget.

From there, your agency will develop a creative brief that distills what problem the campaign needs to solve, what key messages need to be communicated, who those messages need to reach, and oftentimes what media will be used to reach them. For example, will the campaign be primarily digital, which, while highly effective, gives you very little creative space to work with? Is TV involved, which gives your campaign the luxury of 30 to 60 seconds worth of messaging? Your media strategy can greatly influence how “conceptual” your concept can be.

Creative Briefs, Brainstorming, and Blossoming Ideas

The brief is then given to your agency’s creative department, where there is further research coupled with team brainstorming sessions. During the brainstorming sessions, the department’s designers and copywriters bounce around ideas on how to solve the client’s problem as outlined by the creative brief. Team members will throw out ideas, allowing others to add to their ideas or thoughts, helping to develop them more. From there, those small ideas begin to shape into broader concepts. Any and all ideas are welcome during brainstorming and the number one rule of brainstorming is that there are no bad ideas. While notes from brainstorms can be a bit messy and scattered, each scribble is a seed that could blossom into a full-fledged idea.

Adding Words and Design to Bring Ideas to Life

Once all ideas are on the table, it’s time for the team to narrow down the ideas into a short list of potential “winners” and then get to work refining them. The process typically starts with the copywriters, who transform the scribbled notes into well-formed campaign messages with clear calls to action.

Then the ball is passed to the designers to establish a visual look for each concept, including color palettes, photography styles, typography, graphic design elements, and more.

At Devaney & Associates, the finished concepts are packaged into a “concept document” that’s presented to the client and helps them understand how each element within a concept tells a piece of a story or conveys a specific emotion. Each creative decision serves a greater purpose. Clients are always given a choice of concepts—typically three—so that they can choose the idea that they feel is best suited for their brand and their marketing objectives. 

With a winning concept in hand, the creative team then gets to work applying that concept across the campaign’s media plan. Whether it’s print, digital, TV, radio, billboards, or something in between, each medium has different requirements and best practices that the concept must be adapted around.

Kickstart your campaign

While a concept is the glue that holds everything together—making sure that the verbal and the visual work together to achieve a common goal—your marketing team is the brains behind the operation. Are you ready to kickstart a campaign that gets your brand noticed? We’d be happy to help! Contact us today to meet our team and get to work!