Sandwich boards and email design.


November 15, 2012 by dannybishopcreative

Most days I try to get away from the computer for at least a few minutes around lunch time.  The IMG STG offices in Melbourne are positioned on one of the world’s great boulevards, St.Kilda Rd. and a wander along it’s wide, tree lined passage is a great way to refocus while catching some much needed vitamin D.

With so many offices around us there are also a multitude of eateries. Fast food chains and cafés abound, each servicing the hungry mouths of the blue collar workers that surround them. They promote themselves through a range of methods, but one standard one is the old-faithful sandwich board. These A-frame signs stand out on the footpath, urging you to visit or promoting the current specials.

There are two eateries very close to my office who use these sandwich boards. Two that have very different approaches to they way they promote their specials.

It’s had me thinking for a while about how these two sandwich boards mirror the current state of email marketing. Stick with me… it will make sense eventually!

An example of a poor sandwich board - and a poor email - design

Sandwich board “A”

An example of a good sandwich board - and a good email - design

Sandwich board “B”

How are these two boards like emails?  The first is a mess, sure. But the biggest problem it has is the sheer amount of information it’s trying to pass on. It has no less than 10 specials it is trying to sell. To fit it all on the board each special is nothing more than a statement of offer.

The second has just one special. Underneath the single special are a list of short details revealing more about the offer.

The first one is hard to read, scrawled with a marker by someone with questionable penmanship. This, combined with the volume of specials makes me wonder how anyone  who isn’t shuffling at a snail’s pace could be bothered to read it at all.

The second is easy on the eye. The board itself helps draw attention to the content, and with the large lettering it’s likely to get glances from almost everyone who passes it. The largest lettering of all is reserved for the “$25” text – and it appears on it’s own line with decent spacing above and below.

By now you’re probably starting to get the gist of how these sandwich boards are like emails. Let’s make it perfectly clear though…

Less is more, More is less.

Too many emails I see have more than a half a dozen content pieces they are trying to get people to read. I know, I designed one just like this for a major client a few years back.

I know better now. People opening their emails are a lot like the people passing these two sandwich boards. You’ve got limited time to catch their attention, and unless you grab it immediately they’ve passed you by. The best way to catch their attention is my making your offer simple to understand.

NFL Jersey email

NFL Jersey email – nothing but the offer

Take the NFL email above. It’s selling one thing, New England Patriots (my team) jerseys. It expands on what the offer is, and features a big “SHOP NOW” button that’s hard to avoid.

Apple iPhone5 launch email

Apple iPhone 5 launch email

Apple, the masters of minimalism show an impressive understanding of “Less is More” in virtually everything they do. And email is no exception. The iPhone 5 launch was accompanied by the email above. No big list of accessories, covers, or other products. Just a big photo, a big iPhone 5 headline, and a little more text telling you how to buy.

What about your emails? Are they a jumble of offers that make it hard for those speeding by to see what you want to show them? Or are they clean and simple, telling the story you want told even when the crowd is sprinting?


One thought on “Sandwich boards and email design.

  1. Alison says:

    nice post – thanks Danny.

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