How To Use Visual Hierarchy in Marketing To Grab & Guide Attention

In marketing designs, your goal is to convey information. It could be through text or various other elements,  but the goal is to communicate your message. In that regard, it’s important that the information is successfully comprehended by your audience. Visual hierarchy is one of the key factors that contribute to the successful communication of your message. 

Visual hierarchy is the effective structural organizing of content. Humans need a visual hierarchy to properly absorb information. And as a marketer, it is important to guide their view and direct attention to the most important details of what you want to convey in your advertising. 

So, in this blog, we will dive deeper into the many facets of visual hierarchy and how it will help you in marketing to grab and guide attention. 

Understanding Visual Hierarchy

When we’re trying to understand what visual hierarchy is we need to first try and grasp the concept. In that process, we would need to learn what constitutes visual hierarchy and what principles govern this concept. 

Did you know the basic elements that constitute a design can help maintain a good visual hierarchy? Proper adjustments to things like typography, size, color, contrast, and positioning have the power to make a world of difference in a design. If you really want to attract your audience and communicate effectively you need to focus on these areas. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these. 

1. Typography

Good typography practices can help your marketing work pay off. Typography is the aesthetic in which texts are arranged. And since we’re dealing with the overall arrangement of things on a design, this is an important one.

So in practice, let’s say you’re tackling text-heavy content. You can use three levels to organize your texts. Level 1 would be the heading which can be bigger in point size along with the usage of bold font. Then level 2 would be the subheading where you can use a point size that’s smaller than the heading. For the subheading, you can even use a different typeface to complement it. 

And finally, level 3 would be where the text body appears. Now in this portion, the texts would be significantly smaller in point size than the rest of the 2 levels. So you can use a font that’s legible at that size which wouldn’t hinder its readability. You can also use other structural adjustments to help with things like letter spacing and line height. Attending to all of this will help you maintain a good visual hierarchy. 

2. Size

One thing you just can’t ignore when discussing visual hierarchy is size. Size always matters when determining which elements of a design need to be seen first. Size can help move the gaze effectively by guiding the eye first to the important details and then to the least important ones. 

You would think making something bigger will ensure its visibility but if the wrong element is increased in size you could be taking attention away from another important detail.

That’s why the sizes of each of the elements should vary according to their priority. Use can use size to bring balance to all of the elements of the design. 

In the above example without even a thought your eye immediately goes to the word “Unlimited”. The size of the text is bigger than the rest of the elements so it’s noticeable.

3. Color

Color also helps set visual hierarchy. The proper color used in the proper place can help draw the eye to important details. However, the opposite also is true. Using color in the wrong places can draw attention away from the actually important details that you want the viewer to see. 

Color can truly be your best friend and your greatest foe in visual hierarchy, depending on how you use it. For example, using bright color palettes as opposed to muted palettes can help bring attention to specific areas of importance. And a pop of color used in the correct place can help details of priority stand out more. But using too much of bright colors in the overall design can make it look like an eye sore. 

4. Textures

Different textures have the power to draw attention to or away from something. There’s a psychology in textures that trigger emotions in us. This can be used as an advantage when determining visual hierarchy. 

Texture can help uplift elements like color, text, and illustrations. Depending on what your hierarchical order is you can decide where to apply different textures. Also, if you want to use a limited number of tones in your design, the texture is the best way to keep the design from looking monotonous. 

Another thing about texture is that it’s able to change emotions in a space. Using that psychology of texture you can create variations in the design to direct where you want your audience’s attention placed. 

5. Positioning

Finally, position your elements in the most flattering manner. 

With the exception of a few groups of people in the world, in general, people read visual content from top to bottom, while moving their gaze from left to right. In that sense, there are 2 patterns in which humans process visual information, namely the F and Z patterns 

F pattern

This landing page for BrandPush utilizes an F pattern. 

Z pattern

While the F pattern can be employed for designs that are text-heavy, the Z pattern can be used for lighter content structures as shown in the examples above. 

The pattern you choose will decide where some of the content will go. Don’t forget to effectively use white space and to make sure your positioning doesn’t make for a crowded design.

And on that note let’s move to the next facet of visual hierarchy which is establishing a clear focal point. Your focal point helps you determine the structure of your design and thereby helps keep a clean and clear visual hierarchy. Observe below why this is so important.

Establishing a Clear Focal Point

The focal point of a design is the part where a viewer’s attention is demanded. It will be what you want to communicate to your audience with that particular creative.

And in marketing design, the most important thing is to ‘market’ your brand by means of this communication. So your design is intended to work for you as a spokesperson. Therefore, it is important to draw your audience’s attention to the focal point of the design. 

It’s when there is no focal point to a design that it ends up as a wasted piece of marketing material. So, it is your job to make sure you create a focal point.

Let’s look at some composition rules that will help you navigate this aspect of visual hierarchy. 

1. The rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is when a design layout is divided with grid lines into 3 equally spaced vertical lines and another 3 equally spaced horizontal lines. This creates a map for you that helps in deciding where to place things so that it leads to the focal point. According to this rule, the focal point doesn’t necessarily have to be the center of a design.

The guide below for creating a poster, from the University of West Florida should help you understand this. 

2. The rule of odds

The rule of odds involves 3 elements most of the time. This composition rule says that an odd number of elements in a design helps draw attention to the focal point. For example, if there are 3 elements, the middle one could be the focal point and there would be 2 more elements on either side in the foreground. The 2 objects on either side help draw the eye toward the focal point. It is said that it’s more pleasing to the eye than having an even number of objects. 

3. Implied Movement

This technique uses leading lines to direct the gaze to important details. It provides an obvious path by using actual lines or aligning objects or shapes to direct the path to the focal point. This is a good visual hierarchy technique that can be creatively manipulated to achieve great results. 

The example below shows how the tire tracks are being used as leading lines to move our gaze to the core message of the ad.

Importance of Organizing Information with Hierarchy in Marketing

We’ve discussed what visual hierarchy is and how we can use it in graphic design. But why is it so important in marketing? 

A marketer’s goal is to increase conversions. Conversions increase your ROI. And with this in mind, you may be coming up with impressive content that helps achieve this. All this strategic content you come up with will reach people through the way you advertise. And graphic design is the main way that you do this.

For a marketer, it is quite tempting to make sure that everything you’ve come up with for the effective promotion of your brand is seen. This need to make everything seem important could actually be the crux of your designs. If everything is shown as important then there’s a high chance that nothing would seem important. 

This is why visual hierarchy is important. The visual hierarchy techniques you’ve employed in your advertising graphics can actually make a huge impact on how customers respond to your advertising. 

A marketing design that uses proper visual hierarchy techniques will, 

  1. Help viewers scan your advertisement efficiently.
  2. Communicate its message clearly. 
  3. Draw attention to the most important details first.
  4. Help identify your brand quickly and thereby help increase brand awareness.
  5. Successfully achieve the intended purpose of the ad.

What’s the takeaway? 

Visual hierarchy can help you balance your design in the most optimal way. It will help the way you market something by guiding your viewer from the most important detail to the least important one. And a clear design that uses proper visual hierarchy helps set a clear marketing message

So, it’s time to start taking visual hierarchy seriously when you work on your marketing designs. If all of this seems too much to tackle on top of your other marketing tasks, then let the professionals work on it for you. Hire an unlimited graphic design provider to help you design effective ads that take into account the design principles relating to visual hierarchy. 

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