Why are you yelling at me?

Ever get a text message or an email that’s all in upper caps? The message feels about ten times louder than normal and I can’t help but bristle. I also wonder why the sender is raising her voice. It’s not that the message necessarily deserves the urgency or impact that the uppercase letters impart. In fact, the message often gets lost amid all the shouting.

This happens frequently in advertising, too.  A big, bold headline can be eye-catching. But when everything about the ad jumps out at you at once, your eye doesn’t know where to go first. Bigger can be just, well, bigger. It’s hard for the brain to process what is most important when everything is in boldface. Or starbursts. Or banners and bright lights. When you have this many messages competing for attention, it’s always best to step back and consider what you are trying to accomplish. It may possibly be too much. Try limiting your ad to one or two key messages. You’ll gain clarity and effect, which creates a space that requires less shouting. And then your audience can start listening.

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