Tips for winning headlines

Knowledge base article to help you write winning headlines for your graphic designs

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Tips for creating winning headlines

article author

By: Tim Bowerbank
Role: Design and Marketing

Image of spider chart of tips for winning headlines for your graphic design

Graphic Design Cornwall Knowledge Base

Article level - introduction
Time to read - 5 mins

The headline of your advert or brochure is one of the most important aspects that you and your graphic designer need to get right. Getting the headline right will help ensure that your graphic designed piece is a success.

There are some age old stats out there saying things like 80% of people only read the headline, but it is common-sense when you think about how you read marketing material. I am very bad for just scanning headlines, I only read the body copy if I a) notice the headline and b) see the benefit for me in the headline.

So, here are some tips for you on creating headlines… some of them writing tips and some of them graphic design tips… all in the same place as you’ll be going through this process when you come to the graphic design your next marketing document. Add these 14 tips to your tool box.

1. Give it the time that it deserves

It can be hard to write headlines, you need to ensure that you’ve given yourself enough time to create a winner! Don’t feel ineffective if you’ve spent hours on it - if you get it right it’s going to pay you back with customers.

2. 110% focus on solving their needs and pain

What is your product or service solving for the customer? Really focus your efforts on pulling out the main benefit for the customer and getting this into an appealing headline.

The image needs to complement your headline. If it helps the target audience better understand what you’re trying to saying then you have it right. You might even be able to reduce the length of the headline if the image says it for you… a picture speaks a thousand words… right?

4. Keep it simple and clear

You can safely assume that your target is busy and your headline really isn’t that important to them, so they won’t have the time to try and understand it. So for this reason, keep it simple and be very clear. Don’t try to be too clever!

5. Keep it short

Short headlines are quicker to read and can also be made larger. Your graphic designer will love you for a shorter headline, as they’ll be able to make it bigger or add more white space around it - both graphic design techniques help to give your title more contrast.

6. Consider using shorter words

Shorter words are easier to understand, quicker to read and help you to write shorter headlines. Don’t try and be really clever by using complex words that you think will impress your reader.

7. Use you and your

Use you and your… make the headline about your target and not about yourself; they’re really not that interested in you or your business but what you can do for them.

8. Use active speech (rather than passive)

Active speech is when it is clearly identifiable who is doing the action in the statement. Use of you and your really helps this. ‘You will save £xxx’ (active) versus ‘it has been found that £xxx can be saved’.

9. Don’t patronise

I remember the BBC’s advert promoting what they did… it had lots of exciting images of reporters jumping out of planes and the headline was… ‘this is what we do…’. Brilliant, I’m really pleased that you have such amazing lives… I felt it was patronising. Check out the beer and bingo ad by the Conservative party… a great example of being patronising.

10. Use words that sell

Start building up a library of words that work well with your target audience. You can research words that sell on the Internet - depending on your target audience avoid the cash-tastic ones! You can even buy reference books with words that sell in them.

11. Use appropriate language

Targeting young people? Boom! No sorry, I don’t feel comfortable saying that… if it isn’t the language you’d normally use and isn’t associated with your brand then don’t use… you’ll look daft.

12. Make sure the headline dominates

Ensure your graphic designer places your headline where it can be easily seen and is contrasted (font, size, weight, colour) to the rest of the elements on the page. It needs to stand out.

13. Consider using a sub headline

A sub headline is a smaller one just below your headline, it can explain your proposition more and needs to complement your main headline.

14. …and make sure you’re ready for your bright idea headline

Inspiration might strike you at any point so make sure you note it down for remembering later.

Hope that helps you when it comes to writing and designing a headline for your next brochure, advert, landing page. We’d love to help you with your graphic design projects and we can help you create winning headlines as part of the process. We’re based in Cornwall but happy to work with you wherever you may be.