Dr. Banner – The Banner Doctor: ArDuffle

Patient name: ArDuffle
Age: Less than three months old
Patient Origins: ArDuffle is an interactive comic providing you with answers to life’s deepest questions.
Banners presented for initial review:

Doctors notes:
All of Arduffle’s banners feature the character and logo as well as a tagline. Smart choices for sizing.

Initial diagnosis:
Most of the banners feature a solid layout and nothing is overcrowded. Fonts are all legible. Colors reflect the site theme.

Creator Joshua Swanagon has created a great call to action “Ask ArDuffle Your Question at:”.

Why is it “great”? First off he’s inviting the viewer. Always a great start. Second, he’s reinforcing the name which is important (and I’ll get to that later). Third is he’s including the viewer by using “Your” – it’s personal and people relate to that.

The larger banners feature a ripped paper look with: “Dear ArDuffle – Do you really have all the answers?” which ArDuffle wittily replies, “That depends on whether you have all the questions.” I love it – its funny and engaging!

Nice!! So we’re off a good start!

Before Joshua gets too excited and starts spending money like a madman expecting the cash to roll in from his banner ads, there are some flaws – which may be fatal.

Before Joshua gets too excited and starts spending money like a madman expecting the cash to roll in from his banner ads, there are some flaws – which may be fatal.

That being said, I do have a few suggestions that may help.

My first suggestion would be to feature the ‘call to action’ a little more. It’s buried and assumes the reader will make it that far before deciding to click or pass. I’ve featured that first because I highlighted it.

In my opinion, there are two important things that Joshua needs to address. The first is – his comic is VERY new. No one knows what ArDuffle is – and aside from the nice layout and use of planets in the background, is it safe to assume ArDuffle is an alien? Or is he a bug? And what is an ArDuffle? That may not seem critical, but if viewers are spending just milliseconds glancing past your ad and can’t figure out what it is, they are likely to move on. Show your best art – and of course, make it engaging.

Think of it as your banner is trying to get someone who’s passing by in a race car to stop and take notice. Seriously.

The second issue is the logo. I asked Joshua about the name and here’s what he had to say:

“The truth is it was more of a marketing decision than a personal one. I wanted something catchy, memorable, whimsical and fun to say, but I wanted it to start with a A so that it would be higher in any alphabetical listing it found itself in. The other marketing decision that played into it was the D. I wanted to use the planet in the logo for potential future branding, kind of like the Nike swoosh. You don’t need to see the name spelled out to know that it is Nike. Eventually I wanted to be able to drop the name when it made sense and only use the D, but have it still say ArDuffle.”

I applaud Joshua for thinking ahead and planning, but here’s some tough love because I’ve been in this position. Unless you and your comic are hit with some cosmic lightning bolt, you are not going to shoot into the realm of Nike. More than likely, if you’re just “lucky”, it will be a long and steady process and you will always need to say ‘ArDuffle’. BTW – the Nike logo has been around for 40 years and has had something close to a million bazillion dollars* of marketing behind it.

* rough estimate

I purposefully left the background in the ArDuffle image because background should be taken into consideration when and where you place your logo.

While we could argue that the ArDuffle logo is as distinguishable as the Nike logo, my problem is that the word is made up. I think a more fair comparison would be Google. Look at the clarity of Google’s logo and look at the ArDuffle logo. Am I able to quickly look at it, know what it says and more importantly – remember it? I’d like to remind people that your banners not only work for you in generating clicks, but in gaining brand recognition (which Joshua admits is a goal of his as well).

Additional note: on the 728×90 – I, like most readers dislike sideways text. In regards to design, it slows down the viewing process and blocks people from getting to the rest of the banner. Don’t make it hard on people!

Recommended treatment:

So where do we go? I say take out the logo on the smaller banners, take out the www. in the URL and feature the tagline, call to action and web address. For instance: the 125×125 could replace the logo with the tagline “He has the answers to all life’s questions?”, switch out the image (is he licking his eye? that image is distracting – use the one where he’s laying down with a full body shot), and close with “Ask ArDuffle your question at: ARDUFFLE.COM”

Finally, replace the comic font with something better. It’s okay for dialogue because that’s what it was designed for!

Joshua is off to a great start – I think he has a good concept for his comic, a smart sense of where he wants to go and is eagerly working towards improving everything. I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing the results! Feel free to shoot me back over revisions if you’d like Joshua – good luck!!

I’ll be taking volunteers to help improve their ads and we’ll ask readers for their feedback. If you’d like to volunteer your comic’s banners, send an email to rtswebmail [at] gmail [dot] com – make sure you put ‘Dr. Banner – the Banner Doctor’ as the subject. Not all banners will be reviewed, but I will try to get to everyone.

Ken Drab sporting the thin faced lookKen Drab (me) has a small brain but a savant-like interest in branding, marketing and design. He better, that’s what he gets paid to do in real life. In make believe – he’s a webcomicker.

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  1. This is awesome, thank you Ken. Exactly what I was looking for. It has definitely given me some things to work with. It has inspired a lot of thought as well, and a change in the tag line on the smaller ones.

    I like the tag line “He has the answers to all life’s questions?!” But you brought up a good point, “what is an ArDuffle?” So I think I will be changing the tag line to address that.

    You also answered some questions I had myself while developing them. I was kind of thinking about dropping the www, but wasn’t sure how it would go over, but now you have confirmed that it is a good idea. Also, the sideways text, I was wondering about that myself. Personally that has never bothered me, but I wasn’t sure how others would take it, and now I know. I did it mostly for space, but I think I can make some changes to get that to fit with the right orientation.

    The call to action issue, I totally get what you’re saying and will be moving it to the top on the big one for sure and to the beginning of the 468X60. Hopefully this will address this issue and give readers an immediate call to action they can clearly identify.

    Replacing the comic font is a good idea. Sometimes when working on something it seems like a good idea, but maybe it’s not so much.

    Regarding the logo, I think what I will do to add clarity to it (when it is on the similarly colored background) is make the logo itself white and remove the white outline so that it pops off the background a little more to add clarity. You’re right, at this size it does sort of get lost.

    Regarding my comments about the logo and the D, I hope it didn’t seem like I felt that I would be able to achieve the branding level of the Nike swoosh. That was just the logo that came to mind that utilized an iconic element for an example of what I was hoping to do with the D. Believe me, even though ArDuffle has amassed tens of readers I have still managed to maintain a level head and a level of humility. I’m still just a normal guy, just like all the little people. j/k 😉

    I do agree that it is important to still spell out ArDuffle at all times, and planned to do so, I just wanted something recognizable in the event space was ever limited and spelling out ArDuffle would be impossible. Of course, in reality I would probably just use ArDuffle himself in those situations, but I just like options.

    Again, thank you very much Ken. I really appreciate the article, and look forward to implementing these changes and seeing what I can get out of this. I appreciate your willingness to let me run them by you one more time once I am done. I will definitely take you up on that.

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