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The 10 Commandments of Guerrilla Marketing Design

By: Roger C. Parker

Roger Parker GUERRILLA MARKETING DESIGN is more an attitude than a system of do's and don'ts. It's an attitude that emphasizes the efficient and memorable delivery of information.

First Commandment: Purposeful

Guerrilla Marketers view design not as a matter of subjective likes and dislikes but as a strategic tool intended to achieve specific goals.

Guerrillas avoid unnecessary decoration. Every mark on the page must serve a purpose. Guerrillas make design decisions based on how efficiently their designs communicate a desired message to a specific audience.

Guerrilla Marketing design begins with a plan, based on a careful analysis of message, audience and competition.

Second Commandment: Recognition

Guerrilla Marketers refuse to get lost in a crowd. They refuse to be confused with their competition.

Guerrillas recognize that their customers and prospects are bombarded with thousands of competing messages each day. Accordingly, Guerrillas choose colors, typefaces, and layouts that project a distinct, easily recognized image that sets their message apart and accurately reflects their values.

Their designs project a consistent image throughout all of their firms marketing. Consistency is achieved by using a unique combination of colors, type, and layout throughout their print and online communications. This consistency multiplies the impact of their marketing dollars.

Third Commandment: Readability

Guerrilla Marketing Design is reader-friendly design.

Guerrillas recognize that readers are in a hurry and that anything that interferes with easy reading can sabotage the delivery of their message.

Guerrillas make reading easy by paying close attention to typeface, type size, and line spacing choices. They take painstaking care with spacing, hyphenation, and punctuation. They carefully avoid design traps like setting entire words entirely in upper case type or the overuse of white text placed against gray or black backgrounds.

Color is never allowed to interfere with easy reading.

Fourth Commandment: Emphasis

Guerrillas know when to whisper, when to shout.

They use design to help readers separate the important from the supportive. They use the tools of emphasis to make their message's information hierarchy instantly recognizable.

Guerrillas only change typeface, type size, type style, or color to highlight important information rather than decorate an otherwise dull page.

Fifth Commandment: Simplicity

Guerrillas design for simplicity.

Guerrilla Marketing Designers realize that readers quickly can lose interest when reading extended text, like articles, memos newsletters, or proposals. Accordingly, Guerrillas maintain reader interest by breaking information into manageable, bite-sized chunks using techniques like subheads, lists and sidebars.

Simplicity also involves restraint. Guerrilla Marketers recognize that "less is more" when it comes to emphasis. They exercise extreme discretion before making typeface, type size, type style, or color, choices.

Guerrillas recognize that one outstanding photograph communicates more than three average photographs.

Sixth Commandment: Instant communication

Guerrilla Marketing Design is very visual.

Guerrillas strive to replace words and sentences with story-telling visuals. These include charts, graphs, lists, organization charts, tables, and timelines that communicate at a glance.

Guerrillas use visuals to quickly communicate comparisons, relationships, and sequence.

Seventh Commandment: Efficient

Guerrilla Marketers are penny-pinchers.

They choose formats and designs that are easy to produce, print and distribute. Guerrillas master their software and take advantage of features like text styles and keyboard shortcuts.

Guerrillas choose designs that communicate the maximum amount of information to the greatest number of customers and prospects at the lowest possible cost. Guerrillas understand that two well-used colors communicate better than four poorly used colors.

They use the latest technology, such as autoresponders, e-mail, the Internet, Acrobat PDF files, and print-on-demand, to leverage their marketing dollars.

Eighth Commandment: Limitations

Guerrillas understand that design has limitations.

Design is not a cure-all. Guerrillas recognize that design cannot compensate for a lack of planning or a lack of meaningful content. Fancy typefaces, bright colors, and attractive layouts, are worthless in the absence of meaningful messages delivered to the right audience, at the right time, at the lowest possible cost.

Ninth Commandment: Delegation

Guerrilla Marketers are masters of delegation.

They hire professional designers and photographers to create design elements with long shelf lives -- logos, templates, and photographs -- but do much of the day-to-day production themselves. Likewise, they hire web designers and programmers to set up their web sites, but do their own routine updates.

Tenth Commandment: Craftsmanship

Guerrilla Marketers are proud parents, and work hard at it.

They are passionate about the integrity of their designs. They recognize that tiny details can undermine the effectiveness of their message. They invest in upgrading their skills.

Guerrillas refuse to compromise. When they run out of space, they edit to the bone -- ruthlessly eliminating unnecessary ideas, sentences and words -- rather than reducing type size or line spacing in order to "fit everything in."


Guerrilla Marketers understand that words alone are not enough to ensure marketing success. The presentation of the words has to be as finely-executed as the words themselves.

Guerrillas understand that design is not a mystery, nor is it a cure-all. Rather, design is a fundamental business competency that can be mastered when the right resources are chosen and properly utilized.

Roger C. Parker
      Author, coach, design educator, consultant



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