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This week i'm going to look specifically at what a fax design is and what it's supposed to achieve.

A fax is a representation of your company just a s any design is; so the piece needs to be professional and accurate.  

When you have finished your design you should look it over and ask yourself if you received this through your fax machine what your thoughts would be regarding the company and their product or service – the chances are that unbeknownst to the recipient, that’s exactly what they are doing as well.  

This forms part of the decision of the recipient as to whether or not they are going to be interested in reading the document.

So what are you trying to accomplish with a fax design?

With a fax design or any type of design for that matter it is your goal to:

  1. Attract the attention of a recipient
  2. Create an interest in your product or service
  3. Convey and deliver the marketing message

You have only a few seconds to do points one and two, so you need to make the design visually appealing and not look as though its going to be an arduous task to read it.

Let’s look more closely at point one – Attract.  This is the overall general layout and “feel” of the piece, and a subset of that is the flow of lines and flow of text plus the correct usage of fonts.  Typically you should use only a couple of fonts and in repetition as well; the font you use for the header should be used as a sub header someplace to provide a visual cohesion.  Remember you are designing in black and white so you have to use shapes to their full potential rather than relying on colours.

Whilst speaking about shapes and lines, let us also consider the target audience – something you should be aware of throughout the WHOLE design process.  The forms of lines have a deep meaning in our minds an example of this being that straight rigid lines are very masculine and solid, whereas soft flowing lines are more feminine.  If you are designing a fax intended for construction workers, having lots of circles, moon shapes and swirly fonts is just not going to be accepted – you want blocky fonts, straight or diagonal lines and angular design features.  If you are going for a piece to be accepted by all, then use elements of both subtly.

Do your design in Microsoft Word – this allows other people in the company to be able to work on the documents should you require their input.  Generally speaking you want to pose a problem to the recipient, for which you have the solution!  This is called a button, for example if you are designing a piece to sell shoes, then “Worn out shoes?” may be the button which causes the person to be interested in the piece.  

Don’t use jargon or technical bits in the piece unless you expect your target audience to understand the jargon.  If the piece is selling bottle heaters to mothers then its unlikely the mother knows about or cares to understand that the bottle heater works to industry standard 80BTU, it’s irrelevant!

Include some form of special offer which creates urgency, or a need for the recipient to contact the client immediately to secure the price or the product or service.

Make contact details big and bold – make it real easy for the recipient to get in communication.  Typically faxes work well to get people on the phone, we have found through experience that sending out a fax with a website address on gets very little website visits, whereas a fax with a phone number gets people onto the phone.   Faxes with email addresses work, but only where the phone number is on the fax in addition to the email address

You should command the reader and TELL them to call or tell them to email

Keep the layout simple but dynamic – don’t try and cram 500 words on a page!

Include a plain black and white graphic which completely communicates the whole message in pictorial form.  If you can not find a graphic which does that, then you should find a graphic which communicates the button you have used at the top of the fax.

If you do include product shots they should be nice and big with no background

Your company logo and contact details should be at the bottom of the fax unless they have a significant amount of brand awareness like Dell, Microsoft, IBM, Kmart, Woolworths or others.  You’ll find that it’s the smaller businesses that are using faxing, so they don’t have enough brand awareness to be able to get away having their logo at the top of the fax.



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