No matter how old you are cartoons are there to entertain. Even if you are a person who claims to hate cartoons you still will read them. Cartoons are so easy to read. (especially the single frame comics, but I have a bias toward single panels…ha!) If you hate cartoons you may not seek out to read or watch cartoons but if presented a cartoon in a presentation or through direct mail or in a email you will read them. I know you will read them because cartoons at its basic level is story telling. Cartoonists use symbols and simplistic imagery to tell a story whether it be in single frame or multiple panel. Cartoons are harmless then. If you like story telling and funny pictures than you will read cartoons.
So you might be saying “Why do I care about this?”
I’ll tell you why you care. If you are a business owner or you run the marketing for your company you care about what your customers are going to look at and how they will react to your advertising. Cartoons are a easy way to tell your story very quickly to the customer and reach them right away. Customers will read the cartoon and react right away to the message that is being told. Hopefully in most cases they will laugh. But cartoons can be more serious in nature too. Maybe its an illustration about serious topics, like poverty, disease, or abuse. A cartoon can hit a nerve no matter the topic and it causes the reader to take sides. In the 7 seconds it takes to read a single panel cartoon the reader will have made a quicker response to the cartoon than reading a 2000 word article with just text. If you put the cartoon along side that same 2,000 word article than you have only strengthened your message.
Putting a cartoon in your advertising no matter what the message might be makes your article stand out. Nothing against photographs because I’m a big fan of any visual media, but the wrong photograph can look canned and out of place. Not all photographs can tell the whole story like a cartoon can. Cartoons have a particular style of the artist that drew the cartoon. The style might be clean and crisp, or it might be quick and messy, either way the style of the artist can set the mood of the reader and compliment the advertisement or article that the cartoon is accompanying. If you are a interior designer you would know that the paint on the walls has to compliment the furniture that is in the room. You want every element of the living room to work in harmony with each other. So the same is true with your advertising. You don’t want the wrong photo or cartoon to go with your message. You have to know your reader to know if you should use humor or not. You have to know what sort of humor to have and how far to take the joke. The wrong joke taken too far can back fire and be very embarrassing.
Cartoons in your advertising shows that you can have fun. It shows a human side to your message and engages the reader with a fun human emotion. Laughter. I don’t know anyone that would turn down the opportunity to laugh if they have the chance. People remember what makes them laugh. They will remember the joke for a little while and they may even tell their friends about what made them laugh earlier that day. This laughter will be looked back upon later with fondness and you as the provider of laughter will be more top of mind than the company that sent an advertising piece that was nothing more than spam or junk. A good cartoon that makes the reader laugh may even be printed, emailed or hung on the fridge for future enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
Next time you see a cartoon. Ponder these things. The style of the cartoon. The story that the cartoon is telling. Is it funny or serious? Does the cartoon match the message that the article is talking about? Was it effective and portraying that message to you? Would you want to see more about that topic or see more cartoons?
As a cartoonist I’ve been doing cartoons for company’s for a long time. I’ve spent years working on my craft and asking these questions every time I get hired. One of the first questions I ask a client is “What is your message to your reader?” This tells me most of what I need to know. I can help find the right balance, the right message and the right type of humor for your advertising.