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A message that cuts through its medium


Along with 1000s of others, inspired by what I heard on Liveline I recently sent off for an organ donor card; and it arrived in the post this morning. As a communication, the flyer is very poor in terms of both design & layout:

  • The colours are awful
  • The stock shot of North Americans out walking in the woods on the front is not only sickeningly alien but long out of date (which is the same: the past being a foreign country, and all)
  • The fonts are dull
  • There is way too much text for the space available
  • The size of the print is too small
  • There is too little use of visual cues
  • The body used for showing the location of the organs is body-built perfect & therefore alienating and inappropriate
  • The labelling of organs is wrong & arguably unnecessary
  • Some of the thinking & writing is awkward
  • The card itself is based on an image that does not reproduce well
  • Even the text that one signs for on the reverse is a bit 'off':
"In the hope that I may help others, I am sharing my life by deciding to be an organ and tissue donor for transplantation."

Sharing my life? It should be much more along the lines of "I hereby grant permission to authorised medical staff to use my organs and tissue postmortem for appropriate transplantation."

Now, I know the cause is powerful and the message is so simple it can cut through the medium, but if good communications work for anyone they work for everyone, surely. So I'm emailing the Irish Kidney Association this afternoon and offering some pro bono work to redesign & re-do the entire communication. They will probably not take me up on the offer, and they may ask me what benefits will there in it for them. Do I have an answer? Would an attractive new design & cleaned-up messages bring in more donors? Maybe there are exceptions to the rules of marketing.

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