Digital Essentials: From Idea to Image


Mary Claire brings ideas to life. She turns ideas into images.

She’s a lifelong painter who now spends her working hours using the brush tool on Photoshop and Illustrator. Mary Claire makes graphics for social media, Google AdWords, posters, direct mail, billboards, pamphlets, email, and every other form of marketing collateral imaginable. Her work is creative while moving the bottom line forward for Roundtree’s clients.

To be frank, the rest of the Roundtree team would be lost without Mary Claire. Her colleagues aren’t certain how she creates such compelling visual designs and haven’t ruled out the possibility of some sort of digital witchcraft being involved.

There is, however, method behind Mary Claire’s art. She is both analytical and imaginative. While in school, she learned methods to approach the creative process.

“There is a process to making art,” Mary Claire says. “The initial ideas give way to sketches, which give way to layers of concepts, colors, images and many other little elements that some might casually gloss over.”

As a disciplined creative, Mary Claire has a method to her madness. She learned how to harness and focus creativity through an artistic process. There are various methods, and she’s pulling back the curtain to walk us through her eight-step process on creating an ad that is both aesthetic and reaches campaign objectives.

1) Collaborate with the team to develop ideation for campaign ad.

Everything is marketing. Every communication expresses, implicitly or explicitly, brand quality and value proposition. The first step in the creative process is determining an objective for the ad.

“As ideas are discussed, I begin to envision what the value proposition would look like two-dimensionally,” Mary Claire said. “Sometimes it’s simply stated, and other times, I develop a theme around a particular ad to express the objective.”

2) Gather brand elements, such as the logo, font, and colors. Upload files and content in a Illustrator or Photoshop file.

“Gathering our client’s brand style guide is essential. I’m not attempting to use Roundtree’s brand voice but rather the client’s.”

3) Develop a foundation. Build out the layout.

“Advertisers make dynamic ads that grab the attention of a wandering viewer,” Mary Claire said. “To demand attention, a beginning step is to create the foundation by instilling dynamic elements. The best ads have congruent composition, balance and unity.”

4) Apply different visual effects.

“After laying the foundation and arranging the layout, use design tools to add pizazz and texture to the concept rendering,” Mary Claire said. “Gradients in colors and drop shadows, for instance, can make the words and image pop. But be careful on the amount of visual effects used. Otherwise, the marketing message is lost in the creative cloud. Simple is always best.”

5) Place a call to action that pushes viewer to respond.

Art for art’s sake is noble. But in business, art is used to further the bottom line. A call to action is used to drive an objective, such as link clicks to the website or product purchases.

6) Resize ads to fit platform.

Ads are used on different platforms and in different ways. Re-marketing ads differ in size from Twitter ads. Instead of reinventing the wheel, restructure and resize to fit the native platform.

7) Review and gather input from team.

An ad can take anywhere from one to four hours to make,” Mary Claire said. “When you stare at one image for so long you can lose perspective, so it’s good to bring in outside eyes to offer input.”

8) Upload and launch.

“One of the important things I learned is that you have to ‘abandon art’ at some point because a designer could make changes for the rest of their life on just one piece,” Mary Claire said. “I give myself a time limit for each ad set. Then the set is sent through the approval process before being uploaded and tracked.

Creating designs to reach business objectives is no easy task. It takes a creative and analytical mind to execute this tall order. Thankfully, Roundtree has Mary Claire.

To date, more than four million people have seen Mary Claire’s work. Don’t believe us? Ask James. He has the numbers to prove it.

At Roundtree, we develop the multiple touch points that lead to the final sale. We create clicks and customers for our clients. A compelling image is the first step. Discover how Roundtree can help your business create clicks and customers.


P.O. Box 2541
Chattanooga, TN 37409

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