Let’s dispatch with the good news straightaway: your retriever Molly is safe and sound. She wandered into my backyard where my daughter Willow found her rooting about in our plot of beets. We took Molly inside, washed her, and trimmed her coat which was long in places. Please don’t worry, Molly is safe, fed, and has never looked better.

The bad news is that, unfortunately, I will not be returning her to you yet because of your poorly designed “Lost Dog” poster. Rest assured, Molly will be safe and happy, but I will not tell you where to come and fetch her until you have designed a new poster and hung it up in the neighborhood. The current “draft” (I use the term generously) needs a lot of work before it is worthy of my response.

As a designer, I have a few notes that will help you move the poster in the right direction:

  • My big note is that the choices are a bit obvious and overdone: dog photo, “Lost Dog,” a description of the dog, phone number, etc. It’s expected. It doesn’t pop. If there’s a telephone pole with a number of flyers on it, what is making this poster say “look at me, I’m the one you want?” At this point, nothing about this poster is saying that. Nothing is asking for attention.
  • Why is this just black and white? Why is it such low quality? It makes me wonder about your dedication to finding your dog: if you’re half-committed to the printing, are you also half-committed to reuniting with Molly? Good design makes us care!
  • There is no web presence on the poster at all. It’s an unfortunate reality these days that all things must have an online social media component. Create a Twitter account and a Facebook page for Molly and the campaign to return her to your home. Use hashtags and content to drive clicks and eyeballs to your lost dog poster. These pages are a great way to keep in touch with fans and influencers about Molly and her status.
  • There are so many fonts in the world, let’s find something a little more unique than Times New Roman, which connotes nothing of loss, canines, or any themes relevant to the poster’s content.
  • This is nitpicky, but there are elements of the poster that are not centered. I tore one down on Maple Ave. and measured it at home and found that many text elements are not sitting on the center of the page. This is a simple fix and evidence of a sloppiness that calls every decision into question. Asymmetrical design can be good, but be deliberate. Choices must be bold.
  • The picture of your dog is outdated. I’ve attached five high-resolution photos of how Molly looks today for you to use in your next draft.
  • For God’s sake, get some better paper stock. The posters that I saw were tattered by the wind. What’s going to happen in a day? A week? If there’s rain? An illegible poster means Molly may never get home, and my family and I will rename her and you will lose all claim to her.

There are, of course, many more things to be fixed and tweaked, but for the moment I think this puts plenty on your plate. Good luck! I look forward to seeing your next draft up and around the neighborhood.

Remember: Do you want to just find your dog? Or do you want to find your muse?