MAKE IT POP: What does it exactly mean in design?

make it pop design cartoon

During Kyle Carpenter’s presentation at the 2019 HOW Marketing Live conference for the American Marketing Association, he asked the audience of designers how many clients had told them to “make it pop,” and nearly everyone raised their hand.

“‘Make it pop’ doesn’t mean anything,” says Carpenter, editor-in-chief of Clients From Hell, a website that publishes anonymous conversations between creatives and their clients, frequently mocking the clients for making a stupid request.

Carpenter claims that the expression “make it pop” doesn’t signify anything in and of itself, but has a deeper meaning: “to make something stand out”.

Creative professionals have heard this comment a hundred times and in variations:

Needs more ummph”

Add a wow factor”

There’s something missing”

It’s not there yet”

And my personal favourite: “Surprise me”

This article is an attempt to make sense of this most used comment from clients, which could hopefully, end the mystery of the “pop”.

Why do clients say Make it Pop?

When a client says this without providing actionable steps for making a design “pop”, their design vision is often hazy.

What we do know is that all clients have one goal in mind: “excellent design.” So, how do you know what’s great? Ask the one who seeks excellence. Each client has their own set of requirements.

Many designers believe that when clients are unsure of what they want, they are on a wild goose chase. But it’s really just a puzzle to be solved.

What the designer should do is request inspiration that shows what the client envisions. The more samples there are, the better, and the designer can then try to match them to the brief.

Soon, the puzzle pieces will fit together and everything will make sense. The designer will nail the intended design and finally make it pop with a few more clarifications.

Elements that Make it Pop


Colour can be used as the primary attribute, as a background, or to emphasize other features in the design. It has also been proven to have a psychological impact on clients. It activates their imagination and generates a variety of associations.


Fonts actually add to the harmony and uniformity of a layout. On the other hand, studies have proved that fonts affect customers’ attitudes toward a brand’s personality.


Size is essential in creating an appealing, and well-organized design. It can also be used to lead clients into the best deals, new arrivals, and promotions.


Texture can make the design extra vibrant and aesthetically striking while also adding intensity.


Line establishes divide and structure within the layout, leading the client’s attention to particular details or a central theme.

Design Samples that Pop

How to make simple designs “pop”

Increase the colour intensity

If the client isn’t happy with the overall design, making the design stand out may require a little extra effort.

Try exploring with different colour hues, and if you’re going to present it to the client, show them the before-and-after designs so they can appreciate the changes.

Explore colour combinations

By knowing the best colour combinations that match the client’s brand, you can provide 2 or 3 more options for them to choose from.

Tweak text hierarchy

Create a new text hierarchy by adjusting the font sizes. Doing so will guide the reader’s eyes on which copy to focus on and the variation will also add pop.

Experiment with various font arrangements

Choose fonts that are the best fit for the business and the message. Although there might be a standard typography requirement for a brand, you can still use other fonts for the copy especially when it needs to match the theme.

Make it Pop ideas and design samples

logo change to make it pop logo rebranding
logo change to make it pop logo rebranding
logo change to make it pop logo rebranding
logo change to make it pop logo rebranding

Make it Pop = Take the Risk

Designers have to risk being off-brand from time to time in order to make something pop. Actually, having the freedom to experiment and not confining ideas in a box is the beauty of design.

If clients want a design to pop, they must be prepared to receive out-of-the-box designs as well as a slew of other options they have never seen before.

Creating unique designs and multiple options can be time-consuming and tedious.

You can experiment with as many designs as you need in an on-demand design service like Deer Designer and have them revised multiple times until your client finally finds the design that pops.

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