Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

GettyImages-511916360.jpgEver feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? “It’s impossible,” you say. “I just don’t have an eye for design.”

There’s hope for even you!

In today’s generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you’re creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.

1) Proximity

The main purpose of proximity is to organize.

When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.

When you’re thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relationship, so items not related to each other should be spaced apart, while elements you want to connect should be grouped.

Don’t be afraid of white space! Sprawling elements throughout a page to avoid white space will make a piece more visually challenging for your viewer to comprehend.

What to Avoid: Too many separate elements on a page, grouping unrelated items in proximity, sticking things in the corners or the middle to avoid empty space.

2) Contrast

Contrast is one of the best ways to add visual interest in your page.

Contrast excites the atmosphere, draws the eye, and clarifies communication. Contrast is nothing if not bold, so one goal of contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If fonts, colors, or outline borders are not the same, then make them extremely different: white on black, 24-point font above 12-point font, or neon shapes near pastel text boxes.

What to Avoid: Being wimpy, using similar typefaces, highlighting a non-focal element, creating unnecessary chaos on a page.

3) Alignment

Alignment unifies a page and creates flow and personality.

Nothing should be placed on your page haphazardly. Every element you use should connect with other elements to create a clean, sophisticated look.  When items are aligned, the result is a stronger cohesive unit. Be conscious of where you place elements and align pieces in a page even when the two objects are physically far apart (like a top headline with the bottom footnote).

What to Avoid: Using multiple alignment styles (i.e. some center, others left) on one page or always defaulting to centered alignment.

4) Repetition

Repeating visual elements of design throughout a piece will bring consistency and strengthen the unity of your projects.

Repetition can be used with colors, fonts, bullets, graphics, borders, subheadings elements, or anything a reader will visually recognize. Repetition is a conscious effort to unify all parts of a design: elements repeating through various pages, colors displaying patterns, drop caps in lead paragraphs or sidebars in successive layouts.

What to Avoid: Making repetitive elements too subtle or infrequent, being haphazard rather than intentional, or repeating an element so often it breaks the flow or the document as a whole.

While design may not come naturally to you, everyone has room to grow. By using these four principles, your work will look more professional, unified, and interesting. And you will have more fun creating!

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Love Your Planet with Eco-Friendly Print Practices

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As technology has progressed, so has the need to reduce waste.

Sustainable solutions are not new to our industry, and environmentally-friendly practices are something to greatly value. Design, first and foremost, is concerned with solving problems, and that includes the way we partner with you to create sustainable print solutions for the future.

Here are a few real-life of examples of how you can reduce your environmental impact with your print project:

1. Paper Preferences

Want to reduce your personal or corporate waste? The range of paper options has substantially increased in recent years. From recycled wood pulp to “tree-free” papers (made from bamboo, sugarcane, and mango, to name a few), you can now choose from an array of possibilities. If you are interested in knowing more about recycled paper options, we’d be happy to share them with you.

2. Ink Selection

As companies have worked to create eco-friendly products, printing processes and types of ink have been part of that experiment. Non-toxic toners and both soy and vegetable-based inks have matured in quality, continuing to improve in saturation, density, and brilliance. A 2005 Earth Day ad perfectly demonstrated this message, speaking out against chlorine-processed paper on an exceptional-quality poster that employed soy-based inks and recycled paper.

3. Products and Packaging

Environmental improvements in print also include finishes and packaging techniques. Consider simple options for reducing waste, increasing the longevity of a product, or using organic materials to reduce your footprint.

For example, adhesive labels offer you an efficient method for delivering product information without coating an entire packaging surface. Hangtags (versus boxes or containers) significantly reduce the quantity of disposed material you produce. Biodegradable or 100 percent recycled materials can be used for boxes, bags, and more. Even the choice to print a fold-over flyer (versus traditional letter and envelope format) can reduce unnecessary waste.

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Keep the Creativity Flowing

While we don’t know for sure what the future holds, everyday choices can make a collective impact. Remember, you can make a difference, even in your design and print decisions!

Running A Successful Giveaway

Flat line design word content concept of content digital marketing TIPS FOR CREATING A SUCCESSFUL GIVEAWAY CONTEST

 

Giveaway contests can be a fun way to increase audience engagement, boost online traffic, and gain new customers. Here are a few tips for creating a successful giveaway contest:

  • Determine your goal, such as increasing your Twitter followers by 10 percent.
  • Make your contest simple for your audience to complete and simple for you to track the results.
  • Promote your contest frequently across multiple platforms. Mention it in your social media, newsletter, blog, direct mailings, handouts, and other email blasts. Also, ask employees to share social content to their followers so your exposure can grow exponentially.
  • Consider an easy online tool such as Gleam or Rafflecopter, which encourages your audience to fulfill multiple objectives, including social engagement, link traffic, and sharing your contest with others.
  • Offer reminders during the giveaway timeline so people won’t forget to enter.
  • Consider submitting your giveaway to sites that promote giveaways and contests, such as The Balance Everyday Sweepstakes, Contest Girl, Blog Giveaways, Sweepstakes Lovers, and more.

If you’d like help creating posters, postcards, or other print materials to promote your giveaway, we’d love to help! Give us a call today at 856.429.0715

Four Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content

GettyImages-538481794.jpgAndi Bell, the World Memory Champion of 2002, appears to have memory superpowers.

He can memorize the order of several decks of cards and recall them on the spot. How does he do it? Bell uses a location-based memory strategy, like this:

Bell picks a route through London and walks it repeatedly until it is fixed in his mind. As he walks, he associates cards of the deck with a character (like a bear or a pineapple), then connects each character and card with a site along his route: the bear becomes the House of Parliament, the pineapple becomes Buckingham Palace, etc. In this way, the deck transforms from a string of facts to a story to share. Each deck has roles that come to life mentally as Bell “walks the plot” of his route in London.

Make Your Words More Memorable

While you may not have memory superpowers, we all recognize the power of retention and its impact on marketing.

When you share memorable content, it shapes people’s perceptions and positively disposes them toward business with your company.

Do you want to bring your brand story to life and make your marketing messages more memorable?

This is harder than it used to be. In a recent study, Microsoft found our average attention span has decreased from 12 seconds (in 2000) to about eight seconds today, with viewers exposed to up to 5,000 ads daily.

Audiences are bombarded by content, so yours needs to be memorable! Here are four principles to keep your communication as “sticky” as possible:

1. Follow the Rule of Seven

Sales are more than transactions; they involve a journey of decision.

People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. Typically, people need to see your message at least seven times before they consider your offer. Don’t expect people to respond immediately. Offer different methods to replicate your story to increase the odds that they’ll respond.

2. Use Powerful Headlines

Advertising guru David Oglivy estimated that, because four out of five people only read the headlines, when you write a good headline, “you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Since we encounter volumes of content each day, we can’t possibly read it all. Great headlines come in many forms. Some are short, others are newsworthy, and many feature a strong product benefit. The best headlines are specific. Which of the following impacts you more?

“How to Improve Production Yields This Season”

OR:

“This Little Mistake Cost One Farmer $3,000 a year”

3. Be Funny

The most memorable messages make you laugh.

When Clutch Media interviewed consumers to find what kind of ads they prefer, people overwhelmingly chose ads that made them want to eat or laugh!

Humor is key to making content memorable, especially when messages are specifically tailored to your audience. Data showed that 53 percent of consumers are likely to remember content that is humorous!

4. Use Detailed, Personalized Stories

Which is more memorable: A stroke response fact sheet or a heart-wrenching brochure about a woman who dismissed her husband’s fatal symptoms when he said he was “just tired?”

Stories share messages in solid, emotionally moving, unforgettable ways. The more people connect with a story, the more they’ll remember it, so use stories that are specific, personal, and relatable to the clients you want to reach.

Package It With Perfection

In the end, HOW you share is just as important as WHAT you share.

Looking to package your content with noteworthy style? From stunning sell sheets to dynamic postcards and brochures, we’ll bring superior craftsmanship that is guaranteed to add impact!

Announcement Cards

BREAK THROUGH THE CLUTTER OF ONLINE COMMUNICATION

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If you have a special event coming up, custom printed announcement cards are a great way to spread the word. Not only are they a classy way to ensure your announcement gets noticed and remembered, but a printed card can also break through the clutter of online communications.

Many people think of announcement cards for exciting life events, such as engagements or the birth of a baby. However, announcement cards are also a great marketing tool for corporate celebrations, such as grand openings, anniversaries, and retirements.

Our creative experts can help you design an announcement card that is perfect for your event and budget. Whether you’d like a standard flat card or a folded card with die-cut edging or decorative embossing, the creative options are truly endless. Stop by to see samples or give us a call to order your announcement cards today!

Swallow vs. Crow

Here is an interesting little story about a swallow and a crow.

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One day, a proud swallow was sitting in a majestic tree admiring his colorful feathers and his long tail. He happened to see a crow and thought, “Wow, look at how dull that bird is. All of his feathers are black.” Just then, the crow flew up and sat on the same branch as the swallow. The swallow immediately started talking down to the crow, saying, “You are such a boring looking bird. All of your features are black, and your tail is so short. I bet you wish you looked more like me,” as he spread his wings to show off his pretty blue feathers.

Without getting upset, the crow calmly replied, “It’s true, you have colorful feathers and a long tail, but only in the summer. Your beautiful feathers fall off and cannot keep you warm when the weather turns cold. While you shiver, my feathers stay the same year-round and keep me warm in the winter.”

Here’s the way I see it: Simon Sinek said it best, “Confidence is believing in yourself. Arrogance is telling others you are better than they are. Confidence inspires. Arrogance destroys.” When you trust our print shop with your important projects, we guarantee our printing will give your business a boost of confidence.

Use Powerful Visualizations to Make Your Message Clear

GettyImages-905819004.jpgCommunication is the key to human connection.

But adequately sharing information can be more difficult than you may think. George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has taken place!

Experts estimate that 65 percent of people are visual learners, so one of the easiest ways to communicate with people is with pictures. A well-structured chart, graph, or data visualization can do wonders for sharing your insights with customers, team members, or your superiors. And with easily accessible tools you can use illustrations to:

  • Get your message across quickly
  • Make complex data accessible to many
  • Make your report or presentation more visually appealing
  • Create a more memorable, lasting impression

Whether you’re reporting the household budget or spicing up slides for a presentation, stretch yourself to try one of these options this month.

Vertical Bar Charts

This is a simple option for comparing data grouped by distinct categories. Vertical bar charts are better when sharing 10 groups of data or less.

Horizontal Bar Charts

Typically, horizontal bar charts are effective when you have more than 10 groups of data or if you have long category labels to share.

This format makes labels easier to read because they are displayed in the proper orientation. Vertical and bar charts are excellent for comparing any sort of numeric value, including group sizes, inventories, ratings, and survey responses.

Pie Charts

Pie charts are fun to look at and helpful for understanding parts of a whole.

Remember to order the pieces of your pie according to size and to ensure the total of your pieces adds up to 100%.

Line Chart

Line charts are used to show data relative to a continuous variable: calendar months, years, budget allocations, etc.

Plotting data variables on line graphs makes it easier for readers to identify useful trends or to evaluate comparable products or challenges.

Bullet Chart

Bullet charts are typically used to display performance data relative to a goal.

A bullet graph reveals progress toward a goal, compares this to another measure, and provides context in the form of a rating or performance.

Flow Charts

Following the proper process is something that can make or break an organization or its employees.

Flow charts are used typically in medical, educational, or manufacturing fields to bring quality control and to ensure procedures are uniformly followed.

Pictographs

Here images and symbols are used to illustrate data.

For example, a basic pictograph might use a frowny face to signify sick days and a happy face to symbolize healthy days. Because images hold more emotional power than raw data, pictograms are often used to present medical data. An illustration that shades five out of 20 people has a much more significant impact in sharing a 20-percent death rate.

Sharpen Your Image

When finalizing your data visualization, here are ways to bring your best to the table:

Less is More.

When creating illustrations, consider which gridlines, borders, or numbers can be removed to make the essential parts speak for themselves.

Let White Space Shout.

Minimalist designs like this Congressional gender chart can highlight areas where a gross imbalance exists.

Interpret Data for Readers.

Viewers can understand data more easily when you offer compelling titles and well-placed labels.

Use a Call to Action.

To move your readers, encourage them to take action and make changes.

A great example of this comes from Sebastian Soto, who built a single-color pictograph about the decline of Zambian malaria. Using quotes from key research and health ministry directors on the poster, he closed the graphic with this phrase: “Let’s Collaborate. againstmalaria.com.”

If you need help creating visualizations for your next print project, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!