The Risk of Over Designing

IN GRAPHIC DESIGN, LESS REALLY IS MORE

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Simplicity is often seen, but it’s a concept that is not easily explained. For some graphic designers, it’s second nature. For others, it involves much forethought. Today’s designers are trending toward more simple, clutter-free designs, as they return to simplicity. Here are some examples of how the traditional theme of less is more is used:

Advertising
Not only can simple ads grab attention, but their short and to the point messages are also easier to comprehend. The concept of “less is more” is especially effective when writing ad copy.

Catalogs and Brochures
Catalogs and brochures are expected to be a vast source of information, yet readers appreciate when they are simplified, organized, and easy to read and comprehend. Simplicity is often its own reward since it encourages increased use.

Packaging
Like a poster, a package needs to attract the eye within seconds of its initial viewing. In recent years, shelves have been jammed with products whose designers have attempted to out-design one another. This gives simple package designs featuring primary colors, bold copy, white space, and clean design the ability to effectively break through the clutter.

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Identity
Not only do logos convey the personality of a company, but they also offer a memorable impression. Simple designs that incorporate a company’s complex ideas are the root of a logo’s power.

One of the perks of being a designer is the ability to develop a personality or character for a company or product. For designers, simplicity means a return to basics, but not at the expense of creative design.

The Quarterly Audit: Why It’s Always Good to Give Your Print Collateral a Once-Over a Few Times a Year

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An opportunity that far too many people don’t take advantage of is the idea of a quarterly audit. Don’t worry; it has nothing to do with your taxes. Instead, it’s a process that you should go through a few times a year that provides you a chance to re-assess and re-evaluate. It’s a time where you force yourself to stop and think “This print mailer was designed in January, and it worked great in January. It’s April, now. What needs to change?”

Stop and Smell the Roses

When performing an audit of your print marketing materials, make a list of everything that has changed since the last time you had the chance to re-evaluate things. How have your business goals shifted in the last few months? Have you accomplished more or less than you thought you were going to at this point? What does your average customer look like today, as opposed to three months ago? How have your campaigns been performing?

If you can provide business-specific answers to questions like these, you create for yourself a valuable context that you can then use to make the right, actionable decisions regarding things like design and distribution moving forward. What you’re doing is taking a process typically completed at the end of the year, looking backward and seeing what worked and what didn’t, and then forcing yourself to do it as often as you can.

Trends and Best Practices

Another reason why the idea of the quarterly audit is so important is that, by and large, the world of print marketing is changing rapidly. New technologies, techniques, tips and best practices are emerging all the time. Taking the time to go back over everything you’ve done so far a few times a year gives you a chance to incorporate all of this into your workflow as soon as you can.

Think about it this way: maybe you designed new buyer personas in January with an aim towards attracting a different type of customer. You’ve produced everything with those buyer personas in mind, trying to maintain a consistent voice across all collateral. If things aren’t working quite right and need some tweaking, would you rather know in April or wait until December?

In the end, what you’re doing is strengthening your foundation. Many people use January 1 as a great chance for a “fresh start.” It’s a time where you stop and think about where you are, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. If you do this multiple times per year, however, it puts you in a much better position to be responsive to both internal and external changing factors. Above all else, it’s an opportunity to make sure that you’re still headed down the path that was important to you on January 1, if that path is still important to you at all.

Product Cards

CONCISE, AT-A-GLANCE INFORMATION

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Product cards are an excellent way to highlight new or uncommon products with concise, at-a-glance information and attractive photos.

Depending on how much information you want to provide, product cards can vary from a simple single or double-sided card to folded or die-cut designs. Product cards can be mailed as a postcard, inserted into existing mailings or purchases, displayed on your front counter, or given out at trade shows and industry events.

Product cards are most successful when they include a combination of product features with correlating benefits. For example, in addition to listing the fancy features of a new oven (such as racks, timers, heat settings, clocks, etc.), the benefits can help sell your product. In other words: A self-cleaning, energy efficient oven saves time and money so that you can spend it on more important things in life.

If you’d like help creating the perfect product card to help boost sales, our creative professionals would love to help. Give us a call today at 856.429.0715.

Communicate Faster

AN IMPORTANT SKILL FOR SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

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Keyboarding has become an important skill for social and professional communications. The faster and more accurately you can type, the better you can communicate with your audience.

If you’re not feeling up to speed on a keyboard, here are a few ways to improve your typing skills:

  • Place your hands properly on the keyboard. Your fingers on your left hand should be on A, S, D, and F. The fingers on your right hand should be on H, J, K, and L.
  • Once you are comfortable knowing key placement, avoid looking at the keyboard. This prevents you from editing your copy in real-time, which means more mistakes and wasted time editing later.
  • Chat with family or friends to have fun while learning to type. Programs such as Skype can help you not only keep in contact with others but also help fine tune your typing skills.
  • Check out free online typing resources, such as www.typing.com. It is a great learning tool for all ages and levels.
  • Consider online typing games that make learning more manageable. While many popular resources are designed for children, they can be used for any age to learn typing skills one step at a time. Qwerty Warriors is a fun example.
  • Once you have become more comfortable in your typing skills, test yourself often to improve the speed of your communication. Check out this free tool on Live Chat.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. The more you type, the more familiar you will become with the position of the keys. If you’d like help creating a newsletter or other marketing materials to increase communications with your audience, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

What Happened to Summer? Back-to-School Marketing Starts Earlier Than Ever

ThinkstockPhotos-669986094.jpgThe temperature is soaring, steaks sizzle on the grill, and kids play in the pool, but not everyone is thinking summer. Back to school season is starting earlier than ever for big retailers and the impact trickles over into all aspects of marketing. Both Office Depot and Land’s End launch back to school campaigns at the start of summer – in some cases before school even ended in some parts of the country.

This is a change even from last year; according to AdAge, 2016 saw back to school marketing head into full swing around the middle of July. Time magazine cites the need for retailers to make as many revenues as possible during the highest spending periods as the reason Black Friday, Halloween, and Back to School promotions are being scheduled earlier than ever before.

When does Back to School Begin?

Big retailers working on the premise that earlier is better have begun pushing back-to-school marketing back each year. Back to school is big business for retailers, since it is worth about 78 billion; it is second only to the major holidays for revenues, according to AdAge.

How Early is Too Early?

Office Depot’s back-to-school advertising rolled out June 25 of this year, a full three weeks earlier than 2016’s July launch. Other retailers are following suit, but there is some consumer backlash against the early push. Lands’ End received public criticism on social media when their back-to-school catalog dropped while kids in many parts of the country were still in school.

“We got your #backtoschool catalog in the mail. Our kids still have two weeks of school left this year! #fail #marketing,” tweeted Greg Magin.

@GregMagin helpfully tagged his rant with #fail, #backtoschool and #Marketing, so it was seen by far more than just his followers. This backlash from consumers shows that a too-early launch can backfire. Right now, the sweet spot for back-to-school marketing seems to be right after the 4th of July through the end of the month.

Back-to-school marketing is all about timing. Being aware of this pitfall, and of the enormous potential of this busy season, can help you make the most of Back to School season for your brand and ensure your organization has a visible presence during this often overlooked marketing opportunity.

Make Back to School Time Count for your Brand

Positioning your Back to School promotions in July and working to build not only sales but also awareness can help place you in front of consumers when they’re ready to outfit the kids for the next school year. Since most consumers begin searching online well before they part with actual money, building awareness ahead of this busy season can help you get the results you want without irritating consumers.

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Foiled-Pressed Cards

ADD CLASS AND HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY MARKETING PIECE

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Foil stamping is a creative and affordable way to add class and highlight the important parts of any marketing piece, including business cards, invitations, postcards, greeting cards, envelopes, pocket folders, and much more.

A popular way to accent your piece is to print your company logo or focal message in foil. Foil options include a variety of colors and finishes, including glossy or matte versions of gold, silver, red, green, blue, black, and hologram.

For best results with foiling, be sure to rasterize your text (convert all text to outlines) and ensure the foiling area is no smaller than a 7-point font to ensure that details are not lost. The foil design should layer over a flat color or image since incorporating a copy of the foil into a printed design does not guarantee the desired appearance as the stamp may shift in process.

Please note select paper types give a different appearance to the foil. If you have questions or would like to see foil printed samples, please give us a call or stop by today!

Creative Folding

STAND APART FROM THE COMPETITION

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Creative folding techniques not only demand attention but can also entice the reader to open and read your marketing piece. While most people think about the common half-fold and tri-fold techniques used on brochures and pamphlets, we have many creative folding options available that can help your marketing piece stand apart from the competition. Here are a few of our favorite creative folding options:

  • A single-gate fold means the paper is folded inwards on both sides, meeting in the middle, to create six panels (three panels on the front and three panels on the back).
  • A double-gate fold involves folding the paper inwards on the left and right side, meeting in the middle, and then folding it again at the center, creating eight panels (four panels on the front and four panels on the back).
  • A Z-fold involves folding the paper in thirds, in a zig-zag pattern. A brochure with a Z-fold will open like an accordion in the shape of the letter Z.
  • A double-parallel fold means the paper is folded in half twice, in the same (parallel) direction, which creates eight panels (four in the front and four in the back).
  • Accordion folds can be ideal for brochures, making each section a different width as “tabs” for product names or services.

If you have questions about which folding technique is right for your project, our team of experts would love to help. Give us a call or stop by to see some folding samples today!