Author Archives: Kelly

About Kelly

Kelly is a web/graphic designer with The Simons Group. She enjoys Fridays, beautiful design and meatball subs.

New project: A bright newsletter for Samuel Strapping Systems

TSG-139-SSSEarlier this year, Samuel Strapping, an international manufacturer and supplier, came to us with a new project. They wanted to create a newsletter for their employees. Internal newsletters are important because they motivate employees and build loyalty for the company. Internal newsletters are also great for keeping employees up to date on policy changes and company news.

We created a design that complements Samuel Strapping’s established brand. The existing brand primarily used yellow and dark gray, one of my favorite color combos. We decided to use dark gray throughout and yellow for bright design elements. The result is a friendly design that maintains a professional feel.

We also wrote the copy for the newsletter, keeping the stories interesting and informative. With a letter from the president, employee spotlight, and birthdays, readers can get to know their colleagues on a more personal basis.

Does your company have an internal newsletter? If not, how do employees get company news? Let us know in the comments below.

Ad analytics: What you need to know

question-markMany online publications have ad space for sale. If you do it right, advertising in a popular publication can be a great opportunity to increase your business.

Before buying ad space, be sure to ask the publication the following questions:

  1. How many subscribers do you have?
  2. On average, how many people open the email?
  3. How did ads in that position perform in the past?
  4. If people click on my ad, will you provide their email addresses and/or other contact information?

Use this information to decide if the publication is right for you. For example, if you find out the pub in question has only 32 subscribers, you may want to look elsewhere.

After you purchase a spot and run an ad, it’s important to know if your ad is working effectively. To do this, the publication should provide you with accurate, reliable analytics. Be sure that you receive the following:

  1. How many people opened the email?
  2. How many people viewed your ad?
  3. How many total clicks did the ad receive?
  4. How many unique clicks did the ad receive?

These are the numbers you really need to gauge how the ad is doing. For example, if you are receiving a high amount of views, but a low number of clicks, you may want to realign your strategy.

It’s also helpful if the publication reports the best-performing ad, as well as how many clicks that ad received, so that you can gauge how your ad is performing compared to others.

Have you advertised in online publications? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Gobble, gobble!

Roasted stuffed holiday turkeyWe have a lot to be thankful for at The Simons Group (TSG). We have wonderful, loyal clients, interesting work to keep us busy, and a comfortable office.

In honor of Thanksgiving, we’d like to take a moment to really appreciate the outstanding moments, things and people in our lives:

Lee: I’m grateful for the wonderful staff at TSG — for the creative work they produce — and I’m grateful for the peace of mind I get by knowing that no matter where I am in the world, everything is running smoothly.

Lis: I’m thankful for the support of my work family this year as I figured out the right balance between my work and being a new mom. I’m very fortunate to work for such a flexible, accommodating company!

I’m also thankful for a few days off this Thanksgiving to relax with my family and see my daughter, Lucy, try my mom’s legendary cinnamon rolls for the first time.

Chris: I’m thankful for the great clients and opportunity to work with them. I’m also thankful for friends and family, and that my dog is behaving better.

Dina: I am thankful for the wonderful professional relationships I have built with my clients and various media outlets. I am also very grateful for my amazing family and friends who continue to surprise me and bring me lots of laughs.

Dawn: I’m thankful for the clients who put their faith and trust in us for their marketing needs, and who rely on our expertise to help them be successful.

I’m also grateful for my friends. They bring me great joy every day, and provide encouragement and support, even in the face of their own difficulties.

Matt: This year, I’m thankful for all of my great friends at The Simons Group and for my wonderful family.

Sandy: I’m thankful for having such a fun, talented group of people to work with at TSG. I’m also thankful for the health of my loved ones.

Kelly: I am thankful for the diverse work that we have at The Simons Group. Every day is something different! This year, I am also grateful to be able to host a big Thanksgiving dinner for close friends and loved ones.

From all of us at The Simons Group, we hope you have a safe and warm Thanksgiving!

Prezi is the new PowerPoint

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Let’s face it: PowerPoint presentations can be boring. They’re static and routine, and don’t always look appealing due to design limitations.

But now there’s an alternative to PowerPoint: meet Prezi.

Prezi is a U.S.-based software company that produces cloud-based presentation software. They describe the application as a “storytelling tool for presenting ideas on a virtual canvas.”

These are the features that make Prezi special:

  1. The capability to zoom in and out of the canvas, creating a spatial experience.
  2. The ability to move freely through the presentation as you present or react to the audience’s reaction.
  3. Presentations are shareable online with a simple link.
  4. Prezis are mobile-friendly and can be shown on an iPhone or iPad.

Using design software, we can create the backdrop and images for your Prezi. That means the look and feel of your Prezi is limitless and will truly reflect your brand.

For an example, take a look at this Prezi that we created.

The next time you need a presentation, skip the PowerPoint. We’re looking forward to creating an engaging Prezi for you and your audience.

Have you created a Prezi? How did your audience respond? Let us know in the comments below.

A fantastic printer makes all the difference

In a few weeks, Morrisey, one of our favorite clients, has a big trade show in Chicago. In preparation for the show, Dawn and I have been even busier than usual tackling all the collateral that Morrisey will distribute there.

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We wrote and designed one eight-page brochure, one four-page brochure and six one-page sell sheets. After dotting the i’s, crossing the t’s and Photoshopping the stock models to look their best, it was time to print.

When it comes to printing a large job like Morrisey’s, it’s really important to have a good and reliable printer. You need to keep so many things in mind, such as making sure brand colors are consistent, images are crisp, folds and crops are in the right places, and that you have the perfect paper and coating.

Here’s what we look for in a printer:

  1. Excellent response time. Prompt responses to emails are a must, as well as delivering the final product on (or ahead!) of schedule.
  2. Quality. It’s important to have rich, full colors, crisp folds and straight cuts.
  3. Attention to detail. We always check proofs thoroughly, but it never hurts when the printer is also familiar with our projects, and watches that things are running smoothly on press.

With a great printer on our side, we can ensure that Morrisey — and all our clients — will be extremely happy with their final printed collateral.

Despite rumors to the contrary, print isn’t dead. So how do you prepare for a big print job? Please share your tips in the comments below.

Behind the scenes: An inside look at design

Earlier this year, The Simons Group had the opportunity to work on materials for three award galas. I love working on award materials because they are a chance to celebrate honorees and each organization as a whole.

Below are two of my favorites from 2013: an elegant trifold program for BOMA Chicago and a fun twist on IABC’s Call for Entries for the Chicago Bronze Quill Awards.

Edward Bury, our contact at BOMA Chicago, was a pleasure to work with. He had a clear vision of what he wanted, but left the creativity to us. It was important to him to have a sophisticated and classic program. He also wanted to include categories and names that weren’t included in past brochures. Space was a challenge, but with just the right organization, everything fit nicely. For the cover, I chose a striking photo of Chicago and tied everything together by using the yellows in the photo to create a subtle gradient on the inside spread.

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I always enjoy designing multipage layouts, so the IABC Call for Entries was a treat. Alex Mitchell, our contact at IABC, asked that we incorporate a quill to tie back to the show’s title. To do this, I drew a few different quill silhouettes and created abstract designs by layering and varying their opacities. I carried this design element throughout the entire piece to create a uniform look. Overall, this two-color design is very clean, open and easy to read.

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Good luck to all of this year’s nominees! I’m looking forward to next year’s award season.

Have any designs inspired you lately? What elements appealed to you? Tell us about them in the comments below.

 

Master Graphics site helps printing company stand out

Last spring, I had the opportunity to design the new Master Graphics logo. Shortly after I created the logo, we completed a new brochure that helped to establish a new look and feel for the printing company. Now, I am proud to announce that the new Master Graphics site is live.

The website design is clean, bright and eye-catching. The bold colors and imagery complement the brochure and the logo. Though Master Graphics is a small company, it often competes with larger printers. It was important to Master Graphics to have a site with a professional-looking design so the company can outshine its competition. Let us know what you think of the new site in the comments!

The evolution of a logo

Have you ever wondered how a logo is created?

When designing a logo, the first item on your to-do list is to discuss concepts and ideas with your client. It’s important to talk with the client so you can understand and meet their design expectations.

Next, develop your ideas with some good old fashioned sketching. After you have a few promising concepts established, it’s time to move to the computer. The MasterGraphics logo was created by layering different shapes and then adjusting the colors and opacities. Below is an inside look at the step-by-step progression.

Not all of your sketches will translate well on screen. If you come across one that doesn’t seem to be working, don’t worry – just move on to another sketch. Once you’ve found something you like, make sure the final logo has a nice composition, balance and color.

Where do designers go to get inspired?

As a designer, it’s smart to stay current with what the design community is up to. I’d like to share a few of my favorite news and inspiration sources with you. Enjoy!

1. Communication Arts’ Webpicks

In addition to publishing annual design collections, Communication Arts has an extensive website. My favorite part of the site is the Webpicks page. Every day, Webpicks posts a beautiful, innovative website. Its library includes more than 1,000 sites. If you’re looking for something specific, you can browse all the archived sites by industry. I’m in the habit of taking screenshots of sites that I like and filing them in an “Inspiration” folder on my computer.

If you’re looking for insightful interviews with creative directors, photographers and illustrators, I would also suggest checking out Communication Arts’ Perspectives page.

2. TED

Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas. TED’s website houses riveting talks by remarkable people, and they’re free to watch. You can find lectures on topics from technology to design to global issues. Current titles include “Five ways to listen better,” “The great penguin rescue,” and “Fighting viruses, defending the Net.” If you’re looking for ingenious, inspiring and informative talks, TED is your site.

3. FearLess Cottage

The FearLess Cottage defines itself as an informal clubhouse for insurgents in a new consumer revolution. The group is made up of teachers, marketers, engineers, ecologists, designers and others. One reason I love their blog is because it covers diverse topics and perspectives. You can find anything from current design competitions to vegetarian recipes there.

4. Print magazine

Print magazine is a wonderful resource for designers. As far as inspiration goes, there is an entire section devoted to inspiring image galleries, profiles, interviews and tips. The Resources page also has informative articles and how-tos for print and interactive design. Be sure to check out The Daily Heller blog as well, which is written by renowned graphic designer and author Steven Heller. Heller posts thoughtful design articles almost every day.

5. Bruce Mau Design

Bruce Mau is one of my favorite designers. His studio, BMD, is centered on purpose, optimism, and the belief that design can effect change and influence the way its clients appear in the world. The BMD Love blog is a product of the design studio. There, you will find BMD’s current projects  posts of the studio’s own sources of inspiration.

As a  side note, you can check out Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth here. I love how quirky it is.