Category Archives: Design

The value of a great illustration

Illustration is one of the most effective tools for enhancing designs, but marketers and clients often overlook it. They’re missing a great opportunity. When used effectively, illustration is one of the best ways to give your marketing materials a unique personality and make them stand out from the crowd.

Consider this Tiffany & Co. campaign. Illustrator Minna May adds so much charm and life to the company’s marketing materials. In turn, the entire campaign has a solid identity.

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The Pollenize website also demonstrates a great way of using illustration. Instead of using predictable photographs of the candidate, the designer chose stylized illustrations of trains, planes, buses and other vehicles to infuse the site with personality.

A few other notable campaigns that use illustrations effectively include:

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Chipotle-Bill-Hader-Dakyung-Lee-IIHIH

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Whole-Foods-Market

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The next time you’re starting a marketing campaign, consider using an eye-catching illustration to grab your audience’s attention.

What do you like about illustrations? Have you used them in your marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

New project: Justrite’s product catalog

Last month, Justrite, the leading source of quality storage, handling and security products, came to us with a new project. After making recent acquisitions, the company needed a catalog that included both legacy and new products. Justrite provided three existing catalogs, and from those, we were tasked with creating one 48-page catalog.

The biggest challenge was consolidating these three different catalogs into a cohesive product. It was really important that the copy was uniform throughout the catalog. To do this, we reviewed all of the provided copy and decided on one format to use across the board. From there, we rewrote and edited the product descriptions to align with the approved format.

In terms of design, Justrite needed a fresh, new look that also worked with the company’s current branding. We gave the existing look a slight face-lift, which was just enough to make it feel shiny and new while still keeping it in line with the brand.

Does your company have a product catalog? How often do you update it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Introducing a seriously casual, and less-hated font: Comic Neue

Copyright Craig Rozynski

Comic Sans is notorious for being the world’s most hated (loved?) font. Designers often cringe when it is used anywhere – especially paragraphs of text meant to reflect a serious tone. Since it has come preinstalled on many operating systems since 1995 (Windows, OS9, OSX, etc.), it is readily available for anyone creating a document to abuse (see: use at all).

On April 7, 2014, graphic designer Craig Rozynski released his updated version to the Internet. Within 24 hours, the face-lifted version of Comic Sans – Comic Neue – was trending worldwide.

The new version keeps the playful spirit of the original font, but offers a cleaner line structure and newly defined ascenders and descenders; the parts of characters that go above the height of an “x” or below the baseline, respectively. The font comes in two variants: rounded terminals and angular terminals, which describe the ends of each line in the characters. Each variant includes a light, regular and bold face, with italics for each style.

Many designers came out in support of the new version – it’s an elegant and very usable font for casual and fun design pieces; however, not everyone was pleased. Vincent Connare, the original creator of Comic Sans, had some choice words about the new font on Twitter and in other media outlets.

Comic Sans, since its inception, has created pretty strong feelings on the pro and con sides. We’d love to hear what you think of the original, new or even that you don’t care – after all, it’s just a font. :)

You can download Comic Neue here.

(Images courtesy of Craig Rozynski)

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.

Orchidia: Exhibiting fresh style through a new website

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We’re pleased to announce the recent launch of Orchidia Fragrances’ new website!

The website is the vision of Ross Sprovieri, executive vice president of Orchidia. He wanted the site to be clean and elegant and to promote user interaction in a unique, yet intuitive way.

The result is an airy design with minimal distraction and easy navigation. Instead of a text-based, top-level navigation, we integrated the elemental icons used to promote the four pillars of the company’s mission: transparency, insight, adaptability and sustainability.

We designed and coded the site as a custom theme for integration with WordPress – our favorite content management system (CMS). The site’s embedded responsive design allows it to adapt to different browser window sizes and viewing devices, such as tablets and phones. The user base for the site is worldwide, so we built the site to accommodate three translations: English, Spanish and Mandarin.

During the development process, we trained key individuals at Orchidia to use WordPress and how to manage the nuances of this particular CMS site. The training allowed the Orchidia team to add content while we were still working on the site development. This combination of efforts allowed for a quicker site launch, and allowed us to troubleshoot and debug any issues with real content in place.

Check it out and use the comments below to let us know what you think!

B2B marketing trends to watch in 2014

IncreaseAs you wind down on last-minute holiday decorating, shopping and cooking, it’s a good time to think about 2014 and strategize ways to promote your business. Knowing key B2B trends will help you prepare for a successful year. Among the trends to watch:

  1. Companies will spend more on content marketing. Fifty-eight percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2014, according to a survey from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Most of the companies that plan to boost their efforts are small firms with 10 to 99 employees, according to the survey. Top B2B marketing tactics include social media, website articles, e-newsletters and blogs.
  2. Original and engaging content will remain king. Keyword-driven SEO shops are reinventing themselves as content marketers for a reason. Google continues to update its search algorithms, placing more emphasis on well-written, relevant copy, and thwarting keyword stuffing. This practice involves the overuse of a word or related words and phrases on a single page to improve search engine rankings. Having useful content signals that you’re a subject-matter expert and boosts search engine rankings. Find out why SEO isn’t a magic pill.
  3. Visual content will surge in popularity. Smart content marketers will offer compelling videos and infograhics to stand out. The study from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs shows that 73 percent of B2B marketers are using video now, while 51 percent are using infographics. While there’s still a market for six-page white papers, audiences increasingly want multimedia and visual storytelling. Here’s an example of the magic that happens when you marry creativity and visuals.
  4. Mobile-responsive design will no longer be an option. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that more people will access your site and learn about your company from mobile devices. A study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that nearly two-thirds of mobile users in the United States use their phones to access the Internet and check email – a number that has doubled since 2009. Learn more about mobile-responsive design.
  5. Social media monitoring and measurement will become more sophisticated. If you don’t have an enterprise social media analytics tool, it’s a challenge to determine what’s working and what’s not. Enhanced technology will make it easier to track engagement and interactions that contribute to lead conversions and sales. Learn more about some of the tools that will help B2B marketers.

What content marketing trends do you foresee in 2014? How will they influence your B2B marketing plans? Let us know in the comments below.

A key to success: Stand out from the rest!

differentIt’s easier to blend in than it is to be different. A lot of business owners think they need to blend in with others in their space to be taken seriously. If you think your company is no better than the next, then blending is the way to go. If you know your people, your products and your services are superior and you can offer your customers and prospects something unique, then you should be shouting it from the rooftops.

  • Know why you are special. The first step is to know what sets your company apart from the pack. Are you known for being responsive in an industry where customers are used to long wait times? Do you have a unique software feature that allows your customers to communicate easily with you? Figure out what positive attributes make you different than others in your industry.
  • Stay on point. Once you identify what makes your company special, communicate the difference in your own distinct marketing messaging. You must trust in what you are saying and resist the temptation to drift off in a new direction every month because of what your competitors are doing. Building a brand takes time and patience and having confidence in why and how you are better will only help you get to where you want to go faster.
  • Have a unique voice. Another great way to stand out is to make sure that your brand has its own voice. This is the voice that should already be coming through loud and clear in your everyday interactions with customers. Your “voice” plays a large part in why your current customers work with you and should be reflected in your marketing, so prospects will see why they should be working with you as well.
  • Don’t be afraid to be unique. By now, you already know that you are different and that you can do it better than the competition. Let’s say you are advertising and all of the other ads are poorly designed and hard to read. This is the time to really stand out and resist the urge to blend in and create something that is memorable for being good. Make sure your marketing is unique, well-written and designed so you will stand out in the right way.

What have you learned from differentiating your company from the competition? Let us know in the comments below.

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.

Planning your website for on-the-go — responsively

computersWhen it comes to websites these days, the focus is not only on a desktop experience, but also on a mobile experience. As mobile devices are fast becoming the norm to view websites and take in content, now is the time to start thinking about how people are getting your content.

One of the ways designers and developers handle mobile is through responsive design. Responsive design is a method of designing and coding where the content adjusts to different screen sizes and resolutions. This method allows the content to scale appropriately on each device (phone or tablet) and have elements appear and disappear based on want you want your visitors to see.

For example, if you have a really large navigation menu, that might work great on a desktop screen; however, it may take up too much space on a mobile phone. You don’t want people to only see your menu when they first navigate to your site on their mobile device — you want them to see your content. With responsive design, we can create an icon that appears only if someone is on a mobile device, which, in turn, allows the person to click it and reveal a streamlined navigation menu. This allows your content to remain in the forefront.

Another thing responsive design is fantastic for is when people resize their browsers in the horizontal plane (wider or narrower) on their desktop computers. Designers and coders can have content move to different areas of the screen to allow for a greater user experience for more people and give visitors the most important information right away. Websites don’t live in a vacuum and user interaction is a key component that drives our work.

There are many mobile strategies out there, with responsive design being one of them. When planning your mobile site (or main website) using responsive design, think about your audience and the content they’ll want. This preplanning (or postplanning if your existing site is moving to mobile) will help you create the best experience for your visitors.

Let us know what your mobile strategy is or what you’d like to do in the future in the comments below.

Take a tour of our new website

screenshotWe all know how tempting it is to set aside our own business needs in favor of helping clients. Clients always come first. Over the last few months, while we were creating beautiful work for our clients, we were able to find little pieces of time to do it for ourselves.

We redesigned our website so that it’s easier than ever to learn, share and connect with us. Here’s how:

  1. It’s light, clean and well-organized so you’ll find what you’re looking for instantly.
  2. The expanded Portfolio gives you a close look at our latest work across a wide range of marketing capabilities and industries. From videos and e-blasts to websites and newsletters, you’ll see exactly what we do and how we do it.
  3. Find out what makes each of us tick on the new About Us page. You’ll also learn our favorite treat.
  4. We work with organizations large and small across all industries. Read some of their stories in our Case Studies to learn how you too can benefit from our expertise.
  5. It’s easier than ever to find marketing insights and ideas on our new Blog. Enhancements include featured posts and short introductions about each topic so that you can get top tips at your convenience.

Check out our new site now and come back often! What do you like about it? What, if anything, would you change? We want to hear from you, so let us know what you think.