Friday, April 9, 2021

Creating a Substantial Visual Impact Through Corporate Responsibility Campaigns

In a post-pandemic world, marketers are tasked with a unique balancing act: helping people return to reality while remaining sensitive to the challenges of this era.


Today’s consumers appreciate businesses that prioritize people over products. Research by consumer authority Mintel has shown that as many as 56% of Americans will stop buying from brands they believe are unethical. Additionally, in a global survey, 91% of consumers reported they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality. 


Corporate responsibility, or cause marketing, occurs when a company’s promotional campaign has a dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society. Or, more colloquially: cause marketing occurs when a brand does well by doing good.


Visual campaigns are potent, and they are even more compelling when combined with a social initiative of some sort. Here are three dynamic examples.


Cadbury’s “Donate Your Words” Campaign


In the United Kingdom, 225,000 older people often go a week without speaking to anyone.


During the pronounced isolation of COVID-19, Cadbury chocolates launched an initiative to benefit Age UK, the country’s leading charity dedicated to providing companionship, advice, and support for older individuals.


In a stark visual, Cadbury removed all lettering from the front of its dark purple packaging and replaced it with a blank tag: instead of a price, there was a pledge to talk to an older person. Blank pledge tags were also available for customers who wanted to write personalized pledges. Shoppers could take any display item to the till, but instead of paying money they could pledge to talk to an older person.


Cadbury donated its chocolate and challenged a nation to donate its words.


American Express and Small Business Saturday


Did you know that the original founder of Small Business Saturday was American Express?


Without a non-profit partner, American Express embraced entire communities by encouraging consumers to shop local and support the mom and pop stores in their own neighborhoods (presumably while using an American Express card to do so!).


Launched in 2010, local profits leaped from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $19.8 billion in 2020. Key to this success was visual marketing; to equip local businesses, American Express designed creative pieces like signage, social posts, scavenger hunt maps, recipe sheets, and themed passports to support their “Neighborhood Champions”—men and women that vowed to formally celebrate Small Business Saturday in their areas.


A Meaningful, Memorable Message


Consumers want to see positive change in the world and when your brand can be part of it, the emotional impact of your marketing will ratchet up.


Choose your cause wisely, listen to your audience, and lean in to the power of print marketing to put your message front and center. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

How to Prepare Large-Format Projects for Print

When you want to flaunt your finest, large-format printing can make an oversized impact!


Large-format printing includes products printed at a length of 18-100 inches with a minimum width of 60 inches. Some of the most popular items include posters, window graphics, yard signs, vehicle wraps, vinyl banners, media backdrops, and more.


While large-scale graphics are stunning, these projects require special preparation, so these images remain vibrant and sharp when stretched to larger-than-life proportions.


If you plan to go BIG, here are some factors to consider.


Communicate from the Start


When diving in on a large-scale printing, create a detailed brief and use this to speak to your printer as early as possible.


Try to include everything from the size, design, materials, and deadlines. Your printer will work with you to be sure your ideas are achievable, and the timeline is realistic.


Set Appropriate Image Specifications


As you connect with a printer, be sure your images match the required specifications.


Pixels per inch (or PPI) is the standard measurement for image resolution. PPI refers to the density of pixels per square inch of space they occupy. The higher the PPI, the sharper your image will appear as a large-format graphic. As a general rule, most commercially printed materials require at least 300 PPI.


The viewing distance required for your project can be a factor in selecting the appropriate specs.


Select Clear and Legible Fonts


Since most large-format products are meant to be viewed from a distance, fonts are a big deal.


Usually, sans-serif fonts are easier to read than script or serif fonts. Fonts that are too bold or have wide spacing between letters are also very difficult to read when viewed from afar. To check your font’s legibility, take a few steps back from your computer and evaluate from a different perspective.


Limit the number of fonts you use, and don’t crowd the design!


Choose Your File Formats


There are generally two file types in large-format printing: EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) and TIFF (Tagged Image File Format).


EPS – such as .eps or .ai files – can contain both text and graphics and are a better option for vector images, which use algorithms to increase an image size (rather than pixels), which preserve image quality when scaled up.


TIFF files are best for high-quality graphics, with color depths ranging from 1 to 24 bits. They can also support special Adobe features like layering and transparency.


Not sure which format is best? Your printer can help and may even have software presets they can send you in advance. No matter which file type you select, don’t flatten the original file before sending it to print. Keep an editable file to make the design and printing process easier!


Get Color Samples


Did you know there are two primary ways of displaying colors?


Anything designed for a screen – such as digital banners or a website – uses an RGB (red, green, blue) color model, while printed materials use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). RGB looks great on a screen but can look dull when printed, so you can save yourself extra hassle by converting your design file color to CMYK before you begin. If you haven’t, double-check with your printer about how to proceed from where you’re at.


Amplify Your Voice


Large-format printing offers huge promotional potential for your business.


But it can be a big investment, which is why it’s important to get things right the first time. Whatever your large-format printing needs, our experienced team can help! Whether you’re looking to build brand identity or bring curb appeal to your business, upgrade your customer experience with magnificent large-scale visuals.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

4 Intelligent Ways to Combine Print and Digital Marketing

Imagine a college campus on a warm fall day, as freshmen are moving into the dorms for the first time.


There are loads of students buzzing around and getting settled. As they unpack and get their bearings in a new community, many realize they’ve forgotten a lamp or shelf to make their dorm room a bit cozier. No problem! A strategic, targeted digital ad whisks across their screen on move-in day.


Two days later, a mailed piece is sent featuring lamps, rugs, and closet accessories. This venue's campaign (a combination of digital and print marketing) snags interest in a fleeting moment then follows this digital hook with a more robust mailed piece.


The Successful Marriage of Digital and Print


Print marketing is powerful. Digital marketing is powerful. When you combine them... well, the result is dynamic.  


Want to create a more strategic relationship between your print and digital marketing efforts? Here are four strategies to build momentum:


1. Create Distinct Online Landing Pages


Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).


While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page is slightly different. A landing page:


--Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources


--Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action


--Stays focused on a single topic or offer


--Omits or downplays site navigation options


Beyond using narrow landing pages to evaluate your print marketing, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.


2. Use Digital Opt-ins for Direct Mail


Instead of asking someone to sign up for your email campaign the next time they visit your website, why not ask them to sign up for a direct mail newsletter?


Unlike email (which can easily go straight to a junk folder), a direct mail campaign engages people through tactile, memorable, physical marketing pieces. There’s something special about receiving a thoughtful newsletter or meandering through a well-designed catalog.


Instead of opting toward email, build stronger connections with your customers outside the screen.


3. Combine In-Store and Social Displays


Live events provide great opportunities to build strong relationships with customers – particularly in our experience-driven culture.


At your next event, distribute valuable coupons or great giveaway items after advertising through social media ahead of time. Post fun selfie displays (like clever photobooths or imaginative backgrounds) that people can post using event-specific hashtags. Or give gift cards and freebies to those who check in at your kiosk and follow you on social media.


4. Add QR Codes to Your Direct Mail, Brochures, and Displays


Today QR Codes (those funny-looking square boxes that look like over-sized bar codes) have many uses, including marketing, product labeling, ticketing, and more.


QR codes can be used as a compact way to deliver loads of information, and you can use one in any situation where you want to send people to a specific website. Add QR codes to your brochures, direct mail, business cards, in-store displays, or even to customized client birthday cards.


This lead generator can be used to push a new promotion, link to an instructional video, solicit reviews, incentivize subscription renewals, or prompt people to download your app. 


Customers on the Move


As people hop between on- and offline worlds, businesses must provide an increasingly cohesive, personalized experience.


Combining your print and digital marketing can build momentum while providing users a streamlined customer experience. Employ this customer-oriented strategy to ensure your brand receives a multi-fold return on your marketing investment.


 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Stand Tall with 6 Sharp Embossing Techniques

Have you ever run your hand over an antique, textured wallpaper?


With its authentic sense of depth and detail, you almost can’t help but touch it. The raised relief is as appealing to your imagination as it is to your fingertips.


Embossing has a similar effect. Embossing and debossing are two print techniques used to add texture to a design. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the material's surface (but might protrude somewhat on the reverse side). These popular finishing techniques – used for business cards, menus, invitations, foil stickers, notepads, and more – are ideal for bringing a fresh, contemporary look.


Take Center Stage


Embossing elevates your design from the background and can be used to create geometric patterns, add borders, or produce a custom seal for product packaging.


The texture and sculptural quality that embossing creates makes for a memorable user experience. Add elegance and stateliness to your next project with one of these beautiful techniques:


1. Blind Embossing


Blind embossing uses custom-made dies to create a raised surface according to the design.


Blind embossing refers to a stamped design without metallic leaf or ink (like plain textured letters with a page), giving a base-relief effect. One way to make blind embossing stand out even more is to use textured paper. Since the area around the embossing will be pressed smooth, this creates more of a contrast.


2. Combination Embossing


As its name suggests, this type of die combines multiple effects (like embossing and foil stamping) into one process.


The combination die has a cutting edge around the perimeter to cleanly break the excess foil away from the embossed area. Given the unbeatable finish and fine detail of this element, it is a natural choice when printing elegant crests, fancy logos, or intricate type for business cards, letterheads,


3. Single-Level Embossing


This process uses a die that changes the surface of the paper at only one level.


Since the die needed for this kind of embossing is simple, it is the most affordable embossing option.


4. Multi-Level Embossing


This process uses a die with several distinct levels to create a sculptured impression or a more detailed texture.


Multi-level embossing kicks things up a notch by changing the surface of the paper at several planes. This makes the technique popular for multi-dimensional shapes, landscapes, or images with unique details (such as leaves or feathers).


5. Sculptured Die


This kind of die requires custom hand tooling to create levels and details for an emboss that resembles a bas-relief sculpture, a figure that is raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect.


Like a piece of metal leaping off the paper, the effect is striking and lifelike. While sculptured embossing is more expensive, it is absolutely gorgeous for creating custom pictures, shapes, 3D logos, faces, animals, or landscapes.  


Because this die requires someone to create it by hand – usually based on an image provided – this method is more expensive.


6. Bevel-Edge Dies


Want to add sophistication to your project?


Beveled dies bring a softened, refined look to your shapes and letters, adding a curve or edge to each character (typically at 30 to 60 degrees). The broader the angle, the greater the illusion of depth.


Create a Timeless Treasure


New trends take shape every day, and you can make a bold statement with existing techniques that give your print materials a sleek twist.


While embossing was originally found mostly in personalized stationery, today, raised elements can be used in envelope flaps, business cards, packaging, hang tags, and more. Great designs mix the old and the new to create timeless print pieces your clients will love!

Friday, March 19, 2021

5 Strategies to Overcome Nerves in Public Speaking

From Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill, some of the world’s greatest leaders had one thing in common: the fear of public speaking.


Glossophobia, or speech anxiety, affects 77 percent of the population at some level. This can range from sweating and an accelerated heart rate to dizziness, nausea, or a “fight or flight” response.


As a shift to remote working has become more prevalent, more communication is taking place online rather than in-person. And video chatting can make many people (who aren’t normally nervous) more anxious whenever they speak up.


Want to conquer your butterflies or gain confidence when you’re on the big stage? Here are five tips from the public speaking experts:


1. Practice Aloud in Advance


The best way to reduce your anxiety is to rehearse until you feel comfortable, and you will really settle into your message if you share it aloud several times before the big day.


Practice by yourself, before a mirror, in front of a video camera, or even with a friend, colleague, or coach who will give you constructive feedback.


2. Be at Your Best Physically and Mentally


In the turmoil of speaking preparation, this key to optimal performance can get lost in the noise.


Get enough rest. Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol. And give yourself quiet time if you need it (i.e., if you're an introvert), or mix-and-mingle time to get your juices flowing (if you're an extrovert). Look out for yourself BEFORE you speak to ensure the best outcome when you do.


3. Breathe


Breathing from your stomach muscles, not your chest, naturally calms the nervous system.


When you want to reset yourself internally, take a few deep breaths before and even during your presentation. As you inhale, say to yourself, “I am . . .” As you exhale, say, “relaaaaaaaaaxed.” 


4. Don’t Be Nervous About Your Nervousness


Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, who was legendary for his live concert performances, once observed that if he felt completely relaxed before a show, he wouldn’t perform as well.


Speakers who lack confidence often feel nervous. Then they feel anxious about the fact that they’re nervous, which compounds the anxiety.  Remember, nervousness is just your adrenaline flowing. It’s a form of energy. Bruce Springsteen doesn’t get nervous about his nerves – instead, he channels this into excitement and power on stage. Successful speakers know how to make adrenaline work for them and turn nervousness into enthusiasm, engagement, and charisma.


It’s okay to have butterflies.  Make the energy work for you


5. Practice an “Others First” Mindset


During public speaking, you feel “all eyes” watching you.


This can be painfully vulnerable, like a caveman exposed in daylight. While you may want to shrink back, calm your anxiety by focusing on your desire to encourage others. Sarah Gershman, President of Green Room Speakers, says this:


“The key to disarming our organic panic button is to turn the focus away from ourselves — away from whether we will mess up or whether the audience will like us — and toward helping the audience. Studies have shown that . . . showing kindness and generosity to others has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which has the power to calm the fight-or-flight response. When we are kind to others, we feel calmer and less stressed. The same principle applies in public speaking. When we approach speaking with a spirit of generosity, we counteract the sensation of being under attack and start to feel less nervous.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Build Customer Confidence: 4 Brand Identity Essentials

Trust builds confidence.


That is why a strong corporate brand identity can make or break a business. Brand identity is more than key values or approved color palettes; it is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. Here is one helpful way to describe it:


Brand identity is the image or character of your business as people relate to it. For example, the BMW image of elite luxury has grown naturally from customers’ repeated exposure to BMW’s ads, endorsements, and products.


Brand imagery is the aesthetic appearance of your brand’s core identity and messaging. This results from all the visuals (from billboards, print ads, or product packaging) that represent your brand’s identity.


When a company has a strong brand, it is easily recognized, which grows people’s trust. Trust builds confidence, and confidence begets loyalty. When a business has built superiority in a particular niche, repeat customers are more willing to buy in other areas. When you have loyalty from your base, you have space to increase prices or ask for bigger commitments. 


Breaking Down the Brand Experience


When building a brand, think of an iceberg in which only the tip is visible.


The substance exists below the waterline. The brand elements that are most seen and celebrated (like brand imagery) are not always the most important. The brand experience – the mosaic of customer interactions people have with your business – is part of a greater journey.


Here are four dimensions of this mosaic:


1. Brand Voice


If your brand was a person, what would they sound like?


Are they loud and animated or reserved and refined? An organization’s name, tagline, and editorial style comprise an overall projection of its voice. As these elements are developed, consider how the words would sound in the mouth of a brand spokesperson or its founder.


Also, try to contrast the voice of your competitors. If your rival brand has a highly polished voice, you might consider adopting a friendly, down-to-earth style.


2. Consistency in Core Elements


Building the foundation of your identity starts with identifying core elements.


Strong brands create a style guide that anchors them to brand colors, key fonts, a logo projected across different backgrounds, and a style they hope to express (e.g., “elegant, clean, scalable, approachable yet excellent”).


Once you’ve nailed these keys, you can embellish with design tweaks, humor, or variations on patterns (of ads, print layouts, customer stories, and more). Like music, good design balances order and variation to make a beautiful composition.


3. Total Time


People want to feel like they are in control.


The total time invested in transactions is an essential consideration for today’s consumers. Don’t want to wait in a massive drive-through line? Order ahead in the app. Hate the grocery store line? Use the self-checkout. Perhaps you need to focus less on saving them money and more on saving them time.


Small tweaks you make to the customer experience can assure clients that their time is valuable.


4. Framing Customer Choices


Brand building is about affecting customer choice.


While prospects initially engage with emotional triggers like color, shape, image, or tone, eventually, they’ll ask deeper questions about their spending or time commitments. This involves both upfront expenses and opportunity costs; if customers buy from you, they implicitly say no to another brand.


Think strategically about speaking to buyer emotions regarding loss aversion, short-term sacrifices (vs. long-term gains), or sunk costs (how people don’t want to lose what has already been invested).


Brand identity goes beyond simple appearance. Decisions you make about voice, consistency, time, and customer choices can create strong feelings that prompt a profitable response!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Show-Stopping Print Ideas to Compliment Your Digital Marketing

Does your brain ever feel tired?


Some days, that’s probably due to information overload. Today, researchers estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day or around 600-625 ads per person. If you add in pop-ups and YouTube ads, who knows how high the number may soar!


But amidst the explosion of digital advertising, industry reports remind us that print holds steady. 70% of Americans prefer to read on paper, and 67% prefer printed materials over digital. Additionally, 55% of consumers say they trust print marketing more than any other advertising messages.


Want to evoke emotions with your next masterpiece? Draw from three creative examples of print ads that recently stole the show.


C&A: The Real “Like” Leaderboard


Nothing builds excitement like a little competition!


In a partnership with Microsoft and Tim (one of Brazil's biggest fashion retailers), C&A created an interactive print advertising campaign to engage clients and collect feedback on designs pitted against one another. Customers who registered to receive the special 'Like Ads' on Facebook were given a print magazine with a personalized Tim chip installed. These print pieces are integrated with an interactive thumbs-up icon from Facebook. When viewers approved of a fashion design by pressing the physical thumbs up button, their vote was also tabulated online (without the need to connect any additional devices).


Beyond recording user preferences on influencer Facebook pages, the most popular "liked" looks from these print ads were displayed on a giant leaderboard in the Morumbi Shopping store. What a tremendous way to build engagement and momentum!


Motorola: Where Customization is King


Moto X customization was one of the big selling features of this mobile phone.


To wow potential purchasers, Motorola released interactive ads in New York and Chicago that reached around 150,000 readers of the “Wired” magazine. Phone ads featured super-slim batteries, LED lights, and buttons people could press to modify the phone's color on the page. Prefer blue? Maybe red, pink, or green? Viewers could try any color as the phone in the ad transformed before their eyes.


Virtual Test Drives


If you find it hard to get customers through your doors, why not bring the product right to them?


Volkswagen is a brand that strives to be a leader in new technology, so it launched an interactive print ad to drive this point home. Using a three-page print ad, readers could unfold a map of a curvy road and then download a corresponding app that would transform their phone into a mini-vehicle. As drivers steered their “car” (mobile phone) along the “road” (print ad), they had a memorable, hands-on experience with vehicle innovations like the Adaptive Lights or Lane Assist modes. Leave it to Volkswagon to create the first-ever “test drive in a print ad.


Not to be outdone, Lexus followed suit shortly afterward. Readers of Sports Illustrated could take the Lexus print ad, place it over a Lexus webpage on their iPad screen, and watch the ad come to life with sight, sound, and motion that displayed the car in action (with spinning wheels and different backgrounds and music).


Tactile, Memorable Print


Print is nothing if not tactile. And now, static media options have become more interactive than ever.


Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are memorable, relatable, and fun!