Tag Archives: Branding

Up Coming Presentation: Your sales materials on a tablet

COMe learn how you can use your company materials on tablets to increase your sales.

TIME: 3:45 pm
EVENT: BNI Showcase
LOCATION: Glen Abbey Golf Club,
Dorval Dr. North of the QEW in Oakville

This Christmas it seemed that every other commercial showcased a tablet in some way. Tablets are now reaching the tipping point – they are highly visible and advertised as attainable for the average household.

But what are businesses doing with tablets?

I attended the Adobe Max conference in October to learn just that and while it was clear that not many companies have adopted it to its full potential yet, the number is quickly growing – specifically in companies looking to differentiate themselves and their company from the competition.

Come hear me speak about the emerging trend of digital publication for portfolios, catalogs, white papers, advertising and event materials.

Click and change pictures, embedded videos and audio clips, 360 degree product rotations and more are now available to companies looking to move their sales ahead of their competitors with this new and affordable media.

I’ll be showing samples and current projects we are currently working on to apply this new technology to engage your audience and support business sales efforts using tablets.

Stop by my booth and my presentation at 3:45 to learn more.


Colours, colours, colours…Who cares? Every Business should!

Company Colours. It is an under-utilized tool in day-to-day business communication. There are so many applications for them yet many people never consider their full potential.

Background or graphic object colours for presentations, graphs and charts in excel, even highlighting text in emails and word documents; these are all ways a business can use their colours to further their brand and create consistently. It’s a small thing that makes a very big difference.

Part of any good company logo and/or Identity system is providing colour formulas, both print and web. Many company’s make their colour formulas available to staff, but for those who don’t have these it’s a missed opportunity.

Establishing your colours and having the formulas (CMYK and RGB) to enter into simple office applications is a great way to further your brand in a simple and cost effective way. Here are some sample applications:

  1. Words
    Whether in a document or an email, highlight important words, messages, or links with your company colours to give impact. With repetition your material will become easily recognizable.
  2. Graphs
    If you need to insert a graph into a presentation or company report, take the time to manually choose the colours to customize this graphic to reflect the company.  On it’s own it doesn’t seem like such, but when inserted into another document with the same colours this looks sharp.
  3. Graphics/Diagrams
    As a rule I avoid clip art at all costs, but if you are creating your own simple shapes, arrows, or more complex diagrams to illustrate a model incorporate the colours into the design for a seamless professional look.
  4. Pictures
    When picking images to use in a presentation or other company communication (like a blog or newsletter) try to choose images that echo or have a predominant company colour. Ex: Your colour is blue, try picking a picture where that main person in the photo is wearing blue.
  5. Presentations
    If you are going to have a bar above or below each slide, make it a company colour. The same rule applies for frames around images, titles and rule lines for emphasis.  Using the 4 points above in conjunction with these key points will give any presentation a visual wow factor.

Have you been applying your colours for your business or brand? I’d like to know.

If you have some more ideas to add to the list please don’t hold them like a miser, share and share alike!

The Tight Budget Series: The Brochure

I’ve noticed that business is picking up, cautiously. Clients are researching, pricing, and asking how they can keep their costs within a budget. Often it’s a tight budget. So, the following series of blogs are meant to help businesses understand the design process and find ways to stay within the mark.

This Week: Understanding the Brochure

I routinely tell clients who call for an estimate that the first brochure takes 8-12 hours. It never fails to surprise people. Most brochures generally fall between 8-10, but I always add the extra couple of hours to account for clients who make a large number of changes.

But that estimate is for the first brochure. And the first one only. All others aren’t even half of that time if the same layout is used, especially if I’m not doing the image research.

The Upfront Investment: The Brand Template.

The identity/brand template work is done on the first brochure. The layout and ratio guides created, fonts and paragraph styles defined, colour formulas entered, and company standards studied. This stage alone takes 3-4 hours. With this system I simply use all the styles and colours in future templates avoiding the hassle on my end and billable hours on the client end.  I think of this portion as the client’s identity/brand investment. A cost up front that saves a good deal of money for ALL future projects. (Brochures after take 3-4 hours without image research. )
Budget Tip: If you are considering doing a series of brochures, discuss this with your designer and work out a deal. A guaranteed amount of work in exchange for a discount or payment plan is worth discussing.

The 6 Considerations

The brochure on the surface is a simple item. Clients usually think of  a brochure as written content combined with images, the logo and contact information. Place them in a trifold layout and off you go.

When I look at a brochure, as a designer I think:

  1. Does this client have an established brand?
    If so, I need to get access to their brand standards (fonts, colours, logos, layouts, etc)
    If not, have they produced brochures before, or do they have current materials I need to mimic? Do they have all their logo files and colours used previously?
    Timer Saver Tip: Compile in a folder your identity material. Your logos (in ai. or eps.), your standards if you have them, your packaged fonts, any affiliate logos, disclaimers, etc)
  2. Do they have their brochure content written, proofed, and if applicable – approved by marketing? This stage can double the budget and timeline if you haven’t completed it and make numerous changes, and/or if you need a copywriter.
    Budget Tip: If you hire a copywriter, discuss your budget in advance. They will be able to give you a clear outline of what would be included. If you don’t use a copywriter, make sure you keep your content clear, to the point and have at least three people proof read it. Make sure one of them is a picky person who enjoys finding all those tiny spelling and grammar errors to save you costly changes later.
  3. Do they have their images and do they fit their brand? Searching through stock images takes time, billable time. Stock or a photographer add to the budget.  There are a number of affordable online options, take the time to surf them and see what’s available. Time Saver Tip: Sites like Photos.com allow you to create a lightbox of images you choose and then send them to the designer. They then have a number of choices and they can work with you to chose the best image for your message. Doing this saves them time and you money.
  4. Do they need custom graphics? Creating custom graphs, diagrams, illustrations adds to the final invoice.
    Time Saver Tip : If you have a graph, provide the excel file with the numbers. The designer can import this file into their software saving time. If it’s a diagram or illustration provide clear direction on the aim or goal of the graphic. If the designer knows what it’s supposed to convey, they have a better chance of hitting the mark faster.
  5. What layout will best suit their needs and message? Many consider only a traditional trifold, but there are alternatives that don’t cost a great deal more to print that can offer a very different feel and unique presentation. For example, perhaps a client would benefit from an additional panel that tears away. Keep an open mind.
  6. How will it be printed? Budgets and designs can be easily broken if this isn’t considered from the start.
    Budget Tip: Source your printing costs ahead of time and ask the designer for recommended printers. Designers often have good relationships with various printers. If the designer knows your budget they’ll be able to direct you to the appropriate one and often provide the specs to quote at. If you do the leg work you can save yourself money.

A brochure project isn’t one to take lightly, as you can see there is a fair number of things to consider. Going in educated and being honest about your budget saves everyone a great deal of time and frustration while providing you with a marketing piece worth displaying.

Blog Traffic Experiment, Day 23. RSS Readers Rock!

Day 23/30 of Experiment:  views 4
Main Referring Sites: 1 StumbleUpon, 1 RBKartworks.com, 1 WordPress/LinkedIn

Today’s Activities:

  1. Tip 2, 7, 8, 13: Surfed the web for some more blogs to add to my RSS reader. Found a whole host of new sites for added resources and inspirations. See Links below for my favorite subscriptions.

Thoughts out Loud

I’ve been asked a number of times this week why I use an RSS reader, and if I really get any value from it. The answer is, ABSOLUTELY YES!

For anyone new to blogging or following blogs, a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader is a handy free software (shareware) you can install on your computer that allows you to read all the blogs you subscribe to in one simple place. By simply adding a chosen blog to your list, you will be alerted to any new posts they publish. It saves an incredible amount of time. I call it my personalized electronic newspaper.

RSS reader

I organize my blog subscriptions into category folders. Branding, marketing, design, web, social media, and even inspiration. I continually add new ones so my list over the last few months has really grown. On any given day I can have 50-70 articles posted to my reader, so I always have resources at my disposal.

As a blogger, I’m always looking for new links to provide as resources in my articles. I skim through headlines to see what’s new in my industry and I often get inspiration from popular topics posted. It’s constant brain food and inspiration. As a freelancer, it’s vital to staying connected. I’d be lost without my reader.

Below is a list of some of my favorites, feel free to check them out and recommend some of your own in the comments section. I’m always looking. Enjoy!

  • Branding: Brand Freeze, Design & Branding Delight
  • Copywriting: CopyBlogger, Copywriting tips for online marketing success
  • Graphic Design: The Design Cubicle, graphic designer Brian Hoff shares design tips, tutorials, and links. Viget Inspire, a design house who’s whole team contributes. Great variety. Blog.SpoonGraphics, Chris Spooner is a designer who often posts techniques and a number of good creativity links.
  • Freelancing: Freelance Folder: Community for all types of freelancers
  • Illustration: VetorTuts+, Everything vector, great tutorials
  • Inspiration: Inspiredlog: the official tumblelog of Inspired Magazine. Design Finds Me, a mish mash of good random stuff.
  • Marketing: Online Marketing Connect, Social Media Marketing. Duct Tape Marketing, small business marketing
  • Social Media: E-Commerce Experiment, a work in progress much like this experiment, they keep posting all their resources. Great link source and relevent information to a new growing media.
  • Web Design: TripWire Magazine, goodies for web developers and designers. Webitect, resource for webmasters