Graphic Matter, Inc BLOG

www.graphicmatter.com

Graphic Matter, Inc BLOG - www.graphicmatter.com

Implementing and Building Your Brand – Building a Brand Part 6

How Do I Do THAT?

In recent posts, we identified the main challenge to building your brand is to create awareness and recognition of your company and brand, and we broke it down into four areas:

1. Choice of font or typeface

2. Use of Color

3. Logo Design

4. Choosing a Designer

To complete the series, we are offering some ideas about how you can promote your brand consistently with everyday or off-the-shelf items. The most important tip we can give you is to be CONSISTENT about promoting your brand.

OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS

Many office supply stores stock business supplies and accessories that you can purchase to reinforce your brand. Will you need binders, presentation folders, envelopes, boxes, or labels? See how many of these items you can get that are consistent with the colors that you have chosen for your logo or brand. Since you haven’t invested any money in these types of items at this point, you can adjust your color choices for them as necessary. For example, instead of bright blue, you might need to switch to a light blue or a grayish-blue. Make these decisions early, before you start to accumulate materials. Consider searching online — you might get a wider selection of colors. Companies like Paper Direct and Paper Access specialize in creating pre-printed materials for small business owners.

BUILD THE BRAND

Now that you have selected your basic elements, use them relentlessly. Find every opportunity to reinforce your brand.

When you select checks, include your font, color(s) and logo. Take a look at your email; create a standard signature that incorporates your complete business name, address, phone and Web address in the footer. Use your colors, your font and if you know how, add your logo. Evaluate all of your existing support materials – not just marketing materials. What do your invoices, estimates, and contracts look like? Do they reinforce your brand and the professionalism of your company? Pick up each piece and ask, “Does this help or hinder my brand in the eye of the client?” More importantly, if prospective clients see this support material before they meet you, will it encourage them to contact you or will it send a clear message to go elsewhere?

Thinking about how both prospective and existing clients view your business is very important. You want to make sure when they have a need they think of you first and ask you to help them fill it. By branding your business, and then building your brand, you create brand recognition, which turns into more sales for you!

For more information on how to build your brand, contact Graphic Matter!

How Do I Choose A Logo Designer?

Here is a checklist for you, to help you hire the right designer for your project.

1. Experience:
Ask your designer for samples of other company or product logos they created. It is important to see that the designer can meet a client’s objectives, personal taste and business constraints. Designing a logo as a class project is not the same as meeting the needs, preferences and budget of a paying client.

2. Positive Testimonials:
Ask for testimonials. When speaking to their clients ask about the communication process, how well the designer understood their needs and how they managed the design and edit process. The design process is a translation process, where a client states their requirements verbally and the designer translates these needs into a physical object or symbol.

3. Portfolio:
Good designers have a strong and varied portfolio of work. From the simple to the complex, it should include product and service businesses, conservative and contemporary, premium and discount brands. You can view our portfolio here.

4. Design Process & Professionalism:
When Graphic Matter designs a logo, we follow a process to ensure that we understand and fulfill the client’s needs and requirements. Attention to detail, trustworthiness, strong communication skills, project and time management are all integral components for great customer service. Can your designer accurately estimate the time and cost of your project?

5. Price:
In most cases, you will get what you pay for but don’t take price as the only indication. A designer is a professional who is selling their experience and time. An experienced professional designer, with a strong portfolio is not going to give away their work when they can sell it at fair market value. They need to allow adequate time to do the necessary research and background work to make your logo unique and relevant for your target audience.

6. Customer Service:
Do you know the business behind the website? Can you call or visit the office and meet the designer – if you want to? Do they respond to your emails and calls? How do they present themselves and their ideas? Do they ask you the right questions about your business and objectives? Do they listen to you and understand your change requests? Do they respect your ideas and input? Do you get back what you expect from the designer? When you do get something back  are you “surprised”? Is it a good surprise? It should be!

Graphic Matter can help you to build your brand.

Why not give us a call today?

Building A Brand – Part 4

Does your business need a logo?

One truth in life is that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to recognizing and remembering a person’s or a company’s name. Have you ever tried to remember a person you met at an event, and then looked for a photo of them to refresh your memory. In the same way, we can recall a business by seeing their logo, store signage or business card.

A logo serves as visual stimulation to our memory, leaving a greater and lengthier impact than words alone do. Logos give brand name recognition and add visual interest to documents, web pages and printed materials.

It is the most direct way to differentiate your business; it’s an “impact” statement without the long-winded description. In a split second, tell your prospect how you are different AND BETTER then all your competitors in the yellow pages or on your google search results.

Does your business need a “professionally designed” logo?

As a graphic design studio, Graphic Matter highly recommends that you use a professional designer to design your logo. There are many reasons for this, far too many to cover in detail in this blog post.

Perhaps you may save money by using a “free” or low cost source, like a student or “crowd sourcing”, but consider what you might be sacrificing in experience and consultative services. At Graphic Matter we have seen many clients who have designed their logos themselves. Unfortunately they used the wrong software and created low-resolution photographic images. Then five years later when they are ready to upgrade their business [and require commercial offset printing or a large format trade show booth] they find they need to completely redesign their logo to translate to this new medium. A poorly designed logo can increase your commercial reproduction costs by 200%. The need to redesign a logo five years after launch can cost you five years of “brand building.”

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffet

It’s not just a pretty picture…

Your logo needs to be designed and constructed in a manner that can be used in many media, over many years, and to withstand the copyright and trademark issues that may surface 10 or 20 years after you have launched your brand.

A logo needs to be highly functional. It needs to translate in full-color and grayscale. It needs to function with the production and technical requirements for commercial and digital print, on the Internet, possibly on TV, signage, embroidered on clothing, or embossed on packaging. Your logo must work at small and large scale, from imprinting on pens and yellow page ads to large signage.

While it is easy to get caught up with the aesthetic and philosophical perspective, when designing a logo, a designer’s job is to balance the creative with the practical and technical matters as well. This is not a task that is easily accomplished by the novice.

Your logo is the foundation of your brand – build it right the first time.

A better way to cut cost

If you need to cut corners when launching a business… and you will…do it with your tri-fold brochure or your website, instead of your logo. You will need to revise these in your first year or two anyway. As you refine your messaging and your target markets you will need to revise these marketing tools anyway, so a “prototype” brochure or web site is not a bad idea.

A logo should be built to stand the test of time… and legal… and technical… and production… and changing markets.

Come back and read our next post:  How To Choose A Professional Designer

The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand – Part 3

Choosing Color

“Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.” Why Color Matters

Where to start?

One of the key elements of building a strong brand is color selection. Every color has a different feel and association. By choosing a color combination for your brand identity, you will take on those associations. Consider these associations when you select your colors so they will represent your identity effectively.

If you own a color in your industry, this color will symbolize your product. Think of Dunkin’ Donuts use of pink and orange and how quickly you can recognize their signs on the highway, at fast speeds. This can act as a great identifier. For example, if you sell a product your packaging will stand out from the competition.

Select two basic solid colors. You can pick unusual color combinations if you want to appear unique or stand out. One color should be a dark base color for large bodies of type or diagrams, typically this color is black, dark blue, brown or gray. The second color is for accent. When working with a small budget, consider colors that are readily available in off-the-shelf items. For example, let’s say you chose bright blue and dark brown. The bright blue can be used for all accent items and the dark brown is for large bodies of text, illustrations and charts, etc. Once you select your colors it is critical that you use them consistently. If you select bright blue, use the same shade of blue every time –not light blue once, dark blue the next time. This will only confuse your brand, not build it.

Want to have a little fun selecting colors? Try this web site which recommends colors based on word association – Cymbolism

If you have questions about how to choose color or how to use it in your brand, call Graphic Matter, we can help answer your questions!

The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand – Part 2

Choosing and Using a Font/Typeface

WHAT?

In order to choose and use a typeface/font for your brand, it would be helpful to understand what they are. So let’s begin by defining what a font is and what a typeface is by today’s standards.

Typeface — is the design of the alphabet – the shape of the letters that make up the typestyle. The letters, numbers, and symbols that make a design of type. So when you say “Arial” or “Times” you are talking about a set of letters in a specific style.

Font — is the digital file that contains/describes the typeface. You can think of the font as a little piece of software that tells the computer and printer how to display and print the typeface.

WHY?

So why is choosing a typeface important to building your brand? Typeface is important because it attracts attention, sets the style or tone and how readers interpret the words. The typeface that you choose represents your brand personality, is your company formal or informal, technical, contemporary, traditional, etc.

HOW?

How do you choose a typeface for your brand?

Select two typeface families for all of your printed materials and web materials. Choose one rather plain, standard typestyle that you can use for text-heavy pieces, such as Times Roman, Garamond, Caslon, Helvetica, Arial or Futura. These classic typefaces are commonly available and come in a wide variety of styles, such as condensed, extended, bold, extra bold, etc. This offers you the greatest degree of flexibility to support your needs now and in the future.

Next select a typeface for your accents. You can use the accent typeface for headlines, slogans, call outs, and other text you want to accentuate. You can modify the typeface with attribute like bold, italic, small caps and color. Optionally you can select a display typeface. These are highly stylized and need to be used sparingly to be most effective and not scream “amateur.”

Your typeface should be easy to read in any medium – picture it printed in black and white or full color, on a shirt or the Web, or very small, like on a pen, and very large like on a sign.

WHEN & WHERE?

Once you have selected typefaces, use them on everything your client will see, including letterhead, envelope, invoices and checks. And remember to record the name of the typefaces you select so that you can provide this information to your suppliers for design, print, etc. This saves time/money looking for this information at a later time.

If you will be purchasing these fonts and you want to use them on Macintosh, Windows and the web consider purchasing “open type” fonts for maximum compatibility.

WHY?…AGAIN!

When used consistently, selecting distinctive fonts and using them effectively helps with name recognition and “brand building,” — think of Coke, Lego, MTV or Disney. Brand recognition makes people feel familiar which helps with relationship building and trust. People buy from people they trust. Ultimately, we can all use a little help with increasing sales.

If you have more questions about typography and it impact on your brand contact Graphic Matter!

The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand – Part 1

At Graphic Matter, our blog posts are driven by our clients most frequently asked questions. Recently, we have had several inquiries from start-up businesses, about ways to launch a new brand that provides the best value for your budget.

Our past post have focused on promoting your website. Well, once they have found you, how will you stand out so that they remember you?

So let us offer our 2 cents….It’s all about BRANDING.

Wikipedia defines Brand as: The identity of a specific product, service or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan.

One of your biggest challenges is building an awareness of your company and your brand. This is a two-fold process: telling prospective customers why they need your product or service, and promoting your company as the best provider of these products or services.

If there is already an established need for your business, as in the case of dentists or bankers, your task is that much simpler. Otherwise you must educate potential buyers about why they need your services, which can be a significant effort on your part.

As for promotion, to accomplish your goals you must be familiar, known and trusted. The process of establishing a reputation is called “brand building.” It’s a simple concept we’re going to break down into four areas: Choice of Font or Typeface, Use of Color, Creating a Logo, and the Implementation and Consistent Use of Your Brand. All of these areas are geared toward establishing your brand and being able to incorporate the creative decision making with an emphasis on the practical business requirements and constraints.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand. In the meantime, if you have questions about branding give Graphic Matter a call!

                   
                   

Graphic Matter’s Fab 5 “Shout Out”

In the spirit of “sharing the love”… here are our favorite blogs for marketing inspiration and technical tips. We like these resources because we feel they deliver information that fulfills our standards of practical, real-world advice and ideas that you can act on today and start seeing results tomorrow. Check them out and share your thoughts with our readers as well as what your favorite blogs and websites are by posting a response here!


   

Technology Therapy, Jennifer Shaheen


   Inklings, Lisa Fahoury, Fahoury Ink


  The Marketing Mix, Ilise Benun, The Marketing Mentor


 

The HubSpot Blog


 

The MacCast

Conversions: Turning Prospects into Purchases

“A Conversion… is when a prospective customer takes the marketer’s intended action. [www.Wikipedia.com]

A Call to Action generally initiates a Conversion. We see them all the time: a retail business offers a coupon [call to action] to entice a purchase [conversion]. A service-oriented business may identify a service your business needs followed by an easy solution [contact form]. You may have several actions, or conversions, that are desired for your business. Your website should be able to generate most of them, and it’s likely that the point of conversion doesn’t always happen on the home page. How do you find the right page[s]?

Optimize your website for better conversion rates[#1]: Identify Conversion Opportunities: Generate a list of all the desired outcomes, or conversions, for your business prospects. This could include requests for more information or follow-up, completed purchases, subscription enrollment, or submitting contact information to download a white paper – and there are many more possibilities.

[#2]: Locate Conversion Points: Where on your website does each of these occur? Is there a Call To Action? Make sure the opportunity is easy for the visitor to find and understand what action they should take. This may be a contact page, or a sign up or purchase form, for example.

[#3]: Optimize for the conversion: By embedding metadata on targeted landing pages, that are relevant to the specific search phrase of each visitor, you can create a virtual path to the desired outcome: conversion.

Some additional points to consider:

  • In order to maximize the conversion rate it is crucial to have a well thought out and well developed landing page. See Our 2¢ post on July 15, 2010, and www.activemedia.com.

  • Attempts to improve conversion rates often involve testing different landing pages to see which perform best. See Our 2¢ post on August 10, 2010, and www.thehoneypotbook.com.

  • When we focus on search engine optimization we sometimes lose site of the fact that increasing traffic to our website is not the only desired result. In the end, if our traffic improved dramatically yet we have not sold more product or service, have we accomplished what we set out to accomplish? Conversions offer us a way to track our progress by creating opportunities for site visitors to identify themselves to us as prospective clients, or to potentially complete a purchase transaction directly.

    Are you confident you’re getting great conversion rates from your website? A call to Graphic Matter will help ensure your website is working hard for your business 24/7.

    Does Your Website Need An Alignment?

    More specifically, is the content of your site in alignment with your searcher’s keywords? Is there a clear path to your virtual doorstep? The sample below will demonstrate the typical process:

    1. Keyword or Phrase Searched: A searcher types in keywords into the search engine [google, msn, aol]. In this example: “iPhone 4G reviews”.

    2. Results Listed: The search engine results are listed, showing organic search results and sponsored links. Also know as paid advertising or pay-per-click [ppc], sponsored listings are usually called out by a colored background and the words “sponsored link”, and appear in the main list and in the side columns as well.

    3. Keywords Matched: The words that were included in the initial search phrase “iPhone 4G reviews” will be highlighted or bolded in each of the resulting search listings.

    Click on one of the top sites listed on the first page and notice the keywords that are organically placed on this page. You can reference the SEO terms we described in our post Finding Hidden Opportunities On Your Website, to help you look for the keywords in each area – page title, file name, metatags, alt tags, etc. Note how many times the keywords you entered appear in each of the components of this page.

    When the keywords appear in all of the page components listed above, and the content on that page is relevant to the keyword phrase, then you have organically optimized this page by making all of the components align with this keyword phrase.

    This aligned page is known as a “landing page” for that keyword phrase. See our post about landing pages to refresh your memory.

    Does this landing page have a “call to action”? Does it ask you to submit your information, or call the office, or to buy now? If so, then it is also a Conversion Page.

    We know what you are thinking: What is a Conversion Page? This answer is coming soon in our next post, and may be your “aha” moment that puts all the SEO pieces together for you.

    How can you be in that #1 spot in your prospect’s search results? By methodically “aligning” the key messages on your website, from the inside out. Your own [keyword] alignment is just a phone call away!

    Get Pushy With Your Marketing: The Difference Between SEO & SEM

    We’ve established that SEO [Search Engine Optimization] can effectively pull traffic to your website through the use of strategically planted “seeds” within your site. Search engines continually send out “spiders” or web crawlers, looking for those keywords that you’ve carefully embedded within your site as metatags, alt tags, page titles, page names and links – each of which is seen and recognized differently by the spiders.

    Search Engine Marketing [SEM] pushes traffic to your website. SEM refers to the practice of increasing traffic to your website through the use of paid placements [advertisements, pay-per-click listings] and external directories [trade and business membership listings – Chamber of Commerce and similar networks, for example]. Blogs and social media are essential tools in today’s marketing world.

    Search engines like links – both incoming and outgoing. Links from your site to other sites, articles, and resources are easy to add to your site, but the search engines know that. Incoming links carry a little more weight with the crawlers, but finding those opportunities might present more of a challenge.

    There’s good news here: you can create your own incoming link opportunity with a blog or e-newsletter for your business. The beauty of these media formats is that they work double time for your business. Done correctly, they will literally push traffic to your site: the reader reads and then clicks – beautiful! But they’re also virtually pushing traffic via the search engines. Not only is your link from your blog to your website [incoming link] attractive to the crawlers, but so is the content of your blog. Search engines love fresh, keyword-rich content, so keep feeding them with regular blog posts [like this one].

    Lastly, don’t discount the importance any Internet mention of your business: Has your business been in the news recently? Has it been recognized by a trade organization or received an award? There may be a listing [incoming link] as a result, and if you make mention of it on your site you can create a reciprocating [outgoing] link.

    Ready to get pushy with your marketing? Call us, we’d love to help!

    Who Will Read Your Blog?

    Now that you have clearly defined the purpose of your blog, you need to identify who your audience is going to be. In the same way that you focus on who will be using your products and/or services, you need to figure out for whom you are writing this blog. This will dictate the content of your posts as well as the tone in which you write them, two elements which will influence how you are perceived by your readers. Your objective may be to demonstrate the expertise of your niche to prospective partners, or to create an interactive relationship with clients, or even to motivate your internal staff. No matter what objective you decide to focus on, each one will require a different approach to both what you write and how you present it.

    In order to help you define who your target audience will be, ask yourself these questions:

    1) Are you writing this blog to inform existing customers about the full range of your products and/or services?

    2) Are  you trying to reach new customers or markets and introduce them to your products or services?

    3) Are you using your blog to demonstrate your expertise in a certain area?

    4) Are you using your blog to promote better or more efficient customer service?

    These are just a few of the questions that you can ask yourself in order to define your market.

    For more details or help with identifying your audience/target market, contact the team at Graphic Matter!

    Part 3 – How to Set-up a Feed Reader Page in Your Internet Browser

    Welcome to our final post in How I Love to Follow A Blog, Let Me Count the Ways, How to Set-up a Feed Reader Page in Your Internet Browser. In our previous posts talked about setting up internet browser bookmarks, how to subscribe to an RSS feed, and how to configure your email application to accept RSS feeds. In this post we will share with you how to set-up a feed reader page in your internet browser. Google offers a free reader service that is simple to use and very effective Follow these instructions to set-up your own Google Reader page.

    What does Google Reader do? Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. Whether a site updates daily or monthly, you can be sure that you won’t miss a thing. New content comes to your Google Reader when it’s posted, so you don’t need to visit individual sites. Plus, Reader keeps track of which items you’ve read, so you only see unread items when you come back. If there’s a dark blue border around an item, Reader is marking that item as read. Google Reader displays all of your favorite sites in one convenient place. It’s like a personalized inbox for the entire web!

    Use Google Reader on any computer. You can access your Google Reader account from any computer with online access. Whether you’re at home, at work or abroad, your subscriptions stay with you.

    Ready to set up your own Google Feed Reader? You can set up your free Feed Reader page in Google at http://www.google.com/reader.

    Google also offers a quick Google Feed Reader video tutorial to demonstrate this process.

    Once there, Google will ask you to set up an account, using your email address as your user name and a password of your choice. After your account is set-up, you will see a page that looks like the picture below:

    feedreaderpage

    To add a feed to this page, click on the “ + Add a Subscription” icon in the upper left hand corner. You will be prompted to add the URL addresses of the blog you wish to follow. The subscription folder in the picture above shows all the blogs that I subscribe to, as well as how many new posts or “feeds” have been sent to my subscription folder.

    It’s easy to see how Google’s Feed Reader page is like “one-stop shopping” to keep up with all the blogs you follow!