Graphic Matter, Inc BLOG

www.graphicmatter.com

Graphic Matter, Inc BLOG - www.graphicmatter.com

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!

Graphic Matter Client Spotlight – NTSG, Inc.

When Nancy Elberty, President of NTSG, Inc., agreed to sponsor WBENC’s [Women’s Business Enterprise National Council] Women in Business 2010 Annual Conference, she contacted Graphic Matter to provide the visual impact she knew NTSG’s sponsorship booth required. Graphic Matter worked closely with Nancy and her team to incorporate existing and new graphic elements into a striking 8’ x 10’ display graphic that is both versatile and portable. Additional consultation services for supplemental elements resulted in the booth’s compelling “total look.”

Elberty has since been featured in the article, Enterprising Women Stand Out on the Road to Success, about the benefits of certification as a diverse supplier on Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology , a website focusing on supplier diversity in the technical workforce. Elberty believes certification as a WBE opened doors for her company. “Organizations like WBENC provide opportunities and programs designed to help women-owned businesses succeed,” she says. “They show you how to best position and manage your company to overcome the challenges faced by many businesses.” Based in Lebanon, NJ, NTSG delivers a full range of optical network integration services including network engineering, installation, testing, maintenance, and decommissioning of SONET and DWDM networks throughout the continental U.S.

Graphic Matter has been WBENC certified since 2003. The WIB 2010 event marked our fourth year attending the WBENC annual conference, and we know we’ll keep going.We’ve made valuable connections with both corporate folks and fellow WBE’s that have led to new business and project partnerships.

Will your business be represented at an upcoming event or trade show? Are you confident you will be maximizing your investment of time and money at this event? Contact Graphic Matter for expert advice and design services to showcase your business effectively and affordably.

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.

    What Is A Landing Page?

     

    When we started the Graphic Matter blog, we decided that we wanted it to be a no-nonsense source of information that focused on our most frequently asked questions. Well, this is certainly one of them! Here are ourfavorite answers to “What is a landing page?” and the sources that provided them.

    • In online marketing a landing page, sometimes known as a lead capture page, is the page that appears when a potential customer clicks on an advertisement or a search-engine result link. www.Wikipedia.com
    • The first page that a visitor lands on as a result of a traffic acquisition activity. The landing page can be a stand-alone page, a part of a special-purpose microsite, or a page on the company’s main website. Landing page optimization: the definitive guide to testing and tuning for conversions, by Tim Ash, John Wiley and Sons, 2008
    • The first page that a user views during a session. This is also known as the “entrance page.” www.netstrategies.com
    • A Web page that is the click-through point for an online advertisement. Special landing pages are often prepared that focus specifically on the offer or keywords that the Web surfer clicked on. www.neubertweb.com
    What are the landing pages on your site? When a prospective customer enters your site through a landing page, is there a clear path to the information they seek, or the results you would like? We’ve been focusing a great deal on how and where people land on our web site – as well as our clients’ sites. Give us a call for a no-nonsense evaluation today; you may find that just a few small changes can dramatically improve your rankings and results!

    Finding Hidden Opportunities On Your Website

    Have you wondered how search engines pick which sites are displayed in search results? Or more specifically, which text from a site they will display in search results? And these terms that we’ve heard before [page title, metatags & keywords]… what do they mean and how do the puzzle pieces fit together?

    [#1] The Page Title is the text that appears at the very top of your browser window [not the URL or address that you type in, above that]. It is the most prominent piece of information displayed in the search results. There is typically a 40-60 character limit to what you can include, and your title should be pleasantly readable, not awkwardly stuffed with keywords.

    [#2] The HTML Page Name, aka the File Name, should be comprised of words that actually describe the contents or function of the page. [Hint: keywords work really well]. This is another opportunity to distinguish your company from the competition. Think of how many pages there are out there called “services.html” or “contactus.html” and how you can use the page name to focus on and attract the people looking for your services by being more specific. [example: “nj-graphic-design.html”].

    [#3]  There are several types of metatags:

    A Meta Description Tag is metadata coded into a web page that describes the content of the page. This text should also be concise, yet pleasantly readable as it may be featured prominently in the results. Meta Keywords Tags are metadata that contain keywords related to the content of the web page. Search engines use these keywords to determine relevance. It is recommended that in addition to your targeted keywords, you include some that are not on your “short list.” Also add your company name and common alternate spellings, regardless of whether they are correct. If people misspell your company name or a product you sell when they type in the search request, you want them to find you anyway.

    Metatags are not evident on the web page, but can be seen by selecting “view source” from the browser menu. To maximize your SEO opportunities, each landing page of your site should have a unique metatag description and keywords targeted specifically to the content of that page.

    Also coded into a web page, Alt Tags are “alternative” descriptive text coded into an image to describe the image in the event that it cannot be viewed. An example: when a browser is set to display only text, as is common on mobile devices. Alt Tag text may also appear when your cursor hovers over an image, but is typically not seen otherwise.

    Did you realize that there is so much happening behind the scenes of your website? And while this data may be “out of sight” to you, search engines and web crawlers are attracted to them like moths are to light. Graphic Matter’s web design team will help you uncover the hidden opportunities on your site. Call us and begin optimizing your site for greater search engine visibility.

    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!

    Organic Marketing? Really?

    In the Internet marketing world, there’s a lot you don’t have control over. However, Search Engine Optimization [SEO] and Search Engine Marketing [SEM] offer you a surprising bit of influence to draw the customers right to your virtual doorstep. To do this you need to identify these things:

    Who are the customers you really want?

    The ones who want you, of course! They’re the ones most likely to purchase your services or products.

    How do they search for and find you?

    Putting yourself in the role of your customer, generate a list of words and phrases you would use to search for your products or services. Layering these terms deep within your site will provide a path for the search engines and web crawlers to find you organically. Think of these keywords and keyword phrases as the “seeds” you will plant with the hope of a bountiful harvest [of purchasing customers, of course].

    Are you ready to go organic? Graphic Matter can help you to find the hidden marketing opportunities in each and every page of your site. Give us a call – you may be surprised at the potential you have on your website right now!

    What Can Your Blog Do For You?

    In recent posts we shared information on how best to start a business blog – including tips to help define it’s purpose and audience, and the importance of planning your blog.

    This post will focus on the RESULTS your hope to achieve through your blog. Now that you’ve determined your blog’s purpose [see post #7], what result or results, do you hope to see? For example, if your blog’s purpose is to inform about upcoming events, the result you see might be an increase in attendance. But if the blog’s purpose is to promote a service or product, how will you know if it is effective?

    By defining WHAT you’re looking for, you will also better understand how to measure it.

    For example, while you might not consider a blog to be a typical direct sales tool, you can get a sense of the traffic and conversions that result from your blog simply by tracking the number of visitors to your web site or blog. There are analytic tools such as Google Analytics that provide this service, that are easy to install and use and they are free!

    Do you have a newsletter or catalog that you send to your customers, via email or snail-mail? Include a sign up feature on your blog and track the results. Adding a Contact form to your blog, and making a point of asking new contacts how they learned about your business can also give you data about your blog.

    So remember: plan, plan, plan before your write, write write!

    Now leave a comment on this post to let us know how we’re doing. This will help us to track our results and practice what we preach!

    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!