Marketing

The Three C’s of Copywriting

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 1 comment

The Three C’s of Copywriting

Guest Post by Debra Jason As creative entrepreneurs and business owners, one of the most important tools you have in offering your programs, products or services is the copy you use to communicate your marketing message. (NOTE: To avoid repetition, I’ll refer to “programs, products or services” as “products” throughout this post). To ensure you create a magnetic message that resonates with your ideal client here are three C’s of copywriting to guide you along a successful path. I. CLARITY – 3 things you should get clear on BEFORE you begin to write. 1. Know your product. What is it physically and functionally? What is your goal with your product (i.e., sell more, gain name recognition, build your brand, etc.)? What’s the single strong benefit – the benefit that harnesses the greatest selling power? How will you tap into your prospects’ emotions and “knock their socks off?” To do this, you need to know what problem/challenge/issue your product solves for them. Are they: Stressed out about past due bills they can’t pay? Frustrated with their job, their boss, or co-workers? Frightened because they lost a job and can’t find a new one? 2. Know your audience. Understand the demographics (i.e., age, career, income, marital status, etc.), but don’t forget the psychographics such as: What are their lifestyles like? Is family important to them? Are they cramped for time? Do they use credit cards often? Do they prefer to dine out or stay at home and cook? What motivates your audience? What keeps them up at night? When you know the answers to questions like these you can then feel confident about offering a solution that your product delivers to make their lives easier. 3. What’s your message? How do you help your prospects/customers? What do they get or gain by using your product? Is there an obstacle or barrier that delays them from getting what they want? And, what are the benefits or results they gain from using yourproduct? When you answer these 4 questions, you’ll have the “bones” of your message. Then, you can review and fine tune (sometimes repeatedly) till you have a magnetic message that resonates with your audience. For instance, “I help heart-centered independent business professionals communicate their message in a way that captivates and converts their prospects into loyal, raving fans even if they have been struggling to transform their ideas into words in the past. SO THAT they can attract new clients, SO THAT they can have a better income, SO THAT they can create the freedom-based lifestyle they’ve been dream of… (Notice that the “SO THAT” portion can continue on with benefits/results). II. CONNECT – 3 things to do WHEN writing. 1. Begin with the concerns of your reader. Tell him/her “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). Highlight benefits not features. As a writer, create a picture in your mind of your ideal customer – their lifestyle, their wants/needs, their pains or frustrations. Then, connect with them by identifying with them, put yourself in their shoes...

Read More

7 Good Reasons to Work with a Professional Graphic Designer

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

7 Good Reasons to Work with a Professional Graphic Designer

(Adapted from a 2012 post) I so appreciate entrepreneurs and the courage it takes to launch a new business. The vision it takes. The optimism, commitment, drive, passion, sense of purpose, confidence, resiliency … It can be quite a ride and it’s not for everyone. I especially love the energy that comes with a start-up, and have collaborated with many on their branding and print promotions over the past 20+ years. But I’ve also seen new entrepreneurs neglect the critical step of creating a solid graphic identity as a foundation for their organizations, and end up projecting an embarrassingly unprofessional image right out of the gate. Here are my top 7 reasons to partner with a professional graphic designer: 1.  A professional look and feel communicates quality. It generates trust and credibility. Your graphic identity makes that all-important first impression. Sophisticated audiences recognize, value, and respect quality. If you opt for a homemade look with your own company image, where else might you cut corners in your business practices? Having the right software to do the job is not enough. A solid knowledge of design principles and an eye trained for detail can make your branding and promotions shine. 2.  Collaborating with a professional designer saves you time, freeing you and your staff to do what you do best. Most small businesses can’t ‘do it all’ in-house. An experienced creative partner can help streamline the process of developing marketing materials by interfacing with commercial printers, photographers, and other specialists, and providing project management services as desired. 3.  Hiring a designer can save you money.  An experienced designer can usually hammer out a project quickly and efficiently, having already climbed the learning curves involved. (S)he also has the right tools and skillset for the job and knows where to find the right resources (fonts, graphics, photographers, illustrators, etc.) for your project. 4.  A professional image gets you noticed in a crowded marketplace. A great graphic identity or promotion rises above the noise and clutter to grab attention, pique interest, stoke desire, and prompt action, while making your organization look good. That can’t help but impact your bottom line. 5.  A graphic designer is a professional communicator and problem solver. Clear, strategic, user-friendly layouts, impactful visuals and precise, persuasive language help guide the reader through to acting on your offer. 6.  You get not just ‘production’ but a treasure trove of creative ideas, resources, and inspiration based on broad and deep experience in the world of design and marketing. This includes, not only cool visual approaches and effects, but communication strategies you may not have considered. 7.  Your business is worth it! Your graphic identity is more than your signature…It’s your reputation. A client review:  “I feel Linda was the right choice for me as a start-up business. Her understanding of marketing in general and for Kauai specifically is a great asset. Her patience, guidance, and timely responses have helped me feel comfortable and confident as a new business owner. I would highly recommend Kauai Design Graphics to any new or established business for design and marketing services.”  ...

Read More

The Revenge of Analog

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Revenge of Analog

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter By David Sax Review by MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times, December 5, 2016 Editor’s Note: As one who designs almost exclusively for print, I appreciate the revival of analog ‘technologies.’ Author David Sax reports that the resurgence is not driven so much by the nostalgia of older generations. It’s digitally hard-wired-from-birth young adults embracing real life, low tech, tactile, hands-on experience. Read on. “Sooner or later, everything old is new again,” Stephen King once wrote — an observation that’s never been truer than today. Far from being dead, vinyl records sales rose to $416 million last year, the highest since 1988, and artists like the Black Keys, Lana Del Rey and Beck are eagerly embracing the format. Instant Polaroid-like cameras have caught on among millennials and their younger siblings. A new Pew survey shows that print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats. Old-school paper notebooks and erasable whiteboards are the go-to technology among many Silicon Valley types, and even typewriters are enjoying a renaissance in today’s post-Snowden, surveillance-conscious era. In his captivating new book, The Revenge of Analog, reporter David Sax provides an insightful and entertaining account of this phenomenon, creating a powerful counternarrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world. Mr. Sax argues that analog isn’t going anywhere, but is experiencing a bracing revival that is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex. “Analog experiences can provide us with the kind of real-world pleasures and rewards digital ones cannot, and sometimes analog simply outperforms digital as the best solution.” Pen and paper can give writers and designers a direct means of sketching out their ideas without the complicating biases of software, while whiteboards can bring engineers “out from behind their screens” and entice them “to take risks and share ideas with others.” “The choice we face isn’t between digital and analog,” Mr. Sax asserts. “That simplistic duality is actually the language that digital has conditioned us to: a false binary choice between 1 and 0, black and white, Samsung and Apple. The real world isn’t black or white. It is not even gray. Reality is multicolored, infinitely textured, and emotionally layered.” And it’s often analog — perhaps less efficient, less perfect, less speedy — which best captures those human imperfections, creating a tactile interface with the world. A growing number of artists have noticed that music made on old tape machines and vintage studio equipment sounds different — “more heartfelt, raw, and organic,” in Mr. Sax’s words — than music made with the latest, most sophisticated technology. Listeners, too, as the musician Jack White has observed, find that vinyl has a romance, a magic that doesn’t come with the click of a mouse: “With vinyl, you’re on your knees.” He continued: “You’re at the mercy of the needle. You watch the record spin and it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire. It’s hypnotic.”          ...

Read More

Print Helps Protect Forests

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Print Helps Protect Forests

by Gerry Bonetto for Graphic Design USA, August 2016 There’s a very popular myth out there about the relationship between print on paper and forests. You may have even heard your clients say, “Cutting trees for paper threatens forests.” Lots of people think this. Many companies have even used this myth to motivate customers to switch from paper bills to electronic bills. But the reality is, it’s just not true. Here’s why.   THINK IN TERMS OF “TREE FARMS,” NOT “OLD GROWTH FORESTS”  In the U.S. today, trees are grown as a crop. As Bob Lindgren, President of Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California (PIASC) explains, “When we consume vegetables, whether that be wheat, corn, spinach or broccoli, that farmer is going to grow more wheat, corn, spinach and broccoli. In the same way, if we’re using paper by putting ink on that paper, this means that a tree farmer is going to grow more trees.” Strong wood markets, including the demand created by print, provide an incentive for private foresters to hold their land rather than sell it for other use. With over half of U.S. forestland being privately owned—and 62% of this private land owned by families and individuals—this financial incentive is vital.1 “By using print on paper,” adds Bob, “we are giving that tree farmer income so that they can manage, renew and take care of that forest in a very responsible manner.” MILLIONS OF TREES ARE PLANTED EVERY DAY In spite of the ongoing demand for wood-based products, there are actually more trees in the U.S. today than there were 100 years ago. According to the USDA Forest Service, four million trees are planted every day in the United States. Of this amount, the wood and paper products industry plants an average of 1.7 million trees daily.2 The people who believe that cutting trees for paper threatens forests don’t realize that our industry plants more trees than are used. For every tree that is cut down, three or four are planted. The obvious benefits are huge: cleaner air and less carbon footprint. The benefit is not only from a sustainability standpoint for our environment, but also sustainability for the mills. After all, if the mills are going to cut down trees and never replant, they would be going out of business. CONCLUSION The bottom line is, cutting trees for paper does not threaten forests. The real threat to forests is that people will stop using paper, thereby reducing the market for wood products and making it economically unviable for landowners to continue to grow trees. 1Two Sides North America, Print and Paper: The Facts 2Paper Because, Truth or Fiction?, accessed May 2016 CHOOSE PRINT is an educational campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of print and to reinforce the fact that print on paper is a recyclable and renewable and thus a sustainable environmental choice. Choose Print reports that: •  Only 33% of the fibers used to make paper comes from virgin trees; 33% comes from wood...

Read More

Top Ten Reasons to Use Print

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Top Ten Reasons to Use Print

Guest post by Robert Campbell, Maui Printing Company. Given the rate at which advertisers and marketers have been jumping on electronic media bandwagons these days, it seems that print (still the most effective communication medium thus invented) has to justify itself. The Print Council’s recent “Why Print?” campaign of “Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper” is a case in point. While there are certainly more than 10 reasons for advertisers and marketers to prefer print, we’ve taken a tip from the Print Council and present our own top 10 reasons to use print. 1.  Print Gets Delivered Studies have shown that even requested e-mail marketing is not delivered as much as one-fourth of the time by ISPs’ spam-blocking filters. Yet the Post Office—so-called “snail mail”—boasts 99% deliverability. Imagine: the marketing campaigns you have worked so hard on can actually be delivered! 2.  Print Generates Higher ROI Studies conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and the Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates have found that advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail marketing and sell $2,095 worth of goods per person. That’s an ROI of 13 to 1. And an RIT study found that 67% of respondents said they liked receiving printed mail about products from companies with whom they do business. 3.  Print Drives Other Media Studies have repeatedly found that customers who receive a printed catalog from a given retailer are nearly twice as likely to go to that retailer’s Web site and make a purchase. Print’s role in “multichannel marketing” is a crucial one. 4.  Print Is Credible Print takes time, skill and money to produce. This imparts a sense of importance and credibility to printed messages that electronic media lack. Anyone with a computer can send e-mail; it takes effort to produce a print mailing. 5.  Print Is User-Friendly No one has ever received an error message trying to read a catalog. No one has ever needed to consult a help file to figure out how to use a postcard. Print is the ultimate in user-friendliness. 6.  Print Is Permanent Batteries die, computer screens go black, e-mail gets deleted and disk drives fail. Electronic files are ephemeral, but print endures. 7.  Print Is Portable No one needs a special device or application to use print. Print never suffers from file or platform incompatibility. Flyers, catalogs and brochures are the ultimate in “grab and go” and can be consumed anywhere at any time. And when the power goes out, print will still work. 8.  Print Respects Privacy Print never interrupts someone’s dinner. “Do not call” lists have reduced the effectiveness of telemarketing, and government regulations have made “cold e-mailing” difficult. Print is the perfect medium to open the door to other media, introducing a potential caller or e-mailer. Customers can specify the best time to call, or indicate that they don’t mind receiving e-mail. This “respect for the customer” leads to a more meaningful relationship—and a sale. 9.  Print Is Personal Customized publications and personalized printing can give...

Read More

Six Writing Secrets You’re Born Knowing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Six Writing Secrets You’re Born Knowing

Guest post by John Forde, Copywriter’s Roundtable On my way to the AWAI Copywriting Bootcamp recently, I thought back on just HOW MANY things we’ve covered from that stage. One of the many things my frequent co-presenter, the great Jen Stevens, and I revealed are six “natural born” copywriting secrets. “Natural born” because, far as we could tell, these are the kinds of things you don’t really need to learn… because you know them from birth. What kinds of things? Well, it starts by simply acknowledging to yourself that persuading somebody in print, in video, in real life… is often just about having a keener understanding of what makes humans tick. People are complicated, of course. But we picked these six because seemed to get to the core of what a lot of what we — and you — do when writing copy. Without further ado, here’s the rundown… 1) “THE SPARKING MATCH” At the start the movie The Usual Suspects, Gabriel Byrne’s character touches a cigarette to a book of matches. They spark then flame across. He drops them onto a line of gunpowder and the flames race across a burning shipyard dock. The “natural born” insight? We’re programmed to use little details to help us sort out what’s going on. Which is why using them to tell big stories can help make those stories feel present and real. In copy, we call them “actualities.” And using them judiciously has an added bonus: they can also help fix other copy problems automatically. How so? It turns out that, to pick the most compelling details, you also have to think more clearly about the message you want to convey. 2) USE YOUR “SANTOKU” A Japanese “santoku” knife — you can buy one at any kitchen store — does three things well: It chops, dices, and minces. Imagine if you had a mental santoku you could use to chop, dice, and mince your copywriting projects down to a more manageable size. We know this instinctively, when we tackle all kinds of other projects one thing at a time. The secret many writers don’t reveal is that they often write in small pieces too, rather than in a linear way. 3) THE RIVER OF RELEVANCE While details have value, you still need to make sure it’s only the emotionally relevant details you use. What’s “emotional relevance?” It’s the way your prospect needs to feel to be open to your message. For babies, it’s pretty obvious that feelings trump logic. But the truth is, that natural directive never really goes away. It’s how we select what we’ll listen to and what we’ll ignore. That’s why your sales copy has to take those relevant emotions into consideration too. Don’t seek to MAKE a prospect feel. Look for — and return to — those details, metaphors, and stories that connect to emotions your reader is already likely to have. 4) SLAY THE BLOATED MONSTER William Zinsser warns about “bloated monsters that lie in ambush for the...

Read More

Recipe for a Perfect Logo (infographic)

Posted by on Jul 25, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Recipe for a Perfect Logo (infographic)

Image credit: David Joyce | FLICKR Original blog post: Kim LaChance Shandrow | ENTREPRENEUR Close your eyes and imagine Apple’s logo. Now think of Nike’s. How about Target’s? We’re willing to bet that you conjured up images for each in your mind’s eye in less than a second or so. They’re that memorable. As you can see, logos are so much more than simple symbols. They’re epic icons. Logos are the face of your company, the deliverers of the all-important lasting impression, crucial visual representations of your business, what you do and what you’re about. Accordingly, the utmost care and meticulousness should be taken when designing yours. If you already have a logo, the same goes for redesigning it. Spare no attention to detail. Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Company’s Logo From the font to the color, to the use of negative space and beyond, the aesthetic elements of a logo greatly impact how your company (and its offerings) are perceived by customers. Does it attract them or repel them? Does it stand out or fade into the background? Does it distinctly identify your brand or confuse it with your competitors? These are all critical questions to ask during the research and design phase, but far from the only ones, only a smattering of the main ingredients for the master recipe for cooking up a successful logo. Check out the famous logo-packed CompanyFolders infographic below for a complete list of specific, actionable tips and ideas to help you design the best logo possible for your brand.   Need help with your organization’s ‘signature?’ Logo design is one of our favorite kinds of projects. Let Kauai Design help make it shine!   Be Sociable,...

Read More

The Power of Branding

Posted by on Jun 28, 2015 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Power of Branding

17 selected quotes on the nature and impacts of a solid brand identity MICHAEL EISNER. “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” STEVE FORBES.  “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” UNKNOWN. “Your entire company should be considered your branding department.” MALCOLM FORBES. “There is just no way any management with any intelligence and foresight cannot recognize the value of a corporate image. It is the best, single marketable investment that a company can make.” SCOTT COOK. “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” JEFF BEZOS. “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” KIM TIMOTHY. “A brand is how one customer describes your business to another.” CHRISTOPHER BETZTER. Brand equity is the sum of all the hearts and minds of every single person that comes into contact with your company.” SCOTT TALGO. “A brand that captures your mind gains behavior. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.” ZIG ZIGLAR. “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” PAUL RAND.  “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” DAVID AAKER. “Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.” AL REIS & LAURA REIS. “What is the single most important objective of the marketing process? We believe it’s the process of branding. Marketing is building a brand in the mind of the prospect.” SCOTT BEDBURY. “A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product.” KEVIN THOMSON. “Organizations in the future will manage feelings, beliefs, perceptions and values – the asset of emotional capital – as the hidden resources with the power to translate people’s knowledge into positive action.” CHARLES R. PETTIS III. “A brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational and cultural image that you associate with a company or product.” UNKNOWN. “The three key rules of marketing are brand recognition, brand recognition, brand recognition.” For more on branding, see Brand Thinking, The Right time to Rebrand, Branding Your Organization, and Your Organization’s Image   Be Sociable,...

Read More

Social Media Images That Work

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Social Media Images That Work

by James Johnson, ShareAsImage.com If you’ve been looking to supercharge your social media strategy, you probably know a lot about the benefits of using images. But, how much do you know about actually creating scientifically shareable images? Turns out, there’s tons of actionable, research-backed advice on how to create social media images that get shared—the ideal colors, fonts, text, and more, all leveraging what we know about design, psychology and the Internet to get more shares and engagement. By the end of this article you’re going to be fully aware of how to make images that your readers can’t help but share. All backed by science.   What Makes A Shareable Social Media Image? A shareable social media image is made up of five components: Emotion: When your readers feel it, they’ll share it. Relevance: Your image should not only fit your niche, but fit your audience too. Colors: Using the right colors, to get maximum shares. Typography: Choosing a font that not only looks good, but also says what you’re trying to say. Hashtags and Text: Using the right words, phrases and hashtags that will make your audience interact. In the article you’re going to learn how you can take advantage of all of these elements, and put them together to create the best social images you possibly can. 1. Emotion Create Epic Content (Or Nobody Will Share It) Before I carry on, there’s one thing I do need to mention: You need to treat your images as content. And not just any sort of content. I mean the epic kind, that’s going to add a ton of value to your reader’s life. Because that’s the only content people share, right? If you’re creating images because you feel you need to – and just scatter them throughout your news feed – you’re not going to get anywhere. Your images should:    Back up points you’ve made    Show statistics    Provide tweetable (or valuable) quotes    Add depth    Go above and beyond the content you’ve written So, be sure that the images you use – or make – aren’t just there for the sake of it. Treat them as content and put a high value on what goes on them. What Makes An Image Emotional (And Shareable)? Emotion is the biggest piece of the sharing puzzle. And it’s the driving force behind all five points on this list – so it deserves a lot of attention. So, what makes an image emotional? As it turns out, there are a lot of factors: Color: Studies of abstract art have shown that the way color is used and distributed across a piece controls the emotions you feel. For example, black creates feelings at the despair end of the spectrum and bright primary colors can create joy and happiness. Font Choice: You’ll learn about this in depth in section four. Complexity: This isn’t complex designs – more on that next – but emotionalcomplexity. Research shows that the more feelings your images can convey,the more viral it will go. Showing one of these five things: Research from Harvard studied what makes marketing campaigns, and their images, go viral. They found that: Admiration, Interest, Serenity, Amazement and Astonishment were the most shared...

Read More

10 Proven Persuasion Strategies

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

10 Proven Persuasion Strategies

A guest post by John Forde, Copywriter’s Roundtable Persuasion, the good kind, isn’t about manipulation. It’s about tapping into those natural instincts we all have for self-preservation, and aligning those interests in somebody else with your own. Does that mean there are “click, whir” built-in triggers you can use to persuade? It does. Here’s a checklist with a few… ROUND UP THE HERD Teenagers all want to wear the same sneakers, only the crowded clubs seem cool, everybody wants an iPod. What is it about humans that they love to run with the herd? Trigger this response with statements about how many customers you’ve had so far, how orders have poured in, how high you rank in popularity compared to the competition. THE BUDDY BUMP You can “bump” up the likability of your product if friends, authorities, or even similar customers give your product a conspicuous nod of approval. Include pictures of people like your prospect using the product, tell the down-to-earth success stories of those similar customers. This technique is everywhere for a reason. FORCE THE POSITIVE Ask a question, any question, that’s going to get a “yes” response. And ask it early. Relevant questions may work even better, but research shows that almost any time you can get someone to say “yes,” they’re much more receptive to the rest of what you have to say. Just saying the word has a bond-building effect on both people in the exchange. IRRESISTIBLE CONSISTENCY We hate to be seen as inconsistent, simply because consistency is key to building trust in a relationship. Which is why so many who use the “yes” technique above ask small questions that they know they’ll later refer back to so they can get a larger commitment. e.g. “There’s nothing like ice cream on a hot summer day, am I right? It’s one of the sweetest memories any child could have.” And later, “You agreed with me about the cool satisfaction of a cone of ice cream in summer, I’m sure. Or you wouldn’t have read this far. That’s why I want to show you the new auto-cranking ice cream maker from…” THE BECAUSE CLAUSE Dr. Robert Cialdini found, in one of his studies, that dropping the word “because” into a rationale — even for an explanation that’s irrational — had the strange effect of getting people to respond to even unusual requests. In his case, his students used the trick to get other students to surrender the copy machine in the library. (e.g. “Can I jump in front of you and copy these 25 pages in my book? I need to because my parrot has dysentery…”) MAINTAIN THE MYSTERY No matter how cliché you think it is, teases and opportunities that are “hidden”… “undiscovered”… and “secret” have pulling power. Secrets capitalize on our fear of missing out or not being included. Shared secrets (real ones) help develop bonds. ACHILLES HEEL Have you ever noticed how the comedians that make fun of themselves make us laugh harder and...

Read More

Lessons from Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 0 comments

Lessons from Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Guest Post by Catherine Clifford Entrepreneur.com November 30, 2014   If you aren’t already an entrepreneur, you might become one by the time you leave Burning Man — in some shape or form. You won’t make money in the desert; the exchange of money isn’t allowed at the annual, weeklong arts festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. But you will have created something for someone. You will have seen a need and met it. You will have innovated a solution to a problem or decided to spontaneously create a new service or product for yourself and your fellow Burners (that’s what attendees are called). And that energy, that entrepreneurial spirit, is priceless. It’s what so many management consultants charge top dollar right now to bring to stuffy corporate offices. As a business owner, it may not be feasible to take your entire company out to the desert to get them to start thinking more entrepreneurially. So, what is it that Burning Man has? How can you set the stage so that kind of innovation will grow in your community, business or brain? Related: Think Like A Startup: Look for Ideas Everywhere, Be Decisive. Image credit: Jared Mechaber Whether your goal is to get your creative juices flowing, or to facilitate a more experimental and productive workplace, you need to start by eliminating unnecessary regulations and burdensome structure. At Burning Man, “an entrepreneurial spirit is going to come to the forefront very easily because there aren’t a lot of rules, but there is opportunity,” Harley K. Dubois, a co-founder of the event, told Entrepreneur earlier this fall at The Feast, a social innovation conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. In the nearly three decades that the Burning Man festival has been around, 10 philosophical principles have emerged as guideposts for behavior in the community. But there aren’t expectations or schedules. The community self-regulates, encouraging creativity and discouraging judgment. “It is unrealistic to think people aren’t going to judge. People are people and they do, but when they do and somebody calls you on it, you have to reflect on yourself,” says Dubois. Related: Indiegogo Co-Founder: When What It Means to Be a Fearless Entrepreneur Changes Burning Man, like entrepreneurship, is an event that requires equal parts organization and whimsy. Festival participants — of whom there are tens of thousands — dress in elaborate costumes and spend significant amounts of time and money preparing accommodations for their stay in the desert. They have to bring everything they’ll need to camp out in the desert and, at the end of their stay, clean up so that the desert is exactly as it was. Participatory art installations dot the landscape of the “playa,” as the area used for the festival is called, and the weeklong celebration culminates in a massive structure of some sort being burned. Part of the entrepreneurial culture at Burning Man, says Dubois, is that there are no repercussions or penalties for failure when you are out in the middle of the desert. “Failure is part of it. I mean, you...

Read More

Borderless Layouts

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Borderless Layouts

bleed (n.)  In the printing world, a ‘bleed’ is an extension of the artwork 1/8″ or so beyond the outside dimensions of the layout, to be trimmed after printing. The design, including bleed, is printed on oversized paper to allow for trimming afterwards. This way the ink runs all the way to the edges and cleanly ‘bleeds’ off the page. Bleeds are necessary because printers can’t print all the way to the edges of the paper. If you don’t have the luxury of a bleed, you typically have to reduce the size of your full page layout a bit and live with uneven white margins. Your impeccable design can end up looking amateurish and unattractive. So what do you do? Disconnecting the edges of the design from the edges of the page can minimize the white border effect while giving your layout a more compelling look and feel. Here are some alternate approaches…   The variations shown above are just a sampling of many possible layouts that eliminate the need for bleed, by uncoupling the design’s edges from the page’s edges. (Crisis Outreach is a fictional organization.) Be Sociable,...

Read More

In Print We Trust

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 1 comment

In Print We Trust

Last year when I helped my Cousin Cindy create her new logo, we started with my usual logo questionnaire. Now we’re collaborating on a brochure to showcase and promote her consulting services. She expected to start with a questionnaire for that too. I don’t have one. But I did unearth this buried old post from a 2006 Graphics Grapevine  that 1) summarizes some benefits of having a printed promotional piece to share with a potential client, and 2) suggests possible content to include.   The first bullet got me wondering anew about the trust factor (or credibility) of information shared in print vs. online communications. Gordon Kaye, publisher of Graphic Design USA writes (emphasis mine): “Print uniquely engages the emotions and stimulates the senses with its classic strengths of permanence, tangibility, sensuality and physicality. Print is hot and touchable, rich and textured, held and felt, in contrast to the cool and ephemeral nature of the Internet … Print feels more trustworthy and credible than other media, and the very tangibility and permanence suffuses the content–and the content creator–with a sense of authenticity.” What’s credible or trustworthy or authentic about the printed page? Kaye goes on: “The message feels real, it looks real, it springs from an identifiable source, a real person, a real location, an act of craftsmanship, an intelligence to which one can relate, a human connectedness.  And the result is something visible, permanent, touchable, an archive, a reference, a resource that does not arrive via thin air and will not disappear into thin air. “ A March 7, 2014 Wall Street Journal article theorized that Americans are “renewing their relationship with paper,” particularly for special, important or personalized communications. The relative rarity of print is beginning to imbue it with heightened potential and power when the message demands an emotional connection, authenticity and permanence.  Graphic Design USA periodically surveys its subscribers about the place of print media in the communications mix. Here are a few observations made by graphic designers working in the trenches: “People still want to touch and hold paper products as it is more immediate. It is more personal, like a meeting or a conversation.”  -Tim Spruill, Tim Spruill Creative “Inherent in paper is a certain credibility and accountability.”  -Craig P. Brenard, Craig Communications “People still like print. I want to walk away from my computer at the end of the day and relax with a real printed magazine, newspaper or book. The medium is still part of the message.”  -Judith Dollar, Jude Studios “Paper appeals to the new ‘maker’ generations we see growing in numbers, though in admittedly online commoditized spaces like Etsy…Paper is present with us, in our space, in the real world.”  -Adrian Constantyn, MeMyself&Co. Design “Printed materials don’t require ‘special devices’ to access them.”  -Greg Gilpin, Graphic Art Center, Oklahoma City “Reading print is easier than reading on a screen.” -Barbara Moser, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa FL “Unlike mobile or computers, I cannot find the ‘off button’ on the brochure that has been sitting on my kitchen table for weeks. Its work ethic is outstanding. 24/7 and without even asking...

Read More

High Touch

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

High Touch

In my 18 years as a professional graphic designer, I’ve felt many times that I ‘should’  move into web design, but resisted.  (Whose voice is that anyway?) The programming aspects of web development are not a good fit for me, for one thing. But even more, I love the look and feel  of the printed page—how it engages multiple  senses and is so enduring compared to the fleeting, virtual world of pixels on a screen. I am even more kinesthetic than I am visual (perhaps unexpected in a graphic designer) or auditory. I learn best hands-on and am most strongly rewarded by movement and touch. So tactile engagement works for me. And I am not alone. Graphic Design USA magazine recently put out an issue focused on product packaging that spoke my language. “Humans were designed to touch and feel. Print—an extremely tactile media—caters to this need,” writes Gerry Bonetto, of the Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California. Maybe the pendulum never swung as far as we thought from high touch to high tech. Four years ago, five major magazine companies—Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, Time Inc., and Wenner Media—launched one of the largest print advertising campaigns ever, to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium (See below). It was published in 90+ magazines reaching 112 million readers per month. The goal? To “reshape the broader conversation about magazines, challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity, and reinforce magazines’ important cultural role.” The ‘Magazines’ logo, created by Y&R NY, combines the distinctive typographies of multiple magazine logos. How many can you identify? (Answers: M from Time, A from Vanity Fair, G from Rolling Stone, A from Entertainment Weekly, Z from Harper’s Bazaar, I from Marie Claire, N from Fortune, and ES from Esquire) Bonetto goes on to share the latest data on print vs. other forms of media: “Print not only provides a warm and friendly experience that no other medium offers, it also offers a sense of permanence that simply feels more trustworthy.” Recent studies show that consumers find print ads quite a bit more trustworthy than those they see online. While 60% of consumers trust newspaper and magazine ads, just 48% trust search advertising or online video ads, and only 42% find online banner ads worthy of their trust (1) Another recent study shows that newspaper ads rank noticeably higher than ads on radio, TV or online-only sites when it comes to measures of advertising effectiveness such as “usually notice ads” and “likely to purchase.” (2) Magazines outperform TV and online for critical purchase drivers such as brand awareness, brand favorability and brand purchase intent. (3) Social media—the darling of the marketing world—may not be that darling after all. In a 2014 study of more than 1,700 social media marketers, less than 8% were actually happy with their efforts and 21% were so dissatisfied that they’re ready to replace their social spend with more traditional buys. (4) (1) Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, Sept. 2013 (2) Nielsen, 2013 National Cross-Media Engagement...

Read More

How to Create Advertising that Sells

Posted by on Apr 12, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

How to Create Advertising that Sells

By David Ogilvy [Editor’s Note: David Ogilvy has been called “the original Mad Man.”  Read and heed his now classic advice, originally shared in an agency ad from the 1960’s. As a student of copywriting, David Ogilvy was required reading. Take it away, Mr. Ogilvy…] Ogilvy & Mather has created over $1,480,000,000 worth of advertising. Here, with all the dogmatism of brevity are 38 of the things we have learned. 1.  The most important decision. We have learned that the effect of your advertising on your sales depends more on this decision than on any other: how should you position your product? Should you position Schweppes as a soft drink – or as a mixer?  Should you position Dove as a product for dry skin or as a product which gets hands really clean?  The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than how your product is positioned.  It follows that positioning should be decided before the advertising is created.  Research can help.  Look before you leap. 2.  Large promise. The second most important decision is this:  what should you promise the customer?  A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan.  It is a benefit for the consumer.  It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the benefit your promise.  Most advertising promises nothing.  It is doomed to fail in the marketplace.  ”Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement”  – said Samuel Johnson. 3.  Brand image. Every advertisement should contribute to the complex symbol which is the brand image.  95% of all advertising is created ad hoc.  Most products lack any consistent image from one year to another.  The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand gets the largest share of the market. 4.  Big ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. It takes a big idea to jolt the consumer out of his indifference – to make him notice your advertising, remember it and take action. Big ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: “this problem, when solved, will be simple.” Big, simple ideas are not easy to come by. They require genius – and midnight oil. A truly big one can be continued for 20 years – like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts. 5.  A first-class ticket. It pays to give most products an image of quality – a first-class ticket. Ogilvy & Mather  has been conspicuously successful in doing this – for Pepperidge, Hathaway, Mercedes Benz, Schweppes, Dove and others. If your advertising looks ugly, consumers will conclude that  your product is shoddy and they will be less likely to buy it. 6.  Don’t be a bore. Nobody was ever bored into buying a product. Yet most advertising is impersonal, detached, cold – and dull. It pays to involve the customer. Talk to her like a human being....

Read More

The Psychology of Storytelling

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Marketing | 2 comments

The Psychology of Storytelling

10 PROVEN WAYS TO CREATE BETTER STORIES (AND WHY STORIES SELL) Guest post by Gregory Ciatti  Stories are a very integral part of being persuasive. You’d think that as a guy that loves research and data, I’d be averse to storytelling as a whole. As a marketer though, I can’t be: those in sales and marketing have known for a long time that stories trump data when it comes to persuasion because stories are easier to understand and relate to. Are you incorporating stories into your copy? Are you utilizing them on your blog? WHY YOU NEED TO INCORPORATE STORYTELLING Storytelling works. But a lot of folks are averse to telling stories because they believe that “the facts” are the most persuasive pieces of content they can deliver. It’s not. How you say something is just as important as what you are saying. While we are all often resistant to the idea of being told what to do, we are very susceptible to agreeing with the “moral of the story” due to how it is presented to us. HOW STORIES AFFECT THE MIND The reason that stories work so well on us is that we are susceptible to getting “swept up” in both their message and in the manner of their telling. Quite literally, stories are able to transport our mind to another place, and in this place we may embrace things we’d likely scoff at in the “harsh, real world”. Think about this example: You’ll often see politicians create a “story” for their campaign, and focus a lot of their efforts speaking with the public in crafting and standing by these stories. Creating the story of “tough guy who is harsh on crime and supports states rights” is easier to understand than discussing the complexities of how the administration plans to actually tackle the crime rate. You see this being utilized every day on platforms as big as TED talks to speeches by world leaders. Instead of only discussing the “information”, they begin talks with phrases like, “Imagine if you will…” Stories help sell arguments of all types. HOW TO CREATE BETTER STORIES The #1 trait of a persuasive story is how “engaging” the story is. A study conducted by Green & Brock addresses just what makes a story engaging. 1.) Suspense Our brain just can’t “get over” suspenseful moments: it’s a relationship that just won’t die, we will always want to know what happens next! In fact, suspense works so well that the hotly debated Zeigarnik Effect would have you believe that it’s the best way to kill procrastination. Research in that area seems to point to humans being much more inclined to finish something that has already been started (researchers interrupted people doing “brain buster” tasks before they could complete them… nearly 90% of people went on to finish the task anyway, despite being told they could stop). Suspense in stories really allows you to create addictive content, as long as the suspense appears early enough...

Read More

Surprises in the ‘Negative Space’

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Many of these have made the rounds, but on the heels of a recent blog post referencing surprise design elements in the ‘negative space,’ here are some playful logo examples:   CIRCUS OF MAGAZINES   Circus tent doubles as open magazine. FLIGHT FINDER   Mirrored ‘F’s’  create plane silhouette SPARTAN GOLF CLUB   Golfer’s swing creates Spartan helmet shape FOOD WRITERS GUILD   Writing and food come together with the spoon/pen nib ED’S ELECTRIC   The ‘E’ joins the electrical plug and socket ART PEAK   The pencil point doubles as a ‘peak.’ FED EX  The arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’ implies action BASKIN ROBBINS   (Thirty one) …derful flavors! NORTHWEST AIRLINES   The circle is a compass with the arrow pointing __________? PITTSBURGH ZOO & PPG AQUARIUM   A gorilla and lioness face each other in profile. MILWAUKEE BREWERS   The baseball glove is formed by an “M” and a “B.”   Be Sociable,...

Read More

The Right Time to Rebrand

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 1 comment

The Right Time to Rebrand

Editor’s note: I’m in the thick of a rebranding project for a client. Of the 8 Good Reasons to Rebrand (below) 5-6 might  apply to them. What about your organization?   By Mike Wicks  (previously published in Douglas magazine, Victoria BC  •  re-printed with author’s permission) When it comes to rebranding, there can be big risks and big rewards — and timing is everything. When a press release about the rebranding of Accent Inns hit my inbox recently, it made me think about the do’s and don’t of changing, or updating, your brand image. Many people are under the impression that you should never tinker with your brand for fear of losing customers who might no longer recognize the new you. Several years ago, I helped rebrand a town, a golf course, and a Chamber of Commerce, all successfully, so I thought I would share with you some rebranding tips. First, let’s remind ourselves what constitutes a brand. Essentially, a brand is the sum total of what people see and feel about us when they see our corporate image, our marketing materials, and when they interact with us. Budget or high-end? Friendly or formal? Like it or not, people have preconceived feelings — good, bad, or indifferent — about us based on our brand. Internally, a brand is the visual representation of our corporate culture, our philosophy, and the standards that form the basis of our brand image. When I rebranded the town of Golden, it was suffering from an image problem because people felt the downtown core was not attractive. However, Golden is special because it’s surrounded by some of the best outdoor recreation in North America, so out went “Town of Opportunity” and in came “Kicking Horse Country.” This helped prospective visitors focus on Golden as a place to experience outdoor adventure, not to walk along main street. GOOD REASONS TO REBRAND There are more good reasons to rebrand than bad ones, but the most important reason to rebrand is when your current brand is confusing, or worse, misleading your current or prospective customers. Rebranding is not something you do because you want to, it’s because your customers need or want it. Let’s take a look at Accent Inns: they thought their brand was working, but when they decided to renovate their inns and held focus groups to find out what potential customers really thought, they were shocked. Mandy Farmer, CEO, thought customers would immediately recognize that the inns were affordable but also high quality, eco-aware, socially responsible, locally owned, one of the best places to work, and above all else “cool.”  She was crushed to discover the focus group thought Accent Inns was an “American bottom-of-the-barrel budget motel line.” If any of you have ever stayed at an Accent Inns, you’ll know how very far from the truth this is. The misleading red, white, and blue logo was changed to softer blues and orange (to correspond to the B.C. flag) and its edges were rounded for...

Read More

The Golden Key of Persuasion

Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

The Golden Key of Persuasion

Excerpted from Gary Bencivenga’s Marketing Bullet #25  •  www.marketingbullets.com As Aristotle said about the art of persuasion, “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.”  Nothing persuades as quickly, effectively, memorably, or permanently as a well-crafted metaphor. With a good metaphor, you fuse at the hip two different things and, by a mysterious alchemy, instantly transfer the qualities of one into the other. Good metaphors are wizardry that work real magic in your prospects’ minds. That’s because this process of transferring the qualities of one thing into another takes place instantly, bypassing critical analysis and resistance. All you do is compare A to B in an effective way and voila! your point is made instantly without disagreement. This can make you a magician of persuasion! Let’s say you are writing about the wisdom of starting early to invest for retirement. You could write a sleep-inducing treatise on the subject. But look at how effectively master investor Warren Buffett does it—with a simple metaphor… “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Or consider Ben Franklin on the wisdom of frugality… “Small leaks sink great ships.” Do you see how tight, how irrefutable, how powerful such arguments are when phrased in an apt metaphor? They yield instant agreement, and that is their magic. Muhammad Ali in his prime was as quick as his left jab. In prefight banter with reporters, Ali could verbally out-shadowbox even the cleverest reporters, leaving them laughing with metaphors like these: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” A personal story: When Pauline and I were young, we came upon an adorable little cottage for sale on a little bluff overlooking the ocean. We fell in love with it. We bought it, signing a contract to close in May. We couldn’t wait for our dream summer at the beach. But as the closing date drew near, the scheming seller realized he could make even more money if he rented the cottage out to someone else for the summer, so he insisted that he had to postpone our closing until mid-September. “No way!” howled my lawyer. And then he lowered the boom on the seller’s gambit with this telling metaphor: “You want to sell Gary and Pauline a toy store on the day after Christmas. No fair!”  The seller caved; we closed in May and enjoyed the first of many enchanting summers in our cottage by the sea. Your richest sources of metaphor include the Bible, fairy tales, sports, the movies—any source of images that we all know by heart. And I do mean “by heart,” because the mere mention of certain images will automatically trigger in your audience powerful emotions they already harbor, which often enables you to persuade instantly. For example, when writing to investors, I would shamelessly massage their greed glands...

Read More

Brand Thinking

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Brand Thinking

Excerpts from Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, by Debbie Millman Debbie Millman is a design visionary who has shaped global brands like Pepsi, Gillette, Colgate, Campbell’s and Nestle. She has authored several other books (including How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer) and hosts a weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet,“Design Matters.” She is President Emeritus of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design, a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In her latest book, Millman interviews 22 thought leaders in the fields of marketing strategy, corporate identity, design, art, anthropology and related disciplines, extracting nuggets of insight from a veritable ‘who’s who’ of branding professionals. Their dialogues explore human nature in relationship with the material world, why we make the choices we do as consumers, and why we affiliate and identify with symbols. They examine the role that branding plays in society, politics, economics, psychology and technology and consider why, in this age of infinite choice, brand remains more essential than ever in advertising, marketing and public relations. Millman writes, “Ask anyone in the world what the definition of BRAND is and you will likely get a different answer every time. Why is that? Brand is a squishy word with a lot of associations and meanings.” Here’s a sampling of what her interviewees offered up as definitions and observations about branding in the 21st century: WALLY OLINS   Branding is a profound manifestation of the human condition. It is about belonging: belonging to a tribe, to a religion, to a family. Branding demonstrates that sense of belonging. It has this function for both the people who are part of the same group and also for the people who don’t belong…I need to belong. And when I belong, telegraphing this affiliation demonstrates loyalty, affection, and the durability of my relationship. It’s not cerebral at all. It’s visceral. We don’t even know we are doing it. The commercial, anthropological, and sociological branding process that professionals engage in now creates visceral distinctions to evoke immediate responses in people. GRANT MCCRACKEN   Branding is a process of meaning manufacture that begins with the biggest, boldest gestures of the corporation and works its way down to the tiniest gestures.   PHIL DUNCAN   A brand is something you have an unexplained, emotional connection to. A brand gives you a sense of familiarity. STANLEY HAINSWORTH   A brand is an entity that engenders an emotional connection with a consumer. Every brand has a story, whether it’s the founder’s story or the brand’s reason for being. Some brands have never told their story well, or have lost their story. CHERYL SWANSON   A brand is a product with a compelling story—a brand offers “quintessential qualities” for which the consumer believes there is absolutely no substitute. Brands are totems. They tell us stories about our place in culture—about where we are and where we’ve been. They also...

Read More

FAQ’s

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

FAQ’s

We don’t know what we don’t know, right? And being in the dark about a process or a discipline can keep us from taking advantage of its many benefits. So, if you’re considering an upgrade to your organization’s graphic identity or advertising strategy or packaging, here’s what others in your shoes have asked about how things work at Kauai Design. Q:  I don’t know where to start. How does this work? A:  Part of my job is to take the ‘overwhelm’ factor out of the process. I offer a free consultation to explore your needs and wants and discuss possible directions. Once the conversation gets started, juicy, creative ideas typically bubble up to inspire and feed the process. My 17 years of experience gives me a broad and deep perspective on solutions that you may not have even considered. Kauai Design has professional relationships with local printers, sign makers and publishers and can shepherd your job though the printing / fabrication process or prepare it for publication. To get started, just call me. Q:  I know exactly what I want. Can you help me bring my ideas to life? A:   I love working with clients who know what they want. Nobody knows your business and your clientele like you do, and you probably have ideas about what could take you to the next level. You can be as active in the creative process as you like, or just share your vision and turn me loose to flesh out your concept. When appropriate, we may invite an illustrator, photographer or web developer into the collaboration. Q:  What’s the process and what do you need from me? A:  I start by gathering all the information I can related to your objectives, the ‘look’ you’re after, and your positioning in the marketplace. If it feels like a fit, we move forward with a written project proposal, which includes a cost estimate, project timeline, scope of services and a list of any graphic or text files to be provided by you. A signed proposal and a 50% deposit gets you on the production calendar and off we go. I stay in close communication throughout the project, and you have multiple opportunities for input and feedback. Q:  How do you charge? A:  The initial consultation (up to 1/2 hour on the phone or 1 hour face-to-face) is free. You get an estimate in writing before we begin. Though I may quote a flat rate on a large or complex project, most smaller jobs are estimated at the hourly rate of $80. Along with the more tangible (and billable) design and production services provided, you are also likely to benefit from the ideas, experience, education, expertise, writing skills, contacts, design resources, and local market knowledge that I bring to the table. Q:  Why is professional graphic design important to my business?  A:  Your visual identity serves as the solid foundation on which to build your business and makes that all-important first impression. It communicates quality to your customers and generates trust and...

Read More

Benefits 101

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Benefits 101

Three or four years ago, I invested many, many hours in sales copy writing self-study courses. Clayton Makepeace was my first teacher. I recently re-discovered this gem of a post, “Benefits 101” (from THE TOTAL PACKAGE, 9/27/2010), and I’m sharing the complete “semester” here. One of the first things a new copywriter learns is to emphasize, not the  features of a product, but its benefits. This crash course takes benefits many layers deep. If you have a product or service or even a cause to promote, read on. Thanks for everything, Clayton!   Benefits 101 Let’s start with four basic facts … Every product has features: Features are merely objective facts about a product (or the company behind it). In three-dimensional products, features include size, shape, weight, construction, color options and more.In information products, features include number of pages, size, frequency of publication (for periodicals) and the types of information that are presented. Fortunately, most features are there for a darned good reason: Prospects don’t want features. They want you to change their lives for the better. Product features are merely the means to that end. That means features can have a place in ad copy – like telling prospects how many issues they’ll get per year … how many big pages are in your book … or that your widget is made from carbon steel for strength or carbon fiber for lightness.Beyond that, features are a yawn because they’re about the product; not about the prospect. Or, as in the examples above, they can help demonstrate how your product delivers a benefit. The good news is, just about every product fact – every feature – is there to provide a benefit that your prospect IS willing to pay for. There are more benefits associated with each product feature than are dreamt of by most copywriters: Benefits are like bunny rabbits: Give them a little time and they’ll begin multiplying – each benefit or combination of benefits producing one, two, three or more new benefits you never thought about before. The secret to kick-butt sales copy is to identify each and every benefit a product provides – and then to look at each benefit and ask, “What does THAT do for me? What additional benefits does that benefit provide?” Your prospect has strong feelings about every dimensionalized benefit you present: Connecting each fully dimensionalized product benefit with a strong emotion that your prospect already has about the benefit (or the lack of it in his/her life) makes sales copy irresistible. Benefits that sing and soar – in five simple steps Here’s a little exercise to help you drill down to the benefits prospects are willing to pay for … fully dimensionalize those benefits … and then connect those benefits with powerful response-boosting emotions that your prospect already has about those benefits (or the lack of them) in his life. By the time you’re through, you will have a complete list of company and product features … you will have squeezed every possible benefit out of those features … you will have fully dimensionalized those benefits … and you will have connected...

Read More

The Power of Story

Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 1 comment

The Power of Story

Originally published October 31, 2012 in The Garden Island newspaper (Kauai, HI), this article is specific to my other work, facilitating groups at the YWCA. Yet it illustrates how story can deliver a powerful message about most anything, and indirectly but deeply influence an audience. Experience teaches, not words. But sometimes words remind us of what we already know — the truths that we know not just in our head, but in our body, in our soul, in our DNA. Story works on that primitive level of consciousness. October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it’s important to recognize those that are suffering and those who are working towards healing. When an adult is convicted and sentenced for abuse of a family or household member (spouse or former spouse) the State of Hawai‘i requires participation in a 26-week domestic violence intervention or batterer intervention program. The YWCA’s Alternatives to Violence (ATV) Program has been meeting or exceeding the state standards for treatment since 1985. The skill-building curriculum of the ATV Program is rich with content for the mind, but it’s the stories that are the heart of the program. The group process allows participants to learn, not only from their own experiences, but from each other’s. The program’s rolling admission policy means that people can start when they’re ready, and that newcomers fold in with group members who already have months of practice with life skills such as: • managing their negative feelings • communicating in assertive and respectful ways • adjusting their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in relationship to others • being accountable for their actions New arrivals can benefit from the experience of these “uncles,” as someone new to substance abuse treatment can benefit from the “experience, strength and hope” of those who’ve gone before them in recovery. Clients have typically been through a long legal process by the time they’re court-ordered to ATV, and understandably come into treatment with a defensive mindset. They may feel like victims of the system, or their partners, or both. It’s often late in the 26-week program that “the light comes on” and a shift in attitude and behavior happens. This involves taking responsibility for their part in creating their circumstances. Only then can the real work of recovery begin. Cutting corners on the 52 hours (26 weeks) of treatment required by the state judiciary can mean cutting offenders loose before the light even comes on. Clients may still be going through the motions when they “graduate” from a short program, paying lip service to teachings without working the program. Change takes time. And practice. And motivation. In the case of “Kimo” (all names have been changed to protect confidentiality), motivation came from catching himself behaving like his own abusive father, something he swore he would never do. He was determined to break the cycle of abuse, and voluntarily enrolled in the ATV Program. He practiced “re-thinking instead of re-acting,” as he put it, and developed patience and understanding he never...

Read More

Why Ask Why?

Posted by on Sep 3, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 4 comments

Why Ask Why?

Guest post by John Forde. Excerpted from  Copywriter’s Roundtable  7.24.12   Why ask why? Because it could be the single best way to inspire anybody — prospects, co-workers, or otherwise — to do anything. Let’s say you have a circle in front of you. In the center, you write that question…”Why?” Around that, draw another circle. It will look like the start of dartboard, only in this next circle you’ll write “How?” Around that, draw a third circle and in this one write “What?” Working from the outside in, most people know “what” they do or want to do in a business life or other venture. Telling your customers the same is pretty basic stuff, and not all that exciting. Most people also have some idea of “how” they do what they do or how they intend to do it, technically speaking. But that, too, isn’t the information that’s going to make either you or your prospects want to jump their metaphorical motorbikes over metaphorical swimming pools filled with flesh-eating goldfish. When you ask “why,” however, you get to the root of your existence…as in why are you here in the first place? It’s a chance to expose the things you believe in and therein…to inspire others too. The average organization presents themselves and communicates from the outside of these three circles inward, as in: What we are… How we do it… Why we do it… But inspired leaders, simply work from the outside in, like this: Why we’re doing this… How we do it… What we do as a result… Suddenly, it’s not just a thing in front of you. It’s a belief that gives you [and others] a vision of that belief in action. People DON’T buy what you do. They buy WHY you do it. TED speaker, Simon Sinek, calls this the “Golden Circle.” And, he says, it’s not just a nifty way to explain inspirational communication. It’s biology. Your brain is actually built this way, so that on the outer level you’ve got the part of your brain that handles all the logical, rational stuff. Here, people can understand lots of facts and figures. They can evaluate your lists of features and benefits. They can “get” the mechanisms you use to do what you do. But none of this is tied to action. For that you’ve got to move more toward the limbic center, where your brain is all about gut-reactions, feelings of trust, and…maybe most importantly…action. The limbic center is, if you will, your “animal” brain. Words mean little here, except for the emotions to which they’re attached. This is where the “why” resides. If you’ve ever looked over all the details of a decision, done all the cocktail-napkin math, come to a conclusion…and STILL decided to do the opposite because “it just didn’t ‘feel’ right”…and believe me, you HAVE done this over and over again…this is where in your brain that you made this decision. It’s also why. Short version: In any instance that you have to inspire anybody to do anything, you’ll go a long way toward success by simply asking yourself “why” you want the result you’re after…and then making sure it’s a “why” that’s going to feel good to your prospect too.   Editor’s note: I’ve been inspired and informed by John Forde’s...

Read More

Proximity: Why It Matters

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Proximity: Why It Matters

An essential principle of graphic design that I appreciate more over time, is proximity. It contributes to clean, clear, reader-friendly design, and is one of the handful of Gestalt principles of visual perception and organization (developed by Austrian and German psychologists in the 1920’s). These principles  explain how the eye organizes visual experiences and how the brain interprets them — especially in the context of their surroundings. We humans are pattern-seeking beings. The Proximity principle states that objects that are close together are seen as being associated or linked with one another. The closer the objects appear, the more likely we are to perceptually group them. SO WHAT? Artful grouping of design elements on a page, whether text or graphics, creates a bond between them, a relationship, a cohesive whole. We see a family of related objects, a visual ‘unit’ that we can mentally batch process. No sorting required. (See also Visual Hierarchy.) In page layout, a few well-defined clusters of information communicate more clearly than content scattered to the four corners of the page. If you have a lot of verbiage, consider combining your information into two or three (maximum five) distinct clumps, allowing enough white space between the clumps to set them apart. Resist the temptation to use lines to separate elements or boxes to group them, as this just adds noise to the page. Try letting the space between the elements (proximity) tell the story of their relationships. Some natural clumps or groupings might be: multiple bits of contact information packaged in a cluster a heading with the paragraph close below it the date, time, location and RSVP information for an event a photo or illustration with caption and/or credit a pull quote with author’s name, affiliation and/or credentials a logo with tagline and web (or physical) address a business person’s name, company and title For Western readers, who read left to right, there is an even closer association perceived between objects when they are side by side than when they are above and below each other. So placing a news story beside a photo rather than under it goes with the (visual) flow of most readers. Once you have your clumps, use alignment (with margins or with other elements) to hold the groupings together in a balanced, integrated page layout. Squinting at your layout can tell you in an instant whether it’s unified or scattered, clear or confusing, focused or distracting. Start with a single, strong focal point whenever possible (See One Focal Point) and tie the rest of your content to it for a cohesive, organized whole.         Be Sociable,...

Read More

How We Remember

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 3 comments

How We Remember

The title literally called me out: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. I’m a designer. I’m into Psychology. Do I know this stuff? Do I need  to know it? Somebody thinks so. Skimming through, I stopped at Chapter 21 about making information stick. The author, Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D., says we have to use information to make it memorable. She offers up two practical ways to do that: #1  REPETITION Information sticks if we repeat it enough times, thereby changing the brain’s wiring and creating new circuits. ‘What fires together wires together,’ forming new connective patterns between neurons, and moving information from working memory into long-term memory. So what?  So what advertising executives say about the need to repeatedly expose a target audience to an unfamiliar new message may be true. People tend to resist new ideas. But repetition creates a ‘memory trace’ in the consumer’s mind, generally increasing acceptance of the idea over time, and impacting purchasing behavior. There does appear to be a point of diminishing returns though, and a message that draws a negative response the first time may be increasingly disliked with repetition. #2  MENTAL MODELS  If we already have a working mental framework about a subject in our minds — a schema — it’s an easy container for uploading new, related information. ‘Head,’ for example, can serve as a schema for holding the details of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, etc. This makes it easier for us to absorb and organize new information related to heads, to keep it in long-term memory, and to retrieve it later. So what?  If we know, or can guess at, an existing schema our target audience holds related to our message, we can reference that schema, suggesting where in their mental models of the world they might attach or plug in this new information. To help others absorb and retain our message, we can provide them with general background information that helps ‘frame’ or contextualize our specific piece of information … or we can remind them of what they already know. Abstract concepts are best built upon an already established foundation of relevant, concrete  information. We are more likely to notice (some would say attract) things that fit into our existing schemata (plural for schema), and tend to re-interpret information that contradicts our pre-conceived ‘scripts’ or ‘frames’ or ‘worldview’ of how things are. We might ignore or forget new information that doesn’t fit or hang well on our existing framework … or we might see new conflicting data as an exception to the ‘rule’ … or we might distort the data to make it fit. When the new information cannot be ignored or revised to fit, existing schemata must be changed to accommodate it, or a new schema created. Schemata are resistant to change, even in the face of contradictory information. Many would rather live with inconsistencies than give up a deeply-held belief  or value. Metaphor and story can help bypass this resistance by speaking to, not the analytical cognitive...

Read More

It’s the Journey

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 4 comments

It’s the Journey

The most popular class at Harvard is a course in Happiness taught by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. His curriculum and his book, Happier, are based on the premise that both meaning and pleasure are required for us humans to be happy. Neither quality, in itself, is enough for lasting well-being. Consider which of these categories best describes how you spend your time: Are you a ‘rat racer’ driving yourself toward external rewards and future pleasures, at the expense of current happiness? Are you a ‘hedonist’ seeking current pleasures, with little regard for your larger purpose or future happiness? Are you a ‘nihilist,’ stuck in the past, in learned helplessness, hopelessness, and despair, having given up on finding happiness? Or are you one of the ‘happy’ ones, engaging in activities and practices that 1) are meaningful and pleasurable in the moment, and 2) pay off for both your present and future selves? Ben-Shahar, a recovering rat racer like me, challenges his readers to explore where they derive meaning and pleasure in both their work and personal lives and then to do more of that. At his recommendation I generated lists of activities that give me pleasure and meaning generally, then zeroed in on ways I might reap more of those rewards from my work in graphic design. PLEASURE Have fun Connect with clients in a collaborative process Enjoy creative breakthroughs and flashes of inspiration Learn new things, have ‘aha!’ moments Appreciate beauty in art and in nature Get lost in the focus and flow of the creative process Find just the right words to express an idea MEANING Connect with clients in a collaborative process Capture the essence of an organization and its offer Connect my clients with their clients (or audience) Provide communication solutions (in images and/or words) Learn and build skills continuously Collect ideas and images for future inspiration Develop design projects for my own self-expression Create one or more products for passive income potential Then, based on the above lists… NEW JOB DESCRIPTION Create for the fun of it, sharing what I love and what inspires me, with the world Connect in meaningful ways with clients, their organizations, their offerings, and their audiences Nurture partnerships, getting to know clients, sharing marketing possibilities with them, supporting their businesses and referring to them when I can Develop personal projects that take my skills in inspired directions and generate passive income opportunities Welcome outside challenges that stretch my abilities Stay in awe of the entrepreneurial spirit The process has given me ‘new eyes’ with which to view my world and has paved the way for more positive experiences. As I mentally measure the pleasure and meaning in my daily activities, my choices become more deliberate, more intentional. I get that I can construct my life with these building blocks of happiness at work and at play. And so can you! Since everything we want, from conditions to relationships to material manifestations, is about being happier, why not cut to the chase and go for...

Read More

Grab Attention with Your Message

Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Grab Attention with Your Message

The old advertising acronym AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. To influence or persuade anyone of anything, we must first get their attention. Only then we can turn our energies toward arousing their interest, piquing desire and prompting action. It’s been reported that every year 65% more information is strewn out into the world.1  The business world, like the academic world, seems to have adopted a publish or perish mindset, posting massive amounts of content online everyday. (And yes, I joined in the fray 8+ years ago with this newsletter-turned-blog and more recently with my Facebook fan page.) With more information than ever competing for attention, why should anyone care about our input? To break through the clutter and noise, we can bump up the PUVV factor…making our message Personal, Unexpected, Visual, and Visceral.2  Otherwise we might as well be designing like nobody’s watching and writing like nobody’s reading. Because they probably aren’t. So how do you do that? Here are a few strategies drawn from the schools of design and copywriting, with a splash of brain science thrown in. Personal.   Create a personal hook. Call your reader out with relevant headlines, images, and concepts. How are you one of them? Invite them to spend time with you. Share a meaningful experience. Offer inside information. Write from your heart. Address shared needs and desires. Tell a story. Build comfort and trust. Unexpected.   Humor often springs from the unexpected. A surprising twist helps make a punchline (or anything else) memorable. Stay playful. Pique curiosity. Create gaps that the mind wants to close. Lead with an intriguing question, a surprising statistic, a shocking confession, a provocative quote, an unusual solution. Consider what might be ironic or counter-intuitive about your message. Visual.  Show, don’t tell. Paint a picture…one that’s worth a thousand words. Humans remember 85-90% of what they see, but less than 15% of what they hear.3 Some visuals are especially effective in attracting the eye and engaging the viewer, including big, bold and/or brightly colored elements, faces, motion (real and simulated), contrast in all of its forms, a clear focal point, especially when surrounded by negative space, a path that leads the eye along it, an incomplete image that the imagination can fill in, repetition of elements… Visceral.  Engage the senses, especially sight, sound, and scent. Arouse emotion. Speak to the primitive brain by tapping into gut feelings, instincts, primal memories, dreams, the wisdom of the body. Music is especially good for evoking visceral emotional responses. Certain scents can take us back in time, and are closely associated with memory in the brain. Buzzwords specific to your audience can kindle meaningful associations and feelings. With that said, if all this feels contrived to you, or as if you’re running a foot race against all the competing messages out there, temper it with this viewpoint expressed by my esteemed mentor, John Wade, of Before & After magazine: “As designers, I believe that ‘standing out’ is not our guiding light. Most companies don’t need to stand out. They simply need to...

Read More

Leveraging a Great Logo

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Leveraging a Great Logo

I know that not everybody collects images they like for creative inspiration, but most graphic designers (and a fast-growing number of Pinterest members) do. I probably use my iPhone to capture appealing visuals for my ‘swipe’ file as much as anything else. Pictures, fonts, color palettes, and interesting layouts can serve as jumping off places for design projects. I’m a sponge for ideas and visual effects that might contribute to the creative process currently incubating in my head. And while I honor intellectual property rights, I agree with Kirby Ferguson that everything is a remix. Creativity rarely shows up as a bolt out of the blue. Most often it’s derived from the artful combination of existing elements in new ways. “Our system of law doesn’t acknowledge the derivative nature of creativity,” says Ferguson. “Instead, ideas are regarded as property, as unique and original lots with distinct boundaries. But ideas aren’t so tidy. They’re layered, they’re interwoven, they’re tangled.” Does intellectual property law interfere with the cross-pollination of creative ideas? “We live in an age with daunting problems,” continues Ferguson. “We need the best ideas possible, we need them now, we need them to spread fast.” (I highly recommend his thought-provoking video, Everything is a Remix Part 4 .) A future post perhaps…this one is about leveraging a great logo.  I was at a strip mall on Maui recently when I stopped in my tracks to appreciate (and snag a photo of) the cool mermaid logo on Pizza Paradiso’s glass door. I’m part fish myself, and have an affinity for mermaids, as well as good design. A moment later a server came out and asked me if I liked the logo, and if I would like a sticker. Sure! Now I’m not likely to display this sticker on my bumper or my guitar case (if I had one) but I did grab a take-out menu along with my sticker, and I do love Mediterranean food, which is pretty much unavailable in my neighborhood. So guess where I had dinner that night. It was excellent outreach to a prospective new customer and it worked. (The food is excellent too by the way.) My client, Hula Baby Biscotti, has a gorgeous logo featuring a vintage image of a hula girl by artist Melinda Morey. When they display the logo on their big banner at farmer’s markets, customers want to buy a banner! How much further and faster might word spread about this year-old company if stickers of their logo were circulating around Hawaii? Surfwear companies are leading edge here. Their stickers are everywhere because they are cool. Why not gourmet eateries, specialty food products and boutique stores with great logos too? If you find that your stickers are in demand, logo wear (and a whole other income stream) could be the next logical step! So what makes a logo great? These two examples obviously have beauties as their focal point and each seems to suggest a story…a sense of time and place and active engagement with the world. The...

Read More

Buyer Personas

Posted by on Feb 12, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 3 comments

Buyer Personas

I needed an idea for a radio spot for my graphic design services and was struggling with how to translate such a visual medium into sound. I was also aware that Kauai Design is primarily a B2B (business to business) business and that the vast majority of the radio audience are not business owners or executives. So how could I reach out to that small percentage of listeners who need my services? It came together while reading The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott. Buyer personas. Scott insists that ‘push’ marketing (hawking your product’s features and benefits to the world) is old school and no longer effective in a mature (and skeptical) market that has heard it all. He says that ‘pulling’ your potential customer is where it’s at in the ‘new rules’ of marketing. He suggests clarifying who your customers are and what they want, then creating a buyer persona for each of your market segments, including a name, gender, age, details about their lifestyle, and the specific concerns that you can help them resolve. Then speak to the needs of each subset of your customer base directly in your promotional materials. Recent political campaigns have successfully segmented voters into ‘voter personas’ and reached out to them by addressing their specific issues. You can attract a certain type of customer, donor, subscriber, member, applicant, or other target group by appealing to their unique set of needs and values. My client, Rob’s Good Times Grill, calls out different segments of their customer base on their rack card. They offer a quiz for readers to self-select their reasons to visit Rob’s. Are you looking for atmosphere? Fun? A sports venue? Karaoke? Food? Tropical drinks and happy hour specials? “Did you answer YES to any of these questions? Then THIS is where you should be!” My clients generally fall into these categories: the start-up entrepreneur that needs branding or the established business that needs its look updated and refreshed (often due to a name change, new location, new ownership, or just a tired old logo) the mid-sized organization that can’t do it all in-house and needs a creative partner to help with annual reports, membership campaigns, fundraisers, media kits, programs, newsletters, portfolios, menus, and the like the small business owner with a product, service or event to promote who needs an ad, a brochure, rack card, poster, etc. So back to the radio ad. With this ‘buyer persona’ concept marinating in my mind, my board of directors (ok, my husband) came up with the phone tree concept (auditory, right?) for calling out these three buyer personas and letting them know that Kauai Design can help… (Sound of a phone ringing on the other end of the line. Phone is answered by an automated phone tree.) FEMALE VOICE: Thank you for calling our solution center. If you’re a start-up business in need of a logo…or if your company’s branding needs a kick-start, Press 1. (Sound of “1” button being pressed) MALE...

Read More

Break Up Your Text

Posted by on Jan 17, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 1 comment

Break Up Your Text

Your readers will love you for breaking up long blocks of text into manageable chunks of information, and you can make your pages more attractive and interesting in the process. White space, photos and illustrations are commonly used for this purpose. Other devices… Be Sociable,...

Read More

The Creative Process Illustrated

Posted by on Oct 1, 2011 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Creative Process Illustrated

Review of W. Glenn Griffin & Deborah Morrison’s The Creative Process Illustrated (How Advertising’s Big Ideas Are Born) Griffin and Morrison take us backstage and introduce us to 36 successful ‘creatives,’ (creative directors, art directors and writers) and share their backgrounds. But the best part is getting into these folks’ heads as they unveil their processes for getting to the ‘Big Idea’… Be Sociable,...

Read More

How We Decide

Posted by on Jan 1, 2011 in Blog, Marketing | 0 comments

How We Decide

Review of How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer Born of a science writer’s difficulty choosing which Cheerios to buy, How We Decide takes us on a fascinating ride through the human brain, exploring the edge between emotion and reason in our deciding process. THE VALUE OF FEELINGS The feeling part of the brain is an ancient and finely tuned instrument for survival. It can detect danger and discord long before the conscious brain… Be Sociable,...

Read More

What’s Emotion Got to Do With It?

Posted by on Jan 1, 2010 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

What’s Emotion Got to Do With It?

With thanks to Dan Hill, author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success (and an apology to Tina Turner) Breakthroughs in brain science have confirmed what we all instinctively know. People are primarily emotional decision makers, who evaluate matters quickly and intuitively, and communicate their truest responses non-verbally. Emotional reactions are then justified with rational thought. Two scientific tools, facial coding and eye tracking, can help… Be Sociable,...

Read More

How to Get (& Give) a Killer Testimonial

Posted by on Jan 1, 2010 in Blog, Marketing | 0 comments

How to Get (& Give) a Killer Testimonial

by Tracy Needham, Compelling Communications, LLC Testimonials are a high-octane marketing tool that can significantly boost sales. Have you noticed how many retail websites are adding customer reviews these days? That’s because people want to know “the real scoop” before making a purchase—especially for something as intangible as a service. And seeing proof of someone else’s satisfaction makes them much more confident about hiring you… Be Sociable,...

Read More

22 Immutable Laws of Branding

Posted by on Oct 1, 2009 in Blog, Marketing | 0 comments

22 Immutable Laws of Branding

by Al and Laura Ries, Ries and Ries Focusing Consultants 1. EXPANSION. The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope 2. CONTRACTION. A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus 3. PUBLICITY. The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising 4. ADVERTISING. Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy     Be Sociable,...

Read More

Make Your Message Stick

Posted by on Jan 1, 2009 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Make Your Message Stick

A review of Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath How do you make your ideas understandable, memorable, and persuasive? In Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath bring to life six proven strategies. With loads of examples and compelling evidence, they explore how making your message Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and/or a Story…   Be Sociable,...

Read More

Lazy Eyes: How we read online

Posted by on Oct 1, 2008 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Lazy Eyes: How we read online

Excerpts from a post by Michael Agger in Slate Magazine, July 2008. You’re probably going to read this. It’s a short paragraph at the top of the page. It’s surrounded by white space. It’s in small type. No scrolling required. To really get your attention, I should… Be Sociable,...

Read More

Beyond Image Advertising

Posted by on Oct 1, 2008 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Beyond Image Advertising

For twelve years I created good looking ads. They were clean, stylish and impactful. But did they sell? We don’t know. It wasn’t possible to track their effectiveness. They were ‘image’ ads that ran with a hope and a prayer that they would attract buyers. Almost all award-winning ads are image ads — beautiful, clever, or funny, with absoutely no track record of conversions to sales. Be Sociable,...

Read More

Ratchet Up Your Copy

Posted by on Jul 1, 2008 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Ratchet Up Your Copy

Excerpt from an article by Jennifer Stevens, The Golden Thread, May 2008. This past week, a guy named Ben installed a new high-efficiency furnace in our 109-year-old house. He came with a truck full of tools and spent 11 hours revamping our antiquated heating system. He met with a few surprises along the way but he had what he needed to get the job done. It was simply a matter of reaching, at each step, for the right tool… Be Sociable,...

Read More

Easy Reading: How low can you go?

Posted by on Apr 1, 2008 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Easy Reading: How low can you go?

Excerpt from an article by Michael Masterson, consultant and author of the American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. In most areas of life, getting high grades means you are doing well. When it comes to writing, however, the most popular grading system works inversely. The Flesch-Kincaid (FK) scale is a statistical program designed to measure simplicity of expression, an important quality of good writing.   Be Sociable,...

Read More

Your Tagline: The most important ad you’ll ever create

Posted by on Oct 1, 2007 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Your Tagline: The most important ad you’ll ever create

by Kimberly Freeman for About.com A really great tagline conveys a company’s benefit with personality and attitude and the most memorable taglines connect on an emotional level. In the 1950’s, ad agencies called them “slogans.”  You may have heard them referred to as a catchphrase, marketing line, or even trademark line…   Be Sociable,...

Read More

‘Print Promotions That Work’ Checklist

Posted by on Oct 1, 2007 in Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

‘Print Promotions That Work’ Checklist

IDENTITY 1. Is the overall image you want to project conveyed by your promotional piece? Are the personality and philosophy of your organization reflected? Do the tone and style of the piece fit the intended audience? Is your image up-to-date? 2. Is the nature of your business obvious frm the name, logo and/or tagline? Be Sociable,...

Read More

Defining the Design Challenge

Posted by on Jul 1, 2007 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Defining the Design Challenge

LIST MAKING.  According to Edward de Bono, author of multiple books on problem-solving, a good technique to get ideas flowing is to list all possible solutions to a problem. In the brainstorming phase, there are no wrong answers. Let your imagination go. A crazy, off-the-wall idea can be a springboard to a great idea… IDEA MAPPING.  Some of us can get those creative neurons firing best with a more visual, less linear process, such as idea mapping. This technique explores ideas graphically… Be Sociable,...

Read More

Your Organization’s Image

Posted by on Jan 1, 2007 in Blog, Marketing | 0 comments

Your Organization’s Image

Excerpted from “See Your Business With New Eyes” by Debbie Allen. www.businessknowhow.com If your organization were human, what kind of personality would it have? Successful businesses connect with customers on a personal level, with everyone in the company on the same page about who you are as an organization. Image comes across first on a non-verbal, emotional level…   Be Sociable,...

Read More

Hooking Skimmers and Scanners

Posted by on Jan 1, 2007 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Hooking Skimmers and Scanners

We all do it. With the onslught of information coming at us every day, we have to filter it. We skim for a quick overview of the message in a communication. We scan for the specific information we’re looking for. When we’re sorting through potential reading material, making our A pile (read now) B pile (read later if I get around to it) and C pile (recycle), we are not yet committed to a printed piece… Be Sociable,...

Read More

Visual Hierarchy

Posted by on Jul 1, 2006 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Visual Hierarchy

In information design, there is usually a hierarchy of importance to the content of a document. Elements are arranged in a series of focal points according to priority or emphasis. A Typical visual hierarchy has three levels (where the eye is drawn 1st, 2nd and 3rd) indicating relative importance… Be Sociable,...

Read More

One Focal Point

Posted by on Apr 1, 2006 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

One Focal Point

From massive billboards to pocket-sized business cards, a good design has one primary focal point that anchors the layout and defines its purpose. It could be a headline, an illustration, or even white space, but a main focus of visual interest engages the reader and pulls him or her into the rest of the story… Be Sociable,...

Read More

Brochures & Tool Cards

Posted by on Mar 1, 2006 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Brochures & Tool Cards

In this high tech world, high touch has more value than ever. The predicted paperless society is not happening. We love the sensual comforts of print. Even eBay® puts out a printed holiday catalog! There’s a good chance both you AND your customers can benefit from a well-designed brochure. Be Sociable,...

Read More

Branding Your Organization

Posted by on Oct 1, 2005 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Branding Your Organization

I often get calls from business owners seeking help with promotional materials like brochures, rack cards and ads. After gathering background on the business itself, I want to know about its graphic identity. Do they have a logo? A graphic image identified with the business? Typestyles? Colors? Surprisingly often, no such identity exists. Be Sociable,...

Read More