As a Communicator, It’s Your Job to Help the Client See

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with nearly 30 years of experience designing communications for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Give Your Client Reading Glasses.

The road ahead is dark and clients cannot see with your help. You need to illuminate it.

Help them understand what you are thinking; they cannot read minds. Unfortunately, the client has an inability to visualize concepts without reviewing a layout or comp. Just assume that the client is not right-brained and cannot imagine what you are proposing.  Provide a conceptual roadmap.

patient at oculist

Create a map to the finish line
This starts the ball rolling. Some clients are unwilling to commit on a proposal or don’t know where to start. By jumping in feet first and developing some concepts, you give them a better way to get engaged with the project and to have a map to the finish line. Continue reading

Make Your Marketing Grow Green

By Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

The Power of Green: Green Can Grow Your Marketing Campaign

It’s time to look at color as an important factor in corporate communications. Since it’s still spring, let’s use the color green to spice up our marketing campaigns.

Green squares2Designing with green

Some words that come to mind when using a bright green color include: freshness, spring, life, St. Patrick’s Day, gardens, plants, thrive, growth, rebirth, health, lime, vegetables, recycling, sustainability, “go”, moving ahead, and environmentally friendly.

Here’s some ideas: Continue reading

Avoid Milk Toast Marketing for the Masses

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Why be boring when you can be exciting?  Effective design should be a means to creatively stand out from the crowd.

Do you often wonder why everyone has to drive basically the same mass-produced car and wear the same mass-produced clothes?  Cars, for instance, have become so blazae, with everyone driving basically the same milk-toast 4-door sedan. Even luxury vehicle manufacturers copy each other and offer little variation from the competition.  Milk Bottle,Glass, Egg and Bread on white BackgroundIt’s too bad that we don’t have more stylish models like the big finned cars of the 1950s or the sleek muscle cars of the 1960s.  Let’s face it, there are fewer and fewer choices today. Indeed, it seems that nearly every time I discover a unique product it is not there when I return to the store. Unusual and slow-moving products end up in the marketing graveyard. In short, there is little room for anomalies and variety. Continue reading

Political Campaigns: Don’t Throw Your Hat in the Ring Without Effective Branding

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations

First, let me start off by saying that I have a BA in political science with an emphasis in public administration.United States Election Vote Button. Many years ago, I even worked in Washington for an Illinois congressman.  Creatively, I have contributed graphical identities and event promotions for political figures in their campaigns for Los Angeles City Council as well as various other local issue and public service campaigns throughout Southern California.  I spent a total of thirteen years working in three government agencies and have developed communications for countless government agencies and municipalities.

Effective Graphics for a political campaign: Don’t run without an effective branding.

Here’s some things to keep in mind when throwing your hat in the ring:

Know your potential supporters. They can help define how you determine the look and feel for the  campaign. A local political campaign probably needs to look more community- based and more home-baked than a campaign for statewide or national office. On the local level, it is best not to look too polished. It can sink an otherwise worthy campaign. Be part of the community. Potential supporters/voters will respect you more. Don’t look like an aristocrat in a working-class neighborhood.

Hire an experienced marketing or design firm to brand your campaign. You need a distinctive color scheme and layout for publications as well as a unique logo. Consistency of message and look is critical. Use colors that stand our from the crowd. This is critical when a plethora of yard signs start to populate your neighborhood. The logo and type treatment should be simple clean and direct. Have your marketing firm develop a branded set of letterheads, ads, yard signs, invitations, buttons and website and e-blasts. All materials should have a standardized look and feel.

Develop a catchy slogan that sums up your talents in a few punchy words.  Make it memorable. Develop a slogan that speaks for itself. A double entendre is often effective. Try catchy taglines such as  “Building a City that Works,”  or “Creating a Better Tomorrow Today.”

Use only extremely flattering photos of the candidate, their family and supporters. Show the candidate working in the neighborhoods. Show the candidate working with business, schools, community, civic, governmental, activists, and religious leaders.

Provide testimonials from well-connected leaders as well as the “man” on the street. Potential supporters want to get to know the candidate. Make sure to use only reputable and respected contributors. Add audio clips to the website and radio or TV ads.  As stated in a previous blog on this site, word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising.

Tell us candidly what you, as the candidate, will do.  Avoid pie in the sky promises.  Make a platform and do not deviate from it. Find your voice.  A few key issue statements and principals will help focus your campaign.  Be bold with your messaging and political posturing. Voters like candidates who at least appear honest and who have a “backbone.”

Know your opposition.  You may have to battle them on your turf. You also need to be able to effectively refute what the opposition is saying.  Find out how to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.  Develop a list of unique selling points to stand out amongst a crowded field of candidates. Think of yourself as a box of cereal in the breakfast foods aisle of a grocery store. Offer something unique to get people to buy what you are selling, namely your electability.

Develop a website where people can make campaign contributions online. Make it easy to find and user-friendly to navigate and purchase an easy to remember URL.

Find the one or two primary issues which will help define your campaign. Some candidates campaign on a platform of safety issues and reducing crime. Others like to promote to city services, better schools and parks, road and pubic transportation improvement and economic development.

Maintain a positive image and stay above the fray. Don’t wrestle with dogs and don’t stoop to the competition. Keep your campaign on a higher level.  Integrity, strength and leadership say it all!

Now if you have a thick skin, go ahead and throw your hat in the ring!

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If you need help creating a brand and identity for your political campaign, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.  We make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part II

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

This is part two of an interview with a California State University at Fullerton graduate student. The second part dealt with my personal perception on logos.

microphone against purple disco background1.  What is the most important aspect of a logo?
HW:
The most important characteristic of a logo is memorability.  You want people to go away with a positive lasting impression. It’s all about retention.

2. Are there any considerations taken when creating a logo? (Who is the client, what is it used for, why is there a need for a logo, when is the logo created)

HW: Yes, there are many considerations.  Here’s some questions to ask:

  • What is the company’s mission?
  • What is the company’s primary product or service?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What is the company’s reputation and image?
  • Has the company won any awards?
  • Who is the competition and how do they market themselves?
  • What differentiates the company from its competitors? What does it offer that is different?
  • Does the company have a strategic marketing plan?
  • Have there been recent  changes/developments in the industry that will impact the company’s strategic marketing plan?

HW: Avoid logos that are cluttered or which try to say too much.  A logo symbol and type treatment need to be a cohesive unit that work well together.  A simple clean memorable symbol is best. Take a look at the CBS camera lens logo, Time Warner Cables’s eye logo, Apple’s apple symbol , the NBC peacock, the Facebook “F” and the Tesla “T.”  Elegance and simplicity if design says it all.  Less is more. Keep in mind that a logo just needs to communicate strength.  Resilience and quality. Avoid elements which get in the way of this simple concept.

3.  What do you think would be a reason for a company to change its logo design?

HW: In other words, I’d like to rephrase this question.  I recommend a corporate rebranding when:

  • A logo is dated and looks stale.
  • The logo colors are no longer contemporary.
  • The marketplace has changed and the industry has evolved.
  • A large competitor has eaten away at sales.
  • The company has taken on a new product line or service that is outside its current industry.
  • The company’s reputation or corporate image have changed.
  • New design standards are warranted. This may be a great opportunity for an update and refresh.

HW: But keep in mind that it may best to just “update” a design rather than to completely create a new logo. Years of building awareness and advertising could fall away quickly if a logo were completely “shucked.”  Customers need something that they can hang on to and they can continue to connect with. Often a new typestyle and simple “modernization” of an existing symbol is the best approach.

4.  What is your personal perception about the importance of logos in brand identity?

HW: A logo defines the company. It is a simple yet powerful means of creating a corporate image and identity.  A poorly designed logo can make a company look inexperienced and unsuccessful. A well-designed logo can make a company look strong and prosperous. The logo is the most important element in brand identity.  When it is paired with strict corporate colors, fonts, photo treatments and publication templates, it can result in a very effective branding for the company.  In other words, the logo is the defining element in the corporate branding,

5.  Do design trends (past or present) influence the design of company logos?

HW: Yes, but do not place too much stock in trends. The logo or rebranding needs to be contemporary and up with the times. Stay away from trends that quickly make a logo look dated.  A logo must withstand the test of time.

HW: I recommend designing a logo with a shelf life of at least 10 years.  A resilient logo helps to build brand retention, awareness and customer loyalty. You need to “marry your logo for a substantial period of time. In short a logo  in order to be effective must be  able to withstand the test of time.

HW: Here’s some of the many logos that we have created for our clients during the past 23 years.

HWDSlogsheetforwebpromotion

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If your company needs an elegantly designed publication, logo or e-publication, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.  We make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

50 Reasons to Follow the Successful Corporate Communications Blog

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

I am proud to commemorate the publication of 50 blog posts! Celebrate with us by continuing to read our blog and encouraging your friends and colleagues to subscribe as well.

50BlogpostsBanner

Since we just completed our 50th blog post, here’s 50 fabulous reasons to keep reading and rereading:

  1. Take advantage of valuable design tips for your newsletter.
  2. Use color to make a more effective publication.
  3. Learn how to create effective mastheads.
  4. Escape the pitfalls of staff meetings.
  5. Learn ways to deal more effectively with your clients.
  6. Discover how to create more effective bilingual publications.
  7. Find valuable tips on advertising.
  8. Learn about effective branding.
  9. Gain valuable information about e-publications.
  10. Increase your knowledge of printing techniques.
  11. Increase your appreciation of elegant paper stocks.
  12. Learn how to create effective event promotions.
  13. Discover ways to include effective infographics, charts and diagrams in your publications.
  14. Learn about ways to find employment as a skilled graphic designer.
  15. Unearth new ways to promote healthcare events.
  16. Invent new ways to illustrate your newsletter with the use of graphical icons.
  17. Find ways to develop an effective logo for your company.
  18. Learn about ways to add a mascot or cartoon character to your newsletter or publication.
  19. Differentiate your company’s product and service from the competition.
  20. Produce beautiful maps that provide more than just directions.
  21. Explore new ways to be more responsive to your clients.
  22. Recognize how to find a quality print vendor.
  23. Realize the beauty that nature can add to a publication.
  24. Originate the use of iMags for your company’s publications.
  25. Learn how to save $1,000’s on publication costs.
  26. Conceive of new ways to use patterns in your publications.
  27. Innovate the use of online publications in your company’s publication requirements.
  28. Discover ways to add navigational elements to a newsletter.
  29. Lean how to use photos for maximum impact.
  30. Make the best use of typestyles to increase the legibility of a publication.
  31. Find new ways to maintain quality control.
  32. Learn how outsourcing the design of your publications can save the company money and can increase the return on investment (ROI).
  33. Find out why it is important to use a marketing firm that specializes in your industry sector.
  34. Learn what makes your client “tick.”
  35. Discover the importance of having a corporate newsletter.
  36. Explore new reasons why corporations should outsource their marketing efforts.
  37. Unearth the ultimate checklist for developing successful marketing materials.
  38. Invent new ways to harness the power of the word of mouth.
  39. Explore how color defines your brand and shapes your newsletter.
  40. Find out how silhouetted graphics can shape your newsletter.
  41. Invent beautiful patterns and graphics through the use of shadows.
  42. Learn how metallic pins can make great promotional items or giveaways to honor anniversaries, celebrations, or facility openings.
  43. Discover how to use fruits and vegetable shapes to craft an unusual masthead or headline.
  44. Learn how to create healthy designs for healthcare marketing.
  45. Pioneer new ways to include graphical portraiture in your publication.
  46. Benefit from testimonials and how they can create great “buzz.”
  47. Discover how to make your newsletter soar to new heights by adding architectural elements.
  48. Find out how to add edgy border treatments that will make your articles jump off the page.
  49. Recognize the importance of type and how it impacts the look, feel and legibility of the publication.
  50. Discover ways to “tune-up” your marketing without ever getting your hands dirty.

These topics and more can be found on our blog.

Happy reading!  But remember to ask yourself the following question: “Why just be a reader when you could also be a leader?”

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If your company needs an innovative newsletter, e-publication, meeting presentation or  advice on communicating, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com.

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundreds of publications for both print and online purposes.

Why Companies Need to Nourish a Passion

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Just as kids need an “outlet” to keep them busy and out of trouble, companies need to nourish heir strengths and what they believe in.  This is not just what they specialize in, but something more. It is something they truly believe in and care passionately about.

Take, for example, the desire of a cable company to help connect millions of disadvantaged children with Internet service. Or, take, the desire of a marketing firm to create publications which help promote recycling, and therefore, ultimately benefit the environment. nurtureyourpassionOr what about the desire of a large grocer not only to provide healthy organically grown fruits and vegetables but also to lead the fight to label genetically engineered foods?  It is not enough that a company is good at what it does. It must feel passionately to help differentiate itself from the competition. That passion resonates throughout the organization and helps to invigorate employees, boost morale and provide a positive corporate image.  Here’s some ways to cultivate that passion in a company:

1) Hire employees that believe in the company and want to help make the company move forward. Your employees are the front line soldiers and they need to spread the message, not just wholeheartedly, but passionately.  If they don’t believe in the product or service, who will? Continue reading