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

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.


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?”


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

Harlan West is the author of 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 Internal Staff Meetings Should be Replaced

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

In the name of successful corporate communications, I strive to provide the best tips for how to effectively communicate. Holding internal office meetings is not among the strategies that I recommend. In fact, monotonous meetings are one of my pet peeves.  Meetings almost always, are a waste of valuable productive time.

Years ago, I worked for an employer that held meetings followed by more meetings.  Rarely was anything accomplished. EaMeeitngburnoutch week, one of the managers used to inconvenience his colleagues while he went on a long diatribe about how much his staff accomplished during the previous week.  He used the time to toot his own horn for nearly 20 minutes while others suffered through the agony. As a result, the staff, including myself, came to dread meetings. This example demonstrates a complete failure in attempting to communicate effectively. It’s one that we can all learn from and become better communicators, as a result.

Here’s some suggestions to avoid meeting burnout:

1) Keep meetings on point.  Don’t stray from the reason you called the meeting!  Don’t allow a participant to hold the meeting hostage by going off on a tangent. Look to old cartoons and know when to get the cane in order to pull them off stage. Continue reading

Don’t Make Your Clients Wait

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

So much of what we do in today’s fast-paced world involves standing in line and waiting… In every store that I go into, I discover the presence of long lines at the cashier with no one to help you. There’s an important  lesson to be learned here. Building great corporate communications means catering to your clients, not keeping them waiting unnecessarily.  In short, it means giving them the service they deserve.

Stressful people waiting for job interviewAnticipation is not what you want. You want to deliver confidence and trust in your firm so that the client knows what to expect.

A good marketing firm…

1) excels at communication.  It ensures that the client is kept up-to-date on all the latest edits and that concepts are approved at all stages of development. Including the client is as a partner in the decision-making is very critical to the success of the project. The marketing firm should also return all phone calls and e-mails promptly. Staying connected is staying communicated. Never leave your client hanging. If you do, they might hang up!

2) knows how to meet all deadlines.  In advertising land, everything is due yesterday.  But the experienced marketing firm, design group or ad agency should know how to properly plan for the unexpected.  During its 21-year history, our firm has never missed a deadline. Missing a hard deadline is the death knell of any firm. Proper planning and trafficking of all jobs will ensure that all deadlines are met. Continue reading

Harness the Power of Word of Mouth

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

What is the most powerful  form of advertising?  It is most certainly word of mouth.  It is not only FREE but it can produce lots of priceless goodwill.

According to an article, Word of Mouth is the Best Ad, in Bloomberg’s Business Week, traditional and electronic media advertising still lack the power of the word of mouth.

For word-of-mouth advertising to generate results it must be positive.  Make sure that the “buzz”is positive, since negative comments often tend to travel twice as fast and have a life of their own. Be careful!  Negative comments can sink a ship very quickly.

Here’s some great tips of my own for taking advantage of positive word-of-mouth advertising:

Shouting1) Make your front line employees into brand ambassadors. By their vast daily knowledge of the product or service, they are the best messengers for spreading the corporate message and for selling the product or service.

2) Ask your clients to provide testimonials.  Record videos of your clients speaking your praises. If they won’t easily commit to a taped video, try offering them an incentive such as a free service or a discount. Written testimonials can also be added to the company website. These add credibility and accentuate your company’s positive image.

Continue reading

Know What Makes Your Client Tick

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

Know what makes your client tick.

Fotolia_47060619_XSEffective communication is everything. Knowing precisely what your client needs can make a world of difference.   Although we cannot get into the minds of our clients, it is always best to figure out their likes and dislikes and where they want their marketing to go.  So we ask lots of questions.

Get to know your client well and maintain a great working relationship. Indeed, a bad client relationship is like a ticking time bomb with an explosion just waiting to happen.

When working with clients we try to determine the following:

1) The client’s needs.  What needs to be accomplished? Is there an upcoming event? What is the deadline?  Who are the players?  What is the budget?  What are the resources available? Does the project require writing, proofreading, illustration, photography, social media services, and/or printing?  Are there any existing brand standards to follow?

2) The Budget.  How much has the client allocated for the project?  Is the project for online or for print? Is this a recurring project such as a newsletter? What is the quantity?  Indeed, some marketing agencies offer quantity discounts for doing multiple projects at the same time. Continue reading