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

The Value of Transit Industry Newsletters

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


Let’s get moving!

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Let’s face it, transit projects can fuel an economic engine by bringing new jobs, ameniites, business and impetus to otherwise depressed areas. Transit newsletters are a great forums for discussing the great public benefits of new transit projects. Indeed, transit newsletters serve many valuable purposes and help transit agencies, bus companies and rail authorities to:

1) connect with riders. On buses and trains, there’s a captive audience with little more to do than to look out the window or to send texts or emails. Onboard newsletters tend to have a very high readership rate. For 17 years, we designed Metrolink Matters, the onboard passenger rail newsletter for the Southern California Regional Rail Authority. It has a very high readership rate, largely due to the fact that passengers like to read what is in front of them. It’s similar to reading the magazine in the seat pocket of the airliner.

2) keep riders informed. This is a great way to keep passengers up on the latest developments which may include updates to passenger rules, bus fares, safety standards, park and ride lots, transit schedules, as well as upcoming events along the lines.

3) inform employees. They, like riders, need to be up on what’s “shake’n.” New regulations, laws, company policies, and fare restructures are great tidbits of information to include in a newsletter.

4) build morale. Featuring articles on exemplary employees can be quite a morale builder. Try including photos of staff at company events or busy at work. This sends a positive ripple effect through the entire company.

5) provide important information on connecting transit.  This might include new construction, line extensions, fare restructuring and transfers. Newsletters are a great way to connect with riders and to allow them to connect along the line with other modes of transportation as well as other service providers.

6) offer incentives. Special promotions such as coupons, contests, and advertisements can be easily publicized through a transit newsletter. Advertisers can also help subsidize the cost of the newsletter.

7) provide commute options. Transit newsletters are a wonderful way to disseminate information about various rideshare modes and alternatives to typical drive-alone commuters. Check out CommuteSmart News, a monthly online e-newsletter which we have been designing since 2005.

Get onboard and ride along with a transit newsletter!

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If your company needs an innovative transit newsletter, e-publication, or promotion, 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 hundred of publications for both print and online purposes

Look No Further for Inspiration

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

The Inspiration Store—Places to Tantalize Your Imagination

The inspiration for your successful corporate communications can be found in the least likely places. Indeed, most creative people probably do not produce their content while sitting at the corner Starbucks and typing away on their tablets or laptops.

As a result, I have compiled a list of some unlikely retail stores which can spark your imagination:

Rolls of silk in shopFabric stores are great places to find interesting continuous patterns and textures. Buy a yard or two of fabric, scan it, and digitize it and then manipulate it using a photo-imaging program. Thrift stores also have quirky clothing with printed patterns that could also be used for the backdrop behind mastheads or pull quotes. Paisley patterns can make interesting graphical elements for elegant invitations. Just make sure that the fabric or garment you select does not have a copyright.

The samples of collection ceramic tileTile stores have some of the best patterns around. Pieces of tile can be very organic and can provide unusual twists of color. Tiles arranged in rows can also create a unique checkerboard square pattern that can be used behind mastheads, on covers of reports or for border treatments.

Bookstores are a wonderful resource for new graphical ideas. Look at book covers.  Indeed, the art needs to sell the book.  Generally the cover art is really effective in grabbing one’s attention in just a few seconds. Take notes and makes sketches.  These will come in handy later.

Flower shops can provide unique color combinations along with interesting organic shapes. Buy a few exotic flowers and take some close up photos of the petals or inner center shapes. These can provide interesting graphical shapes for logos, illustrated patterned textures or photo backgrounds.  (See SuccessfulCorporateCommunications.com blog post, Color Me Pink.)

Plums and fresh apricotsGrocery stores are a great place to takephotos of foods and nuts and other bulk items. Indeed, the produce aisle offers an array of delicious fruits and vegetables.  These can also be used as great backgrounds for mastheads or pull quotes or simply as stand along graphical images. (See Successful CorporateCommunications.com blog, Open Your Refrigerator and Head to the Salad Bar.)

Bakeries are a great place to photograph sweets. Think of how captivating a backdrop of fresh bread or tart pastries might be in your food or cooking newsletter.  Where’s the milk?

Nurseries offer great opportunities to snap some quick shots of plants. Leaves and greenery makes for great graphical elements in any page layout.  (See SuccessfulCorporateCommunications.com blog, Leaf It Alone.)

Electric GuitarsMusic stores are great places to get reference material for music newsletters, elegant invitations or concert program brochures. Sheet music can also be blurred and screened back in the layout, but be careful of copyrights.

Hardware stores and lumber yards offer a wide variety of nuts, bolts, brass plumbing connectors as well as tubes and pipes. Take close-up shots of brass connectors and the ends of sprinkler (PCV) pipe stacked in a box. Stacked lumber also makes for an interesting visual. These retail establishments provide a great opportunity to discover exciting new patterns and shapes.

Bike stores are nice places to photograph bike tires, wheels and bike gear. Take shots of the gears, pedals, spokes and tire treads. You’ll love the graphical shapes that can add a new dynamic to your client’s newsletter.

Just a suggestion…

Look around you.  Open your eyes.  See what you see.  You’ll be surprised at how much rich content is right in front of your nose.

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If your company needs an innovative newsletter, annual report, elegant event invitation or just plain creative consulting, 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 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

Marketing Lessons to Be Learned from the Government Shutdown

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

With the government shutdown, we see Republicans and Democrats failing to communicate. Stalemates are no fun and they certainly are unproductive, costly and demoralizing.  shutdownonlyRemember, it is not which party you are in. Rather it is about keeping the party going…

Here’s some helpful tips to make us all better marketing communicators and to keep the party going:

1.  Find a microphone and get on the soapbox. Communication is the key to reaching your clients, target audience, suppliers and employees. Don’t do what Congress did, namely, to stop talking. It’s not a bunch of relatives having a typical family spat! Instead, do the opposite.  Your medium is really the microphone. Use it and blast the message out regularly.  And don’t skip issues of your publications.  It is always best to keep the communication regular and flowing. Turn up the volume; keep it colorful; keep it lively. The tide will eventually turn.

2)  Shake hands with your competition.  Never overlook who may be your future allies or business partners. Putting heads together and cooperating can help you better deal with emerging trends and might be an opportunity for sharing equipment, information, promotions and skills that could benefit both entities.

Quote3)  Find compromise with the client.  Don’t be a prima donna who is married to every word or graphic as if it is a masterpiece. Make the client your partner.  It’s not a game.  It is simply a process to deliver a successful marketing package, newsletter promotion, collateral or advertisement.  There’s no need to feel defeated even if your vision is not brought to life in full regalia. Continue reading