Marketing Materials are More Effective When you “Paint” with Your Content

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 week I met an interesting landscape designer who creates drought-tolerant gardens with a wilder more natural feeling. While we were discussing a new garden at my home, she made a very interesting point. She arranges plants or as she says, “I paint with plants.”  In short, she creates a visual masterpiece by painting with the subject matter.

With respect to corporate communications, we basically paint with a non-paint medium. As designers, we paint with puzzles and pieces and patterns. You can try this by finding a natural resource that is related to the theme of your product or service and then “painting” or designing with it to give a lush feel to your publication.

PAINTING WITH PATTERNSPatternsSMALLER

Here’s some elements that provide great design enhancements:

 

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Delivery: Too Often an Overlooked Piece of the Marketing Package

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

 

Too often a publication can be beautifully designed and printed but the delivery goes a-rye and makes the project a complete failure. For instance, I once had a client use a very high-end marketing kit for a press conference on delivery-trucka huge federally subsidized underground railroad system.  We designed a beautiful promotional kit for the event. At the event were to be lots of VIPs including U.S. Congressmen, Senators and various other federal, state and local government officials.  All steps were taken to ensure that this was an exquisite piece with optimum print quality, a press check, aqueous coating and a special spot color plate.  No expense was spared and no corners were cut. The piece looked great.

Then came the delivery…

Unfortunately the final delivery was attempted but the driver took a wrong turn and arrived at the venue after the event occurred. Needless to say the client was quite embarrassed due to the actions of one individual in the mix. Luckily we did not hire the printer but had merely provided the names of several good local printers. Nonetheless, everyone looked bad since the end-product was basically rendered useless.

Here’s some very simple suggestions to avoid delivery disaster:

1. Be sure to ask the client, “Is there a hard deadline such as a conference, board meeting or other public gathering?” Always request projects back from a printer at least a day or two before the actual event.  Waiting till the morning of an event for the delivery is just too late.  You don’t want to end up with egg on your face!

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Using the Influence of Art Deco Architecture to Add Elegance to a Publication

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

 

At HWDS we often draw inspiration for our designs frochryslerm the art deco architecture of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Its craft motif style drew from the age of machinery and features symmetrically designed patterns of geometric shapes and intricate ornamentation. Repetition of graphical shapes is a key element of the art deco architectural movement.  Colors often consist of pastels including pinks and teals as well as the use of silver and platinum. Its rich patterning of repetitive lines and shapes make it  the source of wonderful elements for logo design and border treatments.

Here you will find some samples of art deco architecture, most notably seen in the Chrysler building, far right, in New York City.

southbeach

 

A great place to see art deco architecture is South Beach, Florida.  South Beach, also known as SoBe is actually a neighborhood in the city of Miami Beach.  It probably has the largest number of remaining art deco buildings in the United States.  Certainly it has the largest number of art deco hotels in the northern hemisphere. The repeating shapes founds in some of these building can be wonderful elements for  corporaArt Deco Architecturete logo designs. A spectacular book of SoBe architecture is Deco Delights, Preserving the Beauty and Joy of Miami Beach Architecture by Barbara Baer Capitman with photographs by Steven Brooke. Prints from the book are available at Steven Brooke’s website.

Other examples of art deco architecture can bemosaic150 seen in intricate mosaic patterns in the architecture of Europe where majestic fortresses were built with curved  plaster patterns.

Art deco typically uses these design elements:

1) Symmetry—A very symmetrical, balanced design resonates through the architecture.  Doors and windows are arrayed uniformly, cohesively and identically throughout the structure.

2) Lines—Beautiful, strong lines flow though the exterior of the structure and often serve as a decorative motif.  These can often be seen in balconies and the fascia of the building.  Often these lines are decorated with bands of silver metal or platinum.

3) Repetition—Geometric shapes and lines are echoed throughout the building and often repeated several times. These can be both in the exterior and interior of the structure.  This repetition can also be seen in doorways, windows, balconies and decorative elements.

4) Rhythm—Here decorative elements are arranged in a symphonic harmony.  The art deco era is characteristic of a style with incredible energy with bold colorful, geometric shapes and intense rhythm where the repetition of elements crates an atmospheric harmony throughout the building.

5) Pattern—Art deco structures frequently have patterns of mosaics, waves and symmetry arrayed in the design.

6) Color—Art deco architecture frequently used light neutral colors with the addition of silver and gold accents that were combined with sand, gray, beige and peach walls.  Pastels were also frequently used.

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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

The Benefits of Press-Checking a Printed Publication

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

Today, press checks are often overlooked due to the better software and printing equipment which pretty much make the process “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG). There are fewer surprises on press than 20 years ago and proofs are much better. Yet, any surprise, unless it has an uncharacteristically positive impact, is usually something to avoid. I especially recommend press checking those jobs that are not the Fotolia_14739158_XS“run-of-the-mill” type of print project. Annual reports, press kits, automobile brochures, magazines, corporate reports and sales kits should be press-checked.  Generally the more expensive and the more complicated the job, the more important it is to do a press check.

Why it is important to attend a press check:
1) A press check provides for quality assurance. It’s the designer and the project manager’s last chance to check for color density, trapping and registration issues, as well as color consistency. During the press check, it is also a good opportunity to check crossovers, the application of tinted varnishes and the legibility of type against colored backgrounds.  Sometimes just a small shift on press can make a world of difference in terms of legibility of the type or how “plugged-up” a photo may appear.

2) A press check allows one to verify proper PMS color matching, bleeds, smooth gradients, and to check for paper “see-through.”  PMS matching is critical especially where a specific corporate color is required.  This is essential for corporate branding. Don’t be afraid to have the pressman make several “moves” on press to ensure that the color is “spot-on.” It is also the time to check the bleeds. While standing at the press, ask the printer to trim down a sample of a press sheet.  Make sure that the inks are fully saturated to the end of the sheet.  Make sure that gradients are not banding.  Finally, you will want to check for see through of image from one side of the sheet to the other.  Obviously it is too late to change the paper stock once the job is on press.  But you could have the pressman hold back or run lighter on the ink to help minimize this issue. 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

How the Printing Industry Has Become Environmentally-Friendly

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

Printers have moved from being detrimental to the environment to being very supportive of the recycling movement.

RollsofpaperpaperWhile at a press check this weekend for a job on the web press, I was actually reminded of how much large commercial printers do to promote recycling and sustainability. In fact, the printing industry is one of the biggest adherents to recycling. First and foremost, most printed products today are printed on paper stock made from recycled paper pulp. In addition, the printing industry has moved away from using colored papers due to the difficulty and added cost of recycling these papers. Today, the large amount waste created from printing during the make-ready stage and bindery stage is typically collected, baled and compacted into a block and then sold to companies that make products from paper and printing waste.

Paperpaperon-pressIndeed, the printing industry gets an undeserved bad wrap for being environmentally unfriendly. In all actuality, most printers today print on papers that are made of recycled fibers and they send the waste from the printing process, otherwise known as “make-ready” as well as the used metal plates off to be recycled.  Nearly 60% of printed publications today are printed on paper made of recycled fibers. By using recycled papers and planting new trees, the printing industry is taking essential steps to reduce the deforestation of our earth.

The great thing to keep in mind is that paper is not only biodegradable but it is also recyclable and reusable.

As stated in our blog post, Paper Adds Weight to Your Marketing, there are a wide range of recycled, environmental paper choices. Using these papers helps to demonstrate a commitment to our environment. webpress3There are 100%, 80% and 30% post consumer fiber choices as well as 50% alternative fibers/50% consumer fibers. These papers are Processed Chlorine Free (PCF), FSC® Certified (meeting the mark of responsible forestry), Green Seal™ Certified (a minimum of 30% post consumer fiber with mill processes and packaging that are environmentally preferable) and Carbon Neutral Plus (helping to reduce carbon emissions with a commitment to conserving the environment).

Printers also help the environment by:

  • Eliminating excess ink use by performing precise calculations
    to reduce the amount of wasted ink
  • Using soy-based or vegetable inks
  • Using more digital printing presses instead of offset lithography
  • Recycling rags and clean-up materials
  • Complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
    mandated regulations

So next you visit a large commercial printer for a press check, ask to see how they are reducing their carbon footprint. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.

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If your company needs an innovative newsletter, annual report, creative consulting or print management, 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.