A New Year Design Manifesto

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Here’s a list of resolutions to help you start out designing a successful New Year:

I WILL print less, digitize more…In this age of green, we can only move to greater use of online e-publications that have little impact on the environment. That does not mean that we should abandon print completely, but rather we should use it were we can have the greatest impact. Such effective uses include annual reports, car catalogs or product brochures and some direct mail pieces.
I WILL produce sustainable events that employ digital invitations, reusable directional signage, recyclable tableware, hand-printed nametags. Attendees might also be encouraged to use ridesharing or alternative fuel vehicles to reach the event.  Include commute options with the invitation.
I WILL design for cell phones, tablets and desktops with responsive design that adjusts to the device.
I WILL not print 2-color materials. Four-color printing gives so much more bang for the buck especially with the widespread use of digital printing.
I WILL design with clean, uncluttered and simple layouts with lots of white space.
I WILL use infographics to display data and I will skip the boring charts, graphs and tables. No one reads them.
I WILL refuse to use clipart.
I WILL refrain from using stock photos that have not been customized or altered. This consists of modifying photos so that they are unique to your publication or website.  This prevents them from reappearing in another publication and avoid the use of a stale prefabricated, canned image.
I WILL try to use PowerPoint less frequently for my presentations. In my opinion, it is dated and trite. I will try other programs such as Adobe Keynote or programs such as Adobe Muse to provide interactivity. Simple talking points with a few visuals are often enough. Why put the audience to sleep? If I do use PowerPoint, I will limit my presentations to five words per slide, and I will not repeat what is already visible on the screen. Try something new and original.
I WILL design websites that are informational and functional, rather than complex works of art. The days of websites driven by special effects and animated graphics are long gone.
I WILL create communications that show diversity and inclusivity in the use of photos.
I WILL strive to create publications that have a localized feel to better tie products and services to the community
I WILL strive develop publications which promote giving back to the community or that have a charitable component.
I WILL print on recycled papers using vegetable-based inks.
I WILL, I CAN AND I PROMISE to create better and more enriching communications.

Make 2016 the best it can be. Art makes life livable.

Deadlines to Keep Clients on Track

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

 

Staying on deadline

More often than not, clients hand a design or marketing firm a super tight deadline for completion of a project. Yet, this is just the nature of the business where everything is due yesterday. You are lateAs creatives, we have grown used to these types of demands. But what happens when the client cannot meet their own deadline???

Too often, as an art director and project manager, I am waiting on the client to provide emails or respond to a request for approval. They are the ones holding up the show.

 

Here’s 9 tips for the design or marketing consultant to follow:

1) Set up milestones at the beginning of the project. Get the client to buy off on these.

2) Be Flexible when you can.  Work with the client to revamp the schedule, if needed, but let them know that the final delivery may also slip (through no fault of your own). Don’t be inflexible, unless there is an event or a hard delivery deadline.

3)  Ask the printer if they may have an extra cushion of time that would allow you to send the files a bit later.

4)  Send friendly, but non-nagging reminders, with deadline dates for a response.  Let the client know that you are helping them to save money for rush charges at the printer. Always add a due date to any correspondence regarding edits or approvals.

5) Provide reminder messages. Kindly let the client know if you don’t get the information by_______(date) that their project may drop down behind other projects you are currently working on. Other clients should not to be impacted due to the lack of promptness of this slow-responding customer.

6) Keep an up-to-the date production calendar at your office.  This not only needs to be easy to maintain but also needs to be fluid. Dates will most likely change due to the shifting demands of clients.

7) Document all client missed deadlines and your requests for a response or action.

8) Stay in constant communication with the client.  Friendly reminder messages sent via email or by phone  are great ways to stay in touch but don’t be a constant nag. Space out messages to every few days.  Do not overstep your bounds.

9) Adopt a sense of humor.  It will get you through the project.  My humorous motto is, “I’m Harlan West, the Best Pest in the West!”  One needs to be a bit of a pest in this industry if they are to be successful.  Indeed, the client can often be their own worst enemy.

Remember, missing a deadline can be deadly to an advertising or marketing firm.  That’s probably why we call them “drop dead” dates.

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If your company or organization needs an innovative or unique solution for a promotion or marketing campaign, 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.

 

Silver Marketing—75 Bold Ideas to Make Your Publications More Successful

By 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 75 blog posts! Celebrate with us by continuing to read our blog and encouraging your friends and colleagues to subscribe as well.  Here’s a list of the last 25 blog posts on our site. These constitute 25 unique ideas for making your marketing publications (online and print) more effective and hence successful.

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Here’s 25 fabulous reasons since our 50th blog to keep reading, rereading and forwarding.  Each one of titles contains a link to the original article on our blog at  successfulcorporatecommunications.com.

75. Make Your Marketing Grow Green

74. A Great New Visual Effect for Beautifying Corporate Reports: Pairing Grayscale with Color Images

73. This Mothers Day, Give Mom Flowers—By Design

72. Marketing Materials are More Effective When you Paint with Your Content

71. 23 Tips for Developing an Effective Park District/Recreational Catalog

70. Delivery: Too Often an Overlooked Piece of the Marketing Package

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

 68. Fashionable Design

 67. Avoid Milk Toast Marketing for the Masses

66. Why Retail is Dying a Slow and Painful Death

65. The Benefits of Press-Checking a Printed Publication

64. Flying Off the Web Press with 50,000 Quantity

63. Political Campaigns: Dont Throw Your Hat in the Ring Without Effective Branding

62. A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part II

61. A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part I

60. Refreshing Your Newsletter is Like Getting a Car Wash

59. Why Small Businesses Need Newsletters for Effective Marketing

58. Why Doctor Groups and Healthcare Professionals Need Newsletters

57. Fly Higher with an Airline Newsletter

56. The Value of Transit Industry Newsletters

 55. How the Printing Industry Has Become Environmentally-Friendly

54. Look No Further for Inspiration

53. Paper Adds Weight to Your Marketing

52. Happy Halloween from Successful Corporate Communications!

51. 50 Reasons to Follow the Successful Corporate Communications Blog

Use these great ideas to grow your corporate marketing, design more effective publications, gather inspiration, use paper effectively, refresh your newsletter, develop effective recreational catalogs, make delivery services run smoothly, and to try new photo treatments.

Like silver, a precious metal which symbolizes a “75th anniversary, these 75 blog posts are precious tips for building successful corporate communications

 

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If your company or organization needs an innovative or unique design solution for an invitation, corporate report, newsletter or website, 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.

 

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

Flying Off the Web Press with 50,000 Quantity

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

Roll’n, Roll’n Off the Presses We Go

It’s exciting to watch a publication being printed on the web press. Paper is fed from a continuous 2,000 lb. spindle of paper that is fed through what seem like two stories of mechanical gingerbread parts. Around and around it goes, till the publication is magically printed two-sided, folded and then spit out the other end at a rate of 10 pieces per second. In no time, 50,000 or even 100,000 copies are ready to be bound, trimmed, labeled sorted and bundled for distribution or mailing. I am reminded of a  tour that I attended at the Chicago Sun Times while I was in middle school, many a moon ago.

With the web press, the quality is not the same as most sheet-fed presses. Indeed, the web press offers great cost savings for newspapers, news magazines, recreation guides and direct mailers with large print runs. Yet, it is important to allow for some issues such as offsetting, where the ink, since it may not fully dry before folding, actually creates a slight impression onto another page. Another disadvantage is that the Web press can also slightly crease and crinkle pages during the very quick folding process. Nonetheless, these are small trade-offs for the benefits in cost-savings, especially for a quantity of more than 50,000 pieces.

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1) A publication being printed on the high-speed web press. 2) Pallets of publications are shrink-wrapped for delivery.  3) A recreation guide coming off the press folded and ready for binding with the cover.  4) Huge rolls of paper for the web press. 5) A roll of paper on the web press. 6) The web press machine nearly fills an entire warehouse.

Shoot’n out the press we go.  It’s a – high-speed world!

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If your company needs a recreation guide, a news magazine or a large-run multi-page publication, 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.

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.