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.

Refreshing Your Newsletter is Like Getting a Car Wash

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

This may sound crazy, but a simple newsletter refresh can make you feel like you do when you get a car wash.  Your newly-washed car is all shiny and smelling nice and you feel like you just bought a new car.

1) Keep it smelling fresh.  Artwork should not look stale.  People can easily “sniff” out a autolavaggiocompany or organization that has not kept up with the times. Stale artwork quickly makes your company look dated and unsophisticated. That’ why it’s  to keep the information on your company website current and publish regular monthly issues of a newsletter.

2) Keep it clean.  The design should b e clean and uncluttered.  Don’t muddy it up with clutter, clip art or too much text. Proper use of white small and a minimalist approach to the design will allow you to clean up an old newsletter.

3)  Make it easy to create.  Do not publish a newsletter unless you have a plan.  This includes having a design template, photo and graphics library, selected paper stock, a contracted print vendor, an up-to-date distribution list—both for emailing and mailing. These elements should be dealt with before you delve into the world of publishing. Think ahead. Keep a list of ideas for future articles and even have content written ahead of time for quick drop-ins. This will make the job of developing a newsletter much easier.

4) Do it cost-effectively and “on the cheap.” The overhaul does not need to be elaborate, but it should be enough that people notice.  You can use low-cost digital printing, especially if you need a short-run.  Solicit advertisers to run ads in the newsletter to help decrease the cost. If you still don’t have it in the budget, try an online digital solution such as an e-newsletter or interactive iMag publication.

5)  Shine up the details, like detailing your car. It’s in the details.  Don’t overlook the simplest things such as proofreading, page numbers, photo quality, proper folding and the inclusion of a call-to-action with the company’s phone number and website.

Go ahead and make it sparkle.  You’ll have a brand spanking new look for your newsletter.  What are you waiting for?

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If your company needs a newsletter redesign, 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.

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

Paper Adds Weight to Your Marketing

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

While at a Santa Barbara paper event this past week, I was quickly reminded of the importance of paper. In the digital world we live in, we, too often, overlook the fact that humans are tactile beings. We respond better to communication messages if there is a tactile component. The best solution for effective communication is a campaign that includes both a print and a social media component.

Rotolo di carta colorataThe choice of a paper is as important as choosing a particular design or color treatment. Paper choice is so important because depending on the texture, weight, brightness, opacity, color and trim, it can enhance a design and increase the effectiveness of the message. High-grade papers can portray strength and importance. Vellum sheets, for example, can show elegance and can act as a “window” to other pages.  Paper comes in coated and uncoated stocks.  Coated stocks can have gloss, silk, satin or matt finishes. Uncoated paper stocks come in felt, velvet, velum, silk fiber, smooth, linen, and laid finishes. Papers come in an extensive range of basis weights, shades and finishes. Adding foil stamping or embossing can add dramatic effects to a report cover or annual report.

The brightness and opacity of a sheet of paper are factors in determining the cost of the paper. Generally the higher the opacity and brightness, the higher the cost of the paper.  Brightness is one of the characteristics used to determine a paper’s grade. A no. 5 paper grade has the lowest brightness (less white and uniform texture) while a grade no.1 has the highest brightness. Opacity is the degree of show-through of printing on the reverse side of the sheet.  Complete opacity is at 100% and complete transparency is at 0% in terms of the percentage of reflectance, a measure of opacity. Economy sheets generally have a grade of 3 or lower and have a lower rating of brightness.

Today, there are some wonderful low-cost, short run options for printing on the digital printing press. The HP Indigo® press, for example, can print beautiful short runs of large format posters using a process of wet ink using a CMYK dot configuration similar to conventional offset printing.   It uses liquid ink rather than toner and a six-color ink system, including light cyan and light magenta, to produce photo-realistic colors and tonality. Since there is no make-ready (the wasted sheets needed to get the press up to speed and quality), there is substantial cost and time savings. What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) and there is little need for a press check. This is important for clients who have tight budgets as well as tight deadlines. Even more exciting is the ability to print with white opaque ink, something not previously possible with traditional offset CMYK printing. Other benefits include unique bookbinding options where pages are hand sewn and gathered for the binding, using a technique that allows the page to lie flat when the book is opened. This works in place of perfect binding.

Due to consolidation in the paper industry, much the result of non-print solutions such as online non-printed communications, there are now fewer paper houses and paper stocks to choose from. But that does not mean that a project still cannot be printed on an elegant paper stock.

When deciding on a paper stock, it is best to determine who is the audience for the piece and what is the shelf life. If a piece has multiple uses and a longer shelf life, it might be worth it to spend extra money on the paper stock.  If the intended use is an invitation for an elegant affair where image is important, a high-end stock may also be warranted.  But when a mass mailing is involved and the piece has a shorter life-span consider a more economical paper stock. A good rule of thumb is not to spend more on the paper if the ultimate purpose does not warrant it.

The are literally hundreds of choices when it comes to printing. I have distilled these down into 6 simplified categories:

1) Premium papers for offset printing jobs.  This is reserved for or those high-end jobs when the client is not on a shoe-string budget. Some examples include annual reports, automotive brochures, restaurant menus, jewelry boutiques, high-end coffee table books, lithographs of art and photography and beautiful paper sample books. These papers capture fine details, print with cool and crisp blue tones, and have unparalleled readability and clarity.

Many premium and environmental papers are also often acid-free. Acid-free papers are manufactured in an alkaline environment. This helps prevent the paper from discoloring and deteriorating over time, thereby adding to the longevity of the printed piece.

2) Mid-range quality sheets.  These are less expensive than the premium sheets and are commonly used for newsletters, brochures, posters and collaterals with a longer shelf life and small press runs than direct mail pieces or catalogs.  Here, paper quality is important but the job does not warrant a premium sheet.

3) Economy stocks.  These papers offer excellent print performance at a reasonable price. They allow you more bang for your buck.  These are generally used for projects where the budget is tight and quality is not as big of an issue.  Some examples include quick print flyers, direct mail pieces, news magazines, advertisements, seat drops and mailbox stuffers.

4) Web press papers. These jobs are printed on from a huge roll of paper that is fed through the printing press. Typical web fed jobs consist of newspapers, park district/recreation catalogs, newspaper inserts, magazines, direct mail pieces, class schedules and large catalogs with large runs, often 10,000 or larger. Some web presses print at speeds of 3,000 feet per minute or faster. Different options are available for the web press but usually these are not the top of the line, premium papers. The web press usually runs grade no. 2 or lower paper stock and has a high dot gain, usually around 20%.

5) Environmental papers. There are a wide range of recycled, environmental paper choices. Using these papers helps to demonstrate a commitment to our environment. There 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).

6) Digital print papers. These papers are made specifically for use when an alternative is needed to conventional offset printing. Typical digital print jobs have short runs  or consist of on-demand printing. Digital printers require exceptionally smooth papers, guaranteed for digital offset and production laser print equipment. These papers are also optimized for dry toner presses, color laser, HP Indigo and offset digital printers.

To find out more information on papers, I have included a link to a wonderful guide, Paper Basics, from Mohawk Papers. Be sure to review at page 8 which includes a list of questions to ask, when selecting a paper. In a nutshell, these include the following topics:

  • intended use
  • perception
  • printing process
  • finish
  • type of images
  • availability of envelopes
  • opacity
  • mailing costs
  • environmental concerns
  • deadline
  • budget

The touch and feel of paper can add substance and bulk to your message. Use it to get in touch! 

Paper—the message that endures.

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If your company needs an innovative newsletter, annual report, elegant event invitation, recreation guide 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.

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.

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

The Ultimate Checklist for Marketing Materials

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

Catch your breath. Stop before you click send to the printer. There’s some things to check first. These are all part of quality control.

  1. CheckboxProofread.  Have another set of eyes review all the content.  Sometimes the most glaring errors are the  most obvious and the hardest to catch. It is best to have an outsider who has never seen the content check it over with a fresh perspective.
  2. Client approval. We always make sure that our clients have signed-off on the final artwork before it goes to the printer.  NEVER skip this step. Too much finger pointing can occur later without proper sign-off from the client.  Also, it is good idea to save all e-mails and time sheets so that you have a paper trail of documentation.  Just in case… Continue reading