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 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.

Landing Your First Graphic Design Job

Young man with tabletSome of our readers have asked, “How do I go about getting my first design job?”

Here’s some advice from a seasoned pro:

  1. Find an industry sector where you would like to work. Do your research about this sector and find companies where you would like to work. Offer to do an internship.
  2. Collect a body of work.  Every time you work on a project, try to get samples of the printed piece from the client or the printer.  If you are not able to get samples, take lots of photos with your camera as well as screen grabs of the final project.
  3. Develop a log of contacts.  Keep track of everyone you contact.  Get their business cards.  Save phone numbers and call them again every few months after you have acquired more skills. Continue reading

A Few Shades of Grey: Adding Graphical Portraits to a Publication

boomer-living-1 Creating an effective corporate communication involves lots of creative experimentation to make your publication fresh and inviting. The graphics play an important part in making the publication visually intriguing. Adding special visual effects can make the publication more exciting to read and to follow.

We developed a special effect that involves converting portraiture to just a few shades of grey or gradations of one or two colors. It get away from the standard photo treatment and takes your publication one step further into the creative realm.  But it needs to be the right audience for a slightly more creative approach.

We used close-up portraits, especially of people with lots of character lines or distinctive features. This effect works great for newsletters about people, healthcare, living styles, baby boomers, seniors, authors, artists, and performers, to name a few.  It also works great for biographies.

Pictured above and below are some samples of newsletters using this effect.


To find out more about how we can help create an effective newsletter, e-publication, or invitation for your firm or organization, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

Have You Seen Your Shadow Lately?

Shadows make beautiful patterns and graphics.  Shadows have truly interesting shapes and make great silhouettes for wrapping text around and can really spice up the graphic design of a newsletter, collateral or event promotion. Just head outside on a sunny day and snap away.

Here’s three examples of shadows that we used to create interesting patterns for newsletters, either online or for print. In all cases, we colorized the images and did some quick manipulations using our image-editing software.

Jumpstart-your-summer1) Flower treatment—these are the shadows of the  Lily of the Nile, summer flowering perennials. This is a great effect for newsletters or publications dealing with gardening, planting, spring and summer and outdoor living.

Out-in-the-Wild2) The Scary animal—this is actually the shadow of my Alaskan Husky on his daily walk.  Pretty scary huh? I can see why a groundhog may be scared of his shadow but this one takes the cake.  This is a great effect for newsletters or publications dealing with Halloween, scary movies, wolves or wild dogs or life in the wild.


3) Palm Trees blowing in the wind—These are shadows created from the leaves of the palm tree. This is a great effect for newsletters or publications dealing with recreation, the outdoors, summer fun, travel or leisure.

OriginalsAbove you will see the original photos that we used in our designs.

Come out from the shadows and see how beautiful life can be!  Add some shadows to your newsletter, e-publication or invitation.

To find out more about how we can help create an effective newsletter, e-publication, or invitation for your firm or organization, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

A Great Masthead Can Make All the Difference

Let’s face it; a masthead is the first thing we see when we pick up a newsletter.  It generally tells, who, what and when.  It’s like taping a sign to your forehead and shouting, “look at me.”  A great masthead can help determine whether a publication will be successful.

An interesting masthead can make or break a newsletter.  It can get people to read further and it puts a company’s “best foot” forward.  It is often the first thing that people see in terms of a company’s image on page.  So it better be good.

Here’s some samples of mastheads that HWDS has helped design for our clients.

MTINewsbytes CommuterConnections1

HarborToHillHRESummer MMatters NorwalkTransitNewsmasthead OrangePealApril2013masthead



An effective masthead requires six main traits.  1) it should be memorable; 2) it should show strength; 3) it should convey a positive image; 4) it should embody a distinct elegance in design; 5) it should contain a catchy name and 6) it should contain the company’s name and/or logo. Yes, it is a tall order to cram all this into 2 or 3 inches of vertical space.

A masthead should be branded.  It needs to compliment other company publications and be consistent with the approved the brand.  A masthead should also be easily discernible as representing the topic it stands for. For example, a railroad newsletter should have a masthead which quickly tells the reader that it is a publication about trains.

Choosing the right typeface can make a world of difference. We work closely with the client to select a typeface that is strong, powerful and aesthetically pleasing and yet works with the topic.  Selecting the most appropriate typestyle for the topic can set the tone for the entire publication.  We often go through many iterations of a masthead before a final design is approved.

The color of the masthead can say a great deal about who you are as a company. Certain colors can show strength.  Other colors convey warmth or personalization.  We work with the client to develop the most effective color combination.  Sometimes, the masthead colors change from month to month. This provides freshness and variety and makes it easy for the reader to see that the issue is “new.”

Images included in a masthead can also define your company. We select images which best represent a company’s mission or vision for the future. The images should be positive and forward-looking and should represent the them of the newsletter.

Having the right graphic design for the masthead is critical.  So give your newsletter a makeover.  Start with the masthead and work down. To find out more about how we can help create an effective masthead for a newsletter or e-publication for your firm or organization, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

Go ahead and top-off your newsletter with the right message.  It’s like icing on a cake.


Please note: All projects displayed on this blog are meant for educational and instructional rather than promotional purposes. We respect our clients’ brand integrity.