Building a successful brand requires a coordinated effort. The goal is to secure a positive and lasting place in the minds of your target audience. “Brand consistency” is an important tool in these situations. This term refers to maintaining a uniform image and identity throughout your company and products. The consistency helps to keep your brand vivid and recognizable. The result of brand consistency is a cohesive and unified marketing front that gets real results. Here are 5 important aspects of branding consistency:
1. Consolidate your image and message.
Design a single logo that will translate well on a light or dark background. Pick a font that is unique and very legible. Write a catchy phrase that not only encompasses your brand mission, but is also concise, ambitious and difficult to forget. The product created in this step will determine the public perception of your brand so make sure your visuals and phrasing accurately represent your values.
2. Invest in branded communication tools.
An easy way to solidify your brand is to use a single source for your printed materials, especially your stationary package (custom letterhead, envelopes and business cards) and marketing materials (postcards, flyers, brochures, posters). Selecting a single printer for your entire organization will help ensure that your materials are printed using the correct ink and stock each time. Branded daily communication tools keep your concept fresh for customers as they receive your correspondence.
3. Develop a branded social media presence.
There is no doubt that social media has forever changed the way we handle business. Social media has the power to make or break many modern companies. Establish your brand presence online to give your business a voice and a clear position in the online chatter about your company. Make sure you jump into social media soon enough to acquire a user name that reflects your brand and make sure your logo is flexible enough to be noteworthy in the square shape that is used for most social media postings.
4. Power your branded documents using web-to-print document sourcing.
By working with your printing company to create online templates and pre-defined print specifications within a web-to-print portal, you can ensure that your documents always meet your brand standards. Eliminate the opportunity for renegade employees to change your logo color or typeset your company name in their favorite font by giving them the opportunity to easily order their printed materials through an online corporate print shop where they can edit the information you want them to be able to change, but cannot change the document features that have been established by the marketing department, such as colors, fonts, headlines, and images. By using a web-to-print storefront, you can be confident that employees are using the correct logo and style guide selections, ensuring that your brand remains consistent with all employee publications and communications.
5. Build up branded “infrastructure.”
Items like car wraps, window clings, floor decals, and large format banners take your brand beyond day-to-day communication. They establish a physical presence for your brand within your local community or even within your own building. This helps to create a positive brand experience for your employees and customers.
Art can provide a vivid and lively experience for viewers to help add excitement to an otherwise dull day (Monday!). A great way for artwork to provide that energy is through bold and deliberate use of bold colors. Bright colors, stark contrast, and monochromatic designs can really accentuate that energy as well. Here are 8 beautiful examples of this concept:
It’s Friday again! You’re probably a little exhausted from the week and also excited about the upcoming weekend. Both of these factors can make it very difficult to maintain focus and efficiency during the work day. Staying focused and productive does not have to be difficult. It’s all about building the right habits that will help you stay on top of your game all week long. Here are five habits you can incorporate to keep your performance at 100%:
1. Write it down!
Planning is essential to being productive. You need to assess how much time you have and how much you have to get done in that time. A great way to motivate yourself to follow through with your plans is to write them down. Write your goals and to-do lists in a highly visible place that you will see throughout the day. This keeps the task fresh on your mind and helps you maintain a prioritized list.
2. Use a timer to help you maintain a sense of urgency.
Using a timer keeps you aware of how quickly you work. Timers also help you to set goals for increasing speed during your everyday tasks. Some people even find that personal time trials can be a fun competition to try and beat your fastest time.
3. Avoid all distractions during your high-productivity time.
Everyone has specific times during the day that they are more productive. It’s important to take advantage of this time so that you have less work to do on your “off hours.” Shut off or mute your phone. Disable email alerts if possible. Avoid having internet windows open if possible too because the flashing ads can make it difficult to concentrate.
4. Knock out the more difficult tasks first.
Procrastinating on harder tasks is one of the worst time-killers. You will most likely spend all day avoiding these tasks in favor of quick and easy work that takes little effort. The downside of this is that you won’t feel like you accomplished much at the end of the day and the small tasks may wear you out enough that you put off the more important projects for another day which only makes the problem worse.
5. Take care of yourself!
This is the most important factor in leading a productive lifestyle. Get adequate sleep, take time to rest during the day, eat healthy, exercise often, and don’t forget to schedule time for fun activities. When you’re mind and body are cared for, they are capable of great things!
Start adding elements of these habits into your daily schedule today. Start slow so you can learn how to cope with the changes in a positive way. You’ll be amazed with what you can do by developing these habits.
Using flat text in design work is easy and works well for conveying details. However, you can add significant motion and energy to an image by giving your text depth. This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to orient your text to match lines in an image and create a depth-of-field focus effect to help blend the text into the environment.
Place your background image in Photoshop. For this project, it’s best to choose a photo with strong direction and lines that can help to create a sense of depth.
We will be working with re-sizing text so it’s important to work with a large font. In this step, we will create a larger canvas to give ourselves more room to work with the oversized font. Go to Image > Canvas Size.
Make the canvas fairly large (the larger the font, the less pixelation when we get into the later steps). When you’ve typed your sizes, Click “Ok.”
Select a legible font. We will be turning and reshaping this font later and complex fonts can tend to become difficult to read at an angle. Increase the font size to as large as you can without running off the sides of the canvas.
When you’ve typed a phrase you’d like to work with, go to Layer > Rasterize > Type. This will allow us to access more in depth transformation features.
Select your text layer and go to Edit >Transform >Distort
Use the nodes (small squares around the edge of your selected object) to drag your text into a shape that fits your image. In this image, I narrowed the end of the phrase to make it look like it was fading into the distance with the road. Click the check mark at the top of the page to finalize your changes.
When you’re happy with the placement of your text, go to Layer > Flatten Image. You may notice that there are extra layers in the layer panel – I was adding a shadow to the ground near the letters. This isn’t a necessary step but it helps the text look more natural in the setting.
Duplicate your layer by going to Layer > Duplicate. Click “Ok” in the dialogue box that appears.
With your copied layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur
The Lens Blur filter simulates the way a camera lens focuses. Increase the radius control to determine the amount of blur you add to your image. Don’t add too much blur that you can’t read your text. When you’re happy with the results, click “Ok.”
Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. This will add a layer mask to your image. A layer mask allows you to select which parts of an image are effected by a filter like Lens Blur.
Select the paintbrush tool and select black as your foreground color. Set your brush for a low opacity, large size, and low hardness (Hold Alt+Right click and drag your mouse left/right/up/down to quickly make changes to your brush size and hardness. The red circle in the image below shows the brush as it’s being resized using this process). When you’ve set up your brush, select the white box next to your blurred layer (this is the layer mask) begin painting over the areas that you want to remove the blur effect. Go slowly and check your progress as you continue to paint over the image. You want to create a subtle fade from the clear areas to the blurred areas. Extreme changes make the effect look less authentic.
Take a look at your progress. As you’ve been painting over the image, you probably noticed the small white box for the layer mask has been indicating where you have been painting.
After you’re happy with your depth-of-field effect, you can finish editing your image to taste.
When it’s done right, the effect can help lead the viewer’s eyes through the image by determining where the key focus areas are. It also creates a charming effect similar to Tilt-Shift Photography.
The business world is constantly changing and evolving. Companies run through marketing campaigns, public relations, and product expansion to stay relevant. Unfortunately those efforts are not always enough to keep up. Long-standing companies may have to come to terms with the fact that their brand is out-of-date. Rebranding allows a company to overhaul their public image and hopefully jump right back into healthy competition with other modern businesses. Rebranding can involve a logo redesign, philosophy changes, redirecting marketing efforts, and much more. You may be surprised to see what some of your favorite brands have evolved from. Here are a few examples of successful rebrands:
If you need to rebrand your company, use these 5 essential questions to help you through the process:
1. What prompted the need to alter the brand?
Answering this question will help pinpoint problems in the current branding strategy. This will also help you to make sure you’re not fixing something that isn’t broken. Rebranding comes with a fair share of risks so it’s not a practice to be used without cause.
2. Am I marketing to the same audience as before?
Your philosophy, location, and clientele may change over time. Take the time to assess if you’re aiming your efforts towards the areas where it will matter.
3. What do I want the new brand image to say about my business?
Your brand image should be the visual embodiment of your company philosophy. Research and study reactions to the new image to ensure the message will be clearly conveyed to the public.
4. What do I hope to accomplish with the new marketing direction?
Are you trying to refine/mature your business image or go in a completely new direction? Are you trying to increase sales in your current market or appeal to new demographics? Having specific goals for the new brand will help you to measure the success of your rebranding.
5. Can the new brand image stand the test of time?
Rebranding is a difficult process. You have to find the right imagery, statements, and marketing angle. You are also at the mercy of the consumers’ opinion. All these risks dictate that you should avoid rebranding often. Make sure your new brand image will last for years to come. Don’t use designs based on trends. Use style elements that have prevailed through time. Simple designs tend to have more staying power as well.
Just be careful about how your new image will be perceived by the public. Pepsi’s recent logo redesign is a great example of this concept:
Adding visual interest to your next print project could be as easy as using a new and exciting font. Here is a collection of 6 free line-based fonts that create captivating designs through bold use of lines:
The lines are clean and carry a lot of motion through the text. Some characters have unique spacing so kerning (adjusting letters left and right to eliminate unwanted empty space) may be necessary.
Prism is a similar font to Paralis but the character shapes are more traditional making it easier to use them for designs.
This font has a certain retro charm to it (maybe reminiscent of a vintage movie theater).
Lovelo is a fun font that can be very easy to work with. The rounded corners make it convenient for design work like the neon sign picture above.
Iron is a classy font that has elements of modern and vintage style.
Libre is an adventurous font design. The multi-level lines give it a three-dimensional appearance and the slight lean gives the text a feeling of forward motion.
United Reprographics was commissioned by Inflatable Film LLC to print promotional materials for an exciting new film included in this year’s SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival), Finding Hillywood.
We would like to share a little about this inspiring movie:
“Set amongst the hills of Rwanda, Finding Hillywood chronicles one man’s road to forgiveness, his effort to heal his country, and the realization that we all must one day face our past. A unique and endearing phenomenon film about the very beginning of Rwanda’s film industry and the pioneers who bring local films to rural communities. A real life example of the power of film to heal a man and a nation.” - www.findinghillywood.com
For our readers in the Seattle area, there is a showing of Finding Hillywood at 4pm tomorrow afternoon at the Egyptian Theater (Wednesday, June 5th 2013). We highly recommend viewing this uplifting film! Tickets and information can be found here: http://www.siff.net/festival-2013/finding-hillywood
The nation of Rwanda suffered through a horrific genocide in 1994. Over 20% of the nation’s population were killed during a 100 day period. Almost 20 years later, this heavy event still burdens the hearts of Rwandan citizens. The film Finding Hillywood centers around a man, Ayuub Kasasa Mago, and the developing Rwandan film culture. The prime concept of this documentary is exploring the use of film to help Rwandans cope with events of the past, understand current issues, and provide the ability to move forward in a positive direction. Ayuub says, “we have so many stories that haven’t been told, and we can make them in movies!” (For even more motivation to see the film tomorrow, Ayuub will be attending the Seattle screening too!)
We had the opportunity to speak with the director, Leah Warshawski and learn more about the project:
What is “Hillywood”?
Hillywood is an annual traveling film festival in Rwanda started in 2004. Featured work by local filmmakers provides a positive way to express and understand current and past issues experienced by Rwandans. The name “Hillywood” comes from the description of Rwanda as “the land of a thousand hills.”
What meaning(s) do you hope people will take away from watching this film?
“We hope this film can give people a new way to look at Rwanda and the history of that country. Most people hear ‘Rwanda’ and only think of the past: genocide, guerillas, and war. They don’t know that Rwanda is green with lakes, trees, hills and volcanoes. They don’t know about its unique culture and arts.” said Warshawski. The Finding Hillywood crew also hope that people will see the talent and potential in the Rwandan film culture. “Money and donated cameras are good but those donations don’t always go to the right places.” Ideally, they would like to see the local filmmakers and production workers hired to work on more projects (local and international).
Does your crew have any plans to work together in the future? If so, are there any upcoming projects we can look forward to?
We’ve already signed a contract for a new documentary to be filmed in Uganda where we will be working alongside the key character in Finding Hillywood, Ayuub Kasasa Mago. This time, Ayuub will be a member of the film crew instead of the subject of the film. This is exactly the type of partnership that the Finding Hillywood crew hope to promote.
Here’s a picture of the director in front of the theater for tomorrow’s screening:
Most people use a business card as a simple means of delivering personal information. The standard rectangular business card is professional, effective, and affordable. However, sometimes it’s the cards that break conventions that really get noticed. Here are 10 great examples of odd yet memorable business cards:
1. Locksmith Tools
This card is certainly interesting and could come in handy if you manage to lock yourself out of a room/vehicle. They may or may not unlock the door but at least you have the number of someone who can.
2. Bike Multi-Tool
In a bike-friendly city like Seattle, this card would find plenty of use. It won’t fix a flat tire but it might be able to hold your bike together long enough to get to the nearest repair shop.
3. The Shoehorn Card
For expensive shoes or shoes that are a little too tight, the shoehorn card can help you out of a jam!
4. The Comb Card
Windy days can turn your hair-do into a nightmare! A comb business card could be the solution you need.
5. The Bobby-Pin Card
This creative card is fun, interactive, and can also tame unruly hair.
6. The Rubber Band Card
Rubber bands are infinitely useful but never seem to be around when you need them. You could be the hero when you pass out your business cards!
7. The Clothes-Pin Card
This “card” can be used for all sorts of tasks like holding paper together or keeping chip bags closed. This would be MacGuyver’s business card of choice.
8. The Bottle Opener Card
This amusing business card can be a life-saver in casual environments like a bar or barbecue. Thirsty clients will be glad to hold on to your information.
9. The Meat Card
Business cards can be informative.. and tasty? Edible business cards are funny and clever. Just hope people save your information before they get hungry.
10. The Catapult Card
This may not be useful for a specific purpose, but it looks like it would be a fun break from daily routine. Admit it. Your inner-child thinks this is awesome.