Posted on / by / in Advertising, Branding, Digital Marketing, Promotion

Branding Checklist – The Ultimate Guide: Part 2

Your customer’s experience

After you have had the chance to take inventory of all the places your branding shows up – it’s time to review and audit what needs to be updated or created to reflect your current brand platform and identity standards.

First prioritize the starting line for your customer and use their next steps as a map into figuring out what comes next.

For example, if you are selling a product in stores and participating in trade shows, the package design, in store POS (point of sale) promotional signage, and trade show elements would be the first things your customer see. From there, maybe the buyer receives a sell sheet, showcasing your products and information associated with it.

With visual story telling, information hierarchy, and distinctive product packaging that stands out on the shelf – the customer then may buy your product.

The overall customer experience touches on various points of your branding, thus leaving that lasting impression or purchase. Having a road map that will show you which scenarios your customer might take next. You’ll want to know their path so that whatever direction they take – you be sure there are no loose ends of where your brand shows up.

 

Make it all come together

So by now you’ve established all the places your branding exists and you know where and how your potential customer is engaging with your brand. It is now time to make sure all the elements of your brand platform have a consistent and cohesive look and feel. Take a look at our case study on Painting Hamilton – their brand went from DiRago Painting to Painting Hamilton, and we cohesively made the connection across their brand platform to touch on different areas their brand lives including their logo, typography, colour, marketing materials, and web presence.

We may be biased but our recommendation is to hire a graphic designer. Ideally the person or team who helped you create and establish your branding from the beginning, to help you implement your brand’s platform across the board, wherever your brand shows up.

If it’s the person who initially created your brand – you can trust them to make choices on a whim when it comes to how your brand is applied across different facets. If you’re working with a freelance design, you may need to give them more direction until they are comfortable and familiar with the look and feel of your brand.

When working with a graphic designer, the more you can batch your projects together, the more seamless and efficient you can be with your budget and timelines. This means you’ll need to be more organized with your marketing strategy and efforts.

You might be inclined to tackle branding yourself – but we have seen far too many people butcher their beautiful brand by trying to become a graphic designer. It might be a little bit of an investment to hire help, but we promise it will save you money in the long run.

Posted on / by / in Advertising, Branding, Digital Marketing, Promotion

Branding checklist – the ultimate guide: Part 1

 

Your branding should tell the story of you, your company, and your business. A strong foundational brand makes your memorable and helps you stand out in the sea of competition. From the first impression of potential customers to the gushing reviews and raving referrals from previous clients – your branding is your key identifying factor.

When you have a reputation to live up to, it’s so important that you are consistently hitting the nail on the mark in all facets of your brand. From your company’s name, logo, colour story, photography, mission statement, tagline, voice and tone should be consistent across all platforms – from your website, print material, advertising, and social media. It should even spread across areas of your brand that you maybe haven’t even thought were necessary such as your own company culture, copy writing, sell sheets, and presentation slides.

IT ALL STARTS WITH YOUR BRAND PLATFORM

The first steps to putting together a killer brand are creating consistency and cohesiveness throughout all platforms associated with it. Here at AS Advertising, the brand platforms we create for our clients often include:

 

BRANDING


 

Logo design & development:

One of the key defining factors of a brand is its logo. A logo is a simple yet strategic visual mark that holds so much meaning. The most fundamental action of a logo is to help differentiate you from other businesses. A logo identifies key information about your business. It can communicate the industry your in, the services you provide, your target demographics and your brand values.

Brand identity standards:

This is a branding blueprint that goes into details about the visual parts of your brand including your logo (or logo suite if you have various versions such as horizontal and vertical applications), brand colours (including PMS, RGB, CMYK, and black and white versions), typography and fonts (and what applications they can and cannot be used in), branded icons, supporting patterns, graphics and photography.

Brand voice:

This includes anything with words – including your company’s name, tagline, mission statement (often known as the “elevator pitch”), a brand story (that connects the emotional “why” to your company’s services and offerings), copy writing (on promotional print material and online presence such as website, social media, blogs, course, presentations etc.).

“Your brand platform is the lifeline of your brand. It can be translated to all the places your brand lives. You’ll want to keep these items top of mind and revisit them any time you’re creating something new for your business.”

 

Once you have your brand platform defined, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the look, feel and voice of your brand and where it can be found. First things first – lets figure our where your brand is showing up currently.

 

ONLINE


 

Website

From imagery, key words, copy, typography, fonts, colours, and layout – your brands website is an essential component of your brand and a vital bridge for your clients to find and reach out to you. Your website should accurately reflect your brand and business offerings. Make it a point to review your website on a yearly basis to make sure that everything is still relevant.

Social media

From Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, there are so many platforms out there to sprinkle your brand – and consistently too! Think about your daily posts, your avatar or profile pic, and your cover image and profile copy. These are all opportunities for consistency and cohesion.

Email

From your weekly newsletters to your email signature and even your actual email address – these are all opportunities for bringing your brand in.

Digital advertising

It is essential to make a compelling impression that grabs the viewers (and potential clients!) attention while staying true to your brand. Think about the messaging, the tone, and visual appearance – these are all elements to build your brand awareness.

 

Print


 

Stationery

Business cards, letterheads and company envelopes are all key touch points and opportunities to make your brand shine! No matter what people say – business cards are still 100% relevant. Often times they are your first point of contact when meeting someone. Make sure you are memorable by investing in quality designed and “nice feeling” business cards – it’s often the deciding factor to keep or toss a call card.

 

Brochures, folders, posters, books, and informational pieces

All of these are branded components that need to be visually connected and consistent with your brand.

Packaging

If you sell products, is your packaging delivering the experience you want your customers to have? Does your packaging stand out on the shelf in the sea of competition? Is it memorable? Does it link to your branding (visually and through it’s tone and messaging)?[/vc_column_text]

IN PERSON


Spaces and events

Office, work, and shop spaces, trade shows and vendor events – when it comes down to in-person events, it’s all about building your brands experience. Engage all the senses – smell, taste, and sound. What kind of lasting impression do you want to linger? These small details are often left out of your brand platform, especially if your business is mainly online. However, they are considerations that can make or break that first impression for a potential or existing client.

Signage

From your logo signage, window graphics and clings, to directional and informational signage, and car or vehicle wraps – these strategic applications of your brand deserve consideration. They will set you apart from the competition and will leave that lasting impression.

Your personal style and appearance – The way you show up to networking events is a reflection of your brand – especially if you are a personal brand. If you are not a personal brand, you and the employees you are hiring are a reflection of the company you stand behind.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & Video


 

Photography

Photography is a facet of your brand that can show up in various applications of your brands platform –in person, in print and online. Photos set the tone of your brand and build a story – you know that saying “a picture speaks a thousand words”. Consider a series of photos including headshots, candid working photos, styled shoots and product or service photography, and conceptual or environmental images to help portray and your brands story and message. We recommend hiring a photographer on a yearly basis for a branded shoot, including headshots and supplementing with stock photography with your brand standards in mind.

Video

Strategically incorporating video into your branding helps your audience visualize and understand your story. Videos captivate your audience along with building trust. When your potential clients see you and what you do in action – it bridges that gap of the unknown. Videos help visualize your process and are insightful for those “behind the scenes” footage

 

Hello from AS Advertising from Dino Giudice on Vimeo.

 

Stay tuned for The Branding Checklist – The Ultimate Guide: Part 2 where we walk your through how to put these elements together to leverage your brand

 

 

Posted on / by / in Advertising, Branding, Graphic Design

5 Useful Ways to Spot an Amateur Designer

 

5 Useful ways to spot an Amateur Designer

Your fav client reaches out about an exciting new project to revive their website. They pop you over an email saying “Hey! Here is our new logo design! Can you tweak it to work for our website? No big deal right? Here’s the file!.” You proceed with caution to open the attachment and low and behold – a low resolution, very pixelated, mutli-colour JPEG logo file. *Face Palm*. This is when you realize your working with an Amateur Designer.

via GIPHY

It’s not always that simple to spot them. Sometimes you have to do a bit more searching to be sure that your victim is an actual rookie. Here are some easy (and not so easy) ways to spot the Amateur:

Font Stretching

The ABSOLUTE worst. You know that lovely elegant serif font that you are forever trying to identify with Whatthefont or Identifont, and absolutely nothing comes up in the search. Then it dawns on you that you’ve wasted so much time all to realize that it’s a font that has been mishandled and stretched.

Font stretching is a total rookie move for many reasons. There is really no good reason to stretch a font – especially when many typefaces now come with a number of options (condensed, extended, light, medium, heavy bold, extra bold). Secondly, if you ever have to go back in later to make adjustments or add more text, you will never get it to match the previous version. Serifs get stretched, the “thicks and thins” become distorted. It’s just not cute. So don’t do it.

Massive Shadows, Elaborate Gradients, Radient Glows, and Heavy Embossing

#Throwback to when you’re a freshman in design school and you touched Photoshop for the very first time. You may have discovered the “Effects” tool and embossed, shadowed and glowed the crap out of everything in your path. Long gone are those days. These “special effects” are really not necessary when it comes to logo designs in particular. It’s just not applicable in the long run when you want to use the logo in multiple uses (think websites, social media, print material – both colour and black and white, large scale, small scale). Ultimately a logo design should be simplistic and hold so much meaning and value, withstand scaling and multiple applications (no pressure). Remember – less is more 😉

They frequently participate in “Design Contests”

Only newbies do work for free in hopes of a “life changing moment or opportunity” for exposure. Spoiler alert: It’s not going to happen. Here is how capitalism works: We solve your design problems, make things, and deliver them to you. You then pay us for those services. It’s really that simple and it makes the world go round.

Font Overload

There isn’t a set of rules on how many fonts you should use in a design but generally the standard is 2-3 fonts. You can usually tell when there is an amateur designer when you see font overload.

The more fonts you use, the more cluttered and chaotic the design will look. Even though you might think it will stand out, most of the time the opposite is true. It may become popular and might like what you produce, but it will be frowned upon by the industry.

Formatting Incorrectly

A rookie designs a company logo in Photoshop. It might be 12000 pixels wide but it’s still incorrect. An amateur edits a photo for print that 72 DPI in RGB instead of the required 300 DPI CMYK. A newbie uses the layers panel to hide parts of reference – even though they can still be seen with 1 click of a mouse. Knowing what application the design will be used down the road and building it accordingly to those specifications is crucial for time management and your sanity.

These types of mistakes happen in the beginning of ones’ design career. It might be a good chuckle at the beginning but when one of these designs land on a professionals desk to “fix” it can be very frustrating.

Not Keeping up to date on Design Trends

A lot of new designers fall into the trap of getting stuck in design school – even a decade into their career. It’s important to continually be inspired by the design trends through checking out Behance, Dribble, or scrolling Instagram. Other creative industries such as fashion, textiles, ceramics and interior design could also be inspirational when it comes to keeping up with design trends. Don’t get stuck in your own bubble – get out there and explore the trends!

 

Posted on / by / in Advertising, Media

Don’t Believe Everything You See in the Advertising World

 

Working as a Graphic Designer, there is one program that is ALWAYS open. From creating catalogues, to designing packages even developing websites- Photoshop is being used. Now for those of you who are not exactly sure what Photoshop is, it is the most popular program when it comes to graphic and photo editing software. So, it is very fitting as a designer that this is a tool that would be used on a daily basis.

 

When I first started my education and career in the design industry, I was not only excited, but also in shock with what people were capable of creating on a digital level. I also did not realize how prevalent design and photo editing were today, when it comes to anything visual. It is EVERYWHERE! Now that I am in a position where I am responsible for creating things for clients, I really notice how much thought and work goes into things as simple as stickers or brochures. Someone had to create that, and that person probably used Photoshop at one point or another.

 

“Photoshop gives graphic designers the creative flexibility they need to bring their visions to the page and the screen” (http://www.photoshop.com/-products/photoshop/who).

 

Now with this being said is it not a bit shocking how a photo manipulation tool is so crucial in our day-to-day work-flow? Whether it be a product, an image of a space, or even an image of a person, how realistic is it to its original source? A good example of this is fast food burgers. How delicious, appealing and perfect it looks on a commercial, or on the menu boards in the restaurant. Now, think of that burger in real life. Does it actually look like that? Are the advertisements a good representation of what this burger actually looks like? Probably not. These advertisements are created to glamorize the burger, and make it appealing to the customers. This could be by making it seem bigger, more “juicy” and make sure that every topping is strategically placed for the viewer to see. They are also usually put in some sort of a space that makes this product the star of the advertisement. Any or all of these things can – and probably were – created, edited and manipulated in Photoshop.

 

The fast food burger example, is definitely on the drastic side of the editing spectrum, but it starts open your eyes on what else could be edited in the advertising world. The answer is probably- and almost- everything. It could be as simple as the changing light/contrast in an image, a colour tweak or even adding a nice blue sky to a landscape because the image you want was taken on a cloudy day. Not everything is as elaborate as the “great burger overhaul,” but every image is manipulated in one way or another.

 

You’re now probably wondering why we do this. We do this because as designers, we want EVERYTHING to look perfect and appealing, and it is our job to do so. If you have a company that needs to advertise a product or service, you want that product or service to look as attractive as it can be. More importantly, we do this because we are trained to do so. If there is something about a provided image that we do not like, we fix it. We are taught to “look at the bigger picture” and make sure there are no imperfections. Have you ever seen a picture of your friends, where it looks like one of them has a building sprouting from their head? What about a beautiful garden that has piles of litter around the outside? These are the types of things we look for while editing images.

 

Basically what it comes down to is, Photoshop is a more deceiving program than people may be aware of. Yes, it is our jobs to make things look the best they can, however it may not be 100% accurate too the product, service, environment in real life.

 

Below are some examples of Photoshop work that we have done here at AS Advertising. Showing the before and after you can see how drastically or slightly we have modified the images so they look how we would like them to.