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Posted on / by Ashley Giudice / in Branding, Uncategorized

Branding Checklist – The Ultimate Guide: Part 2

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 Kenzie Homulus / in Uncategorized

Why Choose Us? 40 Years and 6 Reasons Why

Experience That Scales

We’ve been crafting marketing and branding for local and international businesses for 40 years.
We’ve got experience and knowledge about the industry that other marketing companies simply can’t acquire.
While they’re catching up we’re helping clients:

  • Create packaging for custom point of sale orders for large distribution
  • Break into local and international markets
  • Articulate and communicate brand stories
  • Craft marketing solutions that will grow with the brand.

We’ve got the experience to help you bring your vision to life.

Real Relationships

Our small but mighty team regularly tackles big and small projects. The advantage of working with a small marketing agency like us is that we’re always available to speak to you directly while we complete your projects in-house, and afterwards, we offer any support you may need.

Nourishing relationships is important to us, and when our designs get to your shelves or customers, we’ll be celebrating with you.

Pointed, Professional Design

Every element of the marketing and branding we create for you will be visually appealing and attention-grabbing, we guarantee it. Our clean, professional designs are created to fit your message and their platform. Logos, web, and point of sale all call for slightly different designs, but still need to exemplify your brand and deliver a cohesive message.

Responsible, ROI Focus

Graphic designers who understand budgets? Yes, we exist! We’re priced competitively and we use your resources strategically, to give you the best ROI. You won’t find more responsible printers in Hamilton, because smart use of resources is best for both of us.

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Messages That Matter

Our experience has shown us that sending the right message is the most important aspect of marketing, even beyond the graphic design. We’re adept at finding that message and strategically communicating it; whether it’s for B2C or B2B, or on a package, vehicle wraps, or billboard.

Consistent Passion

As you get to know us, you’ll find that our passion drives us. There’s no ping pong tables in our office, just people working hard. We get right down to business, because results motivate us. And our drive means that we always meet deadlines and deliver high quality products that produce results.

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Tell us your vision. We’ll bring it to life.

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Posted on / by Kenzie Homulus / in Uncategorized

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 Kenzie Homulus / in Uncategorized

Is Marketing an Expense or Investment

Is Marketing an Expense or Investment?

It is an age old debate that goes right to the core of marketing: is marketing an expense or an investment?

An investment is an asset that is expected to grow over time, eventually producing a profit for your business. A restaurant may ‘invest’ in produce which it then sells to customers at a profit. Expenses are the opposite of an investment. Overtime they will depreciate in value, and even though they don’t necessarily produce a direct return on investment, they are vital to your business. Expenses for your company might include paper, a car, or a laptop.

Marketing, depending on how you look at it, can be considered either an investment or an expense. It isn’t a matter of spending too much or too little, it is where it is spent, and what it is doing for you. Some companies spend peanuts and get away without, others spend a disproportionate amount to what they see in return.

What is your brand worth?

Some companies think that if they spend $1,000 on branding, then they should see a direct return of $10,000, but the fact is branding simply doesn’t work that way. Building a brand takes time and money. Even though you won’t be able to track a direct return on investment (ROI), you will still benefit in the long run.

Apple’s brand alone is worth $93.3 billion. That means even if they didn’t have a single store, or sell a single iPhone, their name and image alone are worth more than most companies. Just like you can’t run your business without a laptop (and your laptop doesn’t directly generate a return on investment) you can’t build a brand without spending money on marketing.

Your brand is your biggest asset. Even if you were to lose all of your merchandise in a fire, you would be able to rebuild your business as long as you and your brand were recognized, and respected.

Community engagement

Viewing marketing as an expense allows you to give back to your local community by sponsoring tournaments, holding raffles, or advertising at local events. You won’t see a direct ROI overnight, but don’t be surprised if people start recognizing you and giving you their business.

In life and business, the more you give the more you get. The more you help people the more likely they are to sing your praises and refer you to their friends, family and colleagues.

It takes time

Building a brand takes time and even though it may seem like an expense at first, in the long run it is an investment. But what if you can’t wait? There are ways to track and measure your marketing campaign’s direct return on investment (ROI).

Building an attribution model is the best way to measure marketing as an investment. Digital marketing is well suited for tracking leads, sales and ROI through automated analytics. Traditional advertising campaigns can be tracked using customer surveys or trackable coupons.

Ultimately marketing is both an investment and expense

Even the best attribution model won’t be able to accurately predict the future brand value that your marketing generates. There is no substitute for getting your name out there.  Getting involved in the community – and no way to attach a value in dollars and cents. Good things come to those who wait. If you’re ready to start investing in your brand give us a call. At AS Advertising we make your good ideas great!

 

Branding image- blog
Posted on / by asdev / in Uncategorized

How Much Money is Your Brand Leaving on the Table?

How Much Money is Your Brand Leaving on the Table?

Branding is arguably the most important part of successfully marketing your business, yet many business owners are afraid to invest in it because they simply aren’t familiar with the process. These reservations could be costing businesses thousands of dollars or more in lost opportunities.

Why are so many business owners afraid of investing in branding? When it comes to branding you don’t always see a direct measurable return on investment (ROI) – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working. You just need to adjust your mindset.

How Do I Build a Brand?

It is all about building brand awareness. You have to keep pounding the same message over and over again so that people start to recognise it and eventually react to it. Clients respond to greater brand awareness by buying your product or service on a consistent basis. The more you pound your message home, and the more frequently you do it, the more successful your branding will be.

Common Branding Errors

Some of the most common branding mistakes that businesses make are:

  • Afraid to get started – Because marketing is intangible and there isn’t always a clear ROI.
  • Shifting direction too frequently and inconsistent messaging – One month you like blue, the next you like yellow. You need to be consistent otherwise your efforts won’t have the same impact.
  • Inconsistent quality – Always be on top of your game when selling products and services. You need to be consistent in all areas of your business.
  • Getting to complicated – Keep it simple!
  • Not building trust – You want clients to feel good and buy with confidence, to do this you need to build trust through consistent marketing, and by providing quality products and services.
  • Spending in the wrong areas – Some businesses spend too little and others spend too much in the wrong areas. Keeping a focused strategy is important, but you also have to remain flexible.
  • Comparing apples to oranges – Different industries require different approaches and produce different margins on marketing.
  • Forgetting it’s not always about you – The more you give, the more you get. Helping out charities, fellow businesses and even clients is more than just good karma, it is a good branding strategy! Be flexible and open minded. It’s how people perceive you that matters, you should roll with it and make the best of it.

Brand Perception

No matter how frequent or consistent your messaging is, your brand identity comes down to your customers. If they perceive you one way and you try to present yourself in another way, then you’re wasting resources by sending a confusing brand message. The fact is that either you change or they’ll change it for you.

Think about an elite athlete. They start off as a rookie full of potential, then hit their prime, and finally end up as a veteran. Their identity changes and rolling with those shifting identities allows them to make the most out of each stage of their career. Your business, like an athlete, has to do whatever works best for you at that time. Work within your limitations. A rookie can’t sell himself as a veteran, and a veteran can’t claim to be a young up and comer – managers, coaches, and fans would see right through it.

Every brand goes through an evolution in response to customer perception. Logos, for example, usually start off complicated and overworked but as the brand evolves the logo gets minimalistic and more stylized.

3 Simple Steps to Great Branding

Creating a brand image and message is all about balance: it should not be creative to the point that it becomes abstract, but also not boring and forgettable.

Keep your branding grounded with these three principles:

  • Attention: Your brand must grab people’s attention
  • Tell it how it is: Your brand must tell the customer who you are, what you do, and why they need it
  • How to get it: Once they realize they need your product or service, make it simple for them to get it.

Now that you have a better understanding of how branding works, it is time to stop worrying and start growing your business! Contact AS Advertising today. Together, we can make your good ideas great!

 

 

Posted on / by Kenzie Homulus / in Uncategorized

How SM, Print and Digital Work Together

There are now more marketing channels available to businesses than ever before. Digital may be taking all the headlines, but print is a tested medium with a track record of success. You need both. To make the most out of your marketing or advertising budget, you need to combine print and digital.

Digital needs to be backed up with print ads and direct mail. Online you are always just a click away from being forgotten, but if consumers see your brand online, and then they see it in their hands through direct mail, then you are starting to build some brand recognition. People will start to remember your brand. Frequency and consistency are key.

Frequency

One of the key issues in marketing and advertising is that when people see success they stop, but just like in sales you need to keep going, keep pounding. You must have a few boats in the canal at all times, and they will always be moving at different speeds. Think of marketing and advertising as a continuous process, not a destination. Set goals, but don’t stop once you reach them!

Direct mail, flyers, brochures, and other print materials mixed with a combination of online marketing materials like click ads are a potent combination. Focussing on just print or just digital means that you are wasting your time.

Maintain brand consistency

Going digital doesn’t mean that you should reinvent yourself, on the contrary it is imperative that the branding stays the same across all channels. Think about responsive websites. They look different depending on whether you are on a computer, smartphone, or tablet, but the core imagery and messaging is still there. You don’t need to include all the same information on print and digital, but you should do enough to ensure that all your materials have the same look and feel.

Keep it simple

A lot of people overshare and lose sight of the central message. You are not that interesting. The more consumers have to read, the less they will read. The fact is that no one really cares about you, you need to make it about what is in it for them. Focus on the client, and the benefits that you will give them.

Advantages of print

Print offers things digital does not. Consumers view it as having more quality and integrity than online content. According to Contently.com, “82 percent of Internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision, more than any other medium. The highest ranking online format, search ads, clocks in at 61 percent.”

MarketingMag.com notes that while “newspapers and magazines reach 90% of Canadians on a weekly basis” only a little “more than half of Canadians (59%) are now reading on a digital device.” Print is still authoritative and widely read. Sacrificing print to invest in digital is as poor a strategy as it would be to sacrifice digital to invest only in print. Your marketing needs to straddle both mediums.

Social Media

A lot of people are not doing social media properly, and unfortunately doing it wrong is worse than not doing it at all because it becomes a huge time waster. To do social media correctly be careful to ensure your content is relevant, original, and entertaining – easier said than done.

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Keys to success

Online, and in print, the same principles of success apply:

  1. Keep pounding – high frequency is crucial
  2. Stay focussed on the brand message
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Remember to show your consumers the WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

 

via GIPHY

Need some help to add some electricity to your print or digital marketing campaigns? Give AS Advertising a call. We’ll help you combine and coordinate your print and digital marketing while applying these keys to success, so your next campaign will be your best yet.

 

 

Posted on / by asdev / in Uncategorized

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.

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Posted on / by Kenzie Homulus / in Uncategorized

The Importance of Packaging

Packaging is not supposed to be an obstacle to people buying the products.

Anyone who’s purchased anything from Apple in the last decade knows how beautiful an experience unboxing their products is. Not only is this an exciting process but there’s an aura of intrigue that makes the product something greater.

Packaging is an integral marketing strategy to glamorize a product in order to attract the consumer’s attention. Many consumers will judge a product by its packaging before buying it, so creating compelling and alluring stationary will build first time buyers intrigue.

Packaging is literally the product identity. Another all time classic case of is the Coca Cola bottle. On it, Coke displays an instantly recognizable logo and distinctive shape, which propelled the product to global fame. In many cases, as with coke, the packaging is so important that it costs more than the product itself. As a result, packaging should be included amongst the four P’s of marketing: product, place, promotion and price.

According to Marty Neumeier in his book The Brand Gap, “A retail package is the last and best chance to make a sale.” Given that not all brands are products and not all products go retail, the truth is that product and package design are vital when it comes to brand image. Consider that more than half of purchases are based on emotions, especially when a client is unsure and must choose between two brands of products.  It’s no surprise that companies that master the art of aesthetics are on the top of their game- Apple, Bang & Olufsen, Nike, IKEA, Nokia, or Cassina- design is what defines them and gives them their competitive edge.

What exactly happens when we find ourselves in front of an aisle with tens of hundreds of products just staring back at us? We start to compare, remember and associate. Bear in mind that the brain is prone to classifying everything around us- it’s the only way we can organize everything we see, hear, feel or know. Filling that slot or opening in that mental category is crucial, it’s what we marketers refer to in our jargon as the ‘Top of Mind’. Whether we associate the product with its ad, with a friend who we know that uses it, or with the packaging color and layout, those elements mean in our mind- elegant, simple, tacky, appropriate- product design involves form and function and for many, implies the beginning of the brand experience with the client. In some cases, it triggers the basis for customer loyalty. Even shopping bags speak to our clients and influence brand perception.

The following summary touches upon the most key points to consider when having an agency brand your company’s packaging:

 

Function

The purpose of product packaging is to protect the product from damage. Product packaging not only protects the product during transit from the manufacturer to the retailer, but it also prevents damage while the product sits on retail shelves. Most products have some form of packaging. For example, soups must have a container and package while apples may have packaging for transport but not to sell the product from the produce department of the local grocery store.

 

Attraction

How a product is packaged may be what attracts the consumer to take a look on the product as is sits on store shelves. For this reason, many companies conduct extensive research on color schemes, designs and types of product packaging that is the most appealing to its intended consumer.

 

Promotion

Packaging also plays an important role for portraying information about the product. Outside packaging may contain directions on how to use the product or make the product.

 

Facilitates Purchase Decision

Packaging may also contain ingredients and nutritional information about the product. This information can help to sell the product because it allows potential customers to obtain the necessary information they need to make a purchase decision. Information contained on a package may propel the reader to buy the product without ever having to speak to a store clerk.

 

Differentiation

Packaging can also differentiate one brand of product from another brand. Because the product packaging can contain company names, logos and the color scheme of the company, it helps consumers to identify the product as it sits among the competition’s products on store shelves. For example, as a shopper walks through the coffee aisle of the local grocery store, the bright orange, pink and white packaging of the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee brand may be easily recognizable for the consumer to grab on his way by the coffee shelf. The shopper may identify with the company brand, which propels them to buy the product. If the product packaging changes, it may alter the brand perception of the company, which doesn’t mean that the consumer would not still purchase the product, but it may delay the purchase until the person is able to identify the product according to its new packaging.