ISSUE NO. 32
why is this in your inbox? We believe that at some point (if we’re not working on something together already) that you will need creative thinking in the design and development of some marketing materials. We love building long-term relationships and understand that this only happens with repeated success. AXIS visual has been supporting the business community for 15 years and has many valued long-term relationships. If you have any thoughts or questions about how we work or how we might approach an upcoming marketing challenge, give us a call (610-527-0332), drop us a note, send a carrier pigeon, whatever you prefer.
Here the shortlist of what we do:
- Branding / Logo Development
- Corporate Communication
- Publication Design
- Website Design
- Print Design (All Kinds)
- Package Design
- Exhibit Design
- Email Marketing
- Product and Service Literature
- You Name it
“Are you adapting fast enough?” It was the heading for a recent AXIS project. The intent for this trade show was to capture the attention of the insurance industry and deliver the idea that they need to evolve and utilize services and tools that make their businesses much more efficient and profitable.
A number of years back a good friend of mine was going to be handling investments for me. We sat down at a conference table and he proceeded to explain the process with all sorts of diagrams and sketches. Being fairly curious about almost everything I Iistened patiently… for a while. After some time I interrupted and said “Steve, this is all great but there is a point where if I wanted to know that depth of this industry I would have chosen a career similar to yours.” Essentially, there is only one thing that I need to know… can I trust you? And the answer to that is yes.
I’ve relayed that story a number of times when I’ve been talking to a client about how to connect to their target audience. Trust is probably the most important marketing tool out there. Establishing trust is a function of the quality of every product or service and every communication with a current or potential buyer. As a design and branding business we are here to manage every communication from emails to annual reports, from web sites to advertising, from brochures to trade shows. I’ve also used this example previously… if you are looking for a great meal the last place you would expect to find it is behind a scribbled crayon sign that says “Good Food.” The first impression is frequently the time when a potential buyer develops an impression of what they think they can expect. Do they feel like they can trust the business or not?
And so it is with graphic design. When done well, graphic design creates that positive first impression with the goal of holding the target market’s attention long enough to deliver more information that in turn reinforces that positive first impression. And subsequently, each well-done communication from that time on creates a stronger and stronger level of trust.
Once established, that trust then becomes viral when people talk about it, discuss it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. And it all starts with an effective brand.
I am sometimes asked, “how do you do it?” How do you create motivational “packages” for all the different information from all the different businesses?
There are three parts to the answer. 1) A simple love of creating in the business environment and helping businesses succeed. Learning about the various products or services, the audience and then tailoring a visual message that motivates and informs potential buyers is simply a great way to make a living. As designers and marketers, we get to learn and create something new each time. 2) Experience. It’s nothing more than what I just discussed, but a lot of it, and the ability to learn from many years and many different clients and projects. It is why people don’t usually go to an inexperienced doctor for brain surgery (although, obviously someone has to be the first patient, and my hats off to their bravery). Experience analyzes a need efficiently; it dismisses bad ideas quickly and knows how far to creatively push an audience for a positive response without pushing them too far and losing them in confusion. 3) The last part is knowing the tools of the trade. Yes, like almost any profession today there is the software. And knowing these tools is critical. But the tools I’m referring to here are the elements of design… the things that we use to build a brand or any other marketing tactic. Color, typography, photography, illustration, writing, composition, pacing all can combine in a new way whether it be for a printed promotion or an on-line experience to motivate the audience.
Now, I am not one to adhere to firm rules and absolutes in design. Every marketing need is different and what works for one client might be useless for another. So I’m not going to state a list of “always do this” or “never do that.” But let me throw out some thoughts on the tools we use.
Color can be raw and bright. It can be soft and subtle, dark and heavy or light and airy. In a layout it can be used to draw attention to a select focal point or it can create an active dynamic texture. Color can make a person feel warm and invited or uneasy and anxious. Conscious or not, each and every person has some preconceived ideas of color and how it “should” be used for various businesses and products. And sometimes breaking those “rules” helps a company stand out amongst their competition. Other times matching a color approach to a message is more important that matching it to an industry. In the end, color is extremely subjective to some but critically specific to others.
I don’t know any good designers that don’t have a love affair with typography. To scratch the surface we have Serif, Sans Serif, Slab Serif, condensed, italic, scripts, grunge, ornamental, custom created and any of the thousands of different fonts within each of these categories. It can be a simple paragraph of text or beautifully illustrated and expressive single word. Yet both can be done to a high level of expertise that delivers a sense of professionalism and trust, or it can be done poorly which looks like amateur hour at the local desktop publishing and resumes-to-go shop. Centuries of history and typographic expertise has gone into the design of endless different fonts. And each decade gives us new offerings, some of which are trendy and will disappear tomorrow while others remain with us as good friends that are always there to support the right design. The right font can be as important as the right color. It has to reinforce (subliminally or not) the core message that we are trying to deliver to our target market.
An image can quickly deliver a message to a reader. “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” But not just any picture. In the design business the “right” picture is critical. If it’s a photograph, is it color, black and white, close up, far away, showing motion, dramatic angles or lighting, or elegant and subtle, these all are “right” at times and wrong other times. With illustration there are even more options, as many as there are different styles. And with both photography (due to technology in the past 15-20 years) and illustration the freedom to construct a conceptual delivery of an idea is endless. This too should be determined by the desired message and the experience of the target market. Choosing, creating, constructing the right image or hiring the right image “creator” can be a huge value to the success of a marketing effort.
I have heard it said that people don’t read any more. (So to those of you that are still reading this, thank you.) To some degree our speed of life and the onslaught of communication from almost every direction has decreased our attention span. But that only makes it more critical to quickly “grab” an audience and efficiently deliver a message. I have seen great ideas that come from a simple headline and then evolve into an amazing image, and I’ve seen amazing images that spawn brilliant and effective headlines. As the saying goes “Words matter” and a skilled designer can amplify them with an effective concept and layout.
Composition and Pacing
Simply put, how are all of the above “arranged?” One of my pet peeves is a layout with no visual hierarchy. This is where everything demands equal visual attention and the viewer doesn’t know where to look first, second, or third. Or, it can be where the wrong things have dominancy and the core sales message is never observed. There are as many ways to succeed, as there are to fail at this. Historical vs. contemporary compositions each have tremendous value for the right need. Dense and heavy layouts deliver one feel to the audience and open airy layout deliver another feel. This is subliminal to some degree but I’ve said that people may not observe every decision a designer makes but if a designer makes bad ones they will stand out like a sore thumb or give an equally bad subliminal message.
Pacing is another important aspect in communicating effectively. If there is a longer story to tell such as in some web sites, brochures or books the pacing of everything I’ve mentioned above can hold the attention of a viewer longer. Boredom is the sin. The occasional “unexpected element” can prevent this sin and allow a marketing piece to more fully deliver its message. Even in a 30 second TV commercial pacing has a critical role in keeping your attention.
Culturally, all these tools are viewed differently by generations, by genders, and by industries. The right creative decisions for each of these will result in a more effective marketing effort. And after all, the choice to invest in marketing should have a positive result.
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1600 Lower State Rd.
Doylestown, PA 18901