Getting noticed at a busy trade show

Trade shows are an important way for many businesses to reach their audience and generate interest in their products, but they have an equally important downside: they’re a very expensive investment. Unless you can coax jaded, footsore show attendees into your display, you can’t even get a conversation started. And that can mean your big investment just went up in smoke. For a graphic designer, that’s a challenge and an opportunity. In the case of Anna Elyse, the brand name under which fashion designer Annie Sokoloff markets her innovative line of bridesmaid dresses, it was also a chance to work with someone who is ferociously creative in her own right. Continue reading

When it comes to spacing text, more is usually more

By now, if you read the last post, you’re starting to think that designers seems to place as much importance placed on the spaces around and between things as on the things themselves. And you’re right.

One of the great concert pianists of the 20th Century once remarked that what defines a great performer is not the notes he or she plays, but the spaces between them. The same is true for text, which includes everything from novels to business letters to the way you lay out your resumé. Good spacing can make a document look more attractive and inviting to read. Bad spacing can make your reader feel uncomfortable or annoyed, or even make them skip the whole thing. Continue reading

Give Me Some Space

Space: it may well be the Final Frontier, because when it comes to documents it’s clear that it was never taught in high school. I think we were only ever flunked on content, and so we fixated on the text and forgot the page it was sitting on.

When you write a letter, a proposal to management, a resume or a promotion piece for your business, you put a great deal of thought and time into ensuring it says exactly what you want to say. It’s so good it will knock the reader’s socks off. IF anyone actually reads it.

So what would make someone not want to read your exquisitely crafted prose? What would put them off before they even start? Continue reading

Robly: An email marketing company that really “gets” marketing

To hear most Internet marketers and email marketers tell it, you’d think the only things that exist are the ‘Net and email. Snail mail? What’s that? But here in the real world, people who actually have to build successful companies know that’s not the whole story. Not by a long stretch. Continue reading

Quick ways to make your Microsoft Office documents look better

Microsoft Office is everywhere. There’s hardly a company, from enterprise to small business, that doesn’t use it to create letters, proposals, estimates, promotional emails, even flyers and (gasp!) ads for the Yellow Pages. The “desktop publishing revolution” was supposed to put great-looking documents within reach of Everyman and change the world, feed the poor, end war and usher in a golden age of rainbows and unicorns. Continue reading

Too many cooks spoil the (marketing) message

Some of my recent projects have run into what I call the “too many cooks” problem. Different parts of the client’s branding or collateral were done by different people at different times. The result is that none of the parts — website, identity items like logo and business cards, marketing emails, brochures — look like they belong together. And the result of that is a disjointed and confusing marketing message that doesn’t sell. Continue reading

Great Positioning? — Just Do It!

Nike’s ad agency in Turkey came out with one of the most original and playful example of correct positioning I’ve seen lately. You know Nike — athletics, “Just Do It” and that iconic swoosh — even if you’ve never owned a pair of their athletic shoes.

In this video, the agency combines a strong message about the importance of working together with a cast of nationally famous athletes who drive and are each part of an assembly line. Cyclists pedal, a boxer punches, a soccer player kicks, a skateboarder skates and a basketball player (there had to be a basketball player, right?) dunks to make graphically delightful “Just Do It” posters. Continue reading

What Do You Mean by “Best”?

A client commented to me the other day, “I think I get some of your best work from you,” right after he’d commented that my “best” work was at the back of my portfolio. I was a bit taken aback; a design professional tends not to think in those terms. It got me thinking. What he actually meant was, “I like these best.” But what someone likes is subjective. Design, done well, is far less subjective than it is practical. So what do we mean by “best”?

Continue reading

Anatomy of a Brand Identity

I’ve mentioned Ultra Essence before. They were the subject of an earlier post because they provided a great example of how a correctly designed advertising display increases sales. The company has a new skin-care product for men, “Ultra Handy Man” or simply “Handy Man,” that gives me the chance to write about a simple case of creating a logo and a brand identity, and nicely illustrates the difference. The rest of their products primarily target women, so this is a departure from the usual line of business. Handy Man is for people who work with their hands: construction workers, carpenters, truckers. The logo and branding their label provider had come up with didn’t meet with management approval, and the job was passed to me. Continue reading