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The White Space Blues

thewhitespacebluesOver many years in this business, we’ve come to recognize something that many of our clients have in common—a fear of white space. Or maybe it’s not so much fear as it is an uncontrollable urge to fill up all available space in their ad, billboard, brochure, e-blast, banner ad, etc. Perhaps it has something to do with a feeling that, since they are paying for the space, some content should occupy it.

It’s not just our clients, though. Many people have the same fear or urge. While we understand it, we vow to never stop fighting for the cause of white space in everything we do.

You see, in design, white space has purpose. Not only does it draw the eye, but it also relieves the eye from relentless clutter. White space gives balance and harmony to layouts. Imagine if you tried to read a printed page with no space between words or lines of copy. Furthermore, very smart people have researched this and found that white space improves the readability and comprehension of printed material.

So, trust us on this. White space is a good thing. And here’s a really good example of white space at work.

5 Reasons To Update Your Marketing Material

51. When was the last time you updated your marketing material? If it’s been more than two years since you last updated, it’s time to at least evaluate your material to assess whether or not it is still working for you.

2. Do you know whether your marketing material is still working for you? Ask your sales people. Ask your customers. You can ask the senior executives in your company, but know that while these smart folks have insight and perspective, you really need the views of staff on the front lines of your business.

3. Does your marketing material make you look modern & contemporary? Of course you want to maintain your unique identity and there can be great value in holding on to components of your company’s legacy. But you also want your customers and prospects to feel they are dealing with a company that’s current, innovative and forward-thinking.

4. Has some major aspect of your business changed? Did you introduce a new product or refine your market niche? Your marketing material may be due for a change as well.

5. Do you look good across all the media you use? Your logo and design style may look great on your printed brochure, business card and website, but what about on an electronic billboard or in an online banner ad? How does your brand hold up on social media, which is an entirely different viewing environment? Now may be a good time to update your logo, typefaces, color palette and other design components of your corporate identity to ensure that you stand out and are consistently identifiable wherever you are in the public realm.

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it’s time to consider an update. We can help!

valentine

 

valentineSending a great big thank you to our amazing clients and vendors for being so wonderful to work with! Thanks so much for making our job fun. Hope this Valentine’s Day brings you love and happiness to last all year.

Image vs. Product Advertising: Do You Know the Difference?

imagevsproductadvaflayDo you know the difference between product advertising and image advertising? Does it matter?

Product advertising…

  • Tells your target audience about the features and attributes of your product.
  • Is most effective when your product has unique features that make it different from or better than your competition.
  • May not be enough to help you stand out because consumers are constantly presented with similar products that have marginal differences.

Image advertising…

  • Defines your product more by its benefits than its functional attributes.
  • Is sometimes viewed as a “luxury” type of advertising that does not deliver immediate benefits or measurable results.
  • Is a showcase for the emotional and psychological qualities that surround your product and affect a consumer’s decision to buy. Remember, the buy decision is not always a rational one based on an analysis of competing product features.

The key is to use each type of advertising in conjunction with the other to maximize results. Target’s retail campaign around the holidays is a nice example where both types of advertising blended in an impressive way. Three kids go on a journey to relight a huge Christmas tree, and their mission is sprinkled with some toys that come to life to help. The campaign captures the magic of the season at the same time as it soft-sells a few products available on Target’s shelves and website.

A strategy we’ve used successfully for one of our clients, Lancaster County Career & Technology Center (CTC), started off as an image campaign, to help brand them and raise awareness of the school as an affordable, flexible option for higher education. As CTC needs to promote specific upcoming programs or new specialized degrees, we keep the same branding look and overall message points, incorporating the specifics of the current need. Check out examples of their marketing material here

2016 colors of the year

pantoneIn worlds where color is a big deal—like ours—there’s been a bit of a buzz about the fact that the Pantone Color Institute® named two colors of the year for 2016. The colors are Rose Quartz and Serenity, which at first glance suggest pastel pink and baby blue. Here’s some of what Pantone had to say about the color selections:

Consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

As always, you can expect the color(s) of the year to pop up all over the place…in fashion, furniture, beauty, industrial design, interior decorating, etc.

“It will be interesting to see how these colors evolve this year. It’s a sure sign that light and airy, calm and soothing are in. A great direction for the year ahead,” says our art director and resident color expert, Kim Smith.

 

It all started with Julius Caesar…

blog art leap year

2016 is a Leap Year. That means we have an extra day in February. If you were born on February 29th, you get to celebrate your birthday on your actual birth date for a change.

We have Julius Caesar to thank for the first Leap Years. He introduced the idea to the Romans more than 2000 years ago, declaring that any year evenly divisible by four would be a Leap Year. But that led to way too many Leap Years. Still, the practice continued until the Gregorian calendar was introduced 1500 years later.

Today, Leap Years are declared according to three criteria of the Gregorian calendar. First, a Leap Year must be divisible by four….however, if it can be evenly divided by 100, then it is NOT a Leap Year…..unless the year also is evenly divisible by 400…then it IS a Leap Year.

Why do we have Leap Years anyway? They are needed to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar aligned with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds – to circle once around the sun. This is called a tropical year. However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days. (Thank you, timeanddate.com, for that head-spinning scientific, astronomical explanation! If that’s too much history and too many numbers and way more information about Leap Years than you need, we understand.)

Leap Day offers a number of traditions and beliefs – it’s known as a day for women to propose marriage to the man of their choice…it’s the day, in 1692, that the first warrants were issued in the Salem witch trials (some find that significant)…and it’s promoted as a day to “take a leap” and try something you’ve never done before. We also think it would be a great day to catch up on lost sleep and take an extra-long afternoon nap…so maybe that will catch on.

However you choose to mark the year and/or the day, be sure to make it fun. Happy Leaping!

Lots of i’s to dot and t’s to cross!

annual report stack web

When we have the opportunity to work with a client on a longer-form piece, such as an annual report, our skill at pulling it all together really shines. The expression ‘The devil is in the details’ is never more true than with a project that spans many months and involves many people.

Take the annual report we recently finished for Holy Spirit—A Geisinger Affiliate. We have worked on Holy Spirit’s annual report for several years. It’s always an interesting and fun project. We start with a detailed production schedule, determining what needs to be done, by when and by whom. Much is involved to complete it: concepts to develop, design ideas to create, layout options to consider, copy to write and edit, photoshoots to art direct, printing to prep for, meetings to coordinate…you get the idea. Through it all, we allow no devils!

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Lori Moran, Holy Spirit’s Director of Public Relations & Marketing, says,

There are a lot of moving parts to a project such as our annual report. I know I can count on TCG to take care of everything, start to finish, concept to printing. I know the project is in good hands.”

Fantastic Results

armstrong display

Clients come and go…but many of our clients come and stay. We treasure those long-term relationships and feel we can learn from our clients as much as they can learn from us. Krista Walton, Marketing Communications Specialist at Armstrong World Industries – a client for many years – took a few minutes recently to talk about what it’s like to work with us.

Why do you like working with TCG?

It’s such a talented group of people—not only do they bring great design ideas to the table, but their attention to detail is extremely valuable, especially in situations where quick turnaround time is required. No matter how crazy of a request I may throw at them—they always get it done, on time, and the results are fantastic.

What do you think about the quality of our work?

Outstanding! Sometimes I’m not even sure of what I’m looking for—all I have is a high-level idea. But even when given little direction, TCG comes back withdesigns and ideas that exceed my expectations.

What is your favorite piece of work we’ve done for Armstrong and why?

That’s tough—there are so many options! If I have to choose one, I’m going with a display that TCG worked on for many months for one of our retailers. It was a huge project, and there were points when the deadlines were extremely tight—many late nights were involved! I’m proud of what we accomplished together as a team. The display looks amazing!

What kind of results has TCG helped to generate for Armstrong?

All of the great promotional materials and merchandising that TCG designs for us is critical to our success.

Thanks for your kind words, Krista. You are an outstanding client and we look forward to many more years together!

Hot Off The Presses!

howard business cardsWe just finished the first of several pieces for a new client launching a new business. It’s always fun to help a new business get off the ground—developing their logo, the look of their collateral and their public persona. When we are involved from the start, we seek the client’s input and then put together creative that reflects their personality and meets their goals.

In case it’s not obvious, we just love what we do!