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XL4U Blog

We XL4U!

In 1999 when I started my company, XLDesign4U, I knew that I would always strive to maintain a service platform of excellence.  I love the variety and immense range of marketing products I can offer to achieve each client's specific communication goals.  I naturally focus on detail and proactive value options as I place myself in my client's shoes.  From the beginning, where I partner with my client to create their product, to the end result of delivery as promised, I truly enjoy what I do.  Bring it on, and let me show you how "We Excel For You"!

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An Update from Lori Brooks about XLDesign4U

XLDesign4U had a very eventful & enjoyable first and second quarter of 2017. From big jobs to little, our team has persevered while continuously striving for excellence. Here’s a brief run-down of what we’ve been up to & what’s going on currently.

Las Vegas PPAI Expo- In January Lori & Bre got the chance to make their way over to Nevada to experience & learn all of what the PPAI Expo had to offer. There were more than 12,267 promotional product distributors in attendance during this 5-day annual event. Featuring 1,251 exhibiting supplier companies in 3,144 booths, including 157 first-time exhibitors, the Expo showcased thousands of new and exciting products, education and events in one million square feet at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The amount of available knowledge was immense & captivating. This was the first time ever that XL made an appearance at the Vegas show, it was also undeniably beneficial.  Numerous boxes of unique product samples were sent back to Richmond and the educational sessions that Lori and Bre attended at the Expo provided many new industry insights with an opportunity to learn a variety of new skills.  The result of attending this annual event opened additional opportunities to better serve our clients with more variety of product types and competitive new supplier relationships.  Additionally, the ability to share experiences with other promotional product distributors from all over the country proved to enhance our confidence about how we currently EXCEL and new ways to improve our services.

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Shawn’s Departure from XL- 

A member of the XLDesign4U family since May of 2016, Shawn Holt one of our creative specialist is taking his career elsewhere to expand his knowledge & experience in the creative field. We appreciate his contribution to XL over the past months & are excited to see where this journey takes him.  Also - great news! Shawn will be a new dad soon!
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XLDesign4U and EWI Richmond- 

Lori is enjoyably serving her second year as secretary of EWI Richmond.  
The Richmond Chapter of Executive Women International is celebrating its Fiftieth year in 2017! 
This national organization comprised of more than 1,400 member companies and 1,600 representatives continue to thrive and has grown to nearly 45 Chapters located in major cities in the United States and Canada. EWI is a premier organization for connecting, building community and developing both professionally and personally for today’s business professionals and their firms. EWI Richmond is currently comprised of 35 local professional member firms with 41 firm representatives.  XLDesign4U is proud to be an active member firm in the Richmond chapter of Executive Women International. During May and July 2017, EWI Richmond will be awarding educational scholarships (EWISP) to local high school seniors based on their scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, good citizenship and extra-curricular activities. Scholarship Awards range between $1,000 and $5,000. In July, the ASIST scholarship will be awarded to local adults facing economic, social, or physical challenges, who are looking to improve their situation through educational opportunities. Local Chapters partner with educational providers and social services agencies to identify potential candidates. Chapter-level winners are submitted to the EWI corporate level for the opportunity to be selected for one of 13 scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

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Bre Marvel’s Tenure celebrating three years as a team member with XLDesign4U in July 2017– 

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Bre continues to grow as an integral part of the “XL Team”.  She has developed an excellent level of industry knowledge and exerts an uncanny capability to find qualitative products for our clients.  Her focus on detail and traffic management couples extremely well with her ability to provide genuine customer service and to assist Lori with project management.  XLDesign4U is very fortunate to benefit from Bre’s team efforts through inside customer service and her ability to provide an organized system to share delivery updates, product satisfaction inquiries and new project research.  Bre works closely with Lori to assist with accomplishing right-sized budget constraints for clients and on-time / as promised production scheduling.

Distributor Connect in Florida- 

Lori is making her way down south for the Distributor Connect  event at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale Florida. The goal of this venture is to make new connections in the printing and promotional products industries.  Created for the industry’s elite, Distributor Connect Meetings are by invitation only and is an exclusive relationship-building event. The conference format features pre-scheduled, one-on-one sessions between distributors and suppliers.  Each meeting session is held in an exclusive supplier suite, securing privacy and improving business opportunities. Lori will have an opportunity to meet suppliers she has communicated with through emails and phone conversations over many years as well as being in an environment to meet new suppliers and learn what they can provide for accomplishing client goals and solution-oriented project tasks.
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                          Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, FL 
                          Distributor Connect May 10-May 12, 2017

After the conference, Lori will visit suppliers, friends and family in the state of Florida before heading home to Richmond. She'll make a surprise visit to her mother on Mother's Day in the Daytona area too!

19 Years of EXCELLENCE-
 
In August of this year XLDesign4U will be celebrating its 19th year in operation. The company has survived through floppy disc, QR codes, 4 presidencies, the birth of social media sites, & so much more. Through it all XLDesign4U has & will continue to excel for all our wonderful clients. Old or new, we appreciate you all for being a part of our legacy & look forward to what the future has to offer.

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Until our next update, always know that our team of EXCELLENCE will continue to provide the best possible service levels with the best possible value.  Best Regards from the XLDesign4U Team  

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Brand Name vs Knockoff

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Should you get the new iPod or a generic MP3 player? Do you go with Nike or just a generic brand running shoe? Do you spend your hard-earned money on that new Coach purse, or do you get the knock off that looks just like it? These are the questions we ask ourselves when evaluating whether to go with the well-known name brand product or just a generic version of it. Do name brands really matter? How important are they to you? Name brand products are clearly more expensive than their knockoff counterparts, but are they better? Let’s take a moment to distinguish the clear differences between brand name products and knockoff products to help you more carefully evaluate your decision.

There are factors that go into consideration when deciding between a brand name product and a knock off.

Loyalty

We simply purchase some brands out of habit and loyalty. For instance, maybe our parents used the same laundry detergent during our childhood and by default you’ve continued to use that detergent with your family as an adult. You have a particular brand loyalty to that detergent. You haven’t really evaluated whether it is the best in the market. It’s just familiar to you and has worked to meet your needs so you don’t see a reason to change. People that are loyal to a brand are likely to stick with it because it has been reliable.

Apple Brand Loyalty And Brand Champions

Quantity/Price

Customers almost always list price as a main factor in the products they choose to purchase. Unless they have brand loyalty to the product, more than likely, price and quantity will have a significant influence over their decision.  Analytical spenders will compare the quantity of the product they are receiving with the cost to determine the overall value. A price conscious consumer always asks, “what am I getting for my money?”

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Quality

While price is important when evaluating products, so is quality. The most expensive product isn’t always the best, but the least expensive product does not always lack quality.

In determining the best product to use, it is important to evaluate your loyalty to that product line, price and quality. So, how does this come into play when evaluating whether or not you choose a brand name or knockoff brand? Let’s review some pros and cons of each.

Brand Name Pros

Why would you choose a brand name product, even if it might be a more expensive product?

  • Aesthetically more appealing. Brand name products are typically more established in the market, enabling them to invest more money into attractive packaging to lure their buyers.
  • Often made of more durable materials. Oftentimes, but not always, brand name products are made of higher quality, more durable materials, resulting in a higher price point.
  • Sold in more stores. Brand name products are often found in more stores because they have been around a while and have higher distribution channels. For example, you can find Tide in any local grocery store because it is a well-established laundry detergent brand.
  • More promotional deals. Brand name products often spend more money in advertising, which is one of the reasons why their brand is so recognizable. With a higher marketing and advertising budget, these companies often invest in a variety of promotional offers to bring in new customers.
  • Name recognition. Brand name products have a foothold in the marketplace. It didn’t happen overnight but they’ve built a name for themselves. People recognize their brand when they see it and therefore, associate that brand with credibility. The see the Nike swoosh and think “just do it” and they see the Burger King sign and think, “have it your way.” Established brands have garnered recognition that results in trust with its consumers.

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While there are clear benefits to brand name products, knockoffs do have their place. Let’s look at some of their advantages.

 Knockoff Pros

  • 30% cheaper on average. The number one reason a consumer will choose a knockoff product over a brand name product is price. It’s easy on the purse strings, allowing them to delegate money in their budget to other priorities.
  • Often sold in bulk. Many knockoff brands are often sold in bulk which means that not only is the product cheaper than the brand name alternative, but you also get more for your money as well.
  • Available on government assistance. Knockoff brands, particularly in the food industry, are available to purchase on government assistance. Name brands are often not allowed in the program if it is significantly more expensive than its generic counterpart.
  • The same as brand name. Knockoffs are often mirror images of their brand name counterpart. This is particularly evident with over-the-counter and prescription drugs where the generic brand is significantly cheaper but houses the same ingredients as the brand name.

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There are clear advantages to both the knockoff and the brand name. In the end, it is clearly a matter of choice and preference.

Whether your preference is brand or off brand, consider partnering with the team of XLDesign4U to find products that fit your specific needs. We have an assortment of products we can place your unique branding on and a plethora of cost effective alternatives.

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Duped By Marketing?

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April 1st just passed, did you get fooled?

Advertising is designed to entice you to purchase a product. Companies use many different strategies and tactics to promote their products and services, but let’s be honest, some of these tactics have played us, the consumer, for fools. In the spirit of the season, it is only right that we review some of these tactics with you so that you won’t be an April fool when you make your next purchase.

Overpricing

The next time you make a purchase, do your research. Many companies overprice their products, making them seem like a good deal in comparison to something else. However, the product that is often being compared is either overpriced or not an apples to apples comparison. Don’t get duped! For example, if you see an $80 steak at the start of the menu, the $20 ribs will seem more like a good deal in comparison. But, is it really a better deal?

Interestingly, it has also been shown that those who do end up getting the overpriced food (i.e. $80 steak) tend to enjoy the meal more than if it was less money, even if the meal is the exact same. They higher perceived value gives the illusion of a luxurious meal, when in fact, that $80 steak could just be a marked up $20 steak.

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99 cents

One penny under a dollar sure does make a difference. It’s all about strategy and this is probably the most widely used trick of them all. Simply dropping the price of an item to end in .99 has been proven to psychologically make us think an item is significantly cheaper when it’s only a penny difference. So, whether the item is $0.99 or $9.99, we’ve been conditioned to think we’re getting a deal when in reality, it’s just a penny.

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Salt=Thirst

A cool, refreshing beverage should quench your thirst, right? Do you ever wonder why when you drink soda or any big brand water that you don’t feel completely quenched by the end of the beverage? You can thank sodium chloride for that, better known as salt. Some beverage companies put salt within their drinks in hopes that you’ll have to drink more, in turn making it so you must buy more. And clearly it’s working because despite Americans’ awareness that sodas are unhealthy, over half of them consume at least one soda per day. Our guess is most consume more than one because of the salt intake.

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Meal Appeal

Have you ever seen a mouthwatering pizza on a commercial and immediately wanted to order a pizza? We’ve all seen the spectacular looking food in commercials. And, it’s not just the pizza that may look good; they really know how to make a Big Mac look gourmet, but for those that have ordered the food know that it almost never looks as good in person. The reality is, most of the food in these commercials are not even real. These companies have whole teams of people that specialize in food photography & editing. Some of their methods are equal parts deceptive and ingenious. They often use glycerin to make sea food appear juicer, use dyed mashed potatoes to mimic ice cream (because the lighting would melt the ice cream too quickly to photograph), insert carboard into cake slices (as well as pancake stacks) to make it more structurally sound and separate the icing from the cake to avoid stray crumbs on the icing, gluing sesame seeds to buns, and most ice you see in commercials is plastic made specifically to look like ice cubes. There’s plenty more examples, but I think you get the idea. A majority of food you see on TV is a lie, a delicious looking disgustingly made lie. Yum!

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Phony Portions

“You get what you pay for” doesn’t always hold true for some companies, some have very tricky ways of saving a bit of money by changing their portion sizes over time giving you less for the same amount of money. Here are a few examples of this trickery at play: Over time cereal boxes have become thinner. Lays hold about 30% chips and the rest is nitrogen; this helps keep the chips fresh for longer while on the shelf, but at the expense of less chips. Snickers started selling two small bars within one wrapper leaving a gap between them, this gap cuts down on the amount of chocolate and saves them tons of money each year. By far the most disturbing of these proportion scandals is the meat industry. Meat is sold by weight, so to make them heavier (especially chickens) they inject water into the meat, this method is called “plumping”. Some chickens sold on the market have been shown to be made up of up to 30% water.

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Advertising is a great tool used by many companies to promote their products, but as you can see, many companies have “fooled” us with their deceptive tactics. Pay attention to what you’re buying and make sure you are truly getting what you pay for.

In the meantime, if you are interested in crafting an advertising campaign that will not “fool” your customers, but genuinely grow your brand and promote your product, consider partnering with the team at XLDesign4U.

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From Mom & Pop Shop To The Top

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Success is a universal desire, yet everyone has their own ideas of what success means. Simply owning a business could have been your ultimate end goal so, if you’re content wherever your business is on the totem pole there’s no reason to read further. However, for those of you who have further business aspirations and want to see their small operation morph into a top contender of your field, this is the article for you.

Yes, It’s Possible

Not all corporations start out large; many originated from humble beginnings that had to climb and persevere to the status they are now. A wonderful example of this is the story of Sam Walton. Back in 1950, Sam opened his first retail store in Bentonville, Arkansas. Using the technique of scoping out competitor prices and marking his down slightly from theirs, his shops grew immensely in popularity. This eventually enabled him to gain enough capital to open a second shop in Roger, Arkansas. You recognize these retail operations today as Walmart. Walmart is currently in all 50 states, 14 foreign countries and has an annual gross profit of over $120 billion. It employs more people worldwide than the population of Houston Texas. Ninety percent of all Americans live within 15 miles of one. You might not be the next Walmart, but on the other hand you might be.

Waltons Five and Dime store Bentonville Arkansas

The Key Master

The phrase “confidence is key” is to keep in mind during an expansion. However, after you get through a few doors, there will be more than just your confidence needed to unlock the next door and move forward. You’ll attempt to open a door and fail and you’ll either need to find a new key or give up on that door completely.

Some doors are reinforced, so kicking them down isn’t always a viable option, and if it is an option, it’s possible to damage the success or opportunity on the other side. You can always try to pick the lock, cheat the system, but that’s not the honest way to go about it and you risk breaking the lock entirely rendering the door into a wall. So, this begs the question, what keys do you need and where do find them?

You can ask a friend if they have a key or refer you to someone who might; alternatively, you can hire someone to create a key for you, or you can do the grueling work of crafting the key from scratch. At the end of the day, it all comes down to utilizing your available resources intelligently to move yourself forward. Don’t fear asking and don’t fear working; sometimes those are your only or best options.

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Success & Failure (accept both into your life with open arms)

If you can’t accept failure, success is never going to accept you. Nothing truly spectacular that has longevity started at the pristine level it’s at now. It takes countless hours, days, weeks, months, years of trial and error. Finding out what works and what falls flat is all part of the process of prospering. People who know how to handle losing are always better winner.

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Love a Critic (distinguishing between helpful & harmful critiques)

When you accept the fact you’re not always right, you’ll have the adequate mindset to grow. Knowledge is power, but delusion of intelligence is a weakness. When someone gives you criticism try your best not to get upset. Hear the person out and then think on it. Don’t dismiss nor accept immediately, just consider. Once you evaluate for a decent amount of time then you should decide if what they said held any significant weight. But, remember, your best critiques come from someone who has already achieved the level you are aspiring to. Listen to criticism but filter it accordingly.

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Jack of All Trades Don’t Get Paid like Experts Do

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”- Bruce Lee

If you offer 20 different services (although variety is great) you’ll only be a novice at all of them. If you knock it down to just a few, your skills will be more specialized in those fields. Scrap what you’re just okay at and get tunnel vison for the things you’re best at. That’s how experts are made- organize your focus and execute accordingly.

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Define Your Demographic

Chuck E Cheese vs Dominos. Knowing which demographic gives you an incredible competitive advantage, even if your product isn’t the most superior in the same market. For example, it’s safe to say in terms of quality, Domino’s pizza is better than Chuck E Cheese (CEC). But does this get in the way of CEC being unsuccessful? Not by a long shot. This is thanks to market segmentation; they know their demographic (children between the ages of 3-8) and market to that age group aggressively.  That’s the key to their success and longevity.

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1+1=2 (small companies that combine make bigger companies- Simple Math)

When all else fails, it’s wise to consider a merger. Finding a company with identical services and goals to compliment yours could be a huge step in elevating your business venture to a whole new level. The challenge is finding that ideal company to merge with. Like the research you’ve done to evaluate your market, it is vitally important to do the same level of research in determining the best company to merge with. After all, you don’t want all of your blood, sweat and tears to go to waste with one bad business decision. Take your time…ponder and make sure a merger makes sense for your business expansion efforts.

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If you are planning an expansion for your business and would like to partner with a company that can assist in developing the right marketing strategy and tools to achieve your goals, consider partnering with the team of XLDesign4U.

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BE EVERYWHERE (The Lost Child Technique)

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There are over 7 billion people on our planet today, with an estimated 125 million formal micro, small and midsize businesses and 89 million emerging markets. That is a lot of opportunity for visibility!

But, the raw truth is no matter who you are or what you do standing out is an uphill battle. Decades ago, it was easier to differentiate services and products because the competition was sparse. Today, although we have a larger audience to advertise our products and services, competition is fierce. Devising ways to make your business stand out is more crucial than ever to achieve success. If you’re looking for ways to get your brand in the spotlight, check out these helpful hints to get your brand right where it’s supposed to be, in the public eye.

LOGOS, LOGOS, LOGOS

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Your logo is your first impression to your target audience. If it doesn’t arise curiosity and interest, you’ve already lost your customers. It is the face of your company, the epitome of your brand.  So, how do you get your face recognized by the masses? If your child was missing what would you do? You’d post that face on every available surface until enough people see it and hopefully provide you with the valuable information you need to retrieve your child. Why not use this same method in sharing your brand?

Some will act right then and seek your company out and some won’t.  The most important thing is that the face stays fresh in their minds. In the case of the “lost child” metaphor it’s all about what if they find your child; regarding your brand presence, it’s what if they need your services. It’s all about standing out. The timing is not always going to be right, but when you stay in front of your customers on a constant basis, you stay top of mind when the need arises.

So, what are the available spaces to place your face?

Promotional Products/Apparel– How many times per day to you pick up a pen to write? Can you count the number of notebooks and sticky pads in your office? How many polos and t-shirts do you have in your closet? If you put you face on something useful your face will be in view as much as the useful item; that makes sense.

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Website- If your company website doesn’t have your face it, you’re missing opportunities to solidify and share your brand. Do your clients and prospects a favor and remove the guess work. Let them know who you are and what you do. Have you considered adding a favicon to your browser tab?

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Favicon- It’s important to fill the available space you can place your face as web-based markets continue to rise. Although it’s only a small icon, it can really make or break the professional website’s look if it’s missing. The small logo in your tab is a key feature if you’re trying to have continuity with your online brand identity instead of settling for the default setting. It might seem mundane but without it your website will appear incomplete.

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Business Cards & Collateral- If the face of your business isn’t on your business cards and collateral, how are you going to get business? This should be a no brainer!

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Vehicle- Do you have a company vehicle that requires you to travel to customer sites to perform services and/or make deliveries? Use that hunk of moving metal to get your face in

front of a major audience, anyone you drive near. Car wraps, large magnets, airbrushed, or even standard bumper stickers can all be great ways to get your face out there and drive up sales.

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Email Signature- Correspondence with your clients is inevitable; it’s how you build relationships and close deals. Professionalism is a necessary trait if you’re looking to attract new customers and keep the business you already have, but some businesses struggle with portraying a professional manner with their customers. Simply using proper spelling and grammar in your email correspondences will make you appear educated, but a logo in your email signature will make you appear more legitimate and is yet another way to stay in front of your customers.

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Profile Picture(s)- The likelihood of having a modern-day business and not being connected to social media is slim to none, but if that is the case…the year is 2017, please fix that. For the majority of you who do indeed have social media for your company, make sure your logo is the centerpiece of your profile pictures across all social media platforms.

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Signage- Do you have a physical location that your clients/suppliers visit frequently? Give your headquarters the treatment it deserves and distinguish your building’s identity with proper signage. Show your face!

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If you need assistance with any one of these brand spreading methods, please contact the trusted & creative team at XLDesign4U!

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Selling To Your Subconscious

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Your mind is a labyrinth of nerves and receptors. The subconscious is a part of the maze we’ve only begun to explore or understand. It’s the underbelly of your thoughts, the part of your mind which operates without you even knowing about it. Your conscious mind is your awareness to the outside world. Your subconscious mind, on the other hand, is the part of your mind that is responsible for your behavioral and physical functions (like breathing or blinking) that you don’t have to think about manually.

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The brain is the most powerful computer known to man, but also one of the most fragile. If you can tap into the subconscious section of the mind, you can drastically influence the conscious, and advertisers know this fact all too well. Thanks to the power of subliminal messaging, advertisers can make you see and feel things without you having the faintest clue your subconscious has been infiltrated.

This method of advertising was first founded in 1957 during the screening of the movie “The Picnic”. A Coca-Cola marketer named James McDonald Vicary spliced in the messages “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” for 1/300th of a second every 5 seconds into the film, the sales of Coca-Cola increased by 18% and popcorn sales went up an astounding 58%.

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In 1958, only a year after this method was first used, subliminal advertising was banned in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Australia. But this ban didn’t stop advertisers one bit, and looking at the spike in sales of Coke and popcorn it’s easy to see why. This spawned a new form of advertising that’s specifically targeted towards your subconscious that we’re still experiencing to this day.

“Sex sells” isn’t just a phrase that advertisers throw around just to be risqué, it’s an undeniable truth. Attraction is a natural physical stimulus and if you can make your product more attractive by using sexual imagery, then the product becomes more desirable. But being too blatantly sexual can be off putting, especially to the public. That’s where the power of subliminal messaging comes into play.

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Tangled Hidden Messages

Burger King It will Blow Your Mind Away

Feeling a mind controlled by subliminal tactics yet? Well buckle up for this one because this is a whole other level of manipulation- Back in 2003 the US government got a patent for “Nervous system manipulation by electromagnetic fields from monitors”. Here is a summary of what the patent entails- “Computer monitors and TV monitors can be made to emit weak low-frequency electromagnetic fields merely by pulsing the intensity of displayed images. Experiments have shown that the 1/2 Hz sensory resonance can be excited in this manner in a subject near the monitor. The 2.4 Hz sensory resonance can also be excited in this fashion. Hence, a TV monitor or computer monitor can be used to manipulate the nervous system of nearby people.”

In layman's terms, they can and most likely have made you feel however they want about what’s being displayed on the screen by using frequencies you cannot hear. Creepy.

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Not all subliminal messaging is used to sell. It is often used to provoke a feeling or perpetuate a story. For example, X-Men perpetuates a metaphor for discrimination of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. As mutants grow into their abilities around puberty, they face opposition when telling their parents, and are generally thought of as outcasts. Another example is in the movie The Exorcist where the demon is never blatantly shown, only small flashes of his face are visible throughout the movie, evoking a more horrifying emotion for the audience.

You know subliminal advertising has worked on you when you feel moved to do something after watching a movie or commercial without even knowing why. Something as simple as wanting to buy a pizza after seeing an image of it on a commercial is an example of subtle subliminal advertising. Movies even include blatant shots of products to whet your subconscious whistle.

With the changes in the way we market today, subconscious advertising is becoming a larger fabric of our marketing mix. Marketing is now dictated by evoking an emotional response; direct “let me show you my products so you can buy them” marketing just doesn’t work as well anymore. The informed consumer doesn’t want to be directly sold which forces retailers to creatively inject their product benefits into their advertising, convincing consumers that buying their product was their idea all along.

As you work on developing a subliminal marketing campaign for your business, make sure you’re partnered with the right marketing firm to help you achieve your goals. XLDesign4U specializes in developing customized design and marketing plans to meet your unique needs. Consider a consultation with one of our team members to develop the most effective subliminal marketing campaign for your business.

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Good to be Good

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Did you know that February 16th was Do a Grouch a Favor Day and February 17th was Random Acts of Kindness Day? Maybe this is a sign that we need to be more intentional about being kind to others. Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan? When was the last time you engaged in a random act of kindness?

We live in a fast-paced society, filled with smart phones, computers and meetings in coffee shops. We are so consumed by technology and the next thing on our to-do list, we rarely take the time to stop and notice the world around us. As a result, many people lose sight of the value and benefits of being kind to others. Whether it’s building and nurturing client relationships or just simply being nice, it is a valuable asset to have in your repertoire.

Kindness is built on authenticity. First, it is important to recognize the difference between being kind to fulfill an ulterior motive or genuinely being authentic. Are you trying to fulfill something for someone else or fulfill something for yourself?  We all do both, being nice for something we want is a normal social tactic; most of us were taught that good behavior warrants reimbursement even if that reimbursement is simply the good behavior being returned to us. But, when you are being authentically nice, there is another kind of payoff that can be even more rewarding – satisfying your moral compass. Genuine kindness is not based on our own selfish desires. It is truly taking our eyes off ourselves for a moment to focus on another person. It’s not as easy as it sounds because inherently, we are all selfish. We always consider our needs first. However, there’s a level of peace reached when you’re authentically kind that cannot be easily found any other way. Plus, Zig Ziglar said it best when he said if you help enough people get what they want, you will automatically get what you want. What a great philosophy!

Being nice isn’t always easy, especially when it seems like the other person doesn’t deserve it. But, take a moment and put yourself in their shoes. You don’t know why they are cranky or irritable. Maybe their child is sick or a loved one just died. They may be rude to you, but smile anyway. You may be the only person that was kind to them that day.  On that same note, you shouldn’t overvalue people who undervalue you, but you can be kind without being perceived as a pushover.

Compliments

A compliment is more than just saying something nice, it’s proof that you’re paying attention to a person. When done correctly a compliment can set the mood for an entire conversation.  A good compliment is specific and genuine. When you’re seeking to compliment someone, make sure it you mean it; otherwise, you’ve tainted the experience. If you’re too generalized, your compliment can feel vague and forced. Over complimenting can give the impression that you’re trying too hard and that you’re not very genuine. Speak from the heart.

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Smile

Smile and the world is more likely to smile back. People often under estimate the value of a simple smile. It can change the mood of a room. Simply practicing smiling more often is a great way to be perceived as more positive and confident. When you smile naturally others will smile back. People do a degree of mimicry to be more comfortable in their environment; use this social tick to your advantage. Doing simple things like touching your face when the person you’re talking to touches theirs and clasping your hands together as they clasp theirs, can be a wonderful tactic to make someone more comfortable. Body language plays a large role in connecting with others, but the best tool in your box is your smile. A warm, friendly smile will automatically make someone feel more comfortable around you. It can shift someone’s mood because maybe no one has smiled at them today. Think of your smile as a gift of kindness and don’t be afraid to share it with the world.

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Pay it forward

Lastly, as we discuss random acts of kindness, consider paying it forward and living out the Good Samaritan example. There have been many examples in the media of people who have paid for the groceries of the person behind them in line or paid for the person behind them in the drive through while getting something to eat. You never know. That person might be down to their last $5 that week and your random act of kindness was a true blessing for them. How will you pay it forward this week?

Would you like some help developing a kindness campaign for your customers? XLDesign4U specializes in developing customized marketing plans to meet your unique needs. Consider a consultation with one of our team members to develop the most effective kindness campaign for your customers.

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Please take a moment to visit & support  http://www.cjstuf.org/ 
It makes us feel GOOD to sponsor this wonderful organization that does GOOD things!

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Nostalgia Marketing

 

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Nostalgia originates from a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming", a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain, ache". At one point in time it was considered a serious medical condition before being recognized as an emotional response to memories.

Good advertising evokes emotion; a sentimental bound can do just that. Our memories are our identities. Everything you say or do derives from your past. About every half decade all the cells in your body are replaced, so in about 5 years you aren’t going to be the same body. But you’re still the same person, and that’s all thanks to your memories. Nostalgia is a feeling of connecting with the younger version of yourself, a version of yourself that is long gone, which can warm the heart of even the coldest person.

Whether it’s a continuation of a series that was discontinued or canceled years prior, a reboot of a beloved franchise, or simply including a famous character from the past, nostalgia can be a impactful advertising tool if used properly.

Check out these popular examples of nostalgia marketing used by beloved brands you’re familiar with:

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Surge

Crystal Pepsi

The Jungle Book 2016Ghostbusters 2016 film poster

Kermit-Toyota

NintendoClassicMiniNES

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As you review how these successful brands have utilized nostalgia marketing to evoke an emotional connection to their product, what are some ways your marketing goals can achieve a similar response for your customers? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Quality is more valuable than a flashy gimmick. When developing a nostalgia related marketing strategy, it can be tempting to become a bit cheesy. This is not necessary. Emphasize the quality of your product and that will create a response within your audience. Show that your product is timeless. Brands like Nintendo and the Throwback Pepsi illustrate that their brand is powerful and timeless. How can you communicate the same with your brand?

Create an emotional tug. Do you think there is any connection between Coke and Clydesdale horses or polar bears? There is no real direct connection between the two, but their advertising creates an emotional pull that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Apple has also done the same in some of their recent holiday marketing with the Frankenstein monster that was a first unaccepted when he began caroling among the crowd but one child turned around the entire scenario when she began singing with him. The emotional message – love and accept everyone. The marketing message – the new recording features in the new iPhone 7. In each of these scenarios, the companies managed to market their products while appealing to the emotions of their audience. When trying to evoke a nostalgic feeling among your customers, take them back to their childhood. Transport them back in time; resurrect their memories. Give it a try with your next campaign.

Resurrect the old. The examples above provide a great example of old becoming new again, or vintage. When something becomes old, it has not lost its purpose, it has just aged. Many things are timeless, like the Disney classics, Cinderella and Pinocchio. When old movies are remade, like Ghostbusters and Jungle Book, it is not an insult to the original. Rather, it is paying homage to the old, by blending the old with a bit of new. What do you have in your product wheelhouse that may be a bit old that you can bring back to show your customers how you’ve grown? Consider integrating that into your marketing.

As you work on developing your nostalgia marketing campaign, you will want to partner with a marketing and graphic design company that not only understands what you are trying to accomplish but has the tools in their wheelhouse to make it come alive. XLDesign4U specializes in developing customized design and marketing plans to meet your unique needs. Consider a consultation with one of our team members to develop the most effective nostalgia marketing campaign for your business.

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What makes a great invention?

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Did you know that February 11th is National Inventors Day?

We live in an age where technology is being produced and improved upon at an unprecedented rate. There are new ideas coming to fruition every day in attempts to change the world. But I ask, what makes one invention revolutionary and another redundant? Before you launch your next big idea, consider some of the key factors that make an invention a success or a flop.

Originality

Ideas are not in short supply. With so many people on this planet & a plethora of documented history dating back over 6 millennia, originally is a valued and rare principle. But simply coming up with something new doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be great, or even good for that matter. Standing out from the crowd and creating something different is important; however, it doesn’t matter how creative your ideas are if it doesn’t serve a need.

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Problems solver

A good invention solves a problem; a great invention solves multiple problems. Think of it this way- the snuggie solves the predicament of not being able to freely use your hands while covered in a blanket, that’s a good invention (silly as it may be). Was it highly original? No, but it did solve a problem. The inventor of the snuggie took something already on the market and used regularly by consumers, a blanket, and improved upon it by allowing you to stay warm hands-free.

On the other end of the spectrum, the wheel is widely known of as one of the greatest inventions to ever be created. It not only helped us transport large objects & ourselves easier, but it’s how gears and cogs and pullies came to be, making the industrial revolution even possible. Inventions come in all kinds of packages, from the simple and almost ridiculous to products that revolutionized society.

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Convenience

Many inventions today do not require a high degree of creativity or innovation. It simply provides a level of convenience. One of the greatest examples of an age-old invention that is purely based upon convenience is the remote control. Does it really solve a problem? Not really. Getting up to turn the channel was not really a problem before the remote control was invented, but it’s certainly convenient to be able to change the channel from the couch without having to get up. Some would argue that the invention of the remote control and other convenience tools simply have made us lazy, and they may be right, but it has become a fabric of our culture. Other modern examples of convenience oriented inventions are the contacts in our cell phones (we don’t have to memorize numbers anymore) and Apple Pay and Google Pay on our smart phones. You no longer need to bring your wallet with you to the grocery store; simply use your smart phone to pay for purchases. Now, that’s convenient!

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Accessibility/Presence

You could create one of the coolest or useful things every conceived, and it wouldn’t really matter to anyone if it’s not known about or accessible. That’s why marketing can be just as important as the invention itself. It’s hard change the world if the people in it aren’t paying any attention. A great invention must be positioned properly to reach the audience it was intended to serve.

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Timeless or Adaptable

The lifespan of a creation can really make or break its legacy, if the creation become obsolete rather fast it won’t take long for it to be forgotten. This can be a X factor for many inventions since it’s hard to predict when or if someone else’s brainchild will render yours useless or outdated. If your invention is the basis for future inventions your creation will be a success. A great example is the computer. When the computer was made, soon after the internet was created, and once it was accessible to the public countless ideas have been and will be created, all started with the computer. Another great electronic invention that has adapted over time is the cell phone. Years ago, the first cell phone started in a bag and restricted mostly to use in the car. Since then, we have evolved to smart phones which are essentially mini computers in the palm of our hands. Talk about timeless!

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Do you have an invention and think it’s great? Use these the characteristics to see how it measures up. Let us help you spread the word to the masses! XLDesign4U specializes in developing customized design and marketing plans to meet your unique needs. Consider a consultation with one of our team members to develop the most effective subliminal marketing campaign for your business.

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Molding Your Logo

 

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The old adage, “you don’t give a second chance to make a first impression,” certainly rings true when you are trying to land a new client. We’re told most our lives to not judge a book by its cover and to dive deeper rather than taking things at face value, but the truth is most people do just that. First impressions do matter. That being said, it is extremely important that you develop your business branding to reflect your business’s style and concept directly. Your audience’s first impression of your brand should be the right one. The center of your brand is your logo.

Think of your logo as a letter of the alphabet; when you look at the letter ‘A’, you immediately recognize it and know the sound it makes and exactly what it means. You want the same level of recognition with your logo.

A good logo is simple, appropriate, and memorable. Your shape should be exclusively associated with your company, and your company alone. You should be able to take away all the text from your design and it still be instantly recognizable as your company.

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To figure out your company’s shape, you need to know what the shapes mean to people when they see them. Choose one or combine a few to get your message across, but always remember to KEEP IT SIMPLE. It should be simple enough that a child can easily draw it and still be recognizable.

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Vertical vs. Horizontal-

Before we get started breaking down shapes themselves, we need to talk about their orientation. How your shape is angled is more important than one may realize. It can directly convey certain attributes about your company at first glance.

Vertical designs exude strength, power, masculinity, and dominance. While horizontal designs give off a sense of rest, composure, femininity, and peace.

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Now, let’s start looking at what each shape means.

Geometric:

Circular- The circle, one of the most popular shapes used in design, exudes positivity. Perhaps it is the its relation to the all too familiar smiley face. It has no beginning, and it has no end; therefore it is infinite and whole. There’s a flow that comes with a circle thanks to its lack of hard lines and its bubbly nature which is soft on the eyes. It is useful for encapsulating and confining ideas, and when combined with other circles it can display partnership and unity.

Square/Rectangular- This shape shows structure due to its flat lines, making it appear stable, like the foundation of a home. Balance comes to mind when faced with these shapes.

Triangular- Depending on how it lies, the triangle can either convey balance if placed on its flat lines or lack thereof if placed on one of its sharp points. It can also represent direction. Often seen as aggressive and sharp, this dichotomy makes it a versatile shape in design.

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Organic- Based off forms we see in nature, organic shapes come across as comfortable and interest based.

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Abstract/Stylized- These shapes are literal representations of whatever your message is, not found anywhere in nature nor amongst geometric shapes. It is a direct reflection of your business.

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Simple Rebranding-

If you’re reading this article it is likely you’re in one of two groups -  someone making their first logo or someone who already has a logo and is wondering how it is holding up. If you’re a member of the second group and the “keep it simple” part hurt your soul a bit because your logo is anything but simple, I urge you to re-assess your brand message. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. What message are you conveying with your logo? Is it the message you want to convey?. If you look at the logos below from large companies, you can see overtime how they simplified themselves to be more recognizable.

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Each of these brands are highly successful and have stood the test of time. Take this into consideration as you review your logo. If you’re just getting started, I hope these guidelines will help you craft the brand message that is right for you that will clearly communicate your message to your audience.

Are you looking for a qualified resource to dialogue about your logo design? Contact the XLDesign4U team today for a free 30 minute consultation.

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Is your company warm?

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Colors have an undeniable effect on our mood, but what color(s) will best define what your brand is all about? This part two of our breakdown of color, and how to use it to convey your ideas and tonality effectively. Please note, that if your company doesn’t use the right color it does not mean you won’t be a success. However, you’re better off if you can make color work for you rather than work against you. If you can’t seem to find a color that matches your company in this article, please refer to our previous “Is your company cool?” article. With all that said, let’s get started on deciphering the warm hues.

 Red-

If any color is going to change your mood, this is the one.  It’s the color of love and passion, this can be attributed to our skin color changing to a red tint (blushing) when sexually aroused. On the other end of the spectrum it also represents anger and danger, think fire and blood and you can easily connect the relation. Whether it’s lipstick or flashing sirens, the ultimate response to red is an increased heart rate. Thanks to its ability to stir strong emotions it’s ideal for attention grabbing, so if your trying to stop traffic or get your brand noticed (Which works even better when paired with yellow, most effective color combinations for branding/advertisements known to man. i.e. McDonalds, Shell, Master Card, Superman, Lay’s, Burger King, Jelly Belly. I think you get the idea.) this is the color for you. Side note, pink and burgundy, which are variants of red, have different effects on us than red does. Pink is more playful and feminine while burgundy is often seen as sophisticated and masculine, so pay attention to your tints & shades because they can often alter your color impact on the viewer.

 

red-color-in-logosYellow-

Sunny skies and smiley faces come to mind when faced with yellow. Its light and joyful nature provides a sense of positivity to the viewer, people often relate it to happiness. It’s also the harshest color on the eyes because of the amount of light that reflects from it, making it the most attention-grabbing color of all (Why it’s often used for street signs and other alerts) but can also be too much. Other powers of yellow are that it increases metabolism (Makes people eat faster) as well as stimulates concentration (Why legal pads are often yellow, people make less mistakes). On the negative side, studies have shown that people lose their temper faster and babies cry more if placed in yellow rooms. With all this said, use yellow carefully. If used right you could make your company the focal point of people’s attention, but if done incorrectly could draw attention you don’t want. It may be the universal color of happiness but if you use too much it can put off the viewer due to its powerful attributes.

yellowOrange-

Oranges give you energy! No, I’m not talking about fruit and its vitamins. This color stimulates and allows for more oxygen to reach the brain, which can make you feel more enthusiastic and active. Red with its passion and yellow with its joy makes for a cocktail of uplifting vitality. Thanks to its red and yellow parents, it retains their traits of attention grabbing, but also retains the eye strain factor. However, of the three colors (Red, yellow, orange) orange is the middle ground, so it is often used in place of red and yellow if the design doesn’t call for their intensity levels of red or yellow. Think of orange as the most none invasive warm color, it’s more on the friendly/sociable side.

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Color is a fascinating element in our day to day life, and now with this knowledge of how color is perceived, you can accurately pinpoint what color(s) will work in your favor. The next article we’ll dives into shapes and how humans perceive and absorb them, so if you’ve found your color and not your form, look out for that one.

If you need personalized help with your color management contact XLDesign4U for a consultation!

Main Phone- 8045690527

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Is your company cool?

 

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Colors have an undeniable effect on our mood, but what color(s) will best define what your brand is all about? This is a breakdown on color, and how to use it to convey your ideas and tonality effectively. Please note, that if your company doesn’t use the right color it does not mean you won’t be a success. However, you’re better off if you can make color work for you rather than work against you. This will be a 2-part article series. We’re going to tackle the realm of cool colors first. So, let’s get started.

Cool Colors:

Blue-

There are plenty of industries where reliability and loyalty are the backbone of the operation; without trust there is no business. You need to trust your car to safely get you from point A to B, your health professional to know what they’re talking about, your grocery store to have fresh food, your news source to provide you accurate information, your home appliances to be reliable, your bank to secure your finances, and your social media to protect the personal information you’ve shared with them. The companies in these fields use blue to their advantage; it helps convey that they’re dependable and secure.

Scientists have theorized that the reason we attribute blue to these emotions is due to the sky. Blue skies are a sign of clear/calm weather and stability in nature; therefore, it naturally gives us a feeling of security and a relaxed feeling (Hence why a lot of people paint their rooms blue). It has also been shown in studies conducted that workers in a blue office opposed to a white office made 20% less errors due to its stabilizing effects. But our primitive responses of blue are not all positive.  It has also been proven that blue is one of the worst choices for the food industry. Our brains are hardwired to avoid black, purple, and blue foods because back in caveman times those colors signified that the food was either rotten or spoiled. Blue is considered an appetite suppressant due to this correlation. (So, you may want to avoid painting your restaurant blue!)

Blue

Green-

Green being one of the most predominant colors in nature, it’s safe to assume that it has an ingrained effect on us as humans. Mixing the refreshing quality of blue and the cheerfulness of yellow, your result is the tranquil color green. It’s known to cause the least eyestrain of all the colors, and can improve vision thanks to this. Its easing nature is used on patients and performers alike; they’re often seated in green rooms to calm their nerves before a show or surgery. If darkened, green can also imply masculinity, wealth, and a conservative domineer.

These effects of green can be seen echoing throughout various industries having to do with health and organic foods, the environment, banking, as well as refreshments.

Green

Purple-

By combining calming/relaxing blue with passionate/aggressive red you wind up with the mysterious and multifaceted purple. Without defined undertones it can be viewed as an uneasy color due to the collision of red and blue, but once administered purple takes on the undertone’s characteristics. Often associated with royalty, mystery, and beauty it shown to have a mass appeal among adolescent females and creative types alike. It’s useful when marketing anti-aging products, creative services, and products that are soothing.

Purple

None of these colors match your companies desired message? Don’t fret, your company may be warm! Look out for part two of this article where we dive into the psychology of warm colors and how to apply them effectively to your brand.

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Know your design plan

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When you enter the design process with your designer, specificity is key.  Oftentimes, when business owners or creative professionals meet with their designer to outline the specifics of their project, the details are not quite clear. The reality is most clients discover what they really want through the proofing process. The challenge here is that they don’t realize the demands they are making on their designer when they ask for a change here, and a change there. In their mind, the change is minor and should not require much effort on the part of the designer, but they often do not understand the process involved in making some of their change requests. That is why clients find themselves overwhelmed at increased costs for proofing and revisions when they have requested changes to the finished product.

The best way to demonstrate how this process works from the designer’s point-of-view is to share an actual example or case study of this type of scenario.

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The image above is the original artwork for this project. We were asked to quote a list of line items for a children’s enrichment program that introduces preschool-age children to sports, dance, cheerleading and fitness with a focus on building confidence and team participation. After quoting the list, we received approval to begin work on their brochure.

To begin the project, the client provided a JPEG file of their last brochure. They wanted us to edit the image and build off the artwork they’d already created. Unfortunately, JPEG images are not editable.  To put things in perspective, it’s like trying to press backspace on a word that’s printed on a piece of paper; it just doesn’t work. This is something to always be mindful of as you provide files to your graphic designer.

The client’s first request was to remove the second sentence (the bold one) and replace it with “Try a Starz class and rest assured your child is in the best enrichment program on the market today! www.StarzProgram.com.”  They also wanted to change the color of “dance, sports, cheer, and fitness.” Again, these changes seem quite simple. But, what the client did not realize was that you need to individually erase each letter and match the spots to the existing background before you can place the new desired text.

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After making the initial changes, we went through several iterations of changing the “dance, cheer and fitness” content. In the first change, the color of the letters was changed a lighter color to make it stand out. The client wanted the words to ‘pop’ more which resulted in the changes you see in the above image. After reviewing this proof, the client’s reaction was we were getting close but not quite there. She wanted to see more ‘pop’ on those letters. In addition, they decided to completely remove the boy in the upper right hand corner and replace him with a cheerleader and a ballerina of different races to show diversity. This seems like a simple request, but it literally took over an hour to find images that matched their specific requests.

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To create the best experience for the client and designer, map out your project in as much detail as possible in the beginning to avoid tedious, trial and error changes during the proofing stage.

 

For more information about the Starz Program and how it SHINES contact Sophia Wastler, founder. www.StarzProgram.com

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What's under the hood of your graphics?

Mechanical inspection edit 

Graphic design services entail a lot more challenges than most realize.  After recently encountering numerous challenges for best communicating the true task for requested graphic design services, I have been compelled to write a series of educational articles for those who contract qualified graphic design professionals to perform creative outcomes.

This article will provide three examples of professional graphic designer challenges that most who work outside of this creative industry do not understand.  My goal is to share a series of educational subjects to hopefully instill heightened awareness of the graphic design industry and the value of their employ.

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There are many instances where the client will ask a designer to perform basic typesetting services.  Typesetting is typically construed as basically typing words, making the words look good with different font usage, proper spacing and in some instances- converting your product into a right-fit storytelling writing style.  You've communicated what you want to have typed, and may have asked your typesetter to “make it sound good” in addition to making it look good.  If your typesetting and/or graphic design service is starting from scratch and you agree to pay for that labor, your investment will be worthwhile because the work will be done correctly.  If you are providing a digital art file for editing, respect the educated evaluation of your selected designer when they review the good, the bad and the ugly with you.  It's not fair to assume you know all the intricacies of how to make your existing product different/improved.  Nor is it fair for your hired graphic professional to assume you are educated about their industry steps to achieve your request.  Bottom line is the mutual goal to accomplish the task.  Let the knowledgeable mechanic fix the problem, while you focus on the mechanics of where you are knowledgeable in your industry.

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There is an inherent value for collaboration between you and your designer before the work begins. Learn the value of what needs to be done.  Parallel this situation with your familiarity of a typical automobile oil change expense versus the expense of identifying and repairing that strange noise your car is making.  The mechanic will need to implement an investigative diagnosis stage (which someone must be paid for), then there’s the actual repair cost which may only involve labor time but might involve purchasing replacement parts.  In the case where there are a few problems you want to address, try to discuss them all at the beginning of the process.  Logically, while the mechanic is looking at solutions to fix one problem, if he's under the automobile digging around to find the issue he can save you money to look for the other issue simultaneously.  

If you change your mind repeatedly on which issue you want rectified, or you bring up a new separate issue after the first problem is solved, you may encounter extra labor costs for the mechanic to take everything apart again to find the additional problems you've addressed.

Most computers have wonderful user-friendly typesetting software programs.  You may be familiar with some of these programs such as Word, Publisher, Google Docs and there are those who even consider Excel spreadsheet program types to be typesetting programs.  The typical user of these programs can see their results not only on a computer screen, but in a hard-copy printed version.  It's so easy to create a professional looking outcome, right?  One can even insert a logo from their website (or other internet based resources), and quite frankly be made very proud of the creation.  Whether printing your work on your office printer, at a “quick copy store” or pasting it into an email, it looks wonderful!

using a printer

For the “Do It Yourselfer” who decides to employ a graphic designer to take your awesome creation and simply throw it into a newsletter, a menu, a post card or some other commercially printed product, your interpretation of their labor time is a no pain assumption, right?  Why would your hired designer or commercial printing resource need to charge a fee for simply placing your work into a digital template?  You have maybe even converted your word doc into a PDF or your spreadsheet seems easily transferable to any computer or printed document type.

WRONG!

Commercial printing of marketing pieces requires professional placement of your text with special attention given to an assortment of important “press quality” outcome criteria.  Let the mechanic do their job as efficiently as is possible and then respect their knowledgeable advice with a fair value placed on accomplishing your goal.

Here's a few examples of the challenges your professional typesetting and graphic design resource typically needs to overcome through diligent and knowledgeable labor time and effort.

The pretty Word document or PDF you made looks like this when placed into a graphic design software program such as Illustrator, InDesign or similar.  EEK!

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Those aren't words and sentences!  They are now individual letters all sitting in pretty rows.  If the rows don't fit into the press “safe zones” for press machine grip, fold or trimming margins, your designer then has to move your individual document letters one at a time or in carefully selected groups to the right place and still maintain the good sense of your creation!  Of course, you did a thorough “spell check” before sharing your creation with your typesetting professional, right?  Don't expect these dotted letters to make sense in any spell check tool.

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The image shown above is NOT press compatible. Can you clearly read the data? Kinda blurry huh? It's a resolution problem.  In layman's terms resolution is the number of (ink) dots per inch.  Newsprint is typically 150 dots per inch.  Hold a magnifying glass over a printed newspaper page to see the dots - there are 150 dots in a square inch.  For fast web image loading, most images you see on the Internet are only 72 dpi!  Crisp professional print typically requires no less than 300 dpi (dots per inch), so when your professional service asks you whether or not you may have a high-resolution art image, they are protecting your creation to insure a crisp image prints.  No one wants a blurry graph on your professionally printed marketing piece, right?

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If you don't have high resolution images, your hired professional will now have to redraw your image to ensure proper resolution at press.  There may be legal considerations regarding copyrighted logo art.  “Replacement” images may need to be purchased or recreated to accomplish your requested product completion.

Take the time to discuss with your graphic output resource what you want to achieve before you try to do the work yourself.  A professionally typeset and commercially printed piece can provide a valuable tool for marketing your business.  Be fair to yourself and allow a graphic specialist to create your printed product digital files.  The value of having this task accomplished correctly will prevent aggravating delays, additional labor expenses and professional misunderstanding of what this type of service actually requires.

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Have You Hugged Your Graphic Designer Lately?

 

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Part I

The creative graphic designer’s task to provide an appealing product is typically based on several different elements.  Sometimes they are asked to create an ideology from a blank canvas; other times they are requested to create a finished thought from images and text provided by the client. Have you ever considered the value of a graphic designer’s time to build your desired finished product?

One of the first realizations as a business owner is the fact that you cannot do everything yourself. This is the time that you employ business partners to work with you, people that are experienced and skilled in areas that you are not. The creative graphic designer is one of those partners and sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of running our business, I think we may take these valuable individuals for granted.

Whether tasked with the implementation of designing a new logo, compiling a color/image scheme that conveys a subliminal message or just a plain and simple text placement with appealing font selection, the graphic designer’s job is complex. Sometimes, to provide the best product, a designer might need to cohesively blend all of these elements together to achieve their goal. 

The creativity to implement the desired result involves “think time” for your contracted designer to plan the best outcome.  As the business owner, it is extremely important that you respect this aspect of the creative process if you want to receive quality results from your designer. “Think time” enables your designer to proactively plan your project both mentally and visually to map out the best plan to achieve your desired result. The last thing you want from your designer is a knee jerk reaction to your design requests, resulting in a poorly designed product that fails to meet your requirements.

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So, how does a business owner go about adding a quality graphic designer to their team? What resources and characteristics must they search for?

1. Past work history. Progressive business owners are hip to trends and changes going on in the marketplace. They pay attention to what their competitors and their peers are doing, and in this process, observe the work of various graphic designers. When shopping for a creative graphic designer, you may have admired their work through a peer or competitor or you may have even searched them out on the web.

2. Referrals. New graphic design partnerships are often formed simply through a referral. If a trusted friend or peer has a had a great relationship with a designer and you see evidence of their great work, this can often lead to the start of a relationship. New relationships built on referrals are great because trust is already earned through the referral relationship. However, because of this high level of trust, expectations are high, so it is important that the designer work hard to live up to that expectation and maintain that trust.

3. Existing relationship. You may also find a graphic designer through an existing relationship you have through another channel. It could be a trusted friend or family member or an old colleague you know that recently started their own business. Like the referral, trust is already there because the relationship exists, but the burden rests on the designer to preserve the relationship by providing a high quality product that meets the needs of their new client and partner.

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Now that we have established how you choose your graphic designer, it is important to review the creative process that the business owner must follow with their graphic designer to create the best product for their business. There is much more to the process than simply choosing a graphic designer, and then telling them, “go.” They do not have a crystal ball to see into your future or your vision for your product. It is a give and take relationship.

In part II of this series, I will reveal how you can embrace the creative process with your designer and work with them lock and step to achieve the results you want. In the meantime, give your designer a hug. They deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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