Questions to Ask Before Any Logo Redesign

A logo is the most visible graphical representation of a company. It provides an anchor for the visual elements in all of your other marketing materials, and when associated with an excellent product or service, it can carry goodwill and brand awareness. Conversely, if your logo has low brand recognition or a dated look, it’s time to consider a redesign.

If you are considering a logo redesign, here are some things to discuss with your designer:

  • What is your unique selling proposition? Where does your product fall on the quality versus price spectrum?
  • Who are your competitors and target customers?
  • What are your plans for how the logo will be used beyond business cards and stationery? This will allow the designer to create a logo that is appropriately scalable.
  • If your logo relies on gradients, reflections, or other digital effects, how will it look embroidered on a shirt or imprinted on a promotional item? One test is to look at your logo in its simplest form. Can it hold its own in black-and-white?
  • Can digital enhancements be added for specific applications?

Answering these questions will help your designer position your brand appropriately, both for the market and for the intended marketing uses.

But let creativity abound. There’s no single formula for creating an effective logo. Consider the highly visible Microsoft, Olympic and Starbucks redesigns. Microsoft unveiled its first new logo in a quarter of a century last year, adding a splash of color and a graphical element to its name. Similarly, the new Olympic logo spelled out Rio 2016 and used the yellow, green and blue of the Brazilian flag. Contrast that with the latest Starbucks logo, which uses only one color and no reference to the Starbucks name or coffee. The green, twin-tailed mermaid represents the brand’s personality rather than the product.

If logo redesign is important to these marquee brands, it’s certainly something for your business to consider. However, test market any changes with your target audience before embarking on a full-scale redesign. The price of a logo redesign (again) is more than just the cost of the image. It’s the expense of rolling it out across your enterprise.

Need help? Let one of our professional designers brainstorm with you.

 

 

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Effective Marketing Copy Made Easy

Whether you are writing copy for direct mail, email, in-store or exterior signage, or any other type of marketing material, a few simple tricks will increase your ability to grab your audience’s attention and communicate your message more effectively. Here are some fundamental principles of writing great copy that will help you command attention:

  • Be imaginative. It’s easy to say the same thing in the same way all the time. Break out of the mold. Look for unconventional ways to communicate your message.
  • Be a salesman. Cute and clever doesn’t get you anywhere by itself. Your copy still has to motivate recipients to action. Be creative, but also be clear. Sell benefits. Give an overt call to action.
  • Put the customer front and center. Make the customer the center of the message. Talk about their problems, their challenges, and their Let them identify with the message, then talk about how your products and services can solve their problems.
  • Build trust. Part of building a brand and gaining repeat customers is establishing loyalty and trust. Represent your products in a way that is accurate, helpful, and maintains your customers’ confidence.
  • Hire a professional editor. Make sure your copy meets professional standards. Someone who is “good at grammar” isn’t sufficient. When it comes to marketing, there are rules for punctuation, capitalization, and usage that only professionals know.

Of course, there are other elements to great print marketing, as well. Good layout. Interesting graphics. Compelling offer. But great copy ties it all together.

 

Tips for Ordering Promotional Products

Promotional products, whether common items such as pens and refrigerator magnets or more unusual items such as branded toys or back scratchers, can be powerful components of a multichannel marketing campaign. They tend to be kept for longer periods of time than traditional marketing pieces and can be highly effective door openers for hard-to-reach targets, particularly in the C-Suite. But ordering promotional items isn’t like ordering print. Here is a quick checklist to make the most of your investment.

  1. Don’t overload the promotional item.

Keep it simple and don’t try to overload with copy or images. Often times, a logo and phone number is all you need.

  1. Avoid the rush.

You may be used to being able to rush orders for brochures and direct mail, but promotional items require more lead time. Plan at least several weeks in advance.

  1. Simplify your use of color.

The differential between single-color and multicolor printing is relatively minimal. However, promotional items are generally imprinted using silkscreen or pad printing, and every color adds more cost. Use single-color versions of graphics and logos to keep the cost down.

  1. Price breaks matter.

In the world of commercial print, you don’t want to over-order product simply to get a price break, especially when considering the cost of obsolescence. Promotional items will go out of date less quickly, however, and the price breaks with volume can be substantial.

  1. Dimension matters.

Remember to take into consideration the final mailing cost. A more expensive promotional item that ships flat may cost less in the end than a lower priced but bulky item that needs to be mailed in a dimensional package.

Want to learn more about best-in-class use of promotional items? Talk to one of our business development experts.

5 Steps to Great Print Planning

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. Here are 5 steps to ensuring that everything goes smoothly and on budget.

  1. What is the goal of the printed piece?

Is the goal of the piece to entertain or inform? To impress? Your marketing goals influence the design and quality of the piece. Certain ideas may have a significant impact on turnaround or cost. For example, some binding options can take extra time, and certain trim sizes might incur extra expense. Paper choices can also affect the project cost and turnaround time.

  1. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece?

If you are designing a flyer for a theatrical opening, it will look different than one promoting a rock concert. People read a book differently than they read a poster. Before setting anything in stone, talk to us to determine how your design decisions can affect the project budget and schedule.

  1. How many suppliers are involved?

Take into account the schedules of any outside service providers. For example, if you are using a freelance illustrator or label designer, you need to take his or her availability into consideration. If you’re adhering a label to a bottle, you need to work with the bottle company to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them.

  1. When does the piece need to arrive?

Always plan backwards from the delivery date. It’s particularly important to involve us in this part of the planning process so we can schedule your project. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, your project needs gets to press in time to meet your deadline. If not, your job may get rescheduled behind other jobs, and especially if those jobs are large or complex, that can affect its mail or delivery date significantly.

  1. How much “fudge” do you need?

Finally, you need to incorporate “fudge factor.” Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.

The moral of the story? Good print planning starts with communicating early—and often.

5 Tips to Selecting Images that Win Customers

Do you have the right images to reinforce your message and engage your target audience? Let’s look at a few ideas to help you select photos and illustrations that help to achieve your campaign objectives.

  1. Mirror your target audience. The quickest way to let your customers know your product is right for them is to use images reflecting the same demographic. A company promoting a new perfume might show a 35- to 44-year-old woman surrounded by admirers. A health club might use this same age demographic but change the image to athletic men and women.
  2. Empathize with your prospect. A working mother is anxiously looking at the clock as it approaches 5:00 p.m., wondering what she will serve for dinner. A man looks out the window of a crowded bus and sees the sign for a car dealership promoting good cars on limited budgets. Use images that empathize with your customers’ challenges.
  3. Demonstrate your value proposition. Illustrate how your product will help prospects solve a problem. A food chain promoting its carryout menu might present the working mother as she puts a hot, healthy meal on the table for her family. The car dealership could show the man from the bus speeding away in a clean and dependable vehicle.
  4. Be authentic. Instead of a stock photo of a multicultural team laughing together around the water cooler, incorporate likenesses of your own employees in real offices, or the actual delivery truck customers will see pulling up to their business or residence. If a prospect can believe in your pictures, he can believe in your words as well.
  5. Reinforce the message you intend to convey. Using images that reflect what people care about is a great way to engage customers and keep them coming back.

Need help selecting the right images? Let our top-notch designers help!

5 Updates to Freshen Up Direct Mail

Are you looking for ways to spice up your direct mail campaigns? Even if your response rates remain high, are you looking to freshen things up? Here are a few ways you can update your direct mailings and give them new appeal.

  1. Update the package.

Are you using the same envelopes you have for years? If so, change the color. Change the size. Add a personalized teaser on the front (“John, check this out!”). If you are selling high-value products, consider dimensional mail or novelty envelopes that look like UPS packages or USPS Priority Mail.

  1. Tweak your text.

Still using the same marketing text from last year? Try a new approach. If you’ve been using an informational style, insert some humor. If you’ve been sending punchy one-liners, try adding more educational text.

  1. Freshen up the images.

How long have you been using that same picture of your headquarters? Is your headshot on the back of the postcard from the 1990s? Take a new company photo. Upload a current headshot with a fabulous smile. Or maybe you just want some new images as backgrounds or illustration.

  1. Add a new variable.

If you are personalizing your mailings, why not add a new variable? If you’ve been personalizing by name and gender, add age bracket or income. If you’ve been personalizing by ZIP Code and household income, refine by life stage.

Look for fresh, new ways to relate to customers and increase the relevance of the message.

  1. Try a new offer.

What incentive have you been using to get people to respond? 15% discount? If so, try 10% or 25%. Go crazy and try BOGO. How are you encouraging people to log into their personalized microsite? Entrance into a sweepstakes for a gift card? Try a set of concert tickets instead.

Mixing things up can be a great way to stay fresh and relevant, even when sending to the same audience. So get creative. Step outside the box and see what happens.

Need some ideas? Contact us. We can help!

5 Ways to Trim the Print Budget without Compromising Results

Want to get better results with a smaller investment? Try these simple tricks.

  1. Plan smart. Simple mistakes often can be avoided with a little planning. Take time to communicate with us about your budget and deadlines, but also the more interpretive elements of the project so we can discuss any challenges we foresee.
  2. Gang your runs. By placing many projects on the same sheet, or piggybacking on an unused portion of a sheet, we can reduce manpower, plates, and prep time.
  3. Think “down the line.” Changes become more expensive the further along you are in the print job. Everyone who needs to approve your files should do so before you submit them for printing. Proofread your copy multiple times. Confirm that you’ve prepared your digital files properly, keeping in mind that the resolution of digital files varies greatly.
  4. Tweak your paper. Paper can account for 30%–50% of your printing costs, and there are a number of cost-saving measures you can take without adversely affecting your results.
  • Reduce the size and number of pages. By targeting and segmenting your mailings and information packets, you can often save a lot of money over time.
  • Use thinner paper. Changing the weight can save 10%–15% of your paper costs.
  • Make subtle changes to brightness. Generally speaking, the brighter the paper, the higher the cost. But few people will notice a slight change in the brightness of your paper, so this is often somewhere you can tighten the belt.
  • Consider colored papers instead of bleeds. You may be able to create the effect you want less expensively with colored paper instead of ink.
  • Opt for the house paper. Paper prices fluctuate often, but you can save time and money by using papers we purchase in high volume. Ask us for samples.
  1. Remember that boring is your friend. When it comes to print production, you want your print job to be uneventful once it hits the pressroom. To make this happen, talk to us early and often!

Need more money-saving ideas? Give us a call!