Wednesday, September 27, 2017

8 Graphic Design Trends for 2017

If someone picked up your corporate brochure, scrolled through your website and looked at one of your ads, would they be able to readily identify your brand? If you’re not quite sure, then it’s time to rethink your brand’s graphic profile.

Visual imagery is the window to your brand. Strong visual content tells your story and helps create memorable brand connections. It’s also good for your bottom line: According to Adobe, design-driven companies have out-performed the S&P index by 219% over the last 10 years.

With new technology platforms and channels emerging, the role of graphic design is becoming increasingly important in protecting and promoting brand identity. Remember that consistency still counts: It’s important to stay true to your brand’s graphic standards, incorporating the latest creative design trends in a way that refreshes and enhances your visual imagery.

Following is a summary of the top eight graphic design trends identified by Digital Marketing Philippines that are changing the way we view brands:

1. Braver, louder colors. Moving away from neutrals like white, black and gray, more brands are using bold, loud colors to make a statement. This use of color can be used in conjunction with graphics, photo images and even with logos.
2. Bolder typography. More consumers today are accessing content on mobile devices, so mobile-first design drives this trend of bolder, larger type font. Always, it’s important to be sure the font is readable across all digital platforms.
3. Curated and original photos. Many brands use stock photos in their content—but once a photo has been used in more than one campaign, it begins to lose its luster. Creating original, authentic images that represent your brand will feel fresh and help make stronger connections with your audience.
4. Pattern and print design is enjoying a comeback, from florals and paisleys to modern abstracts.
5. Minimalist design—quite opposite of the pattern trend—is also becoming more popular. It has a clean, crisp sophisticated vibe and it pairs well with simple fonts and layouts with subtle graphic elements.
6. Cinemagraphs – Compared to regular GIFs, cinemagraphs are still images with one or more moving elements. These are being used by big brands like IKEA to tell stories and drive engagement—and have been credited with driving more organic traffic to websites.
7. Hand-drawn graphics and icons are also gaining popularity, complementing the rise in the use of authentic images—a move that appeals to consumers by making the brand feel more approachable.
8. Vintage Fonts and Layouts continue to play on the retro and vintage trend—what’s old is cool again.

To check out the full article and infographic, click on the link below:

Have you employed any of these graphic design trends in your visual content? If so, what were the results?  I’m interested in your feedback.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

10 Tips for Building Brand Loyalty

I’ve been with the same mobile provider for 20+ years; and I’ve used the same brand of soap for as long as I can remember. I guess it’s fair to say I’m a brand loyalist.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine addressed the issue of whether such brand loyalty is a dying trend. It cited statistics on both sides of the argument: According to a study from Retail Perceptions, millennials expect brands to earn their loyalty—and they rank product quality as more important than a brand name. Yet, a Facebook survey showed that 77% of consumers returned to the same brands over and over again.

Where do you fall between these two camps? How about your customers? Whether your business is selling pizzas or insurance policies, brand loyalty matters. We all want to attract and maintain our customers long term. Ultimately, that loyalty leads to increased profits. So, how do we drive that brand love when immediate access to competitor brand information is just a click away? Here’s a few ideas for attracting and keeping loyal customers:

1. Establish your brand identity. Know who you are—and then stick with it, using consistent messaging across all channels.

2. Make it personal. Develop messages that are tailored specifically to your target audience: That personal connection makes your customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, not to the masses.

According to an Infosys study, 86% of consumers surveyed said personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions—and 73% said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

3. Listen to your customers. Find out what they want or need—and then dig deeper: Why? How? Answering these important questions can help you better align your products/services/delivery methods to better meet customer needs and expectations. What’s more, we all like to be heard. Asking for feedback sends a clear message to your customers that their opinions matter.

4. Provide Raving Fan customer service. There’s a lot of competition out there touting better, faster, less expensive products/services, so exceed their expectations with standout customer service. Do the unexpected things that let your customers know you care: Make a follow-up phone call, send a personal email, share an article or video that aligns with their industry or interest, or surprise them with breakfast for their next staff meeting.

5. Prompt ongoing brand experiences. Keep your brand front of mind by making connections with your customers at various times during a transaction or program experience using blogs, emails, social media prompts, and more. In this age of immediate access, out of sight means out of mind, so keep your brand relevant with frequent, strategic touches.

6. Create Community. Engage with your customers and ask them to share photos of themselves at your event or using your products on social media—facebook, Instagram, twitter, Pinterest. Shared posts on these channels will start a conversation about your brand, and will also foster an emotional connection—think happy, exciting, motivating, inspirational, etc.

7. Innovate. Quality counts, as does innovative product/service offerings. By continuing to improve, evolve and introduce new products or solutions, your customers will associate your brand with what’s next.

8. Create a consistent experience. Give your customers the quality and the experience they have come to expect from your brand, every time. Example: I know I’m going to get the same bold cup of coffee from a new Starbucks location as I do when I visit my regular store—that consistency is expected.

9. Be transparent and honest. If there is a customer service issue, a product problem or a mistake, own it. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from you, rather than through another source.

10. Recognize loyal customers.
Whether you offer points for transactions, reward service anniversaries, or simply connect with customers who have been with you for a while, it’s important to show existing customers that you appreciate their business. And, a customer loyalty effort is less expensive than spending marketing dollars on new-customer development.  

Do you have any tips that you’d add to this list for boosting brand loyalty? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Be a Top 5% Performer: Here’s How

Have you heard the expression, “Everything he/she touches turns to gold?” Has it left you wondering: What is their secret sauce? The truth is, successful people choose to be different: Top 5% performers think differently, act differently, see themselves differently, and spend their time differently than those who don’t achieve at that high level.

The successful outcomes of these top performers require setting goals; establishing a plan to achieve those goals; and holding themselves accountable to execute these strategies. Every success, in every market and industry, reinforces this Goal-Plan-Execute formula—it’s so simple, so basic.

So, why do so many people fall short? It’s their mindset: They are not choosing to focus on the right things, and then to follow the essential next steps.

This mindset ideology is not new thinking—it tracks with a favorite book of mine: The Strangest Secret in the World by Earl Nightingale. The book was written in 1956, so it’s outdated in terms of its view of gender in the workplace and other modern-day cues—but all these years later, Nightingale’s guiding principle remains the same: You are what you think about. And so, he suggests, that thinking in a relaxed and confident manner is the essential first step to enjoying success.

How do you build on that premise? How do you take that positive-thinking prompt and then incorporate the essential
Goal-Plan-Execute into your routine? Here’s a few ideas:

1. Focus your mind. Align your thoughts with positive outcomes: Envision your customer happy. Imagine positive referrals. Focus on your employees realizing a new level of success. When you hit a roadblock or hurdle, find the positive in the situation.
2. Define your brand advantage. Start with why: Ask yourself why you do what you do… What is the biggest value you deliver to your clients? Maybe you save them time or money. Simplify their operations. Provide essential expertise. Make them happy. Incorporate these into your brand messaging to confidently position yourself to succeed.
3. Make yourself indispensable: Elite industry experts understand and include the latest products/tools/trends in the solutions they provide customers. Never stop learning, never stop evolving.
4. Be unwavering: Set specific, attainable goals—write them down! Next, develop an actionable plan that spells out how you will achieve these goals.
5. Be deliberate in how you spend your time: Execute your plan with systems in place that hold yourself accountable.

Your success will largely be determined by how you choose to spend your time. If you allow yourself to get swallowed up with small tasks, such as constantly checking email, you are choosing not to focus your time on the big, higher impact tasks and projects that will help you achieve your goals. Write down the five most important things you need to accomplish this week or month, and do those things first!

Do you have any other ideas about ways to drive and maintain top performance? I’m always looking for feedback.

Bob DeGarmo, President

“One, you will become what you think about. Two, remember the word imagination. Let your mind soar. Three, courage. Concentrate on your goal every day. Four, save 10 percent of what you earn and action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.”  –Earl Nightingale, The Strangest Secret in the World

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Helping After Hurricane Harvey

After enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend in NE Ohio, we can’t help but reflect on all that we have to be thankful for—and to think about how we can help the people of Houston who are dealing with aftermath of Harvey. If you haven’t yet donated, or if you’d like to give to a national relief organization as Hurricane Irma is gaining speed and taking aim at Florida, the article below is an excellent resource.

This article from The New York Times, reprinted in its entirety, provides information about various relief organizations, charities—and how you can make donations safely.

Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams)
By Christina Caron Aug. 28, 2017

A temporary shelter set up at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.
Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

If you have any additional resources that you know of that are not mentioned, please share with us on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor