How to Keep Brand Value

Your brand is everything.

It’s what makes potential buyers and customers recognize you and helps set you apart from competitors.

It’s important to maintain the value of your brand in order to make the most of your business marketing. Keeping brand focus and consistency is key. If customers know what your brand stands for, they’ll end up appreciating it more, and you’ll gain more organic traffic.

A strong brand value helps tell your company’s story, creating awareness, loyalty, and excitement for the consumer.

Sales and marketing trends will continually change over time. However, building the power of your company’s brand is an investment that pays for years to come.

3 Ways to Keep Your Brand Value

1. Business Visuals

Your logo is at the forefront of your company.

Anyone who knows your business knows what your logo looks like, including the color palette, typography, imagery, and graphic elements. These brand visuals are most important to maintain throughout your business advertising.

When marketing for your business, continue to use these same characteristics of your logo throughout. Over time, after creating enough brand awareness, you should simplify your logo, and people will still know exactly who you are. For example, the Chevrolet logo doesn’t need the word “Chevrolet” next to it for people to know who they are. They’ve been around long enough and created a strong brand value to be able to pull that off.

2. Business Values and/or Mission

Brand values and/or the mission of your business are just as important to show and maintain as the logo characteristics.

Use your values to strengthen your advertising, show what you stand for, and create awareness. When people see an advertisement, they should be able to tell what company it’s for before even showing a logo or a name.

3. Business Style

Your company’s style fits in with your brand value and is important to maintain across all marketing consistently.

Does your building’s interior design use a modern appeal or more of a rustic look? Does your website use a white and clean look or a dark and textured theme? Use this style as a part of your print marketing and other advertising. 

The Ultimate Marketing Combination

All of these things; your logo, values, and style all play an important role in maintaining brand value.

Used often and strategically, these brand elements will help strengthen your brand so that your business is better known, and you’ll gain more traffic online and in person.

Make Ideas Fly Before They Die

When facing a life or death decision, do you think the opinions of others would affect your behavior?

Social proof is a powerful phenomenon. People constantly look to the opinions of others to help them live wisely and navigate uncertainty. The behavior and preferences of your peers can shape every choice you make – from the vehicles you drive to the candidates you vote for. But surely some of that superficiality would fade in more critical situations, right?

Not necessarily.

More than 40,000 people in the United States experience end-stage kidney failure every year, with bodies that cannot filter toxins and adequately remove waste products from their blood. These people are dependent on dialysis treatments as they wait desperately for a kidney transplant. Often more than  100,000 patients are eagerly waiting for a new organ.

Surprisingly, research shows that 97.1 percent of kidney offers are refused, and nearly 1 in 10 transplant candidates refuse a kidney in error. How could this happen? The research of MIT professor Juanjuan Zhang points to social proof. Say you are the one-hundredth person on a transplant list. If the first 99 people turned down a viable kidney, often people lower on the list conclude the organ must not be very good (“if someone else doesn’t want it, then neither do I”). They infer it is low in quality and wait for a “better offer.”

Zhang found this psychological trigger – a follow the crowd mentality – prompts thousands of patients to turn down kidneys they should have accepted.

If Something is Built to Show, It’s Built to Grow

Do you want to sell more products, grow attendance in your community group, or get momentum for your idea?

The more public a product or service, the more it triggers people to act. Visibility boosts word-of-mouth advertising, and this informal person-to-person marketing has a significant impact on others. People rely on peers to help them decide what movies to see, which vet to use for their pet, or the best software to buy. For example, recent studies show that more than half of adults under age 50consult online reviews before making a purchase decision, and 88% of people read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

Reviews and testimonials are powerful, but you can also build influential triggers into small things like your product packaging, stickers, and more. Social influence is stronger when behavior is more observable.

Here are just a few ways outward symbols have made personal choices more public:

–Polling places that distribute an “I voted” sticker to those who cast a ballot

–Devices that attach a mini advertisement to every email (like the classic “sent using BlackBerry” tagline)

–TV shows that used canned laugh tracks to prompt more emotional buy-in from viewers

–Bumper stickers or yard signs sharing political ideas or coffee preferences

–VIP purchases that convince participants to wear conspicuous wristbands instead of using a paper ticket

–Fitness trackers that automatically post progress to a person’s social media page

–Grocery stores that distribute beautiful branded reusable bags

Monkey See, Monkey Do

It has been said that when people are free to do what they please, they typically imitate others.

How can you build more social currency into your marketing? Whether you choose recognizable product colors to selfie photo booths at your events, make it easy for people to share your brand through social media or when they’re just “doing life” in the public square.

When something is built to show, it’s built to grow.

Add Depth and Drama to Your Page with 4 Riveting Techniques

Tension. There’s just nothing like it to prompt emotion in relationships, film, and art.

Steven Spielberg demonstrated this masterfully in the classic 1993 film Jurassic Park. While young siblings Tim and Lex hide in an industrial kitchen, two raptors creep inside and begin prowling and sniffing the perimeter. As the children silently crawl on their knees and cower under stainless steel countertops, the toenails of the raptors click . . . click . . . click . . . along the floor behind them.

Though some would classify Jurassic Park as a children’s film, you can be sure the tension of this scene had every adult breathless as the raptors prepared to pounce.

Create Rhythm and Release in Your Page

As plot twists are to a story, visual tension is to design.

Visual tension is an aspect of composition that uses unexpected color, shape, or scale to create energy. While visual tension can be used to evoke anxiety, typically it is used to add depth and create a more dynamic viewer experience. This pattern of building and releasing tension is one of the most ingrained patterns of human experience.

Here are four ways to weave visual tension into your next design:

1. Go Off the Grid

Most shapes or pages have a sort of “structural skeleton” running through them.

In a square, the axis points would form a letter X through the center of the page. Elements placed along any major axis (or in the center) will appear more stable. Objects placed outside these major grid points will carry a greater sense of tension. If you place a logo underneath the invisible X of a square page, your design will feel a bit more exciting.

2. Use Jarring Color Combinations

While monochromatic or complementary colors are soothing, dissimilar or bold combinations create a unique energy in your designs.

The possibilities here are endless! Try gray suede and cheetah print mixed with white and gold. Or electric orange interspersed with neon pink. A rule of thumb is to favor one color over another (like using a dominant color for the background and the secondary color for accents). To tone it down a bit, use both colors for accents against a neutral shade.

3. Try Something Unexpected

Is the sky always blue?

It doesn’t have to be! Designs spur emotion when you do something unexpected, like adding a hot pink filter to a nature landscape. Try something surprising, like placing a giant head on a tiny body, coloring a chicken blue, or creating a visual puzzle (using concepts from the Gestalt principle) within your logo design.

4. Employ the Spatial Properties of Color

Colors create movement and affect the way we perceive an image.

Did you know that warm tones appear to advance in three-dimensional space? If you want to highlight a focal point in your image, you can increase the size of this object or also use a warm color such as red, orange, or yellow to bring it forward. If you want to reverse this effect, use a cool color (like blue or purple) on the closer, larger object and a warm color like red on a distant, smaller object. Viola! Tension created.

Engaging, Irresistible Images

Balance and tension are at the heart of every creative endeavor. Build hierarchy, focal points, and flow as you create a visual tension that makes your image irresistible!

3 Non-Negotiables for Stellar Customer Service

Want to build connections that bring benefits?

You can do this everywhere you go by using people’s names. Career Coach Joyce Russel shared a story about a friend recovering from an injury. This man was staying in a rehab hospital and was not particularly happy with his care from the therapists and staff.

Unsympathetic, his wife noted that he hadn’t treated the hospital staff with particular kindness, “Do you even know the names of the people who are helping you?” she asked him. “No, why should I learn their names?” he replied. She reminded him that just by learning and using people’s names, he might get better care.

Sure enough, it helped!

Keep Your Best Customers Coming Back

Personal attention brings powerful results.

If you want a no-fail tactic to increase your sales, one of your best strategies is to entice proven customers to buy again. Here are just a few ways to keep customers coming back:

Greet People by Name

When you want to build loyalty, learn and use the names of your customers.

There should be a distinct difference between how you interact with your consistent clients and those you meet for the first time. Even if you don’t remember someone’s name, let them know you recognize them and are happy to see them. Say something like, “Well, hello! It’s great to see you again.”

When you take a phone call, the person on the other end usually identifies themselves immediately. Use this to your advantage and try to speak their name in conversation as the call progresses. As Dale Carnegie often said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Keep Your Eye on the Customer (Not the Profit)

Clients want to be recognized as people, not as potential profits.

In what ways can you be helpful regardless of profit? If a VIP customer needs a minor repair or replacement part, could you offer it at no cost? If a valued partner is considering a service upgrade, could you provide a free month of benefits? Small gestures (like carrying someone’s bag to their car) cost very little, but they add up over time.

People will continue taking their business to places they feel valued, and they’ll tell their friends too.

Keep Your Commitments

Reliability is the foundation of good customer relationships.

If you make a promise, keep it. If you say, “your new grill will be delivered and assembled by Saturday,” make sure it does. Never make claims you can’t back up with certainty.

The same rule applies to client appointments, upcoming sales, deadlines, etc. Think before you speak because broken promises are a slight on your character and your business’s reputation.

Do Your Print Marketing Materials Need an Upgrade?

There is a great deal of time, effort, and energy placed into updating your print marketing materials.

You need to cover all the relevant information in a very limited space. This means you need to fully optimize your messaging and make sure your materials attract attention.

With all this thought going into ensuring packaging and flyers and postcards are fantastic, you may be unwilling to make regular updates. Unfortunately, this can allow your message to become stale or even allow inaccurate information to be shared with customers over time. 

Time to Make a Change! 

Donna, a local florist, realized it had been more than 6-8 months since she reviewed and revised the messaging on her printed materials.

She knew it was probably time to make some tweaks. Businesses can change dramatically over time, with shifts in hours of operation, updated special offers, and more making an appearance. 

Regular reviews to ensure your messaging is still on point helps keep your marketing materials fresh and interesting for repeat customers. Plus, it ensures that any new prospects have your best offer in front of them at all times.

Donna worked with her local print shop to update her messaging, and her customers certainly noticed! She received many positive comments and new clients from an updated postcard and flyer combination that she designed and had printed locally.

Update Graphics and Colors

Has your logo evolved a bit over time?

It’s not unusual to spread out all of your marketing materials on a table and find that you have several iterations of logos or color schemes represented. Viewing your marketing materials together as a whole can add necessary cohesion to your brand. 

While you may not want to follow on-trend color schemes or make changes based on the seasons, you may want to do a quick update to your color palette. Ensuring that your brand look stays fresh and current is an important part of brand management. 

Put Your Best Offer Forward

Are you placing your very best offer in front of clients and prospects? Do you need different offers for individuals at various stages of the buying journey?

Now is a great time to look at your audience segments and see if you can fine-tune any graphics for eye appeal while meeting their unique needs.

Whether you’re looking for options to create branding materials for a new company or simply refreshing your current options, your local print shop is here for you! We work with organizations of all sizes to ensure you have access to exceptional resources to promote your brand. 

8 DOs and DON’Ts for Handling Difficult Employees

Have you ever managed a problematic employee?

You’re not the only one. Though we all have tricky team members, Reader’s Digest collected 15 of the most outrageous stories. Here are two examples:

The New York City Department of Health has a robust help-line for its IT department. This should be very beneficial to clients. However, one of the (twice-suspended!) help-line operators continually complicated things by answering calls while pretending to be a talking robot.

An Egyptian bus driver had an ingenious plan to beat a mandatory drug test: He used his wife’s urine. Sounds foolproof, right? Unfortunately, he failed the test, even though she was clean. He found out when his boss handed him the results and said, “Congratulations; you’re pregnant.”

How to Deal with Problematic Behavior

While it’s tempting to overlook lousy behavior, the costs of this passive approach go beyond the direct effects of one person’s actions; they spill over onto other employees. Bad behaviors affect an entire team, decreasing morale and tempting others to cheat or underperform.

Problem employees can be subtle but toxic. Here are some of the most frustrating behaviors managers experience in difficult team members:

  • Evokes Customer Complaints
  • Appears Unmotivated or Disengaged
  • Exhibits a Bad Attitude or Passive Aggressive Behavior
  • Catastrophizes Minor Problems
  • Resents Authority Figures
  • Wastes Time on the Clock
  • Violates Company Policy
  • Communicates or Behaves Dishonestly

Recognize any from this list? Maybe they’re keeping you awake at night.

If it’s time to act, here are several DO’s and DON’Ts for engaging challenging team members:

DON’T

Bad-mouth a team member. Don’t make personal character attacks or complain in a gossipy way. Instead, clearly and professionally identify the problem behavior, preserving this person’s privacy and dignity whenever possible.

Scold in public. Instead, use private conversations or involve only one other person.

Issue warnings without documentation. Regularly logging employee behavior allows you to track behavior over time and point out clear examples of a recurring problem. It also shows the employee you are serious (and not just “nagging”).

Be vague. When you want behavior change, don’t be afraid to spell out exactly what you are looking for. The most motivating conversations are built around the STAR technique: Identify the SITUATION or TASK that is problematic, the ACTION needed in response, and the RESULT or outcome you expect.

DO

Set a clear message of need and expectation. From the hiring process to regular review, clearly articulate what you expect – from dress codes to project quotas.

Avoid debatable problematic behavior. Some behaviors are unacceptable, while others are just annoying. Clearly distinguish between the two categories and only confront things that violate policy or cause consistent, noticeable dilemmas.

Follow up. Praise good work when you see change or speak promptly when you don’t see progress. Regular follow-up helps you deal proactively with challenging people and sends a clear message to other employees as well.

Involve human resources or top management. Consult your team to clarify rules and guidelines and ensure backup for your decisions.  

Confront the Mess, Reduce Stress

Dealing with a problematic person can be taxing.

But avoiding the problem can be worse. If you take a proactive, well-documented approach, you can have confidence that you’ve done your best in a trying situation.

And that may be the best stress reducer of all.

6 Tips to Improve Your Printed Newsletters

Online ads, digital promotions, and e-newsletters bombard recipients daily.

Much of this information is being deleted or filtered out without ever being read. Because of this, printed newsletters are making a comeback, and more businesses are using them to keep their customers current with what is happening. 

Regardless of whether the company is already sending out a newsletter or debating on starting one, it is good to learn new ways to improve it. Here are some tips to help improve printed newsletters. 

6 Tips to Improve Your Printed Newsletters

1. Exclusive Information

Offering exclusive information in a newsletter or a special incentive for signing up can help increase the mailing list and encourage recipients to read it.

Information can include unique advice from the CEO, advance notice for special announcements, or information someone can only receive if they read the entire newsletter. Special incentives can include discounts for products or services, gifts, or invitations to special events. 

2. Article Focus

When writing articles for the newsletter, it is essential to make them fun to read and provide valuable information.

By offering valuable information, readers become informed about products, services, or events, which lead to future sales. Encourage employees to contribute and write articles to provide more variety in writing styles and topics. 

3. Add Personalized Content

Create newsletter articles for the individual needs of specific groups.

Writing for targeted groups may require multiple newsletters to achieve; however, it may be worth the investment if a business targets multiple groups of people. For example, a major real estate company may want to create two newsletters, one for those who need real estate information to buy or sell homes and then a second newsletter for real estate agents. 

4. Use Color

Color attracts the eye and draws people in, encouraging them to continue reading.

Color animates everything, and one of the most popular newspapers — USA Today — implements lots of color in its papers. Use color to complement the article topics and other images within the newsletter. 

5. Placement of Images

In addition to using color to attract readers, the placement and use of images and photos will help draw readers.

Many will look at images and read their captions first before reading the article. Use photos and images that help better explain an article and be visually attractive for newsletter skimmers. One tip to keep in mind is to use the dollar bill test. It should be possible to place a dollar bill anywhere on the newsletter, and it should be touching an image.  

6. Offer an Online Option

Though having a printed newsletter to read in hand is preferred by many, some still want access to the same information online.

Create a section on the website to include links to PDF files or online versions of the newsletter. For example, The Disney Company has printed The Mickey Monitor for years to send out quarterly to annual pass holders to its theme parks. However, the newsletter is also accessible online. 

Nonprofits and groups are also offering printed newsletters online as a virtual reference. When signing up for the newsletter from Widowed Persons Service, recipients can select to receive a printed newsletter or one via their email. 

When done correctly, a printed newsletter can attract attention and be an excellent tool for a company. Regardless of the newsletter’s purpose — boost sales, attract new clients, or educate employees — there is sure to be a return on the investment associated with the costs of printing the newsletter.

The Importance of Organization When Meeting Deadlines

Some are lucky enough to have natural organization skills; others have to work at managing their time in order to work quickly and efficiently.

In general, organization will help manage your time, and it will also ease the stress of having deadlines. Having a clear-cut plan with driven direction will help conquer any and all deadlines thrown your way.

Prioritizing is Key

Larger projects that have a quicker deadline should be the ones you’re working on first.

Many people want to put off larger projects because they seem intimidating. Make a plan to break down the larger projects into smaller ones and accomplish one at a time.

Conquering smaller projects at a time will seem less intimidating and less stressful. Sometimes you might be working diligently on a project and — in the middle of it — get thrown a project that has a quicker deadline. Dropping the current project can be hard to do but is necessary for meeting deadlines.

Identify Your Productive Time and Use It

If you’re a morning person and motivated with a cup of coffee to start your day, use the morning to accomplish those intimidating tasks.

Or if you’re more motivated in the afternoon, then use that time. Working within your productive time will help keep you on track and get important tasks accomplished. In the less productive times, concentrate on checking emails and doing research — the things that ease your brain.

Another key to factor into your productive time is making sure that time is uninterrupted. Set aside time that you know will be quiet to work on things, and make sure that time is within your productive time of the day. Fewer interruptions will help keep your focus streamlined.

Embrace the Lists

The largest benefit to writing your lists on paper is the gratification of checking things off.

Once an item is checked off as complete, your brain realizes that it doesn’t need to think about that anymore. This can relieve the stress of feeling like your to-do list is never-ending. Writing it down shows you that there is an end to the list and will keep you focused on what’s important.

Keeping these things in mind will create an efficient and stress-free atmosphere when working on projects and meeting important deadlines. If organization is not your cup of tea, working with someone who is organized can help balance your routine.

The Do’s and Don’ts for Taking Better Pictures with Your iPhone

When it comes to great print marketing, high-quality images can make all the difference.

Since most people today have a smartphone they use for taking pictures rather than a digital camera, here are five do’s and don’ts for taking better pictures with your iPhone.

DO’S

1. Do use portrait mode when capturing pictures that focus on people.

Many forget to make good use of the portrait mode when capturing a friend or family member. Portrait mode will focus on the person only and blur out the background. This mimics the effect that a professional camera reflects.

2. Do keep your “live” feature on when taking pictures of moving objects or people.

Using the “live” feature comes in handy for things or people that move quickly, for instance – a busy baby or a sports game. After the live picture is captured, you will be able to go back, edit the picture, and choose which frame you’d like to be the key photo.

3. Do make sure your camera lens is not foggy or smudged.

This is something that is commonly overlooked when pulling your phone out to take a picture. Wiping off the lens with a cloth or t-shirt will make a marvelous difference in the clarity of your picture.

4. Do use the “auto” edit wand for each picture.

It’s as easy as it sounds! Clicking that auto edit wand will do wonders on your pictures if you don’t know where to start. It’ll auto-adjust the white balance, color tone, exposure, etc.

5. Do use natural lighting for better color and clarity.

Use sunlight at every chance you get. The more natural lighting you use, the less grainy your images will look. For example, standing near a window when indoors will allow natural lighting to come into your picture.

DON’TS

1. Don’t use the front camera for anything except selfies.

The front camera on an iPhone is usually a lower megapixel than the rear-facing camera. The images taken with the front-facing camera will turn out more “grainy” than images captured with the rear-facing camera.

2. Don’t stick to the default filters that Apple provides.

There are many other filters available, especially on Lightroom and for purchase, that provide better color for your pictures.

3. Don’t expect as high of quality when using iPhone pictures at a larger scale.

iPhone has a great camera, but it can’t be compared to a $2,000+ DSLR camera. If you’re looking to enlarge a picture for a canvas or banner, it’s best to rely on the use of a professional camera rather than a smartphone.

After following these tips, your iPhone pictures will be worth more than a thousand words. And, when you’re ready to get those pictures out to the world through great print marketing, give us a call! 410-574-0780

5 Tips for Hiring Better Talent in a Virtual World

Now that so many are accustomed to remote working, firms may face increasing demand to recruit and hire people without actually meeting them.

If you feel uneasy selecting candidates this way, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Identify the Ideal Medium to Find Candidates

It may require trial and error, but find your ideal medium and use it to streamline candidates that fit your specifications for experience, pay grade, etc.

2. Host a Virtual Career Fair or Company Presentation

To build rapport before any interviews take place, consider hosting a virtual career fair or company info session to interact with prospects.

Here you can weed out candidates you don’t want to interview or gain access to a more diverse talent pool.

3. Utilize Skill Assessments

Training can be challenging if you hire a remote workforce, so hiring competent individuals is especially important.

If you are onboarding offsite employees, you may want to add extra steps (like aptitude tests, writing samples, or mock presentations) to the interview process. 

4. Use a Variety of Question Formats

Since in-person interviews offer greater nonverbal communication insights, you’ll probably need to craft more strategic questions for virtual interviews.

Start with basic questions (e.g., “tell me about yourself”), move to targeted queries that align with your company culture, and use behavioral questions that uncover character and critical thinking qualities. Finally, try assessing live performance as you ask a candidate to complete a task live (e.g., performing a technical function as they share their screen).

5. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

To build a strong relational connection, eliminate as many distractions as possible.

It may help to send pre-interview packets to candidates to add efficiency to your meeting. Streamline the scheduling process by allowing candidates to sign up for an interview online. Test your technology 15 minutes before the call and have a backup plan if a malfunction occurs. And create a unified scoring system, so candidates receive standardized grading criteria.

Virtual recruiting will allow you to quickly and efficiently hire high-quality team members while adding flexibility. Implement a uniform system, so you have the skills you need to recruit and hire with confidence!