Tuesday, 1 August 2017

My Useful Guide: Effective Brochure Design

It’s funny how things go in cycles. Remember what all the digital marketing gurus and social media experts were saying just a few short years ago? That the internet and online marketing were going to change everything.

Kindles and e-readers would replace books. Online news and information available 24/7 would mean that newspapers, magazines and even TV would become obsolete. Emails would do away with direct mail. And when you have websites you can view and order from whenever you want, wherever you want, who needs boring old brochures?

Well guess what, none of those changes took place. People still read books, newspapers and magazines. TV is as popular as ever, direct marketing is thriving again and brochures are making a comeback.

So, you might be thinking of commissioning a brochure from your design or marketing agency. Before you write the brief, here are six questions you need to ask.

1. Why a brochure?

There’s nothing quite like a brochure for creating an impression of prestige and luxury. It’s all about the smell of fresh ink on quality paper. It’s a powerful trigger which goes straight into the brain and gives the reader a feel-good sensation. When that feeling is associated with your brand it’s good news for your business.

Moreover, brochures work precisely because they are not digital. Online campaigns are fast, here today, gone tomorrow. They have to have an instant impact. If it doesn’t work, scrap it and try something else. Brochures are the exact opposite. They can be around for a long time, selling your company and its products and services over and over again. They can influence the buying decisions of your customers over a long period, as all the information they need to make a decision is right there in their hands. This also makes them very cost-effective.

Talking of cost-effective. If you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of commissioning high quality photography for your business, are you just going to put the images on your website? Get your new photography into a beautifully printed, well-designed high-quality company brochure and your business will really stand out.

Finally, in a world of smartphones and social media, stand out, be different. Focus on being unique by making the most of high quality, design-led medium and set your business apart from the competition whilst using social media to highlight the highlights of your brochure.

2. What’s the budget?

There’s no point in asking for a luxurious multi-page brochure with bespoke photography, embossed lettering, six colour print including specials onto heavyweight luxury paper if your budget simply doesn’t stretch to it.

Of course, if you have the money available, go for it. But a smaller budget doesn’t have to mean a smaller idea. It can actually help your agency be more, not less creative in their design, layout, copy, choice of brochure format, photography or illustration style.

3. Who is your target audience?

It's vital that you know your target audience when you brief the agency. This will influence the whole look, feel and content of the finished piece. Is it going to the general public or to targeted businesses? Is it intended for existing customers, warm prospects or a cold audience? What sort of people are they? What do they like and dislike? What is their age range, income level, social status? 

You might not have all of this information, but the more you can find out about your prospective readers, the more your brochure will appeal to them and be read. For example, a brochure you’re aiming at a largely female audience, say for baby products or services, will be radically different to a car brochure or a sales piece aimed at trade buyers of printed circuit boards.

4. What kind of brochure is it?

When a company decides that they need a brochure, they’ll ask their design or marketing agency to create one for them. But often they don’t know what kind of brochure they actually need. Is it a sales tool? Is it a shop window? Is it designed to raise awareness of the brand? Will it be mailed out with a letter or just used at trade shows and exhibitions as a giveaway? 

As you can see, there are several different types of brochures:

  • Glossy company brochures often with large images and minimal copy
  • In-depth corporate brochures with detailed company information designed for your shareholders or investors
  • Sales brochures including selling copy and specifications for a range of your products
  • Point-of-Sale brochures often seen on display in retail outlets, supermarkets, banks, building societies and so on
  • Direct Mail brochures sent out if requested by a customer or to a mailing list of your potential customers, usually with a covering letter and order form. These days, with digital printing technology, brochures can be cost-effectively personalised too, making them even more tailored and personal to each recipient
  • Sales support brochures usually created to help your salespeople when they’re doing their sales pitch

5. Who’s writing the copy?

A professional copywriter will be able to write copy that is a joy to read, flows seamlessly, is well organised and above all, is in line with the company’s brand values and tone of voice. With expertly written copy, the company will look more professional. The copy will sell the products or services much more strongly. And people will want to buy.

Compare that with supplying your own copy. It will certainly be cheaper. But investing in copywriting will be worth it, potentially increasing your return on investment tenfold.

6. What’s the deadline?

Most important of all. Find out at the start of the process when the finished brochure is required. Then work backwards, from print back to proofing and so on, including all of the stages you’ll need to go through. 

If the schedule is tight and has no flexibility to allow for changes and snags, then give the agency a longer deadline. Remember, it takes time to create a visually impactful, sales and brand-building brochure, and a rushed piece of work could reflect badly on everyone involved.

Throughout August we are offering £100 off the design of a brochure. Want to find out more? Go to our offer page or for ideas have a look at our brochure portfolio.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

How Do I Brand My Business: Effective Logo Design

We all know the importance of having a strong brand identity. A great logo is memorable, it can convey your product and service values and can help you to stand out from your competition. However, having a cool logo designed simply isn’t enough. How do you know that it will communicate the right messages to the right people? How can you ensure that your logo positions you within your industry and doesn’t cause more confusion than clarity?

Effective branding and of course, logo design, has to be approached a little more scientifically than simply blasting out some contemporary logo designs. Effective branding and logo design starts with a better understanding of your target audience.

Research For Branding
In order to communicate well with your customers and clients, you will no doubt have segmented your market i.e. categorised your potential customers, placing them into groups with shared problems, demands, requirements and so forth. Add to this some psychographic information including attitudes, interests, opinions and lifestyles and you’ll end up with a far greater understanding of the imagery, colours, design styles and messaging that will be more likely to connect well with them.

Next up, add a little benchmarking to the equation. By identifying market leading brands that already communicate well to similar segments, you’ll be able to compare your ideas with those already proven to be successful.

From Research to Ideas to Design
After investing this time to delve a little deeper into your target audience and what appeals to them, a talented designer can then work his or her magic. Here at The New Fat, our accomplished designers provide a shortlist of initial ideas for your consideration. Afterwards, once we understand your preferred ideas, we can then produce a logo that will really help you to stand out from the crowd, communicating your values to the people you really want to do business with.

Moving on from your logo
Of course, logo design is just the tip of the iceberg. Pretty much anything that communicates any aspect of your business is effectively branding. Therefore, The New Fat can help you to develop brand guidelines and a brand bible i.e. how to use your logo, colours, fonts, words and so forth.

To save £150 off a new logo design have a look at our offer page, or to see a selection of logo previously designed by The New Fat have a look at our logo portfolio.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

7 Factors to Consider When Designing Websites

Web design is not only creative, but includes much more – from copywriting and typography to layout and graphics, coming together to create an interface that not only looks good but, one that communicates to its audience and delivers a good user experience.

A successful website project is a big task. Everyone wants their project to be successful, but this doesn’t happen magically and needs a strong plan.

1. What are your goals?

First port of call before starting work on your web design is to have a clear understanding of your business goals, or your client’s goals. What are you trying to achieve with the new website or redesign? What is the main reason or purpose of the website? Speak to your client, your manager or ask yourself what they are.

What is the function of your website? Are you selling products or services, creating entertainment or delivering information? Ask why you want the redesign: are you looking to grow the number of registrations, decrease the bounce rate or maybe increase user participation like downloads? The function will predetermine your website design and platform. Goals are equally important if you are considering redesign. 

2. Identify your audience

Knowing your audience is fundamental in how your website will look, feel and function. There are several demographics to consider that will have some effect in the design of your website, e.g. age, gender and occupation. A gaming website for a younger audience requires a different design than that of an entrepreneur. Usability is extremely important for senior and less technical audiences where small detail factors like font size and navigation should be considered.

3. What is your brand image?

Many website designers get excited about using the latest trends without considering the image they should be conveying. Glossy buttons, gradients and reflective floors may work for some websites, but they may not be right for your brand.

A few basic things to consider are colour and how you want visitors to feel when they land on the website and what emotions you want to evoke. Your design should bring to life the personality and character of your brand. Your website will have a feel that makes an impression on your visitors. Think about what that impression should be.

4. Do you have the right team in place?

If your strategy and direction is clear and you have the right team on board for the project, then trust that they will deliver. Communication throughout the website design is important so check in regularly and give feedback, ask questions, but at the same time micromanaging them isn’t necessary if you have the trust. The team will take ownership in pride of the website too and will want it to be a success.

5. Don’t expect a lot for a little

Website budgets are like a seesaw with factors like function, technicalities and design needing careful balance along with the work effort to build a successful website. The application of a budget should be common sense, but all too commonly not. Best practice is to base the budget for the website design on the value you expect to create and budget accordingly.

6. Quality takes time

Give your team sufficient time in regards to budget and timeline of your website project so they are able to complete the job the way you want it. Rushing generally means important and small steps are skipped and the website may not be the best it can be. Rushing means things will be overlooked.

7. Measure

Once your website has been designed, created and deployed, it’s time to measure your success. This is very important because until you test how well your design performs, you won’t know how effective it is in fulfilling your goals e.g. if your aim is to increase the registration numbers to your service, keep tally and measure it and see if your changes are making the impact you wanted. If your goal is to increase subscribers to your blog, check your RSS stats. If it is better user participation take note of comments or forum posts, etc.

Another way to measure the success of your new website is to ask people for their feedback. They will delight in telling you what they think and it's a great way to check you are on the right path, however, be mindful of every suggestion made – they may not be practical or relevant. Look out for regular patterns and common issues – deal with those.

Measuring website analytics is a science unto itself and beyond the scope of this article, but the important thing is you have some method of measuring in place keeping you on track of your key objectives.

Successful website projects aren’t an accident and are a result of a strong process, clear direction, a great team and much grafting and hard work.

Monday, 1 May 2017

My Useful Guide: Corporate Guidelines

When you are unsure how to use something, you normally refer to the user manual to help get better clarity. It’s no different with your branding and corporate identity. Corporate guidelines are your user manual to help set consistent communication across your business and to your customers.

Creating your corporate image is not enough. For any identity to be successful, it needs to be well managed too. Brand guidelines are designed to initiate and show employees the correct way to set and apply the brand communication across a variety of platforms and applications in a way that best supports and protects the brand.

A strong protected brand continues to build and grow value for your business. Corporate guidelines help achieve this by ensuring all employees, partners and external marketing agencies use the brand elements in the correct way at the right times. The guidelines provide the information and tools, setting the tone and standards for using brand names, logos, typefaces and other design elements in advertising (online and offline), brochures and flyers, POS, reports, newsletters, promotional items like exhibition stands, gifts, packaging and online communications.

A 2005 study by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton and Wolff Olin’s found that brand-guided companies outperform their competitors, with results that improve profitability. (1)

A key factor for maintaining a good and successful corporate image is consistency - especially important for any business with multiple locations. Consistency breeds recall and recognition, supporting your brand. Guidelines give your company control over the way other people use your brand so that its visual appearance to customers and clients is always the same.

Can you imagine the confusion for your customers if the signage on the outside of your building in one city was different compared to another? Is your stationery in the one office different to an office the other side of the country? Are you consistent or lax? Hopefully, your brand and corporate communication are the same at all your branches and offices. If not, you need to consider designing and creating a set of guidelines and apply and manage them so your brand is expressed and exposed consistently.

What should you include in your corporate guidelines:

• Brand values and ethos
• Logo
• Positioning, size and clear space
• Do’s and Don’ts
• Colour palette
• Typography

If applicable:
• Images
• Copywriting and tone
• Layouts
• Templates for stationery
• Web specifications
• Co-branding
• Advertising
• Signage

To Summarise
Corporate guidelines function at two levels: firstly, they explain why your employees and distributors and agencies should use the brand to achieve business objectives and goals. Secondly, they provide practical instructions on how to use communication fundamentals consistently across the business.

TOP TIP: Don’t assume that everyone has adhered to your corporate guidelines - it is important that you have an in-house process where final artwork is checked and approved.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Useful Guide: Informative Infographics

In their simplest form infographics (or information graphics) are visual representations of data or knowledge, designed to be easily understood at a glance. Basic infographics can be seen everyday in the form of traffic signs and weather charts for example, but from a marketing perspective the graphics featuring colourful illustrations, statistics, graphs and charts are the style most utilised by businesses and organisations around the world. Sometimes with a twist of humour these visual gems are perfect for sharing on social media and online.

Although we think of infographics as modern day design elements, their history actually dates back much, much further. In this blog article we look at the origins of infographics, their advantages and give you a handful of top tips.

A brief history

Believe it or not infographics arguably date back to prehistoric times, some 40,000 years ago! Cave paintings documented animals, geography and events through imagery as a result of the absence of letters and words with Egyptian hieroglyphics offering the same.

Another case bringing us into modern history, would be Florence Nightingale in 1857 using visual data in the form of stacked bar and pie charts. This early form of infographic was presented to Queen Victoria in a bid to improve conditions in military hospitals.   

Harry Beck designed a more familiar infographic in 1933, when he created the first London Tube map. Using bold colourful lines to highlight routes and stops proved a simple but effective representation of the London underground. Instigating an important step towards the infographic design that led to the iconic tube map used by thousands everyday.

These early examples are a far cry from the typical style of infographic we see today. Rising to fame in the online world, infographics are a great way to attract attention and communicate with a wide audience.

Why are infographics so effective?

It’s thought that 90% of the information the brain receives is visual, meaning that we can process imagery 60,000 times faster than written words! We respond better to visual content and are more likely to engage with graphics than text, making infographics an effective way to get a point across. Helping us to absorb more and learn faster consequently improving our understanding of the subject in hand. Infographics can have a longer lasting effect, have great impact and persuade people to take action.

This style of graphic information can be used to communicate a wide range of topics and can help to raise awareness of issues, make comparisons, state interesting facts, emphasize points, explain how something works and primarily communicate (sometimes complicated) information. Have a look at the example below, its on oldie but a goodie outlining the stats.

Having something as visually attractive as an infographic that’s easy to share on social media is a great marketing ploy. When scrolling through long social media feeds it’s the imagery that catches your attention and holds it. Using information graphics as a marketing strategy can prove rewarding through shares and likes on social media, quickly gathering momentum among like-minded audiences.

Some top tips

1.When implementing infographics as part of your marketing scheme keep them simple. Too much information can become overwhelming.

2. Strategic white space can help keep things legible and give it structure.

3. Stick to the main points and lay it out concisely and don’t misrepresent information with overzealous graphics.

4. Pick a catchy title if you need one but stay away from too much text, let the imagery and graphic elements do the work.

What is an Infographic?