Friday, 1 December 2017

Design Trends of 2018

Graphic design is constantly evolving and as each year comes and goes, so do trends. As the new year fast approaches, now seems a great time to look at the hotly anticipated design trends for 2018.

Modern Day Vintage and Popping Colours

Colour - Modern Day Vintage and Popping Colours
With brands like Instagram utilising strong and vibrant colour transitions to boost bold and simple designs, it comes as no surprise that other brands are taking on similar styles. 2018 is likely to see the continued resurrection of gradients and the era of flat design enhanced.

Duo-tones have also seen an exponential rise since Spotify created a colourful campaign for their playlist images. Combining contrasting colours with the texture of halftone creating a two-toned image full of energy.

Pairing bold colour transitions or duo-tone images with retro colour pallets from the 80s and 90s is on trend. It seems like a contradiction but modern day vintage is in! Combinations of punchy and pastel pinks with electric hues of blue and purple with pattern bursts continue to enhance flat designs.

Subtle Depth and Juxtaposing Elements

Layout - Subtle Depth and Juxtaposing Elements
As we move away from ultra-flat design we see the evolution of asymmetric and split page design. Using neutral space in a creative way and juxtaposing contrasting elements. Long, soft shadows lift ultra-flat towards the 2018 trend of semi-flat designs, adding a subtle depth. 

Retro and geometric pattern backgrounds are back in the mainstream as kids of the 80s and 90s gain more influence, not only in the world of design and marketing but as consumers. 

Authentic images add a personal touch, revealing real-life moments as they happen, exposing a human side to brands. A welcome and refreshing shift away from dry, staged and uninspired stock photography, which will always be prevalent. 

Integrated and Creative Typography

Typography - Integrated and Creative
Leading the way for the developing trends of 2018 is the use of creative typography. Imagination is forging the path of cropped, chaotic and intersecting typography. Removing elements of letterforms and intertwining type with imagery and graphic elements makes for a beautifully modern, but unconventional twist on design. Moving away from the norm, breaking up words and playing with unusual alignments. Bold fonts are at the forefront, adding impact and order to chaotic but eye-pleasing designs. 

This new style of interactive typography may not suit all design projects but creativity, form and function can still prevail. Composition is key. Typography combined with a strong colour palette and great layout is the perfect recipe for engaging design.

Mobile First Design

Web design - Mobile First
As static websites become a thing of the past, the way we design a responsive site is changing. Increasingly, smartphones and tablets are the primary choice for first stage browsing and for websites with a mobile majority we must rethink the key aspects of the user experience. Mobile first design is set to be a new way of thinking in 2018. Stripping back design, bringing in form and function and building up to desktop where creativity can come into play. 

As 2018 beckons, refreshing trends are revitalizing the world of graphic design and shifting focus to originality. Moving away from ultra-flat design and welcoming creative typography, eye popping colours, beautiful patterns and a new way of thinking in website design.

Get in touch and lets make 2018 the year of creativity.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Six Reasons Why Good Design is Essential for Small Companies

Resources can be limited when you’re starting in business. Making good decisions about your marketing material is key and in the long run it always pays to use talented design professionals.

In fact, there are six great reasons why good design is absolutely essential in helping your small business grow:

1. It creates a great first impression

You know what they say: you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Whether it’s your logo, an email signature, your business card or website, potential customers will judge your company in just a few seconds based on visual appeal alone.

Designers are great at putting themselves in the potential clients shoes, this can be hard to do when it’s your own business! Let them give you feedback on how they think your brand should look and feel.

2. It builds confidence

As you grow your company it’s important to inspire confidence in your customers and prospects. Who are they going to give their money to? Probably the company that looks experienced, professional, trustworthy and established.

Designers ensure you communicate your brand’s culture, character and personality with your marketing. This will inspire trust in both your consumers and employees, creating solid long term foundations for your company to thrive.

3. It makes you stand out

Small businesses all have one thing in common. They face stiff competition. They thrive or they die. To make themselves stand out and have a better chance of success, they can use high quality, good pricing, excellent customer service, rapid response, or something else entirely.

They can use creativity. In fact, your company image can go a long way towards making your business unique. The problem is, many business owners seem to shy away from the bold design that will set them apart from their competition. They don’t want anything out of the ordinary. So they go for the safe option and their business just gets lost in the crowd.

Anything you can do to make your company more memorable is crucial. So hire a professional design agency to develop a unique image for your business. They will use colours, typefaces and imagery to create a unique mood for your business. Then, your customers will have the same experience reading your brochure as they do browsing your website. It will help you become recognisable and memorable.

In short, give your customers or visitors something to remember and talk about. Then they will not only buy from you and keep coming back, they will recommend your brand to other people.

4. It helps you sell without selling

Good design and consistent branding also makes referrals easier. New customers are like gold dust for any small company and the better you are at catching their eye and bringing them in, the more your business will grow. In fact, professional design makes your company and its image memorable without you having to use any hard sell.

What’s more, high quality design helps you to turn first time shoppers into loyal customers. An eyecatching, memorable logo, well-designed website, emails, ads and brochures all with a consistent look can be the difference between someone coming back to you or choosing a competitor. You need to make the act of looking at any of your marketing materials a pleasant and consistent visual experience.

5. It saves you time and money in the long run

You can almost guarantee that when a company doesn’t commission proper graphic design in the beginning, they will definitely have to do it properly at some point down the line.

The irony is, good design has longevity and it can often work out cheaper to pay for great graphic design once rather than paying for inferior design many times over. As the old saying goes, ‘Buy cheap, buy twice.’ Worse still, redesigning a company’s image over and over again wastes time and money and can disrupt and disjoint your brand image.

6. It can become a valuable financial asset

So with good design at the heart of everything you do, you can really build a successful brand. How successful?

Well, here are a few statistics that will give you some food for thought. According to Forbes’ annual ‘The World’s Most Valuable Brand’ list, Apple’s brand is worth $154.1 billion alone, while Google comes in at $82.5 billion, and Microsoft rounds out the top 3 at $75.2 billion.

As you can see, your brand can be a valuable asset in a number of ways, not only building up your brand awareness but instilling confidence and professionalism for both existing and potential clients. Building a business doesn’t happen over night but developing your own brand with its unique design style and aesthetic is a great step in the right direction. All it takes is a call to a good design agency.

For some design inspiration head over to our website or to see this months special offer.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Your Surprisingly Popular Sales Tool – Folded Leaflets

In our fast-paced, switched-on, ultra-connected online world where brands are engaging with people, having a dialogue with prospective customers and encouraging sales 24/7, you might be surprised to discover what is actually one of the most enduring and proven sales tools.

It’s the humble folded leaflet. Surely not? What with so many innovative, fun and popular online platforms and apps around that brands can use to communicate with people and build relationships.

In fact, the simple folded leaflet has been around for many, many years and it’s still going strong. Through constantly changing trends in print and marketing, folded leaflets have remained hugely popular promotional items. Even in today’s online world, 
they are more popular than ever with marketers and businesses of all sizes. 
But why?

Choose from a range of sizes
One of the biggest advantages of folded leaflets is that they can be printed digitally for small to medium-sized print runs. This means that they can be printed very quickly to a high quality similar to litho print, with the option of personalisation if you want it. All at a very competitive price.

What’s more, with digital print, there’s no minimum quantity, so you don’t have to have more leaflets printed than you need. That reduces waste, which not only saves you money but helps the environment.

There is a whole range of sizes, finishes and papers for printing, which we can discuss at the brief stage. One of the most popular size is DL which is A4 folded to 1/3 A4. This fits neatly into standard envelopes and pockets - making it perfect for any number of uses.

Enjoy unbeatable flexibility

The range of sizes available for your folded leaflets means they can be used anywhere and in a huge variety of ways including:

  • Direct mail campaigns - choose a size like DL which fits easily into envelopes and letter boxes

  • Hand-outs - A5 and DL size leaflets are ideal for handing to prospective customers as they fit easily into pockets and bags

  • On tables and counter - you often see folded leaflets in shops, bars, restaurants and in business premises showing offers, products, services and events

  • Inserts in other publications - folded leaflets can be nested into magazines, brochures, newspapers and catalogues

In short, you can use folded leaflets to advertise your products and services, promote special offers or events, or simply to boost awareness of your business, shop or store. You can include coupons with offers or add QR codes to drive online traffic to your website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest page.

Don’t forget, with digital print your leaflets can be personally addressed to each one of your customers too – a proven way to build and strengthen relationships, and boost response.

Choose from a range of formats

You can have your leaflet folded in a whole range of ways with these four being the most popular and economical:

  • Half fold leaflets are folded in half along the centre like a greetings card
, see this months case study - great leaflet for Bedford Insurance
  • Roll fold leaflets are divided into three sections, with the outer two sections folding over one another

  • Z fold leaflets have panels that do not overlap. They fold like an accordion or Z-shape, so that you can see three panels of artwork on each side, which are viewed in sequence

  • Gatefold leaflets have their outer flaps folded in to meet in the middle

Choose from a selection of papers and finishes
Silk coated paper has a smooth feel with a discreet surface sheen. It offers excellent ink to paper contrast, and the printed colours look sharp and clear. Recycled options are usually available too.

Gloss coated paper has a shiny surface and very smooth finish. The colour is distinct and stands out well. The ink dries quickly and there is less need for lamination.

Uncoated paper is absorbent and easy to write on, making it a great choice for leaflets that need to be written on. The print appears flatter due to this absorbent quality and the paper has a soft finish which is pleasant to the touch. Recycled uncoated paper is also available if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option.

Once you’ve chosen your paper you can add the finishing touch. Matt lamination gives a soft, modern, high quality effect, while gloss lamination gives a higher quality shine finish than gloss card. Lamination is great to enhance the vibrancy of solid colours or images, or where you want to protect your printed documents. Recently, soft touch laminate has become very popular as it gives a lovely soft, smooth feel to the leaflet.

All in all, folded leaflets have a more tactile, physical quality than emails or social media posts, and they don’t disappear after a few hours. They can be kept on a mantelpiece, stuck to the fridge or in a drawer and referred to later on, and they can be used to drive business to a shop or store in an endless variety of ways – the only limit is your imagination.

Unlike social media too, they can be targeted extremely accurately – to a town or city, an area, a few streets, one road or even one house! So, are you making the most of folded leaflets?

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

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.