25 March 2013

Five Things Business Owners Need to Know Before Hiring a Logo or Brand Designer

Business owners need to give a lot of thought to their company's brand.  The brand is a major way customers reacts and interacts with the company, which influences sales of the company's product or service.

Brand Loyalty: When people think of "brand loyalty," they may think only of a physical product consumers buy, such as soup or clothes, but brand loyalty can also be viewership of a television series or franchise, fandom of a music artist, or membership in a social media website.

Start Making Sense: Consumers react positively when a company's brand (logo, color scheme, slogans, product and sales material design, etc.) make sense and are relatable. For instance, if a company is selling young child's toys, potential customers won't understand a very stodgy logo with a black and grey color scheme.

Consistency: A consistent brand or theme that covers everything a customer will see, from the logo to the website, brick and mortar store, newsletter, posters, commercials, etc. will help reinforce the company's name and products in consumers' minds.

Before a business owner hires a logo or brand designer, he or she should know the following:

1. Who is your audience or market? - Selling to senior executives requires a different style and perhaps marketing tool than selling to teenage boys. Be able to explain who and why the audience(s) are appropriate for your product or service.

2. What is your company's style?
- Do you want consumers to see your company (and your products/services) as fun, cool, conservative, professional, quirky, vintage, modern, or futuristic? List four or five adjectives that best describe you and your company.

3. Are there any cultural considerations? - Are there words, colors, symbols a designer should specifically use or avoid? This is especially important for international sales.

4. How do you communicate and sell to your audience? - Does your company have a store or office visited by customers? Are you strictly online? Do you have a booth at festivals, conferences, markets? Are your sales staff visiting customers in their offices or homes? List every possible method, and rank them by importance and whether they are current or future methods.

5. What do you want? - A good logo or brand designer will help you visualize your wants and needs. Sometimes as good business owners we have to give up our dream of a lime-green and pink store, but if you really love cats, don't accept a dog-based logo. Don't be afraid to tell the designer your likes and dislikes.

Photos from Microsoft Clip Art

11 March 2013

Beautiful Ireland Photos


Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by virtually visiting the Emerald Isle! 

Click on the links below to visit websites with many photos of beautiful Ireland.

Flickr's Beautiful Ireland group pool


Facebook's Beautiful Ireland Photography page (no log in required)

Pinterest's IrishExpression

George Karbus Photography's Ireland Scenery

Note: Many of these photos are copyrighted and are not free for your use. View, enjoy, and bookmark. Do not take without permission.  I do not have any connection with these websites.






Photos from Microsoft Clip Art

08 February 2013

Hosting An Ethical Blog Part 2 - Mistakes

A blog can be a personal diary, corporate communications, journalistic news, opinion articles, product reviews, advice column, etc.. No matter what topic is covered in a blog, it is important to do it ethically. With the impermanence and alterability of text and images, it is more important than ever to be ethical in handling mistakes on your blog.

These three tips will help you be ethical in managing mistakes:
  1. Admit mistakes. Humans are fallible, so we all make mistakes. It may be momentarily embarrassing when an error is pointed out to you, sometimes repeatedly by blog commenters, but instead of reacting defensively and insisting you didn't make a mistake, gracefully accept the correction and admit you made an error. If someone blasts you for making a mistake and you respond in a professional manner, he will look bad, not you.

  2. Correct mistakes. Based upon the ethical guidelines of your industry, fix your mistakes. Sometimes you can simply directly fix the text or image, such as a misspelling or wrong image link. I've seen some bloggers use the strikethru strikethrough font style. If the mistake requires an explanation or seriously changes the content or context of a post, it is better to add an "Update" or "Correction" paragraph at the beginning or end of the post. Magazines and newspapers have an "Errata" section where they make corrections to previously published articles, but I don't recommend this method unless you make many corrections and it is both prominent and frequently used by you and your audience.

  3. Don't hide mistakes. You don't have to shout mea culpa for every small error, but pretending you didn't make, then correct, a mistake will negatively impact your believability and the trust your audience has in you. Also, hiding a mistake will make comments pointing out the error seem out of place.  If you correct a mistake, don't delete comments relating to the error, otherwise your commenters may accuse you of being deceptive.

25 January 2013

Hosting An Ethical Blog

A blog can be a personal diary, corporate communications, journalistic news, opinion articles, product reviews, advice column, etc..  No matter what topic is covered in a blog, it is important to do it ethically.  By hosting an ethical blog, your words will be more believable and trusted and your audience will more likely treat you with respect, and your critics will have fewer negative facts to use in their critiques.

Here are four tips to help you be ethical in your blogging:
  1. Tell the truth. This should be a no-brainer, but it is sad how many people feel justified in stretching the truth, embellishing facts, or outright lying in an attempt to further their agenda, gain favors, or impress their audience.  Unfortunately, once the deceit is revealed, your words will lose impact and your blog won't be trusted by many people.  Yes, some ardent supporters will minimize or rationalize the lies, but eventually even they will fall away.
  2. Reveal conflicts of interest. If you review products, art, writing, etc., and do not reveal that you have or can be perceived to have a hidden reason to like or dislike the item, you put your blog in jeopardy of being seen as secretly biased and untrustworthy. Reasons include:
    • You receive payment or free products from the manufacturer, artist, or writer
    • You receive payment or free products from the reviewee's competitor
    • You are a friend or relative of the reviewee
    • You are an ex-friend or ex-relative
    • You had a particularly good or bad experience with the product or reviewee
  3. Allow critical comments. I strongly recommend moderating blog comments to prevent spam or offensive comments from being posted.  But to disallow comments that are critical keeps the conversation unbalanced and dishonestly positive.  If your blog post cannot hold up to fair criticism, then perhaps it needs to be revised.
  4. Be fair and objective. I think even in an opinion blog, you can take a step back and see if your words can be viewed as fair and/or objective.  Writing flaming reviews in passionate anger may make you feel better for a few minutes, but will you be embarrassed a day, week, year later when you read your hateful words?  After a measure of time has passed, could you see things in a different light?


10 January 2013

How Public-Facing Digital Signage Can Benefit Your Business

Whether you call it digital/dynamic signage, digital media communications, or high-tech marketing, using modern technology to communicate with your clients and customers can save you time and money.

1. Quick to Update Frequently Changed Information - Instead of printing new in-store brochures for oft-changing specials, new menu items, price reductions, and other product updates, use digital signage to save printing time and costs.

2. Fix Errors and Misspellings Immediately - Ever see a misspelled label or sign? Check out these from ABCNews. Embarrassing can turn into a sales disaster if an erroneous price is printed on a thousand flyers.  Even with a "We don't honor pricing errors" clause, the negative reputation you build with your customers could affect sales.  Digital signage makes it easy to fix problems on the fly!

3. Set Up a Display Schedule - You can schedule digital signage to display information by time of the day, day of the week, and by date.  Your staff can create and save content during slow times and schedule it to display automatically or manually days or weeks later, based upon your company's needs.

4. Green Technology - Display screens, monitors, players, computers, and other digital signage hardware can be scheduled to power down during off-hours, either automatically or manually.  Most new flat-screen monitors are very power-efficient.  Additionally, you won't have to recycle hundreds or thousands of out-of-date printed sales sheets.

5. BONUS! Look Sleek and Modern - Even the most conservative and staid industries can benefit from digital signage. The display design can give a fresh update to your classic branding and style.

There are several levels of technology and cost for what the industry calls "digital-out-of-home" or DOOH, depending upon your business field, office/store layout, and customer base.  A digital signage professional can help you select the correct hardware, software, and display design for your needs.
Contact Totem Media, L.C. for more information.