Protecting Brand Assets Throughout an Organization

Protecting Brand Assets Throughout an Organization

It is very easy for a brand image to become inconsistent. Inconsistency is the last thing anyone wants for their brand as it decreases customer recognition. Protecting visual elements and messaging should be a priority for any entrepreneur and marketing team.

What happens in larger organizations or, when you have multiple vendors, is that your color codes, fonts, and styles can quickly become muddled by those who either aren’t aware of the guides or, unaware of their importance. Even the slightest variation in a logo shape, colors, and fonts is noticeable and should be avoided.

Show up, stay consistent, and make sure your team does too.

Within your organization especially, whenever you have departments preparing communications, it’s important to inform them of the guides your brand uses. Not everyone knows to look and, most are unaware of the delicacy a brand identity is. Personal bias can lead to quick, emotional decisions in any department—even marketing—which can have detrimental affects on branding efforts.

Influence your team by defending your brand’s visual attributes. When you educate your group and vendors on the importance of keeping visuals consistent and tell them where to find these guides, you’re protecting the integrity of your brand.

If you are evaluating a rebrand for your corporate identity, Rice Content Marketing & Design can design and coordinate the transformation. Contact me today.

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How to Keep Your Project Management System Working Smoothly

How to Keep Your Project Management System Working Smoothly

For anyone in a project management or project lead role, you know how important a smooth system is. The more you can stay organized, the more energy you will conserve and avoid burnout.

If you find that you go through periods of time when you don’t use your tools, you aren’t alone. This doesn’t mean the project management system has failed, it just means it’s time to step back and re-organized. Using the same system, you may just need to tighten up your habits.

It’s so easy to get lost in the day. You get pulled on a call, held up in an unplanned meeting, you get kicked off your computer because the IT department runs an update. Things happen.

Give yourself the time you need.

The best tool you can use to catch bad habits or daily distractions, is time on your calendar. Block out time every month for your file a project management clean up. Use this time to analyze why your files got out of hand, and see if any improvements can be made. When your calendar reminder pops up, don’t snooze.

When you are feeling overwhelm and experiencing doubt, first, load this video by the Rolling Stones: Time is On My Side. While you’re letting your hair down and rocking it, start scheduling your project management, management.

My favorite part about these organizational tasks is the sudden absence of clutter. I can access resources quickly and return to what I know my flow can be. Rather than being bogged down by thoughts of  “I really should do something about that,” it just gets done.

If you realize your current tools aren’t working for you, here are a few very different PM tools I recommend looking at: SmartSheet, Bitrix24, Basecamp, Trello and Airtable. What works best for you depends on your work habits, business structure, and needs.

Good luck! File restructuring is a big process for any internal team. I have assisted on numerous database and file structure re-orgs. If I can be of assistance to your team please reach out. Your productivity and efficiency can only improve through taking time to get and stay organized.

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Billboard Design Techniques for Placement in Overcast Locations

Billboard Design Techniques for Placement in Overcast Locations

Let there be light.

When you think about billboard design, you want something that can catch the eye quickly, safely, and be impactful at the same time. If a billboard blends in to the background too much, your message gets lost.

Consider where your billboard will be placed and consider creating alternative designs that make sense for the respective regions. When you are in an overcast region, bold colors and contrast goes a long way. There are of course many other factors that affect visibility such as backdrop – mountain, coast, lakeside, or inner city. The following techniques apply to regions where your billboards will be placed among overcast open sky ways.

It’s all about creating contrast

High contrast is important regardless of region, but will be critical if your skies are already muted. You’ve surely seen the billboard advertisements that sell billboards, in yellow and red. The text typically reads:

“If you’re looking, it’s working!”

As a graphic designer I know you can create the same grab, using contrast. Of course the yellow and red does more than just stands out; our brains are wired to react quickly to the scheme. It’s an “alert” , hot, important. If the colors are part of your brand, great. If not, see what contrast you can create with varying tones of your colors.

This topic is relevant to me in that I’ve lived under many gray skies. In winter especially, when so much of what we see are white and gray, color is a welcomed and unexpected sight in the sky. Light gray creates extra, unnecessary glare that gets lost.

In these gray regions, avoid white or light gray backgrounds. One design technique I often lean on is wabi sabi. Wabi sabi focuses on creating harmony from balancing natural elements, organic. Applying this concept to color, bring in graphics that balance the air. Try dark greens, bold rust, or deep blue. Choose headlines that are short, dark, or lightly tinted over dark backgrounds. Make it POP.

As with any advertising, make sure you’re following your brand book. This will assure viewers recognize you high in the sky. messaging before they pass by. One acceptation to this rule however, is to creatively work the sky blend into your design. Choose dark, simple graphics and keep messaging short.

If you are looking for outdoor advertising creative, contact me. We can discuss your current advertising efforts and results from previous campaigns. From there I can design creatives that will communicate your messages effectively, regardless of the region or the weather.

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Push Through Creative Blocks Through Art Play During Work Hours

Push Through Creative Blocks Through Art Play During Work Hours

In most active creative offices you can expect a rush of energy to create and complete amazing deliverables, on deadline. I love this energy and even thrive on it. However, sometimes you run into a situation where this energy is cutoff like a kink in a garden hose. Of course we creatives know this to be artist block but, it can happen to any professional, at any time.

How do you work through this? It’s different for everyone. Many medium-large companies have invested in opportunities for their employees that give the office environment a campus-feel. But, running the track may not be what you need.

Make art to produce more.

Art is a great way to work through blocks, even if you’re a creative and are in a period of genuine artist block. “The best way out is through.” When you’re looking at an approaching deadline, you really don’t have the luxury of putting production on hold until it comes back. You have to find a way to kick your gears back in motion. Rather than freaking out about your sudden blockage, look to art.

If you’re blocked try a few of these fun projects. Set a timer as a reminder that this is only a mental expansion exercise and not the focus for the rest of the day.

  • Do a creative writing exercise
  • Get out a pad of paper and draw something you see in your office
  • Find all the colorful pens or highlighters and turn a post-it note into a mini poster
  • Grab the newspaper or a magazine you’ve already read, scissors and tape or a glue stick – collage
  • Invest in a cheap watercolor set for the office (available in all USA supermarkets)
  • Buy a couple small tubes of paint and sketchpad to have on hand

Keep moving, don’t stop, you’ve got this. Have fun!

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How Often Should I Be Updating My Header Image?

How Often Should I Be Updating My Header Image?

The header is an important part of your initial presentation.

Today, business websites and social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, showcase a top-level header image. There is debate as to how frequently this image should be updated, if at all.

Not surprisingly, there is no one answer for every company. How often you change this image depends on if you’re an educational, service or product based business.

How to determine if your header image should change
Your primary graphic welcomes visitors to your page. Product based businesses typically have the same goal to grow new and returning visitors. In this case, you will want a plan to update the image. Use this location to highlight new products, your latest photo shoot, or special promotion. In this scenario, customers will stop at your header image much like they would a storefront.

If you’re a service based business, your goals are primarily lead generation. Once you gain clients, unless you offer an educational aspect to your site such as a blog, your return visitors may not be as high. In either scenario, you’d test your image for influence on conversion rates. For a service based site however, this becomes a great tool to identify behavior. Tracking traffic in relation to header image updating can help you improve lead capture.

I will discuss header images for educational websites in a later article. The header image should certainly be updated annually. Keep in mind, if you have seasonally specific images or images with staff that may no longer be at the organization, it’s a good idea to change it.

To reiterate, there is no one way for all businesses. A generally rule of thumb however, update product based website headers three to four times a year. Update service based header images twice a year. And, educational based website headers as needed, returning to a standard brand image.

Benefits to changing your header image often:

  • Generates interest
  • More opportunities to capture customers

Keep in mind, if your site does see a lot of traffic currently, changing the image too frequently can have alternative effects:

  • Creates confusion unless all images follow an identifiable brand style
  • Doesn’t give non-daily routine visitors a chance to absorb the information – if new product or sale information. You don’t want your loyal customers to feel left out!

Always make sure as with any creative content, that the images are unique and align with your brand style guide. For established brands, reference the style guide for direction. If you need custom digital advertisements for your website or social, visit ricecmd.com.

Lead by Purpose Towards Meaningful, Memorable Content

Lead by Purpose Towards Meaningful, Memorable Content

There is not much more that I feel needs to be said following that headline: Lead by Purpose Towards Meaningful, More Memorable Content.

Purpose-driven marketing is a hot-topic and I hope it’s here to stay. What is it? Purpose-driven marketing refers to advertising and marketing campaigns to broadcast a company’s “why.”

Calling this a millennial strategy will only prevent companies from taking advantage of this documented growth opportunity. Focusing on brand values carries genuine weight.

Being true to your brand sustains authenticity.

Here’s why purpose marketing is so powerful:

  • Everyone can relate to finding and focusing on purpose, resulting in cross market awareness
  • When you get clear about your company’s purpose, you will be able to make better connections within your target market
  • It’s easier to connect with values than brands
  • Taking the popular credit union model, people helping people
  • Gives brands more opportunities to build fan culture
  • Builds brand loyalty

The benefits of purpose-driven marketing go on. If you’re worried about how to sustain personal or professional growth, consider your purpose. If you’re a new or long-established businesses and can’t locate a strong value statement or “why” for your brand, consider starting with Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why – ”

Purpose is something as a business owner, I have spent quite a bit of time identifying. It can be hard to do this on your own and is something at Rice CMD we do as part of your identity development and brand voice clarification. If you are on the journey to craft your brand values or purpose, it will be rewarding. To translate these messages into memorable, authentic content, contact me at Rice CMD.

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