Creative Cadence
Design for lone marketers

Views from the studio

Views from the studio

A to Z of design: benefits to your marketing

Sometimes, when thinking about your marketing, it’s hard to think about the different ways design can help you. Here’s an A to Z of some design and content thoughts that might help:

A is for Animation

Many companies are using animation or video nowadays as a surprisingly cost-effective way of communicating with their clients or customers. Once a video or animation has been created around a certain topic or pressing subject matter your clients might face, it has the potential to have a long marketing shelf-life for your organisation. It can be shared quickly on social media, embedded on your website, stored on a company Youtube or Vimeo channel and potentially shared by hundreds of viewers. In a previous agency I’ve storyboarded and created assets for animations for Knightstone Housing and Ladbrokes.

B is for Blogging

Blogging is an essential part of adding valuable content to your website. You can give your audience (existing and potential customers) an insight into your knowledge, expertise and interests, outside of your usual everyday activity … although it normally makes sense to link the two. Liven blog posts up with engaging images, header graphics and use infographics to liven up content and make it more engaging to read.

C is for Copywriting

Many clients underestimate the value of decent copywriting. We all think we can write. However, when it comes to important customer-facing words such as your brand strap-line, company values or long copy for your brochure or website, think about a copywriter. Copywriters can also be ideas-people, coming up with that great advertising or direct mail campaign concept. Read our previous post about the benefits of using a copywriter to enhance design and marketing communications.

D is for Digital print

Digital print has progressed rapidly in the past few years. Quality didn’t used to be great, with digital print machines essentially being nothing more than glorified colour photocopiers. Nowadays, however, it’s often hard to distinguish the difference between good digital and proper lithographic print. Good machines now use liquid ink (so you lose the ‘colour photocopy’ quality issue), can print using white ink onto coloured paper stock and offer a range of different laminate finishes. Throwing in the ability to use variable data for bespoke names, addresses and content on a piece of print, means there’s lots you can achieve for an economical budget. Ask us about the printers we use and what can be achieved.

E is for Employee Communications

When thinking about your marketing communications, it’s easy to think solely of your external audience (clients, suppliers etc). If you’re a medium to large sized company, remember to look inside your business at your employees. Good design can help you communicate to your employees – vision, values, new product or project launches, benefit schemes, employee awards or training schemes. You can even think smaller scale – bespoke Christmas cards/gifts or a milestone company birthday.

F is for Flyers

They may sound like an old-fashioned way of print marketing for your business. However, flyers are cheap to print nowadays digitally and can be used to attract a bit more attention at networking events than just a business card (or use in combination). Check with your printer beforehand, but some types of printed flyer are also exempt from VAT, especially if they’re to be distributed and received by hand. Read the ‘VAT Notice 701/10: zero-rating of books and other forms of printed matter’ on for more information.

G is for Google Drive stationery

Today, with the prolific use of email and cloud-based applications, it’s becoming rarer and rarer for businesses to use a printed letterhead. We still design and print business cards for our clients but have recently been developing company letterheads in Google Docs. These letterhead templates are purely cloud-based, always saved and easy to share among staff and the business. Letterheads or larger documents set up in this way can easily be saved out as pdfs or Word documents to email to clients, or print out … ironically.

H is for Humour

Often the forms of marketing communication we remember the most are the ones that make us smile. Humour can be added to pieces of communication by using wit, irony, or playfulness in copywriting or graphic design, or both in combination. Much of the classic print advertising that we remember is memorable because of its use of a witty headline playing against an image. Watch your target audience and the subject matter, obviously, but elements of clever humour will engage your audience and warm them to you. I’m particularly weirdly in love with Skittles’ ‘Skittles-pox’ advert at the moment. It just appeals to my child-like sense of humour but also has great art-direction and messaging such as ‘Contract the Rainbow’.

I is for Infographics

Infographics play a big part in marketing communication today. A bit like video or animation, one cleverly crafted infographic has the potential to be shared in print, on a website and on social media. Infographics can be fun or serious but are a succinct and engaging way of communicating complex information in more bite-size chunks. They are also easier and more interesting to read than the equivalent pages of text that might be needed to describe the subject. Here’s some previous examples we’ve created for clients. 

J is for Journey

Speaking of infographics, a great way of communicating your business story or the complexities of a product is with a graphic timeline or journey-map. You may want to celebrate the history of your company on a special anniversary. You may want to illustrate a customer journey or sales process (to show people how easy and simple it is!) Here’s an example from Liquid Agency of a new Customer Relationship Model:

Model courtesy of Alfredo Muccino Co-Founder / Chief Creative Officer, Liquid Agency

Model courtesy of Alfredo Muccino Co-Founder / Chief Creative Officer, Liquid Agency

K is for Knowledge (use our expertise)

Sometimes, as a marketing manager or communications officer, it’s hard to know exactly what you want before you commission a graphic designer. If it helps to talk things through before you firm up exactly what you need, then let us know. We have twenty years experience of graphic design and communications but also of helping clients with ideas of how to communicate to their customers. I hate the term ‘brainstorm’ but do think of us as ideas people, as well as being able to create the final piece of communication for you.

L is for Logo

Logos … essentially our favourite thing to design. We love the way that a brilliant logo can encapsulate and embody the whole name and ethos of a company in one succinct identity. Logos can be simple, clever, witty but now have to work so much harder across things like the web and social media – not just a business card and letterhead. Think of the branding of your business as more than just the logo though. The logo should work in harmony with a brand colour palette, typography, image style (photographic or illustrative) and even bespoke icons to present a unique brand to your audience. Here’s some brands we’ve created to do just that.

M is for Messaging

Getting your messaging and tone of voice right in your marketing communications is absolutely essential. You need to think about who are, who you’re talking to, how your target audience expect you to speak to them. You can vary your tone of voice slightly, depending on the medium you’re using to convey your message. For example, you’ll talk more casually on Twitter than you might on your website home page or annual report. Here’s a great guide on finding the right tone of voice for your communications from our friends at Valuable Content.

N is for Newsletter

Whether it’s for an external customer audience, or internal employees & shareholders, a newsletter is still a great way of communicating recent company information to an audience. In recent years there’s been an increase in email newsletters which can be designed and managed using clients such as Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor (others, including bespoke solutions, are available). Newsletters can link to blog posts, landing pages on your website, special offers and customer stories. We still design printed newsletters for clients – a great way of keeping in touch with existing customers – and a pdf version can still be uploaded to a clients’ website to view online.

O is for Offering Objects

Once the mainstay of trade fairs and exhibitions, the promotional gift can be used to make your brand memorable in the right place. You can stick to the classic pen, mug, or USB stick but why not look at something more memorable and try to tie it in with your company’s service or main offering? Nowadays you can get anything from branded bicycle lights to radiator keys. How about making the most of events in the news, such as the England 5p bag charge? A branded ‘bag for life’ might be the thing your customers are clamouring for next!

P is for Presentations

Death by Powerpoint continually makes our hearts sink in this industry. Keep them shorter, keep them more succinct. If you’re presenting, don’t just read off the slides – people can do that when they get home and read the notes. Whether it’s Powerpoint or Keynote, we understand a businesses’ need to present to internal or external audiences. Let’s help you make your presentation look attractive, with a decently designed template and suggestions on how to engage your audience with icons, infographics and images. You can use presentations to your advantage. If you create a good presentation or guide, you can upload it to Slideshare and continue to engage new audiences there, on this social media presentation sharing platform that’s connected to LinkedIn.

Q is for Quality

Whether you’re commissioning design, looking for print costs or trying to find free images off the internet – cheap or free isn’t always best. We’ll always quote realistically, based on the time, in our experience, we estimate the job will take. We also take into account the value our designs will add to your business. A logo is more than just that – it’s your brand, the face of your company which people see on your business card at all your networking events for the next three years. Yes, you can get a logo for $10 off the internet, but will it be bespoke to your business? Will they have met with you and understood your needs? The same goes for quality of supplier, such as printers – see ‘X’.

R is for Research

Whenever we begin working with clients, two of our main questions when trying to ascertain the creative brief are, “Who is your target audience?” and “Who are your main competitors?” These are key pieces of information that you need to know about your business and which are really useful for us to know when we’re working on a piece of marketing for you. It’s especially key to know who the target audience is, otherwise, we don’t know who the marketing is being directed towards and it’s hard to tailor the design or messaging accordingly. Do some research into your target market and competitors if you don’t know them already.

S is for Social Media

We won’t go into a ‘how to use social media’ guide here – that’s worthy of a whole separate article. What we would say is that you should treat your social media pages as an integral part of your brand. You don’t need to do them all (unless you’re brave and want to!). You should focus on the ones which you feel will work best for your business. It may be worth experimenting with a few to start with, then ditching the ones which aren’t creating engagement or leads. For example, Facebook business pages often work better for more consumer-focused brands that can offer regular competitions and offers, such as clothing or food. In thinking about social media accounts being part of your brand, make sure they’re branded accordingly. We’ve helped clients create Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles, making sure their brand is represented with properly sized logos, avatars and graphic banners. A good banner on a social media page is your chance to tell an audience about your business and what you do.

T is for Typography

A well chosen typeface can help your business communicate to your clients and customers. The typeface will often be part of your brand identity or logo, used on your business cards, be integral to your website and rolled out across your presentations and other marketing materials. Sloppy use of too many different fonts across your marketing, or a lack of use of your main corporate typeface in anything other than your logo can weaken how your business and brand appear to your audience. We can advise on use of typography in your marketing. Why not read our Guide to Typography for Marketer’s for some insights?

U is for Useful information

Rather than just selling in the traditional manner to your customers, think about writing and producing useful guides for them. If you offer existing and potential customers useful advice, they’ll start to come to you because they see you as experts in your field, not just because you shown them a list of your services. Estate Agents could offer a guide to moving home, including a checklist things to remember. A bicycle shop could offer a guide to choosing the right sort of bike for your needs. Guides can be hosted on your blog, shared via social media, or offered as a download on your website. Here’s a few guides we’ve written which are available for free download.

V is for Values

Does your company have brand values? Do you regularly communicate them to your employees? Would your employees know what your company values were if you asked them? Many businesses today use give weight to their brand values by communicating them around the office internally in the form of posters, or large wall graphics. Sometimes they also communicate them externally to their customers, to give them a sense that the company and all it’s employees really are on board with the company values and what they stand for. Values are often designed in neat graphic forms such as icons or logos in themselves. How do you communicate your brand values internally or externally? Read a past blog post we made on the subject.

W is for Website

Having an online presence is paramount to your business today. Even if you’re not physically selling your goods online to customers, it’s all about awareness. Often, one of the first things potential customers will do is visit your website – before they give you a call, or email you to find out more. If they don’t like what they see when they do visit, then that’s possibly where their buying journey will end. Think about when your website was last updated. Does your website accurately convey your brand, your business and what you do – without having to dig too deeply? When was the last blog post you made? Could you liven up main pages or blog posts with engaging graphics? Is it easy to find links to your social media pages from your website?

X is for Xerography

Xerography means either black and white or colour photocopying (do you know how hard it is to find words beginning with ‘X’?!) He I quickly wanted to talk about digital print. It’s a great bonus with today’s technology that we’re able to print short print runs digitally, rather than only having lithographic print as an option (which is a lot more expensive and normally requires quantities to be in the thousands). Digital print lets you print low quantities, on different types of paper or card stock. Some printers also offer the printing of variable data. This means that you could make each item in a print run bespoke with a person’s name, address etc. Great for direct mail pieces. However, there are great differences in costs between digital printers. Don’t be too swung by cheap prices, as often the quality is poor – essentially printed out of a colour photocopier. Ask to see samples first to assess quality. We work with local digital printers who print digitally using liquid inks (rather than ‘photocopier’ type toner). This means the quality is much better. Ink soaks into the paper stock, giving a finish more similar to lithographic printing, rather than the shinier toner sitting on top of the paper. There’s also the ability to print in white ink onto coloured paper stock, which is interesting. We’d be happy to help with print quotes and show you examples of work we’ve had done.

Y is for Yellow in CMYK

Both digital and lithographic print use the 4 colour process  – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (know as Key Black). Did you know that in the print process you can also use extra print techniques such as spot Pantone colours (giving a brighter, stronger colour), and metallic inks. Finishing processes also include foil blocking, varnishing, embossing and debossing and die-cutting. These processes will obviously add to cost, but do think about some of these extra techniques next time you’re commissioning any print.

Z is for Z-fold

As well as your standard booklets and 4 or 6 page documents, have a think about different folding techniques when designing a piece of printed marketing communication. There’s gatefolds, roll-folds, concertina folds, French folds, parallel folds and throw-outs, amongst many. Ask us for advice if you’re looking for something different to do with your next piece of print.