Archive for ADVERTISING

Web Design Trends for 2010

By: Jaqueline Thomas

With a new year on the horizon, it’s time to pack away the old, worn web designs and prepare for the brave, new face of tomorrow. Although trends don’t start and stop on January 1st, there is a definite shift from what we craved at the beginning of the year to what we are seeking tutorials for at the end of the year. Most of the time, this shift is subtle. It’s a perfection or re-interpretation of a currently hot trend. Trends help us evolve as designers. As we master the skills of design aesthetic, we continue to push forward to what’s next or what needs to be fully discovered.

Make no mistake about it, you will recognize the ideas behind these trends. Although this list isn’t a drastic departure from what was popular in 2009, it marks different trends that will be expanded upon and made better as a result. As you think of how you will incorporate new trends into your designs, focus on the main idea of each trend. Be encouraged to dabble into these trends so that you become part of the movement.

1. Oversized Logos/ Headers

Splash pages are so yesterday. To make an unforgettable impression on the visitor, the trend for 2010 will be oversized logos on an equally oversized header. These types of headers can take up the entire screen, but with one important note. Visitors will not need to click anything, just scroll down. Visitors often having a clicking phobia (due to years of poor navigation), so big headers do the job of a splash page without forcing your visitors to click anything.

Main Idea: Huge headers that make your visitors remember you.

2. Sketch/ Hand-drawn Design

Hand-drawn design is not exactly new on the horizon, but we all know that it is still on the fringes of web design. Many designers admire the style but are afraid to create their own sketches because of the “I can’t really draw” attitude. If you look at the most popular hand-drawn websites (and relative to other types of trends, there are only a few), you will notice that most of your fellow designers can’t draw. These designs are not exactly headed to an art museum, but they do convey a sense of whimsy, and blur the line between cold web and personal interaction– the ultimate goal of the internet. If you can doodle, you can sketch for web design.

Sketch in 2010 will become more elemental, and not as much the main focus of a web design. It will be used to personalize standard web copy in new and exciting ways.

Main Idea: Sketch becomes an elemental part of corporate design.

3. Slab Typefaces

Slab typefaces are relatively new, although they’ve been around for over 200 years in traditional media. To get a good visual definition of slab typefaces, think of the old Wild West “Wanted” posters. Those bold letters are slab typefaces. Slab typeface is commonly all capital letters and are bold and imposing. Many designers have shied away from slab typefaces in the past because logos and headers were smaller and more understated. However, combined with the trend toward larger headers, slab typefaces demand the reader to take notice.

Main Idea: Slab typefaces is used to bravely express who you are.

4. Typography

Typography is one of the most difficult trends to tackle which is why it will remain fresh in 2010. With all the cries for usability, web designers are afraid of using new and different fonts. The idea of mixing varying font sizes together is completely unthinkable. Fonts are meant to be explored, twisted, and molded to fit your purposes. With the correct placement, a website that utilizes Typography as its main design element will be more interesting to a reader than overloading the same site with tons of photos.

Main Idea: Typography is young, but will continue to be a part of web design.

5. One Page Layouts

One pay layouts challenge you to edit away what’s unnecessary. In 2010, this trend will move away from the quirky navigation and become more minimal in its approach. Think of these websites as business cards. These websites will be more of a one-stop-shop for how to locate you and your work on various other sites– your blog and your social media hangouts.

Main Idea: One page layouts will be more about personal profiles and less corporate.

6. Huge Images

A close relative to the oversized logo/ header, the huge image does much the same thing. It creates an visual impact that the visitor won’t soon forget. Unlike the oversized header from above, huge images are not part of the site’s branding. Instead, these images draw the visitor into your site, if not for their content then for their humongous size. In 2010, web designers will find themselves more comfortable using these big statements in their design to convey the site’s tone.

Main Idea: Huge images will be used to invite visitors in.

7. Change of Perspective

As we’ve discussed before, the desktop perspective has been done to death. 2010 will see a definite change in perspective to a more realistic view. There may also be a move toward side-shot aerial.

Main Idea: 2010 will play around with different perspectives.


8. Interactive/ Intuitive Design

Flash has seen better days. There was a time when you couldn’t visit a website without running into an annoying Flash interface. These days Flash is a lot more relaxed and much more professional. Although some designers prefer jQuery for forms and popups, Flash still has its place in design, especially when done subtly. Flash still has no equal to its interactivity. In 2010, web designers will move toward the more redeeming elements of Flash. Because the average visitor is more web savvy these days, designers will also create sites that are slightly more intuitive than in the past.

Main Idea: Interactive design will make a come-back.

9. Modal Boxes

Modal boxes are a trend that’s picking up steam and will be virtually everywhere in 2010. A modal box is like the popup’s more sophisticated older brother– it’s smooth, good looking and popular. Modal boxes are so easy to design and easy to use, making them the perfect solution for any designer concerned with usability.

Main Idea: Modal boxes will continue to pop up in 2010 designs.

10. Minimalism

Forget the old school minimal websites. Websites of 2010 will continue to feature lots of white space but with bold typology and surprising color schemes. Not all minimal websites will agree with the notion of black and white simplicity. Although minimalism is by nature muted, it will also showcase fresh colors. Minimalism isn’t cold, it’s warm and too the point.

Main Idea: Minimalism will venture into typology.

11. Oversized Footer

Oversized footers may be everywhere already, but 2010 will find them even more exaggerated. The footers of tomorrow will be less of an after-thought and more of an integral part of the design. Look for footers that feature contain random information, such as feed updates from various social media, daily polls, and Flickr feeds.

Main Idea: Oversized Footers will feature less important, but more personal information.


12. Retro

Retro designs are here to stay. Although a lot of the design community admires retro web design, it can be difficult to fully embrace this style without coming across “undone.” The key to retro designs is to be inspired by its tone and underlying playfulness. In 2010, retro design will be expanded as designers find new ways to honor vintage art.

Main Idea: Retro is new.

13. Intro Boxes

“Hi, my name is…” will find an even bigger stage in 2010 as designers recognize the beautiful simplicity of introducing yourself to your visitor. If you’re struggling with making a creative “About” page, the intro box will be your best bet. It forces you to condense who you are into a relatively small about of space. In 2010, intro boxes will push its own boundaries. Instead of the boring hello, designers will find new pick-up lines. And, instead of the left-flanked intro block, 2010 will see boxes in unusual placement, perhaps even in the middle of a page.

Main Idea: New ways to say “hello.”

14. Magazine Layouts

As more and more people migrate from the comforts of traditional press to online infotainment, designers are challenged to welcome them in with an easy transition. There is a move toward the magazine layout, where information is carefully organized on a single home page, giving the visitor an opportunity to explore as interested. The familiar layout will appeal to appeal to anyone who’s ever read a magazine or newspaper, but it will also be easier to use– no flipping pages! In 2010, magazine layout will become very huge for blogs in particular.

Main Idea: Magazine layouts will be used for infotainment sites.

About the Author

Go MediaJacqueline is an artist and a writer who spends an inordinate amount of time playing Super Nintendo and watching Star Trek. You can find out more about Jacqueline on her website, and follow her updates on Twitter.

Social Media. It’s Time for Ad Agencies to Be Creative

By: Michael Gass (FUEL LINES)

www.fuelingnewbusiness.com

As ad agencies, we don’t need to apply old media applications to the most exciting new medium to emerge in decades. The real opportunity is for us to do something as new as the medium itself. The art isn’t in what social media does, it’s in what we do with it. What will it be? 

I was recently introduced to Edward Boches through Twitter. He sent me a nice complimentary message which mentioned that he was with the Mullen agency.

I had gone up against Mullen on a number of occasions for new business pitches so I checked out his Twitter profile. I was impressed to learn Edward is the Chief Creative Officer for Mullen (There aren’t a lot of agency creative directors that I’m aware of who understand or participate in social media).

From his profile I discovered the link to his blog “creativity_unbound.” Reading through his posts I was very impressed by his understanding and passion for social media. Then I came across a post that he had written, “Twitter. It’s time for brands and agencies to get more inventive.”  

My first impression after reading his post. Here is a creative director who get’s it. Who not only has a good understanding of Twitter but also social media.  Edward realizes that brands and agencies have been slow to get on the bandwagon but I get a sense of his excitement knowing what is going to happen when more agencies “get it” and we allow our creative juices to flow for how social media can be used

A few excerpts from Edwards post:

While there are plenty of brands already using Twitter – GM, Comcast, JetBlue, Dell, and Starbucksto name a few– many of them are simply applying old media applications to one of the most exciting new mediums to emerge in decades.”

“Sure you can do all the things you did in other media on Twitter … the real opportunity is to do something as new as the medium itself.”

“Nearly 2500 brands have taken the initiative to tweet and connect. But as with any technology the art isn’t in what Twitter does, it’s in what you do with it. What will it be?”

My second impression. I’m not sure Edward knows how brilliant his post is from a new business perspective. Hopefully you’ll “get it” when you read it. Let’s just say if I were LowesBarnes and Noble or UnderArmor I would make contact with Edward ASAP!

If they are social savvy they would be monitoring what is being said about their brands, have already read his post and made contact.

40 Ways to Take Your Ad Agency’s Blog to the Next Level

By: Michael Gass

 

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As important as it was for your ad agency to have a website, it is now equally important that your agency have a blog. A blog is the gateway to your agency.

Many agencies have a blog to be able to say, “yes, we have an agency blog.” But their blog’s content  is all over the place. No focus, no target, no purpose and therefore no traffic.

Here are 40 ways to help take your agency’s blog to the next level:

  1. Make your target audience crystal clear. 
  2. Build a community that keeps coming back for helpful, relevant content.
  3. Consistently deliver original content.
  4. Be personal and conversational in your tone. This isn’t an academic exercise.
  5. Post consistently but don’t post just to post. Make sure your material is worth the read.
  6. Asks questions, enlist feedback. You’ll build a loyal audience if they can contribute.
  7. Get your own unique URL. This is critical if you are on a site such as WordPress.com, Typepad or Blogger and you decided to change platforms.
  8. Have a clean layout that highlights your content, not a bunch of sidebar widgets.
  9. Highlight your best posts based upon your blog’s analytics, with a Best Of or Most Popular Posts page.
  10. Have a “cornerstone” post that is a summation of your blogs purpose, your point of differentiation, your stake in the sand.
  11. Start out with WordPress.com, an easy platform to upgrade from without dependency upon someone from your IT department and allows you to concentrate on the most important part of your blog, the writing.
  12. Dominate a few key words that your target audience will most likely use to find you. 
  13. Your blog’s design and layout should be configured for SEO.
  14. Get in the habit of checking your blogs analytics frequently. Keep it simple, but know at least daily the number of unique visitors, page views, top posts, how people got to your blog, search terms and incoming links. 
  15. Provide links to and from your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
  16. Include your blog address on your business cards as well as your email signature. 
  17. Allow your blog to become the “gateway” to your agency.
  18. Become the face of your agency. We are in a relationship business. Your blog should be your central platform for online engagement with your prospective client audience. People want to work with people they know, like and trust.
  19. You don’t have to be naked but be transparent. 
  20. Repurpose your blogs content using Twitter and Twitter tools such as Tweetlater.
  21. At the bottom of a post provide “Additional articles that may be of interest” and have a bullet pointed list of relevant articles as a convenience to your audience.
  22. State the purpose of your blog in the header. Don’t force people to have to dig to find out what your blog is about because most often times they wont!
  23. Don’t sell! The moment you start to sell on your blog is when you will most likely lose your audience.
  24. Show that you have a genuine compassion for your audience and a willingness to help with their marketing challenges and obstacles by “giving away your thinking.” 
  25. Always lead with “the nugget, the takeaway” of the post. Use an inverted pyramid newspaper style of writing.
  26. Identify who your audience is in your post titles. This is especially helpful when you repurpose your content on Twitter and an important part of SEO for your blog.
  27. Always take the time to link when writing about another person, company post or website. 
  28. People reading differently online so write for “scan-ability.” 
  29. Have a disciplined, organized, strategic approach to your online reading by using an RSS Reader. I recommend using Google Reader. Stay committed to it until you get through the awkward stage.
  30. If you are using WordPress.com, in the Tool Section of your Dashboard add “PressThis” button to your browser bar. It will simplify adding new material to a draft that you can later turn into a posts.
  31. If you are referencing resource material that isn’t specific to your target audience, in your intro paragraph “bridge the gap” so that they understand how it is relevant to them.
  32. Take time to develop your post titles. Great titles will generate traffic.
  33. Mix up your blog with occasional videos, podcast interviews, write something more personal that your audience might not know about you.
  34. Include search tool at the top of your blogs side bar to make it easier for your audience to find content.
  35. Be sure and list your blog site on Google, Yahoo and Technorati.
  36. Include your blog feed in your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
  37. Make it easy for people to contact you. 
  38. Encourage dialogue, feedback and engage your with audience. Allow for differing points of view. Remember to, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
  39. Comment on the well known blogs that your prospective audience are reading. This will help generate interests and traffic back to your blog.
  40. Make sure your blog’s URL is on all of your other social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 

Contemporary Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

By: Hasan Shirazi

Technology has blessed small businesses to market themselves online in very effective manner through social networking to blogs to search engine optimization and plenty of new and useful marketing tactics.

Most probably these new ways to market small business online will not be effective for every business but if you know the options available to you it can help putting your business on the fast track to achieve success through online marketing.

So here are the three most expeditious and intense ways to market your small business online:


Marketing Maneuver #1: Usage of Blog

Chum relationship with customers is the key to success for small businesses. The matter of fact is that the personal element is what makes a small business work better than a big business. This gives competitive advantage to small businesses by adding value to a product or service that big businesses cannot do. A blogs is the most effective way of identifying and getting connected with the potential customers for a small business owner. Blog writing and commenting on other blogs helps you in creating clients rather than the customers. One lifetime client is worthy than ten customers.

Marketing Maneuver #2: Usage of Social Media

Internet provides numerous ways of getting connected with other people all over the globe. People get connected with each other through chat rooms, forums and other social networking mediums. New tools of social media such as Twitter took this marketing approach to a new level, where it has given an immense contingency to market small business online. It gives you an opportunity of connecting with people where as blogging helps you in making that connection personal. It was not possible to get connected with your clients by using traditional marketing techniques, thanks to social media!
 
Marketing Maneuver #3: Usage of Search Engine

The most common way of marketing your small business online is creating and populating your blog or a web site with a good content on it so as one types in the keyword your site appears in the search engine results. However, search engine marketing combines few tactics and rely on natural (organic) or (white hat) techniques to market your site. Now a day search engine’s algorithm is entirely different of what it was five years ago. An entire new audience could be brought by mastering in the latest search engine marketing techniques.


Small businesses could be marketed online with many more ways but some degree of success could be found by using these three maneuvers.

Speaking Brand Language, Telling Your Brand Story

Written by Dan Stiff 

Everyone has a Brand story. The question is, who is telling it? You, or the competition? Told well, your Brand story will not only leverage your presence in the marketplace, but it will become the one great differentiator for your company.

Let’s shatter a myth: Brand does not belong to Marketing. In fact, when leveraged well, Brand is a powerful tool that can be used by Sales to boost your company’s performance and profits.

As an sales professional, you need to get comfortable with the success stories of your Brand in the marketplace, and make those stories part of your company’s selling arsenal. By articulating your Brand story, you will convey your company’s impenetrable advantages, engage the customer, and differentiate your products and services from those of competitors.

You should be able to tell your Brand story in thirty seconds. A good way to start thinking along this vein is to ask yourself  these questions:
•    Am I adequately meeting the needs of a buyer who is now more than ever interested in looking at the attributes of Brand in considering products?
•    Am I typically emphasizing concepts that relate to Brand in my presentation to the buyer?
•    Do I even have the words in my vocabulary to express the importance of Brands?

Don’t be surprised if the answer to all three is no. Brand is the crown jewel of the company, yet for too long it’s been considered the property of Marketing. A great Brand story in your hands will give you more focus in your profession, boost performance at work, and improve your customer relationships.

Creating Your Brand Story
Your Brand is made up of the collective experiences of the customers who engage it and the people like you who represent it every day. If it’s your story, you need to make it your story, by being engaged with it and by engaging the customer.

This will not happen overnight. You will need to practice it and, most important, live it. First, though, you need to start crafting a Brand story. Start by answering these questions:
•    What is the history of your Brand?
•    What is the language of your Brand? That is, what are the compelling and emotional words that represent your Brand well?
•    What has been the impact of your Brand on you, your buyers, or the marketplace? If the Brand is new, a better question is: What impact do you believe the Brand is destined to have on the marketplace?

Finding Your Brand Language
How do you start speaking Brand language? Start by becoming a student of your Brand. Learn from your customers how they perceive the Brand and what words they would attach to it. Ask questions of your buyers that help build your Brand language—questions that can get at the customer’s perception of your Brand. These questions can be utilized one-on-one or in a group setting, such as an end-user panel, market research, customer forum, or customer feedback surveys. Your end users are closest to the product and have a keen sense of what the Brand means to them. They can articulate it.

Here are some questions that will help you collect Brand language:
•    Why do you buy from us?
•    What does our product or service do for you that no one else can duplicate?
•    What is your impression of our Brand? How does it improve your lifestyle?
•    How do we build trust and credibility with you as a customer?
•    If our company went away tomorrow, what would be missing in the marketplace?
•    If you have Brand loyalty to us, describe why.
•    If you have Brand loyalty to a competitor, describe why.
•    What are we distinctively known for in the marketplace?
•    What blockbuster product or service was a breakthrough for us in the last five to ten years? Why?
•    If you could tell our CEO one thing about how to improve our personal connection with you the buyer, what would it be?

Turning Your Salespeople into Brand Ambassadors
Studies have shown that the salesperson is the most vital link to the customer. A survey by Prophet Company, management consultants based in San Francisco, found that companies “ranked the sales force as their most effective Brand-building tool, ahead of traditional tools such as advertising and marketing.”

In truth, most companies spend the largest portion of their annual budget not on advertising, but rather on the investment they make in their salespeople. If that is the case for you, then make a concerted effort to build each salesperson into a Brand Ambassador who will become a “walking billboard for the Brand.” The study went on to say that “what drives customer perceptions during the purchase cycle is traditionally managed by other parts of the company, outside of marketing.” Salespeople are key to driving customer perceptions of your Brand.

Salespeople need to tell a Brand story that is rich and has history, using Brand language that is evocative and memorable. A great Brand story will knit you and your customers together as people with similar experiences and similar heritage—just like a family. If your customers only knew this story, they would understand how your company thinks, who you are, and why it makes sense to do business with you. 

Once you have created a Brand story and language that reflects it, get it to the lips of all of your salespeople. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

ADVERTISING vs PUBLIC RELATIONS

ARTCLE:  By Apryl Duncan, About.com

Looking to enter the world of public relations? Get ready to shatter some popular myths.

Many people (maybe even your boss) don’t know the difference between advertising and PR.

In advertising, you can use a lot of over the edge techniques. But PR requires a little more restraint.

Think of advertising as your brother. He’s a party animal and everyone thinks he’s cool.

On the other hand, you’re more refined. You don’t stay out late and hardly ever deviate from the norm.

Part of the problem is that advertisements can pretty much say what they want. The company is paying for the ad space.

As a PR professional, your job is to get free publicity. You’re responsible for getting the company’s name out there with no hype, just news.

The challenge is clear but once you take the field, you’re ready to tackle an exciting career in PR. And you won’t be bored either.

You’ll be writing press releases, organizing news conferences and producing company newsletters. You’ll even be a liaison between the media and your company.

PR doesn’t stop there. There’s a whole list of functions you’ll be taking on, such as: public speaking, being interviewed on radio/TV, attending conferences, exhibitions and trade shows, arranging press launches, organizing opening days or visits to the plant and premises, coordinating studio and location photography and acting as the client’s spokesperson.

As you can see, you have to be a jack-of-all trades. So make sure you are suited for PR.

You need to be a sponge. Make the most of your time and on-the-job training. Listen, observe and learn everything you can.

Be a grasshopper. You’ll be handling several different projects at once so you have to be multi-task oriented. You have to give each project 100 percent of your attention without neglecting the other projects.

Show your colors. Be a chameleon. You better like people. You’ll be dealing with them a lot. And you have to adapt to any situation and be open-minded at all times.

Learn how to dance. No, not literally. You must have energy and stamina. There will be many nights you’re rundown and burning the midnight oil but you’ll still have to keep that smile on your face.

Long live the king! You’re the court jester. Nobody’s calling you a fool, but you’ll be the one generating ideas so be prepared to advise the king.

You don’t need all of these traits but a little bit of each will be helpful. Once you organize your first press conference or speak to a TV reporter about your new product, you’ll know you made the right decision when you entered PR.

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Found across the web – by Jacob Cass: