Oct
31
2008
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Tips For Achieving The Right Hierarchy

I recently saw an AARP publication sitting on my 78-year old mother’s coffee table and was estatic to see designers successfully using large fonts without compromising good design. I believe it’s all about having the right hierarchy of font sizes, which can be achieved by following these four techniques:

  1. Choose your primary typefaces wisely.
    Select a legible type family with enough weights to give you options.
  2. Use a contrasting typeface.
    If your primary typeface is a serif design, choose a contrasting sans serif font to help prioritize information. Don’t select more than two families though. When you have more, you run the risk of making your design too busy.
  3. Vary your font sizes.
    Changing the point size will draw attention, but be sure to make it noticeable. A one-point change won’t create enough contrast. Instead, try two points or more.
  4. Vary the weights.
    Adjusting the weight is a great way to draw attention, especially with lead-in type.

Michelle Ducayet | Creative Director | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Design Insights |
Oct
30
2008
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Animated Logos | The Next Trend

Have you noticed that interactive design has become an essential component in corporate communication? I have and believe the days of 1- or 2-color logos are no more. There is enormous opportunity for companies to bring static one-dimensional logos to life with animation. Just think of the endless possibilities, such as websites, Power Point presentations, banner ads, etc.

Take a look at the one we did for The Arthritis Foundation. Cool, huh?

lets_move_together

Michelle Ducayet | Creative Director | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Design Insights |
Oct
29
2008
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My Advice To Young Designers

Last month, I was a panelist for the Atlanta AIGA’s “Moving On Up” seminar, where seasoned design pros gave advice to young designers who were transitioning from school to their first job. We talked about the importance of setting career goals, what kind of job can meet those career goals, how to transform their portfolios from a student book to a professional book, and how to interview as a professional. I really enjoyed this experience, so when I saw even more advice on a blog I read, I knew I wanted to share them.

Here are some of my favorite tips:

  1. Don’t take constructive criticism personally
  2. Know Paula Scher, Milton Glaser, Paul Rand and friends
  3. Stay up on current events and design news
  4. Don’t use poorly designed fonts from free font sites
  5. Avoid the Comic Sans font
  6. Don’t use too many different fonts in one design
  7. Don’t always rely on your computer, especially for kerning (stepping back and taking a look is always good idea)
  8. Stop using Photoshop filters after your first 6 months
  9. Learn those keyboard shortcuts (you will become the go-to designer)
  10. Save frequently (I can’t count all the times I lost a great design because I forgot to save)
  11. Get more sleep and stop drinking so much Red Bull!

For the full list of tips, click here.

Michelle Ducayet | Creative Director | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Off The Grid |
Oct
29
2008
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Packaging Trends

As we do more and more packaging assignments, we’re having to stay on top of the trends. What’s below are 9 of the hottest trends we’ve seen emerge this year.

Keeping it simple.
Simplicity in design implies elegance. This approach avoids gratuitous embellishment in favor of focusing on conveying key ideas. And I’ve seen many big brands adopt this trend, effectively selling everything from food to electronics. In fact, Soloflight just used this approach for a high-end cosmetics line we recently helped launch.

Looking back in time.
By leveraging elements from the past, you can create a feeling and speak to a prospective buyer’s emotional past. This trend isn’t exactly retro though. Instead of a complete use of old designs, we’re seeing brands pick up certain elements (type, colors, etc.) and use them to create a more contemporary look for today’s customer.

Showing the product in use.
For years, advertising has been showing customers enjoying a product. But this is something packaging is just now starting to do, whether it’s literally with photos or figuratively with illustrations. The intent of this approach is to give prospective buyers something to aspire to, helping them feel a bit closer to achieving the lifestyle they want. Which is something we tried to achieve with our recent FlatWire packaging.

Making it look handmade.
Handmade products are viewed as special and people are certainly willing to pay more for them. Even if a product is mass produced, having packaging that appears handmade adds a certain cache and allows a premium to be charged. It’s important, however, for consumer to feel a level of genuineness. From hand-drawn art to tactile elements, the packaging needs to look like it was made just for them.

Showing not telling.
Too often packaging works too hard to sell and just ends up confusing the consumer. You don’t need copy for every single feature and benefit. Instead, employ eye-catching photography that clearly conveys what’s being sold and, if possible, what the benefit is. When the latter isn’t possible, let the copy convey the key benefit…just remember to keep the messaging brief.

Being bold.
Pop Art inspired this next trend, which favors a bold look that presents itself uniquely on the shelf. Fonts are chunky, colors are typically bright and geometric shapes are often used. While simplicity in packaging is on the rise, a bold approach can be especially useful for product categories where shelves are cluttered with too many competing SKUs.

Adding a bit of whimsy.
When a brand has personality, it’s engaging, captivating and fun for the consumer. Capitalizing on that, more and more companies are incorporating lighthearted visuals and copy into their packaging. Which is exactly what we did for Pressto! custom cookbooks. By bringing an element of entertainment to the product, consumers are given a reason to connect with it beyond its benefits. Whimsical touches are also a great way to keep simple from becoming boring.

Telling a story.
Conveying the origins of a product gives it more credibility. In fact, this can be very powerful in establishing a relationship. The storytelling trend has grown from using snippets of stories on the backs of packaging to printing these tales on the front of the package. Narrative copy, when well done, can be engaging enough to slow consumers down and emotionally involve them. And once that connection is made, products can become irresistible.

9. Going green.
As consumer commitment to the environment grows, so has companies’ commitment to creating packaging that’s more eco-friendly. Visually, the green trend manifests itself in a variety of ways, from incorporating obviously earthy materials to choosing simple containers that use less materials. Shipping methods and recyclability are also important concerns. Above all, embracing the green trend is all about being honest and truthful regarding your motives, so if you’re not ready to fully commit to being green, wait until you can.

Michelle Ducayet | Creative Director | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Design Insights |
Oct
29
2008
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The Dos & Don’ts of Custom Publishing

Soloflight started as a custom publications firm and we still produce quite a few of these magazines for our customers. So why should you consider one? Cost is one key motivator.

Emily Curtin, director of loyalty programs for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, says it’s much more cost effective to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and find a new customer. She views custom publications as a great way to go above and beyond to build the brand and drive sales.

Custom publications also have a high perceived value with customers as well. A study conducted by Roper Public Affairs found that 85% of all consumers said that they would rather get information through an interesting collection of articles than through an ad. And 75% feel that custom publications show a company’s interest in building good relationships with them.

But before you commit to a custom publication, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts, as recommended by the Custom Publishing Council:

  • Do measure ROI. Understand the metrics for success at the start of the project.
  • Do remember that content is king. Creativity is not only rewarded, it’s rewarding. Figure out what differentiates you from the competition and put it out there.
  • Do identify the target. Conduct research to understand what information the audience wants.
  • Do put the content to work. Much of the work that goes into developing content can do double duty in other parts of the program—trade shows, trade magazines, sales literature, websites, etc.
  • Don’t blow the deadline. Custom works when it’s frequent and consistent. Creating a custom publication is a promise to your customers. If you can’t keep to your communication schedule, what does that say about your brand?
  • Don’t assume it’s all about print. It’s all about creating dialogue and content that specifically targets your preferred/high-value audience or market segment. Custom content vehicles can also include custom events, e-newsletters, websites and interactive CDs.
  • Don’t miss an opportunity. This is all about building customer relationships. Involve your customers in some positive action, which occurs as a direct result of reading your magazine.
  • Don’t change direction midstream. This is the surest way to blow the budget and the schedule. Have a plan and stick to it.
  • Don’t take the short view. Don’t start a custom magazine or other initiative unless you are committed to it for the long term.
Renee Solomon | Principal & Chief Creative Officer | Soloflight Design
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Written by soloflight in: Custom Content |
Oct
29
2008
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Connecting With Your Brand

Recently I read an article about branding that I thought raised an interesting point. It asked marketing managers to answer the following question:

Do you have a brand, or do you just have a popular product?

A brand, of course, represents an attitude or personality and can therefore be extended beyond its original product. A popular product is, well, just that. It’s obviously something that people need, but most likely not something people connect with.

For instance, a $399 Acer laptop is the #1 selling laptop on Amazon.com as I write this. But you’ve probably never seen someone put an Acer sticker on their car. I have, however, seen a fair amount of cars with Apple stickers on them.

So let’s say you do have a brand. How can you remain true to it? Well, for starters, it’s important to revisit your brand from time to time. After all, every initiative your business undertakes either supports your brand’s strength or weakens it. And since you’ll obviously want to increase your brand value over the long term, here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself.

Brand Promise

  • What is your brand promise (value proposition)?
  • What differentiates your offering from competitor’s products and services?
  • How do you provide customers with superior value?

Brand Attributes

  • What words do you associate with your brand?
  • What would your brand be if it were an automobile, celebrity or animal?
  • What does your brand stand for?
  • What benefits does your brand offer customers?

Brand Positioning

  • Who are the brand’s current customers? Will your future customers differ? If so, how?
  • How do your customers interact with your brand?
  • Who are your target customers and why?
  • What’s your company’s vision?
  • What’s your company’s key competitive edge?
  • How’s the public perception of your brand? Is it relevant?
  • How do employees view your company and brand?
  • How would you like to see your company perceived?
  • What are your brand’s strengths and weaknesses (internally and externally)?
  • How do you offer maximum value to your customers?
  • How is your brand positioned in the prospect’s mind when compared to competitors?
  • What are the brands your brand competes with? How do you view them?

Brand Equity

Can you assess how your brand is doing in each of these brand equity areas?

  • Perceived Quality
  • Name Awareness
  • Brand Associations
  • Brand Loyalty

Once you’ve taken the time to answer these questions, you might be surprised with by difference between the reality of your brand and your perception of it. Sometimes, companies have moved beyond their brand. And in other cases, they’re falling short of it. If you find either of these situations to be the case, we should talk about what it’ll take to get your brand re-aligned.

Renee Solomon | Principal & Chief Creative Officer | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Marketing Perspective |
Oct
29
2008
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Great Quote

“Brands are like bank accounts—either you’re making deposits or making withdrawals.”

– Christie Hefner in Octane Magazine

Renee Solomon | Principal & Chief Creative Officer | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Marketing Perspective |
Oct
28
2008
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What Every Marketer Should Know

Ever heard of Seth Godin before? He’s the best-selling author of marketing books like “Permission Marketing” and “Meatball Sundae.” I’ve heard him speak before and think what he has to say is pretty interesting. So when I ran across his 10 tips every marketer should know, I thought I’d share them.

  1. A product for everyone rarely reaches anyone.
  2. Cheaper is the last refuge of the person who’s not a very good marketer. It’s a short-term hit, not a long-term advantage. Low price is a great way to sell a commodity. That’s not marketing, though, that’s efficiency.
  3. Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, it’s the typesetting on your bills and it’s your returns policy.
  4. If you’re marketing from a fairly static annual budget, you’re viewing marketing as an expense. Good marketers realize that it’s an investment.
  5. Advertising is a tactic. Marketing is about far more than that.
  6. Good marketers tell a story. Effective stories match the worldview of the people you are telling the story to. Living and breathing an authentic story is the best way to survive in a conversation-rich world. Reminding the consumer of a story they know and trust is a powerful shortcut.
  7. Conversations among the people in your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.
  8. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want. What people want is the extra, emotional bonus they get when they buy something they love.
  9. Business-to-business marketing is just marketing to consumers who happen to have a corporation to pay for what they buy.
  10. Marketing is not an emergency. Marketing begins before the product is created. It’s a planned, thoughtful exercise that started a long time ago and doesn’t end until you’re done.

While I think some will get more out of this list than others, I feel #6 is universal. Whether you’re launching a new product or managing a custom publication, telling the right story is crucial. Engagement through storytelling is always something I’ve put an emphasis on, and we’re starting to see clients buy into it more and more. But that’s a topic for another time.

Renee Solomon | Principal & Chief Creative Officer | Soloflight Design

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Written by soloflight in: Marketing Perspective |

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