Thrive Over Time by Making Self-Care a Priority

One day, a hare was making fun of the tortoise for being so slow.

“Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.

“Yes,” replied the tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race to prove it.”

With great amusement, the hare agreed. The hare took off like a shot and was soon out of sight. Meanwhile, the tortoise plugged away diligently. Soon, the hare grew distracted with the race and lay down for a nap. While he slept, the tortoise slowly passed him and plodded on. The hare woke with a start and ran swiftly to the finish line, but he could not overtake the tortoise in time.

The moral of the story? “Plain plodding people, we often shall find, will leave hasty confident people behind.”

The Strain of 2020

The nature of many people is to go fast and hard for as long as possible.

But this approach to life can (quite literally!) be a killer. As Aesop’s fable reminds us, enduring over the long haul brings fruitful, sometimes unexpected results. But approaching life as a distance race takes intentional self-care, often a busy person’s lowest priority.

The time to change this trend couldn’t be more important. Gallup recently found that 2020 was officially the most stressful year in recent history, with a record-high 40% of adults worldwide saying they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. This five-percentage-point jump from 2019 represents 190 million more people globally who experienced a lot of stress. Over 75% of U.S. adults report physical or emotional stress symptoms (such as headaches, tiredness, and changed sleeping patterns). And work-related stress costs $190 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs!

Where Stress Meets Rest

Do you need to make time for “me” time?

Initially, this involves focused thought to define what you need. Do you desire more quality relationships? Better sleep? More time for worship or outdoor exercise? Perhaps music or meaningful hobbies need more space in your life.

Next, you must consciously push back on stressors and make time for self-care. Here are some practical examples:

— Combine a workout and soul-care by setting up regular walks with a friend

— Set a “get ready for bed alarm” to remind yourself sleep is a priority

— Book tangible times for prayer, family, and stillness

— Plan “paper plate days” or easy “mental health” meals to grab a break from kitchen duty

— Detox frequently in the tub or sauna

— Block one day each month to plan and reflect on your personal life and calendar

— Next time you go out with friends, plan an experience (like a cooking class) to give yourself a shot of creativity and growth

The Blessing of Boundaries

One of the best ways to fight stress is to say NO.

Set boundaries on your time, on overspending, and even your commitments at work. If you continually receive last-minute work orders from co-workers and clients, outline your expectations for better communication. Re-negotiate deadlines when unforeseen circumstances make Plan A seem impossible. And when people make requests that set off an internal alarm signal, ask for time to think about the situation before responding. This can give you the wisdom to say no, rearrange your schedule, or possibly find a more workable solution.

Remember, every time you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else. Refuse to cheat on the things that matter most! Your health, your relationships, and your joy are things you should fight to protect; they’ll help you triumph against all odds.

Slow and steady wins the race!

Add Order and Finesse with Versatile Binding Solutions

Your home wouldn’t be complete without the paint, and print projects also come alive when you add beautiful finishes.

Binding is a necessary step for compiling multi-page documents, and you have many options to work with. Here is a quick reference guide of several formats that might be a good fit for your project.

Case Binding

Case binding attaches a hardboard book cover to a bound set of pages.

Case binding is timeless, classy, and typically requires around 60 pages (approximately 1/8 inch) of content. Since the hardcover makes the binding so sturdy, case binding is ideal for documents that will be handled frequently and need to hold up over time. While this method offers immense durability, it is usually the most time-consuming and expensive process.

In case binding, using an adhesively bound – or hinged – cover with a flexible joint can allow your book to open without breaking the spine. (Hinged covers are scored 1/8 inch from the spine, so books can open more easily.) 

Coil Binding

Coil binding uses a piece of spiraled plastic or wire (looped through a series of punched holes) to hold the finished book together.

Also called spiral binding, this format allows a book to be laid flat when opened or even folded over onto itself. This is a wonderful binding option for reports, instruction manuals, cookbooks, calendars, and other items that need both flexibility and the ability to stay open. Spiraled binding comes in over 60 different colors that can be matched to your cover art or brand colors, so the project really pops.

Alternatives include wire-o binding (which uses a double set of wire loops instead of a single spiral) or even several gorgeous fabric options, like those used in Japanese ribbon binding.

Perfect Binding

Perfect binds secure papers together at the spine using glue that attaches them to a wraparound cover.

This is the preferred binding method for most paperback books because perfect binding is a lightweight, cost-effective option for large volume booklets. A variation is lay-flat binding, which allows publications to open completely flat across a centerfold, so images can run across both halves of the spread with minimal disruption.

Plastic Comb Binding

Plastic comb binding is the most common of the punch and bind styles.

Comb-bound documents are cost-efficient and easy to edit and can be reused as many times as you need. Combs come in many different colors and are capable of binding even very thick documents. And they can be customized! Add your document title, company name, or quick reference handle to the comb spine to make your binding more professional.

If resilience is a priority, remember the teeth of a plastic comb tend to break over time.

Post Binding

This mechanical binding process inserts metal or plastic posts through punched or drilled holes in pages to hold them together.

One advantage of post binding is it allows pages to be added (and the post extended) as the size of a publication increases. And the screws or spikes used bring a sleek, polished feel to your piece. 

An alternative to post binding is Velo binding, which applies heat to two plastic binding strips, so the spine cannot be opened and re-closed without a Velobind machine. Velo binding cannot be tampered with or easily photocopied, so this is an excellent option for sensitive legal or financial documents.

Binding methods vary and can be uniquely tailored to the design specifications of your project. Add order and finesse with this beautiful finishing touch.

Volume Control: Striking the Right Balance in Your Customer Communication

“Trust is earned in drops but lost by the bucketful.”

(Security and privacy expert Fatemeh Khatibloo, Forester Research)

Do you want to be a consumer-first marketer?

You need to earn people’s trust – and to keep it. When you do this well, it creates a series of encouraging relationships that translate to profits and sustainability. But violations of trust can sabotage your business.

When it comes to marketing, brands tend to believe more is better. If customers have started a relationship with you, it seems obvious that more texts, print ads, or emails will entice them to spend more. But no one wants to be known as a target. Over-marketing puts your company at risk because it expends your goodwill.

Marketing begins by establishing a relationship between brands and consumers. But over-marketing kills that relationship. The Social Break-up study provided clear evidence of this phenomenon. Did you know:

  • 91% of consumers have unsubscribed from permission-based marketing emails
  • 81% of consumers have either “unliked” or removed a company’s posts from their Facebook news feeds
  • 63% of followers have “unliked” a company on Facebook due to excessive posting
  • 54% of customers said they unsubscribed from a list when a brand’s emails came too frequently

When you overcommunicate to customers, eventually, you’ll find you must put out greater effort only to receive less dynamic results. Before you hammer people with content you must calculate the long-term cost of the messages you send.

Allow Customers to Manage the Cadance and the Channel

Are you over-marketing?

There is a fine line between “just enough” and “too much,” and your customers may vary on what they appreciate. To find the right balance, you may want to allow clients to control the content flow of your marketing spigot.

Preference centers are customer-controlled portals that invite users to select the types of messages they would like to receive and the preferred times. A tech publication, for example, might provide options for newsletters about business tech, consumer tech, product reviews, and new gear launches. Papa John’s pizza divides its preference center into sections centered around food preferences, delivery options, payment types, and marketing preferences.

Empathetic brands work to delineate preferences across three dimensions: communications channel, content type, and desired frequency. Some people may prefer weekly text messages, while others request a monthly print newsletter.

Here are three ways to hone preference strategies for each dimension:

Ask your customers

Streamline systems that directly allow clients to share the style, frequency, and mode of communication they prefer.

Follow your brand from an outsider’s perspective

Want a crash course in communication optics? Opt-in to your own promotions and put yourself in a prospect’s shoes to observe where authentic and helpful morphs into overselling and chaos.

Streamline your processes

If you have multiple sectors in your business posting emails, Tweets, and ads, things quickly become chaotic. Set some boundaries or place one person in an oversight position to avoid over-promoting.

Treat permission to market as a gift

While most people have favorite brands they’d love to see more of, for most companies the best approach is “less is more.”

And messages tailored to a client’s specific needs or pain points are certainly more relevant and welcome than generic mass marketing. Treat permission to market as a gift, and allow people to have a say in when and how they would receive from you – no strings attached.

Respectful empathy positions marketers to act less like piranhas and more like friends.

Tweaking Your Business Plan After the Year of the Curveball

Every curveball starts as a fastball – until it dives out of range as it approaches the plate.

The story of the curveball started in 1863 when two friends were throwing seashells on a beach in Brooklyn. Young pitcher William Cummings noticed shells curving in the air and wondered, “what if I could make a baseball move like that?”

After modifying his grip and adjusting his throwing motion for four years, Cummings rose to prominence as a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Excelsiors. It was time to unveil the secret weapon. At age 18, Cummings was pitching against hard-hitting Archibald Bush, and he later admitted he was afraid of Bush’s “prowess with the bat.” Cummings unleashed the curve, and Bush was foiled:

“When he struck at the ball, it seemed to go about a foot beyond the end of his stick,” said Cummings. “I tried again with the same result, and then I realized that I had succeeded at last.”

3 Ways to Reset After a Tumultuous Season

It can be fun to throw curveballs but difficult to receive them.

The year 2020 threw businesses of all sizes a tough curve. Many firms shut doors, released team members, or dipped into emergency funds to make ends meet. Business plans are a crucial part of any normal season, but revising them this year is especially pertinent.

How will you pivot in response to the wild circumstances of 2020? Here are some starting points to consider.

1. Take Stock of Key Changes

Nimble, proactive entrepreneurs respond to change by embracing it.

Take note of what has changed, and be crystal clear about what that means for your business. Have your capacity restrictions or hours shifted? Have legal regulations altered what you can or cannot do? This year may be a perfect time to do an in-depth SWOT analysis, analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

From technology and staffing to new products or team members, clarify how your business has changed or where you need to adapt.

2. Form and Execute Contingency Plans

Do you have a plan B that can be implemented when your business experiences a major disruption?

Outline risk-related scenarios and chart precise strategies to get things back on track. Contingency plans should include:

–Essential operations your business needs to run successfully, including contact information for key partners, suppliers, investors, etc.

–A rundown of possible threats or disruptive events and step-by-step procedures for how to work around each scenario

–Options for aggressive financial restrictions to increase cash flow or savings

–Risk-mitigation steps to help reduce the likelihood of worst-case scenarios

–A communication plan for alerting customers, employees, and other stakeholders of the problem

3. Develop Your 2021 Marketing Plan

While COVID-19 brought many challenges, it has created several new opportunities.

As you develop a new marketing plan, take stock of your chief competitors and your target customers. Reposition your business with the right message, the right media, and the right pricing for your target demographic.

For some firms, this could mean focusing on a core subset of customers to reduce general costs while ramping up revenue in a specific sector. For others, it could mean expanding target regions to compensate for lost foot traffic or in-store sales. Whether it’s widening your audience or narrowing your focus, amp up your marketing and aim confidently for that next pitch.

Perhaps this inning will be your best!

Use Every Inch for Impact with Creative Custom Envelopes

Do you want to grab attention or showcase your brand? First impressions are vital!

When it comes to reaching your clients and prospects, envelopes are the unsung hero. Envelopes act as a silent messenger, building a very personal bridge between your company and its core customers. Great packaging can enhance emotional engagement and increase response rates, and envelopes are an easy place to start.

Direct mail stats show the value of a well-designed envelope. While response rates for email or social media advertising are typically less than one percent, direct mail generates a rate closer to 4.5%. And oversized envelopes are the most productive, with a response rate around 5%, generating a whopping 37% return on investment!

While not all mail is opened, 100% of recipients will interact with your envelope. Want to put your printed real estate to work? Here are some clever ways to add panache to your envelopes:

Craft A Monogram to Match Your Return Label

Like a royal signature, monograms use two or more letters to form one symbol.

Monograms can be used as a logo itself (like the overlay of the letters “NY” to form the New York Yankees icon, or the blended letters “VW” to form the classic Volkswagen symbol). But monograms can also be used in addition to a logo, and look great as a design motif next to the return address section.

The return address is one of the first places a reader will look, so why not spruce up this corner with a graphic or a monogram motif?

Add Color with Back Panel Art

Want to send a memorable message?

Add depth and dimension with back panel art. There are so many fun ways to do this. Try full-color accents to the top triangle, write your slogan in script text across the bottom, add custom stickers as fasteners, or design your logo into the closing flap (so it looks like a wax seal).

Creative envelopes are very pleasing to the eye, so take your back panel to the next level with full-color photos, playful text art, or contemporary custom labels.

Create Mirror Images in Opposite Corners

When you want to think outside the box, don’t limit your signature to the return address section.

Instead, create a mirrored design between the top left and the bottom right corners. A brand named “Matrix” may have this name in small script font next to their return address but add a larger script “M” bleeding off the bottom right corner of the envelope. A skyscraper logo may be printed as a thumbnail in the top left corner but as a larger symmetrical reprint in the bottom right quadrant.

Try Teaser Text

When you want to entice first-time prospects, consider teaser text phrases on one or both sides of the envelope.

Teaser text should compel readers to open your envelope by promising something of value like, “Receive a Free Map Set,” “Your Recipe Booklet Enclosed,” “Just for You,” or “Your Exclusive Offer of ____ is Here!”

Nonprofit organizations use teaser text to invite prospects to be part of a greater vision. For example: “A Lasting Legacy: Connecting People to Nature Since 1920,” or “She survived war. She needs YOU to survive COVID-19.”

When you want to add impact to your marketing, the envelope is a simple place to start. Amplify your image and add confidence to your communication today!

Use Words to Shape Your Designs with Three Distinct Tools

Words and messages are communicated in so many ways – through vocabulary selection, images, tone or personality, and even through design.

The raw material that words represent is more than just semantics, and graphic artists have many options for exploring the power and symbolism of unique words in design.

Here are three ways you can weave words into the visual elements of your design.

The Word Pun

Word puns present a play on words using alternative meanings of words (and word sounds) to form new meanings.

What does this look like in design? Here are several ideas:

— A seafood café restaurant might feature server aprons sporting a wacky fish (wearing a top hat) with the word “SoFISHticated” sprawled below.

— Well-known phrases can be changed to fit the message of the brand. For example, the bike manufacturer Salomon created a logo that changed the phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” to “Mud, Sweat, & Gear.” This message links the company’s core purpose – making mountain bikes – to a memorable, motivating catchphrase.

— Words puns can be created by substituting characters for sections of a word. Designer Wolff Olins created a word pun using the characters “Q8” to represent the oil-rich country of Kuwait.

The Visual Pun

Visual (or graphological) puns do not use phonetic writing.

Instead, visual puns create a play on words through imagery, graphics, or logos. Examples include:

— An image in the fork in the middle of two parting streets (symbolizing an impending decision or a fork in the road).

— A symbol can be used to replace a whole word, like “I [HEART] NY” or the character “He” with a box outline around it (to symbolize the periodic element of helium).

— Making subtle tweaks to logos to add visual effect. Rebel, a rugged Australian sporting goods company, turned the second “e” backward in their company name. Or the logo for Poison Spider Bicycles depicts the venomous red section of its spider as a replica of a gritty bike chain.

The Rebus

A rebus represents words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a riddle.

Think of the last time you puzzled over an obscure personalized license plate on the rear of the car in front of you. Was it hard to look away? People love to decipher codes, and using a rebus can stop people in their tracks, causing them to slow down, think, or smile!

Here are some clever ways the rebus has been put to work in marketing:

— IBM created a poster with three images to represent its name: a cartoon eye, a colorful honeybee, and a playfully sketched letter M.

When IKEA wanted to help American customers grasp their company’s correct pronunciation, they created a rebus design featuring a cartoon eye, followed by a house key and the text phrase “ah!”

— The East End Brewing Company chose to market its energizing coffee porter with this eye-opening rebus: a cartoon eye and a classic handheld bottle opener   

The creative use of language can help precisely position an idea, company, or product in unique and refreshing ways. Tailor your message toward a target audience and play with words until you find just the right fit!

5 Hot Summer Marketing Ideas to Give Your Business A Boost

Unless you sell beach hats or slushies, summer can be a slow season for many businesses.

That’s why the summer months are an ideal time to experiment with fun, seasonal campaigns. Heat up sales and boost your customer engagement with these lively, life-giving options.

Use Giveaways to Learn About Your Clients

“You’ve Got Tech Problems? I’ve Got Answers.”

Nikole Gipps is the founder and developer extraordinaire behind “That Super Girl.” Specializing in online support services for small businesses, Gipps grows her base seasonally by featuring “Summer of Learning” giveaways. Weekly emails boast giveaway choices (like business books) and tutorial freebies. Her recent contests increased customer engagement, doubled the subscriber list, increased workshop enrollment, and offered insights into topics that interested people most.

What freebie could you use to spark interest this summer and build momentum for the fall? Start dreaming today and create lasting benefits for your business.

Lower Prices as Temperatures Rise

Want to have a little fun with the heat?

Offer discounts that increase in proportion to the temperature. For example:

–Give clients $10 of any purchase of $100 or more when the temperature rises above 100 degrees

–Try a “pay 80 percent” promotion for any day temps land in the 80s

–Post sunny “peak” discounts on the day Summer Solstice occurs

Launch a “Staff Favorites” Campaign

Everyone enjoys a good-natured rivalry, so have some fun while rewarding your best employees with a summer getaway or a valuable gift card.

Here you can generate friendly competition among staff members by asking customers to vote on their favorite barista, customer service rep, or sales associate. Clients can vote through social media, digital polls, or onsite displays. This can humanize your brand and incentivize your team to provide stellar personal service.

Give Away Summer Swag

Businesses need promotional items to help reach out to potential customers and clients – it’s just a fact.

Like a business card with a bang, clever promotional products build goodwill, name recognition, and expanded brand exposure. Looking for affordable items to catch prospects’ attention? Try frisbees, stress balls, customized lip balms, labeled clip and go hand sanitizers, zip-front drawstring bags, absorbent cooling towels, water bottles, and more.

Beautiful Outdoor Banners

It never hurts to have friends in high places, so go BIGGER with large-scale banners!

Ensure your message wins the day with this hard-to-miss publicity tool. Vibrant, strategically placed outdoor banners can grab attention near busy intersections, at the entrance of your business, or at festivals and high-traffic events. Try hanging pole banners, feather flags, retractable banners, or a giant step and repeat display (great for photo ops and selfies).

Use Sizzling Incentives to Tip Them Toward Action

Summer is a perfect time for celebration, refreshment, and the unique expression of your brand.

Want to increase the emotional attachment customers have to your business? From a dash of color on your packaging to gorgeous window decals, print promotions can be part of any summer campaign. Want to talk options? Contact us today for samples.

Gain Undying Loyalty by Building a Company Customers Love

Every person has go-to brands for the things they buy – from their car and their phone to their coffee, cosmetics, or slippers.

And behind every brand is a company people know and love. When you want to attract people to your brand, it starts with building the personality of your business. Successful companies give people hope or a vision: their brands represent a cultivation of we could be.

Whether this is honest and pure or fun and funky, the brands we champion are an expression of our better selves.

Unique in a Sea of Monotony

Lululemon is a global sportswear powerhouse with a meteoric rise to success.

Founded in 2000, the company bounded into a crowded market and built a niche as a “lifestyle” fitness brand, offering clothes that perform excellently in the gym while looking great outside of it.

Lululemon knows that, beyond upgrading their health and hygiene habits, maturing women are ready to spend more on their wardrobes. And brand evangelists (the ‘Luluheads’) rave about clothes that flatter the figure, add color and sass, and hold their shape after 1,000 washes. Lulu’s target customer is a 32-year-old woman who has “figured it out” after graduating from the unhealthy lifestyle choices of her twenties, and Lulu inspires women to connect with their best selves using taglines like “Be You with Lulu” and “Slimming Silhouettes is Lululemon.”

While Lululemon’s outrageously priced clothes seem like an impossible sell, they are anything but. Instead, they make women feel proud to show up at the gym and allow sweaty moms to look cool at the grocery store. And that psychology works.

After all, it’s not men women are trying to impress – it’s other women.

Designing Your Customer Experience

Moving beyond strong marketing, customer experience is where the rubber meets the road.

Clients that adore your services should feel that doing business with you is like coming home. Here are three ways to make that happen.

1. Craft Excellent First Encounters

If you want to develop a strong bond with clients, a great first experience is key.

Consumer Reports surveys show that nearly 91 percent of customers will not return if a company botches the initial encounter, and two-thirds of people will walk out of a store when they feel the service is subpar.

While those statistics sound scary, the opposite is also true: top-notch companies are highly successful in customer care. Recent data shows that 81 percent of companies with excellent service records are outperforming their competition.

2. Offer Self Help Options

While five-star personal service seems like the gold standard in sales, that may be changing. Today 40 percent of consumers say they prefer “no-frills” self-service over tangible human contact, so smart companies should add simple DIY options.

How? Educational content such as newsletters, tutorial videos, or “how-to” tip sheets might be a good option for some. Perhaps live chat support, FAQ pages, or express product lines will bring convenience your clients appreciate. Web-based service portals may allow you to personally interact with customers while offering the flexibility and privacy they desire.

3. Prioritize Quality Over Speed

When you DO have personal contact with clients, slowing down can be the best approach.

According to Gallup’s research, the service is defined as “courteous, willing, and helpful.” (In contrast, customers who received “speedy” service were just six times more likely to be engaged.)

Making Brand Admiration a Reality

When people love a company, they’ll go out of their way to recommend it to friends.

They take pride in its products, purchase more frequently, and give it a second chance when mistakes occur. By building a business that customers love, your reputation will thrive, and your sales will too.

How the Best Leaders Embrace a Results-Based Perspective

More than 40 years ago, Dale Miller conducted a study that compared two groups of executives.

One group was identified by their colleagues as highly effective and ready for promotion. Individuals in the other group initially seemed promising but were later deemed unready for an advanced role.

During evaluation, each group received a deck of 62 statements describing management behavior and was asked to sort the statements on most effective versus least effective leadership qualities. After the first group finished sorting, the top behavior they selected was this: “accepts full responsibility for the performance of the work unit.” This phrase was chosen above delegation, staffing, time-management, or even technical skills.

The primary difference between these groups? Those primed for high-level leadership took full ownership over the team, its cohesiveness, and final project outcomes.

Practical Ways to Practice Personal Responsibility

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Many people who enter management are willing to accept the benefits of their position without fully embracing the pain points of this role.

Modern society often views leadership as self-serving, with the needs and desires of the individual taking priority over those of the team. But effective leadership primarily benefits the followers, not the leader. People who put the team’s needs above their own will achieve maximum influence and increase efficiency and effectiveness in their organization.

What does it look like to embrace a results-based perspective in your leadership? Ultimately, this starts with a mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen.” This goes beyond merely completing a task to a wholehearted commitment to the company’s best interests, including doing things for which there is no immediate reward. Do you turn off the lights if you are the last one in the building, or do you assume the custodian will do this? Responsible leaders use organizational resources with great care; they take the long view and see their own well-being as intrinsically linked to this organization’s success.

On a tangible, daily level, here are several ways successful leaders take personal responsibility:

— Asking, “how can I help?” instead of “what does that have to do with me?”

— Sharing credit when things go well but acknowledging personal shortcomings when a team fails

— Proactively seeking honest feedback about personal performance

— Acting as a buffer to protect the team from unreasonable demands on time, resources, or output

— Delegating tasks (using clear job descriptions) while avoiding the temptation to micromanage

— Being willing to forego being one of the group (or everyone’s “buddy”) to accept the social stigma of leadership

— Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own roles by highlighting the importance of what they are doing and how these efforts tie into the bigger picture

— Breaking large ventures into small steps, so people feel proud of their progress (rather than overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project)

— Ensuring team members have the resources needed to do their job (including training, equipment, access to mentors and coaches, etc.)

— Documenting poor outcomes and intentionally communicating them to struggling team members so positive changes (or eventual termination) can occur

Empower Yourself and Encourage Others

While taking responsibility can be difficult, it is also empowering.

Pursuing this results-based mindset allows you to take ownership over a situation and avoid feeling like a victim. When you take ownership over your role in every situation, you become an active participant, not a passive bystander. You are a trustee of these intangibles, and this empowering attitude helps others move forward in vitality – even when they’ve forgotten how to believe in themselves.

3 Ways to Create Pictures that Pop

Have you ever heard the expression, “a picture paints a thousand words?”

It’s true. While words can limit our ability to effectively communicate ideas, even a split-second glance at an image can convey volumes of information. Whether you’re a marketer or design specialist, it is important to employ tactics that add power and clarity to your communication.

Creating Dynamic Images with a Singular Focus

Experienced graphic artists have many tricks of the trade. Some like to blur the background of an image to draw central focus to one element. Others add texture to flat graphics by adding bevels, text shadows, or blended layers.

But on an even more conceptual level, you can communicate boldly and clearly with signs and symbols. Looking to simplify – while adding complexity? Here three techniques you can experiment with in print marketing to amplify your visual messages:

Signs

On a basic level, signs are the combination of a word and a picture to create meaning.

What comes to your mind when you see a bright yellow triangle, an image of a dog with a slash through it, or a photo of a distressed person clutching their neck with two hands? Signs convey simple, universal ideas that viewers can understand immediately. Even colors themselves can have inherent meaning!

Like a cross and skull poison symbol, signs can stop people in their tracks. Signs are especially helpful when communicating with mass audiences at a glance.

Typograms

A typogram refers to the deliberate use of typography to express an idea visually.

For example, the word “half” displayed with only the top half of each letter showing might imply an eraser effect. The word “volleyball” with the “o” popping out above the text brings a playful, spirited message. Want inspiration? Check out this 365-day challenge, where Daniel Carlmatz created a typographic logo for every day of the year!

Typograms use basic visual enforcement to add subtext to the words you display. Logos, taglines, or custom envelopes are a great place to put typograms to work.

Symbolic Imagery

While signs communicate a very straightforward message, many images have connotative meanings with far more complexity.

While a house denotes a place where you live, a home has far greater connotations (like family, security, and love). A subject, the objects surrounding it, and the editing techniques we use can all play a role in the cognitive messages we bring. Consider these examples:

  • Cropping a woman’s face to only the eye can make viewers wonder what she is thinking
  • Cropping a man’s body to only his head and shoulders may suggest he’s leaning in to hear more
  • Inverting colors may insinuate a flashback scene or a memory
  • Increasing contrast between the back and foregrounds might suggest the object behind a person is about to surprise them
  • Larger contrasts or color saturation can elicit feelings or arousal or cheerfulness
  • Increased sepia tones can give an aged or vintage look (like a photo carried in wallet)

Add Clarity and Complexity to Communicate on Many Different Levels

While language can limit our ideas, an image communicates on many different levels. Proficient designers know the more clarity or complexity you bring to your print pieces, the greater impact you will have on your target audience.

Use signs, typograms, and symbolic imagery to add emotional weight, to increase the efficiency of your communication, and achieve a greater return from your marketing dollars.