23 Tips for Developing an Effective Park District/Recreational Catalog

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

 

Little girl in the parkI often receive park district catalogs and recreational catalogs in the mail. Having designed several of these magazines, I would like to relay some suggestions to my readers:

 

 

In order to develop an effective park district/recreational catalog you should have: Continue reading

Fashionable Design

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Create your next marketing piece in the best of fashion.

Here’s a great concept. Try drawing inspiration from the latest designs in fashion. pinstripe, polka a dots, plaids, turtlenecks, denim—these make wonderful design elements.

Fashionate3

 

Fashionate1Fashionate2

Fashionate5How about the stylish face of a watch? Watches have elegant ally designed stylish faces in rich platinum, gold or silver. I saw one watch in a magazine with a face in cobalt blue and hands in copper.  This would make quite a sharp graphical element.

Tie one on
Men’s ties, women’s scarfs and leather belts can make great backgrounds. Try scanning and colorizing the pattern.

It’s in the jeans
Even denim and the folds of cotton t-shirts can make for interesting textural elements.

Top it off with a little drama
Hats are like the cherry on a chocolate sundae. They provide dramatic angles for wrapping text around.

Look around you. Fabric stores, fashion magazines, clothing stores, accessory stores make great places to find patterns and new inspiration for artwork.
Here’s some samples of polka dots, paisley and plaids as aesthetic elements in a newsletter.

Is your marketing campaign in style?  Why not add a flair of fashion direct from a Paris runway?

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If your company needs an innovative or unique design solution, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Why Retail is Dying a Slow and Painful Death

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Let’s talk shop!

Creating successful corporate communications for the retail market is very interrelated to the audience and trends in the industry.  That is why today I am tackling the issue of how retail stores are dying away, largely the fault of retail itself, rather than the Internet.  True, the Internet is somewhat to blame.  Yet the Internet is not the primary cause of this slow death, but a beneficiary of the failures of retail establishments and corporate mergers. Yes, retail is slowly dying away and it is the consumer who will suffer the most loss.  Given the current retail trends and consolidation in the industry, I have to say, it is not unexpected.

reatilstores-with-jeansI hear a lot today about how the Internet and larger online retailers are “killing” the sales of local retail merchants. Many articles have been written about “showrooming” where a prospective customer uses the local store to “check-out” an item and then buys it online for a lower price.  But I actually say to you that it is not a matter of just price.  I feel it is even more than ever, a product of seven often overlooked factors:

1) Bad Personnel. Sorry to insult, but many stores today don’t want to pay for talented or qualified help.  Instead, they often hire cheaper “green” workers who have little or no experience and are basically impediments to the purchasing process.  Maybe this is a cost-saving mood but it actually results in more costs due to lost sales, errors and image degradation. More important, they do not “know” the products they are selling.  Sadly, the customer often has a greater knowledge than the sales representative.  Too often the salesperson is just there to get a paycheck and often does not care about the art of “selling” an item. Frequently there is only one of two people “manning” a store. Items just don’t walk off the shelves sell themselves. Sales need to be encouraged, induced and “incentivized.” Customers are sick and tired of going to a store and trying to buy an item only to discover that there is no one to wait on them. I often ask myself, why should I waste my time with someone who can’t answer any questions or who just points to an item “over there?”  We go to stores for service and to experience an item not to babysit an inept employee. It’s no wonder that retail merchants are in trouble. Continue reading

A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part I

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Recently a graduate student from California State University at Fullerton called to interview me about the world of design.  It was a great way to share 25 years of experience with students who are trying to get their “feet wet” in the business of design. Here’s some of the questions and answers from the interview. I am splitting this interview into two parts.  Part two will be featured in my next blog post.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS—PART I

inteviewPersonal

1. How many years have you been at your current position?
I have been full-time creative director at HWDS since 2003. From 1991 to 2003, I served at HWDS as a creative consultant senior designer while we were growing the business. All in all, I have worked in the field of advertising and creative marketing/advertising design for a total of more than 25 years.

2.  What are some of your experiences in the Graphic Design field?

  • I always give the client one design that incorporates their vision. Then I provide alternative options.
  • I make it a point to give extremely responsive service.
  • I allow for patience and calm when dealing with clients. Clients need to see everything in a visual representation. They cannot simply “imagine” what you are proposing. Be clear and straightforward.
  • I try to be  flexible and at the same firm with my clients’ requests for changes.  Sometimes it is best to just usher the project to completion even if the amount of changes get somewhat excessive and cause lots of frustration. But it is also good to be firm. If you feel that a client us asking for too much, be sure to let them know that there will be an additional charge for the extra time.
  • I make it a point not to be a “prima donna” about my designs. Not every creation can or will turn out to be a masterpiece. Often commercial design has to be highly functional, user-friendly  and largely informative. That does not mean that it shouldn’t be tasteful and clean.

3.  What type of training/degree do you have?
I have formal education in design and the arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I earned a BFA.  I also was an exchange student at Otis Parsons School of Design where I took courses in illustration and design.  As part of my education, I worked as an intern at a book publisher in Chicago during my last year of college.  Here I learned the ins and outs of how to design and layout book covers and how to set up camera-ready art for printing.  Following my graduation, I continued taking classes at UCLA Extension in publication design, interface design, motion graphics and special effects, photo treatments, advertising concepts, digital animation and marketing.  My career has included work for a printer, production company, advertising agency, public transportation agency (government), regional planning agency (government) and a marketing firm.  In addition, I have served various clients including healthcare organizations, politicians, cable companies, law firms, transportation consultants, investment firms an  municipalities. Furthermore, I have worked on campaigns for air quality, recycling and solid waste, affordable housing, ridesharing, water quality, and other community and quality of life issues.

4.  How did your training/degree prepare you for your career?
I had a varied college career and educational background.  Believe it or not, I went to 10 colleges and universities where I developed a diverse transcript of classes.  I have a diverse background in political science/public administration and graphic design with a bachelors of the arts in each discipline.  Unlike most college graduates today, I use not one, but two college degrees. Having this diverse background allowed me to more marketable and specialized with my art. Indeed, I have worked primarily creating materials for government agencies, public officials, and issue campaigns, hence blending art with politics.

5. What type of skill set have you learned outside of your career that are applicable to graphic design?
Indeed, with just a fine arts degree, I was virtually unprepared for the real world.
I had to learn people skills—hiring and managing employees, customer service, customer relations, problem solving and putting out “fires.”  Next, I had to learn skills for running a business—budgeting, taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, organization, insurance, and banking. Finally, writing a blog helped me to hone my written communication skills.  Writing is critical when preparing project estimates and extensive Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for government marketing projects.


Don’t miss part two of this interview on logo design.  Coming next week…

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If your company needs an elegantly designed publication, for print or online purposes,  please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Refreshing Your Newsletter is Like Getting a Car Wash

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

This may sound crazy, but a simple newsletter refresh can make you feel like you do when you get a car wash.  Your newly-washed car is all shiny and smelling nice and you feel like you just bought a new car.

1) Keep it smelling fresh.  Artwork should not look stale.  People can easily “sniff” out a autolavaggiocompany or organization that has not kept up with the times. Stale artwork quickly makes your company look dated and unsophisticated. That’ why it’s  to keep the information on your company website current and publish regular monthly issues of a newsletter.

2) Keep it clean.  The design should b e clean and uncluttered.  Don’t muddy it up with clutter, clip art or too much text. Proper use of white small and a minimalist approach to the design will allow you to clean up an old newsletter.

3)  Make it easy to create.  Do not publish a newsletter unless you have a plan.  This includes having a design template, photo and graphics library, selected paper stock, a contracted print vendor, an up-to-date distribution list—both for emailing and mailing. These elements should be dealt with before you delve into the world of publishing. Think ahead. Keep a list of ideas for future articles and even have content written ahead of time for quick drop-ins. This will make the job of developing a newsletter much easier.

4) Do it cost-effectively and “on the cheap.” The overhaul does not need to be elaborate, but it should be enough that people notice.  You can use low-cost digital printing, especially if you need a short-run.  Solicit advertisers to run ads in the newsletter to help decrease the cost. If you still don’t have it in the budget, try an online digital solution such as an e-newsletter or interactive iMag publication.

5)  Shine up the details, like detailing your car. It’s in the details.  Don’t overlook the simplest things such as proofreading, page numbers, photo quality, proper folding and the inclusion of a call-to-action with the company’s phone number and website.

Go ahead and make it sparkle.  You’ll have a brand spanking new look for your newsletter.  What are you waiting for?

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If your company needs a newsletter redesign, e-publication, or promotion, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Why Small Businesses Need Newsletters for Effective Marketing

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

As mentioned before in this blog, newsletters have many advantages. But often overlooked is the benefit a regular newsletter can present to a small business or retail store. Many small businesses will not even consider a newsletter because it does not seem as “sexy” as TV or radio ads, print advertisements, billboards or social media promotions. In addition, the proprietor often feels that the monthly cost of printing, fulfillment, mailing list generation and postage, together with the expense and time involved to create content and develop the design, make a newsletter a non-viable option.  But small businesses need to start looking at newsletters as a form of advertising rather than just a means for staying in touch with customers. Hence, I encourage small businesses to try instituting a monthly newsletter for a minimum of a one-year period. This should be sufficient time to determine if there a sufficient return on investment (ROI) to support the continuation of the publication.shoes

Here’s some things to keep in mind when developing a newsletter for a small business:

1)  Keep the budget in check. Probably the number one reason small  businesses do not use newsletters is the cost and the time requirement needed to prepare a newsletter. With online newsletters, the distribution, mailing, and printing costs are eliminated. But if you still want to print your publication, digital printing can give you short-run print options at a cheaper price than traditional printing.

2)  Utilize a great way to stay in touch.  Newsletters are a great way to connect with your customer base and to keep them up-to-date with the latest products, services or industry developments.  Why ignore a great form of communication that is easily within your reach and budget?  Keep in mind that the newsletter does not need to be fancy or glossy.  Take, for example, Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.  This is a “home-baked” 2-color piece printed on newsprint.  Indeed, this is a “campy” piece but it’s one that you definitely remember.

3) Take advantage of a more personalized approach.  Newsletters can be tailored to a smaller audience than other forms of advertising.  Newsletters can even include articles about customers, employees the local community and local suppliers. Try including “success” stories about happy customers using your products or services. Some laser-printed newsletters could even feature a laser printed section where the customer’s name could be imprinted in an article or addressed as a salutation in a letter.

4) Stay local. Newsletters are a great way to foster a localized feeling and a commitment to the community. Buy Local,”  and “Buy American,” are popular buzz phrases that can attract customers.  People love supporting businesses in their community.  Think of a home-baked approach to keep your store or business connected with your neighbors.

5) Add a non-profit component to the newsletter—promote a charity or give back to the community. Why not add a column that offers supports a charitable foundation? You will not only be helping others, but your company will go a long way towards building some “brownie points” with the community.  You could also promote a recycling e-waste collection or an Earth Day event.

6) Use the newsletter as a means partner with other businesses for the purpose of joint promotions.  Share advertising costs with other businesses in your local business district or even partner with competitors in outlying areas. This will help reduce costs. Indeed, even businesses in the same field can have completely different types of clients. But since you both provide similar services, you may find it beneficial and cost-effective to run ads together or to produce a joint newsletter. This will help save time, printing, fulfillment and mailing and costs.

7) Run social-media promotions in the newsletter such as coupons, contests, give-aways. These will help entice people to keep reading. Get people to visit your small business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube.

8)  Ask for e-mail lists and cell phone numbers when your customers make purchases.  This will allow you to gather an up-to-date list from patrons who have already shopped in the store and made a purchase. Having visited the store, they already have a connection to your business. Why not build on it?

9) Run feature articles on regular customers and how they are benefiting from your products or services. Show how the local folk are benefiting from shopping in your retail establishment.  You could run special profiles such as a customer-of-the-month profile. Offer the highlighted customers some free services to help compensate them for their time and the use of this information in a promotion.

10) Use the newsletter in place of costly advertising.  A regular, and I mean regular, monthly newsletter can include information on new products or services the business us offering, upcoming sales and promotions, staff profiles, updates to hours, new locations and an events calendar.  Keep in mind that it does not need to be printed.  It can be an online newsletter as well.

Go ahead and develop a newsletter for your small business—its your business! What are you waiting for?

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If your company needs an innovative small business newsletter, e-publication, or promotion, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Fly Higher with an Airline Newsletter

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Obviously, we are all used to the typical airline on-board magazine with its host of neat gadgets and merchandise that you really don’t need. But how creating about a more campy newsletter that has a home-backed feel to help travelers deal with the depersonalization of the travel industry?  Let’s face it, airline travel today is no picnic with overcrowding, long delays, “nickel and dimed” fees, and of course, the TSA.

Why not reconnect with passengers and make them feel more important?

Here’s a sample newsletter that we created for the airline industry:

Air-Waves-NewsletterDeveloping an airline newsletter provides an opportunity for

  • more localized information on terminals, parking at the airport, food concessions, coupons for events and attractions, promotions for regular travel.
  • a chance to highlight exemplary employees and to build morale.
  • an opt-in to a regular newsletter mailing list without “mining” ticket information submitted during the purchase process.
  • airlines to create “buzz” by  holding contests and other exciting promotions.  Travelers can have an opportunity to win air travel upgrades, trips, dining and baggage.

Newsletters also can feature

  • profiles about interesting passengers or their travels.
  • ways to make one’s travel experience more pleasant.
    (Passengers will love the airline for it).
  • information about ways to reduce baggage fees, namely instructions about how to shed baggage pounds and proper packing.
  • articles on ground transport to and from the airport.
  • stories about traveling with kids and/or pets.
  • snippets about WiFi and mobile devices.  Indeed, new relaxed restrictions involving the use of mobile devices are coming to the airlines.

Check-in with an airline newsletter!

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If your company needs an innovative transit newsletter, airline communication, e-publication, or promotion, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

How the Printing Industry Has Become Environmentally-Friendly

By Harlan West, Design and Marketing Pharlanwestblogphotorofessional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Printers have moved from being detrimental to the environment to being very supportive of the recycling movement.

RollsofpaperpaperWhile at a press check this weekend for a job on the web press, I was actually reminded of how much large commercial printers do to promote recycling and sustainability. In fact, the printing industry is one of the biggest adherents to recycling. First and foremost, most printed products today are printed on paper stock made from recycled paper pulp. In addition, the printing industry has moved away from using colored papers due to the difficulty and added cost of recycling these papers. Today, the large amount waste created from printing during the make-ready stage and bindery stage is typically collected, baled and compacted into a block and then sold to companies that make products from paper and printing waste.

Paperpaperon-pressIndeed, the printing industry gets an undeserved bad wrap for being environmentally unfriendly. In all actuality, most printers today print on papers that are made of recycled fibers and they send the waste from the printing process, otherwise known as “make-ready” as well as the used metal plates off to be recycled.  Nearly 60% of printed publications today are printed on paper made of recycled fibers. By using recycled papers and planting new trees, the printing industry is taking essential steps to reduce the deforestation of our earth.

The great thing to keep in mind is that paper is not only biodegradable but it is also recyclable and reusable.

As stated in our blog post, Paper Adds Weight to Your Marketing, there are a wide range of recycled, environmental paper choices. Using these papers helps to demonstrate a commitment to our environment. webpress3There are 100%, 80% and 30% post consumer fiber choices as well as 50% alternative fibers/50% consumer fibers. These papers are Processed Chlorine Free (PCF), FSC® Certified (meeting the mark of responsible forestry), Green Seal™ Certified (a minimum of 30% post consumer fiber with mill processes and packaging that are environmentally preferable) and Carbon Neutral Plus (helping to reduce carbon emissions with a commitment to conserving the environment).

Printers also help the environment by:

  • Eliminating excess ink use by performing precise calculations
    to reduce the amount of wasted ink
  • Using soy-based or vegetable inks
  • Using more digital printing presses instead of offset lithography
  • Recycling rags and clean-up materials
  • Complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
    mandated regulations

So next you visit a large commercial printer for a press check, ask to see how they are reducing their carbon footprint. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.

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If your company needs an innovative newsletter, annual report, creative consulting or print management, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com.

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundreds of publications for both print and online purposes.

What Is the Best Thing you Could Do for Your Client?

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Let me ask me it again…

What is the best thing you could do for your client?

  • Giving them a return on investment (ROI)
  • Saving them money
  • Bringing them increased notoriety
  • Building brand awareness
  • Giving them great service as a vendor
  • Supplying them a great end-product (in terms of an effective campaign)
  • Instilling confidence in their brand
  • Motivating new customer sales
  • Providing outstanding creative direction
  • Reinforcing a positive image
  • None of the above

In my opinion, it’s “none of the above.”

I believe that the best thing a marketing firm, ad agency or design boutique can do is to help the client step out of the pack. It is essential for the marketing entity to craft a campaign that creates a memorable and lasting impression–one that involves product differentiation. Indeed, staying an unknown commodity does not drive business. Being different and a “trend setter” can put more distance between your client and the competition.  In other words, “status quo” advertising will not work. The client needs a fresh approach that will promote differentiation.

????????????????????????How to do it? Find out how to differentiate the product or service by promoting its very unique attributes.  It needs to stand out from the crowd. 

It is important to develop a voice and a consistent message. Of greatest value is the creation of a campaign with a theme or message that resonates for years to come.  For instance, BMW will forever be known as the “ultimate driving machine” due largely to the legendary campaign showing a topless coupe zooming down the roadway. The ad contained the unforgettable slogan, “the ultimate driving machine.”  Of course, the rest is history.

Here’s some important questions to ask the client…

1) What makes your product or service special?
2) Is there a unique benefit your product or service offers?
3) Does it have a special use?
4) Is your firm the sole source supplier/distributor for this type of product or service?
5) Does it have a distinct size or shape?
6) Will people pay extra for the special feature(s)?
7) Does your product or service result in cost savings for the consumer?

Developing an effective marketing plan will be essential to pinpointing the target audience and building a strategy to direct advertising resources at that select group. Without a marketing plan that maximizes advertising “exposures” to the target audience, your client will be shooting in the dark.  It takes a skilled marketing firm or ad agency to set up such a plan.

Now let’s face it, most advertising message do not result in legendary advertising campaigns. But, what is important is that your client’s message is memorable, easily recognizable and behavior inducing. Consistency is so important in this mix. All materials and advertising must have a consistent look and feel.

Then, once you have devised a memorable campaign based on product differentiation, you will have gone a long way to 1) giving your client a return on investment (ROI), 2) saving them money on costly ineffective campaigns, 3) bringing them increased notoriety, 4) building brand awareness, 5) giving them great service as a vendor, 6) supplying them a great end-product (in terms of an effective campaign), 7) instilling confidence in their brand, 8) motivating new customer sales, 9) providing outstanding creative direction and 10) reinforcing a positive image. In other words, “all of the above,” instead of “none of the above.”

Go ahead and help your client to differentiate.  You’ll probably find that it has lots of impact!

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If your company needs an innovative ad campaign, e-publication, or promotion based on differentiation, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more, please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundreds of publications for both print and online purposes.