Marketing Lessons to Be Learned from the Government Shutdown

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

With the government shutdown, we see Republicans and Democrats failing to communicate. Stalemates are no fun and they certainly are unproductive, costly and demoralizing.  shutdownonlyRemember, it is not which party you are in. Rather it is about keeping the party going…

Here’s some helpful tips to make us all better marketing communicators and to keep the party going:

1.  Find a microphone and get on the soapbox. Communication is the key to reaching your clients, target audience, suppliers and employees. Don’t do what Congress did, namely, to stop talking. It’s not a bunch of relatives having a typical family spat! Instead, do the opposite.  Your medium is really the microphone. Use it and blast the message out regularly.  And don’t skip issues of your publications.  It is always best to keep the communication regular and flowing. Turn up the volume; keep it colorful; keep it lively. The tide will eventually turn.

2)  Shake hands with your competition.  Never overlook who may be your future allies or business partners. Putting heads together and cooperating can help you better deal with emerging trends and might be an opportunity for sharing equipment, information, promotions and skills that could benefit both entities.

Quote3)  Find compromise with the client.  Don’t be a prima donna who is married to every word or graphic as if it is a masterpiece. Make the client your partner.  It’s not a game.  It is simply a process to deliver a successful marketing package, newsletter promotion, collateral or advertisement.  There’s no need to feel defeated even if your vision is not brought to life in full regalia. Continue reading

Why Companies Need to Nourish a Passion

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

Just as kids need an “outlet” to keep them busy and out of trouble, companies need to nourish heir strengths and what they believe in.  This is not just what they specialize in, but something more. It is something they truly believe in and care passionately about.

Take, for example, the desire of a cable company to help connect millions of disadvantaged children with Internet service. Or, take, the desire of a marketing firm to create publications which help promote recycling, and therefore, ultimately benefit the environment. nurtureyourpassionOr what about the desire of a large grocer not only to provide healthy organically grown fruits and vegetables but also to lead the fight to label genetically engineered foods?  It is not enough that a company is good at what it does. It must feel passionately to help differentiate itself from the competition. That passion resonates throughout the organization and helps to invigorate employees, boost morale and provide a positive corporate image.  Here’s some ways to cultivate that passion in a company:

1) Hire employees that believe in the company and want to help make the company move forward. Your employees are the front line soldiers and they need to spread the message, not just wholeheartedly, but passionately.  If they don’t believe in the product or service, who will? Continue reading

The Ultimate Checklist for Marketing Materials

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

Catch your breath. Stop before you click send to the printer. There’s some things to check first. These are all part of quality control.

  1. CheckboxProofread.  Have another set of eyes review all the content.  Sometimes the most glaring errors are the  most obvious and the hardest to catch. It is best to have an outsider who has never seen the content check it over with a fresh perspective.
  2. Client approval. We always make sure that our clients have signed-off on the final artwork before it goes to the printer.  NEVER skip this step. Too much finger pointing can occur later without proper sign-off from the client.  Also, it is good idea to save all e-mails and time sheets so that you have a paper trail of documentation.  Just in case… Continue reading

How Our Innovative iMags Can Save Your Company Thousands

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

We have developed a service whereby we convert your newsletter into an interactive, flipping page online publication. The ultimate result are iMags,  Below, we have included some demo videos that how iMags work.

iMags are dynamic publications which can save your company thousand of dollars in print, mailing, fulfillment and distribution costs. Here’s how:

Skip the printer.
Fire your printer and save a forest. Let’s face it the average 4-color newsletter, 1,000 copies, 4 pages, 8.5 ×11″ can cost $1,000 – $1,300.

Skip the post office.
Stamp out costly postage charges.  You could be paying $460 to mail 1,000 pieces at a 1st class rate. A bulk rate permit might save 20-30% but why not save the carrier pigeon?

Continue reading

Stick with a Marketing Firm that Specializes in Your Industry Sector

By Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professionalharlanwestblogphoto

As I was reading a recent trade show article, I realized the importance of using a marketing firm that is connected with your respective industry sector.  Here’s some reasons why:

1) They are familiar with the content. Having worked in the industry they should posses a breadth of knowledge of how best to reach the target market. There’s no learning curve.  It’s plain and simple—they get it.  They speak the language of your clients, having worked in the industry.








Continue reading

Creating Effective Bilingual Publications

With ever-changing demographics, it is highly likely that your company will find a need to produce bilingual or even a trilingual publication.  It is not a matter of just translating the text in a document.  It also involves using photographs, color schemes and typefaces that best represent the community.  Sensitivity to the cultural differences is very important.  In short, a company needs to effectively communicate with the target audience and it is more than likely that the target audience will include speakers from Latin and Central America, the Middle East and Asia.  So speaking the language of your audience is crucial to getting your message heard.

All campaigns or marketing materials you develop should represent the rich cultural diversity of the regional area, and hence, the targeted demographic market should be well- represented in the photos and text that are used.

It is crucial to avoid translating the text word-for-word but rather to use native or long-term speakers of a language to rework the text.  They should take into account idiomatic expressions and differences in customs so that the text is easily understandable.

Here are some samples of effective bilingual publications:

1) Bilingual bus schedules
The City of Norwalk hired us to design this very branded set of bilingual bus schedules for the Norwalk Transit System. Each route brochure included English/Spanish bus fare and rider information. The brochures were color-coded for each bus route.  Each brochure  included photos that show diversity.


2) Bilingual Park and Ride Map
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments hired our firm to design a pull-out multi-panel accordion-fold map brochure for Park and Ride lots in the greater Washington D.C. area.  This map containdc two covers with one in English and the flip side or back cover in Spanish to help commuters in the Spanish-speaking community.  This piece was developed to encourage area commuters to leave their cars at home and enjoy a stress-free commute by using a carpool, vanpool bus or train to get to work.

Also in the handy fold-out map was a resource guide that included a complete list of 1) park and ride locations, 2) bus and train routes, 3) carpool lanes, 4) bus and rail services from each park and ride lot, and 5) telephone numbers for transit providers and locations of bicycle racks and lockers.


3) Trilingual healthcare collaterals
The Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center hired us to create a trilingual brochure for the fold-out of a new program to allow members to recognize an individual or department for providing extraordinary customer service. The brochure is printed in Spanish and Chinese to encourage more patients and their families to use the

4) Bilingual social service collaterals
The City of Norwalk asked us to create a colorful brochure to help residents resolve neighborly disputes. The City of Norwalk had a large Spanish-speaking population. As a result, we developed this colorful bilingual publication that included photos showing diversity. We created an inviting design to deal with the touchy issue of disputes.


5) Bilingual safety notices
Metrolink asked us to create a safety flyer to be distributed at public schools to help connect with the younger generation. The goal was to educate teens about the importance of refraining from walking on or playing near railroad tracks—quite a dangerous behavior, indeed. This piece was also translated into Spanish.MetrolinksafetyNotices(2)-combined

6) Bilignual rideshare brochure
The Orange County Transportation Authority hired us to create a multi-panel accordion-fold brochure to promote rideshare week. The front side was printed in English and the back side was printed in Spanish. For this brochure layout, we created and enhanced colorful illustrations of various commuter transit modes. These graphics were also used for posters and for bus tail wraps.


If your company needs a beautifully designed bilingual or trilingual publication that also best represents the local community please contact HWDS at  We provide translation services and have designed bilingual communications for print and online media.

Speak the language of your audience!  You’ll reach many more people that way.


Please note: All projects displayed on this blog are meant for educational and instructional rather than promotional purposes. We respect our clients’ brand integrity.