Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why use a professional Chicago Marketing Company?

Ever sat in a room and watched a PowerPoint presentation? If you said yes, then you already know why it's important to hire a professional. PowerPoint is the bane of every Chicago Graphic Designer and Marketing Company in Chicago, IL because of it's distinct LACK of good design.

Over time, PowerPoint had a catastrophic effect on the quality of graphic design. In short, this software made it possible for anyone to create designs and layouts, the result of which was a lowering of the bar.

Would you design an office building without hiring an architect?

Graphic designers use interpretive and conceptual skills to create visual solutions to communications problems. They find the most effective method for conveying information. They use a variety of techniques to achieve results based on their understanding of color, typography, illustration, photography, animation, layout, and media.

Professional designers know how to use the principles of design to communicate a message, present data, or elicit a desired response. It's not impossible for an amatuer to achieve the same results, but it's less likely. 

What constitutes good design?
The message must be clear. Whether a poster, brochure, logo, or Chicago Website Design — the design should emphasize the message.

The basic principles of graphic design apply to all design disciplines — writing, graphics, art and architecture, even fashion and poetry. The principles of design are tools we use to format the elements of design (color, shape, texture, etc.). Here are some of the essentials: 

Balance is based on the notion, "the whole is the sum of its parts." Using balance, design elements or the "parts" are organized to create a whole that has equilibrium. 

Similar to balance, good proportion maintains an agreeable relation of parts within the whole. It's the consideration of parts in relation to the whole.

Contrast, created when elements are combined, provides necessary variety. Without contrast, even good design can be boring (or worse, ineffectual). While balance and proportion help to maintain cohesiveness, contrast adds interest. 

Perhaps most important to overall quality of design — as important as emphasis, but overlooked by many designers — is space. Including space (often called white space) in a design provides its other elements with all the characteristics listed above. More often than not, a graphic design fails without space.

While the principles listed above are vital, they are not comprehensive. Thousands of books have been published on the subject of graphic design; depending on your interests and needs, seek out one or more of these for study.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adobe updates Creative Suite...again.

Chicago Graphic Design Company

Chicago Graphic Design Company

Just when we get the hang of a product, does its creator decide to upgrade it. Apple does it. Microsoft does it. Now Adobe is jumping on the bandwagon of updating their products 6 months after initial releases. Adobe announced yesterday that is is releasing version 5.5 of the Adobe Creative Suite of design products that includes Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver. The emphasis was on adding tools that aid designers in creating mobile content for tablets such as the iPad. This announcement is also coming RIGHT on the heels of Quark's announcement that they've updated to version 9.0 (who uses Quark anymore?) to support iPad and ePUB formats for the likes of Kindle and NOOK.

What does it include?: Version 5.5 of the Web Premium Suite includes new HTML5 and Flash tools that let designers create multimedia projects for Android, Blackberry and Apple products. It also includes ways to embed video, audio, 360 Degree rotation, slideshows and more to InDesign layouts and the ability to export them for tablet viewing. 

With this release, Adobe is announcing a new timeline for product development: They're now going to be rolling out major software upgrades every 2 years with updates coming at about the year mark and announced a new subscription plan that lets users pay monthly for the programs they use. Don't need Dreamweaver? Pay monthly for Photoshop ONLY. Great deal yes? I think so. Graphic Design Students everywhere are saying thank you. Users will also have access to all the latest versions of software and can purchase or short-term 'lease' software for temporary employees, freelancing graphic designers or interns.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Building a Winning Brand

Of all brandsStarbucks takes the cake. Starbucks took the rather uneventful act of buying a cup of coffee and turned it into a user experience. By doing so, it created a memorable brand identity: a unique name and a memorable logo that made coffee more than coffee, but a welcoming place to gather and stay a while. The main point: Starbucks created a culture, not just a company. Use the following tips to create the same.

Develop and Craft your Image
Creating a perfect brand identity is almost impossible, and takes a lot of work. What you're ultimately trying to do is position yourself in front of people who don't want to change their minds. Your brand has to be unique and powerful enough to force your target market out of their consistent buying patterns.

It begins with a name. Starbucks has a great name, and with enough frequency of the message, it has become memorable. This can happen with any name. If Integraphix puts its name out there for enough people to see, it will become a memorable thing in people's minds. This method explains why many of the commonly known names like Apple or Ford are known. Who in their right mind would name a computer company after a fruit? Well, as we all know, Apple is a giant now. So there's your proof. Ford is a family name, but with ingenuity and quality craftsmanship, Ford has become well known in the automobile industry. 

Your logo is just as important as your name. Using Starbucks as an example yet again, their recent rebranding has completely removed the name from their logo. But we still know it's Starbucks right? Apple is the same way, and McDonald's can claim that as well. The logo is the first connection the consumer makes with your company brand and it triggers brand perception. What does your logo need to do? There are some practical considerations to make when having a Graphic Design Company design your logo:

1. Can it be reproduced in several sizes and media types?
2. Does it reflect your target audience?
3. Is the message clear?
4. Is it unique and easily recognizable.

Your logo should also convey an emotional and personality connection and the cleverness should definitely spark that 'Aha!' moment with your consumers. 

Become Known
I know, easy right? Branding happens within the minds of your clients. The message behind that brand is what creates appeal, but you must get the word out to bring in customers. Advertising, promotion, trade shows, direct marketing and search engine optimization are the common ways, and can cost money. Search Engine Optimization is probably the cheapest form of marketing you'll find today and investing can get your online presence bulked up so becoming known isn't as difficult and expensive and buying a billboard or doing a massive direct mailing campaign. A few things you should consider if you're starting off completely new:

1. Listen to people. Don't say everything that comes to your mind; let other people talk before joining the conversation.
2. Ask questions. For the love of design, do not force your opinion on someone. It makes you look really bad.
3. Don't be fake. Have a story and behave the way you want your brand perceived. Brand isn't all about the design - it's about how the people in the company act too. 
4. Offer up your knowledge. It adds to the conversation and makes you look like you know what you're talking about.
5. Respond to people. Consumers and business partners really love having a company respond directly to something they've asked for. It solidifies brand loyalty and company image.
6. Say thank you to your followers. Reward repeat buyers or users for their patronage - whether it's a simple shout out or an actual prize. Do what's in your company budget.

Know what your customers want
When launching a business with limited cash flow, the potential for successfully grounding a brand based on pure zeal and a unique business idea is less likely to succeed than following the market trends and going about your business structure intelligently. You need these five things to even begin to succeed:

1. Do you know how strong your brand perception is? What would make it stronger.
2. Look at other competing brands - are their consumer's satisfied?
3. Will your brand create emotional connections with consumers who are not currently using a product or service like yours?
4. What percentage of your target market is likely to switch over to your company?
5. Do you have the ability to garner brand awareness?

Answer those questions and you can determine the chances of success for your brand. You can conduct focus groups and email polls if you need target market information and to find out if your brand would be recommended over another competitor. Ultimately, to succeed, you need to know how people perceive your company and brand identity. Make sure you position yourself where you know your brand can win.


If you need MarketingWeb Design or Graphic Design assistance, give Integraphix a call. We offer a Free Marketing Analysis to all who walk through our doors.

Design for clients you don't have - what want!

It seems very flawed to only create and develop design for the clients you already have. If you only take into account your current client base, how can you ever plan on growing your business even further? Yes it is possible to grow steadily with your current clients by designing and developing websites for them, but most business owners I know, including the owner of Integraphix, are constantly looking for new outlets for business and networking.
By expanding and growing a business, we assume that a graphic design business owner is looking to gain new clientele that are perhaps different than the clients they already have. They will be fairly similar and should be so you don't have to expand your targeted marketing, but some may be entirely different and this is a good thing!
Look for clients that might be outside of your typical client profile. This allows you to get feedback on your business, design and services and gain valuable insights in order to gain market appeal to a larger group of people. Try it out and see what kind of results you get.
If you need help building a new website or want to gain more exposure online, talk to Integraphix today about our custom web design services and our comprehensive internet marketing and SEO packages today!
-- Integraphix, a Chicago Graphic Design Company