How Typeface Affects Your Brand Expression

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Flavors have tangible effects on your body and your mood.

When you eat spicy food, your heart rate increases or your face may sweat. When you taste your favorite ice cream, reality seems to fade to slow motion as you prolong each morsel of delight. Is food really that powerful, or is there something more at play? More than likely, the foods you eat conjure whole streams of past experiences in your mind. The context or culture an individual brings to their experience will significantly affect their interpretation.

The same is true in design.

Whether it’s colors, photo filters, or layouts, every choice plays into a viewer’s experience with your brand. Often, we overlook typeface as an important design attribute but font is hugely expressive and making the right choice is critical. In fact, in 1923, when Poffenberger & Franken conducted research into how readers perceive different typefaces, people responded quite uniformly to typeface and product pairings and used similar adjectives about the fonts they observed. Fonts can give a sense of timeless style, of purity and simplicity, or a friendly human touch. The contrast of the strokes, how a letter is finished, or its proportionality can determine whether a design seems warm and friendly or cold and mechanical. Let’s examine a few fonts and the effect they have on viewers.

Serif or Sans Serif

Serifs originated from Roman Imperial carved inscriptions and this deep-rooted history brings an inescapable association with academic, thoughtful communication.

The internal density of serif fonts creates a straightforward, highly-efficient text row, but sans-serif fonts have a reputation for being more casual, informal and friendly. Although serif fonts dominate the world of print, the boom in screen-based technology has made the more legible sans serif a popular choice, especially for brands that are seeking a rational, industrial, or no-nonsense quality to their message.

Script Fonts

Script fonts are those that mimic cursive handwriting.

Formal scripts embody the ornate flair of old-school calligraphy, while casual scripts have a more home-spun friendly feel. Formal scripts are ideal for invitations, book covers, wall art, or anything with a vintage theme. Casual scripts can be modified to fit anything from logos, posters, pamphlets, or anything with an intimate, informal vibe.

Handwritten Fonts

Handwritten fonts have evolved over the last ten years, and embody the name they possess with scrawling, looped, or free-flow characters that people use when they put pen to paper.

These fonts are ideals for cards, book covers, posters, freebies and swag, or logo design as they bring an imaginative touch that sets your products apart.

Mix and Match

Can you pair different kinds of fonts in a project?

Of course!

Like all facets of design, contrast is key. A handwritten bold logo paired with a scripted tagline can make your welcome sign sing. Or an all-caps serif with an italicized sans serif may bring a subtle sophistication. Even if you use the same font through an entire piece, making a headline bold and condensed but the copy light with greater vertical space (or “leading”) can make a smart statement. Just remember to proof samples before you get too deep into a project. Some fonts look great in headlines but terrible on screen. Others are fun to read but fatigue the eye quickly. Test your font choices and pairings on a few willing volunteers or gather feedback from a design consultant.

While there are thousands of fonts, the right combination is essential to set the tone for your brand. If you want to brainstorm with our creative team, give us a call today!

 

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The Power of Store Ambiance and Sensory Cues

Choice of fashion clothes of different colors on wooden hangers

Unmistakable Ambiance

As viewers enter the Richard Mille watch boutique in Paris, their senses are inundated with beauty. Large glass panels are etched with details of the emblematic RM tourbillon, giving viewers the sensation that they might be entering the heart of the watch itself. Extreme elegance buoys buyers through the store, with black leather chairs, Macassar ebony, and brushed steel accents. The impact is palpable.

As a primary showcase of the watches, these interior design elements are vital. The Paris boutique offers a theatrical look with a touch of femininity. “I wanted to go against the traditional macho design, with its dark materials, cold metals, and dark atmosphere,” said Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, the watchmaker’s creative director. “I thought we needed to open the shops, give light and add lighter colors.”

Treton-Monceyron says she’s stirred by functional spaces like hotels, airports, and factories, rather than drawing inspiration from typical retail designs. The space itself is her muse: “I was a choreographer and dancer before,” she said, “so I look at a shop from a stage design vantage point and move inside the space — using my own body to sense the space left and right and position everything from the watch displays to sofas to walls.”

Increased Personalization Through Sensory Impact

As today’s merchants seek to grow online sales, businesses are also showcasing more personalized experiences in their stores.

The ambiance is imperative: 1 in 5 consumers said they choose to shop in person because of an enjoyable atmosphere. From convenience stores to car showrooms, merchants hope to connect their product with its people through environmental elements that generate sales. Sensory impact plays a principal role:

“Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play,” said Ryan Elder, associate professor of marketing at Bringham Young University. “Our research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why.” Data found that people caught in sensory experiences (like taste or touch) were more likely to buy at an earlier time, and suggested consumer behavior can be influenced by both actual and imagined sensory experiences like sounds and smells. Even online reviews that articulated these features were ranked higher in terms of how useful they were to others.

Drive Sales for Ambivalent Customers

With 37% of U.S. consumers saying that being in the “right mood” spurs impulse purchases, here are some elements that can drive sales for ambivalent customers:

Music and Scent: What are the first things people hear or smell when they enter your establishment? Does the “first impression” profile you display match the brand message you want to project? Like songs or smells adjusted to the holidays or festive events, details create emotional connections with clients, giving brick-and-mortar shops an advantage e-tailers simply can’t match.

Décor: From colorful artwork to oversized custom posters, match your décor with your target patrons. Build an ambiance that will encourage customers to linger. And don’t underestimate an uncluttered, tidy environment: a 1997 study showed customer satisfaction was greater in “pleasant” (versus disorganized) furniture stores. Customers in pleasant stores spontaneously spent more money on articles they simply “liked.”

Spacial Layouts: What does your store blueprint or interior signage communicate? Are you looking for a consistent, orderly flow or a casual, flexible feel? For Richard Mille, directional (yet conversational) spaces were key. Trenton-Monceyron says she designs open spaces to admire and dialogue because the brand believes watch shops are about more than just sales:

“They are like the salon of conversation of Marguerite de Navarre during the 16th century; a place where you can come just for visit, discuss and exchange a point of view.”

Keys for Change: Small Businesses Making a Big Impact

Support concepts

Connor’s Collision Center of Richmond, Virginia, was looking for a way to build a charitable culture in their business, so they launched the “Recycled Rides” program and began donating rehabbed vehicles to individuals nominated by the community.

In part 1 of this series, we explored the story of one changed life (Georgette Carter) and the way businesses are strengthened through innovative corporate giving.

What about your business?

Maybe you can’t rehab cars, but every company can give back in some way! That starts with a desire to grow in generosity and a plan to carry that out. Unfortunately, some business owners pull back from giving because they find themselves strained by the number of needs or a plethora of last-minute requests. To grow in giving, they need a narrowed support focus to help them move ahead.

Identify Brand-Extending Areas of Support

Smaller companies may find it helpful to develop target giving priorities that relate to their mission or their brand.

These funding priorities can be publicized through an application process which sifts out casual candidates and allows employees managing requests to process them in a scheduled, thoughtful manner. As you narrow your giving focus (i.e. schools, sustainable community solutions), key in on priorities that are close at heart and well-suited for both your brand and your community.

Greg O’Neill, co-owner of four Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine shops in Chicago, said this strategic giving shift was key for their company:

“Small businesses get inundated [with requests] and it’s really hard to say no. We’re a bulls-eye for anyone and everyone looking for donation, sponsorship, philanthropy and giving of any kind. A lot of businesses say yes, yes, yes and give until it hurts.”

O’Neill’s team implemented an application process, identified sustainable agriculture and feeding programs as a funding priority, and scheduled key deadlines for recipients. As a result, the number of requests declined and the number of meaningful partnerships increased.

“We tend to do fewer one-off donations now,” O’Neill says, “and instead we create more relationships.”

If your company chooses to donate to causes outside key funding priorities, there are additional strategies to make your contribution stretch farther than the gift itself:

  • Offer coupons for high-dollar products or services that don’t cost much to your company
  • Consider in-kind gifts and allow employees to use workday hours to participate
  • Rather than just giving cash, reach out to your best sales rep. Buy a case of one good item from them and donate it to the event or cause
  • Host a yearly contest where your community or employees can submit nominations for someone needing a hand. Document the results and include them in your newsletter or company Christmas card to spread the holiday cheer!

As you seek to give strategically, here are four questions to consider:

1. What brand extending areas will you support?

2. How can you publicize your giving priorities in a way that structures the giving process and streamlines requests?

3. How can you affirm employees who go the extra mile to give beyond the walls of your office?

4. How can your compassion be print-recognized (i.e. banners or photo murals) to make it a more mutually beneficial partnership?

Your charitable efforts may be humble, but they are unique to you and they make a tangible difference in your community. While generosity begins in the heart, often innovative community support begins with your business!

Printed Gifts Are Perfect Any Time of Year

Checking documents

Providing your customers with a small memento of your business is one of the best ways to keep your brand top-of-mind.

However, many business owners struggle with ideas about what they can use as gifts that are cost-effective, memorable, and useful to their clients. There are plenty of options on the market today in terms of promotional products, but a thoughtful printed gift may be the ideal option for your business.

Here are some of the ways that businesses are making themselves memorable in print!

The Gift of Humor

Knock knock. Who’s there? Etch. Etch who? Bless you, friend.

There are few things that will put a smile on someone’s face more quickly than a corny knock-knock joke. You know they are terrible, but you still have to smile! Your customers will feel the same way, so why not gift them with a little light and laughter in their life? A small printed joke book is the perfect way to let your customers know you’re thinking about them. Humor has been shown to build trust and inspire creative thinking — what better gifts could you provide to your best customers?

Giving Notes

Many organizations are clear and consistent with their message of helping others, so why not extend this concept?

A simple printed postcard or notecard showing your clients that you contributed to a specific charity on their behalf is a terrific way of showing your commitment to giving back to the community and the world. Prefer to have a more lasting memory for your customers? Printed magnets or labels will also help you share the message of generosity.

Office Supplies

Who “borrowed” my notepad this time?!?

Offices throughout the country hear this cry on a regular basis, so why not take away some of this pain? Printed pop-up notes or notepads are an inexpensive gift that will be appreciated for weeks — or even months. Plus, you can add your brand in a way that not only are you sharing your message with the individual sending the note, but the recipient will also have a positive association with your brand, too. Instead of doing a simple blank note, why not print inspirational statements on them or create bold “Thank You” messages on the notepad? Your customers will love being able to share them with friends at work.

Desktop Prints

Motivational posters or prints are always a welcome gift, as they help clients stay encouraged even when they’re going through a rough patch.

A simple mini-print is ideal for this situation, and you can even upgrade to a small matted display for your best customers. Help customers see how much they mean to you by sharing a heartfelt note that brings together your brand promise and shows how far above and beyond you are willing to go to provide top-notch service.

These are only a few of the ways you can share the appreciation that you feel for your clients on a daily basis. How do you show appreciation for your clients?

Color Combinations that Tax the Brain

Eye glasses looking to city view, focused on glasses lens

Easy on the Eye

Humans are creative beings, and one of our favorite ways to express ourselves is through words.

Words can bring sweetness to the soul, arouse dormant hunger, or give voice to beauty in the world.

That’s why names are such serious business. How much thought do we give to naming a pet? Or a child? Beautiful names can bring a charming nostalgia or an air of sophistication to the bearer.

But while some names are sweet on the ear, they don’t translate well for the eye, causing potentially years of frustration for your grade-schooler (or your veterinarian!).

Here are five names that are fun for the ear but a nightmare for the eye:

Eulalia (Yu-LAY-Lia), like the mayor’s wife in The Music Man

Azaiah (Az-EYE-ah), which has rocketed in popularity since 2000

Grigoriy (Grig-OR-y), a Russian variant of Gregory, meaning “vigilant or watchful”

Bludeuwedd (Bloo-da-e-wedd), referenced in Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, a Welsh name meaning “face of flowers”

Aelwen (Eisel-wen), originating in England, with versions of the name in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literature

Color Combinations that Tax the Brain

Some things are beautiful in concept but difficult in reality.

Similarly, certain images or color combinations are challenging for your eyes as well!

Have you ever seen a website that seems to chafe your eyeballs? A fabric pattern that makes you intrinsically recoil? This is actually not just a “tacky” color combination, it is a brain hijack: your brain gets misled into viewing these colors in 3D. Some colors appear to recede, while others float forward.

For example, the combination of blue and red can be very difficult for the eye to process. One color may jump out while the other appears buried or muted. This effect, referred to as chromostereopsis, was first noted by Goethe in his Farbenlehre (Theory of Colours).

Goethe recognized blue as a receding color and yellow/red as a protruding or dominant force, arguing that, “like we see the high sky, the faraway mountains, as blue, in the same way, a blue field (also) seems to recede.” This phenomenon explains the visual science behind how we perceive colors and objects and is extremely important when you consider layouts and color combinations for print.

Some Important Color Takeaways

As you choose color combinations, here are some chromostereopsis design takeaways to consider:

  • Avoid putting blue and red (or green and red) near each other on a page or screen.
  • Avoid putting blue or green text on a red background (or red/green text on a blue background).
  • If the color combinations you’re using seem obnoxious, adjust the hue or filters to mute more jarring pure tones.
  • Separate contrasting colors, either spatially or semantically (like using lines or charts to divide them). This will prevent viewers from having to pay attention to items of both colors at the same time.
  • If you want to use chromostereopsis to your advantage, try using a jarring color combination in the background with a contrasting color on top (like white text on a black and red background, as we see here).

When the dynamics of good design are utilized, viewers will look at your images longer and perceive your ideas more clearly. So, stretch your designs but don’t strain their brains!

Customize Printed Mailings to Maximize Your Impact

Coupon ticket card. Element template for design. Vector illustration.

One of the best ways that brands can engage their customers is by making people feel valued and unique.

Brands that are able to provide their customers with this feeling of connection are going to be one step closer to creating true advocates for their brand. Perhaps one of the best ways that modern organizations can offer a customized experience is through meaningful personalization — far beyond the “Dear Friend” found in some mass mailings.

See how businesses are using personalization in their printed materials to create an experience that customers will appreciate and remember.

Tailored Offers Drive Traffic

Grocery stores are able to effectively track a massive number of items and customers, including when and where they purchased specific products.

While your business may not be quite that complex, you can certainly track in a more simplistic way in order to offer timely and meaningful coupons to your customers. For instance, offering a discount card tied to someone’s phone number allows you to discover which days of the week they are coming to see you and how often. Upsell your services by providing discounts on off-days when they may not visit or to shorten the time between services. This strategy works especially well for service-based businesses such as hair and nail salons.

Treating People Like Family

If you are able to capture additional information about your customers such as the age of children, this allows you a greater opportunity to customize your message.

Knowing the general age of your customers or whether they’re empty-nesters, young parents, or an older retired couple provides you with the information that you need to create offers that are more compelling. One example would be a restaurant whose tables are nearly empty on a Wednesday night. Sending information to young families that Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays is likely to bring in a wealth of new business on that evening and keep your tables full.

Move-In Special

There are many businesses that thrive on new families moving into the area — from retail establishments to grocery stores and everything in between.

Consider working with a few complimentary businesses in your region to create a move-in special: a package of offerings that can be mailed to families just as they move into the area. These hot new potential customers have not yet formed an opinion of the area and will need to create new shopping patterns. If your offer comes at the perfect time as they’re moving in and purchasing new products for their home, they are likely to continue visiting your establishment over the years.

There are many different ways that your business can take advantage of a compelling, personalized offer in print.

3 Keys to Build Better Workplace Morale

Two colleagues giving high five during meeting

Did you know October 7 is “Worldwide Smile Day?”

Smile day is celebrated on the first Friday of October, dedicating twenty-four hours to smiling and acts of community kindness. Why? In a “bad news” world, a little dose of joy goes a long way. Gretchen Rubin certainly believes this.

From outside perspectives, Rubin lived a marvelously successful life. She had a good marriage, a thriving writing career (formerly a Yale graduate clerk to Sandra Day O’Connor), a warm relationship with in-laws, and two lovely daughters. But in 2006, Rubin realized something was missing. She had a mild case of “the blues,” a below-the-surface irritableness she couldn’t shake. While she was generally happy, Rubin struggled to enjoy happiness each day.

“Did I have a heart to be contented? No, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please . . . (It was) easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied.”

Driven by curiosity, Rubin threw herself into a soul-searching experiment resulting in the best-seller, “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.” Rubin chose monthly themes, like “energy,” “love,” “work,” and test-drove happiness theories. In the end, this created an entire cottage industry (blogs, videos, starter kits), driving people to aggressively pursue happiness. Rubin found a commitment to simple daily habits (like making the bed) brought a drastically cheerful increase:

“This is about ordinary happiness,” Rubin said. “I wanted to change my life without making major changes. I wanted to show that you don’t have to do something radical.”

Lighten the Mood, Lighten Their Load

Work is life, and life is work. As hard as you try to separate them, work affects your personal life, and vice-versa.

So, what if you could increase happiness at work? What would increased “ordinary” happiness do for an entire company? Statistics say employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days, and 36% of employees say they would give up $5000 a year to be happier at work. Happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales and “happy companies” outperform the competition by 20%!

The Keys to Building Morale

Your brain works efficiently when you’re in a good mood. Forward-thinking businesses connect these dots, believing a better “company mood” brings a stronger bottom line. Here are three ways to build better workplace morale:

1. Cozier Spaces. The office layout, lighting, and aesthetics are a major part of employee satisfaction. Have discouraging cubicles or ugly paint? Throw a little money at this problem and harvest new energy from your team each day.

2. Parties and Perks. Whether its chair massages, goofy competitions, or summer snowcone festivals, everyone benefits from fun at work. Professional growth opportunities are also significant: in a 2013 poll, 84% of employees claimed the opportunity for advancement was very important. Encourage people to attend conferences, practice peer-to-peer training, or try workshops for growing specific skills.

3. Improved Communication. As you mobilize teams, tap into the foundational reasons people give their best, like self-improvement, societal impact, or ability to reach challenging goals. When Sandra Day O’Connor was asked what she thought made a happy life her response was simple: Work worth doing.

As you lead, give your team regular feedback. Without guidance, people feel deflated or unmotivated. Personal improvement areas should be private and actionable: explain to employees where to improve and give examples of change. Author Scott Halford says positive feedback is vital:

“Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don’t need to avoid corrective feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.”