How to Build a Strong Brand

The importance of branding in the modern corporate world is undisputed. Whether you are a multi-national corporation making millions or a small business with limited funds, it’s crucial to understand that you need one in order to survive, and you need a strong one in order to succeed!

It all begins with brand identity

Brand identity is what fuels the recognition of the brand and amplifies the differences with their competition. It takes separated and unconnected initially elements, and through a concept, they are unified by designers into whole visual systems. Proper design in a brand identity is essential and determines how people see and feel about the brand.

You need to carefully consider your company’s logo design, website and print collaterals like your business cards, stationary, magazine advertisements and promotional material, so that they all speak with a strong and unified visual voice. All elements need to communicate distinct and clear messages.

Additionally you need to make sure that this message is the one you want to be known for! So just because your daughter can draw or you had the “bright” idea to offer your logo design in a contest for 55$ doesn’t mean is the proper way to go! In fact in most cases is a recipe to disaster.

Then comes the brand strategy

Effective brand strategy provides a central unifying idea around which all behavior, actions and communications are aligned. It also needs to be consistent and easy to understand.

To put that in test, have everyone in the company explain this strategy in as few sentences as possible. If everyone’s perception is aligned and consistent then you are at a good starting point. If not your strategy is too complex and will most likely fail.

Last but not least comes branding

Branding is the process to build awareness and customer loyalty on your brand through your brand strategy and your various marketing campaigns. Consistency is again the key for a successful branding campaign. Every newsletter, social media status, blog article and brochure must support your branding. And it goes without saying that your branding campaign needs to be both online and offline.

You can use events to build your customer’s loyalty offline. These could be charity events, festivals, or just a stall in a bazaar to promote your products. Also consider providing your customers with high-quality giveaway items that promote your brand in a positive light. Some examples are branded T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads etc. But you can find more ideas and a variety of cool branded promotional products at QLP specialty advertising products.

As for online you can use a variety of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to establish your online presence and of course the blog in your website. But mind that for this promotion not to be overwhelming most of social media experts suggest the rule of 80/20. Meaning 20% of your content should be about your company and the rest 80% content of value and use to your prospective customers.

Giving your business a friendly and approachable face, and helping your customers to solve their daily problems is extremely important to your long term branding, so always be on the lookout for the best opportunities to do so!

Further Reading:

  • How To Identify Your Brand DNA
  • Promotions and Branding 101
  • The Importance of Branding

Featured Image: Apple Logo wallpaper / Creative Commons – Attribution by Adrian

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/04/2013


Techniques to maintain and preserve antique images

We take pictures for one basic reason which is; having something physical to look at when remembering the pasts and photos are definitely a great way to chronicle one’s life. But all things are subject to time and photographs as great as they are also subject to the ravages of time, poor conditions and over exposure which can lead to the loss of great pieces of memory.

If you have lost an antique photo to age and poor conditions, do not be disheartened for I know how you feel which made me come up with several tips and techniques on how to achieve antique photo restoration. Before restoration, comes preservation and after restoration still comes preservation, therefore how you preserve old photos should be seen as the most important step in managing your memories and we shall be starting with:

How to Preserve Antique Photos

  • Storage– the general method of storing old items–in dark boxes located in your basement—might work for old furniture but doesn’t cut it for photographs for the lack of air and some light would have their effect on your images. Therefore, try to invest a little in plastic frames, cabinet cards, and air-tight albums made from polyester or polypropylene and antique storage devices to keep your precious memories safe.
  • Organization– do not stack your photos haphazardly against one another that is front to back with each surface rubbing onto the other because with time, this images would lose their coloring or sharpness to the surface of another. You can go back to the first point of how to store for more information.
  • Polythene bags– larger antique images that cannot be stored in albums needs some prior investments before adequate preservation can be achieved. Investing in specialized polythene bags, pure rag acid free mat board for attaching to your image surfaces and even polythene lined vaults for more expensive photos.

How to achieve Antique Photo Restoration

Thanks to the advent of the modern computer and photo editing software, the restoration of antique images can now be done from the comfort of your home or outsourced to a professional for more advanced image editing requirements. Different Photo restoration techniques and applications can be used to solve problems that include:

  • Color disfiguration
  • Missing parts
  • Torn photos etc.

The techniques used to repair the above damages include:

Color Restoration– which involves the use of color filters and gradient adjustments to restore faded colors where and when needed as well as to convert black and white images to its corresponding colored format.

Photo Restoration– software such as Photoshop, photo filter and co. can be used to design the missing parts of an image for a complete photo restoration of an incomplete antique photograph. Cropping tools, shading tools, adjust contract and lighting tools can all be used to create a new body for a torn photograph.

Digitalizing Photographs– this technique can be said to be more of a preserving technique than that of restoration for it involves the conversion of hard copy photographs to soft copies, so that they can be stored on your computer or on the web. This is definitely the best form of storage for nothing can depreciate the value of your photographs.

The Benefits of Antique Photo Restoration and Preservation

The benefits include:

  • Safe storage
  • Longevity
  • Online use- digitalizing your antique photos allows you share your favorite pictures with family and friends on your favorite social media platforms.

Article publié pour la première fois le 04/03/2013

Creative Commons - Attribution photo by Per Axbom

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond…

Some websites are not so mobile friendly but in 2013 that is changing—almost a must for web designers. Users want websites to be seamless and exact on PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets. What are designers looking at to make this possible? Here are 12 trends that are changing the online world.

1. More Responsive Web Designs

Responsive Web Design

Image via Flickr axbom

RWD or Responsive Web Design means once employed, a website is viewable on any device, desktop, smartphone or tablet. Newspapers and sports-themed websites are gaining tons of followers with new RWD looks that dismiss scrolling left to right for reading text and the image conversions are flawless.

It is true 67 percent of Internet users say they are more apt to buy on the go. With more people using tablets and smartphones to make purchases, RWD cuts out the need for different SEO and HTML in order for consumers to browse and buy no matter what the device; the site looks the same.

2. Websites Are Losing the Clutter

Landing Pages

Image via Flickr webtreats

It used to be the more action-packed a website home page, the better but no more. Designers have realized less is more. They are doing this with hidden landing pages and shorter navigation bars. Some websites are losing the navigation bar altogether.

With hidden landing pages, users searching on smartphones will land on the desired page instead of the home page making them more apt to buy or learn more. These hidden pages while still found in a search, when packed with SEO and keywords, are helping to end the clutter on home pages. Left and right arrows and scrolling bars are also making websites fresh and crisp enticing the viewer move through with touchscreens or the mouse.

3. Websites Will Look More Like Apps

Image via Flickr by Microsoft Sweden

Forget the old term “there’s an app for that,” and instead, think app look-alike-designed websites. The Wall Street Journal reported as of June 2012, the Apple App store offered 650,000 available apps for download and the Google Play Store was not far off at 500,000. And, mobile users are downloading those apps at a large rate—30 billion for iPhones and 15 billion for Android operating systems.

Designers will achieve a wider audience with app-looking websites and users will enjoy the familiarity they bring.

4. Navigation Bars That Move

Shorter Navigation Bars

Image via Flickr Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta

CSS programming allows for the “position: fixed” offering navigation bars that scroll up or down when users do. Although not new, they provide users an easy way to head to another part of the website faster.

The fixed position works best with where website navigation bars are page content or search-driven so users can quickly change search criteria or click on scrolling bars to narrow down desired content.

5. The Use of Larger Photos and Images

Larger Photos on Websites

Image via Flickr Life@Microsoft Australia

Web designers are also skipping smaller images and opting for larger high-resolution images instead. Not only are these eye-appealing when designed correctly, larger images offer the chance for more elements within the image.

Popular venues for large images include expos, health care, lobbies, restaurants and retail stores that offer an inside feel to the viewer.

6. The Insertion of QR Codes

Websites using QR Codes

Image via Flickr Dan Zen

QR (quick response) codes are now widespread on websites as a call to action—and mobile users are scanning them.

Good for discounts, promotions, coupons or for informational purposes, when users find these calls to action they are pulling out their Blackberry cell phones to take advantage of these hidden square offerings.

7. Influx of Social Media Badges

Image via Flickr birgerking

It used to be most websites would have a Facebook and Twitter badge and that was it. Now, designers are leading users to companies on LinkedIn, Google+, Digg, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Pinterest and more.

Beyond leading viewers to these social media pages, web designers are also using social media badges on blog posts pages where readers can share the posts on their social media pages.

8. Integrated Video

More videos on websites

Image via Flickr Bonnie Bogle

Desktop Google searches will almost always provide a YouTube video. Part of the reason is Google owns YouTube but the other reasons is the real-life scalability videos offer.

Consumers can see how a product works, take a 360 degree tour or learn how to use software and videos are playing a big part in web design.

9. Larger Typography

Image via Flickr adactio

Yes if the typography is bigger, it’s better in today’s world of web design. CSS and XHTML coding is making larger typography fit onto mobile phone screens but when using laptops, desktops or tablets, larger text—and simpler fonts—are engaging viewers.

The Sans Serif font is in again along with big text and much like larger photos, designers are using this trend for web design more and more.

10. DIY Website Design

DIY Open Source Software

Image via Flickr Phil Oakley

WordPress has been around for a while now allowing DIY designer to create their own designs; GitHub is another. Known as open source software many DIY designers are finding free templates created by the skilled open source pros or creating their own.

With open source software brings many plugins each with its own must-have feature and if you want your website to have a great mobile look, there are plugins for that too.

11. HTML5 and JavaScript Surging Ahead of Flash

More Websites using HTML and JavaScript

Image via Flickr Josef Dunne

With upgraded features in HTML5 and JavaScript, Flash is going away. Wed designers are taking advantage of what HTML5 and JavaScript can do such as offering a rich Internet application (RIA)—Chrome Experiments is a good example of just how designers are making websites rich and interactive.

Movement and engagement are the force behind this type of design.

12. Story Timelines

Websites with Story Timelines

Image via Flickr Vixie Rayna

Companies rich in history are using story timelines and opting out of the conventional feel of homepages. This learn more about us approach allows for great imagery and text as well as a cinematic feel.

Popular industries engaged in using story timelines are automakers, food manufacturers and the fashion industry.

These new trends in web design are not only making websites more mobile friendly, they are also engaging the user, providing interaction and offer smart searching capabilities. Because technology and web designer programming changes in a flash, along with these trends in web design for 2013, expect even more from the innovative and the imaginative.

Bringing Pictures and Frames Together for Your Own Artwork

Whether you have the vision of Michelangelo or the skill of a toddler with finger paints, your own artwork can be a wonderfully personal and appealing addition to your own décor.  Of course, this means that you will need to choose the right picture frames to ensure that the artwork with be displayed to its best advantage.

As a rule of thumb, to enhance the look of your pictures, the frames that you select should be good quality, the right style, an appropriate size, and a suitable color.  This means that you will have a number of choices to make, but by mulling them over carefully the stunning outcome will be genuinely rewarding.

There are a number of supplies that you will need to bring your pictures and frames together.  Among others, these include:

  • Wood or metal frames – your choice will depend on the overall look you want, your budget, and the location in which you will be hanging your artwork.
  • Mats – there are several shapes, sizes, colors and styles from which to choose, including using more than one.  These are a great way to enhance the look of your art.
  • Mounting boards – this is the backing for your frame, which may not seem like a big deal to you (because it will be behind the piece and not visible), it is actually a very important part of the display and preservation of your picture.
  • Glazing  – this is often called the “glass” that is used to protect your framed artwork and give the framing a finished appearance.
  • Accessories and tools – there are a number of other items that you could require, depending on the type of framing project you choose. Make sure to select the right products to ensure the best possible result.

You will also need to choose whether your artwork will be best suited to custom picture frames or one that is ready made.  This can depend on the look you want, or the size of the artwork that you’d like to frame.

Each of your decisions will have an impact on the final look and cost of your picture framing project.  Fortunately, when you choose the right supplier, you will be able to benefit from the look and performance of high quality frames, without having to spend an arm and a leg.  This is important, as the frame you select can have a considerable impact on the appearance of your artwork.

Keep in mind that framing your own artwork can be addictive.  Once you have the right tools and complete your first project, you may find that it doesn’t take long before you’re hanging more of your own work and are giving it as gifts, as well.

When it all comes down to it, the partnership between pictures and frames should be considered along the same lines as the expression “it’s the clothes that makes the man”.  It may be what is inside that has the true beauty and value, but it is what is on the outside that sets it off.

Featured Image: Creative Commons – Attribution photo by Emily Jones

Article by Kelsi Roth

Kelsi Roth is the Social Media Coordinator and a Showroom Representative at American Frame. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Art with a concentration in New Media at the University of Toledo. Her love of art and photography brought her into the framing business where her love of sharing and connecting energizes American Frame’s social media presence. To reach her, send an email to [email protected].

Find Kelsi at Google+!

six keys to using social media

Six Keys to Using Social Media to Promote Your Art and Designs

The rise of social media is one of the biggest developments in our society in the last decade. The majority of the population now uses social media in one form or another, and this means it is a great way for artists to gain exposure. Instead of having to rely on word of mouth, artists can now use social media to get their work out there in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Follow this guide for six tips on how to use social media to get your artwork the maximum exposure. What’s the best part about social media? It’s free!

1. The Power of Facebook

It is hard to believe that less than a decade ago Facebook didn’t even exist. In its nine years of existence, Facebook has become one of the largest companies on the planet. It is the ultimate social media tool for artists who want to gain exposure. Every artist needs to have an account on Facebook. You can post you art there for fans to see it, and you can even offer it for sale.

2. Twitter

Twitter is a great way for artists to let their fans know about what is going on with their lives and their work. Be sure to use Twitter to let your fans now when you have new works coming out or when you will be having an exhibition of your works.

3. Create a Blog

Even if you are not much of a writer, you can create a blog to let your fans now about things that are going on. You don’t have to update your blog every day, but it is best if you update it at least once a month. Weekly updates are perhaps the best schedule. Be sure to write mostly about your art on your blog, but don’t be afraid to provide more mundane postings about your life.

4. Video Is Powerful

Create a YouTube or other video hosting service account and frequently post videos on there. They can be videos of you creating your work, videos showcasing your work or even videos of random stuff in your life.

5. Blend All Your Social Media Together

Be sure to link all of your social media together. If you post a video on YouTube, be sure to announce it on Facebook and Twitter. Link your Twitter account to Facebook so that you when you post on Twitter it shows up on Facebook as well. This will gain you the maximum exposure through all your social media channels.

6. Don’t Forget to Share

Be sure to share lots of details about your life. If you have a masters of art education or received an art education online degree, share it with your friends and followers online. If you sold a piece, share that as well. The more you share, the more interested you fans will become. It becomes a positive feedback loop that gains you more exposure and promotes your career.

Featured Image: Provided and/or Licensed by the Author

Article written by Angela Prickette