Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pantone Announces Color of the Year 2012

According to Pantone, you’ll be dancing into the New Year with this energetic reddish orange. Pantone, the global color authority for the past 50 years, announced their Color of the Year for 2012: PANTONE® 17-1463 Tangerine Tango, a vibrant, enticing hue. Tangerine Tango is a high-spirited reddish orange emanating energy and determination.

“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”

In the past few years, orange has become more popular among graphic designers and consumers. The PANTONE® Fashion Color Report Spring 2012 features fashion designers whose spring collections include designs in this vivacious orange. Among them are Tommy Hilfiger, Nanette Lepore, Elie Tahari, Adrienne Vittadini, and Cynthia Steffe by Shaun Kearney.

Pantone recently partnered with Sephora, the leading perfume and cosmetic retailer, to create the first Color of the Year cosmetic collection. It is an extraordinary assimilation of beauty products that include eye shadow, lipstick, lip gloss, nail polish and accessories. The limited edition collection will be available in the US in March 2012.

Tangerine Tango is showing up in interior spaces with energy and pizzazz. It can also be seen on appliances, personal electronics, paint colors and home accessories adding that unexpected pop of color. 

About the PANTONE Color of the Year (from
The color of the year selection is a very thoughtful process. To arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.

For more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. 

Click for more about The PANTONE® Fashion Color Report Spring 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Identity

When we opened our business in 1995, we had a tiny office, a small staff and a few big ideas about how to distinguish ourselves. Since then, we’ve expanded our facility, upgraded equipment, added an exciting array of complimentary services and increased our staff. Big changes made possible by keeping one thing the same: our commitment to creative excellence and our clients’ success.

We’re more than just a printer. As such, we felt that the name of our newsletter should reflect the new identity of our company. We are proud to introduce the inaugural issue of CreativeBrief. You might be wondering, what is a creative brief? A creative brief is outlined instructions for work to be done by the creative team (that’s us).

We hope you enjoy this issue of CreativeBrief and we’d like to hear from you. We publish this for you, our client, so we want to know what you think about our newsletter, how we can improve it, what you like and what you don’t like, topics you’d like to see, etc. Connect with us on Facebook, message us on LinkedIn or Twitter, email us or just pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to hear from you!

Q&A: What Is Social Media?

Defining social media and its use and effectiveness for business is an evolving topic. In May 2011, Heidi Cohen, a self-described actionable marketing expert and owner of Riverside Marketing Strategies, gave this definition of social media:

Social media are the platforms that enable the interactive web by engaging users to participate in, comment on and create content as means of communicating with their social graph, other users and the public. Social media has the following characteristics:

  • Encompasses wide variety of content formats including text, video, photographs, audio, PDF and PowerPoint. Many social media make use of these options by allowing more than one content alternative.
  • Involves different levels of engagement by participants who can create or comment on social media networks.
  • Allows interactions to cross one or more platforms through social sharing, e-mail and feeds.
  • Facilitates enhanced speed and breadth of information dissemination.
  • Provides for one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communications.
  • Enables communication to take place in real time or asynchronously over time.
  • Is device indifferent. It can take place via a computer (including laptops and netbooks), tablets (including iPads, iTouch and others) and mobile phones (particularly smartphones).
  • Extends engagement by creating real-time online events, extending online interactions offline, or augmenting live events online.

Act Now

In marketing, a sense of urgency is a device to give readers a reason to respond quickly. When reading an advertisement, people have a tendency to procrastinate – to put the advertisement aside and consider it later. A sense of urgency helps overcome this tendency by providing a reason to
act immediately.

There are two common ways to create a sense of urgency: offer a reward for prompt action, or assess a penalty for not acting. Some examples of a reward include a free gift for responding or a bonus with purchase; an example of a penalty is a limited supply of the product or service being offered or a sale that lasts for a defined period of time.

A sense of urgency works by creating scarcity – the reader must act by a given deadline. The sense of urgency can be undermined if the deadline or other conditions are not strictly enforced.

Writing That Sells: A Guide To Effective Copywriting

If everything begins with a sale, then we are all selling something to somebody. Some of us are selling products or services for cash, while others (such as charitable organizations) are selling the idea that their cause is worthy of support. Even people who offer things for free are selling something – that what they are providing is useful.

Copywriting Services
Copywriting is an essential element of any sales or marketing effort, regardless of the medium chosen to deliver it. Here are some typical projects that benefit from copywriting:
  • Printed sales material: brochure, display ad, direct mail campaign, product description, sales letters
  • Printed informational material: case study, white paper, newsletter article
  • Websites: landing and inner pages, SEO content
  • Social media: blogging, Facebook, tweets
Besides creating original material, copywriting services may also include proofreading and editing of existing text. Proofreading checks for spelling, grammar and sentence structure – the basic elements that readers use to judge the quality of the writing. Editing looks at context and syntax – the elements that improve or hinder the reader’s comprehension of the text. Neither proofreading nor editing includes rewriting, though. 

Effective Copywriting

Direct response copywriting – using the written or spoken word to get people to take some form of action – requires the same skills when used for traditional media (print, television, radio) or new media (websites and social media).
When we are selling, communication with our audience is grounded in the mechanics of the sales process. One enduring description of the sales process is summarized by the acronym AIDA: get the reader’s attention; engage his interest; create desire to own; and provoke action.
AIDA describes the four phases buyers follow when accepting a new idea or purchasing a new product. Here is a way to apply AIDA to a copywriting project:
  • Attention: Use a compelling headline to attract the reader’s attention. Then use a subhead to reinforce the headline, and an illustration or photograph for emphasis.
  • Interest: Develop interest beginning with the first sentence of the body copy. Its sole purpose is to get the reader to read the next sentence. So focus on benefits to the reader rather than features of the product or service.
  • Desire: Use the second and subsequent paragraphs to elaborate on benefits and describe how the product or service will solve a problem or enhance the reader’s life. Aim for a logical progression of benefits that ends with the reader concluding “I must have this.”
  • Action: The final paragraph is the call to action – it tells the reader what to do next. Add a final thought as a P.S. to further stimulate desire and action.

Compelling Content Is Based On Knowledge
Before you begin writing, it is important to understand the target market, the benefits the product or service brings to the target market, and what motivates the buying decision. Very large corporations or businesses find these answers with research, focus groups and other techniques outside the budget of a small business or local non profit organization.

So then, how can you get the information you need? An excellent way is to ask your top customers. Most businesses follow the Pareto Principle, better known as the 80-20 Rule. As applied to business, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers, making the task of surveying customers a lot more manageable. Here is what you want to learn from a combination of survey questions and what you already know about your customers:
  • What demographic characteristics do your customers share? For individuals, this could include age, marital status, household income, ethnicity, etc. For businesses and organizations, SIC code, annual sales, number of employees, etc.
  • What separates your product or service from those of your competitors? Look for measurable characteristics like better performance, more features and benefits, on time delivery, ease of ordering, etc.
  • What motivates your customers to buy? Is it convenience? Delivery time? Superior quality?
With the answers you are better prepared to write the copy to develop the interest and desire. You will also know what kind of an offer to make.
Copy That Sells
Using the AIDA approach means keeping the reader engaged from the headline all the way through to the call to action. This is best done by keeping the copy itself straightforward, focused and easy to understand. Here are some guidelines:
  • Keep the focus on the reader. An excellent test of this concept is to be sure the copy answers the reader’s question “what’s in it for me?” When you apply this test, it becomes instantly apparent why leading with benefits is more persuasive than a list of features. Made of titanium (a feature) is less persuasive than will last a lifetime (a benefit).
  • Use a topic sentence for each paragraph. A topic sentence is the theme or main idea for the paragraph and is usually the first or last sentence. All sentences in the paragraph support the topic sentence by providing evidence or a persuasive argument.
  • Present evidence. By citing accepted positions, research or statistics, you’ll be giving the reader more than your opinion and be building credibility. This is especially important if you are developing a new or counter intuitive idea.
  • Provide a specific offer. No matter what you are selling – a product, service or idea – it has to be specifically stated to be accepted. Without a clear, even bold offer, you risk the reader misinterpreting what you have said.
  • End with a summary. Restate the original benefits and remind the reader of the evidence you presented to support the benefit.
Don’t Settle For Bad Writing
Some people are natural writers – they intuitively know how to develop an idea that persuades others. That’s why people follow syndicated columnists and read editorials.

But if writing is not your strength, or if you lack experience in direct response copywriting, consider hiring a writer to do this work. As a skill, it is as important as good graphic design. Here at Creative Characters we can help you with copywriting, either with our staff or using outside resources. Contact Brigid at or (215) 923-2679 for more information.

Give A Little Magic This Holiday Season

These days you see QR codes everywhere! They’re popping up all over – on postcards, in magazines and newspapers, on real-estate signs and buildings, on plant stickers at Home Depot, as coupons on my mobile phone screen at Target and even t-shirts.

Businesses are starting to use QR Codes more and more in their marketing. Many use them in the same way they always have – to send prospective customers to their website. Well, this year is different. J.C. Penney has come up with a clever way to use QR Codes to make gift giving a touching experience for each shopper.

Penney includes a “Santa Tag” sticker with every gift purchased until the end of the year. The sticker has a customized QR Code printed on it. When the purchaser scans the QR Code with their mobile phone, it prompts them to record a personal message to the recipient in their own voice. When the person receives the gift and scans the QR Code with their mobile phone, the personal message plays. Check this out this video from J.C. Penney.

For family and friends that live far away, receiving a gift like this will be amazing. J.C. Penney has created a new experience for their shoppers this season. The “Santa Tag” has created enthusiasm in consumers motivating them to shop at J.C. Penney.

How will you use QR codes to get consumers excited about shopping at your store this holiday season?