Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Q&A: Can I print text in white ink?

This question is asked frequently. The answer is – not really. Often what appears to be white text is actually reversed type – a printed background with the type “knocked out” so the paper color shows through. Here is an example of reversed type:

There is an opaque white ink, but it is used as an undercoat to mute the paper color so it won’t affect the perception of the ink color.

It can be hard to keep reversed type readable. The delicate, hairline serifs on some typefaces can be filled in by a spread of the surrounding ink, as can type in a small point size. To keep reversed type readable, follow these guidelines:
  • Fonts: Use sans serif fonts or make serif fonts bold.
  • Point size: Avoid small point sizes, especially if using a serif typeface.
  • Spacing: Increase the leading (the space between lines) and the kerning (the space between letters).
  • Contrast: Ensure adequate contrast between the text and the background it is reversed out of. White type reversed out of a light blue background will be much harder to read than if reversed out of a dark blue background.
  • Reversed type attracts attention, so use it sparingly.

Color Sells

Color is an important topic for anyone who sells something. Whether printed in a brochure or appearing as a website, color adds to the perception of the product or service and enables the seller to maintain price. Not just any color – color that evokes desired emotions in the audience about the business, its products and services.

Color theory is both art and science. The science is how color is produced using colorants like ink on paper or phosphors of light in a computer monitor. The art is how it is used by the graphic artist to create the desired perception in the audience. Combining art and science with color produces consistency and brand identity.

If your marketing materials haven’t had a color tune-up in a while, now is a good time to do that. Contact me at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com to have us analyze your printed material and website to see if there is a consistent color palette and what meanings the palette produces. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Color Matching

A color matching system gives graphic designers, document creators, and printers a common language and set of standards to specify color. Within the graphic arts and printing industry, the most widely used system is the Pantone Matching System (PMS). The system includes both solid (“spot”) colors created by premixed inks, and four-color process colors created by using cyan (light blue), magenta, yellow and black inks. Colors are assembled in a chip book that assigns a number to each color and provides the formula for mixing it.

Because the surface of the paper – coated (“shiny”), uncoated (no shine) or matte (dull shine) – affects the appearance of colors, a different chip book is needed for each surface. Pantone assigns a suffix (C, U, or M) to the color’s number to indicate the type of paper. Using the suffix means the color’s number stays consistent across all chip books. The Pantone Matching System enables precise communication regarding color and ensures color consistency.

The Art and Science of Color

American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is a professional association for design. They define graphic design as: A creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. Designers work with a variety of communication tools in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience.

According to AIGA, design is an investment that gives a business a competitive advantage by building customer trust and loyalty. An important element of design is innovative and effective use of color.

Understanding color

When starting a design project, one of the graphic designer’s first tasks is to select a color palette with attributes that represent the client and appeal to the audience. This requires an understanding of the effect of color and the color spectrum.

The color wheel shows the relationship of one color to another by arranging them in a sequence that mimics what happens when colors are mixed. Color wheels consist of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Primary colors cannot be made by mixing other colors. Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors, and tertiary colors are made by mixing one primary and one secondary color.

Primary, secondary and tertiary colors are arranged sequentially around the color wheel. Colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel are called complementary colors while those that are side-by-side are called analogous colors.

The effect of color

A color’s personality, or symbolic meaning, is something that people consciously or unconsciously use when evaluating a color palette and can provoke a positive or negative reaction. Some meanings differ by culture: white is a symbol of purity in the United States, used for weddings; in China it is a symbol of death, used in funerals.

Developing a color palette

If your business or organization
already has a logo, use its predominant color as the basis for the color palette (Color 1). Next select a color that contrasts (Color 2). If you want to use a third color, pick the complement of either Color 1 or Color 2. Using contrasting colors helps achieve a balanced look, though be aware that too
much contrast might appear aggressive. Use the lightest color of the three for large areas like a background, and the most vibrant color sparingly to attract attention.

The meaning of color

As part of her website Color Matters, Jill Morton, MFA, a color consultant and former college professor, offers a thorough explanation of what colors mean globally. Her work is based on the Global Color Survey, a 19-question online survey. The following information is excerpted from her website.

Red is the color of extremes: passion, love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. In ancient days, red was almost as rare and as expensive as purple. Today’s intense red dyes come from crushed insects (the lac beetle and the cochineal). Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people and the most popular color used on flags in the world (about 77% of all flags include red). Red is the international color for stop.

Red captures attention. It is one of the most visible colors (second only to yellow), so is used on fire engines and stop signs to trigger alertness. Red focuses behind the retina, forcing the lens to grow more convex to pull it forward. Therefore, we perceive that red areas are moving forward. 8% of the male population has a red-green color vision deficiency and cannot see red at all.

Yellow is the most luminous of all the colors and captures attention more than any other. It is the color of happiness, optimism, enlightenment, creativity, sunshine and warmth, but also cowardice, betrayal, egoism, and madness. Yellow is the color of caution and physical illness (jaundice, malaria, and pestilence). Sources of yellow pigments are toxic metals (cadmium, lead, and chrome).
Because yellow is the most visible color of the spectrum, the human eye processes it first. Peripheral vision is 2.5 times higher for yellow than for red. Yellow has a high light reflectance value and therefore it acts as a secondary light source. Excessive use of bright yellow (such as on interior walls) can irritate the eyes.

Blue is the #1 favorite color of all people globally. In nature it is the color for water and sky, but is rarely found in fruits and vegetables. Blue has more complex and contradictory meanings than any other color, depending on the shade. Dark blue:  trust, dignity, intelligence, authority. Bright blue: cleanliness, strength, dependability, coolness. Light/sky blue: peace, serenity, ethereal, spiritual, infinity. Most blues convey a sense of trust, loyalty, cleanliness, and understanding. Aristocracy is blue-blooded in all European languages.

Blue is the most commonly used color for corporate identity and 53% of the flags in the world contain blue. Blue is sharply refracted by the eyes. This causes the lens to flatten and to push the blue image back, so blue areas are perceived as receding and smaller. Blue has very few connections to taste or smell, so may act as an appetite suppressant.

Green is a symbol of ecology and the environment. It signifies growth, rebirth, and fertility and is universally associated with nature. Traffic lights are green all over the world. Approximately 5% to 8% of men and 0.5% of women are color blind to green.

Purple is rare in nature and the expense of creating it has given purple a supernatural aura. The earliest purple dyes date back to about 1900 B.C. when it took 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye – just enough for a single Roman toga. Accordingly, purple was used primarily for garments of the emperors or privileged individuals. More than any other color, purple symbolizes magic, mystery, spirituality, the subconscious, creativity, dignity, royalty, nobility and luxury to most people in the world.

Purple is the hardest color for the eye to discriminate. Variations of purple convey different meanings: light purple: light-hearted, floral, and romantic; dark purple: more intellectual and dignified. The negative meanings of purple are decadence, conceit, and pomposity. Purple is also a color of mourning.

Orange is a polarizing color – people either love it or hate it. It is the only color of the spectrum whose name was taken from an object (the fruit). Orange symbolizes energy, vitality, cheer, excitement, adventure, warmth and good health but it can also be abrasive and crass, suggesting bad taste and a lack of serious intellectual values.

There are many shades of orange: dark orange (terra cotta or cayenne), red-orange (persimmon), pure orange (pumpkin), yellow orange (mango), pink orange (salmon), light orange (melon). Darker oranges offer a sense of comfort; lighter oranges are soothing and healthy.

Color us helpful

Our job is to guide you through the steps needed to help you develop a color palette or select a color that is the right one for the job. Call us at (215) 923-2679 to get started.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How do I get more business?

A local pet groomer has done just about everything right to grow her business. She has a good looking, informative website, loyalty punch cards, is competitively priced and is starting to reach out via social networks to current and past customers. Yet her phone isn’t ringing. Business has been really slow since the first of the year. Her product is good, there is a need for the service and yet her grooming salon sits empty and she can’t figure out why.

When she called us to see what else she could do to increase sales, we reviewed her current marketing and what her goal was for the future. We noticed she was lacking in one major area: face to face networking.

This pet groomer was relying solely on outside forces to draw in additional business. She had increased her SEO efforts and they were paying off in terms of ranking well, however, she was missing the human factor in her business. Locals didn’t know who she was and weren’t aware that there was an alternative to the big box grooming locations. We suggested that our client do a couple of things.

  1. Join a networking group (or two or three). Our client desperately needed to connect with her buyer. Joining  a networking group not only allowed her to meet more people who could refer business to her, it also allowed her to solidify her message and learn how to effectively communicate what she does and why she does it better in a relatively short amount of time.
  2. Create partnerships. We encouraged our client to contact local veterinarians, pet adoption agencies and breeders, pet food stores, and dog training academies to offer a coupon for new clients who find her through these sources.  Many of these locations were excited to be able to offer a coupon to their clients and found value in creating this partnership.
  3. Try a new medium. Our client was well positioned online. She needed an offline campaign to compliment and fuel her marketing. We suggested a special low cost direct mail campaign we do call NeighborMail™. That allowed her to send a new customer coupon to a targeted list of zip codes for a very low cost – less than 0.49¢ per postcard including design, printing, mail preparation and postage. This campaign will be going out once a month and will feature different specials based on the time of year. The goal here is to reach people that she would previously not have had access to.
We are in the beginning stages of the “marketing reboot” with our client so we can’t speak to the results as far as dollars are concerned. We can say, however, that she is energized about her business once again which can make a HUGE difference in sales. If the owner of the company is excited and passionate about what she is doing, clients will likely follow suit.

What have you done in the past 6-12 months to give your business a boost? Let us know in the comments below.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Using Themes to Liven Up Your Marketing

Marketing regularly is a must for every small business. Whether it is a direct mail campaign, email marketing, social media interaction or a new loyalty program, small businesses are constantly trying out creative ideas to increase sales. It can be challenging to think up new ways to engage your customers with every marketing piece. Consider using the holidays or a yearly theme to craft a yearlong marketing plan. Some ideas include:
  • Holidays: We all know about the major holidays like the 4th of July or Thanksgiving, but how about celebrating some of the more obscure holidays like Mardi Gras, Earth Day,  Summer/Winter Solstice, or Left Hander’s Day? Creating fun campaigns around these lesser celebrated holidays can give you something to talk about. As always with a marketing campaign, make sure that the “holiday” you choose to acknowledge speaks to your target market (if you sell scissors and don’t have a left handed solution, it might be best to not celebrate left hander’s day). Here’s a few more. May 1st is not only May Day (florists), but it’s also Mother Goose Day (day care centers), School Principal’s Day (private and public grade schools) and New Homeowner Day (real estate professionals). You’ll also want to make sure that you plan your campaigns out in advance. You don’t want your promotion being delivered the day after the holiday. Give yourself enough time to plan out the piece and have it delivered in advance of the holiday. Just Googling “calendar of all holidays” will give you a resource to plan out holiday messages in advance and really set a calendar for the year. Here’s a link to a calendar of mostly observed holidays in the US for 2014 www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/. Another interesting resource for this is www.checkiday.com which is a daily list of holidays.
  • Create a Theme: is 2014 your 10th year in business? Can you relate somehow with it being the year of the horse? Is there something distinct about this particular year for your company? Why not design a theme around it? We had a client last year (2013) who created a yearlong campaign around the superstition surrounding the number 13. Each month on the 13th day of the month a new marketing piece would come out. He created contests and automatic winners for customers who had invoices ending in 13. The response was fantastic. His customers started anticipating the emails on the 13th and responded via social interaction which increased his sales.
It can be really hard to create a moving piece of marketing month after month, or week after week. Creating a theme can help solidify your marketing plan for the year and help you stand out in this noisy, crowded message saturated world. Oh, and Happy National Learn to Swim Day (May 17th). May your day go just swimmingly!