Saturday, October 10, 2015

Speaking the Language of Color

Color is an essential element of communication. It can be used to shape perceptions, affect reactions, influence choices and provoke responses. In marketing materials, it adds a dynamic to the structure – the general form and direction – of the words and image by highlighting and marking important content. The more you understand the language of color, the more effective you will be in communicating your message to clients and prospects in print and online.

How we see color

Science describes how humans perceive color. Specifically, color is light. In his 1704 book Opticks, Sir Isaac Newton described his observation that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into a spectrum of seven hues (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) known as the visual spectrum.

Newton clearly states that color is not a property of objects observed or of light. Rather, it is a product of the mind. His proof was that he could create a color that was not part of the light spectrum (magenta) by overlapping two hues that were a part of it (red and violet). That is why we say color is subjective. All people see color differently depending on a multitude of environmental factors.

When Newton connected the red and violet ends of the spectrum, he created the first color wheel, thus showing the relationship between colors in the visible spectrum.

Two Types of Color Systems

A color wheel is arranged according to the chromatic relationship of the colors. There are two types of color systems – additive (RGB) and subtractive (CMYK). Televisions, computer monitors and smart phone screens are examples of the RGB color system in action. Color printing and color photography are examples of the CMYK color system.

Lack of overlap between color systems 

The additive and subtractive color systems are not perfectly overlapping. For instance, you might have noticed a difference between the color displayed on your computer monitor and the same color used on a printed piece. The reason for the difference is based in science.

The human eye can see billions of colors in the visible spectrum; RGB light can reproduce 16 million colors; and CMYK printing can reproduce 5,000-6,000 colors. When a color is in both the RGB and CMYK color gamuts, it may look identical. But if an RGB color is outside the CMYK gamut, it may be quite different. Please keep this in mind if you are creating the artwork for printing. Graphic designers creating for print automatically work in the CMYK color space.

How color affects purchasing decisions

During the purchasing process, color is a very influential factor on the subconscious mind. Kissmetrics recently published a series of infographics on how colors affect purchases. Among the findings:
  • 93% consider visual appearance and color first above all other factors when shopping. 
  • 85% cite color as a primary reason for buying a particular product. 
  • Color increases brand recognition by 80%.

Some colors are associated with types of customers:
  • Yellow is used to attract window shoppers. 
  • Red is often seen in clearance sales. 
  • Blue is used by banks and businesses to create a sense of trust and security.
  • Green is used in stores for relaxation.
  • Red, orange, black and royal blue attract impulse shoppers and are used for fast food and outlet malls. 
  • Navy blue and teal appeal to shoppers on a budget and are often used by large department stores. 
  • Pink, sky blue and rose attract traditional buyers and are often used by clothing stores.

Here’s a recently published color emotion guide with examples of corporate logos for each color.
  • Yellow: optimism, clarity, warmth. A rich color that invokes gold and treasure. Used by McDonald’s, Hertz, Best Buy, Shell Oil, Sun Chips, Sprint, Subway.
  • Orange: friendly, cheerful, confident, creative, youthful, enthusiastic. Used by Nickelodeon, Fanta, Crush, Hooters, Gulf Oil, Firefox, Home Depot, Harley-Davidson.
  • Red: excitement, youthful, bold, warm, exciting, sexy, urgent. Used by Nintendo, KMart, Coca Cola, Target, Lego, Kellogg’s, Netflix.
  • Purple: creative, imaginative, wise. Suggests images of grandeur, opulence, mysticism. Used by Syfy Channel, Hallmark, Yahoo!, Taco Bell, Cadbury.
  • Blue: trust, dependability, strength. Suggests calm and tranquility. Used by Dell, IBM, Intel, AT&T, Pfizer, WalMart, Volkswagen, Oreo, HP, Twitter.
  • Green: peaceful, serene, growth, health. Used by Whole Foods, John Deere, Girl Scouts, Animal Planet, H&R Block, Starbucks.
  • Gray/silver: Balance, neutral, calm. Used by Mercedes Benz, Honda, Apple.

Blue and red are the most popular logo colors for the world’s top brands – a fact that has remained true over the years. In 2013, Wired magazine reported that two-thirds of corporate America’s logos were either blue or red (with blue logos slightly ahead of red).

Understand the language of color Color

is a language that appeals to emotion. Learning to use it in communication can enhance the effectiveness of your efforts to persuade clients and prospects to buy from you. To learn more about how to put color to work in your marketing materials, contact Brigid for an appointment at 215-923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com.

Color Photographs

When you need a full color photograph to illustrate a brochure or other printed piece, consider using a stock photo. Stock photographs are taken by a professional photographer and licensed for use for a fee. Once the fee is paid, you can use the photograph repeatedly, usually without paying royalties.

Stock photo images are readily available for immediate download from the web. Most are organized into collections on a specific topic like holidays, nature or landscapes. Collections are also available for textures, finishes and special effects. Often there is a choice of high resolution (for use in printed materials) or lower resolution (for use on the web).

A few popular stock photo publishers include:

Fun with Color

The word “color” is from the Old Latin word colos meaning a covering, akin to hiding or concealing. Chromatophobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of colors. Here are some more fun facts about color:

Red. Men and women see red differently because seeing red is related to the X chromosome (women have two; men only one). Red is the first color a baby sees. Because red has the longest wave length, it can be seen from a long distance which is why it is used for stop signs. Blue. Blue is the world’s most popular color. 33% of the world’s top 100 brands use a blue logo. Over half of the world’s flags contain blue.

Blue and white are the most common school colors. Interestingly, blue is the most popular toothbrush color. Blue also has very few connections to taste or smell, therefore it may act as an appetite suppressant.

Green. It’s the easiest color for the human eye to process. Our eyes can detect more shades of green than of any other color. That’s why night vision goggles use a green phosphor. Only 1-2% of people have green eyes. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses green ink because the color is relatively high in resistance to chemical and physical changes.

Yellow. Black on yellow is the color pairing with the strongest impact. American school buses are yellow because people see yellow faster than any other color, including 125% faster than red. Yellow is the most appetizing color. That’s why McDonald’s arches are yellow and why fast food logos often contain yellow.

Orange. Prescription bottles are orange or light brown to prevent UV light from entering, which might degrade the medicine inside. Prison jumpsuits are orange so inmates are easy to spot while in transit or in public.

Black and white. Scientists and researchers consider black to be the absence of color and white to be the mixture of all colors. Artists and painters consider white to be the absence of color and black to be a color. Adidas created the black-and-white paneled soccer ball for the 1970 World Cup so it would catch the eyes of viewers as it moved across black-andwhite TV screens.

The Power of Color

Substantial research shows why color matters and how color plays a pivotal role in all of our visual experiences. About 80% of what we assimilate through our senses is visual. It’s no surprise that 92% of people rank color as the most important visual factor when purchasing. Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about other people, their environment, and products within 90 seconds of initial viewing, and 62-90% of that assessment is based on color alone.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture in color is worth a million to your memory. Psychologists have documented that color does more than appeal to the senses. It also boosts memory. Color helps us to process and store images more efficiently, and as a result we remember them better. Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Ads in color are read 42% more often than the same ads in black and white. Color improves readership by 40%, learning by 55-78% and comprehension by 73%.

If you’d like help improving your marketing materials, please give me a call at 215-923-2679.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Using Videos in Marketing: Why and How to Create a Video that Gets Noticed

Videos are a great way to introduce your products and services in a visual way. With the introduction of low cost HD video cameras (including video cameras on our smartphones) more and more businesses are choosing to market with videos and there are good reasons why.

  • Video drives higher engagement and longer retention. You only have about 8 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. 65% of viewers watch more than three quarters of each video, meaning video keeps them engaged longer than text only pages.
     
  • Video is the winning medium in driving conversions. 70% of marketers say video is the most effective means to driving conversion. Product videos can increase purchase intent by up to 85%.
     
  • Video improves the results of other marketing assets. Adding video to the promotion of your other content assets can boost their performance.
     
  • Video is easier to access and more available than ever before. Buyers now expect video content. Cisco predicts that more than 80% of internet traffic will be video by 2018.
     
If you can’t afford to hire a professional to make the video for you, follow these tips to producing a high-quality do-it-yourself video.
 
  1. Set a goal. First and foremost, decide what you want your video to do. Your goal could be to make the phone ring, demonstrate a product, explain a service or introduce your key players. Whatever the goal of your video is, make sure you know before you start filming.

  2. Use good lighting. If you are filming in a dark space, bring in some torchiere lamps or some desk lamps (try removing the shades for more lighting) to brighten the area. These can even be off camera and just used to lighten the area.
     
  3. Make sure you can be heard. If you are filming near a train station, make sure you wait until no trains are passing before you start rolling. A microphone isn’t always necessary if you can minimize background noise and if you speak clearly and slowly.
     
  4. Plan out your script. Some people can wing it, sound great and get out everything they want to say in an eloquent manner. Most people, however, do better with a well prepared, memorized script. Keep it simple and try not to appear robotic. Pretend you are having a conversation with the camera. Also, try reading through your script in front of a mirror to see how and when you should add facial or voice inflections to your script.
     
  5. Look the part. If you are going to be in the video, make sure your appearance will make a good first impression. Sit up straight and be confident in your delivery. For clothing, try not to wear stripes or anything with a busy pattern or large logo.
     
  6. What’s in the background? If you are filming in your office or a common area, make sure the background is fairly uninteresting. You don’t want the background of your set to take away from the overall message. If you can find a blank wall (contrasting with your clothing), that would be a fine place to film.
     
  7. Keep it straight. If you are placing your camera on a table with or without a tri-pod, try to make sure it is level. You do not want to appear crooked or sliding downhill. Also make sure you are centered in the screen both horizontally and vertically. If you don’t have a tri-pod, try resting your camera on a ladder. You can use the ladder rungs to vary the height and get the shot you want.
     
  8. Keep it short. Depending on your goal, you may want to keep your video short and sweet. Sales messages tend to do best at under a minute in length. If you are doing a product demonstration, you may need a little more time. Highlight the major items early in the video to make sure the user gets what they need to know in the first part of the video.
     
  9. Promote it. A video is only good if people watch it. Once you have completed your video, post it to your website and social media accounts. Send a note to existing clients letting them know what you just created.
Most importantly, relax. You are the expert in your field and you have a lot to say. If you have prepared properly for your video, creating it can be just as easy as hitting record and delivering your message to an untapped audience. Whether your video is instructional and educational or meant to be a sales tool, using these tips will help you create a video you will want to share with clients.
  
Feeling shy? Feel free to share your video with us. We’d be happy to provide you with some constructive criticism or some powerful praise!

Help! My Website Has Been Hacked

We spend a good deal of time talking websites with business owners across a wide spectrum of industries. When it comes to website security, comments we hear on a daily basis include:
“I don’t take payments on my website, so I am not at risk of being hacked.”
“I don’t care if my site gets hacked; there is nothing anyone would want anyway.”
And the most common:
“Why would anyone want to hack my site?”
In the good-old-days, a website hack was merely a nuisance. A hacker would gain access to the site files, upload a page or content with sometimes embarrassing content and let the world know your site had been hacked. These hacks could be destructive, but most were harmless, requiring you to clean and restore your site files to a previously intact state. Once this was completed and more strict security measures were in place, you were back in business.

Today’s hackers are far more sophisticated. For most website owners, targeted attacks will be rare, but opportunistic attacks are constant. Opportunistic attacks used to hack into most small and medium size business using typical website tools are mostly automated. These automated tools provide the hacker with mass exposure and dramatically increase the likelihood of success, while reducing overhead and the technical knowledge necessary to initial these attacks.

Generally speaking, a new website will take 30-45 days to begin to be crawled. These “bots” begin by looking for identifying markers to determine if the website is using a popular application or exploitable software. If they uncover a marker, the site is set up for the next phase of attack exploitation. These exploits can happen in a matter of minutes, days or months, but typically happen over time with many different types of attacks on known or suspected vulnerabilities. Since these are automated attacks, once your site makes the attack list, attackers will keep trying.

The reasons websites get hacked are just as varied as the methods used. However, the most obvious reason is economic gain. These attacks can be as notorious as gaining access to customer credit card data or as simple attempts to make money from your audience using malware. Think of one of your clients visiting your site and the next thing you know, you’re getting a phone call telling you that a fake piece of software you recommended on your site has been installed and now their entire bank account has been drained.

Hackers also employ blackhat SEO techniques to link content on your site to affiliate sites to generate income from purchases. Sometimes these links can be seen, sometimes not. But Search Engines see them and index these links, and once they have been indexed, hackers can generate revenue from your audience.
The majority of security breaches, with a small business website, are not to steal your data or deface your website, but instead attempts to use your server as an email relay for spam, or to setup a temporary web server, normally to serve files of an illegal or harmful nature (malware). The business of “farming resources” is big business. “Botnets” are a number of unsuspecting computers linked together to perform simultaneous tasks. Your website, as part of one or more “botnets”, can be used to send spam email, or even attack other websites or servers by consuming all of its resources.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of your site being hacked, used as a tool to infect others or to provide malicious gains. We believe awareness is critical. If you have a website, it is your responsibility to know that it is being attacked. Ignoring this fact will not help solve the problem. Google indicates that they blacklist 10,000+ sites every single day for malware and flag over 20,000 sites for phishing every month.
Website security is not about risk elimination, but rather, risk reduction. Your risk can never be zero and you need to be wary of anyone who says that they can provide you a zero risk website solution. You can employ security measures and tools to reduce your risks so that you do not become part of the problem and just another statistic.

If you have a concern about your website and hosting environment, give us a call. We’d be happy to take a look at your current solution and provide helpful tips and advice on how to make your hosting more secure.