Monday, November 28, 2011

We've Moved!

Our blog has moved to our new Web site. You will be automatically redirected to this site, but if for some reason you are not please click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

During this time of Thanksgiving we send each of you warm wishes. We count our readers and clients among our blessings during this holiday and always.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Communication Trends—How Google and Facebook Are Shaping Your View of Reality

In this TED Talk, Eli Pariser pulls back the curtain on the filtering techniques of Google and Facebook, reminding us that your news and information is now being filtered by someone else. Searches now bring up information tailored to you—so two people sitting next to each other and searching for the same thing will get entirely different results.

Pariser says the torch is being passed from human gatekeepers to algorithmic gatekeepers, which don’t have imbedded the ethics that humans are capable of. Right now these algorithms decide what we get to see—and what we don’t get to see—based on relevance to us. What they don’t show us are differing points of view, information that is important, uncomfortable and perhaps even challenging—creating a reality with us as the center.

Pariser suggests that these algorithms must be coded in a way that supports a sense of public life, a sense of civic responsibility—and that they are transparent enough so that we can both understand and have some control over the kinds of information we access.

This 8-minute video is a must-see.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Showcase: Scholarship Worksheet Keeps it Simple

Walla Walla University’s new scholarship program gives students instant feedback on what they’re eligible for—and has proven to be an important part of their marketing successes.

When they asked us to develop a simple piece to communicate this complicated message—we recommended an interactive visual piece that is available in print and on-line (click here to view the online version).

Very often, a visual is the best way to convey complex information quickly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Building Better Facebook Pages

Lauren Fisher advises those managing Facebook pages to write for the news feed, not your wall.

When you write an update for your Facebook page, the update will most likely appear on the page’s wall by default. It can be confusing however, to consider that the wall is not the place where 99 percent of your fans will see the update. Though a link or ad will lead some people straight to the wall, your existing fans will see the update in their news feed.

Remember to include links in your update if you want to drive the reader to a specific page—and don’t reference something that won’t appear in the news feed. For example, telling them to “Check out our tab on the side” is out of context for people seeing this update in their news feed.

To see all 8 of her tips, go to

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Use Type Like a Pro—Part 1

One of the fastest ways to make your communications look unprofessional is by poor use of type. Here are three mistakes Jim Godfrey identifies that every pro should avoid:
  1. Two spaces between sentences. Once upon a time, typewriters used a monospaced typeface. Since all of the letters were the same width, it became customary to add an extra space at the end of a sentence to call attention to a new sentence. This was never the practice of professional typesetters, who always used one space. (If you're doubting this, find an old book and see for yourself.) Since most typefaces on our computers vary in width, unsightly gaps appear if two spaces are used--so retrain yourself to use just one space after a sentence.
  2. Failing to kern display type. Nothing bellows "I'm an amateur!" quite like display type that hasn't been properly kerned. Unseemly gaps can impede readability by distracting the reader. The kerning tables of some typefaces are great, but the human eye is divine. Remember that we read shapes--not individual letters--so kern accordingly.
  3. Using a hyphen instead of an en dash. A hyphen is great for a hyphenated word, but an en dash can be used to indicate a range of numbers or a duration of time instead of the word "to": the 8–10 Commandments, not 8-10 Commandments.  
—From "Thou Shalt Not" by Jim Godfrey, published in the July 2011 issue of How magazine.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Department of War or Defense: Words Matter

From 1789 until 1947 the department responsible for the operation of the United States Army was called the War Department. In 1947, it was renamed the Department of Defense.

Play along with us on this little turn of words, if you will, and ask yourself which you’d rather support with your tax dollars: a war department? Or a department of defense?

See the different feelings these two names for the same thing evoke? It’s much easier to rally support for defense then war. And so we see yet another example of how much a word matters in evoking a desired response.

What words in your business might need rethinking?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pick Easy-to-Read Typefaces for Body Copy

We read words by shapes—not individual characters—and our reading has a natural rhythm. An alphabet such as Futura Light (below, top) with widely varying character widths disrupts this rhythm—making it harder to read.

When designing printed material, select a body text typeface with similar character widths. Your readers will thank you.  

From Before & After Magazine, What's the Right Typeface for Text

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eight Reasons to Celebrate Your Company’s Anniversaries

CMBell Company was in Los Angeles at White Memorial Medical Center last week to begin work on the planning for their Centennial.
A company anniversary provides an opportunity to breathe new life into your organization—to offer a kind of oasis in the press of daily work. A strategically planned anniversary celebration can:
  1. Recognize the people who make your success possible
  2. Deepen bonds with your community, customers and staff
  3. Inspire deeper engagement
  4. Infuse the workplace with meaning
  5. Shift internal focus from problems to achievements
  6. Reinforce your culture, mission and values
  7. Attract positive press
  8. Provide a foundation for casting vision for the future
There’s no rule about which anniversaries you should celebrate. Whether it’s a 15th (ours, next year), a 20th, or a 100th, these occasions provide valuable time for reflection and celebration—both of which yield subtle but important fruits in the work place.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2011 Web Trends Part 2

Our last post highlighted some trends in Web design for 2011. We continue that here.

Adventurous Domain Names—The common .com is going out of style. Look for more creative addresses like .me which is becoming more common for blogs or portfolios or .us for business pages.

Quick Response Codes—You may have noticed these appearing on business cards, ads, billboards, etc. This is one trend that has a multitude of uses and doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Here are some cool uses for a QR code: 
  1. Put a QR code on the back of your business card so people can easily visit your Web site.
  2. Place a QR code on ads or store fronts so that smartphone users can access special offers, coupons or giveaways.
  3. Use QR codes on T-shirts so you can be a walking promotion for whatever it is you are wanting to promote.
  4. QR codes can also be used to make phone calls or send texts when scanned. Think of all the possibilities with this one!

Thumbnail Design—Thanks to Google's new thumbnail browsing you no longer have to click through to see the contents of a Web site, so expect your site to be judged based on a thumbnail as users become more acquainted with this new way of browsing. This poses a problem for Flash sites because that part of your design will not display in the preview.

Constant Connection / Life Stream—In our quest to make the internet more personable, we have taken to sharing all aspects of our lives online. Expect to see more integrated live feeds on Web sites such as the site below.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Holiday E-Cards Are Environmentally Friendly

Now’s the time to think about your holiday message to your clients. Instead of the traditional, ho-hum preprinted holiday card, do something original, high impact and environmentally friendly—an e-card.

Here are a few examples of work we’ve done in the past:
The holidays are a time to create a breathe in the working world—introducing ideas that speak to deeper issues in the human heart. Use your card to acknowledge your gratitude for your clients’ patronage, convey a mutually held value, or introduce an artful and inspiring message that provides a momentary oasis for the recipient. We promise you, it will be far more impactful and welcome than an impersonal, imprinted card.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Web Trends Part 1

While Web design is always evolving, we're seeing these trends in 2011:

Simple Color Schemes—It's popular to use only two or three colors in your site design and then use a lot of shades or tints.

Mobile Ready—Forecasters are predicting that smartphones will outsell personal computers this year, so it's becoming increasingly important to design with mobile viewing in mind.

Design for Touch Screens, Not Mice—Now that more and more people are using smartphones or iPads for their browsing, traditional means of navigation such as drop-down menus may not work so well in these new mediums.

Depth Perception—Layer objects, drop shadows and other 3D effects to create dimension in your site.

Large Photographic Backgrounds—Large, high quality photos are becoming more popular. Arresting photos capture attention quickly and draw your viewer into your site.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's the Deal with Google+ ?

You've probably been hearing about the new Google+, so for those of you still scratching your heads, this video provides a quick summary of what Google+ is about. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Color Counsel: A Monochromatic Scheme Can Be Chic

A monochromatic color scheme uses shades (created by adding black to a color) and tints (created by adding white) of a single color resulting in a clean and elegant look. This color palette is soothing to the eyes and works especially well with green or blue hues. It is easy to get right and has a sense of authority to it. The primary color can also be used with neutral colors like black, white or gray.

The only downfall to a monochromatic color scheme is that it lacks the contrast of a complementary color scheme and is not as vibrant. But don't be afraid to try this when you're wanting a sophisticated but cost-effective look.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint: Rule 1

Keep it Simple

PowerPoint slides shouldn't steal the show—nor should they be a complete script for the presenter. They are meant to emphasize your key points in a visual way.

To give your point emphasis, float it in a sea of white space. Remember that the less information you put on your slide, the more clearly your message will come across to your audience.

Resist the temptation to resort to slide after slide with bullet points, also—since studies suggest that this format is one of the fastest ways to lose your audience.

For example,  look at these two slides from a presentation by João Paulo Alves on simplicity:

See how powerful white space can be.
If you are trying to communicate too much visually, simplify your message in order to communicate your key points.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on great presentations you've seen—or on how you're improving your own presentations.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selling or Telling: Make Your Company an Information Destination

We’re not ready to suggest that selling isn’t still an important part of any business’s marketing efforts, but we also recognize that in the age of information, there’s untapped power in becoming a destination for trusted information.

Consumers are hungry for good information, and have the means to find it. Although we want coupons for free coffee and discounts from our favorite retailer—we are equally or more hungry for the most definitive, recent information on our topic of choice.

If you’re seeing social media as a way to “talk at” your consumers, you won’t likely build a robust following. But if you consistently deliver the trustworthy information they’re hungry for, they’ll be back for more. If they come to see you as a trusted source of information, this will develop a stronger bond than a sales message can.

According to a Constant Contact blog, roughly 78% of consumers prefer to get company information from helpful articles instead of an ad, and 61% of those are more likely to buy as a result of receiving this content.

Making content that benefits the consumer instead of selling yourself is a winning strategy. But don’t be discouraged by this. Take small steps towards this goal, and remember it takes time to move into an entirely new paradigm.

What are your most trusted sources for information?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

7 Things to Do Now to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Facebook Page

  1. Publish status updates or major stories in the morning. If you publish between 11 am and 4 pm your content may go unnoticed due to the heavy traffic by other users.
  2. Tag your friends when you post a note, so they see a message on their wall and are more likely to read it. Unfortunately you can only tag 30 people at a time. If you post multiple notes in order to tag more than 30 people, make sure to delete the duplicated posts in your news feed so you don't look like a spammer.
  3. Encourage interaction from your fans. Invite conversation, create contests, post interesting status updates and encourage check-ins.
  4. Share interesting links and encourage people to comment, but be sure to post the whole link instead of a short link because it's 300 percent more likely to get clicked on.
  5. Thursday is the best day of the week to get the most visibility for a Facebook post.
  6. Facebook may be the best platform for making a video go viral due to its ease of embedding media.
  7. Remember AIDA—Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Visit for more social media tips.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Using a Blog to Grow Your Social Media Leads

Many companies toy with the idea of starting a blog, but aren’t sure what resources it will require—and if they can keep up with the demand for fresh content. Followers expect fresh, new content regularly—but how much is enough?

In the 2011 State of Inbound Marketing, HubSpot reports that most bloggers post weekly.

But as Phil Mershon states on “The likelihood of acquiring a customer through your blog increases significantly the more frequently you post…. HubSpot found blogs that post daily generate four times more leads than those that post weekly or less.”

So yes, frequency matters. But remember that frequency alone isn’t enough—the content must be relevant and accessible to keep your readers coming back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Color Psychology—The Color White Can Sometimes be Right

"White is not a mere absence of color, it is a shining and affirmative thing..." —G. K. Chesterton

White most often represents purity, clarity, innocence and simplicity. It expresses silence, the suspension of hostility and peace. White is a conciliatory color. The human eye is very sensitive to even minute differences in whiteness, and as it does have an ample presence, white should not be considered to be a neutral color. It may be considered a clean, spotless, sterile color, but it is not warm.
  • White: pure, clean, elegant, essential, pristine, spotless, innocent, silent, lightweight, airy, bright, ethereal, clarity, simplicity (sterile, cold, clinical)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Stretch Your Photo Budget

We'll give this a C grade. Lots of busy details detract from its message.
We'll give this an A. Strong focal point, good composition, professional.

Think you can’t afford professional photography? Here are some ways to stretch your budget:
  1. Consider hiring a photographer with a journalistic background who can shoot candids that are compelling. These require less set-up, thereby reducing cost, and add an air of authenticity to your images.
  2. Set up a one- or two-day shoot that attempts to capture a variety of images that can be used in a many ways. These digital assets can be cropped differently, treated differently, and used in different applications—while still giving your organization a professional image.
  3. Mix stock images with custom images to create a high quality piece. If you select images with similar characteristics and lighting, you can give the illusion of using all-custom images.
  4. Negotiate a price that includes full use rights when you do hire a professional photographer. This will ensure that you can use them in various applications.
  5. Plan to update your library every two years to ensure that you have fresh, high quality images with which to work.
Photos create a far more powerful first impression than words. Remember that although you can’t quantify it, there’s a cost to your organization when it appears unprofessional, careless, second rate or outdated because of poor images.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Client Showcase—St. Anthony North 40-Year Collateral Piece

This is the final piece in a campaign to promote St. Anthony North Hospital's achievements via its 40-year anniversary. This printed piece serves as both a direct mail and a brochure that tells the hospital's story and casts a vision for its future. The campaign theme, "We," celebrates the team's efforts in reaching this milestone, while creating enthusiasm for the hospital's future. It pairs well with the employee video, where we build on a reality-style production to show what "we" means. 

The focus of the messaging was not just about their accomplishments and plans for the future, but was a way to celebrate the achievements of the team, which always infuses energy into an organization.

We can't wait to see what they do together in the next 40 years.

How are you celebrating the achievements of the people who make your business successful? What company do you know that does this well?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quote of the Day—Each Moment We Decide What We Are Becoming

Those of us who are planners need to be reminded of the truth in this wise insight. It is not tomorrow, but this very moment, that defines me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is Email Dead?

Is email dead? Some say absolutely, while others say not at all.

In his Constant Contact blog, Martin Lieberman reports on Media Post’s 2011 Email Insider Summit and asserts that it isn’t.

The role of email has changed, he says, and now requires that you include strong calls to action in your email that pull your reader to other channels like social media, where you can continue the conversation.

Email is forging stronger bonds with social media—with both working together to deliver content.

How are you using email and social media as companion channels? Do you think email is dead?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Listen Up! The Consumer Owns Your Message

Those who have worked in marketing and communications for awhile know that it wasn’t that long ago that companies owned their messages. They would craft and place them to serve their purposes—talking at the consumer as part of their business paradigm.

Today the message is owned by the consumer, who has access to more information than ever—and who can share his or her ideas freely (whether they’re true or not). This increases risk and opportunity, as is often the case.

The Risk:
  • Failing to use the new methods of communication will diminish your reach and push you to the sidelines
  • Consumers can say anything they want about you
  • As chief marketer and communicator, you now have many more venues to monitor—and probably no more staff or budget
The Opportunity:
  • Consumers want conversation with a brand, so there’s a higher level of engagement with relevant messages
  • The consumer voice carries more credibility, so when they share a positive experience, it has more weight than a company-released message
  • Unleashing and empowering the experts within your company allows you to spread the communication function—so it’s not just your role. This can take advantage of organizational wisdom and expertise that can be valuable to the consumer.
This shift calls marketing and communication professionals to be more deeply involved in not only messaging, but in shaping the organization and creating services and products that inherently engage consumers. It also makes the chief communicator the chief listener—and an internal leader of the many voices within the organization.

We'd like to hear from you. What companies do you know that are engaging in meaningful dialogue with their consumers?

Image Source

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the Day—Change Begins Here

All ideasabout the world, business, ourselvesreside in our minds first. What thoughts do you have today that give rise to creativity, virtue and innovation?

Copyright © 2009 CMBell Company, Inc.

Unless otherwise credited, all content copyrighted by CMBell Company.