Friday, July 30, 2010

Client Showcase—Making Hospital Food Look Good

Hospital food has the reputation for being less than tasty, but not at Avista Adventist Hospital, where the hospital CEO is relentless about creating a more desirable patient experience. To showcase their extensive menu of fresh cuisine, we condensed an original document that was dozens of pages long down to a six-panel guide—complete with three diet options and in two languages. It's one of the many ways Avista's attentiveness to details is blazing new trails to a better customer experience.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photo Techniques—Framing to Create Focus

Sometimes its what you can't see in an image that draws you in. This sense of intrigue can be created in your photos through the technique of framing.

Framing uses objects in your image to draw attention to the primary subjects. It helps to direct the viewer's attention to a particular subject or point of interest within the photograph. Framing can also create perspective, show depth and give context to an image.

In the sample above, the trunk and branches of a tree are used to frame a bridge. Trees, windows, tunnels and archways are just some of the objects one might use when framing a subject. And although this can be best achieved when creating the original photograph, the same results can be achieved through cropping.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Client showcase: Hospital Launches Regional Spine Center

Providence St. Mary Medical Center asked CMBell Company to partner with them on the launch of their new regional spine center—the first of its kind in their community. The message had to:
· Catch the reader’s attention.
· Connect the words “spine center” to back or neck pain. We couldn’t assume that people would make that connection since this is a new product category in this community.
· Be distinctive.
· Be reduced to just seven words on an outdoor board.

In this campaign, the "blue man" image communicates back pain. Its distinctive, dominant nature makes it a strong anchoring visual for the campaign in lighted airport displays, outdoor, print ads, collateral and direct mail. The text uses alliteration and strong consonants and plays on the double words of this unique community name to create a memorable message.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gladwell Looks Inside Success

In his fascinating book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell cites a study of world experts and what it took to them get there. While all his subjects had natural talent, they also got an early start, and were lucky enough to have opportunity to practice their talent more than others—logging 10,000 hours of practice, considerably more than their less famous counterparts. I'd rate this a 9 on the Bell Meter, so if the topic interests you, get your copy here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Drive More Traffic to Your Web Site

We all want our Web site to appear near the top of a search page—but how can we make this happen?

Start by understanding the basics of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO—the process of improving Web site visibility. Search engines aim to produce valuable results for users—and want to avoid sending users to sites that disappoint in content. We all know how frustrating it is to be referred to a site that doesn't have what it promises.

Web sites show up higher on the search results page based on their popularity, and while it does take time to build awareness, there are ways to improve your position.

Google uses proprietary algorithms to determine which sites are the most popular, and some industry experts devote their lives to trying to figure out how these can best be used to their advantage. This has resulted in an on-going competition between Web developers, who want the best possible rankings (and will sometimes push the envelope to achieve this), and Google, who is trying to revise its algorithms to prevent developers from gaming the system. As Web developers find ways to "get around" Google's algorithms, Google responds by changing it—and the cycle repeats.

While experts who devote their entire livelihoods to this can help with this, here are a few ways you can improve your site's rankings in a search result:

  • Have fresh, relevant and desirable content that is easy to search.
  • Cross-link both within your site and to other sites.
  • Buy sponsored links (these appear at the top or along the side of the search results).
  • Think like the consumer. If you have a pain management practice, for example, bear in mind that consumers will search for things like pain relief, back pain, neck pain, and pain doctors--but may not search under pain management clinic. Make sure common key words words appear in your site.
  • Add a site map.
  • Make your site friendly for search engines to crawl (gather information used to index sites). For example, don't put key information or links in graphics or Flash animations, as search engines cannot detect these.
  • Avoid doing things that will be detected as spamming—like keyword stuffing.
  • Create a blog.

Experts agree that the most important way to increase traffic is by having compelling content. It takes work, so be prepared to make the investment required to make your Web site a success.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Word Doctor: Be Active

Compare these sentences:

“The bottle was opened by Spencer. “

It sounds awkward because it is. People don’t speak in passive voice, which is why writing in passive voice doesn’t resonate with readers. Active voice orders sentences more naturally:

“Spencer opened the bottle.”

Notice how “James saw the bird fly over the man and ruin his day” sounds much better than, “The bird that flew over the man and ruined his day was seen by James.”

Avoid passive verbs and you’ll avoid passive voice. There’s no need to be passive about being active.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Client Showcase—Using Direct Mail to Identify Qualified Leads

When St. Anthony North Hospital in Westminster, Colorado, called on us to get the word out quickly about upcoming classes, we created this colorful, engaging direct mail piece to send to their target market. Working within the corporate graphic standards, we developed a distinctive look for their class schedule, which helps drives qualified leads to key services.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Client Showcase—Pacific EP Invitation

We worked with the Los Angeles-based Pacific Rim Electrophysiology Research Institute, under the direction of internationally renown Koonlawee Nademanee, MD, to create an invitation for an open house promoting this remarkable facility.

Dr. Nademanee has developed an advanced cardiac electrophysiology procedure (EP) that offers new hope and vitality to patients suffering from EP problems. We also developed the logo for the Institute, which has offices on the campus of White Memorial Medical Center in California, as well as in Hawaii and Thailand.

This direct mail piece won a 2010 Silver Award in the 7th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How well are you prepared to protect your reputation in a crisis?

Bad things can and do happen to good organizations. In fact, issues that may be out of public sight can surface and create severe image-damaging situations at any moment in time. To see if you’re prepared, ask yourself the following:
  1. Do you have a crisis management plan?
  2. Have you identified which team members you'll trust internally during a high profile event?
  3. Are the right decision makers and managers ready to act and make decisions quickly?
  4. Do you have a trained spokesperson who can effectively mitigate, manage and present a believable face for your organization when the media calls?
  5. Can you activate the right political and regulatory agencies to either be neutral or come to your support?
If you're concerned about your readiness for such a crisis, consider conducting (or hiring an outside firm to do so) an audit to identify your weak points. A good crisis communication plan can not only help preserve your reputation and avoid lawsuits, but help your company survive the financial setbacks these kinds of crises can create.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Client Showcase—Academic Bulletin Covers

Showing real faces is always compelling, especially when they're faces that exude vibrancy and promise. By using existing imagery, we partnered with Walla Walla University to create professional, yet affordable, bulletin covers that invite the reader inside.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Client Showcase—A New Look for an Old Firm

Gresham Savage is the widely recognized leader for business, litigation, real estate, environmental and land use law in Inland Southern California—but their visual image was dated and tired, and failed to reflect the level of excellence seen in their work. We conducted a corporate makeover for this 100-year-old firm and developed a new visual brand identity that gave them a fresh, sophisticated look.

Their new branding package includes not only a new logo and business suite, but supporting pieces like a presentation folder, note cards, mailing labels, templates for news alerts, e-mail signatures, and PowerPoint templates. We also consulted with their web development team to help design the visual appearance of their new website, which now coordinates with the rest of the brand elements. The new look sets the stage for their centennial celebration that occurs this year—ushering in the new decade with dignity.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Client Showcase—Hospice Direct Mail

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is raising money for an innovative, home-like facility for hospice patients who are unable to live out their final days at home. This direct mail piece launched their fund-raising campaign for Cottage in the Meadow and revitalized conversations about living every stage of life fully.

The imagery of the piece reflects the idyllic setting of Cottage in the Meadow, inspiring the reader to become a part of something destined to matter deeply to those who need this kind of care.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Art of Civilized Conversation

This pleasant little book declares itself to be a guide to expressing yourself with style and grace—and that it does. It's a delightful read for those looking to polish their speaking skills and offers practical advice on topics like:

Greetings and introductions
Body language
10 rules of good conversation
Rescuing oneself from conversation blunders
Conversations with all kinds of people
On-line conversations
Graceful apologies
Conversation starters (and stoppers)
Being a gracious hostess

The authors share practical and entertaining advice about finding the right words for any situation—even the most difficult.

This book isn't just for professional communicators, but is a good book for anyone aspiring to be a better conversationalist. Buy it here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

"We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls." —Robert J. McCracken

Friday, July 2, 2010

Client Showcase—Using Testimonials to Promote Your Service

Littleton Adventist Hospital (LAH) wanted a piece to follow up on the successful “Littleton Loves Little Ones” campaign, reminding women why they should have their babies at LAH. To do this, we showcased real moms who chose Littleton. We then listed physicians who delivered at the hospital, and we encouraged recipients to “ask your doctor to take you to Littleton.”

The campaign garnered a Gold Award in the Aster Awards, a Silver Award in the 23rd Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards and a Bronze Leaf Award in the Colorado Healthcare Communicators Gold Leaf Awards. The direct mail piece itself won a Gold Award in the 4th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards.

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