Thursday, September 30, 2010

Execution Trumps Brilliant Idea

Being brilliant can be an asset, but knowing how to execute a strategy—that's what will make you a rising star in an organization. Many strategies fail in the execution stage—even though the original idea was a winner. That's because big ideas are much easier to come by than the long, hard haul of building a service or product.

If that weren't the case, there'd be myriad knock-offs for every business success. Who can't walk into a McDonalds and observe their big ideas in action? Yet few are able to replicate this operationally.

Pay attention to the people in your organization who know how to execute an idea successfully, and see what they have to teach you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Color Psychology—What does yellow say?

"Follow the yellow brick road..." —Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz"

As the color of the sun, yellow owns the attributes of heat, vitality, energy and light. This extroverted color is confident, friendly, warm and inspires the imagination. Yellow is an important color in human development, as one of the most attractive colors to an infant's eye. It is also the color that is most visible, heightens awareness and creates clarity. Because of its ability to attract attention, yellow is often used in signage, point of purchase displays and packaging.

Consider the meaning of various shades of yellow as you select colors to support your messages:
  • Light yellow: cheering, happy, soft, sunny, warming, sweet, easy, pleasing,
  • Bright yellow: illuminating, joyful, hot, lively, friendly, energetic, innovative, surprise, caution (cowardice, betrayal, hazard)
  • Golden yellow: nourishing, buttery, tasty, sun-baked, hospitable, comfort
  • Amber: jewelry, multi-cultural, mellow, abundant, original, autumn
  • Metallic gold: rich, glowing, intuitive, luxurious, opulent, expensive, radiant, valuable

Monday, September 27, 2010

Photo Techniques—Adjusting Levels for Impact



An image that looks like a murky, unusable mess can sometimes hide a true gem. Digital photographs can hold information that can be used by a skilled designer to improve color and contrast.

In the sample above, we took a digital image and used adjustment levels in Photoshop to bring out the image's true colors and depth. By controlling different areas of the image, we were able to add contrast to the sky, lighten the countryside and leave the dramatic, dark color of the highway untouched. Better, don't you think?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Selling Benefits, Not Features

We ask too much from consumers if they must connect the dots between the features of our product or service and the way these features will benefit them. If you're selling mattresses, your brand promise is a good night's sleep—not the attributes of the mattress itself.

This is sometimes hard to do because it is easier to see the world from the company's perspective, where we reside, rather than from the customer's perspective.

Pay attention to ads you see today and see how well they convey a benefit to the customer—rather than the product's or service's features. We'd love to hear what you learn.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Name That Font

How well do you know your fonts? Take this quiz and try to beat the average score of 58%.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Word Doctor—Use Short, Fresh Words

As Theodore Rees Cheney says in Getting the Words Right, "a writer in our business needs a store of expressive words"—not a storehouse of long, complex Latin-derived words.

The right words breathe life into your message and help the reader envision more vivid visual images. As Cheney says, consider words like break, scatter or glimmer. These short words "are concrete and create immediate sense impressions." Here's an example:

Before: If I take the time to look outside of my window during the day, I can see a street covered with snow and ice. People are carrying their briefcases, packages and handbags and trying to balance themselves with care so as not to slip on the ice and fall.

After: The streets outside my window are covered with snow. Fearful people, clinging to their wares, shuffle cautiously to avoid a fall.

(Cheney, p. 157-158)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Most Customers Impacted by Their On-Line Experience with a Brand

According to the 2009 Razorfish study, 65% of consumers report that a digital brand experience has changed their opinion—either positively or negatively—about a brand. Even more significant is the fact that 97% report that a digital brand experience has influenced their decision to buy, or not to buy.

Consumers can move from awareness to purchase to recommendation—in a very short time. Engagement creates customers not just through social media but across the entire digital channel. Instead of focusing on clicks and impressions, conversations and brand engagement should be the focus of your digital media strategies.

Even if you're in an industry that's still in its infancy when it comes to using digital media, consumers are apt to judge their experience based on their experiences with other industries. Which leads me to my question of the day: What kind of on-line experiences are your customers having with your brand?

Source: The Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Report 2009, page 38

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If Walls Could Talk

How many customers set foot in your facility each day? And yet many companies fail to use this free medium for conveying their messages.
Conduct a 10-minute walk-through of your facility and ask yourself whether you can better tell your story through the use of waiting areas, walls and areas that visitors frequent. You’ll pay no media buy fees—and reach people who already have some connection to and interest in your products or services.
Here are just a few ways you can reinforce key strategic messages on-site:
  • Exterior banners
  • Interior banner stands
  • Screensaver messages
  • Posters and displays in heavily travelled corridors
  • Table-top messaging in cafeterias
  • Electronic board messages

Monday, September 6, 2010

Six Tagline Mistakes to Avoid

A tagline works because of how it sounds, how it looks, how memorable it is and how easily it conveys a brand promise. Creating taglines is some of the most difficult writing, because so much is demanded from so few words.
We can all name taglines that worked, like:
  • Just do it (Nike)
  • Got milk? (California Milk Processor Board)
  • Where's the beef? (Wendy's)
  • Think different. (Apple Computer)
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (M&Ms)
  • It takes a licking and keeps on ticking. (Timex)
But here are some that we're not so sure of:
  • We're Exxon. (Exxon)
  • We're chicken. (Tyson)
  • Is that Playtex under there? (Platex)
Here are pitfalls a good tagline should avoid--from the Tagline Guru (a site worth visiting, by the way):
  1. Being cliche.
  2. Being bland or boring.
  3. Attempting to imitate another good tagline.
  4. Not being true to your brand.
  5. Being self-serving.
  6. Using complex, long words.

Read more about these tagline mistakes at

Friday, September 3, 2010

Color Psychology—What does red say?

"When I gain these ruby slippers, my power will be the greatest in Oz!" —The Wicked Witch of the West

Since early times, red has been a signal to the human mind to act. It is the color of blood, and therefore life-sustaining or life-threatening. Considered the most physical color in the spectrum, it commands strong emotions and stimulates the adrenal glands to energize the body and senses.

  • Light Pink: romantic, soft, sweet, delicate, innocent, fragile, youthful (too sweet)
  • Dusty Pink: soft, subtle, cozy, gentle, nostalgic
  • Bright Pink: exciting, playful, energetic, sensual, wild, festive, vibrant, flirtatious (gaudy)
  • Bright Red: exciting, sexy, dynamic, dramatic, powerful, courageous, assertive, impulsive, demanding, motivating (aggressive, violent, dangerous)
  • Brick Red: earthy, warm, strong, established
  • Deep Reds: rich, elegant, refined, expensive, mature, robust

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