Thursday, March 31, 2011

Client Showcase—High Impact Brochure Markets Region to Businesses

In this project for the Port of Walla Walla, we made the pictures tell the story on this first-impression piece designed to promote our beautiful region to prospective businesses looking to relocate. Using a high-impact paper and printing technique, the piece went from handsome to stunning—and captured the spirit of this community that pairs history with a strong vision for the future.

If readers pay attention only to the images, headlines, subheads and bullet points, they'll walk away with an accurate and positive view of this area. This is a good example of making key messages apparent in the images and easy-to-browse copy. And for those who desire more, the body text presents a persuasive case for moving one's business here.

We've been so very lucky to be able to work on projects that we care deeply about—and this one holds a special place in our heart because it's for our very own community.

Stop by and see us if you're ever in the area!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Make Your Ad More Readable

We writers love words. But oh, how hard it is to sometimes pare them down.

There is, after all, often much to say about a good product or service. But to make your ad readable:

1. Limit your message to one or two strong points.
 2. Be  accurate and truthful. Readers will disdain your company if they discover you've misled them.
 3. Make the headline do the heavy lifting. Only about five percent of viewers will read your copy—but 30% will read your headline. You can even try grouping the two together.
 4. Make your typeface readable.  Use serif typefaces and avoid reversed type that can be hard to read.

In the ad below, the body copy is too long and too hard to read. Not only is the small copy hard to read in sans serif, but the contrast between the background and text is too low.

Conversely, this ad by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam uses readable body copy. The serif copy is black on a cream background for optimum contrast—and the pairing of the graphic image with the typeface strengthens the message.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Client Work Wins Three Service Industry Awards

The Service Industry Advertising Awards competition results were released this week, and I would like to take a moment to recognize two of our clients and my outstanding team for garnering one Gold Award and two Bronze Awards.

Our friends at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital received a Bronze Award for a two-part print ad series promoting NorthStar Lodge, their cancer treatment center.


California-based Gresham Savage Law firm earned Gold and Bronze Awards for their litigation direct mail piece and their 100-Year direct mail piece.

National judges evaluated nearly 2,000 entries for execution, creativity, quality and consumer appeal. The full list of winners can be found here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For the Want of Clean Water

Today is World Water Day. Did you know:
  • More than one billion people—around one-sixth of the world's population—do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is over three-and-a-half miles.
  • The average weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads can be as much as to 40 pounds—the equivalent of your airport luggage allowance.
Clean water was one of the causes we supported last year because of the impact it has on lives around the globe.

Whatever charity you feel compelled to support, check it out using an independent charity evaluator like Charity Navigator to ensure that your dollars have maximum impact.

(Source: Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wait! Don’t Use That Typeface!

We love typography. A beautifully shaped letter infuses style and emotion into a simple word in the same way that a beautiful fabric brings life to a garment. It serves as both art and utility.

When a spoken word floats into the air it enters the world bare, without the dress of a correlating visual font. The type selected conveys a mood—anything from dignity or silliness to boldness, strength or power. 

We often know the effects of well-chosen type but can’t explain its power over us to make us feel a certain way.  For example, what kind of connotations do the following fonts have for you?

The selection of typography is no less important than how you dress for an important meeting or presentation. It can make the difference between being perceived as savvy and professional—or as amateur and lacking in credibility. So next time you’re tempted to dash out a memo in Comic Sans, think again. Maybe it’s time to call in an expert who can help you be sure that your font is saying exactly what you want it to say about you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Color Psychology—Know When to Use Neutrals

"The inner equilibrium of Cezanne's paintings, which are never insistent or obtrusive, produces this calm almost velvety air." —Rainer Maria Rilke, referring to the color gray

Grey is the truly perfect neutral—the middle ground between black and white. This is why color matching is best done against a gray background. It is a difficult color to find in nature, as things that often appear gray from a distance are usually complex mixtures of other hues.

Because of its perceived neutrality, gray has connotations of responsibility, fairness, loyalty, accountability and wisdom. This translates well in the corporate world where those are desirable attributes.

Silver is the more exciting, metallic version of gray. In addition to evoking a feeling of fluidity and motion, it suggests stylishness and class.

Taupe and beige share many of the attributes of gray, but are warmer and sometimes lighter. They are thought of as authentic, organic, modest and unobtrusive. Hues of taupe and beige have a timelessness and basic lack of "trendiness" that fosters a confidence in the longevity of the shades.

Off-whites are another important sector of the neutrals. They have a subtle, stylishly elegant and classic connotation attached to them, and have come to suggest environmental responsibility. They have often symbolize sustainable resources such as natural fibers and recycled paper products.

The hard-working neutrals are an often used tool for those who work with color. Their flexibility and staying power make them an important part of your color mix.

  • Neutral Grey: Classic, sober, corporate, practical, timeless, quality, quiet, neutrality, logical, deliberate, reserved, fundamental, basic, modest, efficient, dutiful, methodical.
  • Charcoal Grey: Steadfast, responsible, staunch, resolute, restrained, conservative, professional, classic, sophisticated, solid, enduring, mature; Depending on context, they can also read dull, conformist or detached.
  • Taupe: Classic, neutral, practical, timeless, quality, basic, authentic, organic, versatile, inconspicuous, understated, discreet, compromising, modest; be careful to pair it with colors that keep it from appearing bland.
  • Ivory/Cream: Classic, neutral, soft, warm, comforting, good taste, smooth, subtle, natural.
  • Silver: Sleek, classy, stylish, modern, cool.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Client’s Annual Report Makes Top 50 List and Garners Platinum Award

Key Technology’s 2010 annual report has been listed in the top 50 winners gallery in the 2009-2010 international LACP Visions Awards Annual Report Competition.

The report also garnered the Platinum Award—the highest of four awards offered in each category—for annual reports in its industry. A panel of professional judges scored the project on eight aspects ranging from first impressions to message clarity.

The photo of the executive team, above, appears inside the report and mirrors the cover theme that evokes freshness, purity and quality—all outcomes that Key's product line helps achieve.

We have worked with Key Technology on their annual reports for more than a decade, and must say that they know how to inspire good work. We love helping to tell the story of this innovative, forward-thinking international company.

More than 4,400 entries representing 25 countries were received. LACP is the League of American Communications Professionals that helps promote best-in-class practices in communications.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Need inspiration? Step into your right brain

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, suffered a stroke in the left side of her brain and learned what it really means to be a right-brained thinker. She's spent the last eight years recovering her ability to think, walk and talk, and has now become a major advocate for stroke recovery.

From her experiences she hopes she can inspire others to think differently about thinking. "Right here, right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere... [where] I am the the life-force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form, at one with all that is. Or, I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere where I become a single individual, a solid. Separate from the flow, separate from you."

Innovation comes from right-brain thinking. So when lacking inspiration, try stepping out of the structured left-hemisphere of your brain and into the creativity of the right. lists several ways you can tap into the power of right-brain thinking:
  • Use your non-dominant hand.  If you are right-handed, trying using your left hand for common activities such as brushing your teeth or combing your hair. 
  • Try some brain boosting body moves. Certain body moves are known to balance the brain, such as juggling, walking while swinging opposite arms and legs, and marching on the spot all help to get the left and right side of the brain working together.
  • Do some creative planning.  Doodle rather than writing word lists or linear notes. You can daydream, scribble and sketch your way through a problem-solving session and find yourself stress-free and resourceful when you emerge from the other side.
Regardless of what your natural brain lead is, you can develop both sides.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Client Showcase—ER Radio Spot: Five Tips to Better Radio Creative

We developed this radio spot for this Colorado hospital that wanted to communicate a message about their emergency center’s Level 2 trauma designation. Because most consumers don’t know what this designation means, we used fictional dialogue to help them understand what it would mean to them in an emergency.

Radio can be a valuable part of your media mix, but make sure your creative works. Use this simple test to determine if yours does:
  1. Get the audience's attention with the opening line. This makes them decide whether they want to tune to your message—or tune out.
  2. Keep it simple. Resist the urge to try to convey too much, and stick to one key message for your ad.
  3. Know your audience. Speak to things they care about.
  4. Translate. Don’t expect consumers to know your lingo. Use language they understand.
  5. Repeat. Repetition is essential if you want to saturate your market with your message.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Brand Nazi: Your Secret to Building a Better Web Site

Is your web site suffering from a bad case of the 90s look? Outdated information? A look that never did work? Confusing navigation? Or content that doesn’t speak to what readers care about?

You might find instructive this “best/worst” list of university web sites—admittedly one person’s opinion but insightful, nonetheless. You surely could give us some of your own good and bad examples (and please do!).

In reading his post, it reminded me that even an organization with exceptional talent will be led astray with web strategies if too many people get involved. A well-conceived, well-executed Web site requires the presence of a Brand Nazi who is vigilant about monitoring the brand message on the Web site, who has the authority to say no, who has the vision for a coherent message and who has the focus and resources to execute the vision.

Web sites inherently are organic. Even a great one eventually declines for lack of overall attention. Let’s face it: Many organizations don’t give the maintenance of their Web site the same attention they do for its launch.
Of course all of this requires us to make our own confession. When we moved to a blog format, our own Web site languished. This year, however, we have declared the Year of the New CMBell Web Site. So stay tuned. The Brand Nazi at CMBell has spoken.

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