Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Create a distinct, consistent image

Whether you own a retail store, an online enterprise or a professional service business, your image is crucial to your success. It is what draws in your target customer or client. And, when you─or your designer─create that image, it must be used consistently throughout all your marketing materials. This includes business cards, mailings, website and blog, stationery and order forms.

There are 7 design elements to consider:
1. Color─limit to two to three
2. Typography─or fonts─limit to two to three
3. Graphic elements─limit any design elements, such as lines, logos, graphic devices to three
4. Style of art─be consistent. Clip art makes it tempting to use a variety, but you must be consistent. Use a line drawing? Continue to use a line drawing.
5. Size of promotional piece─will vary dramatically, of course, from piece to piece. An unusual size is better─not based on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet. And bigger is perceived as better.
6. Paper─considerations include elements such as recycled? Elegant feel? Inexpensive?
7. Grid─the layout used in your promotional pieces sends a message. Formal? Informal? Restricted? Easy to use?

Whatever you choose, you'll want to change no more than two to three elements in any given piece to maintain consistency. You'll notice I show two logos for my business. I use the outline version on the top when it will be printed by me or a client. The orange version uses up too much ink! The orange version works on a blog post or something less likely to be printed.

And there's another issue. I remember receiving a mailing from a bank and tossing it because I assumed they were soliciting me for another credit card. Turns out it was MY credit card statement; but I didn't recognize it because they had changed their name and logo. You guessed it! They had to absorb a number of late charge fees because most of their customers did the same thing. In design─and in the eye of your audience─it's crucial that you be recognizable and memorable to your target customer or client.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do you speak too quickly?

There's a good chance you do─it's nearly epidemic today! You can get a variety of unwanted reactions from your listeners. They may think you want them to HURRY UP and decide you're rude. Or, they may succumb to emotional deafness─the inability to hear or comprehend what we're saying. You may have experienced this when someone YELLS at you, or stands too close or swears at you. Aggressive people use these ploys to intimidate and while the speedy talker may not intend to, they can cause the same reaction.

Check yourself and see how you do. The following passage is 140 words in length. The average speaking rate of Americans is 125 – 150 wpm. Read it out loud as though you were speaking to someone ten feet away—building in the appropriate pauses. You’re aiming for it to take you a minute to read the paragraph. Time yourself and see how you do:

There is no set rule for the rate of speaking of individuals. Some people can speak at a rate of one hundred ninety words per minute and be clearly understood, while others must speak as slowly as ninety words per minute to achieve the same understanding. Most experts feel, however, that there is more to be gained by speaking slowly. They have decided that a rate of about one hundred forty words per minute is a safe rate. The main disadvantage of speaking too fast is that you cannot be understood easily. Speaking too fast has other disadvantages. Your audience may get the impression that they are being pressured into something. In addition, they may get the impression that you are very rushed and concerned with time. To be really understood, we recommend that you speak slowly.

It's a hurry up, hurry up world and sometimes we need to slo-o-o-ow down rather than speed up so we can be heard─and understood.