Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why does it cost so much to hire a photographer for the day? Marketing Question of the Week from LeDuc Creative Co.


If the price of hiring a photographer sends you running for the hills, take pause. It’s not that photographers are divas. Most of them aren’t. There’s actually a lot that goes into the cost of hiring a photographer.

So before you assume your photographer snaps the camera a few times before sauntering home to lounge Scrooge McDuck style in a room full of money, take a moment to look at the full picture.

There are many factors that go into pricing out a photographer. For instance:


1. How closely the photographer will (or will not) be directed. 


Consider these questions:

   Are there detailed parameters that you need the photographer to follow to a tee?

   Will there be an art director, point person, decision maker and/or any support staff to the photographer?

   Will you allow the photographer to exercise discretion with design, composition, lighting, angles, etc. or will you be directing that?

The answers to those questions will determine how much extra work is required of the photographer.

2. A change in scope or plans.


If there’s a chance that the scope of the project will change - and come on, there’s always a chance - the photographer will include this in the contract. That means he or she will be reimbursed for any extra shots, travel, or usage that come up as the shoot progresses.

And just as the scope can change, so too can plans. Especially where Mother Nature is concerned. When shots are weather-dependent and Mother Nature is cranky, then scheduling problems can arise. There’s usually a weather contingency in a contract for outdoor work, but flexibility is required on both sides in this situation to keep the peace and avoid fluctuations in pricing.

3. The post production and image editing after-party.


This is where the magic happens. And there can be a considerable amount of time that goes into the “digital darkroom” for the photographer.

Once the photographer has captured the images, the real work begins. The images need to be downloaded from the camera flash card and then sorted, selected, cropped, sized and adjusted in other ways before they are ready for your use. This is the behind-the-scenes work that may be included in a photographer’s hourly rate, or comes at an additional cost itemized in your estimate.

It’s important to hammer out the details of this part of the process with the photographer because the file management, cataloging, image prep and delivery that come standard do NOT include extensive color correction, editing, or retouching.

Although it can be expensive, hiring a photographer is so much more than taking “purty pictures” of your business and your employees.

It’s crucial in being able to:

        get impressive profile head shots

        have prospective customers put a face with a name

        accurately depict the size of your company

        keep your social media content fresh

        develop your unique brand


So it pays for itself pretty quickly. And how much can you say that about any more?  

How do I know when, or even IF, my logo needs redesign? Marketing Question of the Week from LeDuc Creative Co.


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via GIPHY

Your logo is the face of your brand.


It’s the first thing people see when they encounter your brand, and it’s what they’ll continue to see every time after that. In other words, your logo is your front man/woman. 


It needs to make a good first impression. And it then needs to make a lasting one.



If it’s doing both, skip the redesign. For now. But if it’s not, consider the reasons.


Is it too old/complex?


An outdated logo is easy to spot. Even for those who don’t have an eye for design. And it’ll come across as stale, irrelevant and/or unappealing.

If you’ve had your logo since the Carter Administration, you may have developed a deep (albeit blind) love for it. But that ancient italicized font or bubbly text isn’t doing it for anybody else. And if it was created before the age of the internet, it may also be too complex to translate well to digital.

No matter how iconic your logo, it will always represent the design standards, norms and trends from the time it was created. And at some point, it WILL be outdated. It may already be.


Is your company growing or evolving?


When you started out, you may not have had the capital to get a solid logo design. So you did it on the fly just to get something out there. And it may have even served you well during those lean years. But now, not so much. Although Apple has one of the most highly identifiable logos, you’d never recognize the brand from their original logo.

The hard truth is that no logo can remain relevant forever. Your growing company may also be evolving to offer new services and products, and that’s good stuff. But it’s the sort of good stuff that may leave your company’s original logo looking a lot less relevant


So if your logo is outdated, too complex, or no longer relevant, then it’s time to consider a redesign.


Just remember to avoid what’s trendy unless you want your new logo to look hopelessly outdated in a few years. And if there’s any sort of nostalgic connection to your logo, consider preserving some of that historical significance rather than reinventing the wheel.

Keep in mind where else your logo will appear - be it on a billboard, in a magazine ad or on the side of your delivery van - and how will it translate there.


And if you have a highly identifiable logo, tread lightly.

Revamping the design can easily drain a logo of its considerable power and meaning. Think “update”.

Google, for example, is constantly updating their logo with the subtle sort of changes that give it new flair, but don’t startle anyone. They’re more like your uncle who is in theater wearing a little stage makeup, rather than your uncle who drives a big rig showing up for the Halloween party in full drag.

Whatever your plans for logo redesign, be sure to consider how you’ll maintain your brand identity while giving your logo a more modern feel.

It’s like a facelift for your brand and you don’t want to botch it.

Marketing Question of the Week: What are the best color palette choices for my branding/corporate identity?


Choosing your color palette isn’t easy. Especially given the vast and infinite color options available in the world at large. In other words, there’s a whole lot of them.

To get your noggin in color-picking mode while avoiding melt-down, think about the mood and essence of your brand. Then begin by looking for images that capture these. 

What are the colors that dominate those images?


Colors with blue undertones offer a sense of cool and calm. Warmer colors with red and yellow undertones have a welcoming or energetic vibe. This thinking is all part of color theory, also known as color psychology.

Color theory postulates that certain colors elicit certain emotions.


Sample some of the colors from the images that spoke to you and then think about what emotion you want your brand to promote and project. Here’s what the color theorists have to say:

Red is symbolic of passion, vitality and excitement.

Orange is associated with cheer, warmth and optimism.

Yellow is connected with fun, humor and energy.

Green fosters growth, healing and freshness.

Blue conveys trust, serenity and strength.

Purple says luxury, imagination and playfulness.

Brown is correlated with nature, comfort and stability.

White is balanced, neutral and calm.

Black represents formality, power and sophistication.

So if you’re business is a gym, you’re probably not going to choose brown and white as main players in your palette. Just as you wouldn’t go with red and yellow to promote your funeral home. 

But picking your colors is more sophisticated than just relying on color theory. Consult with the color wheel.





You’ve seen the color wheel. It’s like a rainbow bull’s eye. Art students use it to study colors and to understand how they relate to one another. Colors directly across from one another are complimentary colors, while those that are neighbors to one another are called analogous. Both of these routes will give you palettes that are agreeable and pleasant to the eye.

If you want something that’s bolder though, you can go with a triadic color choice - choosing three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel. That way you get three completely different colors that still work well together. This would create a more eye-popping and startling palette. 

Again, it all comes down to what emotion you want to convey through your brand/corporate identity.


Whatever colors you end up choosing, be sure that there is at least one darker and one lighter color in your palette that contrast one another well to keep things interesting.

And finally…

To maintain a brand that’s visually effective and strong, keep your colors cohesive.


Create a set of brand guidelines that will specify exactly which colors you can use. Include a swatch and the HEX code of each color so you have a cheat sheet to refer back to whenever you design a new branded project.

You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Marketing Question of the Week: How do you create a distinct brand identity with a logo?



The short answer is that you don’t. At least not with the logo alone.


The logo is a part - and yes, a VERY important part - of the whole branding identity strategy.

So let’s start with a quick little review here:

        Your brand is the general emotional response to the perceived image of your company. It’s your “rep” and is created through careful strategizing.

        The identity in brand identity refers to the visuals used to create your brand. These visual components ensure cohesion and consistency from your stationary to signage, messaging to other digital projects, and everything in between.

        The logo is the key recognizable visual component that helps customers discover, remember and then share who you are. It’s central to your identity. It is usually an iconic mark or symbol, a logotype, or combination thereof.

So as you can see, the logo does not - and cannot - create a brand identity by itself.


Nike, McDonald’s and Apple didn’t grow their distinct branding from a swoosh, some golden arches and an apple alone.

But those icons are highly recognizable and are certainly key in their branding identities now.

So before designing a logo, your company needs to consider how your logo will authentically reflect on your brand’s product or service (those golden arches as the M in McDonald’s), while also resonating emotionally with its targeted audience (the swoosh of the air as you run in your Nikes). It must be compelling enough to capture the essence of your company (here’s an apple…), while communicating what makes you superior to your competitors (… now take a bite out of it.)

Sound like a big order? It is.

But according to Susan Mary, Digital Marketing Expert at Exect Point Inc., the following key tips can be taken into consideration while designing a logo and creating a distinct brand identity:


   Keep your focus on the vision of the business and try not to deviate from that vision.
   Find inspiration from other avenues within your industry.
   Include elements of creativity through skillful and effective use of color psychology.
   Assess your brand offerings and then fit your logo with a relevant font.

These tips prove to be quite effective while striving to create a distinct brand identity.

And they are especially relevant when you remind yourself of the overall purpose of a logo - which is to be the central, but not singular, player while creating your distinct brand identity.

Have at it.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Marketing Question of the Week: What should be on my shot list for a photoshoot?



If you’ve actually been on a photoshoot, then you know they’re never as glamorous as the TV and film depictions. They are long and sometimes tedious affairs that play out anywhere between relatively smooth to somewhat chaotic.


Where a photoshoot falls between those two measures depends on your level of organization and preparedness. It also depends, of course, on how many over-inflated egos are present and whether they play well together.

Unfortunately, you have no control over the latter.

But with a planned out shot list (and the possible good fortune of mild-mannered and agreeable talent), a photoshoot can be a cool creative process that could yield some seriously good marketing photos for your image library.

So what should be on your shot list?


Well, as far as the actual things, that’s obviously going to vary based on what you’re selling. For example, a manufacturer might plan an action shot of their latest piece of equipment making their stellar and amazing products both quickly and efficiently.

On the other hand, someone in real estate would want portraits that would promote them as knowledgeable, trustworthy and, well, darn good at selling houses and buildings and stuff.

You need to first brainstorm which images are going to best illustrate your company’s brand on your print media, social media and website.


Then once you’ve established a list of possible shots, distill it down with these three questions in mind:

        Why will this shot be important?
        Will it showcase a key player or marketing concept for our company?
        Is this photo an absolute, or just a wish list item?

Pay extra attention to that last question, as it’s crucial to the process.

Absolute shots are any of those that will have an immediate place in your marketing.


These would be shots of key products, concepts and players that will show up on your bio page, client proposals and LinkedIn profiles, for starters. These must have shots will be at the top of your list.

Once you’ve established your absolutes from your wish list items, consult with your photographer. S/he can help you determine how long it will take to execute specific shots and which ones might prove to be challenging.

From there you can schedule the appropriate studio time, go in with your prepared shot list and keep the chaos at bay.

Or at least at a low hum.

Marketing Question of the Week: How often should I be posting on social media for my business?


Much like the question of “Why are we here?”, it’s safe to say that there’s no definitive answer to this question of the week.


But unlike the headier question about our existence, there are some definite guidelines we suggest for posting on social media.


While guidelines vary depending on the platform, we’re going to stick with the suggested ones for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter - the social media trifecta that effectively blends work and play. It shouldn’t come as any big shock that much research has been done on this topic. So we’re going to distill it for you.



Facebook


The general rule of thumb is to post once per day to Facebook. Posting twice per day is considered a lot. Excessive even. And take the opportunity to curate or reshare and post every other day.

If you’re struggling to come up with that much content, you can go with three posts per week, but that’s considered by many as the bare minimum. And if you’re skipping days, make it week days. Weekends and evenings are when people are most active on Facebook.

And if your cup runneth over with content, try to keep your posts to a maximum of ten per week.

The best time to post to Facebook? Between the hours of 1-4pm.

LinkedIn


Like Facebook, posting once per day is recommended for LinkedIn. But since LinkedIn appeals more to the business community, the ideal posting time is between 10-11a.m. And weekends do not get as much traffic.

LinkedIn itself recommends about 20 posts per month - which averages out close to every business day.

Also like Facebook, the suggestion is to curate or reshare a post every other day.

Twitter


More than just a strange little bird, Twitter is another animal altogether. First of all, the recommended number of tweets per day varies from 5-20, with 15 being the standard. Most suggest that the tweeting begin at 2am each day (early even for a bird), with subsequent tweets every hour after that through 10 p.m.

You can skip the 4am., 5am, 8am, 4pm and 8pm time slots.

Twitter seems to flit back and forth between business and play, so some suggest keeping the tweeting heavier during the week days, but don’t underestimate the power of the weekends.

And retweet or curate 7 posts per day.


Feeling overwhelmed? No need. Put your social media needs into the hands of people who actually enjoy this line of work. Then you can go back to sharing squirrels on water skis on your personal page. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

5 Common Branding Mistakes You Do NOT Want To Make


A potential customer has started the search for your particular product or service. They land on your your website, check out your logo and then take a look at what your competitors are doing. Then they come back to you. And they keep coming back. Why?

Great branding.

Branding is powerful tool. It conveys your unique story, instills a lasting impression and maintains consistent connection with your audience.

It is a tool to be used wisely. 


So take heed and steer clear of these five common mistakes:


#1. Redoing your brand out of boredom.


Bottom line?

In order to build and maintain a strong brand, there has to be consistency. But in this world of constant change and short attention spans (Look! A shiny pony!), it’s not unusual for brand owners to get bored and want to give their brand a makeover.

To be clear, a working brand is not something to redo, like your kitchen or bathroom. When you start messing with your brand simply because you’re tired of it, the first thing to go is consistency and thus, the strength of your brand.

Maintaining a strong brand means staying consistent. This is not to say that a brand that’s become irrelevant or a logo that’s outdated shouldn’t be updated. It should. (More on that later.) But if your brand is performing well, then follow this sage advice - “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

And if it’s not, consider enacting the following:

        Defining your brand character and staying true to it.
        Keeping a uniform presentation of your logo across your branding.
        Stating your brand promise clearly and ensuring it’s kept at every point of encounter with your brand.
        Creating brand-usage guidelines to be followed by all.

#2. Relying on shock value.


You want your brand to be noticed. Of course you do.

So in an effort to stand out, you may be tempted to brand yourself as shocking and controversial. And it may work. But it’s a huge gamble. And if it backfires, as it often does, you’ll be spending time and money backtracking and apologizing.

Take it from British fashion brand Harvey Nichols. In 2012, they went down in history as making one of the biggest branding mistakes after they tried to visualize the catchphrase ‘try to contain your excitement’ with ads showing models who had peed themselves.

Not a favorable image in an industry that is all about image. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go well.

When you want your branding to show how you’re different, a good place to start is to look at your strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses. What do you have that will sway your target audience? Make that a part of your branding.

It’s not a standout quality or mind-blowing business practice, but rather a reasonable goal that positions you as knowledgeable and trustworthy.

#3. Playing it too safe.


This is the other end of the spectrum. It’s a milquetoast strategy and it’s lazy branding.

There’s no point in developing brand guidelines that reveal absolutely nothing about your company. The dead give away? Generic logos and marketing language you’ve read a million times. Terminology like “number one” or “award-winning” or anything in that vain is unconvincing and (almost) no one is buying it.

Such catch-all phrases have been repeated so often that they have no meaning. Daniel Burstein, director of editorial comment for MECLABS, calls this wallpaper copywriting”. It’s vague language that sounds good at first, but actually says zilch about your brand.

Your language, imagery and logos need to be simple and clear.

Take the company Square, for example. The mobile-payment processor has a logo that mimics the product in an unforgettable way. And their tagline?Start accepting credit cards today.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

 #4. Getting lured by the latest design trends.


Your brand’s standards are demonstrated by everything from logo usage to color schemes, layout configuration to typefaces. And then some.

How your business represents itself visually cannot be underestimated.

So you might be inclined to incorporate all the newest flashes and whirly-gigs. Fight that inclination. Particularly when it comes to your logo and brand identity collateral.

Generally speaking, once you’ve established your company logo, don’t change it. Ever. The exception to this would be if your company REALLY needs a complete rebrand or your logo design fell prey to a previous trend and now looks outdated. Any changes should be subtle, based on tried and true design principles and carefully implemented to avoid confusion with your audiences.

Other brand identity collateral like your business card, letterhead, envelope, etc. also need to be consistent with the logo in order to add brand recognition and help to build your brand’s equity.

This includes your website - which is also part of your brand identity collateral.

Interestingly, one of the most crucial aspects of your website design is also the largest part of your website - the background color.

No matter how the dark the times (or the mood of your website designer), the rule of thumb toward keeping your website design timeless is to avoid backgrounds that are really dark. Text is harder to read and navigating is more difficult since links are harder to decipher.

Stick with a light background. If you prefer to use an image as your background, keep it simple and clear. (Picked up on the “be clear in your branding” theme yet?) You want visitors to execute a certain task, not get distracted.

#5 Going MIA with your social media involvement.


Isn’t social media awesome?

Well, it can be. Regardless of your opinion of social media, it IS awesome for starting conversations and building awareness of your expertise and your brand. According to Forbes, 82% of people trust a company more if they are involved with social media.

Of course, you have to be involved in social media management in order to be part of those conversations. If you’re missing in action, you’re missing the action.

It’s important to pay special attention to people who may not have had the best experience with your company and left a comment on your social media. Responding to these comments and finding resolution at this point is crucial. Ignoring them could cause these dissatisfied customers to go on to leave nasty reviews for everyone to see on sites like Yelp.

That’s not the sort of attention you want for your brand.

It would be nice if these were the only five mistakes to be made in branding and that to avoid them would brand you golden.

Then again, gone would be the moments like this, provided by Spy Optic in California while attempting to brand their line of ‘Happy’ lenses .

The billboard was up for less than a day before the company was forced to take it down.


Ready to take your branding to the next level? Connect with LeDuc Creative to get started today.