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.


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.