Category Archives: Blogazine

Why Content Drives Collateral Design

For collateral materials like brochures, program books and annual reports, it’s content that drives design.  Without knowing the story content tells, it’s difficult for designers to figure out the most important elements of collateral design; how big will the piece be, what will it look like, how will the audience interact with it, what color palate will be most effective, will there be graphics or other visuals?

Share the story with your graphic design team

Content is the story. Graphic design is how you make it attractive and memorable.

Here is how the process should work:

Decide why you need a brochure and what you want the audience to do when they get it. Taylor your message to tell a powerful story and deliver a compelling ask.  Try to get to the point where there will be minimal if any text changes. Wholesale story changes often mean wholesale design changes and that can seriously impact design and production schedules.

Share the story with your graphic design team. Let them develop design comprehensives, including graphics and imagery. Choose the elements that work best—colors, imagery and shape that make the piece attractive and a layout the guides the audience through the story and inspires them to action. The tactile experience is also important, so designers will help choose the right paper and packaging for distribution.

Finally, think about your printer. You will want one that is particularly good at what you want to produce. What started with compelling content is now effectively doing the job of increasing sales or converting those on the sidelines into an army of supporters for your cause.

University of Maryland Team Wins DFHV Transportation Challenge

Congrats to the incenTrip app team -- Chenfeng Xiong, Eric Ji and Lei Zhang -- for winning the DC Department of For-Hire Vehicles Transportation Challenge Prize! Seaberry partnered with the @DFHV to explore new transportation options in the District. The incemTrip team is comprised of reseachers from the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park. The incenTrip app uses redeemable rewards, traffic predictors, and eco-friendly features to ease your commute and to encourage ride sharing over the use of personal cars.

University of Maryland Assistant Research Professor, Chengfeng Xiong, presents the incenTrip app at the 2018 DFHV Transportation Challenge.
DFHV Director Ernest Chrappah asks questions of contestants at the 2018 DFHV Transportation Challenge. Left is UMD Transportation Institute Software Development Program Manager Ya Ji.

“[We used] personalized traveler information and incentives to encourage smart and shared mobility travel options," said Chenfeng Xiong, Ph.D, a member of the incenTrip team. The app is supported by big data analytics and advanced Artificial Intelligence models developed by the UMD researchers. The “incenTrip” team is eager to contribute ideas and solutions to the challenges faced by the entire Washington, D.C. transportation system.

Check out all the app has to offer at

Design For A Better Customer Experience

Looking for a way to design a better customer experience?  Taking a look at customer touchpoints might be great place to start. Touchpoints—the interactions your customers have with your business—can be business cards, brochures, flyers, your web site or anything that helps customers choose you over the competition.

Design touchpoints to improve the customer experience

Your goal is to design the touchpoint for the channel where the interaction takes place. For example, a paper brochure or flyer is designed to be delivered by mail. An online ad is designed for the web. If you want to improve interactions with your customers, you will want to pay close attention to how each piece is designed and to what message they send. You will be counting on customer touchpoints to communicate the promise of a rewarding experience with your product or service. 

Work with a graphic designer to create powerful visual interactions with your customers. Decide what need is driving the customer interaction and where and when the interaction takes place. Collaborating with a designer and understanding what you want each interaction to do, will help to deliver better, more meaningful and endearing customer experiences. 

Color Design – If Your Business is Moody Do This

In graphic design, few things are more important than color. Color sets the mood for a business and everything that is associated with it. That's why businesses that use color without purpose are "moody." From one piece of collateral to the next they are taking their customers on an emotional roller coaster ride. People process color before text so color is the best way to get your customers to pay attention.

Color is important in graphic design

This isn’t a post for graphic designers as much as it is a post for the clients of graphic designers. Whether a color is suitable for the piece you are creating or the product you are marketing depends on who the audience is and what you want them to do.

MacDonalds is a great example of how to think about color and your customers.  If you find your stomach grumbling every time you see the sign, it's because of the psychology of color, not because of the taste of their food. The arches are yellow on a red background because red is a high energy color. Red increases your heart rate and stimulates the appetite. Yellow makes you happy and is also the most visible color in daylight.  The fast food chain is encouraging customers to buy their fries and to be happy about the purchase.

In general, most brighter colors are energetic. Some, like oranges and yellows, can actually be quite warming and are often associated with happiness, warmth, sunshine and hope. Some yellows are also associated with caution (those pesky yellow lights and reflective vests), so be careful of which hue you are attracted to.
Then, there are cooler colors like greens, blues and purples. These are the colors of night, water, nature and often have a trusting and calming effect. Your graphic designer can adjust these colors too by mixing with a warmer color or even a hot one to be more attractive to your specific audience. 
Neutral colors like, black, gray and brown can serve as a backdrop for design, allowing for your brand mark and the other elements of design to stand out and have the intended effect.
In short, don’t pick a color just because you like it. Decide on colors because they work for your business and send the right message to your audience. Let your graphic designer help you choose colors that complement your brand and work for your customers.

The One Chart You Cannot Live Without

We all agree that business processes need continuous improvement. Organizations are always looking for ways to minimize inefficiencies. One way to support consistency to the workplace is to create a work process flowchart of your business.

Flow Chart Graphic by Seaberry Design

 We’re talking about a big paste-on-the-wall chart that will clarify the understanding of business activities, define roles and responsibilities, and help identify issues like bottlenecks that keep things from running smoothly. Larger companies can break out processes by department. Small companies and departments can structure the chart by employee.

An employee onboarding process flow chart is extremely valuable to companies large and small. Create a giant chart that hangs in a strategic place in your office and make individual copies for cubicles and work areas. In addition to explaining the organizational flow, the chart should list each employee, clearly spell out their duties and have color coded avatars so an employee can follow his track in the workflow process. When a new staff member comes in, the infographic helps with the onboarding process by making the new employee feel like a part of the team from the beginning.

Keeping process flow charts in plain site is an easy way to motivate new hires, helping them to add value to your business right away. Process flow charts are also great refreshers for seasoned members of the team—maintaining efficient workflows and keeping employees from crossing boundaries.

Why You Need a Chief Design Officer

Graphic design is playing a larger role in businesses, and government. With an increased dependence on design comes the need for consistent messaging and proper brand management. There is also the need for the management of people within the organization who may want to impose their own ideas of what works for the brand, changing your organization's established brand and promise.

CDO's Make Sure Graphic Design is Consistent

When too many people are communicating with audiences, pushing their own messages in their own way, a lot of confusion can ensue. Someone thinks a border would look better here, or that a script font there is just the right touch. The result is a brand that becomes distorted and messaging that goes off track.

Publishing a brand manual is not enough if there is no one keeping track of collateral development and dissemination. You need a chief design officer (CDO). Yes, you read correctly. The CDO is responsible for reviewing all design including product design, graphic design, and package design. They should also be the liaison between your organization and your graphic design firm for all aspects of advertising and marketing.

For larger companies it’s a corporate title and a full-time job. For smaller organizations it can be part of the marketing or communications director’s job. No matter where it fits, it’s an important position that prevents too many cooks from spoiling the broth. This single position should be the only interface between your employees and the internal graphic design crew or the communications design firm hired by your organization.

Appointing a CDO is the best insurance against damage to your brand and messaging that’s difficult to repair.

Rebranding or Debranding: It’s Still Branding

Most companies have brands that include logos and slogans and over time they may need to be refreshed. A new trend has emerged that suggests going in the opposite direction with corporate identity: debranding, rather than rebranding.

The idea of “debranding,” is where the focus is not on any logo, tagline, or visual effect. “Instead of brands, real people and real tones of voice will become the interface between consumers and products again,” writes Jasmine De Bruycker in Co.Design in 2016. “That’s the heart of debranding.”

It turns out, though, that the idea of “debranding” might just be another way to “rebrand”. We came across a story in Co.Design about “debranding” the City of Gainesville, Fla.

According to the story, city leaders felt the city’s current branding didn’t adequately reflect the citizen-centered changes happening within local government, so they discarded the logo and tagline to come up with something that actually represented what the city was trying to achieve.

Here is what the old brand looked like:

Here is the new “debrand”:

From the look of things, Gainesville has just rebranded—coming up with a new visual treatment and tagline. The new treatment in this case is type-based. Not all brand marks contain an image. For example, the age-old, though seemingly not immortal, Sears brand mark is completely type-based and has been for more than 130 years. What is important is that the brand mark has a distinctive treatment in font choice, color and size that helps it stand out.

Gainesville’s “tag mark” (tagline in disguise) — "Citizen Centered. People Empowered.", is effective, but a tagline by any other name is still…a tagline.

Branding at its best is about calling attention to a product or service or even a city in a way that illuminates a truthful, positive relationship. The city of Gainesville has certainly done that. The new brand is clean, beautiful and hopefully truthful in its presentation. But is it “debranding”?

The Government Loves Times New Roman. Designers? Not So Much.

Do you ever remember seeing an RFP that didn’t list Times New Roman as the required font for your response? Neither do we. In fact, since its creation in 1931 for the London-based The Times newspaper, Times New Roman has gone on to become the world’s most recognized typeface. Even non-type junkies can reliably name it, a fact that probably has a lot to do with its status as Microsoft Office’s default font.

Despite 75 years of loyalty, The Times dropped Times New Roman in 2006 in favor of its more modern cousin, Times Modern. We're thinking this leaves the U.S. government and contracting community as perhaps the largest users of the old typeface.

Could we be seeing the last days of Times New Roman? Below, a short from The Unquiet Film Series, produced by The Times and Grey London, looks at the “King of Fonts” and surveys how contemporary designers feel about it.

Why Information Graphics Work

No doubt you have heard a lot about using information graphics to save space or illustrate data in your annual reports, but very little about why they work. A little history first!

The idea of representing information graphically began in earnest in the 18th century, although you could argue the original cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphics set the stage for a way to  easily and creatively convey information. As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words." (Our wordsmiths here at Seaberry may disagree!)

In the 17th and 18th centuries, information graphics took the form of visualizations, charts and maps, especially important as explorers were returning from long journeys with tales of distant lands. Scientists in the 18th century had mastered the art of pie charts, histograms and line graphs.

Along with scientists, people of faith were using graphics to depict highly religious scenes, including ‘De Schepping der Wereldt’ (Creation of the World), a 17th century information graphic that shows the earth's creation according to Moses.

In the 20th century, information graphics advanced swiftly as technology allowed for my image creation, from the 1933 use of lines in the first London Tube map to the stylized human figures in pictograms designed by Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics.

By the turn of the 21st century, artists began combining powerful software with design principles culled from an understanding of human perception. Information graphics became the indispensable tools they are today.

Shifting the Balance in Your Favor

Information graphics are effective because they shift the balance between seeing and thinking to take greater advantage of the brain’s abilities. “Seeing” is extremely fast and efficient. We see immediately and with little effort. Thinking is slower and can be less efficient. Traditional text, table or column-based presentation methods rely on conscious thinking for almost all of the work. Information graphics shift the balance toward greater use of visual perception, taking advantage of our powerful eyes whenever possible.

The Evolution of the Timeline

Seaberry designs reports, a lot of them. The purpose of these reports is often to explain the history of an organization or the effect of some important development on people's lives. Explaining those events means providing some historical context, and that context often requires a timeline.

Historically the timeline is among the most revered of visual calendar arts, dating back to before the common era (BCE).

Parian Marble (264 BCE) and A New Chart of History from Joseph Priestly’s A Chart of Biographies (1765) are among early timelines that illustrate the importance of the art in the modern era.

The oldest surviving Greek timeline, the Parian Marble (264 BCE), traced the central events in history since the accession of King Cecrops in Athens (1581 BCE) to the fall of Troy (between 1260 and 1240 BCE).

From the Renaissance in Europe (14th - 17th century) to the classical period (1750 - 1820), the art of “chronology” held a status higher than history itself. Joseph Priestly’s A Chart of Biographies, published in 1765, contained the precursors to the modern timeline including the hand-colored A New Chart of History.

The Modern Era

The modern timeline has become indispensable as a tool for expressing important dates and events as well as illustrating the impact of those events on people’s lives.

Illustrating events using timelines establishes a framework that provides an objective and stable view of how those events relate to each other over time.

Timelines can be used to illustrate the evolution of company products and processes or in the case of a recent Seaberry project to establish the history of antimicrobial resistance.

Timelines can also be combined with geography to illustrate the speed of worldwide deployment or the movement of resources from one location to another locally.

The applications are almost endless. Time and time again, so to speak, timelines have proved to be a designer’s best friend.