Category Archives: Blogazine

The New Market Flavor for Designers

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The key to success for every industry, whether private or public, government, nonprofit or retail, is the ability to adapt to the constantly changing market. At no time in history has that been more evident than it is today.

 Since the dawn of commercial design, graphic artists have been tasked with illustrating products and services in ways that reflect the character, tastes, and the look of the marketplace.

 As a designer, if you haven’t seen the changing flavor of the market, now may be a good time to look. Yes, there has been a sea change — resulting from the growth in number and buying power of ethnic populations and changes in cultural influences. According to University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, between 2010 and 2020, Asian American buying power grew by 111%; the buying power for those of Hispanic ethnicity grew by 87%, Native American buying power grew by 67%, and African American buying power grew by 61%, equaling and estimated the buying power of $3 trillion in 2020.

 For designers, this represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Graphic designers are on the front lines of market evolution. Whether laying out brochures or designing logos and ads, what we design is often a critical touchpoint for our clients. We help keep them connected to their market, even as it is changing. So, designing for today’s multicultural audiences is mission critical.

As a multicultural firm, diverse and inclusive approaches to design are core values. We know that approach is important. The change is real, and it calls for our industry to evolve.

From the 1950s through most of the 90s and even into the 2000s, the approach to multicultural design has been to make the new audience look a lot like the old one. The aspirational message was, “you want to look and feel like these people, so buy this product to treat your hair or use this service in your home.” Even the images, though used sparingly, were of those who most closely resembled the old market.

 Well, not today. This market is “not the one” for that approach. Today’s market is confident, fully independent, and financially capable. Its aspiration is to see and serve itself, fulfilling its own needs, and that requires a different approach to design.

Designers need to become well versed in new cultures and trends, from color and pattern, to imagery, language, and artistic attitude. Diversity and inclusion in design are no longer buzz phrases for a half-hearted effort to recognize that “other” people exist in the marketplace. These are now demands for recognition of full scale, social, cultural and economic change.

Clients have always depended on designers to stay abreast of the kinds of changes that influence the success or failure of products and services in the marketplace. While this time in history is no different, the challenge to our firms is certainly more intense and immediate.

For some of us the shift is critical - challenging core beliefs and forcing new approaches to graphic design. For those whose agencies are easily adapting to the new cultural design space, it’s a chance to breathe new air and bring new energy to what we love to do.

Graphic Art in Times of Protest

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“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”  Dr. Martin Luther King

Every January the nation pauses to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a transformative leader and brilliant strategist who led cutting edge campaigns to ensure human and civil rights are at the heart of a civil society. Let’s consider how art, specifically protest art, played a supporting role in his mission.

In Memphis on February 1,1968, sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker were crushed to death by a malfunctioning garbage truck. The public works department refused to compensate their families. Eleven days after the garbage collectors’ deaths, 1,300 black sanitation workers walked off the job, calling for their union to be recognized for better wages, and for safer equipment.

The strike won the support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On March 28, King led a march where police treated the strikers brutally. Despite being confronted with 4,000 National Guard troops, more than 200 protesters marched carrying the now iconic posters that said “I Am a Man.”

In the 20th century, from major wars to political battles, using art to provoke change was nothing new. Art and artists have played fundamental roles in the advancement of revolutions since the 16th century when Martin Luther and members of the Protestant Reformation posted Luther’s 95 Theses on the church doors.

Whether it’s music, poetry, or visual, art gives us an outlook on how we feel during movements and periods of change. Today—addressing issues like gentrification, racism, police violence, and homelessness to organized resistance—protest, or ­activist art addresses socio-political issues to encourage community and public participation as a means of bringing about social change.

Now, protest art is thriving as some of the most innovative art created. Using art as a form of protest can be extremely effective. The big takeaway – If you want to cause a revolution or change minds, consider using art to do it.

Want to dig deeper? Below are some links on the history and effectiveness of protest art.

The Most Iconic Protest Posters From History

The Most Influential Protest Art

A Brief History of Protest Art

Protest Art

The Truth About Black and White

It's All There in Black and White

Truth: Black and white is a timeless duo. If there’s anything that all creative agencies can agree on, it’s the fact that black and white is versatile and effective. Nothing conveys sophistication better than black and white patterns. Why? Because sophistication often lies in simplicity. The black and white color scheme has stood the test of time for use in everything from movie styles to decorative pillows. Predictably, we continue to associate the two colors with good taste.

When it comes to keeping things minimal, yet appealing, black and white contrast each other so well that this combination is revered in almost every division of art— from painting, graphic design, illustration and sculpture to photography, architecture, theater and fashion, black and white themes create memorable experiences for the audiences that view them.

In graphic design, the black and white color combination is most often used when there is text or imagery that needs to be the focal point of the design. White text on a black background is a great example. Black backgrounds imply power, and with white text, the design becomes modern, confident, and noticeable. While opposite in value, these two can be vital elements to use in marketing materials and campaigns.

Black and white design is striking enough alone, but when used in conjunction with other design strategies, its flexibility goes even further. Adding just one additional color to the scheme leads to powerful messaging and adds visual punch. This is a great strategy for drawing attention to a specific object or creating a visual explosion.

When you have a need for high impact, consider a black and white design scheme. Using the visual balance of a black and white color scheme is by no means playing it safe, but in the end, these two divergent colors communicate more powerfully together than they do on their own.

Can You Make it Pop?

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Looking to get the best work from your design team? Here's what to know when you say:

“Can you make it pop?”

There's a lot more to the word "pop" than most people think. In fact "pop" is most often used when we can't quite figure out how to express what we are looking for in a design.

To a designer, “pop” can mean a whole lot of things, so try using more explicit phrases like; use high color contrast, include bright colors, use exotic fonts, draw lots of graphics, add shadows or make it 3-dimensional.

Your designer will work with you — digging deeper into your request by asking questions and providing mockups that result in just the right look for your project.

Once you are done with the design, I can have unlimited revisions, right?”

Unlimited revisions

Get the best design work from Seaberry. What to know when you say:

“Once you are done with the design, I can have unlimited revisions, right?”

Nope. Two to three rounds of revisions are standard. Designers charge more for additional rounds. Be sure to check your working agreement for the allotted number changes to your project. If you want to keep revisions to a minimum, try getting changes from all parties involved at one time and combining them into a single round. Doing so will save time and money, helping you to stay within your budget and project deadline.

Additionally, revisions submitted after the project has been approved and finalized are out of project scope.

Can I Get You to do Something Really Quick?

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Do you want to get the best design work from your graphic design team? Here's what to know when you say:

“Can I get you to do something really quick?”

All client projects are completed on a schedule. It's the only way graphic design teams can keep up with what's due and when, even if the project is on a tight deadline. If your design team doesn’t know that a quick turnaround project or request is coming, it’s hard to prepare for it and to guarantee the time necessary to produce great results. An early warning is a powerful tool in helping your designers respond to emergency requests.

We'll need as much information as possible too. How big is the project? When is the project due? The answers to these questions will help us develop a schedule of when you need to get materials, text or comments to us and when we will get them back to you, to meet your deadline.

Waiting until the last minute to tell us that a  project is coming could prove disastrous for everyone. Give us enough time and we will provide you with awesome outcomes.

Call Us! Even if it’s Just to Talk

small business online image illustration by Seaberry Design

We love having conversations with people about what we do. When I explain that we are a design studio, most often people will say, “So you do logos, advertising, and design my sales stuff, right? You make my business look good?” And the answer is yes, we do that and so much more. Some of our clients have even remarked that our designers seem like magicians, making concepts appear out of nowhere that somehow are the perfect thing for their business.

But what many may not realize is, no matter how complex the project that we bring our imaginations to, for us, the journey to designing the perfect collateral for your business starts with one simple and very important thing — listening.

In many ways we are like creative psychologists. We spend a lot of time listening to the ideas, hopes, and dreams our clients have about their business and then reflect those thoughts back in innovative ways they can take to market and be successful.

Think of it this way. We’re inspired by you. And that’s where the magic is. We know having a business and coming up with ideas on how to service people is hard work that requires lots of creative energy and we feed off of that. Our creative concepts are born out of what we heard as we listened intently during your discovery session. They are the reflection of you, your business, and your ideas. Revisions are the tweaking of your dream. Delivery of the final product is the fulfillment of your ideas — the visual realization of the connection you want to create with your customer or prospect. All of the steps in our process, from discovery to delivery, go smoothly because our most important job is to listen to and understand you.

Your success depends on being able to sit on a creative couch and pour your heart out, and on trusting that when you do, you’ll get the creative answer that means your goals are realized.

Think of us as your best friend. We’re the extension of your imagination into the marketplace — the channel through which you communicate the way your products and services change peoples’ lives for the better.

We’re here for you. So, call us. Even if it’s just to talk.

In the New Normal, Do These Three Things

small business online image illustration by Seaberry Design

2020 brought a ton of changes to business environments, especially in terms of communication. Nearly all relationships, between employers and employees and between businesses and customers migrated online in one way or another.

It seems no business sector is exempt. As graphic designers, our clients span many industries including the government, education, retail, service and nonprofit sectors. Most are small businesses and each one is feeling the impact of these challenging times. But, while difficult, 2020 also ushered in a new normal, and as we look ahead to the future and the promise of relief for small businesses, perhaps it’s time to shift our focus to just what changes from this past year will stick and provide us with better ways to gain, retain and service clients. As always, we at Seaberry are happy to share anything we find that will contribute to the success of small businesses.

There are three practices that we think are “keepers” for our clients and for us, as we look forward to new ways of doing business. 

Focus on the Customers You Have
During recent times small businesses especially have struggled to bring in new customers. Don’t stop reaching out! But also try focusing more on the customers you already have — those who are still with you despite the impact of the pandemic. Keep creating new services for them, design online advertising campaigns that meet your current customers' needs. Loyal customer appreciation pays off during unstable times and beyond. You may even see an uptick in new prospects from client referrals.

Create New Social Media Campaigns
Create social media campaigns designed to reach your customers where they are. Most people are working from home at the moment and that’s likely to continue in some form in the future. So, give your customers a way to meet you and conduct business with you online. Focus more on ecommerce trends and channels. Traffic in these areas has skyrocketed since the pandemic and experts see this as a robust and continuing trend. Graphic design is important here. Use the power of well-designed ads and other visuals to increase your message impact and penetration. There are some great digital marketing tools out there. You can also find online tools to automate email and handle appointments. If there is one thing we have learned from the pandemic, it’s that there is a lot we can do online.

Use Facebook, Google Ads and YouTube
Online ads are great ways to remind people that you are still in business and that you intend to be a big part of their new normal. Facebook ads and Google ads are affordable and can help you showcase your business. And as always, good graphic design is your friend. Eye catching visuals, both graphic and video, are an important part of delivering effective messaging. You might want to take the time to give existing videos an overhaul to reflect your customers’ current priorities and interests and demonstrate how your business can help them.

Remember We Are Here to Help
Seaberry has always been a partner to small businesses. We are happy to answer your design questions and to help you have more success in the marketplace. Sign up for a free 15-minute call. We are glad to hear what you have in mind and to contribute our experience to your success.

Seaberry illustration of layout design and graphics

Annual Reports, Magazines and White Papers

Seaberry illustration of layout design and graphics

Annual Reports, Magazines and White Papers are the Windows to Your Organization's Soul

In the last months of 2020, we heard from a lot of subscribers who downloaded our Build Better Word Docs publication. We are so happy that our tips were helpful and that so many of you were able to use them. Good luck creating handsome, more readable and thus, more credible, in-house documents!

Some of our readers asked about how to make more beautiful customer, industry and market facing documents. So we thought, what the heck, we’ll tell you how we do it.

The process for getting the most out of your annual reports, magazines or white papers is a little long.  So, we put together a short list of tools and added a document you can download.

Publications provide value

Your publications are more than just monthly or yearly projects. They are important windows into your organization. Publications illustrate, with great pride, the value your organization brings to your clients, supporters, the industry and the marketplace.

Well-designed publications — annual reports, white papers or magazines — tell complex stories, accentuate achievements and illustrate key metrics. These tools showcase organizational performance, financial standing and strategic direction.

Too often, though, anemic graphic design and humdrum messaging lessen the publication’s effectiveness and diminish achievements for your readers. Your audience will judge the excellence of your work by the quality of your publication. Everything that makes you proud of your organization comes to life with great design and exceptional storytelling. If you want to create publications that mirror your work and elevate your reputation, make sure these four items are part of your publication toolkit .

• Inventive design and graphics
• Innovative storytelling
• Savvy content strategy
• Expert project management

If you would like to know how we use these tools, we explain it here.

Sokoto: A Creative Marketplace for Business

In a changing economy, markets shift. The current pandemic is proof enough. As the Coronavirus ravages the world, most economies have contracted. Consumer habits have changed and as a result, so have business practices. Even with the advent of a vaccine, some of the changes will become permanent. The result will be a re-imagining of the business landscape to a degree, and certainly in ways that both increase efficiency and value.

One way we’ve worked to provide more efficiency and value for our clients is through a concept called Sokoto which is a Nigerian word for “marketplace.” The Sokoto (pronounced Shō-kō-tō) concept is all about bringing together varied services to create a powerful, efficient tool to service a targeted market.

When customer behaviors and market conditions change, businesses look for more efficiency and greater value from outside contractors to meet new market challenges. As practices like teleworking, made more prevalent by pandemic conditions, become a larger part of the business ecosphere, businesses will look to occupy less or certainly cheaper office space. As marketing budgets shrink or practices change, businesses will look for more efficient ways to reach targeted audiences. In short, a contracted economy will mean a contracted bottom line which without doubt will affect every service sector including creative agencies.

The need for creative agencies doesn’t disappear. In fact, now and for the near future at least, competition for customers is increasing, making advertising and customer outreach more important than ever. Market conditions are placing increasing pressure on maintaining high levels of consistency and quality across the spectrum of creative services, from graphic design to video production. What is needed in the creative sector is a more efficient and streamlined method of service delivery that saves clients time and money.

That’s why we launched the Ṣokoto Creative Alliance — a market concept based on the idea that having important creative services in one place saves time and money. Customers save time and money associated with searching, traveling about and connecting creative services. Alliance partners save time and money in understanding customer needs and coordinating customer service. The Sokoto Creative Alliance is the creative agency of the future.

The alliance provides a single point where ideas, brands and products can be moved from concept to successful expression. It’s a partnership of extremely talented creative firms that include award winning graphic designers, experience designers, Emmy Award winning videographers and a host of talented support staff.

Sokoto exists for everyone on the spectrum of creative need.  Whether you have an established product or service or just an idea, Sokoto provides the resources to envision, create, design and reinforce success for a Brand, product or service in the marketplace It’s like forming a cloud of creative energy around a company.

>Because Sokoto is a marketplace, individual services are readily available. So, if your company needs graphic design, promotional or instructional video, user-centered brand development or even ad specialties, it’s all there.

But the real value is in the collaboration between members when more than one service is needed. Because foundational to the creation of the Sokoto Creative Alliance is a set of core operating principles that ensures a seamless transition from one partner to another should the need arise. There’s no need to change project leads, tell your story numerous times or even track multiple invoices. That’s the real strength of the alliance and the efficiency and value Sokoto brings to businesses. There is a cost savings for clients and partners in centralized management and some shared expenses.

Of course, the idea of a creative marketplace is not entirely new. The concept has been practiced by at least one of the top independent design consultancies in the world. Pentagram Design offers nearly everything from graphic design to Architecture and is run by partners with expertise in their prospective areas.

The Sokoto Alliance, though, is truer to the organic concept of a marketplace and thus more accessible to small and midsize companies as well as the larger clients. What’s more, like a truly diverse marketplace, the diversity of its partners and staff are valuable tools in helping clients navigate an ever-changing cultural landscape.

There is wonderful story about how the idea for the creative alliance came about. While Sokoto is the Nigerian word for  “market.” It’s also the name of a style of pant popular in the country. The dual use of the word is the basis of a wonderful Nigerian proverb that says, "Sometimes what you're looking for in Sokoto is right in the pocket of your Ṣokoto."

What drives alliance members is being able to meet all of the challenges clients face, as they launch or build upon the success of their brands, in one place — a marketplace of creativity — Sokoto.