Category Archives: Blogazine

Can I Get You to do Something Really Quick?

small business online image illustration by Seaberry Design

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.

Thoughtful Pandemic Messaging

During a Pandemic — Message is Everything

-By Monica Seaberry

Having a clear message that connects your brand to the need at hand is everything. Your message increases brand loyalty and trust while helping your audience understand why they should bother to learn more about you, your idea, or the action you want them to take. Without specific messaging, the market can make up it’s own story, one that may not match your company's vision.

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has placed a lot of and companies and organizations in unchartered territory when it comes to crafting a clear message. We're in a world where information is constantly changing, and there are numerous actors who can influence your narrative. The stakes are high and so is stress, and it can be hard to predict how an audience will react to certain information. Take for instance the messaging around mask wearing — where what was meant to be guidance to protect against the spread of the virus turned into a political war.

At Seaberry we’ve spent a lot of time this year working with our clients to clarify their campaign messaging in light of current events. We know the pandemic really is a unique situation that poses a lot of challenges for companies and organizations as they work to figure out what to say and how to communicate with their audience during these difficult times. With each client, our designers have had success following these guidelines for crafting a message during the pandemic.

1. Don’t shame or scare your audience.

When creating messaging to change minds, it’s important to research why your audience feels the way they do and try to imagine what it’s like to feel that way. That’s why you don’t want to use scare tactics. Scaring your audience into agreeing with you can backfire. Those who are scared may become angry towards anyone who does not share in their fear. You also don’t want to shame your audience in your messaging. One of the challenges is that you need to bring people to your side. Take messaging around getting the public to wear masks for example : If organization A tells their audience that they are bad people for not wearing masks, but organization B says they have a video they think their audience should see—that explains that mask wearing is not about him or her, it’s about the clerk at the pharmacy who doesn’t have a choice, and the person waiting next to them in line—your audience members might prefer to deal with organization B. You can see how showing understanding in messaging could help change minds.

2. Gain trust. Be able to prove your message

Identify some convincing reasons the target audience should believe what you tell them. This can be via actual statistics, data points from research, benefits the advice (or product) delivers, or customers’ testimonials. These reasons provide evidence and add credibility to the messages you want to communicate. For example for the Department of For-Hire Vehicles, to promote ride sharing safety, our designers strengthened our messaging by using scientific research findings on how to stay safe while ridesharing. Our videos showed the benefits of opening windows, riding in the back seat, and handwashing. We talked to drivers to get success stories about ways they felt comfortable. We included statistics in flyers letting riders know the probability of staying safe by following the recommended steps.

3. Change your message if necessary

 Digital media makes it easier to change messaging on the fly than print advertising does. If you see that a campaign is followed more by one set of messages over another set, you can change to the more successful set mid campaign. Back to mask wearing for example, the CDC is now changing it’s message from “wear a mask to protect others” to “wear a mask to protect yourself.” Have the findings changed? Maybe not, but if you see that people are not inclined to wear a mask to protect others, let’s see if they will be more inclined to wear them if they are going to protect themselves. You would be aware of message success immediately if more people respond to your campaign after the messaging changes.

4. Have a call to action

Always make sure your messaging is accompanied by a call to action that lets people know what you want them to do. Where they should go, what they should check out, or what action they should take now that they have heard your message, and learned about your brand or product.  For example, right now our designers are working on a campaign to get people vaccinated against the flu, which, during the COVID-19 pandemic, is an even more urgent call. Having COVID-19 and the flu in the same season is a recipe for disaster. The call to action in this campaign tugs at the heartstrings of the audience to motivate them to protect their family and loved ones. The campaign spells out the consequences of not getting vaccinated against the flu and the call to action is to vaccinate now! The audience is led to take action when they are provided information on where they can find a flu vaccine near them.

The key is that if we consider our audience and keep our messaging consistent, we can all get through this together.

Design Better Word Documents

Make Better Looking Word Documents
in No Time, For Free.

Studies have shown that what we see influences how much we trust a document. The appearance of a document you produce for work is judged every time it is shared.

If you write in-house memos, long reports or proposals, you want them to look great!  You know that when content is unattractive or difficult to read, your audience may not get the message. Outside of hiring a graphic designer, most of us use Microsoft Word to create templates for the documents we create. Though it's not a high end publishing program, you actually can make some nice looking documents with it.

Even if it's difficult to work with the program's style functions and other editing tools, there a few simple things you can do to spruce up documents, making them cleaner and easier to read, and yes, more beautiful.

So, If you’ve had enough of boring looking Word documents, don’t fret, we’ve got a solution for you. Our “Better Word Docs” downloadable tutorial is a quick and easy, step-by-step, way to improve the appearance of your Word documents dramatically. And It’s FREE. Download it here.

Meet Your New Creative Agency

We all agree that these are unusual times. At Seaberry, we believe design is especially powerful in moments like these, when telling a story — your story — has the ability to inspire, support and change the lives of millions of Americans. Because of this, we believe that...

It’s time we do our part to end this pandemic
It’s time justice is served
It’s time to find ways to educate
It’s time to feed the hungry
It’s time to mend our relationships
It’s time to take care of this planet
It’s time to take control of our health
It’s time to assert our freedom
It’s time to say what we believe
It’s time to be fearless
It’s time to be noticed
It’s time to be different
It’s time to tell your story

It’s time to meet your new creative agency.

Identity Design • Advertising • Marketing Communications

Make Your Virtual Event Sizzle

Virtual conferences, summits, benefits and even galas have become ever more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. With virtual events you can still train members, raise money, or entertain and have a lot of fun doing it. What you need is a way to make the online experience so exciting and memorable that guests will leave the event they attended from their home-office singing the event theme song all the way to the kitchen.

Picture this. It starts with a digital, branded save-the-date and invitation designed in keeping with the event theme. On the day of the event, a branded program of the day’s activities and sponsors arrives via email. Click on the event link and your custom, branded conference sizzle video begins. It’s hot, with music and animation that gets the blood pumping with excitement about the conference. Your pre-recorded welcome speaker appears, but nobody knows he’s at home, or in an empty hotel event space. The speaker is in front of your branded backdrop or in an event space designed to be a branded environment with props and visual aids to help guide attendees. And when the next speaker is introduced, graphic transitions introduce the new session and designed identifiers appear in the lower third of the screen to describe who is speaking. Every speaker’s slide presentation is branded and designed to complement the conference theme. The event ends with a comprehensive and motivating recap video that makes the experience complete.

It takes some extra planning, but a designer can help to think a little out of the box as you redirect your event from what would have been an in-person experience to a full-scale digital one that attendees view remotely. And oh, by the way, grab some popcorn, because this is going to be good!

 --Monica is President of Seaberry Design

Don’t Close Your Business – Do This First

This week I had a conversation with a friend. She told me some of her neighbors who owned businesses and some of her favorite retail establishments, intend to go out of business at the end of the month, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting temporary shutdown. 

“Wait a minute!” I thought. I mean, I get it. If those business owners are like most of us, we can’t imagine that the government will shoulder the burdens we’ve faced in the last month. But going out of business? There must be another way. I searched online for the businesses my friend mentioned and realized they didn’t have much of an online presence—no functioning website, no social media advertising, and no definitive brand. That means with the current stay at home orders in place, there is no real way for their audiences to reach them. That’s unfortunate, because now, perhaps more than ever, audiences are yearning for ways to stay in contact with, and remain patrons of their favorite businesses.

When I think about it, I believe the Coronavirus pandemic has pushed business owners into the future. It's horrible how that push has come, but it’s a push nonetheless. Even before the pandemic, brick and mortar stores were fast becoming inconvenient and losing share to online retailers. Digital marketing was and is the direction we are headed. And now—with the Coronavirus causing so much uncertainty for small businesses—is the right time to take full advantage of its effectiveness and benefits. 

Bakerstreet Market, a small gourmet shop in the town of Maplewood, NJ, is a phenomenal example of how to make the transition. The shop opened in December of 2019. When the Coronavirus emergency hit in March, the popular new market faced a crisis. The owners developed a plan for a complete transition to online service using instagram (@bakerstreetmarket) and their website to stay connected with their audience, offer online ordering and scheduled delivery. The market’s small town feel and warm brand personality are still alive—online. If you own a business and are thinking of closing it down permanently, ask yourself if you have made the most of online sales and digital marketing. The service you provide is valuable. In this unprecedented time, the transition can help you stay connected while helping your audience #staysafe and #staysocial.

 --Monica is President of Seaberry Design 

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