Pack Extra Meaning into Your Message with Strategic Color Combinations

Different colour sampler on wooden background closeupOf all the elements of design, color is probably the most challenging to understand.

Color originates from a light source that is viewed directly or seen as reflected light. While colors can be displayed in spectrums, prisms, or contrasts, the power of colors is not only in their arrangement, but in the way we perceive them.

Want to add depth to your message? The colors you choose can add an extra layer of meaning.

Colors Prompt a Specific Response

According to Sally Augustin from Psychology Today, research shows that particular colors can prompt measurable responses.

Here are the impacts of five particular colors, and how you can use them to your advantage:

Green

Seeing the color green has been linked to more creative thinking—so greens are good options for pieces featuring innovation, creativity, artistic specialties, or proactive growth.

Red

People featured in front of red backgrounds are generally seen as more attractive when silhouetted against other colors, so reds are great for photo backdrops, booklet covers, headshots, and more.

Having a red surface in view also gives people a burst of strength, so reds are good choices for concepts related to fitness, acceleration, competition, and courage.

Violet

People tend to link greyish violet with sophistication, so these hues can be a good selection for places where you’re trying to make a stylish impression.

Try subtle violet/grey hues in designs for home apparel, personal products, product labels, and more.

Yellow

Yellow is associated with joy, happiness, optimism, and energy.

This color stimulates mental activity and generates muscle energy. Yellows are great for stimulating appetite, implying freshness, or for conveying warmth. Yellow also screams for attention, so you can use it to grab interest. Avoid overdoing it by adding yellow in contrast with another color.

Blue

Did you know that people are more likely to tell you that blue is their favorite color than any other shade?

Blue is a great choice for design, especially with so many shades to choose from! Nature-themed blues can call forth feelings of calmness or serenity, and are perfect for striking a tranquil tone. Turquoise or royal blues can project stability and reliability, which is strategic for brands that want to communicate productivity or security.

One caution about blue: it is not very appetizing. In the world of cuisine, humans are geared toward avoiding blue as it is often a sign of poison or spoilage. Some weight loss plans even recommend eating your food off a blue plate to squelch hunger!

Color Your Communication

Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, sway emotions, and even influence physiological reactions.

The right use of colors can play an important role in conveying information, creating moods, and influencing the decisions people make. Be strategic and add extra meaning to your message with dynamic, powerful color combinations.

Prepare for Your Next Breakthrough by Prioritizing Self-Care

Happy beautiful woman in white dress relaxing in hammock.

There are many seasons in life.

Some are exhilarating, others exhausting. Some bring immense growth, and others deplete you.

Just as there are seasons in nature, there is continual change in our daily lives. Many of us were caught off guard by the coronavirus, and our questions about the future can be more depleting than the uncertainty of this day.

But wisdom takes the long view, and that means prioritizing personal health so you can endure and thrive tomorrow.

From Crisis to Recovery

As you move from a season of chaos to a season of recovery, self-care is one of the most important things you can do. What might this look like? Here is a checklist to consider:

Set a Routine and Prioritize Consistency

Since so many things are out of whack, daily routines are more important than ever.

Create expectations for yourself and your family by involving them in daily cleaning, cooking, recreation, or school responsibilities. Make room for relaxing and fun activities, and build quiet space into your calendar. Posting a new weekly schedule for everyone can make life feel more fun, productive, and stable.

Spend Time Outside

Enjoy the outdoors every day, whether it’s a walk around your yard or sitting under an umbrella on your front steps.

The outdoors will refresh you. Even opening the windows can bring an invigorating breeze and a gush of energy.

Cultivate Joy

A lot of what we hear and see these days is scary and troubling, and there is power as we move in the opposite spirit.

Whether it’s a YouTube video or a hopeful song, find one thing each day that makes you smile, laugh, or feel good. To double the impact, share your positivity with others. A joy shared is multiplied!

Reach Out

Perhaps the last few months have left you so frazzled you haven’t made time for others.

Isolation is very dangerous, increasing your risk of mortality, prompting quicker cognitive decline, and inflating your pessimism about the future. People need people, and sometimes YOU need to be the one who makes the first move. Reach out to others through emails, video-conferencing, a driveway coffee date, or a long walk.

Control What You Can

While it is natural to worry about the future, anxiety can carry you away.

When uncertainty tempts you to fret, counteract that by concentrating on what IS in your control. Can you deep-clean your storage room, re-arrange furniture, or start a wood-working project? Bringing order to chaos is a wonderful antidote to stormy emotions.

Help Others

Research shows that helping others is a great way to help yourself.

When recovering from a season of stress, one of the best ways to recover is by lifting others up too. Can you donate money, supplies, or time to a non-profit? Deliver groceries or a “favorite” pampering item to someone who isn’t expecting it?

When you are stressed or afraid, one of the most powerful things you can do is to find someone who is worse off than you and serve them.

This Too Shall Pass

COVID-19 has prompted a season of isolation and stress like many have never known.

It is scary to think of living like this forever, but remind yourself that it WILL end, even if it takes a long time to rebalance. Just like seasons pass each year, this time of testing will pass as well.

There is no “right way” to take care of yourself, but it crucial that you do it!

How Innovative Print Partnerships Save You Time and Money

Almost every business needs paper products (like brochures, letterhead, and large-scale marketing) to build and strengthen their brand.

Between graphic design, production presets, and regular re-orders, keeping things organized can be a challenge. Consistently partnering with the same printer can make things much more efficient and convenient.

Creative, Collaborative Marketing

Since each company has its own unique needs, a professional printer can work with you on an individual basis to design and print materials that are just right for your business.

Beyond commercial printing, today’s print professionals can make a huge difference through graphic design services, brand building creative elements (like logo and packaging design options), or through securing “extra” promotional products (like magnets, notebooks, or water bottles). Innovative printers serve as true marketing partners, often costing less than you would pay to individually produce or order these items yourself.

Most businesses don’t have the capacity to produce and develop high-quality marketing on their own, so it is vital to consider a collaborative partnership with a print and design company. A professional printer can easily adapt your designs or logos to work for professional booklets and brochures, banners and flags, letterhead and business cards, presentation folders and flyers, and more.

And craftsmanship is paramount in printing, which ensures your projects receive meticulous attention to detail, seamless color matching, and superior finishes. Collaborative printers stand behind their products as they combine an experienced eye, a skillful touch, and unrivaled personal service.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Professional Print Partnership

To be successful with graphic print production you need a close working relationship with a quality provider. How do you find the right printer? Here are six questions to consider:

1. What Level of Competence and Quality is Needed?

Competence and quality are often the most important factors in weighing commercial print options.

Although it can be difficult to evaluate skill levels before you’ve worked with someone, there are several indicators to look for. Request to see samples of jobs done for other customers. Inquire about areas of specialization and if bundled pricing or services are included. Also, ask your printer what work steps they see as critical for obtaining good results. If you know in advance how they prefer to manage projects, it helps ensure good workflow and communication along the way.

2. Does This Printer Have a Large Personnel or Production Capacity?

How large is the printing staff? If you need substantial output in a short time, does the printer have the equipment or workforce to handle this?

3. How Will We Optimize Communication?

Is there a key contact person you will always correspond with? What is the preferred method of communication?

4. Does This Printer Offer Concrete Delivery Times or Guarantees?

How dependable is the printer and how quickly can projects be delivered? Is there a timeframe guarantee?

5. What is the Level of Environmental Consciousness?

Is your printer committed to eco-friendly standards or procedures? Some companies may have special requirements in regard to environmental impact issues, and this may influence the printing practices they are able to approve.

6. Are Proximity and Availability Important to Me?

How geographically close do you want your printer to be? If high-quality service and fast delivery times are important, proximity may be more of an issue.

A Wise Long-Term Investment

Your time is valuable, so making wise choices is of utmost importance. Taking time to enter a print partnership that maximizes your investment is well worth your consideration. Often, choosing the right printer means you are beginning a relationship that will last for years.

4 Modern Design Resources for Your Bag of Tricks

Looking for a few hacks to sharpen your designs?

By adding a few extra resources, the force of your talent can expand exponentially! And with new design tools being released regularly, the possibilities are limitless.

Everyone needs a few handy helps in their bag of trips. Check out these four modern design resources and up your game today!

Quick Design

Want to learn design?

Quick Design is a platform that lists free design courses available online. From 3D and animation to things like cryptocurrency and “ethical hacking,” you can select free courses for design based on your skill as either a beginner or an expert. Step-by-step practical resources are available to a wide range of 3D, CAD software, and other industry-oriented specialists.

As an additional benefit, you can follow other designers of your interest, which can help in networking or creative brainstorming.

unDraw

For quality illustrations that you can embed in your design on a moment’s notice, check out unDraw.

unDraw is an MIT licensed collection of quality open license images that can be dropped directly into your favorite design tool. These thoughtful, elegant, and functional SVG images can be downloaded and customized in three easy steps:

  • Browse or search to find illustrations you want to use for your design
  • Change the color to match your palette or through your asset colors later
  • Download the image to your clipboard and paste it wherever you want

unDraw images can be used for free in commercial or personal projects without worries, so drop some into your print pieces, mobile apps, or whatever you can create!

UI Sources

Inspiration regarding design “flow” can be hard to find.

Enter UI Sources.

Launched in 2018, UI Sources is a curated repository of motion design. To date, UI Sources catalogs around 500 interactions from apps that bring inspiration and strategic navigation options in everything from augmented reality, chatbots, in-app purchasing, and more.

UI Sources can help you with your own projects, giving you tools to analyze product flows and features and to get real design inspiration for your apps, web designs, or even big-picture schematic print designs. This resource is extensive and can be used by designers, developers, product packaging specialists, and entrepreneurs of all kinds.

Absurd Illustrations

What to play around a bit?

In a digital era, sometimes, we need to interact with something more human to make us appreciate both the beauty and the imperfection of something made by hand. Absurd.design is a project that comes with a set of downloadable, surrealist illustrations for articles, landing pages, marketing materials, and more.

High-quality images are available in a variety of formats. From here, you can craft a truly distinctive message with an illustration that’s available only to you.

Improve Your Workflow

Each designer has their own personal list of “aha” tools.

Check out these four goodies and share the love with your colleagues too. You’ll enjoy using them to increase efficiency and to dazzle your best clients!

How to Age Gracefully at Every Stage of Life

If people can age with class, Harlene Goodrich should be considered a maestro of maturity.

Goodrich, age 81, is a former schoolteacher who lives in Seal Beach, CA. Goodrich returned to school at age 50 to get her master’s degree and has since published a children’s book and won several playwriting contests. Despite serious back and knee surgery in the past decade, Goodrich didn’t shrink back from traveling to Washington, D.C., at age 79 to participate in a national protest march.

Goodrich says that aging well means proactively beginning the process while you’re still young by engaging with stimulating people and activities. This includes a healthy dose of humor. Recently, Goodrich gathered friends ages 65 to 83 and heard them complaining about aches and pains. She stopped the discussion and suggested they go around the table to give each woman five minutes to complain. That’s when everyone broke out laughing.

A Healthful Approach

No one can stop time, so it’s important to remember that aging isn’t something to be avoided. Instead, aging healthfully should be your goal.

This includes taking stock of your physical, social, and mental wellness, and prioritizing health as you would invest in your vehicle maintenance. Want to age healthfully? Here are some checkpoints in each category.

Physical Health

Early identification of health problems makes them easier to manage, so prioritize regular check-ups and complete the recommended health screenings for your age group. Here is a medical schedule to help you best navigate these guidelines.

Exercise is also vital. It’s estimated that physical functioning peaks around age 30, and at this point, you begin to lose muscle mass and function. Sedentary individuals can lose as much as 5% of their muscle mass each decade! However, you can maintain muscle through regular exercise, specifically strength or resistance training. Resistance training also strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. 

Social Health

Aging can sometimes feel lonely, so it’s important to make new friends and widen your social circles.

How can you do this? Consider new hobbies, volunteer opportunities, or even classes at a nearby college. You can also expand connections by proactively befriending younger people. Intergenerational relationships can open doors for powerful mentoring opportunities while decreasing depression and helping you navigate changes in technology and culture. 

Mental Health

Cognitively speaking, mental development continues into middle adulthood.

Later in life, your cognitive processing speeds may slow, but wisdom and experience-based problem solving will continue to increase.

It’s important to feed your mind and your soul to stay sharp mentally. This includes consistent sleep patterns, building new connections, and cultivating a sense of purpose. Practical steps may consist of caring for others (to maintain a positive outward focus), tackling puzzles or strategy games, using mental arithmetic instead of defaulting to a calculator, playing an instrument, and surrounding yourself with upbeat people.

Research shows that smiling, even a fake smile, can boost your mood. When you catch your reflection in the mirror or a window, smile at yourself, and you may be surprised at how it lifts your spirits. Smile at others, too; you might make their day!

Be a Participant in Your Journey

One of the essential things about aging is to do it proactively.

Often as people age, they feel isolated or embarrassed. And in today’s connected generation, there’s just no reason to shrink back from others. Aging healthfully means making a plan, asking for help, and being an active participant (versus a spectator) in your own life. That’s Harlene’s outlook:

“No one suddenly gets old,” Goodrich said. “I think we’re all on the path of life. I may be old in years, but I’m the same person who’s been living the same life. The key is to participate in each stage along the way.”

Use Themed Calendars as a Strategic Marketing Asset

In a digital world cluttered with text messages, pop-up ads, and spam, sometimes paper products hit the sweet spot when it comes to organization.

As the end of the year approaches, client and employee gifts may be on your to-do list. Themed calendars are a clever marketing asset that can serve as a unique token of gratitude.

Calendars are practical for everyone, offering branded staying power while conveying your business goals in a way that’s customized to the interests of your audience.

Looking for a few creative ideas? Here are three strategies to capture unique calendar themes.

1. Identify Your Goals.

Each company has its own high-profile days.

Whether you run a real estate company, a chiropractic clinic, or a financial consulting firm, there is a calendar theme that can be tailored to your needs. Start your design by identifying your goals. Do you want to generate more end-of-year orders? Keep employees on track for milestone deadlines? Sell more gym memberships?

Specify concrete goals you want to achieve and tie them to graphics or promotional themes that will build momentum for your business.

2. Schedule Your Promotions.

Did you know one of the busiest days for Papa Murphy’s Take-and-Bake pizzas is Valentine’s Day?

Each year on February 14, the company generates tons of sales from heart-shaped pizzas and s’more dessert delights. The key? Combining deliberate calendar planning with irresistible product promotions.

Every business has crazy seasons and slow seasons, and planning ahead can provide strategic opportunity to offset these challenges. Do you traditionally see a slump or spike in your business during critical months? Call these out in your calendar by placing special promotions in the calendar, or prepping team members with personalized perks or reminders within your calendar design.

Whether it’s the biggest sales day for local bakeries or the top period when shipping companies miss their delivery guarantees, highlighting seasonal trends can set you up for success.

3. Combine Calendars with Loyalty Incentives.

Rewards programs, freebies, and giveaways always make customers feel special.

Did you know eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years? Consider coordinating your calendars with themed swag or surprise incentives to keep loyalty levels high while generating significant growth.

According to the 2018 Trust Barometer report, over time, returning clients spend 67% more than new customers. Research estimates that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%!

365 Days of Exposure

Calendars come in many formats: desktop, magnet, peel and stick, or even posters.

Want to find just the right product for your needs? From triangular desk calendars to transparent covers, we are happy to help you design the perfect promotional calendar. Keep your audience engaged with 365 days of exposure for your business!

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

Lisa Price describes herself as “the accidental entrepreneur.”

She got her start in her mother’s Brooklyn kitchen, creating body butter and selling it at the flea market at her mother’s church. Customers would stop by, smell a few things, and ask one inevitable question: “Do you have anything for hair?”

Price made this her top priority and never looked back. “Carol’s Daughter,” Price’s ridiculously popular natural hair care and beauty brand, eventually became a multimillion-dollar business that sold to L’Oreal in 2014. Price says the ability to spot innovation, create something, and sell herself have been several keys to her success.

Negotiating Well and Staying True to Yourself

How do you sell yourself without selling out?

Price was committed to finding healthy ways for African-American women to care for their hair. She stayed true to this mission (though her customer base eventually included Caucasian women as well). While touting natural products in place of highly popular chemical relaxers used in salons, Price presented herself as a simple girl with simple solutions.

Her product popularity coincided with stints on the Home Shopping Network and the rise of YouTube. Price could offer product demos, educate young women looking for solutions, and bring affordable alternatives to young markets. In 2009, “Good Hair” (a documentary produced and narrated by Chris Rock) showed a can of Coca-Cola dissolving in a chemical relaxer, and momentum spiked: women using relaxers in their hair dropped from 89 percent to 36 percent in just two years.

“The Internet makes everything democratic,” said Price. “Larger companies got left behind.”

Along the way, Price grew comfortable negotiating for her company and fighting for herself without folding under pressure.

Want to emulate her experience?

While you may not feel very powerful before signing a new deal, career coaches say you have the greatest negotiating power during the short time between being offered a job (or a contract) and formally agreeing to take it.  

Negotiating in these situations can increase your earning potential and ensure you’re properly compensated both now and in the future. So prepare well before coming to the table! This may include researching market averages, calculating your value (or your product value), and preparing your talking points in advance (i.e., years of experience, sales goals achieved, or unique benefits your product can bring).

Rehearsing with a friend, asking for more than your target number, and communicating with confidence can bring significant gains when you sit down to negotiate. And don’t worry about offending. Forty-three percent of job recruiters say it doesn’t impact their view of a candidate if one negotiates for salary, and 19 percent said it has a positive impact.

Price shared her advice for when an acquisition or initial salary offer isn’t right. Her script went something like this:

“I appreciate everything about this deal and am so excited, but if I have to live with this particular offer, it might be hard for me to be fully there and present. I don’t want to be distracted and thinking about other opportunities, so . . . ” Here, Price would lean in, give a specific ask, and let the chips fall. (It worked; she got more money.) When it came time to sell her company in 2014, Price said that outside of her marriage and children, this was the proudest moment of her life.

Negotiating is incredibly important because when you stand up for yourself, you tap into your skills to ask for more. This ultimately sends a message that you deserve it – which means you’re more likely to receive that request!

How Chick-fil-A’s Customer Service Continues to Dominate

In 1995, a renegade cow painted three words on a Texas billboard: “EAT MOR CHIKIN.”

From that day forward, Chick-fil-A transformed the fast-food landscape. When founder Truett Carlson began in the restaurant industry during the mid-forties, he was inspired by many customers who took chicken and wrapped it in a bun to eat. Today, Chick-Fil-A (and its cows) have reached millions through ads in television, print, and even the occasional water tower.

But Chick-fil-A is about more than great food.

Closed on Sundays so employees can rest and worship, the establishment recognizes the well-being of the people on both sides of the counter.

“We should be about more than just selling chicken,” Carlson famously said. “We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities we serve.”

Unfailing Hospitality

As the restaurant seeks to bring value, it has grown in net worth.

In 2018, Chick-fil-A made more per restaurant than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway combined. In June 2019, the franchise grabbed the best customer satisfaction score in the fast-food industry, claiming the No. 1 spot on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for the fourth year in a row.

Outranking establishments like Panera and Chipotle, Chick-fil-A’s fans rave about its excellent service, polite employees, and consistent cleanliness. Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowki says Chick-fil-A’s unfailing hospitality is a huge part of the chain’s success:

“Little things like being told ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – it feels like you’re appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A,” Kalinowski said. “And especially in today’s very complex world, it’s just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated.”

Manners Matter

Humans are highly social creatures, and rudeness signals a form of rejection that cuts deep, whether we admit it or not.

Recent polling in France showed that one of the primary causes of stress was the behavior of others. Good manners increase the presence of the neurochemical oxytocin, causing people to demonstrate kindness and generosity while experiencing greater pleasure. This fuels not only connection but greater prosperity.

What might this look like during a typical day at Chick-Fil-A?

  • Often if you say ‘thank you’ to an employee, they might respond with: ‘my pleasure.’
  • Some Chick-Fil-A operators offer expired nuggets to pet owners (while the chicken is still good).
  • Others offer a “Mom’s Valet” where young families can order at the drive-through and ask employees to set the table (including the correct number of high chairs and drinks) so when they enter the restaurant, kid chaos is eliminated.  

According to Davide Farmer, vice-president of restaurant experience, part of the company’s service philosophy is to empower employees:

“There are all kinds of scenarios that pop up that you don’t necessarily train for,” said Farmer. “We try to teach the principles of what it is to care for somebody so that a team member can kind of act on their own when they see an opportunity.”

Danny Cadra experienced this firsthand when he walked into his local Chick-fil-A in Lubbock, Texas. After sitting down, he was surprised when a longtime employee handed him an envelope and said, “Hey, you left your money here a while ago.”

In the envelope was three dollars Cadra left at a drive-through almost a month before. The employee tucked away the cash and looked to return it at the first opportunity.

“I was just floored,” Cadra said. “I went a whole month not knowing there was a guy at Chick-fil-A who remembered me every day, [who] brought that money every single day until he saw me.”

Customer service like that is what we all should aspire to, and we’d love to have a chance to showcase ours to you!

How to Grow When Sales are Slow

Nothing was going right at the plate for Dave Concepcion, the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.

About a month into the 1976 season, he was suffering a hitting slump, a plague of physical and mental anguish that had frittered away his batting average to around .150. The Reds were in Chicago, where the Cubs had a large industrial gas-operated clothes dryer in the stadium. Feeling goofy, Concepcion hopped in the dryer and called to his teammates. “Hey! Maybe this will help me get hot.”

Going along with the gag, Pat Zachry, the pitcher, hit the side of the switch, pretending to turn on the machine. With a puff of smoke, sparks flew, the machine whirred and began to rotate with Concepcion inside.

”I’ll never forget it,” said Zachry. ”Davey started spinning, and I froze with my eyes bugging out. Oh, it was terrible. Then I banged the side of the switch again. And the machine stopped.

”Davey went out that day and got four for five,” said Zachry. “And for weeks it was almost impossible to get him out. I tell him now that I made him the player he is today.”

Fast-Track Productivity in Unconventional Ways

No one in baseball or business is certain how slumps happen, but it’s helpful to know how to react when they do. Especially if you see trends that repeat each year.

Here are four creative options to fast track productivity if your momentum is slow this summer:

1. Engage in pro bono opportunities that enhance your products, services, and relationships.

In slowdown seasons, invest company time in something that will pay off.

Who are your target customers or VIP account holders? Approach these contributors and offer to host a free training event or professional engagement that will put your products and people in the limelight. Another alternative is to select core clients and offer to enhance your services for them for no cost.

2. Do non-profit work for your best customer’s charity of choice.

Slow periods are an ideal time to invest people equity in causes that matter.

During your down times, partner with agencies that your clients value and offer volunteer hours, free professional services, or mentoring that can make these organizations stronger.

3. Stretch your team’s skills.

When activity wanes, morale often follows.

Invigorate employees by offering on-going education opportunities, professional mentoring within your team, or innovation labs that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals.

Take time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, and involve your team in designing these pieces. Here you’ll strengthen your products, catalyze creative thinking, or upgrade inefficient systems.

4. Network or collaborate with other professionals.

Finally, as your business weathers change, remember that other entrepreneurs may be in the same boat.

Find like-minded friends and cook up a multi-site promotion to bring people back. Network and learn from people in your community or industry while you have extra time. Or trade services and train one another in ways that are mutually beneficial.

Want to make the most of each day? By reaching out, stretching your team, or collaborating with others, you’ll sharpen your skills and fortify your very best relationships.