Design and marketing tips for growing businesses

Strategies to help businesses grow by Olsen Creative

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We start with the Message. What do you want to say to your customers? Where are your customers in terms of location (physical and on the web), buying cycle, and other relevant demographics? We’ll help craft the message according to your audience.


It’s not just the words you use. Visual presentation has a tremendous impact on how messages are received – and perceived. Fonts, colors, imagery, and layout are our building blocks. We are experts in creating appropriate visuals to emphasize a relevant message.


In the end, the delivery of the message is accomplished by Technical means. Website, email, social networking, advertising, offset printing/mailing are some of the ways to deliver. The marketing industry has changed a lot in the last quarter century, and we’ve consistently evolved to adopt new ways of publishing. The industry is always expanding, and we’ve grown along with it.

In summary, all three parts must be present. Any two aspects leave something lacking. A pretty picture delivered without a strong message is unclear. A message that's delivered but doesn't look good is unattractive. A strong visual message without delivery is unseen. All three parts - the message, the visual and the technical must be present for successful marketing communications.


At the moment we first entered the world and opened our eyes, we were consumed by visual stimulus. We began to sort and interpret these images, learning their meanings and significance. Every shape has a property. Every color has a meaning. We perceive shapes as organic or architectural based on their function in nature. We perceive colors as warm or cool based on their presence in nature. We organize many separate elements into a collective whole. We perceive, recognize, categorize and cross-reference until we have a comprehensive knowledge of how the visual world works. And as if we’re not already busy enough interpreting visuals, we are simultaneously processing the other four senses of sound, smell, taste and touch in the same manner.

We recognize what we know.

Does that sound too obvious? Through exposure, we put information into context, and thus retain the information. How does this principle apply to reaching your customers?

Effective communication comes down to one simple principle: with each of the five senses, we recognize what we know. Visual communicators learn what is familiar to their audience and select relevant imagery to communicate clearly, effectively and most importantly, quickly. When a visual message is familiar, right and appropriate, it is clear, comfortable and obvious. When it’s unfamiliar, wrong or inappropriate, it can be confusing, unsettling and misrepresenting. 
Unfortunately, even seasoned professional designers sometimes stray from objective decision-making in their quest to create something new and different. Artists by nature, they sometimes forget that graphic design projects are not gallery pieces where museum-goers will stop to ponder the greater significance of the message. To the average consumer, a graphic designer's labor of love is only a snapshot seen in a fleeting moment, if perceived at all. Marketing studies indicate that as consumers zip down grocery store aisles, their eyes rest on a package for approximately .03 seconds. (Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color by Leatrice Eiseman). In this split-second opportunity, the outer packaging must grab attention, communicate the inner contents and create desire. That’s a lot to expect from a busy audience of consumers who are already bombarded with similar images from thousands of other visuals also competing for their attention. Really, there’s no time for lofty, Picasso-centric agendas.
Be relevant.
This the key to communicating quickly to your audience. If the imagery you incorporate into your piece is vague, obscure or otherwise off target, you’ll miss what is likely your only opportunity to get your point across. Sure, you’ve seen those multi-million-dollar ad campaigns that attract attention through surreal product connections, but is that really the project that’s burning a hole in your in-box? “How to Create a 30-Second Ad Spot for The Big Ballgame That Everyone Will Be Discussing The Significance Of The Next Day” is the subject for another blog post. This is about where the rubber meets the road – your project that's going on right now.

You may not know it yet, but you already have everything you need to make your project a success. Don’t underestimate your perceptions or reactions to the effects of graphic elements. You’ve seen as much of the world as a graphic designer has. Even if you’re uninitiated to the process of graphic design, you can still learn how to make objective visual decisions. This blog will give you a context for understanding, to put a label on what you probably already know, and familiarize you with what you already see.

If you can label it, you can communicate it.

One of the things I hope to accomplish with this blog is to demystify the creative process to help growing businesses get the most out of the resources available. Today's economy is squeezing businesses more than ever, forcing owners to think outside the box for cost-effective solutions on all fronts.

If you own a small business, you probably don't have a huge marketing budget. You probably didn't intend to do a lot of the marketing, advertising, promotions and even page layouts yourself, but to keep operating costs down such tasks are frequently necessary for the survival and growth of your business.

So you became an Accidental Graphic Designer.

For all of the small business owners looking for do-it-yourself solutions, I'm here to coach you on what you really need to know to creatively survive the marketing and design process.

1: Communicate Meaning
Space is a premium in the world, on the internet and on paper. In a matter of milliseconds, you have to capture the attention of a prospective customer with a message that's strong enough to compel them to come to you for your product.

A strong message does not necessarily mean big, bold and red – although sometimes it doesn't hurt. Strength is communicated in relevance. How well understood is the message? Are you speaking your target customer's language? What are they looking for at this time, and are you offering it?

Communicate meaning in each and every element you create. Your logo must be appealing and understandable to your audience. It makes little difference whether you personally like it, if it doesn't communicate clear meaning to potential customers. Your website must be logically organized to guide potential customers down the path that leads to the most important place - buying from you. Your print advertising must contain a call to action. Get people onto your website and/or into your store so you can turn them into new customers.

Communicate meaning in everything you do.

We will help guide you through the process of creating a meaningful message.



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