May 15, 2018

How smart is your social media branding?

Filed under: Branding,Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 1:15 pm

How smart is your social medai branding

Social media is a smart way to promote and increase awareness for your organization or nonprofit. In fact, social media may be the first point of entry for a prospect or supporter, so you want to make sure your branding accurately tells your story.

What is social media branding?

Social media branding is how your organization is perceived on social media. This encompasses both visual (logo, imagery) and verbal (writing, voice) but for now, we will be focusing on the visual aspect.

Keep it consistent

One of the first steps to social media success is having well-designed and consistent branding throughout. You want people to easily recognize your organization or nonprofit wherever they may find you on social media.

Design a smart social media brand

The first step is to claim your page on all the major social media channels (even if you’re not using it yet): LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest (just to make a few). Ideally, you should choose the same username for all social media channels.

Then, you need to upload the required images, which usually includes:

  • Profile
  • Header
  • Cover
  • Background

You can use the same or similar images for each social media channel, but be aware of the different sizes and specifications required by each. Whatever you do: DON’T just drop in your logo or stretch it to fit!

TIP: Sprout Social has a great “always-up-to-date” social media image size reference here.

Have some fun with it…

With many of my logo design clients, I will create a custom version of their logo specifically for social media purposes. And since you are not limited by paper size or ink colors, you can get creative with it. For example, Facebook now offers business pages the ability to upload a video profile image.

Bring more awareness to your events or programs

You can also create custom social media graphics, headers or profile images to promote special events or programs within your organization. And don’t forget to create a custom hashtag for the event too.

Your social media branding can—and should be—constantly evolving. How well are your telling your brand story?

I know it can be overwhelming keeping up with ever-changing social media specifications and the myriad required images for each channel. Let me help! Check out the social media branding we’ve designed and then give us a call.

 

 

May 10, 2018

DESIGN DEMO: Tracking

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , — lidia @ 2:14 pm

When you are typesetting a presentation or other large design, it’s always a good idea to adjust tracking (letter spacing) as large gaps between letters can be more noticeable at large sizes.

May 2, 2018

A to Z of Design: Z is for ZIP

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , — lidia @ 3:47 pm

A to Z of Design: Z is for ZIP

A ZIP (Zone Information Protocol) file is a file format that compresses multiple files into a smaller, more manageable size. ZIP files are easily restored by clicking to unzip the file.

I always recommend creating a ZIP when sending multiple files—especially if sending font files as they can get corrupted in transfer.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

May 1, 2018

A to Z of Design: Y is for yard

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 5:06 pm

A to Z of Design: Y is for yard

Ok, so we don’t actually use yard measurements in graphic design, but I had to stretch my creativity to find a design term that starts with Y!

Back when I started out (ahem, before computers took over), graphic designers had a unique measuring system that was all our own. It consisted of points and picas and I loved it because it was based on multiples of 12 (and therefore easy to calculate in your head).

Points are still used for measuring type sizes (as well as things like paragraph leading) however picas have gone the way of agates (another design measuring system, which was slightly before my time). I was a pica holdout for quite some time, however I finally gave in and reluctantly started using inches.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

A to Z of Design: X is for x-height

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , — lidia @ 11:18 am

A to Z of Design: X is for x-height

X-height is the distance between the baseline (the line a letter sits on) and the top of a lowercase letter, excluding ascenders and descenders (the parts of the letters that extend up or down). The name comes from the fact that x-height is measured by looking at the height of the letter “x” in a typeface.

Typefaces with large x-heights may appear crowded when used in body copy, and will need extra leading to assure legibility.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 30, 2018

A to Z of Design: W is for weight

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 3:24 pm

A to Z of Design: W is for weight

Weight is the range of a typeface stroke’s width. Most type families are available in weights of Normal (or Regular), Semibold, and Bold. Some also include weights such as Light and Extra Light or Heavy and Extra Bold.

The weight of a typeface is especially important to consider when designing a print piece with small type as too light of a typeface could be illegible.

Weight should also be considered when designing for the web as light type weights can seem to “disappear” on computer screens or mobile devices.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

A to Z of Design: V is for vector

Filed under: Uncategorized — lidia @ 3:12 pm

A to Z of Design: V is for vector

You may have had a designer ask you for a vector version of your logo and wondered: “What the heck is that?”

Vector images are made up of points, lines and curves, so they can be scaled to virtually any size without losing quality or becoming pixelated or blurry; they maintain their high resolution.

Conversely, raster images are created from a grid of pixels (if you’ve ever accidentally zoomed in really close on an image, you’ve seen this). So when you enlarge a small raster image, you begin to see those pixels and hard edges. Enlarging too much will cause the image to appear low resolution.

Vector images are generally created in Adobe Illustrator and have a file extension of .eps or .ai. Raster images are generally created in a program like Photoshop and can have a file extension of .eps, .tif, .jpg or .png.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 25, 2018

Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines—and how to create them

Filed under: Branding — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 5:13 pm
Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

I work with many nonprofits in Chicago, and one of the reasons they choose to work with me is because they need help bringing consistency to their branding and marketing materials.

For an established organization (or even a new one), branding can start to become diluted over time, with marketing materials using multiple versions of logos, colors and images that are not on-brand, and messaging that is not targeted or audience-focused. This is where brand guidelines can make a big impact.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines (also sometimes called brand standards, style guides, identity guides or graphic standards) provide a detailed overview of your organization’s branding—from the graphic look and feel to the overall voice and tone. It assures that everyone in your organization—as well as outside partners and vendors—are expressing your brand consistently and accurately.

Since many nonprofit leaders or managers handle most (if not all) marketing tasks internally, having strong brand guidelines can make marketing and promotion of your organization much easier as there is always a reference point. Plus, it keeps everyone inside and outside the organization on the same page (literally!) And most importantly, it allows you to focus on what you do best—sharing your mission and serving others.

Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines

  1. Consistency: It keeps your branding and marketing consistent across all print and online media.
  2. Efficiency: When you have a reference point for your marketing pieces, you can create them more quickly and efficiently.
  3. Professionalism: When all of your marketing materials are consistent and on-brand, it helps to emphasize your experience and competency
  4. Convenience: When everything is in one place, it helps your partners and vendors (such as graphic designers, photographers, writers and print vendors) do their job faster and easier
  5. Budget: When design elements and other brand-related files are easily accessible, projects can be completed faster and more economically.
  6. Accuracy: When brand details are easily accessible, it helps to avoid costly mistakes such as using the wrong color or font on a printed piece.
  7. Timing: When everything is in one place, necessary brand assets (i.e. logos or brand colors) can be easily accessed when needed and project delays can be avoided.
  8. Onboarding: New employees (and vendors) can get to know your organization quickly and easily, so they can get to work faster. It also provides them a constant reference as they get acquainted with their new job and assures that they are sharing your message accurately.

What should be included in brand guidelines

A good set of brand guidelines will assure everything people see and experience related to your organization is an accurate expression of your brand. So, what should be included?

Before getting started, think about how your organization will use the guidelines:

  • What types (and channels) of marketing do you use? (i.e. print, digital, social media, in-person events)
  • Will your in-house team mainly use them or will you share them with outside vendors?
  • If you work with outside vendors, what types of work do they produce? (i.e. brochures, flyers, advertising, email marketing, social media, video)

At the very least, the following should be included in brand guidelines:

  • Mission statement and vision statement: including verbiage about how they relate to your overall brand.
  • Logo usage: including sizing requirements, clear space (the space around the logo that separates it from other design elements), logotypes and icons, logo lockups (i.e. if the logo should always appear with another element such as a tagline, date or URL). It’s also a good to include misuse examples, for example: the logo should not be stretched disproportionately or used smaller than ¼”.
  • Taglines: including when and how to use the tagline, and where it should be placed in relation to the logo.
  • Fonts and typography: including allowable primary and secondary fonts for both print and online usage. Optionally, include examples and/or suggested usage for headlines and body copy.
  • Color palette: including primary and secondary color palettes for print (Pantone, CMYK) and digital or presentation (RGB, HEX) usage.
  • Imagery: including suggested types of photography and illustration that should be used, as well as when images should be used. May also include recommended website for purchasing stock photography or illustration and/or image guidelines for in-house or contracted photographers.

Depending on your organization’s needs, you may also want to include:

  • Voice and tone: including writing guidelines for print marketing, as well as digital marketing such as blogs and social media outlets.
  • Sample layouts: including commonly-used marketing templates such as business cards, stationery, flyers, print ads and social media posts.
  • Social media/content marketing guidelines: including an overview of how your brand will be expressed on social media or content marketing (if available, include an overview or links to the organization’s social media/content marketing strategy and editorial calendar)
  • Guest author guidelines: including guidelines for writers who will contribute articles to the organization’s website, blog or social media.
  • PR reference: including organization blurbs (several versions ranging from a 5-word blurb to several paragraphs), staff bios, headshots, and other materials that may be needed for PR opportunities. Include filenames and shared drive locations for easy access by all staff members and contractors.
  • Email signature: what should be included (logo, name, title, email, phone number, legal verbiage, other relevant links) as well as the specified format (text, HTML). Have a template handy on a shared drive to supply to new employees or contractors.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it can be as simple or complex as your organization needs.

And enlisting the help of a branding designer can make it much easier. Believe me, it will all pay off in the end. As a designer, I know how frustrating it can be to search for logos, color specs and other necessary design elements when working on a project.

Want to see examples?

Sometimes the best way to get started developing brand guidelines is to see what others are doing. A good place to start is by Googling “nonprofit brand guidelines”.

Or check out this roundup of 80+ brand and identity guidelines from various organizations and brands around the world.

If you need help developing your org’s brand guidelines, reach out to me—I would love to help!

A to Z of Design: U is for usage

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
A to Z of Design: U is for usage

Icon by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project

Image usage rights are generally available in royalty-free or rights-managed options.

Rights-managed (RM) images are basically “rented” from the image owner, so they are limited by things such as duration of use, type of use (i.e. editorial, print, online), geographic location, or number of impressions.

Royalty-free (RF) images allow (nearly) unlimited use, in any application for as long as you like, based on the terms of the license agreement.

There are also now multiple online sources for free stock images licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means they can be used anywhere without attribution required.

But always check the licensing information on the website for any photo or illustration you purchase or download before using them.

And most importantly, just because you find an image online doesn’t mean you can use it! Research the image first to see if a license or attribution is required.

See this website for more information about image usage rights.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 23, 2018

A to Z of Design: T is for tint

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 8:29 pm

A to Z of Design: T is for tint

A tint is formed when white ink is mixed with a color to make the color lighter. It’s also called “screening back” a color and is indicated by a percentage. Using tints allows you to include multiple colors in a design when a project budget only allows for 1-color printing.

A shade is formed when black ink is mixed in with a color to make the color darker.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

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