Graphic Matter… Out & About!

It’s spring and trade show season!

Graphic Matter will be participating in several upcoming events. We love opportunities to meet new prospective clients and reconnect with familiar faces, so look for us at these upcoming events!

Institute of Supply Management - NJ

Visit Graphic Matter’s booth at the Institute for Supply Management – NJ [ISM-NJ] Supplier Diversity Fair on May 11, 2011 at the Marriott Hotel in Bridgewater, NJ.

 

 

 

On June 16, 2011, Graphic Matter will be exhibiting at the SmallBiz Connect: Small Business Somerset County Business PartnershipNetworking Showcase sponsored by the Somerset County Business Partnership [SCBP.org]. This event will also be held at the Bridgewater Marriott Hotel.

 

WBENC National Business Conference & Fair 2011

Follow Graphic Matter to Las Vegas on June 21-23, where we’ll be attending the WBENC 2011 National Conference and Business Fair,entitled “The Opportunity Connection,” at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and Resort in Las Vegas.

Also, Graphic Matter was recently interviewed by the Hillsborough Beacon about our recent award presented by the WPEO and WBENC. See the article here.

Do you have plans to attend any of these events? Reach out to us so we can connect!

 

Brand IDENTITY vs. Brand IMAGE – What is Said vs. What is Heard

Brand Identity vs. Brand Image

We often see these two terms used interchangeably [and incorrectly] and while it seems there is a relatively small distinction between them, it can speak volumes in how you choose to spend your marketing dollars.

Brand Identity is how you want the consumer to perceive your product or brand. It helps to shape the personality of the product, service or company. It’s the voice you give your product or service.

Brand Image is the perception of your product or brand by consumers. It’s what they hear.

So many factors combine to create a brand image – some of which you have no control over. This increases the importance of the factors within your control, the strategic choices you make regarding your brand and marketing efforts.

The strongest voice you can give your product is a well-defined and consistently communicated brand identity. Teachers use this when they repeat an important concept for emphasis, and then really let it sink in. Have you given your brand a strong voice? Do you know what your next marketing initiative should be? If you’d like to know more about what your clients hear, give our marketing team a call.

 

Graphic Matter’s 2010 Year in Review

2010 was a year filled with accomplishments and milestones for Graphic Matter Inc. As we review this list we have compiled, we are again grateful to you, our clients and partners, for your support and confidence.

January 2010 – Launch of Our 2¢, Graphic Matter’s blog, opening a new line of communication and resource for our clients. We covered the topics that our clients asked us about the most – everything from blogs, SEO, branding, and client projects.

February 2010 – Graphic Matter attends WPEO Done Deals and Matchmaker Event in NYC and has matchmaker meetings with various corporations.

March 2010Mitushi Banerjee joins the Graphic Matter team as web designer.

April 2010 – Graphic Matter attends the WPEO Done Deals Challenge Reception in NYC.

June 2010Graphic Matter is awarded 3rd place in the NJ AD Club 42nd Annual Awards for the exercise booklet we designed for the Pink Ribbon Program, Recovery for Breast Cancer Survivors.

June 2010Graphic Matter designs trade show graphics for NTSG, Inc., providing visual impact for their sponsorship booth at WBENC’s Women in Business 2010 Conference, This visually compelling marketing tool is both versatile and portable for use at future events.

June 2010 – Graphic Matter renews WBENC Certification.

July 2010 – Graphic Matter attends New Jersey’s largest industry networking event sponsored by the NJ Marcom Council.

August 2010 – Graphic Matter celebrates our 8th anniversary as a Hillsborough business.

September 2010 – Graphic Matter creates a new business plan for growth in 2011 with the Haufman FastTrac Growth Venture program

October 2010 Graphic Matter wins the WPEO/WBENC Done Deals Partnership Award for securing the most WBE-to-WBE contracts.

November 2010Graphic Matter designs advertisement and accompanying micro-site for Pink Ribbon Program’s Breast Cancer Rehab.org, marking our first ad placement in a national publication [USA Today].

December 2010 – Graphic Matter wraps us another exciting year and prepares for a productive 2011.

Thanks for reading our blog. Let us know what you would like us to discuss in 2011. We look forward to more rewarding project with our clients in 2011!

Graphic Matter's Favorite Blog Posts of 2010

Over the past year, Graphic Matter has shared with you the many different ways you can promote your business and your brand. Let’s sum up our year of informational posts and share with you the ones that were our favorites.

Here they are:

1. How I Love to Follow A Blog, Let Me Count the Ways! Parts 1 – 3

2. Organic Marketing? Really?

3. Get Pushy with Your Marketing: The Difference Between SEO & SEM

4. Graphic Matter’s Fab 5 “Shout Out”

5. Graphic Matter Client Spotlight – NTSG, Inc.

We hope that you have enjoyed our blog posts and have shared them with friends. We look forward to hearing from YOU and invite you to share with us your favorite tips from 2010 as well as what questions you would like to see answered in 2011.

The team at Graphic Matter wishes everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Implementing and Building Your Brand – Building a Brand Part 6

How Do I Do THAT?

In recent posts, we identified the main challenge to building your brand is to create awareness and recognition of your company and brand, and we broke it down into four areas:

1. Choice of font or typeface

2. Use of Color

3. Logo Design

4. Choosing a Designer

To complete the series, we are offering some ideas about how you can promote your brand consistently with everyday or off-the-shelf items. The most important tip we can give you is to be CONSISTENT about promoting your brand.

OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS

Many office supply stores stock business supplies and accessories that you can purchase to reinforce your brand. Will you need binders, presentation folders, envelopes, boxes, or labels? See how many of these items you can get that are consistent with the colors that you have chosen for your logo or brand. Since you haven’t invested any money in these types of items at this point, you can adjust your color choices for them as necessary. For example, instead of bright blue, you might need to switch to a light blue or a grayish-blue. Make these decisions early, before you start to accumulate materials. Consider searching online — you might get a wider selection of colors. Companies like Paper Direct and Paper Access specialize in creating pre-printed materials for small business owners.

BUILD THE BRAND

Now that you have selected your basic elements, use them relentlessly. Find every opportunity to reinforce your brand.

When you select checks, include your font, color(s) and logo. Take a look at your email; create a standard signature that incorporates your complete business name, address, phone and Web address in the footer. Use your colors, your font and if you know how, add your logo. Evaluate all of your existing support materials – not just marketing materials. What do your invoices, estimates, and contracts look like? Do they reinforce your brand and the professionalism of your company? Pick up each piece and ask, “Does this help or hinder my brand in the eye of the client?” More importantly, if prospective clients see this support material before they meet you, will it encourage them to contact you or will it send a clear message to go elsewhere?

Thinking about how both prospective and existing clients view your business is very important. You want to make sure when they have a need they think of you first and ask you to help them fill it. By branding your business, and then building your brand, you create brand recognition, which turns into more sales for you!

For more information on how to build your brand, contact Graphic Matter!

How Do I Choose A Logo Designer?

Here is a checklist for you, to help you hire the right designer for your project.

1. Experience:
Ask your designer for samples of other company or product logos they created. It is important to see that the designer can meet a client’s objectives, personal taste and business constraints. Designing a logo as a class project is not the same as meeting the needs, preferences and budget of a paying client.

2. Positive Testimonials:
Ask for testimonials. When speaking to their clients ask about the communication process, how well the designer understood their needs and how they managed the design and edit process. The design process is a translation process, where a client states their requirements verbally and the designer translates these needs into a physical object or symbol.

3. Portfolio:
Good designers have a strong and varied portfolio of work. From the simple to the complex, it should include product and service businesses, conservative and contemporary, premium and discount brands. You can view our portfolio here.

4. Design Process & Professionalism:
When Graphic Matter designs a logo, we follow a process to ensure that we understand and fulfill the client’s needs and requirements. Attention to detail, trustworthiness, strong communication skills, project and time management are all integral components for great customer service. Can your designer accurately estimate the time and cost of your project?

5. Price:
In most cases, you will get what you pay for but don’t take price as the only indication. A designer is a professional who is selling their experience and time. An experienced professional designer, with a strong portfolio is not going to give away their work when they can sell it at fair market value. They need to allow adequate time to do the necessary research and background work to make your logo unique and relevant for your target audience.

6. Customer Service:
Do you know the business behind the website? Can you call or visit the office and meet the designer – if you want to? Do they respond to your emails and calls? How do they present themselves and their ideas? Do they ask you the right questions about your business and objectives? Do they listen to you and understand your change requests? Do they respect your ideas and input? Do you get back what you expect from the designer? When you do get something back  are you “surprised”? Is it a good surprise? It should be!

Graphic Matter can help you to build your brand.

Why not give us a call today?

Building A Brand – Part 4

Does your business need a logo?

One truth in life is that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to recognizing and remembering a person’s or a company’s name. Have you ever tried to remember a person you met at an event, and then looked for a photo of them to refresh your memory. In the same way, we can recall a business by seeing their logo, store signage or business card.

A logo serves as visual stimulation to our memory, leaving a greater and lengthier impact than words alone do. Logos give brand name recognition and add visual interest to documents, web pages and printed materials.

It is the most direct way to differentiate your business; it’s an “impact” statement without the long-winded description. In a split second, tell your prospect how you are different AND BETTER then all your competitors in the yellow pages or on your google search results.

Does your business need a “professionally designed” logo?

As a graphic design studio, Graphic Matter highly recommends that you use a professional designer to design your logo. There are many reasons for this, far too many to cover in detail in this blog post.

Perhaps you may save money by using a “free” or low cost source, like a student or “crowd sourcing”, but consider what you might be sacrificing in experience and consultative services. At Graphic Matter we have seen many clients who have designed their logos themselves. Unfortunately they used the wrong software and created low-resolution photographic images. Then five years later when they are ready to upgrade their business [and require commercial offset printing or a large format trade show booth] they find they need to completely redesign their logo to translate to this new medium. A poorly designed logo can increase your commercial reproduction costs by 200%. The need to redesign a logo five years after launch can cost you five years of “brand building.”

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffet

It’s not just a pretty picture…

Your logo needs to be designed and constructed in a manner that can be used in many media, over many years, and to withstand the copyright and trademark issues that may surface 10 or 20 years after you have launched your brand.

A logo needs to be highly functional. It needs to translate in full-color and grayscale. It needs to function with the production and technical requirements for commercial and digital print, on the Internet, possibly on TV, signage, embroidered on clothing, or embossed on packaging. Your logo must work at small and large scale, from imprinting on pens and yellow page ads to large signage.

While it is easy to get caught up with the aesthetic and philosophical perspective, when designing a logo, a designer’s job is to balance the creative with the practical and technical matters as well. This is not a task that is easily accomplished by the novice.

Your logo is the foundation of your brand – build it right the first time.

A better way to cut cost

If you need to cut corners when launching a business… and you will…do it with your tri-fold brochure or your website, instead of your logo. You will need to revise these in your first year or two anyway. As you refine your messaging and your target markets you will need to revise these marketing tools anyway, so a “prototype” brochure or web site is not a bad idea.

A logo should be built to stand the test of time… and legal… and technical… and production… and changing markets.

Come back and read our next post:  How To Choose A Professional Designer

The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand – Part 3

Choosing Color

“Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.” Why Color Matters

Where to start?

One of the key elements of building a strong brand is color selection. Every color has a different feel and association. By choosing a color combination for your brand identity, you will take on those associations. Consider these associations when you select your colors so they will represent your identity effectively.

If you own a color in your industry, this color will symbolize your product. Think of Dunkin’ Donuts use of pink and orange and how quickly you can recognize their signs on the highway, at fast speeds. This can act as a great identifier. For example, if you sell a product your packaging will stand out from the competition.

Select two basic solid colors. You can pick unusual color combinations if you want to appear unique or stand out. One color should be a dark base color for large bodies of type or diagrams, typically this color is black, dark blue, brown or gray. The second color is for accent. When working with a small budget, consider colors that are readily available in off-the-shelf items. For example, let’s say you chose bright blue and dark brown. The bright blue can be used for all accent items and the dark brown is for large bodies of text, illustrations and charts, etc. Once you select your colors it is critical that you use them consistently. If you select bright blue, use the same shade of blue every time –not light blue once, dark blue the next time. This will only confuse your brand, not build it.

Want to have a little fun selecting colors? Try this web site which recommends colors based on word association – Cymbolism

If you have questions about how to choose color or how to use it in your brand, call Graphic Matter, we can help answer your questions!

The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand – Part 2

Choosing and Using a Font/Typeface

WHAT?

In order to choose and use a typeface/font for your brand, it would be helpful to understand what they are. So let’s begin by defining what a font is and what a typeface is by today’s standards.

Typeface — is the design of the alphabet – the shape of the letters that make up the typestyle. The letters, numbers, and symbols that make a design of type. So when you say “Arial” or “Times” you are talking about a set of letters in a specific style.

Font — is the digital file that contains/describes the typeface. You can think of the font as a little piece of software that tells the computer and printer how to display and print the typeface.

WHY?

So why is choosing a typeface important to building your brand? Typeface is important because it attracts attention, sets the style or tone and how readers interpret the words. The typeface that you choose represents your brand personality, is your company formal or informal, technical, contemporary, traditional, etc.

HOW?

How do you choose a typeface for your brand?

Select two typeface families for all of your printed materials and web materials. Choose one rather plain, standard typestyle that you can use for text-heavy pieces, such as Times Roman, Garamond, Caslon, Helvetica, Arial or Futura. These classic typefaces are commonly available and come in a wide variety of styles, such as condensed, extended, bold, extra bold, etc. This offers you the greatest degree of flexibility to support your needs now and in the future.

Next select a typeface for your accents. You can use the accent typeface for headlines, slogans, call outs, and other text you want to accentuate. You can modify the typeface with attribute like bold, italic, small caps and color. Optionally you can select a display typeface. These are highly stylized and need to be used sparingly to be most effective and not scream “amateur.”

Your typeface should be easy to read in any medium – picture it printed in black and white or full color, on a shirt or the Web, or very small, like on a pen, and very large like on a sign.

WHEN & WHERE?

Once you have selected typefaces, use them on everything your client will see, including letterhead, envelope, invoices and checks. And remember to record the name of the typefaces you select so that you can provide this information to your suppliers for design, print, etc. This saves time/money looking for this information at a later time.

If you will be purchasing these fonts and you want to use them on Macintosh, Windows and the web consider purchasing “open type” fonts for maximum compatibility.

WHY?…AGAIN!

When used consistently, selecting distinctive fonts and using them effectively helps with name recognition and “brand building,” — think of Coke, Lego, MTV or Disney. Brand recognition makes people feel familiar which helps with relationship building and trust. People buy from people they trust. Ultimately, we can all use a little help with increasing sales.

If you have more questions about typography and it impact on your brand contact Graphic Matter!

The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand – Part 1

At Graphic Matter, our blog posts are driven by our clients most frequently asked questions. Recently, we have had several inquiries from start-up businesses, about ways to launch a new brand that provides the best value for your budget.

Our past post have focused on promoting your website. Well, once they have found you, how will you stand out so that they remember you?

So let us offer our 2 cents….It’s all about BRANDING.

Wikipedia defines Brand as: The identity of a specific product, service or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan.

One of your biggest challenges is building an awareness of your company and your brand. This is a two-fold process: telling prospective customers why they need your product or service, and promoting your company as the best provider of these products or services.

If there is already an established need for your business, as in the case of dentists or bankers, your task is that much simpler. Otherwise you must educate potential buyers about why they need your services, which can be a significant effort on your part.

As for promotion, to accomplish your goals you must be familiar, known and trusted. The process of establishing a reputation is called “brand building.” It’s a simple concept we’re going to break down into four areas: Choice of Font or Typeface, Use of Color, Creating a Logo, and the Implementation and Consistent Use of Your Brand. All of these areas are geared toward establishing your brand and being able to incorporate the creative decision making with an emphasis on the practical business requirements and constraints.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Guide to Building a Brand. In the meantime, if you have questions about branding give Graphic Matter a call!