Nor is it just a combination of logo, typeface, and color. And it’s not just the products and services the company offers. It’s a bit more. It might seem like a silly distinction to draw, but we believe it’s an important one to recognize.
So, let’s set some quick definitions.
Brand identity is the tangible, visual component of a company (name, logo, communications, how the collateral looks and feels). And then there are touchpoints. Touchpoints are moments in time where people interact with a product or service. Touchpoints and identity are the parts we can see, touch, feel, and interact with. Every product or service ties together multiple touchpoints into what some might call a journey.
Does the sum of all this equal a brand?
It’s like a relationship.
The brand itself is more of an intangible thing – the gut feeling (as Marty Neumeier describes it in his book The Brand Gap) about the company that its customers have. Brands are an abstraction that exist in the minds of those who interact with them. The brand itself is not created by a company alone – it is also created by the people who interact with the company’s offering. Their gut feelings, memories, or experience will be anchored or attached to the brand identity. The visual identity becomes a symbol to hold all of that meaning. When they see the logo for the company or hear its name, they quickly recall those positive or negative feelings. Ideally that identity feels authentic and an appropriate fit for the associations it takes on.
In that sense, a brand is like a relationship between two people. The relationship isn’t a physical thing you can drop on your foot, but it’s very real and represents an emotional connection you have with another person. Over the course of time, that relationship takes on meaning through shared experiences, future expectations, and how we choose to talk about it.
What does this all mean?
You can’t create a great brand just by having a clever name or creating a cool logo. Just like you can’t develop a strong friendship by only looking like an interesting person. Branding as a discipline is more than slapping a coat of glossy paint on at the end. It takes time and intention.
You can’t create a great brand just by having a clever name or a cool logo, any more than you can develop a strong friendship just by looking like an interesting person.
Creating a visually stunning brand identity can do more harm than good. If the company is not operationally sound and is creating a negative experience for its customers a strong identity will serve as a lightning rod for negativity and brand terrorism.
A strong brand identity will make it easier to identify the good and the bad alike. Before you invest in a new identity, make sure that the experience you offer customers is a quality one. And then craft an identity that will help solidify the connection between hard-earned good experiences and your company.
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/nicolas-ladino-silva-y88uVd4tcNo-unsplash-cropped.jpg5631000Brady Holmhttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngBrady Holm2020-01-29 21:12:382021-06-02 13:58:36Brand vs Brand Identity: Is There a Difference?
A good leader knows that in order to lead a project, people need to know why they are working, how they are working and who they need to be as part of the team. This is why we must focus on our mission, vision, and core values.
What is a mission statement? Look around online and you will find many definitions for mission statements. A summary definition would be this: Why do you exist? Why are you in business? Answering these questions is central to writing your mission statement. At MJM, we often speak of “commission” rather than “mission.” A commission not only identifies what you are doing, but why you are doing it. So what is your commission? What have you been commissioned to do with your life and your business?
Going deeper, your vision statement should paint a picture of where your business will be when it is wildly successful. Your vision should be bold, inspiring and paint a clear image of what will make you successful. It’s okay if, in some way, your vision statement is not actually attainable. But it must be an inspiring and powerful image that helps people see where you are going.
For example, the vision at Vance Thompson Vision is “Best on Earth.” Now, measuring whether they are actually the best on earth can be tricky, and they are not able to be best on earth in everything—only in their areas of specialty. However, regardless of whether “Best on Earth” is measurable and attainable, it definitely allows staff and patients to clearly envision where they are headed as a business and what they aspire to be. That is the power and importance of a vision statement—it paints a picture of success that is motivating and inspiring.
Of these three foundational items, your core values may be the most important. They certainly will be the most important for your daily operations as a business. In simple terms, your core values define the way you operate and exist and live as a business. They are the values you make decisions by, the values you hire and fire by and the values that set the culture of your business.
Your core values should be very memorable for all staff. Ideally, you will be able to reduce your core values down to three to five words or short phrases. These core values only have power if you actually live by them, make decisions based on them and champion them within your staff and customer base. Choosing the right core values will make your decision-making easier and bring much clarity to your business.
These core values only have power if you actually live by them, make decisions based on them and champion them within your staff and customer base.
Perhaps the hardest part of finalizing your mission, vision and values is coming to agreement with your leadership team on the final version of these items. There are so many good reasons we exist and so many great values we want to embody! Many groups have a hard time editing down their content and ideas to the most vital and actionable statements. But this editing and simplifying process is vital.
Your mission, vision and values need to be short, inspirational and actionable. Don’t give up on editing and building these vital statements until you finalize them in forms your entire team can live with and execute. Spending time as a team discussing, debating and agreeing upon a clear and powerful mission, vision and values can power your business to new clarity and new success.
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/mission-vision-values.jpg5671000Logan Wanghttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngLogan Wang2017-08-16 07:00:332021-06-02 14:00:54Why Do Your Mission, Vision and Values Matter?
Car advertising can run the gamut of wonderfully genius to utterly divisive. On one end of the spectrum, you’ll find the endearing message present in Porsche’s 2006 ad “Through Children’s Eyes” that boasts the child-like wonder that a luxury sports car can conjure up. On the other end is the ad campaign that Chevrolet has been running for the past couple years showing “authentic” reactions to new models of vehicles and industry awards they have earned. The irony here is that the reactions have been edited so neatly that any actual earnestness that should be present is gutted for time and content. This is where Subaru has consistently deviated with their advertising in their history.
Subaru first entered the US market in the 60s with the 360. This vehicle was known for its efficiency but not exactly for its aesthetic. That’s putting it lightly. The car was a major eyesore. But this is where Subaru did something brilliant with their marketing. Instead of sugarcoating the benefits of the car, they steered into the skid. Literally.
“Because it’s cheap and ugly, a little Subaru goes a long way to make you happy”
Their ad campaign at the time actually stated that their car was “cheap and ugly”. That’s a brave statement to make about your product. But the draw is still there. Even though people get a chuckle out of it today, the commercials are honest in a way that advertising is usually not. Only a few brands have been able to capture the same truly authentic message.
A good example of another car company that has taken from Subaru’s retro playbook is Smart’s ForTwo Offroading commercial from 2013. This ad shows how poorly Smart’s vehicle performs in an off-road setting. It thuds into an unfortunately placed rock and is brought to a punctual halt by a shallow creek. But Smart doesn’t care. That isn’t where their machine thrives anyhow. It transitions to an urban setting and a larger vehicle passing over a parking spot that is slightly too small to fit in. Then the Smart car bulldozes in and takes the spot with ease. All of this is accompanied with some delightfully dated nu-metal for a humorous edge. But the same message is there. Everything has its cons, but you’re better off knowing them upfront.
“Smart reveals that the hero doesn’t need to win all of the time, but just needs to win in the end.”
Now it’s worth auditing Subaru’s strategy in the modern age, where high-angle shots of cars driving down stretches of roads or dirt at high speeds with pulsing synth and a deep-voiced narrator dominate the industry. They currently are running a broad campaign called “Love” that focuses on the people using the car and the how it benefits them, not just on a logistic level but on an emotional one as well. The specs of the cars themselves are rarely touched on in an intrepid move by Subaru.
A fantastic example of this is their Impreza 2017 ad “Moving Out”. This commercial tells the story of a boy growing up before his parent’s eyes and heading to college with the family car. The vehicle itself takes a back seat to the people that own it as a toddler packs his bag to leave for school and by the time he reaches the car, he has grown into a man. It really tugs at the heartstrings in a very Hallmark movie-esque way. The dog aging from a puppy to a grey-jowled hound is the cherry on top.
This is only one of many of the ads in this touching campaign that Subaru has been running. While admittedly more refined, it does having something in common with the “cheap and ugly” roots of Subaru’s American marketing. The emphasis isn’t so much the car itself, but what the car will do for you, the people around you, and your wallet. That’s a welcomed fresh perspective in the automotive industry that other brands can and have learned from.
Keep on keeping on, Subaru. The roads ahead are clear.
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Subaru-Ad-Blog-Photo.jpg5671000Joel Jochimhttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngJoel Jochim2017-07-13 08:00:372021-06-02 13:58:36Subaru: A History of Advertising Excellence
When we collaborate with our clients to help them refine, reimagine or build a new brand identity from the ground up, we always recommend codifying the good thinking that occurs into a set of identity guidelines. These guidelines spell out the essential elements that an organization uses to consistently communicate its identity, story and messages.
So… what’s a brand?
Consider that a brand is a collection of expectations, experiences and relationships that a customer feels towards an organization. As Marty Neumeier defines it in his book The Brand Flip (a recent favorite addition to our shared library), this collection is like a gut feeling that a customer has. It’s their immediate impression when they hear the name or see the logo.
A brand derives its value from the impression or trust that its customers identify with it and the values that they share together. When a brand works hard to deliver a positive and compelling experience, it needs a strong identity for its customers to tie that impression or gut feeling to. That identity comes to symbolize the shared values between the brand and its customers, and the good work that the brand carries out on their behalf. The value is not in the logo or name, but in the good work and relationship it symbolizes. It’s important to apply and live out a brand identity consistently to reinforce that relationship and good gut feeling.
What do brand identity guidelines consist of?
There are many components. Some are related to belief and purpose: name and logo, story or narrative, taglines and messaging. Other components help define the tone or personality of the brand and its visual vocabulary. These include colors, typographic style, imagery and illustrations. The combination of these elements helps to create a unique identity — an identity that communicates purpose and a set of shared values that click on a gut level.
Finding the right combination of these elements takes time and hard work. And yet the process is rewarding. We’ll outline that process in the coming weeks, and why it is one of the favorite experiences we share with our clients.
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/MJM-Brand-Identity-Guidelines.gif5671000Brady Holmhttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngBrady Holm2017-01-06 09:22:112021-07-12 08:55:28Brand Identity Guidelines: Consistency Is King
I confess that we designers and creatives tend to obsess about our tools — the ones we have and the ones we could have. While these tools undoubtedly aid us in our work, there’s one simple, free tool that can be more effective in helping with work efficiency than anything you could spend money on: organization.
Cluttered and disorganized environments cause more stress and wasted time. They also cause the output of a workspace is to be more unpredictable in terms of quality and quantity. With this in mind, organization can be a topic that is difficult to quantify. That’s where the 5S Visual Management System comes into play. Developed in Japan, the 5S System thoroughly analyzes any workspace to show what areas need strengthening in terms of visual management.
The 5S Visual Management System
The system breaks the aspects of organization down into five categories to be examined and controlled in order. The sections are Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine/Clean (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain/Discipline (Shitsuke).
Sort seperates what is necessary and what isn’t. It has also been called “The fine art of throwing away junk.”
Set in Order takes the necessary and places it in its rightful spot—making sure that it is easily accessible.
Shine/Clean makes certain that properly placed items are clean. If there’s a persistent source of dirt, find and remove it.
Standardize involves creating an easy system of repeated tasks that will measure and maintain the organization of the workspace currently.
Sustain/Discipline takes the repeated tasks of upkeep and turns them into habits for everyone involved. This step will take the longest amount of time, but with simple motivation it is very achievable.
The 5S Visual Management System has proven to be an effective way of taking a workspace and moving it to the next level in terms of efficiency. Some of the world’s largest companies even implement it into their spaces. As MJM has recently moved into its new location, this is definitely something we are working towards to keep our area effective and continue creating great work.
If someone were to ask 10 of your customers to describe what makes your business or service different, what would they say? Would they all say the same thing? What if the same question was asked of all your staff, leaders, and owners?
Winning brands have a consistent story, a message that staff and customers understand and can explain. The words and the message are always similar, always clear.
“Winning brands have a consistent story—a message that staff and customers understand and can explain.”
Losing brands have no center. They haven’t claimed their story or their space. These brands lose to consistent, clear brands.
So, is your brand winning or losing? What should you do if you’re not sure about your business brand?
Step 1: Write down what makes your brand different and better in one clear, specific sentence.
This is not as easy as it seems, but it is vital to your success. This one line should explain the problem you solve and what success looks like, all in simple language. Cut any unnecessary words. Be specific. Ask key staff and customers to help refine this sentence until it’s right.
Step 2: Teach this sentence to every staff member on your team.
Do what it takes to ensure that every staff member knows this sentence by memory. Make it a game or a competition. Reward those who learn it quickly. Recite it every day together. Do something to make it stick.
Step 3: Use this sentence as a guiding thought for all your market messaging.
Brochures, website, social channels, print ads – everything you use to reach and educate your customers should be built from this one sentence. If something you’re currently using is not built on this sentence, get rid of it. Recreate it. Make it consistent. The cost of confusing your customers is much higher than the cost of printing new brochures.
Long ago, Aristotle taught us that excellence is only created when we repeatedly do the right thing. This lesson remains true for modern brands and businesses. We need to do the right thing, create one clear message, and repeat that message in everything we do and say. This is the secret of winning brands.
Be clear. Be consistent. Repeat.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
—Aristotle (as paraphrased by Will Durant)
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mjhm-blog-3-1000x567.jpg5671000Logan Wanghttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngLogan Wang2016-05-31 14:01:482021-06-02 14:00:54One Mistake Losing Brands Make
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
Branding in a Medical Context
How does this relate to a medical practice? Our patients today have access to more information than ever before to help them make a decision as to whom they choose for their medical procedure. There are markets and target audiences for everything but it’s your job as a medical practitioner to be crystal clear about the image for which you’re aiming and how that influences everything from services performed to pricing to patient experience.
Maria Ross, in Develop Your Brand Voice, Three Keys to Killer Messaging says, “The goal of the brand-building game is to get prospects to know, like and trust you so that when the need for your product or service arises – when they are most ready to buy – they think of you first.”
According to Laura Lake in What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy?, the objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
Delivers the message clearly
Confirms your credibility
Connects your target prospects emotionally
Motivates the buyer
Concretes user loyalty
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions.
Branding and Social Media
How does social identity affect your brand? A patient’s first encounter with a physician is often through its online presence. 90% of 18 to 24 year olds surveyed said they would trust medical information shared by others on social media networks. 41% of patients said that social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility. 60% of doctors say social media improves quality of care that patients receive. Providers should take advantage of the trust consumers have for them over other health companies.
Creating and establishing a brand takes time and effort. Maria Ross offers:
“Brand is a three-legged stool: It is conveyed visually, verbally and experientially. Visually is the easy part: your logo, your colors, your design, your packaging. Verbally is how you talk, what you say, and which messages you convey. For example, do you lead with price, or do you lead with value? Does your company speak in conservative, authoritarian tones, or are you more playful and whimsical in your copy? Ideally, your visual and verbal promises should align and lead to where the rubber hits the road: experience. In other words, once you’ve promised me the potential customer or client, something verbally and visually, does the experience match that promise?”
A Consistent Brand Builds Trust
Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Look to what you do know about the very essence of your practice and emulate that in a simple statement that can guide your brand in every aspect of your business. Be consistent and use that brand to define the visual image, verbal communication and the patient experience in all encounters.
If you fall short in maintaining the customer promise of your brand at any stage, the relationship and implied trust will be at risk. Instead, create the best possible experience for your patients and establish a long-lasting brand that will work for you.
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/brand-defined.png5671000Cindy Haskellhttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngCindy Haskell2016-04-17 12:37:572021-06-02 13:58:36The Importance of Branding in the Medical Practice
We often have a romantic idea of how the design process works — that designers emerge from their creative place with an idea fully formed. In the early stages of any new project, a designer has to make a large number of rapid decisions that will inform the final state and success of the project. The blank canvas necessitates early exploration and trials, but looming deadlines raise the stakes. The ticking clock often means we designers resort to techniques and styles that are familiar and comfortable. It’s a lot of pressure to place all of those decisions on one back. Enter the design critique.
Critique as Collaboration
Critique is an opportunity to test new ideas and a checkpoint to ensure the design solution meets the objectives the client laid out in the beginning. Critique is an invitation into the design process, extended to your team, to help you refine and improve upon your work. The introduction of other perspectives into the process often brings breakthroughs and eureka moments, a result of the intersection of new ideas. Your colleagues will also be valuable navigators who can help you correct course when the project wanders away from the stated objectives.
Facilitating an effective design critique with your team takes some careful thought, especially if you want to feel that collaborative glow rather than a process train wreck. To those ends, it’s helpful to establish a few roles at the beginning. You’ll want to identify the designer in charge of the project—the designer who will be responsible for taking the feedback received and implementing it. This designer will also likely be the person best equipped to introduce the project. Secondly, you’ll want someone in charge of facilitating the critique process. It will be very tempting to run off on creative tangents and the facilitator will have to reign those in when they do happen. They’ll need to keep everyone on task, and make sure feedback is delivered objectively and in a helpful format.
Here’s a basic outline of how a critique could be run:
The designer or owner of the project should briefly introduce the project. This should include client needs, communication goals, limitations and intended use of the design. The goal is to ensure the group understands the problem and the initial approach to developing a solution. The facilitator should keep things moving, and ensure the conversation does not wander. Don’t let the designer explain every little detail — it will eat up a lot of time, and might color the feedback others give later in the critique.
The team should be given time to consider the design solution and ask questions of the project owner. The facilitator should encourage group members to write down their notes and suggestions, but save them for later in the critique process. The goal at this stage is to simply become acquainted with the project and gather information before assessing the design’s effectiveness.
At this stage, it’s helpful to take some time for team members to silently assess their notes and suggestions and remove any subjective reactions to the work. It may be helpful to consider the following:
Does the solution presented address the problem stated in the briefing?
Is anything missing from the solution that could still be implemented?
Avoid getting caught up on small aesthetic details, unless the designer/owner has specifically requested feedback in that area.
Finally, it’s time to get vocal. Having created notes and reactions in relation to the goals of the project, they are ready to be shared with the team. It’s helpful to share both positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback is especially useful because it helps identify parts of the design that are working well and ensures these parts don’t accidentally get scrapped. At this time, the designer should take notes and generate a task list of things to tackle once the critique ends.
Critique is a skill that develops with practice. Your team will continue to provide better feedback when you continue to include them in your creative process. As a team, you’ll come to develop a common vocabulary and criteria for assessing the work that you do. And as a team you’ll see greater ownership and investment in good process and good work.
What is a raster image? What other kind of image is there?
You might think that a picture is a picture but when it comes to using your images in print or on the web, there are some very important distinctions to be made. The most important of these distinctions is between vector images and raster images.
Vector images appear smooth and clean no matter what size they are displayed.
When a raster image is scaled up, you begin to see the individual blocks of color.
What are vector graphics?
A vector graphic isn’t an image so much as a mathematical recipe for building the image and doesn’t have any limitations in terms of size. Vector graphics are infinitely scalable–if you have your logo in a vector format, you can use that file for a business card or for a billboard and the image quality will be the same. (Common vector file types include .AI, .EPS, .PDF (sometimes) and .SVG files.
So what is a raster image?
Put simply, raster images are built out of blocks of color (pixels), and vector images are built out of a series of mathematical instructions. A raster image only contains enough information to display the image of a logo (or a cat, for most of the internet) at a certain size. If you display that raster image at a larger size than it was created to cover, it begins to appear as blocks of color rather than smooth shapes.
A raster image is built of small blocks of color. When scaled up those blocks are scaled as well and look pretty rough, especially on curves.
Pixels: Little blocks of color
Most images used by most people are raster images, and are pixel-based file types. The raster image file types that I use on a daily basis are GIF, TIF, PSD, RAW, JPG, and PNG. Each one was developed for a different reason and each file type has it’s own hidden superpower. (Some were developed in an unsuccessful attempt replace the others.)
The Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, was one of the earliest image formats but is still a mainstay of the visual internet. Of all the schisms in the design world, the divide over the pronunciation of this file type is possibly the most bitter. This might be the best answer.) Limited to 256 colors, the GIF can’t display images in a way that takes advantage of the full range of most modern screens. That limitation, along with a patent issue, was one of the main reasons for the development of the PNG format. Unlike the other image file types listed here, GIFs can be strung together into short video animations. Animated or still, the humble GIF remains one of the most common image types on the internet. Avoid using GIFs in print, though–especially the animated ones. That’s just not going to work.
Superpower: Movement. GIFs can be animated, creating compelling or inane little repeating videos.
Tagged Image File Format is a less common image type, but it’s a powerful tool in the toolbox. The TIF is a “lossless” file format, meaning that no image information is lost when saving. TIF images can also be layered like a PSD, and can contain vector clipping masks making them an ideal format for high resolution print production. The downside of all that uncompressed information is that TIFs are often massive files, and can’t be read by many devices and users.
Superpower: Memory. The TIF is a high resolution, lossless image format. Also layers!
The JPG (or sometimes JPEG) is named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group who created it and is one of the workhorse image types in use today. It’s the default image type created by digital cameras and is used widely both in print and online. The JPG is capable of rendering images in a “Lossy compression”, and this compression is both its strength and its biggest weakness. (Let’s all reflect for a moment on this metaphor for the dual nature of our own strengths and weaknesses. Done? Great–on we go.) These images show both the advantages and downsides of the JPG compression:
This image (with the same pixel dimensions) when compressed from 5.6 megabyte (on the left) is 900kb (center) and 185kb (right). In the context of a complicated image, especially in high contrast images, the compression artifacts are not as apparent, and the savings in terms of file size might be worth the quality loss in some situations.
If this image were going to be used at larger scales, the artifacts would be distracting.The JPG compression algorithm is especially harsh in areas that should be smooth gradients and subtle variations in color.
Even in a simple gradient the way that the compression algorithm averages areas of color creates banding at first and then large unsightly blocks of color at the extreme end.
Superpower: Adaptability. Variable compression and a jack of all trades. When in doubt, use a JPG–they’re versatile and can be viewed by most users on most devices.
Portable Network Graphics, or PNGs, Transparent, more common on the web. The first image here is a JPG, 600px x 300px at 150ppi (pixels per inch), and there’s nothing wrong with the image, especially if you like white boxes around your logos. The second image is a PNG, also 600px x 300px at 150ppi.
Both the images are the same size and present colors and gradients equally well, but the PNG file type supports a transparent background. No unsightly white boxes, thank you.
Superpower: Invisibility. PNGs can have transparent backgrounds.
The RAW format is not as common for most casual image users, but it’s a go-to file format for serious photographers. Digital cameras are essentially little computers equipped with a lens and a sensor. The lens can gather infinite amounts of information, and the sensor receives and allows the processor to record some fixed amount of that information. Even in a simple image, there is a vast amount of information available—the amount of light, the tone and color of the light, the degree of detail present, etc. When those images are recorded as JPGs, the default for most cameras, the majority of the visual information the lens and the sensor gather are discarded. This creates a manageable file size and still produces a decent image.
The advantage that the RAW format has is that it records and retains a much larger range of that original image. The photographer can then access that original information later when they are processing the photo. If the captured image was too dark, or if the white balance was off, they can adjust those settings almost as if they were retaking the photo.
Superpower: Time travel, basically. RAW files contain scads of information from the moment the photo was taken, allowing photographers to go back and “retake” the photo using different settings.
The Photoshop Document, the mighty PSD, is the godfather of all other image types. You begin by defining the resolution and the size of your document in pixels, but there the line between vector and raster image begin to blur a bit. Adobe Photoshop, and therefore the PSD format, has gotten more and more complex–recent iterations of the program handle vector graphics (as “Smart Shapes”). Users can compose and create just about any image they can dream up. Users can edit a PSD in layers (and layers and layers and layers) so it’s easy to go back and edit and compose with separate elements and effects. They can also have transparent backgrounds.
Photoshop documents are only accessible to users who have, well, Adobe Photoshop, but once the composition is made those images can be exported as any of the other image file types. There’s a good chance that many images in circulation have spent time as a PSD at some point in their story. For designers, the PSD’s capabilities make it the ideal vehicle for most image art assets.
Superpower: Composition. PSDs contain layers.
The Photoshop Document we just talked about is pretty amazing, but it does have its limitations. One of those limitations has to do with the image’s size. A PSD can only be a maximum of 2 gigabytes, which is usually plenty of digital elbow room for most projects. There are times when you have to go beyond that, especially in large format and grand format printing, and for that you’ll have to convert your PSD to a Large Document Format, or PSB. (PSB may actually stand for “Photoshop Big”, which sounds ridiculous, but is accurate enough.)
Superpower: Giant. PSBs can be massive, supporting images up to 300,000 pixels in any direction.
For more information on these image types, and to read about the more esoteric formats check out Adobe’s file format guide.
So what about vector image file types?
I’m working on an equally nerdy article about vector file types, which talks about the difference between them and which formats are best for which situations. (Why I often use .EPS files instead of .AI in my normal Illustrator workflow, for example, and how the .PSD blurs the lines between vector and raster images.)
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Screen-Shot-2015-10-27-at-10.50.34-AM.jpg5671000Tim Murrayhttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngTim Murray2015-10-29 12:24:572021-06-02 14:17:47What Are All These Image File Types my Marketing Team Talks About?
–What can I get for you, sir?
–Well, I’m hungry but I’m not sure what I want.
–Do you want me to give you more time with the menu?
–No, why don’t you just make some things and bring ’em out. I think I’ll know what I want when I see it.
–Oh. Um…are you thinking something light, like an appetizer? Or dessert? Dinner?
–I’m not sure–let’s just get the process started and I’ll let you know as we go.
That sort of exchange in a restaurant would probably end abruptly and you would leave hungry. Why should you approach a conversation with your creative team in the same way? Before the designers start their work, make sure everyone on both sides of the table has a clear idea of what they’re going to be working on. One way to do that is to take some time before diving into the project to develop a design brief.
What to include in your design brief
There are a lot of ways to approach it, but here are some things to consider when developing a good design brief:
Before you answer any other questions, you should know why you’re even talking with a designer. What do you want this proposed project to accomplish? How will you know if it’s working?
Who is going to be reading or viewing this piece? How is the audience going to receive this piece? Will it be something to give to them in a face-to-face meeting? Or is it sent through the mail? Through social media?
Nothing is produced in a vacuum.What other materials will accompany this piece? Unless you’re considering a complete rebrand, your current project is going to be used alongside your existing materials. If you are rebranding, your rebrand is going to be layered on top of the perceptions your audience currently has. Both clients and the designers should work to understand the context around the new project.
Style and Tone
What should this piece feel like? Is it informal and friendly like a warm cup of coffee? That might lead your designer towards a more casual look, perhaps with hand-drawn elements and organic textures. Should this piece feel formal and precise like a luxury car? Your designer might create a piece with a sleek gloss finish, crisp lines and dark colors. In this conversation, identifying what you don’t want is as helpful as what you do want. It’s also extremely helpful if you can provide your designer with examples of other materials you’ve seen that have the style and tone that you’re going for.
It’s always helpful to have very specific color information about your brand. There is an infinite variety of shades of blue, for example–if the blue on this new piece is going to match the rest of your materials, your designer will need to know the exact color information for your brand–hex codes for web projects, and Pantone colors or specific CMYK values for print.
What is this piece going to say? It’s especially important to define 1) who is going to be developing the content and 2) how much content there’s going to be. A 3-page Word document won’t fit on a business card, and shouldn’t fit on a billboard. The content should be finalized before the project moves to layout, to save on design time and costs.
Production Specifications: Size and Quantity
It may seem like the most boring aspect of the brief, but both the designer and the client need to have a clear understanding of what size the final deliverable should be. Be precise, down to the exact pixel dimensions or the exact trim size. Even small changes to the dimensions after the project has gone to layout can result in a lot of extra design hours. If you’re creating a physical piece, make sure that you talk early in the process about how many you’d like to produce–your designer may be able to lower your print costs if they know your quantities from the beginning.
Timeline and Milestones
You should both agree on when each phase of the project should be done (initial concepts, first drafts, revisions, etc.) as well as when the final materials should be delivered.
A good design brief means good expectations
One advantage of taking the time to create a design brief is that everyone’s expectations will come out in the process. Expectations are funny–you only realize that you have expectations when they haven’t been met. It’s invaluable to have a document that you can both refer back to as you develop the project. That common reference point will make future conversations about the project more productive.
You only realize that you have expectations when they haven’t been met.
Developing the design brief may mean a slower start initially, but it’s worth the time. The process will go smoother, with less wasted time and frustration on all sides. You’ll save time and money by communicating clearly from the beginning.
https://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/design-brief-1024x581.png5811024Tim Murrayhttps://mattjensenmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/mjm-logo-nav.pngTim Murray2014-12-10 10:59:372021-06-02 13:58:37Why You Need a Good Design Brief