Fantastic Fonts and How to Pick Them (Infographic)

Even if you’re not a font expert, you can probably recognize a good font when you see one. This is because a well-chosen font fits seamlessly with its surrounding design. So, good fonts aren’t really noticed at all. You only notice a font when it doesn’t work.

Noticing good and bad fonts might be easy, but choosing a font for your own design is harder. So how do you choose a font? We’ll get to that in a bit, but first we need to clear out some misconceptions.

You’ve probably heard of terms like serif and kerning and leading, but none of those technical terms matter unless you’re a designer. So let’s talk about what really does matter for the average person.

Fonts are actually pretty simple

There are several font qualities that are not at all technical.

Font qualities

These characteristics are very easy to spot, even if you know nothing about fonts. And these qualities create associations in our brains. For example, a thin font will remind us of a thin person, so that font would be perfect for a weight loss product. Likewise, a thick font looks sturdy and strong, making it great for a muscle-building supplement.

As you look at different fonts, try to describe them in everyday words. How do certain fonts makes you feel? Chances are pretty high that the way you feel about a font is the same way other people feel.

Why are font feelings important?

You might be wondering why it matters how a particular font makes you feel, or what that font makes you think of. Well, it’s all about context. Context is the most important aspect of choosing a font. The font itself doesn’t matter too much—a “bad” font can work perfectly in the right context (i.e.: Comic Sans would be great in a comic book, but not anywhere else).

The next time you’re wading through a list of a bazillion fonts and can’t decide which one to use, remember the context and the font feelings.

Do you want to be formal and professional? Stick with an angular, serif font. Wanna be fun and carefree? Use a spaced, rounded font. Is modern and clean the look you’re going for? Then you want a straight, sans serif font.

There is no “perfect” font that works for everything, so don’t stress yourself out trying to find it. The key to good font choice lies in understanding the feelings of each font and matching those feelings to the context. Just like color choice, fonts can have a powerful psychological impact on your readers.


As your reward for reading, here’s a handy-dandy infographic you can use to help pick your next font.

Fonts infographic

Contrast; or How to be a cheese-gurgling son of a macaroni mother

Besides being hilarious, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese’s new “Swear Like a Mother” commercial is a great example of an under-utilized marketing strategy called contrast. This strategy can really make your business stand out from the competition. However, a lot of businesses aren’t using this powerful technique.

Let’s take a look at what contrast is and why you should use it.

What is contrast?

Contrast in marketing means doing something different. That could mean different from everyone else or different from what’s expected of you. Kraft’s commercial uses contrast in both those ways. No other food company has a commercial with questionable language, and most people expect a company like Kraft to provide a family-friendly, wholesome message.

Most businesses firmly believe that their message needs to be “professional” and “business-like” at all times. So, the text on their website, brochures, and advertisements ends up sounding robotic and stiff.

Actual people don’t talk like robots (but they can dance like them). Always remember that your customer is a human, and talk to them in a way they can connect with—preferably using words they would actually use.

Dancing robot with contrast

 

Using contrast in your messaging might be as simple as not sounding too professional and uptight. Let your personality or the personality of your business show through. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to connecting more deeply with your audience.

Why should you use contrast?

In addition to helping you build a more personal relationship with your customers, contrast makes you stand out. Every other business might do things one way, but you do things differently. If your different approach is also a positive one, you’ll stand out and earn more customers.

Contrast works because it fights the “I already know this” reaction. When people see something we’ve seen before, our immediate response is to ignore it because we think we already know what it’s about. But if your marketing is unexpected and different, you’re going to get peoples’ attention.

In Kraft’s case, everyone already knows about their product. There’s nothing new or exciting about pasta covered in cheese, so our brains tune out and move on. A commercial with moms swearing at their kids, on the other hand—now that’s something you’ve probably never seen before. It bypasses your “been there, done that” response.

This is not a conclusion

In conclusion, contrast is an effective way to make your business stand out. Just be careful to use it wisely, or you’ll stand out in the wrong way.

When planning what kind of contrast you’ll use, keep in mind your target audience. You need to make sure you’re connecting with your customers. Kraft understood moms sometimes swear, and presenting evidence tells moms they’re not alone if they’ve sworn around their kids.

If you need some help using contrast to make your business stand out, send us a $*!&^ macaroni-loving email already (that was an example of contrast).

Color Psychology

Color plays an important role in our lives whether we realize it or not. It has the ability to influence our feelings and emotions in a way that few other mediums can. It can control our moods and thoughts. Color has the ability to make us feel happy, depressed, excited, relaxed, hungry, and creative.

Colors have deep subliminal meanings that affect our thinking and rationale. As a result of this, color research and planning is a vital part of the design process. Before beginning a design or marketing campaign, you must choose the appropriate colors that are both effective to your message and also complement each other.

There are many different technical aspects when it comes to working with colors. In the print world Pantone and CMYK are the color formats, while online RGB and Hexadecimal are the formats. It is important that both web and print designers work closely on the color process to ensure colors transfer smoothly across mediums. A color may look one way on a particular screen but when printed looks totally different. It is important to come up with a color palette listing all different color codes to ensure a unified color scheme through print and web.

How do Colors Influence People?

Red – Creates a sense of urgency, which is good for clearance sales. Encourages appetite, thus is frequently used by fast-food chains. Physically stimulates the body, raising blood pressure and heart rate, associated with movement, excitement, and passion.

Blue – The preferred color of men. It’s associated with peace, water, tranquility, and reliability. Blue provides a sense of security, curbs appetite, and stimulates productivity. The most common color used by conservative brands looking to promote trust in their products.

Green – Associated with health, tranquility, power, and nature. Used in stores to relax customers and for promoting environmental issues. Green stimulates harmony in your brain and encourages a balance leading to decisiveness.

Purple – Commonly associated with royalty, wisdom, and respect. Stimulates problem solving as well as creativity. Frequently used to promote beauty and anti-aging products.

Orange & Yellow – Cheerful colors that promote optimism. Yellow can make babies cry, while orange can trigger a sense of caution. Used to create a sense of anxiety that can draw in impulsive buyers and window shoppers.

Black – Associated with authority, power, stability, and strength. Often a symbol of intelligence, but can become overwhelming if used to frequently.

Grey – Symbolizes feelings of practicality, old age, and solidarity. But too much grey can lead to feelings of nothingness and depression.

White – Associated with feelings of purity, cleanliness and safety. Can be used to project an absence of color or neutrality. White space helps spark creativity since it can be perceived as an unaltered, clean state.

How Are Major Brands Using Colors?

McDonald’s chooses high-energy colors like red and yellow, which appeal to children, kindle appetites, and create a sense of urgency. Micky D’s might not have been the same ridiculously big chain it is today without using red and yellow so effectively.

Starbucks on the other hand uses green as their primary color to promote a sense of relaxation in their cafes, inviting customers to come in for a coffee break during a stressful day.

How are you incorporating color into your branding and marketing efforts?

 

Image file type cheat sheet (infographic)

When you’re putting an image in an email, website, or printed product, it can be hard to figure out which file type to use. Worry no more! You’re about to find out the difference between the most common file types and when to use each.

This infographic breaks down the basics, so save it somewhere for a handy reference. You can read on for more details on each file type. (Can you figure out which type of file the infographic is?)

File type infographic

Before we get started, let’s go over some image terminology.

  • File size: For email and website use, file size is important. Larger files take longer to download, which is a big no-no for a website.
  • Compression: Saving an image as a different file type will make the file size smaller. This is called compression.
  • Resolution: This refers to how clear an image is. Measured in dots per inch (DPI). Higher resolution means sharper image, but also a larger file size.
  • Lossless and lossy: When you compress an image, the quality decreases. This can mean lower resolution or fewer colors. The amount of decrease in quality is called “loss.” Lossless means no quality is lost, and lossy means some quality is lost.
  • Bits: Color in images is measured in bits. More bits means more color possibilities. For example, 8-bit color creates 256 possible colors, while 32-bit creates over 16 million possible colors.

You’ll understand why all this technical stuff is important when we look at the different file types. Each file type has different levels of the compression, colors, etc.

Ok, now that the technical stuff is out of the way, let’s get to more technical stuff!

The following are the most common file types you’ll see on the internet and in print.

  • JPEG or .jpg: This file type is used on the internet and in email. Photographs taken with a basic camera are usually .jpg. You will experience some loss of resolution and color, depending on how much you compress the image. Since JPEGs can have a relatively small file size, it’s great for the web and can make for some fast-loading images on your website that still look decent.
  • PNG or .png: Similar to JPEG, but with fewer color bits (which means fewer possible colors). PNGs can be very small in file size, especially when used for graphics that are entirely made of colors and lines—think clipart or logos. However, with high-resolution photos PNGs sometimes end up making a large file size. You would be better off with a JPEG in that situation. PNGs are the best file type if you want to remove the background from your image.
  • GIF or .gif: This is the only file type that can be animated, albeit with a duration of just a few seconds. It’s also the smallest file type. That small file size comes at a cost of image quality and color options. But if you need an image to load super fast on a website or need some cool animation, GIF is the way to go.
  • EPS or .eps: While JPEG, PNG, and GIF are great for web use, EPS is better suited for printing. An EPS file can be shrunk or enlarged to any size you can think of, and it will still look sharp and clear. This is because EPS images are built with mathematical formulas that tell a computer how to form the shape. When the image is resized, the computer just recalculates the formula and maintains the full resolution. This file type only works for images made of colors and shapes, not for photographs.
  • TIFF or .tiff: You probably won’t see this type of image unless you’re a professional photographer. TIFFs maintain very high resolution and color accuracy, but that also means big file sizes. You wouldn’t want a TIFF on your website, because it would take forever to load. But in a printed product like a brochure, TIFFs are a great option to make photos look realistic.

File type rules of thumb

For the web:

  • Photographs – use JPEG
  • Logos or clipart-type graphics – use PNG
  • Animated images – use GIF

For print:

  • Logos or graphics – use EPS
  • Photographs – use TIFF

By now you should understand the various image file types and where to use them. If you found this helpful, follow us on Facebook. We share lots of useful information to help you market your business.

PS: I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what file type the infographic is. It’s a PNG! Hope you guessed it right 🙂

If you think “everyone” is your target market, think again

The first time we meet with a lot of our clients, they tell us their target market is “everyone.” While this might seem reasonable, it’s actually more likely to hurt their business and result in wasted advertising dollars with fewer customers.

Missing the target mark

Take Shea Moisture’s recent ad as an example. Shea Moisture’s products have historically been marketed to African American women. But their newest ad featured mostly Caucasian women.

Shea moisture
Shea’s latest ad, which targeted a new market to disastrous results

Why the sudden shift? Shea wanted to sell more products, so they tried to broaden their target market to include more people. That makes sense, right?

Wrong. The backlash on Shea’s new ad was not pretty. Over 30,000 negative tweets about the ad made Shea the top trend on Twitter for the afternoon. But all publicity isn’t necessarily good publicity: Shea pulled the ad after running it for only one day.

30,000+ negative tweets

Shea’s efforts blew up in their face because their target market felt abandoned. They’ve always provided a solution to African American women’s hair problems, which meant they deeply understood and cared about those problems. By offering that same solution to someone else, Shea showed they didn’t really “get” their target market.

Broadening your own business’ target market probably won’t result in a Shea-level disaster, but you can still learn from their mistake.

You can’t be everything to everyone

The most successful businesses work because they market to individuals who have the greatest need for their product. These businesses know what they’re really good at, and who they’re good at helping. They don’t try to provide a one-size-fits-all solution.

Imagine you have a 1965 Ford Mustang. Would you rather get the oil changed at a mechanic who specializes in vintage American cars, or would you go to a big brand chain repair shop?

In this example, a chain repair shop could certainly change the oil for you and do a reasonable job. But the mechanic who specializes in vintage American cars will know all about your Mustang. He’ll be able to provide service above and beyond, and he might find problems with the car that a typical mechanic wouldn’t even notice.

When you only do one thing, people assume you're really good at it

Target market = targeted marketing

Ads attempting to appeal to everyone end up appealing to no one. This is because everyone has different needs and problems. Trying to solve all those various problems with one ad ends up making your message so generic that no one benefits from it.

When you know exactly who your target market is, you can develop advertising messages that speak directly to them and their problem. This will lead to better engagement and more customers from every ad dollar you spend.

That means you can spend less money on advertising and get better results.

If your marketing plan needs some Shea Moisture love (or you just need help defining your target market), reach out to Field Group.

FG hits the target market bullseye
We’ve been practicing our archery skills

Branding Made Easier: Your Brand as a Person

Here at Field Group, we’re obsessed with brands. A company’s brand says so much about who they are, how they treat their customers, and what their passions are. Getting to know that brand helps you connect with the humans behind the business and makes it a joy to work with them.

But some brands aren’t so easy to get to know. They can be fickle, always changing their style, tone, and even their logo. This isn’t intentional (at least we hope not). Brands do this because they don’t really know who they are.

I’m giant. But I’m also a gummy bear. Who am I?!?!

That’s where the idea of brands as people can help. Think of your brand as a friend, relative, or TV show character. What words would they use, how would they dress, what car would they drive, and what would their hobbies be? Take the time to think about these questions, and you’ll often be able to relate your brand to a specific person. Maybe it’s your cousin Greg, your grandma Jean, or your 5th grade music teacher Ms. Troivanello.

What wouldn’t your brand do?

If your brand-person is a powerful New York lawyer, he’s probably not going to wear a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops to the office. Brand-people who speak very casually will have some trouble pulling off seven syllable words in an email. Someone who is always happy and cheerful definitely wouldn’t paint every room in their house black.

The same things apply to your brand. Being consistent in all things (website, print ads, emails) means that your brand is one person. A character with multiple personalities doesn’t make for a very interesting movie plot twist, and it doesn’t help your brand either. Imagine trying to be friends with someone who has multiple personalities—you never know who you’ll get from day to day.

 

Does your brand need help finding out who it is? Shoot Field Group an email, and we’ll be happy to help.

Four Benefits of Using a Brand Style Guide

A brand style guide is a set of principles or rules that govern what your brand looks, sounds, and feels like. If your brand were a person, the style guide would describe its personality. Your logo, fonts, colors, writing voice, and photography style all work together to define your brand.

If you don’t have a style guide for your brand, here’s why you should get one.

Build brand recognition

When your newspaper ads, direct mail postcards, and website all look similar, people will begin to recognize you. Well-established national brands do this well, and you can easily identify a brand when you drive by their stores. Everything these big brands do follows a pattern, and that’s why you know the brand when you see it.

If you create a wildly different newspaper ad every month, no one will be able to tell right away that it’s your ad. Readers will have to work harder than necessary to figure out what the ad is for, and they might tune out before they connect the dots. When you use a style guide, everything you create is consistent and easily recognizable, so people will know your brand when they see it.

It’s easier to produce new materials

Following a brand style guide also makes it easier to make new ads, business cards, or brochures. When you or your designers know which colors, fonts, and photos to use, assembling marketing pieces is much more streamlined. You don’t have to start from scratch every time you begin a new project. This will save you time (and money, if you pay designers by the hour), and you’ll be more likely to get a product that looks good the first time.

More efficient and effective advertising

This goes back to brand recognition. You can create a billboard, TV commercial, and print ad that all follow your style guide. When people see two or more of those similar ads, they will feel like they’re seeing the ad all over the place. This leads to better results and helps stretch marketing dollars.

A style guide can save you money

Stock photos, images, and other design elements have to be purchased or created, and the costs can add up quickly. Using a different theme and designing new ads every time you change your message will really eat into your budget. But if you have a folder of brand-appropriate images and design elements, your designers can easily update ad layouts with new messages. You get quicker turnaround on new ads, lower costs, and a consistent look all at once.

Keep in mind that sometimes a new campaign will require a photo shoot. So don’t limit yourself to just a handful of photos over the lifetime of your business.

Field Group is experienced at creating and implementing brand style guides. Give us a call if your brand needs a style makeover!

How to Increase Your Website’s SEO in Six Simple Steps

First of all, what is SEO and why would you want it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It basically determines where your website turns up when people search for your business category. Most people will only click on the first few links in search results before they make a purchase decision. If your business involves housebreaking ostriches, you’ll want your website to be at the top of the list when people search for “my pet ostrich won’t stop peeing on my shoes.” So how do you get there?

This ostrich has major SEO
“My pee does not smell good.”

Warning: This is a long one, so hang in there. I would say “I guarantee it will be worth the read,” but that requires a bunch of fine print and I’m not sure if I’m even legally allowed to say that.

Search Engine Indexing

When someone does a search for something online, they aren’t actually searching the entire internet. You’re actually searching the search engine’s “index” of the internet—this is why searches only take milliseconds rather than hours.

You’ll want your website to be included in this index. Search engines will automatically add new sites, but you can help jumpstart the process.

  • Google: Just copy and paste your website URL into the box.
  • Bing (and Yahoo!): Copy and paste the URL, then click Add.
Social Media Presence

Google and other search engines like to see websites that are linked to social media sites. Sometimes just creating these pages and linking your site is enough, but a few of them require regular posting as well.

  • Facebook and Twitter
    • Make sure a link to your website is included in the About section of your business profile. Post updates at least twice a week to make search engines happy.
  • YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Foursquare
    • Just creating an account on these sites for your business with a link to your site is enough. You don’t need to post anything to gain an SEO boost.
Multi-Screen Compatibility

Internet searchers use a wide variety of devices: computers, tablets, and phones with all different screen sizes. Make sure your website is able to function and look great on any device. Use Google’s mobile-friendly test here. You’ll also want to test the load time of your site to make sure smartphone users with slow data aren’t waiting forever.

These ostriches don't have SEO
Another ostrich photo to break up the tension.
Local Business Presence

You can add free listings for your business to most search engines. Make sure everything is perfectly consistent on every site, or you’ll get knocked down on SEO. For example, “123 N 1st St” is not the same as “123 North 1st Street.” Pick one style and use it on every site.

Website Content = Organic SEO

The information on your website also needs to match what’s on the Local Business listings above. You’ll need to include your phone number and address on the homepage of your site, as well as a map and directions to your physical location. A Contact Us page and Privacy Policy page also need to be included on your site.

Keep it Fresh

Following these steps should be fairly easy, and they can potentially give you big gains in SEO. Of course, you will also need to keep your website fresh with regular new content, including blog posts, videos, and social media updates. SEO is really about providing the best information to answer internet searches—so your website needs to provide relevant information that’s useful to visitors.

ostrich with no SEO
Is this post about SEO or about ostriches?

If your website needs an SEO-makeover, give Field Group a call. We also might be able to help with your ostrich problem.

How to Find Out What Your Competitors are Doing

Do you know what your competitors are up to? Following your competitors can provide information about strategies that work and don’t work. This can save you money and help you produce more effective marketing.

Competitors Near and Far

Your competitors don’t necessarily need to be local. They might be in another town, state, or even country. Wherever they are located, you can learn from them.

In fact, the farther away your competitors are, the better. Businesses that aren’t in your market probably won’t notice or mind if you borrow from some of their ideas. That doesn’t mean you can blatantly copy ideas, but following their general trends isn’t a problem. For example, you might find a massage salon in another state that mails coupons to their customers. To get more customers at your salon, you can try mailing coupons, too.

The Proof is in the Frequency

Have you noticed other businesses using the same marketing strategies for years? That’s probably because that strategy works for them. Or maybe you’ve noticed them try something only once–they probably saw very little results, so you would be wise to not attempt it yourself.

What Aren’t They Doing?

You might be approached by a magazine or radio sales representative who claims that no one else in your business category is running ads with them. That would mean you won’t be competing for attention with other hardware stores, trampoline renters, or people who teach cats how to sing.

But then again, why aren’t other businesses advertising there? Wouldn’t they want to take advantage of this no-competition thing? Maybe no one else is advertising because it didn’t work for them. That can be a clue that you need to do research on who’s actually reading/listening to this medium. Make sure you’re investing your advertising dollars in something that will give you a decent return.

Don’t be a Copy Raccoon

If you see someone else doing something really smart or cool, remember to put your own unique spin on it before you implement it yourself. That’s what will make you stand out from others. This way, you’ll be able to showcase what makes you unique and build some brand loyalty at the same time.

How much does it cost to do your own marketing and advertising?

Many small businesses choose to do their own marketing and advertising, rather than hiring an agency. Taking this route seems like it would save a lot of money—but consider that every hour you spend on marketing is time you won’t be managing your business. So how much time are these businesses really saving?

Experience

Marketing and advertising can be kind of an addictive career, and a lot of marketers spend many years in the industry. Here at Field Group, we have over 60 years of combined marketing and advertising experience (that’s an English major’s math, so it’s probably actually higher than that).

Of course, you don’t need to have 60 years of marketing experience to be able to do it on your own. But all that time we’ve spent in the field means we’ve already learned what works and what doesn’t, so you don’t have to. That means you can expect a higher return on investment for your marketing dollars if you go through an agency than if you go it alone.

Knowledge

A lot of employees at a marketing agency will have various degrees: B.A.s in marketing/communications or technical degrees in design or art. Let’s assume the average agency has 10 employees—that means, collectively, they spent over 30 years in college!

Now, you probably don’t have time to go to 30 years worth of college right this minute. And, it’s no small feat to master a program like InDesign or learn how to wrangle media reps. While you can certainly have a go, it’s going to take some serious time and energy. And that might mean your business is getting less than 100% of you in the meantime.

Hiring your own employees

If you were to hire your own in-house marketing team, the costs would really add up. You would have to wade through resumes, schedule interviews, complete orientations and training, not to mention salaries and other benefits. For less than the cost of one full-time employee, you could hire an agency that has 10 or more employees with different skillsets (design, project management, media buying). Agencies only work when you need them, so you wouldn’t need to spend money on them when you don’t have campaigns or projects to work on.

Relationships

Marketing agencies will have built up a lot of relationships over the years: with media reps, in the community, etc. These relationships give them resources to get better media attention with press releases, lower rates on TV and radio spots, and better pricing on printed items like brochures and flyers. These savings can be passed on to clients, saving you money compared to what you would spend if you did it yourself.

How much time and money are you really saving?

Kudos to you if you choose to do your own marketing—it’s a big and important task. Make sure you consider how much time you actually spend on marketing, and remember that all of that time takes away your ability to run your business and do what you truly enjoy. You should weigh the cost of hiring an outside marketing agency against the quality product and ideas an agency can produce. Then you’ll be able to make an informed decision whether or not doing your own marketing is truly effective and affordable for your business.