R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

A Brand Research and Development Strategy Firm


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Understanding, the Bridge Builder Between a Company and Its Audience

Pulling from logo warehouses or crowdsourcing design may sound tremendously appealing for filling in the blank spot on the top of your letterhead.

You want something trendy and cool, even if it’s just to check off a task on your to-do list.

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It doesn’t make sense for a company to use a logo that has an immense lack of understanding. A logo alone isn’t the solution to developing a strong brand. Strength comes from understanding company culture, which is a giant part of a larger brand strategy. Understanding provides an opportunity to develop cohesive and consistent messaging. This requires customization, knowledge and skill. RED has acquired all the skills needed to build you a solid foundation that is not hollow and inauthentic.

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Do You Need a Style Guide? Answer: Yes

It’s a simple question: Do you need a style guide? And it has a simple answer: Yes. Any brand, company, blog or webpage that wants to create and maintain consistency and a professional feel should have a style guide.

Style guides are a must for any publisher with multiple employees. This is especially important if more than one person will work on any brand elements (from the website to printed materials), and to ensure that transitions between employees are seamless in the eyes of users. Today, we take a look at well-documented style guide from MailChimp, and highlight things you can take away in creating your own document for the first time.

What Is a Style Guide?

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A style guide is the ultimate resource for visual and writing tone for your brand. The guidebook is not intended to be read cover to cover (and should not be written that way), and should be organized as a simple resource manual.

Style guides cover two big areas: visuals and writing. For website or app development, a style guide may contain a third area, defining how the user interface should work or coding specifics.

A style guide is a fluid document and once written should be updated regularly. When creating this document, consider how it will look and be used during the process. Your style guide should follow the styles defined. Use your brand’s color palette and the same writing style that you would like to be associated with the brand.

MailChimp’s “Voice and Tone” style guide follows this concept. The tone is simple and the guide looks and feels like the website. In addition, MailChimp also has a “Brand Assets” guide for how visual elements are used.

Getting Started

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Creating a style guide from scratch is not a task that you can complete in an hour. It will take some planning and time. But once the document is created and if updated regularly, it can be a time-saver in the long run. Before you write the first word of instruction, gather (or create) this list of materials to make compiling your guide that much easier.

Branding definitions, styles and logotypes: This includes examples of how logos can and can’t be used, as well as fonts, sizes and color swatches.

Font palette: List all the typefaces, sizes and colors that are acceptable. Include specs for how each is used from styles for body type, headers, quotes, labels, captions, navigation elements and so on.

Images, icons and buttons: Define style, color, size and placement of each.

Styles for forms or calls to action: Define what type of information can be collected and how data collection works. Write and include disclaimer information.

Basic layout: What is the basic template for your design? Include a few examples for how your letterhead, printed materials or web pages should look.

Visual Style

 

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The visuals section of the style guide includes several key parts: acceptable fonts and use, including normal, bold, italic and special styles; color and size for typefaces; settings for bullets or lists; color palette; and image guidelines, such as size, border specs and uses such as text wrap or image and text combinations.

These styles should be written in simple and clear language and include technical specs, such as complete font names, color mix swatches (in RGB, CMYK or Pantone) and usage guidelines for web and print (if applicable). Some brands have both a print and web style guide; other brands opt for one document that covers both.

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MailChimp’s style for typography is direct and shows each font and usage. The style guide should include HTML specs as well for website styles. What elements use an H1 versus H2 versus H3 tag. (We’ll go into more detail about web specifics in the HMTL section.)

In addition, visual style guidelines should include a full description of when, how and where branding and logos can be used. This includes how the logo looks, if colors or fonts can be altered (typically not) and in what instances use is acceptable.

Writing Style

mailchimp-voice

Just as important as your visual style is the tone of the writing. It can be jarring for users to come see your brand material and it read light and silly in one instance and cold and sterile in another. How the words come together can help clients or users associated with your products, making a writing style vital.

Key parts of written style include tone; spelling and language; reader level or jargon; voice; structure; use of symbols, numbers and lists; branding or trademark usage; and overriding style guide of choice.

There are a handful of generally accepted written style guides for English-language publications. Most company style guides direct you to use one of these for questions on matters of usage and style.

AP Style: The Associated Press Stylebook is used by journalism and writing professionals in print and online. The style focuses on consistency and brevity and is common because of these attributes.

Chicago Style: The Chicago Manual of Style is used by academics and for scholarly works, businesses and includes the basics for a more formal style of writing.

MLA Style: The Modern languages Association style guide is most commonly used in academics, liberal arts and humanities.

MailChimp’s writing style guide includes great examples of press releases and how the site should read as well as how the brand interacts with customers on social media, the blog and how the company’s trademark jokes should be handled.

User Interface and HTML

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If you are creating content for the web, you need rules for digital publication as well. While text, color and tone guidelines will be outlined in other guides, you should also note how the website and user interface should work. (The PRL guide is an excellent resource.)

Text: Explain HTML markup rules. What type of headers are used and how? What’s the difference in usage between an H2 or H3? In addition to usage, what markup does your site use? This is the part of the guide that details every usage.

Images: The rules for image use should be just as clear as for text. Do you have a specified width or height for every image? Is there a standard text wrap or border size? How should alt tags be used. Make sure to answer each of these questions clearly.

Naming and saving files: In addition to how things should look, consider a little web housekeeping. How should files be named and saved in the CMS? Set clear guidelines so that your file maintenance is clean and files are saved at manageable sizes and are easy to find.

Coding practices: Determine and set forth coding standards for HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Include examples.

User Interface: If you did not include a visual guide for user interface elements and workings, include it here. What types of inputs are used and how are they labeled? (Do you use words like “Continue,” “Submit,” or “OK?”) Include a “kit” of your site’s user interface elements and usage.

In Conclusion

 

The best way to get started with creating a must have style guide is to contact:

brand research and development

Go ahead. Request a free evaluation!

Original Author / Carrie Cousins
Original Source / Design Shack

 

 

 


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An Evolutionary Theory For Why You Love Glossy Things

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People’s taste for shiny stuff might be rooted in a very basic instinct.

The evidence that people are drawn to shiny things is all around us: from the pages of lifestyle magazines to the page stock of lifestyle magazines. One logical explanation for this cultural affection is that we’ve come to associate gloss with wealth and luxury. If the story ended there, though, we wouldn’t expect very young infants to enjoy shiny things as much as they do, nor would we expect remote tribes like the Yolngu of Australia to celebrate shimmering aesthetics as much as they do. There’s clearly a bit more to glitter than gold.

Reach deep into the core emotion of the customer, propel more action than ever before.

R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

Recently a group of marketing scholars considered the question from an evolutionary angle. They were intrigued with some earlier research showing that “children who were presented with glossy objects licked them,” one of the scholars, Vanessa M. Patrick of the University of Houston, tells Co.Design. In that work, published several years ago, infants seven to 12 months old put their mouths to glossy plates much more than to dull ones. Children had also been seen lapping shiny toys on the ground, the way an animal might drink from a puddle.

Patrick and her fellow collaborators, from Ghent University in Belgium, wondered if there might be something more to these reports than kids just being kids. Maybe the connection between drinking and shiny design was an evolutionary artifact–a sign that our crush on glossy is rooted in a primitive desire for water as a vital resource.

So they designed a series of six experiments to test that idea. First they had to demonstrate that preference for glossy is a natural reaction rather than a learned association with the good life. That wasn’t too tough. In two simple surveys, they established that both adults (via leaflets) and four- to five-year old children (via pictures of Santa) preferred glossy to matte finishes. The kids were too young to appreciate marketing efforts connecting bling with wealth; to some degree, their preference had to be innate.

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The appeal of glossy might not be entirely linked to wealth, but it might still reflect a basic enjoyment of pretty things. To study that possibility, the researchers blindfolded 46 test participants and handed them a piece of paper. Half received a glossy sheet, half a matte sheet. Participants who held the glossy sheet rated it as higher quality and more attractive than those in the matte group–even without getting a look at it.

The tests suggested there’s more to glossy than cultural connection or visual appeal. Those findings alone didn’t mean a biological urge for water played a role, but the researchers did collect some clues to that effect. In the blindfold test, for instance, participants envisioned more water when asked to imagine a landscape depicted on the page–showing a perceived link between shiny and wet. In another test, this one without blindfolds, participants rated aquatic images as glossier than desert ones, although in truth there’d been no difference.

As a final experiment, the researchers divided 126 test participants into three groups. One group ate a bunch of crackers without any water. Another ate the crackers but also drank some water. A third did neither. Afterward, each group looked at eight photographs, half on glossy paper and half on matte. All three groups preferred the glossy pictures, but the groups that had eaten crackers rated them as much more attractive. And the thirstier participants got–in other words, the greater their desire for water–the more they preferred glossy.

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Taking all their findings together, the researchers argue in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology that an instinct for water may indeed play a role in fondness for glossy. “First and foremost, this paper shows that our preference for glossy might be deep-rooted and very human,” says Patrick. “It is humbling to acknowledge that despite our sophistication and progress as a species, we are still drawn to things that serve our innate needs–in this case, the need for water.”

There’s a great deal to like about this study. The researchers crafted their experiments carefully, tried to eliminate alternative explanations, and presented a theory for others scientists to explore further. At the same time, there’s a lot to question. People may associate shiny stuff with wealth, for instance, but they associate water with wealth, too. Parsing out how much of the glossy-water connection is socialized and how much might be instinctual is a great challenge that no study can hope to conquer on its own.

Beyond that, any explanation for why we prefer glossy to matte must also account for the fact that we don’t always prefer glossy to matte. Sometimes glossy interferes with readability (say, a sign that reflects bright light). Sometimes it conveys the wrong message (say, a glossy food ad that conjures up thoughts of grease). And sometimes it’s just enough already and we want something different. Evolution might drive some preferences, but preferences evolve, too.

source: fastcodesign.com
writer: Eric Jaffe


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10 Secrets to a Successful Website

Here are some suggestions to enhance your new site. We are not going to describe how to use good design practices, balance, or colors. We won’t tell you about using flash, SEO, or load times. Any good communication firm already knows how to use these things. Instead, we want to give you the secrets to reaching your customer on an emotional level. Doing this will sell your purpose and increase revenue. Here are the best secrets for a more successful website:

UTAH.com

UTAH.com website by RED

1.    Know who you are communicating with on your website and what they are buying. Define your exact customer demographic and learn to think like them. Start by getting detailed sales information and other secondary research information. Also, talk to sales staff. Once you define your exact customer, you can create a design that appeals exclusively that particular audience. Other firms might design what THEY like or what they think is cool. If they are not the right demographic or don’t have key information on how your customer thinks, don’t let them design the site.

2.    Elicit an emotional customer response with your product or messaging photography— enhance their taste buds, allow them to envision themselves reaching their dreams, connect with a value that would drive them to purchase your product. Gain insights into their emotions by interviewing your best customers. Ask them why they love your product, what memories they have about your product, or what your product did for them that changed their lives. Use these concepts to ask 250 of your customers what emotions drive them. If you are not selling at an emotional level, YOU ARE NOT SELLING.

3.    Make sure your navigation links, copy, or bullet points answer your customer’s most important questions. What do they want to know and in what order? Know the order of their buying decision and make sure the priority of read for your page and navigation matches their needs.

4.    Understand your customer’s voice or language. Voice and language are the words your customer uses when talking about your product or service. It is the position from which they view your product. There is no profit in having great product benefits if your customer doesn’t understand or—worse yet—if they don’t really care about it. Understanding your customer’s language doesn’t mean dialect. The language of an18-year-old male is much different than that of a 48-year-old female. Who are you writing to? Talk to your customers and have them tell you the whys. Look at the way they talk, write, and speak about your product and use the same language when selling your product.

5.    Don’t be afraid to have a simple site that allows for white space and open area. Once you know what your customer wants, you want to step them through your message as easily as possible. A busy site makes it hard for your readers to go where they want to go. Remember the old KIS principle: Keep It Simple.

6.    Use simple icons or graphic images that help the user navigate your site. Make these icons and images relevant, small, and simple. Don’t just fill the space with a piece of clip art. Allow each element to work for you as if the site were in a different language and these images help you to know where you should go.

7.    Don’t be afraid of a conventional layout or design structure. This doesn’t mean your site can’t be creative and fun, but don’t make your audience have to figure out how to get from step 1 to step 2. They don’t have the time and they don’t want to waste what time they do have.

8.    Test your design concepts with your exact audience to make sure they work for them. Do this early in the process with your top 2-3 concepts. Ask your customer demographic and see what speaks to them best. See where they go to find key information you want them to see. Ask how it relates to them on different levels. What traits does your site present to the customer? How do they perceive your product? Remember that your customer’s perception is the reality, not your perception. If they don’t feel comfortable there, then they won’t come back.

9.    Make sure the first impression of the site answers their vision of what they want from your product. Know what emotion is driving them to buy your product. A picture of a new dress doesn’t have the power to give your customer the time of her life or fulfill her dreams. Create that emotion in your design. What is your customer dreaming about?

10.  When it comes to web copy, discover what your customers want and what order they want it in. Make the copy simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. Don’t make it so creative, funny, or unique that they have to work to get the message. Make it short. Write it in their language. If you know the key things they look for when they search for you, you have the things you need for SEO and proper communications.


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“How The Color Red Could Influence Consumer Behavior at Your New Store”

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How The Color Red Could Influence Consumer Behavior at Your New Store

Especially if you are targeting men, you may want to consider including red as a prominent color in advertising and marketing materials.

According to research from the University of Oxford Said Business School, “changing the color of the price from black to red in a retail advertisement makes men think they are getting a bargain.”  In fact, some recalled the price as $15 less than the actual cost.

 The study, “Are Men Seduced by Red? The Effect of Red Versus Black Prices on Price Perceptions,” shows that men use colors in advertisements as a way to determine the worth of a product or service, whereas women reach their conclusions by reading the print.  The findings imply that, in general, men don’t want to take the time to look that closely at the content.  The research also noted that men associate the color red with pleasure in greater numbers than women do.

In fact, the color red on the price tag didn’t have any effect on the women who were tested in the study.  The researchers from the Said Business School argue that men look for clues they can use as shortcuts to make decisions (e.g. color).  When men took the time to process the ad’s content in more depth, the color’s influence on price perception fell.

As the research continues to pour in, it’s becoming clear that the visual presentation of a print ad or website has an effect on purchasing behavior.  Research is currently being done by Forrester to determine the size of add-to-cart buttons and fonts in purchase decisions online.  In another Forester study, 47% of retail marketers participating in the survey said “testing site layouts (including colors) has become one of the top five merchandising priorities for online businesses this year.”

So, if the target audience for your grand opening is men, don’t forget that red speaks to them in an unspoken language: puts them at ease and makes them think they’re getting a good deal.  Good to know, huh?

Click here to read the entire study from the University of Oxford Said Business School.

So, as you are getting ready for your new store’s grand opening, think about using red throughout your store, especially on the price tags.