Customer Service

Customer Service: How has it changed in the Digital Age?

Customer service remains to be a top priority among companies regardless of how technologically savvy the firm is. Customers are the lifeblood of any business. As such, delighting them is one way of ensuring that they will come back and continue doing business with you. Let’s take a look at how customer service had changed at this Digital Age.

Why digital matters

Before we can map out the changes, it would be advisable to discuss the importance of digital channels. Primarily, the advent of these channels dramatically changed the way consumers are searching for products and services and communicating with the companies.

According to John Joseph, co-founder of DataGravity, a data solutions provider, we are living in an age wherein everyone is constantly connected to one another. Technology provides modern firms the capability of corresponding with customers in a more efficient manner.

Thereby, digital channels help in further bridging the gap between the customers and companies. These channels now represent a paradigm shift in making customers 100% satisfied.

What are the changes

1) Customer support

Assistance given to the prospects and customers is limited with manuals, marketing materials and phone and email conversations. In lieu with phone conversations, customers are passed on from one person to another before it reaches the manager. That was before.

Customer Support

Today, there are how-to’s, video demos, buying guides, etc. Some companies offer an interactive experience before the prospect makes an informed decision. In some instances, a customer can post a question on the brand’s Facebook page and receive a response in real-time. No more waiting on long queues in front of customer service booths.

2) Customer feedback

Firms usually disseminate customer survey form and hope for a high response rate. Some firms simply put the form atop the reception table for customers to pick one and answer while there are early adopters that cold call and email blast previous customers. Given the long process, in time the survey results are generated and analyzed, these results would not be as relevant as they would be earlier in the process.

Customer Survey

Presently, soliciting feedback at the point of experience is possible. Publishing reviews – good or bad – is also real-time due to the availability and accessibility of mobile devices. In fact, customers can share their experiences with the brand almost instantly. Further, customers now find an ideal venue to complain about a product or service. On the part of the companies, they are given the opportunity to respond and solve the issue at the fastest time possible. Polls and surveys can be easily administered online, leading to forming real and qualitative insights from the customers.

3) Customer relationship

Relationships are built, and it almost always took several months and transactions to earn a loyal customer. Unfortunately, the relationships built tend to be ‘segmented’ wherein companies contact them again for purely promotional purposes.

Nowadays, brand advocacy is easier now that connecting with the customers on a consistent basis is possible. Engagement at the individual level is much more appropriate in gaining insights regarding what the customers really need and want. With this, modern firms can now offer personalized value at all touch points even without a face-to-face interaction.

Customer Relationship

Customer service is non-negotiable more so today where firms are engaged in a form of digital channel. Most of the aspects of customer service improved especially in terms of cadence and style of interacting with the customers. However, going digital is not an excuse to abandon the traditional customer service channels. There should be a right service mix between traditional and digital customer service provision.


Digital Marketing Article

How to Engage in the Digital Age – Digital Marketing


If engaging clients and prospects through social media isn’t part of your overall marketing strategy, it should be. Social media represents a proven method for communicating with a target audience, building a loyal base of followers and generating leads. When businesses actively engage clients on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media platforms, they’re not only increasing the opportunity to make sales, they’re strengthening brand awareness — the gold standard in marketing today.

Here are suggestions for successful digital age engagement:

Listen and learn

Do you know what your target audience thinks about you? About your industry and competitors? Such valuable information can be found on a variety of social media channels, where people comment all the time, both about your business and your industry. If you’re not doing so already, be sure to regularly check your business Facebook page and see what people are talking about. You can also set up a keyword/hashtag-monitoring stream to stay current on consumer sentiments on Twitter.

Get a conversation going

Of course, listening is only part of the interactive nature of social media. You can always kick-start a conversation by asking questions online — open-ended questions related to your business (and, when possible, tied in to current cultural events).

You’re also in a position to answer questions people pose online, thus demonstrating your willingness to engage with prospective clients on the social media channels where they “live.”  People respond favorably to a business that promptly answers specific or industry-related questions.
The same principle applies to negative feedback. Occasionally, someone will post a comment critical of your product or service. Rather than going overboard with a defensive reply, think of this as a chance to build some goodwill.

“Customers will criticize and complain,” notes Andrew Pressault of Hootsuite. “Every comment and complaint represents a great opportunity, though — an opportunity to fix the problem, and do it publicly. Or, at the very least, show empathy.”

Make it easy to follow your business

Your various social media profiles should be prominently displayed on all of your communications and websites, from email newsletters to your “About Us” page. This makes it easy for clients and prospects to “like” or follow you. It’s also a great way for them to share your content with their own social networks.

Another tip: When responding to a blog post or client comments, be sure to include a link to your site at the end of your reply. Someone who likes what you have to say — or has a new interest in your product or service — can easily click on the link and go where you want them to go.

Offer content of value

It should be clear by now that social media is not the venue for blatant advertising or self-promotion. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule, making 80 percent of your content relevant and useful to your target audience, and 20 percent reflecting your key marketing message.

Content of value includes “how-to” posts, commentary on industry trends, “5 Ways to …” articles — whatever helps improve the lives of users. Not only does this generate goodwill in the social media realm, it helps build your reputation as an industry thought-leader.

“Posts that are rich in content reflect well on your company and have a higher probability of being shared on the social networks of your users,” notes Colton Matheson, SEO & SEM Coordinator at the University of Utah. “This can help increase your referrals and strengthen your online business profile.”

Share content from others and engage with influencers

Social media etiquette doesn’t preclude mentioning other businesses (and competitors) on occasion. When you come across valuable content from other sources, don’t hesitate to share it with your network. People appreciate getting useful information and will remember whom it came from.

Also, look for industry influencers and work on developing a relationship with them online. Such a relationship can open up a completely new audience for your business. Aligning your brand with respected voices in your field can help establish social proof and build brand awareness.

How do you engage with influencers? “For instance,” says marketing specialist Matthew Collis, “you can share some of their posts you like, answer any questions they post to the community, and closely monitor their social channels so you can see which subjects and issues matter to them, and then engage with them about those things.”

Don’t neglect email marketing

Email marketing is still a productive method for engaging with prospects and clients. It’s cost-effective and generally has a stronger response rate than direct mail. And it’s a great method for pinpointing your ideal demographic. When inviting people to subscribe to your email newsletter, you can (depending on the questions you ask) learn a lot about their age, what part of the country they live in, their unique interests, etc. — which helps refine your message to best meet their needs.

Traditional marketing remains a useful tool for businesses, but the results pale against the vast potential for client and prospect engagement in the digital age.

Networking: Things to Avoid when Making a First Impression

How to Make a Horrible First Impression When Networking

Networking can be a source of invaluable connections and leads, or a road to nowhere. It all depends on how well you do it. If you’d like to improve your networking skills, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning. What kind of first impression are you making when you enter the room?  Are you inspiring potential customers and referrers to get to know you … or get away from you? Here are several things to look out for, things guaranteed to make a terrible first impression on your fellow networkers.

The Horrible Handshake
Networking issue: Bad handshake

Photo Credit:

Non-verbal communication speaks volumes, and it all starts with your handshake. Get that wrong, and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle all the way. The way for a business professional to shake hands is to offer a firm grip and look the other person straight in the eye. Don’t grip too firmly, or you’ll make people feel like they are trapped in a vise. Even worse is the limp, “dead fish” shake – you don’t want people thinking of you as a decomposing carp. Old-school etiquette says women should wait for men to extend a hand, but according to this recent Forbes article, women should have no compunction about taking the lead.

Name Games

When you shake hands, give the other person your FULL name.  Not “Joe,” but “Joe Smith.”  A first-name-only introduction is weak. It signals that you’re not serious about your work and that you have no clout. Some people give only their first name because they figure the other person will pick up their last name from their nametag or business card. Sorry, it’s still a bad technique. First, the other person may or may not have the presence of mind (or interest) to read your nametag or business card. Second, it doesn’t matter. A first-name-only introduction still sounds amateurish and leaves a forgettable impression.

It’s All about Me
Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

After the introductions, the worst thing a networker can do is launch into a monologue. Monologues are usually boring, and always off-putting. Why is that? Because people go to networking events to build relationships and exchange information about business issues, not to listen to the exploits of a stranger. The more you try to impress people, the less impressed they will be. A far better technique is to ask questions. What kind of business are you in? What did you study in school? What do you like to do when you’re not working? Questions like these signal a genuine interest in establishing a relationship and lay the groundwork for effective networking conversations.

The Hard Sell

Peppering people you’ve just met for leads, or pushing them to buy your products or services is so obviously counterproductive it’s amazing how often it happens. Nobody goes to a networking event (or pretty much anywhere else) to be subjected to a sales pitch. Overly aggressive selling is probably the most horrible networking mistake you can make, because it not only derails the relationship, it also inspires the person on the receiving end to warn others to steer clear of you.  Very few will say, “Stay away from Joe – he shakes hands like a flounder.” But just about everybody will say, “Stay away from Joe – all he does is sell and won’t take no for an answer.” We have to remember that networking takes time, because it’s based on relationships. Perhaps down the road a contact from a networking event may (or may not) be the right person to lean on for a lead or an order. But at the first impression stage – never.

It’s Like Twitter
Flickr user Kooroshication

Flickr user Kooroshication

Five or six years ago, I wrote an article that tried to explain Twitter, a new social media platform, by comparing it to a networking event. Nowadays, the tables have turned, and we can learn about networking by comparing it to Twitter.

Like Twitter, networking events are quick, bursts-of-information exchanges. The exchanges may be one-to-one or among small groups. The better you know people, the more engaging the exchanges become. Too much selling or an off-putting style tends to shut the offender out of the conversation. Showing an interest in your followers is the best way to attract new followers and develop business opportunities with them.

In short, when networking, communicate as you would when using social media for business. Which brings me to a final point about horrible networking first impressions. Don’t get caught tweeting from your smartphone in the middle of a networking conversation!

Featured Image: Flickr user Opensourceway

Greg Stanhope

How Effective Brand Positioning Can Transform Small Businesses

Ella, a precocious 3 year old, loves to dress up, have ‘tea-parties’ with her friends and will not go to kindergarten alone. She insists on taking her Barbie along.

Sean is a curious teenager, smart, not-so-sporty, loves World of Warcraft and would not be caught without a more than generous splash of Axe when he heads out to ‘hang with his buddies’.

Samantha is a hyper-achieving 20-something who went to Yale, works with Intel and swears by her L’Oreal lipstick on Friday evenings out with her special someone.

Ella, Sean and Samantha have their loyalties very clear in their minds. They have a hands-down favorite when it comes to things that really matter to them and no reasonable means can make them change their preferences. Is this because Barbie, Axe or L’Oreal are the best products in their respective categories? Is it because they are cheaper than everything else out there? No and no. It’s because, they have managed to occupy a place in Ella, Sean and Samantha’s minds and made them identify with the subtle positioning that each offers.

A Barbie makes Ella feel pretty like a princess. It feeds into her active imagination and tells her “With Barbie, Anything is Possible”

Axe makes Sean feel manly; he hopes it will make him irresistible to girls. After all, the “Axe Effect” is every teenage boy’s dream.

L’Oreal justifies its premium pricing and makes Samantha feel glamorous – a must have when she’s on that all-important date. It tells her “She’s worth it”.

Each of these brands, in their own way make them believe “This brand is so ME!” What these brands are essentially doing is, creating crystal clear brand positioning by offering a very clear emotional benefit to the customer and thereby breaking down the barrier between a sales pitch and an actual sale.

Positioning is not a statement of facts like “the world’s largest computer brand” or “America’s favorite coffee”. It’s not a tagline either, though taglines give you an idea of what positioning the brand aims at. Positioning is creating your own space in the mind of your customer – something that no other brand can fill. Look at Nike. Its iconic ‘Just Do It’ tagline suggests movement, activity, getting off your backside. It paints a picture of a Nike wearer as a risk taker, someone who’s not afraid, and someone who is open to experimentation. That is the space that Nike owns in the customer’s mind. Who wouldn’t want to consider themselves as brave and adventurous?

All this is good, but why extol the brand positioning virtues of mega brands that used millions of dollars to create these images in our heads. The answer is simple. Nobody was born big. Each of these brands started small and painstakingly built the brand positions that they enjoy today. Small businesses that compete with big brands owe it to themselves to create a clear brand position for themselves … for their future.


What is so special about your product that your customer should buy from you instead of a million other comparable sellers? Everybody needs a USP. What’s yours?

Is it quality? Is it service? Is it delivery? Maintenance? Patented technology? Safety? How you make your customers feel when they consume your product?


Spell it out loud and clear and that will make your brand stand out. Mind you, your brand positioning needs to be based in reality. A premium winery can’t promise to offer customers rock bottom prices.


Go back to Sean in our earlier example. He could have opted for Old Spice or Davidoff or any other body spray. He chooses Axe, because he believes in the brand promise – that he’ll be irresistible to women. There’s your reason to buy.

The New Brand Formula

However, brand positioning is in the consumer’s mind. It’s not about tall claims made by brands. If there is no sufficient proof that backs up your claims, your positioning falls flat on its face. Set your expectations, but make sure your brand can deliver on those expectations.

For example, if you run a tax consulting practice and your positioning is “Zero effort taxation”, you could probably offer to pick up and drop the documentation from your clients’ home or workplace.


Many business owners go horribly wrong in marrying their brand positioning and the actual customer experience. This is a surefire recipe to losing whatever credibility you may have built up.

Once you decide what you want to stand for, from a customer’s perspective, you need to build all other aspects of your brand and it’s communication around it. The various areas that will need to sync with your brand positioning are:

  • Product design
  • Communication design
  • User experience
  • Service levels

For example, imagine yourself as the brand manager of Dominos when they still adhered to their “delivery in 30 minutes or free” formula.  You would have to ensure that the product (pizzas) were made, packed and delivered within those 30 minutes. That’s some massive co-ordination between production, inventory, customer service and shipping. When done right, you end up with a brand like Dominos!

Your brand personality, brand recall and eventually brand loyalty will all fit in like pieces of a jigsaw, once you get the factors mentioned above in sync with your brand positioning.


Do you try and grab business by undercutting your competition? Do you do it all the time? Does it make your business bleed? You can be sure it does.

No business can compete in today’s world on price alone. There will always be someone else – online, in some other country, your customer’s relative – who can offer a lower price. Don’t devalue your product into a commodity. It deserves the price that you ask for it.

Christopher Sessums

By setting up a clear brand position for yourself, customers actively choose your brand over competition. What are a few dollars here and there, when they actually believe in your product and love it for what it does?

Now that you know how vital brand positioning is, get to it right away. How can you position your brand effectively, you ask?

Well, though that question merits a separate post on its own, here is a quick 4-step formula (no complicated graphs and charts) to arrive at a brand positioning that will work for you.

1.     Define who you want to sell to – create a typical customer profile – age, sex, education, location, industry

2.     Dig deep and try to understand what drives your typical customer. What will make them happy, how do they like to imagine themselves (Remember Sean and the Axe example?)

3.     Identify how your product fulfills these needs and desires. Check if you can realistically deliver on what you find to be your customer’s prime motivators.

4.     Double check whether your competition has not already taken that position or is not able to fulfill that need.

Voila, you have figured out what your brand position will be!

6 Quick Tips to Improve Your Product Photography

Product photography can immediately stimulate a desire or need for your product, showcase significant features, convey the product’s usefulness and attract your audience to learn more about it. Producing quality photos requires both technique and artistry. Following these six basic tips, however, will send you well on your way to communicating more than a thousand words through easily accessible photographs:

1) Lighting

  • Use a good source of lighting. Lighting highly influences the way your image appears. To avoid unwanted shadows and keep things simple, use a well-lit area such as a light box or natural light that does not require you to use a flash. You can use the web to search for places to purchase light boxes or find DIY instructions, to save money. While outdoors be mindful of certain conditions — what position the sun is in or whether it is cloudy. These all influence the shadows and effects you will get from the natural light.
  • Keep in mind that not all shadows or lack of light in a shot are bad. Consider your product, think about what it is used for, where it would commonly be used/applied, and let this influence the setting for the shoot. Dolce and Gabbana does a great job showcasing a pair of sunglasses from their line in an outdoors setting with natural light. The woman in the photo has her head angled in a position that allows enough sunlight to hit the glasses and keep them distinguishable in the photo. Notice that any shadows in the shot do not steal attention away from the product in focus. In contrast, Bacardi’s photo displays a bottle of liquor in a club setting with dimmed light. It’s evident that Bacardi wanted to get across the feeling that it’s product is appropriate for a nightlife party scene, and it did just that by presenting its product in a low light setting.
Dolce & Gabbana:                       Bacardi:

Dolce & Gabbana: Matt-Silk Collection.
Bacardi: Turn up the mix (Print Ad).

2) Backdrop

  • Use your backdrop to complement your product not distract from it. If you’re new to product photography, consider keeping the backdrop as simple and consistent as possible. Intuitiv uses minimal elements from nature in their product photograph to reinforce the clean, natural, green approach they take to their skincare products.

Intuitive skincare products. Featured on espostudio: modern product photography

3) People

  • Consider featuring models when displaying clothing and jewelry. Models give the viewers a general idea of how the product is intended to fit and provide a human connection. People tend to be more connected through human interaction. This concept holds true in photography; seeing other people, their facial expressions, body language, etc. can evoke emotion. When trying to advertise, it is helpful to lead people to building an emotional connection with what you are trying to sell. Adding a human connection, such as a model, will help achieve this. Take Pradas use of the female model to demonstrate an array of products offered. The use of the model in the photo helps convey a sense of happiness and confidence.
Prada Model Photo. Taken by: Robert Bejil

Prada model photo. Taken by: Robert Bejil

4) Scale

  • Give people a sense of how big or small the product is. By placing the product next to a common everyday object, people can better scale the product. In Apple’s commercial for the iPad Air, the thinness of the iPad is illustrated by comparing it with that of a pencil.

Apple iPad Air pencil commercial (Screenshot)

5) Varieties

  • Display different colors, shapes and features when they are key focuses of your advertisement. If you sell 57 flavors of ice cream, you may not want to feature just one flavor unless you are running a specific campaign that does require it. AM’s customers can choose from a range of colors when they purchase AM’s premium skate socks. This added value is clearly shown in AM’s product photograph.

AM premium skate laces

6) Editing

  • Review all of your raw shots in the largest view possible.
  • Consider what in the photograph is effective and what is not and whether it’s better to reshoot the photograph or edit it.
  • Once you have a clear sense of what you want to edit with software and what you wish to accomplish, then begin the editing processing. Bad editing can look artificial; so again, if you are new to product photography, take the best photograph possible and only edit what is absolutely necessary and that you are confident that you can edit well. Things like cropping, adjusting the colors, contrast, and brightness are simple adjustments that can make significant improvements to your photos. Before finalizing anything, it’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes look over the proposed final piece. Getting the opinions of others can help you filter out things you might have overlooked while editing, such as over-saturated colors and slightly washed out images.
GIMP: Photo editing software

GIMP: Photo editing software

Famous Designers | Eddie Opara

Recently, Fast Company placed Mr. Opara on their January 2014 list, “Most Creative People in Business 1000.”

Fame in the graphic design world, however, typically does not come with the fanfare you would see on the red carpet. If you asked Eddie Opara during one of his university lectures, interviews, or Ted X talks who he is wearing, he may not say Prada. If you asked Prada, however, about the artists that have designed their environmental graphics for their New York Prada Epicenter, then you will definitely hear Mr. Opara’s name. He may not be on Hollywood’s A-List, but he’s on several people’s short-lists of famous designers.

Mr. Opara’s clients have ranged from Prada to Morgan Stanley, from UCLA to Studio Museum in Harlem, and from The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to JWT — the list being almost as eclectic as his artwork.

A Londoner with an MFA from Yale — where he is now a visiting critic — Eddie Opara currently works as a partner at Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy. He is an artist who is constantly searching for the interesting tangent to the normal path to find solutions that excite him and others and broaden his collection of strategy, technology and design work. His collection includes traditional print, infographics, interactive tables, software and multimedia — to name a few.

Below, we explore this transformative artist through five of our favorite works from his multifarious collection:

Color Works | Design Book

Book Final

Color Works, a book co-written and designed by Eddie Opara, provides designers with everything they need to know about color in relation to design. It provides insights on scientific theories and the cultural significances of color. This collaborative piece helped Eddie analyze his own use of color and demonstrates Opara’s talent to tell a story through visual and graphical representations.

St. Regis Hotel Wine Bar | User Interface

Opara designed the user interface of this interactive installation at the St. Regis Hotel wine bar inside New York City’s Adour restaurant. The technological design helps people learn about wine by simply flipping the virtual petals displayed on the table in front of them. This design reinforces Opara’s belief that people should utilize tools and technology to share knowledge.

Stealth | Poster/Wallcover

Steath Poster | Wallcover

Opara’s use of black and white geometric shapes in this Stealth Poster/Wallcovering mimics the form of Stealth Bombers. Inspiration for this work came from the book, “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, which explores the struggles of being African American in the early 20th century. Opara’s piece is a physical representation of being literally visible, but figuratively invisible — a subject that really impacted and influenced him in his youth.

Sorg Architects | Identity

Oparas Identity Design for Sorg

Sorg Architects is a female-owned company that, among other services, designs modern architecture in urban settings all over the world. The owners wanted a logo that represented what they believed in rather than their gender or a gender. Opara met the challenge by creating virtual letter blocks that display Sorg’s focus on construction, organization, modularity and transformation — as well as Opara’s playfulness.

Platform | Idenity at MIT Media Lab

Platform | Identity

Platform is a nonprofit organization aiming to increase the interest and participation of underrepresented groups — particularly African Americans, Latinos and Americans — in technology and entrepreneurship. In pursuit of this mission, Platform aims to provide these groups access to leaders and role models and help them cross currently limiting boundaries. The achievement of this goal is symbolically represented in the directional signage designed by Opara that extends from the wall across the floor to form a distinct boundary that is repeatedly crossed by people within the space. The identity is intended to be adaptable and flexible as Platform grows — much like Mr. Opara’s approach to his artistry.



4 Easy Guidelines to Designing a Lookbook

Working directly with print on a daily basis, I have seen my fair share of fashion lookbooks and catalogs. Seeing as Fashion Week is on approach, I thought it appropriate to put together a brief checklist of tips I found to be quite useful in designing a lookbook.

 Product has to be centralized:


You don’t want to have your lookbook full of pages that make it hard to tell what it is you’re actually trying to display. You want your viewer to easily identify your goods and not have to spend too much time scanning each page. In checking this, I like to use a personal method of mine that I’ve named the “stop sign rule”. The reader should be able to clearly identify what is being showcased on the page, within the time they should spend at a stop sign. Any time longer than this to identify a product, in my opinion, could cost you your readers attention. If any additional content is required for a page displaying a product, such as text, a rule of thumb i like to use is, that it should never take up more than ¼ the page.

Categorize your products:


If you’re selling different categories of products, make sure they have some sort of grouping. For example, a company displaying hats, shirts, pants, and shoes, should have a method for keeping each category together. Whether they have there own section of the lookbook (front, back, or middle), or are grouped on individual pages, its always nice to see products together. Having similar products in a designated area in your book help readers to refer back to a product that caught their eye, with ease.

Image quality:


This one may be obvious, but I thought it important to mention nonetheless. One of the most significant elements of your lookbook is going to be the detail in each of the products. You want to be sure that you have a high enough resolution on each of your images so that they come out sharp and crisp. At the very least, I recommend submitting files that are 300 dpi in resolution to avoid any kind of image distortion. A misconception is that people think they can up the resolution by bumping it in photoshop. This is not the case. In order to achieve a true resolution, the original image must be at or above the desired resolution.

Feel and look of the book:


When it comes to what type of paper stock and type of finish you use on your book, it’s not necessarily always a “make-it or break-it” deal, but it does make you and your book stand out.  Lay out all the content for your book before deciding on its material and finish. Standard paper stocks that you usually see used in lookbooks include the 100lb gloss or matte book for the insides, and the 100lb cover stock for the book covers. I always recommend adding some sort of customization to your book to make it stand out. One option I am particularly fond of in lookbooks is when matte paper is used for the inside pages. It provides a smooth feel when flipping through the book. Although, one thing to be aware of is that images may not look as vivid as a gloss stock would.


Holiday Gift Tag Printing

Holiday Design Printing

The Holidays are on quick approach. It’s always exciting to see the different designs people come up with when printing. Holidays almost always turn up some of the most creative and visually appealing designs. You too can turn digital artwork into tangible items. Day2Day Printing is here to help bring your creative ideas to life. Take a look at these inspiring designs intended for print:

Holiday Postcards

Nick Matej

Holiday Card Designs

Postcards with a Holiday theme are sure to put loved ones and friends in the spirit.

Christmas Greeting Cards

Alice Young

Holday Greeting Cards

A nice set of simple, yet elegant Christmas Greeting Cards.

Thanksgiving/Christmas Event Poster

Travis Purringotn

Holiday Poster

A creative and nicely done event poster.

Christmas Themed Stickers

Federico Bonifacini

Christmas Themed Stickers

A set of brilliantly designed Christmas stickers.

Seasonal calendar*

Yanna Chintsova

Seaonal Calendar

A beautifully done calendar that reflects the change in season as each month passes.

*To see the rest of the calendars’ design, just click the image to visit its url.

Hopefully these creative designs gave you some inspiration. Seeing your creative visions realized in print–something tangible is always an exciting experience.

 Featured Iimage by: Nick Matej @

Medium Good Year

Is Your Brand Unusual Yet?

At some time along the way of building up a business, there is a period where creating your brand is beat into your head repeatedly, along with hundreds of ways on how to create it, and what you should do or not do. All of that is important to cover, but none of it matters if you aren’t getting your brand out there. And there is one thing that always sticks out, especially in the internet age: unusualness.

Manhole Branding

Unusual Not Unique

By the simple idea of something being a brand for your company, it essentially has to be unique. Any good brand will always be unique, whether it’s a name, logo, or otherwise. Uniqueness doesn’t mean the brand is unusual though. Unusual are the things out of the ordinary, they are the things that always stand out, and for good reason. They are the unexpected, and in a world where people are surrounded with the menial tasks of everyday life, the things that are unexpected always catch people’s eye. It makes them question it, it makes them notice it, and most of all it makes them think about it.

The degree of the unusual can have a different impact as well though. If you make your brand so far out there that you end up with something that can’t be recognized you have a problem. At the same time if you do something like street art without being able to mark it in some way to your company you can end up with the same problem. So it’s usually better to pick one or the other. Do you want to be unusual in design, or unusual in places?

Unusual in Brand Design

A brand design can often be the nightmare of many graphic designers out there, the amount of unusual requests they receive would suggest that people have been inventing unusual designed brands for years, and yet we don’t see many of them. That’s because there is a very fine line when it comes to a brand design being just awful looking and more unusual.

In fact, having a brand design that is unusual, is incredibly difficult. But there are a few companies that have gone about it. The most famous recently is Chipotle with its Scarecrow Video, and even a downloadable game that will be released soon as well. All throughout both of these, the only connection to Chipotle is their name shows up at the end; just a name too.

Content as Design

As far as the depiction of Chipotle goes, they are opting for an area of creating content that people will enjoy and spread for them, and just attaching their name to it, which surprisingly is actually something that is almost never done these days, despite the effectiveness. They have created a brand design beyond their name that fits so well into the unusual categories, and it certainly is catching attention.

Yes, their brand design is in essence just a name, which isn’t unusual, but when we talk about names as a brand there isn’t much to say. Everything has to have a name to it these days, it’s not something you can go without. The difference is that Chipotle doesn’t run images or logos like Disney or Starbucks; their design is a completely different direction.

Gamification as Design

Instead of a design, we see people going for things like applications for a phone or creating games with just a company name on them. This focuses on a type of brand design that often just goes completely unnoticed. It’s not about selling your brand to anyone, it’s about showing people that your company can offer people things they want, things they will enjoy, and things that make them want to pay for it, rather than tricking them into paying for it.

And this isn’t even mentioning that this pushes a brand in the direction of areas that people are going to see and notice. You develop an app, and people are going to see it for their phone and go for it, which leads us into the branding of unusual places.

Unusual in Brand Placing

The much easier option, and one that is more effective for companies that aren’t already well known (and even for ones that are) is around the use of advertising and branding of a company in areas that are unusual. This isn’t your normal business pens and crazy clip-art flyers, these unusual branding places are things like coffee manhole covers and search engine advertising tattoos.

This isn’t any kind of new concept either. Companies have been branching out to different areas of being able to place their brands for years. Things like mobile billboards on cars and buses have become such a common thing to most of us that we would hardly pay attention to them anymore if it wasn’t for the fact that our brain is hard-wired to track motion, which means a moving bus and the billboard on it will still get seen.

But this kind of playing off of how people’s brains are wired is not unusual brand placing, it’s doing the same old thing of tricking people into paying attention to your brand. Instead consider things like street art that will get people passing by involved in your brand. 3M a Security Glass company, actually set up their glass and told people they should try and break it, and if they do, they could keep all of the money behind that glass. Not only was this unusual, but it showed the brand, and pointed out that they do have something to offer with their glass.

Try the New, Unusual, and Unknown

If there is anything you take away from this, it’s that trying areas that are different and unknown with your marketing and branding can pay off, and even if it doesn’t there are always other options. Not every branding campaign is expensive. Even the smallest of a campaign can have the biggest impact.

And remember, unusual is good.

graphic design terms

35 Useful Design Terms For Business Owners

At one point or another a business owner will have to deal with investing their time and money on creating marketing assets. These marketing assets include but are not limited to logos, web page designs, online banner ads, email designs, business cards, and brochures.

You will be communicating your ideas and input with graphic designers. In order to facilitate that communication we’ve gathered a list of useful design terms you want to get acquainted with.


Asymmetrical: This occurs when images and text are not identical on both sides of a central line.


Bind: The way a multi-page asset such as a catalog is put together, usually by mean wire, glue,or stitching.


CMYK Color Model: This stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. It is the industry standard for printing. Whenever you want to order professional printing assets make sure your designer is using this color mode.

Color Schemes: A color scheme is the combination of two more colors.

CSS: Code that is used to create the look and feel of a webpage, that is separate form the content.


Dodge: When an part of an image is lightened or reduced by shading.

Drop Shadow: An effect gives the impression that there I a shadow behind a design element.

Dummy: No, this isn’t an insult. This is a product that is hand made by a designer to show how the finished design will look, most commonly used for print designs. It is also called a mock up.


Element: Any specific part of a design project such as the logo, text, and images. 


Feathering: This is a design technique that is used in order to smooth out edges or features.

Font: A specific style and size for text.


GIF: An image file format that is best suited for small files with few colors and simple design. One bonus feature of Gif’s is that they can be animated.

Gradient: A technique that enables the designer to create elements featuring a smooth transition of colors.

Grayscale: An image that consists of black, white, no color, and about 256 shades of gray.


HTML: The computer language that is used to display elements on a webpage such as text, images, and links. 

Hue: Another word for color.


 Invert Inversion: This occurs when the value of colors in an image is inverted. For examples on an inverted image, black becomes white, and blue becomes orange. 


JPEG: The most common file format for compressing images. There is little of quality. Usually this is the best file that should be used for photographs.

Justify: To make a line of text a certain length by spacing out the words and numbers.


Kerning: The space between individual letters.


Noise: This occurs when an area of pixels contain random colors. Usually this is unwanted.


Opacity: Adjusting the opacity in an image or deign element will make it transparent.

Outline: This refers to the outside edge of a font or the outer edge of a vector image. In order to replicate a specific font on a printing asset such as a business card, make sure to let your designer outline the text before they hand in their files to you.


Pixel: A dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device, which also is the smallest possible element on a computer screen.

PNG: A compressed image file. This format displays images without jagged edges and also keeps the file size small. Great for websites and anything web related.

PDF: This is a file format that is best used to present documents and presentations.


 Resolution: This is an important factor of how an image will look. The higher the resolution of an image, the less pixilated it will look.

RGB: This stands for red, green, and blue. This is the color model that televisions screens and computer monitors use. If your designer is in RGB mode and you need to order printing, make sure to ask that the files are converted to CMYK.


Saturation: The intensity of a color.


Thumbnail: A considerably smaller version of an image.

Text Warp: Text wrap is the way that text can be shaped around the edge of an image. 

Typeface: This is a collection of characters such as numbers, letters, and punctuations.


Vector Graphic: A vector graphic or vector image allows the designer to shrink or enlarge the graphic, without any loss quality to the image. 


Watermark: This is something identifiable, such as a company’s logo, that is placed on top of photos. If you’re worried that someone will steal your images you can ask your graphic designer to add a watermark to your images.

White Space: This is the empty space that surrounds a design element. Too much white space will may make your design piece empty, not enough of it will make your design cluttered.