European Vacation – A Griswold’s Graphics Tour.

Took a trip in March across the big pond to Europe. It was a whirlwind sightseeing extravaganza with stops in London, Dublin, Paris, Florence and Rome. Whilst everyone is taking selfies or snapping shots of historic landmarks and whatnot, I was getting strange looks for snapping shots of subway billboards, type on manhole covers, logos on menus, graffiti and the like. My graphic design peers understand, but everyone else, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a bunch of selfies and have a plethora of typical tourist pics, too. But you’ve seen those before. So, instead, take a tour of Europe through the lens of this graphic designer.

Some of the photos are clickable for more information. Feel free to comment, berate or share.

Useless “European” trivia for you – The “W” of Clark W. Griswold stands for Wilhelm.

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Go Mobile or Go Home. Mobilegeddon is upon us.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mobilegeddon has officially arrived and otherwise strong webmasters are quaking in their flip-flops. So, is your website mobile-friendly? If you want the biggest search engine on the planet to help people find you among the millions of other sites, it had better be. If not now, soon.

In the often vague world of algorithm updates, there was nothing subtle about the quote issued from Google a couple of months ago. “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

Just to be clear. Google has never made this kind of announcement before changing its algorithm. Even though the search engine behemoth has been warning webmasters for years about the importance of  mobile-friendly websites, it has never been this adamant or this direct. When this 800-pound search engine gorilla makes it a point to say a site’s mobile friendliness will “have a significant impact on search results,” there should be no doubt about what is about to happen.

10 Things We Know About Google’s Algorithm Change
If you are scrambling to deal with this fundamental change in search engine optimization, you might want to get the straight skinny from one of the top Googlers. Back in early March, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes, pointed out a list of 10 factors to be aware of.

Responsive does not have a ranking benefit.
Because Google has been pushing responsive design as a way to handle mobile traffic, some people wondered if the only solution was to also use responsive because it could give a rankings boost. However, Illyes says they recommended it because it worked well for Google. He reiterated that responsive design does not have a ranking benefit.

Your site must unblock CSS & java script.
If you are blocking elements such as CSS and java script, your site will not pass Google’s mobile friendly test, even if everything else on the site passes. So you do need to allow Googlebot to crawl both CSS & java script to pass.

Mobile friendliness is page by page.
When determining if a page is mobile-friendly, Google bases this on a page-by-page case. Passing some pages, or even most pages, as mobile-friendly will not mean your entire site passes the check. All pages must be mobile-friendly.

There will be no specific tablet-only ranking factor.
According to Illyes, Google does not plan at this time to have anything specific for tablet rankings.

April 21st is the date. There’s no gradual roll-up.
To quote Illyes: “I will say April 21st is a very important day.” That means now.

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There should be little delay between a site being mobile-friendly and this being reflected in search results.
Illyes said, “As soon as we discover it is mobile-friendly, on a URL by URL basis, it will be updated.”

This change will not affect desktop computers.
Illyes leaves himself some wiggle room when responding to searches on desktops. “To the best of my knowledge, it will not.”

Google will have a completely separate mobile index in the future.
He said Google already has plans for this and there is a team already working on it.

Google doesn’t need to see noscript if they can crawl it.
Many webmasters used noscript when java script was not executed for whatever reason. But Illyes says that Google still sees noscript, but cancels it out when they crawl the java script.

What about offsite resources that may block java script?
Because webmasters don’t always have control of offsite java script (ie. Google Analytics code) Google takes this into account. However, webmasters need to allow Googlebot to crawl java script and CSS on their website itself.

Change this significant is always disconcerting, especially if your livelihood depends on customers finding your goods and services on the Internet. Having a site which is mobile-friendly is more complicated than one might think. For example:

* Should you have a separate mobile site or responsive site, and what does this do to site resolutions?

* How does the process of linking vary in a mobile-only vs. responsive site?

* How do the sales conversions change with different types of mobile-friendly sites?

* What about future changes in the algorithm? If your site is mobile-friendly now, will it be six months from now?

Having a mobile-friendly website requires the assistance of experts in site design. Fortunately for you, we have some and we’re ready to assist. If we can help you get over Mobilegeddon, let us know.

Contact Prejean Creative

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Let’s Hear it for the Color of the Year. Or Not.

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The color gods have spoken, at least those at Pantone.

In a press release issued in December, Pantone, the global color authority, announced PANTONE®18-1438 Marsala, “a naturally robust and earthy wine red,” as the Color of the Year for 2015. The announcement was met with a hue (literally) and cry from those who make their living by using colors.

The grandiose gesture of choosing one, highly specific color to represent the entire spectrum for the 365 days of 2015 begs an obvious question: “What criteria were used for this monumental decision?” Of course the folks at Pantone anticipated this pesky query. This is their story, and they’re sticking to it.

“The Color of the Year selection requires careful consideration and, to arrive at the selection, Pantone combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the fashion and entertainment industries – including films that are in production, the world of art, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, the availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.”

According to Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”

What Are We Supposed to Do With Marsala?
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One would think something as important as the announcement of the “color of the year” would have graphic designers everywhere a-twitter with anticipation. Meh, not so much, at least around these parts.

The guys who design consumer packaging, websites, signage, collateral, television spots and print advertising at Prejean Creative were asked what they thought of Pantone 18-1438 and the response was reminiscent of a bad stand-up comic delivering lame jokes to the crowd at the Holiday Inn near the airport. Uncomfortable silence.

(Bam! Bam!) “Is this mike on? Is anybody out there?”
In the end, several conclusions were drawn about Marsala’s use for marketing purposes.

k_prejean_linkedinKevin Prejean had this to say about the color Marsala and its best use in graphic design.

“Marsala, she looks to be versatile. One day, she’s sophisticated enough to be comfortable in high-end, elegant design pieces. On other days, she’s casual and working in the garden. She’s comfortable mingling with similar earthy friends: blue-grays, OD greens, dark mustards, tans.

“Other than food branding or packaging, I’m not sure Marsala is a good fit for any long-term branding. She seems to be trendy and not appropriate for most companies’ permanent color palette. Of course, the title itself – Color of the Year – indicates temporary status.”

gster2Anyone who knows Gary LoBue Jr. knows he has an opinion about everything. Here are his musings about Marsala.

“This is a no-brainer. The best use of the color of Marsala in graphic design would be as follows: wine labels, wine bottles, wine steward clothing; vintner identities and logos, winery identities and logos, all associated collateral materials for wine, vintners or wineries; wine glass packaging and its associated materials; invitations for wine tasting events or parties; tablecloths, linens and napkins for residential or commercial use; annual reports, brochures and social media materials for vintners or wine manufacturers; collateral and promotional materials for automobiles such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, but not Fiat. Definitely not Fiat.”

How about consumer products and Marsala, Gary?

“Imagine the excitement that would be generated if these products leveraged the cachet of introducing Marsala-hued versions of their line: plastic clothespins; HP or Dell laptops (actually any cheap Windows-based product); any, and I mean any, kitchen appliance or kitchen accessory; ceramic planters, coffee mugs, men’s calf length socks and ink pens.”

beppBrent Pelloquin is always a good resource for insights into color, even Marsala.

“I think it would really go well with veal. No, seriously, I think this color is an obvious choice for anyone in the wine industry. It’s a nice, rich color that makes me wish I was smelling wine and/or tasting wine. Perhaps a winery could produce a brochure that features their wine labels along with color swatches that indicate the varying shades of wine they produce. The swatches would obviously need to be scratch-n-sniff in nature, so prospective sippers can experience the aroma first hand. I think Marsala could find its proper place in a brochure like that.

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“I also see this as a strong color for the women’s cosmetic industry. It’s a pretty fantastic color for promoting lipstick or nail polish. It definitely has a bold, yet sophisticated, feminine quality to it.

“It also has a nice, chocolatey element to it that could be utilized as an accent color in product packaging for high-end chocolates. Dark chocolate and Marsala look like they were made for each other.”

andreThe newest member of the graphic design team, Andre Dugal, had these observations about the Color of the Year. “It is such a specific color, and a working palette seems to be pretty limited with it. I guess Marsala is better suited for interior design and less for graphic design. It fits perfectly with the trendy, low-saturation rustic craze. And, with Pantone branching out more into physical products, it seems that’s the market they’re going for.

“Black is always the new black. We don’t need no stinkin’ Marsala when we got good ole’ fashioned black.”
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What do you think of the choice of Marsala for the color of the year? Leave us a message below or comment on Prejean Creative’s Facebook page.

Fashionable Marsala photography courtesy of Pantone.

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What Type of Year are You Planning to Have in 2015?

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The turkey leftovers are long gone. Christmas shopping is coming down to the wire and all those ancient holiday ornaments have been hauled down from the attic. This is a glorious time of year, especially for youngsters.

It’s also a critical time for planning if you own or manage a business. Because markets change, personnel come and go, company services and products evolve and new media come from out of nowhere (who saw SnapChat coming?), a fresh marketing plan should be developed every year. Here are some tips you might consider when wrapping up 2014 and planning your marketing for the new year.

Learning from History

planning2015_02Spanish philosopher, novelist and poet George Santayana made the famous observation that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is one of those quotes a business manager or owner should place in a prominent position on his or her desk. The only way a company can grow from quarter to quarter, year to year is to learn from the past – both the successes and the failures. This is the reason for the first step in developing a company’s annual marketing plan: analyzing what worked and what didn’t in the previous year.

This analysis starts down that long, dark and no doubt scary hallway where the company’s accounting is done. Getting the real facts about the company’s sales and, more importantly, profits for the previous year is the most direct method of building a marketing plan for the year to come. There are several factors to consider:

• What were the company’s gross sales in 2014 and how does this number relate to previous years?

• What were the marketing expenses – advertising, public relations, social media, sales travel, and other expenses – involved in generating these sales?

• Were there any sales spikes in the year, and if so, what caused them?

• What were the advertising campaigns or media expenditures which resulted in the best return on investment?

• In general, what worked and what didn’t work in 2014 from a marketing perspective, and can a determination be made as to “why”?

Getting Input from Everyone

planning2015_03No matter how smart you are as the CEO, someone in your organization likely knows more about some aspect of your business than you do. There is also a good possibility that your outside consultants such as advertising agencies, public relations specialists and others will have valuable insights in areas where you might have less expertise.

It’s much smarter to use the specialized knowledge of these people in the preparation of an annual marketing plan. Ask them to join your planning sessions and advise your team on the best options.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “You can’t do a marketing plan without getting many people involved. No matter what your size, get feedback from all parts of your company: finance,  manufacturing, personnel, supply and so on – in addition to marketing itself.”

Once this input is gathered, and it could take a few weeks for this to occur, it’s important to synthesize it into a manageable document. In most cases, a marketing plan should require no more than five or six pages.

Arriving at a Final Plan

Once it is in draft form, the marketing plan should be circulated to the entire team charged with making it happen. This widely spread input and especially the quantifiable objectives (sales projections, advertising expenditures and other marketing expenses) set by the management team is critical to the success of the organization in 2015.

There will likely be several changes in the plan between the original draft and the final document. While this can drive a CEO nuts, it is critical to the success of the plan. Monthly and quarterly sales, and profitability schedules should also be included in the plan, and quarterly meetings should be held to compare plan-versus-results.

Once the leadership and personnel of the company have committed to this plan – both the marketing budgets and the sales projections – if there is a dramatic deviation between plan and result, something is wrong and must be fixed as soon as possible. A good marketing plan, created with company-wide input and outside consultants such as advertising agencies and technology providers, should serve as a blueprint for the year’s marketing activities.

The Benefits of Having a Marketing Plan

Let’s face it. Everybody’s busy. Perhaps the last thing you want to think about, especially this time of year, is a marketing plan for 2015. However, if you want to be successful in the coming year, you need to step away from the eggnog (at least for a while), hunker down and get a plan.

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According to the Small Business Encyclopedia, there are several good reasons for doing this.

It’s a rallying point: Your marketing plan gives your troops something to rally behind. If you want your employees to feel committed to your company, it’s important to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to come.

It’s a chart to success: We all know plans are imperfect. How can you possibly know what’s going to happen 12 months or five years from now? However, if you don’t plan, you’re doomed, and an inaccurate plan is far better than no plan at all.

It’s a company operational instruction guide: Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company’s success. In order to put together a genuine marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way.

It’s captured thinking: You don’t allow your financial people to keep their numbers in their heads. It should be no different with marketing. Your written document lays out your game plan. If people leave, if new people arrive, if memories falter, if events bring pressure to alter the givens, the information in the written marketing plan stays intact to remind you of what you’ve agreed on.

Doing the hard work of planning your marketing for the coming year will pay big dividends. It’s not easy, but nothing of value is. Contact us if you’d like to talk about your 2015 marketing plan.

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All Grown Up

All Grown Up is a sideways glance at product trends aimed at young(ish) adults.

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While watching a history program the other evening with my two young children, a commercial break came on with a spot for a brand of adult vitamins.

Adult chewable vitamins.

Adult chewable Gummy vitamins.

Kids, being who they are, immediately asked why I don’t take chewable Gummy vitamins. Well, Bud and Sissy, I said in my best Father Knows Best tone, “I’m an adult. Your mother and I take plain, ol’ regular vitamins. Those vitamins are candy-based gummies, you know, for kids.” The retort: But those people are adults, why are they taking gummy vitamins?

I. Don’t. Know.

This exchange led me to ponder, “Why is there a segment of adults who want to relive their youth through child-like products.” And, “What else is out there that could devolve into one of these somewhat disturbing adult/child hybrid products?”

Quite a few, actually. I can imagine the elevator pitches for their spots now:

Adult Sippy Cups
Why use a ceramic mug or that thermally insulated stainless steel cup for your morning coffee? With Sippy Brand Super Drinky Cups you’ll never have to worry about getting pesky kale juice stains on your Tommy Bahama shirt or spilling 10 oz. of a fine Sumatra blend onto your iPad. Sippy Brand Super Drinky Cups can be used hot or cold. The no tip-over design is perfect for use with alcohol-based drinks. Comes with three decorative sticker packs.

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Adult Woobies
Are the kids or husband placing too many demands on you? Is the boss pressuring you at work with inconceivable deadlines or joyless tasks? Relax. Just sit back and hug your Wooby Brand Really-Big-Boy Woobie. Made of the finest Alpaca wool in a variety of sophisticated colors, your Really-Big-Boy Woobie will take the edge off your existential crisis in no time at all. For home or office. Perfect for use at client meetings. Thumb-sucking or crying while using your Really-Big-Boy or Really-Big-Girl Woobie is purely optional.

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My First Home Playset
You played house as a kid; now play house as an adult! With your My First Home Playset starter pack, you get one, 100’ x 125’ zero-lot-line property; a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1,750 sq. ft. move-in ready home unit; a low-maintenance landscaping kit (just add water!); colorful ceramic tiles for your bathrooms and kitchen, and our exclusive granite countertop pack. Playsets come in various styles, materials and colors. Move walls! Add a roof! Mix and match! See catalog for furniture sets. Includes My First Home Mortgage. Pets and children not included.

Please visit our website to learn more about our entire line of My First Brand Adult Playsets, including My First Managerial Job, My First Affair, My First Divorce and My First Bankruptcy.

Exhibited below: a rare 1957 edition My First Home Playset – mint, in mint box.bombb house f2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Diapers
I know, I know, adult diapers already exist, but those are for the incontinent, the sick or the elderly. I’m talking adult diapers for those who long for the freedom to just “let it all go” without care or worry. What could be more American than that?

I think the pitch for that product would go something like this:

Are your snack breaks more important than your bathroom breaks? Do you have a long commute to work? Will you be stuck with a window seat on your next transcontinental flight? Maybe you’re just looking for new ways to time-shave or multitask. With new Doodiful Brand Adult Diapers you’ll have the confidence to know that if you have to go, you can go ahead and go. Any time. Any place. No one need ever know. (I’m wearing one now.)

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I’m just throwing those ideas out there, people.

Feel free to run with them, but make sure you’re wearing your Garanimals for Adults Premium Jogging Ensemble while you’re running. Operators are standing by.

 

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