Prejean Creative Tells You Why – The Interaction of Color

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Magical tricks with color. Amaze your friends.
You have a room to paint. You go to the paint store and pick an array of color options. Go home and tape them to the wall. You pick your favorite, buy the bucket o’ paint and apply it to the walls. You step back and have that “what the heck” (paraphrasing) moment. Something is off. The drapes look different, and so do the furnishings. It’s happened to most of us.

So, what went wrong? While there are many factors, one contributing factor to the dilemma is an effect called simultaneous contrast. It involves the way colors interact with each other when side by side. Simultaneous contrast can cause some amazing visual tricks with color.

How does this occur, you ask? When our eyes take in light, the retina processes it and an image is sent to the brain. Our eyes tend to seek a neutral balance in brightness, contrast and color. When it comes to colors, a neutral gray makes our eyes (and brain) the most comfortable. Our eyes are scanning, processing and manipulating light and colors to discern the imagery while striving to achieve this comfort zone. This results in interesting optical illusions.

A favorite art design class I took at UL is based on color theory and a book by Josef Albers called Interaction of Color. A semester was spent studying and creating color optical illusions with color papers. I still have the box of Colormatch papers from school, pictured above. I was excited to learn that Mr. Albers’ book was converted into an interactive app in 2013. If you think you may enjoy experimenting with colors, I highly recommend it. Below are four examples from Albers that are the result of simultaneous contrast.

Now, good luck with picking those paint colors next go-round.

Making one-in-the-same color look like two different colors.
The two small squares look very different when juxtaposed with different colors. (hover or tap to pause animation)



Making two different colors look alike.
The two small squares look similar when, in fact, they are very different. (hover or tap to pause animation)


Special thanks to Michael Culpepper for the animation sequences.

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Dances with Frogs

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While helping a neighbor demo their home after the extensive flooding here in Louisiana, it struck me just how much damage was done to the lawn, shrubs and smaller trees throughout their landscape.

It’s been (ahem) quite a few years since I took the Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional (CNLP) exam, but I’d like to share some basic knowledge and tips regarding the rejuvenation, or renovation, of your greenspace.

I know it’s difficult if you have suffered a loss; your landscape is probably the least of your worries at this point, but after all, your yard is also an important part of your property.

First, the bad news.
staugustoThe first step should be a no-brainer, but I have to say it – wait until the water has completely subsided before any work begins. You’re not going to accomplish much and there is an inherent danger involved if the water hasn’t receded.

Some bad news – chances are extremely high that if you still have standing water in the grassy surface areas – it’s dead. Unfortunately, a re-sod or re-seeding of your lawn will have to take place.

But, some good news – most native or established trees, shrubs, bulbs and ornamentals are surprisingly hardy in the face of adverse conditions. Historically, this is a wet state.

My dumpster is bigger than your dumpster.
Remove all debris from your landscape – the sheetrock, base molding, studs, appliances, furniture, wiring, nails, glass, insulation – everything. Debris will retard the growth process and there’s the issue of chemicals leaching into the soil. Did I mention the potential issue with vermin? We hate vermin.

Got mulch?
Any mulch that wasn’t washed away needs to be removed. Assuming the mulch hasn’t been tainted or stewing in sewerage, this organic material can be placed into your compost pile or bin. Do not replace the mulch. Moisture and root protection is not an issue. Allow the base and roots of your plants to dry.

Mostly dead.
Pull or dig up any plants that are dead – they’re compost pile candidates now.

A cautionary note before pulling up or cutting down any plant-life: If you’re a fan of theimassge2 movie, The Princess Bride, then you know there’s all dead and there’s mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

Some plants can be like that. Take rose bushes for instance. I’ve picked up zombie-looking rose bushes off the side of a highway before and those are now some of the most vigorous plants in my yard.

So, if you’re in doubt whether a plant is “all” dead, simply wait until spring or its primary growing season.

If you have medium-size or larger trees that are dead or damaged, please call a licensed arborist or tree specialist to do the work. Do not be tempted to DIY. Danger, bubba. Big, water-logged trees are not to be trifled with.

Lawn aerobics.
Aerate – just like you, your lawn and its topsoil need to breathe.

Aeration or oxygenation is a huge part of rejuvenating the grassy surface areas. To say these areas have been oversaturated is an understatement. Chances are also high that most of these areas are now extremely compacted due to debris overlying the surface or by foot xgranttraffic. You need to get air circulating throughout your topsoil to promote future plant growth.

Jabbing your lawn with the tines of a pitchfork is one way to go about aerating your lawn, although that is time-consuming and you’ll probably get some odd looks from the neighbors. Walking around the yard wearing a pair of old-school, metal-spiked golf shoes is a trick I used to use. These days, I use the original garden weasel tool. These methods are all good, but for the larger scale cultivation that you’re facing, a gas-powered, core aerator will be needed. No need to buy – these can easily be rented.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Plan and replace. I guess if you’re looking for a silver lining behind the flood-producing clouds, this could be it. While we’re lucky to live in an area like southwest Louisiana where “if it’s green it will grow,” there’s not much you can do in the face of a 1,000-year flood event, Noah. It’s heartbreaking to lose personal and family possessions (plants and trees included), but try to look at this event as an opportunity to improve or enhance.

The rainbows and unicorns part of the story.
We’ve been blessed with a very robust ecosystem here. Just take a look at our St. Augustine, live oaks, cypress, azaleas and camellias. You can take advantage of our climate by utilizing our native or southern heritage plants. Keyword: native. There’s a scientific reason those centuries-old live oaks are still standing!

Make it fun for the family and make your landscape work for you once the home rebuilding gets squared away. Or, contact a local certified nursery & landscape professional, arborist or a licensed landscape horticulturist. They’ll be more than happy to work out a plan with you and within a budget to make some magic happen.

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Four Tips for Creating Effective Campaign Slogans

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For most, a presidential election conjures the insanity of nearly incessant messaging on every form of media. There really is no way to escape unless you completely unplug from all media for the duration of the campaign.

Since that type of escape is almost impossible, most of us have been exposed to the election signs/posters/ads that aim to persuade us to vote for a particular candidate. Political campaigns depend upon the visibility, effectiveness and recall of their messaging. And the candidates hope that their messages are remembered for being strong, clear, inspiring, or any other adjective one would attach to a positive recall. What candidates want to avoid is being memorable for how ridiculous, silly or absurd their messaging is. Or, even worse, not being remembered at all.

Creating a Great Campaign Slogan
A key messaging element for any campaign is its slogan. Creating a great slogan is not an easy task. It is usually a time-consuming exercise, but one that cannot be rushed. The slogan has to be one that is valuable and memorable to a voter. So, what makes an effective slogan?

1. Tie back to basic needs and values. Humans respond emotionally to the basic values of life, such as safety, happiness, security, community and survival. A slogan that elicits an emotional response is more likely to be remembered than one that doesn’t.bg-er for pins-2

2. Make it unique/catchy/witty. Don’t be afraid to use language techniques, such as alliteration and rhythm, to create a message that “rolls off the tongue.” Rhythmic slogans leave an impression on a receiver that is often difficult to ignore. Humor can also add an element of uniqueness to a slogan, but be sure the message stays clear through the wit.

3. Complement the overall campaign message. The slogan should capture the essence of the campaign message in a succinct way. It should be clear that the slogan belongs to the campaign, and it should advance the message to voters.

4. Be impactful. Endeavor to create a slogan that makes an impact by making it poignant. Make it ring true and convince voters that they want to vote for someone who can stand for something that big.

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Presidential campaign slogans, over the course of history, have run the gamut from great to terrible. Take, for example, William McKinley’s motto from the 1896 election, “Patriotism, Protection, Prosperity.” It hits on all four of the elements of an effective campaign. It ties back to basic human needs of safety and survival and makes an impact on voters who seek those values. The use of alliteration makes it easy to recall, and it complements his campaign message as supporting the laborer. All in all, a good slogan.

One that falls on the other end of the spectrum is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s catchphrase from the 1936 election, “Sunflowers die in November.” Unless a voter knows all the nuances of the context, which is that FDR was running against the governor of Kansas, Alf Landon, and the state flower is a sunflower, he will not understand the message. It does not touch on any of the elements of an effective slogan.

Please enjoy the lists below of good and bad slogans from U.S. presidential election campaigns. We understand there will be conflicting opinions out there, but keep in mind we are analyzing them based on the inclusion of a majority of the four elements of an effective campaign slogan mentioned above, not on political preferences or the contextual, key issues of the time of the election.

Be sure to read all the way to the end to test your ability to spot the real vs. fake campaign slogans.

The Good
These slogans all include a majority of the elements of an effective campaign slogan.
For President of the People.  Zachary Taylor, 1848
Four More Years of the Full Dinner Pail.  William McKinley, 1900
A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage.  Herbert Hoover, 1928full-dinner-pail-five-mckinley-button
Peace and Prosperity.  Dwight Eisenhower, 1956
It’s Morning in America Again.  Ronald Reagan, 1984
Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.  Bill Clinton, 1992
Prosperity and Progress.  Al Gore, 2000
Compassionate Conservatism.  George W. Bush, 2000
Change We Can Believe In.  Barack Obama, 2008
Reform, Prosperity and Peace.  John McCain, 2008
Working for Change. Working for You.  Hillary Clinton, 2008
A Future to Believe In.  Bernie Sanders, 2016

If you have a favorite slogan that we have missed, please leave it in a comment.

The Bad
And, here are those that we feel miss the mark. Some are quite memorable, but for the wrong reasons.
We Polked You in 1844, We Shall Pierce You in 1852.  Franklin Pierce, 1852
Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa? Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.  James Blaine, 1884
Let Well Enough Alone.  William McKinley, 1900
Keep Cool with Coolidge.  Calvin Coolidge, 1924
Liberty, We Want Beer.  Al Smith, 1928
Let’s Make it a Landon Slide.  Alfred Landon, 1936
Roosevelt for Ex-President.  Wendell Wilkie, 1940
Pour it on ‘Em Harry.  Harry Truman, 1948
In Your Gut, You Know He Nuts.  Lyndon Johnson, 1964
Not Just Peanuts.  Jimmy Carter, 1976
Where’s the Beef?  Walter Mondale, 1984
Ross for Boss.  Ross Perot, 1992

Do you know a slogan that is off the mark? Let us know in a comment.

The Game
Now, let’s have some fun. Click on the link to play our “Real vs. Fake Campaign Slogans” game. In less than five minutes, you will know if you need to brush up on your history or political science. Enjoy!

 

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Shedding Some Light on Dark Social

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Web analytics are supposed to provide marketers with accurate data points that can be used to build a marketing program, right? Right. However, “accurate” seems to be somewhat misleading when you take into account the traffic that occurs outside of that which analytics programs can accurately track. What? There is data that analytics programs can’t analyze?

Yes. It’s been labeled “dark social.” And, the inability to collect data from this traffic tends to mislead marketers about the effectiveness of their social marketing campaigns/content.

Where Does Dark Social Traffic Come From?

According to Alexis C. Madrigal, who coined the term dark social, it is social traffic that occurs outside of what analytics programs can measure. Why is it invisible? There is no referrer data from the user that lands on the webpage. The user received a URL from someone else, whether via email, messaging apps, text or mobile apps, and went directly to a site via that link. The traffic records as “direct” in the analytics program, but it is highly unlikely the user typed in the URL. So, some traffic that is getting buried in “direct” is not actually direct, but social traffic, since a link to the information on the site was shared socially. But, since it comes from a source that doesn’t use referrer data, it doesn’t record as a social share.

For example, let’s say a wife is trying to decide which restaurant she and her husband should go to tonight to celebrate their anniversary. As she is researching online, she comes across a new restaurant with a menu that appeals to her. She copies the URL and sends it via text to her husband. She has just participated in social sharing, but it will record as direct traffic on the restaurant’s website. That data is now considered dark social.

Why Does It Matter?

Madrigal found that almost 69% of social referrals are dark. That is a lot of data being misconstrued by analytics programs. You might be led to conclude that social marketing programs are not working, while they may, in fact, be surpassing your expectations.

Dark Social

 

 

 

 

What Do I Do About It?

There is no way to completely prevent sharing of content in ways that would be considered dark social sharing. And, you shouldn’t want to because any type of sharing is a boost for your content and your business. But, part of a marketer’s job is to know and understand the traffic from content marketing efforts. Social shares via email, text and messaging apps make this difficult. There are some solutions presented across the web for methods and tools that can help marketers identify dark social shares in analytics programs. But, strategically planning content marketing and social marketing campaigns to optimize for social sharing will increase the odds of your content being shared in a way that can be tracked by analytics programs. Some tips to keep in mind when planning for social sharing of content are:

  • Understand the definition and impact of dark social. There is a lot of research out there that shares similar conclusions, that the majority of direct traffic can be attributed to dark social. Make that clear in any social marketing plans.
  • Highlight the distinction between social media sharing and social sharing. Social sharing encompasses social media sharing, but is not limited to it. Social sharing also accounts for emails, text, social media mobile apps and messaging apps.
  • Create content worth sharing. All shares are good, which means all traffic is good, no matter the source. To understand user behavior, you must create content that people want to share. If your data shows a low amount of traffic from any source, the content may be the issue, not the way the data is being shared.
  • Make content easy to share in a way that can be traced back to the referring source. For example, include a “share this article” button on all blog posts and web pages that provide original content. Another example is to incorporate email marketing campaigns, and encourage receivers to forward the information.
  • Build detailed analytics monitoring and evaluation into content marketing plans. Don’t just look at the surface data. Dig deeper to find consistent, similar referral sources. Look for trends and patterns that can be measured and explained beyond lumping into dark social.
  • Optimize content for social media channels so users share through those channels, instead of copying and pasting links into texts, emails or messages.

Dark Social

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

There is no magic formula for executing the “perfect social marketing campaign.” The best way to ensure success is to plan for it. Don’t let dark social traffic hinder your ability to measure the effectiveness of content marketing efforts. By shedding light on the issue in the planning phase, you will eliminate the headache of explaining the missing data points at the end of the campaign.

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Tricks of the Trade in Adobe CC

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As designers, we use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign nearly every day. But how well do we really know these programs? Adobe is constantly adding new capabilities, but we tend to resist change. It’s easier to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them rather than tackle the learning curve of a new tool.

I’m going to highlight three of my favorite Adobe features that I’ve discovered recently. If you’re unfamiliar with them, I hope you take the time to try them. You may be pleasantly surprised by the increased efficiency of your workflow.

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Cost: Free, but you must sign in with an Adobe ID
Availability: iOS devices, Download it here.

This companion app is a game-changer for designing mobile web pages. It uses Wi-Fi or USB to mirror your Photoshop design onto your mobile device. Make changes confidently while viewing your design on its intended device. Any changes made in Photoshop will update in real-time on your mobile device. You can link multiple devices at once, allowing you to work across a whole spectrum of different formats.

Do you create your website mockups in Illustrator instead of Photoshop? No problem. Simply place your design into Photoshop as a Vector Smart Object, and edit the Smart Object in Illustrator. Easy peasy.

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What a great tool – I can’t believe I didn’t find this earlier. Recolor Artwork allows you to quickly reassign colors in even the most complex art. Sure, you can use Select -> Same -> Fill Color, and then change the color, but this way is so much faster. Besides, the Select -> Same method doesn’t play well with stroked objects. Recolor Artwork will preserve your strokes.

Here is a great tutorial that explains the tool more in-depth (you can skip to 1:50).

Recolor Artwork is great for consolidating a group of nearly identical colors into one color. I also use it to find the closest Pantone swatch to a color I have created in the computer.

 

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Say you are typesetting columns of names, addresses and telephone numbers. You probably want them to stick together as units. You don’t want those chunks of information to break across a column. I used to correct this manually with soft returns, but that was a terrible practice. If anything changed, my manual corrections would be knocked out of place, causing additional problems.

The Keep Options in the Paragraphs panel is the answer. There are a multitude of options here. In this particular example, I used “Keep with Previous.” Now, my column breaks respect the chunks of information that should stay together. This function was vital in creating a 50+ page directory.

Watch the video below to see this function in action. Tutorial here.

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