Prejean Creative Tells You Why – Responsive Design

One Size Doesn’t Fit All…
Gone are the days of designing websites only for a desktop computer. Mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phones, have surpassed desktops as the preferred internet access point globally. Therefore, websites now have to be responsive to various screen sizes.

To illustrate, if viewing this page on a desktop, either adjust the window size or view this page on a mobile device. If you are viewing from a mobile device, view this page on a desktop. Keep an eye on the image. The difference is night and day.

…And Search Engines Have Responded
You may be thinking, “That’s neat and all, but my site analytics are good and conversions are still high. The user experience must not be too bad.” While this may be the case, search engines will recognize your site’s lack of responsive design. Since the recent widespread emergence of the mobile web, most major search engines have developed technologies to determine if a site is designed responsively. If it is determined unresponsive, its placement on major SERPs (search engine results pages) could be negatively affected.

Give Them What They Want
And by “them” we mean users and search engines. Users need a seamless experience no matter which type of device they are using, and search engines are seeking to deliver that experience. Make sure your website’s placement on major SERPs isn’t affected – invest in a mobile-friendly website. Developers and design teams can create a responsive site without changing the essential elements of your current website.

 

Share
Posted in Digital Design, Mobile Marketing, PC Tells You Why, Technology, Web design | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Art of Creating The Annual Report

annual_report_blog_header

The end of the year is a busy time for most organizations. While still focused on meeting customer needs, they also have to meet year-end obligations for the business, which may include producing an annual report. The annual report presents financial information about the performance of an organization, and is mandatory for any publicly traded company, though many private companies and nonprofits also produce them. The annual report is meant to be used as a performance assessment, but it can be more than just a regulatory compliance document. It presents the perfect opportunity for you to tell the story beyond the numbers, giving readers an inside look at your operation.

annual report

“We speak in every currency of the world” communicated the message of global growth for this annual report we designed for Western Union.

The annual report hasn’t always been seen as a marketing piece. Historically, it was simply a rather large, very dry document that touted the yearly financial performance of an organization. Over the years, it has transformed into something greater that connects to readers, and invites them into the story.

As the use of the annual report has evolved, so have the elements and trends for creating it. There is no single template for creating an annual report – each should be tailored to fit the needs of its own business or industry. But, there are some trends in the packaging and presentation of an annual report that will continue to shift the way it is received.

The Annual Report as a Work of Art
Take the time and make the investment to create an annual report that is both engaging and interesting to read. Make it a document that remains relevant beyond the publication date by injecting it with great storytelling that also speaks to the success of your organization.

annual_report_blog_ctrnonprofit

In this Center for Nonprofit Management annual report, we developed vivid imagery in the WPA poster style to frame the concept of working together for the good of all.

As art director Gary LoBue Jr. says, “The annual report allows a rare opportunity for a company to truly expand on their narrative. Every entity has an interesting story to tell, and that story is not always about the numbers. Give the readership some insight. Give them a story that will engage them.”

An annual report is the perfect place to have the company narrative marry its financial success story. A key part of storytelling is the concept, design and visuals that frame the words and numbers. Keep the door open for the use of an overarching concept that captures the tenor of your message, as well as color, graphics, images and any other design elements that will help transform your annual report to a work of art worth keeping and displaying.

Design for “Turners” and “Scrollers”
Annual report production is shifting towards electronic reports, in addition to traditional hard copy reports. The trend towards digital annual reports is strong, with 67 percent of public companies producing both a printed and electronic annual report. Plan for the future, but don’t abandon a print version if it still holds relevance for your audience.

This shift to digital reports pairs perfectly with the idea of the annual report as a creative marketing piece. One of the key advantages of the electronic format is the allowance for movement in the report. In general, digital content is better received when it includes video, images, infographics, animation – anything that is visually appealing.

Some companies choose to integrate digital assets into their hard copy annual report, bringing an added dimension of interactivity to the print version. In the UL Lafayette Foundation report, below, we included QR codes to direct readers to bonus content. In addition to (or instead of) merely reading the donor’s story, the viewer could see and hear the donor sharing his or her passion for the university, via video. Other QR codes linked readers directly to department or program pages where they could make a donation.

annual_report_blog_ul_passion


divider_H

With digital design also comes responsive design. Mobile devices have surpassed desktop machines as the preferred Internet access point worldwide – 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent. As more consumers use mobile devices, content has to be responsive to different size screens. A single-page responsive design is a common solution for the structure of an electronic report, as there is no flipping between pages. Users can simply scroll all the way through or use anchor text links to locate the information they are seeking.

The need for hard copy versus electronic, or both, varies significantly, depending on factors such as regulation and compliance, company size, industry, target audiences and many others. The decision to do one or both rests on your organization’s needs and your audience’s tolerance for change.

annual_report_blog_ul_group

We have used conceptual storytelling in a number of annual reports for the UL Lafayette Foundation over the years.

Key Elements of an Annual Report
Regardless of which presentation format you choose, there is an established standard for the type of information usually included:

  1. Successes – The end goal of an annual report is to tout the yearly accomplishments of a company. This can be done through both the financial review and the narrative. The successes should also include a “thank you” to those who made the achievements possible.
  2. Narrative – Tell your story. Invite the reader in with narrative that gives an inside look at what your organization really stands for.
  3. Executive Message – Most reports include a message from the CEO, or the highest ranking official within the organization. A company’s publics look to the leaders to provide a pathway to the future, as well as an analysis of the year’s performance.
  4. Financials – No annual report is complete without a look at the numbers. These can range from simple, engaging summary charts to comprehensive financial statements or a Form 10-K, depending on your organization.
  5. Call to Action – What should readers do with the information presented to them? Share it with others? Make an investment? Visit a website? While many will simply appreciate the yearly review, it’s a good idea to give the reader something more to do with the information.

While these elements are the backbone of the report, the only way to stand out in the crowd of annual reports is to use it as a platform that tells a story, and to give it a unique design that brings the information to life.

It’s All in the Details
Don’t resent or lament the task of creating your annual report. Instead, let it inspire you to put your best foot forward. Company leadership should take advantage of the annual report’s potential size and scope. Make it a trophy piece for marketing, highlighting your organization’s short- and long-term goals. This is a chance to build on the past year’s achievements, or to look past any challenges while focusing on the future.

Share
Posted in Annual Reports, Design, Our Work | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prejean Creative Tells You Why – The Interaction of Color

color_theory

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.

Share
Posted in Design, Fun Stuff, PC Tells You Why | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dances with Frogs

plantz-flt-2

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.

Share
Posted in Community, Lafayette, Louisiana, Miscellaneous | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Four Tips for Creating Effective Campaign Slogans

slogan_header4cc_Blog

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.

cool

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!

 

Share
Posted in Branding, Fun Stuff, Marketing, Popular Culture | Tagged , , | Leave a comment