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BRANDE : Design

September 6, 2017

Building Brand Equity With Your Annual Report

An annual report is like a yearbook—it should shuttle readers through all aspects of the company’s business while weighting content towards the company’s financial success and brand.

Woven throughout this content must be a clear picture of where the company is heading—a reassurance to investors that the firm has a solid game plan for moving ahead in the coming years. Here are 4 simple ways you can make sure your annual report presents your brand in the best possible way.

Create A Comprehensive Story, Theme and Outline 

What is the primary message you want to communicate? Is it investment in R&D? Growth over many years? Change in direction? Solid leadership? Defining this is key to creating an outline for the report and inspiring a visual interpretation.

Communicate with Design. Reinforce the Brand. 

The overall look and feel of the piece should not only be consistent with your company or organization’s brand, but it should enhance your theme. What key colors will illustrate your brand and report theme? What format will best communicate your theme: print or online? What style of photography and imagery will you use: high-end, abstract, illustrations and schematics, or real-world photos of people or applications?

Demonstrate your commitment to the environment by working with printers who employ ecologically responsible paper, ink, and waste print production processes. Here, the media truly becomes the message, expressed in the content of the document and in the production of the report itself.

Some options you may consider:

• Forest Stewardship Council Certified Production

• Soy/Vegetable Based Inks and Coatings

• Recycled Paper

• Recycling Extra Reports

Design Pop and Rhythm. 

The report’s design and narrative style needs to establish a visual vocabulary and cadence from page to page that keeps investors moving through the book while generating an emotional response. Readers need to understand how vital the company is to the world—customers, employees, communities, etc. They need to know your firm is special.

Once all the elements are in place, continue to ensure a quality product through diligent proofreading, production, and print management.

We Predict that More Technology will be Embedded within Annual Reports

Online annual reports are the future of compliance communications. By providing shareholders with online disclosure information, companies are bridging more disclosure gaps than ever before. They are able to provide more information more quickly effectively, allowing access to shareholders and potential investors. One of our favorite trends is the use of AR to create an immersive experience across a variety of devices and platforms.

One final note- along with presenting your company in the best possible way to investors, your annual report is also an excellent opportunity to engage and recognize your employees (many of whom are also shareholders) in their achievements and efforts in realizing your business outcomes.

January 7, 2016

Four Signs You’re Ready to Rebrand

It’s January,  the time of year to take stock of your business and goals for the year. 

Besides upgrading your software or buying a new printer, you also should look at your branding. Whether you want to redesign your website, extend your brand into social media, or align your internal communications with your consumer advertising, January is a great time to launch a rebranding effort.
Are you ready to rebrand? There are four signs that you might be. Do any of these match your company’s situation?

Your focus has changed.

This often happens to small businesses. Sometimes the mission you had when you started the company no longer matches what you’re currently doing. Maybe you opened a deli but found that only cupcakes were selling, so you transitioned into a cupcake shop. Any of your previous branding that mentions, say, breakfast, no longer works…unless you invent a breakfast cupcake, for which I’d be the first in line!
Image via MrMalique.com
 

 


You have a new market or audience.
Perhaps you’re speaking to a new demographic now, which isn’t responding to your previous messaging. Both Farmers and State Farm insurance were known as solid, reliable – and boring. Both have launched new ad campaigns that add humor to the usual dire insurance company warnings. Both firms were founded in the 1920s, but realized that 90-year-old branding wasn’t speaking to consumers in 2012’s competitive marketplace.

There’s been a merger, acquisition, or expansion.

Circumstances might be forcing you to rebrand. If your company merged with another, or was acquired, or launched a new division that modifies your core mission, you’ll need a new brand to reflect the change. Or perhaps your brand is too close to another’s, and you’re pre-emptively changing to avoid legal issues. Or maybe you need to shed some baggage, which is why Philip Morris became Altria or GMAC became Ally Bank.

It’s been a while.

Sometimes branding just becomes stale. Some fonts and logos can become dated; maybe yours fell victim to what Marty Neumeier called the Great Swoosh Epidemic, when every company wanted a curved or circular icon. You may find that your logo doesn’t fit well in the icon space allowed by Twitter, or looks good onscreen but not on paper. These missteps are relatively easy to fix.
Image via Concept Genius
 





 
If you answered yes to any of these questions, get ready to rebrand.
If youve never been through a corporate or employer rebranding effort, you may be asking yourself these questions:

  • How do I create a plan to rebrand?
  • How long will it take to rebrand?
  • How much will it cost to rebrand?
  • What is the ROI of a rebrand? 

Unique goals and objectives make these questions hard to answer in general terms, but future blog articles will endeavor to add clarity to your quest. In the meantime, if rebranding is on your New Year’s resolution list, get in touch with your friends in BRANDEland.

January 19, 2015

The Coolest Innovations from CES (and How They Can Help Your Business)

I love gadgets so I’m always eager to see what new tech is on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I’ve scoured all the exhibitions and wanted to share the best with you — along with ways you can use them to help your business.

Smartwatches and other wearables

CNET called the wearables on display at CES “connected, invisible, and everywhere.” There was the Fenix 3 from Garmin, the OneTouch from Alcatel (a great deal at about $150), and the SmartWatch from Sony. All feature small but legible interfaces on wrist-sized screens. But they also need to be Bluetooth-connected to an actual phone in your purse or wallet. That’s why I like the GoldKey Secure Communicator, which runs Android all on its own. Your move, Apple.

GoldKey watch, courtesy of CNET

But there was other wearable tech at CES. Sony debuted the Smart Eyeglass, a competitor to Google Glass, and Misfit exhibited the Swarovski Shine, a fitness wearable in the form of a blue crystal pendant.

How this will affect your business: Mobile marketing and recruiting is only going to increase, since everyone will soon be wearing at least one mobile device. That means responsive web design that can shrink to the size of a screen 1.6 inches square. It also means large buttons and minimal text. The fight for people’s attention will get more intense, but companies that send too many push notifications will likely get deleted. So the search for a good balance will continue.

Software and hardware

There was all sorts of tech at CES that promises to make running your business easier. As someone who’s always losing power cords, I was excited by Zolt’s “ultra-small” Laptop Charger Plus, which has ports for charging three devices at once — and comes in eye-catching red or blue to you’ll never forget to grab it after a meeting. I also liked WakaWaka’s solar-powered charger and Lynktec’s Reeljuice, “the world’s first back-up battery for mobile devices to full integrate a fully retractable cord reel design.” Green tech and less cords on the conference table combine for the win.

Zolt chargers

CES doesn’t really focus on software, but I was impressed by Opera Max, which can shrink photos, videos, and text on any Android phone by up to 50%, giving users more data across apps and browsers, which means saving money on data plans. I’m also keeping my eye on Lima, which won two CES Innovation awards. It unifies all your devices so that you see the same screen on each platform, just in a different size. When you rename a file on your phone, it’s renamed on your tablet and laptop as well. And it all does all this without access to the cloud, which means increased security and privacy for your content.

How this will affect your business: All these innovations are ways for your organization to work smarter, not harder, and to save time and money. These may not be as sexy as futuristic watches or virtual reality, but you’ll notice an increase in efficiency and improved time management, as will your employees — and job candidates when they come to your office. After all, no one wants to work for an company that seems stuck in the past.

Virtual reality and drones

VR and drones are on the verge of changing photography and videography. Oculus Rift’s new Crescent Bay headset was a huge hit at CES, showcasing better optics, a friendlier fit, and 360-degree audio which made you feel even more immersed in the scenery. I love it, but the company still has no release date for a consumer version.

Drones were also immensely popular at the show. To me, the best (and cutest) was the Zano.Fresh, which is about the size of your hand, can be controlled by your smartphone, and shoots HD video.

Zano Fresh drone

How this will affect your business: I always recommend that employers show off their location and workplace to job-seekers, and these new technologies take that to the next level. Soon candidates will be able to virtually walk around your entire building, “sit” in the conference home, “eat” in the breakroom, and “see” the view from the CEO’s office. Drones will let you take unobtrusive video of your work, such as constructing a building, or your volunteer events, like running a 5K. Giving top talent a memorable experience will become an important differentiator for recruiters in the very near future.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

 

January 21, 2013

What’s Underneath American Airlines’ New Paint Job?


American Airlines is going through a difficult time: it’s still officially in bankruptcy, its three major unions are intransigent, and it may have to merge with US Airways to survive. And yet, for the last two years (almost its entire term of restructuring), American has been working on a complete rebranding, secretly repainting its fleet in private hangars before unveiling the new look on January 17. It’s the first redesign of the brand in 45 years.

The timing could be perfect, since, over the last few years, airlines have had a run of bad PR that had nothing to do with delays or crashes: Southwest deemed filmmaker Kevin Smith “too fat to fly.” JetBlue had a flight attendant quit by sliding down the emergency chute. Delta overcharged returning veterans for their extra bags. American itself kicked Alec Baldwin off a flight for playing Words With Friends during “no cellphone” time. Perhaps none had it worse than United, which broke musician David Carroll’s guitars and endured three mocking viral videos until the matter was settled.

    

Regular Brandeblog readers know that, at Brandemix, we believe that a brand is more than a logo. It’s a promise a company makes to its customers, employees, shareholders,  job applicants and more. American has changed its external look, logo, and uniforms – but has it changed its internal operations or culture?
One thing we know is that American is slightly changing both the customer and employee experience. Passengers will now find more wi-fi and USB ports in the terminal and on the plane; first-class passengers will dine on “elegant new china”; some planes will get fully reclining seats. Pilots will be issued iPads and flight attendants will use a Samsung Galaxy device to “see passenger information in real time.”


But what if you’re in economy class and just want to read a book? What if you’re an employee that doesn’t get – or want – a mobile device? American’s rebranding must go deeper to truly change how passengers and employees feel about it. Nothing I’ve seen from the media or the airline itself indicates that American is overhauling its employer branding, onboarding, training, or employee engagement philosophies along with its look.

When we conduct rebranding initiatives for our clients, we work from the inside out. We interview employees, managers, board members, and customers. Only after we discover what the brand means to themdo we try align it with the needs and goals of the client. The more workers that are involved in the process, the more likely they are to accept the new brand and become its champions.

Clearly, American’s union employees weren’t involved in the rebranding. The spokesman for American’s pilots union said “A new paint job is fine but it does not fix American’s network deficiencies and toxic culture.” The president of the flight attendants’ union said she had no confidence left in the airline’s management team. A new uniform isn’t going to change these employees’ minds; they’ll need a shift in company culture that shows American cares about them.
We can all appreciate or criticize American Airlines’ new logo, but the red and blue icon affects our experience, and the employee experience, very little compared to American’s culture, vision, values, and mission statement. We are hopeful that the airline plans to change those too; if not, we at Brandemix are ready to help; you could said we’re waiting in the wings.


November 1, 2012

Engage Your Audience With Infographics

In the past few years, infographics have been taking the internet by storm, turning seemingly innocuous blog posts into viral sensations. Beautiful, funny, and charming works of art, they turn boring statistics and information – like “50% of all smartphone owners drink coffee between 7 and 10 a.m.” – into something that’s not only informative, but also easy on the eyes. 

Great news: You don’t need to be a statistical genius or a brilliant artist to dazzle your audience.

Here are a few simple steps towards making them great.  

1. Find a Viral Topic
Whether you’re trying to detail something as expansive as the history of the internet, or something as simple as the latest Kindle, relevance is important. If you’re creating a comparison chart between the Kindle and Nook, but you completely leave out the fact that the iPad Mini was just released, you’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity to create something that people might want to share with everyone they know – and that’s the point, right?

So think about relevant current events, topics, products, crises, scandals – anything. If people are talking about it, creating an infographic that’s reflective of those events is a simple way will make people far more likely to share that infographic.

2. Keep it Simple
Perhaps the best element about infographics is that, like Twitter, they force us to be concise.

Chances are that if you’re reading a lengthy report or a case study, there’s a lot of unnecessary information.

So focus on the things that matter – the differentiators, the key takeaways, the glaring discrepancies, whatever they may be.

With that in mind, just because you’re focusing on the essentials doesn’t necessarily mean that the infographic has to be short. It can be small, like this one from Hubspot or huge, like this one from Pop Chart Lab.

Just don’t fill it up with tone of useless information. This Kindle vs. Nook chart below is a great example, as it focuses on one thing  the price of books in their respective e-book stores  and keeps it as straightforward as possible.


Source: Booklr Blog

3. Just Build It

Creating an infographic is extremely difficult and expensive, right?

No, not really. In fact, there are a few free – that’s right, free– resources that enable anyone with a few minutes of time, some interesting statistics, and a handful of unique ideas to create things that are as pretty as they are shareable.

One simple (and free) resource for doing so is called Easelly, which lets users create infographics like this and this with minimal effort.

Beyond that, sites like Infogr.am allow users to easily import statistics into a wide (and constantly expanding) range of infographics. Want more? Infogr.am allows you to make those infographics interactive. It’s magic!

Source: Infogr.am

Those not your dig? Here are a few alternatives. Still not doing it? Hire an agency.