Thursday, August 6, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Creative Thinking: The Way Out
I suck at math. Always have. I always thought it was the way my mind was wired, and that is true to a degree. But that notion changed for me a couple of years ago when I was at my son's middle school for a "back to school night." It was one of those events where the parents go from classroom to classroom and hear about what their kids will be doing in each. The math teacher was a man on his second career (teaching), and he was very enthusiastic about it. He did a demonstration about how he taught math concepts in different ways. One was with a beaker full of liquid in a discussion about volume. He explained how he used props to demonstrate the math concepts he was talking about. That's when it clicked for me. He was using a visual to demonstrate an abstract. In ten seconds he made me understand what a seventh grade tutors threw up their hands over. I got it. It was a creative approach, and it worked. He had turned the abstract into something immediately tangible.
People tend to look at things "the way it's always been done." That's because this approach works most of the time. But when things, like banks and car companies fail, the usual thinking doesn't work. That's when people need to look at things in different ways.
The country didn't get out of the Great Depression, or any of the eleven recessions since by doing business as usual. Not to suggest we're in a depression or anything close, but what we really need as a nation is some good creative thinking. The way you solve new problems is by looking at them from different sides. And that's probably not the way your math teacher did it.
Copyright 2009, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.
Monday, May 11, 2009
"Is the website color I see on my screen what it will really look like? Will it match our letterhead? Will it look the same when we print on our printer." These are typical client questions that come up over and over as we work through corporate identity programs. The answer to all of them is: "it depends." Chances are, the biggest exposure to your brand will be online. That means the screen is the new standard. Simple. Except that everyone isn't looking at the same the same screen.
Once upon a time (just a few years ago), printing set the standard for color. Designers focused on selecting colors, picking ink swatches and seeing the work through production (making sure the colors are specified correctly and printed accurately, ect). They still do that. The big difference now is that most work is viewed on screen and never printed. And when it is printed, it's likely to be on an office laser or desk top printer.
Combine the fact that every monitor and every printer are calibrated differently (if at all) with multiple print technologies and you have an identity nightmare. We know color critical to an identity, and branding, so what's the solution? There easy is: "it depends." Imagine that a company uses orange and blue for its identity. Just pick two ink colors and be done with it right? Not so easy. Suppose the orange is so bright that simulating it in four color process ink (or color laser toner), makes it appear muted and dull? Suppose the orange appears washed out on screen? This is where a good design input is like gold. The best approach may be to create custom color formulas, one for printing in process color on coated paper and possibly another for printing on uncoated paper (which cuts down on brightness)...and another for on screen viewing for PCs and PDAs. It's all balancing act -- the color needs to be adjusted, but it also needs to look like the brand.
It's important is for brand stewards (marketing, PR and communications people) to pay close attention to color -- and be involved in the details and decisions as adjustments are made. This requires input from their audiences, designers, technical people and vendors. The best legacy can be left by establishing and documenting graphic standards that will live on as people come and go.
Copyright 2009, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Social networking is a buzzword for 2009. It seems like everyone marketing and communications is scrambling to get a handle on how to harness the media that is part of what's being called "web 2.0" I read a statistic that Facebook was getting 160,000 new users a day in December. This could explain the surge in contacts I've seen in recent months. Pretty impressive. I predict Facebook will eclipse myspace, and its "grown ups rival" LinkedIn. It also has the potential to overtake Twitter.
Social network marketing isn't just about FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. It's about making connections and being in the place where customers, fans, and friends already are. The social networking websites just provide the tools. For business, this means that a sound web strategy as part of a bigger plan is more important than ever. These new tools present big opportunities with new ways to think about how we connect.
Twitter is one of the most intriguing, though when I first heard about it, I thought it seemed really silly. Twitter is like a blog that limits posts to 140 characters at a time. People "tweet" all sorts of things. Some useful, some not so much. With Twitter, you have to choose your words very carefully, not only to fit the character limit, but to do so without loosing the clarity of your message. A Twitter post I made in favor of President Obama's comments on how Washingtonians handle snow was misread as sarcasm when I included "this guy is off to a great start". I am the last person to avoid sarcasm, but in 140 characters, you can't afford to clarify your statements. I got some negative replies, one asking "if I was better equipped."
Some people are making outstanding use of Twitter's ability to blast out bursts of information to big lists of "followers." Washington area traffic reporter Angie Goff (twitter.com/ohmygoff) provides real value with up-to-the-minute updates on road traffic throughout the region. Combine this with feeds to your cellphone, and you have a killer app that's even better than traffic radio because it's in your hands when you need it. Early adopter Shonali Burke (twitter.com/shonali) was actually able to beat some of the "real" media with reports and "retweats" of the Mumbai massacre through her network of "tweeters" in India. And Comcast has woven Twitter into its customer service program where they monitor the "twatter" ready to diffuse problems before they get bigger.
For me, it's fun to watch as it all evolves so quickly. It's even more fun because you can participate. Follow me: twitter.com/dennisgoris
Copyright 2008, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.