What’s the best artwork format to use?

What’s the best artwork format to use?

Choosing the right file format for the job.

So you’ve taken a new product photo or you’ve got a brilliant new logo and you want to use it in a brochure or on your website – all your hard work can be wasted if you choose to supply the wrong file format for the job. Whoever is in charge of producing the finished article (whether in print or online) will be able to advise you, but here are a few general guidelines that will help you to avoid common mistakes

Before choosing the format of your artwork think about how it might be used. Is it for a website or will it be professionally printed? If it’s a logo, should it always have a fixed colour background or will it be applied to different backgrounds (you might want to take a look at our Brand Guidelines post for more information on specifying logo usage). When you’ve decided how you want the artwork to be used, you are ready to think about the format.

What are the formats you might come across?

Here are the most common:

  • .jpg
  • .gif
  • .png
  • .eps
  • .pdf
  • .tif

Every time a graphic file is created and saved the program you’re using saves the artwork with a specific file format. Some of these formats are best for high resolution (high-res) applications – great for printing; and some are best for low resolution uses (low-res) – better for the web.

Saving your artwork in the wrong format can cause problems, particularly if a printer rejects it, costing you more time and potentially money.

Here’s a quick run down of what those common artwork formats are and how they can be used:

.jpg – good for use on the web, email and print

A .jpg (or JPEG) is a compressed file format that can squeeze even high resolution files down to manageable sizes that you can use on the web, giving fast download speeds. It’s a pixel-based format, so you’ll need to know the final size and resolution needed for the finished article (we’ll be covering this subject in the next blog post). You can usually select the amount of compression, but be careful not to get carried away as using too much compression will result in loss of quality of even high resolution files. JPEG files have no transparency settings, so they will always include the background colour in the file. You can use jpeg files for photos in print and on the web, but ideally, only use for logos on the web as .eps is a much better format for printing logos.

comparing a jpg file

The images above are jpegs with the same resolution but different compression settings – more compression results in the ‘blocking’ effect on the right

.gif – good for use on the web and email

.gifs are also good for compressing images for quick download. They can be used with a transparent background and therefore can be placed on any background colour but they can appear with a border so watch out. They don’t compress files in the same way that jpegs do, but they save space by reducing the number of colours included in the file, so they are best used only for logos that have a limited number of colours and never for photos unless you really have no other choice. Not suitable for print.

comparing a gif file

The image on the right shows the effect of saving in gif format on the number of colours in the image.

.png – great for the web in cases when your artwork needs to have a transparent background

.Pngs are often larger file sizes than .jpg or .gif files and therefore will take longer to download, but for transparent backgrounds the quality is generally better than .gif files. Not suitable for print.

.eps – best for logos that are to be printed professionally

If your logo has been produced in a vector-based drawing package (such as Adobe Illustrator), an .eps file will produce the best results in print. An .eps file will encode the vector information from your logo or illustration, which means that you don’t need to worry about size or resolution. Pixel-based images such as photos can also be saved as .eps files, but the file sizes are large and you get none of the scaling advantages that vector illustrations have.

.tif – great for professional printing

Professional printers may ask that your photo-based artwork files are saved as .tif files. These are generally considered to produce better high res results than jpegs, though the lack of options for compressing .tif files means that file sizes are much larger. Only use for high quality print files and never for logos.

.pdf – great for use on the web, emailing and professional printing

The formats listed above are ones you’ll use for saving logos or photos, but what if you’ve combined your images and text to produce a brochure or leaflet?

Most page layout software (such as Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress) will allow you to save your finished artwork into a high resolution pdf file, and most professional printers will prefer this format. If you have the Acrobat Professional software you can save your artwork into a format ready for printers, create interactive pdf forms and include artwork on your website. As most people will have the Adobe Reader free software installed on their machines, it also makes sharing files easy.

You may also see artwork formats with a .psd (Photoshop) or .ai (Illustrator) file extension both of these format types are native editable files for this software.

Choosing the right format depends what you want to use that artwork for and the above is just a basic guide. It can seem tricky but with the right help, it can be really simple. If you would like to find out more about any of the above formats or what type of file to supply for a particular use, why not give us a call – we’d be glad to help out.

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Social Media – why bother?

Social Media – why bother?

Not sure if your social media strategy is paying off?

It is worth the effort… Social media is the term used to describe tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, pictures and videos in virtual communities or networks. There’s a reason why you become ‘friends’ on Facebook. Still the largest social network with over 1bn users, it’s a place where friends share things whenever and wherever they want. Like seeing something funny that, by the time you see your friend, you’ll have forgotten – instead you can post it on your wall and everyone you are friends with can share the joke in realtime. So how does that apply to businesses? Facebook has over 1m advertisers and the numbers continue to grow. They’ve made it really easy to advertise – select the profile of the users you are trying to reach, write a very targeted ad and then choose how you want to pay – by number of clicks or page impressions. If you choose not to pay for your advertising and don’t want to target a specific audience, you could post an offer online, ask your friends to share and like the offer (remember to offer an incentive for them to do so) and watch your message spread by ‘word of mouth’. Social media such as Twitter can also be great for sharing special offers or networking with potential customers, particularly for business-to-business sales. LinkedIn is great to connect with businesses using the ‘friend of a friend’ concept, or if you’ve got a general message for a specific audience you could try sites such as netmums.com or Instagram.

So why bother with social media?

Pretty much everyone these days has a smartphone. That device is carried everywhere and it’s a direct channel to reach that person. Choose the right social media for your audience and they’ll probably have an app for it which they’ll check frequently. Did you know that students at university have been known to send literally hundreds of messages every day on every type of social media. It’s a world of instant communication and instant response. A letter became snail mail when email took off, email has almost gone the same way now we share messages instantly, messages that may only be 140 characters long and take seconds to write and send. So it takes less time to share and you can share with more people in one go than ever before. So next time you check in with your friends on Facebook, think about how your business could be making friends/business leads and sharing thoughts/content. There are lots of businesses and customers all waiting to hear from you! Just remember to be patient – communities need time to build before they become great communities! Why not follow us on our social media channels? It’d be great to hear from you.
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Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO

Off page SEO tips

Tips on how to add relevance to your website and attract more visitors

When your website is up and running, the way to attract more visitors is to increase the relevance of your site to a search term or keyword, and there are lots of different ways to do this. The other thing that search engines look for is how often it’s updated, but not in terms of a sentence or word change here and there but how much content is added.

Here are some tips on how to add content to your site to increase your relevance and page ranking on a search listing…

  1. Introduce a blog!
    Your blog can contain things like tips and tricks, observations, what your interested in etc. It’s a place to add some personality to your business, give it that human touch. Remember to use your on-page SEO tricks we showed you before to help web crawlers find the page. Point out to your visitor other areas of your site that might be of interest.
  2. Use social media
    There are some really exciting new ways to use social media. Not just Facebook and Twitter, but other channels can be used to target very specific audiences much more effectively – such as Pinterest which has a user group consisting mainly of women. Find a channel which fits your demographic and think about how to attract visitors to your website. They may be interested in special offers, competitions or what events you’re going to. Explore Google it’s rapidly growing in popularity and will help towards your SEO. Remember to use your website in your campaign or your hard work will see less return for your effort.
  3. Create a link building strategy
    Most search engines use algorithms to work out just how relevant your site is for a particular keyword or phrase. These algorithms change frequently, but over time, if you gain back-links from high Page Rank, RELEVANT websites, you will gain more authority within the Search Engines. This in turn will improve your organic search engine results. Its easier said than done, and is a time consuming process, but there are a couple of ways in which to approach this – and ideally you should use a mixture of both. The first is to create some compelling content on your website/blog that other site owners and bloggers would find interesting and want to link to. Another way is to analyse your competitors back-link profile which will give you a great insight to where they are gaining their back-links from. Armed with this information you can find the high page rank websites/blogs that are linked to your competitors’ sites and start to approach these in order to place your own links on them. Ideally the links that point to your website within the anchor text should contain the primary keyword/s that you would like to rank for.
  4. Pay per click advertising (PPC)
    It’s here that you can easily spend a lot of budget, so proceed with caution. You can pay for ads in Facebook, Bing, Google adwords, Yahoo etc. Remember to set a realistic budget for your campaign. Your budget can be spent per click through to your website or per day. It focuses around choosing keywords a good place to start is the Google Keyword Planner tool which enables you to choose your keywords based on popularity, set a budget and then write an ad. Take care, if you choose a popular keyword, it will cost you more per click and use your budget quicker!

Whatever route you choose to increase traffic to your website, remember that there is no quick fix. Be patient, plan properly and spend carefully and you should start seeing rewards! Remember, there are lots of companies who may be offering the same or a similar product or service – promote what’s special about you and be proud of it.

If you’d like to understand more about SEO whether it’s on-page or off-page, we’re here to help.

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How to increase visitors to your website

How to increase visitors to your website

Understanding keywords and measuring traffic

Within the web, a keyword is a term that’s used by search engines to quickly identify websites that relate to that keyword and display them in the search results. So keywords play an important role in attracting traffic to your site. There are two types of keyword – paid and free. The paid for listings are typically displayed at the top of the search results but did you know that a person browsing the web is 2 or even 3 times as likely to click on an organic search engine listing than paid listings? So before you spend money on potentially expensive keywords, there are some simple points you can follow to improve your visitor numbers:
  • Use a ‘keyword’ planner tool such as Google’s keyword planner or http://keywordtool.io  In the case of Google’s keyword planner, you can type in 15-20 keywords and it will tell you how popular each keyword is. You can use it to guage how much traffic your site could attract if you used that keyword*. You can use these keywords for each of the pages on your website to help draw visitors to your website.
  • Include an internal search button on your site and allow customers to search only within your website. You can track what your customers are interested in and make this content more prominent or improve promotion around it. These could become new keywords.
  • Add your keywords to your web page description, within the headings and text within your pages.
  • There are some practices which will see your site excluded from search results such as overuse of keywords for example if a keyword was every other word on any page. For more information on practices to avoid simply Google ‘Black Hat SEO’. For tips on how to optimise your site safely click here.
Now you know your keywords, invest time in analysing your traffic using an analytics tool such as Google Analytics. It’s free and will give you great insights into how to get the best from your website such as:
  • Who are your visitors – have you targeted the correct audience? Where are they based? It may be that you need to refocus your content and promotion.
  • How your customers enter your site – what search engine and device did they use. This will help define keywords and highlight potential technology barriers ie. is your website ‘responsive’.
  • What content is viewed – what were the most popular pages and where did they go next. If your top content isn’t going to make you money, you need to promote the content that will.
  • How long did your visitor stay – your site should encourage your visitor to stay longer and view more content. The average ‘bounce’ rate for a site is between 41% and 55%. So aim to keep within or below this bounce rate if you can!
You can also measure the effectiveness of your social media activity and set up ‘goals’ which can report upon how many visitors complete a task such as download a pdf or complete a booking form. A beautiful site doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get traffic to your site. Good planning will result in the right traffic. A search engine will draw upon the information you give it to tell potential visitors about your site. You design your site to promote to visitors what you want them to know but how your visitors engage with your site is often very different to how you planned. Analytics tools will help you to understand that difference and change your site to draw more visitors in. If you need more help on how to optimise your site using keywords, come and talk to us; we’re friendly, don’t bite and we’ll buy you a coffee!
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Website design: Mobile vs Responsive

Website design: Mobile vs Responsive

Technology has really changed the way in which we surf the web.

Before the smartphone the only real place to use the internet was at a desk.

mobile vs responsive design When smartphones exploded onto the market suddenly users could browse on the move, but the screen was tiny and touching the wrong button was a frustratingly regular occurrence. Enter the age of the ‘mobile’ website. Built to render on a small screen, with bigger buttons making it easier to view, scroll and click on menu options. Less clutter became a key design requirement as the ‘real estate’ of the screen was at such a premium. Heat maps of web traffic became critical in designing a mobile website that could really deliver a good return. Then just when everyone was getting used to this new way of browsing on the move, along came the next generation of devices – the tablet. A larger piece of web ‘real estate’ but it didn’t fit into the ‘mobile’ bracket and it wasn’t as large as a standard screen. At the same time as this new revolution of web surfing was rising in popularity so too were smart TV’s. A new way of designing websites was born – responsive. A responsive website understands what device is being used to browse the site and then render it in a way that makes the best use of the screen. The designer will still use a ‘heat map’ to determine the hot spots on a page, then prioritise them in the design so that when rendered on a smartphone, tablet, TV or even watch the top content is still working hard.

Why is this important?

Put simply, your customer now has a range of devices that can be used to visit your website. The most ‘future-proofed’ website that can be designed today is a ‘responsive’ one. Finding the best way for your site to attract more customers can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. A creative agency can help design a site that delivers what you need, and remember if you need more help, we’re just a call or email away!
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Brand Guidelines – What’s the Point?

Brand Guidelines – What’s the Point?

A good brand is a consistent brand.

Whether you’re a huge multinational or a small local company, your business has been built around a foundation of core values. Sales are made when your customers learn to trust in these values, and happy customers buy again and again. Happy customers with a good brand experience build the reputation of the business through word of mouth and more sales can be generated. Your brand is what helps to tell your customers about your values and the more consistent you are, the more likelihood your business will succeed.

Letterhead design

So why have brand guidelines?

Achieving that all important brand consistency isn’t difficult, you just need to create a framework of how the brand should be represented – and it doesn’t have to be complicated. That way regardless of who is experiencing the brand, it always gives the same feeling or messaging. Without guidelines, a brand could appear haphazard and customers are more likely to be distracted by better presented businesses. It’s important to note that a logo is NOT a brand. How the logo is used and what words and images you put with it to communicate our company values is your brand. So your brand guidelines need to cover:
  • Colours (what colours can be used and when)
  • Messaging (what should your customer understand of your brand)
  • Images (what style of images do you plan to use and why)
  • Logo placement (where should it be placed and how much space should you have around it)
  • Tone of voice (how you communicate)
Without clear guidelines, your brand is open to the interpretation of every person who handles it. Take for example if new business cards need to be ordered, the staff all order their own cards from a variety of different printers. Without a set of brand guidelines to follow, all of the cards could have the logo in a different place and use a different font. Imagine if all those members of staff where in the same meeting handing out those cards. What would your potential customer think of your business? Your brand guidelines are also there to protect the investment your business has made in time, money and effort. After all for many businesses their brand is a ‘bankable’ asset. Remember a brand can still be flexible and exciting – even when there are guidelines! So giving a little thought to your brand guidelines early on in the design process can be really beneficial. Make it easy for your staff to implement and use your brand whilst giving your customers confidence that they are dealing with a professional business.
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How to write a creative brief

How to write a creative brief

The key to creating a good brief is research.

When you engage a creative agency; the better the brief, the better the results.

A good brief is supported by sound research – the things you know about your product and market and the things you understand about your customer. Before you start it’s well worth creating one sentence that says exactly what you want to achieve – it’s your ‘elevator pitch’. If you only had 30 seconds to tell someone what you’re looking to achieve – what would you say? Keep this as your focus when writing your brief. So where do you start?
  1. What’s your objective? What are you trying to achieve with the communication? Are you launching a new product or targeting a new market? Do you have a special offer or incentive to promote?
  2. How is your product/service positioned? Are your customers loyal to your product or brand? Where do they position your product in terms of value? This is the time to reposition your product – be different. Make your usp (unique selling point) clear.
  3. What personality does the brand have or need to reach your target audience? It’s no good giving your brand an edgy personality if you are selling a product that needs to be solid and reliable. Set the right tone with your communication.
  4. Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach? Profile your target audience, what do they buy, where and how often. What action do you want them to take – visit your website, buy your product, book an appointment etc.
  5. What technology/media should you use? What will give your communication the best fit with your brand personality, your product or service and your target audience.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to a successful creative partnership. But don’t forget to include who in your business will be signing off the creative and the stakeholders who may be involved – or it could cause you problems later on. Remember your brief is there to make it easy for the designers to get creative, include your ideas but don’t forget you’re paying for their creativity.
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Advertising Concepts for the Intalink Partnership

Advertising Concepts for the Intalink Partnership

The Intalink Partnership is a unique collaboration between local authorities and bus and train operators in Hertfordshire. InSync Creative were recently approached by Intalink to design an advertising concept promoting their new Mobile Ticketing App.

Intalink also wanted to take the opportunity to freshen up their brand as part of the new advertising campaign. We were under clear instructions that the logo couldn’t change but its positioning and other other key branding elements could be adapted and changed to strengthen the Intalink brand. We approached this project in the first instance by visiting local bus stations to get a clearer understanding of where the adverts would be displayed, whether it be in print or on digital display screens. The team then got together for a good old fashioned brainstorming session to thrash out some ideas. As the coffee flowed so came the ideas. Once we were happy that we had five good concepts we then brought our ideas to life on the Mac. As we designed each concept we experimented with different layouts, testing how we could use the Intalink branding more effectively. Below you can see some of the concept ideas that we put forward including the final design. Advertising concepts from The chosen design was resized in various digital and print formats to be rolled in bus stations and other marketing channels throughout Hertfordshire. After the success of the advertising concepts Intalink then asked us to design the Splash Screen and icon for the Mobile Ticketing App itself. For the App icon we researched in the App Store to see which icons we felt stood out within this competitive marketplace. It became apparent that the ones that didn’t work were the over-elaborate designs. With only 120px x 120px available to play with we needed to keep things simple but wanted to convey to the user what the App was for. We created a range of ideas ranging from simple colour and branding to slightly more complex ideas that conveyed exactly what the App did. Displayed below are a selection of the App designs that were put forward. Intalink App icon design
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Marketing tips and tricks: Formulating your marketing strategy

Marketing tips and tricks: Formulating your marketing strategy

Last week we talked about setting your marketing objectives in other words the ‘Why’. Today we’re going to have a quick fly through formulating your marketing strategy.

Strategy is really the plan, the ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’ and ‘How’ you are going to achieve your objectives. Let’s use the example of the printer from last week.

What = I’m going to target the top 5 printer resellers to promote my product, I need to offer them an incentive for example 10% commission for every individual sale or 30% for a trade sale.

When = I need the sales to start from 6th April 2013, so I need to get the programme running, resellers on board and trained, brochures and flyers distributed etc by February/March.

Where = I want an even geographical spread so my top resellers cover 5 different regions ie South West, South East, London, Midlands and North of England. Should I offer the printer for sale direct from my website too or is my site more information based?

How = How do I select the top 5 resellers? If I choose by sales generated what happens if they are all in the same region? If I choose by region what happens if I have resellers who all generate about the same amount of sales? How do I generate the materials – do I have all the info I need? Should I outsource the design or use an internal team?

Why don’t you think about your product or service and map out your ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’ and ‘How’?

Now you have your marketing objective and marketing strategy in place – what come’s next?

Well it’s back to our friends the 4 or 7 P’s but this time armed with your plan and ready for action!

If you’d like to know more about Strategy planning for your business, why not drop me a line at enquiries@tadpolemarketing.co.uk or visit our website www.tadpolemarketing.co.uk

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Marketing tips and tricks: Why should you set marketing objectives?

Marketing tips and tricks: Why should you set marketing objectives?

Hello,

I hope you have had a great week.

So last week we talked about where to start with marketing and this lead us nicely into understanding the ‘Why’ behind your plans in other words setting objectives. Why is this so important? Well it’s a bit like driving a car; the tank is full of fuel, the engine’s running and your ready to go but where are you heading and why are you going there? Now imagine the car is a product, you know the sale price and the customers you are targeting but what is the end result you are looking to achieve? It might be a quick sale like a chocolate bar for immediate consumption or it might be a printer where you want to build loyalty so they buy the ink cartridges from you for the lifetime of the printer.

When setting your objectives use the acronym: SMART

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achieveable
R = Realistic
T = Time related

For example an objective let’s use the example of marketing the printer:

To increase sales of the Inket Printer EX43 by 20% in the accounting period 2013-14 by using third party resellers.

This objective is Specific as it talks about the product by name, it’s Measurable as we’ve specified that we want to increase sales by 20%, it’s Achievable as we already have an established network of resellers to approach, it’s Realistic as typical growth for this type of printer is around 12-15% and it’s Time-related as we want to achieve all this in the accounting period 2013-14.

This means that all of your marketing efforts can be measured for their effectiveness. So if your resellers don’t achieve the target, you can investigate further – did they have sufficient information? Were they sufficiently trained to make the sale? What incentive were they offered?

It’s important to measure so you can make refinements along the way.

Why not try setting some marketing objectives for a product or service you work with? Ok so now we’ve looked at the ‘Why’ the objective setting, next week we’ll take a look at how to formulate your strategy.

In the meantime have a great weekend!

Tracey

 

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