Author: MrContent

How the Best Leaders Embrace a Results-Based Perspective

More than 40 years ago, Dale Miller conducted a study that compared two groups of executives.

One group was identified by their colleagues as highly effective and ready for promotion. Individuals in the other group initially seemed promising but were later deemed unready for an advanced role.

During evaluation, each group received a deck of 62 statements describing management behavior and was asked to sort the statements on most effective versus least effective leadership qualities. After the first group finished sorting, the top behavior they selected was this: “accepts full responsibility for the performance of the work unit.” This phrase was chosen above delegation, staffing, time-management, or even technical skills.

The primary difference between these groups? Those primed for high-level leadership took full ownership over the team, its cohesiveness, and final project outcomes.

Practical Ways to Practice Personal Responsibility

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Many people who enter management are willing to accept the benefits of their position without fully embracing the pain points of this role.

Modern society often views leadership as self-serving, with the needs and desires of the individual taking priority over those of the team. But effective leadership primarily benefits the followers, not the leader. People who put the team’s needs above their own will achieve maximum influence and increase efficiency and effectiveness in their organization.

What does it look like to embrace a results-based perspective in your leadership? Ultimately, this starts with a mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen.” This goes beyond merely completing a task to a wholehearted commitment to the company’s best interests, including doing things for which there is no immediate reward. Do you turn off the lights if you are the last one in the building, or do you assume the custodian will do this? Responsible leaders use organizational resources with great care; they take the long view and see their own well-being as intrinsically linked to this organization’s success.

On a tangible, daily level, here are several ways successful leaders take personal responsibility:

— Asking, “how can I help?” instead of “what does that have to do with me?”

— Sharing credit when things go well but acknowledging personal shortcomings when a team fails

— Proactively seeking honest feedback about personal performance

— Acting as a buffer to protect the team from unreasonable demands on time, resources, or output

— Delegating tasks (using clear job descriptions) while avoiding the temptation to micromanage

— Being willing to forego being one of the group (or everyone’s “buddy”) to accept the social stigma of leadership

— Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own roles by highlighting the importance of what they are doing and how these efforts tie into the bigger picture

— Breaking large ventures into small steps, so people feel proud of their progress (rather than overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project)

— Ensuring team members have the resources needed to do their job (including training, equipment, access to mentors and coaches, etc.)

— Documenting poor outcomes and intentionally communicating them to struggling team members so positive changes (or eventual termination) can occur

Empower Yourself and Encourage Others

While taking responsibility can be difficult, it is also empowering.

Pursuing this results-based mindset allows you to take ownership over a situation and avoid feeling like a victim. When you take ownership over your role in every situation, you become an active participant, not a passive bystander. You are a trustee of these intangibles, and this empowering attitude helps others move forward in vitality – even when they’ve forgotten how to believe in themselves.

3 Ways to Create Pictures that Pop

Have you ever heard the expression, “a picture paints a thousand words?”

It’s true. While words can limit our ability to effectively communicate ideas, even a split-second glance at an image can convey volumes of information. Whether you’re a marketer or design specialist, it is important to employ tactics that add power and clarity to your communication.

Creating Dynamic Images with a Singular Focus

Experienced graphic artists have many tricks of the trade. Some like to blur the background of an image to draw central focus to one element. Others add texture to flat graphics by adding bevels, text shadows, or blended layers.

But on an even more conceptual level, you can communicate boldly and clearly with signs and symbols. Looking to simplify – while adding complexity? Here three techniques you can experiment with in print marketing to amplify your visual messages:

Signs

On a basic level, signs are the combination of a word and a picture to create meaning.

What comes to your mind when you see a bright yellow triangle, an image of a dog with a slash through it, or a photo of a distressed person clutching their neck with two hands? Signs convey simple, universal ideas that viewers can understand immediately. Even colors themselves can have inherent meaning!

Like a cross and skull poison symbol, signs can stop people in their tracks. Signs are especially helpful when communicating with mass audiences at a glance.

Typograms

A typogram refers to the deliberate use of typography to express an idea visually.

For example, the word “half” displayed with only the top half of each letter showing might imply an eraser effect. The word “volleyball” with the “o” popping out above the text brings a playful, spirited message. Want inspiration? Check out this 365-day challenge, where Daniel Carlmatz created a typographic logo for every day of the year!

Typograms use basic visual enforcement to add subtext to the words you display. Logos, taglines, or custom envelopes are a great place to put typograms to work.

Symbolic Imagery

While signs communicate a very straightforward message, many images have connotative meanings with far more complexity.

While a house denotes a place where you live, a home has far greater connotations (like family, security, and love). A subject, the objects surrounding it, and the editing techniques we use can all play a role in the cognitive messages we bring. Consider these examples:

  • Cropping a woman’s face to only the eye can make viewers wonder what she is thinking
  • Cropping a man’s body to only his head and shoulders may suggest he’s leaning in to hear more
  • Inverting colors may insinuate a flashback scene or a memory
  • Increasing contrast between the back and foregrounds might suggest the object behind a person is about to surprise them
  • Larger contrasts or color saturation can elicit feelings or arousal or cheerfulness
  • Increased sepia tones can give an aged or vintage look (like a photo carried in wallet)

Add Clarity and Complexity to Communicate on Many Different Levels

While language can limit our ideas, an image communicates on many different levels. Proficient designers know the more clarity or complexity you bring to your print pieces, the greater impact you will have on your target audience.

Use signs, typograms, and symbolic imagery to add emotional weight, to increase the efficiency of your communication, and achieve a greater return from your marketing dollars.

Creating a Substantial Visual Impact Through Corporate Responsibility Campaigns

In a post-pandemic world, marketers are tasked with a unique balancing act: helping people return to reality while remaining sensitive to the challenges of this era.

Today’s consumers appreciate businesses that prioritize people over products. Research by consumer authority Mintel has shown that as many as 56% of Americans will stop buying from brands they believe are unethical. Additionally, in a global survey, 91% of consumers reported they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality. 

Corporate responsibility, or cause marketing, occurs when a company’s promotional campaign has a dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society. Or, more colloquially: cause marketing occurs when a brand does well by doing good.

Visual campaigns are potent, and they are even more compelling when combined with a social initiative of some sort. Here are three dynamic examples.

Cadbury’s “Donate Your Words” Campaign

In the United Kingdom, 225,000 older people often go a week without speaking to anyone.

During the pronounced isolation of COVID-19, Cadbury chocolates launched an initiative to benefit Age UK, the country’s leading charity dedicated to providing companionship, advice, and support for older individuals.

In a stark visual, Cadbury removed all lettering from the front of its dark purple packaging and replaced it with a blank tag: instead of a price, there was a pledge to talk to an older person. Blank pledge tags were also available for customers who wanted to write personalized pledges. Shoppers could take any display item to the till, but instead of paying money they could pledge to talk to an older person.

Cadbury donated its chocolate and challenged a nation to donate its words.

American Express and Small Business Saturday

Did you know that the original founder of Small Business Saturday was American Express?

Without a non-profit partner, American Express embraced entire communities by encouraging consumers to shop local and support the mom and pop stores in their own neighborhoods (presumably while using an American Express card to do so!).

Launched in 2010, local profits leaped from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $19.8 billion in 2020. Key to this success was visual marketing; to equip local businesses, American Express designed creative pieces like signage, social posts, scavenger hunt maps, recipe sheets, and themed passports to support their “Neighborhood Champions”—men and women that vowed to formally celebrate Small Business Saturday in their areas.

A Meaningful, Memorable Message

Consumers want to see positive change in the world and when your brand can be part of it, the emotional impact of your marketing will ratchet up.

Choose your cause wisely, listen to your audience, and lean in to the power of print marketing to put your message front and center. 

4 Intelligent Ways to Combine Print and Digital Marketing

Imagine a college campus on a warm fall day, as freshmen are moving into the dorms for the first time.

There are loads of students buzzing around and getting settled. As they unpack and get their bearings in a new community, many realize they’ve forgotten a lamp or shelf to make their dorm room a bit cozier. No problem! A strategic, targeted digital ad whisks across their screen on move-in day.

Two days later, a mailed piece is sent featuring lamps, rugs, and closet accessories. This venue’s campaign (a combination of digital and print marketing) snags interest in a fleeting moment then follows this digital hook with a more robust mailed piece.

The Successful Marriage of Digital and Print

Print marketing is powerful. Digital marketing is powerful. When you combine them… well, the result is dynamic.  

Want to create a more strategic relationship between your print and digital marketing efforts? Here are four strategies to build momentum:

1. Create Distinct Online Landing Pages

Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).

While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page is slightly different. A landing page:

–Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources

–Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action

–Stays focused on a single topic or offer

–Omits or downplays site navigation options

Beyond using narrow landing pages to evaluate your print marketing, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.

2. Use Digital Opt-ins for Direct Mail

Instead of asking someone to sign up for your email campaign the next time they visit your website, why not ask them to sign up for a direct mail newsletter?

Unlike email (which can easily go straight to a junk folder), a direct mail campaign engages people through tactile, memorable, physical marketing pieces. There’s something special about receiving a thoughtful newsletter or meandering through a well-designed catalog.

Instead of opting toward email, build stronger connections with your customers outside the screen.

3. Combine In-Store and Social Displays

Live events provide great opportunities to build strong relationships with customers – particularly in our experience-driven culture.

At your next event, distribute valuable coupons or great giveaway items after advertising through social media ahead of time. Post fun selfie displays (like clever photobooths or imaginative backgrounds) that people can post using event-specific hashtags. Or give gift cards and freebies to those who check in at your kiosk and follow you on social media.

4. Add QR Codes to Your Direct Mail, Brochures, and Displays

Today QR Codes (those funny-looking square boxes that look like over-sized bar codes) have many uses, including marketing, product labeling, ticketing, and more.

QR codes can be used as a compact way to deliver loads of information, and you can use one in any situation where you want to send people to a specific website. Add QR codes to your brochures, direct mail, business cards, in-store displays, or even to customized client birthday cards.

This lead generator can be used to push a new promotion, link to an instructional video, solicit reviews, incentivize subscription renewals, or prompt people to download your app. 

Customers on the Move

As people hop between on- and offline worlds, businesses must provide an increasingly cohesive, personalized experience.

Combining your print and digital marketing can build momentum while providing users a streamlined customer experience. Employ this customer-oriented strategy to ensure your brand receives a multi-fold return on your marketing investment.

 

Stand Tall with 6 Sharp Embossing Techniques

Have you ever run your hand over an antique, textured wallpaper?

With its authentic sense of depth and detail, you almost can’t help but touch it. The raised relief is as appealing to your imagination as it is to your fingertips.

Embossing has a similar effect. Embossing and debossing are two print techniques used to add texture to a design. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the material’s surface (but might protrude somewhat on the reverse side). These popular finishing techniques – used for business cards, menus, invitations, foil stickers, notepads, and more – are ideal for bringing a fresh, contemporary look.

Take Center Stage

Embossing elevates your design from the background and can be used to create geometric patterns, add borders, or produce a custom seal for product packaging.

The texture and sculptural quality that embossing creates makes for a memorable user experience. Add elegance and stateliness to your next project with one of these beautiful techniques:

1. Blind Embossing

Blind embossing uses custom-made dies to create a raised surface according to the design.

Blind embossing refers to a stamped design without metallic leaf or ink (like plain textured letters with a page), giving a base-relief effect. One way to make blind embossing stand out even more is to use textured paper. Since the area around the embossing will be pressed smooth, this creates more of a contrast.

2. Combination Embossing

As its name suggests, this type of die combines multiple effects (like embossing and foil stamping) into one process.

The combination die has a cutting edge around the perimeter to cleanly break the excess foil away from the embossed area. Given the unbeatable finish and fine detail of this element, it is a natural choice when printing elegant crests, fancy logos, or intricate type for business cards, letterheads,

3. Single-Level Embossing

This process uses a die that changes the surface of the paper at only one level.

Since the die needed for this kind of embossing is simple, it is the most affordable embossing option.

4. Multi-Level Embossing

This process uses a die with several distinct levels to create a sculptured impression or a more detailed texture.

Multi-level embossing kicks things up a notch by changing the surface of the paper at several planes. This makes the technique popular for multi-dimensional shapes, landscapes, or images with unique details (such as leaves or feathers).

5. Sculptured Die

This kind of die requires custom hand tooling to create levels and details for an emboss that resembles a bas-relief sculpture, a figure that is raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect.

Like a piece of metal leaping off the paper, the effect is striking and lifelike. While sculptured embossing is more expensive, it is absolutely gorgeous for creating custom pictures, shapes, 3D logos, faces, animals, or landscapes.  

Because this die requires someone to create it by hand – usually based on an image provided – this method is more expensive.

6. Bevel-Edge Dies

Want to add sophistication to your project?

Beveled dies bring a softened, refined look to your shapes and letters, adding a curve or edge to each character (typically at 30 to 60 degrees). The broader the angle, the greater the illusion of depth.

Create a Timeless Treasure

New trends take shape every day, and you can make a bold statement with existing techniques that give your print materials a sleek twist.

While embossing was originally found mostly in personalized stationery, today, raised elements can be used in envelope flaps, business cards, packaging, hang tags, and more. Great designs mix the old and the new to create timeless print pieces your clients will love!

Glamorize Your Products with Illustrative Package Designs

Natural Life is a retailer focusing on women’s Bohemian clothes, accessories, and gifts.

Its founder, Patti Hughes, says the business was inspired by her mom, who ran a crafting studio out of the family basement, and was rarely seen without sawdust in her hair or a paintbrush behind her ear.

Modeled after global artisan markets, Natural Life believes its products are more than just commodities. The brand calls these products “treasures” because they are things you stumble upon – things you just can’t resist – while you are out and about. Whether it’s moving artwork or a special surprise for that one-of-a-kind friend, Natural Life inspires people to “give and live happy.”

Natural Life’s Boho Bandeaus are one of its most irresistible items. Bandeaus can be styled as face masks, hair bandanas, scrunchies, halter tops, armbands, ponytail holders, and more. While Boho Bandeaus come in gorgeous floral, tie-dye, and camo prints, the packaging nearly trumps the product that is wrapped around it. Made of rustic, recyclable brown paperboard, the cardboard backer is beaded with playful polka dots, whimsical fonts, and quirky flowers. At the bottom, hand-sketched caricatures display between eight and twelve different girls, each wearing the bandeau as a different accessory or style.

While the bandeaus are pretty, the packaging steals the spotlight as it demonstrates the fun women of all kinds can have with the bandeaus. The hand-sketched illustrations are coupled with an alluring hashtag (How do you ❤ to wear? #bohobandeau), tempting prospects with social proof so they will “join the tribe” and make the purchase!

Steal the Spotlight with Free-Form Designs

Packaging design is a great way to glamorize a product and attract consumers’ attention.

Many people will judge a product by its packaging before buying it, and alluring illustrations can spark intrigue in your first-time buyers. Illustrations build a bridge in shared stories, cohesiveness, and collective emotions.

Need ideas? Here’s just a few ways to use illustrations in your packaging:

  • Illustrations of a product in action
  • Graphics of vintage cars, bicycles, or clocks
  • Landscapes representing the culture or heritage of your product
  • Quirky or interactive coffee sleeves for disposable cups
  • Varying patterns of labels for products marketed as a set
  • Pop-open packaging, like boxes that unfold to display a three or four-panel illustration inside
  • A graphic that weaves the actual product into part of its design (like these white rawhide sticks displayed as teeth in a dog’s mouth)
  • Illustrations that incorporate the shape of a container into the larger design theme (like this sardine tin, which doubles as a bright yellow bus crammed with fish)
  • Interactive labels that tell a story, like the “Living Labels” of 19 Crimes (viewers download an app, hover their smart device camera in front of the label, and hear the stories of true criminals come to life as 3D characters recount their side of the story)

Build a Bridge to Your Customers

Your print packaging represents your identity, so ride high in style with illustrated custom labels.

Whether it’s eye-catching boxes, personalized product labels, or hang tags for specials and sales, smart packaging will command attention and make your message sing. Attach your brand to cardboard, glass, fabric, stone, and everything in-between!