September 2014

A few weeks ago, when Ikea released their new catalog, a commercial started circulating – an ad for the “Ikea bookbook”.  For those who have not seen it, you can find it here.

This ad created a lot of buzz online. Though meant as a satire, I feel like the ad struck home with a lot of people.

My own realization after viewing was that we keep trying to make technology more and more tactile. We keep trying to create the “life-like” experience on a screen.

Maybe we should stop trying to duplicate reality, and celebrate technology for what it is – something with its own reach and endless opportunities. By constantly trying to replicate a real experience, and by trying to imitate objects that already exist, we are limiting the possibilities.

I am one of those designers that believers print is not dead. I say, let print be print. There are things about print that we can’t replicate on screen that have their own value – tactile paper textures, the feel of a letterpress impression…  These things make print special in its own right.  The same is true of aspects of technology.

If you create a catalog, for example, don’t just take the pdfs and add a page flip to make them feel like print. That’s not a true web experience. If you are going to put your catalog on the web, really make it something worth creating – add value that you can’t get from the print experience. This could mean interactive ads, responsive design or any number of possibilities.

The only way we will find out what interactive design is capable of is to celebrate it for what it is.

Many people love picking fonts for their materials. With Word and Adobe at our fingertips, there are endless fonts to choose from.  But any designer will tell you, using some fonts will make your work look amateur, and no one can afford that nowadays.  Which fonts should you stay away from?  Here is our rundown of top 5 misused and overused fonts to avoid:

Comic Sans

Perhaps you have seen all the jokes among designers?  Or the myriad of websites devoted to the end of Comic Sans? The truth is, much like any font, I’m sure someone will find a proper use for it.  But that use isn’t on your professional business materials. If you need more proof, check out this website where you can send an email to a Comic Sans Criminal.

Papyrus

Papyrus is another font that strikes fear and loathing in the heart of designers. Designed as a font to mimic the look of writing on a Papyrus scroll, it is now found inappropriately overused on restaurant menus and anything meant to look historical.

Times New Roman

There is nothing inherently wrong with Times New Roman, but as a designer, I advise against using it for the sole reason that it is used everywhere. It gives the impression that you didn’t make the effort to actually chose a font, and rather kept the default in Microsoft Word.

Curlz

Nothing says “Pretty Princess Party” like Curlz. It is also illegible if used in too large of a block. Create whimsy with your brand and colors, but keep your fonts simple and easily readable.

Brush Script

Brush Script is highly overused to simulate calligraphy, and leads me to envision every certificate I got in Elementary School for honor roll. Not only that, it is difficult to read at a small size. This means avoid using it in logos at all costs.

Again, though there is inevitable an appropriate use of any of the above fonts, these are the most frequent offenders in making your business look amateur. When in doubt, look elsewhere.

Though it is only September, it is never too early to think about self promotion for the holidays.  Many vendors choose to do something for their clients around Christmas or New Years. So if you are sending holiday greetings to your clients, what should you think about?

Price Range

You want something affordable, without looking tacky. Though you want to be unique, make sure you use your money wisely.

From a design perspective, a standard size card will cost less to mail than something square. If you have your heart set on square, great!  But if it doesn’t add anything to your message, maybe you don’t really need that odd shape or die-cut.

What Makes Your Business Unique?

Everyone loves chocolate, but does that really say anything about the services you offer?  Businesses get a ton of food at the holidays.

Last year I did a few custom ornaments for my regular customers with their logos, and they were a huge hit. They garnered much more enthusiasm than any time I’ve sent cookies, candy or mementos, and they were a reminder of what I do for them on a regular basis – work with their brand.

What is Your Brand Voice?

Is your business funny?  Is it traditional?  Allow this to come through in your card design.  Be consistent with your brand voice, and it will help reinforce this with your customers.

Think Early

It will be less costly if your designer isn’t performing a rush job for Christmas or New Year’s cards on December 15th. It will also give you plenty of time to find the right fit, get items printed, etc.

What Do You Want to Say?

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so who are your clientele?  Maybe it would be better to send something that says “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year.”

If you really want to stand out, how about doing something for your clients at a different time of year?  Maybe a fun holiday, like Groundhog Day.  This allows you to really own a holiday, and not get lost in a sea of cards in December.

Here at Stacy Kleber Design, LLC, we would love to be a part of designing your holiday cards.  Contact us today for more information at www.skleber.com/contact.