Why is social media important for your business?

There was a time when social media was considered by some as a passing fad. Something that “the kids” were using that businesses could never really benefit from. Over time, the skeptics were proved wrong. There are over 3 billion internet users and over 2 billion of them have active social media accounts. Social media generates a huge amount of data about your customers in real time. Every day there are over 500 million Tweets, 4.5 billion Likes on Facebook, and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram. Behind these numbers is a significant amount of information about your customers — who they are, what they like, and how they feel about your brand. When you have a presence on social media, you make it easier for your customers to find and connect with you and by connecting with your customers on social media, you’re more likely to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Brand Awareness

Social media proves to be a powerful tool when it comes to growing your brand awareness. Every single step that you take to increase brand awareness will impact the overall growth of your business in the long run. Increasing brand awareness requires a number of steps to be effective though. Here are some steps you can use to boost brand awareness:

Find Your Audience: Before you start focusing on a particular social platform, find out what your target audience is on. You can do this by searching for relevant conversations about your product or industry.

Use Visuals: Once you know where your target audience is, it’s time to grab their attention by using eye-catching visuals with your content. Images and videos are a great way to help grow your brand awareness on social media channels.

Create Conversations: Social media is all about building conversations. Talk, listen, and get involved with your customers to showcase your personality.

Measure Your Efforts: Use the tracking tools provided by the platforms (such as Facebook Page Insights), along with other external tools like URL shorteners, Google Analytics, etc. to measure your activity on social media.

Build Authority: If you want a higher engagement rate along with better brand awareness, then work on building your authority by sharing real value.

Increasing Brand Loyalty

The vast majority of your customers are glued to their mobile devices each and every day and within seconds can land on any one of your social media channels in an attempt to better understand your company and ultimately your reputation. What that potential or current customer sees on social media, whether it’s a review, negative comments, or just how you are interacting with and treating fans and followers, can make or break their decision to do business with you. Some ways you can use social media to build and increase your brand loyalty include:

Telling Compelling Stories: Sharing relevant content that interest your fans and followers. It can range from important industry news, highlighting your employees, or telling compelling stories around your products or services.

Listening to and engaging customers: Customer service has a tremendous impact on brand loyalty. If your customers feel you actually care about them and value their feedback, they will stick around.

Rewarding Your Loyal Customers: Offer incentives, have a prize giveaway, or create a reward program. You can even offer exclusive deals or special discounts specific to only those who follow you on certain social media platforms.

Running Periodic Contest: Contests are a great way to grow your customer base, but they can also excite your existing customer base at the same time and encourage brand loyalty.

Boosting Brand SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

With the number of people on social media and its worldwide reach, social media is a great way to build your web presence and quickly build an audience. If you want to be found among the millions of sites on the web (and the 571 new websites being created each minute), you will have to up your social game. The bigger your brand is and the more consumers trust you, the more likely you are to receive a bigger number of clicks in Google. Social media can be a great and efficient way to help you build your brand and get noticed by people who wouldn’t have otherwise found you. Once you start getting more of the share of clicks in Google from your expanded audience, the higher you will start to rank.

Social media doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, if anything it is growing every day. If done right it can prove to be really cost effective. Because as of today, even the paid social media campaigns, such as Facebook ads, are cheaper than other advertising options such as search engine ads. Having social media seems to no longer be a matter of choice if you want to succeed and be noticed. Your business needs it. Every business needs it.

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Digital Art

Digital art can be regarded as original, creative work developed on a digital computer and created and/or presented by some form of digital technology. The term digital art extends to a wide variety of works and ways of working. Digital art can be generated completely by a computer, derived from a previously existing source, or exist as an image. Digital art is developed by using digital hardware tools such as, a mouse, a graphics tablet, or a projector and software such as, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and FinalCutPro. From a technical standpoint the term digital art might also be used to describe artwork accomplished using traditional media as in paint, wood, metal and or processes as in painting, printmaking, sculpture which are then scanned, photographed, or videotaped to make a digital replica. However it is accomplised, the term digital art is most accurately applied to artwork that has been created through computing technologies.

Traditional vs. Digital Art

Traditional Art

The term ‘traditional arts’ refers to fine arts that use the old methods for creating artwork, such as pens, brushes, clay and other tools. Although traditional arts have different techniques than digital arts, the different forms of art are still related to each other by the same concept. There are two elements that all traditional artworks have in common: It can be touched — it’s made of physical materials and It’s “one of a kind”— it can’t be copied without creating it all over again.

Digital Art

In the digital environment we don’t have wood, charcoal, or paint. Everything is the same — just in a combination of 0’s and 1’s translated to a visual form on the screen. These 0’s and 1’s can simulate any medium you can imagine. Allthough digital art is not bound by the rules of traditional art, it often simulates it to give the user something familiar and to make the whole process more intuitive for the artist. Early digital painting programs were based on coloring the pixels with a mouse, but today they offer much more. The digital paint blends naturally and can be mixed and is usually applied with a special stylus on a graphics tablet.

The History Of Digital Art

“The Era of the Pioneers” (1956 to 1986)

In this time frame are many of the earliest known experimenters in digital art. Many of these investigators were not artists by training, but engineers and scientists. It is certain that their collective visual explorations were essential to what was an emerging medium literally outside of the attention of the general public. At this point in the development of digital art the experimental writing of computer programs was central to most of the work produced during this era, as “off the shelf” software simply did not exist. Computer displays were monochromatic and computer-based printing technologies were nearly non-existent.

“The Paint Box Era” (1986 to 1996)

It is in this era of digital art that commercial software became available to the general public. The release of these applications did not create an immediate flood of graphics programs into the market, but there was a slow and steady development of consumer software that had never before been available to the non-programming public. These early commercial applications attracted artists to the field of computing who were not trained primarily as programmers or engineers. It was these “early adopting” visual artists who had the vision and the experimental fortitude to create electronic works that could be accomplished without deep programming knowledge. It is during this era that the “paint program” made its first appearance bringing with it the introduction of the pixel to visual artists. Additionally, this is a time when the first affordable computers were introduced into the market. An example of this was the Apple II computer (sold in 1976 for $1300.00 US) developed by Steve jobs and Steve Wozniak is considered by many researchers to be the first true personal computer brought to the general marketplace. Finally, this era also saw the introduction of devices such as the scanner and the mouse. In this time frame the computer became part of society throughout much of the world. The personal computer, the software, and some useful and interesting devices were now in the hands of artists.

“The Era of Multimedia” (1996 to today)

Within this era digital artists were moving deeply into new forms of imaging through the GUI (graphical user interface). The application “Photoshop” came into being in the early 1990’s and photography has never been the same. Along with the general public, artists also entered the exciting new space offered by the Internet, and interactive art, and the countless options offered by other commercialized forms of digital media became a significant focus for many creative investigations. During this period digital art became more and more of a common area of study in academic art programs, in museums, and into the public consciousness. In the early 21st century it is clear that the great expansion of computer gaming, online art forms, digital media, digital photography and videography, web design, and virtual worlds have opened the public and media consciousness in various ways and forms. Digital art in its many forms is now available to anyone with an Internet connection, and has in this way become nearly present everywhere.

How Has Digital Art Revolutionized Art?

In the 21st century digital technology has become a powerful force in nearly every part of life, from art to science, to communication, to entertainment, and to navigation. The impact of various digital tools and techniques has also spread to the art world internationally as well. Within this technological revolution, digital art has become a necessary part of some institutional and educational environments. In art culture, work made through digital means has had a dramatic impact over the last 15-20 years and will continue to make an impact for years to come.

Minimalism

Minimalism is one of the most influential styles used today — from design, architecture, music, and literature. Minimalism is not about the absence of design, but it is about stripping down the design and only using the fewest elements to create the maximum effect. “Less is more” as said by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe — a key figure in this movement, is the main principle used for minimalism.

The Elements of Minimalism

Minimalism is about the return to the basics of contrast, space, organization, color, dominant visual, and typography.

Contrast: Black and white schemes are popular because they contain a lot of contrast between elements. But any high-level contrast works. Use elements with opposing forces — such as large and small text or images, or open space and a single element, or other colors with plenty of contrast.

Space: Minimalism is built on space, and while you don’t have to include massive amounts of white space, element breathability is a must. Each piece in the design must have room to stand on its own in the design.

Organization: Go back to some of the roots of minimalism and use lines and rectangles. A grid will keep you organized and your design feeling harmonious.

Color: Contrast and color are usually mentioned together in minimalist design, but are separate visuals. Color can create contrast, and it is an important part of the planning process. Rather than the two to four colors from a traditional color scheme, try to stick to a single hue in a light and/or dark framework.

Dominant visual: Dominance links directly to contrast. Dominant visuals include an image, block of text or element with surprising color.

Typography: The common usage in most minimalist frameworks is sans serif typography. Go with a typeface that has clean lines and simple strokes. If you are using type as the dominant element, consider a typeface with more personality for contrast.

Who and What Influenced Minimalism?

You can find elements of minimalism in design, art and architecture in almost any time period. The style has an almost timelessness to it that makes designers keep coming back. The roots of minimalism as we know it today can be traced to three key periods.

The first is the De Stijl movement, which began in the Netherlands in the early 1900s. De Stijl, Dutch for “The Style,” is characterized by horizontal and vertical lines and flat planes of primary colors. De Stijl was popularized by painters, sculptors, architects and graphic designers.

Second is German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He is credited with the saying, “Less is more.” His post World War I designs show his minimalist approach, using modern materials like steel and glass plates to create minimal structural framework, allowing for lots of open space.

The third influence is traditional Japanese design. The simplicity of their designs came from idea of only having what is essential. Anything not needed was seen as a distraction and was omitted. Their architecture, interior design and clothing all reflected the principals behind minimalism.

Minimalism in Modern Design

Minimalism has penetrated virtually every corner of life and is apparent all around us — from the sleek design of the smart phone we use, to the cars we drive, to the internet and websites we use, and to visual designs we see and interact with every day.

Isotype

Isotype, short for International System Of TYpographic Picture Education, showed social, historical, biological, educational, societal, and technological connections in a “picture language,” as Otto Neurath, its creator, referred to it as. Originally called the Vienna method of pictorial statistics, he founded Isotype at the Gesellschaft und Wirtschaftsmuseum in Wien, Austria, in 1925. The team grew to a total of 25 people; it was comprised of the Data Collectors (historians, staticians, and economists), the Transformers (visual editors and conduits between the data collectors and graphic artists, the Graphic Artists (illustrators who drew the symbols and artwork), and the Technical Assistants (assisted in paste-up, coloring, and photography). Their maps, charts, and other visualizations helped people interpret complex ideas about Austrian life. Isotype’s lasting influence can be seen in infographics, computers, signs, and more.

Stylistic Attributes

The main unit in breaking down statistics with Isotype is the pictogram. An object would be simplified from its details to illustrate what its connoting. They functioned as repeatable units and indicated certain values. Gerd Arntz, who got hired at the Gesellschaft und Wirtschaftsmuseum in 1928, produced them from lino-cuts. Color palletes were limited, and they depicted certain details within the statistics. Great care was taken to ensure that the pictograms were distinguishable from one another and could be placed side by side in rows. Small variations can be made to them to give the pictograms a certain context, like a man wearing a cap of a certain industry. Perspective was not used in favor of single dimension. Their simplicity hides the labor it took in creating these pictograms.

How It Worked

Isotype’s most important feature was its ease of communication without the need of language. Economic and social events were visualized to be understood by people of all ages and backgrounds. Otto Neurath has described Isoype as a “language-like technique” characterized in the use of graphic elements. He believed that picture language was effective across a wide range of ages and that a good pictorial chart could speak as clearly to a young child as an adult. More or less was not represented by bigger or smaller symbols, but by less or more of those of the same size. Even if the content changed, viewers faced pictograms and charts drawn with the same design approach which enabled them to better understand the visual language. The themes of housing, social administration, and education were inextricably linked and many Isotype charts were designed to show such relationships.

Lasting Impact

The central themes which concerned the Isotype movement— housing, health, social administration, and education— were also taken up in later periods and in other countries. Health education, for instance, was taken up on an international front in the 1930s with the major publicity campaign to combat tuberculosis, which was promoted by the National Tuberculosis Association of America. Isotype’s pictograms reached a larger audience in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as well, and the use of pictograms in international events increased. Today we see them on phones, in airports, maps, signs, and more. The Isotype movement has also had an impact on infographics, public space, and wayfinding. Its strongest influence is seen most clearly in the field of graphic statistics.

Your Business Website

The web has allowed us to do an ever increasing amount of things online, like selling, trading, streaming content, and so much more. Its also provided small businesses a digital place to market themselves, which is active 24/7/365. Anybody can log on and check you out; people may want to see what your hours are, what kind of work you do and how well, they need contact info, etc. An effective website can increase your customer base, but an ineffective website could potentially have a negative effect.

Importance of a Website
87% of the population in the United States is connected to the internet. You’re missing out on a huge chunk of the market if you’re not on the web. A website can act as a marketing hub, displaying all business details, information about products, contact information, promotions, and any other vital information you need potential customers to know. The information you provide could lead to a visitor hiring you on. A website also gives your business a boost in credibility. Wouldn’t you be taken aback to find that a business you were considering hiring lacked a website? You wouldn’t know what you were getting into, and that would most likely have you check elsewhere. Businesses that have websites are much more credible, especially in this point in time, where internet usage is only increasing. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, a website can contain galleries of your products or services. If the work speaks for itself, potential customers may be intrigued enough to pick up the phone or drop a message.  If you don’t think you need a website, consider how customers are missing out on finding you online, and how you’re missing out on potential business. In the end, it’s really the customers that you’re creating a website for, so have keep them in mind when evaluating your own site.

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Making it Effective
It’s not enough to just simply have a website— it has to be effective so as to turn visiting potential customers into paying customers. There are general guidelines and principles you can employ to maximize the effectiveness of your site and have users take action. Hierarchy is a principle you can incorporate so it’s clear what the important elements are and what the secondary ones are. People read from left to right, and that’s how  they scan websites as well, so positioning the important information on the left will make sure it gets seen. For example, putting the logo at the top left or center is common. It’s typical that clicking on the logo takes the user back to the home page. Incorporating white space assists in organizing the web page, making clear what each section contains. It allows the eye to take a rest and makes for a neat, open appearance. The principles of design can be used to structure the site. As in print design, it’s important to use no more than three typefaces and colors. Any more and the page can have a messy look. Abiding by typical conventions like the positioning of the logo, or positioning the navigation at the top, right, or left will make users feel somewhat familiar going in and will make perusing the site easier and intuitive. Maintaining consistency is vital in making a unified website.

Time for a Redesign?
Having no website means your missing out on all the potential, but having a bad website is more of a disservice since having a bad website makes the business look bad in turn. The web is evolving at an increasing pace; it can look obvious who didn’t bother to modernize. For example, Google Fonts allows the application of a wide variety of beautiful typefaces to fit the aesthetics of any kind of website. Foregoing this feature and sticking with typical web fonts will make the site look like it was made in the 90s. If you’re not at the top when people search for your business, that can be an indication that SEO is not up to standards. Improving content and internal linking structure can boost it. The biggest indication that it’s time for a redesign, however, is having a site that is not responsive. Responsive websites are websites that can scale depending on the size of the device. More than 20% of Google searches are being performed on a smartphone or tablet, and 1 in 4 exclusively access it from those devices. A desktop site is not meant to be viewed on a mobile device, and having to constantly manipulate the viewing area to see everything will get real annoying real fast. It can be frustrating enough for a user to check out a competitor instead.

 

Typography

“Good typography is invisible, bad typography is everywhere”

Type is defined as typeset text or any specifically shaped reproducible characters. Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language readable and legible. Type is everywhere; in books, on websites, signage, vehicle graphics, marketing materials, and storefront windows to name a few. The historical and physical attributes of type are taken into account when designing for specific media. There is a lot to typography, such as the different type family classifications and subclassifications, displaying the type, and readability and legibility. These factors culminate to display words in a well designed, applicable fashion.

The word typeface refers to the collection of letterforms designed to go together. A font refers to all the characters of a specific typeface. For example, Gotham Regular is a typeface belonging to the font Gotham. The latin alphabet that we are familiar with today grew out of a combination of Greek, Semitic, and southern Italian influences. The main type family classifications have evolved since that time; Serif, Sans Serif, Script, Blackletter, and Display. They differ by their physical attributes and when they came to fruition. The two most widely used classifications are Serif and Sans Serif. Serifs have subclassifications of their own, which are Humanist, Old Style, Transitional, Modern, and Slab. The Sans Serif subclassifications are Grotesque, Geometric, and Humanist. The aforementioned type family classifications differ by the protruding features stemming from the main strokes of the letters— referred to as serifs— or lack thereof. Type style refers to the various versions of a typeface. A type style, for example, can be bold, italic, or hairline. Using certain typestyles such as bold or italic throughout text helps organize and highlight information. However, save them just for that; it’s not advised to write a paragraph in all bold or italic.SerifandSans.jpgCertain types of fonts have nuances about them that make them more suitable for certain applications than others. A pretty script typeface would be a poor choice for a biker bar, and blackletter text doesn’t jive well with hair salons. Those are extreme examples, but they illustrate how a business can get lost in translation because of a poor type choice.  Serif typefaces tend to be used for a more traditional look. The fine details of the serifs don’t always display well on screens, especially at small sizes on high resolution displays. This may change as screen resolution continues to improve. Sans serif fonts illustrate a modern look. They’re widely used on the web because they display well on screens of various resolutions. Script, display, and blackletter fonts should be used sparingly in a design. Over-use of those fonts diminish the impact that they can have; they have all the impact they need when used only once. They make great choices for headlines and are not suitable for body copy. Script fonts can be found on wedding invitations because of their formal tone. There are other types of scripts that have a more casual or fun look to them. Lots of display fonts are available to aide in creating an atmosphere in a design. Blackletter fonts can add a medieval and dark tone to a design. PoorType.jpgReadability and legibility are key when working with typography. If those two factors are executed poorly, readers will have a hard time reading, and may get frustrated and give up. Readability refers to how easily a page of text can be read and navigated and legibility refers to the ease with which a reader can recognize and differentiate between letterforms. Long lines of text cause eye fatigue, which is a matter of readability. For print, lines of text should be sixty to seventy characters per line, while with web the ideal amount of characters per line is about forty. Out of left aligned, centered, right aligned, and justified text, left aligned text is the most easy to read because the various line lengths provide a point of reference for moving down to the next line. Tightly spaced letters and tight leading also damper readability because of how text gets squished; it becomes much more difficult to ascertain letters and words. Legibility is a matter of typeface and its background. Script typefaces aren’t legible enough for long passages of text, and all caps script is even worse. Display fonts are applicable for headlines but not for long passages. Serif and sans serif typefaces are the most legible. Lower case text is more legible than all caps, and that’s because of the shapes lower case letters create. All caps create rectangles, so each letter has to be read individually to make out a word. Black text on a white background is the most legible color combination.Readability.jpg

Working With GC

You may have just gotten in business and are in need of a brand identity, or you may have a brand identity and need to project your business to further engage with your target market. Either way, helping to convey your business is our business. Vehicle graphics, signage, stationery, and design are only a few of the services we offer to do just that. Whatever medium a job calls for, your business will be seen in the same light that you’ve seen in your vision. We’ll make your message crystal clear and design it in a way that clicks.

Consultation
Every project begins with a consultation to nail down the objective. That consultation can be had over the phone, through email, or right here in the shop. It can be as easy as updating a business card or as complex as vehicle graphics. Whatever the case, that initial dialog is paramount in getting us on the same page so we can fulfill what the project calls for. Any pertinent files can be sent via email. If necessary, we can create or update current graphics from scratch; for example, a business card or logo. Once the deposit is collected, the project begins.

Design
After we have a clear idea of the project, the design process is underway. Print materials typically involve cut and dry dimensions so we can usually get going on design right away. Projects such as vehicle graphics, signage, and storefronts can’t be started without accurate pictures and measurements since we create in scale; that allows for accurate sizing and installation. A design typically goes through a series of tweaks by the client before a project is deemed ready for production. We send a preview image after every stage of development to ensure the client’s specifications are satisfied throughout the process. We don’t begin processing the order until the project has been officially signed off.

Execution
Upon approval of the design, the production phase begins. The client is notified when the graphics have been prepared. In the case of vehicle graphics and signage, an appointment must be scheduled to have the graphics applied. Vehicle graphics typically get installed in our climate-controlled bay. We can come out to your location for signage or heavy machinery application. Vehicles can be left here for as long as needed. Application takes anywhere from a half an hour to a few hours depending on the size of the job. It typically takes around four days for stationery to be prepared. We can mail or you can pick it up from our shop. We then send an invoice and wait for our chance to work on your next project.