Archive for category Print

3 Simple Steps to Choosing the Perfect Image


When I landed my first internship I was ecstatic. My mind was filled with ideas of all the exciting and challenging projects I would work on, the designs I would make, and what I would learn.

My first exciting task was to search for perfect stock images. Woohoo. I remember spending hours poring through the stock image website trying to find various images that captured a certain spirit or feeling for a client’s website.  My entire first week was pulling as many stock images as I could that fit the requirements, and it was about exciting as it sounds. However, bored as I was, I did learn a few tricks of the trade for finding just the right image for a project.


1. Take Your Time

  • Now, this isn’t an excuse to spend a whole day browsing your favorite stock photography site, but it does mean you should spend more than a few minutes searching for the right image. Depending on which site you’re using, you should be able to shorten your search through a variety of filters including:
    • Size-There’s nothing like finding the right image for your print ad only to see it’s only for web.
    • Format-landscape, portrait, vector, photo, icons, the list goes on and on
    • Image content-Maybe you’re looking for a photo with people, but only families. Wait, only families with two children, but they both have to be under 12. Oh, and they should have a dog. Starting to get the picture? Don’t get too specific or you’ll end up with no images at all.

2. Avoid Clichés

  • You’re searching for that perfect image that symbolizes agreement, commitment, and dedication. Suddenly you see it: two hands shaking in agreement of a job well done. Perfect, right? Before you click download, ask yourself this:
    • Does this photo look familiar?
    • Have I seen it a million times before?
    • Is my ad/blog/website going to look as bland as the multitude of others using the same clichéd image?
  • If you answered ‘yes’, then you should find a better image.
  • With such a variety of images available from a multitude of sites, there’s no reason to use the same old images that your consumers are already used to. This goes back to the first step: take some time to find an image that sets you apart.

3. Keep It Legal

  • It’s easy to search Google images and pull the best picture you find, but it’s also not necessarily legal. Sure, some photographers and artists put their work online for free usage or free usage with proper accreditation, but they are not the majority. Before you start pulling all those great photos, check to see whom they belong to, what the license agreement is and if you’re allowed to use them. If not, you could end up with a cease-and-desist letter or a lawsuit.


Finding the perfect image for your project can be difficult, but with these simple steps you’ll find the right one in no time. Here are some great websites for pulling ‘legal’ stock images for you or your clients:


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What Makes a Great Billboard?

Outdoor advertising has played an important role in American business promotion for decades, especially so ever since President Eisenhower’s massive investment in developing the Interstate highway system during the 1950s. Throughout the ensuing years, savvy marketers have conducted extensive research with respect to the effectiveness and efficacy of this unique medium. Below are several basic guidelines to follow if you choose to include billboards as “part-and-parcel” of your overall marketing endeavor.


1. Messaging

The message should focus on a single, succinct idea, presented in a way that immediately captures attention, is easily understood and wholly memorable. Ideally, your message should be limited to seven words or less. Remember, your audience is traveling by car, often at a high rate of speed. You have only a few precious seconds to impart your message, and in such a manner that engenders future recall.


2. Font Selection

You can have the best-ever billboard message ever composed, but, if it cannot be read, all such effort will be for naught. Take care to utilize fonts that are highly legible. Overly ornate type and those fonts that are too thick or too thin should be avoided. Additionally, the lettering must be appropriately scaled. To test basic readability, write your message on the back of a business card and hold it at arm’s length. This roughly simulates how it will be viewed on a 10’ x 22’ billboard from a distance of around 200 feet.


3. Graphics and Images

The graphics and images you employ to support your message should be hyper-compelling. Refrain from including multiple graphics and images on your billboard. Typically, one high-impact image, if well chosen to thoroughly illustrate your message, shall suffice.


4. Design/Layout

Effective billboards make the most of a “clean” and “efficient” design. Take special care to avoid “clutter” and introducing anything that distracts from the message you’re conveying. In billboard design, less is truly more. Graphics/images should work seamlessly with the message imparted. Also, there should be a natural “eye flow” from graphics/images to text, and visa versa.


5. Color Choice

Bold, contrasting color usage grabs readership attention. Select colors that, first and foremost, highlight your message. Overall, the goal is to make use of a color combination that allows for both your message and graphics/images to significantly “pop” against the billboard’s background.


6. Explore “The Beyond”

There are several ways a billboard can be enhanced. For example, you can add an extension to increase impact and differentiation. Likewise, a number of vendors provide for the opportunity to use the “apron” portion of their board. This is the area under the “standard” saleable space. And, there’s the employment of 3-D elements (vis-à-vis, those spotted, Chick-fil-A® cows, remember?). Whatever “outside the board” tactics you desire to implement will be an additional cost, though often privy to negotiation.


In sum, it is vitally important to understand that outdoor advertising is indeed a unique medium, and must be addressed so to attain maximum effectiveness. Outdoor advertising should not function as an “add-on” to your overall promotional campaign, but, rather, individually addressed as a vitally important and integral component to an overall marketing mix.

Written by Dave Dubreuil

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Reasons You Should Still Use ‘Snail Mail’

What did the title say? We should still be using snail mail? Yes, that’s right. You heard correctly.

It seems that everyone is blogging, using social media, and focusing on getting their messaging out on their website. All of these are great and should be utilized. What we are suggesting, is don’t be so quick to throw out traditional media such as direct mail.

While the cost may be expensive, there are other benefits of using it.

Multiple Channels- Sources say a customer needs to hear the same message 11 times before making a purchasing decision. They are being hit with thousands of ads everyday. If you only focus on digital, you lose out on all the people who still rely on traditional mean of obtaining their information. It also means you are sending a consistent message giving customers a better chance at recognizing your brand.

Tangible- Many people enjoy having a physical piece of material they can hold on to, review, and keep.  Even if the person doesn’t look at it at that moment, they may refer back to it months later.

Measurable- You know exactly how many pieces will be sending out, where they are sending, and what the offer is. You will be able to track the amount of people who claim the offer, type in the code, or whatever specific piece of information you provide them to give you an idea of how many people reacted.

Don’t throw out the idea of using direct mail in your marketing strategy. Talk to a marketing expert to determine how it could greatly benefit your marketing campaign and why you should consider using it!


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Print design & layout: For Those DIYers

It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to design and/or edit their marketing materials. It’s understandable, it doesn’t look that hard. I can do that, right? Well, after 4 years of college and nearly 10 years in advertising…it ain’t that easy either.

Well, I can’t stop you from doing your own work, and I do applaud you for learning something new and trying to save your company some valued marketing dollars. So to help you make your company look a bit better here, are a few tips you should know.

1) Fonts: Everyone loves using fonts. I need this font to showcase this service and this font to showcase this other service. Next thing you know it’ looks like a carnival exploded (even carnival posters usually only have two typefaces though). Try to keep it to two typefaces and no more than two type variances of one of them. (ie. A bold Helvetica for headlines, and times with normal and bold for copy). Also try to keep from using more than 3 type sizes. This will keep conformity to your design and not make the users eye dance all over the place trying to figure out want they need/want to read.

2) Layout: One of the best way to learn proper layout is with some colored construction paper, sissors, a glue stick, and a pile of 8.5×11 white sheet of copy paper. You cut the construction paper into a bunch of different shapes. Small squares, large squares, HUGE squares, rectangles, circles and maybe even a triangle or two. The more variance in sizes and more pieces of cut up construction paper the better. Now take these shapes and glue them to your copy paper. Align them so they are appealing to your eye. Now, visualize as to what could be a photo, a headline, and your copy. Voila, layout 101.

3) Equipment: Get the right stuff. Leave word for that letter you need to write to your boss and pick up a decent design suite. Of course I recommend a Mac with the Adobe CS3/CS4 package, but not everyone needs that kind of power. Corel makes some decent entry level programs that printers can still use. Oh and publisher is out…please don’t use that for anything but maybe your church newsletter, if you must.

4) Learn the equipment: Most are pretty easy to learn. And the best thing to do it buy a book. The second best is to hit up a podcast. There are quite a few ranging from beginner to advanced. The book though will help you find the topics you need to look up though. Third is to find a friend who you can call for tips. Also, don’t feel you can’t call you agency and tell them you’re having to cut your marketing budget and have to do more design in house. You may be able to work out a deal for them to check your work and give advice for a small fee. Just watch out about contacting them too often, it may end up cheaper to just send them the work. And I hope you are still sending them a bone or two, other wise you might want to find another source for critquing your work. Below are a couple some links you’ll certainly want to check out.

Indesign CS3 –
Corel –
Podcasts –

In closing, doing small projects here or there on your own can not only cut your costs, but can save you time. Things like small flyers, in house memos, small event posters, and other small projects can be done quickly once you’ve learned the programs. Just don’t get in over your head and you end up doing more design work than your daily job…time is money and a lot of time it’s better to just send the job out and save your time. Good luck and feel free to ask questions.

Keep an eye out for my next blog…Indesign tips and tricks!

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