Posts Tagged Design

Form Over Function (Scratch That, Reverse It)

Do you like pretty pictures, or creative that gets your message across? Great advertising knows how to blend the two into one harmonious image. But at what point does one or the other become too much and no longer works?

Take a look at 5 tips to help ensure you blend form and function so that your message gets to the end user.

CEA FB 11.6

1. Know Your End User’s Perspective – While most of us know what “we” each like, that is rarely the same for your potential clients. Make sure you and your agency know your first and secondary target audience so you can tailor your message properly.

2. Have a Lead for Your Marketing Projects – Someone needs to take charge and be willing to make final calls. Team feedback is good, but know when to listen to your team, and when to listen to your marketing professionals. When your team is reviewing artwork, gather all the changes at one time to send back to your agency. This will not only reduce possible overlap and errors, but can reduce your costs from the agency spending less time going back and forth on similar changes.

3. Determine Messaging Hierarchy – When preparing direct marketing objectives, give hierarchy to the messaging you want in your newspaper ads and eblasts. Give your headlines, subheads and messaging a pecking orde for the agency to follow so they can help tailor the message to the campaign. This can help ensure proper imaging and call-outs to offers that are important.

4. Know When to Cut Back – Trying to stuff the ad full with all your offers? You might just get your marketing overlooked. Stick to one main message and one supporting message. You’ll be surprised how often “less is more” will ring true for you. People are more likely to respond to a marketing piece that conveys one strong message versus multiple weak messages.

5. Be Careful of Friendly Input – Are you unsure of your message or could that headline be stronger? When you ask your friends for feedback, take into account how close they are to your target audience. Revert back to the first bullet, then just ask your agency. Your agency should have years of marketing experience, should know your target audience and will be more that willing to ensure that your marketing will hit the mark. Ask questions! it gets conversation going and helps fine tune your campaigns. We want to be your partners in your sales, not just the people who make your marketing”look” good.

So let’s make your artwork functional AND beautiful. You can do this by creating a strong message first, and then design the artwork to support that message. If you have additional offers you need to convey, just make sure they are on a lower priority level so your materials are still attractive enough to grab your audience’s attention.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level? Email or give us a call at 727-523-8044 to get started today!

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The Secret To Staying Creative

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Working in the fast-paced world of Marketing can be many things: exciting, fun and ever-changing. However, it can also be very stressful. There’s been many days since I started working in this business that I’ve found myself feeling completely burned out and unable to even remember what day of the week it is.

When you work as hard as we do it can be easy to cross the line from ‘hard-working’ to ‘workaholic’. You know the type; always staying late, thinking about the next day’s work as they fall asleep. When this happens it can be detrimental not only to our health, but to our creativity.

“But I’m Not a Designer”

Even if you’re not the “creative type” and have no clue about gridlines and color palettes, if you work in marketing you need to be creative. Everyone from Account Managers to Interns needs to exercise their creativity in order to excel at their jobs.

So Where Do You Start?

What is the secret to staying creative? It’s simple:

  • Make Time for What You Love.

Personally, I try to make time for my love of DIY projects. I’ll get home from work and spend at least a half hour scrolling through or in order to pull inspiration for my next project. Case in point: these blooming letters that I fell in love with on Pinterest.

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Making time for something you’re passionate about―whether that’s archery, cars or anything in between―is important in maintaining your creativity. Getting your mind off work and focusing on a project you really enjoy can mean coming back to your job with a fresh mind, ready to make amazing things for your clients.

To see some of the things that bring inspiration and joy to the CEA team, visit our 30 Days of gratitude Pinterest board.


Written By: Diana

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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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What it means to “design.”

When getting an estimate from an agency, you may ask yourself, “What do I get for that “design” fee?”  Is it just some kid who’s good with computers? What kind of marketing experience goes in to it? Why is it taking so long?

First off, we not only look for the best designers but everyone at the agency needs to be creative.

Your account managers have to be able to envision what your ad/campaign/website needs to look like and operate for your potential prospects as well as suiting the look and feel of your company. We research your demographics and stay up to date on modern trends of their habits. Even the simplest web banners take into account our knowledge of how users will interact with websites and how your company has to be seen by them.

All our staff does research on a routine basis for design and demographic research. All this is after gaining their college degrees in marketing and/or design, previous job experiences and other trainings they’ve taken over the years. From here the account managers create a creative brief and meet with the Art Director. This is where the magic happens. A quick creative meeting gets everyone on the same page and then the creative ideas start brewing.

Once an idea is selected, the designers are off to work.

Designers are required to be following current trends in order to stay creatively relevant. What’s hot, what’s not, what’s TOO trendy…or does this job need to create a new trend? Each artist does his or her research differently. Some look at similar works to get their inspiration, others look at completely different subject maters to get the creative juices flowing. Nothing sets off a good campaign like the PERFECT photo or illustration!

Ok, now that we’ve got the creative mojo going it’s off to the sketchbook. Others head straight to the computer and the digital art board.  With a blank art board you start envisioning how the pieces will align together. You start with the main message. How do I make sure this draws them in? Does a graphic need to visually point to it? What about where their eyes travel after they see it?  (Did you know, that visually you could make someone leave your artwork and end up not readying the rest of the message?)

Ok, we’ve got the #1 message looking good. Now you’re onto aligning the rest of the art puzzle making sure all the information the client needs potential buyers to see is set up to have a visual pecking order. The first proof is almost ready. The artist loves the look, they think it matches the client’s look and speaks directly to the demographic the client is going after.

Now print it out, take a step back and give it a good once over. Is anything too crowded? Alignments look good? Is it too blocky? Too loose? After some minor tweaks it’s off to the account rep.

They review per the client’s request, make any tweaks, changes, or the dreaded…start over. It happens, sometimes that inspiration we found didn’t lineup with what we thought was first described…back to doing more research. That’s one of the MANY reasons the account rep is there for- to make sure we get it right before the client sees it.

It’s proofed again, and off for client review…phew, just a day in the life of a creative.

- Eric Gwatney


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3 Great Web Design Trends for 2014

3 Great Web Design Trends for 2014

Three things to make your website appealing, functional, and informative in today’s mobile world.

Below you will find three techniques to create or update an aging web layout to compete and flourish in today’s mobile world.

1. Mobile Responsive Websites – Media Queries:

Responsive web design is a relatively new trend in web development that has piggy backed alongside the advent of tablets and smart phones. The standard of coding techniques had to adapt to these new devices to create optimal viewing experiences, easy reading and navigation with little screen real estate available to display content. Thus were Media Queries born, a relatively simple bit of CSS3 that adapts the layout of a webpage to the device screen based on how many pixels are available on each device. This adaptive code is essential for business marketing and branding in todays mobile world where visitors to a site are more likely to look up information on their way out the door or while in the cars with web access on their mobile devices.


2. Web Traffic Statistics – Google Analytics:


For marketing, statistics are life when it comes to web traffic. We need to know our traffic, traffic sources, and we need the ability to measure our conversions and sales. Google Analytics has become the most widely used web statistics service and for good reason. It allows marketers and webmasters to track visitors from social networks, search engines, as well as referring sites and direct visits. It can also be utilized for pay-per-clicks, email marketing, advertising and tracking links. There are many more in-depth advanced features available through the use of Google’s API (Application Programmer Interface). There are two versions available to the public, one being a free of charge basic service and the other a premium version for businesses. Implementing some form of tracking on your web domain is essential to know the effectiveness of your web presence.


3. Content Management Systems – WordPress:

Though only required for certain kinds of businesses, content management systems are the wave of the future, and utilizing a CMS such as WordPress makes installing responsive layouts and monitoring analytics very easy for non-technical users. WordPress is a CMS software that businesses can use to easily create beautiful and functional webpages whose content can be easily manipulated and analyzed. Like Google Analytics, content management systems are the wave of the future and have both basic free versions as well as premium options such as easy to install plugins. These plugins allow users to quickly update their WordPress site with professional functionality in a beautiful package.

We here at CEA believe it is essential that our web presence be accessible to all devices to maximize our reach. We think you should drink the Kool-Aid too.


Written by : John ( Smiley) Atkinson


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The year of the Orchid


Radiant Orchid, that is. Pantone, the self described “global color authority,” recently revealed the captivating color as their pick for 2014 color of the year. Every year, Pantone scours the world to find the perfect color before making their selection, and this year’s color is a lively pick. With it’s rosy undertones, Radiant Orchid gives off a warm and healthy glow that translates well across a variety of mediums.

Already, various fashion designers, such as Juicy Couture and Yoana Baraschi, are using this shade of purple as they plan their spring collections, and there’s no doubt that the rest of the creative world will follow suit.

As they state on their website, the “Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.” We’re excited to see where the design world goes with this color.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this is the right pick?

Written by:  Diana Aguilar-Flores


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Why Should I Hire a Professional Photographer When Uncle Charlie has a Perfectly Good Camera?

He just got it last week and it has 8,000 megapixels.

While “Uncle Charlie” might be a super-duper nice guy with shiny white teeth and great smelling breath; his experience with photography is at an amateur level.  Sure, he’s captured several really good moments and gets super artsy with all those great filters available now, but chances are he’s lacking in three key areas: consistency, technical skills, and creative vision.

A professional photographer will deliver a consistent product every time. If you are shooting product on a white background, you can rest assured that your background will be the same color as your collateral so you get the seamless result you want. If you are shooting home interiors, the light on the inside will balance with the light on the outside. Colors will pop and the entire story will be told.

The consistency clients get with professional photographers is largely due to technology. A pro will have adequate equipment for your job and will know how to use it. Uncle Charlie might have the nicest new Nikon on the market, but if he has no idea how to adjust a shutter speed or set the white balance for tungsten lighting, those camera features are virtually useless. A pro knows and that’s how they can consistently deliver a quality product.

The third thing that a professional photographer can do that Uncle Charlie can’t,  is to listen to what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing and photography and then deliver a product that will work with your message. Properly executed, it will create a synergy for your campaign that will help your investment generate powerful results.  A professional’s creative vision will be the difference between  ‘pretty good’ and ‘amazing’.

Written by : Gayle Hill

If you’re considering a professional, contact CEA Marketing for help in determining which photographer is the best fit for your product. 727-523-8044 or


Photography by:
Grey Street Studios


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Real Life Instagram

Brazilian artist Bruno Ribeiro has taken his twist on the popular photo social media and added a flare of modern art into the mix. He launched his project entitled, “ Real Life Instagram” in which he installed physical filters around London’s most popular tourist landmarks. The filters were designed to mimic the style of a real Instagram post.

The idea is that people will take photos using these filters with their smartphones. AdWeek said, “ it seems easier to use real Instagram if you have a smartphone, though of course then you’d be missing the deep commentary on real vs. virtual worlds.”

Also, the brilliant catch of his art project is if you take pictures of the “Real Life Instagram” installations with this camera, the world will explode. In his non-free time, Ribeiro works in advertising—currently at AKQA in London, though he also worked on the famous $73,000 bar tab project at Ogilvy Brazil. Via PSFK.

Information from


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A whole new world

For many brands, their website is the hub of communication. Where they display their products and services, where they are able to showcase customer reviews and testimonials as well as a place to inform consumers of who they are and what they do. 21% of web traffic now come from tablets and smartphones. (  With this growing statistic, brands are having to accommodate with how consumers are viewing their websites.

Creating a separate version of their website for each unique device would be impossible, or at least impractical. Should business suffer the loss of visitors because their site is impossible to view on mobile devices? Or is there another option?

The answer is creating an all-in-one solution for viewers. The answer is to create a responsive website.

Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. ( As users switch from their desktop to their mobile phone, the website will automatically switch to the appropriate viewing sizes for all resolution, image size and scripting.

Brands are no longer having to design three separate and unique websites for every device under the sun. With responsive web design; consumers can view the message with ease. The days of pinching, sliding and zooming are over.

Welcome to the world of responsive web design.


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