Raster vs Vector Graphics
Digital graphics can be divided into two categories: raster and vector. Never heard of them? Here’s how — and when — each should be used.
Raster graphics are composed of pixels, which are tiny squares that make up an image. These little squares of different colors join together to form an image when viewed at normal size. Depending on the media output you plan to use the graphic in, there are standards for how many pixels (or dots) per inch (dpi) there should be to see a crisp, clean picture. For example, most onscreen graphics work well at 72 dpi, but printed graphics should typically have 300 dpi.
Vector graphics are composed of points and lines generated by mathematical formulas. These points and lines are used to compose the final graphic. The computer uses math to determine the shape of the object based on placement of the points and lines. Unlike raster graphics, there are no pixels, which means you do not need to worry about the size of the graphic, it will look crisp at any size regardless of media.
When to use raster and vector graphics
Whether you use raster or vector graphics depends on the type of graphic you’re looking for.
If you’re going to create or use a photograph, graphics with many different effects, or a highly detailed image, you should use a raster graphic. This will give you maximum control over the image and allow for better gradient/color blending. Depending on the use, you can only scale the image up to 100% before you start to see some quality loss. Even resizing a raster image smaller can cause loss of quality, so be sure that whoever is handling the files knows how to properly edit and save the file to avoid loss of quality.
If you’re going to create or use logos, illustrations, graphics with minimal (preferably no) effects, graphics with little detail, line drawings or artwork with clearly discernable shapes, you should use vector images. This will maximize your editing capability, allow you to reshape the artwork endlessly without loss of quality, and resize smaller or larger without quality distortion.
Some common file formats give you a clue as to the type of graphic you have:
- Common raster formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, BMP
- Common vector formats: PDF, EPS, AI, SVG
The trick with vector formats is that they can also contain raster graphics alone or in conjunction with vector graphics. Try opening the file in an application like Adobe Acrobat and see what happens when you scale the graphic up past 100%. If all parts stay in focus and clear, then it’s most likely a vector graphic. If things start to get fuzzy and pixelated as you zoom in, the file likely contains raster images, and will not work if scaled too large.
Make sure to use the correct format for the needs of your graphics. One of the biggest mistakes many companies make is creating something like a logo with a photo in it, or making the logo in Adobe Photoshop and saving it in a raster format rather than a vector. This results in distorted or pixelated images, which is never good for your brand.
When in doubt, contact us and we’ll make sure you have the right format for your graphic needs.
How to Make the Most of Your Headshot
Clients often ask us for professional headshots to use in various marketing materials and for PR purposes. If you’re like me, most people hate getting their photo taken. However, it’s easy to get the most out of your headshot and reduce some of the stress that comes along with showing us your pearly whites.
What to Wear and How to Prepare
When we get confirmation that you’re coming in for a professional headshot, one of the things we typically do for people who haven’t had one before is to send an informational sheet over that includes tips for what to wear to a photo shoot. I always say “simple is better.” Don’t come to a photo shoot wearing clothing that has florescent colors or crazy patterns (even if you love them like I do). That’s just a recipe for disaster, and a sure way to bet you won’t be happy with your photos.
For women, it’s usually best to keep your makeup and jewelry simple. Regarding makeup, it is recommended to apply a little heavier than normal as it will enhance your features. Especially things like mascara and eyeliner to help your eyes stand out and face powder/foundation to reduce glare. Making sure hair and facial hair is well-groomed for men will also help improve photos. If you wear glasses and plan to have them in your photo, be ready to take them off in a few shots in case there is glare. We’ll need some photos without them on to help reduce glare via Photoshop (magic!).
It’s usually best to try and stay relaxed. Try taking a deep breath right before we start shooting. It will help release some of your worry and relax your posture. We usually suggest your feet be about shoulder width apart and stand tall — without being a statue (no slouching allowed!). It’s usually best to clasp your hands in front of your body than to leave them dangling by your sides. Try to move your face closer to the camera — without moving your neck/body — and lifting from your chin a bit to reduce potential “double chin” issues. It’s also a good idea to “smize” a term coined by fashion model Tyra Banks (who loves watching America’s Next Top Model — this girl!). It means to smile with your eyes. We don’t want you to look vacant in your photos, we want the viewer to engage with you and see the fire behind your eyes.
Typically, when I take photos I try to engage in some small talk with you to help relax the situation and get some real expressions from you. It’s always best when we can have a conversation to keep from those awkward silences (crickets anyone?). Tell me a joke, or something funny that happened recently; it helps to break the ice. I was just learning from a client I took photos of the other day that she loves zip-lining, something I would never have expected after meeting her. Learning about you helps me get a better feel for your personality and lightens the mood. Coming in uber-serious and un-communicative tends to come across in your photos. Hey, if it helps pretend you are a movie star, pretending you are someone you aren’t can totally help you relax and give you a confidence boost.
Relax, We’ve Got This
We’re going to take a whole series of pictures so that once we wrap up the shoot, we can send you over a contact sheet with some options. You get to pick one, and we’ll retouch it for you. That horrible pimple that showed up last night while thinking about how awful getting your professional portrait taken the next day? Gone. We’ll do our best to help you look your best—while still looking natural and not like a plastic Barbie doll. The moral of the story here is to come in relaxed and positive. The happier you are, the better your photo will come out.
P.S. If you’re looking for more information on what to wear (or not to), give us a ring or email your account rep. We’ll send our informational sheet right over.
The Sales and Marketing Seesaw
Freshly armed with a marketing degree, but desperately trying to avoid returning home to live with mom and dad, I jumped at the opportunity to take a sales gig. While it wasn’t directly related to marketing it was very rewarding, sometimes frustrating and surprisingly educational. Fast forward eight years, and I finally get to put my marketing cap on full-time here at Market Mentors. I still have a “new biz” role here, so I thought I would bring a little bit of my perspective to the table.
Often times when we meet with prospects or are reviewing a campaign with current clients, the conversation naturally turns toward sales. “Making the register ring” is typically the foremost objective for our clients. However, there can often be a disconnect between what the roles are in a revenue generating initiative. Maybe your sales staff says they need more, or better-qualified leads (cue Alec Baldwin). Perhaps your marketing team is seeing the fruits of their labors die on the vine by way of poor closing rates. A well-executed strategy would have a seamless cycle, where everyone knows their role in generating new business. In some instances, the confusion of these roles can lead to inefficiency, frustration and wasted dollars.
Most great results are the product of experience and a solid understanding of fundamentals. The following guidelines may seem simple in nature, but are often misunderstood. Before taking on any business development endeavor, regardless of industry, these principles set expectations for everyone.
- While a successful marketing strategy hopes to target a specific audience or group, a successful sales campaign hopes to distill that audience and communicate directly with one identified lead.
- Effective marketing engages audiences via multiple channels of communication depending on the campaign, but properly qualifying the leads that result should always be a two-way, open conversation with a sales person.
- Valuable items are often offered to promote a product or service as a component of a marketing plan. Case studies, white papers and collateral seek to expedite the education process. In sales, “over-educating” a lead can often stymie the closing process and frustrate both the sales person and the prospect.
- A well-executed marketing effort will inspire audiences to find more information and how the product or service relates to them personally. The sales person then attempts to find the prospect-specific challenges, and leads them to “yes” or “no” conclusions.
- In most cases, a marketing plan becomes more successful with greater frequency, creating more exposure. Conversely, an efficient sales strategy strives to reduce the number of “touches” to reduce the sales cycle.
While these marketing and sales functions are different, both sides rely on each other for success. Have your sales people discovered that the target audience has a specific objection? That may be an excellent opportunity to create a campaign tailored around that particular issue. Market Mentors can help collaborate with your team, and create a case study, printed piece or even web content to aid your sales staff! Or perhaps your sales force might be experiencing a high number of pre-qualified incoming leads, but aren’t converting. This may indicate there is a fundamental flaw in the sales process, that can sometimes be something as simple as not asking the right questions. While we aren’t sales trainers, effective marketing strategies create more demand and opportunity to look closer at your closing rates.
Wrapping up, I promise! Most folks not involved in the sales and or marketing process see them as the same thing. Those involved in one side or the other can sometimes see each other as two worlds apart. Success lies in the middle. These departments should be working in tandem, keeping communication open and continuous. If everyone knows their roles there’s no need for finger pointing. Let Market Mentors work to discover the “secret sauce” to get your sales team tuned in perfect unison with your marketing strategy! It will make your life as easy as “ABC.” Sorry, had to do it.
The Inside Story: Case Studies Support Sales
One of the most powerful sales tools marketing can provide is a case study. While case studies can take many forms, from feature articles to testimonial ads and videos, they are one of the most valued marketing investments. Maybe you’re interested in supporting your sales team but you don’t know exactly what a case study is, or perhaps you just need the right pitch to make sure your business earmarks part of the marketing budget to develop your story. At Market Mentors, we’ve drafted case studies that have helped sales teams deliver results across multiple platforms and industries. Here is what it’s all about:
What is a case study?
Case studies are storytelling for sales. Presented in a “problem, solution and results” format, these narratives hone in on the most common pain points of the personas you sell to — and then they offer a real-world solution with demonstrated results. These stories can be crafted in the form of an article and shared with trade press for editorial coverage, condensed into short statements that are just the right size for a print ad or billboard, and they can even be very effective television and radio ad messages… and the best part is that you don’t have to pick just one. Once developed, a case study can be repurposed across mediums that will be sure to reach your target audience, while maximizing the marketing budget.
Why are case studies so effective? The answer is threefold:
- Case studies identify with your target audience first. Sometimes radio or TV commercials are only 15 to 30 seconds long… so it’s easy to use up all that time just talking about your business, products or services. However, that “hard sell” approach can alienate your target audience because you don’t take the time to identify with them first. The same holds true for longer articles. It can be so tempting to write a full-page article about all the great things you do and offer… but people have short attention spans and know when they are being sold. Take a moment to paint a picture for your audience by using a “soft sell.” Show them you understand the challenges they face, and then show them your solution.
- Customer contribution adds credibility. You can say your product or services are the best, but it resonates more when a third party agrees. Capitalize on your success and ask your happy customers to share their experience working with you. Not only is the end result more credible marketing, but it’s an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with key clientele.
- They answer, “What’s in it for me?” By providing an actual example of real-world application, the burden of proof is lifted and the question changes from “why would I buy your product or use your service?” to “why wouldn’t that work for me?” That’s a much warmer conversation for your sales team, and one step closer to converting a prospect to a customer.
Have a great story to share but not sure how to get started? Contact us today and we can not only help you draft the story, but we’ll also help you extend the reach of your message. From traditional advertising and public relations, to websites and social media, Market Mentors can help shine a spotlight on your success.
What the new reaction feature on Facebook means for businesses
Have you noticed the new reaction button on Facebook? Chances are you have! If not, this is the set of six emoji’s that sit alongside the original “like” button. Users can quickly respond with love, laughter, happiness, shock, sadness and anger. This gives users the ability to respond to posts and ads with different reactions beyond the like button, but isn’t quite as bold as creating a dislike button, which is why these were created. This new set of reactions will appear on mobile and desktop versions.
While it seems like a fun tool to use when scrolling through your news feed, this could actually be harmful to users and businesses. This feature is available to use on ads that businesses have paid for. It is worrisome that users have the ability to negatively impact those businesses whom have paid for these ads. Some users tend to dislike any ads on Facebook and will react with an angry face even though it might not be towards what the ad is really promoting. Since there is no feedback as to why that reaction was posted for their ad, it is harder for businesses to gauge why that reaction is there. It is more practical when users comment on something they don’t agree with and then someone can respond appropriately and investigate further as to why someone is unhappy.
Although the reactions add a nice touch to other types of posts, it has become something that all businesses will now have to worry about since users have the freedom to post any reaction they want and you cannot remove it. Moving forward Facebook business pages will need to be monitored more carefully. Additionally with this negative reaction, it could cause businesses to not want to advertise on Facebook since they run the risk of having negative reactions linked to their ads with no other type of feedback as to why they had that reaction.
So what’s the good news you ask? Well, you can see who had a negative reaction and would still be able to reach out if you wanted to investigate further and get feedback on why they are unhappy. These new reactions also opens Facebook up to a new level of experimentation. Since users can see how others react to certain posts or ads, there is more information available to us than only likes and impressions. We can use this information to see what posts and ads users respond to and what types of reactions they are having to help with future posts and ads geared toward what people like.
Overall, this new change to Facebook has both pros and cons. We will have to wait and see how this new feature progresses and if this ends up being beneficial or more of a hassle for Facebook users.
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What is Your Company Logo Really Saying?
Have you ever been walking down the street and seen a logo on someone’s clothing and been able to identify the brand at first glance? Chances are you just answered “yes.” Company logos are essential in building brand awareness and in giving you an edge in the marketplace. Studies show that 65% of the population are visual learners, so it would behoove companies to use this as a competitive advantage. The key is to make the logo stand out above others, while still reflecting the value or product of the brand.
The real question is, what makes a good logo? Many of us don’t like to think about things any more than we already have to on a daily basis. “Keep it simple, stupid” will go a long way in the realm of brand recognition. Although Apple is already more established than most other brands, the simple apple emblem on the exterior of their products makes them easily recognizable. The same goes for Nike products. Who knew a “swoosh” would develop into such an iconic symbol? The point is, when logos and symbols become too complex, it can become unrecognizable to potential consumers.
One aspect that many companies may not consider when designing or choosing possible logos is if it is practical. By practical I mean, will it look good on paper, clothing, stickers, etc.? No matter what industry you are in, it’s important to have your logo transferable so it can be utilized on various platforms to maximize reach. FedEx, for example, utilizes the negative space in their logo so the “hidden” arrow appears on any surface it is printed on. Although it may seem like a minute detail, the arrow is crucial to their brand, symbolizing and communicating “movement, speed, and the dynamic nature of the company.”
Choosing a color that reflects who you are as a brand will help consumers to easily associate your company with your logo. Studies show that 80% of people think color increases brand recognition. Every color in the color wheel has a meaning behind it; blue means strong or trustworthy, red conveys boldness and love, and green symbolizes growth or caring. For example, law firms and insurance agencies might consider using red or blue in their logo to show their strong presence, rather than purple which could be seen as more creative and imaginative in nature. This seems to be getting down to the nitty gritty but colors can have a large impact on the human mind and the way we associate things.
All of these tips are helpful when thinking of ideas for your new or improved company logo. However, they are just suggestions, they are not set-in-stone rules! So, when deciding on possible ideas for a logo, consider these 5 key points:
- Reflect the values, goods, and services of your brand
- Keep it simple, stupid
- Make it easily recognizable
- Make it practical
- Choose the right color(s)
If your company needs help redesigning or generating a new logo, give us a call at 413-787-1133. Market Mentors would be happy to give your brand that “extra something” it deserves!
Spot Colors and their Importance to your Branding
Many small companies or businesses that started without a creative agency or designer may not be using spot colors, which is an essential element for brand consistency. Spot colors are premixed solid inks that provide consistent results when printing. They also have standard formulas to be viewed across different types of media. For example, Pantone has a complete color matching system that allows companies to keep the colors in their business materials consistent. To break this down in a way that is easier to understand, you’ll need to know about the different ways artwork is used and the variation of colors needed for each media. Offset printing, digital printing, and on-screen artwork are some of the most common ways business materials end up in the consumers hands.
Offset printing is done with separate plates for each color. In a typical offset printing project, there are four plates for the following colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). This is because these four colors are printed one at a time to build up to all the colors you are normally used to seeing in a full color print. If you are printing in black and white, you will only need one plate: black. When using spot colors, each one requires a separate plate. For example, if you have a full color project with additional 2 spot colors, you will need 6 plates: cyan, magenta, yellow, black, spot color 1 and spot color 2. Offset printing is usually recommended for bigger projects or when a high volume of materials is needed. When one project requires spot colors for a portion, but not on others, it’s possible that the colors will be inconsistent. One brochure could look more cyan vs another brochure you had printed looking more magenta for example. Spot colors help avoid this issue.
Digital printing is similar to using your laser or inkjet printer. There are different digital presses these days that offer either laser or inkjet capabilities. This is often a better choice for smaller size/volume projects, because it is less expensive (less setup involved because plates do not need to be created). One of the biggest downfalls to digital printing however, is the quality and color inconsistency. Spot colors can only be simulated in digital prints, leaving more room for color error as well, though many commercial printers are able to match the spot color very closely.
On-screen artwork for example, websites, emails, etc. is different than traditional printing in that the way colors are used is different. We mentioned CMYK earlier as being used in both offset and digital printing. On-screen artwork is typically displayed in red, green, blue (RGB). RGB light is produced on the monitor and the three colors mix to create all of the colors shown onscreen. All three colors mixed together create white. On-screen artwork also leaves room for inconsistency because every monitor is calibrated differently. If you have a spot color predetermined, it will help reduce this issue, though it can never be avoided 100% of the time.
With the different ways printing and on-screen artwork is displayed, there needs to be some consistency in how your branding or logo presents in each environment. Spot colors help keep the colors as close as possible across multiple avenues. For example, the Pantone Matching System (PMS) has created a system with all the colors they offer with the full spot color breakdown (pre-mixed inks that follow a specific formula and are meant to be exactly the same no matter what print shop you use for offset printing), a conversion to CMYK (offset printing without spots or digital printing) as well as a conversion for RGB (on-screen). This system tells designers/printers what information to use when designing/printing to achieve the most accurate color and consistency possible. This is good for your brand so consumers do not see completely different shades of your color across all your business materials. There will be some color change between the different medias (offset, digital, and on-screen) as each one functions differently and cannot be reproduced on the other media. Another reason for this is the range of colors available to each media is different for each. CMYK has the smallest gamut range, followed by Pantone and then RGB.
CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black: Used in offset and digital printing to put color on the printing material.
RGB – Red, Green, Blue: Used in monitors and displays to produce light that creates the colors available.
PMS – Pantone Matching System: A system of predetermined colors that allows you more control over the consistency of the color in your business materials with formulas to convert to CMYK and RGB when necessary.