A New Era in Marketing

Marketing After COVID-19 - Trudy Boutique - Social Stylate

Trudy boutique – Photo by Kelli Wilke Photography

How has your brand navigated the COVID-19 situation so far? Did you adjust your marketing strategy? Did you adopt a different online shopping approach? Maybe you’re still trying to figure out how best to move forward in the current and ever-changing societal climate.

The Social Stylate team has been hearing a lot about business owners “pivoting” to meet today’s newest and unique needs. We agree that in many cases, change is necessary, and it hasn’t been easy. It’s essential to be respectful, aware, and sensitive to the world around us, and it can be difficult to know the right moves for your company in this ever-changing environment.

However, we think success in a post-quarantine world will demand that companies go a step further than a COVID-triggered pivot in products and messaging. Simply having made response-oriented changes won’t be enough. For lasting success, brands will need to be “pivotal,” establishing their authentic core and working outward from there.

Go back to your mission statement and why you started your business. If your plan has changed since the beginning, now is a great time to reevaluate and explore rebranding to best grow your company and start implementing those authentic, true-to-your vision changes.

Presenting your brand at its truest form, and not becoming who you think other people want your brand to be, will go much further in creating lasting, relevant, and valuable content for your audience. Establish your company as pivotal and you’ll see the quality of your client-base grow exponentially.

Tip: Don’t forget your roots! Remember, people follow your brand and shop your products because of you. Because they trust you, enjoy what you have to say, and believe you. Staying true to yourself will shine through and make you stand out in a crowd of companies who are bending to the will of the world instead of forging their own path.

Social Stylate can help you create pivotal branding and marketing for the post-COVID world. Our knowledgeable team offers expert brand messaging, marketing strategies based on the latest research, and authentic development for your brand or company. Contact us for a consultation to discuss how to brand for success in a new era.

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SEO Tips: 3 Things You Can Do Now To Improve Your Website

A businesswoman's hands type on a Macbook next to an iPhone and planner
Search engine optimization, or SEO, plays a large role in driving traffic to your website. The words you use or don’t use matter and where you put them matters, too. It’s a lot to learn and because we know SEO can seem like a foreign language, we’re giving you three SEO tips you can do right now to make your website better!

Add alt text to images
Alternative text, or alt text/alt tags, provides a written description for an image. Alt text should be concise and descriptive, this is not the time to wax poetic about how beautiful the sunshine felt that day, save that for your actual content. Instead, use a short and sweet description to explain what’s happening.

Alt text’s usefulness is two-fold:

1. Creates descriptive text to assist those who are visually impaired so they can better understand your image. Making your content accessible for as many people as possible is only going to help your company and your message. By inviting more people in, you will create lasting business and improved customer relationships.

2. Provides more text space for SEO purposes, such as using keywords. You don’t want to go crazy using so many keywords that it makes your alt text unreadable, but if you can squeeze one or two keywords in there, it’s going to help you.

Search engines have come a long way, but they still can’t really “see” your image; help them help you by providing some descriptive and concise alt text so they can send traffic your way!

Create original, evergreen content for your blog
Evergreen content is content that’s always relevant, regardless of the season, year, or current events. Named for evergreen trees that keep their needles throughout the year, the topics of evergreen content are core issues that your readers will always care about. Think about something in your industry that your customers are consistently interested in, then use that to compose blog posts that will stand the test of time.

Another thing about blogs: link your current post to other pages on your website, like an old post or another page. For example, if you’re writing a recipe post where you mention using organic food, and several months ago you uploaded a post about ways to source your own organic produce, this is a perfect opportunity to link back to that post. This will remind your longtime readers of, and introduce your new audience to, this helpful, relevant, and informative content.

In the last 3 years, social sharing of content has dropped 50% because there’s so much content out there. By creating blog posts that seamlessly transition through the news cycles, you’ll be viewed as current to your audience. When you write a blog post, ask yourself, ‘How many ways can I utilize this post and how can I stand out?’ The more original you are and the more evergreen content you have will ensure your blog traffic will grow since you’ll be able to refer to that content time and time again.

Check for dead links on your site
Make sure to regularly check your links to ensure they’re going where they’re supposed to. Links can be broken for a variety of reasons, but the solution is simple. If you do have a dead link and you or your customers are receiving the dreaded ‘404 Not Found’ message, you’ll want to set up redirects. There are apps you can use to check for dead links or you can take a look through your site to thoroughly check yourself.

Why it’s important: If you or others pinned your blog post and those links are dead, you’re losing valuable traffic. It’s as simple as that!

These three SEO tips are things you can do today that will immediately improve your website. If you’re interested in other ways to help your website and business grow, contact us for a quote and let’s see how we can improve your online presence!

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To Serif, or Not to Serif? And that’s just the beginning…

How To Choose The Right Typeface - Social Stylate

How to choose the right typeface for your project

Hello! Julia here, Social Stylate’s graphic designer, and I’m here to talk (type?) typefaces. I have been an artist since I could grip a pen, and a graphic designer since I “artfully arranged” my first tri-fold science board in grade school. Back in the day (aka the glory days of Windows 95), all I had to work with were the 20 or so preloaded Windows fonts, back when Comic Sans was fun and Papyrus was exotic. With the explosion of font availability in the form of type kits and open-source sites, the selection can be both thrilling and overwhelming. With that in mind, I wanted to share my concept/thought process when it comes to choosing a typeface for a project.

When approaching a graphic design project, one of the first questions is almost always which typeface should I use. Then the questions begin… I find that after a few basic questions I generally can find my direction:

How much type are we working with? The first question is always “how much?”. A large body of text in paragraph form has different readability considerations than an event invitation. One design principle that’s constantly scrolling through my mind as I’m designing a layout with type is “hierarchy of information.” This simply means the scale of each element (i.e. type) will dictate its importance. Scale is one of the most basic ways to control your viewer’s eye (and ensure that they see the important stuff first!). Once I know how much I’m working with, I can begin to prioritize the visual information.

Which fonts/typefaces are (possibly) required? Is there branding is being associated with this type? If it is not a standalone piece of work, then there is some creative leeway. If this is for a brand, the “rules” have already been established, and it’s the responsibility of the designer to maintain the visual continuity by using the same font family.

Who is the target audience, and what is the message? The font choice must be congruent to the messaging of the artwork. A PSA shouldn’t be cartoonish, a child’s party shouldn’t be a study in the Bauhaus School of Design. You get the picture.

Where will this be displayed? Will the work be in print, or on the web? Or both? Is the typeface setting the mood with a dramatic headline, or is it supporting beautiful artwork? It may sound a little obvious to say that readability is paramount, but it can easily be lost in translation when artwork stretches across formats and sizes.

I adore an on-trend typeface, and nowadays they are more accessible than ever. However, when it comes to typefaces, the most important thing to me is restraint. Typefaces are beautiful, and some have been around for centuries (see: Garamond, Bodoni, Grotesk), and they shine gorgeously on their own with a little breathing room. Remember, good design is invisible. Happy typing!

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A Color Story: A Guide to Building Color Palettes

Julie Johnson here, Social Stylate’s Graphic Designer. This month I’m taking a break from spinning scary tales of online advertising click trackers in favor of some good old-fashioned color theory. When I approach a project one of my first three questions will be about color. Color selection gives your piece its identity. Naturally, when the question of palette comes up, the response is often emotion based. We tend to know “what” we want our colors to say. Over my career I’ve had plenty of these exchanges:

Designer: Do you have a color palette in mind?

Client: Something punchy! Va va voom! Like, pow! You know?

I’ll never hold it against a client for coming to a graphic design project meeting without a composed palette. After all, as a designer, that’s what I’m here for! Whether it be a logo, an event poster, a pamphlet, a business card, or a website, our color choices give projects their personality. I’m here to help bridge the gap between “what” we want our colors to say and “how” to get them to say it! Here’s a basic guide to working a color palette for your piece:

Step 1: Get emotional – define the “what”

Define that vibe! In the exchange above, the Client is well on their way. Most folks know intrinsically “what” they want their piece to say. If you’re not sure, write down a list of words to describe your event/piece/business that the piece is for (e.g. cheerful, holiday, joy, comfort, warm, cozy, family).

Step 2: Choose your hues based on the “what”

Take that “what” and assign some color hues to it. Was your “what” energetic and exciting? Let’s do warm colors like reds, oranges, and yellows! Were you going for something serene and relaxed? Go for greens and blues! You don’t have to be specific at this stage – focus on hue, that is, simply the base color. We will get into tones in a bit.

Step 3: Apply some theory

Now that you have some hues picked out, refine them by applying some theory! You may be wondering “do these hues work well together?” Good news! Someone has already done that work for you! You can decide to create an analogous palette (colors that are adjacent on the color wheel), complementary (opposite sides of the color wheel), or another configuration. There are many possible configurations in color theory (we’re sticking with simple here), and they will help take the guesswork out of color harmonizing. Get started with the examples below:

Step 4: Tone it up (or down)!

Now that you’ve finalized your base hues and configuration, go back to those “what” items you defined in step one to inform your tones, shades, and tints. This is a fancy way of saying adding white, black, or gray to your existing hues. Keeping it bright? Maybe you don’t need to add any neutrals to your hues at all! Want to soften things up? Tint it up by adding some white to the hues to get a pastel palette. To go for something deeper and moodier, add in a little shade with black. If you want to desaturate or “muddy up” your colors a bit, add gray. Keep it uniform though!

Keep in mind that this is a simplified, high-level guide to get you started. We could fill a book on color theory and palettes (and plenty of talented individuals have!). Hopefully, these steps will give you some confidence to approach your next project!

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