Packaging Considerations For All Businesses

Developing an effective and beneficial product is only part of the process. You then need to market it and sell it in the best possible way. This involves packaging the product in an attractive and informative manner. With that being said, continue reading to find out more about important packaging considerations for all businesses.

Practicality comes first -We often tend to get wrapped up in the process of looking for vibrant and striking designs. While it is important to create packaging that looks amazing,this should never come at a sacrifice of practicality. After all, at heart, the primary job of your packaging is to make sure the product is protected physically. It can also act as a security aid, protecting against theft,depending on the nature of the product. You should never lose sight of this. Don’t ditch resealable plastic bags for bags without a seal simply because they look better.

Find a way to add some pizzazz – Once you have dealt with the practicalities, you need to make sure that your bag has the wow factor. After all, packaging needs to stand out from all of the other packages used. So, you need to choose something that makes your product seem better. Not only this, but the packaging you select can have a massive impact on the perceived retail value. This is something you shouldn’t overlook. You could easily add a dollar or two to the price with good packaging. All businesses need to consider the value when it comes to the packaging they select.

Make sure your packaging is informative – Aside from the points that have already been mentioned, you need to remember that your packaging is essentially an information-delivery system. It needs to tell the prospective buyer exactly what the product does and what it is for. While you need to keep things concise and ensure you don’t write anything unnecessary, living out imperative details is even more criminal. Moreover, think about where the eyes divert to first.

Telling a story– Last but not least, the final consideration you have when it comes to packaging is the story it tells. We don’t merely value products. We value the stories that go with them. This is something you really need to keep in mind when you are assessing different packaging options for your products. This is something that Apple do really well with their items, so it’s worth looking at their efforts for some inspiration.

As you can see, there are a number of different considerations when it comes to product packaging for your business. If you contemplate all of the pointers that have been discussed above, you should be able to come up with something that is right for your brand and your products.

Building Your Brand With Content Creation

We all know how important our branding is. It’s more than just a fun novelty, it’s integral to your business’ success. Treat it as an add on or a box checking activity and you will deprive your business of its myriad benefits. A brand is far more than a catchy tagline, a pretty logo or a unified color scheme in your physical presence. Sure, branding incorporates all of those elements but it goes much deeper than any of that… or at least it should. Branding has its cosmetic considerations but it is also an encapsulation of everything your business is, everything it does and everything it stands for.

Branding makes a promise to your customers. It sets out your stall and demonstrates the values and ideals upon which your business was built. As such it is represented in every aspect of your business; operations from the way in which your employees interact with your customers to the layout of your website and the speed with which you pick up the phone. It’s in the quality of the raw materials you use in your manufacturing. It’s in the appearance of your physical premises on the outside as well as the inside. Would you want to hang your sign on damaged or rusty steel pipes? Heck no! That’s why you go to VarnerPipe.com. It’s in the ingenuity of the creative solutions that you come up with to solve your customers’ problems. Think about when you meet someone special wither in the world of work, friendship or romance. What qualities make them attractive? Sure, their physical appearance may play a part but there are plenty of beautiful people with whom we’d rather not associate. It’s their deeds, their actions, their sincerity, their beliefs or their ideals. All of these things represent that person’s character and your brand is just that… A character for your business.

Character development

So… how do we go about giving our business character? Do we give it a cute mascot? Sure, that could work. Do we build the business around ourselves, tailoring its image to fit our own? That can also work, but be aware that if you take this step, your personal fate will be inextricably tied to that of your business. If something happens to tarnish your business’ reputation, yours will inevitably be tarnished as well. A big part of lending character and personality to your business is giving your brand a voice. That’s where content marketing comes in. here we’ll look at how content creation can help to build your brand while also improving your visibility by creating an organic boost in your Search Engine Optimization.

Quality or quantity… You pretty much have to invest in both

In order to boost your SEO and improve your online visibility it’s essential that your business posts regular content. And by regular we mean daily. Does this require care, effort, dedication and attention? It sure does! However, far too many small businesses including bloggers looking to turn pro place too much emphasis on quantity over quality. As such they outsource to dirt cheap overseas content farms for generic filler content written by writers for whom English is an additional language. As such the content you post on your site may be poorly researched, inaccurate, misleading or just poorly written.

In order to get content marketing right and ensure that your brand has a consistent, authoritative voice your content needs to be entrusted to someone with an intimate working knowledge of your business and familiarity with the principles behind your brand. That means paying a member of your staff to create content in accordance with a clearly defined content strategy. You should also make the time to generate some content yourself every now and then. After all, your unique experience, knowledge and insight are your USP, and the one thing that no competitor can ever replicate. Not only will you add depth and dimension to the voice of your brand, you’ll also establish yourself as an expert in the field. If you do choose to outsource, at least entrust your content to a company that hires talented writers who will write accessible yet factually dense content specifically tailored to the voice of your brand.

Tell a story with your social media

We human beings are psychologically predisposed to love stories. We literally can’t get enough of them. We lap them up on TV, in books, in movies and even in video games. As such, your social media presence can really win over prospective customers or clients if you use it to tell a story. Instagram stories are a great example of this. By using short vignettes of video clips and / or images you can give those legions of leads out there an insight into your working processes, life on your shop floor or the testimonials of happy customers. Instagram stories in particular are great tools for small business because they are short, easy to digest and rely on economy of narrative to tell a story that resonates with the viewer.

Lights, camera… traction!

Video may have killed the radio star, but it can breathe a whole lot of new life into your business. In an era where more and more of us consume digital content through mobile devices in short bursts, video is the perfect medium for gaining traction with decision makers who may not have the time to sit and peruse a lengthy blog post.

While video creation  may require a little more in terms of time, effort and resources than writing a blog post, now’s the time to get in on the ground floor. It’s estimated that by 2021 video will account for 81% of all internet traffic. Already, there are 100 million hours of video consumed every day on Facebook alone. If you expect to retain the attention of your audience now and for the next decade, video is a medium that you’ll need to learn to embrace.

When you create great content on a regular basis, users will get a clearer idea of what (and even who) your business is. When they invest in that persona, they’ll come back to you time and again!

Why Use Instagram Stories For Business

Instagram Stories is quite popular Instagram’s feature for boosting authentic engagement with followers. As over 300 million people use it daily, it’s easier to turn this engagement into sales with a great call-to-action and to expand your reach. The 20% of Stories posted by brands leads to direct interaction with customers.

Moreover, over 50% of businesses are already using Stories, while 88% of brands plan on start using them in 2018. Hence, your business needs to catch on or risk being left behind.

Stories offer businesses the chance to take their followers behind the scenes to see what it takes to organize an event or launch a product, thus building much engagement.

Brands can also run campaigns to reach a certain audience. For instance, Tiket.com, an Indonesian online travel company, used Stories to reach a younger audience and increase its app downloads. As a result, 26 million Indonesians were reached and the app recorded 239,000 downloads.

More so, with a widespread reach, Instagram ads provide a high ROI. For example, Country Road, a retailer, used them to market Capsule, reach a wider market, and increase its return on ad spending. It managed to reach 409,000 people and earned 18 times return on ad spending for an average website purchase.

To learn more about why your business needs to use Instagram Stories, check out the infographic below:

May-6-2018-Infographic-Instagram-Stories-1

Six tips to improve your video marketing strategy

Marketing is an integral part of any business. In the past, businesses have used email and content marketing to get their message out there. Presently, online videos are trending, and businesses are using them to increase their outreach.

The reason why video is a very effective marketing medium is that it is very engaging and captivating. Using videos on a landing page can increase conversion by more than 80%. A video is a very powerful tool that businesses are presently using to reach their audiences.

If you have been using videos for some time and have not really gotten any result, chances are there is something wrong with your video marketing strategy. In this article, we are going to be looking at six tips that can improve your video marketing strategy. Ensure that you take a review of IPage before making a video for your business.

  1. Start with a story

Telling stories in your video is going to make it more appealing to your audience. When you tell them a story that has a link to something they are going through, they are likely going to connect with you. Most viral video usually has a fun and engaging story.

A simple video without any story is likely going to give you an average or no result. On the other hand, if you add a compelling story to your video, the results are going to be mind-blowing.

  1. Keep it short

Videos do not need to be very long in order for them to be captivating. Presently, a lot of research is going video marketing. The results of these researchers have shown that customers prefer watching a short video. The obvious reason for this is because they have a very short attention span.

When making a video for your product or services, you need to have it in mind that your customers or prospects are busy and may have a lot of issues to attend to. The ideal length of a video ranges from 30 seconds to 1 minutes.

  1. Make your video interactive

The behaviour of your customers is changing by the day. If you don’t keep pace with it, you are going to be left behind. You will agree that making a video is expensive, even more, it takes a lot of time and effort. Video contents that are very interactive usually go viral. If you want to get more out of your videos, you have to make it more interactive. If your videos are interactive, your customer will follow you closely.

  1. Add a call to action

Making a great video content without any call to action is a complete waste of time and resources. Businesses that create excellent content, but do not have a call to action, usually struggle and find it difficult to increase their revenue.

Use the last few seconds at the end of your video to tell your customers or viewers what you want them to do next. You should add links that will take your viewers to your sales page or your membership site.

  1. Use data effectively

Data is what runs the business world. If you ignore the valuable data from your business, you are going end up making the same mistake over and over again. Having a data gathering strategy will help you chart the progress of your video content. In the long run, the data you have collected will show you the kind of videos your customers love.

  1. Optimize your video

This is something you should never ignore. If you do, all your hard work is going to go to waste. Optimizing each of your video content is going to make it easier for your customers or audience to find it. One of the most effective ways to improve your ranking is to transcribe your videos.

Applying the tips in this article will improve the overall outreach of your business.

Guide to Building a Top #UI #Design #Portfolio

Before We Begin

Professionals who work in the creative industry need portfolios to showcase their skills to attract clients and peers. Once upon a time this was solved by creating stunning printed pieces. However, no matter how you look at it, times have changed and designers are no longer just designers. We’ve got different specialties that cover many different fields within design. It’s important that you identify your strengths before starting to build your own portfolio.

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Today we will cover all the bases that lead to the creation of an amazing User Interface Portfolio, so if this happens to be your specialization, keep reading!

Quality and Quantity

Take the creation of your portfolio as any other important project you would work on and start by picking the number of products or projects you would like to showcase. Think of a number that can cover all of what you can do from the point of view of a UI designer, that can be enough to represent you as the perfect candidate for the next big contract and not a lot to turn your portfolio into an overwhelming and never ending trip for your future clients. Edit your selection with a sharp eye, as you will be judged by your worst piece.

Picking up to 9 projects is more than enough to show a variety of pieces, however, if that would be too many for what you would like to show in your portfolio then don’t worry, as 6 is also an acceptable number of projects to offer.

We all know working on a portfolio can feel endless because it’s hard for us as designers to objectively select the best work. However, the sooner you publish your portfolio, the faster your work will be ready for potential clients to see. Set realistic deadlines for every step of the process: from the very beginning, to when you pick your projects, through to its publication.

What About the Target?

This will mainly depend on you: are you a UI designer focusing on gaming? How about a UI designer specialized in designing mobile apps? Maybe you do both plus more! Each of them has a different solution but these tips are applicable to all UI cases.

Benchmark

A little research has never truly hurt anyone and it’s useful to see what kinds of portfolios are out there, what trends you should avoid for your portfolio to not look the same as everyone else’s, and what details are definitely worth exploring to apply to your own presentation. Inspiration is your best friend when you’re starting to build something from scratch.

Awwwards is a good place to look for web-based portfolios and some users at Dribbble offer more on their profiles to a web portfolio than you might think.

Of course, learning from your fellow colleagues on Toptal is always a good idea, there are stunning portfolios out there for you to check out!

The Three Pillars

There are three things that should be kept in mind throughout the process of building a UI portfolio: remember the importance of the visuals, have a solid process and show the result of each project by telling a story. Be as specific as you want yet keep an equilibrium between all three of them.

While it’s important to pay attention to details and UI designers focus mainly on those, it’s vital for your pieces to be “more than just a pretty face.” UI designers mostly work with UX designers to achieve incredible products, or sometimes hybrid designers do both UX and UI at the same time. Therefore it’s key to keep the essence of your designs by having some storytelling on every single page and by dodging the commonly known “Dribbblisation of Design” which will differentiate you from regular designers.

Layouts & Styles

The recommended size for portfolios nowadays are:

  • A4 Horizontal, the width will benefit the amount of content you can show
  • Sizes that are always larger in width and no smaller than 1280x800px

Note: Most devices nowadays allow retina images which will make your images look sharper and better. Remember to upload them twice their original size with @2x.

When thinking of the kind of layout you should design for each product, keep in mind that most of your projects will be different and will have a particular style that makes them unique: this will help you with the previously mentioned storytelling. Start from beginning to end, or backward; the possibilities are endless as long as you keep coherence on every single page.

Think of the most eye-catching cover page for each project. Whether it’s the logo of the product with a color background, a mobile product displayed in a beautiful mockup, or the interface of a video game close up, all of them can work as long as you keep the visual noise to a minimum. Clients have only a few minutes per page to spare on your portfolio so it’s important to show and tell as much as possible in a clean and organized way.

Don’t be afraid to put two or three dispositive together for a cover page as it will show how adaptable and dynamic your product is and will also tell the client beforehand how much content they can expect from a project.

Be Meticulous

We live and breathe visuals so we can’t afford to have pixelated rounded corners on a mockup, different screen sizes or slightly different alignments for the same product.

Keep in mind:

  • The alignment of your mockups or screens should be the same as not to generate a slight jump between one page and another. Make sure to check alignments on Y and X.
  • Work with vector images. If you’re using Sketch, it’s quite handy to have mockups that can be scalable and will never look pixilated; use the “scale” option instead of manually scaling your mockup, as it will lose its shape. If you happen to be using Photoshop, on the other hand, scale your mockup and use Command + Z (or Control + Z on a PC) to go back and scale again, as every time you scale your image it will get more and more pixelated.
  • Check for details once you’re done with the general alignment of your objects by working with zoom. This will help you discard any lines or shapes that are slightly out of place.
  • If you’re using mockups for mobile or tablets, there are two ways to go regarding the top bar: if you wish to keep it, make sure the battery is on a 100% charge and that the carrier shows a real company, for example, AT&T, T-Mobile, Virgin, among others, because it will give a realistic touch to your product. If you wish to take the top bar away, mobile products usually look better in a rounded container with 2px of radius, without a mockup.
  • The background should always highlight the product you’re trying to show and not turn the client’s view away from it. There are two ways to go about this: either use a plain color background that can make a friendly contrast with your product (keep in mind the mock up’s color and the color scheme of your design altogether) or 2. use a pattern or picture as background but get creative with its opacity and/or add a color layer on top with some transparency. Once again, the options are endless as long as the background is always secondary.
  • For web pages or landing pages, you can go ahead and divide them into three pages to allow for a smooth tour through each portion. Making it small and placing them into a single page would make the client miss key points and details that will differentiate your product from others.

The Process

It doesn’t matter whether you do UX, UI or a complete different specialization within design: it’s always important to show that your work had a process and that it didn’t just magically appear. Don’t be shy to include rough sketches, the good old technique of paper and pencil, collage or even photography that could have helped you in the thought process of building outstanding UI for your product.

Depending how you want to go to your portfolio, there are different ways and techniques to show these sketches:

  • The simplest method is to scan your sketches and make good use of Photoshop to handle levels, contrast, and brightness before using them in the correct size (not too big nor too small). Depending what you want to show with these sketches, they can all be on the same page spread everywhere or more organized, selecting just a few of the most polished ones.
  • If you got inspired by particular objects, taking photographs from above at a 90° angle would show the object in a real size and it’s a trend that’s been quite useful as of lately (be careful of any shadows over your object!). If your object isn’t as flattering at that angle, however, using non-conventional angles like diagonals could help give the photograph more movement.
  • Other tips regarding photography: 1. make sure the photograph is not blurry and that there aren’t other items creating noise or disturbing the general picture, and 2. consider properly cutting those objects and placing them over solid color backgrounds or alternatively create a scenario that serves as context. For both cases, do check contrasts, brightness, and levels as we don’t want it to be too bright or too dark.
  • Collages, paintings or experimentation over a paper with different items like brushes, pens or watercolor pencils can also be scanned or photographed. It mostly depends on what is important to show for each project, and what experiences are important for our client to have when they’re taking a look at those pages.

Storytelling

This is your work process and the way you show it will depend on what kind of projects you’ve worked on. If your main focus is iconography, showing rough sketches and a step-by-step process through to the final form are recommended. If you’re focusing on mobile products instead, screens that are connected to one another to show a feature can also tell a story, and initial sketches of the interface itself are always helpful as well.

Consistency and coherence are important to tell a story no matter how you want to show it. And even though each product will have its own unique style there is a rhythm that will guide your client’s eyes through each page.

Recap

To summarize everything, remember to:

  1. Keep in mind your target which will probably depend on your specialization as a UI Designer.
  2. Pick reasonable numbers of pages for your portfolio that can showcase the kind of professional you are.
  3. Do some benchmark; research has never hurt anyone.
  4. Set realistic deadlines, and treat your portfolio building as another project.
  5. Whatever you do, don’t forget about visuals, including written details and your work process. If there’s something a UI Designer can stand out in, it is by being quite meticulous with details.
  6. You live and breathe visuals but storytelling is just as important to differentiate you from regular designers who fall into the “Dribbblisation of Design” category.
  7. Be coherent and consistent with your style through every part of your portfolio.

Last but not least: have fun! Your portfolio, whether UI, UX or any other kind, should show not only how capable you are as a professional but also part of your personality and that you have a unique voice and style to offer.

This article is originally posted here.

 

 

Are You Properly Selling Your Brand to Consumers?

storyDo you know how to tell your brand story?

We live in a world where grabbing and keeping your audiences’ attention isn’t always easy. Good storytelling can break through the marketing noise and make your brand stand out.

Good storytelling can also forge an emotional connection with your customers that will keep them interested and loyal.

So just what is the power of storytelling?

Here are four things good storytelling can do for your brand….

Boost Engagement

Storytelling is engaging. People have been getting together over a good story for years, from creation myths around the fire to the latest gossip around the water cooler.

If you can tell a strong story about your brand, you can get customers engaged with it.

Take for example the popular Taster’s Choice coffee ads from the 1990s.

These classic ads are a quintessential example of how to tell a story. Viewers stayed tuned for years to find out what the Taster’s Choice couple would do next. The campaign boosted sales and even spawned its own spin off novel and CD compilation.

Give Your Brand Personality

Good storytelling gives your brand a strong personality. With so many brands competing for your customers’ attention, a stand out personality can keep your brand fresh in their minds.

Apple is one of the best-known brand personalities, and for good reason.

Their fun, stylish, easy-going brand persona has its finger on the pulse of the latest developments, and consumers respond to that.

Create a brand personality that your customers will relate to, and you can use that personality as the focus for your brand storytelling.

Find Common Ground

Telling a story about your brand can help you find common ground with your customers.

The story you choose to tell and the way you tell it says a lot about your brand values and ethics.

Customers who share those values and ethics will feel a connection with your story. You’re letting them know that your brand understands them, and knows what really matters.

The article “Chewing Gum, Engaging Your Audience, and the Power of Storytelling” gives the example of Wrigley’s and their recent campaign featuring a father making origami cranes for his child throughout the years.

Wrigley’s touching campaign demonstrates family values, love and tenderness. Customers who value those things will feel a connection with Wrigley’s as a result.

When telling your brand story, ask yourself what values you want to demonstrate to your customers, and how you can best go about doing that.

Forge Emotional Connections

A strong emotional connection is an absolute boon for marketers.

There’s an old adage that people will forget what you said or what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. This stands true for your brand.

If you can make your customers truly feel something, they’ll remember you. Storytelling is an effective way to do just that.

Take GoPro’s ad featuring a firefighter rescuing a tiny kitten.

It would be hard to watch it and not be moved. The ad doesn’t focus on the product, but rather on telling an emotionally charged story that will stay with the customer after the ad ends.

Storytelling elevates your marketing to a new level. You can use it to forge a deep connection and keep customers hooked on your brand.

Don’t just market – start telling your story today.

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a variety of topics including social media, how to build customer relationships, content marketing and how to tell your brand story.