The 4 Must-Dos in Your Presentation

Over the years at IH Concepts, our CEO has given several presentations that have helped us network and empower consumers. By giving a great presentation, you can change a view, increase your revenue, and network to businesses you never would have thought of. One area that is critical to creating an effective presentation is communicating your message visually. Here are the top four things to consider while making your next visual for a presentation:

1. Readability

One of the most critical pieces to any presentation is making sure that your visual aid has text that is large enough and clear enough so that the viewer can read it. This is important because text that is unreadable will disengage your audience. For slideshows, we suggest using a 30pt font, however it’s essential to test the readability of your visual aid before giving your presentation. One simple way of testing this is to move away from your presentation to a distance in which the viewer will be seeing it. If the text on your visual aid is easy to read from where the audience is sitting, you’re already on the right track to giving a great presentation.

2. Find a Good Content Balance for Your Slides

When preparing a slideshow presentation, it’s important to find a good balance between the number of slides and the amount of content on each. If you have a slideshow prepared with a single word on each slide, then you need to compress your information and minimize the number of slides you have. Creating a slideshow with unnecessary slides will make things more confusing for yourself and the viewer. On the other hand, you also don’t want to have a presentation with 3 slides filled with text from top to bottom; if your audience is staring at a wall of text, they will more than likely give up and tune out the information. As a good rule of thumb, we recommend having enough information on each slide so that you can comfortably spend about 45 seconds talking about the subject matter.

3. Include More Than Just Text

Creating a nice visual in your presentation can make the information easy to digest and more memorable than plain text. If a viewer for your presentation needs to read all of the text off of your slides in order to learn, than they will zone out and miss all of the important information; The information needs to come from you. It’s been found that about 55% of people learn best visually, so it’s important to keep that in mind while creating the overall visual appeal of your presentation. At IH Concepts, we do this by adding graphs to our presentations, icons to replace words, and professional imagery to showcase ideas. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let your images do the talking for you.

4. 3×5 rule

The 3×5 rule states that you should typically use either 5 lines of 3 words or 3 lines of 5 words on each slide. This is a general guideline to follow while considering how you want to convey your information. The 3×5 rule keeps a nice amount of information on the slides without being overbearing. There’s no need for an entire column of text in a presentation when a few short and sweet phrases present the information much clearer.

Presentations are difficult to master, but with these four elements, you will be one step closer to producing high-quality presentations. Stay tuned for our next newsletter for more tips and tricks.

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Pete Valeo – Web Developer

This month’s Team Member Spotlight features Pete, one of our web developers. Pete grew up outside of Chicago in Arlington Heights and moved to Madison in 2002. He has been with IH Concepts for two years and has a great deal of experience with coding. He first started tinkering with coding in 1995 and 20 years later he learned WordPress, PHP, and HTML/CSS/ JavaScript. Pete enjoys the challenge of designing websites and helped launch the IH Concepts mobile site in 2016.

When he isn’t working as a web developer, he enjoys cooking, cycling around town, and music production. When asked what he’d like to be known for, Pete said, “ Ideally I’d like to be known as a decent dude and/or someone who makes other people’s lives easier where I can.” With his strong work ethic and uplifting attitude, Pete has been a valuable asset to our team and we are happy he’s on board.

Here are some interesting facts about Pete:

What is your favorite summer time food?

Probably the lamb/beef shawarma plate from Mediterranean Cafe. Not only in summer, though – that one’s a year-round treat. Their tahini sauce is unreal!

If you were on a road trip tomorrow, where would you go?

Probably Seattle. I’ve wanted to visit there for a long time, and my girlfriend and I are planning to check it out in the nearish future. Making it a road trip would be a great chance to check out the huge swath of the US between Seattle and Madison.

If you could invent a new contraption, what would it be?

Something like a Keurig but for fresh-ground pour-over coffee. If you could have all the convenience of the Keurig, but with fresher coffee and without all the waste – that would be awesome.

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The Design-Dos of 2018

Last year, we saw loud and bright colors bring fun to brands, hand drawn logos showing sincerity, and animated GIFs bringing visuals to life. We also saw Google fonts bring versatility to websites and blogs, minimalism integrating pops of color, and duotones in photos and on websites drawing people in.

As we rang in the New Year, excited for the new promise and potential the year would bring, 2018 is setting changes in graphic design trends. This year different trends emerged and others amplified their importance, bringing them to the limelight. With the help of Venngage and 99designs, here are six must-know trends for 2018 to connect with your audience:

1. Gradients Are In

Gradients are very common to create a simple background that isn’t just one solid color. Gradients allow for a great color and design addition if used correctly. These gradients are coming around to replace the flat designs that have been dominant in recent years.

Photo credit by Venngage

2. Better Images & Authentic Photography is Key

Using authentic photography offers limitless possibilities. They will also be much more successful than stock photos in capturing the attention of your viewer. Authentic photos make it easier to connect with your audience, tell your story, and showcase the business. It also gives you more credibility, as it shows your business in a way that customers can expect to interact with it.

3. Go unconventional

Rebranding your company to contain many colors is a bolder trend that is starting to occur. Traditionally, designers would only use a specific color palette in the branding of a company. As 2018 continues, multiple color systems seem to become more and more popular. More colors allow for variety in the design plans. However, this idea of using a multiple color scheme may only be usable for large businesses, or businesses that are already well known. These companies can take the risk of adding colors to their brand palette as small businesses don’t have this luxury.

4. Bold & Handwritten Typefaces are the Name of the Game

A great way to attract attention is with a great and appropriate typeface. The typefaces that seem to be becoming widely used are bold and handwritten fonts. This, like gradients, are another trend that shows the transition from a flat, simple, minimalistic design, to a more exciting, bold design. These types of typefaces bring a strong presence to a design. It seems designs are moving away from the classic Helvetica sans serif typefaces to more exciting and fun typefaces.

Photo credit by Venngage

5. Get Personal with Custom Illustrations

Custom illustrations, like authentic photography, create a more personal interaction with the viewer rather than some basic graphic found in stock photos/graphics. These custom illustrations add personality to the content and it also allows freedom to the content creator because the illustration is being created by the business/designer themselves. This means the design could incorporate colors/ideas that are prominent to any certain business. Even though these illustrations may take more time then looking up graphics to be used, the benefit vastly outweighs the time and effort that is used in the process.

6. GIFs and GIFs with a Twist

Gifs and cinemagraphs are key to interactions with viewers, clients, and other potential clients on social media. These media are also a nice choice to replace stagnant photos or graphics if the media applies well. Each of these also give the business an opportunity to be humorous and can give some playfulness to the content. These two formats also create and expand on a concept or idea more than just a still photo. Gifs are the more known of the two formats, but cinemagraphs are making a move in the design world. Cinemagraphs bring a sort of surreal visual to content as there is only a single element that moves in a cinemagraph.

Cinemagraph credit to GIPHY

With 2018 still in its infancy, you will be able to use these trends successfully throughout the rest of the year to create a better image with your brand. Whether it is with rebranding your business with more gradients, colors, or striking typefaces or devoting more time to custom designs, illustrations, and authentic photography, your brand will be put on a pedestal, making you stand out.

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Brittany Hoban – Graphic Designer

Brittany Hoban is a graphic designer for the IH Concepts team. She was originally from the Milwaukee area and has always been an artist with a creative mindset. Brittany’s journey started when she went to Madison College to pursue her passion for art and graphic design, after she studied chemical engineering and psychology previously. Her potential was recognized immediately during her time as an intern, and her approach to design, branding, and style made her an excellent fit for the graphic design team. After her internship, Brittany was offered the opportunity to keep working with us.

Brittany’s goofy and fun personality makes her a great person to work with. She is always making those around her smile and brightening the day of those she meets. When she isn’t at work, Brittany is likely catching up on twelve different TV shows, exploring some part of the world in a book, or getting some well-deserved sleep (just kidding, that’s what caffeine is for).

Interesting facts are about Brittany are:

What is your favorite summertime food?

“Smoothies for sure or anything made on a grill”

If you were on a road trip tomorrow, where would you go?

“I would go to Arizona”

If you could invent a new contraption, what would it be?

“Something that can hold my book for me while I read in bed or a self-cooking kitchen”

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4 Reasons Why Branding is Important to a Small Business

While it might seem like branding is only relevant to large suit-and-tie corporations, the truth is that it’s necessary for small companies if they want to grow as well. Recently, IH Concepts asked several business owners and solopreneurs about their perception of branding. While several small business’ felt that branding is suited for big businesses and some had a negative perception of branding, many of the businesses we interviewed faced limited advertising budgets and erratic cash flow. Creating and maintaining a brand is a cost effective way to build up a company’s reputation, which will help gain customers and increase sales in the long run. Here are 4 reasons why branding is important for small businesses.

1. To Create Brand Awareness

This is an extremely important point to start with because brand awareness is how familiar customers are with a company and the products they produce. If someone doesn’t know about a local pet store, it’s very unlikely that they will end up buying from them and giving them their business. Because of this, it’s very important for small businesses to market their services and create a brand so people in the community are aware of their presence. Brand Awareness also helps generate word of mouth advertising. As an example of this, a former intern of IH Concepts worked in a local paper store that gained a lot of traffic into their store from word of mouth advertising. The store had a strong brand and left customers with a good impression, which turned them into return shoppers who also advocated for them.

Photo by Freepik

2. To Communicate a Passion

The reason a lot of small businesses are created is because there is a need for a specific service, and someone who originated the company has a passion for what they do. A large part of branding is communicating that passion to potential customers so they can see the true heart of the small business and the qualities that define it. Once the companies story and passion are woven into the brand, customers may feel more emotionally driven to work with them.

3. To Show Customers What Type of Service/Product They Should Expect

When a company creates their brand, they define the attributes and values they stand for and what customers should expect when dealing with their company. This gives people a general overview of a company and can be the deciding factor when they are choosing who they want to give their business to. For example, if a small business is known for their made in the USA products, customers will expect quality goods and to pay a slightly higher price than imports. In another example, if a small business is known for their excellent customer service, customers will expect nothing less than the best if they have issues. It’s important for small businesses to stay true to their brand and to be consistent with the expectations they have provided for their customers. If a company has a reputation for quality customer service and they don’t consistently provide it, their reputation can be heavily impacted which can hurt the company.

Photo by Daryna Ou

4. To Be Memorable

While brand awareness, passion, and a company’s attributes and values are important, creating a brand that is memorable will ultimately ensure that the business stands out among competitors. Exceptional customer service, donating to fundraisers in the community, and selling quality products are just a few of the ways a small business can make themselves be memorable.

So What Does This Mean For Small Businesses?

When considering branding for a business, remember that it’s important no matter the size of the company. During a photoshoot for our branding presentation for IH Concepts, our photographer Daryna Ou took pictures of our model in professional attire and casual clothes. In the end, we decided to use the images of the model in a casual shirt and jeans because it was important for us to show that branding and marketing isn’t just for large, fancy corporations, but for small businesses as well. Every business needs to focus on their brand if they want to be successful and grow as an organization.

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Apple’s Holiday Commercial “Sway”: How Apple Created an Emotional Connection

Apple has been creating iconic commercials that make their product’s stand out for as long as I can remember. Whether it was the high-energy, dancing silhouette campaign for the iPod, or the dad joke style of humor in the Mac vs PC ads, I always saw Apple as having an entertaining and engaging marketing strategy. In their latest holiday ad titled “Sway”, Apple avoids showcasing their latest product and instead creates an emotional narrative through movement and music.

The ad starts with a young woman walking down a snowy street in the middle of the day, surrounded by the busy noise of city life. Once she puts in her AirPods and presses play on her iPhone however, the scene transforms; it becomes night time and she dances around the street with a spotlight on her, engulfed in the soft piano and clear voice of Sam Smith’s “Palace”. While other people on the street go about their business as usual, the young woman dances freely. She is lost in her own world of music until she spins into the arms of a young man passing by.

The contact forces a sudden shift back to reality, however the music and dancing resumes when she hands him one of her AirPods. The man and woman seem to float as they dance together throughout the snowy city, their intimate movements perfectly illustrating the narrative of love in the song. As they move in close for a kiss, the scene jumps back to reality, showing the man and woman had never moved from the spot that she fell into his arms. As they both walk away smiling, “move someone this holiday” displays on the screen.

In the advertisement, the woman is able to escape reality and dance freely in her own world because she connects with her iPhone and it gives her the power to be herself; this message symbolizes the strong positive association Apple’s customers have with the company and their wide range of products. A brand that can interact with its audience and move them emotionally can leave a strong, lasting impression that benefits both parties. For the customer, they feel that the company relates to them and is selling the lifestyle of a product rather than the product itself. For the company, they create a bond and an emotional response from their customer, which can establish a lasting business relationship in the future.

As a business owner, it’s important to consider the connection your brand has with your customer and the impression you leave on them from the marketing you create. If your ads only focus on the latest and greatest features of your product, customers might not feel an emotional pull towards the message you are trying to send. Apple’s “Sway” is a refreshing example of an ad that focuses less on the product’s specific features and more on the message of connecting with others in some form. While this may not be an ad that gets fondly remembered like the dancing silhouette campaign of the past, “Sway” is the perfect example of a quiet ad that speaks loudly.

Your brand should strive to move others.

(Guest blogged by Brandon Hoege)


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Shop Local on Small Business Saturday

Turkeys, stuffing, and cranberries are synonymous with Thanksgiving. As the years have passed more has been added on to the holiday week such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And while the season has become increasingly more commercial American Express has found a way for people to give back to their community.

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 when American Express noticed that small businesses were hurting. In an age where many things can be bought online and people go to big name stores to get their products. Small businesses are part of what make the community unique and great.

One year after this began the Senate passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday and by 2012, officials in all 50 states participate. Now as Christmas is encroaching and trying to take over before Thanksgiving is even over, pay attention to a navy blue sign around your community. The blue sign is around many of the local businesses in Madison and advertising Small Business Saturday.

IH Concepts is invested in Small Business in the Madison community as we strive to help owners grow and become a staple that everyone can come in and enjoy. Because of this mission IH Concepts became a member of Dane Buy Local , whose goal is to educate the public about the benefits of thinking local first. One local business that IH Concepts was proud to help was Yola’s Café and Coffee shop by creating engaging digital graphic designs for their new customer’s to check out. Yola’s has been a part of the Madison community by providing delicious meals that remind people of home cooking.

Other Small Businesses that have been engrained into the Madison community are REI , MadCat , and Orange Tree Imports which celebrated its 42nd year open this year. Part of why IHC and many people love Small Businesses is their uniqueness and their relationship with customers. As small business ourselves we value the hard work and the long hours that gives Madison it’s unique character.

By shopping at a small business, customers are more likely able to talk with owners and get results on any problems they may have with a product quicker. Small businesses thrive on being friendly and welcoming to all customer’s to create a loyal customer base while selling great products. But with larger chains, they sometimes struggle to stay open.

While Black Friday is great for stores like Walmart and Best Buy, and Amazon rules over Cyber Monday, most small businesses don’t see an increase in sales during either of those days. Small businesses also don’t gain much of a profit by staying open weird and longer hours during those days. In the end they can’t compete with large companies with the slashed prices and find themselves losing out. Their charm comes from their unique items that most can’t find anywhere else and by spending money there, people are able to support their neighbors in the community. When Small Business Saturday was created, it made it easier for people to find their independently owned stores and to contribute towards them. And while they may not have as crazy of deals, most small businesses offer discounts and other prizes to lure in new and existing customers.

Small businesses are a general favorite due to the fact that they provide jobs to friends and family, and also understands the value of holidays. Large corporations just care about their bottom line, while small businesses work to meet their bottom line and keep their employees happy. Some people even see them as the backbone of their county.

With small businesses they don’t skimp on quality and still offer discounts, just not as large of slashes. A customer will get a nicer quality product and be able to support a small business and keep it open in the community. More people would rather have a mom and pop shop than a brand name store take over again. Shopping will continue to be America’s favorite obsession, with a severe spike during the holiday season. Instead of standing out in lines on a cold Friday morning or sitting at your computer on Monday, head out and support local businesses such as REI, MadCat, Yola’s Café and more this Small Business Saturday.

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The Brand Quadrant: What It Is and How to Position Your Business!

What is in a brand?

A brand is something that your company uses to distinguish itself from others, it is something unique solely to you. What’s in it is your company’s values. A brand is a symbol that is able to represent a company quickly and accurately so customers can immediately associate it with the company. Correct association, means correct branding. To create a good brand, one must find where their company first lies on the brand quadrant so that they can design accordingly. In our last blog we discussed how a brand quadrant allows a company to fall into four sectors: utility, symbolic, functional, and emotional.

If a company falls into a utility quadrant that means that the company provides something timeless. Companies like Coca-Cola and BMW offer a lasting brand, while also being something that someone needs. Companies that fall in this quadrant usually have consumers that will pay for something that have more value.

The next quadrant symbolic, means that the company offers something that is there for the future, or isn’t quite tangible. One company that falls under this is Apple. All of Apple products represent a status symbol for the consumer who owns them. Apple is well known for being user friendly and having a strong community. By having an iPhone, a consumer has the symbolic nature of a large community of other Apple products owners in their pocket.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the functional quadrant that deals with special activities or specific purposes or tasks. With a company in the functional quadrant, one never has to question what they offer or what they do. Some functional companies include Yahoo , Microsoft , and Intel , all companies who provide a functional product. If a company is functional, then their brand is simple.

The last quadrant is emotional, and it’s the one that has you mildly tearing up when their commercial is on television. The best example of this could be Sara McLachlan’s ASPCA commercials. It shows depressing images of animals in horrible situations for about a solid minute on television while you debate to change the channel. They use the emotional quadrant to make you feel and also to make you want to donate as animals are often connected with most people. IH Concepts recently positioned Full Spectrum , a homecare agency, as an emotional brand as buying homecare options is an emotional experience. Emotional brands can be quite effective, but remember to not be too depressing or push the envelope too far, because that can push people away as well.

While a company can fall into any of these brand quadrants, it’s most important that they are able to distinguish themselves from their competitors. A brand to a company is like a personality to a person, no two should be the same.

So where does your company fall on the brand quadrant? If your company offers a timeless product that someone also needs, your company would most likely fall into the utility quadrant. If your company offers more of a luxury or lifestyle product, it would most likely fall into the symbolic quadrant. If your company offers a straightforward product or service, your company would most likely fall into the functional quadrant. Lastly, if your company provides a service that touches upon someone’s emotions and offer’s more of a peace of mind result, your company would most likely fall into the emotional quadrant.

Finding which quadrant your company falls into can be tricky, and if you need help figuring it out, hiring a marketing brand consultant would be an advisable option. They can help you figure out your material visually and why consumers want to do business with you.

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The Brand Quadrant: What It Is and How We Used It to Position Full Spectrum

Companies often use brand quadrants to position their brand and figure out how they want to convey their message. The purpose of a brand quadrant is to find the balance between centrality and distinctiveness. By finding this balance it will help customers better understand what this company does and sells.

Earlier this year, we had the honor of working with Full Spectrum, a homecare agency here in Madison. They were a startup at the time, and they gave us the opportunity to design new and unique marketing collateral for them. In collaboration with marketing consultant Marc Glazer from Three Suns, we did just that. Full Spectrum was able to hit the ground running with a wide array of consistent collateral that set them apart from the competition.

It’s important for businesses to think about the messages that their brand images send. By positioning a brand strategically, a business is able to communicate effectively with the target audience and help them stand out. After a marketing consultation, we determined that Full Spectrum’s brand should convey warmth. It should come across as an emotional brand, as opposed to a lot of its competition falling in the functional quadrant.

By deviating from what their competitors were doing, Full Spectrum’s different look provided another perspective that their customer’s hadn’t seen yet. It also made sense as a way to connect with Full Spectrum’s audience. After all, deciding to pursue homecare options for yourself or a loved one is nothing short of an emotional experience. An emotional brand image for Full Spectrum made sense on all accounts.

After determining how we needed to position their brand, we created strategic designs, as well as effective copy, containing the brand language for Full Spectrum’s marketing collateral. This included a website, business card, letterhead, car magnet and brochure. As always, we designed holistically. As a result, Full Spectrum’s collateral was both visually appealing and consistent, highlighting the importance of having one designer manage all print and web collateral. When you have a different designer for each piece of collateral, it is very likely that your brand will suffer inconsistency and confusion.

Our brand positioning was a guide to Full Spectrum for social media posts, future copy, content, and marketing campaigns and strategies.

We very much enjoyed working with Full Spectrum, and its entire graphic design and marketing process served as another reminder to us that thinking about the big picture is essential. To truly convey what you want to with your brand image, you need to ensure clarity and consistency across all marketing collateral.

To read more about our work with Full Spectrum or to see the collateral that we designed for them, visit our case study page!

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5 Things for Businesses to Consider When Developing a Brand

Well, we did it. We’ve revamped our website and the changes are officially up and running! It took a little over a year, but after a lot of hard work we’re proud to share our new online presence. None of these changes would’ve happened without the creation of our IH5 Web in 2016. IH5 Web contains our design and marketing guidelines for websites, and we’ve included them in our new website to share them with others.

IH5 Web proved to be an easy task for us. It also inspired the creation of IH5 Mobile and IH5 Branding. Mobile, like Web, was no big deal. Easy p-z. IH5 Branding, on the other hand, had us stumped for a moment. Why do companies decide to brand or re-brand? What steps should they take to achieve those goals? Those were some questions we were asking ourselves. To help answer them, we conducted interviews in a focus group with business professionals. Not surprisingly, we received a wide range of great answers to help us develop IH5 Branding. Here are a few questions we asked along with common answers we received:

Q: What makes you want to do business with your favorite brand?
A: I know their story. They’re quality. They have great customer service.

Q: What is it important for people to think about your company?
A: Reliable. Fun. Quality. We’re here to make their lives easier.

Q: What might cue you to brand or rebrand?
A: Not seeing results. A big change in management or organization. Straying too far from our original mission.

After listening to such answers and collaborating amongst our own team of professionals, we developed five key points for branding:

1. Tell Your Story

2. Keep Your Audience in Mind

3. Be Memorable, Be Recognizable

4. Stay Current

5. Keep It Consistent

By keeping these five things in mind, businesses can better connect with their audiences to communicate their brand messages, such as reliability, quality, excitement, etc.

We feel that IH5 Branding has taken our own brand to the next level and that it can help others to do the same. To read more about IH5 Branding, browse the other IH5 Principles, or to see our updated website, visit us at

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