Conducting a Photoshoot in a Pandemic: How to Safely Visually Market Yourself

At IH Concepts, we occasionally need to conduct photoshoots for ourselves and our clients to get the proper imagery for their business and remarketing strategy. Over the years we have successfully completed many photoshoots, but never with a pandemic as an extra hurdle. To help educate others, here are some insights into our experience, and some tips for conducting your own photoshoot in a pandemic.

Preparing for the Photoshoot

When preparing for a photoshoot, especially in a pandemic, you’ll need to get the details planned out in advance. In our case, as soon as the idea for conducting a photoshoot was discussed, our team started going over the necessary precautions and things to consider due to COVID-19. As we prepared for the project, we made the decision to interview all participants in the photoshoot to determine any risk factors they may have, and to assess their comfort level with being involved.

Keeping the area safe and sanitary was a top priority, so we decided to hire a professional cleaning service to assist us with disinfecting the set and props for our photoshoot. For the safety of all involved, we went beyond that and even researched options that could help disinfect the air in the photoshoot location. As you plan for a photoshoot, it’s important to not skip over any details.

Medical Considerations

The health and safety of all members of a photoshoot is very critical, so safety precautions should be taken in advance when preparing. There were many medical considerations we kept in mind as the date of the photoshoot drew closer. As a first line of defense to keep the set virus free, we required everyone involved in the shoot to be tested for COVID-19. In addition to that, the professional cleaning service we hired sprayed antimicrobial treatment on our props and high-contact surfaces to disinfect them before the shoot and minimize any chance of spreading germs.

To educate ourselves on any further safety measures, we also discussed the photoshoot with a doctor beforehand. From this meeting we did learn that COVID-19 has a 5-12 day latency period before a host can spread it to others. For the safety of everyone involved, keep your team informed on proper sanitation and have a plan in place.

Space Considerations

One of the most critical decisions for a photoshoot, especially in a pandemic, is considering the location. To keep everyone involved in the shoot at a safe distance, try and utilize an outdoor set if possible. We aimed to use an outdoor location when possible, but for the purpose of this shoot we found that we were able to hold it inside while also social distancing and keeping in mind the building capacity. Additionally since we had to do a great deal of our pictures inside, we utilized a SAM S400 air scrubber by Scientific Air Management to address any concerns of droplets or aerosols in the air.

Day of the Shoot

On the day of the photoshoot, it’s important to follow-through with all of the preparations and planning you’ve made. On the set for our photoshoot, we required that all talking was kept to a minimum to reduce the chance of spreading bacteria. We also required temperature checks on site and questioned everyone there if they were experiencing any COVID like symptoms (a few days after the photoshoot we also followed up and asked everyone again if they were experiencing any symptoms). To keep things as clean as possible, we also ran an air scrubber at the shoot location.

For extra precautions, we kept the shoot location corded off to keep any visitors or other people from walking into the area. This ensured that only people who were successfully tested were allowed in the area and that no one was accidentally in the background of our images. Our photographer arrived early for the shoot, which gave us plenty of time to go over our photoshoot plan in great detail, ensuring that we got all of the images we needed. Due to our planning, the photoshoot went smoothly and was a success. Things do not always go according to plan however, so when planning for your photoshoot allow extra time in your schedule to be safe.


While planning a photoshoot in a pandemic may seem difficult, we found it to be a great learning opportunity for our team. By planning ahead and following the safety restrictions we set in place, we were able to complete our task and get the excellent images we needed. By following these tips and planning in advance, you can have a successful photoshoot while keeping people safe.

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6 Important Considerations for Your Newsletter

When you wake up in the morning and check your emails, there will most likely be countless newsletters in your inbox. Needless to say, newsletters are a very efficient way to spread your brand awareness. However, as we have all experienced before, newsletters can be irritating and quite often, we delete them without ever reading them. To circumvent the newsletter going to waste, there are six criteria that all companies should follow when it comes to an effective newsletter.

Keep Your Content Relevant

The first aspect is relevant content. When it comes to effective newsletters, knowing the audience is extremely important. The purpose of the newsletter should be defined before moving onto the other aspects. Is your newsletter educational or are you selling your product? Here at IHC, we decided to keep our newsletters educational, however that does not mean that you cannot sell your products on your newsletter. To decide the end goal, doing some research and identifying your audience can help in expediting the process. Once the audience and end goal has been defined, you will be ready to move onto designing your newsletter.

Consider Design and Consistency with Your Brand

Following relevant content, the next consideration will be the design of the newsletter. The design of your newsletter should be brand compliant and be consistent. The last thing you will want is for your newsletter to gain popularity, and then due to a design chance lose that association with customers. Color schemes and visuals are important in being able to catch the attention of your readers and they can help give your readers something to look at the text.

Now as for the text, one mistake companies will make is to have walls of text. This will lose your reader’s attention. It is imperative to keep in mind that when you send a newsletter out, you are asking a favor out of your customers. They will not want to spend their scarce free time reading walls of texts. The last aspect, fonts, can be often looked over. Fonts can be limited to certain computers, therefore when you choose a very specific font, there is a chance that it won’t register on your customers’ screens. Having a backup font can be handy in the case that your primary font won’t register.

Make Sure Your Newsletter is Mobile Friendly

The third aspect is whether your newsletter is mobile friendly or not. With the emergence of smartphones and tablets, people are accessing the internet more often from their mobile devices. According to BroadbandSearch, mobile traffic has increased by 222% over the last 7 years. In 2013, mobile phones made up 16.2% of the worldwide internet traffic. Fast-forward to 2019 and that same statistic has increased to 52.2%. This data is strictly mobile phone usage which does not include tablet use, so the true portion of internet traffic by mobile devices may be much higher. As the numbers show, consumers are more likely to want to read your newsletter on the go. Not having it being mobile friendly will be a severe disadvantage to your newsletters’ success.

Establish an Appropriate Schedule for Your Newsletter

At this point, you have now defined the relevant content, the design considerations and the mobile compatibility of your newsletter. The next consideration is how frequently you release it. Finding the Goldilocks zone for frequency is a hard task but doing research and conducting surveys can make the job easier. The topic of your newsletter may also greatly influence the frequency. For example, if your newsletter’s topic is about the stock market and covers predictions on how specific stocks will perform, the demand may be daily. If the topic is educational or based on news, it may be beneficial to release it once a week or month. IHC’s newsletter is educational and released monthly. The decision will be ultimately based on the relevant content and what your research shows.

Be Familiar with the Platform You’re Using

The fifth aspect you will want to consider is understanding platforms. It is important to know and understand the ins and outs of your newsletter whether using platforms such as Mailchimp, Mad Mimi or Constant Contact to name a few. Knowing the template and the parameters as well as understanding what they can do is important. As mentioned earlier, mobile internet usage is increasing, leading the way for social media as well. Releasing your newsletter on a company Twitter or Facebook account may be effective in gaining pageviews.

Test, Test, Test!

Lastly, the final aspect to a successful newsletter is to test it. It is so important to send tests to yourself or a colleague before sending to subscribers. We recommend typing in the email of the people you send it to instead of forwarding, which can cause some issues. We recently had a client that had display issues regarding forwarding test emails. We were able to redirect that client to include the receiver’s email in the platform. Email sites vary so much in this age that it is imperative to test them on different accounts. The newsletter may look correct on Gmail, but the display may be altered in Yahoo. When it is so hard to catch the attention of consumers, sending them a faulty product will surely turn them away. It is beneficial to get into the habit of testing your newsletters.

Final Thoughts

Crafting a newsletter can be a daunting task and may take several iterations to perfect. When your newsletter is sent out, it will sit in an inbox along with many other newsletters. These six criteria should be followed so your newsletter does not end up in the trash.


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Caspian Grill: An Example of How Proper Restaurant Marketing is the Key to Success

As restaurant week is approaching in Madison, we wanted to take the time to tell the story of our success with Caspian Grill. Caspian Grill is a local restaurant in the Madison area that is known for its delicious Mediterranean food. This family-oriented restaurant has always been a fan-favorite for us at IH Concepts. Caspian Grill gives a small, family friendly feel that many people love in the Madison area.

There are many ways where marketing will help your restaurant succeed. Caspian Grill is just one example in showing why marketing matters. Between having a proper website, inviting colors, a good social media presence, and a design that tells your story, advertising is an investment that will show in the message you’re sending to your audience.

According to the USA’s National Restaurant Association, “Only about 3% of the average restaurant’s monthly sales is spent on marketing. This typically isn’t enough.” Aaron Allen, restaurant marketing consultant, says “Digital marketing for restaurants is certainly something that any restaurant, regardless of budget, should invest resources into.” This is why when Caspian Grill came to IH Concepts months ago for a meeting, we could not have been more excited to help.

Developing an Attractive Identity

We were ready to give Caspian Grill a visual presence to help their new ventures hit the ground. Before opening, IHC developed a brand new identity including a new logo, business card, take-out menu, and a TV menu. The new marketing collateral was ready to be released.

Aside from creating new menus, logo, and business cards, IH Concepts had designed their new sign. The new sign displays a fierce fire, with colors of red, orange, and yellow. The red letters over the black background really makes the name of the restaurant pop. As the article written by Victoria Davis has to say, “the restaurant might be easy to miss if it weren’t for its richly warm and vibrant orange walls and front desk neon sign blinking the word “specials.” The new design truly catches everyone’s eyes as it is so vibrant and inviting. According to Stan Mack of Chron, “Advertising also can help you develop important aspects of your reputation.” This is something we have advised our clients to do in the past.

Taking Their Social Presence to the Next Level

In addition to helping with their identity, IH Concepts assisted Caspian Grill with some of the photos for their social media as well. For their social media accounts, IH Concepts has taken some of their photos that have been used for their platforms. According to David Miles, “With the right kind of social media marketing, your restaurant can start to build a customer base through word of mouth.” We have advised our customers in the past to focus on social media marketing, as it is a very effective way to target your audience.

Achieving Success

Photo by Victoria Davis for The CapTimes

September 2019 came around and it was time for Caspian Grill to present their new brand identity. The success of the marketing collateral with IH Concepts has been tremendous. Caspian Grill often gets people coming from everywhere to eat at their restaurant. Some customers come from all over the Greater Madison-area. People have been very impressed by the quality of food and the new design.

The success metrics since the collateral release have been very impressive. The restaurant is always bustling with people coming and ordering every day even as Caspian is only doing takeout at the moment, but hopes to open for in-person dining soon. The collateral has been a huge hit for Caspian Grill, and we could not be happier for them. The positive reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook can prove just how successful they have been.

Caspian Grill was even featured in the Wisconsin State Journal. The article, written by Samara Kalk Derby, describes the high-quality food that Caspian Grill has to offer. Derby says “The borscht ($4.95) came in a big, deep bowl with lots of finely-chopped cabbage and carrots. It had a great flavor and was served with three small square slices of dark rye bread. A small cup of sour cream made it irresistible.”

Cap Times also acknowledged Caspian Grill’s new identity as they featured it in an article as well. The article, written by Victoria Davis describes what the owners have to say about Caspian Grill and just how much of a family friendly place it is. “It’s our business, yes, but it’s also like a home away from Baku for us,” said Gelfand, whose two children often help out with cooking and serving at the restaurant. “It’s a family business and we wanted this place to be small and warm and feel like family home to others too.”

Final Thoughts

Overall, IH Concepts could not be happier with the release of the marketing collateral with Caspian Grill. Where most restaurant’s fail, Caspian Grill’s investment in marketing positions them to continue to be a hit with the community. We are proud to call Caspian Grill a client, and one of our favorite places to eat! We cannot wait to see how much more Caspian Grill will continue to succeed.


Related IH Concepts Articles

5 Important Things to Consider For Your Menu

What King of Falafel Taught Us About Restaurant Marketing

4 Important Marketing Tips for Restaurants: Follow These and You’ll Be Successful

Awesome Tips for Great Food Photography: Follow These and Bring in Customers

The Rules of Deciding Whether to Use Custom vs Stock Photography

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Copywriting: How to Be a Content Ninja

For every company, copywriting is becoming an integral part of the business. Your brand presence and how large it is, can help your business grow in awareness, ultimately raising revenue. The three keys to writing copy, according to a class taught by University of Wisconsin Creative Services Manager Kyle Henderson, are the audience, clarity and relevance. By focusing your efforts in strengthening those three pillars, you can strengthen your content.

When it comes to audience, there are three main questions you want to ask yourself. The first question is “Who are they?” You must be able to identify who you are talking to before you figure out what the message is going to be. Are the audience potential buyers, potential donors, or are they potential advertisers? By categorizing your audience, the message you want to give will become clear. The second question is “What do you want them to do?” Without knowing what your end goal is, constructing a message will be close to impossible. You must clarify whether you want the audience to buy something or if you want them to trust your company. The last question is “What do they regard as good reasons to act?” Putting it in simpler terms, this is the “Why” for your audience. What is the driving force behind why they are listening or reading your copy? Does your audience want to feel inspired, or do they want detailed accounts of your company? This last question will help tie everything together along with the first two questions. Knowing your audience will allow your copy to be clear and relevant to them. This in turn will speak to their reasons of why they should act on your company.

The second point to effectively writing copy is clarity. Your audience will only seek as much information as they need. As you may recall, the first point of good copywriting is the audience and they will dictate the clarity. The information may be important for a buyer to read, but is it something that is relevant to your target? As for the information, it is important to determine the correct amount of information needed. If you don’t have enough, the copy will cease to be adequate for the audience no matter what. On the other hand, adding too much information will only hurt your copy as it will weaken your message. Fillers should be avoided. Clients and potential customers may leave if they deem your message to be unclear or irrelevant.

Another key point to clarity is the platform that is being used. Is the copy a social media post or is it a blog on a website? Is the social media platform being used Twitter or Facebook? These are important questions that must be answered before writing your copy. Social media posts will typically be shorter than a blog and when it comes to specific platforms there are other specifications that can affect your copy. For example, Twitter will have a word count restriction while Facebook doesn’t. Instagram is based on pictures while Twitter and Facebook are not tied down to images.

Relevance boils down to the question, “Is it something my audience would care about?” You may begin to notice; the audience is essentially the backbone to effective copywriting. In order to have relevant information, research on your audience is important. Know who they are, know their habits and know their likes and dislikes. Mediums such as focus groups or surveys can be helpful. However, surveys can be tricky as the questions you ask may influence the answers you get. Making sure you ask the right questions is key.

Keep in mind, there are many different ways to create relevancy. One method is altering your tones. Several tones will be needed for different audiences. The tone that is needed for a children’s toy store will differ from the one needed for a restaurant. Another method to create relevancy is using typographies. Writing in cursive differs greatly from when it is in block bold. A cursive font may work well if your audience is looking for elegance and flashiness while block bold may be better suited for an audience looking for grit or masculinity.

Effectively writing copy can be a tall task but it is necessary as it can be the last piece to push your company forward. By writing copy, you can connect with your customers in a great way. Remember, the keys to effectively getting your point across are your audience, the clarity and relevance. By successfully combining these three aspects, you will be well on your way to quality copywriting.

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The Design-Dos of 2020

As the new year begins, new design trends are emerging. While many styles from the past continue to trend, there have been various new styles expected to be utilized in design in 2020. Both Graphic Mama and 99 Designs have shared their graphic design trends for 2020 which we found aligned well with our trends. We have created a list of the graphic design trends to look out for this year.

1. Get Personalized Using Collages of Drawings

Incorporating a man-made drawing illustration in your design can help obtain a personalized and fun vibe to your design. This trend is popular because it can relate to your viewers. It allows for an immense amount of creativity.

2. Monochrome Effect Will Enhance Your Photos

The theme of using a monochrome color effect has been increasingly popular. The monochrome effect incorporated the duo tone trend from last year. This trend is often seen in photographs. Simplicity is going to continue to trend in 2020.

3. 3D Designs Create Depth

Using 3D graphic design techniques gives your design a livelier and more creative look, rather than 2D which looks flatter. It is more engaging for the viewer to see a design that is believably realistic.

4. Metallics Make Your Design POP

Shiny and metallic colors really pop in a design. According to Graphic Mama, by using a gold color, it conveys luxury, class and good taste. Shiny metals are extremely trendy right now and will continue to trend for this year. This trend is great for brand identity, it will help your brand to stand out.

5. Make Your Images Mysterious with Masking Effect

The simple, minimalistic look is trending in 2020. Using image and text masking will help you to achieve that look. The whole image is not revealed, creating a mysterious look that keeps your audience engaged and wanting more. Although this trend is not new, it will be especially popular this year.

6. Thick Letters and Typography Hooks Your Audience

Fun and creative typography helps to grab the attention of your viewers. Typography takes written text and transforms it by using designs and shapes, but the message is still readable. Say goodbye to thin letters and hello to thick. This year bold letters are coming back.

7. Be Simplistic with Line Art

Achieving a clean and elegant look can sometimes be difficult. Using line art is a careful yet effective way of obtaining this look. According to 99 Designs, designers are able to create unimaginable shapes by combining line styles. There are curvy lines, which have more of a natural look, compared to geometrical lines, which portray a more technical look.

8. Go Vintage

Design trends are always going in and out of style. That is what is so great about graphic design. A popular trend from the 50s is making its way back to 2020. Earthy colors give off a fun and vintage feel. If you missed the vintage look do not worry, it is coming back in 2020.

9. Communicate Your Message with Simplified Illustrations

Sometimes simpler is better. Simplified illustrations can communicate your message clearly and efficiently. This is a trend that designers will be using more often in 2020.

10. Look Out for Live Data Visualization and Motion Design

Providing a live data visualization allows for your viewers to stay engaged. This trend will be used to show elements such as dashboard trends. Live data visualization style combines geometry, neon colors, and dynamic animations. The style of motion design and live data visualization is increasingly popular.

11. Incorporate Patterns to Draw in Your Viewers

Combining multiple patterns and textures will be seen often this year. It is a nontraditional trend that designers are loving. Gradients used to create engagement, but this year it’s all patterns. As the minimalistic style is popular, incorporating patterns and textures will really help your design to stand out.


2020 will have it all. It will be a mixture of simple and complex. Finding that balance is key. These various design trends will be used in a variety of projects. To check out more design trends from 99 Designs and Graphic Mama click here or here.

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Previous Client Transformations – Before and After

At IH Concepts we have the opportunity to work with a variety of organizations and businesses. For February we wanted to focus on three clients we worked with to show how we were able to help transform their business with some ideas and changes we suggested, as well as the key take-away points for a positive change.

Emily Grace Photography – First Impressions Are Crucial

When we first started working with Emily Grace, she expressed embarrassment about her current business card. We started working on new ideas for it right away to help make her business stand out. To create this change, we developed a logo that created a unique brand image. After that, we made sure that the information on the business card was straight to the point and easy to follow, with attractive colors and a professional look. Finally, we had the business cards printed in a unique shape unlike the typical rectangle, so it would help stand out from the competition and be remembered. After the new business cards were printed, our client’s business became more recognized and found a large increase in interest for their services. This business transformation shows the importance of creating a powerful business card that makes a positive first impression and draws your client in. A business card is often the first thing a potential client sees, so it needs to make a strong impact and stand out.

Healing Hands Home Care – Keep Your Information Organized

When we met with Healing Hands, they wanted to update the look and feel of the brochure that they had created. The initial brochure had been created as a Word document, so to best utilize design elements and creation we began a new file in Publisher and got to work.

Right away we worked with the text, making sure it was easy to read and had proper spacing and kerning between the lines and letters. We then created a color palette and logo that both worked together to communicate their message with just a glance of the page. We then worked on creating a piece that resonated with their audience and would draw them in once they saw it. Finally we added images that connected overall with the brochure information and would connect with the people who were looking for this client’s services. This created a strong cohesion between the back and front of the brochure.

After we finished creating the new brochure, our client kept receiving compliments on the overall look and professional information that their brochure had. This transformation showed the importance of keeping information organized when it has a lot of text and content. Breaking up the information with images helps keep the reader engaged, and visuals improve their response overall.

Madison Urban Ministry – Your Website is Worth the Investment

When we spoke with the Madison Urban Ministry their overall goal was clear: they wanted to take their organization to the next level. To best serve the community, they wanted to be attractive to their younger demographic, stand out to attract donors, while competing with 1.5 million other non-profit organizations.

We developed their website using our IH5 web principle, creating a site that not only communicated their message professionally, but it looked good while doing it. We also merged their marketing side with the website, to help them continue reaching those who need their services, as well as reaching out to potential donors. To help communicate their message of hope and positivity, we also brightened the colors utilized for the design. As a final step we created a call to action, improved how people would access the information, and made the information on the website easy to find.

After their new website was created, Madison Urban Ministry reported that their Donations increased by 800%. Making the information for potential clients and donors easily accessible with a professional website is a must with the digital age we are in now. While it may take a bit of time and money, a professional website is well worth the investment and will yield positive returns once created.

In Closing

Looking at these business before-and-after transformations helps to better understand the importance of organization, first impressions, and a professional appearance for your marketing materials. While it may require a bit of an investment early on, the positive returns from this careful consideration far outweigh the negatives.

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Apple Holiday Commercial “The Surprise”: How Apple’s Selling an Experience

Every year in December IHC always looks forward to a few things: Christmas, New Years Eve, and Apple’s latest holiday ads. Whether you use their products or not, Apple continuously finds ways to stand out with unique marketing trends and memorable advertisements. This year, Apple’s latest ad “The Surprise” takes a step back from being a simple product showcase, and instead sells an experience and the overall message that their brand is about family.

The ad starts with something everyone dreads during the holidays: busy travel right before Christmas. A husband and wife with two little girls embark on a trip in a car, then on an airplane with the kids squabbling at every turn. To keep them quiet, the parents keep giving them their iPad so they can watch movies or play a game on it. Throughout the commercial, the iconic music from the opening to Disney/ Pixar’s “Up” plays in the background as well. This song alone brings emotion and amplifies the ad, especially to those who have seen the movie.

After traveling for some time, the family arrives at their grandparent’s house, where it is quickly noted that the kids need to quiet down – grandpa doesn’t like the loud noise and commotion. The kids ask if grandpa is still sad, and the ad hints that grandma has passed away recently. While playing around the house, the kids are repeatedly told to quiet down and watch a movie on their tablet, but they eventually stumble upon some old family videos to keep them occupied. On Christmas morning the kids excitedly wake everyone up and hand Grandpa a gift; inside is the iPad wrapped up with a slideshow on the screen. The family watches the slide show the children made showing how their grandparents fell in love, and how the family is together even though grandma has passed away.

In the video, it initially seems like technology is necessary to keep the children quiet (something that could be seen as a negative for phones and tablets). However, Apple spins this around through the course of the ad to show that technology is not only a good way to capture family moments with photos and videos, but is also a way to connect with others. They do an excellent job of showing and not telling in the ad; Instead of explaining all of the features their iPads can do (watching movies, taking photos and videos, creating slideshows, etc), they show these features in everyday situations. It may be easy to lose ourselves in our busy schedules and technology, however this ad shows the importance of a true family connection we still need. In a very smart marketing move, this ad makes Apple’s brand exemplify family values and the importance of staying connected.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the appearance and message your brand conveys to your consumer. If you were to only highlight the features of your product it would seem more like an unengaging infomercial than the “experience” that Apple creates with their ads. Your message must interact with your audience and appeal to them in a way that entertains while showcasing your product. There will always be competitors out there, so it’s up to you to stand out and shine with what sets you apart. Apple’s ad “The Surprise” is an excellent reminder that advertisements and products don’t always need to focus on a sale – they can also focus on an experience.

Your brand should strive to sell an experience, not just a product.

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Apple’s Holiday Commercial “Share Your Gifts”: How Apple Inspires Us to Believe in Ourselves

Apple has created yet another emotional holiday-themed commercial that tugs on all of our heartstrings and gets us in the mood to spread holiday cheer. Announced as ninth best commercial of 2018, “Share Your Gifts,” not only reflects on Apple as an emotional brand but sends a strong personal brand message to be creative. According to a study done on creativity, 80% of businesses who foster creativity are more likely to have more satisfied customers. Therefore, creativity is not only important when working on personal projects but for business ventures as well.

It is a dark snowy evening when a young woman is depicted anxiously typing away in her cozy, dimly lit apartment. It can be inferred that whatever she is working on, it consumes her everyday life. This ominous project is yet to be seen by anyone other than her loving pet dog who watches her work on this project day in and day out. She can often be found staring at the ceiling for long periods of time, coming up with new ideas, and contemplating whether or not to release her work. In the next few clips, she is shown working and conducting monotonous parts of her everyday life in contrast to when she is found creating and lit up by whatever lives in her mind, heart and MacBook. When she is working in public spaces, she becomes overwhelmed with discomfort by the feeling of having onlookers glancing over her shoulder at her work – so much so that she slams her laptop shut at the thought of it being seen. She seems to have printed versions of her work stored in a keepsake that she routinely locks shut and stores by her apartment window.

One particularly snowy and windy night, her dog “nudges” her window open and all of the pages of her unseen work blow out of her keepsake. She scrambles trying to catch them swirling about in her room before they blow out of her window and into the neighborhood streets below. She runs down her apartment building’s stairwell in attempts to catch her hidden work but it is too late. People have the copies in their hands already. They are looking at her beloved work. To her surprise, they are visibly in awe of what she has created. They glance at her work and then up at her repetitiously, surprised by what she has made. Here, you see her slowly take a deep breath and look at the world around her. There are people rejoicing in the beauty of her work and suddenly a wave of confidence overcomes her.

This confidence would have otherwise not been possible had she not taken the risk to step back and trust the intangible. You can’t quite put your finger on what is so enlightening about this commercial. Be it the Pixar-like animated characters or the subtle portrayal of showcasing Apple products without being overbearing, there is something creatively profound about selling a product with a powerful message. In other words, forcing yourself to be seen and heard is an important step in sharing your unique gifts with the world, as Apple suggests. Once you do, you might fail and you might not. But what is ultimately important is overcoming that fear of failure. However, there is no way to fail at being authentically and uniquely you.

Being uniquely you, is your gift to the world. This is brand message of Apple and should be one of yours too. This brand message is to be authentic and to overcome the fear of sharing that authenticity. There is nothing more exciting than finding your voice in your brand, overcoming the fear of failure when sharing that voice, and having it take off. Your brand should be authentic and covey your voice in a creative way. This authenticity will help separate you and make your brand stand out in new and unprecedented ways just as the commercial suggests. So don’t be afraid to try. Be authentically you and always remember to push past the fear of the unknown. When you do, magical things may happen.

Your brand should be authentically creative and unique.

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5 Things to Consider When Planning a Photoshoot

Whether you’re creating an advertisement, revising a website, a new menu, or a brochure, images play a big role in the final product. As humans, we are visual creatures and conveying your message through a photo can help make yourself clear, as well as potentially boosting sales. A good photo doesn’t just happen. However; there is a lot of preparation and vision that goes into creating a quality image, especially when it is an outdoor shoot that needs to take the elements into account. Here are our 5 things we discovered to consider when planning a photoshoot.

Step 1: Think Ahead While Planning Your Shoot

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re trying to set up a photoshoot, but there will always be some things that are out of your control. For example, you may need to be flexible with the weather if your photoshoot depends on being outside. In one of our shoots, we had a wet spell delay our shoot for five weeks. Because of this, you always need to give yourself extra time so you aren’t racing to meet a deadline. If a project is due Friday, it may be difficult to achieve a flawless photoshoot the day before. You need to give yourself extra room in the deadline for changes to schedules and the unexpected like technical difficulties. It’s also important to consider how your photo will be used, the dimensions your final photo will be, and what mediums it will be used for.

Step 2: Consider the Location

When you’re having a photoshoot at a new location, we always suggest visiting the site ahead of time to check out the layout and prepare anything that you may need in advance. In a recent overhead shot, we spent several weeks visiting potential locations, as the area and height were important factors in planning our shoot. Knowing the environment gives you the best information for decision making when it comes to various photos that you would like. If you’re planning to shoot at a place that is on private property, make sure you have expressed permission to take photos.

Step 3: Create a Photography Brief

If you are hiring a photographer to take photos for you, creating a photography brief is the way to get what you want out of your shoot and set expectations for your photographer. We often recommend this to our clients as an important first step. Besides basic information like the time and date the photoshoot is taking place, the location, etc., your brief should explain what your overall message is in the photos. You want to let the photographer know what your message is so they can communicate and capture that essence in the photos. We even have drilled down as far as detailing the outfits and color scheme for the photoshoot as well as certain shots that are a must. It’s also recommended to create a wants vs. needs list to gather your thoughts on paper and convey this to your photographer.

Step 4: Consider Your Budget

While this isn’t the most fun part of a photoshoot, taking your budget into consideration is an important step. This will play a part with your wants vs needs list, and making sure you have enough budget to complete the necessary photos, and utilizing the remaining budget for any of the extra images. You also need to keep in mind the costs you’ll have for equipment, photographer costs, props, and any costs you may have for the mediums and usages of images. One thing that is often overlooked is usage rights. Even though a photographer may be paid for the time they spend during a photoshoot, the usage rights to the images they create are a necessary cost in budgeting. This usage right is essentially a way to lease the images that are taken for you for your commercial use and is an important agreement.

Step 5: Do Your Prep Work

The overall trend you may be seeing across this list is planning in advance is key, and that includes doing all of your prep work so you’re prepared. If you have people in the photos you’re shooting, make sure they are dressed appropriately for what you need, and that the shoot takes place on a day that the weather cooperates to convey the mood of the images you need. For example, you wouldn’t want to take pictures for a swimwear line on a gloomy, rainy day. You’ll need to make sure you have a conversation with everyone who is involved so the information is clear and everyone is on the same page. Also, make a list to ensure you have all of the necessary equipment to get the job done. On the creative side, you’ll want to know the dimensions of the final shots you need and to take some practice pictures. These steps all help refine your idea so the big day of the photoshoot goes smoothly.

Final Thoughts

If you take all of these things into consideration and plan ahead, your photoshoot should go smoothly, giving you the best final product possible. The extra effort put into creating wonderful images will help you in the long run, increasing the effectiveness of your messages to your target audience.

Related IH Concepts Articles

“Awesome Tips for Great Food Photography: Follow These and Bring in Customers”

“The Rules of Deciding Whether to Use Custom vs Stock Photography”

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Graphic Design & Marketing: Why They Go Hand-in-Hand

One of the most eye-catching ways to attract consumers to your business is through high-quality user experience and print design. Marketing your brand sends a strong personal message to your consumers. This message should carefully: create a strong first impression, build your brand’s identity, deploy your brand’s message, attract a following, and develop trust among consumers. Not only do major business’ use graphic design to cultivate a following, but you should too and here’s how:

Create a Strong First Impression

More often than not, a consumer’s first impression is going to be your company’s marketing design and branding collateral. You want this visual to be strong and alluring. For some business owners, this could be a tough decision. So often times, we run focus groups to get feedback to figure out how to make a strong visual impression. Focus groups are intended to test out your market, use them to your advantage.

Once you’ve come up with a strong and deliverable identity, use it consistently. Often times, consumers will judge which company to choose just based off of their branding. Inconsistency in look and feel of your collateral could lead to a negative impression. Consistency generates trust and likeness, users enjoy being able to recognize you and your logo frequently.

Build a Brand Identity

This is more than just your logo. While important to have a forefront image that accurately portrays the message you want your business to send, establishing a logo is just a portion of your brand’s visual identity. Often times we will work with organizations to assist in communicating their messages. Having an identity for your brand is how you’re going to stand out from the competition and keep consumers coming back to you again and again.

Your brand identity should establish your presence among consumers and your competitors within the marketplace. Moreover, knowing how you are situated within your market will allow you to drive your brand’s specific design content. How do you fare amongst your competitors? Knowing the answer to this question is key to cultivating and driving your business’ messages and designs.

Design Drives the Content

Define what it is you are trying to sell before you start creating. Clearly defining your content leads to a successful campaign. Have defining images that align with your business’ goals. These images should align with not only the message you are trying to convey but must accurately consider your audience. Are the images you are portraying appropriate for your campaign and its target audience? For example, we will often discuss the message behind our photos and create a photography brief before our photo shoot. We often advise our clients to have a conversation with their designer or marketing consultant to receive input on what the visuals should and should not portray.

Additionally, we advise our clients in terms of coming up with a copy and tagline and ensuring that it is compelling and engaging.

Deploy Your Brand’s Message

Knowing how your brand is positioned is key to delivering a message that will resonate with your target audience. This message should communicate a feeling about you and your product. Do you have an emotive, functional or symbolic approach?

For example, in a recent blog, we discussed how we positioned Full Spectrum Health Services (FSHS) as an emotional brand to help them stand out. While many of their competitors were functional brands, we decided to take a different approach. Thinking about how your company chooses to reach its consumers is the first element to marketing the design of your brand. The second is to apply images, fonts, and colors effectively. These all play a significant role in communicating the feeling your brand is striving to portray. If feeling and evoking emotion is how you choose to approach your consumers, perhaps adding glaring red colors and fonts to your designs is not the way you want to go. Positioning FSHS as an emotional brand drove every design-content decision. Therefore, it is an important first step on the marketing side.

Attract a Following

Speaking of visuals, use high-quality and high-resolution media to attract users to you and not repel them away from you. Size your media appropriately; in the case of a website, images could slow down how fast the website loads. Incompatible images may face slow load times which will impact your SEO (search engine optimization) score.

For print media, blurry photos do not communicate a proper brand message. Media implements your design to attract the audience that you need. What about your brand’s behaviors attract your audience to you? Communicating these behaviors through your design will not only attract users to you but keep them there. This manifests in website traffic and Calls to Action (CTA). Allow users to connect with your media by leaving social cues (likes, comments, and shares). Establishing interaction between your media and the user will make them feel more connected to you as a brand.

Final Thoughts

Marketing and graphic design both send strong personal messages to your consumers. These messages should always create positive first impressions, uphold your brand’s identity, deploy your brand’s personal message, attract a following, and develop trust among your consumers. Communicating your message should align with your company’s position and always go beyond just your brand’s logo. Using carefully constructed content-design and marketing puts your organization in the position to reach its target audience and thrive.

Success varies between organizations, review your organization holistically to examine all of its practices. Looking at the process of design and implementation from a holistic sense allows for success for years to come.

Related IH Concepts Articles

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

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

“5 Things for Businesses to Consider When Developing a Brand”

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