4 Things You Need to Know About Single Socket Layer Security

With the ever-present threat of cybercriminals, customers on unprotected websites remain highly vulnerable to data theft. Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to take data while being sent from the customer to the business, says Tarun Sharma, content writer at ServerGuy.

At IH Concepts, we have taken steps to ensure the security of our customers: we are happy to announce that our website is now officially Single Socket Layer (SSL) certified! If you’re wondering what that means, you’re not alone – but you are also probably more familiar with SSL than you think. The following are a few pieces of information that will help you create a secure website.

1) What It Looks Like

Most people are familiar with the padlock symbol that shows up to the left of the web page address. This symbol indicates the presence of SSL. Websites with SSL also have a URL that begins with “https://”, with the “s” at the end standing for secure, as opposed to the standard “http://”.

2) What It Does
SSL is a web security measure that reduces the likelihood of personal data, such as credit card numbers or email addresses, being compromised. It does so in two ways.

First, the presence of SSL on a website is a certificate of authenticity. It signifies that the website is run by the individuals/company who claim to run it.

Second, SSL requires that all personal data be sent cryptically between the web user’s server and the hosting server that the website operates on. This prevents cybercriminals from taking that information when it is being sent between servers.

3) Why It Is Important for Small Businesses
If you handle online purchases, it is imperative to have SSL on your website. If you do not have SSL, you run the risk of having your customers’ data stolen.

SSL is also important for small businesses that do not handle credit card information. Cybercriminals can steal passwords, usernames, or information that your customers send to you through a chat service or email.

On Google Chrome 68, which was just released July 25, webpages without SSL automatically notify visitors that they are not secure. This will have a considerable influence on how many people will stay on your website.

When you implement SSL, the benefits extend beyond customer protection. For one, SSL provides a boost in search engine rankings, as search engines prioritize secure websites. You can also use the presence of SSL on your website to reassure visitors that your site is secure, therefore adding to your reputation as a trustworthy brand.

4) How to Implement SSL
SSL usually runs about $100-$200 annually and can be purchased directly from many domain hosting companies, as well as from third-party vendors. There are also packages that allow you to update multiple websites with SSL if need be.

At IH Concepts, we have recently finished outfitting our clients’ websites with SSL. Like many other elements of web development, updating a website with SSL is a process that extends far beyond paying the annual fee. We have gathered a few tips on how to outfit a website with SSL:

a. Be sure to modify your links in search engine results and on other webpages so that users are being directed to the new, secure site. You may need to work with a web development expert to ensure your links correspond with your website; we at IH Concepts worked with a web developer when outfitting our Madison web design clients with SSL.

b. Make sure that your HTaccess file is updated on the hosting server. This will redirect visitors to the correct link. Again, you should consult a web developer to ensure that this feature, along with others, is included correctly. Since web development is an investment, it is important to make sure that your SSL connection is implemented correctly.

With the preponderance of data use scandals in the news, as well as the inception of Chrome 68, web users have begun to pay more attention to the security of the websites they visit. Remember, however, that a secure website has countless benefits for both your customer and you. For example, it is a preventative measure, an SEO aide, and a sign of good customer service. And after adequate research and careful implementation, you will be ready to make the most of your SSL certificate.

IH Concepts is a Madison-based graphic design firm. IH Concepts specializes in custom logo design, web development, mobile app development, and other graphic design services.

Follow IH Concepts on
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IHConcepts/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ihconcepts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ih-concepts/

Sources

“Why Google is Forcing You To Have SSL Certificates on Your Websites” https://serverguy.com/security/google-forcing-ssl-certificate-websites/

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3 Things You Can Do to Attract Customers Online

Many successful small business owners may ask, “Do I need a website?” The answer most business professionals will give is a resounding “Yes!” A strong web presence is a great way to attract new customers and engage with current customers. The following tips will help you strengthen your online presence and make online interaction with your company a better experience for both new and old customers.

1) Make sure your company is SEO-ready

A 2014 study by Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased found that 4 out of 5 people use search engines to find information about local businesses. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of strategic web development and design that increases your website’s chances of appearing earlier in the pages of search results.

A key component of the SEO process is the inclusion of keywords throughout your website. You will want to research which words and phrases are commonly used in searches for products or businesses similar to yours, and include those words in text format on the pages of your website’s content.

Search engines also take into account how people interact with sites. Sites with high bounce rates will move lower in the page rankings, whereas sites that keep visitors engaged for longer periods of time will have higher rankings. Therefore, many of the practices that boost SEO are also typical characteristics of a good website, such as frequent content updates or the presence of reviews.

2) Encourage reviews and follow up on them

Operating a strong online presence involves more than just having the best web design. Whether a company has reviews online can influence a visitor’s willingness to do business with them: a survey of 1031 US Consumers conducted by BrightLocal found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

However, many customers won’t leave reviews unless they are reminded. GoDaddy writer Dan Scalco suggests offering an incentive, such as a discount. He also suggests “meet[ing] customers where they are.” This means that you should ask for reviews through the medium of contact that your customer prefers. For example, if you work with people face-to-face, then you should ask them for a review when you are talking with them. If you are corresponding online, consider sending an email request.

It is also important to respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative. By responding attentively to negative reviews, you can demonstrate your credibility as a business – something that will help you stand out in the often impersonal world of digital customer service – and potentially resolve the customer’s problem.

Khaled Saleh, author of Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Visitors into Customers, offers advice for how to best respond to complaints: respond promptly, be real and admit your mistakes, correct inaccuracies, highlight your strengths, write like a person (not a corporation), provide restitution if it’s warranted, and be consistent. It may be fitting to first send reviewers a private message first thanking them for their feedback and then continuing with your response. If you are able to rectify the situation, Sherry Bonelli, owner of Early Bird Digital Marketing, recommends politely asking the respondent via direct message to edit their review to reflect the changes that have been made.

3) Make website navigation and action simple

Whether you are a web designer, or are looking to partner with a web development firm, you should seek to design a website that is easy to use.

A good website begins with a good homepage. Your website’s homepage is the window to your brand, and may be the first thing a potential customer sees that is related to your brand. Its main purpose is to intrigue readers and direct them to other pages of the website.

Your homepage should tell the visitor what your brand does and why you are different than your competition. This is may be tricky, as a homepage should also be light on text; the best homepages tell a brand’s story with just a few sentences or words, and make use of images, video clips, and design. Consulting with a web graphic designer or other individuals with an extensive graphic design portfolio will help your website achieve a balance between utility, entertainment and clarity. The website should also have a single navigation menu that is accessible on all pages. Calls to action should always be present on the head bar. This makes your services available to the visitor at all times, without appearing pushy. When working with our Madison web design clients and clients from surrounding areas, we emphasize the important calls to action as a key component of our IH5 web principles.

Remember that a successful website visit ends with some form of interaction: a call, a purchase, a follow or like. It is important to make it as easy as possible for customers to take this next step.

Following the previous tips will require time and money that could be spent elsewhere. The extra effort is worth it, however, because it will lead to more satisfied customers. By following these three tips, you’ll be on your way to greater exposure and a stronger, more coherent brand image.

IH Concepts is a Madison-based graphic design firm. IH Concepts specializes in custom logo design, web development, mobile app development, and other graphic design services.

Follow IH Concepts on
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IHConcepts/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ihconcepts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ih-concepts/

Sources

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/search/how-advertisers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search-download/

https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

https://www.godaddy.com/garage/5-ways-to-encourage-your-customers-to-leave-reviews/

https://www.invespcro.com/blog/the-importance-of-online-customer-reviews-infographic/

https://www.brightlocal.com/2017/08/23/how-to-respond-to-negative-reviews/

Related IH Concepts Articles:

“The Design-Dos of 2018”


“5 Things to Consider when Building a Mobile Website”

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What King of Falafel Taught Us About Restaurant Marketing

When it comes to marketing, different types of businesses require different strategies in order to be successful. While there are some things that are inherently necessary (staying organized and planning ahead), there are also unique obstacles to keep in mind when marketing for a restaurant. As Restaurant Week approaches once again, we recently reflected on our recent work with King of Falafel & Grill. Earlier this year, we touched up some of their graphic design and branding. Along the way we found 5 important things to consider when marketing for a restaurant.

1. Flush out Ideas in Advance and Plan Ahead

Before getting started with marketing your business, it’s important to know your brand, create your identity, and be consistent. This might seem like a simple step, however it is one that can often be overlooked with any business type. Once you make a decision on the type of brand you want to be and your message, stick with it. This will save time, money, and a lot of headaches down the road. This decision helped figure out what the visual aesthetic of King of Falafel would communicate to the customers. It was important to stick with a similar look and feel that was already there because that’s what customers know. While some businesses think that giving their entire business a makeover is necessary, that is rarely the case and can instead lose customers who are looking for the brand they know.

2. Make Sure Your Strategy is Cost Effective

Marketing is extremely important for a business, and in order to maximize the effectiveness of it, a specific marketing budget should be set aside. A higher budget doesn’t necessarily mean better results, however, it can make different tools and options available when creating a strategy. While working with King of Falafel, we decided that in order to effectively use the marketing budget, part of the funds should go towards a TV menu board. As the price of ingredients fluctuates in the market, restaurant menu prices will need to change too. In order to avoid reprinting costs for traditional menu boards, we found that the TV menus were a smart decision. An alternative option for restaurants is to create a menu on chalkboards, which can add an artistic flavor to the appearance of the business.

3. Less is More

Working with restaurants presents a unique challenge that other businesses don’t face: designing an effective menu. Menus need to find a perfect balance between pleasing text and mouth watering images of feature foods. While it might be tempting to provide an image for every item on the menu, this can become distracting and take away from the “WOW” factor that feature items should have. Choose images carefully and highlight the best of the best to maximize your impact.

4. Engage the Customer with your Menu

Once you’ve decided on the perfect blend of text and pictures to put on a menu, it’s time to make the menu engaging. This is especially important for restaurants that create printed menus for customers to take home. While there’s often a menu online, some people will always prefer a physical copy for them to look over. If you’re creating a take-home menu, make sure the menu is engaging visually and something that the customer would want to pick up. High-quality images and an easy to navigate menu will maximize the effectiveness of your menu and simplify the experience for your customers. This will also minimize the number of customers who throw away printed menus.

5. Test the Legibility of Signage

Your customer’s experience is key. While working with King of Falafel, we agreed with KOF that TV menu boards were the best way to keep an updated menu at all times. One thing that needs to be noted about this is legibility. It is always important to place yourself in the shoes of a customer when looking over a menu on a 40 inch TV or while looking at a printed tri-fold menu at the table. At IH Concepts, we personally tested the visibility of the text on a 40-inch screen and spent time experimenting with font sizes. By doing this, we were able to design a menu board that was visible to customers at the appropriate distance they would be standing away from the menu. Menu boards are a type of signage, and legibility is always essential to providing a positive customer experience.

The restaurant business is an industry that is competitive. With so many choices of cuisine for restaurant goers to choose from, having a plan, being strategic and engaging, coupled with great design will make you stand out and increase the chances of your restaurant being the talk of the town, ensure long-term success.

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Demographics: How It Relates to Sales & Marketing

The idea that certain products attract certain age groups is a cornerstone of advertising and marketing. It’s often overlooked, however, changes in population play a large role in changes in sales.

Local news NBC15 anchorwoman Leigh Mills spoke at American Family Insurance’s DreamBank on Tuesday, June 5, about the role that demographics has on the economy. Demographics, which is the statistical study of populations, can be utilized to better understand changing trends in sales. Ms. Mills suggested that many drastic changes in sales can be explained by underlying population changes. For example, the Baby Boomer generation had roughly 78 million births in total, while Generation X had about 69.5 births. With less babies being born, many maternity wards closed down and foreign auto producers saw a decline in sales when these babies grew older. It’s not necessarily the case that people decide they don’t want these products and services anymore – rather, a smaller population in a target age range leads to less demand.

The following are four tips on how you can use demographics to your advantage.

1. Know Your Key Demographic
It is important to know who your consumers are and to study population changes, as the size of your target age group plays a large role in how well products sell. Ms. Mills gave the example of motorcycle sales in the late 1980s being influenced by differences in generation sizes. In the late 80s, individuals in the target age for motorcycle sales (18-24) were of Generation X, which was a markedly smaller generation than Baby Boomers. Thus, motorcycle companies saw a decrease in sales because their key demographic had a smaller population. When studying demographics, consider the following questions: Have birth rates changed from what they were when those currently in your key demographic were born? Will those who age out of your key demographic be replaced by a similarly sized population, or will there be a change?

2. If Sales Decline, Don’t Panic
Statistics can be misleading because the influence of demographics often goes unconsidered. Ms. Mills used the example of news stories that have reported on increasing death rates in the U.S. over the past few years. This rise in deaths, she suggested, is not because of poorer health or disease: rather, the increase in deaths has paralleled the increase in number of aging Baby Boomers, a generation with 25 million more people than the generation that preceded it. Businesses such as Toys R Us have been affected immediately by changes in population sizes, such as the reduced birth rates that followed from the 2008 recession. However, changes in population sizes will not have as large an impact on your business if you are aware of them. If a decline in sales matches up with a population change, it is important to reassess how you can stay competitive in a market where there are fewer consumers in your key demographic. It may benefit to look to another demographic that might be able to pick up some of the lost sales, and redirecting advertising efforts may help to engage a different group.

3. Understand Generational Differences
There does tend to be differences between generations related to personality and attitude. For example, millennials value making a difference over earning money, want flexible schedules, and don’t want to work for someone whose mission they don’t support. These shifting values already have had an impact on the workplace, with many businesses adopting more collaborative workspaces where younger employees work alongside those with more influence and experience, and more are able to work from home. It is important to consider how your business can appeal to new generations as they age into adulthood and influence the types of goods that are demanded. Because millennials are the largest generation yet, surpassing Baby Boomers by 8 million, those who cater to the products and services millennials like have the potential to prosper. In the case of the millennial generation, catering may mean communicating through online advertising. Or, the narrative of your marketing campaign may benefit from increased focus on millennial-favored ideas, such as a focus on making social change, or promoting the things your company does for others, like buying local goods or reducing waste production.

4. Adult Consumers Follow the Same Pattern
Adults begin to contribute more to the economy through working, spending, and paying taxes as they approach middle age. Those between the ages of 40-60 are known as “heavy lifters” for their significant economic contributions. Though millennials as a whole tend to be less concerned with financial gains in their twenties, they will ease into the heavy lifters category as they start families and attain higher-up positions. Therefore, it is important for business owners who may be struggling to reach younger audiences to consider that they may not be financially ready to contribute as greatly as those who currently are part of the heavy lifters category. Knowing how dependent your product is on heavy lifters will also help you to understand how to market to other age groups. For example, expensive children’s toys will need to appeal more to their parents than cheap ones because parents have control over larger amounts of money. For cheap toys, however, the marketing message could be altered to appeal almost exclusively to children, as they may be able to buy them.

Demographics has a large impact on businesses that often goes unconsidered. Those who understand their key demographic, the characteristics of the generation who is a part of it, and understand how to interpret statistics in relation to demographics are poised to be successful, regardless of the size of the age group they cater to. By keeping demographics in mind, you will have an advantage over others because you will be able to see how strongly sales are influenced by changing populations, and therefore have a leg up in deciding how to adjust your message to remain competitive.

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5 Ways to Improve Your Next Presentation – Do These and Captivate Your Audience

There are two important parts to every presentation: creating the message and effectively presenting it. Previously we talked about creating a presentation, but now it’s time to give it. Standing in front of people and talking can be intimidating, and if you’re nervous, you may not pay attention to all of the little actions you make while you’re the center of attention. However, if you focus on these aspects of presenting, you will be able to power through your presentation confidently and have a greater impact on your viewers.

1. Know Your Environment

This aspect focuses on checking out the space you’ll be presenting in, which is extremely important. IH Concept’s CEO usually goes to the location the day before he actually presents to become more comfortable with the area. Seeing the location before going in can give you more confidence and will let you know if there is a podium or table to stand behind. It’s also critical to know what is available to use in the room, especially if you need a computer to use a slide show.

2. Practice Speaking at a Comfortable Volume and Speed

Arguably the most important part of presenting is how you speak. You need to make sure you project your voice loud enough so everyone in the room can hear you and also speak at the correct speed so everyone can understand you. There is a fine balance you need to find to perfect the pacing and volume of your presentation, so make sure to practice not just the words, but how you convey them. Practicing is also a good way to help reduce the nerves that come along with public speaking.

3. Be Aware of Your Body Language

Having appropriate body language is important to look professional and command the room.. Negative body language habits like: folding your arms, putting your hands in your pockets, and pacing back and forth can distract viewers from your message. A couple examples of good body language are: smiling and making eye contact with the audience. It’s important to relax as much as possible before a presentation so your nerves don’t show while you are in front of your audience. Remember to take a deep breath and focus on the presentation.

4. Present to Your Viewers Verbally and With a Handout or Slideshow

The way you present your info is a key component to how the viewers receive and take in the message. People learn in different ways, so it’s important to not only have a thoughtful verbal presentation, but to also show your audience a slideshow or provide them with a handout as well. This allows people to have a reference to the main points while you add additional details with the things that you say. Remember to not strictly read off of your note cards or your slide show, because it won’t give your audience any additional information they didn’t have. Also, be sure to justify the importance of everything you present, otherwise the information could go over the viewers’ heads. However, be concise to keep your audience engaged.

5. Engage With your Audience and Be Ready for Questions

The goal of a presentation is to ensure that the information you are presenting sticks with the viewers, so creating some sort of engaging activities for your audience will help the audience learn more of the information being presented. This can include a small game of trivia based on the information in the presentation, or even a physical activity so they can learn hands on. Also, be prepared for questions from the audience after you’ve finished presenting. The answers you give are almost as important as the presentation itself because it is more interactive and might stick in the audience’s memory. These questions can also be more difficult since you can’t prepare for every question out there. While you are creating your presentation, try to think of possible questions you might receive and be ready to address them.

Similar to a movie needing a good actor to portray a character, a presentation’s effectiveness is influenced heavily by how well it is done. The audience can’t digest the information well if it isn’t given to them in an easy to access manner, so make sure to follow these 5 tips. If you follow these aspects of presenting, you will allow your audience to digest the information more easily and become a more confident presenter yourself.

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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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