Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

From Concept to Completion. Creative Advertising and Graphic Design Services.


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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 4

So far in this series, we’ve covered too much text, reading the rate card, and talked extensively about fonts. The latest designer pet peeve ties in to a similar issue to the one we ran into in post number 5—just because it looks good on your computer screen does not mean that it will look good printed. The number 4 thing designers hate is:

4) Low-Resolution Images

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Resolution in digital images is measured in something called “dpi” or “dots per inch.” The standard dpi for something you want printed relatively large is 300 dpi or more. That means there are, quite literally, 300 little dots of color in each inch of the image. On your computer screen, these dots are called “pixels.”

Often, clients will send us an image that they pulled from Google or Facebook, without paying much attention to the image’s size. Then, they’ll ask us to “blow it up” or “make it bigger.” The problem is, while we can stretch something to be much larger on a computer screen, this does not increase the number of pixels in the image—it simply makes the pixels (or dots) larger. This stretched image may look fine on the computer screen, but when it gets printed there’s a good chance that a smallish image will come out grainy and unclear. And no one wants that!

If you’re using stock photography in your ad, it’s often better to let your designer source the images for you. We’ll know what to look for to make sure the image will come out nice and clear in printing. Then you also avoid issues of “borrowed” images that we covered in Things Designers Hate Number 9.

If you are searching for images for yourself, keep an eye on the number of pixels in the image. Google image search shows the size of images in number of total pixels. If an image is 300×300 pixels, then that image will be 1×1” at 300 dpi when printed. If you enlarge that image to greater than 1×1” when printing it, it will come out blurry.

This sad puppy is 1600x900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3x3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10x6. Image courtesy of Google.com.

As you can see circled in red on the right, this sad puppy is 1600×900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3×3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10×6. Image courtesy of Google.com.

You can use this information as a rule of thumb when searching for images online. Say you want to use an image that will eventually be printed in a magazine on a standard 8.5×11” page. You would need the image to be at least 2550×3300 pixels to get a resolution of 300dpi.

Finally, clients will sometimes copy all of the images they want to use, paste them into a Word document, and send that document to us. Please, for the love of that adorable puppy up there, do not do this! Pasting images into a Word document can lead to re-sizing in order to fit the image on the page, and can cause compatibility issues between computers with different generations of Microsoft Office, or between Macs and PCs. Always save your images separately and attach them directly to the email. They can be saved as a JPEG, PDF, TIF, or PNG file, but they must be saved at high resolution, at the size you want it printed or larger. That way it will arrive in your designer’s inbox the same way you sent it: nice and big!

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 7

Welcome back to our blog series, “Top 10 Things Designers Hate!” If you haven’t already, definitely go check out our previous posts in this series, about “borrowed” images, rate cards, and ads with too much text! Today’s post will cover another topic that is near and dear to the hearts of many designers: Fonts.

Specifically,

7) You say, “Let’s use something fun, like Comic Sans!”

One of the most important things to know about design is that Comic Sans is not your friend. Nor are Papyrus, Times New Roman, or any other over-used fonts that can be found in Microsoft Word.

This is a good example of a poor font choice. The font is cutesy and fun, but the Harley-Davidson Riding Club should seem cool and tough! Image courtesy of  bonfx.com.

This is a good example of a poor font choice. The font is cutesy and fun, but the Harley-Davidson Riding Club should seem cool and tough! Image courtesy of bonfx.com.

Designers see fonts like this as a “lazy” design choice. Since they are so frequently used, they are perceived as all-purpose fonts. That means they are not going to provide that specific, individualized tone that you’re hoping to achieve with your ad. There are even websites devoted to pointing out bad uses of popular fonts.

Not that we don't love the funny papers! Image courtesy of listpod.net.

Image courtesy of listpod.net.

Your designer likely has a stockpile of hundreds of fonts that aren’t immediately recognizable by the average person. They will certainly have something with the feel you’re looking for, but with the added advantage that clients will not recognize it. That means that they’ll think of the font as unique, and associate it with your business—instead of with the Sunday funny-papers.

A great font can help send the message that you want to send, and tell your story, visually. Instead of asking for a specific font you already know about, try focusing on a general look and tone that you want for your ad! It may help to bring in examples of ads you like, and explain what about them works for you. With that information, your designer will be able to generate a design (with a font) that is perfect for you and your business.

This Kodak ad makes great use of typography! By using a font that evokes an old typewriter, they emphasize the comparison they’re making between pictures and words. Image courtesy of 1stwebdesigner.com.

This Kodak ad makes great use of typography! By using a font that evokes an old typewriter, they emphasize the comparison they’re making between pictures and words. Image courtesy of 1stwebdesigner.com.

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 10

Creating the perfect ad campaign for your business can be tough. You know what you want: an ad that stands out and lets potential clients in on the secret of what you already know—that you’re perfect for their needs! But how to go about making that ad a reality? Well, that’s a little more difficult. After all, you’re a businessperson, not a designer! It’s not your job to make the ad!

Unfortunately, without the right resources and vocabulary to talk about your design dreams, working with graphic designers can be frustrating—for them and for you!

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be exploring the top ten things that drive designers up a wall! Plus, we’ll be providing some tips on how to avoid these issues, and keep your advertising process simple and smooth. First up:

10) Too Much Text

Talk about too much text! There's so much going on in this ad that I don't know what to look at first. Not only am I not  going to read ALL of it, I probably won't read any of it. Image courtesy of http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com

Talk about too much text! There’s so much going on in this ad that I don’t know what to look at first. Not only am I not going to read ALL of it, I probably won’t read any of it. Image courtesy of http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com

You have a lot to say. There’s so much you want people to know about your business!

But sometimes, less is more. Your designer wants nothing more than to make you a beautiful, expressive ad, and cluttering up a pretty image with a bunch of information is usually not the way to achieve that end. Most of the time, minimizing text will maximize impact. Your clients don’t have to learn every single thing about your business in one ad—just enough to get them interested!

Instead of cramming every detail about your company into one ad, try to focus on generating a few simple, impactful phrases. Be sure that your ads easily lead to more information, whether that’s a web address or a phone number.

This ad by Bissel is a great example of Advertising that Works! The image is clean but expressive, and there's a minimum of text. Image courtesy of http://popurls.com

This ad by Bissel is a great example of Advertising that Works! The image is clean but expressive, and there’s a minimum of text. Image courtesy of http://popurls.com

Check out our Pinterest for examples of some beautiful ad designs that really work! And of course, be sure to check back with us later this week for number 9 on our list of “Top 10 Things Designers Hate.”


Office Computer Protocols

Business Tips and Trends

Every time I see an update software window pop-up on my office computer, I freeze. I know why I do—it’s that one time, back long ago at my own home computer, that I hit the button to update and install a new version of software (that OOPS) I shouldn’t have. My printer didn’t print, my java seemed jived, and then I received a flashing button to re-install my Flash software everyday. I freaked and asked my IT husband what to do and he did his magic and everything was back to normal again. But when I first got that pop-up at the Cheep-Cheep headquarters, I just shut the window down and refuse to update. Sound familiar? Have you had the same wonders or wails at your office?

I soon discovered that we back-up our hard drives here everyday and that I shouldn’t be so afraid to keep up with the updates and security of my appointed MAC at the office. Usually there is a person who does this for your company and you don’t have to worry about it. Find out your company protocols and rules about your computer security and software available to you and who is in charge of computer support. Here are a few things you want to know:

  • Check the specifications of each software update so you know what your computer requirements are.
  • Clear up existing problems. Ensure your computer does not have any major problems before updating and software or operating systems.
  • Make sure you run basic maintenance routines such as back-up, repair disks and security updates before updating your hard-drive, utility or software programs.
  • Protect your desktop. Shut off your computer each night or lock it behind an office door if possible. Use a password login to keep your information private.
  • Understand the company’s Wi-Fi service. Make sure you have a secure firewall and strangers can’t access your information online.

Office-Computer-Protocols


Follow Our Marketing Campaign Week 2

So last week, we told you we were ramping up our Cheep-Cheep Postcards and Cheep-Cheep Websites marketing. Our cartoon of our mascot has taken on the role of superheroes–one for our postcard (direct mail) business and one for our website development/design business. We have made several alterations to make them more superhero-ish! We are also celebrating our 25th anniversary here at Hunter-McMain, advertising and design firm so naturally, as a small division of Hunter-McMain, Inc., we will include ‘The Cheeps” in the celebration.

We liked the chalkboard-look that is trending, so we are combining our superheroes with the chalkboard look for our Facebook cover photo and Blog masthead. You will see the new look on our Facebook page. With our new marketing campaign, we have made a new pledge–“ON TIME • ON BUDGET”–so we are including our pledge. Follow along with us next week to see the look of our eBlasts and website landing page. We are creating info-graphics to explain our business… Visually, you will understand how we can be of service to you.

TheCheepsHeroes


Typesetting the “Old Fashioned Way”

OldFashionedTypeSetting

Way before computers came into the picture, graphic designers would have to “spec the type” manually to layout an advertisement. This was done by figuring out your designated area where the copy would go and fit specific fonts and columns to the width of your area. A printer would compose and lock movable type into the bed of a press, ink it and press paper against it to transfer the ink from the type and creates an impression of the paper. In practice, letterpress also included other forms of print presses, such as wood ingravings, photo etched plates and were used along side the metal type in a single operation. Until the second half of the 20th century, letterpress remained the primary way to print. Then we switched to typesetting companies that prepared the text for the graphic designer.

Before the 1980s, practically all typesetting for publishers and advertisers was performed by specialty typesetting companies. These companies performed keyboarding, editing and production of paper or film output, and formed a large component of the graphic arts industry. The typesetting companies would send out a representative and help you achieve this. The rep gave the graphic designer special rulers (see illustration). These rulers aren’t quite obsolete, but it seems as though no one ever specs type anymore. The reps would return with the paper output of text to put onto boards to layout your design. Waxing and pasting this text output was an art in itself.  If there was a misspelled word, some times you would cut out the word and re-paste it. This was also an art as a large camera would scan the final piece. Type on a curve was done manually too. As the computer arrived on the desktops of artist, the letterpress craft disappeared.

Luckily, computers do this automatically today, but composition, placement of text is still important and takes a graphic designer to arrange this to maximum readership. 


The “Big Easy” with Easy Mac ‘n Cheese

Are you a Macaroni and Cheese fan but have a short lunch hour? Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has got the “big easy” for you with this advertisement for Easy Mac ‘n Cheese.

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