Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

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


Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Everything You Need to Know

Creating the perfect ad campaign for your business can be tough, which is why it’s so important to have a great graphic designer in your corner. Of course, we know that sometimes working with a designer can be hard, too! Maybe you don’t quite know what you’re looking for in a design, or you have ideas, but you and your designer are not speaking the same language.

Don’t worry! We can help. Last month we gave a detailed breakdown of the top 10 things that every designer hates—and how to avoid misunderstandings and stress when building your perfect ad, logo, or website!

If you haven’t had the chance to read the full series, don’t worry! We’ve gathered up the whole list right here. Now is a perfect time to get up-to-date on the things your designer hates—plus how to avoid common snafus, and keep your design process running smoothly!

10) Too Much Text

No!                Yes! Images courtesy of  http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com (left)  and  http://popurls.com (right)

                          No!                                                                                       Yes!
Images courtesy of http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com (left) and http://popurls.com (right)

Ads with too much text can be stressful to read, hard to design, and not very pretty. Keep it clean and simple, and your designer will be happy—plus, your eye-catching ad will attract new customers who can see how savvy you are!

9) “Borrowed” Images 

Image courtesy of thevisualcommunicationguy.com

Image courtesy of thevisualcommunicationguy.com

While it is sometimes ok to borrow an image from another website if proper credit is given (as above), many images are copyrighted, and there are complicated rules for when it can be used and when it can’t. Instead of copying something you like online, work with your designer to create something unique for your business.

8) Read the Rate Card

This is the rate card we gave to clients who were placing ads in the 2014 Quilts Buyers’ Guide, a publication we design for Quilts, Inc.

This is the rate card we gave to clients who were placing ads in the 2014 Quilts Buyers’ Guide, a publication we design for Quilts, Inc.

What in the world is a rate card? Basically, it tells you everything you need to know to place an ad in a given publication—and it’s different for every single one! We broke down the basics of where to find the rate card and how to use it to keep your process running smoothly. Check it out!

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

Image courtesy of imaginaryanomaly.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of imaginaryanomaly.wordpress.com

All we have to say about that is: Noooooooooo! Your designer can certainly, absolutely, unequivocally find you a better font that is classy, smart, and unique to you. Let us! Pretty please?

6) Embed Your Fonts

Do what now? This is basically a term for a simple process by which your fonts are included as part of a document you send your designer—so they can see those fonts, even if they don’t have them on their computer already. Follow the link for helpful tips on what “embedding fonts” even means, why it matters, and how to do it! Easy!

5) Color: “Why won’t it print like it looks on my screen?”

The Pantone Color Guide. The book depicts roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

The Pantone Color Guide shows roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

Simple! Sort of. Actually it’s a little complicated. If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, we explained it all in the original post. Suffice to say, it will look different from screen to page, so make sure to request a color proof, and use the delightful Pantone color guide shown above to help predict how your ad will look printed.

4) Low-Resolution Images

Image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Resolution is another one that takes some time to fully explain, but the basic principle is this: send your designer the biggest image possible. This will allow it to be printed larger without blurring. If you’re not sure if it’s big enough, ask your designer! Or, check out the longer article to learn how to identify high- or low-resolution images, and make sure the pictures in your ad are crystal clear!

3) Last-Minute Changes

stop-the-press 2

Allow me to repeat myself: Nooooooooo! Alterations that a client thinks are “quick” may or may not be, and your designer may have to work overtime to get that ad to print by the deadline. Missing the deadline can mean big hassle and even extra fees from a printer if the process is delayed! If you schedule plenty of buffer for your design process, you’ll ensure that last-minute changes are never necessary, and keep your designer (and your wallet) happy.

2) “My last designer was terrible! She wouldn’t give me the design files!”

Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because most designers won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of www.amandavyne.com.

Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because most designers won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of http://www.amandavyne.com.

In general, the client owns the final ad, but not the working design files or various component parts of the ad. This can vary in different situations—we get more specific about that here. Making sure your agreement is crystal clear at the outset can prevent misunderstandings down the road!

1) You say, “Give me something….different/Unique/Special”

Pardon us while we freak out. Image courtesy of www.warcom.com.au

Pardon us while we freak out. Image courtesy of http://www.warcom.com.au

This kind of request is a little too vague, and it puts a lot of pressure on a designer to guess what you might love. We always want to give our clients what they want—but first we have to know what that is. Make sure you know what you’re looking for, or be ready to trust your designer to come up with something awesome! Specific thoughts about color and style can point your designer in the right direction, and examples can be helpful, too!

.

If you want to learn about our collaboration and design skills firsthand, get more information here or call us at 713-627-1177 to set up your free consultation!


1 Comment

Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Color Edition

rainbow-colorsLately we’ve been talking a lot about color! In keeping with that, number 5 in the Things Designers Hate series is a common question:

5) “Why don’t the colors print like they look on my computer screen?”

The question itself isn’t exactly the problem. Rather, the issue is that many clients don’t ask it until the job is nearly complete. A client may assume that an image she sees on her computer will look precisely the same printed out. When this turns out to not be the case, aggravation and frustration invariably ensue. The client is disappointed that she didn’t get what she was expecting, and we’re frustrated because we want the client to be happy—and we don’t want to have to go back to the drawing board at late stages in the design process.

This can be easily avoided! You simply need to know the difference between viewing images on a computer and viewing a printed image, so that you can factor that in when communicating with your designer.

It all comes down to two simple, but important, abbreviations: CMYK and RGB. 

RGB refers to the primary colors of light: Red, Green, and Blue. These are the colors used by your computer monitor (and any other light-operated system, like the lighting rig at concerts or theatre performances, for example) to create all the colors in the spectrum. When it comes to light, white is made up of all the colors, and black is no light at all.

CMYK is the term used to quickly refer to the process by which images are printed in color. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK. With pigment, the process is the opposite of light: white space is achieved by using no color, and black is a combination of all the colors. Black is also added to a given pigment to darken it.

color mixing in light (left) vs. pigment (right) works differently. In this image you can see that the primary colors of light (Green, red, and blue) mix to create white, while the primary colors of pigment (Magenta, Yellow,  and Cyan) mix to create black. This is the fundamental difference between how we see color on our screens and how we see it printed! Image courtesy of sciencelearn.org.nz.

Color mixing in light (left) vs. pigment (right). In this image you can see that the primary colors of light (Green, red, and blue) mix to create white, while the primary colors of pigment (Magenta, Yellow, and Cyan) mix to create black. This is the fundamental difference between how we see color on our screens and how we see it printed! Image courtesy of sciencelearn.org.nz.

Since the images viewed on your screen are created with light, turning the screen brightness up or down, or altering the “contrast” setting, will change how those images appear. It is unlikely that your designer’s computer is set to the exact same settings as your computer, so a design sent to you online will not look exactly the same on your screen as it looked on your designer’s screen. When the image is printed, it will again be subject to color variation.

The Pantone color book. You can see that the colors on the left of the page are “RGB” and the colors on the right are “CMYK.”  The book depicts roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

The Pantone color Guide. You can see that the colors on the left of the page are “RGB” and the colors on the right are “CMYK.” The book depicts roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

You can avoid surprises when it comes to color by using a Pantone color guide. Pantone colors are standardized using numbers, so when your designer says they’re using Pantone blue #285PC, you can refer to the book to see how it will look when printed. Printers also use the Pantone guide, so their colors should be exactly the same as the colors shown in the book. By referring to the Pantone guide, you can get a good idea of what to expect from the colors in your printed ad, even if you’re looking at it on a computer screen. You can also always request a printed sample before finalizing the design, just to make sure it looks how you expect it to.

By keeping in mind that colors will differ from screen to page, and using the Pantone book as a resource, you can avoid unnecessary confusion and keep things running smoothly with your designer!

 

Related Articles


Top 10 Things Designers Hate, Number 6: Speaking of Fonts…

Welcome back to our Blog series, “Top 10 Things Designers Hate!” We’ve covered ads with too much text, “Borrowed” images, reading the rate card and, most recently, the impact of fonts on your advertisement. It’s hard to over-emphasize how much fonts affect your ads. So, speaking of fonts, our number six thing designers hate is…

6) When You Don’t Embed Your Fonts

Imagine this familiar scenario: You have a font you want to use. You type up your copy in Microsoft Word, save it as a .docx document, and send it to your designer. Unfortunately, your designer doesn’t have that font on file, which means that when the document is opened on your designer’s computer, it defaults to some other font…like maybe Wingdings 3.

Wingdings: Cute on dogs. Not on your ad. Image courtesy of cafepress.com.

Wingdings: Cute on dogs. Not on your ad. Image courtesy of cafepress.com.

The formatting you worked so hard on is ruined, and your designer has no idea what you were trying to send. Time to start over.

All this trouble can be avoided by the simple process of embedding your fonts. What does that mean?

“Embedding” fonts means including the font you want to use as part of the document when you send it to your designer. This can be done quite simply: often, when saving ad document as a PDF you will be prompted to embed the fonts. That’s about as easy as it gets!

If this doesn’t happen (like if you’re using an older version of Word or Adobe Acrobat) you can follow these simple instructions here or here.

And voila! This simple process avoids confusion and keeps communicating with your designer clear and efficient. Everybody wins!

Related Articles:


1 Comment

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.

Related Articles


The Language of Advertising

LanguageofAdvertising

Marketing and the language of advertising can have powerful influence over people and their behavior. Visual content and design can have a great impact on the consumer, too. But, buzzwords, phrases and suggestions can actually instill an emotional response from us. Did you know the word ADVERTISE comes from the Latin verb ‘advertere’–which means to turn towards. The language used in advertising is a way to capture attention and describe products, how they work, and what they can do for us. Its role is to persuade you–to make you turn towards a product or service. A study of these “advertising” words compiled a list for us of the twenty most frequent adjectives and verbs. They are:

Adjectives:

  1. New
  2. Good/Better/Best
  3. Free
  4. Fresh
  5. Delicious
  6. Full
  7. Sure
  8. Clean
  9. Wonderful
  10. Special
  11. Crisp
  12. Fine
  13. Big
  14. Great
  15. Real
  16. Easy
  17. Bright
  18. Extra
  19. Safe
  20. Rich

 Verbs:

  1. Make
  2. Get
  3. Give
  4. Have
  5. See
  6. Buy
  7. Come
  8. Go
  9. Know
  10. Keep
  11. Look
  12. Need
  13. Love
  14. Use
  15. Like
  16. Like
  17. Choose
  18. Take
  19. Start
  20. Taste

Advertising “Claims”

To make their product or service seem unique, advertisers rely on a few techniques –or ‘Claims”. Here are 10 top ways that are claimed in most advertising:

  1. The Weasel Claim –words or claims that appear important but, after thinking about them, are really meaningless.  Example of Weasel Claims: “Listerine fights bad breath.” (Fights not stops.)
  2. The Unfinished Claim–the ad claims the product is better or has more of something, but does not finish the comparison. Example: “Magnavox gives you more.” (More of what?!)
  3. The “We’re Unique and Different” Claim– this kind of claim states there is nothing else quite like the product being advertised. For example, if StarBucks would add pink food coloring to its coffee they could say, “There is nothing like the new pink Starbucks.” (The uniqueness claim is supposed to be interpreted as a claim to superiority).
  4. The “Water is Wet” Claim–these claims say something about the product that is fact, but not necessarily different from the competition. Example: “Folgers is mountain grown.” (So are all coffee beans).
  5. The “So What” Claim–this claim leaves the reader to react by saying, “So what?” Example: “Strong enough for a man but made for a woman” (So what?)
  6. The Vague Claim–the vague claim is simply not clear, the words are colorful but meaningless. For Example, “The end of meatloaf boredom.”
  7. The Endorsement or Testimonial Claim–Celebrity or authority appears in an ad to lend their stellar qualities to the product. Examples of Endorsement Claims are easy to find. During football season here in Houston, JJ Watt has endorsed plenty of products but our favorite is the commercial with HEB grocery store and the Watt-Kabob, using large steaks.
  8. The Scientific or Statistical Claim–this kind of ad uses scientific proof or an experiment, specific numbers, or an impressive sounding mystery ingredient. Example: “Wonder Bread helps build strong bodies 12 ways.” (The FTC demanded this ad be withdrawn even with the ‘weasel’ word helps.)
  9. The “Compliment the Consumer” Claim–this claim uses flattery to compliment the consumer. Example: “You’ve come a long way, baby” (May be true, but it wasn’t the cigarette that got us there.)

The Rhetorical Question–this technique demands a response from the reader, even if it is asked in order to produce an effect or make a statement rather than to elicit information. An example of this technique:  “


Help! My Desktop’s a Mess!

ClutteredDesktop

Does your desktop look like this?

An electronic desktop is just like a physical one; if you don’t keep it organized things get out of hand. When taking a bit of care while building your desktop, files are easier to find. Don’t be afraid; it will be okay! Imagine your desktop to be like an actual file cabinet. Where would you begin? Use FOLDERS! On Windows there is a folder called My Documents, don’t use this to stuff everything into. Let’s get organized! Here are a few tips:

  • If you are having trouble where to start, some experts suggest you put all of your files on your desktop into a file called Desktop Folder. Then figure out where each file should be placed by figuring our your categories and which file folders to create and place them in.
  • Organize files in the way that makes sense to you. If you work by projects then organize by projects. If you work by clients create file folders for each client. If you work by date, then create files with your timeline.
  • Don’t overdo the subfolders. Subfolders are a great way to organize, but don’t overuse them and creating a folder for every file.
  • Organize your desktop with current and archived files. When finished with a project or job, then file it under your archived files. Keep your current files available.
  • When naming a file and folder, be short but precise so that you can easily identify what is in the folder.
  • If all else fails you can purchase software that will help you. There are several out there for Windows and Mac. Just a little research should tell you if they are what you need.

One designer I know, has actually created a display screened background to keep file folders on her desktop instead buried deep in her computer. It looks something like this…

Organizedfiles

Whatever method you use or whatever way you desire to organize, know this: Organization will help save you time and give you peace of mind. Who doesn’t want that?! When sharing files it is easier to find and easier to be on the receiving end, too. Good luck!

PS. Oh! If you need to organize your physical desktop, we can suggest our client, a great company to help you get organized—The Busy Corner, Houston, Texas.


Keep It Clean!

KeepItClean-thecheeps

 

This chick at The Cheeps (me) noticed in my daily commute the various company trucks, vans and cars that have plastered their logo plus phone number on the sides of their vehicles. Here in Houston, Texas, there are many companies who advertise this way. The companies varied from Fed Ex, Joe the Plumber, Carpet Cleaning, Custom T-shirts, etc. Many were complete vehicle wrapped ads while several were magnet-style signs, and while others were painted on. I critiqued them on their visibility and whether or not it would actually lead me to find them. (Yes this is what graphic designers do while in heavy traffic). Some vehicles were clean, but several were not. One in particular was a full-blown advertisement on the vehicle, which is called a wrap vehicle. The cost of these are not cheap, somewhere between the price of $900- $4,000. This one in particular was colorful and wrapped from the front to the back and even over the roof. It had a QR code on it, but I couldn’t scan that while driving–even during the traffic jam slowness. It was bold and colorful but I did not see a phone number, an address or company name. It had a very small website address which I remembered though it was not easy to. As it turns out the web address was to the vehicle wrap company, not to the product that was plastered all over the vehicle. Another car had a simple magnet that couldn’t have been more than 24×24 inches that was clear on what the service was, and who to call, and what their website was… All understood while zipping by at 50 mph! They got a great critique from me. The cost for one of these signs is not much more than $50. Whichever type of vehicle advertisement you decide on make sure your vehicle is always clean, make sure your sign is easy to understand, and represents your company in the best way possible.