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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

The Importance of Brand Identification: Logo Development

Monday, August 31st, 2015

The use of logos to identify corporate brands is an effort that is not given the attention necessary to drive the success all companies are searching for. It is the process of identifying the best way to present a company to their consumer base by visual recognition. Everyone is familiar with the golden arches of McDonald’s and the swoosh of Nike Corp., but when these companies were first introduced, not everyone understood the message they were trying to convey to consumers.

McDonald’s, for instance, was a single restaurant opened by brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald. It was former employee, Ray Kroc, who purchased the rights to franchise the burger joint, came up with the golden arches as the logo and went on to make millions. There is no “M” in Kroc, yet he still realized the visual appeal that it presented to the food purchasing public and stuck with it. The golden arches will long be the signature logo of the iconic fast food chain.

In the 1960s, Bill Bowman was a track coach working on developing running shoes for his track athletes at the University of Oregon. He teamed up with his friend, Phil Knight, in an effort to make sneakers not only more efficient, but also more of a fashion statement. The name Nike was taken from the Greek goddess of winged victory. They then set out to pick a logo that would portray exactly what they wanted their shoes to personify. Together, they came up with the iconic swoosh representing a wing at lift-off and introduced it on a sneaker for the first time at the 1972 Olympic games. It wasn’t until then that the logo came to represent all that they had hoped for. The company exploded onto the scene and has been growing strong ever since.

What your logo should represent is something we at SSMCreative consider seriously with every design that we do. We ask a lot of questions including:

  • What consumer base are you trying to reach?
  • What is the product you are looking to sell?
  • What does your company stand for and what are the beliefs that it was built on?

These questions afford us the opportunity to focus on exactly which direction our clients are trying to head in order to continue to grow and succeed in an ever evolving business environment.

We recently partnered with a commercial and residential construction company that was looking to set itself apart from its competition in a variety of ways. Along with developing a new website, our client was exploring the idea of changing the name and logo that had long been used to represent their company. Our client was about to make a major change to the manufacturing capabilities that they offered and weren’t sure exactly what process should be used to determine the direction they would follow moving towards the future.

SSMCreative conducted several interviews with key members of the client team. In addition, we discussed a number of things with the principals involved in the restructuring of the company to understand exactly what they were trying to achieve as a result of the possible name change and logo update. It was determined that new technologies would be implemented that would allow the company to change its target audience to include a wider variety of industries that they would be able to work with. However, the longstanding values and core principals that the business was built on would not be changing. As a result, it was decided that a name change would not be necessary, but that a logo change would be needed to bring better focus to the direction the company was moving towards while retaining those things that have already made it successful.

Our client was looking for a logo that portrayed stability and strength, yet wanted to reflect its desire to be the industry leader as they prepared for the future. After numerous discussions and reflections, this logo was selected to be used universally by our client:

Klover Logo

This logo reflects the core values while adding an updated look and feel to the design. We were able to incorporate the original color scheme in the sideways play button and in turn project a “K” in the negative space caused by the separation.

Klover saw the logo and instantly fell in love with the design. They thought the overall look of the logo clearly represented the construction aspect of the company while showing the forward thinking the company is currently striving to maintain. Klover is a clear leader in their industry and the logo is being used on all of their marketing items including the website, hats, shirts, sweatshirts, work items and printed materials.

The process can be long and tedious, but when the outcome achieves the goal our clients are trying to reach, it is definitely worth it. Our focus is to help satisfy all of the needs our clients present to us for their long-term success. Feel free to contact us at any time to assist you with all of your creative needs.

With Google any change is a big change, but this is HUGE!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Google has long held the key to consumers locating information about what they are interested in. Searching through Google is simple and fast. As a business, the keywords located on the pages of your website were used to determine where Google ranked you. The better the use of keywords, the higher you would be located when someone searched for what you offer. That’s about to change!

Google recently announced that it would make a change to its search algorithms, the biggest change that they’ve made in years. This is definitely something to be taken seriously. A website’s “mobile friendliness” will now play a key role in the way it is ranked. Sites that are not set up to be optimized for mobile will appear lower in the search pages.

The term mobile friendly means that websites are designed to work fluidly when a user is on a smartphone. The plan is to scan each page on a site, checking for load times, responsive design elements and simplicity in movement from page to page. The main things to bear in mind are:

  • text sizes that are readable without zooming
  • content fits the screen so scrolling and zooming aren’t necessary
  • spacing links appropriately so tapping the correct one isn’t too difficult

Flash will be a big problem too. It is not commonly supported on mobile devices and Google will factor that into search rankings.

Why is this such a big deal? With mobile searches growing at 10 times the rate of desktop searches, businesses that don’t have mobile friendly sites stand to lose a third of their traffic. Currently, more than 66% of Fortune 100 companies do not have mobile friendly websites, so this is set to have a huge impact. While the announcement stated that tablet searches won’t be affected, that change is likely in the pipeline, so it is worth getting ahead of this change.

There is something worth noting. Google will be checking every page, however, the algorithm will be applied on a page-by-page basis, not to the whole site. This means that as different pages become mobile friendly they can start to benefit from the SEO boost offered by this update. If you are not in a position for an overhaul, your focus should be on your homepage and commonly used areas of the site.

Don’t yet see just how your business will be affected? Consider that in the year 2015, over 1.9 billion people will be using smartphones. By 2018, over one-third of consumers worldwide will use smartphones. The numbers are staggering when you think about it. Through the first quarter of 2015, 43% of mobile traffic was for searches. Put the numbers together and imagine where this is going to go.

For businesses, it’s a sobering wake-up call. Get up to speed on mobile or be left behind. If you don’t, you’re going to get lost in search results, see a huge decrease in web traffic and, naturally, a loss in revenue will follow. Currently, 89% of all smartphone users worldwide conduct searches on Google. Until the search ranking update is fully implemented, we won’t know what the effect will be on mobile and desktop search results. One thing is for sure, users can expect a mobile experience that is not only easier to view, but also easier to navigate.

This will definitely benefit businesses that have worked hard to optimize the mobile experience for consumers. They will have an SEO advantage over competitors that are lagging behind. This is a great opportunity to grow your business.

While this will have no effect on searches from desktop computers, it is to the benefit of all businesses to be quick to get up to speed with mobile and make sure your website delivers a positive consumer experience. Consumers have a propensity to abandon your brand if they are struggling to look at your products, make purchases or contact you when on your site.

This is where SSMCreative can be of great assistance to ensure you don’t lose your Google ranking and get left behind. Our priority has been to make the websites we design visually appealing as well as mobile-friendly. Let us help you stay current with technology and ahead of the businesses that won’t see the benefit this change will have. It’s worth making the changes now before your profits take a hit. Feel free to contact us at (215) 679-3380 or pat@ssmcreative.com. It’s what we are excellent at and will keep you at the top of the search page!

Is getting what you pay for really what you want?

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The adage “you get what you pay for” has been around for years. Unfortunately in today’s world, that is becoming a deceiving phrase. As we try to figure out which house to buy, car to drive or smart phone to use, the deals are everywhere. New home as low as $99,000, brand new car starting at $8,999, new iPhone for free*** 2 year contract required – some marketing and advertising efforts have become merely smoke and mirrors in an effort to grow business. That new home is bare minimum…. all you need to do is spend another $50K on upgrades and you will have a home worth living in. The great price on the car gets you no power windows, no a/c, no bells and whistles, but… if you will spend another $6K, you will have something worth driving comfortably. And the free phone? That deal is only for people who aren’t currently under contract with the provider, but you can have the same phone for only $399. What a deal for the years of loyalty you’ve provided as a customer!

In the business world today, it is necessary to continue to grow or you risk stagnation, which sadly leads to failure. It is important to stay as current with the newest marketing and advertising opportunities that exist. Most companies have websites to let the public know what they offer to current and potential clients. What most companies fail to realize is that both web design and online marketing have improved greatly in a short period of time and now is the time to take advantage of what this current technology has to offer. We live in a world of social media unlike anything we have ever seen before. Constant contact is a given and the ability to be seen by so many people provides the kind of exposure that has not been achievable before. In order to get the most out of this exposure, the initial investment will be worth it as long as you make the right choice in partnering with a company who makes your success as important as their own.

Still many people think that the lowest price is the best option when in actuality that is definitely not the case. We all have family and friends in every part of the working world. Mechanics, contractors, doctors, lawyers, business executives and all other facets of blue-collar and white-collar industries. At one point or another, we have turned to them for assistance. For the most part they are willing to help, but at their convenience and, more often than not, they are not in a hurry. We are all used to being paid for the jobs we do, so when we are helping out a buddy, that assistance becomes the last thing that concerns them because quite frankly, they are not getting the monetary reward that a paying customer provides. It is that simple, you do get what you pay for.

With that in mind, too often decision makers’ eyes fall to the bottom line. It has been proven over and again that in an effort to save money up front, it costs more on the back end. Pay for the less expensive washer, it doesn’t last nearly as long as the costlier model. The same goes for most consumer goods, it is always better to pay slightly more initially in an effort to get the best payoff in the long run.

Which brings me to this, when searching for the right company to grow your brand and develop your business, don’t look at the bottom line, but at the best way to partner with a company who will keep your bottom line their priority while bringing you the desired results. Look for the one who has a proven track record, not your neighbor’s buddy or your cousin’s “good friend”. Lots of people will offer you assistance, at SSMCreative we make you the priority because we absolutely understand that it really does come down to “YOU getting what you pay for”!

Catching Up On The Craziness

Monday, December 9th, 2013

There’s never a dull moment here at SSMCreative and it’s nice when the craziness results in satisfied clients.

childrens-allianceWe’ve been working with the Children’s Care Alliance since April to create their online presence. Located in the Lehigh Valley, CCA is a collaboration of local hospitals, school districts and care providers. With the support of the Lehigh Valley Business Coalition on Health Care, the CCA is committed to improving the quality of health care for children of the Lehigh Valley. The CCA has developed a health information exchange, the Virtual Health Village, which allows for participating children’s health information to be shared electronically among health care providers in order to greatly improve the continuity of care received by those children.

The site, childrenscarealliance.org, is an educational tool that provides important information for parents and health care providers. The site also allows parents to complete and submit consent forms for their children to participate in the Virtual Health Village.

The site was launched on Monday, November 25th.

open-linkOn Wednesday, November 27th, we launched theopenlink.org. The Open Link is a newly formed organization that joined 2 previously separate organizations in the Upper Perkiomen Valley – The Open Line and the Upper Perkiomen Senior Center. The Open Link provides community services, food and nutrition services and adult education services to qualified individuals in the Upper Perkiomen Valley.

The site, theopenlink.org, is an informational tool that provides important information about the array of services offered by The Open Link to individuals and families in the Upper Perkiomen Valley.

Both designs were implemented as responsive so site visitors can easily access each site from any device.

Cheap, Fast and Good…

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

HiRes
It’s an old adage – Cheap, Fast and Good – pick two. For years I’ve heard that over and over again in reference to automobiles, specifically hot rods. The phrase implies that if you want to go Fast, be prepared to spend money or to be stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow – reliability (Good) doesn’t come Cheap and neither does speed.

So who cares and why are we talking cars?  You just want a website and with all the various free blog/website management and image editing software floating around the old interweb, it’s easy to have a Cheap, Fast and Good website done by you, for you…

Ever try to assemble something without the instructions? I’m willing to bet it either took much longer than initially planned or resulted in an unintended, never-before-seen creation that would be better served being banished to the depths of the Atlantic. I once tried to teach myself how to weld on an old car in my parents garage. After I had completely put out the fire, I accepted that perhaps someone with more experience should finish the “welding” I had “started”.  Similarly (or not), a good website starts with an understanding of what the end result should represent AND how to get there. I had an idea of what the finished welding project should’ve looked like, though overlooking the fact that I had no proper knowledge of how to weld could’ve cost my parents their house. Your website is your brand, visible to the world.  A visitor may only give you one attempt at peaking their interest.  Are you sure your wholesale plumbing customers really want to see a picture of you holding Rex your Maltese? Building an e-commerce site? Mishandled transactions could cost your customers their identity.

Sure, a reputable firm will charge you money for their expertise which may negate the “Cheap” part, but the money spent up-front will be used to identify your goals, target audience, marketing strategy, brand and supporting site design and functionality. A proper planning phase allows for better (the “Good” part) brand development and specifies all facets of your website (making programming your site “Fast”). The “Good” and “Fast” will gain new customers, keep existing ones and provide a pleasant, secure, easy-to-manage environment. So, what can’t we weld for you?

The Road to a New Brew

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Craft Beer and Branding
It’s been a long time coming, but Weyerbacher’s new brand is almost completely rolled out (two and a half years in the making). It’s been a long process, but the end result is something that they can be really proud of. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to walk through some of the process, successes and failures that we had throughout the long slog of taking Weyerbacher from the 1990s to now.

The Beginning
Weyerbacher has three key players. Dan, Chris and Chris (President, Head Brewer and Head of Production). In order to really develop the brand, we had to get all three of their views (sometimes very disparate views) on the same page so that we could have some form of consensus for approvals and direction. We started in the fall of 2010 (October 28th, to be exact) with a meeting to discuss the current state of the brand, where each person thought we were and what we thought the general public thought of Weyerbacher. To get to know where you want to go, you need to know where you are and where you’ve been. That may seem like common sense, but even with only 3 people as part of the process, there can be very differing view points (and there were a few).

Where are we?
A lot of the things that came out of the initial discussions left us feeling like we had a lot of room to grow from a brand perspective (of course we knew this, but it’s helpful to define it as well). Weyerbacher, as a brand, is a respected small brewery that makes bold and innovative beers that challenge style boundaries and create incredible experiences through beer. That’s a great brand. Except the visual portion of the brand had not kept up with the physical brand. All of this great beer was packaged in dated materials with a logo that was deeply in need of re-design.

Next steps
We defined where we are, now we need to define where we want to go and what we want to be. To be continued…

Know BioCycle? You Should!

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

BioCycle has been the top resource for municipal, agricultural and industrial composting, renewable energy and sustainability since the magazine was founded in 1960. Known across the industry for their vast knowledge and extensive archives, BioCycle established itself as the “go to” for information.

The problem? Their website appeared disorganized and, therefore, was difficult for users to navigate. The site was not visually appealing and did not invite visitors to stay and browse the site. The existing content management system was outdated and limiting. Realizing that their customer base demanded a more dynamic site, BioCycle contacted SSM.

Working in conjunction with BioCycle, SSM developed a design that was true to the BioCycle color scheme while remaining aesthetically pleasing to site visitors. SSM installed WordPress to drive the site providing BioCycle the ability to easily update information, upload articles and incorporate photos. Since the article archive is one of BioCycle’s greatest assets, SSM implemented a search that allows site visitors to quickly return extensive search results. SSM implemented a membership functionality that allows site visitors to subscribe and renew subscriptions easily.

Check out BioCycle’s site and learn something!