Use Powerful Visualizations to Make Your Message Clear

Posted March 15, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

Communication is the key to human connection.

But adequately sharing information can be more difficult than you may think. George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has taken place!

Experts estimate that 65 percent of people are visual learners, so one of the easiest ways to communicate with people is with pictures. A well-structured chart, graph, or data visualization can do wonders for sharing your insights with customers, team members, or your superiors. And with easily accessible tools you can use illustrations to:

  • Get your message across quickly
  • Make complex data accessible to many
  • Make your report or presentation more visually appealing
  • Create a more memorable, lasting impression

Whether you’re reporting the household budget or spicing up slides for a presentation, stretch yourself to try one of these options this month.

Vertical Bar Charts

This is a simple option for comparing data grouped by distinct categories. Vertical bar charts are better when sharing 10 groups of data or less.

Horizontal Bar Charts

Typically, horizontal bar charts are effective when you have more than 10 groups of data or if you have long category labels to share.

This format makes labels easier to read because they are displayed in the proper orientation. Vertical and bar charts are excellent for comparing any sort of numeric value, including group sizes, inventories, ratings, and survey responses.

Pie Charts

Pie charts are fun to look at and helpful for understanding parts of a whole.

Remember to order the pieces of your pie according to size and to ensure the total of your pieces adds up to 100%.

Line Chart

Line charts are used to show data relative to a continuous variable: calendar months, years, budget allocations, etc.

Plotting data variables on line graphs makes it easier for readers to identify useful trends or to evaluate comparable products or challenges.

Bullet Chart

Bullet charts are typically used to display performance data relative to a goal.

A bullet graph reveals progress toward a goal, compares this to another measure, and provides context in the form of a rating or performance.

Flow Chart

Following the proper process is something that can make or break an organization or its employees.

Flow charts are used typically in medical, educational, or manufacturing fields to bring quality control and to ensure procedures are uniformly followed.

Pictographs

Here images and symbols are used to illustrate data.

For example, a basic pictograph might use a frowny face to signify sick days and a happy face to symbolize healthy days. Because images hold more emotional power than raw data, pictograms are often used to present medical data. An illustration that shades five out of 20 people has a much more significant impact in sharing a 20-percent death rate.

Sharpen Your Image

When finalizing your data visualization, here are ways to bring your best to the table:

Less is More.

When creating illustrations, consider which gridlines, borders, or numbers can be removed to make the essential parts speak for themselves.

Let White Space Shout.

Minimalist designs like this Congressional gender chart can highlight areas where a gross imbalance exists.

Interpret Data for Readers.

Viewers can understand data more easily when you offer compelling titles and well-placed labels.

Use a Call to Action.

To move your readers, encourage them to take action and make changes.

A great example of this comes from Sebastian Soto, who built a single-color pictograph about the decline of Zambian malaria. Using quotes from key research and health ministry directors on the poster, he closed the graphic with this phrase: “Let’s Collaborate. againstmalaria.com.”

If you need help creating visualizations for your next print project, give us a call today!

Advertisements

Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

Posted March 12, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

From Tarzan’s treehouse to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Disney’s creative team has spent decades constructing fantasy lands depicted in Disney movies.

Bringing dreams to life is Disney’s business, and its empire spans 11 theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of hotels, and many waterparks and restaurants that help guests experience the happiest place on Earth.

The dreamers, or “Imagineers” at Disney are the brains behind the vision. Peter Rummell, who served as chairman of the Imagineers for 12 years, said creativity doesn’t just happen. It has to be engineered:

“It is a process and if you don’t understand that and if you sit around and wait for the lightning bolt, you’re not going to be very productive.”

Walt Disney himself was a master of creative thinking and brainstorming. Not only was he talented in discovering ideas, he knew how to convert possibilities into reality. One associate said this about Disney:

“There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming to the meeting.”

Disney’s Strategic Brainstorming Techniques

Over time, Walt’s team used his own attributes for guiding thoughts to build parallel thinking in groups, while at the same time generating concepts, critiquing ideas, and solving problems.

NLP expert Robert Dilts helped bring the technique to life, like this:

  • Four parts of a room were set up for different thinking methods: imagining, planning, critiquing, and for stepping outside the concept. Arranging a physical space for each mindset prepared teams to switch from one thinking mode to another.
  • Teams gathered with a target objective: an innovation to brainstorm, a problem to solve, or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced unhindered green light thinking, planners used red light critiques to define the how, the timeline, or the plan.
  • Meanwhile, critics and the concept overseers analyzed weaknesses of the plan, defining missing elements, gaps in the process, or obstacles to address.

Rotating between spaces allowed teams to transition from unhindered passion to logical plans. Impossible ideas weren’t immediately squashed. And through this defined creative process, teams could generate solid creative ideas with an action plan to apply it.

Unlock Creativity in Your Team

Though Peter Rummell has since moved on from the Imagineers, he says his time at Disney taught him three valuable lessons for guiding teams in creative thinking:

1. Entertain ideas from everyone.

“I think one of the major lessons I learned was that despite the hierarchy of an organization, an idea can come from anywhere.”

Top leaders should be willing to listen and younger team members should be encouraged that everyone has a voice.

2. Build an eclectic team.

“An accountant sitting next to a poet is a really good idea,” Rummell said.

High IQs are not pre-requisites to creative success. When teams are full of variety, often the least likely people can generate the best concepts. Varying skill sets help to energize the best ideas and to round out gaps in the plan.

3. Vet even the strangest ideas.

When Rummell’s team was brainstorming waterpark ideas, they were totally stalled.

“We didn’t want to do another Pirates of the Caribbean or some Caribbean island,” Rummell said. “We were trying to figure out what would be fun or different.”

Everything sounded silly until someone left for the bathroom and walked by a cubicle decorated in snowstorms. Though the idea of a freak Florida snowstorm sounded ridiculous, eventually the idea became “Blizzard Beach,” the theme of an entire waterpark in Orlando.

Creativity doesn’t just happen, so get resourceful and create some new brainstorming processes of your own. When you’re ready to roll out new concepts, we’ll help you bring them to life in print!

Go Off the Grid with Transparent or Overlay Design Options

Posted March 8, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

Want to stretch your designs or look your very best in print?

Consider the bold, creative flair overprinting or transparent layering can bring.

Typically, when you generate multi-layer designs your design software will cause one element to cover the artwork below it. Graphics obscure backgrounds, fonts cover image details, or text wraps around focal points as you format it to your preference. This layering process organizes your piece and prevents the muddy look that can occur when colors bleed together.

Overprinting allows you to use one color on top of another in a way that blends two colors to make a third. This is especially useful if you’re working with a limited selection of Pantone colors or to create a unique, funky feel when two pieces of artwork overlap.

Overprinting is an element that can be turned on and previewed in the attributes panel with your design software, and flattened (or exported) in the print settings.

Want to try it? Here are some basic examples to experiment with:

1. Blend text over images.

Start with a simple, uncomplicated photo like three bright citrus oranges.

Choose a photo with fewer details so your design isn’t too busy. Add text over the image in either a lighter shade of the same citrus hue or a totally contrasting color (white font on orange fruit, for example). Blending the words and image will create a new, third color where the font overlays the fruit.

2. Apply a typographic hierarchy.

Create order in the way your design is read by adjusting font transparency levels throughout the image.

For example, try a textured wood background but allow it to peek through your text by adding transparency to your type. Primary headlines should be less transparent for a bold, commanding presence. Secondary heads or copy text down the page can increase in transparency for a more faded, mysterious feel.

3. Overlay a graphic with a solid color.

Use color to make a statement with a solid color overlay over the whole page.

This means that you cover an image or page with a semi-transparent colored box. The effect can add meaning to an image, bring attention to a design, or help you get creative with limited image options. Another option is to use gradients or filters to fade a background image or bring a bright hue to give a boring image some spark. A neutral color or sepia overlay can add a rustic flavor, then be paired with a bright or transparent font that really pops out.

Transparent Layering in Print

Transparency is also a great layering option that can also be used in all kinds of designs to bring exquisite elegance or unforgettable flair.

Curious? Feel free to visit with us about outstanding options like these:

  • Clear frosted business cards
  • Arresting posters printed on translucent stock
  • Frosted tote bags with artwork or logos foil-stamped on the surface
  • Translucent vellum paper used in formal invitations
  • Oversized translucent stickers for windowfronts, clever displays, or sharp packaging
  • Catalogs or booklets featuring bold text overlaid by a simple, transparent cove

Transparency can be a great way to reveal what’s inside your package or under the project cover, letting the product inside sell itself! Use transparency and overlay techniques to give your project more depth, structure, or sophistication.

Use Game-Based Learning to Train Your Employees

Posted March 5, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

Ethel Merman thought people should lighten up to really live, crooning these lyrics in 1931:

“Life is just a bowl of cherries: don’t take it serious, it’s too mysterious . . .

Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all!”

Is life all fun and games? Definitely not.

But leadership experts are finding that one of the best ways to train people is by helping them laugh and compete as they learn through play.

United States… Gaming?

Recently, the US Army employed “serious gaming” to address challenges in their leadership training.

While soldiers were very capable in weapons and war strategies, the Army found its forces need to grow in their soft skills by increasing familiarity with the values, norms, and cultures where they were deployed.

First Person Cultural Trainer, a gaming simulation, was developed specifically to help junior leaders understand the consequences of their speech, body language, temperaments, and choices. Trainees used a 3D avatar to interact and work with individuals in a foreign community and to gain feedback on how their choices affected their ability to build rapport. Students progressed through four levels of gaming to build communication, interpersonal, and intelligence gathering skills.

Games for the Win

Advances in game-training strategies have steered many organizations toward a more recreational focus in their corporate cultures.

Games and stories are a fundamental part of human life: according to one study done by Essential Facts, in 2016 more than 60% of households in America had someone playing video games regularly. Humans excel in games because we love reward-based challenges, especially when objectives become progressively harder or more addictive!

To embed gaming in their corporate training culture Cisco used a “LiveOps” call center to challenge competing agents, ultimately reducing call time by 15% and improving sales by an average of 10%.

A Colorado restaurant gamified its objective to increase sales of specific menu items. When they sold a 4-pack of cinnamon rolls, staff could play online “point-yielding games,” and reward points were redeemable for a branded debit card. One study estimated this restaurant realized a 66.2% ROI due to the increase in sales productivity.

Why do games work? Game training is effective because it:

  • Motivates employees to surpass expectations or to complete training exercises
  • Allows people to fail and try again without negative repercussions
  • Makes time for real-time reflection and feedback sessions
  • Grows individual confidence in carrying out tasks (as people practice, break challenges into micro-learning segments, and accurately perceive their ability to succeed

Game Options of Your Own

Want to improve productivity or increase the cost-effectiveness of your team training?

Games offer hands-on, motivating opportunities that can be used over and over. Purchase simulations like GameLearn training platforms, or consider three hands-on options of your own:

1. New Hire Scavenger Hunt.

Whether it’s a physical or online hunt for facts, facilities, or people, get people competing and moving and calm their nerves in the process.

2. Product Knowledge Mix and Match.

Employees take turns being introduced to a variety of customers (including purchasing needs, budget, or personal background).

Players then compete to match the best product to each customer while negotiating a deal or completing the sale.

3. “What If” Training Simulations.

These games give teams the opportunity to explore hypothetical situations.

If they made XX decision, what would happen? Assign real-life tasks and challenges, allow teams to collaborate and present options, and process together about the benefits or consequences of the strategies they chose. Added bonus: supervisors learn alongside employees and gain hands-on experience in leading their teams!

The Best Form of Marketing is YOU

Posted March 1, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

If you could harness the most accessible, inexpensive form of marketing for your business, would you want it?

Everyone has it, but it’s easy to overlook.

The most authentic sales tool is one that’s always with you: yourself.

You are the face of your business. Marketing doesn’t sell, people sell! You are the vessel that carries your business brand to every prospect you meet. Are you making the most of own potentialBeing cheerful, confident, and courteous can go a long way toward making a stellar first impression.

Be Cheerful

People want to do business with people they enjoy, and a cheerful attitude can give you a winning edge in many situations.

Whether you are outgoing or more reserved, seek to be:

  • Positive: be optimistic and look on the bright side of life. Be a “green light” thinker and keep an open mind to new ideas.
  • Polite: whether you’re running errands or talking on the phone: be polite. You never know who’s listening
  • Persistent: when things don’t succeed, don’t give up. Be intentional to build relationships or follow up on leads. Make the first move and don’t take rejection personally. As millionaire businessman Bo Bennett says, “A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.

Be Confident

When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, your confidence is high and you are more likely to perform well.

Your mindset has incredible power to shape your circumstances and help you achieve your goals, so start each day on your toes:

Take care of yourself: Brush your teeth, get regular haircuts, and keep your clothes and accessories in good condition.

Dress professionally: When you dress well, people will respect you. Put time and thought into your choices to communicate that you care about what you do.

Respect your culture: Every company has different expectations for appropriate dress. While you may have the freedom to choose, it’s best to lean on the simple, conservative side with accessories, necklines, or fit of your clothing.

Dress “Up”: If you are attending an important event or meeting, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A polished look lets people know you are serious and capable. If you feel overly formal when you arrive, you can always roll up your sleeves, ditch your blazer, or loosen your collar.

Be Courteous

Mark Twain said that action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.

People will judge you by your behavior, not by your good intentions! How consistently do your actions reveal a positive view of your character or business? Challenge yourself to:

1. Reach out to others. Be the first to say thank you, congratulate others, or start a conversation with someone who is standing alone. Be proactive, intentional, and kind. Do nice things at unexpected moments.

2. Live consistently. What are the mission and the brand values of your company? Do you represent these in both your professional and personal life? If your company exalts community investment, seek to volunteer and invest during your personal life as well.

3. Be prepared for anything. Rehearse your personal introduction and have conversational icebreakers ready for unexpected moments. Have a product testimonial in your back pocket. Keep breath mints, business cards, or a portable phone charger ready. Think of yourself as a friendly, roaming billboard. Everywhere you go you can sell yourself and market your business.

Finally, remember to smile: a friendly smile makes everyone more inclined to like – and do business – with you.

If you need help marketing yourself on paper, give us a call and we’ll make you look your best.

Expert Advice for Classy Custom Labels

Posted February 22, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

In today’s visually-oriented market, brand persona is everything.

Strong, simple visuals go a long way toward giving you a rock-solid image to stand tall above competitors and to capture customer attention.

While companies work hard to shape outbound marketing, they can easily overlook options for the packaging and presentation of their products. Even simple tweaks can go a long way in making your brand shine!

Custom printed labels can offer a durable, stunning accent to your product or printing. But there are many variables when it comes to printing labels. From the right materials to laminate finishing, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Here are a few tricks we’ve learned over the years to help you craft labels to heighten brand appeal.

Less is More.

When it comes to labels, it’s important for your message to connect immediately.

When a label has complex fonts or busy designs, it can be difficult for readers to engage with your product. Keep your designs, images, and borders clean and simple for maximum user experience. If you post nutrition facts, make them as concise and reader-friendly as possible. Non-standard shapes or labels that match your package size are a great way to bring precision and flair.

Color is King.

Want to stop them in their tracks?

Colors command attention and make your message sing.

Try splashes of color against neutral backgrounds, or complementary colors that bring depth and warmth. If your label intends to communicate flavors, seek to pair colors that carry these natural associates (like greens for lime or orange for citrus).

As you design label colors, your goal is to help users find or associate with your product more easily. If you already have a branded color scheme, use this as your prominent theme. Colors help customers recognize your product and feel secure when they purchase in the future.

Fonts Rule.

Nothing says sleek like a perfectly sketched font.

Work to find the right balance of clean and clever. If a font is too generic, it will be easily missed. If it’s too wild, it may be hard to read or seem silly. Stick to a font you’ve branded your company with, or use two fonts (max) to keep your label coherent and easy to read.

Experiment with font pairings: consider a headline that’s bold and condensed with a copy that’s light or vertically stretched. Or try an all-caps serif with an italicized sans serif to compliment. Test your font pairings on volunteers or gather feedback from artistic friends before finalizing a design.

Consistency Counts.

Labels help you build a personality.

What message will you send? What ideas do you hope to convey?

Keep your labels consistent with your brand identity, looking for distinct features you can highlight or graphics that illustrate your story. 19 Crimes Wines uses an interactive “Living Labels” app to allow each wine to unveil a mystery. Fieldwork Brewing uses blown up oceanside photos for its Island Time Sour Ales. Fit Buns High Protein Bread comes in a box that makes the pastries look like a ripped dude’s abdominal “6-pack.” The label also conveniently features a free fitness center coupon inside. Also, remember to keep your contact information accessible so customers can visit your website or contact you with feedback.

Let’s face it: in the marketplace, beauty is often skin deep.

Your label is a representation of the things you’ve worked hard to build, so go the distance to make your brand stick. Need ideas to get you started? From hangtags to custom adhesives, we’re your one-stop shop for creative label options!

Four Exercises to Fuel Your Design Innovation

Posted February 12, 2019 by pinnaclegfx
Categories: Uncategorized

Even the most brilliant creators need new fuel from time to time.

If you’re feeling stifled or uninspired (or you just want to have fun!) consider some of these creative “sparks” from designer Jim Krause to ignite fresh perspective in your monthly routine.

Exercise: Make a puddle of ink. Blow the ink around using a straw. Consider layering different colors of ink and using different kinds of paper. To mix things up, repeat this exercise but start the puddle of ink on an existing picture—a landscape, a silhouette, a cultural icon.

Takeaway: Creating things that create themselves reminds us that art is fun and beauty can arise from unexpected places.

Exercise: Choose a subject and create 25 thumbnail icons that depict its message and its meaning. If that’s too easy, try 50 or 100. Start with basic sketches and transition into graphic design or photos. Consider different line weights, shaded and filled areas, or combinations of geometric shapes.

Takeaway: Forcing yourself to sketch the same thing in different ways can build and broaden your artistic muscle. The next time you work on a concept, fill a full page with icon sketch versions of it before you settle on your design of choice.

Exercise: When was the last time you took out a paintbrush? Still-life portraits are a tangible way to sharpen your skills, especially when you combine objects of various shapes and textures in interesting arrangements (think eggs in a bowl surrounded by glass spice bottles on a bustled cloth napkin).

Takeaway: Still-life paintings are like eating your carrots: they’re good for you and increase your appreciation of texture. Painting helps you learn to see forms and colors, which makes you a more effective artist in any field.

Exercise: Begin with a blank piece of paper. Make a mark using the media of your choice (India ink, acrylic paint, and toothbrush, sketching pencils, chalk). The next mark you make will be a reaction to the first mark. This can be a new mark, a line, shading, fillers, or finishes. The goal here is not to “plan” what you’re going to draw but to practice progressive art by following one element to another (like a group of people taking turns adding sentences to a narrative). Your goal is not to create a thing of beauty, but simply to flow. If the results are pleasing, that’s fine. If not, that’ s ok too.

Takeaway: This exercise teaches the artist to rely on instinct: to react or flow rather than to plan and control. The best art can be born out of spontaneity.

Tend Your Roots

Creating is like breathing: it brings energy and life! If you only create what you’re “told” to do, you will stagnate. Tend your roots by cultivating the passions and interests that nourish your artistic core. As you pursue creative expressions outside your job or career, originality will flow in your profession as well.

Now that your designs are really singing, find high impact print options that won’t shock your budget. Want to talk cost-effective wow factors like thermography, high shine coatings, or alternative bleed options? Give us a call!