It’s not just a New Year, a New Decade is upon us. Beyond a resolution, you and your company need to set a 20/20 Focus. Poise yourself to converge and overtake the market with updated branding and marketing strategies to align with your 20/20 focus.
EXAMINE YOUR BRAND
• Review your company culture, call your office as a potential client
• Refresh your logo and business cards
• Brighten or mute your brand colors
• Print branded note cards, consider the lost art of sending letters
• Minimize the pages on your website
SET YOUR 20/20 FOCUS
• Visualize where you (your company) will be in 2030
• Reprioritize your current strategy to align with your new goals
• Set deadlines for each task associated with the execution of the goal
• Engage your network, check LinkedIn for experts and connectors
• Launch and continue to review
As you examine and focus, The Lemon Ad Stand is here to cheer you on and partner up. Lets put our creative juices to work and squeeze the decade. As your creative partner, we’re here to help you attack goals, challenges, and strategize to make this new decade your best yet.
Keeping art in school is a subject that Calvin is passionate about. Raised by an artist and educator, Calvin’s foundation as a designer stems directly from his love of art and painting. He enjoys visiting classrooms to discuss art-related careers and especially to host art projects with school-aged children. Most recently Calvin traveled to Brooklyn to host a mixed media painting session with students. Feel free to connect if you’re interested in partnering with The Lemon Ad Stand’s in keeping art in school.
If you’re new to Instagram, you may not know the ins and outs of growing a following. You probably know that you need photos and you need to share them. That’s a great start, but there is more to it.
Let’s cover a few basic tips for anyone new to Instagram.
Instagram launched in 2010 as an image sharing platform, where word count wasn’t relevant. It’s all about the image here! This is absolutely still true today. The quality of your image is the most relevant aspect of your account. Don’t post grainy or distorted images. You want excellent lighting and on brand imagery. For specific suggestions about quality imagery, visit this Social Media Today’s article.
Well Researched Hashtags
This is the most critical act for accounts that are new to Instagram. To grow your users organically, you must use relevant hashtags. #NewtoInstagram is a great tag! It’s not specific to your industry but I found it to be remarkably beneficial when we ran our Instragram Series on the topic. #NewtoInstagram is an easy one.
To find hashtags that are relevant to your industry, you’ll need to open Instagram and start searching hashtags. It’s as simple as typing hashtag options into the search bar. Choose the ones that have high followers, are specific to your industry and use them with every single post.
Choose relevant hashtags; not just trendy one. Trendy hashtags get blocked if they are over spammed. Choose wisely.
Create your own hashtags!
You’ll want to create a hashtag that your avid followers can use to help you promote your business, to find your posts and keep the organic growth moving up! We often use #thelemonadstand and #tlas. This allows our followers to put said hashtags into the search bar and find everything we’ve posted.
How Many & Where
In 2019, the maximum number of hashtags allowed is 30. Do you need 30? You need as many hashtags as are relevant to your post but statistics show that a higher number of hashtags garner greater engagement. Which makes perfect sense, the more options people have to follow, the greater engagement will be.
There is also debate about where to place your hashtags. Should you place your hashtags in your post or as a comment. The definitive answer is, go with what you prefer. Some people prefer to break up the post (I do) while others to add the hashtags to the comments. It’s completely up to you.
Find creative ways to separate your hashtags from your copy. I use a border of ••• and lemons to separate my copy and make it readable.
Throw all your inhibitions to the wind and Go Live! This features allows you to share a video in real time with your followers. The benefit of going live is that Instagram sends out push notifications to your followers, helping to create a buzz.
Wondering what to talk about? Your expertise, of course. If you’re a interior designer, talk to us about latest design trends. Go live and walk us through your most recent project. You can even schedule your “live” in advance, market it and encourage your followers to join you and engage. They can ask questions and share their opinion.
As with all social media, engagement is key. The more followers that are showing up to engage while you are live the more social media equity you are accumulating.
Live is a great method for launching promotions or new products. Show your followers what you have to offer, live and in living color.
Respond to Comments
As we’ve already mentioned, engagement is key. Especially, when you are new to Instagram. We highly encourage you to activate notifications to your cell phone and respond when you are notified that someone has commented.
Once you have followers who are commenting, chat with them! Love the comment and respond to it.
Follow Your Hashtags
Use that magical search bar to follow your industry hashtags. Give the same level of engagement you are looking for. Comment on others in your industry, follow their accounts and keep in touch. The secret here is for other followers to be intrigued by your comments, so much so that they come and follow you. It’s a little self serving but balance that by making sincere comments and being genuine.
Followers who Unfollow
Don’t take it personally. One day you’ll gain 12 followers only to have lost 8 by the next morning. Unfortunately, there are accounts set up with the expectation that if they follow you, you’ll follow back. Keep in mind that in a lot of instances, these accounts are spammers.
Check your followers’ account! If they have 6 posts and 2,587 followers, be skeptical.
Focus on growing your organic reach, with authentic followers.
Link in Bio
Whenever you need to guide your followers away from your instagram, to a blog post or deal posted on your website, the most common strategy is to use the phrase “Link in Bio” in the actual post. At that point, you should have already updated your profile bio and placed the outbound link there. NEVER, use an outbound link in the body of the post. That lowers your Instagram equity.
Instagram Equity, is a term that I use to reference how you’re managing the algorithm. Are you appearing in followers feeds or being hidden? When your posts are appearing, followers can engage. When you’re working the algorithm correctly, you’re growing Instagram equity.
Diversify Your Communication
As we were in the midst of our #NewtoInstagram series, Instagram became inaccessible for a number of hours. Oh the irony of it all. It reaffirmed for us, a message that we share often, “collect your client’s/follower’s emails”.
E-mail marketing is still the best strategy to maintain consistent communication. If email addresses load directly into your e-marketing software, I recommend that you download them quarterly. Luck favors the prepared. Cherish your email list!
As always, it’s our pleasure to share these tips with you. We hope that your Instagram journey is plentiful and vibrant.
The globally recognized entertainer, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is likely to be the first and most notable example of the web accessibility awakening. Beyoncé has been named in a class-action lawsuit for lack of ADA web accessibility on her website. Your first thought may be, ‘Beyoncé is a private citizen’, and therefore not required to abide by ADA regulations. Her web team probably thought that too. As your web team we’re here to break this down.
” What is Web Accessibility and why is it important to my business?”
In simple terms web accessibility is ensuring your web site’s information and application services are accessible to everyone. Particularly those with disabilities and those who are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
WCAG 2.1, also know as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines , are a set of standards for web development. It is a series of guidelines for improving web accessibility for all people and is maintained by theWorldwide Web Consortium. These guidelines were created, and are modified, for web developers to use as a minimum benchmark or set of recommendations to create more accessible web content.
Statistics show that 15% to 19% of the world population has a disability.
While these guidelines, can’t possibly cover all disabilities, they are designed to provide accommodations for blindness/low vision, hearing loss/deafness, speech disabilities, limited movement, photosensitivity and a combination of these. Whether it is the law or not, providing web accessibility is ensuring access to all potential users. It’s a win/win. It is the right thing to do for consumers and your business.
WCAG 2.1 stems from 4 Principles
Perceivable – ensuring that information and user interface components and applications are presentable in a way that a user can perceive.
Operable – ensures that the interface and navigation are operable for all users
Understandable – dictates that both the user interface and the information being presented is able to be understood by the user.
Robust – The content meets recognized standards in such a way that it can consistently and reliably be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents and assistive technologies.
These 4 principles then get saturated to priority conformance levels A, AA or AAA. Based on the type of website you own will determine the best level of conformance for you. There is no magic formula, every site and solution is unique. Check back for WCAG2.1 pt. 2 for specific elements of the 4 principles and the levels.
Managing and maintaining a website is not the average person’s idea of fun. In fact it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the web trends and updates unless you’ve made web development your business or passion. For this reason our clients entrust us to manage the web development details.
As our valued reader we want you to be aware of upcoming changes to web security, specifically:
The difference between HTTP & HTTPS and
How to switch to HTTPS
Through a recent conversation with our hosting affiliates at WeBEEHosting, we’ve learned about pending security changes to Chrome, which may negatively impact all domains still using HTTP.
Starting in July 2018, Chrome will begin marking any website still using HTTP as unsafe.
Traditionally, only websites exchanging sensitive information (i.e. credit card info) used HTTPS. Chrome is actively pushing for all sites to be HTTPS in an effort to decrease hacking.
HTTP(S) = Secure
Switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS requires an SSL Certificate, which consists of small data files which bind a cryptographic key to your company’s digital details. Installing an SSL Certificate will activate the padlock, which allows for secure connections from a web server to a browser.
Is Your Site HTTP or HTTPS?
You can determine if your site is HTTP or HTTPS by checking the URL.
Presently, a web viewer sees an ‘i’ inside of a circle when a site is HTTP (deemed not secure). When a visitor clicks on the ‘i’ icon, they are notified that the site is not secure.
A secure website will show a closed lock icon and begin with HTTPS.
As of July 2018, the non safe indicator will be prominent in the URL bar, eliminating the need for the second click of the i icon.
HOW TO SWITCH TO HTTPS
If you are wondering how to switch to HTTPS, simply notify your web development team. Adding additional web encryption (HTTPS) may be as simple as sending an email. Your TLAS web team is prepared to orchestrate the necessary encryptions through security certification.
Impact on your SEO
Bounce rate is a critical aspect of your website’s SEO. The amount of time before a user clicks away from a page on your website is the “bounce rate”. Like golf, a lower bounce rate is better. We expect that websites marked as “not safe” will experience higher bounce rates, meaning that users are likely to leave the site quickly. We’re all competing for web traffic so every factor counts.
July is just around the corner. We encourage you to make the security upgrade sooner rather than later.
It’s 2018! In all of the New Year excitement, did you create a list of, “ways to develop a ‘new you”? We certainly hope not, because we like you just the way you are. What we do want you to consider is how to stay fresh on the web…not like that! Let’s keep this clean, people. My point is, what are the web design trends of 2018 and how can we keep our web presence fresh? Ok, I’m going to stop using web and fresh together.
Similar to other industries, such as fashion, automotive, and furniture, there are trends that drive web culture. I’ve scoured the internet for the hottest web design trends of 2018, to help you decide if you’ll be an early adopter or laggard. Web trends, like the planets are constantly in motion. Let’s see what web trends are moving and shaking in 2018.
Web Design Trends of 2018
Last year, Google announced that a site’s mobile experience was a contributing factor in the “secret” algorithm that calculates a site’s organic rank. Naturally, once Google spoke there was a mad rush to optimize sites for mobile. This year will be no different.
Your website must be optimized for the mobile user because the fact remains that the number of mobile users has surpassed the number of desktop users. If you want your audience to have the most positive experience on your site it absolutely must be responsive.
Two very simple issues with mobile usability are font size & proximity of buttons.
The font on your mobile site should be legible enough that a user does not need to pinch and zoom.
Proximity of buttons is probably the most frustrating issue with poor mobile-view. If a person is trying to click on the “about” page but is accidently pressing the “registration” button, you have an unhappy user on your hands. Make sure buttons are sized appropriately and far apart enough where each is a distinct function.
Need to know if your site is mobile friendly? Yes, yes you do! Ask Google, they’ll tell you right here.
Once upon a time web designers were constrained to “web safe” colors. That day is long gone. Today, in 2018, web designers are getting BOLD with color choices and brace yourself, even reviving the use of gradients to add depth.
Nike.com implemented a subtle gradient with spring pastels as a background to an edgy image.
Vibrant colors evoke emotions and help to paint a story. We’re so dedicated to color theory, we hosted an instagram series dedicated to #ChooseWisely: The Psychology of Color. If your brand colors aren’t aligned with your customers or mission, you may want to consider which colors are going to help drive success.
Just as quickly as web developers realized that video banners were dragging load time, they found a work around: smaller files with just enough motion graphics and animation to draw in the user without the giant files sizes that push up load times and push away site visitors. Studies show that users are 50% more likely to leave a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Using animated headers with unique illustrations to tell your story is a technique which users are more likely to appreciate. Think about it, a site visitor isn’t likely to notice that you’ve spaced your buttons appropriately (unless you didn’t). While, a well told story is likely to evoke emotions and be shared with colleagues.
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry adds a simple motion graphics to the robots eyes, to add subtle engagement and keep load times low.
Few design elements have withstood the test of time, as evidently as typography. From ancient hieroglyphics to our modern day obsession with helvetica, typography is the most critical vehicle of your message. Face it, if your consumer can’t decipher your message then it’s failed.
Cartier uses engaging typeface to draw in a web user and drive clicks.
Strong typography transforms itself into stimulating visuals. Tenacious visuals engage users and most effectively relay messages. Typography can sometimes seem like an unsung hero of design, but use it effectively and it can be the super hero of your website.
Subtle yet sexy, like the ‘girl next door’ of web design. A well executed scrolling effect can be just the cost efficient level of elegance your site needs. Here at The Lemon Ad Stand, we’re a fan of the scrolling effect. It’s a unique way to add depth to a one page site.
By keeping a static image behind the scrolls, you keep the viewer engaged. In case you haven’t noticed yet, engagement is a theme here. In using a scroll effect to move copy over an image, the user is literally driving the engagement of the site.
Visit NikkFit.com to engage with her photos and copy. You’ll notice that as you scroll through the site, the background images changes. This creates a unique gallery experience driven by you, the user. You aren’t scrolling through a traditional gallery format yet you’re experiencing the gallery in the same way you’d walk through a brick and mortar gallery.
The scrolling effect is bound to have a good year in 2018.
It’s April but don’t be dismayed, you have plenty of time to restart your diet, read the book on the nightstand, brush up on astronomy and implement some of these web design trends of 2018 to your own site.
You’ve finally had an epiphany! The greatest marketing strategy since those beer frogs and you’re ready to launch. You’ve laid out just enough content to entice your reader and swiped through hundreds of images to find this perfect one. Now you just need to place your logo in the corner and press send. Where’s the logo? Do you need to rescue your logo?
LET’S ENGAGE IN A QUICK EXERCISE… Open up your finder/my computer and locate your company logo. Was that simple enough? I’m sure that you have a folder labeled ‘company logos’, which includes a 4 color option, a version for a light background and a version for a dark background. When you need to re-order branded promotional materials, polo shirts or coffee mugs, you also have a specific logo saved for that purpose. If the aforementioned holds true, you can stop reading here. Congratulations, you are in complete control of your logo.
Still with me? I figured you would be. I manage a design agency and even I, have to talk to someone else to get my logo in specific formats. So let’s figure out how we can pull a Liam Neeson and rescue your logo from whomever is holding it hostage.
RESCUE YOUR LOGO
Let’s start with who may have your logo? Ideally, the original designer of your logo should have the original files. Always ask anyone you hire to provide original files, even the working files that you don’t have the software to access. You’ll save a lot of time and money later, if you need to ask someone else to make updates. Don’t let them hold your logo hostage. If you don’t even remember who created your logo it might be time for a refresh.
To ensure that you have complete access to your logo, make sure to request, from your designer, these specific files in these specific formats: a 4 color option, a 4 color option w/out a white background, a version for a light background and a version for a dark background.
(.ai) file with live fonts: vector
It’s good to have your logo in its purest form and that would include the fonts. In case you ever need your logo font for any reason you should have access to it. The (.ai and .eps) file are vector files which will allow you to enlarge your logo till infinity, in case you need it for a billboard or jumbotron.
File naming example: logoname.ai
(.eps) outlined file: vector
The fonts in your (.eps) file should be outlined, so it becomes a vector image and your logo fonts will never default if the needed font isn’t present on the computer you’re using. Good for printing: paper, promotional merchandise, large format printing File naming example: logoname.eps
png: large & small dimension
The (.png) files have a translucent background, allowing you to place your logo on any background color you choose without a white box showing up around it. It is only used for digital purposes. Good for presentations in PowerPoint/Keynote File naming example: logoname.png
jpg: large & small dimension 300 dpi high resolution
Probably the most commonly used file, for a small/medium sized business, because it is the most accessible file as it doesn’t require speciality software to access. Good for emails and programs that don’t accept .ai or .eps files File naming example: logoname.jpg
If you don’t have your logo in each of these files then reach out and rescue your logo, from your designer. If you require your logo be recreated, use this list as a resource to ensure you have everything you need.
Having full access to your logos will ensure the continuity of your brand as you create and launch the next brilliant marketing campaign. Stay tuned for part two, where we’re going to make sure no one is holding your entire website hostage.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, advertisers have been working to pervade your psyche. Early advertising came through newspaper and magazine ads. Today, advertising is everywhere: the train station, your inbox, text alerts and, of course, the 5 second delay to your favorite cat video.
How can you break through all the advertising noise inundating your target audience?
Send a tangible message
Touch is the first sense you developed. By shocking the senses with a physical marketing piece, you distinguish and elevate your brand.
Create and deliver compelling printed marketing and advertising pieces that your clients can hold, turn, flip and bend.
Why is print worth the investment?
THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS
You can create a printed piece as small as a business card or as large as a ceiling banner. Finishes have evolved beyond gloss. The variety of textures and finishes can add stunning dimensions to your piece.
INCREASE YOUR IMPACT
Printed marketing materials are an additional element to your campaign. Use printed materials to complement your digital strategies. While a customer may notice a 15 second video spot online, sending a mailer increases brand awareness and the campaign message.
DISTINGUISH YOUR BRAND
With the price of digital marketing as low as $5 a day, investing in printed materials sets your brand apart. Quality design and enhanced print options deliver luxury to your clients. Provide proof, in hand, that your brand is distinct.
EarthColor was seeking a means to educate clients on how to properly set-up files for their premier print finishing service, Scodix SENSE. We created an itemized accordion folder to house tips, techniques and guide specs. The client will receive a new insert to save in the folder as new tips and strategies develop. Because the kit is delivered to creative departments it conveys a high level of design aesthetic and functionality to distinguish the Earth Color brand.
Chef Paul Virant’s sales team needed an effective way to promote their event space to potential clients. We created a uniquely sized trifold sales kit at 7″ x 8.5″, which comfortably fits in the recipient’s hands. Each pocket in this folder is branded to support each one of Chef Paul’s 3 ventures. The success of these ventures all rests on the reputation of the chef, so we made Paul the star of this piece by highlighting him on the cover and inner panel.
Creating a full marketing/advertising campaign requires a multidimensional approach to reach your audience. If you’ve been looking for ideas to cut through the digital noise, we suggest you consider the power of print to get in touch with your clients.
This year we’ve had several opportunities to display our expertise of Scodix Sense on a variety of projects. From business cards, folders, sales sheets and holiday cards, the possibilities to enhance these print projects have been vast.
Whether a photograph or a vector file, our team of professionals have risen to the occasion and elevated the plane. If you are interested in engaging your clients’ senses let us add the finishing touch.
As business owners, we wear many hats. Often times we are attempting to maneuver territories that we aren’t very familiar with. In some instances, we hire professionals and others we may try to figure out. If you are trying to figure out how to rank in Google, The ABC of SEO will be helpful. Now keep in mind that Google’s CEO could only simplify the process so much for Congress so we’re doing out best to guide you through these murky waters.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the methodology which generates the responses to online searches, after the ads. You type, “summer camp in Chattanooga” and the organic (non-paid) responses are generated based on which websites will provide the best options for you. How web pages are designated “the best”, that’s SEO!
As much as I wish that people were interested in the underbelly of the internet, no one goes beyond page 1 of a Google search. Therefore, you want the SEO of your website to be strong enough to garner you a coveted place on page one.
Dissecting The ABC of SEO
It’s a misconception that SEO gets “plugged in” after the website is designed and live. The driving force of SEO is the user experience. How quickly is the user navigated from the search engine directly to the answer on your website? Load time and access to the information impact your SEO ranking. Users aren’t going to spend much time clicking around, so make sure your content is easily accessible. That’s UX Design and that happens in the earliest phases of website development.
THERE IS NO PAY TO PLAY
Buying ads might put you at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) but they don’t impact the SEO of your site. SEO has to be completely organic. If your ads are at the top of the SERP but your SEO is weak, once you stop paying for ads you won’t be featured at the top. Now, if your SEO is organically driving your site to the top well then, you guessed it, you don’t need to pay for ads!
KEYWORDS ARE ONLY ONE FACTOR
Google uses over 200 criteria to determine the SEO of your site. Therefore overloading on keywords won’t instantly drive you to the top of the SERP. Overuse of keywords is actually discouraged. Keep your content fresh and user focused. Relevant media, images with alt text, social media traffic and simplicity of use are all important factors.
MOBILE USE IS CRITICAL
Fewer and fewer web traffic is coming from desktop computers. Your website has to be optimized for mobile use. This factor is so important that Google announced early this year that the Mobile Experience will be included as a relevant factor when assessing a site’s SEO. This leads us right back to point number one, the design of your site matters.
INVITE GOOGLE IN
If you’re interested in ranking in Google, and who isn’t? Add their WebMaster services to your site. Google offers free code to increase their ability to crawl your site. You can then use their data to track how searchable your site is. Pair Google Search Console with Google Analytics then sit back and watch the data grow….and ideally your rank increase.
Remember that SEO is a multi-faceted combination of efforts and most importantly, it’s a long-term investment. You aren’t going to be at the top of the SERP on day one. Put in the effort and give it time.
Interested in learning how to better secure your site? Read our suggestions for an HTTPS.