About the Author
Sarah is co-director of Malvolio. She brings her creative skills to the business, and loves concept development in commercial projects, illustration, and working on various self-initiated paper craft projects in her spare time.
The following image was created by Highsnobiety on Instagram, and it highlights a rather boring trend that I’ve seen referred to as blanding. And I hate to say it, but I agree.
All of the above brands started with character. Put them all together, and they stand out from each other. Each logo is unique. Each logo has a different feeling, a different style.
Then we look across to the second row, showing the logos as of today. They are almost identical. They all feel the same, as if they have all gone to a default font. And yes, while they are all “on trend”, that doesn’t make for a good brand long-term. Why be the same as everyone else?
What I want you to take away from this: when you are thinking about your own branding, don’t be shy to be unique. Don’t be shy to stand out. You don’t have to follow the crowd. Don’t be bland!
Start with what your business provides, and build a personality for your business (happy, professional, casual, commercial, clinical, friendly, serious, motivating, etc). Let this guide the look of your business image, not what the current fashion is. Fashion is temporary; make your business (and its logo) permanent.
Want your business stationery to be a little more fancy? There’s a lot of paper options out there, but you can also have extra touches, like spot UV (glossy finish), letterpress (embossing) or foil detail.
We’ve had a lot of requests for foil and glitter lately, and it’s been super fun. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving glitter and shiny things. A lot of people seem to think foil is limited to gold and silver – but we’ve got over 20 colours of foil and glitter to choose from that we can add to print orders. There’s even black for a really subtle but classy look.
These finishes can be added to business cards, letterheads, stickers, packaging, brochures, swing tags and more. We can also add a bit of glam to signage for your shop, market stall or vehicle in the same way. Sparkle and shine everywhere!
Forms come in all kinds of formats and sizes. It’s one of those things we all take for granted – we don’t really pay attention to a form until it doesn’t work. If it’s difficult to understand or complete, it becomes bothersome.
The technology available to use for forms is improving in leaps and bounds. While we used to be tied to paper forms, a lot can be done via computer now. We are regularly converting forms from paper to interactive PDF or online.
The “in-between” option from paper to online is PDF format. This gives people the flexibility of printing out the form, or completing it on their computer. In PDFs (when set up correctly), form fields can be made interactive, where they can be typed into on-screen. Buttons can even be placed in the PDF to save, print or email the completed form.
The downside to interactive PDF forms is that not all programs that open PDFs support the interactive fields. At this stage, they seem to work best in Adobe Acrobat. Opening PDFs in browsers is possible, but completing the form fields is not always an available option (such as in Microsoft Edge). We’re hoping that the support of interactive PDFs will become more common.
I personally think the biggest reason for the demand in converting to online is that payment can be completed within the form. There’s no need for someone to post a form and attach a cheque, or hope their direct deposit arrives some time after their form. Payments and form entries are easier to reconcile when they are completed together.
Online forms can use a feature called conditional logic, which is really handy for complex forms. Instead of having a paper form that tells you to skip pages depending on your circumstances, the online form does the “skipping” for the user. They won’t see all of the extra fields they didn’t need to complete – they are only shown the fields relevant to them. So what looks like a daunting form on paper can feel very straightforward when using conditional logic.
The forms can include the option to upload files, which would normally need to be sent separately.
Online forms are also easy to export data from. The details can be placed into a spreadsheet, making it easy to import the data into other programs. And no need to manually type out each entry.
I think that online forms will eventually be the only type of forms we will use in everyday life, but we’re not quite there…not just yet.
QR codes. We’ve been getting a lot of people asking us about them: what they do, how they work and why they should (or shouldn’t) be used.
There seems to be a trend happening of clients wanting to use QR codes, but often not knowing what they are actually used for – mostly just wanting to use them because they’ve seen them used recently on advertising and in the media, and think it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
The thing is, QR codes are really just what they look like: a barcode. The beauty of QR codes is that you can link them to great amounts of information and call-to-actions (eg. purchasing tickets, downloading a voucher), but the failure is that most are under-utilised. QR codes are often found just linking back to a main website, or if they do something more detailed, there are no instructions or enticement to actually scan them. A simple sentence such as “Scan here for more product information:” could make all the difference. Consumers aren’t mind-readers and won’t necessarily scan something that they don’t know what it will provide them.
Accessibility is another issue. To scan a QR code, the consumer needs to find and download an app to scan it, and hope that the scanner can read the QR code (some are better than others). In a survey of college students in 2012, only 21.5% of respondents had success scanning a QR code – the negative responses were that it took too long, tried and gave up, thought taking a photo of the QR code would scan it, and others didn’t want to download the app. I would expect this success rate to change if/when smartphones begin to have QR code readers built in by default…however I’m not sure when that will be.
For those who have access to a QR code reader, only 18.8% show interest in potentially scanning a QR code they see (reference: 2012 QR Code Statistics). When you start to crunch the numbers, this begins to be a very small market of people.
Some tips when using a QR code:
- Make sure your main offering for your consumers is visible and not hidden within a QR code.
- Use them to provide further information or a special offer for the curious consumer.
- Make sure you state what the QR code is there for.
QR codes can be a fantastic tool – just be aware of their limitations and use them wisely.
Each year, Pantone publish colour trends, including a “Colour of the Year”. Tangerine Tango was chosen for 2012.
Here are the colours chosen from previous years; the “Colour of the Year” began back in 2000.
Can you see any trends, or remember these colours being particularly popular in their chosen year?