Resource Centre

A carefully curated collection of articles, books, tools and galleries.

Topics for 2017 include visual trends, graphic design, strategy, creativity and inspiration; web design, development and seo; email marketing and copywriting; marketing, advertising and social media. If you have a resource you'd like us to consider adding to the list, email it to us or if you're interested in adding a resources module like this to your website, let us know.

 

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Take your packaging from functional to fantastic

Take your packaging from functional to fantastic

27th June 2017 by moocrew

With a little thought and some added extras, send delivery packages that make your customers feel like kids on Christmas morning.

Run a small business? If you sell anything online, you’ll be pretty handy with a roll of packing tape. But packaging is about more than just boxes and bubble wrap – with just a touch of extra effort, you can give your customers an unexpected smile, and make them feel extra-good about their new products while you’re at it. In fact, this is now such a big part of online shopping, a quick search will find you unboxing videos from virtually every brand going. Power up your packaging, and you could find your customers making one about your products too…

What is unboxing?

The unboxing experience starts when a customer receives their delivery, and includes unpacking, discovering and examining everything inside. It captures that exciting, suspenseful feeling of the first moments with something you’ve wanted and waited for. No wonder unboxing videos are big among bloggers and vloggers, who open their packages in front of the camera so their watchers can share the excitement.

 

Why does packaging matter?

If you’re an online business, your packages may be the only physical touchpoint with your customers. As they open the package, they’re getting an all-important first impression of you. If your items are packed with care in thoughtfully chosen packaging, it shows you’re a careful and thoughtful seller who’s worthy of repeat business. A 2013 survey by dotcomdist.com found that 52% of consumers said they were likely to make a repeat purchase from a seller who uses premium packaging.

Interestingly, packaging can even affect their perception of what’s inside the box. A report from SealedAir (PDF download) found that 48% of online shoppers felt that better packaging meant a better product.

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Read the article at moo.com

How small businesses can do branding like the big guys

By 

When Beata Tolley and her husband, Chris, launched their Okanagan Valley, B.C. winery in 2004, their focus was the product. It was only several years later that it occurred to them to look closer at their brand. “Our most important concern was the quality of what went into the bottle,” she says. “But we realized that the way our wine was being presented to the world didn’t match our intention behind it—or the wine itself.”

Like many smaller businesses, the Tolleys had treated branding as an afterthought rather than a priority.

What the pair learned is what marketing specialists want to shout from the rooftops: For even very small businesses, good branding matters, from your name to the colour of your logo to the copy that ties everything together. “A strong visual identity sticks in a customer’s head,” says Erin Bury of Toronto’s 88 Creative communications agency. “It provides consistency and a differentiator in the market.” After all, it doesn’t matter how good your business is if people can’t find or remember it.

Wayne Roberts of Blade Creative Branding in Toronto encourages companies to treat branding as an investment, not a cost, and to embrace the process rather than thinking of it like, as he puts it, “having a tumour removed.” Business owners who don’t believe in the critical importance of branding, he adds, fail to understand basic human behaviour. “People are not rational; they are rationalizers,” Roberts says. “We’re always trying to rationalize the way we feel about things, and branding makes people feel a certain way.”

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Read the article at canadianbusiness.com

Behind the Brand Refresh: Olapic

Growing businesses often outgrow their logo. That’s exactly why visual commerce platform and social media aficionados Olapic, chose to refresh theirs. Here’s how they did it.

Why rebrand?

“We pioneered an industry that helps brands put their consumers forth as effective brand ambassadors,” says Rachel Meranus, Chief Marketing Officer at Olapic. In six years, Olapic has gone from serving small-and medium-sized ecommerce companies to global enterprise clients across different industries — and with that growth and the arrival of more competitors, Meranus and her team saw the need for a brand evolution.

“While our brand did a really good job reflecting who we were in the early days, it was time to put forth a new look, feel, and voice that was more professional and sophisticated in nature — a look that could hold its own with some of these major global brands that we’re currently working with,” she says. With the new brand, Olapic wanted to elevate its voice in the marketplace and focus on being the authority in all things visual content.

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Read the article at moo.com

Branding & Corporate Identity

Suppose someone told you that you have 30 minutes to create a perfectly-cooked Beef Wellington.

If you’ve never heard about it before, a Beef Wellington is a filet of beef tenderloin that’s carefully assembled with liver pâté, mushrooms and onions, then wrapped in puff pastry. Yeah, you’re going to need a recipe. And once you have that, you’ve got to make sure that the ingredients are just right.

Creating brand communications pieces is kind of like cooking such a multilayered dish. You’re constantly going to need a set of rules, instructions, and a complete set of assets (ingredients) to make sure that the flavors stay true. That’s where the brand style guide comes in: it provides a clear handbook to share your brand’s visual symbols, value story and communication strategy.

I’m going to walk you through how to navigate it. In the meantime, here’s a handy checklist you can use to get your branding materials in order once you finish reading.
 

Style guides are not just for corporate brands.

Your personal brand can benefit from establishing consistency, and this document helps achieve just that.

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Read the article at designschool.canva.com

This branding mistake is costing freelancers & agencies tons of clients

by David Tendrich

Years ago I remember studying a direct mail letter from the amazing copywriter, Gary Halbert. 

The letter performed well, but on a hunch, Gary changed one small detail. The results of the letter instantly grew by quite a lot.

The strange thing is Gary didn’t change any of the words, like the headline, details of the offer, anything else you’d typically test in a direct mail letter, or any piece of direct response copy. 

The only thing he changed was the phone number.

In the first version of the letter the phone number was a 1-800 number. But Gary, being very insightful into human nature, had a hunch that it made people feel like the company was very “far away” and “too big” – thus making them feel uncomfortable, leading to fewer sales.

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Read the article at millo.co

Color Meaning and Symbolism: How To Use The Power of Color in Your Branding

By 

Tap into the power of color to express your brand attributes and values.

A brand’s logo and visual identity will comprise a number of visual cues, such as shapes, symbols, number, and words. But the number one visual component that people remember most is color. In fact, color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

Color has the power to convey and communicate meanings and messages without words. Quick pop quiz: What color symbolizes the US Republican party? How about the Democrats? If you said red for Republicans and blue for Democrats you’re right. Each party is so strongly affiliated with its color that many politicians will wear a red tie or blue tie depending on which party they represent.

When it comes to branding, the power of color is both emotional and practical. On an emotional level, it can affect how consumers feel when they look at a brand, while on a practical level it can help a brand stand out in the crowd.

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Read the article at designschool.canva.com

10 Best Email Signature Design Case Studies [With Tips On How To Create Your Own]

By 

They say first impressions are important, but what about last impressions?

If you conduct business via email, your email signature is often one of the final points of communication a consumer has with your service/brand.

A good email signature is simple, informative, professional, and puts the information in the forefront. But, this doesn’t mean your signature has to look dull or boring. There are many ways to get the most out of your email signature, so let’s run over 10 easy tips and look at somebeautiful examples.

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Read the article at designschool.canva.com

How to Pick the Right Colors for Your Brand

By Ashley Hefnawy

Composition, color, and light are just a few of the factors that come into play when our brains evaluate something visual. Every detail has some influence, depending on the context, on our love of design, art, and imagery. Color plays an especially important role, however — it’s one of the first things our brains process when we register an image. So it’s no wonder companies put so much thought into the colors they choose to represent their brand.

Whether you’re working on a major rebrand or just getting started at a new company, the impact that color has on your logo and brand guidelines can make a huge difference. In order to understand how an audience will see your brand, you might want to first consider the way your viewers will interpret different colors.

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Read the article at shutterstock.com

Four Examples of Great Interactive Annual Reports

As more companies begin to go beyond print-only and compliment their annual reporting by presenting this information online, one of the first questions that may come up is "How do you make an interactive annual report?"

Many companies—from Facebook to Proctor & Gamble—host their annual reports online in straight-forward, archival pdf format. This direct strategy makes annual reports easy-to-download and simple to search; however, going with the pdf format limits what can be added with ease in the future and many times it doesn't taking advantage of the Web's interactive capabilities.

Some innovative companies incorporate online technologies to create engaging presentations of their annual report content, often creatively using responsive designs and embedding video. This trend is growing. According to Savage Brands, "electronic/online annual report budgets increased 30% over 2010," and "online tracking of [annual] reports has increased 60% between 2008 and 2012; 80% of those that track do so to improve the follow year's budget."

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Read the article at blog.tbhcreative.com

How to create a design style guide: 25 pro tips

By Paul Wyatt

A style guide shouldn't read like the work of a control freak, but nor should it be vague and ambiguous. Paul Wyatt explains how to strike the right balance.

When handing over a creative project, most agencies for freelancers include a document known as a style guide. This not only adds an additional air of professionalism to the work but rationalises to your client the creative choices you made and that there really was method behind the madness of the creative journey you took them on. Here are 25 tips for ensuring your style guide does the job right in ensuring others do it right.

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Read the article at creativebloq.com

Your Brand Needs a Visual Style Guide: Here’s How to Create One

By 

One of the most essential documents any business can have is a brand style guide, yet many don’t have one.


Why are style guides so important? They ensure brand consistency throughout any collateral you produce – no matter who created it.

Style guides (or brand bibles) contain all the necessary information to create whatever your company needs. Whether it be a website, advertisement, internal memo, or whatever else, this little document will make your life a breeze. So, if these guides are so important, why isn’t everyone on the bandwagon?

The biggest reason is time. Style guides don’t just magically appear. They take time and effort to create, and time is a precious thing. But how much time does it take to explain to a designer how much space you need around your logo at all times? And how they’re not supposed to change any of the colors? What about finding every font you use and having to relay that to them as well? Not to mention any iconography you’ve got circulating. Then when you hire a second designer since your business is booming, you’ll have to explain it all over again.

Do yourself a favor. Create a style guide now and save yourself a lot of time and frustration down the road.

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Read the complete article at designschool.canva.com

10 Essential dos and don’ts of branding your solo business

by 

As a creative entrepreneur, sometimes it feels like you’re supposed to be automatically awesome at creating a stellar brand for your solo business.

The truth is, perfecting your own brand is the hardest job – with the toughest client – you’ll ever face.

So while you may feel like the only designer, illustrator, or artisan out there who’s struggling when it comes to branding your solo business: you’re not alone. All of us have spent long nights brainstorming the perfect brand, and all of us should remember the following dos and don’ts when creating – or refreshing – our business’s brand.

Today’s post will get you started on the right foot. When branding your solo business…

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Read the article at graphicdesignblender.com

New Logo for Toronto Raptors by Sid Lee

RIP goes the Dinosaur

Established in 1995 as an expansion team, the Toronto Raptors are the only Canadian professional basketball team in the NBA, playing in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors’ best years came during the late 1990s and early 2000s when Vince Carter was their star player. After plenty of dubious seasons, the team is back at the top of its division with a current 25-12 record. This past December, the Raptors announced a new logo that they will begin using in the 2015 – 16 season, designed by local firm Sid Lee, who were also responsible for the “We The North” campaign launched during last season’s playoffs.

Although the Raptors’ primary logo is the raptor dribbling a basketball, almost anywhere you look it’s the alternate ball-and-claw logo that is being used the most. It’s no surprise. In part because it’s a much simpler and efficient icon and in part because a dinosaur in a jersey and shorts dribbling a basketball is stupid. I bet it’s sold great as merchandise but, really, look at it. Nothing says fierce like a steroid-pumped dinosaur with shoes that have holes for its claws. Point being: moving away from that logo is a good thing, and creating something that ties in with the more aggressive and street-wise We The North campaign is a smart approach.

From the reactions I’ve read online, the logo hasn’t been too well received and the main complaint is that it looks too much like the Brooklyn Nets’ logo, because it has a basketball with type in a circle around it. My disdain for the Nets logo is well documented, so no point in rehashing old stuff. What I will say is that the Raptors logo is far better than the Nets. Mostly because there is at least an idea behind it. And it’s a good one, building on the legacy of the team’s logo over the years and its name. There is no need to show you a dinosaur. We’ve seen the dinosaur handle that ball for years. Now we only see the effect a dinosaur would have on a basketball. It would rip it. I think it’s a great logo that works perfectly with the name and is an even better evolution of the existing alternate logo, removing the actual claws that you still “see” implied in the new one. We don’t need to see a raptor either, we can imagine it — thanks mostly to Jurassic Park. While the execution is a little simplistic — those torn edges could be more convincing — the approach is very right. The typography around the ball is a welcome change from overwrought and spiked sports typography.

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Read the review at underconsideration.com

The Importance of Corporate Identity

At some point in time, the word “branding” began to be used interchangeably with “logo”. While brands are far more than logos, for many marketers the discipline of creating visual identity has been reduced to mere ornamentation.

Basically, corporate and brand identities are an expression and reflection of an organizations’s culture, character, personality, and its products and services – inspiring trust with consumers, employees, suppliers, partners and investors. In the middle of the 20th century, the development of visual identity systems became mainstay in almost all branding initiatives. Some examples that come quickly to mind are iconic brands that have stood the test of time – Coca-Cola, IBM, Mercedes, Ford, Levis and McDonald’s.

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Read the article at knowledge.ridivi.com

100 Unused Logos and What they Reveal about my Design Inclinations

This past Wednesday I gave a presentation at the HOW Conference in Atlanta, GA. As a respite from the pristine show and tells of finished work sprinkled with anecdotes that support the fabulous work on screen I wanted to focus on the unglamorous side of graphic design. The endless revisions, the variations, the changes, the odd requests — “I like turtles, can my logo have a turtle?” — and the inevitable doom of much of the work we do as bezier- and pixel-based compost for piles of archived CDs, DVDs and 200-gigabyte hard drives.

For my slide show I went through almost ten years of archives looking for all the files that never quite made it… the good, the bad and the ug… nay: The tired, the poor, the huddled files yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse, the homeless and, yes, even the tempest-tost. (With apologies to Miss Liberty).

For a section called “75% of your files are trash” I specifically looked for 100 logos that were never selected — or never actually used if they were selected. This is not a Best Of selection. Some of the logos are embarrassing: Half-cooked, half-assed, off-topic ideas with sloppy kerning and poor execution. Equally, there are some very competent logos in there, ready to be printed and shipped. Most of these, if not all actually, were shown to a client. Some were mocked, others praised and a few more ignored.

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Read Article at underconsideration.com

Nescafé Reknits Under Rebrand

By Cathy Lane

CBA has worked with Nescafé for the past three years to reunify a brand that has splintered into many personas around the world in the past 20 or more years. The new logo and brand identity still hearkens back to Nescafé’s original mark, but capitalizes on some specific, long-standing devices.

From the CBA website: “The first, the classic red mug, is an historic landmark for the brand and a symbol with a long and positive association with Nescafé. Previously linked with the classic ‘Original’ variant, it has been modernized and ‘iconized’ for use across the widest range of touchpoints.

“For the second evolution, the final accent on Nescafé has taken off and become red. The accent takes its place in an evolved logotype that allows the brand to better express its warmth and conviviality and symbolizes the inspiration that the brand seeks to bring to its consumers.

“The final new element of identity is ‘the hub,’ a simplified top down view of the mug that acts as a window into the world of Nescafé, a place to express brand stories and emotions.”

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Read article at LogoLounge.com

2014 Logo Trends from LogoLounge

By Bill Gardner

If home is our first place, and work is our second place, then mobile screens have definitely become our third place. Smart phone use has increased from 21 percent in 2010 to more than 63 percent today, and with 83 percent of all Americans online regularly, that percentage of mobile users is bound to keep edging up.

The fact that so many people now view the world through a window the size of a business card has spelled an inevitable change in logo design. It used to be that minute favicons had to be kept extremely simple: Now, as a rule, logos must be as well, but that doesn’t mean boring. Designers continue to push back and evolve the meaning of “simple.”

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Read Article at LogoLounge.com

Anna Kendrick - 8th Most Creative Person in 2014

By Josh Eells

For knowing that her best role is herself.

Each of the actresses in Kendrick's loose cohort has forged a connection with her fans in her own distinct way. Lawrence does it by charming talk-show audiences with embarrassing anecdotes and navigating awards-show red carpets like they're filled with marbles wrapped in banana peels. Dunham does it with her brilliantly honest HBO show, Girls, and her liberty with her body. And Kendrick does it via the Internet.

If you scroll back through Kendrick's online history, a few themes emerge. Dogs. Baked goods. Jet lag and/or hangovers. Sweats, Snuggies, and other comfy clothes. Game of Thrones. She also has a few social media rules she thinks everyone should abide by, about which she is surprisingly passionate. Two Instagram photos a day, max. ("I've got a really itchy unfollow button.") Links, @ and # signs, and quotation marks should be avoided. ("It looks like I'm reading fuckin' code.") Melancholy is okay on Instagram, but not on Twitter. ("Just say something funny.") And above all, never, ever overpromote. "That's one of the things that annoys me most," says Kendrick. "When my entire time line gets filled up with actors being like, 'Check out my short!' or 'I'm on Craig Ferguson!' It's just bad business."

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Read Article at fastcompany.com

Likeable Business: Why Today's Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver

by Dave KerpenTheresa Braun , Valerie Pritchard

It pays to be LIKEABLE!

You can have a rock-solid business strategy, unlimited resources, and the most talented people on staff. But only one thing is guaranteed in today’s hyperconnected society: if your business isn’t likeable, it will fail.

Dave Kerpen knows how important it is for a business to be liked—by customers, employees, stakeholders, and the general public. He wrote the book on it. His groundbreaking bestseller Likeable Social Media changed the way businesses interact with their customers on a daily basis. Likeable Business lays out 11 strategies for organizations of all sizes to spur growth, profits, and overall success. Dave Kerpen reveals the remarkable returns you’ll get when you gain the trust of your customers and stakeholders. In today’s social media world, it literally pays to be likeable.

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Available on Amazon.com

The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014

By 

The Internet has drastically altered the way in which information is shared, and has had a profound impact on marketing. Over the past few years, there has been more of a shift toward inbound techniques, while many outbound tactics have become antiquated. More businesses are finding success publishing original content rather than embedding advertisements within external content, because of the additional benefits these tactics offer, such as branding and audience growth.

With these trends in mind, let’s discuss my predictions for the top online marketing trends of 2014.

1.      Content Marketing Will be Bigger Than Ever

One of the main ways that companies are establishing authority and gaining trust with consumers is by consistently creating valuable content through a variety of channels. This typically involves relevant industry information that provides insight or entertainment to an audience. Doing so allows a company to steadily build rapport with its demographic and develop a loyal following. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the top B2B content marketing strategies are social media, articles on a business’s website, eNewsletters, case studies, videos and articles on other websites.

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Read Article at forbes.com

Storytelling and Real Storytelling

By Bill Baker

Bill Baker (no relation) is nicer than I am, so don't pin any of my introduction on him. I recently spoke to an auditorium of C-level executives, and the title of my presentation was long but revealing: "The Happy Death of Branding, the Next Fad of Storytelling, and the Hopeful Rise of Alignment."

 

I guess that expresses my view of branding: there are a few firms really doing it, and the rest (and majority) aren't doing anything differently than they did before, but now they are calling it branding because it sounds upstream. There was no training in marketing, no classes, books, or even real processes. The typical four circles with the ubiquitous use of alliteration doesn't count and should be taken off your website.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with my view of branding, it clearly is yesterday's news, and storytelling comes up frequently. Rather than being marginalized even more, I think we ought to jump on this one early so that we don't relieve the word of even more meaning.

Bill (disclosure: a client) is one of the very few people really doing story telling. While the concept has been around since people wrote on cave walls, modern storytelling was really maximized by E+S (Envisioning and Storytelling) in Vancouver roughly three decades ago, a place where Bill was Chief Strategic Officer. Now, under BillBaker&Co he continues that great work with clients like GE, Relais & Chateaux, Johnson & Johnson, The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, etc. Here are some of his thoughts on the difference between faux storytelling and real storytelling. Real storytelling is a very complex skill, and I can sit for days listening to Bill point out the subtleties involved. This is just the outer layer.

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Read Article at recourses.com

Why Branding Is An Artifact Of The Past

By Brian Millar

A short while ago, I wrote an article on this site suggesting that you can’t build a brand simply by setting out to build a brand. And in fact, thinking too much about brands can actually get in the way of the real business of your company. I suggested that you try an experiment: Stop talking about brands for a month, and see what happens. The article got a lot of attention on Twitter, and provoked a lively debate in the post’s comments section.

Read Article at fastcodesign.com

The Best 65 Business Cards Of The Year

Here you have the BEST and just the best 65 business cards of the year hand picked directly from my most famous posts and from behance, flickr and OMG it even has a watermark.

Read Blog

2013 Logo Trends

Current Logo Trends By Bill Gardner

Forecasting the near future in design is a reflection of society’s concerns. With such rapid shifts in technology and social media, consumers react to a fear of being left behind. At one time, keeping up with trends meant reading a monthly journal. Now, not only do we have to read daily blogs, but we are expected to contribute as well. Consumers who are not participating are growing ever more anxious about the specter of being technically eclipsed.

This chasm is revealed in the decisions made daily by brand designers. More and more identity design is trying to find a way to span the gap or choose a side. This carries forward to products and services that we build affinities with. Sports teams find themselves inventing updated generations of mascots. Long standing consumables are reinventing themselves with new packaging and product design.

Digital products and their user interfaces—UI—have become major drivers in the identity field. Consumers are predisposed to transfer confidence from one app or product to another if the experiences share a visual vernacular. Flat solid color is edging forward with momentum over images that mimic three-dimensional surfaces like glass, leather, or metal, for example. Simulating surfaces like these in an environment out of context is referred to as skeuomorphism. Though it is losing its grip, it is not going away: Clichés work because they are clichés.

Smaller companies are not afraid to adopt a logo that shows them at the size they are. More approachable is a good thing, if it is authentic. Larger companies are tending to loosen up a bit to avoid pretensions and work multiple generations. Ebay, USA Today, Windows and many more over the last year have adopted wordmarks and logos that eschew styles with shorter expiration dates.

Increasingly, consumers have become comfortable in their role as contributors and not just spectators. There is a universal desire to identify even the most niche elements. The ubiquitous profile pictures on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter have turned into an opportunity to identify one’s self. Personal logos and monograms have reached epidemic proportions. Avatars allow us to self-edit and reinvent ourselves visually. This has become the micro-world of self-identification.

Designers are experimenting and making smart decisions for smart clients.

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Read Article at LogoLounge.com

24 Elegant and Colorful Logos

By 

I’ve always found logo design to be one of the most challenging things to get right. There’s so much that a logo can say about a brand without actually saying it.

The tone, style and overall fit and finish of a logo can reveal a lot about the feel of the brand too – from elegant, professional and refined brand identities to fun, colourful and quirky (and everything in between). It’s also possible to create logos that fit right in the middle, matching elegance and colour to create a feel that’s professional, but slightly playful.

I’ve collected some examples of my favourite logo designs that all pair colour with elegance. Some of these are bold and bright, while others make use of more muted colours, but each of them have been designed beautifully with real care and attention taken. There’s something quite fun and invigorating about a design that isn’t afraid to use a plethora of colours, and so I hope you find the collection inspiring and interesting too.

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Read Article at webdesignledger.com

Top 10 Most-Talked-About Logo Redesigns Of 2013

By Jillian Wong & Kelly Koo

To kick off our ‘Year in Review’ series, we have selected 10 of the top logo redesigns of 2013. From the subtle changes of Instagram’s logo to Yahoo’s complete design overhaul, it seems like brands tend to favor the ‘minimalistic’ look.

 

Read Article at designtaxi.com

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