White Law Office Brochure

This past summer we were asked by White Law Office in Millersburg, Ohio to create a non-traditional brochure for their firm. Their posture as a law office is to be a formidable opponent while upholding a friendly and protective demeanor on the client side. One step onto their plantation-esque property will tell you they’re about hospitality as well as justice—a one-of-a-kind attribute for a law firm. They want to make sure their firm stands out in the crowd so we stepped away from the typical navy and gold hues with gavel and block imagery. Instead, we enlisted vibrant colors, concise copy, a unique fold-system and user-friendly icons to invoke an amiable trust in all who pick up the brochure.

Web + Fonts = Webfonts

It has always been a web designer’s dream to be able to use something other than Verdana or Times New Roman on their sites. The quick and easy solution of turning type into an image worked, but was unrecognizable to search engines. It also created issues if there were other button states or changes needed to be made quickly or dynamically.

Over time, Web Font hosts have become a hot commodity providing the web with a simple solution to this typographic conundrum. In 2010 @font-face became a tool for web designers to use remotely hosted font libraries enabling them to transfer their print design experience to the web. Today, many sites are using these services to allow the use of custom fonts, or type foundry classics for headlines, buttons, and body paragraphs.

Web Fonts and Responsive Design are the forerunner of cutting edge web design, and with an understanding of both of these tools, your website can have the flexibility, style, and personality that the internet has been promising you all along.

Adobe’s Typekit Google Web Fonts & MyFont’s Web Fonts

Whitespace or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Emptiness

Whitespace in Music

In music, there are moments when a rest is needed. A rest is a moment of silence that helps to emphasize the rest of the notes in the song. Without this moment, notes wouldn’t be broken up into understandable sections, and would lose the “punch” of the groupings.

Whitespace in Design

Graphic Design follows a similar path with what we call whitespace. These come into play as page margins, paragraph leading, and element spacing.  Hierarchy and Contrast are two of the first challenges that must be handled when working on any design. A designer must know what is most important, and how to separate everything else from that “big message” or “hero unit” in a design.

Emptiness? You mean the glue that holds everything together.

Too much information, or information stretched to each corner of available space is always noticeable. You can tell when something wasn’t spaced appropriately because the visual story is jammed together or doesn’t flow easily as your eye views it. Most designers will look at a design in black & white, then reverse it, to test a balance, just as a illustrator will rotate, or flip their drawing to enable them to correct distortions or spacing issues.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Whitespace allows us to visually tell a poem, to control a story through the visual medium, or give importance to certain elements. So the next time you are jamming as much information as possible into a design, step back, and view it like you would a poem. Note where each breath is, and where moments need to be emphasized. Once you see whitespace, you won’t be able to UN-see it.

Contact Cassel Bear for more design tips, or if you need help giving your marketing materials “Fresh Air”

Tea Brand Gets A New Face

TAZO

When I first heard that TAZO had rebranded, my first thought was, “Oh, no!” I thought the layering, and ornamentation had been well executed and appropriate for complexly crafted teas. The person who told me about TAZO’s rebrand described the new look as cleaner. “Ugh! Everything is cleaner,” I said. It feels like so much of today’s design looks nondescript or attempts to emulate Target. 

However, I changed my tune a bit once I examined the new graphics. I’m glad there is still some texture being used on their sachet packaging as well as continued use of ornamentation in their exterior graphics and larger gift boxes. I have to admit that when I saw the old brand next to the new, it was like looking at a Victorian magazine next to WIRED Magazine. The brand feels better, although, I still rolled my eyes at the over-used “bleed the photo around the edge of the package” technique. The brand is nice but I wonder: Does it still visually communicate,

from terraced mountainsides, to lush valleys  and star-streaked skies, our journey begins at the far corners of the earth?”

as the header on their website proclaims?

It feels as if many brands are moving to a clean, white, and minimalist look. What is driving this? One simple, technical aspect driving this is the need for the brand’s web presence to be responsive. Years ago when we designed for a certain web size that worked for most monitors, we implemented much more texture and static image graphics. Now, a primary consideration is making pertinent information accessible on screens as small as 4” to as large as 27” and even larger. The focus is not as weighted on creating trendy graphical elements, as it is in getting the right information in front of the user regardless of the device they are using. With the sheer volume of content online, it is wise to keep distractions to a minimum. 

With any design movement, there is always a counter movement. So, yes, you will be able to find examples of brands that are extremely textured and intricate. Cracker Barrel and Whole Foods Market touch on this. The steampunk culture is an example of a sub population that embraces complex detail in the face of today’s tendency towards stark minimalism. 

In the case of your own business faced with design decisions, it is good to step back and ask yourself some questions: 

  • How old is my ideal customer?
  • What else is this typical customer buying and doing? 
  • Where does my customer live?

 One strategy we utilize at Cassel Bear is to create a collage poster of that one ideal customer. We will actually cut out a picture of a person that reflects that ideal. We indicate whether or not they are married, how many kids they might have, where they go on vacation, what kind of job they hold, what their hobbies are, etc. Another consideration is whether or not this is the customer you currently have, or the customer you aim to have in 5 years. In looking at the TAZO brand there is a notable shift in target demographic that moves from somewhat counter-culture to mainstream. It is not surprising that this shift happened soon after Starbucks acquired the brand. Starbucks made a branding decision to align their tea brand with a similar target demographic as their coffee brand. 

As we work with brands here at Cassel Bear we find that the more research we do and the more insight we have into a business’ target demographic, the more effective we are at creating a relevant brand.

 

Sources:

http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/tazo_drops_the_gothic_act.php

Marketing Plan? Why?

Definition

According to Entrepreneur.com’s encyclopedia, a marketing plan is

"The written document that describes your advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year; it includes a statement of the marketing situation, a discussion of target markets and company positioning and a description of the marketing mix you intend to use to reach your marketing goals."


Know Thyself

While Plato used the phrase, “Know Thyself”, it has been attributed to well over ten different Greek sages which more than likely means that a valuable truth lies therein. In writing a marketing plan it can be helpful to personify your business and do some soul-searching. A SWOT analysis can be a valuable tool in this endeavor. SWOT is an acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This analysis examines each of these areas in order to get an accurate picture of your company at the present moment. This is important in order to set relevant and attainable goals.

Know Which Side Your Bread Is Buttered On

While it may seem a bit crass, this saying is pertinent to a business plan in that you need to know who is going to be willing to pay for your service or product. Who is your target customer base? This can be researched by looking at who currently purchases products from you or your competitors. In writing a business plan you do not just want to write what is but what you wish to be, so it is helpful to make a list of ideal customers being as specific as possible. If you approach it in this way you will be able to focus your marketing efforts. The more focused your marketing efforts are, the more effective they will be. If you target young, single, professional, middle-income women you are somewhat focused but it is still a very large and general demographic. If you add to that and say that your target customer eats healthy and spends a lot of time outdoors you significantly lower the amount of people in the target customer base. You are then able to distill your message to appeal more directly to that particular demographic. Often you will intuitively know what type of people are attracted to your service or product but it would serve you well to research it as well and come up with a bulleted list of ideal customer profiles.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

The plan itself is something that you must do but not in a legalistic and rigid manner because plans do change and what works for one company splendidly, might be a flop for another. Successful marketing in today’s world calls for flexibility. That being said, it is good to come up with a detailed plan which outlines your marketing goals for the year. These goals must be specific and attainable so that you are able to track the success of your marketing endeavors. Often the goals will be something like, “increase our customer base by 12%” or “increase sales by 15%”. Other goals may be less focused on money and focused more on building value into your brand. These types of goals may be something like, “Increasing customer engagement on Twitter by 35%”, “increasing the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook” etc.  Once you have the goals in place you are able to create a focused plan which takes into account your target customer by using marketing channels that they access, using language that they can relate to. Throughout the year it is good to review your goals and plan, revising them as circumstances in your business change. You may realize that some of your goals were unrealistic or conversely, that you underestimated the effectiveness of your marketing. You may also decide that your plan does not fit with the goals that you set and that some components of it need to be altered.

Hardworking Creativity

Here at Cassel Bear we work with clients in many aspects of their marketing. We design print and advertising materials to fit in with an existing brand and marketing plan. We work with clients to develop their marketing plans. We help execute effective marketing campaigns that are a part of their larger marketing plan. We work with branding and identity to help align clients with their target customers. If you have specific questions about your marketing this year please contact us to set up an appointment.

Ph. 330.639.1900
Contact Cassel Bear

Be sensitive

The University of California recently unveiled a new brand system, which was greeted with a very vocal disapproval from students, alumni, faculty, designers as well as unassociated onlookers. While there were some misunderstandings along the way that contributed to its dislike, (i.e. the logo working alongside the seal, not replacing it—like most other large universities; the icon being displayed with the text as the whole logo), the new logo and brand was still totally inappropriate in the eyes of the student body, alumni and faculty.



University of California Logo

The International Business Times reported:



”To a generation all too familiar with circular, fading loading symbols, this is an attempt to be revolutionary. But it comes off as insensitive,”

21-year-old UC Irvine senior, Reaz Rahman told the Los Angeles Times.   

"To me, it didn’t symbolize an institution of higher learning. It seemed like a marketing scheme to pull in money rather than represent the university."

There are numerous articles debating the new brand’s merits and faults, but, regardless, there are two lessons to be learned; one about being sensitive and the other about catering to customers and/or employees.


Be sensitive to the fact that your brand is much more than your visual identity.

Your brand encompasses your company’s entire personality. Don’t make the mistake of concentrating on your visual identity and forgetting about the rest—how you treat complaints, your verbiage, your attitude. Strike a balance between the emphasis you place in boosting employee/customer pride through developing a new identity and the efforts you expend ensuring your services and workplace are something to be proud of.



There are many ways that U of C didn’t do this (teachers going on strike and students being pepper sprayed during a peaceful protest all in the past year), and deciding to focus on a new visual image when what they really needed to do was to focus on their university’s culture. Are you having consistent issues that are leaving your people feeling unattended to? Maybe you need to focus on how your company operates before getting a facelift. If done at the wrong time, a visual rebrand will look like a distraction tactic, and it will tell your people that you care more about your outward appearance than what they need.


Be sensitive to whether or not your visual identity reflects what your customers and employees expect and want from you.

Your visual brand needs to inform your customers and employees who you are to them and not mimic the way they look. People want their grocers to look natural, not medicinal, they want their movie store to be exciting, not stiff, and they want their place of education to look established and planned, not trendy. Ask your customers what they like or don’t like about you, survey to see who they think you are and who they would like you to be. Remember, they don’t necessarily want you to look exactly like them. 


Do not forget that your purpose as a company, including your branding, is to serve your customers and employees. They will have some expectations for how you look and how you act, and if you fail to meet them you will be met with dissatisfied customers. Find out what they are looking for (within reason) and deliver to the best of your ability.

Speaking of being sensitive:


Not in any way shape or form do I want to discredit the organization or firm that produced the University of California brand. I would simply like to use this as a learning opportunity. 




Happy Branding!


- The CB Team

Ph. 330.639.1900
Contact Cassel Bear

Baked Apples

INGREDIENTS: 
  • 4 Large Apples
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • Strawberry jam (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat Oven to 375°
  2. Cut apples in half and core
  3. optional: drop a small spoonful of jam into the apple
  4. Dry mix cinnamon and pecans and fill apples with mixture
  5. Top each apple with ½ Tbsp of butter and place in an 8x8 baking dish
  6. Add ¾ cup of boiling water to dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until tender
  7. Let cool and enjoy!
from Jessica Kirkwood

Gluten/Corn Free - Peanut Butter Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar (or half white and a quarter brown)
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix ingredients well
  3. Scoop heaping teaspoons of the batter onto a cookie sheet. Press criss-cross wise with a fork
  4. Bake for 8 minutes.
  5. When done, let cookies cool a few minutes on the pan, then finish cooling on rack.

from Jessica Kirkwood