Why Your Brand Needs A Design Style Guide?

Consistency in the design of your brand’s marketing materials creates a sense of logic for your audience. People like consistency because they know what to expect. It helps aid their comprehension of your material. If your branded marketing pieces are distracting and confusing to scan, your audience won’t get your message. Inconsistency forces them to stop and process what the difference means, why it’s different, and if there is any reason to continue. Ease of interaction yields better experiences and, thus, the need for consistency. Read more

Telling Your Story With Prezi

Prezi is next generation content marketing.

It helps you present and share ideas in a naturally flowing storytelling format. It also:

  • encourages you to guide the attention of users and lead them through your message;
  • forces you to think in concepts and visuals–not bullets and sentences;
  • inspires creativity–instead of limiting it;
  • allows your audience to see themselves and what they can do rather than you telling them; and
  • engages customers at trade shows and marketing events.

Unlike PowerPoint and SlideShare, Prezi is a “non-linear” form of presentation. It is a rich medium, and you can use videos and images within your presentation, as well as include one in your blog, share it on your social networks, or embed it on your web pages.

Here is one way we are using Prezi. Ask us about how we help promote others brands.

View our Prezi: Cotter Visual Communications Builds Visual Brands. You may be asked to sign-up for Prezi at no obligation. If viewing on a tablet or phone, download the Prezi app.
Choose the “autoplay” button in the lower right corner of the presentation box or use the left/right arrows at the bottom center of the box.

Here is how some other early adopters have used Prezi:

  • Ogilvy has used Prezis to promote many of its clients.
  • TomTom, the world’s leading brand for navigational devices used a Prezi for its annual global marketing conference in Dublin.
  • Coca-Cola has made a unique Prezi that explains its strategy for 2020.
  • Lenovo has created its own branded Prezi template for its employees.
  • CBRE, a commercial estate services firm, made a Prezi to attract prospective interns.

7 guidelines for creating your Prezis:

1     Focus on visuals that tell your story. Focus within your brand.
TIP: If you have access to branded visuals, work with those.
2    Complement your presentation with a short video.
TIP: It gives you a break from speaking.
3     Use motion. Up-down, sideways, and depth, whatever showcases your story best will be extremely powerful and keep people interested.
TIP: Use caution in how you integrate motion so as not to make your audience dizzy. You want to dazzle … not dizzy.
4     Keep it simple. Key phrases, titles and short bulleted lists are all you need to accompany your visuals.
5     Be creative. Apply basic design principles to your presentation.
TIP: If this is not where your talent lies, leave it to the professionals. Too much motion, poor choice of visuals and text colors that vibrate or don’t view against their background will not achieve your intended goal.
6     Get ranked. Google likes Prezi! Your public Prezis will come up high on your search rankings. Another opportunity!
TIP: Make sure your Prezi is accompanied with textual content that allows search engines to better understand the content.
7    Move quickly. Keep in mind the attention span of your audience. 30 seconds and change.

Although most people know Prezi for its “public” online version, the company also offers a desktop variant, which lets you create offline presentations and later view them on Windows, Linux, and Mac platforms. Prezis are not flash and run smoothly on mobile devices. They are versatile and portable!

Which way to go – public or private?

Public Prezis are free and open for all to view online. However, your Public Prezi is open for anyone to view and use. On the other hand, you can create Prezis as a powerful marketing tool.

If you want your Prezis private, opt for the fee-based licensed Prezi.
With licensed Prezis you can:

  • Share your Prezis with others online by invitation. They remain private and are only viewable by you and those you “invite”.
  • Brand your Prezis with your logo.
  • View and create online or offline presentations.
  • Download your Prezi to run from your computer, just as you would any other presentation.

Looking for help choosing and implementing the right visuals for your content marketing? Try Prezi! Your presentation and message will easily stand out from the crowd. And if you need help, contact us!

Connecting With Your Customer In A Social Economy

Welcome to the new connection economy where making an emotional connection with your customer online is key.

What can you do to help facilitate this connection?

Appeal to your customer’s pain…
Talking about how you’re going to help a potential buyer.

Keep it short and simple…
Our brains respond well to short impactful statements on your site homepage. Focus on the answer to your customer’s “what’s in it for me” question.

Seeing is believing…
What our eyes see connects directly with the unconscious parts of the brain that marketers want to reach. That means you want to make your points (and your website design) as visual as possible. Visuals sell concepts quickly and directly. FYI – facial expressions (human elements) are very effective because we immediately connect with them.

Beginning, middle, end…
Our brains connect with how you begin and how you close. What is in the middle is understated.  Content is king. Craft your words carefully.

Stay simple…
If you’re too clever or too abstract, our brains and your customers are going to want to move on. Content, written clearly in language your customer can understand, connects.

Emotional connection…
Connect on intellect and go beyond facts. Make your customers feel.

By connecting socially with our website visitors and online communications, we can help create conversations, conversions, and long-term clients.

What Happens Above The Fold?

Designers make specific considerations for effective visual communication. It is not only an art, but a science.

What is the ‘above the fold’ concept?

The most eye-catching story or image in a newspaper lies on the most visible part of the paper when it is folded in half and set on a newstand. The obvious goal… to pull in readers quickly and get them to buy. Today, we also call this the ‘virtual fold’.

Where is the ‘virtual fold’?

This depends on:

how a user is browsing the web;

the physical size of the users screen;

the resolution the users screen is set to;

what device the user is viewing on.

There are numerous ways to calculate the fold line. As many as the myriad of online viewing scenarios but, essentially, web design ‘above the fold’ lies where the user begins to scroll.

What lies ‘above the fold’?

Whether you are using web or print communications, virtually, the same principles apply.

The hierarchical list of what you want to communicate for your visitor begins with:


WHO are you?

Positioning Statement

WHAT is your content/subject matter?


HOW do I move around and what information can I find?

And now comes the all important…


Communications is about engaging customers.

How do we engage visitors so they scroll down and move about your website?

As in any design, it is important to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. What are they looking for? Beyond the most important elements listed above, you can begin by making a hierarchical list of what your customer finds most important in relation to your business. List the reasons they are coming to your website. Define the questions new customers ask. Taking into consideration your specific intents will help you with your thought process, but be sure to think like your customer!

The principles of space usage, typography, and other elements of effective hierarchical communication are essential to both print and web design, but the methods of achieving these principles involve different skill sets and considerations for your viewer.

The “F” pattern and the “Z” pattern.

When visually communicating, it is known that we create directional flow with visual elements, all with the intention of getting a message across.

Using the “F” pattern

One of Jakob Nielsen’s 2006 eyetracking visualization studies show users read in an “F” pattern on the Web.  Below is a piece we ran in a 2006  Synergist enews.

Using the “Z” pattern

In print, the conventional “Z” pattern of reading (in western cultures) has always been used for the strategic placement of important information. Starting in the upper left corner, working across to the right and then back to the left again, going top to bottom. We placed a “Z” over the ad below so you can see how that works.

The contrast of the “F” and the “Z” and their mediums is something to ponder.

Whether we lead the readers eye with an “F” or a “Z” in mind, the goal of visual communications is to invite readers into the page and have them leave with your message.

Eye-tracking studies support visual communications

As in everything we do when visually communicating, we focus on meeting the users needs.

Eye tracking studies for the web reveal valuable information on how visitors take in a website. Studies path a users visual direction on a web page with software that uses heat mapping.

Shown here, heatmaps from user eyetracking studies. From Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, 4/17/06

The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn’t attract any fixations.

It is very interesting when you look at this and follow how a visitor scans the page. This gives us valuable research on how to build a user-friendly website.

Other variables such as the type of website and its visitors do make a significant difference — the same rules do not apply to all.

What are visitors coming for? Is it for information or to purchase a product or service they need? Is it business- or consumer-based? Is it a niche audience?

Reading an article referencing the most recent eye-tracking study by Jakob Nielsen brings up some interesting results on images that we can all learn from.

The study shows people photos are good to include, but only if they are of real people. Viewers skip over generic photos if they are not directly relevant to why they are coming to the site. Poor design and cluttered content is a factor that is clearly to be considered vital in making this case. Jakob Nielsen refers to this as “visual bloat”. I love it!

So, if photos are being added to a website without much thought to their relevancy, they are of no value. If an image is not relevant, how can it make the emotional connection to the user?

The example he uses is, on the Amazon website, people “mostly” ignored generic images of televisions because they didn’t offer real information. But on the Pottery Barn website, people engaged with the product photos for extended periods of time. Yes. When we are purchasing a product online we have set criteria that helps us make the purchasing decision and the biggest is, we need to SEE if it fits our needs.

There are also people who need to actually touch the item they are purchasing so they may never actually buy a television online.

If a website is selling products, it is most important to have a photoshoot with a professional photographer so the products can be best showcased for their selling advantage. It is important that users are able to see alternate views and enlarged images.

Tip: Jakob Nielsen says when users click to view a larger version of an item, the one that appears should be at least twice as big, preferably more.

Eye tracking studies are just another way for us to support and improve our efforts of visually communicating effectively.

Google 4 Doodle Competition



Until May 18th you have the opportunity of voting for the best google doodle in each of four grade groups. 

Locally (region 3) for us, we have Grace Para, of Landenberg, PA, as a candidate in the K-3 group. Her doodle is so well developed for someone so young. Be sure to go see these wonderful doodles. 

Kudos to Google for sharing and helping to create design stardom for little people–our up and coming graphic designers! 

Winners will be announced on May 20th with their logos appearing on Google home page May 21st. 

Vote here