Our Blog

Dec 30
January 2016 Calendar

Happy New Year! Help us ring in the new year with this month's calendar artwork.


With Calendar:

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Without Calendar:

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View our Installation Guide for instructions on how to set this month's artwork as your background wallpaper.
Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Dec 14
Brand Colors

Brand consistency helps strengthen brand identity, which in turn builds trust with clients and customers. An important part of making sure that your brand is consistent is creating a uniform color environment. To achieve this, your brand should have defined print and web colors included in the branding guide. And here’s why…

CMYK (print) and RGB (web) colors have vastly different mixing processes, which can result in a huge color differential. With print, mixing all the colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) together results in black. The opposite is true for web – mixing all the colors (red, green and blue) together results in white. Because these two processes are so different, it gets complicated when converting one format to another. This is why we suggest all brands include both print and web colors in their branding guides, to remove any subjectivity for color interpretation.

To throw another wrench into the mix, some brands have specified PMS colors. PMS, or Pantone Matching System, is a solid color ink that is blended to be a perfect match to the color guide every time. While PMS colors are also important for brand consistency, they are not always practical. So it is important to also have CMYK and RGB colors in your brand.

If your current branding guide does not include both print and web colors, you might have rogue colors on branded materials that don’t match the brand identity, causing confusion for your client or customer. Here at Cleveland, we have helped many of our clients develop full print and web branding guides. If you would like to discuss how we can help complete your brands identity with color consistency, contact us.

Topics: Marketing Tags: brand, identity, colors
Nov 30
charity: water

During this time of giving thanks and the beginning of the holiday season, we at Cleveland would like to take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are in many ways, and how much we sincerely appreciate the relationships we have built with our clients and friends over the years. In honor of these relationships, we have chosen to give a gift for a better future to people around the world in need of clean water through charity: water.

For people in developing countries, clean water can change everything. Over 663 million people in the world live without clean water. That’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide. The majority live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water for their family. Not only does walking for water keep kids out of school or take up time that parents could be using to earn money, but the water often carries diseases that can make everyone sick. Access to clean water means education, income and health—especially for women and kids.

All of us at Cleveland sincerely thank you for being a part of our lives. Helping others achieve the prosperity we enjoy is our way of thanking you for your continued partnership as clients, friends and business partners. We wish you the very best this holiday season. Peace and Joy to you and your families.

Learn more about the great work of charity: water at www.charitywater.org.

Topics: News Tags: holiday, giving
Oct 29
Los Angeles

We are happy to announce that Diana Morales has moved to the Los Angeles area!

Why are we happy about this? Because she is staying on as part of the Cleveland team, which gives us the advantage of continued great creative from Diana plus a new satellite office on the West Coast.

Since joining the Cleveland team in 2011, Diana has made a positive impact by supporting new product launches for Sensitech's global brand, as well as new brand and marketing campaign launches for Thomson Reuters and global financial companies. While we will miss her presence in the office, we look forward to a future of continued success with her creative work and strong client relationships she has built over the years.

Join us in sending best wishes to Diana at diana@clevelanddesign.com, or give her a ring at her new number 424.257.8439, and cheers to a warm and sunny future as part of the Cleveland team.

Topics: News Tags: company news
May 27
What makes a good email?

According to a study done by Radicati in 2014, "business users send and receive on average 121 emails a day". So how do you make sure yours gets read?

Many of our clients send out both internal and external emails on a regular basis, and so we're often asked that very question.

Email has become the main form communication between co-workers, clients, and even potential clients; and so it is becoming increasingly important to have a well-crafted email campaign.

Here are some tips that will help engage your readers:

Have a clear Call-to-Action at the top of the email.

It's important to grab the readers attention right at the open of the email—tell them what they need to know and exactly what you want them to do (i.e. rsvp, join, etc). And just because you have the CTA at the top, doesn't mean it's the only place for that information. Don't be afraid to repeat the details again down below. This will only help reinforce the action you want the reader to take, and also help clarify important information (i.e. event address, times, etc).

Keep it short and sweet!

This is probably the most important rule of thumb for creating successful emails. The average business person receives 121 emails per day, so it's important not to take up too much of their time. If an email is too long, most readers won't even get halfway before moving on to the next email. If you can't fit it all, use only a summary for the email and lead the reader to a branded landing page with more information.

Balance text with images.

The use of images goes hand-in-hand with keeping the copy short. Images help the reader to easily focus on one section at a time, rather than be overwhelmed with paragraphs of information at all once. It's also important to note that you should not have the entire email just be one image. You want the main copy to be "live text". This will allow the content of the email to easily be searched in the future.

Write concise headlines and subheadings.

Concise and clear headlines allow the reader to easily scan the email, getting the intended message across with minimal time. This helps increase the chances of getting the desired response from the recipient.

Have a strong campaign design.

Establishing a strong, cohesive visual identity for your email campaign that transfers to other platforms will help increase visibility, as well as legitimize your campaign. Transferring your email's design theme to other social channels and even other media like printed materials, landing pages, etc. will help to increase response rates.

Keep the subject line 50 characters or less.

Email subject lines, like the copy, should be short and sweet. A general rule of thumb is that they are kept under 50 characters. The subject line is another good opportunity to repeat the CTA, or to use a catchy phrase to grab the readers attention before the email is even opened.

Here at Cleveland, we've designed hundreds of emails for our clients using these techniques and strategies to help make their email campaigns more successful. If you would like to discuss how email campaigns can help your business, contact us.

Topics: Campaigns, Marketing Tags: email
Dec 02
The Gift of Opportunity

It’s that time of year again—the season where we become aware of all we have to be thankful for and what gifts of appreciation we can give to those who are important in our lives.

In the spirit of the season and in your honor, we are giving the gift of goats through Heifer International to ensure the future of struggling families in third-world countries. Goats are hardy, reproduce quickly and can be raised in a variety of climates to produce staple items such as milk, cheese and manure for farming.

As the season is already upon us, take a minute to know that all of us at Cleveland sincerely thank you for being a part of our live. Helping others achieve the prosperity we enjoy is our way of thanking you for your continued partnership as clients, friends and business partners. We wish you the very best this holiday season. Peace and Joy to you and your families.

Heifer International works in over 30 countries around the world. Learn about their transformative work at www.heifer.org.

Topics: News Tags: holiday, giving
Nov 03
The dangers of letting rogue design in

The Urban Dictionary defines 'bastard' as: "something that is of irregular, inferior, or dubious origin."

I can't think of a better word to describe the recent product of an internal campaign for a large corporation.

The team I was working with wanted to bastardize the corporate logo. Think inappropriate color choices, ridiculous add-on design elements, and other “enhancements” that would conjure images of a cosmetic surgery gone very, very wrong. They could not fathom why I would find fault with such brilliance, despite my best efforts to lure this team back from the dark side.

I'm going to guess you may have a few bastard logos running amok within your corporate house, too. The danger in letting these guys roam free is multifold:

  • It demonstrates to employees that deviations in brand and identity are acceptable, implicitly condoning further modifications and inconsistencies.
  • It demonstrates a lack of professionalism, and shows that dilution of the brand is not a concern.
  • It renders irrelevant the significant resources that went into developing and nurturing the brand in the first place.
  • And, worst of all, there's a very real possibility that these bastard logos will be leaked outside for the world to see.

Companies of the caliber I referenced in my example do have brand standards, but many don't have a resource or internal person to ensure compliance with the standards and protection of the brand. And really, it's not enough to know the rules—it's about understanding the brand in its entirety.

Consistent and correct application of your brand on the inside of your corporate house will not only inspire your employees in their usage of the brand, but will help build a positive overall experience of living your brand as well. And that will invariably project to the outside world.

Every employee should have access to resources that help them learn and understand the brand, and they should be inspired to use it successfully and creatively. Brand training seminars, an internal microsite with standards and examples, and a brand liaison to respond to questions are just a few tactics that go a long way toward ensuring your identity and brand remain true (and we can help with all of that!).

At Cleveland, we work with companies like yours to establish, nurture and extend corporate brands. With custom tools and programs developed for your specific needs, we give you the resources, knowledge and power to maintain your brand, increase its equity, and preserve its value.

If you suspect there may be a few rogue elements of corporate identity running loose inside your company, get in touch with us. We'll take care of those little bastards.

Topics: Business Management, Marketing Tags: branding, corporate identity
Sep 18
by Jonathan Cleveland
Douglas Spencer

This month we welcome guest blogger Douglas Spencer of Spencer Brenneman on the topic of “Marrying your customers till death do you part.”

Jonnelle Marte of the Washington Post wrote this great piece called "A guide to breaking up with your bank," which I read in the Boston Globe.

Leaving a big bank is not easy. The stickiness factor that banks and many companies engineer to keep their customers is nothing new, nor is there anything inherently wrong with it. However, many companies only pay attention to that side of the coin. The other side is creating a strong brand that makes customers feel good about the stickiness, that makes them not want to leave in the first place.

Taking a cue from Marte's point by point guide to leaving your big bank, here is one for big banks or any company which doesn't want their customers to feel stuck. Let's call it, "A guide to marrying your customers till death do you part."

Know what they want.

Obviously, right? Not necessarily. Most companies understand what their customers want from a functional perspective but many would be hard pressed to articulate what they want from an emotional one. Do they want to feel safe? Cutting edge? Exclusive? Those are all different and quite powerful motivators that will help you keep customers.

Help them understand.

Whatever you do that could possibly annoy, frustrate or anger customers, proactively explain the why behind the issue. As humans we will create our own explanations to situations we don't understand, almost always incorrectly. Help them understand and feel good about why you do what you do.

Give them opportunities to share the love.

People love to feel good about the decisions they make and helping them show off to others how smart they are through referrals is a great way to do that. Plus, it helps you get new customers.

Tell their stories.

Once you understand what the bulk of your clients want emotionally, highlight those who genuinely feel it. Hearing the stories of others often helps us put our own into better perspective.

Make it about others too.

If your customers tend to be, say, environmentally conscious, make certain that your corporate responsibility strategy reflects that. The local, smaller brands with which you may be competing simply cannot have the same caliber of impact.

Thank them but do so genuinely.

This point too may seem obvious but it evidently is not because so many brands fail here. It's easy to tell the difference between a cable customer support person who reads "Thank you for your business" from even a personalized email that references the number of years your customer has been loyal. In this age of texts and posts, sometimes an actual printed thank you note can go a long, long way for some brands and customers (though not for all).

When thinking about "stickiness," remember the other conjugation of the word which is "stuck." Who wants that? No one and sooner or later most will not stand for it anymore.

Spencer Brenneman helps bring brands to life everywhere it matters. And it matters everywhere. From product design and company mission to web site content and employee communications, your brand has to have relevance, excitement and longevity.

Topics: Campaigns, Marketing Tags: branding
Jul 01
What happens when your project doesn’t fit inside the brand box?

We often receive rather interesting requests to develop something out of the ordinary, though, and no matter how unusual or extreme the project, the client's first concern is typically to ensure that we stay on brand.

  • Can an ice sculpture be on brand?
  • How about an exhibit booth constructed of shipping containers?
  • Or an event backdrop covered in moss and birch branches?

We think it's certainly possible, though it requires a delicate balance of creativity and brand strategy.

Smart companies around the world invest a great deal in developing and supporting their brands, and companies like ours go to great lengths coaching clients to be true to them. But sometimes brand standards can be taken so literally that special opportunities to engage, entertain and impress your audience go unrecognized in favor of what is safe, and—(all too often) expected. Sigh.

Stretching a brand (without breaking it) is OK.

We've done quite a few interesting projects that would certainly qualify as "outside the brand box." In each case, by creatively interpreting and applying the brand attributes, we were able to deliver a fun, engaging, and memorable brand experience.

So the question becomes, "How can you have fun stretching your brand without going completely out of bounds?"

The answer, ironically, can be found in your brand standards document. Go back to your guide and review your brand's attributes—the core values that reflect the essence of your brand. These attributes identify the brand's physical, character and personality traits, and serve as a barometer against which to test your ideas.

If your brand attributes define the brand as "conservative, established, and trusted," you'll know your audience may not respond to a project that screams, "humorous, irreverent, and unpredictable." But the "stretch" project—the one that remains true to the brand while delivering something slightly unexpected—might conjure slightly different descriptors, like "witty, savvy and respected."

The key is to be creative enough to deliver something unexpected, without being so foreign in nature that the audience doesn't relate to the brand experience at all. It's a gray area, but that's where you'll find your biggest opportunities for greatness.

From the inside, it can sometimes be challenging to see—and seize—opportunities to go beyond the realm of the expected. An outside team like Cleveland can help you uncover your ideas—the ones your inner critic may be silencing—and collaborate with you to identify additional opportunities. We work with companies on all aspects of brand development and delivery, including the well crafted "brand stretch." It's a great way to invigorate and engage your audience, and bring one more aspect of your brand's personality to life.

Want to find out more on how we can help you shine? Get in touch. We'd be happy to share more with you.

Topics: Campaigns, Marketing Tags: branding
May 23
HOW Design Live 2014 Boston

Every now and then, it’s good to get out and about to experience what’s happening in the wider world to educate ourselves and to help educate others. This past May was an eventful month as the Cleveland team did just that.

Jenny Daughters donned an elegant evening dress and attended the exclusive White House Correspondence Dinner Party. Her mission: to rub elbows with celebrities, experience the festivities and find inspiration to create new ideas for the theme and décor for the 2015 party on behalf of client Thomson Reuters, an event sponsor. The experience was a weekend not to be forgotten and Jenny is full of great ideas that will make a successful party for next year.

Diana Kmiotek and Adamo Maisano both hosted roundtable discussions at the HOW Design Live conference in Boston. The largest annual gathering of creative professionals, HOW Design Live attracts thousands of attendees seeking the latest and greatest information and updates in the design industry. Diana hosted discussions on “Time Management,” and Adamo shared his expertise in “Drupal for Designers.” Jonathan Cleveland also participated, providing private coaching to design firms on the subject of “When and How to Hire your First Employee.”

We are proud that your team of designers at Cleveland is lending their expertise to these events and developing thought leadership in the industry. Much of what we do comes down to problem solving and education for our clients, with the goal of helping them achieve a successful outcome in their marketing strategies.

If you have any questions about marketing, or have a project that needs a solution, feel free to contact us. We're always happy to help—and to share what we’ve learned.

Topics: Business Management, Marketing, News Tags: howdesign, conference