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3 Eye-Catching Graphic Design Trends You Need to Know

Great design is what draws the eye to an advertisement. Utilizing the right styles and methods can create aesthetically pleasing visuals and eye popping graphics that give your design the attention it deserves. These are a few design styles that have been growing in popularity over the last few years, used in web, advertising, logo design and more. Whatever your next design is for, incorporating these into your creation can lead to some very attractive results!

1. Geometric ShapesTitle

It sounds like we’re going back to basics, but using simple geometry to create logos, images or just flourish your advertisement are becoming a more popular style to create eye-catching graphics. Geometry brings precision to your piece, and basic shapes allow for endless possibility. One way that shapes can be utilized is through pixelating patterns, which use simple squares to create a simple image, or repeated in a pattern to represent the earlier digital days. Additionally, you can try creating illustrations using simple geometric shapes. Solid, bold color is recommended for this style, or stick with simple black outlining to create 3-Dimensional looking shapes. However, geometric shapes are versatile, so playing around with them in your designs can lead to an innovative, eye-popping idea.

BookTreeC1508_S_72_C_R2. Flat design

This style doesn’t need any extra sparkle or embellishment, it sends a message with its simplicity. Flat design strays from gradients, shadows or any sort of dimensionality, but that doesn’t mean that the style is boring. Apple iPhone’s iOS 7 update utilized this style when their usual rounded, dimensional software design hopped on the flat style bandwagon. Flat design takes away from any unnecessary distraction and acts more functional. Contrasting colors helps make flat design pop while still maintaining conceptual depth. However, a monochromatic palette can also give this style more brand recognition and give it a more clean-cut look. Geometric shapes are also used in this style of design to create these flat images.

Although flat design and minimalism sound very alike, there are some distinguishing factors. Minimalism is a design concept where less is more, stripping everything down to its most basic shapes. Minimalism is about keeping the design as simplified as possible. Flat design, on the other hand, is a style of design that eliminates any sort of dimensionality. Its use of basic shapes and solid color often making it look like a more minimal design.

3. Op ArtHypnoticSpiralC1501_S_72_C_R 2

Retro, psychedelic patterns are back in. So, if more simplified design doesn’t tickle your fancy, Op Art just might. Optical, or “Op” art, made its debut in the 1960s and is created with geometric shapes and patterns mathematically positioned to create optical illusions (or just make you plain dizzy). This design creates movement and an added dimension to any design. It creates a playful landscape of motion, which makes for a real visual experience. However, because of its intricate patterns, this style can be very, very dominating, so utilizing this design would mean making sure that it doesn’t overpower your message. Op art in logo design can be a little more subtle, but still inhabit the psychedelic visuals and style of Op Art.

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An example of Op Art in logo design. Image from: webdesignerdepot.com

Whether you are designing for web, logo, advertisements or for your own personal portfolio, these types of styles are definitely worth trying out. They are trendier graphic design styles today, yet they allow you to put your own unique spin on them. So, play around with geometric shapes, or create your own dizzying, intricate patterns. If graphic design is your creative outlet, these styles are something you should be giving your own creative spin.

 

 

 

Are You Using the Appropriate Social Media Outlets?

Social media can act as the face of the company and engage customers outside of the storefront. They act as advertising platforms as well as contacts for customer service inquiries. They’re often the first things that a potential customer will see when looking for a business or company to help meet their needs or wants. Of course, it goes without saying that anyone with a product or service to promote is better off with them than without them. So, you may think that Facebook is important to use, but so is Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Before signing up for all of the above, there are a few things to consider when choosing the best ones.

Social media

Single vs. multiple social accounts.

First, ask yourself whether or not you need to have more than one social media channel open. Will you have time to manage all of them? Is having an account with every social media outlet enhancing the customer experience, or falling flat? If you have a Twitter or Instagram that’s growing a few cobwebs from minimal usage, you’re not likely to keep your followers. A social media presence is a tool that any company needs, but it doesn’t necessarily need to occur on every channel imaginable for the best results. Keep in mind what product or service you are providing and whether or not these social media sites are working to promote that product or service as well as create conversation and interaction between you and your customers. Sticking with one outlet can ensure that it receives the most attention and post the most content, while multiple social media sites can help you reach multiple audiences.

In addition, businesses with multiple locations sometimes create accounts for regional stores so that the messages are relevant to the targets in each area. This is a great idea for keeping the regional customer informed of new deals, products, etc. However, it’s also important to keep in mind the time and resources required to manage these accounts. Although the single account and multiple account routes are equally beneficial, social media can be time consuming and the proper attention is needed for these channels.

Choosing the right outlet(s).

Having a social media presence is important to anyone who’s trying to advertise, but having a presence on any and all channels isn’t going to be effective if those outlets aren’t appropriate. Social media takes a little more research than many would think, and the correct social media channels can be chosen by considering your business objectives and, most importantly, your target audiences.

Let’s pretend that you’re running a locally owned hardware store and you want to enhance customer experience and brand loyalty through social media. Your target audience are males 30-50 who may not be the most handy when it comes to home improvement or repairs and your business objective is to provide the right tips and tricks when it comes to working with tools. Thus, this hardware store could benefit from creating informational content, How-To’s and DIY projects through social media. For a small hardware business, Facebook is the ideal media outlet that can channel this type of content. It allows for video and image content, over 1,000 characters per post, and is ideal for reaching an adult male target audience. Additionally, if the resources are available, a YouTube channel can be used as a secondary outlet for creating How-To videos that can be linked back to the Facebook page. If the store was targeting adult women, on the other hand, blogging sites like Pinterest that have a higher number of female users can be used to post DIY projects and images.

Of course, not everyone is going to have the same outcome, but keeping in mind what you’re trying to achieve, what the customer wants to see and how they normally view their social media content can bring in the best results- which is new followers, new customers, and a stronger brand loyalty.

Remember to manage channel(s) accordingly.

If your outlets have already been chosen, make sure that they are getting the right maintenance. Use programs like Hootsuite to help schedule all of your social posts in one place. It saves time and ensures that your content is posted at the time that’s the most appropriate. Most importantly, make sure that your posts occur at times when the target is most likely to be online and see it. The best time to post can depend on the outlet you are using and the target you are reaching, so make sure you do your research! Finally, respond to customer inquiries and interact with followers. Social media allows for endless possibilities for keeping the audience engaged. Keeping these tips in mind next time you are opening a new social media account can help bring in the most benefits from your online experience.

1-Minute Workshop: Ice Cream Cone

One Minute Workshop BannerCreating an Ice Cream Cone in Adobe® Illustrator® 10

Step 1

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to make an iconic ice cream cone using two primitive shapes and the Rectangle tool and the Ellipse tool. Begin with the ice cream scoops. Select the color of the ice cream you would like and then click on the Ellipse tool in the Tool palette. Draw a slightly flattened ellipse to serve as your scoop. Next, draw a second ellipse wide and thin. Position it towards the bottom of the scoop. This will be the lower “melted” part of the scoop. Finally, select a lighter color and create two small ellipses toward the top of the scoop for reflections.

Ice Cream - Step One

Step 2

Now you need to make the cone. Using the Rectangle tool, draw a tall rectangle and color it brown. Next, using the Pen tool from the Tool palette, click on one of the bottom points of the rectangle to remove it. Then, pull the remaining bottom point over so that it is aligned in the center of the rectangle like the example on the right. When you’re finished, it should look like an upside down triangle.

Ice Cream Cone Step 2

Step 3

Next, you need to make the diamond pattern on the cone. Begin by drawing a square (1). Make the color lighter than the cone color. Then, rotate the square so that it is diamond shaped (2). Next, squeeze the diamond using the Scale tool so it is taller than it is wide (3). Now you need to duplicate the diamond. Duplicate the first diamond to create a row of four diamonds (4). Then Option-drag (on a Mac) or Alt-drag (on a PC) to duplicate a row off-center below the first row. Continue this step until you have six rows of diamonds.

Ice Cream Cone - Step 3

Step 4

The final step is to crop the diamonds to the cone and add the ice cream. First, position the diamonds over the cone. Next, select all the diamonds and group them together (Object > Group) to make them one element. Select the grouped diamonds and the cone. Go to Window > Pathfinder and select Divide (1), then delete each shape outside the cone (2).

Next, you need to add the ice cream. Select the ice cream elements (from Step 1) and position them behind the cone to complete the effect (3). You may need to scale the ice cream elements to fit the shape of the cone.

Ice Cream Cone - Step 4

 

How did your ice cream turn out? Show off your work in the comments!

 

 

Who’s in the Spotlight? Application Developer Malcolm Hemmings

Meet Malcolm Hemmings, MultiAd’s application developer and recent first-time author for this month’s Spotlight! Malcolm enjoys spending his time reading, writing and applying himself creatively. When it comes to working at MultiAd, he fears no challenge! Read on to learn more about Malcolm, his many ambitious hobbies, his latest board game project and his newly published book Twisted Cogs! 

How long have you been working at MultiAd?

I’ve been working at MultiAd for four and a half years now (five in November). In many ways it feels like I just started working here last week, but in others it feels like I’ve always been here!

What do your daily tasks include?

I’m an application developer, so there’s a wide array of projects I get to work on. Sometimes that means programming a tool to help our admins, and sometimes I get to work directly with clients to serve their needs. My most recent project as been coding import programs to help Procter and Gamble send MultiAd their data and images…it’s a pretty huge project, but I’m always up for a challenge!

What’s your favorite part about your job?

My favorite part of the job has got to be the variety of tasks that I get to do. It’s never boring working for MultiAd; one day I might be writing code to help us track usage statistics internally, and the next I could be importing images for Coca-Cola Canada’s custom solutions site!

How would you describe yourself?

Why, rougishly charming and ruggedly handsome, of course! Of course, others might describe me as a big ol’ smart-alec. I like to launch myself into the things I do, whether that be programming at work, cooking at home, or writing stories in my free time.

Tell us about your family.

I have a pretty giant immediate family: I’m the eldest of eight children! My saint of a mother and father homeschooled every one of us, from Preschool to High School, and I really don’t know how they kept sane throughout it.

Even though my amazing wife and I now live in Illinois, far away from the Hemmings crew in Washington state, we’re still very close knit and exchange letters every month.

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Malcolm and his wife on their honeymoon in Door County.

You’ve recently published a book on Amazon called Twisted Cogs, what is it about?

It’s a fictional story about a 16th century Italian Renaissance that has been unexpectedly struck with magic. During a time when the world was experiencing a cultural rebirth of art and science, the addition of magic turns this fictional Italy into a powder-keg of invention and sorcery.

What inspired you to write it?

It was the support of my wonderful wife that got me writing in the first place. I had always had a love of writing, but she gave me the little push that I needed to get over my shyness and actually start.

Twisted Cogs Cover

Malcolm’s Book Twisted Cogs, Image from: amazon.com

As far as why I wrote this book in particular, it was the fact that I haven’t really found a story like this, and I wanted to read one! I’ve always enjoyed reading geeky fantasy books about quests and dragons, but I noticed that most of them seemed to be set in an alternate medieval Europe. I thought it would be fun to see what that kind of story would look like set in a time period that was a little less common to write about.

Do you have any other published works? If not, do you plan on writing more?

This is my very first published novel, but it certainly won’t be my last! I’ve just recently finished up writing the draft of Twisted Cogs’ sequel, and now starts the long and laborious process of editing and reworking that draft into something readable. I’m also working on yet another book called Tales From Deltharon, a companion story to the board game I and fellow MultiAd employee Ryan Dickinson are working on.

Since we’re on the topic of books, do you have any favorites?

I am such a voracious reader that this is a very hard question to answer! I probably lose a little nerd-cred by not saying The Lord of the Rings, but…there are so many books to choose from! One of the great things about working with fellow book-lovers like me is that I get so many suggestions from co-workers. If I absolutely have to pick, I think my favorite books are the Magicians series by Lev Grossman. His beautiful prose and amazing world-building catch me every time I re-read.

What activities do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I have so many hobbies that it’s hard to find time for all of them! Of course reading and writing are some of my favorites, but I also enjoy programming in my free time, doodling, and woodcarving, to name a few.

Recently a lot of my free time has been dedicated to developing the aforementioned Deltharon board game with Ryan Dickinson. There’s a lot more delicate balancing and testing involved in game development than a lot of people might think, so it’s been incredibly challenging…but rewarding nonetheless.

What’s the funniest joke that anyone has ever told you?

It’s always hard to think of one on-the-spot, but here goes:

Sam goes into his boss’ office, and it’s pretty clear he’s about to ask a favor.

“Boss, I’m afraid I have to ask for the day off tomorrow,” he says, “we’re doing some major house cleaning, and my wife has asked me to help out. We’ve got to clean out the garage and the attic, and there are a ton of boxes that I need to move and haul around.”

“Sam, I’m really sorry but we’re short staffed,” his boss replies, “I just can’t give you the day off.”

“Thanks, boss,” says Sam, “I knew I could count on you!”

What’s one guaranteed way to cheer you up?

I am an absolute caffiene addict, so I’m always a sucker for a cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter if I’ve already had two that morning, any time I get a chance to have an extra one it’ll put a smile on my face.

 

Be sure to check out Malcolm’s eBook Twisted Cogs on Amazon!

5 Outstanding Hashtag Campaigns

Many great social media campaigns are driven by hashtags. They’re short words or phrases that capture the essence of the message while making the post interactive and applicable across multiple social media channels. Picking the right word or phrase to convey your campaign message is a challenge because it is the theme that your social media campaign will center around. Here are some of the best social media campaigns from the last year that will get your thought gears moving. Note their interactivity and engagement with consumers and their easy translation over all types of social media platforms.

1. Game of Thrones #CatchDrogon

CatchDrogon2

Image from: Twitter.com/GameOfThrones

What was the campaign?: HBO’s Game of Thrones began a Twitter dragon-hunt just days prior to the show’s season 5 premiere. The hashtag #CatchDrogon invites fans to “capture” the beloved dragon child of character Daenerys Targaryen in the social media universe. Twitter users lured the fictional beast by selecting “bait” from the Bait Shop, hosted by Giphy.com, and posting them in a tweet. Those who caught Drogon’s eye were rewarded with a retweet from the official Game of Thrones Twitter, or were even awarded physical prizes.

Why it worked: Over the last few Game of Thrones seasons, HBO has recognized that the Game of Thrones season premiere days have become a cultural holiday, with many viewers hosting premiere parties or throwing feasts with foods from the show.  The show’s passionate fan base made it easy for the hashtag to kick off, with HBO rewarding the most creative dragon-hunters with prizes.

2. Taco Bell #onlyintheapp

OnlyIntheApp

Image from: Adweek.com

What was the campaign?: To promote their new mobile app, fast food chain Taco Bell created a social media blackout. The company quite literally blacked out all of their social media accounts and limited their posts so that they could focus on the promotion of the app. All of their accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat) were wiped out except for one remaining message: “Taco Bell isn’t here, it’s #onlyintheapp.”

Why it worked: Not only was the hashtag clever, but Taco Bell created a very clear objective by creating the social media blackout. The hashtag and message were applicable across their many social media accounts, and that message spread like wildfire. The hashtag was immediately successful, and about 75% of Taco Bell’s restaurants had taken mobile orders within 24 hours. The app itself became one of the top 25 mobile apps, and made #1 on the top Food and Beverage apps.

3. ALS #IceBucketChallenge

JimmyFallonIceBucket

The Jimmy Fallon Show participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Image from: Mashable.com

What was the campaign?: If you were on Facebook at all this last year, this particular social media campaign might sound familiar. In 2014, the ALS Association created a hashtag campaign to help generate awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS. The hashtag challenged people to dump buckets of ice water on their heads in order to raise money for the disease and to challenge their friends to do the same. The campaign kicked off, and soon Facebook was flooded with videos of users dumping buckets of water on their heads while nominating their friends.

Why it worked: Although the campaign left millions of people wet and cold, $7.6 million was raised for the ALS Association between July 31st and August 14th. The campaign was interactive and fun, generating so much buzz that celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Chris Pratt, and Tom Cruise joined in on the challenge.

4. Starbucks #WhiteCupContest

WhiteCupChallenge

WhiteCupContest winning design by Brita Lynn Thompson. Image from: Postano.com

What was the campaign?: Starbucks brought out the artist in everyone with their 2014 social media campaign, #WhiteCupContest. Starbucks lovers everywhere were encouraged to doodle on their drink cups and tag their drawings on Instagram with the hashtag. The winner of the contest would then have their design made into a limited edition reusable cup that would be available in stores.

Why it Worked: Starbucks prides themselves on being an eco-friendly company, and this campaign reinforced that by encouraging customers to reuse their paper drinking cups. This campaign gave customers the opportunity to express themselves while also promoting the brand. In the end, there were over 4,000 cup designs submitted to the contest.

5. Dubai Tourism #MyDubai

MyDubai

Image Source: UAEInteract.com

What was the campaign?: Dubai’s Crown Prince Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad created this campaign through his Twitter account at the beginning of 2014 as a way to create an autobiography of his country through photographs and videos. Since then, the hashtag #MyDubai took off on Twitter, Instagram and even launched the creation of a My Dubai Snapchat story. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) joined in on the campaign, choosing the best photographs with the hashtag and posting them on their social media sites.

Why it worked:  This campaign best captured the beauty of Dubai through the eyes (and lenses) of its inhabitants. The people of Dubai displayed their passion for their country with their words and images, which showed the world Dubai’s rich diversity and culture. The result was overwhelming within the first few months, with 250,000 instagram posts tagged with #MyDubai alone. Various initiatives throughout the year kept the campaign going, like displaying these images on an LED screen at the Dubai Fountain.  Allowing the Dubai people to become advocates for their country resulted in a passionate campaign, leading to the rest of the world yearning to explore Dubai themselves.

Great hashtag campaigns are possible for any business. Although it could take some innovative thinking to come up with an effective hashtag campaign, the results can be incredibly rewarding. Keep these ideas in mind next time you want to liven up your social media activity!

Seen any other great campaigns lately? Let us know about them in the comments!

Free Piñata Graphic!

Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, and what better way to celebrate than with a piñata! These colorfully decorated containers are broken into on days of celebration as a tradition in Mexico. Filled with candy, fruits or toys, piñatas are fun for everyone!

Pinata Display

FREE DOWNLOAD: (300dpi RGB jpg) (300dpi CMYK jpg)

Only available for free from May 4th, 2015 through May 11th, 2015.

Miss this free graphic? Search for it on Creative Outlet!

How to Market to Moms

Women make up 85% of all household purchases, and advertisers know it. Mothers often hold all of the money-wielding power in the family and are in charge of the purchasing decisions of not only themselves, but their children. However, 65% of moms don’t think that they are advertised to often, with many mom-targeted ads not resonating or sending the right message. This could be because the modern mom is a lot more dynamic, and wants to see more than mom-targeted soap and detergent advertisements. Remembering these ideas for marketing to mothers can help relay the right message.

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Be quick about it.

Moms are busy women, so be sure to respect their time by sending them messages quickly, without beating around the bush. Opt for 30 second ad spots instead of 60 second ones that they are likely to turn off. Get the ad message across early and in the most efficient way possible. A mother’s time is important, show them that your message is worth their time.

Stereotyping is a dead-end road.

Do not pigeonhole. You’re probably familiar with the very cliche image of a frazzled, overworked mom cooking dinner with one arm, rocking her crying baby in the other, or doing all of the housework with her other 6 retractable appendages. Although that image may be relatable for many moms, it’s a representation that has been far overused. Marketers don’t often recognize the diversity of mothers, and that’s where their message gets lost. Try not to approach your mom-targeting at a specific angle. Remember that all moms are unique!

Reach them through the digital world.

Moms everywhere are embracing the technology age, so don’t forget to utilize this medium. Today, 70% of mothers own smartphones, and many own their own laptop or tablet. Moms actually spend more time online than in front of a television. Some spend their internet time looking through mom blogs or forums. Mothers are even more likely to talk about a good product or service online. In addition, make sure that your business has a website. Moms would rather have a quick and easy shopping experience than have to spend their time going to the store.

Modern Moms are group thinkers.

Moms are more likely to buy products based off of recommendations from people they trust, and they are even more likely to do so when it comes to products for their children. The trick to establishing a mom-approved product is to find their key influencers. These can be through the aforementioned “Mommy” blogs and forums, or even through community influencers like PTA members.

Taking a unique approach when targeting mothers can be a challenge, but if done incorrectly, your message can be misdirected from one of the biggest buyers in the market.  Be sure to think outside of the “frazzled stay-at-home-mom” theme that many advertisers take. All moms are different, so your mom-targeted ads should be too!