12 things you need to be doing for social media success

12 Things You Need to Be Doing for Social Media Success  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Successful social media will generate quality leads, drive sales, and reinforce branding. But creating quality content takes a lot of planning, creativity, and time. 

Once you’ve identified your goals and audience, it’s time to start brainstorming quality content that will engage your followers. If you've already done that, but feel like your engagement is low, we've got a few tips for you to try. 

These 12 tactics should help you secure those elusive likes, shares, follows, clicks or leads: 
 

1.  Engage with your audience

Despite what the name implies, it’s actually pretty easy to get on social media and not be social. You wouldn’t ignore a current or prospective client’s call or email, so why should your social media communications be any different?

If someone leaves a comment or messages you, be sure to get back to them with an on-brand response in a timely fashion. 

 

2.  Mix up your feeds

Looking for some fresh posting ideas? We've got a whole series of blog posts on that! 

There’s nothing less effective than social media streams that regurgitate the same old stuff day after day. Content like blog posts and job vacancies are great content -- but they’re not all you should be posting day after day. Hop on trending content like current news, mix up your post formatting, and get creative!

 

3.  Take a multi-medium approach

Instead of trying to make all your marketing channels work in isolation, make social media a part of your print campaigns – and vise versa. If you’ve got an email or PR campaign going out, create a buzz around it on social media too. Creating a multichannel campaign can help increase your reach and direct new people over to your social channels.
 

4.  Time your posts

Figuring out when your followers are online will help you increase your reach. While Instagram gives you insight into the days and hours that your audience is online, you'll have to experiment with posting times when it comes to other platforms. Play around with posting on different days to see what works best for you and then analyze which hours get you the highest reach and engagement. 
 

5.  Post bold content

On social media getting noticed often means taking risks. People are inundated with fresh content every time they refresh their feeds – and to get results you’re going to have to think outside the box. 

This means something different for reach business -- but start by playing around with different post formats, riskier graphics, and out of the box content.
 

6.  Plan in advance

Don’t overlook big events -- or the social media exposure that comes with them. We suggest creating a social media calendar that spans several months in advance so that you can be proactive and maximize all topical opportunities. 
 

7.  Push people back to your site

Use bit.ly to shorten your links -- and track your traffic. 

If you’re not pushing people back to your website, you’re not getting the full benefits of posting on social media. Whether you’re sending people to a blog post, product page, or dedicated landing page, be sure to include links when they’re relevant. 
 

  Use a content calendar to keep track of your social media posts!

Use a content calendar to keep track of your social media posts!


8.  Blur the boundaries

Having strict brand guidelines in place is key for consistency, but if there’s one place to blur your boundaries, it’s on social media. We’re not suggesting going completely off brand – but we are suggesting that you play around with the style of your graphics and the buzz words you use. This will give you a great opportunity to see what your audience responds to – and what they really don’t like. 

 

9.  Up your video content

Facebook's algorithm has long favored video content over other mediums -- and we don't foresee that changing any time soon. Millions of videos are being watched each and every day, so make sure you incorporate them into your social media strategy. 

 

10.  Team up with an influencer

If you’re struggling to get the kind of reach you want, think about teaming up with a relevant influencer to give your following a boost. Just be sure you find someone that feels like a natural fit and speaks to your target demographic. 

 

11.  Shout about your success

Whether it’s a charity sale that went well or an award you recently won, shout about all the great things -- big and small -- that are happening with your business. It’s a fabulous and free way to promote your culture and aid your recruitment efforts.

 

12.  Be inventive with your images

Use a mix a graphics and pictures and don't be afraid to shake up the content. While your pictures should have a consistent style and look, feel free to branch out when it comes to subject matter. If you're posting multiple times a day, it's easy to get into a visual rut.  


SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING IN GREENSBORO, NC

Have you hit a plateau for likes and follows? We can fix that! Whether you’re looking to increase your views or simply need a break from handling your account, Hue & Tone Creative has you covered for all things social.

Web Basics: What is web hosting?

Web hosting. We hear those words a lot, but how many of us actually know what it is? Well if you don’t, then look no further. We’ve cut out the jargon and waved goodbye to all that techy mumbo jumbo as we take a quick look at the basics of web hosting. 
 

What is web hosting?  |  Hue & Tone Creative


Web hosting vs domains

When it comes to web hosting and domains there can be a bit of confusion between the two. We like to break it down like this: 
 

Web hosting: This would be your house, because it’s the space where everything is stored.

Without web hosting there wouldn’t be any websites. It’s the physical location that your website (and everything it entails) sits, and it ensures that your site maintains a sturdy connection to the internet -- without that connection, people are unable to access any of the files on your site (which, in layman’s terms, means you have no website!).

Some examples of web hosting companies include InMotion, 1&1, HostGator, GoDaddy, Wix and Weebly.

 

Domain: This is the equivalent of your address, because it’s the location your host can be found.

It’s not a physical entity, it’s just the series of characters that make up your site’s unique location. So, the same way you’d enter an address and ZIP code to get to your end destination, you enter your domain name into the search bar to get to your website.

Some of the most popular domain name providers out there are GoDaddy, Hover, Dynadot, Google Domains and Namecheap.

 

Where should you buy web hosting from?

When it comes to choosing the right web host for you, there are a lot of solid contenders out there. To help you along your way, here are the top five as rated by the experts over at Techradar.


Web host

InMotion

Voted

Best overall shared web hosting

Selling points

Wordpress hosting, business hosting, web design services, and 24/7 US-based support

 

Runner-up overall shared web hosting

Baremetal servers, free SSL certificate, secure hacker protection, and email marketing

 

Best ‘cheap’ option on the market

Unmetered bandwidth, unmetered disk space, money back guarantee (45 days) and $150 search credit

 

Good all-round service

SEO services, free domain, database backup/restore, and unmetered bandwidth

 

Wordpress’ #1 preferred partner

Unmetered bandwidth, WooCommerce hosting, Free domain, 24/7 US-based support


What does all that terminology mean?

We just threw a bunch of terminology at you -- but since this is a beginner's guide to web hosting, let's go ahead and break it down: 
 

Bare metal servers: The term ‘bare metal’ refers to a hard disk, and so a bare metal server is when a computer system or network’s virtual machine is installed directly on to hardware.

SSL certificate: In its simplest form, an SSL certificate is a public-facing, digital document that tells people a site is secure. It also lets you know that the company that says they own the website you're accessing legitimately owns it. 

Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of site content and visitor traffic a server can transfer in a certain amount of time.

Unmetered bandwidth: A hosting plan with unmetered traffic. The price you pay each month does not depend on the amount of traffic (data) sent to and from your server during the month

Unmetered disk space: Disk space is the amount of data you can store on a web server. The amount of disk space you need will vary depending on the size of your site. Similar to unmetered bandwidth, unmetered disk space means you are given an unlimited amount of disk space. 

SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the online practice of increasing the amount of traffic you get through to your website via organic search results, like Google. Some hosting companies offer services to help you improve your SEO.

 

Questions about what any of these terms mean? Leave them below in the comments -- we'll be happy to help clear up any questions you have! 


Hue & Tone Creative: Web Design Services

Once you've secured your domain and hosting, let us help you bring your site alive with a great design and intuitive user experience. Get in touch today to see how we can support your website’s set-up.

4 reasons why your non-profit should be using Canva

4 reasons why your non-profit should be using Canva  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Canva’s an online design tool, and it’s used by millions of people around the world to help create professional-looking presentations, posters, social media images, menus and more. (You can preview their templates here). 

While we whole heartedly believe that there’s no substitute for professional design, we know it’s not always in the budget for every company or every project. Canva is a good solution if you’re working on a tight budget or pinched for time. 

In fact, we often set our non-profit or small business clients up with Canva templates so that they can enjoy branded templates without having to keep us on retainer. It may sound like bad business sense on our part – but we believe in supporting businesses of all sizes, with all different types of budgets. 

If you’re not familiar with Canva, we’ve put together a few reasons it’s worth exploring:

 

 

1.  It gives you inspiration

If you’re not a designer by trade, you’re probably stumped on where to begin when it comes to designing a graphic. Luckily, Canva is brimming with layouts for you to choose from, eliminating the need for a grand creative vision. 

Not having to start with a blank page can save you invaluable time, spark ideas you might not have originally considered, and help you complete the project with a higher quality end result.

 

2.  Professional looking pieces (for a fraction of the cost)

Because the layouts on Canva are put together by skilled designers, the overall look and feel of your projects will inevitably be more professional -- and in most instances for free!

Canva offers three pricing options, all of which are likely to prove more cost-effective than outsourcing the task to an agency. But remember, by forgoing the input of a designer by trade, you’ll be losing out on all their extra expertise, ideas, and drive (even if you are saving a dollar or two!), so consider the pros and cons carefully.


PACKAGE TYPE

Canva


Canva for Work

Canva Enterprise 

FEATURES

Simple drag and drop editor

Collaborate, design and edit with your team

Teams with 30+ members 

PRICE

Free Forever


$12.95 per month


Contact for a quote


3.  You don’t need to be an expert

There’s a plethora of design tools out there, and some are easier to use than others. Fortunately, Canva falls within the ‘easy to use’ category.

With hundreds of self-explanatory templates to choose from, simple drag and drop functionalities, and the option to access photos within the app, it’s super intuitive, so that even a novice can pick it up in no time.

 

4.  Filled with features

We won’t bother to list them all for you (you can head over to the Canva site for that), but here’s a few of our favorite features: 

  • Pre-defined social media image sizes, so you can be sure your streams look super slick
  • An option to set color palettes tailored to your business’ branding
  • The ability to organize photo and project folders within the app so that you can access them from any device
  • Advanced export options, including the capability to export your artwork as animated GIF

 

A word of warning

Canva is great – and we encourage you to test it out. But, we always push people to create consistency where possible. Whether this means using consistent colors or getting a designer to create custom elements to import is up to you. Just because Canva has endless options doesn’t mean you should use them all! Creating a cohesive look with your overall brand is important no matter what tools you use to get there. 

Now, go get creating!


Hue & Tone Creative: Your non-profit marketing partner

While Canva’s a great design tool for a DIY projects, sometimes there's no substitute for a real design expert. That's where we come in. Whether it’s a letterhead, leaflet, social media banner, or flyer, we’ve got what it takes to take your visuals to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about our special non-profit rates!

6 branding mistakes to avoid

Branding is made up of the values that guide you, the visuals that communicate who you are, and the language you use to communicate with your customers. 

If you’re a regular reader, the number one thing you’ve probably learned from our blog is how important branding is. That’s because it’s essential to attracting, converting, and keeping your customers. It builds loyalty, brand recognition, and acts as a touchstone for consumers. 

We believe branding should be flexible and fun. And, while consistency is important, that doesn’t mean all of your assets should be identical. No matter what your industry or offering, there's a few things we think you should avoid. Here’s our top six: 
 

6 branding mistakes to avoid  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 

1.  Sea of sameness

Think outside of the box and make sure your logo, values, and messaging differentiate you from what’s already out there.  

Everyone has competitors -- and chances are they sell similar or identical products/services. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to imitate what they do! Work with a designer to create a strong brand identity for yourself and then stick with it. It may take time, but you want to establish your identity separate from the competition. 

 

2. Behind the times

Don’t let your branding give off a less-than-contemporary vibe. In the customer’s eyes outdated branding translates to inferior products and subpar service. 

Just because you went through the branding process when you first started your business, that doesn’t mean you’re set for life. Your business’ branding should be periodically reviewed and tweaked to reflect the constantly evolving digital landscape.

 

3. Inconsistency

Consistency is key. Your market needs to be able to identify you across every channel and it’s counterproductive to have an entirely different look and feel across different mediums. Whether it’s on social media, direct mail, a billboard ad, or website banner, your brand should be instantly recognizable across everything you produce. If it’s not, you could miss out on brand awareness and the benefits of an omni-channel campaign.

 

4.  It’s not all about you

When you’re establishing your branding, it’s imperative to remember that what you’re aiming for isn’t about you and your personal preferences -- it’s about your potential customers or clients, so try to avoid getting too personal. 

Just because a color isn’t your favorite, doesn’t mean it won’t connect with your potential customers. If you're having trouble separating your emotions from the process, consider putting some data behind your decisions by conducting market research to gain valuable guidance.

 

5.  Lack of clarity

Your branding should quickly and effortlessly communicate what you do -- and it should easily grab your potential customer’s attention. In a world where time is a highly valued commodity, it’s essential you snag people’s attention quickly.

If your branding’s unclear, you run the risk of not being memorable…which may send them running to your competitors. 

 

6. Not following through

Never, ever make false promises. If you are a delivery company and your tagline is “always on time,” make sure you’re always on time! If you fail to deliver on your promises, your branding is irrelevant, and you leave yourself open to complaints and lost customers


Hue & Tone: Branding for the Piedmont Triad

Branding doesn't have to be hard -- in fact, with the right people in your corner it can actually be fun! Let us turn marketing into something you enjoy doing -- not something you dread. We can help you with everything from your initial branding to your day-to-day social media needs. 

Logo Love: 5 of the best big brand redesigns

Most brands, no matter how big or small, evolve their logo at one point or another. It might be a subtle redesign to get on trend, or it might be a total overhaul. No matter how thorough of a rebrand you're looking to do, just make sure the reason you do it is solid -- you don't want to be that company constantly confusing people with a new name or logo. 

A few of the reasons we think you should consider a redesign?

  • It was a DIY project
  • Your business has evolved, but your logo hasn't
  • It uses dated design trends
  • Your company is about to make significant changes 
  • It needs to be simplified 

In our opinion, a good logo update maintains the integrity of the original brand, while evolving the look. Your first logo will rarely be your last -- and as long as the thought process behind your redesign is strong, there’s no reason not to periodically enhance or revamp your logo. 

To get a better idea of why people update their look, let's look to a few big brands: 

1. Nike

Nike’s refresh couldn’t be a better demonstration that less is more. No color. No words. Just an instantly recognizable, worldwide tick.

  Image source:  fastsigns.com

Image source: fastsigns.com

2.  Amazon

A rebrand brought on by business changes, Amazon's logo is a great example of a clever design. While Amazon's first version wasn’t exactly irrelevant to Amazon’s name, its current logo is a true reflection of what it stands for.

With a smile for its happy customers pointing to their A-Z offering, there’s a lot that can be learned from Amazon’s slick rebranding.

 
  Image source:  contested.wordpress.com
 

3.  BBC

Since its inception, the BBC has developed a multifaceted brand. Having many different branches of business means needing a highly versatile and adaptable logo. 

Their simple three box logo coordinates well with other fonts, gels with any color, and has mass appeal. 

 
BBC_logo_(pre97).svg.png
 
 
 
     Image sources:  tvforum.uk  and  wikimedia.org

 

Image sources: tvforum.uk and wikimedia.org

 

 

4. Instagram

Instagram’s old logo was incredibly retro -- we'll leave it up to you if that's good or bad. Some folks certainly liked it, because they received a decent amount of pushback when they revealed their updated logo. 

Many compared its background to something seen in WordArt, but it’s since proven that it’s less paint shop and more pro. It’s simple, funky and modern; everything Instagram is as a platform.

 
  Image source:  obviousgroup.co.uk

Image source: obviousgroup.co.uk

 

 

5.  Spotify

Spotify’s logo was fairly streamlined before, but their rebrand took it to the next level. By sticking to one vibrant color and scrapping the gradient, they've stayed in line with design trends while still maintaining the integrity of their brand. 

 
  Image source:  osmanassem.com

Image source: osmanassem.com

 

Hue & Tone Creative: Your brand partner

Let us focus on telling your story, so that you can focus on what you do best: running your business. We're your own personal marketing department -- and will handle everything from your brand launch to daily social media needs. If you need to lighten your workload, we're here to help -- reach out today. 

Color Stories: City Views

It only takes one visit to a city to figure out if you’re someone who belongs in the city or the country. The commotion either overwhelms or inspires you -- and the beauty of the city is truly in the eye of the beholder. 

In the past, we’ve explored color schemes found in nature, but what about those of us who are inspired by a more urban space? 

To further explore the aesthetic and inspiration found in an urban environment, we’ve snagged Unsplash photos from cities all over the world. Cities are so much more than grey and concrete – and the colors we’ve pulled from these images prove that. 

Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

French and Fancy

The facades in France evoke a feminine and understated feel. The landscaping and waterways provide a rich pop of color that reminds you nature isn’t far away. 


Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Tonal in Taiwan 

Rich hues of purple, red, and orange light up a dreary day in Taipei City. Dusty lilac is an unexpected alternative to the grey and black of street top.


Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Hazy in Hong Kong

These muted colors complement a monochromatic backdrop filled with metal, glass, and concrete. We think they would be perfect for a stylized flat lay photo shoot.


Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The lights of Shanghai 

Soothing and subdued, these blue and purple hues reflect a city full of light. A pop of light pink provides some much needed contrast and depth to this color story. 


Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Sunset in the City

Sunsets are beautiful anywhere, but this faint coral and rich turquoise scheme is one of the best mother nature has to offer… maybe the best color inspiration blends city and nature?  


Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Stockholm Swatches

These earthy buildings evoke thoughts of rich spice. Paired with a soothing background of pale blue and seafoam, this color scheme is as dynamic as it is beautiful. 


Color Stories: City Views  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Radiant in Radio City 

These illuminated hues create a sharp contrast against dark grey and black. For a fun and youthful scheme, New York City is where it’s at. 


CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS IN GREENSBORO AND WINSTON SALEM

Need a second opinion on your brand colors? We can help with that. We're experts in color, type, branding and design -- and we can help you refresh or retool your branding to make sure it's the best reflection of your business. Reach out if you're ready to get started:  hannah@hueandtonecreative.com or 336-365-8559.

The essentials: must have marketing assets for new businesses

  Get your new business of to the best start possible with the right marketing materials! 

Get your new business of to the best start possible with the right marketing materials! 

So, you’ve decided to start a business. You know you need the basics like a logo and business cards – but what other marketing assets should you make a priority?

Marketing materials can encompass everything from websites and letterheads to social media graphics and promotional videos. If you’re just starting out in the small business world, chances are your budget is probably a little tight – but skimping when you start up can mean unnecessary spending down the road.

Think about it: you pick the first business name you think up and print up a bunch of business cards, letterheads, and pens. A few weeks later, you’re hearing from your customers that they can’t remember your business name. Now you’ve confused people, still have to pay for proper branding, and you’ve got to pay to reprint materials you could have gotten right from the start. 

The good news is that we’re here to tell you what you need it, why you need it, when you need it, and how you get it. We hope this run down of essential marketing materials helps empower you when you’re hiring a graphic designer or marketing agency.

Here’s what you need to successfully get your business off the ground:
 

1. Brand Values

Because no physical products come out of this stage of the branding process, it’s often rushed or disregarded – but this is one of the most important stages, and it will influence everything you do from here on out. Your brand values are the set of principles that will dictate every aspect of your business, including the look, messaging, and customer service approach.

Here’s what you’ll want to define:

  • Values: what does your business stand for?
  • Objectives: where do you want to be in 1, 5, or 10 year’s time?
  • Customer personas: who are your talking to and what do they care about?
  • Tone of voice: how will you talk to your customers? And why?
  • Proposition: what will you do for your customers? And how will you benefit them?
  • Tagline/mission statement: how can your brand’s essence be summed up into as few words as possible?

Taking the time to properly develop your brand values will allow you to properly train your workforce and will help you communicate your brand to third parties. We suggest asking your marketing team for a brand book or set of written guidelines that you could hand off to an outside team.

The essentials: Must have marketing assets for new businesses  |  Hue & Tone Creative


2. Brand Identity

Now it’s time to develop the look and feel of your brand. This is where you’ll work with a designer to create a logo and everything that goes with it. You’ll want to come out of this stage with:

  • Primary logo: as well as any alternative logo formats you might need for packaging, online use, or small sizes
  • Logo usage guidelines: what is the smallest size your primary logo should be printed? What do you do when you can only print your color in one logo? Make sure your designer provides you with guidelines for every situation you might encounter.
  • Font palette: what fonts are you going to use on print, web, and in Microsoft Office?
  • Color Palette: what primary and secondary colors will complement your look, logo ad tone?
  • Graphic elements: anything needed to complete your print and web designs.
  • Sample usage: make sure your designer provides examples of how all these elements will come together to create your signature look. 

 

3. Build a winning website

We talk a lot about the importance of a well designed and properly optimized website, so we won’t waste a lot of space here talking through why you need one. Instead, we’ll run through a few key considerations when it comes to building it:

  • Get to the point: you’ve got a limited time to capture visitors’ attention, so get your message across clearly and effectively on every page.
  • Contemporary: outdated websites make your brand look instantly aged and untrustworthy. Take the time to get your website looking slick, and outsource it to a specialist if you need to.
  • Architecture: once you start adding menus and pages, they can be a right pain to change down the line. To make sure you’ve got a great user experience from the outset, map out your site’s architecture before you start building it.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): with a reputation for being the cheapest marketing method around, it’s crucial that you build and write your website with SEO at the forefront of your mind.
  • Contact: make your call to actions and contact information crystal clear.
  • Host: choose a content management system that’s reliable. Personally, we would recommend Squarespace – here’s why.
  • Domain: be sure to match your domain name to your business’ name.
     

4. Social media

Did you know, 70% of the US population have at least one social media profile? That’s a whole lot of potential customers to capture.

We suggest selecting just 2-3 platforms to get started on – especially if you’re handling your social media in house. To effectively leverage social media, there’s a few things you’ll need to do:

  • Only use high resolution profile and background images (pixilated pictures make you look untrustworthy and out of touch)
  • Write a succinct and enticing bio
  • Link back to your website
  • Include contact details
  • Keep an eye on your inbox/direct messages
  • Commit to regularly posting
  • Reply to those who engage with you
  • Interact with relevant people and/or profiles

Maintaining social media should be a daily job – if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. We suggest creating a content calendar to stay organized. And, make sure you have a set of templates on hand to save time when you need to create a quick Facebook graphic. 

5. Blogs

Investing in content marketing comes with endless benefits. A well maintained blog boosts your SEO efforts, helps you build backlinks and brand awareness, generates leads, adds brand value, and ups engagement.

Just remember the golden rule: the content you’re publishing must be quality. Churning out subpar articles won’t get you far -- if it even gets you anywhere. Here are a few general post types to get you going:

  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • Tutorials
  • Whitepapers
  • Presentations
  • ‘How to’ guides
  • Buzzfeed-style listicles

With good content, you need good images. If you’re not in the position to fork out money for sites like iStock and Shutterstock, consider Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels for good, free alternatives. 
 

The essentials: Must have marketing assets for new businesses  |  Hue & Tone Creative

6. Templates

Next up is templates. The extent of this list will vary depending on the nature of your business, but below is an idea of the types of templates we suggest you think about:

  • Email campaigns - sales, welcome, thank you, updates, or otherwise
  • Newsletters
  • Direct mail
  • Job descriptions
  • Email signatures
  • Powerpoint presentations 
  • Social media graphics
  • Letterhead/memos

Your logo should feature on each and every one of them -- which is why it’s important to have a logo that sits well in different settings, and your brand’s look, feel and tone should be encapsulated too. Remember though, your templates don’t need to be uniform to be consistent.

7. Print collateral

We’ve been carrying on about online a lot -- and rightly so! -- but don’t forget about good old offline advertising. Depending on your industry, things like physical brochures and business cards can be an important asset.

If you’re investing in printed materials, remember to:

  • Do your research: spending a bit of time selecting a quality printer.
  • Don’t compromise: poor quality paper reflects badly on your business.
  • Don’t rush: if there’s a proofreading mistake that’s your fault there’s no going back -- without throwing money down the drain.
  • Keep it consistent: print materials still needs to mirror your online presence.
  • Think of the bigger picture: think about how you can make print materials evergreen so that you don’t have to reprint regularly. Consider what really needs a date and what could go without one.
  • Get the right amount of copies: you can easily order more, so don’t go print crazy and order 1000s of copies unless you’re absolutely certain they’ll be used. But, you usually get a discount the more you order, so don’t be afraid to print some extras.

Need a little help?

Getting all your marketing assets together can feel really daunting -- I know, I’ve been there! But here at Hue & Tone Creative, there’s a lot we can help you with. From logo design and letterhead to web design and social media management, get in touch to see how we can support your business’ success. 

How to give honest feedback without frustrating your designer

You’ve chosen your designer, you’ve briefed them on your needs, reached an agreement on terms, and you’re eager to see what they’ve come up! Then, their name lands in your inbox along with the much anticipated attachments – but then you click to find that...they’re not quite what you were after. Now what?

If you do it right, giving feedback won’t be perceived as negative. In fact, it’s an important part of the design process – and it’s something that your designer is anticipating. But giving feedback in an unproductive way can lead to an overall unproductive relationship between you and the creative you hired. 

As designers, we’re here to let you know that we’re used to feedback – we even enjoy it because it helps us do our job better. But, it can be frustrating when clients are constantly giving you negative feedback and not giving you the information you need to do your job properly. 

It’s easy for miscommunications to happen – especially if you’ve never worked with a designer before. But with just a few small tweaks to your approach we believe you can communicate with your designer better than ever – and land on a superb final product! 
 

How to give honest feedback to your designer  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 

Step back and ask questions

Before mindlessly shooting off negative feedback, take some time to marinate on what they sent you. Let them know you received the proofs and are putting together some notes. Then, go through the examples and guidelines you provided your designer. What varies from what you asked for? What’s in line with what you asked for (even if it’s not your favorite)? 

Put together a list of questions to better understand where your designer is coming from. The answers to your questions may change your mind on a certain concept or help you distinguish the direction you want to go. 

Creating an open dialogue will go a long way in helping you both understand each other’s point of view. 

 

Be professional, calm and controlled

We know it can be hard to stay calm when you feel like a project isn’t going right – but like any other professional situation it’s important to stay calm. Keep your communication -- whether it’s over the phone or on email – calm and clear is key. Be sure to politely explain why what they’ve produced isn’t quite up your alley.

Just saying “I don’t like it,” “it’s not what I asked for,” or “it’s not for me” isn’t constructive, and it doesn’t give your designer a fair chance to fix it. So, be as specific as you can so that they can understand what does and doesn’t work. That way they’ll be able to take your feedback and turn it into a stronger second draft. 

If you can, show them examples of the kind of thing you dolike from other organizations, so that they have a solid idea of the kind of design they need to be working toward. 

 

Explaining the why

When you’re highlighting elements of a project you’re not quite keen on, explaining the why is super important. Whether it’s because it goes against the guidelines you sent them, it’s too similar to what you’ve done in the past (and found to be ineffective), or it aligns too closely with one of your major competitors, give them a bit of context to help them understand the thinking behind your rationale.

Keep in mind, your designer has probably spent a lot of time on what you’re seeing – if you don’t like it, there was clearly a miscommunication – and it’s on both of you to fix it!

 

Keep it in perspective

Perfection takes time. Just because they didn’t deliver exactly what you wanted the first time around, don’t hold it against them, patronize, or start micro-managing them. You hired a designer because you don’t know how to do it yourself – so stand back and let them do their work. Keep in mind they are an expert at what they do – just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not quality work. 

Their job is to bring your vision to life. Your job is to equip them with the information they need to understand your vision.

 

Put your personal preference to one side

When you’re critiquing their work, remember that design is often a personal preference. Be sure to separate your personal taste from your brand image. A designer might be able to see the bigger picture in a way you can’t – so just because it doesn’t connect with you doesn’t mean it won’t connect with your target demographic. The taste of your audience is probably going to be different than yours, so be sure to talk through your designer’s rationale before shooting down a concept – they might know something you don’t.
 


Balance negatives with positives

It’s the old compliment sandwich trick. And this tip isn’t just to make them feel better! As we touched on earlier, the positives will help them really get a feel for what you dolike so that they can keep developing quality concepts. 

If there really aren’t any positives, you can still be complimentary about their work, but just be clear that it’s not right for your brand or this particular project. If this is the case, be crystal clear you’d like to see a totally new direction – don’t try to sugar coat it too much or they probably won’t realize that what they showed you is a complete wash. 

 

Keep in mind what you agreed too 

Be conscientious of when you’re asking to go above and beyond the terms of your contract. If you agreed to three rounds of revisions, you may need to pay an additional fee to go beyond that. 

Both parties of this contract are on equal footing – it’s not an employee/employer relationship. 

You can’t expect free revisions just because you don’t like something. If they’ve met the terms of the contract and you still don’t have something you like you may need to renegotiate. Keep in mind the contract is in place to protect both parties. 

Checking in on time and expectations can go a long way in demonstrating that you respect a designer’s time. It’s a great way to show you value their work, even if you haven’t come to a final product yet. 

 

Remember...

Rome wasn’t built in a day -- if you want a rushed job, give a rushed timeframe. It’s important you give your designer time to go back to the drawing board and really take everything in you’ve said so that you can keep working toward a high quality final product. 


Hue & Tone Creative: Your creative team

Let us help you get your project designed right! We're ready to communicate with you on your marketing needs -- whether they're big or small. To take a look at what we've done in the past, be sure to check out our design portfolio. Don't see the type of samples you're looking for? Get in touch, we can email you additional work samples! 

Google Speed Update: What you need to know

  Your website shouldn't leave people staring at their watch. 

Your website shouldn't leave people staring at their watch. 

It’s no secret that speed is central to user experience -- and slow load times translate to a higher bounce rate and less traffic. Think about it: How long did you wait around last time a page wasn’t loading? In addition to annoying users, a delayed page speed means users will read less once the page does load.

With all that in mind, it comes as no surprise that in June 2018 page speed will officially become a ranking factor in mobile search results. The algorithm update was announced in January and has been named the ‘Speed Update’.
 


Wait a second, isn’t speed already a factor? 

Why, yes, it’s true that page speed has been a ranking factor since 2009 – but, it’s never been an official factor for mobile ranking speed. According to a blog post by Google on the topic: “Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches...Starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”

 

What Google has said

If you’re already in a panic, take a deep breathe, because Google has said the new algorithm will “only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users, and it will only affect a small percentage of queries.” (source)

Google has also repeatedly stated that the intent behind a user’s query will still be the strong ranking factor -- so if a website has a slow page, but the content of that page is relevant and high in quality, it may still rank highly regardless.

But, how fast are we talking? In a Google Webmaster video, Maile Ohye, states that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability.At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

It’s no secret that over the last two years Google has been implementing a mobile first strategy that prioritizes mobile-optimized sites. The Speed Update just takes this initiative a step further by prioritizing speed, which is key to mobile responsiveness. 

 

What you need to do

In preparation for the Speed Update, Google has recommended a number of resources to help gauge where your website’s performance is at.

1. Chrome User Experience ReportChrome User Experience will give you intel on how real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web, and the factors that shape and contribute to their final user experience.

2. LighthouseLighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page, public or requiring authentication. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more.

With each audit (which only takes between 60 to 90 seconds), you’ll receive a document detailing what’s important to fix, and how you can fix it. Suggestions could range to anything from oversized and unoptimized images, to unused CSS rules and render-blocking scripts.

3. PageSpeed InsightsAnother one of Google’s powerful speed tools, PageSpeed Insights will analyze your page and present you with a page speed rating, optimization score (out of 100), page load distributions, page stats and optimization suggestions. 

The recommendations might range from things like prioritizing visible content and leveraging browser cashing, to eliminating render-blocking Javascript and CSS in the above-the-fold content. 

 

What's next

Once you've made all the updates possible you'll need to monitor your search rankings. Keep in mind that because the update is entirely algorithmic, there’s no tool that will just simply show you which pages have been dinged – after you make all the adjustments you can to increase page speed, you’ll have to keep an eye on your mobile rankings to make sure your site isn’t taking a hit.

Looking for even more resources to get your page up to speed? We’ll leave you with this list to check out: 


Hue & Tone Creative

Do all these terms look like gibberish to you? Bring in an expert -- let us help you get your web presence up to speed (literally). We can help with everything from branding and email campaigns to social media and your web presence.  

10 ways to make B2B blogs more enjoyable

When it comes to business to business (B2B) marketing, blogging can be a valuable tool. Your blog is a great place to showcase your knowledge and dive in-depth on your products, in a way that you wouldn’t able to in a quick tweet or status update. 

The downside is that B2B marketing has a reputation for being boring – and, unfortunately, in our experience a lot of the content we see lives up to that expectation. There’s a common misconception that blogs targeted towards other businesses need to have a straightforward or corporate feel. While we don’t believe you should compromise your professionalism, we believe it’s possible to share your knowledge without putting everyone to sleep. 

If you’re looking to give your business marketing a more approachable feel, we suggest you check out these tips to keep your marketing focused, but fun, for the reader. We believe that B2B marketing done right might even be what helps set you apart from a competitor! 

 

10 Ways to Make B2B Blogs More Enjoyable  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 

1.  Talk like a human

No matter how interested a potential customer is in your topic, talking like a robot is going to lead to people clicking off your website. Type like you talk, keep it simple, and don’t be afraid to push the conventional boundaries -- i.e. don’t let that red squiggly line stop you from experimenting with your words!

One caveat? Just make sure your meaning and professionalism aren’t lost in too much slang. If you wouldn’t say something in the workplace, don’t type it on the blog. 

 

2.  Don’t forget the fun factor

Business owners, directors, and managers still have a sense of humor, so don’t sap all the fun out of your blogs. Adding fun anecdotes or playful pictures into your blogs can help them feel more relatable. 

 

3.  Don’t baffle them with jargon

Getting lost in the jargon of a blog is never productive. Ever. Even though you’re addressing to other experts in your field, you’ll want to talk in simple terms and only use jargon when it’s needed. You never want to assume every reader knows what you do, so be sure to explain terms on the first instance you use them.

 

4.  Don’t publish a wall of text

Stay away from clunky chunks of text -- they’re not enjoyable to look at or read. Use subheadings, pull quotes, and succinct paragraphs to make your text easier to browse. Even if you’re publishing a whitepaper, there’s no reason not to give your readers a pleasant and intuitive experience. 

 

5.  Mix up your mediums

Remember, blogs don’t always have to be written like an article. Try out creating an infographic or recording a video blog. You can also consider publishing presentations or papers – it’s content you’ve already created, and chances are if it was worth presenting about it’s a relevant topic. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to, just share the work you’ve already done! 

 

6.  Use images creatively

In need of some fresh photos? We’ve complied a list of FREE stock photo sites

If your blog is long, add a few images in along the way so that it’s not too text heavy. Be creative with your choice of images, and try to refrain from using the same handful of stock photos repeatedly. 

 

7.  Keep it concise

Business owners are busy people, so the last thing they want is to have to read through three paragraphs of mumbo jumbo before actually getting to the relevant information. Get to the point early on and it’ll be a more enjoyable read all round.

 

8.  Use examples

Examples can be a great way to show off how you can help. Using real life scenarios are often more relatable to potential customers and give you a chance to show off your results and solutions. So, instead of explaining, start showing what you can do!

 

9. Sentence structures

Writing is a craft. Not everyone’s good at it -- nor are they expected to be. But when you’ve got a good writer on board, they can make even dullest topics enjoyable. Something as simple as mixing up sentence structures can quickly ramp up the readability-factor.

 

10.  Reader participation

Whether it’s adding a quick poll half way through a post or inviting readers to leave a comment at the end, getting your audience involved with your blog is another way to get them more invested in the content. 


Hue & Tone: Your partner in B2B Content Creation 

Need a helping hand to elevate your blogs to the next level? Here at Hue & Tone Creative, we’ve got you covered from the right words right to the perfect picture. Contact us today to learn more about our design and marketing services.