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    Designing Spaces and Places

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    First, what do designers mean when they say they specialize in Environmental Graphic Design? What are some examples?
    Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) is a term used to describe graphic design for the built environment. It bridges across many design disciplines including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design, all concerned with shaping the idea of place.

    I was first introduced to EGD in college when I worked on a team that was joomla_4eloping a wayfinding system for senior citizens that were experiencing dementia in their assisted-living facility. These seniors would get lost or confused while traveling the long, unvaried hallways of the building and have trouble finding their way back to their rooms; adding to their overall anxiety and fear. Our team made design additions that gave them much stronger visual cues of location and place which resulted in less confusion for the residents and an improvement in their overall quality of life.

    Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of EGD projects that have included airport, museum and hospital wayfinding systems, retail signage and graphics for malls, exhibit design and interpretive graphics for museums, and branding/identity signage for public installations and institutions. Each project poses a different set of challenges that keeps things interesting!

    Do you take a different approach to designing signage for example comparing to the approach taken when designing a brochure or other marketing collateral?
    There are similarities and differences between signage and print design. Both require conceptual phases, design Development phases and then production phases. With signage, there are a lot of technical aspects that cross over into the realm of architecture and interior design. A big difference with signage is in most cases it is physically more permanent than print. Signage needs to be able to withstand the elements (especially if it’s outdoors or in a public space) and be structurally sound while meeting code requirements. The general scale of the work is also very different. Often with print, the finished product can viewed at actual size throughout the project. With signage, environmental graphic designers work at a reduced scale since it’s impractical to do otherwise.

    Can digital and physical environmental graphics co-exist?
    Yes, definitely. There have been great technological leaps forward in the past decade that are redefining the boundaries between our physical and virtual environments. In many cases our physical and virtual world are becoming intertwined. I can’t wait to see where the next decade takes us.

    We’re beginning to see a lot of discussion about the creation of experience, particularly as it relates to connecting products, brands, organizations and places with potential consumers, members, and community members. Can you describe how this impacts your approach to design?
    I think consumers and the general public expect and desire a fully branded experience from companies and organizations these days. There are many more brand “touchpoints” (e.g. physical spaces, websites, print collateral, social media, etc.) that exist and it’s important for designers to recognize these opportunities to communicate client messages through them. Signage and Environmental Graphics are a piece of a larger whole when it comes to connecting people to a brand or a place.


    Telling Stories Through Price Tags, Where Art Meets Retail

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    Some retailers use the space to communicate an offer or marketing messaging while others use this space as prime real estate for branding.  Recognizing the importance in their overall marketing strategy, considerable resources are put toward design of hang tags. Color, font, image and style are chosen to be consistent with brand image.  Printing techniques such as die-cutting, foil stamping and embossing can not only enhance the visual appeal of the tag but an added benefit is that it can also make the product more difficult to counterfeit.  But one thing is certain, good design is key when using hang tags as a component of a retailers’ branding strategy.

    Know of some examples of Brands that use hang tags effectively? Share them on our Facebook page at





    Selection of Media and the Impact on Design

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    As a graphic artist, do you approach an assignment differently if you are designing a printed piece versus designing a web page or email template?
    Yes, my approach is very different when conceptualizing print and web based designs. Web based user experiences are naturally free flowing and the job of the designer is to harness that dynamic experience and give it structure. The experience of a print piece is a very linear one. My job as a designer is to create a dynamic flow of image and text using an underlying structure that has a clear beginning and end.

    Are there different considerations for layout, colors and fonts between print and web?
    Years ago, the answer would have been yes, but the web has grown up. The possibilities and choices available for designers are as broad on the web as in print design, if not more so. Web users have come to expect a robust, textural experience with layers of colors and fonts. This makes the design of digital media abundant with opportunity for innovation.

    Are there unique challenges that only apply when designing for the web? How does the interactive nature of the web impact the design process?
    The web is an abstract space, not limited by the physical restrictions inherent to print design. It’s essential within such a space to maintain a coherent structure such that the user is both comfortably in control of the experience and guided to the information sought. A web site or application needs to be responsive to its audience far beyond any printed piece.

    Print has physical properties such as texture and shape. How does this impact design concepts?
    Paper, color, shape, texture and finish are all major players in the design process. Choosing to use a die cut, emboss, unique varnish, or textural paper can add dimension to a piece that makes a person want to pick it up and explore the content. The tactile quality of print allows an emotional and physical connection to the material.

    Can you describe the process when you are asked to design for an integrated experience, meaning, a project that incorporates both print and digital?
    My process, for print and web, always begins with cultivating an overall understanding of the client’s needs and message that they intend to convey. From there I begin to explore a design concept and general visual mood of a project. Once I have the concept and visual direction established, this will drive the design and message of the web and print elements, both of which will then speak to each other.



    Have a Plan-But Don’t Be Afraid to Change It

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    You want to have a well thought out plan to guide you so that during the short term any distractions or obstacles you may encounter will not divert you from your goals. However, you need to be evaluating and adjusting as often as necessary so that the end goal is always in site. Much like a ship crossing the ocean, you will set your coordinates for the desired destination. During the trip you may hit high seas and rough winds, but the initial plan will carry you through. As the rough seas subside you can reevaluate your position and make any adjustments as necessary.

    The one thing that I have realized is that there is simply no magic formula to obtaining a perfect result in marketing. There are best practices that you can utilize to maximize the return on your investment, but every business has unique needs and goals. The media mix of what will work for one business may be entirely opposite of what works for another. This is why it is important to constantly measure and adjust so that you can continually learn what works best for your organization.

    Four Tips to Get a Handle on Your Content

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    In Brian Solis’ book, The End of Business as Usual: Rewire The Way You Work To Succeed in the Consumer Revolution, he successfully challenges the notion that content is king. “In the Web 1.0 era, the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the online experience was defined by content” he writes. “In the era of Web 2.0 (the mid-2000’s) the Web revolved around personal connections…and content suddenly became a commodity. The reality is that there was and is too much content…none of which matters to the people engaging with one another.”

    Solis uses the Web as the example and delivery platform but one could argue this transition in just about every space, including print. This transition from mass content deployment to one that includes an informed and multi-pronged approach to content engagement is often a difficult concept for CEOs, CMOs, and just about anyone to get their arms around. However, here are four easy tips for joomla_4eloping the basis for a modern content strategy.

    1. The first step is the identifying who will access your content and more importantly how they prefer to access the content. One way to do this is to joomla_4elop costumer (or content consumer) profiles for each member of your community. Have your team ask the following questions:   Who are our consumers? What do they look like? How do they prefer to receive content (do some research. Is it via the Web, social platforms, print, etc.)? And finally what type of content do they prefer to read, access and share. Hint – Not everybody likes everything about your company or organization so be sure to segment your messages based on the above.

    2. The next step which occurs in parallel with the first step is to determine what type(s) of content already exists and what may be needed for future engagement. Many organizations possess the necessary content to drive user experience but don’t necessarily know what type of content they have or where their content (digital and physical assets) resides. Conduct a content audit that will allow your organization to inventory existing content by identifying and cataloging its assets.

    3. The next step is to identify the platforms for engagement. What is meant by this is what vehicles or medium will be used to deliver specific content to targeted members of your community in ways they wish to receive it. Once the team has identified and catalogued the content (step 2) marrying that content to delivery mechanisms is relatively easy.

    4. The final step is to look for gaps in the existing content and commit the organization to finding new ideas for new content Development. It’s a crowded space out there so challenge your team to joomla_4elop new ideas for your community. This will keep them coming back to your company or organization on a regular basis. Generating new content is one of the greatest challenges to new organizations but remains the most critical.

    These tips should help most organizations begin to work toward a greater understanding of how content can help drive revenue through consumer engagement. However, we would love to hear from you. How is your company using content to drive community engagement? Let us know.


    Is That Printed?

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    This past month we had a section of our building renovated that will house new offices. Part of the renovation process included the installation of vinyl flooring. The flooring that was selected had a simulated wood appearance. Upon completion of the installation, I was amazed at the appearance of the finished product. At first look, it appears that it is real wood, complete with a grainy finish.

    Always curious about any manufacturing process, I looked into how the flooring was made. I was shocked to find out that a substantial part the creation of this type of flooring involves some of the same printing processes that are used to print a brochure or direct mailer. The substrate upon which it is printed on may differ, (paper versus PVC) but the print process is very similar. The image of the wood is printed on to the base using a gravure print process. This involves printing an image directly from a cylinder. The flooring is then coated, similar to an aqueous or UV coat that is typically used in conventional offset printing. The printed rolls are then sent to a joomla_4ice that emboss the grain into the wood, much like how a blind emboss would be created in conventional printing. The final product yields a colorful, textured product that has the visual appeal of wood flooring yet is very durable and requires significantly less maintenance. Not to mention that is significantly less expensive.

    For those curious about the process you can click on the link to view how the product is created. The print portion begins at 1:45
    Flooring Video


    Think Big

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    The applications include point-of-sale graphics, indoor and short-term outdoor signage, museum graphics, window graphics, retail displays and trade show signage and displays.  In addition, Perfect will be able to print directly on corrugated material for various custom packaging applications.

    The equipment, the Acuity Advance UV Flatbed Series by FujiFilm, is the highest quality UV inkjet printer on the market.  It consistently delivers wide adhesion, superb color vibrancy and excellent durability in every print.  UV inks not only produce vibrant images and accurate flesh tones but enable customers to match a wide range of brand and spot colors ensuring the consistency of a brand across multiple pieces and print processes.

    A variety of printed products can be produced on PVC, polycarbonate, styrene, acrylic, paper, board, wood, aluminum composite and many other materials.  Perfect will now have the capability to not only print on materials up to 1 ¾” thick, but also finish it with their own in-house flatbed cutting joomla_4ice.

    Installation will be complete by the end of November.  Contact Joe Olivo at (856) 787-1877 for more information.


    The Evolution of Perfect Printing

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    What really surprised me was not how much different Perfect Printing is from the one that was started out of my parent’s garage some forty years ago; it was the amount of times that change had occurred over that time period. The evolution of our company was something that was continuous. On the average, we have experienced significant and disruptive change about every 7 years. I use the word disruptive carefully, but with purpose.

    All change can be disruptive, it is how the organization is built to adapt to that change that determines its success. Whether it is our initial journey into full color printing in the mid 90’s, the addition of mailing and finish services as we entered the new millennium, to our foray into greater digital services 7 years ago, all of these were quite disruptive yet proved very beneficial to both our clients and the overall welfare of our company. It is with this past perspective that I optimistically look forward to the additional services that we will be offering to our clients as we move into 2014 and continue to evolve.



    Paul Revere and the Other Guys

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    On the night of April 15, 1775, three men engaged in a tactical communication plan to alert the Colony of Massachusetts that the British Army had indeed arrived. Somehow, we only remember one man: Paul Revere.

    So, what was it that set Paul Revere apart from William Dawes and the other guy? Perhaps it was his strong tagline (The British are coming!). Even if he did use that tagline, it still wouldn't be enough for so much notoriety.

    The truth is, Paul Revere was a consummate networker and relationship builder. His success in business, politics and finally history, relied on a strong personal network, a solid communication plan and some helpful PR.

    Most of us don't have Longfellow to write our press releases, but we can do great things by leveraging what we have. To paraphrase Adam Grant in Give and Take, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Build a personal network by being intentional about helping others. Use LinkedIn and other tools to connect people and engage in professional conversations that you are passionate about. Pay close attention to your organization's messaging strategy and stick to it! As an ambassador, you will find that people are looking for others who can help them solve their most urgent needs.

    Do what Paul did and you will be legendary. I promise it.