The Poor State of Communication

9.5.19
You have to keep an eye on those troublesome elves.

It seems the quality of communication has been declining for some time. It goes across all disciplines; design, photography, writing— even standard business communications. The irony is that technology today has never offered more options for communicating— text, email, social media, etc. But send someone an email with 3 questions and see if you get a reply with 3 answers. I touched on typos and grammatical errors in social media posts in a previous entry here. I continually come across errors that not only register as mistakes, but actually change the intended meaning—and not in a good way. It’s now kind of an amusing hobby to see these (and there are plenty) and ponder which version is better— what I think they meant or what they actually wrote (and submitted).

Cafe 20 Oktoberfest 2019

8.20.19
Let’s start with the history of Oktoberfest
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on the 12th of October, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields have been named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honor of the Crown Princess ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n”. Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

In 1811 an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest and— at one time— the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds. In the first few decades the choice of amusements was sparse. The first carousel and two swings were set up in 1818. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels etc. on offer was already increasing rapidly in the 1870s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develop in Germany.

Today, the Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world, with an international flavor characteristic of the 21st century: some 6 million visitors from all around the world converge on the Oktoberfest each year. 2019 marks the 186th Oktoberfest. What if you can’t make it to Munich this year? Head to Cafe 20 in Marengo, Illinois. It is the most authentic Oktoberfest in northern Illinois. Bier, Brezen, Hendl, und Oompah— they’ve got it all— under a huge tent chock-full of Gemütlichkeit. The festivities run September 10 – September 15 in 2019. Prost!

Avoid Typos and Grammatical Errors in Marketing Communications

11.26.18
Typos and grammatical errors are everywhere! I see them all the time— on LinkedIn, Facebook, in infographics, articles, and email campaigns. There will be less than 12 words in an ad or message and at least one of them is spelled incorrectly— or they don’t make sense. How hard is it to proofread 11 words? How much time can that take? I always think the same thing when I see people (companies) do this. That thing is “this is not a very professional company”. Think about it. It’s part of branding. This is what you are putting out there for people to see— this is the message you convey to them. They will form opinions based upon what they see. It implies that you are sloppy, you do not pay attention to details, you do not care. Is this how you want to be perceived? Doesn’t instill confidence in a potential customer, does it?

If something is important enough to impart to your customer, it’s important enough to do right. Isn’t the goal of communication to actually communicate? That means the message has to be pertinent, appealing, clear— and not riddled with errors. Messages should also never be created with quantity rather than quality in mind. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the trend these days. That is one of the reasons errors are so rampant. People are often in such a rush to send out yet another meaningless message that they miss the point of communication. This can do more harm than good.

At the very least you should be doing these 5 things to avoid making mistakes—
1. Use spell-check! This capability is offered in many programs. It’s free and it’s quick.
2. Don’t double-check the ad— triple-check it (or more).
3. Get more than one set of eyes on it. Have other people proofread it.
4. Read it backwards. It forces you to analyze word by word.
5. Read it aloud. Sometimes errors can be heard better than they can be seen.

Make no mistake. You need branding/communications that shine a favorable light on you. This is done by paying attention to details and caring about reputation. If this is important to you give me a call.

— Brad Carlyle

Cafe 20 Oktoberfest— 10-year Anniversary!

9.9.16
Let’s start with the history of Oktoberfest
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on the 12th of October, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields have been named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honor of the Crown Princess ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n”.

Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

In 1811 an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest and— at one time— the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.

In the first few decades the choice of amusements was sparse. The first carousel and two swings were set up in 1818. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries.

The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels etc. on offer was already increasing rapidly in the 1870s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develop in Germany.

Today, the Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world, with an international flavor characteristic of the 21st century: some 6 million visitors from all around the world converge on the Oktoberfest each year. 2016 marks the 183rd Oktoberfest.

What if you can’t make it to Munich this year?
Head to Cafe 20 in Marengo, Illinois. It is the most authentic Oktoberfest in northern Illinois. Bier, Brezen, Hendl, und Oompah— they’ve got it all— under a huge tent chock-full of Gemütlichkeit. The festivities run September 13 – September 18 in 2016, and mark their 10th anniversary. Prost!

Logo Design: A Discussion— continued

7.21.16
In a previous post Click Here, I was having a conversation with a client about rebranding their organization, which included logo design. We met up again later that evening to continue our conversation. Here is some more from that discussion.

Can you make the logo yellow? My wife likes yellow.
Only if it’s appropriate— or you insist against better judgement. Keep in mind we are trying to appeal to your potential customers, not your wife (who is not our demographic).

So, you’re going to show us like 50 different logos to choose from, right?
No. Quality over quantity. Presenting several quality options (with a strong rationale for each) for discussion vs. multitudes of bad options is the way to go. Part of being a design professional is to be able to dismiss work that is not up to par— and not waste time by presenting it to the client.

After we get the logo, then what?
Good question. What are you going to do with it? If it’s a corporate or organizational identity, do you need a stationery program (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, business forms, etc.)? Do you want those items to impress recipients and be of the same caliber as your logo? If so, you need a stationery program designed for you. It’s not just a matter of “sticking the logo on stuff”. Additionally, it should never be misused or altered. Ever. You need to maintain organizational and brand design standards. You’ll have spent good money on getting a great logo. Don’t wreck it. Don’t let a “desktop publishing” person alter it or try to do something “cute” with it. You should actually have a standards manual created and produced to help prevent any questionable use of the logo and to ensure the brand you have been building maintains it’s integrity and momentum.

– Brad Carlyle

20 Things Learned in Twenty Years

5.1.16
MANIFESTO graphic design / marketing / branding / advertising celebrates 20 years of business on May 1, 2016. Wow! Bring out the china (traditional 20 year gift). The goal of MANIFESTO was always to utilize design to best communicate the need at hand. Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, start-ups— it didn’t matter. Every client project was treated the same way— design this thing as if it were your own and make sure it does what it is supposed to do. During twenty years of doing this a few things have been learned (or already known and just confirmed). Here are 20 of them:

20 Things Learned in Twenty Years
1. Good design is powerful
2. Not everyone is capable of recognizing good design
3. Not every agency is capable of producing good design
4. 
The client is the one paying the bills
5. 
The client is not always right
6. Respect is a 2-way street
7. 
Building a reputation is never-ending and hard
8. 
Destroying a reputation can happen quickly and is easy
9. 
Agencies that pass off other peoples’ work as their own are thieves
10. 
Long-term relationships are the best and are indeed valued
11. 
There is always more than one way to do something
12. 
People should be treated the way you would like to be treated on the worst of your days
13. 
Lies, excuses, and pettiness do not belong in professional environments
14. 
Nor do politics or religion
15. 
If you make a mistake, fix it
16. 
Help people when there is an opportunity to help
17. 
You can always learn something
18. T
each something when you are able
19. Promptly returned phone calls and emails are a professional courtesy
20. So are paying bills on time

These are just a handful of what has been discussed around here. It never hurts to reinforce what may seem obvious. Especially if hearing or reading something serves as a gentle reminder.

Successful Advertising

4.19.16
You had me at lovely.
Here is a sign I came across recently. It is advertising. It has been designed, copy was written, it was produced and installed. Was it done well? Define “well”. If it worked, you can say yes. If not, you may argue no. If it didn’t work, was it because of it’s design? Was it because of it’s headline, how it was produced or where it was installed? Or was it because there isn’t a huge market for burial crypts? (Is there?) Would a different font have improved it— or maybe not be hand-lettered? Should it have a photograph or an illustration? Should it have a list of features or benefits? How would you make it better? Keep in mind there probably is no “budget”.

It reminds me of a study I came across years ago on the quality of signs used for garage sales. The results were the signs that were more amateurish resulted in more successful garage sales. The reason being people thought they could get better deals at a garage sale with cheap-looking signs and the garage sales represented by fancier signs would have prices that were more expensive.

A few thoughts to consider: perception is reality, design for the intended audience, and do the best with what you’ve got.

Logo Design: A Discussion

2.8.16
I’m having a discussion with a client over a cappuccino. We are discussing logo design and corporate identity as part of rebranding their organization. The current logo is quite amateurish; it’s garish, dated, tries too hard to say too much, and was given very little thought as to how it would be reproduced in the real world. It was also designed/approved by a committee. A committee that knows very little about design. Here are some of the points discussed.

Why Design by Committee is Doomed to Fail
Pleasing everyone all the time is not the way to approach much of anything. If a committee of 12 grandmothers all love the new logo for a skateboard company, chances are it is the wrong one to go with. Don’t confuse what is popular for what is good— or appropriate. Grandmothers, in this case, are not the target market.

What about trends?
Yeah, what about them? Do you want to do what everybody else is doing or do you want to do something that is uniquely appropriate? I remember when the Nike logomark became the look that everybody and his brother copied for their logo. That’s pathetic. Wouldn’t you rather be the trendsetter that everybody wants to copy as opposed to being one of the many sheep doing the copying? A reminder; your logo should work at making you stand out a bit— not make you blend in to get lost with everyone else.

What Should a Logo be Expected to Do?
If your company makes soups, car tires, and guitars, shouldn’t the logo reflect all of that and show it? No. At best a logo should capture and convey the essence of your organization, service, product— without defaulting to be literal. Is Nike’s logo a shoe? Is Apple’s logo a computer? Is BMW’s logo a car? It’s not that it can never be a literal interpretation— sometimes that is appropriate. The logo should also hint at if it’s upper echelon in it’s category or more bargain-basement. Does it suggest history, newness? Artisanal, technology? Behemoth, mom and pop?

How will the logo be reproduced?
Will it be printed? (Offset? Digital? Silkscreen?) Should it be one-color? Two-color? Four or more-color? Will it be put on pens, hats, glasses? Will it be used on a website, in emails, or on banner ads? Will it be on signage? On packaging? On print ads? Will it be embroidered? There are a number of details to think about which can affect design approach and certainly production costs. You’ll want to maintain design continuity (and corporate standards) while remaining flexible to work within any medium. Any known or anticipated uses should be accounted for upfront rather than trying to force something to work in hindsight.

To be continued…

**UPDATE 7 . 21 . 16** — This post Continues Here.

Marketing & Design Firm, MANIFESTO, Celebrates 19 Years

5.1.15
Zoinks! Another year already? Things have been a bit busy and the blog/news area here on the website has been ignored for awhile. Anyhoo, MANIFESTO celebrates 19 years today! Yea! The traditional theme for a 19th anniversary is chili pepper. Yes, the hot stuff.

Chili peppers are hot because they contain capsaicin. When consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are responsible for sensing heat. Once activated, these receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and releasing endorphins. Some like this sensation. Some do not.

Elephants fall into the latter group. Conflicts between farmers and elephants have long been widespread in Africa, where pachyderms nightly destroy crops, raid grain houses, and sometimes kill people. Farmers are now fighting back with chili peppers. By planting a few rows of the pungent fruit around valuable crops, farmers create a buffer zone through which the elephants are reluctant to pass. String fences that are slathered with chili-infused grease and mounted with cowbells that act as alarms when the fence is disturbed are also used.

And then there are Chili Dung Bombs. These are briquettes of crushed chili and animal dung. The bricks are burned, creating a noxious smoke that keeps hungry elephants out of farmers’ fields of maize, sorghum, and millet.

Chili peppers give farmers an economically feasible means for keeping elephants away from crops through nonlethal methods. It is self-sustaining, harms nothing, and also becomes another source of income for farmers growing this crop.

They also make food delicious. Happy anniversary, MANIFESTO. It’s time to celebrate with some Thai food!

MANIFESTO is Best in Illinois in Graphic Design

4.30.15
It’s official; MANIFESTO is Best in Illinois in Graphic Design according to QuizUp, a mobile game developed by Iceland-based Plain Vanilla Games. The game is a mobile trivia app similar to the game Trivial Pursuit. QuizUp is a single-player game in which one user competes against another during seven rounds of timed multiple-choice questions of various topics. There are over 680 total categories of topics available to users to choose from and all the questions are voluntarily submitted by content contributors. Most categories are available in different languages.

QuizUp was initially released for iOS November 2013. Plain Vanilla Games released an Android version in March 2014.

As of May 2014, QuizUp had 20 million users and has raised over $26 million from venture capital investments. Over a billion matches had been played in over 197 countries by March 2014. The company claims that users play an average of 30 minutes each day.