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Branding in Graphic Design

Branding in Graphic Design

Branding is a creative process whereby a logo or brand identity is created for a specific product or service. It involves careful thought and planning. The first step in branding is to identify your target audience. Understanding their demographics and preferences will help you determine how to convey your identity and message to them.

Logo Production

Logo production is an important part of graphic design. It should be memorable, distinctive and simple. The process of logo production starts with the discovery phase, where the designer gets to know the client’s business and develop a brand strategy. Once the design team has a basic understanding of the client’s business, they can begin brainstorming ideas.

 

Before a logo is designed, it should be created in both CMYK and RGB color variations. This way, it can be used on billboards, magazines and business cards. It can also be used on computers and TV screens. Most browsers are compatible with SVG files. This format is also compatible with Adobe Illustrator, which lets designers store different color variations.

 

 

A design brief is essential for logo production. This document conveys the client’s goals and expectations. The client can outline, for example, that he wants to position his company as a market leader or that he wants the design to represent values such as dedication and commitment to the customer. The design brief is crucial for the designer to ensure the logo he or she creates meets the client’s needs.


The design process involves a series of phases: research, conceptualization, sketching ideas, testing, and production. Each phase has a specific goal, process, and deliverable.

Style Guide

Building a style guide for branding in graphic design can be a difficult process. While any designer can create a logo, developing a style guide requires a lot of experience and patience. The first step in creating a style guide is to figure out what is important to your brand. Each brand has different needs, so your style guide should evolve along with it. The style guide should be flexible enough to accommodate changes, and old versions should be kept for reference.

 

A style guide can be a public or internal document. Both options have their pros and cons. Public style guides are available to anyone, but they also have the potential to be ripped off. An internal style guide, on the other hand, is easier to update and doesn’t need to be as professional.

 

A style guide should include the types of imagery that the brand uses. It’s important to include examples of how logos and images should be used. Having examples will make it easier to add images to your design. Additionally, you should include examples of how not to use a brand’s logo.

 

Apart from these visual elements, a style guide should also include information on color schemes. The color palette should be consistent throughout, and you should add some complementary colors to make your design unique. Another important aspect of a style guide is typography. If you want to use specific fonts for your brand, then make sure you include a section on how to access them.

Color Palette

Colours are an important part of branding your brand. Yellow, for instance, can convey cheer and youthful energy, but caution is advised, especially when it’s used next to black. Green, on the other hand, is an excellent choice, conveying wealth and naturalism. It’s also a great addition to the colour palette for branding any business. Blue is a neutral, professional colour and conveys a feeling of trustworthiness.

 

Analogous colour schemes are best suited for creating a sense of harmony and balance. These palettes are usually derived from nature, where similar hues are used together to support the depth of a single color. A three-colour palette, on the other hand, is considered dynamic.

 

There are two basic types of color scheme: the primary and secondary. The primary colors are red and blue and the secondary ones are yellow, orange and green. In this way, they communicate the same message. But if you want a more feminine look, go for the secondary colors. For example, if you want to create a logo for an online store, you can use the primary color for the logo.

 

Another type of color scheme is the complementary color scheme. This scheme works well in a corporate branding. It helps to instill trust in your audience. This style works well in the banking and technology sectors. It also makes your brand flexible across industries.

Typography

Typography is an integral part of branding in graphic design, serving four major purposes. These purposes are distinction, consistency, coherence, and communication. A successful brand starts with a mission rooted in love and empathy, and then a typographer creates a system that fits the brand’s communication needs. This unique type style sets the tone, draws attention, and spurs action.

 

Typography involves a range of techniques. Among other things, it focuses on font personality, appearance, and layout. Good typographers read the content carefully and make sure that it’s presented in an appealing and accessible manner. They also consider the audience’s needs and preferences to choose an appropriate font. This way, they create a tailored experience for reading.

 

Typography is an important part of branding because it can influence a person’s emotions. A font’s size, colour, and contrast can all have an impact. In addition, it can convey a brand’s tone and values. Each typeface has a different personality, so choosing the right font for your brand is important.

 

The purpose of typography is to make the text readable and leave a lasting impression on the consumer. It can help brands communicate with their target audience, and it is an essential element of graphic design. Today’s consumers have shorter attention spans than they did in the past. In fact, the average person’s attention span is less than 10 seconds, so brands must grab their audience’s attention quickly to remain relevant in the market.

Animation

Using animation as part of your branding strategy is a great way to engage consumers. People are more likely to engage with animated visuals because they’re entertaining. In addition to drawing attention to your brand, animation also improves your SEO. People are more likely to stay on your website when you use an animated logo, which helps you gain more page views and improve your rank in search results. Animation can also help your brand stand out in presentations, especially if you use it on a digital display.

 

If you’re planning to use an animated logo in your marketing campaign, you’ll need to make sure it has the right kind of motion. People love fresh ideas, and an animated logo is sure to impress. A well-executed animation can trigger the right emotions for your brand, which will help it stick in the minds of consumers.

 

Another way to use animation is to create a short video that teaches visitors how to use a website. You can use a motion designer to create a quick animation that demonstrates where to click and what information to enter. You can also use a motion graphic to break up boring corporate presentations.

 

An animated video can help you capture the attention of your audience by providing a narrative. An animated video can also be effective at demonstrating complicated concepts and ideas. Motion graphics are the perfect tool for explaining hard-to-understand concepts, like how a certain product works. Moreover, they can help you convey a sensitive side of your company to a wider audience.

Motion

Motion is an integral part of branding. It can be used in many ways to make your brand more recognizable, from an animated cursor in Word to a sliding notification that appears when you enter the wrong access code on your iPhone. In the right hands, motion can make your website look more dynamic and inviting. But, if used improperly, it can also annoy users.


Moving images are catching the attention of consumers more than static images, which is why brands have recognized the importance of motion in branding. Animated logos, animated videos, and dynamic typography are essential in motion-based branding. These elements not only catch the attention of the audience, but also position the brand in their minds.


The use of motion in branding graphics can help a brand tell its story. Netflix’s N logo, for instance, uses motion graphics to create a buzzing sound and animated letters that move through the letter. This motion-based logo creates a sense of curiosity in the audience and entices them to visit the official website of the company. It’s a great way to reinforce your brand message and set your brand apart from competitors.
The use of motion in branding and graphic design is important to the success of your branding efforts. It can be used in television commercials and on the Internet. Moreover, it can be used in the design of apps, explainer videos, social media, and advertising.

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Creating and Maintaining Your Brand

CREATING AND MAINTAINING YOUR BRAND

Your business’s brand is what makes you unique. With so many products and businesses out in the world, you need to set yourself apart and stand out from the crowd by utilizing your brand.

Many business owners fail to adequately brand their business which leads to an inconsistent online presence. When your online presence is inconsistent, customers will struggle remembering you and fail to come back to make purchases in the future.

On the other end, some business owners brand their business but make too many changes to their brand. By changing your branding regularly, you also make the mistake of showing an inconsistent online presence. This is why planning and sticking to your brand is so important.

You can achieve consistency by sticking to your branding guidelines. Full-service agencies like CAST Design Team can also contribute to your business’s consistency by branding, designing, and maintaining your brand across all online and print publications. Having your online and offline presence matchup means more customers!

Let’s learn more!

The Importance of Sticking to Your Brand

Customers won’t remember you just because your product or business is amazing. If they can’t remember your business name, logo, story, or have a way to find you, they will find somewhere else to purchase the thing they need, and you will miss out on a sale, and possibly a loyal customer.  

By branding your business and sticking to your branding guidelines, you provide yourself with an invaluable opportunity to not only attract new customers but to keep existing customers coming back for your products. By changing the name, colors, logo, and messaging of your business too regularly you miss out on those returning customers (not to mention you waste a lot of time in the process).

On top of the fact that not having consistent branding may cause you to lose customers, it just looks all around unprofessional.

How to Stick to Your Brand

Sticking to your brand is easy! It’s as simple as making choices at the beginning that make your future decisions much easier. Keep these four things in mind when building and maintaining your brand:

Prepare in Advance

Before making any decisions, like building your website and creating social media accounts, sit down for a branding session. Decide on things like names, logos, colors, and messaging. Your future decisions regarding your business will come from this branding session.

Don’t Compare

Comparing your business to other businesses may cause you to want to change your branding. Stick to your guns and remember that your business and brand are unique to you! Don’t make branding changes because of other businesses. You decide what your business will be known for and your branding will go along with that!

High-Quality Consistency Across the Board

Be sure to use high-quality, professional photos for your website, social media, and other marketing assets. Use the same logo or profile photo on each platform to create continuity that your customers can expect and recognize. It’s easy to play with no fonts and colors but always make sure you’re using the same ones.

Build and Refer to a Style Guide

A style guide or branding guideline should be built at the conception of your business. This important document will help you make future marketing related decisions and ensure that your branding remains consistent across all platforms and in all marketing efforts, no matter who is doing it. A style guide houses the answer to any branding question that may arise.

Benefits of a Full-Service Agency

Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this process. Creating a brand and branding guidelines for your business is a big project, but luckily there are people out there who are poised to help you. CAST Design Team is a full-service agency that covers everything from branding to building your website to social media marketing, and more! While having a professional agency create your branding can add a ton of value on its own, continuing to work with the same design agency that created your branding on other projects can help ensure that your messaging is portrayed exactly how you would do it yourself and there are no inconsistencies in your branding.

Choosing a full-service agency to help with your business is the best decision a new business owner can make. CAST Design Team can handle any project you need covered while you focus on your business. Leave the creative problem solving up to the professionals and you will notice increased traffic and decreased stress. Contact our team today–we’d love to help you in the branding process!

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Tools for the Small Business Owner

Tools for the Small Business Owner

Running a small business means wearing a lot of hats. More likely than not you’re taking on a lot of tasks that you may not know how to do, or maybe you’re learning them but they definitely aren’t your specialty. There are many tools built for the small business owners that can help make these tasks easier. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite tools for the small business owner. These tools can not only save you time, but also help you run your business more efficiently.

Email Organization

Activeinbox

If your email inbox gets easily cluttered and you find yourself dropping tasks because they got lost in the inbox, you need Activeinbox. Activeinbox will help you never miss an email again by creating tasks out of important emails.

Streak

Streak is another useful inbox tool for keeping track of sales leads as an effective CRM system and project management system. Create a pipeline with your team so everyone is on the same page!  Start making your email accounts work for you instead of against you by trying these email extensions.

Professional Emails

GSuite

Tired of sending professional emails that end in @gmail.com? GSuite can provide you with a professional email that ends in your company’s name! Utilize GSuite for a more professional email presence that will impress customers and give you immediate credibility.

Project Management

ClickUp

A project management system is absolutely necessary if you have numerous tasks under different projects or clients and a few employees working for you. Even if you are the only employee in your business, a project management system like ClickUp will help you stay organized. You can track time, files, and project completion all in one place with ClickUp.

Social Media Scheduling

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a tool for social media scheduling. You can easily schedule your social media content days in advance for multiple platforms. Imagine not having to remember to post to social media every day! Simply taking one day, or even just an hour or two, to schedule your content for the month will free up your time in weeks moving forward.

Website Heatmaps

Hotjar

Ever wonder what your audience is actually doing on your website? Hotjar helps you collect and analyze this information using heatmaps, conversion funnels, and visitor recordings on your website. Armed with this information, you can better serve your customers and in turn improve your small business.

Website Hosting and Domains

1&1

Choosing a website hosting provider can be confusing–there are so many options out there that claim to give you the best deal. Here at CAST Design Team, we love using 1&1 and refer it to all of our clients. Their system is simple, effective, and all for a great price!

Payments

Authorize.net

Accepting payments is a pretty important part of owning a small business–how else are you going to get paid? We love using Authorize.net for all gateway and payment needs. Their system is simple and easy to use, and their customer service is always ready to help you with any problem that may arise. Plus, they give great rates on merchant accounts and payment gateways. And keeping your money in your own pocket is always a plus!

Time Tracking

Toggl

If you want to track your time or an employee’s time, Toggl is the way to go. Toggl has an app, browser extension, and a website that can track your time from start to finish. You can also manually add in time if you forgot to press the start button.

Content Ideas

Answer the Public

Providing quality content in the form of a blog is a great way to send traffic to your website and serve your customers. Coming up with what to write is often the struggle that stops business owners from sharing their knowledge! Use answerthepublic.com to help you find creative content ideas that will send customers running to read your tips!

Tag O’ Matic

We’ve all been there–coming up with hashtags for Instagram posts can be difficult! Knowing which hashtags to incorporate for optimal engagement sounds daunting, but Tag O’ Matic can help you use the right hashtags in the right posts.  

These are just a few of the great online tools available to small business owners. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know what your favorite online tool is for running your business–we’d love to know! 

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Working with a Creative Design Team

WORKING WITH A CREATIVE DESIGN TEAM

Reaching out for help in your business is both thrilling and terrifying. You are attempting to lighten your load by trusting professionals to get the work you need done, but you’re also putting faith in someone that may or may not produce the quality work you were hoping for. Working with CAST Design Team is a different story.

At CAST Design Team we make an effort to be extremely transparent about our process and the exact deliverables you will receive from our team. The more information you have, the easier it is to make decisions about where to take your business and the easier it is to see how we can best help you find success. In order to make the process of working with a creative team as easy as possible, we’ve outlined a few points about our creative process. Hopefully this will alleviate your stress about hiring a web designer, graphic designer, or working with a creative team in general!

Discovery Session

During a Discovery Session, we want to get to know what your project is all about. We’ll start by having you fill out a questionnaire that gives us some basic information about your project. From there we will take a deeper dive into your project and your specific needs.

Our goal during a Discovery Session is to understand a few different things. We want to know who will be using or viewing the piece that we will design, as well as what the ultimate purpose of the project is. We want to know what you want the user to do and what you’re offering that is different from your competitors. All of this information will help us create a design that is exactly what you, and your client, are looking for.

Revisions

After our Discovery Session our qualified team will get to work producing a piece that radiates your brand. Once we have a draft of the design we will present it to you for revisions. Communication is key during the Revision stage of our process. Throughout the entire process we strive to act as an extension of your team. This means that we will be participating in constant, quality conversations with you so that we can really understand what it is you like and dislike. Even further, we want to know why you like and dislike certain parts. This honest information helps us create the exact visual story you are looking for. We want you to feel like a partner during the entire process, not just in the revision stage.

Launch

Once a project is complete, you will own all of the rights to the project. You can request original files, website access, and just about anything else we have available to you concerning your new design. We can help you implement the design into your growing business by printing any tangible collateral, maintaining your website, or even managing your social media. We won’t leave you hanging after the Launch!

Payment

Payment is often the part that everyone is afraid to talk about. But again, not with CAST Design Team. We strive to be transparent when it comes to payment so that you know exactly what to expect. When working with our team, we ask for 50% down and 50% when the project is completed. Basically what this means is that in order to protect both parties, we do not start working on a project until you’ve paid a deposit. We can discuss ideas and suggestions, but we won’t provide a mock up until a deposit has been made. Larger projects over $3,000 can be paid in stages, but all projects must be paid in full before work is rendered. This is for your safety and ours–we want to cultivate great professional relationships and provide the highest quality work we can.

Questions?

We want to make the process of working with the CAST Design Team as simple and clear as possible. If we didn’t answer your questions in this article, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!

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How to Use Keywords in Your Website Copy (and the importance) 

The goal of any successful website or blog should be to create awareness of a brand or company. No one will be able to find or experience what you have your business. While you may have other forms of advertising, showing up in web searches is important to your overall brand awareness, so optimizing your website copy is a good place to start. In order to do this, you must focus on keywords. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started in your keyword research.

Choose the right keywords

Start your research by determining your topic themes. What will be the main theme of your blog? Find out what your target audience actually wants to read about and what they’re likely to be searching for in search engines. For example, a popular topic that a marketing company could write about is, “How to use keywords to rank higher on Google”.

After you get a good idea of what your blog will focus on you’ll also want to find your top 20 keywords that can be included in the article. Start this phase by compiling a list of topics or phrases that your target audience might be searching for. You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, or WordStream to see if your chosen topics or phrases qualify as good keywords, usually by determining if they have a high search volume and low SEO difficulty. It’s a good idea to find what your best keyword variations are and save them in an easily accessible space for tracking blog topics. 

Focus on keyword placement

Just as the keyword itself is important, it’s useful to consider where the keyword is being placed. You can see on any search engine results page that certain keywords will show up in the metadata of a website, but you’ll also want to keep keywords in your website’s titles and headings, body paragraphs, URLs, and image file names in order to have as much exposure as possible.

Know How to Use Keywords

Did you know that search engines will penalize you for stuffing your website content with keywords where they don’t belong? They’re smart enough to know when you’re using them just to use them in hopes of ranking, rather than actually using them to provide quality content. Remember to be genuine in everything you write. If it doesn’t make sense to have your keyword in a certain place, even if it’s in a recommended location, err on the side of caution and don’t add it. It’s also helpful to use variations of your keywords, so instead of using your exact keyword phrase at every opportunity, you can mix up the wording slightly. This way you hit more variations of potential searches and you’re less likely to get penalized for keyword stuffy. 

Ultimately your aim is to have the best listings in search engines in order to attract and engage your target audience. Keyword research is a great way to start including keywords and phrases that are relevant to your product or service. Doing this research may seem time consuming but it will help you find out what your target audience is actually searching for and what they want to read about, in turn driving organic traffic to your website. 

 

Does all of this sound just a little too technical and not aligned with your skillset? CAST Design Team offers full SEO services including keyword research, blog writing, and other marketing services to aid in your efforts. Let’s chat!

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The Best Networking Events in Las Vegas

The Best Networking Events in Las Vegas

As any business owner knows, entrepreneur or otherwise, it is essential to build a strong network with those around you. Doing so can create opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t present themselves, can contribute to personal and career growth, and can help you develop long-lasting relationships with others in your field. There are a number of networking groups that you can easily get involved with, but this article highlights a few of our favorite networking events in the Las Vegas area.

PowHer

PowHer is a global community that connects women in business to the resources they need, providing opportunities, education, and connections to fast-track them in achieving their goals. They also empower women by fostering a nurturing environment for communication, professional development, and mentoring opportunities, creating a wholesome space to collaborate.

Some of the resources of PowHer include:

  • Monthly breakfast meetings that are educational and full of information
  • Events focused on personal and professional excellence
  • Exclusive networking events

Find out more about PowHer here.

LeTip

With over 40 years in the game, LeTip International is the largest professional networking organized focused on lead generation through personal referrals. The group has helped over 120,000 business professionals across the U.S. and Canada. LeTip is made up of passionate professionals looking to improve and share their businesses in a structured and serious manner. Groups meet on a weekly basis to build better connections with other professionals in the community, discuss potential leads, and to practice their presentation and speech giving skills

Read more about LeTip’s Las Vegas chapters here.

BNI – Business Network International

BNI is the leading business networking organization. With thousands of chapters across the world, members meet weekly to build and nurture lasting relationships and share qualified business leads. When you become a member of BNI, you receive access to professional training, peer presentations, and networking opportunities with like-minded people.

Learn more about BNI and the Las Vegas chapter here.

Nevada Women’s Chamber of Commerce

The Nevada Women’s Chamber of Commerce is a powerful community organization that provides contacts, services, and professional services to the women of Las Vegas. It strives to make positive changes in the community, promote growth and economic development, and tackle local, state, and national issues affecting women. The group brings leadership programs to the community and members alike to help lead businesses and careers in the right direction. They also provide higher education programs to female high school and college-level students, along with mentorship opportunities.

To learn more about what they have to offer, visit their website here. 

Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is part of a larger unified community that is focused on helping Nevada businesses succeed. They help bring light to the needs, challenges, and opportunities that businesses and entrepreneurs in the community face. The Las Vegas Metro Chamber provides professional resources, educational opportunities, and business expertise to help members make decisions easier and with more clarity. They also help make local connections and boost your companies visibility in the community.

To find out more or to get information on their next event, visit their website here.

Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce

The aim of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce is to aid in the success of organization members and Hispanic-owned businesses within the Las Vegas community. They do this through the promotion of positive relationships – business, cultural, and educational.

More can be found on their website.

Have you ever been to any of these networking events? Let us know what you think about them. If you haven’t been to any of these, which networking groups are you apart of? We’d love to see you out at an event soon!

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Search Engine Optimization Goals for 2020

Search Engine Optimization Goals for 2020

Happy 2020! A new year means new marketing goals for any business that wants to stay afloat, and just as the internet is always changing, internet marketing tactics are always changing as well. The last decade brought major changes to the way marketers used the power of the internet and SEO to rank higher in search engines, from new search software to the use of AI and speech commands.

How can digital marketers make 2020 their best SEO year yet? After reviewing the trends of the past year and the best internet marketing tactics, we’ve compiled a list of the most important SEO goals you should commit to as part of your 2020 marketing resolutions.

High Quality Content

This should go without saying, but your number one priority should be putting high-quality content into your web copy, articles, and marketing materials. What does high quality mean? Users want to read material that’s helpful, relevant, informative, and easy to understand. Far too many websites either burden their web copy with specialized jargon in the hopes of ranking higher in niche searches, or they write copy with grammatical errors and poor readability.

You can’t expect your readers to stay on your site for long or listen to your marketing material if your site pushes them away. Worse, poor-quality writing will hurt your SEO ranking, as it will reduce the amount of time people spend on your site. Finally, the vast majority of web users hate web material that “sounds like a sales pitch” – so, your first goal is to always write with quality in mind, and you’ve already won half the optimization battle.

Longer Form Content

It turns out, people actually like reading. Articles with over 2000 words tend to rank higher in searches and attract more viewers than shorter form articles. Why? Nobody wants to read through several different websites to find all the information they need; if one article answers all of their questions in a clear and concise voice, they’re much more likely to read through that article and keep revisiting that website.

Additionally, longer articles can keep readers on your website for longer which, as previously mentioned, can slightly improve your search ranking. Take the time to consider all of your readers’ questions and concerns – it will likely foster stronger readership, give you some SEO bonuses, and make your company a much more trustworthy brand.

Dwell time and Click Through Rates (CTR)

Are people clicking the links to your website? How long do they stay on your site? How about a certain page? Search engines want to know if your site is satisfying the needs of its readers. With a virtually unlimited amount of information at everyone’s fingertips, it’s likely that the websites that best satisfy their readers’ questions will rank higher in web searches. The best way to measure this is based on the amount of people who follow links to your site (CTR) and how long they stay (Dwell time) – that’s why it’s so important to provide both short form and long form quality content that your readers can visit and rely on, as this will likely factor into your overall SEO.

Featured Snippets

When you type a question into Google, sometimes the top link will include a box that briefly answers the question. For example, if you type “How does SEO work?” into Google, the first link explains SEO in brief, pulled from an article written in LYFE Marketing.

Obviously, LYFE Marketing will get a lot of new readers from this search feature, including readers who will revisit their site and buy their products. To increase the likelihood that your website will earn a featured snippet for a relevant question, write articles or FAQs that respond to questions your potential readership will ask. The more your content helps your readers, the more likely that you’ll feature at the top of specific Google searches.

Optimizing for 2020

Have you ever asked Siri, Google, or Alexa to look something up for you? If so, you’ve utilized the power of two things: voice searches and artificial intelligence. These two trends are changing the way websites rank in SEO. Chances are, people ask questions verbally in a different way than typing into a search box, so search terms are becoming more colloquial and conversational. While this doesn’t mean you should change the way you write your web copy, it does mean that the high ranking SEO terms might shift as voice commands become a larger part of search engines.

Additionally, with AI pulling content for search queries, only the most relevant and helpful articles will be pulled up by the likes of Siri and Alexa. This goes back to the idea of quality content – if you want Google Home to like you, make sure your content is relevant and well-written.

Mobile User Experience (UX)

Another huge trend of the past decade includes the rise of mobile technology. As a result, websites that aren’t optimized for mobile phone searches simply won’t make the cut, as almost 90% of consumers in the U.S. use their phones to find information. Optimizing your site with a mobile-friendly option and high readability will ensure that your site is competitive in the SEO domain.

Web Security

A crucial aspect of web UX, having a secure website makes a huge difference in your site’s SEO potential. Google has cracked down on insecure websites over the past few years, so pages that don’t have enabled HTTPS protocol are often labeled as “Not Secure” when you try to access it on any Google browser. Additionally, users want to know that their information is protected and encrypted when using your site or sharing any personal information, so while these aspects of web design might not correlate directly to SEO, protected sites will likely rank higher in web searches, have lower bounce rates, and yield a much more dedicated readership.

Loading Speed

Another aspect of UX, nobody wants to wait for your site to load, and if it’s taking more than a couple of seconds, then it’s probably faster to just go with the next link down. Take the time to ensure that your web pages load fast across all platforms, with easy navigation and accessibility, otherwise you’ll have a high bounce rate, low dwell time, and generally poor SEO ranking.

Image Optimization

All your images have what’s called “Alt Text,” which is text that briefly describes what’s happening in the photo, especially for users with poor reception or who have accessibility requirements. Not only does this make your site more friendly to all readers, but it also enhances your SEO capabilities. You never want to overload your photos with alt text, but including a few relevant search terms that accurately explain your photos can certainly push you up a few rankings.

Influencer Marketing

The term “social media influencer” became a big deal last year. Despite the controversy, studies prove that influencers work – people are more likely to trust a business if it’s recommended by a trustworthy, popular source. That being said, influencer marketing can also boost your SEO. If you come to an agreement with an influencer to include certain backlinks to your business on their website and social channels, you can drive major traffic to your site and also build relevant backlinks that will push you higher in search results.

There you have it! Those are our top SEO Resolutions for 2020. Which ones do you think you’ll implement? If you have any questions about SEO, need an expert in digital marketing, or want to revitalize your web presence, look no further – we’re experts in web media at CAST Design. Learn more about our process, or reach out today, and let’s create your best SEO year yet.

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Web Design Best Practices for 2020

Web Design Best Practices for 2020

2020 is officially in full swing, and with a new year comes new resolutions. On top of hitting the gym and eating healthier, there’s one resolution I want us all to agree on – no more bad websites.

Seriously – low-quality web pages plague the internet these days. While slow load speeds and mobile-hostile websites might have been permissible in the 2010s, it’s the start of a whole new decade, and businesses need to understand that a web presence alone isn’t enough to attract new clients. To survive in the digital marketplace, companies need a site that’s optimized and user-friendly, on top of aesthetically pleasing.

So, as we speed into the new year, join CAST Design Team in implementing these 10 web development best practices for 2020.

Brand-Consistent Web Design

Your web design, layout, and content all contribute to your brand and how your customers perceive your business. If you don’t get it right from the start, you could create some serious misconceptions that drive clients to your competitors.

For example, let’s say you’re shooting for a brand that’s chic and minimalistic. If your marketing materials and products say “trendy and simple,” but your web design is filled with content like Amazon.com or Microsoft.com, that dissonance could push potential buyers away.

That’s not to dig Amazon or Microsoft – their web design works great for what they’re trying to push! But if your web design doesn’t match your message, don’t expect visitors to stay on your site for long.

Web Tracking

Speaking of visitor times, you need to know what’s working on your site and what isn’t. How long your customers stay on your site, where they click, and whether or not they’re engaging with your business are key indicators of what’s working in your brand. Your site should be able to track conversions, traffic, and other key indicators that confirm what’s working – and what isn’t.

Conversion Optimized

Of course, those analytics don’t mean anything if your website isn’t optimized to turn website clicks into dedicated customers. Throughout your site, you want to be sure that customers can easily access more material from your company. Whether that’s to schedule an appointment, sell a product, request a follow-up email, or even just push them to the next web page, your site should keep customers interested and engaged.

Enabled CMS

How do you keep customers engaged? Content, content, content! The better your web content is, the more likely your customers are to consider your branding, your message, and your business. Your site needs to enable some sort of Content Management System, allowing regular posting and editing so your customers stay engaged with your site.

Search Engine Optimization

We’ve talked a lot about keeping customers on your site, but how do we get them there in the first place? Advertisements and social media campaigns are great ways to attract customers, but they are also expensive. Before anything else, you want your website to be Search Engine Optimized (SEO).

A lot of what we’re discussing here are ways to build upon your site’s SEO, but the key to an SEO-based site is SEO-based content. By writing content that matches what customers are searching for in Google or Yahoo or Bing, your site is likely to rank higher in search pages. This, combined with a functional website and high traffic, is bound to create new interest and new converts to your brand.

Loading Speed

A lesser known aspect of an SEO site is a fast loading speed. If your site takes forever to load, chances are, even your most loyal clients won’t want to wait for much longer. Slow page loading means less web traffic and a less optimized platform, making your web design and content creation a waste of money and effort. Using a service like Pagespeed Insights or Pingdom, you can ascertain the loading speed of your site and how to improve it across all channels and devices.

Mobile Readiness

It’s 2020, which means virtually all of your clientele are connected to the internet via a mobile device. Optimizing your website includes making it mobile-friendly, so developing a mobile version of your site is essential to keeping your customers engaged. Nobody encounters a slow website on their phone and thinks “I’ll have to try on my laptop” – they’ll just go to a different site. Optimize your website for all mobile channels, so you’ll always be one click away.

Strong Web Security

All web-building platforms allow you to choose and develop your site security. Don’t skimp out on this – although it might not directly influence your site’s accessibility, protecting your clients’ information (and yours!) now will save you loads of stress in the future.

Social Media Integration

Does your website link to your social media pages? Can your web visitors see your twitter feed on the home page? Social media is essential to any digital campaign, so if you aren’t encouraging your customers to follow you on all channels and see the content you’re putting out, you’re not pushing your brand and messaging to its full potential.

Interactive Web Design

Finishing off this list, an interactive website will always do more than a website with basic features. Every website has the same two features: scrolling and clicking. Make your website stand apart by making these features interactive – include unique designs for all your links, give side-scrolling options, place social media widgets where they’ll fit, and make your site entertaining to visit. Of course, you never want to compromise your branding as you develop your site’s interactivity, but including a few elements of fun into your overall web design could generate loads of conversions.

In an effort to make the internet a better, more interesting place, these are our top resolutions. We hope you’ll consider some of these too! If you have any questions about optimizing your site, or if you’re looking for an expert team to help revamp your web presence, you’re already in the right place – the members of CAST Design have decades of digital experience under their belt. Learn more about our process, or reach out today.

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Social Media Trends in 2020

Social Media Trends in 2020

A New Decade of Social Media Trends

2019 has come and gone, and we are ready to welcome in the new decade! Social media trends are sure to change over the years–but what can we expect from 2020? Here’s a quick list of the trends we are excited to watch unfold. 

Instagram Removes Likes

Mid November of 2019, Instagram began removing engagement metrics from public view, or “hiding likes”. Adam Mossari, head of Instagram, claims this move is to “depressurize Instagram for young people.” Currently, the platform seems to be a breeding ground for competition. Instagram believes that removing likes may cause people to post more and spend more time using Instagram for meaningful conversations, rather than superficial interactions. 

But how will the removal of likes affect your business’s social media platforms? By hiding engagement from public view your followers will not be able to see how many other people have “liked” your posts. This means it will be harder to analyze your competitors’ posts, but it will also somewhat level the playing field for brands that can’t pay as much money into paid advertising or marketing. It may also mean that your business sees a decrease in likes overall but you may see an increase in comments, which are really the type of engagements businesses want to see anyways, right? 

Instagram Stories Become Even More Useful to Brands

Instagram Stories offer a unique opportunity to poll your followers. Many brands have experienced success in asking questions and polling their followers already. In 2020, we suggest using Instagram Stories to learn more about your audience and what content they are interested in seeing. 

Stories disappear after 24 hours, which creates a sense of “FOMO” or fear of missing out. Loyal followers will stay connected if brands offer flash sales or other incentives for following stories. Consider how you can convince your followers to share your content on their own stories. 

Video, Video, Video

By 2022, 82% of online content will be video. Clearly, social media users are responding well to video content! You don’t need a large video design team to create social media videos. Instagram Stories is a great way to share behind-the-scenes videos. You can also consider stock footage available online with marketing copy edited in, in order to create a very simple yet powerful video to share with followers. (Need help with video content? Ask us!) 

Social Media Communities Surrounding Brands

In 2019, an algorithm change began to favor engagement in Facebook groups as opposed to sharing Facebook business pages. Don’t abandon your Facebook page, but consider adding a Facebook Group to your arsenal of social media tools. Groups foster comments and natural engagement, which will push your business to the top of group members’ news feed. 

Creating a community around your brand will allow your followers and customers to communicate together, thus creating more brand loyalty. People will be inclined to add their friends to groups with products they love, and your brand will begin to diversify an audience. You can also poll members to get feedback on products and campaigns! 

Social Media Managers

As your business grows in 2020, consider hiring a social media manager! At CAST Design Team, we will watch the trends and mold your social media to best fit your business. Reach out today for more information on our social media packages!

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Factors of a Strong Brand Identity

Factors of a Strong Brand Identity 

The most successful brands are companies that have curated unique and memorable identities for themselves. Having a strong brand identity means carefully and intentionally creating an instantly recognizable personality that differentiates you from other businesses in your industry. It sets the tone of your brand and can be used to elicit an emotional response from your target audience. Your brand identity should also communicate the overall message, values, and goals of your business.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a strong brand identity. The following could be just what your brand needs to consider in order to take it to the next level:

Consistency

To avoid confusion about your brand, you need to have a consistent theme across every level of your business. This means using the same basic voice and style in regards to the copy you create, your design themes, branded content and imagery, etc. Everything you do should reflect your brand and convey a single, consistent message of unity within that brand.

Visibility

When creating your brand identity, you should consider how to increase the awareness of your brand. After all, no one will be able to know your brand if they can’t see you. People tend to gravitate towards brands they recognize and are familiar with, even if it’s not necessarily the best fit or highest quality. It’s up to you to be seen and recognized, so keep your brand at the forefront of all your marketing materials and stay active on social media to spread awareness of your brand and make it memorable to your target audience.

Credibility

Your brand identity won’t mean anything if you don’t establish yourself as trustworthy and reliable. Get to know your customers in order to find out what they want and need so you can position yourself to offer just that, and keep directing them back toward your brand. Give them someone to count on and you’ll acquire loyal customers who will return to you time and time again.

Appearance

Developing a professional, creative design for your brand identity helps you to stand out from your competition. It’s important to consider the appearance of the business you are presenting for the experience of your customers. Think about your website, social media channels, and overall business persona. Do they reflect your goals and stay consistent with your values? It’s very useful to use a style guide to clearly lay out visual guidelines for your brand and employees to follow.

Remember that when you create your brand identity, you are applying your brand values to any visual elements promoting your business. Your identity is directly proportional to the growth of your brand and should be carefully considered to ensure it reflects exactly who you want to portray.

Does your brand have a strong brand identity? Do you think it does or do your customers actually agree with you? If you’re struggling to create a brand identity for your company, reach out to our team today.