How Pier 1 Increased Consumer Response Through Data Strategy

It’s time for a more data-driven approach, so let display advertising services take the wheel of your marketing strategy.

Here’s an astonishing statistic: CMOs spend 20% of their budgets on creative, yet 71% of them don’t believe creative actually drives results. It’s a statistic that points to a much larger crisis of confidence within the marketing realm.
So how are brands that are unwilling to accept this state of affairs responding? By taking a more numbers-based, scientific approach to marketing through display advertising services.

How Pier 1 automated its marketing messaging

The creative process in marketing is largely unchanged from its early history. People use a mélange of assumptions, guesswork and qualitative data to inform their creative approach. It’s art and science – a mix of intuition and information. Sometimes this approach works, but more often it results in work that’s too broad or somewhat misaligned with the audience.

In recent years, however, new data tools have been developed that allow for the creative process to be guided by fact rather than supposition. Today’s machines can analyze robust data sets with extreme precision, uncovering actionable insights and learning as they go.

Pier 1 offers an interesting example of this trend toward data-driven marketing. The company partnered with Persado to optimize the language used across customer marketing content. The technology involved in the campaign has the ability to alter the language seen in display ads in accordance with an individual consumer’s preferences.

Using the Persado platform & display advertising services, Pier 1 was able to compare customer engagement and response levels for various sponsored ads, each with different photos, captions, hashtags and headlines. The impact of each ad and its constituent elements is measured in real time to see how well or how poorly they resonate with customers.

In essence, the technology is a sophisticated form of A/B testing that includes a machine-learning component that composes new marketing messages guided by real-time feedback. All of it is based on linguistic science. The underlying technology analyzes millions of language variations to create an optimal message. The natural language processing algorithm used by Persado is designed to understand a brand’s specific voice and replicate it across all channels.

Why a data-guided approach is smarter

Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages. If they deign to give you their attention, you can be certain that concession will be almost instantly revoked if the message they are experiencing isn’t immediately compelling. Because of this, presentation is critical.

Data-focused tools such as the algorithm deployed by Persado & proper display advertising services can play a critical role in helping brands quantify audience response to messages. These tools play an equally important role in helping brands optimize their messages by incorporating this feedback and making informed adjustments in real time.

That doesn’t mean that marketing is now purely a science. As far as machine learning has come, it remains limited in many key respects. The optimal approach for most brands involves working with an agency that integrates data-based tools and human insight into one holistic marketing framework.

Partnering with the right consumer insight agency

Our display advertising team believes a data-forward marketing agency is your best bet for understanding and connecting with the right audiences. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn how we create modern campaigns that are rooted in human insight and executed with advanced digital tools.

Hey Alexa, Why is NLP Revolutionizing Marketing?

Utilize natural language processing (NLP) to increase your overall ROI by partnering with a digital marketing agency ASAP.

Remember the first iteration of Siri on the iPhone 4s? She was charming but clunky – and ended up being more of a curiosity rather than a real voice assistant. Today, however, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are both powerful and deeply integrated into our daily lives, thanks to advances in natural language processing (NLP). If you’re a brand or a digital marketing agency, these advances in NLP can also be used to help create more effective and engaging campaigns.

The evolution of NLP

Natural language processing draws on computer science, linguistics, machine learning, sophisticated language modeling, and analysis to allow computers to generate and understand human language. In essence, it’s the technology that allows computers to finally interact with us in an intuitive, seamless — and human sounding — fashion.

The introduction of smartphones and other mobile devices made communicating, working and performing basic life tasks easier and more efficient. Smart speakers and other NLP-equipped devices are taking things a step further. Instead of mediating interactions through a keyboard, we can navigate with simple voice commands to a sophisticated AI-based voice assistant.

As you might expect, this is not an easy endeavor, as language is deeply complex; until the last few years, NLP-equipped devices were limited in functionality and were largely unable to have advanced, human-like conversations. Humans pick up complex language because we are naturally hardwired to understand it; machines, however, have no such innate advantage.

Today, NLP technology has taken a quantum leap forward and is now being used in smart speakers, chatbots, and predictive text suggestions — the kind you see in search engines, email, and smartphones. It also has an important role to play in another human endeavor with digital marketing agencies.

How NLP is transforming the way we live, work and sell

The business of marketing has become incredibly data-driven in recent years. In order to effectively market and sell products and services, businesses need to target the right audiences. In order to do that, they need a way to identify who they mean to target — and that’s where data analysis enters the equation.

There’s still one significant challenge, however: More than 90% of the data that’s generated online falls into the category of “unstructured data.” This includes emails, reviews, social media posts, etc. Because this information is not classified or structured — and because enormous amounts exist and are being continually generated — it’s difficult for marketers or anyone else to make sense of it, let alone derive actionable insights. Which is where a digital marketing agency & NLP come together.

NLP offers one solution to this problem. One recent example: EssayPro, an online service that helps students become better writers, uses NLP to analyze unstructured data in an effort to better understand the problems students have when composing their papers. It then applies these insights to its marketing strategies, targeting students with specific solutions to the precise problems with which they are dealing with.

Businesses can also use NLP to conduct sentiment analysis and identify propensity signals on social media. By analyzing this data, brands can learn — almost in real time — how audiences are responding to goods, services, and marketing messages.

NLP can also be used to help businesses that gather high volumes of customer feedback through chats, emails, voicemails, and social media posts. By applying NLP to this data, businesses can unlock deeper insights into customer experience, and make any necessary adjustments to their marketing strategies.

The takeaway

We believe great campaigns require more than compelling creative work — they also need to be supported by a sophisticated understanding of the latest technological tools. If you’d like to learn more about how NLP can help you improve your marketing efforts, please contact us today.

Why you’re missing out by not investing in vector graphics

If your business isn’t investing in vector graphics, it should be. And we’re going to tell you why. Some advertising agencies don’t want to share why vector images are so powerful because they are concerned of having less work for their creative team if businesses learn to self-serve. We know the value of any agency partnership should extend far beyond campaign churning and burning so we’re not worried about giving this information out. We’re here to talk about vector graphics.

WHAT ARE VECTOR GRAPHICS:

Vector graphics are perfectly scalable, mathematically-based images and designs that create pictures and logos based on layered shapes, gradients, and patterns. Designers (or business owners), can make images that can be shrunk or enlarged for any print or digital work imaginable. The file sizes tend to be smaller and cleaner than enhanced images making sharing, editing, and updating a breeze.

AS OPPOSED TO WHAT:

You’ve probably seen vector graphics hundreds of times but didn’t realize it; They look as good as any picture or Photoshop project you can imagine. In fact, many designers work exclusively in vectors since they are much easier to edit than photographic images. This is especially true for logo and icon work. Vectors are created using tools such as Adobe Illustrator (or the free-based Vector software). Unlike photography, vector graphics allow you to create pictures that can be duplicated, recolored, and manipulated with no limitations. Check out some ways we’ve helped local businesses do just that.

WHO CARES:

This is important for several reasons. First, it creates seamless brand consistency. Need to change your logo to appear on a dark background versus a light background ? It covers that. Need to adjust the size of your logo to fit on a business card? No problem. Need a web icon that will appear across the site? It’s got you covered. Typical image edits a business needs to make on a day-to-day basis are easy to implement using vector graphics. What might take an hour or two on Photoshop usually only takes a few minutes using vectors. Because vectors are easy to edit and scale, you don’t need to worry about accidentally going off brand or radically skewing your image. Every aspect of the image can be easily duplicated or edited down to the very layer.

Vectors are also easy to create. You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a high-end photoshoot when you can create beautiful images from the comfort of your laptop. It also means you can rely less on generic stock images and more on the creative vision you have for your team. Once you invest in a few great vector graphics, you can repurpose them and edit them for a wide variety of needs giving you the best bang for your buck. Vector images can be customized to your exact liking so you never have to worry about seeing your images on a competitive website or campaign unlike stock photography. And unlike customized photoshoots or artwork, you can cut cost without cutting quality. And we can help.

WHEN TO CALL THE PROS:

Once you have a foundation of vector images to use, edits are easy. We’re confident any business owner or designer can extend the life and relevancy of your vector graphics across channels and creative needs. But, it’s best to leave that foundation to the pros. If you’re unsure what types of vectors would be most useful, give us a call. We’ll help you determine how you plan to use your vectors, what types of edits might be most common to your business, and what your key assets should be. We can build the start of our creative foundation together to use for your brand guidelines, campaign needs, and beyond.

10 logo design inspiration tips fresher than Doug E. Fresh

Have you ever noticed how logo design inspiration and trends (especially popular ones) can get recycled so many times they start looking more tired than last summer’s overplayed one-hit-wonder? Don’t let your business logo get stuck in a rut like a B-list celebrity. Use these ten easy, fresh logo design inspiration tips to keep your brand image fresher than our boy Doug E. Fresh. And yes, we just went there. It’s 2016, after all : it’s time that your logo started looking that way.

1. Logo design inspiration starts with tone and color:

One of the cardinal rules of logo design inspiration is setting the tone of your brand. Your logo should capture the heart of your brand values and communicate the vibe of your products or services. Whether you want to channel exquisite service standards, casual comfort, or extreme luxury, color is one of the best ways to set tone. Color psychology is a powerful, scientifically backed tool that can instantly augment any visual cues you use in your logo. For example, blue is one of the most popular and comforting colors to the human eye, which is why so many brands choose shades of blue to establish a sense of familiarity or trust in their logos. Just think about this range of “blue” brands: Facebook, American Express, IBM, Volkswagen, General Electric, and Gap (as a start).

2. Use negative space to affirm brand values:

Many designers, rightfully, focus their efforts on creating strong primary typography or iconography when crafting a logo. But sometimes, leveraging negative space can add a subtle cue or affirmation about your brand that customers gravitate toward. FedEx ingeniously does this by creating a forward arrow in the negative space created between the “E” and the “X” in their name. The forward arrow captures the nature of their shipping business model while signaling speed and movement. Because the negative space is so subtle, customers subconsciously think about these values on their own without being told. When your logo is that good, you don’t even need a tag line. 

3. Sometimes you need to ditch the text for fresh logo design inspiration:

Our next piece of advice is somewhat risky and definitely controversial. Depending on your brand, you may be able to eliminate words all together. This is easier to pull off when your brand name corresponds to something literal, such as electronic giant Apple. On the flip side, having a nonsensical symbol can sometimes be a very powerful aid in creating unique, one-of-a-kind brand association (think: Nike), but you risk missing out on recognition in the early stages of your company’s evolution if you go this route.

4. Break the rules with animated logos:

It’s safe to say that animated logos are not the norm. Although digital marketing is swiftly becoming one of the most ubiquitous and important pieces of the marketing mix, traditional marketing techniques still inform most digital design principles. For this reason, most logos use static images and text … But true logo design inspiration can break the rules and push boundaries. Experiment with an animated logo that uses subtle movement to reiterate part of your brand or draw your customers’ eye to a certain feature. The trick is not using animation for the sake of animation; but rather, using it to make a specific point. Our team of designers can help you assess how risky to be with your logo to push the creative limits without risking your brand. 

5. Get playful and play on words:

Word play or tongue-in-cheek logos that incorporate images into lettering are light, whimsical ways to add something extra to a traditional text-based logo without deviating too far from clear brand-image association. Taking artistic license with lettering (think: turning a Y into a cocktail glass), using tasteful double entendres or homonyms, are all ways to express aspects of your brand without falling back on tired imagery or overused typography.

6. Understand typography to drive logo design inspiration:

In that vein, it’s important to understand the general best practices of typography if you decide to go with a text-based logo. Right now, monogram-style logos with thing, sans-serif font, rustic, hipster-esque circles, arrows, antlers or foliage are all the rage. These are all great visual elements and there’s a reason why they are popular. When searching for logo design inspiration, however, be careful not to lean too far into what is trendy or popular in the moment. Your logo should be uniquely you and stand the test of time.

7. Don’t be afraid to be classic with literal imagery:

If it’s not broke, no need to fix it. If you have a natural association between some aspect of your brand and a strong visual cue don’t be afraid to lean on that. Get creative, get a little abstract, or switch up the styling from time to time, but there’s no need to recreate the wheel if you have something that works. Let a professional designer, such as one of our experts at your Orlando-based marketing agency, help you come up with ways to freshen up the natural visual cues of your brand without compromising them. Classics are always in style – and inspired.

8. Invest, invest, invest:

Think of your logo as your signature. It’s your chance at a first impression with your prospective customers. It’s your first line of defense to help current customers remember your brand. And in that sense, it may be your most valuable asset. It’s a wonderful place to invest time and resources when prioritizing your marketing budget. Sometimes you really do need a pro’s help for true logo design inspiration to strike, and if we only had to pick a handful of places to invest your marketing dollars, we would list your logo near the top of our list every time. 

9. Opinions DO matter:

Normally, we let opinions roll off our backs without giving them a second thought. Live loud and proud. That said, your logo is one of those times when opinions really do matter. At least to your customers. What you may consider to be a strike of genius logo design inspiration may not resonate with your customers, so before you overhaul your entire brand strategy, do some user testing and seek validation from your real customer base. Their opinions are the only ones that matter.

10. Seek logo design inspiration absolutely everywhere:

And last, but certainly not least, we recommend that you seek logo design inspiration absolutely everywhere. Encourage all your team members to share ideas, conduct customer surveys, look to nature, watch movies, and seek unconventional ways to transform your logo and brand styling.

We don’t pretend that logo creation is easy. It’s arguably one of the most difficult tasks any marketer or business owner will tackle. But remember, our team is always here to support you along the way. We’re here as a sounding board, as a creative team, and as design junkies to guide you no matter where you’re at in your logo design process. Not convinced? Just click here to read more about some of the guiding design principles we use when creating any logo.

How to (color) scheme like a pro: Website color schemes basics

If you think you’ve seen every blog post about website color schemes already … think again. Most posts about website color schemes showcase lists of the best website color combinations on the market. They pop with energy and elegance. You might even feel a little design envy while skimming these sites’ perfectly balanced photography, high quality imagery, and tasteful color palettes. But, let’s be honest: most of these blogs don’t tell you how to make your site look that good. Sure, we’re proud of our work. And if you want to see some examples of how we’ve helped clients use color theory to amp up their businesses, click here. But we also want to give you the tools you need to start (color) scheming like a pro. Below, we’ll walk you through the guiding principles of color theory to help you create effective website color schemes that you can start using today.
Creating effective website color schemes isn’t as hard as you think once you understand a few essential principles of color theory. Some of the basics, you probably already know from days in your middle school art class (like how primary and secondary colors are positioned on the color wheel, or mix to make new colors). And some color theory boils down to intuition based on your own taste and preferences. Remember, it’s your brand. There’s no formula that generates perfect website color schemes every time, so sometimes it’s good to trust your gut and simply go with what looks good to you. That said, these principles will help you along the way.

SET THE TONE WITH YOUR MAIN COLOR:

The most important decision you need to make is choosing your main color. A little color psychology (and some common sense) can help you here. Colors tend to channel tones and emotions that subconsciously prime your audience to feel certain emotions. Red signals urgency and energy. Green resonates freshness, nature, and cleanliness. Blue has a calming and trustworthy undertone. Yellow can bring elements of levity and lightheartedness to your brand. These descriptions should feel like common sense to you because we have all been primed to feel these associations based on a variety of environmental and cultural cues that link color with emotion. It makes sense for a sporting goods store to use an energetic color such as red and orange, or an earthy earth tone such as brown or rust for a main color because there is a natural link between these colors and the outdoors … but can you imagine that same brand choosing a soft purple or hot pink as a primary color? We agree: it’s a stretch.

Think about your own brand and the emotions you want to link with it. Jot those feelings and associations down, then cross reference them with your primary colors. Now, you’re off to a great start. If you get stuck, we recommend choosing an image (whether it’s your logo, a picture of your headquarters or office, your products, or even something that just speaks to your brand) and brainstorming what colors stand out to you. This can help you break free of the norm if you feel like your primary color is too trite or a little overplayed. For example, a surf shop owner may choose a picture of the beach when thinking about her brand, but feel drawn to a burst of magenta shrubs in the corner of the frame. Unlike the expected blue or teal, the magenta adds an element of excitement and adventure that might just be the color her brand needed.

CHOOSE SUPPORTING COLORS, AKA UNDERSTANDING COMPLEMENTATION:

Next, invite some friends. Complementation refers to how well colors mingle with other colors. Hues that are across the color wheel from each other tend to be visually pleasing because they create a natural visual balance by complementing each other. As you think about additional colors that will support your signature tone, consider how well they work together. Make sure you have at least one additional color that creates real contrast when layering colored text or grabbing your viewers’ attention. Most supporting color choices fall into one of four types of website color schemes:

  • Complementary 

    Your brand colors should play off each other, rather than conflict with each other, which is why complementary website color schemes are one of the most popular choices. Start with your main color, then look across the color wheel to see what its opposite is. This tone will stand out when placed near your main color without competing or creating visual friction.

  • Monochromatic 

    If your complementary color is too bold for your brand, you may consider dabbling in monochromatic color schemes. Instead of choosing additional colors, you use different tones or shades of your main color. This creates a sense of visual consistency and uniformity that can be very aesthetically pleasing. Just make sure your colors are not so similar that you lose your visual dynamics. To do this, experiment with the saturation, tone, and warmth of your main color.

  • Analogous 

    A variation on this idea is analogous website color schemes. Typically, they feature three to four colors adjacent to your main color on the color wheel. Like monochromatic schemes, this option creates a visual consistency that can boost familiarity with your creative elements; however, analogous colors provide a little more variety and interest on your website. This is especially useful to mitigate the negative impact screen size, brightness, HD display styles, and other outside factors can sometimes have on monochromatic color palettes.

  • Triadic 

    In recent years, triadic website color schemes have become wildly popular. Start by drawing an equilateral triangle from your primary color on the color wheel. The two opposite points of your triangle (and their neighbors) represent unique color complements that are visually intriguing, but not as starkly contrasted as your primary color’s main opposite. Triadic colors give you a little more flexibility if you want to use several colors for your brand without the risk of overwhelming your viewer.

When in doubt (or when you’re ready to take your website color schemes to the advanced level), our team can help educate and assist you in choosing your color palette — but remember, the best website color schemes come from your heart.

Ombré: The 2016 comeback of CSS gradients has arrived

History has a funny way of repeating itself. We see this in fashion (we’re still wondering why flared pants keep coming back in style), in politics and history, and in design trends. This year, CSS gradients are making a comeback. But this time around, we’re calling it ombré, and doing it using css gradient code, and giving Photoshop a rest. The results transform this 90’s-style splash trend into a sleek, modern accent tool that surprises viewers without overpowering other design elements.

CSS GRADIENTS ELEVATE FLAT DESIGN:

The flat design trend took the creative world by storm and helped cut through the mounting visual clutter of hyper-realistic, hyper-saturated, hyper-detailed design made capable by today’s powerful digital tools. But, like many trends, once flat design reached an extreme, tastes have begun to slowly swing in the other direction. We still love the clean simplicity of flat color palettes and how minimal design focuses the eye; but we also crave a few dynamic elements that bring just the right amount of depth and interest into the picture. Layering a subtle ombré wash onto a flat background or using graduated color to denote shadow adds elements of realism onto flat design principles without departing from the essential simplicity of this trend. 

YOUR DEVELOPERS AND DESIGNERS WILL LOVE YOU:

Despite the complex visual intrigue ombré delivers, it’s surprisingly simple to implement. In some ways, we credit technology for this design comeback. Today’s website coding language allows developers to create a consistent set of rules, called a CSS, that dictates how certain elements (such as your hero image or tile modules) are treated across the site. Designers and developers can work together to define these rules in accordance with your brand style guide so that your designs and the finished website product are more closely aligned with each other, and with your guiding creative principles, than ever before. CSS gradients are a perfect example of how technology can make your designs more consistent. Instead of using Photoshop to add a gradient onto every single photo where you want this style to appear, CSS gradients use a simple snippet of code that deliver radial, horizontal and vertical linear fades almost anywhere on your site. They can be layered on top of each other to combine two or more colors for truly remarkable – and replicable – effects. These gradients can be seamlessly duplicated anywhere you want them to appear. This frees your designers from the tedious process formerly needed to create web-ready striking ombré images on your site, while making implementation more consistent and clean across the board. Trust us, your perfectionist of a developer will thank you later.

WHERE YOU CAN USE CSS GRADIENTS:  

Spotify made ombré backgrounds popular with their jewel-tone color overlays and bold fading. But you can also use CSS gradients on individual elements. Consider adding a gradient to a button to draw attention to that element without beating viewers over the head. Use gradient in your font to create beachy, laid back text elements. Add ombré to your borders and shading for a surprising twist on tried and tested visual cues. Or layer colors on top of each other to change the tone and feel of your site (think: muted nudes for an ethereal vibe or punchy primaries for a more jovial energy). CSS gradients can be applied almost anywhere due to the flexibility of the code used to implement them. Because this effect is easy to implement and edit, don’t be afraid to experiment how it looks around your site.

Our team is in love with this new trend and wants to hear how you have been celebrating the ombré comeback on your site. Share your design ideas here or reach out to our team to learn how you can incorporate CSS gradients onto your next paid ad, website, or email campaign for creative elements that are truly on point.