I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
AI – When Science Fiction Becomes Reality
As the AI frenzy unfolds, new technologies with unprecedented capabilities will embed themselves in almost every aspect of our lives. Bringing great promise and also significant risk, AI is positioned to work alongside humans solving some of the world’s most intractable problems. As it makes its way across our systems, it can be a powerful force, enabling giant strides in space, medicine, industry, education, communications, and the environment. Poised to deliver amazing breakthroughs, it can also unleash unintended consequences that society will need to anticipate, understand, and control. Can We Stop Runaway AI? This blog focuses on “the scary side” of artificial intelligence, specifically what’s keeping “those in the know” up at night as they look ahead to the future of AI and its potential impacts. In the recent New Yorker article , “Can We Stop Runaway AI?,” Jeff Clune, a computer scientist at the University of British Columbia and the Vector Institute who has also worked at Uber, OpenAI, and DeepMind, says: “Five years ago, it was risky to say out loud that I believe in the possibility of human-level or superhuman-level AI. But now as A.I. challenges “dissolve,” more researchers are coming out of the “AI-safety closet,” declaring openly that artificial general intelligence (AGI) is possible and may pose a destabilizing danger to society. In March, a group of prominent technologists published a letter calling for a pause in some types of AI research, to prevent the development of “nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete, and replace us.” I asked ChatGPT “What is AGI and why are people afraid of it?” Here’s its response. * “AGI stands for Artificial General Intelligence. It refers to highly autonomous systems or machines that possess the ability to outperform humans at most economically valuable work. AGI represents a level of artificial intelligence that surpasses narrow AI, which is designed to perform specific tasks. While narrow AI is prevalent today in various domains like image recognition, speech synthesis, and data analysis, AGI would possess a broader understanding and capability to excel in multiple complex tasks. People's concerns about AGI arise from several factors: Superintelligence : AGI has the potential to become super intelligent, surpassing human intellectual capabilities. This raises concerns about the ability of humans to control or understand its actions and decision-making processes. Unpredictability : AGI systems may exhibit behavior that is difficult to predict or understand, especially as they become more complex and capable. This lack of transparency can make it challenging to determine the intentions and actions of AGI systems. Ethical implications : There are concerns about AGI systems making autonomous decisions that could have significant ethical consequences. Without proper guidelines or value alignment, AGI could potentially prioritize goals in ways that are harmful or contrary to human values. Job displacement : AGI's superior capabilities could lead to widespread automation and job displacement, affecting various industries and livelihoods. This could have significant social and economic consequences if not managed appropriately. Control and security : If AGI systems become highly autonomous, there is a risk that they could be used maliciously or fall into the wrong hands. Safeguarding AGI against misuse or unintended consequences is a significant concern. It's important to note that AGI is still largely a hypothetical concept, and the timeline and specific capabilities of achieving AGI remain uncertain. Nonetheless, discussions and research in this area are vital to ensure that the development of AGI aligns with human values and addresses potential risks.” The Critical Success Factor Is Trust It’s one thing for AI to help us learn a new language, drive a car, control a robotic arm, or manage a factory floor. It’s quite another to envision an AGI-driven world where deep-learning machines have human-like intelligence and are making mission-critical decisions that could literally transform the world as we know it: Can we rely on AGI to enhance rather than do harm? Will it do what we would do, only smarter and faster, or will it have a “mind of its own”? How do we tell the difference between what is fake and what is real? Which AGI use cases are potentially dangerous, and which ones will contribute to the greater good? When we give up control to a machine, we need to know that we can trust its outputs (both actions and words). Just like human-to-human collaborations, human-to-machine partnerships require trust in order to work. New technology introductions are typically all about the promise and not much about the dark side (social media being a great example). As AI and AGI move into a whole other realm of information gathering and summarization, critical thinking, and problem-solving, the prevailing advice seems to be “proceed with caution" — making sure we have needed guardrails in place that can prevent AI from going off the rails. Sources: The Future of Artificial Intelligence Can We Stop Runaway AI? AI Disclaimer: The image in our banner was created by Adobe Firefly (Beta) Text to Image tool and is used for illustrative purposes. * This section was created using ChatGBT tool and is used for illustrative purposes.
Artificial Intelligence – Friend or Foe
Introduced in November 2022, ChatGPT has already reached over 100 million users , making it the fastest growing consumer application to date. With most new technologies, it’s the geeks and the technologists who are ready to jump right in, while users are typically more cautious – taking things slowly until they understand exactly what they’re getting into. The bravest become early adopters, testing new products as they make their way into the real world. Once the debugging is done and most of the pitfalls are known, the rest of us start to jump in as well. In the case of AI, the exact opposite seems to be true. Users are excited about the possibilities despite the many unanswered questions, and they seem ready to take the plunge across a whole range of AI-based applications. Inventors, CEOs, and key technologists, on the other hand, are sounding the alarm, saying we need to proceed with caution into this brave new world. Government entities are also concerned based on their past experience with cybercrime, misinformation, and fake news propagated and amplified across social media platforms. In March 2023, more than 1,000 technology leaders and researchers wrote an open letter that urged artificial intelligence labs to pause development of the most advanced systems, warning that AI tools present “profound risks to society and humanity.” How GenAI Could Fit into Today’s Marketing Communications Landscape If you ask professional writers how they feel about the AI writing programs that are currently flooding the market, they’ll probably tell you that they’re intrigued, apprehensive, and excited all at the same time. Those who are early adopters have already started exploring the capabilities, while others are waiting to see how this all plays out. Most writers do what they do because they love the process – choosing the right words, crafting just the right message, each one personalized for a specific company, client, product, overall goal, and target audience. If AI does all of your writing for you, much of that goes away. But it can be a powerful assistant, used to develop an outline, flesh out content, give you fresh ideas when you’re stuck, and save time so that you can take on more clients or expand the scope of your work. Letting Machines and Humans Do What They Do Best As a writer, you need to “know your client.” What are the objectives of this writing project? What is the company’s mission, its core values, its language, and its key differentiators? What are the word choices and the tone that capture their voice, and what makes their brand unique? Ideally, with every writing job, you are using your communication skills to represent your customer in the best possible light, so you can reach the right audience with the most compelling message. Notice that these are all things that humans to do well and machines “not so much.” For writers, the question is, where can AI assist and where will it be an impediment or a distraction – in effect, a lesser version of yourself. As an assistant, it can be a major time-saver helping with research, creating outlines, suggesting catchy titles and headlines, and even doing some “out-of-the-box thinking” based on the vast amount of data it has access to. But for now, at least, the professional writer needs to remain in the driver’s seat – making strategic judgments, creating the final copy, and applying finishing touches to ensure that each deliverable “hits all the right notes.” Here’s how this “creative AI-writer partnership” might work: You start out in the traditional way by talking to your client/content owner to understand the assignment (topic, length, key points, target audience). Next you do your homework by researching the topic, developing a preliminary outline, and getting approval before starting to write. Next comes the first draft, including title, headings, and key sections. And here is where your AI writing assistant can step in. What does it have to say about this topic? What does its recommended outline look like? What title and headings does it suggest? Are there places where the AI app is helping you “fill in the blanks” with some fresh ideas that you can now pursue and incorporate? GenAI – Much Promise, Many Unanswered Questions AI is moving out of the laboratory and into the mainstream at hyper speed. As a fast moving target, it’s difficult to predict exactly where it’s going and the impacts it’s going to have on various aspects of our lives. We’re looking at a giant puzzle with many missing pieces, in essence opening a big box without knowing what will be coming out. There’s the very real fear of unexpected and unforeseen consequences, which is why we need to understand the capabilities and risks in order to harness AI’s power thoughtfully and responsibly. Is it going to replace humans and if so, in what jobs? Are there areas where it can be a force multiplier – expanding our reach and current capabilities, greatly accelerating our productivity and achievements? Will it help us address some of the planet’s most intractable problems? And will it be used by some for nefarious ends, unless we can prevent that from happening?
Embracing the Best of Both Worlds AI can be fun (think Boston Dynamic’s dancing robots, AI toys, and video games), and it can be empowering (think AI-assisted apps and generative AI tools). It can be threatening (when traditional jobs are drastically redefined or go away), and it can also be scary (think deep fakes, privacy violations, algorithmic bias, cybercrimes, and social manipulation). Not quite ready for prime time, GenAI has enormous potential and we should all pay attention as it evolves and morphs into something truly transformative. For marketers and writers, GenAI isn’t really an either/or proposition but more about understanding the technology’s strengths and weaknesses, then deciding how to use it to best advantage, augmenting rather than replacing our current roles. Recent breakthroughs only hint at what future AI models will be able to do, but one thing is clear – they have the potential to drastically change the way we approach content creation going forward. Sources:
ChatGPT: Understanding the ChatGPT AI Chatbot What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here's what you need to know ChatGPT explained: everything you need to know about the AI chatbot Beyond ChatGPT: The Future of Generative AI for Enterprises 14 Ways AI Will Benefit Or Harm Society
What's Everyone Talking About? Generative AI, GPT, and ChatGPT Explained
For those of us who want to get “up close and personal” with every acronym that comes our way, let’s deconstruct three of the terms getting the most buzz at the moment: GenAI, GPT, and ChatGPT. GenAI stands for generative artificial intelligence, and GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer (a mouthful, I know). The Chat in ChatGPT refers to the chatbot front-end that OpenAI has built for its GPT language model. GP tells us that this model was created using generative pre-training consisting of huge amounts of text to predict the next word in a given sequence and understand the context and relationships between words in a sentence, thus enabling more coherent and contextually relevant language generation. The T or transformer architecture refers to the type of neural network ChatGPT is based on, the same technology first developed by Google researchers in 2017 for its search engine. Generative AI (GenAI) Originally inspired by the way human brain neural networks function, GenAI combines enormous datasets with lighting fast speed and analysis acumen that far exceed any one person’s memory bank and processing capabilities. As a chatbot built on top of OpenAI's GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 foundational large language models ( LLMs ), ChatGPT takes advantage of huge compute power and is continuously being fine-tuned (to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. This AI language model works by using a very large dataset of text to learn patterns in language and generate responses based on those patterns. When you enter a message or question, ChatGPT processes the text and uses its knowledge of language to understand what you're asking. It then uses its machine learning ( ML ) algorithms to generate a response based on patterns it has observed from the vast amount of text it has been trained on. The natural language processing ( NLP ) tool by OpenAI is constantly learning and adapting based on the interactions it has with users. Once training data has been ingested, the AI model looks for patterns and relationships to automatically deliver the requested response – be it information, an image, text, or a video. And as these responses are used, it continuously fine-tunes its parameters, improving its ability to emulate human-generated content. Because it is self-learning and continually refines its outputs, the more content the AI model generates and the more feedback it gets, the more sophisticated, accurate, and convincing its outputs become. OpenAI was formed in 2015, with Elon Musk as one of its cofounders, and Microsoft as the first big investor. Now GenAI applications are moving artificial intelligence into the mainstream with new product introductions in areas like manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, robotics, graphic design, and customer experience … with much more to come. Sources: What is Chat GPT?—Everything You Need To Know What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here's what you need to know
26 Awesome AI Text Effect Prompts
Adobe Firefly is an AI-powered tool that is used to create digital effects from text prompts. The Text Effect tool is still in beta, but users have already started creating amazing images using just key words or phrases. While early use examples are impressive, what we’re seeing now in generative AI digital arts and photography is a snapshot in time and technology—that is where the tool is today. While artificial intelligence has been decades in the making, the technology is still in the learning and development phase. As good as it is now, we will continue to see improvements and refinements in the coming months that will render AI generated images more precisely. User feedback is the real powerhouse as those ‘thumbs ups’ and ‘thumbs downs’ communicate to the AI tool how close to the user’s expectation the generated creations are. This engagement between users and machines helps the tool become ‘smarter’ as it continuously hones its output response.
For example, today if you ask an AI tool to create a frog image, it will dip into its data set and produce a green or brown frog—something that a human has already confirmed to be accurate. If you want a blue frog, you’ll have to specify ‘blue’ as well as ‘frog’ because the AI tool only has green or brown frog images as references. The tool will not be able to create blue frogs without the additional text prompt of ‘blue’ to output the expected frog. In theory, as blue frogs are added to the data set, and if a significant number of users always reject the green or brown frog, and only accept the blue frogs that had been previously requested, the AI will eventually figure out that ‘blue frog’ is what is meant when the keyword ‘frog’ is input into the AI tool, and only blue frogs will be generated.
The AI tool depends on a catalog of images in its data set. Too few reference images, and the tool does its best with what little it has, but will likely fall short of expectations. It also depends on user imput for training. This example created by Adobe Firefly (Beta) Text Effects, the prompt was “Rubik’s Cube”, a toy invented in 1974 and wildly popular throughout the 1980’s. We should expect a construction of saturated red, blue, yellow, orange, green and white cubes. While the output is interesting, it bears no resemblance to a Rubik’s Cube. We have some cube shapes, but the color palette is more pastel and for most people, they would not guess the prompt was “Rubiks’ Cube”. The AI tool apparently needs more training regarding Rubik’s Cubes in its data set to recreate it adequately. The user can communicate via a thumbs up or down, how closely the output matches the expectation. In this case, users would reject the output and train the AI tool toward a more acceptable colored design. We will check back in a few months and compare. In contrast, the prompt for this design was “red electric guitar”. Here the AI tool has been trained to pull out recognizable red electric guitar components. You can see voids in some letter shapes where the AI wasn’t able fill in the shapes exactly, but over-all it did a very good job. Try it out for yourself Right now Adobe Firefly is free in its beta form to be used in a browser. Go to firefly.adobe.com and send a request to be a part of the group. It may take some time to be accepted, but once you are, you’ll be able to test all the upcoming generative AI tools on the horizon, including vector files and videos as their beta versions are released. We’ve experimented with the Adobe Firefly Text Effects tool and came up with 26 prompts to get you started. Because the tool is always learning every minute of every day, it’s not possible to recreate these prompts exactly as we’ve done here. Your creations using our prompts will likely be more refined. See our website catalog for all our prompts. Disclaimer. All images are samples from the Adobe Firefly (Beta) and are not available for commercial use at this time. The images in this blog and catalog are for informative purposes only to promote Adobe Firefly and to provide examples of generative AI. The prompt for our blog title image is: manhole cover stained glass
The Rise of AI – How It’s Changing Our World
So let’s talk about artificial intelligence. Poised to first disrupt and then transform our world, it is today’s “next big thing.” Everyone is talking about it, but what is it and is it really so new? Looking back just a few short years, we’ve gone from rotary phones and punch cards to smartphones, laptops, and supercomputers. No longer having to find a phone booth to make a call, get directions, or look something up, smart hand-held devices with incredible amounts of compute power are literally in our pockets 24/7. And where no machine could reliably provide language or image recognition at a human level, we are now seeing hints about what that technology can do as it recognizes images and speaks to us in our own language. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Traditional programs follow a set of instructions to perform particular tasks. Many of these are highly complex and they require a skilled programmer to write out every step in the process. AI, on the other hand, describes a machine that can mimic human intelligence and is self-learning. It combines raw compute power and machine learning with vast amounts of information to seemingly think for itself, learn from experience, perform tasks, and in some cases do them better than we can. There are AI programs that can think for us and carry on conversations with us, drive our cars, power robots around our factories, assess our health, and deliver up content in seconds rather than hours or days. In short, AI systems have become increasingly useful and powerful as they move into the everyday fabric of our lives . From Conception to Market Since its inception, AI has been lurking in the shadows just waiting to break into the mainstream. Starting in the 1950s, we can see how AI applications coupled with machine learning (a type of AI that allows computers to learn without being explicitly programmed) have slowly evolved into the powerful engine driving many technology and engineering solutions today. Think about industrial robotics, military drones, speech recognition systems, and Google searches, as well as big data, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. AI History – a Walk Down Memory Lane 1950s to Now The earliest successful AI programs were written in 1951 by Christopher Strachey (who wrote a checkers program), and by Dietrich Prinz (who wrote one for chess). Referred to as Game AI , both eventually achieved sufficient skill to challenge a respectable amateur and caught the attention of computer scientists across the globe. In 1961, the first industrial robot, Unimate , joined the assembly line at a General Motors plant to work with heated die-casting machines. In 1985 according to the American Journal of Robotic Surgery, the first robot (the Westinghouse PUMA 200 ) was used to perform a brain biopsy procedure, opening up medicine to the possibility of AI innovation. In the late 1990s, Web crawlers made an appearance. AI-based programs that extract information from the World Wide Web, they have become essential in driving its widespread use. The 1990s also saw the virtual pet boom with the release of popular virtual pets such as Tamagotchi and Furby . In 1997, Deep Blue was the chess-playing computer developed by IBM that defeated the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, making global headlines. In 1999, Sony introduced AIBO , the first artificially intelligent "pet" that was also autonomous. In the 2000s, speech recognition technology became increasingly accurate and reliable. This led to the development of new products and services, such as voice-activated assistants and hands-free calling. In 2002, the Roomba vacuum cleaner, an autonomous robot that could clean floors without human intervention, was one of the first robotic consumer products to receive widespread user acceptance. In 2009, Grammarly and early Microsoft Word correction came out using AI to aid with content creation and editing. Consider the Possibilities AI has been over 70 years in the making with many essential innovations leading to its current state. In this series of blogs, we thought we’d take a deep dive to explore some of the ways AI is poised to both enable and disrupt our lives. What are the most exciting developments on the horizon? How will emerging AI technologies make us smarter, more productive, and our lives more fulfilling? How can all of this power be harnessed for good? And what are its dangers if used without any guardrails or by bad actors with nefarious agendas and evil intent? We hope you’ll come along for this wild ride as we uncover more fascinating facts about AI in future installments of this series. Bard, Google's AI, was used for some of the research content on this blog.
The Art and Artistry of Writing Blogs
There’s an art to writing a good blog. And as a free-lance writer and mixed media artist, it recently occurred to me that blogs and paintings have a lot in common. You start out staring at a blank screen or canvas. You have a goal in mind. You get organized, gather materials, think about how to approach your subject, and when you feel ready, you dive in. There's sometimes some research involved, often a lot of trial and error as you decide where to begin and figure out what’s working and what’s not, questions like: You have the topic, now where’s the story? How do you explore and illuminate the essence of your subject? How do you make sure the finished product offers clarity and insights? How do you make your blog (or painting) fresh, when there have been so many that have come before it? How do you engage your audience and hold their interest? And when do you know when you’re done? In the end, it’s all about what you want to say and how you decide to say it. Sometimes less is more, and more is less. This can be a struggle, but it’s also a labor of love, and the journey is always a rewarding part of the process. You learn, experimentation leads to interesting surprises, your thinking evolves, and when you’re done, the end result can be eye-opening, informative, inspiring, even magical.
Nail Your Title, Wow Your Audience
Whether you’re writing to inspire, to educate, or to entertain, the title you select for your paper, blog, or article needs to be considered Job #1. Think of it as a door you want your target audience to open so that your intended message can be received. No matter how interesting your document, readers will move away in droves if your title is flat rather than fresh and engaging. So spend the time to make that “door” as inviting as you can. If your piece is meant to be thought provoking, this is the place to start. If it is meant to make your readers laugh, the same is true. Your endgame is to grab your audience’s attention and hold it until your message has been heard. 5 simple tests for judging a title’s effectiveness Is it simply stated and easily understood? Does it have wide appeal? Does it peak the reader’s interest? Does it set context and tone? Does it motivate potential readers to “read on”? With titles, word choices are of paramount importance. How do you assemble a mere handful of words to craft the perfect title? The answer is either inspiration (a light bulb moment) or perspiration in the form of experimentation and trial and error. A few examples of recent titles that went through this process [Before] How to Create Engaging Content [After] Creating Content That Ignites Your Business [Before] Using Social Media in the Customer Experience [After] Creating Social Media Evangelists for Your Brand [Before] Conducting Effective Webinars [After] Conduct Webinars that WOW to Engage Your Prospects Give these tips a try the next time you sit down to write something. And never again make the mistake of considering your titles just an afterthought. You’ll be surprised how effective a title can be as you compete in today’s chaotic and over-crowded world of written communications.
10 Tips For Eco-Friendly Trade Shows and Events
Trade shows, events, and conferences can be very hard on the environment with all the paper, printing processes, giveaways, shipping materials, fuel usage and booth construction materials. Fortunately, there are many eco-friendly options that will help you reduce your carbon footprint. 1. Partner with vendors who are committed to conducting a green certified business. Green Certified businesses use materials and practices to protect, preserve and sustain our environment. 2. Reduce paper waste by limiting the total volume of paper. Instead of handing out printed brochures, white papers, etc., hand out a business card-size document with just the URL’s where the participant can find your collateral online. Direct attendee to event related information on their Smartphone’s using a QR Code. 3. When possible, have your attendees fill out surveys online, instead of distributing paper versions. Nowadays many companies create a “survey station”with several tablets for attendees to use for short surveys before they leave. 4. Work with a print broker to locate green printing options for your banners, collateral, and signage. They can point you towards environmentally friendly paper options, soy inks instead of petroleum-based inks and printing processes that substantially reduce waste and use renewable energy resources. 5. Think about your giveaway and if it really has value outside of your branding. Is it just a novelty that will find its way into the garbage, or will it have a functional or decorative use that will outlast the event? Consider the size and location of your logo on objects—that can mean the difference between an item that is used over time or tossed after the show. A tidy little logo on the upper left quadrant of a shirt is usually more wearable than a huge graphic over the entire front. 6. There are many great green giveaways that are made with organic, recycled, biodegradable, sustainable and environmentally safe processes and materials. Have a giveaway distributor on your side to help you find these. 7. Use and reuse environmentally safe packaging and shipping materials. There are now many biodegradable and recycled content options that allow you to safely pack your materials and then use them again for the next event. 8. Consider having your printing projects produced at a print shop close to the event and delivered by courier. For materials that can’t be produced near the event, plan ahead and use ground shipping instead of air shipping. Air shipping pours 8 times more carbon emissions into the environment than ground shipping. 9. Use Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) lumber, plywood and sheet goods in your booth construction. The FSC is committed to responsible management of the world’s forests, and promotes the use of sustainable wood products. 10. Promote your green practices: More and more people are interested in having greener options and working with environmentally sensitive companies. It only takes an extra line of eco-friendly ink to explain how a collateral piece was printed, or to indicate the green materials and processes in your giveaways. Further Reading: 10 Tips for Planning Your Next Promotional Giveaway Campaign
The Power of Touch: The Haptic Effect
True confession I’ve never owned a Kindle or other ebook reader. I still prefer reading paperback books, doggy-eared and sandy from an afternoon spent on the beach. True confession, I’m not a fan of e-cards. I much prefer to find a handwritten letter from a friend in my mailbox. In my professional life, however, it’s a different story. As a creative director it’s imperative I stay on top of the latest trends and best practices in web and mobile design. I find it challenging and thought provoking to design those user experiences. I’ve been reading a lot about haptic stimuli and I’m beginning to feel validated in some of my nostalgic tendencies. If you’re not familiar with the term, haptic, it relates to our sense of touch. Only recently have scientists discovered just how important touch is in shaping our relationships and perceptions. The simple act of touching an object, like a catalog, brochure, or direct mail piece, stimulates psychological effects. Given two brochures to touch, people will perceive the company using the heavy, high-quality stock as a better company. “D igital content can be seen and heard, but print can be touched, smelt, and even tasted. If it’s intimacy that sets touch apart from our other senses, then it’s the physicality of print, it's substantial tactile nature, that makes it such a meaningful way to communicate .” 1 Our hands hold the greatest number of tactile receptors in our body It’s astonishing when you consider what our fingers are able to distinguish the difference between hot and cold, soft and hard, slick and dry, a pain and an itch. It’s their immense capacity for touch that makes them such powerful non-verbal communication tools. Yet as the Information Age has progressed, digital devices have taken over many of the jobs we used to do with our hands. We rely more and more on technology that requires swiping and sliding. What can’t be replicated online (at least not yet) is that intimate experience of running your fingers along a swatch of fine silk fabric or across a thick sheet of textured paper.
While technology continues to improve the user experience by creating new touch sensations on digital and handheld devices by adding subtle vibrations and motions to capture the haptic effect, it has a long way to go to satisfy people's natural craving for texture, temperature and muscle engagement. Many in our industry thought that print would become defunct Nevertheless, studies have revealed some intriguing facts. “People understand and remember what they read on paper better than what they read online.” 2 In another study, university students found print to be more aesthetically enjoyable. “What’s more, print gave them a sense of where they were in the book – they could see and feel where they were in the text.” 3 While the print industry has certainly seen a decline, print catalogs have started to trend up for the first time in years. “Retailers shifting to online catalogs found sales plummeting, as people missed the haptic qualities of the catalogs they were used to.” 4
Those making purchases online were doing so after first browsing the print catalog. While the mailing of catalogs is experiencing a rebound, it’s important to note, the form has changed dramatically. What used to be page after page of products is now filled with large photo spreads and inspirational personal stories appealing to a particular lifestyle. If you’ve ever flipped through a Williams Sonoma catalog, the popular high-end kitchenware store, you’ll find seasonal recipes are now interspersed with cookware. In the example of print catalogs, what’s really noteworthy is the old media (print) has not been replaced by the new (digital). Instead, we’re seeing a convergence and refining of the two. The best qualities of each media are being leveraged to produce a beneficial outcome for the marketer. Footnotes: Haptic Communication and Digital Print (first copy) Why the Brain Prefers Paper, (Scientific American ) Why Digital Reading is No Substitute for Print (The New Republic 2016) After Years of Decline, Are Revamped for Changing Times. (New York Times 2015) Further Reading: A Communicators Guide to the Neuro Science of Touch
10 Tips for Planning Your Next Promotional Giveaway Campaign
Giving a well thought-out promotional giveaway to your potential clients or event attendees is one of the best ways to continue reminding folks about your company. Here are a few tips to help you plan your next campaign: Start with your budget and the quantity of items you plan to give away. Quantity is critical as it sets the initial scope of your search. Looking for 10 of something is much different than looking for 5,000 of something. Items vary greatly in price (e.g. a pen might be $2 or it could be over $50). A budget will help you establish your search parameters. If you’ll be handing out giveaways at an event, it can be tricky to determine how many items you should order. The general rule of thumb is to order 10% more than your total expected attendance at the event. If your giveaway has a higher perceived value with your audience (e.g. t-shirts or coffee mugs), we recommend ordering 20% more than your total expected attendance. Check to make sure your desired item is in stock. Ask specifically how many are available in your desired color(s) and sizes. If the manufacturer is out of stock in your item, ask if and when they’ll be able to restock. It never hurts to ask, but it can be problematic if you don’t. Order your item as early as possible. This tip especially pertains to items that you have your heart set on or if you’re ordering a large number of items. Typically, about 20% of all giveaways are out-of-stock at any given time or only available in limited quantities. When determining what item to give away, choose something that communicates your brand and that will be perceived as having value. Chose products that are useful and be mindful of their impact on the environment. It's better to not offer a promotional item, than to offer an item that your customers think is wasteful and irresponsible. Design your giveaway in a manner that ensures an optimum return on logo size vs. item size. If you want to put your logo on a pen or a tote bag, make sure that the writing and/or graphics don’t overwhelm the item. Similar to writing with ALL CAPS, branding that is too large for the item can be perceived as yelling. Order a sample and take it for a test drive before placing your order. Whether it’s a pen, a T-shirt or a mug: reviewing and playing with a sample will be the best way to determine if your selected item really will make the right impression on your customers or event attendees. When in doubt, check it out. Request and review a virtual proof. This is the only way to ensure the manufacturer will be reproducing your logo or slogan on your desired item in the right size, in the right location and in the right colors. Be aware that federal law requires all manufactured goods include labeling indicating where they were made. This means the small but noticeable phrase, “Made in the USA,” or “Made in China” may not appear on a mock-up of your item, but it will be on the actual physical giveaway item — another good reason why you should request a sample first before ordering. Hire a Giveaways Distributor. Giveaways Distributors know how to obtain the best possible products while simultaneously saving you time, money, and hassle.
Understanding Color Modes Used in Design: RGB, CMYK and PMS
“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment…,” said the visual designer. Actually, it was Claude Monet, the famous French impressionist, who coined this popular quote; but any designer worth their salt can relate. In marketing, the colors we choose become an integral part of a company’s brand and as such play a crucial role in the first impressions customers will form. Color is an unspoken, visual language and designers will spend hours toiling over their color books to choose just the right shade of a hue to use in a logo design. Once our color selections are woven into a corporate identity, they are broadcast out to world across a multitude of channels. Digital and print assets are just the tip of the iceberg—there’s signage, exhibit graphics, presentations, promotional giveaways, clothing…you get the point. As marketers we have the formidable task of ensuring that the corporate palette remains consistent across these mediums and stays true to the integrity of the brand. Consider McDonald’s golden arches and a specific shade of yellow will come to mind. Or what about the jewelry company, Tiffany’s—their robin egg blue packaging is recognizable to any fashionista. It’s these specific hues that customers identify with the company over time. In graphic arts there are numerous color systems used to accurately measure and describe color, but the 3 most essential are RGB, CMYK and Pantone. Let’s start with the RGB color model. It’s used in electronic devices such as computer monitors, smart phones, TVs and digital photography. It’s an additive color model in which red, green and blue light are added together to create a broad array of colors. Each color (red, green, and blue) is assigned an integer between 0 and 255 that defines its intensity. For example, RGB(0, 0, 255), red and green have been assigned a value of 0 and blue the highest value of 255. This color would render on screen as a vivid blue. On the other hand, CMYK is a color model we use for commercial printing. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) ink dyes are mixed together on press to create an array of colors. CMYK is also referred to as four-color process printing. For example 0% Cyan, 100% Magenta, 100% Yellow, and 0% Black; Magenta and Yellow inks are mixed together in equal amounts without any cyan or black. This would appear as a red when printed on paper. (It’s important to mention certain RGB colors that can be seen on a screen—in particular, bright vibrant colors—simply cannot be replicated with standard CMYK inks.) The CMYK color model is only one way we can express color for commercial printing. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a proprietary numbering system for colors. It is solid ink color printed on paper—not mixed on the press, as is CMYK. Solid color (also know as spot color) is the truest representation of color intent and results in a very pure hue. When color matching in print is absolutely critical use PMS color if your budget allows. Below is an example of one color—a magenta hue—and how it would be documented using the 3 color models described: Through the course of a brand’s life many hands will touch it—developers, vendors, UX and web designers, and printers—to name just a few. Therefore, it’s critical to include color specifications in your Brand’s Guidelines. So, while color may be a designer’s day-long obsession… for everyone else thereafter it can be much easier. That is, as long as you have your designer measure and record their color selections in these three color systems. Further Reading: Create A Winning Palette for Your Brand
Create A Winning Palette for Your Brand
A winning palette elicits a desired mood or communicates an idea — and it starts by being familiar with a few fundamental laws of color and its properties. Have you ever struggled to communicate clearly about color with your designer? Perhaps a color doesn’t seem to resonate or appear to fit the company persona yet you’re unable to articulate what it is about that particular blue. Basic Terminology Understanding some basic terminology—physical properties that allow us to distinguish and define colors—will provide you with a framework for your next conversation around color. As a creative professional, I’m often asked to explain, or in some cases, defend my design choices. One of the most subjective choices I make each day is color. Why? Because color is evocative – it can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. Color is not simply a decorative afterthought; it’s a powerful tool for all designers. By leveraging color to the fullest extent, it can influence a viewer’s perception of your product or services. Color is a uniquely emotional language. Much of this language is cultural—in the United States, the color red can represent anger or energy while blue represents calm and relaxation. Try this simple test. Close your eyes and visualize a bright red. Did you feel a jolt of energy? Now try a soft blue. Do your shoulders start to relax? “In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually.” – Joseph Albers According to Gunter Wyszecki in his book , Color, the human eye can perceive over 10,000,000 colors. Color is also constantly changing. It is seen and influenced in relation to the colors around it. Take the example below. The green in both diagrams is the same. However, it appears as two very different shades of green because it’s interacting with the color in the background. Do the green stripes over the gray field seem more vibrant to you? With such a vast number of colors in the visible spectrum and its fluid nature, how can we make successful color choices? We can start by applying color theory—a set of guiding principles for developing aesthetically pleasing color relationships. These ideas are represented in a variety of diagrams. One of the most widely used of these diagrams is the color wheel developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1706. This is a 12-step color wheel consisting of 12 pure colors that are equidistant. It starts with the pure primary colors of yellow, blue and red. Combined equally with one another, they create the secondary colors (located mid-way between primaries) of green, violet and orange. Primary and secondary colors are combined equally to create the tertiary colors of yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange and yellow-orange. We can use the color wheel as a tool to help us select and combine color, and create harmonious palettes. Let’s look at five basic color relationships we can establish from it: Complementary: Color pairs that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. Analogous: A group of two or more colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Triadic: Three colors equally spaced around color wheel. Double Complementary: A combination of two pairs of complementary colors. Split Complementary: A variation of the complementary color scheme. Starting with a base color, it uses the two colors adjacent to its complement. Any of the above relationships can be used as a starting point for creating a color harmony— a color relationship that is visually appealing and balanced. Seven color properties and their meaning: Hue is the most common name of a color such as red, blue, green, etc.
When we need to be even more descriptive, we can do so by using two hue names in combination. For instance the green shown below is more accurately described as “yellow-green”. The blue is better described as a blue-purple. Chroma is the purity of a color.
Colors with a high chroma have not been diluted with black, white or gray. These colors (shown below) appear very vivid and well…pure. Colors with a high chroma are exhilarating and attract attention, by and large making them good choices for advertising to teens or young adults. Frequently, chroma is confused with saturation; however, they refer to two distinct situations, as we will explain. Saturation refers to the strength or weakness of a color.
Saturation can also be referred to as the intensity of a color. In the row below the colors are different hues of the same saturation or intensity. Pastel colors such as these have low or weak saturation and tend to produce a calming environment. The second example below shows color of the same hue (blue,) but different levels of saturation or fullness. The pale blue on the far left has a weaker saturation than the navy blue on the far right with a strong, full saturation. Value refers to how light or dark a color is.
Lighter colors have higher values. For example yellow has a higher value than navy blue. Black has the lowest value of any color, and white the lightest. Generally speaking, when applying color values to your design, using high contrast values typically result in more aesthetically pleasing designs. You might also hear your designer refer to tints, tones and shades.
Quite simply, a tint is created by adding white to a color; making it lighter than the original. Tones are created by adding gray to a color’ making it duller than the original; and shades are created by adding black to a color, making it darker than the original. To sum it up, as a marketer, the more you know about color, the better you can use it to meet the goals of your next project. By mastering these basic concepts you will develop a richer color vocabulary, better articulate your color preferences, and ensure you and your designer our speaking the same language… of color. Further Reading: Understanding Color Modes Used in Design: RGB, CMYK and PMS Resources: Adams Morioka and Terry Stone, Color Design Workbook: A Real World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design (Rockport Publisher, 2006), 6. Gunter Wyszecki, Color. (Chicago: World Book Inc., 2006)
Josef Albers, The Interaction of Color. (Yale University Press, 1963).
David Sommers, “History of the Color Wheel,” www.colourlovers.com, May 8, 2008.