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6 Seriously Kule Color Tools

Adobe Labs released a very fun and useful tool for anyone that would like to learn about combining colors or creating what they call color themes. The tool is called kuler. (Requires the latest Flash player to view)

kuler is a designer playground and community that allows anyone to create color combination palettes and publish them for the community. Voting happens and the best palettes rise to the top under the “most popular” tab.

On top of being a very cool app, any business owner can go and find professional grade color combinations that can help set the mood for any print or online project. Need to know what subtle accent colors might go with your 2 color logo but still have trouble picking out what shirt and tie go together? Visit kuler, go through the popular combinations, and click on one that contains your base colors. The tool then gives you all information you might need for RGB, CMYK, and Hex settings.

Professional designers, or those that play them on TV, will love the fact that you can download the themes right into CS3. You can get the kuler release notes from Adobe Labs. If you really want to stay on top of color trends, get the widget for Mac users at MacUpdate

And just when you thought you were having too much fun with color: Check out this tool that allows you to upload an image and let the tool suggest some colors you might use as accents. Color Palette Generator

6 What Have the Senses Got To Do With Marketing?

Emotional connection to something is translated by the senses. With marketing one of the goals for many companies is to create and deepen the emotional connection clients and prospects develop with a product, company or service. This is what creates unshakable loyalty, unsolicited referrals, and viral word or mouth.

For most humans these connections involve how they see, hear, smell, taste and touch the experience they participate in. There is an Emily Dickinson poem that starts – “the ear can break a human heart more quickly than a spear.” While I doubt your company aims to break too many hearts, the message is clear. Our impression and emotional connection with people and things is formed by our senses.

Are there sights, sounds, smells and tastes that immediately take you to another place and time, somewhere deep in your memory. Just smelling hyacinths each spring brings back fond memories of my mother working in the garden.

What sensory elements have you built into the overall experience of your brand? To some degree, how far you carry this is dictated by your business, but every business sends brand messages through the colors they choose, style they choose, even the fonts they choose to use in the most basic marketing materials. Yes, your website design can say we’re fun, we’re serious, we’re trustworthy. Look at my friends the Sloan Brothers site at StartUpNation, that design says fun and approachable to me.

Your office can say a lot. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? Does your store play music associated with your brand, does your dental office bake cookies, do you send flowers to reward referrals. Go beyond the obvious and look for ways to associate your brand with positive sensory elements that can become a unique signature for your business.

Tell me how your firm or firms you do business with use this strategy.

17 Know Good Design

The visual elements of your business, including your logo, associated graphics, website and printed collateral materials send very strong messages about your brand. While you can overestimate and overcome this impact you can and should understand it and take steps to align it with your core marketing message and ideal client.

Professional designers can be a great aid in this process, but only if you can help guide them. A professional designer may have a firm grasp on the creative elements of strong design, but it’s up to you help them understand how to use these elements to reflect the image you have for your business. It’s a paticipation sport.

Like so many aspects of your business you don’t have to know how to create good design for your business, but you do need to know how to spot it and how to buy it. Depending upon the business you are in, a decision to call you up or engage your services may be made solely on the on the consumption of some component of your marketing materials – I’d say that makes them important.

One of the ways to become a better consumer of good design is to actually study it a bit. It’s very helpful to expose yourself to good design, used in various ways, in order to bring good design into your business. There are many ways to do this, but my simple solution is to pick up the design annual editions of HOW and create magazines. These publications mostly cater to the professional design community and won’t be found at every corner magazine rack but seek them out and get a very rich introduction to great design for about $25. They also have fairly vibrant online communities.

OK creatives lurking out there reading this blog, got any other good resources for design?

If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.

5 Powerful PDF Option

I have been using a new tool to create, edit and convert PDF files and I can’t say enough good things about it. The software is called ScanSoft PDF Coverter Professional 4

I think this is a great tool for small businesses because I find it much easier to use than Adobe Acrobat and the cost is $99 compared to $449 for a new install of Acrobat. It has completely replaced Acrobat and Acrobat Reader on my computer.

    Business owners will find these features particularly useful

  • Edit PDF documents directly just like working in the original file.
  • Use FormTyper to instantly convert static PDF forms into fill-able PDF forms.
  • Convert PDF files to human sounding audio files
  • Convert PDF files into fully functioning Word of Excel documents

3 StockLayouts, a great small business resource

It’s been a while since I’ve writtern about StockLayouts, but every time I see a new set of designs come out of these folks I’m even more impressed.

One of the quickest ways to create high impact stationary, brochures, ads, newsletters and product sheets is to grab a collection from StockLayouts. There are lots of template designs available but these are by far the best you can find.

You won’t find yourself thinking these design look like templates – don’t forget to browse around and find designs for your specific industry.

21 Duct Tape Review :: LogoWorks

An appropriate logo, and by that I mean one that serves to reinforce what your company stands for and does it in a way that appeals to a chosen target audience, is a foundational marketing element.

There are many ways to acquire a strong identifying logo for you business, but of late, more and more small business owners are finding an online service called LogoWorks.

LogoWorks creates logos and other design by matching several designers to your online request for a logo. You simply go to logoworks.com and complete an online request form.

The process of requesting a logo is fairly simple, but like any design element, you will get a better design if you can specifically describe your target market and core marketing message when you complete the online form.

Depending upon your needs you can expect to get three to five design concepts in about 48 hours. You can revise or accept a concept as done and even allow your clients and associates to vote on the one they like. The entire process of creating a logo costs $299.

LogoWorks also creates stationary, brochures, web pages and promotional products like hats and coffee mugs.

LogoWorks is a very affordable option that provides very nice work. The online system of ordering, reviewing and finalizing your designs just works. LogoWorks gets my highest recommendation.