Through the lens brightly.
Knowledge is power.
Trends. Opinions. Insights.
WHAT IS A ROLLOUT?
A rollout is a form of presentation that came about as a result of roll-fed printers. And assuming they have long enough tables, clients love them, because the entire presentation can be viewed with one sweep of the eyes, i.e. no slide-by-slide PowerPoint presentation where only parts can be shown at one time.
PowerPoint is by far the most ubiquitous means by which presentations are made these days. But PowerPoint has its drawbacks, not the least of which is its graphic choices, which usually result in cookie-cutter presentations that look so much alike that after a while the audience begins to tune out. It doesn’t have to be that way. A PowerPoint presentation in the hands of a good, story-telling designer can become an engaging and compelling story. For example, click through this presentation we did for the president of GE Medical:
Note that the visuals seem to be missing a narrative flow, which is intentional, because it follows the rule that an audience cannot read and comprehend the content on a slide and at the same time process what the speaker is saying. Thus when we design a presentation, we like to use a zig-zag approach where the audience goes back and forth between what is being shown on the screen and what the speaker is saying, i.e. the slides are not simply there to replicate what the speaker is saying.
In addition, the speaker does not always “tell” in order to make his point, he mixes questions in with his presentation to keep the audience on its toes. For example instead of saying, “The American cancer rate has increased by 500% in the past 25 years,” he might say, “What do you think the cancer rate increase has been in the past 25 years?” Then he clicks to reveal the rate on the next slide. In other words, he uses several methodologies to keep his audience engaged that are based on how the human mind functions when it has to process verbal as well as visual information at the same time.
Sustainability Reports: What the heck is materiality and why does it matter?
The number of new words the sustainability revolution has spawned is astounding. Some are brand new, while others are simply derivations of existing terms. Materiality falls into the latter category insofar as it is essentially one of the many uses of the word material as in “material witness,” or simply “that that matters.”
In the context of CSRs, materiality refers to the identification and ranking of important issues that are potentially relevant to the company for which the report is being done.
Sustainability issues are still a work in progress as strategies and reporting continues to evolve, but it helps to identify and prioritize them. Every company has its own way of prioritizing their objectives and few are willing to share their priority list, however, several companies did so at a recent CERES forum. The two charts below are from BASF and Ford respectively.
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Ford’s materiality matrix in their 2011/12 sustainability report represents a best practice for materiality reporting. Ford’s index was cited as an example of useful reporting and disclosure. See Ford’s report here.
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BASF’s materiality matrix in their 2012/13 sustainability report is another best practice for materiality reporting.
Think of us as a hand. Your strategic plan, whether developed by you or by us, is located in the palm (right where the lifeline is.) The fingers represent the services we provide: identity, print, web, photography and video. Depending on the strategic plan, one or more of our services may come into play. If your goal is to build a photo/video library, then you can use us just for those two services. If your plan calls for a full-blown branding project, then all of the services would most likely come into play. Most importantly, when the plan calls for the full range of services, they all work together to form one visually harmonious end product.
Is there a home for conceptual photography in the digital age?
One of the defining characteristics of a conceptual photograph is that it deals with subject matter that is difficult to photograph. For example, the image above illustrates targeted drug technology.
Another challenge is how to illustrate services that are cerebral in nature and therefore difficult to photograph. The four images below represent some of the services of an intellectual property firm and convey that the company for which the images have been created is operating in a cerebral and therefore challenging business environment.
Conceptual imagery requires the reader to stop and think about its meaning. In this respect, the web often functions in the exact opposite way, where the faster one can get a point across the better. As a result, conceptual imagery has yet to find a home on the web. But the internet is a work in progress, so hopefully it will eventually get there?
How one of the oldest forms of communication dictates how we think today
There was a time when home page content had to appear “above the fold.” If a user wanted more info, he had to click into the site via a drop down menu. Thus home pages always seemed to have that “squeezed” look, the most obvious sign of which was the banner photo at the top.
But a funny thing happened on the way to smart phones and tablets; “below the fold” became obsolete as hand-held devices and touch screen technology began to take over our consciousness. Scrolling for further information became second nature to the point where it’s not uncommon to see people subconsciously dragging their fingers across their laptops or desktops these days to get things to move.
This is a great shift in usability for both clients and web designers, because it turns a relatively small area into something much bigger and potentially more robust, where each downward scroll can reveal new information.
In addition to our own site, we are beginning to design our clients’ websites to optimize scrolling. (See Pursuit Consulting.)
What do focus groups really tell us? Insight #1.
Focus groups play a necessary role in aiding marketing decisions, but they run the risk of squashing creativity in the process, insofar as they tend to push decisions toward the center. The expression, “democracy breeds mediocrity” applies, i.e. when too many people are asked to arrive at a decision, you can be sure it will be one that reflects such a wide range of views that the mediocre center is the result, which is fine, if your market is in the middle. Think laundry detergents.
But what about a product or service aimed at a much more discerning audience?
A common expression from a focus group participant is, “Well, I liked it, but I didn’t think others would like it,” which misses the point of a focus group. The fact that a person likes something is exactly what a focus group should be about, and not what one of the participants thinks some other person would like. And yet that is the way focus groups often function, i.e. a participant relegates his own opinion believing he is being asked to judge how others may respond. A better way to begin a focus group is to insist to the participants, “We want to know what YOU think, not what you think someone else would think.”
Trust in print
If print is dead as many people claim, why do we continue to get all those catalogs?
It is because retailers understand that print is where we are inspired to buy and what to buy, whereas the web provides us with a quick and convenient way to buy it?
Does this mean we cannot make decisions based on the images we see on the web?
Yes and no. The web is very transitory, i.e. what we see there today may not be there tomorrow. The result is a certain lack of trust with that which we see on screens. Print, on the other hand, can be held in your hand and has a sense of permanence and therefore a higher trust factor. It’s a small but important point when it comes to relying too much on the web instead of also recognizing the role print has to play in the way we make decisions today.
This is also true of corporate communications and the role of the printed annual report, where trust is an all-important factor. Many corporations realize there is a role for both print and online.
Why photos and video “together”?
There was a time when photos were the visual backbone of a branding project, but as internet bandwidth has grown, so has the use of video. Improvements in video production technology have spurred this growth as well and have led to what we refer to as small footprint video wherein we can be far less obtrusive than a major video production house. As a consequence, when we are hired to shoot photos or video separately, we encourage the client to shoot both at the same time. Here is why:
First, it ensures visual continuity when still images and video resonate the same visual message. (See video clips below from a variety of shoots.)
Second, the cost of doing photos and video separately far exceeds shooting them together.
Third, it can require a considerable amount of time and energy on the part of the client to set up one shoot or the other. Better to set things up once and shoot photos and video at the same time.
Boston Children’s Museum