S2 – SMART ARTICLES: 01

S2 articles present a variety of subjects that relates to areas of graphic design, psychology, market data, communication trends and work examples. Peruse our library and learn more.

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9 traits of successful entrepreneurs you should develop

You might never join the ranks of the multi-zillionaires, but these characteristics of an entrepreneur can take you far in the workplace.

 

Entrepreneurial spirit—it’s a phrase you might see in some job ads. Granted, your track record might not look like Mark Zuckerberg’s, Lori Greiner’s, or Richard Branson’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate successful entrepreneurs at work.

 

Put simply, awesome employees and successful entrepreneurs have more than a few traits in common—and employers are eager to hire such people. Being a self-starter can make you very desirable.

 

Regardless of who writes the paycheck, we all need to work as if we work for ourselves.

 

Develop these nine qualities of an entrepreneur to help set yourself apart from the average worker.

 

Motivation

Hard-working business owners are incredibly motivated to succeed. Adopting this mindset—and being able to demonstrate your motivation to an employer—is crucial. You need to bring enthusiasm to everything you do at your job. Fortunately, showing you’re highly motivated is simple: You have to show up to work every day with a positive attitude. Employers want to see you’re passionate.

 

Creativity

No matter what industry you’re in, employers want workers with out-of-the-box ideas. They want employees to be able to not only carry out assignments, but also come up with better ways of doing things. That’s why it’s important to be creative—to always be thinking of new ways you can improve your company’s workflow, productivity, and bottom line.

 

Persuasiveness

Persuasiveness can make you a better negotiator, which gives you an edge when going after a plum assignment, raise, or promotion. There are times when you are going to need to convince a client, a co-worker, or your boss to take certain actions, so you need to be persuasive when presenting your ideas.

 

Vision

Successful entrepreneurs always keep one eye on the big picture, and this ability can make you a better employee. Vision is about strategic planning. Can you see what direction the industry is going? Can you identify challenges for your company? Can you tackle your day-to-day job responsibilities, while staying focused on long-term goals and initiatives?

 

Versatility

You have to be able to adapt to changes in the workforce. You may be hired for a specific set of skills, but it’s important to be able to shift as needed.

You want to be someone that your boss can go to in a pinch, so be prepared to tackle work that’s outside your job description. It’s also important to be an early adopter of new technology and keep your skills current.

 

Risk tolerance

Every employer wants to grow their business, which often involves risk and change. Translation: Don’t be afraid to take risks when pursuing new clients, for example, or testing a new product. (One caveat: Make sure you have your boss’ buy-in before taking a risk.)

 

Flexibility

Like an entrepreneur, you have to be able to adapt to change and solve problems as they arise, Mufson says. A good team player can shift their priorities to help out whenever the team needs assistance. Thus, flexibility means being receptive to other people’s needs, opinions, and ideas and being open-minded to feedback from your manager.

 

Decisiveness

Do you exercise sound judgment under pressure? When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have room to procrastinate—and the same is true for employees. You have to be able to take action when needed. You must know how to prioritize tasks and make decisions quickly. (It helps to be organized.)

 

Collaboration

Savvy entrepreneurs are not only brilliant leaders, but also great collaborators, so you have to be an effective team player. Unsurprising, 78% of hiring managers seek job candidates who demonstrate strong teamwork skills, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2017 survey.

 

Ultimately, using entrepreneurial skills at work entails adjusting to other people’s work styles, avoiding office politics, celebrating your peers’ successes, meeting your deadlines, and putting your company’s goals first.

 

 

21 Interesting Internet facts.

The definition is a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

 

  1. The more posts per day, the less engagement—when a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post.  Be mindful of your publishing frequency on Facebook, and start testing with your own page to see what frequency is right for you.

  2. The click-through rate on triggered messages is 119% higher than “Business as Usual” messages. Using personalized and timely lead nurturing with marketing automation is an important strategy for improving the overall performance of your email marketing and customer generation.

  3. On average, companies respond to only 30% of social media fans’ feedback. Engagement is rare. Stand out from your competition by caring and engaging with your social media community.

  4. The average tablet user spends 13.9 hours per week with the device. The tablet is quickly becoming the new laptop. Survey your customers and leads to understand how they are using tablets, and let that data influence future marketing strategies targeted at tablet users.

  5. Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages per day. Peer-to-peer communication through text messaging has become of core part of society’s communication infrastructure.

  6. Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80% over the last six months. Mobile devices have become a major source of email usage. Make sure that your email marketing message displays properly on mobile devices to maximize the results of your sends.

  7. 27% of TV sets shipped worldwide in Q1 of 2012 had internet connectivity.  Internet connectivity is becoming standard for all devices. With the internet becoming a bigger part of the living room, plan for how this change might disrupt your current broadcast marketing tactics.

  8. By 2016, more than half of the dollars spent in US retail will be influenced by the web. Commerce is shifting more and more online. Make sure that you have a method to easily sell your product or service online.

  9. In any given week, less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brand they are fans of. Brands aren’t providing the right kind of content and experience to engage their fans. Ask your Facebook fans what type of content they want to see, and then give it to them!

  10. 45% of the world’s 2 billion internet users live in Asia.  If you actively sell and market to Asian markets, the internet is a channel that can’t be ignored. Understand how internet usage and habits differ in Asia compared to the United States

  11. 61% of emails received at professional email accounts are non-essential. Inboxes are overflowing with marketing email. Use personalization, proper timing, and offers valuable to the recipient to break through the clutter and be seen.

  12. 20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments they saw there.  People are influenced by, well, other people. Use paid and organic marketing on Facebook to influence the conversion actions that drive your business.

  13. 17% of the top 1000 search terms on Twitter “churn over” on an hourly basis. Twitter is all about novelty and news. Publish more frequently and focus on timely content to appeal to Twitter’s hungry users.

  14. U.S. consumers send 2.304 trillion text messages per year, up from 2.052 trillion in 2010.  Wow! That is a ton of text messages. If you are marketing to heavy texting demographics, consider incorporating a text message opt-in as part of your campaign.

  15. 40% of the accounts and 8% of the messages on social media sites are spam. Email isn’t the online platform with a spam problem. Take the time to customize your social media account and content so you stand out from the spam bots.

  16. 88% of adults in the US have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-reader, and 19% have a tablet. The cell phone is the dominant communication tool in the United States, but information consumption is fragmented. Optimize your digital marketing for all of the screens and devices used by your target audience.

  17. 64% of smartphone owners are using their mobile devices to shop online. The smartphone is ripe with impulse shopping revenue. If you sell goods online, target specific campaigns to smartphone users.

  18. YouTube users watch more than 3B hours of video per month. Video is a major part of the online experience, but it’s different from traditional broadcast productions. When integrating online video into your inbound marketing strategy be sure to consider not only production value, but length. Most successful online videos are less than two minutes long.

  19. About 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. When looking for blogging expertise, look no further than the mommy bloggers. Everyone has influence and expertise you can learn from and leverage.

  20. 73% of smartphone owners access social networks through apps at least once per day.  Social is mobile. Make sure that content you’re sharing on social networks—like your blog articles and landing pages -- are optimized for mobile devices.

  21. 91% of online adults use social media regularly. Social media is fully integrated into communication culture. Make sure it is an integrated part of your marketing strategy, too.


Sources: 1. Track Social 2. Epsilon and DMA 4. OPA 5. Forrester Research 6. Litmus 7. Display Search 8. Forrester Research 9. Marketing Science 10. Ecommerce Europe 11. Mimecast 12. Ipsos 13. Twitter 14. CTIA 15. Businessweek 16. Pew Internet 17. eDigitalResearch 18. YouTube 19. Nielsen 20. Lightspeed Research 21. Experian

 

 

 

74 interesting Millennial facts.

Some interesting research related to the millennial generation (also termed Gen Y). These stats shed lights on how the economy has affected their lives, their values, how they view the workplace, their consumer and investing habits, political views and entrepreneurial spirit.

 

Millennials and the economy

  1. $1 trillion in student debt

  2. The average member of Gen Y carries $45 000 in debt

  3. Unemployment rate of 16.3%

  4. 40% of Millennials said their stress had increased last year

  5. Just 6 in 10 Millennials have jobs, half are part-time

  6. 284,000 American college graduates working in minimum-wage jobs in 2012

  7. 48% of employed college graduates work in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree

  8. 50% do not believe that Social Security will exist when they reach their retirement age

  9. Their average incomes have fallen 8% since the recession began in 2007 

  10. 63% know someone who had to move back home because of the economy

  11. Median net worth fell 37% between 2005 and 2010

  12. Average student carries $12,700 in credit-card and other kinds of debt

  13. Nearly a third have put off marriage or having a baby due to the recession

  14. 88% of Millennials are optimistic about finding a job

  15. 45% believe a decent paying job is a “privilege”

  16. Over 63% of Gen Y workers have a Bachelor’s Degree

  17. Median salary across Gen Y is $39,700


Millennial values
18.  81% have donated money, goods or services
19.  75% see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values
20.  On track to become the most educated generation in American history
21.  61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference
22.  65% of Millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car
23.  44% of Millennials say that marriage is becoming obsolete, compared to 35% of Boomers who feel the same way
24.  39% of Millennials have a tattoo
25.  33% of Millennials live in cities and 14% live in rural environments
26.  More tolerant of races and groups than older generations (47% vs. 19%), with 45% agreeing with preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities.
 
Millennials as employees
27.  By next year, Millennials will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75% of the global workplace
28.  41% of Millennials do what their managers tell them to do, which is greater than older generations
29.  84% say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition
30.  Millennials say they do not deserve special treatment and are equally as committed as non-Millennials 
31.  92% believe that business success should be measured by more than profit
32.  Millennial employees have about the same level of organizational commitment as boomers and Gen Xers
33.  40% of Millennials think that blogging about workplace issues is acceptable. Compared to 28% of Boomers
34.  29% of Millennial workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient. Compared to 45% of Boomers
35.  80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews, and feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job
36.  70% have “friended” their managers and/or co-workers on Facebook
37. 71% don’t always obey social media police at work
38.  Connected to an average of 16 co-workers on Facebook
39.  It costs an average of $24,000 to replace each Gen Y employee
40.  15% of Gen Y’s are already managers
41.  56% of Gen Y’s won’t work at a company if they ban social media access
42.  69% believe office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis
43.  Average tenure for Gen Y is 2 years (5 for Gen X and 7 for Baby Boomers)

Millennials As Entrepreneurs
44.  35% of employed Millennials have started their own business on the side to supplement their income
45.  90% say being an entrepreneur is a mindset instead of the role of a business owner
46.  46% of Gen Y wants to start a business in the next 5 years
47.  54% either want to start a business or already have started one
48.  More than a quarter (27%) are already self-employed

Millennials As Consumers
49.  By 2015, their annual spending is expected to be $2.45 trillion and by 2018, they will exclipse boomers in spending power at $3.39 trillion
50.  63% stay updated on brands through social networks
51.  46% count on social media when buying online, but 55% of Gen Y share bad experiences
52.  41% of Millennials have no landline at home and rely on their cellphones for communication
53.  48% of Millennials who say word-of-mouth influences their product purchases more than TV ads. Only 17% said a TV ad prompted them to buy
54.  41% of Millennials have made a purchase using their smartphone
55.  32% of Millennials say they don’t like advertising in general, compared to 37% of the general population
56.  43% have liked more than 20 brands on Facebook
57.  77% participate in loyalty reward programs
58.  44% are willing to promote products or services through social media in exchange for rewards
59.  More engaged in activities like rating products and services than older generations (60% vs 46%)
60.  84% report that user generated content on company websites at least somewhat influences what they buy

Millennials As Investors
61. 46% count on social media when buying online, but 55% of Gen Y share bad experiences
62. 43% of millennial respondents described themselves as “conservative” investor
63. Gen Y is nearly 10% of all affluent investors in the U.S.
64. 84% of Gen Y are seeking advice about finance
65. 57% will change financial advisors for a tech setting
66. 61% want video meetings with advisors

Millennials In Politics
67. They elected our president – 60% voted for Obama in 2012, 66% in 2008
68. Millennials will be 40% of the electorate by 2020
69. 41% satisfied with the way things are going in the country
70. In 2008, 48 million Millennials (those born between 1978 and 2000) were eligible to vote, and 25 million actually did
71. Younger Americans are most progressive (56.6) on cultural and social values and the least progressive on economic and domestic policy (53.1)
72. 42%  believe that “our current economic problems show what happens when you rely too much on the market and reduce regulations on corporations
73. 48% believe that their parents most influence their vote (aside from themselves)
74. 58% said they would be following the 2016 election on social networks like Twitter and Facebook

Source: Copyright Dan Schawbel – http://danschawbel.com

 

 

 

 

39 interesting Generation-Z stats.

Generation-Z  represents 23 million Americans  born between 1994 and 2010. While they haven’t entered the workplace yet, they have a different set of values and beliefs than their predecessors. They were born during the financial meltdown and don’t know a world without the Internet. They will become the most entrepreneurial, conservative, diverse and educated generation in the world. Here is a collection of all research I’ve collected on Gen Z, with more to come soon. They will help you understand what they value, as well as how to hire and sell to them.

 

Gen-Z And The Economy
1.  Gen-Z receive $16.90 per week in allowance or $44 billion a year total
2.  58% of Gen-Z’s are either somewhat or very worried about the future
3.  They have a combined buying power of $43 billion and influence an additional $600 billion of family spending.

Gen-Z Values
4.  77% of Gen-Z’s are either extremely or very interested in volunteering to gain work experience
5.  26% are currently volunteering
6.  76% are concerned about man’s impact on the planet
7.  79% of display symptoms of emotional distress when kept away from their personal electronic devices
8.  90% would be upset if they had to give up their Internet connection while only 51% would give up eating out and 56% would give up downloading music
9.  84% multitask with an Internet-connected device while watching TV
10.  They have more than 10 apps on their smartphone with 10% having more than 40
 
Gen-Z’s As Employees
11.  60% want to have an impact on the world with their jobs (compared to 39% of millennials)

Gen-Z Students
12.  55% of Gen-Z students say that their parents are putting pressure on them to gain professional experience during high school
13.  Nearly 50% of Gen-Z students are participating in internships for the purpose of advancing themselves professionally in high school
14.  64% of Gen-Z consider earning an advanced degree as one of their life goals
15.  80% of Gen-Z’s think they are more driven than their peers
16.  50% of Gen-Z’s will be unviersity educated compared to 33% of millennials and 25% of Gen-X
17.  85% research online and 33% watch lessons online to educate themselves
18.  52% use YouTube or other social media sites for a typical school research assignment
19.  60% of Gen-Zers say they like to share their knowledge with others online, a sign of collaborative skills
20.  64% say they contribute to Websites because they like learning about new things
21.  76% feel that their online experiences will help them reach their goals
22.  66% say that technology makes them feel that anything is possible

Gen-Z’s As Entrepreneurs
23.  72% of Gen-Z wants to start a business someday
24.  61% of Gen-Z would rather be an entrepreneur instead of an employee when they graduate college
25.  76% wish their hobby would turn into a full-time job compared to 50% of millennials
26.  42% plan to start their own businesses and 3% currently run their own business
27.  38% say they will invest something that changes the world

Gen-Z’s As Consumers

28.  55% of Gen-Z would rather buy clothes online and 53% would rather buy books and electronics online

29.  64% are more likely than other generations to trust somewhat or completely the content on mobile apps from brands, as well as text messages from brands

30.  90% will make sure their parents feel a planned purchase is affordable before going ahead with it

31.  43% said their family influences their purchasing decisions the most followed by friends (35%), friends of friends (23%) and celebrities (10%)

32.  64% said their parents pay for them with their credit/debit card

33.  22% of surveyed Gen-Z consumers say they trust somewhat or trust completely posts by companies or brands on social networking sites

34.  More than 50% identify themselves as deal hunters

35.  57%  research products more than they used to before making a purchase

36.  Their favorite items to spend money on are food and drink (36%), going out with friends (32%) and clothes (18%)


Gen-Z As Investors

37.  57% would rather save money than spend it

38.  76% spend money on themselves, while 62% save it, 38% spend it on things for friends and family and 10% give it to charity

39.  Their top financial goals are buying a car (33%), paying for education (23%) and buying a house (20%)



Source: Copyright Dan Schawbel – http://danschawbel.com

 

 

 

The psychology and philosophy of branding – Needs and actions.

Experienced communicators understand that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Aristotle’s Seven Causes of Human Action can be directly applied to consumer behavior and brand marketing. You’ll never really “get” marketing if you don’t “get” the psychology of needs and the philosophy of actions.

 

Abraham Maslow – Psychologist
An American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Maslow was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Columbia University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a "bag of symptoms." A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Maslow as the tenth most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation in which he identified five human needs and ranked them in a hierarchy:

Physiological – At the bottom are the things people need to survive such as food and water. These are physiological needs.

Safety – The second level includes safety needs, which are things that give us a sense of security in all aspects of our lives. They include health, family, a job and so on.

Love and Belonging  – The third level of the hierarchy includes love and belonging needs. These are needs humans have related to relationships, family and friendships.

Esteem – The fourth level in the hierarchy is esteem needs, including self-esteem, confidence, respect of and by others, and personal achievement. Like the need for love and belonging, the need for esteem is very emotional and happens in both our conscious and subconscious minds.

Self-Actualization – At the top of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, which refers to personal growth and realizing full human potential. It is this need that Maslow believed people are always striving to satisfy but few achieve. It is very subjective and highly personalized.

 

Notice as you travel up the hierarchy, each need becomes less essential for survival and more emotional. The goal for a brand marketer is to understand each level of needs for a target market and develop marketing communications and initiatives that clearly address those needs for consumers. As they travel up the hierarchy, marketing communications must create perceived needs in consumers’ minds. Communications must differentiate the product from competitors and position it as the only solution, the best choice for the consumer, and the brand the consumer needs. Of course, the majority of this need is perception-based, not survival-based.


Aristotle’s Seven Causes of Human Action
One of the most important aspects of any marketing communication is a strong call to action, but aligning a marketing call to action with one of the seven causes of human action defined by Aristotle thousands of years ago is essential to getting the best results and maximizing return on investment. According to Aristotle, the seven causes of human action are:

  1. Chance – The saying, “leave nothing to chance,” applies here. Don’t just hope that consumers understand what you want them to do. Make sure they understand with no room for confusion. After all, confusion is the number one brand killer.

  2. Nature – Human nature and environmental nature play important roles in motivating consumers to take action. Make sure the actions you tell them to take align with their natures.

  3. Compulsion – We live in a world of instant gratification, and compulsion causes a significant amount of human actions simply because things are so quick and easy today. Make it easy for your customers to take action and act on their impulses, and your marketing results will improve.

  4. Habit – Human beings are creatures of habit whether they admit to it or not. In fact, much of our habitual nature is subconscious, but it plays a direct role in how and when we take action. The three steps of brand-building—consistency, persistence, and restraint—play directly to the habitual nature of human beings. Setting and consistently meeting consumer expectations for your brand is critical to developing trust in your brand, which leads to action.

  5. Reason – For consumers, reason can be rational or irrational. The former applies to the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs while the latter applies to the higher levels of needs. These higher level needs require marketers to develop perceived reasons for consumers to take action. Appealing to emotions is the most effective way to develop these perceived needs in consumers’ minds.

  6. Passion – Passion also relates to emotions. What is the emotional trigger for each customer that will motivate him or her to take action? When that key message is communicated and that passionate emotion is triggered, it will be nearly impossible for a consumer not to take action.

  7. Desire – Creating desire in a consumer is all about understanding the target audience’s wants and needs and massaging consumer perceptions so they desire what you’re selling. It’s not about a product or service. Desire is about a feeling, a lifestyle, a personal benefit, or some other intangible (and often subconscious) goal or want. Listen to your audience and communicate with messages and brand experiences that position your products and services as what consumers want so they can fulfill their desires.


The Lesson for Marketers
Whether you spent hours in a college classroom learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Aristotle’s Seven Causes for Human Action or you’re reading about them for the first time right now doesn’t matter. What matters is that you understand human behavior is guided by needs and actions, which haven’t changed much over time. Consumers might change how they go about doing things, make purchases, gather information and spend their time, but their basic psychological needs and philosophical causes of action are the constants that marketers can always count on.

 

 

The psychology of color in branding

There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors, but the truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.

 

Misconceptions around the Psychology of Color
Why does color psychology invoke so much conversation, but is backed with so little data? As research shows, it's likely because aspects such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to evoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading. The conversation is only worsened by incredibly vapid visuals that sum-up color psychology with awesome "facts" such as this one:
“Yellow is psychologically the happiest color in the color spectrum.”

Now it's time to take a look at some research-backed insights on how color plays a role in persuasion.


The Importance of Colors in Branding
First, let's address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to color perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems. There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors, but he truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings. There are broader messaging patterns to be found in color perceptions. For instance, colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding. In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1558119&show=abstract  researchers found that up to 90 percent of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, depending on the product.

In regards to the role that color plays in branding, results from studies such as The Interactive Effects of Colors, http://mtq.sagepub.com/content/6/1/63  show that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand, in other words, does the color "fit" what is being sold.

The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11747-010-0245-y  also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the "personality" of the brand in question, after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn't get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?

Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors, if the competition all uses blue, you'll stand out by using purple.

When it comes to picking the "right" color, research has found http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-459X.2011.00360.x/abstract  that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself. So, if Harley owners buy the product in order to feel rugged, you could assume that the pink plus glitter edition wouldn't sell all that well. Psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker has conducted studies on this very topic via research on Dimensions of Brand Personality, http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3151897?uid=3739696&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102462943711  and her studies have found five core dimensions that play a role in a brand's personality:

 

Brands can sometimes cross between two traits, but they are mostly dominated by one. High fashion clothing feels sophisticated, camping gear feels rugged.

Additional research  shows us that there is a real connection between the use of colors and customers' perceptions of a brand's personality.
Certain colors do broadly align with specific traits, e.g., brown with ruggedness, purple with sophistication, and red with excitement. Nearly every academic study on colors and branding will tell you that it's far more important for your brand's colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations. Consider the inaccuracy of making broad statements such as "green means calm." The context is missing; sometimes green is used to brand environmental issues such as Timberland's G.R.E.E.N standard, but other times it's meant to brand financial spaces. And while brown may be useful for a rugged appeal (think Saddleback Leather), when positioned in another context brown can be used to create a warm, inviting feeling (Thanksgiving) or to stir your appetite (every chocolate commercial you've ever seen).

Bottom line: There’s no clear-cut set of guidelines for choosing a brand's colors, but the context you're working within is an absolutely essential consideration. It's the feeling, mood, and image that your brand creates that play a role in persuasion. Be sure to recognize that colors only come into play when they can be used to match a brand's desired personality, i.e., the use of white to communicate Apple's love of clean, simple design. Without this context, choosing one color over another doesn't make much sense, and there is very little evidence to support that 'orange' will universally make people purchase a product more often than 'silver'.


Color Preferences by Gender
Perceived appropriateness may explain why the most popular car colors are white, black, silver and gray, but is there something else at work that explains why there aren't very many purple power tools?

One of the better studies on this topic is Joe Hallock's Colour Assignments http://www.joehallock.com/edu/COM498/preferences.html
Hallock's data showcases some clear preferences in certain colors across gender.

It's important to note that one's environment -- and especially cultural perceptions plays a strong role in dictating color appropriateness for gender, which in turn can influence individual choices. Consider, for instance, this coverage by Smithsonian Magazine http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html  detailing how blue became the color for boys and pink was eventually deemed the color for girls (and how it used to be the reverse).

The most notable points in these studies is the supremacy of blue across both genders (it was the favorite color for both groups) and the disparity between groups on purple. Women list purple as a top-tier color, but no men list purple as a favorite color. Perhaps this is why we have no purple power tools, a product largely associated with men?

Additional research in studies on color perception and color preferences  show that when it comes to shades, tints and hues men seem to prefer bold colors while women prefer softer colors. Also, men were more likely to select shades of colors as their favorites. colors with black added, whereas women were more receptive to tints of colors, colors with white added.

 

Keep all this information in mind when choosing your brand's primary color palette.

 

 

Psychology of shapes and graphic design

Have you ever wondered why the ‘M’ in the McDonald’s logo has curved ends or why the Nike Swoosh has such a dynamic line? Why is the Delta logo so angular while the Starbucks logo confines its lines to circular?

 

If you are the average Joe, the thought has probably never crossed your mind. Unfortunately, graphic designers have these sort of wild thoughts all the time. It’s what makes them ‘different.’ However, it also makes them creative and able to design insightful communications. The fact is that while not many people give importance to the shapes, angles, and lines that are used to create their design (logo or other), in the end, the shape of the design can influence the emotions of an audience in subtle ways.
 
Experiences designers will understand not only the color psychology and the science of choosing fonts, but also the psychological dimensions of shape. Many people will laugh outright at such a statement but knowing how to permeate the sense from the nonsense within psychology will help you create a buyer’s perspective to design.


To a client, a button on the website that is square, can have a curved contour or an angular one, it really makes no difference. Actually odds are they will not even notice the contours (being more focused on the images or color). Nevertheless, the shape is an essential facet of influencing the target audience towards specific emotive reactions.
 
Buyer/Seller Insight Vs Design Elements

 

The economics of a product or service is the most essential facet for a buyer and/or seller. They are focused on the risk, the strategy and the politics of a business cycle even when they hire a designer to craft their logo, web design or any other graphic design element. They think with, as psychologists are apt to say, with the left part of their brain. However, marketers and designers living in the 21st century have to be more versatile and think with the left and right part of their brain. They have to ensure that they take into account not only the buyer/seller’s left brain needs but also their emotive perceptions. The attitudes, behaviors, and socio-political influences have to be considered so that the audience can be guided to take specific action. The obvious elements are color, font and images. On the other hand, shapes are also an influencing facet of influencing buyers and sellers.
 
Circular: Shapes that have circular lines generate a positive response within the emotional response centers of a person. When people see a circular line within a logo design they unconsciously relate it to the community, friendship, and love. The oval and circle suggest sturdiness, endurance and stability which is why a lot of car companies like Ford and Kia have a logo that is enveloped in the shape of an oval.

Ellipses tend to evoke a sentiment of support and innovation and brands like Toyota, Oakley and others take advantage of this by portraying their logos using ellipses. Rings project partnership and unity and logos like that of the Olympics and Audi amplify this emotion. The use of specific colors can create a powerful message for example the Audi logo is silver in color which suggests sophistication and elegance along with endurance and unification of lifestyles.
 
Angular: Shapes and straight edged lines found in squares, rectangles and triangles suggest professionalism, efficiency and stability appealing to the left brain of the audience. They create a balance of practicality and if combined with colors like red and blue can evoke a perception of dynamic modernization. Financial logos, banks, and real estate firms make use of this to create logos (Chase) that define stability and practicality.
 
The use of squares and rectangles in graphic design creates a perception of power and strength. Combine that with rounded contours and you have a sense of balance and reliability. Precision, efficiency and humane values depicted in design simply through the use of a shape. Triangles and Pyramids are associated with scientific and religious theories. Use of triangles within design work well for industries within these fields as it creates a sense of power and reliability.

Linear: It’s astounding to realize that even the direction of a line can impact the perception of the audience. Maybe not so astounding when the visual impact is considered (vertical lines on clothing makes you look taller and slimmer).
 
Vertical lines impact the mind by creating a subconscious association with aggression and masculinity. Vertical lines suggest strength and sophistication.
 
Horizontal lines on the other hand create a sense of calmness and Zen tranquility. They project a natural sense of balance that can be used to influence audiences.
 
Angled Lines represents a feeling of energy and dynamic movement. The use of an arrow to show direction, the implementation of a check within a design creates an emotive response in people that can be rapid and energetic.
 
Curved lines on the other hand have a more feminine reaction suggesting happiness, generosity and sense of rhythm. They evoke pleasure and used together with some angular lines can present a sense on innovation like that in the Nike logo (swoosh).
 
Consider this, you know that the color red suggests energy and anger. You utilize that emotive reaction and combine the color with a typeface that is curved and cursive softening the reaction and decreasing the aggressive appeal. The soft rounded letters appeal more to the women while the color red attracts the aggressive male. A perfect balance.
 
You want to design a ‘call to action button’ that makes the audience react. You have to consider the shape of a button carefully; the contoured curved corners of a square button will make people focus on the content while the angular edges will cause the audience to focus around it.
 
The audience is genetically engineered to react unfavorably to sharp edges it is in psychological terms called the primordial reaction as it is seen as threatening (think knife).
 
Visual perception is important in evoking reactions in the audience the cognitive effort it takes to react to angles is more aggressive than when reacting to rounded contours. Surprisingly, the “eye” reacts fast to circular shapes than angular ones.
 
The implications of using shape psychology then become simple. You have to as a designer and marketer be able to create a coordination of color, typeface and shape to project a design that perfectly emulates your audience reactions.

 
 
Words, feelings and moods associated with shapes:
 
Circular:
Tenderness - Love - Friendship - Care - Support - Protection - Affection - Compassion.
 
Squares, rectangles, pyramids:
Stability - Strength - Power - Balance – Reliability
 
Vertical shapes and lines:
Strength - Masculinity - Power - Aggression - Courage - Brutality - Dominate – Menacing
 
Horizontal lines:
Tranquility - Feminine - Calm - Rest - Weak - Peaceful - Composed - Silent - Still - Non menacing
 
Soft curves:
Rhythm - Movement - Happiness - Pleasure - Generosity – Femininity
 
Sharp angled lines:
Energy - Lively - Young - Explosive - Violent - Anger - Rapidity - Dynamic – Movement

 

 

 

How effective branding can impact your bottom line

Branding is not just about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but about convincing your prospects that you are the only one who can provide a solution to their problem. Your brand is an asset that has direct monetary value. According to Market Street Research, numerous studies indicate that the strength of a company’s brand has direct impact on financial metrics like sales effectiveness, market share, and margins. The investment you make in your brand will provide a monetary difference in both the short-term and long-term.

Here are four ways effective branding can impact the bottom line in business-to-business marketing:

1.     Improve marketing ROI and sales effectiveness
A relevant, differentiating brand message impacts every level of your sales funnel. You can improve response rates, generate qualified leads, open new doors and boost sales effectiveness.

Online shoe retailer Zappos has differentiated its brand with an iron clad return policy and customer service that goes above and beyond. The idea of hassle-free online shoe shopping has been in Zappos’ DNA from the beginning. Features like 24-hour customer service and a 365-day return policy ensures that Zappos shoppers walk away happy. Their tagline refers to their competitive advantage “Powered by Service.” One of their most popular policies is “If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, ship it back – at no cost to you – because a huge inventory almost guarantees you’ll find something else you like”.

Zappos is not the only online retailer to provide free shipping, but they had the big idea to make the return process a competitive advantage, building their brand around this customer benefit.  Today, online footwear is a $3 billion business, and Zappos holds a fifth of the market. With 4 million customers, the company has doubled its sales every year since 1999. Read CEO Tony Hsieh’s tremendously inspiring book Delivering Happiness for powerful lessons he has learned in achieving his success and happiness.

2.     Thought leadership creates a competitive edge
Positioning your company as a resource and thought leader in your industry builds trust, credibility, engagement, and familiarity. By creating a perception that this is the kind of company you “want” to do business with can offset lower-priced competition.

HubSpot, purveyor of content marketing tools, has had immense revenue growth (filing for a $100M IPO in 2014), an active and growing user base, and their own marketing techniques generate a lot of buzz, in return building familiarity and credibility in their industry.

For example, there is probably nothing hotter in marketing right now then “content marketing.” HubSpot became a leader in this movement, as a great marketer of content marketing, evangelists about content marketing, and they have been great content marketers about content marketing. Specifically, their founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, wrote the marketing book Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs. No better example of being a thought leader than coining the term that is now used by all digital marketers; Biran Halligan coined the term inbound marketing in 2005. All of these elements help HubSpot stand out from their competitors and be successful.

3.     A cohesive brand across all platforms creates synergy
When you have a strong, unified brand image and message you can leverage all elements of your strategy to support each other, from your website to advertising to content marketing.

Amazon’s logo was the perfect choice when it comes to building a consistent brand. The arrow points from a to z, as a way to show that Amazon carries everything imaginable, and the curved arrow brings to mind a satisfied smile.

 

By using the logo prominently across all marketing communications, packaging, social media sites and apps, Amazon has created a very cohesive brand. They also feature the same intuitive design and clean organization throughout the apps and website, so you can browse comfortably on any platform.

Today the icon is so recognizable that most people can tell by the arrow alone where a brown cardboard box is from.

 

4.     Rebranding improves performance
A rebranding campaign could not only breathe new life into your business, but also be an internal rallying point. A new direction and strategy provides internal alignment, unifies, and improves performance.

In 2011, British Airways’ made the decision to take steps to stimulate support for the brand among its 32,000 staff in advance of a re-launch campaign. British Airways had been plagued with challenges, including a cabin-crew strike, and global recession, driving the airline’s staff morale to an all-time low.
Using engaging, informative, integrated and motivational campaigns the airline sought out to unite a disparate workforce, from cabin crew and engineers to baggage-handlers and back-office staff. Social media, apps and video, were a key part of the strategy. More traditional channels, such as print, forums and intranet, also played a role.

British Airlines was able to communicate a new ownership structure, better economic outlook, resolution of the cabin-crew dispute, and most importantly, reignite the passion and belief in the brand. They created a new way of thinking that put customers at the heart of everything they do, and their entire workforce has a part to play.


Their strong internal buy-in also allowed them to develop, both through their communications and marketing, a consistent tone of voice and an emotional connection with their audience with the tagline “To fly. To serve”

 

 

 

The top 10 most visited websites in the world.

In the ultra-competitive world of the Internet, many websites have come and gone over the years. However, there are some websites have taken hold of the public’s imagination and become more than just websites. They have become a part of our lives, as familiar to all of us as your pet or your best friend. What would even come as a bigger surprise to you is that some of the world’s most popular websites include some names you’ve probably never heard before.

 

While you may have heard of big names like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon, you probably may not have heard of names such as Baidu, Tencent, VK or Yandex — but those are the most popular websites in places like China, Belarus and Russia and because of the huge population of places like China and India, popular websites in countries like these are also very popular in the global scheme of things. The list of the top ten most visited websites in the world has remained virtually unchanged for quite a while now. This is due in part to the brilliant business plans employed by the executives in charge of these websites. The ability to anticipate future changes in the industry and react to them has been critical in keeping these websites on top.

 Global Rankings:
 

10. Twitter  

This social networking and micro-blogging website has literally helped to change the world we live in today. Thousands of protesters participating in the recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya gathered together partly because of Twitter. We have only scratched the surface of this powerful communication tool and the best is yet to come.
 

 

09. taobao.com
Launched in May 2003, Taobao Marketplace (www.taobao.com) is the most popular consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online marketplace in China catering to buyers who value product selection and price competitiveness. With around 760 million product listings as of March 2013, Taobao Marketplace is one of the world’s top 20 most visited websites according to Alexa. For the year ended March 31, 2013, the combined gross merchandise volume (GMV) of Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com exceeded RMB1 trillion. Taobao Marketplace is a business within Alibaba Group.

 

08. Linkedin.com
A networking tool to find connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners. Allows registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business.

 

07. Tencent QQ
This website is based in Mainland China and provides IM service, as well as mail and a search engine. You can also do shopping and there is a dating site as well. Currently, they count their total users at over six hundred million. QQ is a social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface. China’s largest and most used Internet service portal owned by Tencent, Inc founded in November, 1998. Presently, Tencent is aiming its operations at the strategic goal of providing users with a “one-stop online life service”. Tencent’s Internet platforms QQ, QQ.com, QQ Games, and PaiPai.com have brought together China’s largest Internet community. Tencent’s communications and information-sharing services include QQ.com, QQ Instant Messenger, QQ Mail, and search engine SOSO. Linked up with heavily used features such as forums, chat rooms, and QQ Groups, Tencent’s Qzone has grown into China’s largest personal Internet space. These services foster group interaction and resource sharing. Virtual products such as QQ Show, QQ Pet, QQ Game, and QQ Music/Radio/Live have been successful in providing entertainment and customization options to users. Mobile phone users can take advantage of a number of value-added wireless services. Tencent’s PaiPai.com is a C2C on-line shopping platform that seamlessly integrates into Tencent’s other community platforms.As of June 30th, 2009, the number of registered QQ Instant Messenger users has reached 990.0 million. Active users numbered at 448.0 million. Peak concurrent users have reached 61.30 million. QQ Games platform counted about 6.2 million users simultaneously on-line. QQ.com has become China’s most visited Internet portal website. PaiPai.com has also become China’s second largest Internet shopping platform.

 

06. Wikipedia
Unlike traditional encyclopaedia, Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia’s 30 million articles in 287 languages, including over 4.3 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. It is a free encyclopedia built collaboratively using wiki software. (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License), it is offered in many different languages. Started in 2001, the site can be rewritten and edited by the users. A user can add content to any entry he wants, or start a new entry.

 

05. Baidu.com
What could be described as the Google of China, Baidu is a leading Chinese language search engine that provides “simple and reliable” search experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China. Apart from being the most popular Chinese language search engine, the site also provides over 50 other services.

 

04. Yahoo
This website stands for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. This site provides just about every service you can think of and shows no sign of slowing down, a major internet portal and service provider offering search results, customizable content, chatrooms, free e-mail, clubs, and pager.

 

03. YouTube
This is the most popular site specifically designed for sharing videos. It was purchased by Google for over $1 billion. YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you. Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide! YouTube is a video-sharing website created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005 and owned by Google since late 2006.

 

02. Facebook
The popular social networking site was started by Mark Zuckerberg in his college dorm room at Harvard in 2004. Since then, it has grown to serve over one billion users worldwide. The service allows you to send messages, as well as share pictures and videos. Just like Twitter, Facebook has helped to assemble and organize people involved in protests and demonstrations all over the world. There is no limit to the popularity of this site.

 

01. Google
This website provides many features, the most famous being its search engine. They also offer Gmail, their popular email service. Google also owns YouTube and Blogger, so they control three of the most popular sites in the world. It enables users to search the world’s information, including webpages, images, and videos. It offers unique features and search technology. Google also provides specialized searches through blogs, catalogs, videos, news items and more. The search engine giant also provides Internet services that let you create blogs, send email, and publish web pages. It also has social networking tools, organization tools, and chat tools, services for mobile devices, and even Google branded merchandise.

The Internet's numbers are virtually staggering.

40% of the world population has an internet connection today.In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 20 05, the second billion in 2010 and the third billion in 2014.

Total number of Websites
After reaching 1 billion websites in September of 2014, a milestone confirmed by NetCraft in its October 2014 Web Server Survey_, the number of websites in the world has subsequently declined, reverting back to below 1 billion. This is due to the monthly fluctuations in the count of inactive websites. The total number of websites is not expected to exceed 1 billion again until sometime late-2015 to mid-2016, and to stabilize the count above this historic milestone in 2017. From 1 website in 1991 to 1 billion in 2014

Total number of Internet Users
The below chart and table shows the number of global internet users per year since 1993

Internet Users by Country
In 2014, nearly 75% (2.1 billion) of all Internet users in the world (2.8 billion) live in the top 20 countries. The remaining 25% (0.7 billion) is distributed among the other 178 countries, each representing less than 1% of total users. China, the country with most users (642 million in 2014), represents nearly 22% of total, and has more users than the next three countries combined (United States, India, and Japan). Among the top 20 countries, India is the one with the lowest penetration: 19% and the highest yearly growth rate. At the opposite end of the range, United States, Germany, France, U.K., and Canada have the highest penetration: over 80% of population in these countries has an internet connection.
 

Professor Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA, DFBCS, also known as TimBL, is an English computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He made a proposal for an information management system in March 1989, and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol client and server via the Internet sometime around mid-November of that same year.

  • The first-ever website (info.cern.ch) was published on August 6, 1991 by British physicist Tim Berners-Lee while at CERN, in Switzerland. On April 30, 1993 CERN made World Wide Web ("W3" for short) technology available on a royalty-free basis to the public domain, allowing the Web to flourish.

  • Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in March of 1989. See Tim Berners-Lee’s original proposal

  • He also introduced the first web server, the first browser and editor, the “WorldWideWeb.app”), the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and, in October 1990 and the first version of the "Hypertext Markup Language" (HTML).

  • In 2013 alone, the web has grown by more than one third: from about 630 million websites at the start of the year to over 850 million by December 2013 (of which 180 million were active).

  • No wonder it’s so hard to secure Web addresses... Google’s index is comprised of over 4.3 billion URLs.

  • Over 50% of websites today are hosted on either Apache or nginx (54% of the total as of February 2015, according to NetCraft), both open source web servers. After getting very close and even briefly taking the lead in July of 2014 in terms of server market share, Microsoft has recently got back behind Apache. As of February of 2015, 39% of servers are hosted on Apache and 29% on Microsoft. However, if the overall trend continues in the future, in a few years from now Microsoft could become the leading web server developer for the first time in history.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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