January 30, 2012
by Emily Piteo
January 30, 2012
October 31, 2011
by Emily Piteo
Coming in second place, with 29,121,553, is the wonderful world of Disney. Again, a beautiful profile picture. Disney makes excellent use of the featured pictures on its wall. They’re relevant, interesting, and apparently working just as Disney wants them to, all with likes in the tens of thousands.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I get to Starbucks’ page I’m immediately overwhelmed with an intense craving for some espresso, which I would imagine is their goal. With 25,788,976 fans, Starbucks knows what it takes to get people to their shops.
And with 22,793,803, Red Bull takes spot number five on the list. Red Bull is constantly updating their page with new content, games and the latest news from Red Bull on sports, music and lifestyle. Be sure to check out Red Bull TV and Red Bull Games. They certainly know how to keep fans interested.
What Facebook pages do you enjoy? And what features do you think are important to include? Let us know in the comments.
October 20, 2011
by Artemas Pratt
It only seems appropriate that on August 9, 2011, in the midst of Steve Jobs’ final weeks as CEO of the company he founded, Apple Inc. briefly overtook ExxonMobil as the most valuable company in the world. This was a fitting conclusion to one of the most important entrepreneur success stories of all time. However, as improbable and meteoric as the rise of Apple was, the Steve Jobs story was always about more than numbers or money. As is probably the case with any other creative agency, everyone at H.I.P. Consulting felt a close connection to Steve Jobs. Although part of this is due to our complete dependence on his products to work, design and create, it’s mainly an admiration for the vision he embodies, where form and function are equally important, where man-made creations are both useful and beautiful and where aesthetics shape progress. It is natural for tech and design companies to study his success. However, beneficial lessons for all small businesses can be gained by an examination of his story. Even though his success as an entrepreneur is unparalleled, to the end, he continued to display the spirit of a small business owner. Here are some Steve Jobs lessons for your small business:
DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETETION
Regardless of what industry you are in, it is essential to stand out from the competition. Is your product less expensive? Do you cater to a specific niche? Do you have a more convenient location? Standing out from the competition must be a top priority for all small business owners. Throughout his history with Apple, Steve Jobs faced some powerful competition in the form of IBM, Microsoft and more recently Google. One fatal mistake many small business owner make is to try to be the competition in order to beat the competition. Upon his return to Apple in 1997, Jobs noted that the company had erroneously adopted the attitude that in order for Apple to win, Microsoft had to lose. However as Jobs stated, “Apple wasn’t going to beat Microsoft, we didn’t have to beat Microsoft. We just had to be Apple.” The company embraced this philosophy in their 1997 “Think Different” ad campaign. It was a play on IBM’s “Think” tagline and sought to differentiate Apple from the competition, effectively marketing Mac as a viable alternative to a PC.
FOCUS ON CUSTOMER BENEFITS (NOT PRODUCT FEATURES)
Small business owners tend to be very passionate about the products and services they offer. They sometimes are so excited about their product’s features that this becomes the central message they advertise. This is a mistake. The most effective advertising in any medium focuses on what the customer gains from the product or service. This may seem like splitting hairs, but an examination of a Steve Jobs product presentation reveals the big difference between the two. Even though it was an innovative breakthrough at the time, he unveiled the iPhone 3G with the simple line “its twice as fast at half the price.” Customers are ultimately completely selfish. They do not share the same passion you have for what your business offers. They only want to know what is in it for them. Regardless of what you are selling, ask yourself if your product marketing is communicating a feature or a benefit. Always choose the benefit.
MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT IMAGE
No one is likely to brag about a great meal they had at McDonalds, however, greatness isn’t necessary when you are as consistent as McDonalds. Eating a Big Mac at any city in the country is going to taste exactly the same as any other. Consistency is a powerful force in business. Steve Jobs mastered the art of maintaining a consistent brand image. The above image nicely illustrates this. However, Apple’s streamlined image is projected in everything Apple related. The logo, products, advertising, stores, website and packaging all match in look and feel. As a small business improves the consistency of its image, it grows in reliability and trust.
FAILURE CAN BE DIFFICULT, HUMILIATING AND ESSENTIAL TO SUCCESS
Over half of all small businesses will fail within the first five years. This is obviously in front of small business owners on a daily basis. Many people fear to even imagine failure and the fallout that comes with it. Steve Jobs went through the very public humiliation of being fired from the company he founded. Later he stated, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.” Failure is often misunderstood as an ending. However, there has never been a success that was not preceded by failure. Failure is an opportunity to learn and become stronger. The faster you are able to accept failure for the medicine it is, the faster you will be able to reap its benefits. After being fired from Apple, Jobs took the opportunity to form Pixar and oversaw the creation of the first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, before returning to Apple.
A TEAM WILL ALWAYS REACH HIGHER THAN AN INDIVIDUAL
These are just a few lessons you can learn from this truly unique individual. As Wall Street currently stands occupied and villainy headlines Corporate America, Steve Jobs stands out as an undisputed hero of the capitalism ideal, where wealth and social value are generated interdependently.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
October 10, 2011
by Clark Pratt
The business card is one of the most used and least understood tools in business today. Just like any other tool, in order to be effective it has to be used properly. While the proper use of a business card is not the key to wealth and success, it can be useful in spreading your brand and marketing yourself. Therefore, learning proper business card etiquette should be a priority of any business or organization of any size. Here are some general rules to consider before designing your business cards.
(1) Don’t be cheap
Remember the purpose of having a business card, you are trying to stand out from your competition as being a quality company. However, nothing says cheap more than flimsy card stock. The money saved on flimsy paper is nothing compared to the cheap impression you will make. Always use a medium or heavy paper stock.
(2) Keep it simple
A business card is a first impression. You would never reveal every detail about your life on initially meeting an individual, so don’t overwhelm with too much information on your business card either. Keep vital information, such as your business name, slogan, telephone number, and address. Don’t list everything under the sun that your business can do. Here’s a test: Glance at your card for 5 seconds. Can you tell what your company’s main focus is in that brief amount of time? You only have a brief moment to grab the potential client’s attention, so make sure you are making the most of that opportunity.
(3) Use a font large enough to read
Seems simple enough, right? However, if someone has to squint to read your telephone number, don’t expect a call anytime soon. While on the subject, make sure that everything flows and is easy to read. For example, place periods or spaces between segments of your phone number, dashes are just too difficult to read.
555.333.9999 or 555 333 9999
(4) Avoid visual overload
Clutter conveys an unprofessional image. Clutter obscures vital information. Remember that it is okay to have white space. White space allows your main information to stand out. Be sure to use two colors. One color is bland, three is too much of a distraction. Two draws attention to vital information.
(5) Include website address, email and Facebook
If you don’t have a website, it’s time to get one. A simple five page website doesn’t cost too much, but it can cost you business if you don’t have one. In this day and age, if you are not a part of the social media world, you are being left behind, and could be looked upon by potential clients as being out of date. A simple website and social media account can do wonders for improving your image.
If you follow these five basic rules, you will be able to stand out, while at the same time follow the basic business card etiquette. However, once you have a winning business card, do you know how to properly and effectively present it to a potential client? Some want to whip it out every time they meet someone at work or a work related function. However, the best times to offer your card are the following:
-When someone asks for it
-When you ask someone for their card
-At the END of a meeting with a client or potential client, before they leave
-If someone asks for your contact information (business or otherwise)
If you properly use your business cards, they can effectively convey that your company is a quality organization that stands out from the rest. Don’t over think your cards, but make sure that you follow these simple guidelines so that you can make the best first impression every time.
September 29, 2011
by Artemas Pratt
Political sex scandals, turmoil in the Middle East, natural disasters……on the surface, the headlines of 2011 appear to be the same as any other year. However, the true headline of 2011 lies within nearly every notable event of the year. Anthony Weiner tweeted a link to yfrog. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook armed Egyptian protestors with enough power to bring down a 30-year dictatorship. As overloaded phone lines shut down service after the Joplin, MO. tornado, survivors used Facebook to communicate with family members and piece together their lives. 2011 was the year social media thoroughly entrenched itself in society and showed what a force was at the hands of anyone with internet access. However, as with any other powerful tool, smart use is beneficial and misuse can be seriously damaging. At H.I.P. Consulting, we advise small businesses and job seekers, two groups for which use of social media is mandatory. In this weekly blog, we will discuss a variety of topics related to responsible and smart use of social media.
FACEBOOK MISTAKES THAT CAN DISQUALIFY YOU FOR A JOB OPPORTUNITY
Whether you are a recent graduate or have spent years in the job market, the current reality is that an online presence is a necessity to land a professional job. Recruiter Nancy Havelson said “recruiters don’t even know how to find you if you don’t have a presence online. It’s non-negotaible – you have to have a profile on a social networking site.” While most graduates have spent countless hours on social media sites, they may have given little thought to the implications of the content contained within these profiles. In 2009, a Careerbuilder.com poll revealed that over half of all HR professionals in the United States use social networking sites such as Facebook to examine job candidates. While a strong Facebook profile may display a candidate’s professionalism, communication skills and creativity, it did not necessarily land them the job. However according to this poll, a negative profile frequently disqualified candidates. In fact, 35% of the polled HR professionals stated they eliminated candidates after viewing social media content. The reasons are stated below:
It isn’t surprising that the top reasons for disqualification include provocative photos and references to drugs and alcohol.
CAN’T I JUST MAKE MY PROFILE PRIVATE?
In the two years since this poll was taken, the trend of HR social network analysis has rapidly increased, both in use and sophistication. Job candidates are accustomed to background and credit checks as part of the employee screening process. However, the future (social media background checks) is in use today by many companies and is spreading fast. Companies that specialize in social media information gathering, such as Social Intelligence, are providing companies with a relatively cheap and easy resource for developing a social network dossier on prospective employees.
PROTECT YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION AT ALL COSTS
Facebook offers many benefits for job seekers. Completely dropping Facebook or making your profile completely hidden are not viable alternatives, as they may put you at a networking disadvantage in this competitive job market. Therefore, you must take all necessary steps to protect the portrayal of yourself online. This may include disabling the ability of others to tag you in photos, which can be done here. For those of you nearing the end of your college career, remember that included in your graduation to-do list should be a thorough tidying up of your Facebook profile. At H.I.P. Consulting, we promote responsible social media use and encourage all job seekers to use Facebook as a platform to reinforce the image you are selling to potential employers. More than likely, an HR Professional is going to analyze your via social media at some point, so you might as well embrace it and all of its fun, usefulness and
September 20, 2011
by Emily Piteo
I joined the H.I.P. Consulting team at a very exciting time … at the kickoff of the company’s redesign. This post will summarize the design process for our newly redesigned website.
Out With The Old
Finding the problems with an existing design is the first step in a redesign. Here’s our old website.
The problem noticed immediately was the navigation. With it being possibly the most important thing on any website, it has to be easy to, well, navigate. Never should a website’s navigation text be images. Search engines simply can’t read them. And that’s what our navigation menu was. While it makes a designer’s job easier, Google won’t be able to map out your website, and your natural ranking will go down.
The other major issue with the website was the image slideshow shown throughout the whole website. Bland stock images stop here! With most corporate stock photography becoming overused and meaningless it was time to take a stand. With so many other options out there, including illustrations, typography and non-corporate/non-cliché imagery, it was time to draw the line and reach into our creative deposits to discover something much more unique.
Last thing I’ll mention here, because you will most likely notice it later, is our color scheme change.
We decided that this color scheme was not for us. It’s not entirely complementary, nor did it portray the emotions we want to convey. So with a fresh design, came a fresh color scheme.
After hours of research, searching for inspiration, and going back and forth debating what would work best, we came to the conclusion that this palette is just what we need. Here’s why these colors work for us:
- White: White is commonly used as a backdrop for other vibrant colors. It communicates simplicity and minimalism, which is a key in modern design.
- Gray: Gray works to convey professionalism and replace black. With the electric blues we chose, gray was the perfect color to lend a more modern look to the site.
- Blue: We wanted blues that are energizing, refreshing and friendly. Bright blues also add a “HIP” feeling to designs. Haha, get it? Too corny? Got it. Moving on.
If you’re interested in learning more about color theory, read this article all about it over on Smashing Magazine’s website. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/28/color-theory-for-designers-part-1-the-meaning-of-color/
In With The New
We started the design process away from the computer screen. By sketching wireframes and layout options, we’re able to decide what will work best.
Then comes Photoshop. With a fresh, clean canvas, the mockup begins.
After testing a few other options for the website we decided on the design shown above. So begins the front end development.
Done . . . Sort Of
With the website design and development completed, we’re done, right? Far from it. We will continue to monitor the analytics of the website and determine how people are using the website. When improvements are needed to ensure a better user experience, we will make them quickly and efficiently.
Much can be learned from other’s design processes. Even if you’re not a graphic designer, we always enjoy learning about how your process developed.