Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quote by William Bernbach - what counts is the truth

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” /William Bernbach, revolutionary American advertising executive, 1911-1982

When working in advertising, sticking to the truth is very important. However, many advertisers do not care about this simple rule.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great software alternatives that are for free

Software can be pretty expensive. Especially for small businesses or associations that need a number of different licenses this can be a problem.
However, for many applications you use every day, there are great alternatives that are even for free. Here are some of the main software alternatives for Windows:

Office suite (word processing, spreadsheet,
  • OpenOffice
    Software package that is comparable to Microsoft Office.
    Contains a word-processing program (like Word), a spreadsheet program (like Excel), presentation program (such as Power Point) and others.
  • Google Docs
    Similar to Microsoft Office, but it is used online in the browser.
    A Google account is required. The created files are stored online and can be opened from anywhere (Cloud Computing).

    Very useful, but not a real alternative to OpenOffice or Microsoft

Creating and editing PDF files

Playing DVDs, videos and audio files
  • VLC media player
    Plays almost any audio and video formats.
  • Kantaris Media Player
    Plays DVDs, videos and audio files.
    Version 0.6.6 works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista or 7.

Email (instead of Outlook or Outlook Express)

Internet Browsing

Programs for burning CDs and DVDs
  • CDBurnerXP
    Burns CDs, DVDs (including double layer and rewritable), Blu-Ray and
    HD DVDs. Reliable and not overloaded with extra features.
  • ImgBurn
    Burns DVDs, CDs, Blu-Ray and HD DVDs, and supports popular
    image formats.

Image optimization
  • GIMP
    With this software you can edit photos, create images, convert several files at once, use layers, fonts and effects. GIMP is developed by a large community.
  • Picasa
    For organizing and archiving photos, but also for image editing.

Anti-virus software
The free anti-virus programs protect against viruses and some also against spyware, but they do not protect against phishing attacks nor do they check your emails for viruses.

Mind Mapping

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Color symbolism: Meaning of colors II – The color yellow

In a post about the color red, you will also get to know more about color symbolism in general.

The meaning of the color yellow in Eastern Europe and the U.S.:
  • Yellow is the color of the sun and is associated with joy, happiness, intellect, energy, honor and loyalty.
  • The color yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, generates muscle energy and stimulates mental activity.
  • Pure yellow is an eye catcher, which is the reason that cabs are painted yellow. Often, yellow on a black background is used as a warning.
  • Design and advertising
    With yellow, certain parts of a design can be highlighted.
    Yellow is used to produce positive and friendly feelings.
    Especially when advertising children's and leisure products, the color yellow is used.
    For advertising more prestigious, expensive products for men, yellow should not be used, as men rather see the color yellow as "childish".
    Also when advertising products, where safety and stability are important, you should avoid the color yellow, as it is considered unstable and sponatenously.
  • Color gradiations
    Color gradiations of the color yellow do not look very appealing, as the color loses its serenity and starts to look dirty.
    Dull yellow stands for warning, jealousy, illness and decline.
    Light yellow is associated with freshness, joy and intellect.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creativity techniques II - How to allow creativity: 16 tips for creative problem solving

Allow creativity in your daily (working) life by following tips:
  1. Try out different things.
  2. Motivate others (such as your employees) to try new things. Routine kills creativity, because there is no need to be creative when doing routine tasks.
  3. Be curious. Complacency, indifference and disinterest disable creativity.
  4. Take failures and errors into account.
  5. Isolate your creative sessions from your usual work.
  6. Provide a relaxed environment, so that creative ideas can flourish. Avoid bad conditions, such as creative sessions in the office or a meeting just before lunch break.
  7. Avoid bad structures in your company, such as when the right conditions are missing to incorporate creative innovations or when transparency and internal communication are poor or absent.
  8. Sharpen your attention and look at things unbiased. Set thinking blinds you and will keep you from seeing variations.
  9. The problem itself should have priority.
  10. Track your goals persistently and stay tuned for ideas. Having an idea does not mean that it is also useful. Ideas must be developed first, which can take time.
  11. Focus on one idea and work it out.
  12. Put faith in yourself and also in your employees. Lack of confidence prevents creativity, because anyone who does not have confidence in himself does not take a risk and is convinced to fail.
  13. Do not rest on your success. Instead, follow developments and trends.
  14. Turn off competition. Competitive pressures make it difficult to collaborate and communicate and therefore creative work.
  15. Do not offer rewards to your employees. Rewards only raise the interest in the premium instead of solving problems.
  16. Do not work under time pressure. Instead, plan for enough time and take enough breaks. Time pressure can be deadly for creativity, since ideas need time to mature.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Color symbolism: Meaning of colors I - The color red

Designer have to deal with colors a lot. Most of the time, the clients do not even know. Color can improve a design or it can destroy it.

Colors have different effects. Depending on the country and the cultural background there is a different color symbolism. The color symbolism mentioned here only applies to Western Europe and the U.S. only. Not every color has the same meaning in every culture.

Different color combinations can also have different meanings. In addition, there are different shades and hues for every color - whose meaning can also vary a lot.

The color red

  • Red is the color of blood and also fire. This, it is associated with danger, war, energy, strength, power, passion, love, desire and determination.
  • The color red is an emotional intense color: It enhances the breathing rate, the human metabolism, as well as the blood pressure.
  • Red has a high visibility, which is why traffic lights, stop signs and fire extinguishers are painted red. Red is also used to show courage and is found in many national flags.
  • Design and advertising
    Red emphasizes texts and pictures. It is often used as an accent color, in order to inspire people to make a quick decision. Red is the perfect color for "Buy now" or "Click here" buttons on advertising banners on the Internet or on websites.
    In advertising, red is often used to evoke erotic feelings, for example with red lips or red nails.
    Since red is associated with energy, the color is often found in advertising for sports, cars, games or energy drinks.
  • Color gradiations
    • Light red is associated with sexuality, passion, empathy, love and joy.
    • Dark red stands for anger, rage, willpower, spite, courage, desire and leadership.
    • Pink is associated with romance, friendship, love and passivity.

For more information on the color red go to SensationalColor or Wikipedia.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Creativity techniques I - Brainstorming

With creativity techniques and creative problem solving techniques you can boost your creativity. You can promote your ideas and develop new ideas that may help in solving your problems.

There are hundreds of different techniques. Some of them require groups with several people others can be executed alone. There are written exercises, word games or improvisation.

One of the most known creativity techniques is brainstorming. Brainstorming can produce a variety of new and unusual ideas within a short period of time. If you are at the very beginning with your problem solution, but you have a fairly specific question, then brainstorming can prove very useful. You can actually use this technology in all areas. Brainstorming works especially well when experts from different areas have to work together. However, complex problems cannot be solved easily with brainstorming. Also when having tension within the group, brainstorming is not appropriate.

You need four to 20 people and a moderator, who will record every suggestion and idea. You also need a flip chart or a board to list all ideas.

The brainstorming session consists of two phases, the production of ideas and the evaluation phase.

It is important that no criticism is allowed during the phase of idea production! No idea can be evaluated here. All suggestions and ideas are welcome, no matter how wacky they are. Ideas that were already mentioned can and should be recombined. The phase of idea production should not take more than five to 30 minutes. In most cases, however, after five to ten minutes people make less suggestions. Do not stop the production of ideas yet! After a short time, more ideas that might be even more original will come up.

All ideas are written down immediately by the moderator. He/she should not be involved in the brainstorming and under no circumstances should he/she make own suggestions. However, the moderator should make sure there is a pleasant atmosphere. He/she should also encourage the group to participate. The moderator has to ensure that ideas are not actually evaluated during the idea production phase. All ideas have to be recorded by him - without hanging anything and without making comments.

After producing idease, you should take a break. This break can be a few minutes or even an entire day.

During the evaluation phase objective criticism is welcome. All ideas are evaluated and are studied regarding their feasibility. The moderator must ensure that the evaluation stays objective.

You can decide at the beginning, if you want to make a pre-seleciton or if the group will evaluate every single idea. You can also choose an order or choose only a single idea and have it developed by the group.

Variations of brainstorming:
  • Stop and go brainstorming
    Go back and forth between idea production and evaluation (each phase should last five to 10 minutes).
  • Destructive/constructive brainstorming
    Divide the phase of idea production. First, negative (destructive) suggestions are made that prevent a solution. Then, constructive ideas are produced.
  • Single brainstorming
    Here you do the entire brainstorming session alone, without a group. The process remains the same. Do not evaluate your ideas during the first step. Before evaluating, take a break - even one or two days is fine.
  • Sandwich brainstorming
    Change between phases of collective and individual production of ideas.