Category Archives: Graphic Design Tips

The 2014 Color of the Year

swatch-cardFor more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

The company has just announced that PANTONE® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid is the color of the year for 2014.

Radiant Orchid blends fuchsia, purple, and pink undertones. In design and fashion, it pairs well with olive and hunter greens, turquoise, teal, light yellows, gray, beige, and taupe.

In selecting the color of the year, color experts at Pantone examine trends in films, art exhibitions, travel destinations, and society, among other influential factors.

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

“An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

We are all for creativity at Fletcher Prince! What do you think of the Color of the Year?  How might you use it?

If this doesn’t make you run out and buy stamps…

how to send holdiay cards image

…I don’t know what will!  I’ve got a compelling statistic to share with you today that may change the way you communicate with your clients this holiday season.

Let me ask you a question.  How many email holiday greetings did you receive from businesses, associations you belong to, and nonprofits?  Okay, and now how many greeting cards did you receive from them in the mail?

Did you get more email greetings than mailed ones?  Has your company opted to email holiday greetings instead of traditional cards?

Did you think that was the right decision? Well, you might want to run and buy some stamps…now!

According to a new study, people prefer traditional cards sent through the mail by businesses they frequent (86%) to emailed versions (7%).  And that’s a big increase from last year in 2012 (80% vs. 12%)./  If that whopping statistic is any indication of related preferences for B2B communications — and my guess is that it is — then we all better stock up on greeting cards!

The truth is nothing really beats direct mail for impact any day of the year, and when it comes to the holidays, people still skew traditional and heartfelt.

While email greetings are terrific (especially if they include a holiday greeting video, which can increase the open rate by 50% and more), a beautifully designed card conveys the message to the sender that his or her relationship is valued by your company or nonprofit.

Your friends at Fletcher Prince would be happy to help you design a custom holiday greeting card to mail to your clients and customers this year.

Holiday Stamps for Business Greeting Cards

pr13_083Speaking of holiday mail, the 2013 holiday stamps are now available from the US Postal Service.

The whimsical Gingerbread Houses Forever stamps sheet feature images of four different gingerbread houses set against a bright blue background. The houses were designed by gingerbread house architect Teresa Layman under the direction of stamp art director Derry Noyes and were photographed by stamp artist Sally Anderson-Bruce.

Recommended Mail-By Date

Be sure to mail your greeting cards no later than December 14 to ensure holiday delivery.


A great business card is a powerful budget marketing tactic

Business cards on bulletin boardI’ve asked some of my favorite bloggers to guest blog and provide us with some of their favorite creative and affordable marketing tips. 

Check out what Deborah Brody has to say about making the most of your business cards.

In this age of smart phone bumps and cloud-based contact lists, it may seem a bit old-fashioned to advocate for the business card.  But the business card should be the ace player in your budget marketing arsenal.  A business card is cheap (relatively speaking), portable and useful. It gets your information right into the hands (and hopefully, databases) of the people you connect with. Done well, a business card keeps you connected with your prospects and brings you business.

However, not any old business card will do. You should spend time (and money) to get this little piece of marketing real estate done right. If someone picks up your business card from a pile of cards, it should be immediately obvious who you are and what you do. Following are some tips to make the most of your business cards.

Spend the money to get professional graphic design. You could do this as part of a letterhead and/or logo package, if you are just starting out. You aren’t like everybody else, so why have a non-customized card? Make sure to use your colors, logo and maybe even an image.

Print your cards professionally, on good paper stock. Nothing says unprofessional more than flimsy cards printed on your ink jet printer. There are many online, digital printers that will do your cards for a fraction of the price you would pay a traditional offset printer, while making them look spectacular.

Make the best use of the space you have. This means using the back of the card, perhaps to list your services, provide your bio, offer a discount code or even have a version of your card in a different language.

Include as much information as possible, thinking of what would be relevant to someone looking to do business with you.

Information that must be on the business card includes:

  • Your name and title
  • Organization or business name
  • Website
  • Email address
  • Phone/Mobile
  • Address
  • Tagline and/or short description of what your organization does (if not obvious from the name)

Other items you may consider adding:

  • Twitter handle
  • LinkedIn information
  • Testimonials from clients
  • Skype information

Finally, a word about design: Some folks get uber creative with their business cards, and in some cases, that helps to bolster their brand or show off their design chops. However, weird card shapes may be a conversation starter or be more memorable, but they are less likely to fit in conventional card holders or card scanners. Keep that in mind. Same goes for the layout. I prefer a horizontal layout, since that is how most cards are read.

Deborah Brody, principal of Deborah Brody Marketing Communications, is a marketing writer and consultant. Read more at and follow her on Twitter at @DBMC .

The 2013 Color of the Year is Emerald

We are thrilled to learn that a lovely emerald green PANTONE® 17-5641 has been proclaimed the 2013 Color of the Year.  It’s very close in color to the logo of one of our favorite clients, PRofessional Solutions, LLC.  And of course, the Fletcher Prince logo is a close relative in this green family.  In fact, green is just one of our all-time favorite colors.

As you may know, the color experts at Pantone select a color of the year annually.  It is fascinating how they observe trends, events, sociological influences, and the Zeitgeist of the moment to come up with just the right shade.

The Meaning of Emerald Green

According to Pantone: “Emerald, a vivid, verdant green, enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight, as well as promoting balance and harmony.  Most often associated with brilliant, precious gemstones, the perception of Emerald is sophisticated and luxurious. Since antiquity, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions. It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity – no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.”

Growth, renewal and prosperity. That all sounds good to me!

How People Respond to the Color Emerald Green

“Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world. This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors.”

Emerald Green Products Coming in 2013

Look for this luscious color in fashion, cosmetics, nail colors, home interiors and furnishings, and design schemes.  The limited edition 2013 Color of the Year beauty collection features a variety of Sephora products in Emerald, including eye shadow, nail polish and accessories.  JCPenney will offer Pantone bedding, pillows, bath towels and accessories in Emerald beginning Feb. 1, 2013.

Let’s Hear From You

How will Emerald Green inspire your graphic design concepts now and in the new year?

A birthday interview with Fletcher Prince creative director David Hyson

Happy Birthday,  David Hyson!  Today’s blog post is dedicated to him.  The Washington Business Journal publishes “Executive Profiles” each week, so I “borrowed” some of their interview questions to provide you with this revealing  look at Fletcher Prince’s funny, irreverent, and often enigmatic creative director…

Tell us about yourself, David.  Ever since I can remember, I have made things: art, sculpture, furniture, gardens, food, you name it! Also, I’ve always loved books. Good writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, has always been a passion. Even though my college training was in Industrial Design, I was attracted to graphic design because it is a hybrid of design and words. My first real job out of college was working on a magazine, but I moved quickly into marketing communications and advertising where I’ve been ever since.

Education?  Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Industrial Design, Rhode Island School of Design.

What was your first job?  Graphic Designer, National Recreation and Park Association.

Family?  Wife: Orion, son: Morgan, 24, and daughter: Emily, 21.  Two cats: Tako and Leo. We live in Bethesda, MD.

What’s the biggest misconception you deal with in your work?  What I do is always easy and fun.

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about your job?  To do it well requires time, effort. and experience, as well as talent.

What’s your next big goal?  Figuring out my next big goal.

What’s your biggest current challenge?  Acting my age.

What are you like to work for?  Impossible.

Best lesson from a mentor?  If you know you can do better, start over and do it better.

Best business decision?  Getting out of the agency environment and going freelance.

Hardest lesson learned?  In some businesses, bigger isn’t better.

Your most interesting project?  Designing a two-story exhibit for a trade show in Geneva, Switzerland.

Client you want to have?  A luxury hotel and resort company.

How do you recover from failure?  I get busy with a small creative project that has a predictable (and happy) outcome.

True Confessions….

Who would play you in a movie about you?  Johnny Depp.

Guilty pleasure?  Craft cocktails.

What is your greatest extravagance?  Getting married and having two children.

If I had $1 million, I would:  Retire to a small island in the Caribbean.

If you could trade places with a person for a day, who would it be?  Beck (the musician).

Personality in high school?  I’d rather forget.

 Favorite book?  A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich.

What would you do if not this?  Bartender at an upscale restaurant.

What is your favorite vacation spot?  Caribbean.

Favorite restaurant for business or pleasure?  The Capital Grille.

Favorite hobbies?  Woodworking, gardening, cooking.

Favorite movie?  Casablanca.

Favorite movie star?  Johnny Depp.

Favorite place outside of the office?  American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

One thing you cannot do without each day:  Coffee.

What do most people not know about you?  I can’t answer that.

Pet peeve?  Big SUVs.

What’s on your iPod?  Alabama Shakes, Miles Davis, Beethoven.

Graphic design tutorial: intro to color theory (video)

Karen Kavett explains the basics of color theory.

How to get over losing Picnik

I had a really hard time with losing Picnik, the photo editing application that comes with a Flickr membership.  I had even paid for the premium service.  I had a lot of fun with it.  I made a little money, too.

Even more importantly, it allowed me to do a lot of Photoshop-like things without having to learn Photoshop.  Which I am going to to do one of these days.  Just not today.  Okay, maybe not ever.  Not when I have a a Photoshop genius as a business partner.

But, I am not going to ask David to Photoshop every image I feel like playing with.

That’s what was so great about Picnik.  It was so easy a non-designer could use it.  Until Google bought it.  And killed it.  They do that sometimes.  Makes me crazy.

Flickr replaced Picnik with Aviary. Aviary doesn’t always load.  That never happened with Picnik.  So in my experience, 75% of the time I want to edit a photo in Flickr with Aviary, I can just forget it.  And when it does load, it has no where as many cool features as Flickr once did.  It’s just not worth it.

Google tries to appease us all about the murder of Picnik with a Google + application called — oh, I don’t care what it’s called.  I tried it and it stinks.  And I don’t want to upload client pictures I’m “polishing” to my Google + profile.   Some photo edits I do are private!

So I was a sulky camper until I discovered — ta dah! — PicMonkey.  PicMonkey is free to use.  You don’t have to even register.

Let me say that again, because even I did not believe it first.  You do not have to register to use this app.  Unbelievable.

PicMonkey has a lot of the features Picnik had, including some I used to have to pay for.  Like cosmetic features!  I love adding highlights to hair, whitening teeth, adding a little lip tint or blush.   And there some new features, like fun overlays, to explore.  I loves it.  I do!

Check out PicMonkey!  It’s easy and fun to use, and is a great way to crop, embellish, and alter your favorite photographs.

Design challenge: Facebook Timeline Cover Images

The profile image/logo has a prominent placement within the Timeline cover image.  As we design branded Covers, we find it is best to work with the profile image rather than fight with it.

This reminds me of a time I was watching my dad finish a painting.  He was getting ready to put in his signature.  I asked him if he always put it in the same place.  He said, no, you have to find a “home” for the signature in the painting.  So the size, location, and color of the signature would vary from painting to painting.

I was thinking about this in relation to the Timelines Cover images.  The profile image really needs to have a “home” within the Cover image.

In this example for Rink Strategic Communications, the colors of the image work with the logo. For example, the black in Susan’s camisole anchors with the black in her logo — it also calls attention to her as the important person in the photograph (besides the fact that she is in the center 🙂

Could a tagline have also been included here in the Cover?  Maybe, but I think the text would have been too busy and would have competed with the R.  What you want for many Facebook Cover images is a compelling photograph or design that complements the profile image.  With Facebook Timeline Covers, you have to know when to walk away.

When planning the Timeline image for other clients, I also look at the Cover in terms of balance and composition.  For example, there is a good space in the upper right corner.  You don’t want to crowd the left side too much, since the profile picture is there.

That is the approach we took with this design for the Keenan PR Facebook Page.  This is basically a banner ad she already (created by another designer) that she liked that we reworked for her as a Timeline Cover.

We flipped the image so the Silver Anvil award is on the right, and we moved the text and changed the font.  So, the result is a more balanced composition that works with her logo, which is her profile image.  See how the logo points at the message and the award? Cool, huh?  That was almost accidental 🙂

This is also a good example (we didn’t design) from Constant Contact UK that gives the profile image a “home” in the Timeline Cover and makes good use of that upper right corner/sweet spot… You can tell this image was designed expressly for Facebook.

There is also a really nice flow, composition, and a great match between the Cover image and the profile image in this example from Manchester United (we did not design this one, either).

Look, by contrast, at this one from the New York Times. I suppose with that red staircase that it’s an interesting photograph.  But does it make a good Timeline image?  In my opinion, no.  Nothing about the image communicates anything about the attributes (or a single attribute) of the New York Times (other than they have a lot of employees and a really cool staircase).  It’s not memorable.  It doesn’t play nicely with the profile image. I think they should give this one another shot….

Facebook is a fun and friendly environment, and it has a certain cool factor.  Being overly corporate on Facebook would be a mistake just as it would be a mistake to use business jargon at a backyard barbecue.  Brands have a real opportunity with these Facebook Page Timeline Covers.  It’s worthwhile to design them well — to delight the viewer, as well as convey a message.

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