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Archive: December 2014

Metrics are Your Benchmarks for Success

Every success is based on the achievement of expectations, whether it’s exceeding a goal, meeting requirements or delivering a finished product that’s well received by a customer. And, in order to truly chalk up successes when they occur, it’s important to understand and define the expectations that you’re shooting for at the very beginning of your journey in order to meet them.   Metrics play an integral role in the strive for success because they do so much to facilitate the end result. Without a benchmark for what needs to be achieved or a method for evaluating the process from conception to fruition, you might not truly understand what it is you’re shooting for and what it takes to get there. Because of this, every first step on the road toward success needs to start with well-defined metrics.   What are metrics?   Simply put, metrics are facts, figures and data that illustrate progress, goals and even setbacks in regard to a specific aspect of business. You might have metrics that are used specifically for a project—like a budget, timeline and deliverable materials—while other, broader metrics may be used to define larger models of success—such as measuring revenue in a fiscal year, manpower hours and client retention.   Metrics are put into place to clearly define exactly where you stand in terms of your goals—if you’re meeting the benchmarks defined by your metrics, you know you’re on track for success; if you’re not, you’ll be alerted to the need for improvement and reevaluation of your processes and goals.   How do you create the right metrics?   Creating metrics to gauge your successes isn’t about picking goals out of the air and working towards them—it’s about evaluating your resources, abilities and potential to ensure that you’re setting standards that are attainable, yet push the boundaries for positive growth.   Metrics should always be straightforward and clearly designed, and good metrics will tell you three things when they’re observed: 1) what your goal is, 2) where you stand in regards to your goal and 3) what areas are surpassing or falling short of your expectations. Why are metrics important?   Metrics are important for a myriad of reasons because they give insight into all facets of business—even those that are not specifically defined within the metrics that you set down. Let’s take a look at a basic example:   Your company has defined metrics for annual revenue and new client acquisition, which specify goals of $1.2 million in total revenue and 120 new clients over the fiscal year. After the first quarter of the year (three months), you evaluate your metrics to find that you’ve obtained $250,000 in revenue and have secured 35 new clients so far. By overlaying these figures with your metrics, you’re able to see that while you’re exceeding your projections for new client acquisition, you’re falling a bit short on your revenue goal.   Using the example above, we’re able to glean a significant amount of data about business operations and how the metrics are being affected by these operations. For example, exceeding a client acquisition goal but falling short on a revenue goal could mean that the value of new client contracts isn’t keeping up with revenue needs. It could also mean that the pricing model for specific services is too low to be sustainable. Finally, it might also suggest that the business is marketing to the wrong types of clients and is undervaluing its potential for securing high-revenue customers.   Metrics are the gateway to understanding your business in all of its facets and knowing your strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and pitfalls, no matter where they might be occurring. And while setting goals and creating metrics are crucially important for any business, equally as important is evaluating these metrics consistently, to proactively act and react to shortcomings before they create problems and disruptions that become immediate issues for business.   The strive for continued improvement   Metrics are by no means concrete and in fact, they should evolve and be revisited constantly by a business. Simply “setting and forgetting” metrics does nothing to solidify their purpose and constantly benchmarking your business against its many metrics is a sound way to make the necessary changes to your operations that will grow the business continually and sustainably. Metrics create accountability—accountability that will help your business succeed in both the short and long term. Read article →
December 22 / 2014
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Building a Brand Through Exceptional Graphic Design

A good brand name has many facets in its arsenal: aspects which make up our perception of that brand—we feel a certain way when we hear the brand name, think a certain thought when that brand comes to mind and act a certain way when presented with an option to become an advocate for that brand. In short, branding is one of the most powerful tools in the world of advertising.   But which component of your brand should you focus on most when it comes to laying a solid foundation for the future maturity of your reputation among customers and within the industry? Is there even a singular aspect that can give you a head start?   The answer lies in graphic design . Graphic design can invariably be considered one of the core facets of a brand and everything that comes with it. A brand with the right graphic design elements is a brand that’s going to spark all of the unconscious responses that you want it to.   A picture is worth a thousand words   It’s one of the oldest clichés in the business: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But, just because it’s a little overused at this point doesn’t make it any less truthful in the world of branding. The bottom line is this: your visual representation of your brand is going to create the biggest impression on your customers. We live in a world of advertising where people tend to be dissuaded by words and captivated by pictures, which means getting your visuals down is paramount from the beginning. Starting with a solid visual foundation prevents future issues such as inconsistency in branding, alterations to visual materials that may confuse customers or even rebranding, which can cost valuable market share in lost reputation.   Every image that’s disseminated by your brand—whether it’s a logo, magazine ad, website banner or television commercial—makes a mark on the audience who sees and digests it. If each of your images truly speaks volumes about your business, you’ll communicate far more about your brand than you might realize, creating advocates and sparking interest with more precision than you may have thought possible.   What defines good graphic design?   Graphic design is one of those core creative skills that takes a true artist’s eye to navigate: meaning not just anyone can be a graphic designer and not just any graphic designer can produce the high quality work that you need to build your brand. So, how do you separate the good from the bad from the ugly?   Good graphic design starts with the right designer, first and foremost. A good designer will be able to work with your vision, present you with different variations of your vision as it applies to materials and can even help advise you on how to streamline, refine and improve your visuals. From there, it’s as easy as revising and improving until you have your brand’s imagery.   What distinguishes great graphic design work from mediocre or poor graphic design work is the level of skill and dedication that goes into it. You’re certain to get better results from a consultation meeting with a skilled graphic designer, than you are from tossing a couple of bucks at a friend of a friend to do the same job!   Finally, one last thing that all good graphic design incorporates is authenticity. Remember, your brand’s visuals are going to speak volumes about your brand and everything that’s associated with it: it’s best to make sure that you’re projecting uniqueness when that happens. Create original works, work with images that are different from everything else in your industry and put together materials that are distinguishable as your brand’s.   Going all in for graphic design   Whether your brand is basically nonexistent or booming into something more and more respectable each day, graphic design remains a core element of your growth—and a main element at that! Make sure that you’re putting the proper resources and effort into bolstering your brand with exceptional graphical materials and you’ll reap the benefits of your labors quickly and sustainably.   Remember, a brand is made up of many facets: make sure that people are thinking, feeling and acting a certain way about your brand by delivering these instructions to them through superior imagery and branded design. Read article →
December 01 / 2014