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Apple iOS5 Update List

October 12th, 2011


If you’re like us and have been waiting with bated breath for months in anticipation of the newest update to Apple’s iOS operating system, your suffering is done – the wait is over. iPhone 3GS / 4 users, iPad / iPad2 and 3rd / 4th Generation iPod Touch owners alike will be able to take advantage of iOS5, though some features may not be available to older devices.

Today, Apple released the latest version of its popular mobile operating system with a ton of updated and totally-new features. From changes to the messaging system, to OS-wide Twitter integration, the updates are advertised to be significant.

Have you already taken the plunge and upgraded your device to iOS5? What are your favorite new features? Anything you hate? Share your feedback with our readers in the comments below.

If you want to know what new features are being offered with iOS5 before upgrading your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, here’s a list taken directly from the install documentation when upgrading to iOS5:

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The Value of Design

September 19th, 2011


WHAT?
Design is omni-present. It cannot be escaped. Everywhere you look, every object you see, every book you read, every billboard in your line of sight, advertisements in magazines, newspapers and on TV, every article of clothing in your wardrobe, the plates you eat from and even the bed you sleep in – all are the result of a design process.

HOW?
The design process begins with a core idea – what are we making, what purpose does it serve, to whom is it directed or being sold?  From there, the idea is refined into a solid concept – what is the general look and feel of the object or piece? Will it be a high-end product or a dollar-store item? Next, artistic renderings give the idea visual form – sketches and/or digital images are developed, various visual representations are explored. Once a graphic direction has been chosen, the visual is further refined until a final design is produced. From there, the object or piece is taken through a production process, whether it be printing for business cards or brochures or manufacturing of a cell phone or pair of shoes.

WHERE?
Design encompasses a number of specific disciplines which produce our entire visual environment:

Graphic design – product packaging, advertising, brochures, signage, business cards, banners, etc.

Industrial design – products of all shapes and sizes – cell phones, appliances, furniture, automobiles

Fashion design – clothing, shoes, handbags, hats, accessories

Architecture – houses, structures and buildings

Interior design – selection of the objects that determine the look and feel of the interior of a room or building including: wall materials, paint colors, fixtures, furniture, artwork, draperies and decorative items

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Protect Your Web Site Content Against Plagiarism

September 16th, 2011


A while back, we were introduced to a site that lets you type in your web site’s domain name – or even a specific page URL on your site – to see if the content on your page is being used on any other sites.  We thought this was an interesting concept, so we plugged in our URL and were shocked to find our content was – word for word – being used on a number of other web sites – without our permission, obviously!

To add insult to injury, several of the sites that had outright ripped off our copy were themselves designers. In one case, the person had not only stolen our copy, but images from our portfolio, advertising our work as their own. Imagine being a client of an unscrupulous designer who searches out someone else’s web site to steal content to sell themselves to said client on merits that are not their own.

Needless to say, we were not about to take theft of our copyrighted content and images lying down! We immediately had our legal advisor draft a cease-and-desist message which was sent to the owners of each of the offending sites. Most responded quickly – and apologetically – and complied with our request for removal of our content from their sites. In one case, the owner of a printing company web site told us that the person who developed the site for them provided the copy and he was dumbfounded when we presented him with our claim of plagiarism. That case proved to be the most difficult to resolve, with the developer initially refusing to co-operate. Within a few days, however, it was, thankfully, resolved.

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Add Your Site to 17 Free Business Directories

September 13th, 2011


We’ve compiled a list of business directory web sites on which you can list your business on for free. The benefit of adding a listing to sites like this is that it increases your SEO by giving your site better link “popularity” – a key element that Google takes into account when determining rankings for particular keywords.

A lot of the sites we’ve included are relevant to Canadian or Vancouver-based businesses, but you can easily find sites specific to your area by doing a Google search for terms like “free business directory” and the name of your city.

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Who Are You Calling an Artist?

August 26th, 2011


We have a bone to pick with those well-meaning name-callers who like to refer to us as the “a-word” – artists. While their verbal path may be paved with good intentions, and there is a certain element of the artistic to design, it needs to be noted that there’s an ocean of difference that distinguishes the roles of artists vs. that of designers.

WHO: Whereas an artist generally produces art for him or herself and then offers the work up for sale in a gallery or to private collectors, a designer is engaged to create a piece that is aimed at a specific pre-determined audience. While it’s a common mistake to believe the designer is working to satisfy the personal preferences of the client themselves, our goal is to appeal to the client’s target demographic, not an individual or group of people in the client’s company.

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Less is More – DUH

August 23rd, 2011


Once in a while, we can all use a good reminder of how simple execution of a great idea can be more effective than all the bells and whistles you can shake a stick at….and, what’s with the stick shaking anyhow?

In this instance, a single word is emblazoned across the middle of an ad, coupled with the organization’s logo and a simple call to action that we immediately “get”, resulting in a head-nodding chuckle. That’s it. No fancy Photoshop tricks, no superhot, scantily-clad models, carefully-selected stock images or overdone design. Just the perfect marriage of relevant observation to effective implementation.

Oh, yeah, and it delivered a palpable result for the client organization, too…

See for yourself: San Francisco Zoo Print Campaign













You’re So Vain – (You Probably Think This Blog is About You)

August 18th, 2011


We’ve seen companies of all shapes and sizes across a wide spectrum of industries. In spite of their differences, all share a common goal – to market in a way that most effectively speaks to the target audience.

Right now, you may be thinking, “Wow, these guys are masters of the obvious!”, but not all is as it seems, Grasshopper, so please bear with us…

Like everyone on our fair planet, clients have their own thoughts, opinions and preferences about any and everything from politics and religion to car brands, vacation spots, and even their ever-so-personal, paragraph-long designer coffee order. We, too, are guilty of producing more than our fair share of strong opinions. Fortunately, like lawyers and professional critics, we chose a career that pays us for unleashing them on unsuspecting passersby…

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Goal-Setting First Step Towards Success

August 15th, 2011


As obvious as it might seem, actually writing down goals for your company for the coming year is something few people actually take the time to do. In the absence of a set of written goals and a concrete plan of action to attain them, we tend to get less accomplished. The result? What we achieve falls well short of our aspirations.

Much like planning a road trip, before you can determine how to get somewhere, you first have to know where you want to go. Imagine saying to yourself “I want to go somewhere, but I’m not sure where…”, getting in the car and driving aimlessly with no set destination. It wouldn’t take long to realize you’re getting nowhere, fast. With no end point in mind, not only will you be clueless as to how you’ll end up in the right place, you’ll also have no way to know when you HAVE finally arrived.

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Re-Design to Re-Define

August 11th, 2011


In a market where companies are always in search of ways to outsmart the competition, giving your collateral and identity an overhaul is a great way to reinvent yourself.  Not merely an aesthetic process, the decision to re-design anything from a single piece to an entire identity offers a laundry list of benefits, not the least of which is to help a company refocus both its internal and external vision and how it is represented in the market.

But, with a busier-than-ever pace in the business world, why would an enterprise choose to undertake such a process in the first place?   What real purpose does re-designing a company’s identity, web site or collateral serve?  While the answer to that question can be a very personal one for each company, there are some that are more obvious, one of the most common being the addition of a new product or service that prompts design of a new sales or promotional piece.

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Tricking Outlook 2010 into Using Custom HTML Template for New Messages, Replies & Forwards

August 11th, 2011


Getting MS Office applications to play nice can be a challenge. It seems that every time a new version comes out, things that worked fine before no longer do. We’ve been hesitant to upgrade to the newest version of Office because of the fact that, in the 2007 version, it did not seem possible to get Outlook to use a custom HTML email template on replies and forwarded messages. For the sake of consistency, it’s preferable to have the same look appear on all outgoing messages, regardless of whether it’s a new conversation or part of an existing one.

So, we set out to find out if the 2010 version of Outlook was any more flexible. At first glance, it seemed that it was similar to 2007 – you could paste an HTML file inside the stationery folder on the hard drive and you could then use that from within the list of “themes” shown. Still, our replies and forwards were left out in the cold, so a solution had to be found.

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Service vs Product Marketing

August 8th, 2011


If you manage a service-based business, you’re certainly aware of how ineffective some traditional product-based marketing approaches can be in promoting your company. The fact is, if you provide a service rather than a product, it can be downright detrimental to your company’s reputation and the perceived value of your service to use product-based marketing techniques.

Service businesses differ from tangible-goods companies in many ways. Many service companies focus their marketing efforts on the goal of instilling the proper perceived value of the service – the customer must feel – must KNOW – that their life will be made easier, better or richer in some way from using the service.  Since the customer, in many cases, won’t walk out of your office with a tangible product in-hand, this emotional connection is an imperative element in service marketing. The (sometimes) unfortunate reality is that service providers have to work many times harder than their product-offering counterparts to persuade the consumer of the service’s intrinsic value.

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What a Brand IS – And IS NOT

August 4th, 2011


With terms like branding, brand identity, corporate identity and a host of other terms related to corporate brand building finding their way into the jargon of nearly every businessperson on the planet, there’s bound to be some confusion about what it all means.

Many people equate a “brand” with its logo, which is a common misconception. A logo is not the brand in and of itself, but a graphic representation of what the brand stands for – a sort of visual shorthand for a complex message.

In short, a brand is the emotional connection you have with a company or its products. It’s the expectation that you have of high quality, a good price or exceptional customer service when you see a company’s name or logo, watch their advertisements or read their promotional materials. A clear example of this connection with a brand is automaker Mercedes-Benz. When you see one of their vehicles, watch one of their ads or enter their showroom, you immediately connect their name and products with quality engineering and luxury. THAT is the definition of branding.

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“Corporate” Design Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

August 2nd, 2011


You may hear many creative types express that they feel working on “corporate” projects is boring, limiting and stuffy. However, the more restrictive a project’s guidelines, the greater the challenge to turn out some great work. Let’s face it. Anyone can make sports, cars and video games look cool in print or on the web.

But, the real test of a firm’s creative capabilities is the ability to make more mundane subject matter engaging to the target audience. Presentation plays a crucial role in forming the impression your piece has on a viewer and color, placement, size and texture can all influence them to take a closer look.

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Google +1 Button Competes with Facebook Like, Surpasses Twitter Buttons

July 12th, 2011


While it was only released a short time ago, the Google +1 button has already made its presence known on the social web. The +1 button which – much like share buttons offered by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – allows signed-in Google users to share an article, blog post, web site or other +1-enabled web site content with friends.

One drawback at present is that Google Apps professional users are not currently able to share content using the +1 button because use of a Google profile is required to share using the button. Google Profiles are not currently available for Google Apps’ pro users. Boo! However, there is word from Google that this functionality will be forthcoming, so fear not, +1 is near. We are, ourselves, Google Apps users, so we’re looking forward to being able to test out +1 on a more extensive professional level.

Naturally, the primary appeal of the +1 button is its integration with Google’s search results. If many connections of a signed-in Google user have shared a particular piece of content using Google +1, that content will show up with personal annotations from that user’s friends, which may boost the likelihood the user will view that content as well. After all, information or products recommended by a friend are more likely to get a second look than random results from companies you’ve never heard of.

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How to Generate Free PR for Your Business

July 12th, 2011


A little free press can go a long way in helping get the word out about your business. Networking in Vancouver has a great article on their web site that is a summary of a presentation given by a PR expert that helps break down the process of getting free publicity for your company into three easy steps:

  1. Know Your Angle
  2. Know Your Target
  3. Pick Up the Phone

Be sure to visit the Networking in Vancouver to read the full article and check out more great content and business networking opportunities.













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