The festive season has begun, and no doubt you’re all braving the crowds to find the perfect presents and writing out your season’s greetings to family and friends, but there is one Christmas list you shouldn’t forget – your business’.

Here at Lava, it has become an annual tradition to send our clients and friends a fun card to wish them a Merry Christmas (who remembers the Lava Penguin of 2013?) because as well as spreading festive cheer, it also shows clients they’re important to you and it’s a great way to build up relationships.

What’s more, it can also be a subtle way to market your business. Not only are they an understated way to remind past, present and potential clients about you, if they’re well-designed and quirky enough the recipients may share them on social media. Last year, Jeremy Vine tweeted a picture of the Lava Penguin he’d made in the BBC Radio 2 studios!

Jeremy Vine and his Lava penguin last year.

Jeremy Vine and his Lava penguin last year.

To help your business get noticed this year, I’ve put together five top tips to help your Christmas card stand out in the crowd.

Be original
Creating a bespoke card that is designed and illustrated in a way, which is personal to your company will ensure you get noticed and remembered. It also shows the people that you care and value their custom.

Don’t go digital
Although we now live in a very online world, the classic Christmas card should always be signed, sealed and delivered – the traditional way. An e-card can be easily deleted once read or be lost in the sea of emails we get daily, whereas a printed card received in the post is more than likely going to be read, appreciated and put on display throughout the festive season.

Remember your branding
As I mentioned before, your Christmas card will more than likely be put on display in the workplace, so it’s important that it’s branded in your company’s colours and house style with your logo, so as soon as anyone sees it, they immediately think of you.

Humour goes a long way
A funny card that makes someone laugh will always be remembered over a generic card, so have fun with your designs! Just remember to stay tasteful and avoid anything that could be taken as offensive.

Make them personal
Always personally sign each and every card and if you know the recipient well, include a handwritten message, because it shows your appreciation, helps build loyalty and strengthens relationships that a printed name just wouldn’t do.

The Lava reindeer recipients can make this year.

The Lava reindeer recipients can make this year.

Does your business send out annual cards? I’d love to see pictures of your designs, tweet me @WeAreLava

Lisa Yates is the design manager at Lava, an award-winning marketing agency in Lincoln.

Did you know that the font type you choose for your logo could influence how others see your business? Have you ever sat next to someone who has sneered at a Comic Sans logo? I would be surprised if not, as this is just one font that seems to be able to curl the toes of most creative types.

When designing a logo, you’re attempting to communicate multiple messages in the simplest form possible. The typeface you use not only represents your company’s motives, but your characteristics as well. 

Pick the right font and it will amplify the meaning of the words, but pick the wrong one and you could end up sending out mixed messages – which would be nothing short of a disaster.
So which font should you choose? Here’s my quick guide to the different types of fonts on offer and the psychology behind them:
Serif fonts – think Times New Roman or Baskerville. These fonts are characterised by a slight decorative projection added as an embellishment to a letter. Implying a sense of tradition, respectability and reliability, this type of font would be good for a company looking to emphasise its pedigree or heritage – but be warned, a younger crowd might see them as too ‘old school’.

Sans serif fonts – think Helvetica, Ariel or Franklin Gothic. Clean, simple and futuristic, Sans Serif typefaces are very popular, especially in educational applications. They’re easy to read, which makes them ideal for the visually impaired and work well for companies wanting to send out a straightforward message and give the impression of reliability and honesty.

Modern fonts – these fonts include Futura, Avant Garde and Century Gothic. Strong and dependable but with a touch of sophistication. Modern fonts suit forward-looking brands and are ideal for fashion lines, companies in niche markets and luxury brands.

Script fonts – cursive and handwritten fonts can be beautiful but proceed with caution! Care needs to be taken over legibility when using a font like Zapfino or Scriptina. A logo font is often reduced in size for stationery etc. and nobody is going to understand a message they can’t read or remember. However, these can convey elegance, femininity or creativity. A font that looks genuinely handwritten can also give your design a sense of informality or spontaneity.

Novelty fonts – these typefaces are a bit different from the norm and generally you wouldn’t want to read a lot of text in them. However, they can work well for logos and singular words. Beware though, staff and customers may quickly tire of something overly childish (unless, of course, it is for a brand that is aimed at children). 
Custom fonts – can’t find what you really want in a typeface? Then you could always have a custom font created. For companies like Coca-Cola, Disney and Pinterest customised fonts have become synonymous with their brand. It’s an expensive option but one that will give you a unique look that stands out, consistency across your brand and above all the freedom to do what you want.

So think carefully before you choose your font. What subliminal message will it put across to your customers? Experiment with different fonts and you’ll quickly be able to see which style is right or wrong for you.

Lisa Yates is the design manager at Lava, an award-winning marketing agency in Lincoln.

Can you imagine Cadbury in any colour other than purple? How about if I say Coca Cola – what colour comes to mind? Your answer is probably the same as mine – no. This is because these colours have become so synonymous to the brand, it’s almost impossible to imagine them as something else.

Colour is such a key part of design. So much so, that a recent study by ColorMatters found that 85% of people notice colour before any other business branding, including the logos or fonts. When thinking of a brand design, though, colour can often be underestimated, as businesses don’t fully understand the impact it can have.

Not only does it help stand out against the competition, but it also reaches customers on an emotional level, reflecting a brand’s personality and, in turn, affecting how a customer feels. However, to successfully “own” a colour and ensure consumers link it with your business, it must be consistent across all branded materials to become relatable and memorable.

That leads us to the question: what do colours actually signify, and which companies have been successful in owning these colours?

This bold colour symbolises excitement, passion and youthfulness. It is the signature colour for big brands, like Coca Cola and Vodafone, to embody their social nature.

Signifying trust, reliability and strength, it is the obvious colour of choice for the NHS and Facebook – reflecting what customers would hope to expect from them.

Bright, fun and friendly, the colour orange has been chosen by EasyJet and Orange because of its cheerful nature.

Symbolising creativity and sentiment, a deep purple also gives the impression of sophistication and royalty. It’s no surprise then that Cadbury’s has even registered its own pantone (Cadbury 2658C) shade!

White represents simplicity and purity, and has successfully been used by technology giant Apple to promote a clean and modern brand.

What made you decide your brand’s colours? Did you find it difficult to decide a colour to effectively reflect your company? I’d love to hear your stories, so tweet me at @lavacomms.

Lisa Yates is the design manager at Lava, an award-winning marketing agency in Lincoln.

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