Color Inspiration: Red!

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Whether it’s blush, brick, burgundy, rose, or rouge… red is perhaps one of the most powerful colors on the color wheel.  It’s an attention getter, the hottest of the warm colors and can conjure up a wide range of emotions to the viewer.

Did you know?

– Flashing red lights denote danger or emergency. Stop signs and stop lights are red to get the drivers’ attention and alert them to the dangers of the intersection.

– Red is power, hence the red power tie for business people and the red carpet for celebrities and VIPs.

– Red is used as a symbol of courage and sacrifice, as in blood spilt in sacrifice or courage in the face of lethal danger.  Examples of this: use of red in many national flags.

– In Christianity, red is the liturgical color for the feast of martyrs, representing the blood of those who suffered for their faith.

– In some cultures, red denotes purity, joy, and celebration. Red is the color of happiness and prosperity in China and may be used to attract good luck.

– In Japan, red is a traditional color for a heroic figure.

– In Central Africa, the culture sees this color as a symbol of life and health.  Sick people are often painted with it, as well as warriors during celebrations.  In other parts of Africa, it is a color of mourning.

– Both the Greeks and the Hebrews considered red a symbol of love, as well as sacrifice. Psychological research has shown that men find women who are wearing red more attractive.

– The expression seeing red indicates anger and may stem not only from the stimulus of the color but from the natural flush (redness) of the cheeks, a physical reaction to anger, increased blood pressure, or physical exertion.

Beth Barron, Graphic Designer

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It’s Not Just a Memo: 9 Key Aspects of Internal Communications

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Like a good marriage, communication is vital to a strong employee/employer relationship.  The more an employee understands his company and feels he is understood, the more invested he feels.

Here are a few basics to keep in mind:

1.  External communications should be in sync with internal communications.  If your news releases are touting your environmental responsibility efforts, don’t forget to let your employees in on it.  Put a sign on the recycling bin that says 85% of all waste is recycled at your plant.  Reserve the closest parking spaces for carpoolers.  Not only will employees appreciate it, but they’ll also have some great examples of your company’s efforts to share when asked about it.

2.  Timing is critical.  To make employees feel a part of the team, make sure they hear news before their neighbors do.  Changing the company name or announcing a new CEO?  Tell the employees at a celebration the evening before you announce it to the media.  Or invite them to the news conference.

3.  Internal communications should be a priority from the top down, with every person in a managerial position trained in how to formally and informally communicate in an effective manner.  Tone is key.

4. Internal communications is a two-way street.  Employees need to know their concerns or suggestions are heard and considered.  A plus for employers is that often, good ideas for improvements emerge.

5. The most effective internal communications are from direct supervisor to employee.  This is much more personal than receiving memos from “on high.”  Supervisors can also get a better read on how information is received.

6.  All internal communications must communicate the benefit to the employee.  If employees will be temporarily inconvenienced by construction, describe how the changes will create a better-lit work area with new carpet and paint in all offices.  Even if the news is bad, such as a pay freeze, find the benefit to the employee – a pay freeze enables the company to retain all jobs.

7.  Honesty and transparency are essential.  Doing right is always right, but occasionally an accident will happen.  In today’s electronically connected world, an attempt to cover it up will be disastrous.  All will be found out – with pictures.  Letting your employees know what happened before the public hears can make them your allies, not your worst nightmare.  Make them part of your solution.

8. Consistency is key.  Written policy should be reflected in actions.  Inconsistency will leave employees confused and frustrated.  And we all know what human nature makes us do at that point – throw up our hands and quit trying.

9.  An internal communications plan should be long-term.  The plan should reflect the company’s long range goals and strategies.  It is not an ad campaign that changes every six months, but part of a company’s integrated work processes.

Although an effective internal communications plan can be quite detailed, these guidelines can help in assessing its effectiveness.  Got any good stories from your own experience?  We’d love to hear from you.

Kathy Kenne is a partner at Quest Group.

Proof Positive: Tips for Proofreading

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Shortly before last week’s primaries, I received a piece of candidate mail with a glaring spelling error.  This card was the closest many voters would get to meeting that individual.  He may have been a well-qualified, decent person, but I wonder how many reacted as I did – “If he couldn’t be bothered to spell the title of the office right, how much care is he going to take in doing the job?”

A printed piece with your name or your company’s name represents you.  You will be judged by it.  It has to be right.

My point:  Proofread.

This comes more naturally for some than for others, but here are a few tips that may help:

Start with the overall look.  Do items line up as they should, or is there a missed paragraph indention?  If a headline or photo runs across two pages, do the pieces line up together?  Is spacing between sentences and paragraphs uniform?

Assess the photos.  Are they sharp?  Does the color look good?

Check the bold text.  Readers’ eyes first go to headlines, highlighted quotes and photo captions.  Errors here are much more noticeable than those buried in the main text.

Run the numbers.  Make sure any numbers add up.  If you’re showing a pie chart, for example, you don’t want all the slices to total 102 percent.

Run the numbers, II.  Are your page numbers sequential and placed correctly?  If there’s a table of contents, do the page numbers listed match the actual page numbers?

Verify contact information.  Confirm addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses from two sources if possible; same goes for names and job titles.  Plug web links into your browser to make sure they connect successfully.

Look for style consistency.  If you’re underlining book titles, for instance, make sure none are italicized.  If you’ve decided to use upper case on subsequent references, like “the University,” verify that every instance uses caps.

Read the body text.  Computer spelling and grammar tools are a helpful step but should not be your only one.  If you’ve been staring at the words for a while, you may want to get away and come back to it later.  Reading aloud can also help you catch things you haven’t seen.

Find fresh eyes.  When your eyes have glazed over, there’s no one better for spotting a problem than someone seeing a piece for the first time.  Every office has someone who got A’s in grammar; teachers and editors are good people to know, too.

The world’s an imperfect place, and mistakes happen.  But the more focused you are on avoiding them, the better your company will look.

– Kirsten Shaw

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