"Design for Change" by Virginia-Rae Choquette

Socially Conscious Design has been one of the most powerful design trends in recent years. This design trend focuses on showing solidarity and support for social, environmental, and justice issues through graphic design. Essentially, it is artists using their talent and voice to promote the betterment of society. The need for social and environmental change has reached a tipping point, and creators and brands have stepped up to the plate to show support and create awareness. There are some key attributes that are important when designing for change, but let’s start with possibly the most important of them all.

Authentic & Representative

Authenticity is the underlying attribute that must be present in the design and the promotion for socially conscious design. Some of the largest protests in the world have been powered by social media, and that wouldn’t have happened if the messaging was inauthentic or misplaced. Authenticity not only means being true to oneself but the person identified. It’s important that when designing for change, a designer takes their own preferences out of the situation, and designs with the community’s voice in mind. This might mean a fact-finding mission of gathering feedback, research, and learning cultural norms about the community or cause you to wish to support and design with this top of mind.

Informative

Design for Change generally always has an element of information embedded in it. Whether it’s in the actual graphic, or a description in a social media post explaining facts related to the design, it’s there. In socially conscious design, it’s common to see info-graphs or bold, informative text in graphics. It’s crucial to convey messaging when trying to inform people about social justice issues, particularly when the messaging is spreading the word about a march or protest. A great example is the graphic below by Liza Donovan, created for the Women’s March on Washington. The Women’s March on January 21, 2017, resulted in over 7 million protesters worldwide. This was arguably one of the most successful protests in history, organized and spread through social media.

 

“Hear Our Voice” by Liza Donovan, created for the Women’s March on Washington.

“Hear Our Voice” by Liza Donovan, created for the Women’s March on Washington.

Evoke Emotion

“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” This quote by designer and author Robert L. Peters is commonly quoted, but for good reason. He said this during a speech, and to put it into context, he was addressing the idea of trying to design a better world for future generations. But design won’t have an epic impact unless it is bold, evokes emotion, and genuinely creates a pause for reflection and thought. Finding creative ways to elicit an emotional response is crucial to the design process. Whether the message is hopeful or heartwrenching, make sure it connects with the audience powerfully and authentically.

Colours & Typography

Colours and typography do vary from cause to cause, but generally speaking, they are both bold and attention-grabbing. Again, using the above example of the Women’s March poster, if you were to look at a collection of their posters, you would see that the colour pallet and typography are similar across all graphics. While it might not be common to view social justice causes as brands, the organizations and their designers are savvy enough to know there should be consistency across messaging, typography and colour pallets. Their causes are crucially important to them and the people they represent, so having an impactful and consistent design is vital for the recognition of their causes.

 

We hope this gave you insight into the powerful world of Socially Conscious Design. For more design inspiration, check out more of our blog for the latest design and marketing trends. 

Photo of the ceiling at the Audain Art Museum in Black and White.

Monochromatic Minimalism has been on the rise in the past few years as one of the top design trends. While this style of graphic design isn’t new, over 60 years in the making, we’re seeing huge growth in its presence today. The increased use of monochromatic minimalism in design is possibly a reflection of what users are desiring more in their own lives: simplicity. 

But just because this theme exudes simplicity, doesn’t mean it’s simple to implement. Several key factors must be considered if a less-is-more approach is going to work for your business. 

Less is More 

Ever heard the quote “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”? While the origin of this quote wasn’t directed towards UX and UI, it provides a concise summary of the monochromatic minimalistic design theory: less is more. With well-designed minimalist websites, you’ll notice features and elements on the pages are stripped-down, keeping only what is necessary. Users are provided with only the essential information needed to inform and direct, nothing more. Eliminating anything that doesn’t support the core functionality or messaging of the website results in clean, clear communication with your user. It’s the true opposite of information overload.

Monochromatic Colour Palette 

If a sense of calm washes over you when thinking of a monochromatic colour palette, you’re not alone. Clashing, bold colour palettes of the early 2000s have found their way out of vogue, and clean, greyscale tones have made their way to the forefront. Monochromatic colour palettes generally refer to background colours, icons, and navigational elements, not necessarily photos on the website. Using black and white photos in conjunction with the monochromatic palette is entirely up to you and the theme you wish to create. The benefit of a greyscale palette for icons ensures content isn’t upstaged and users have an easier time processing what’s served up on screen.  

Black and White photo of the sun dropping behind trees in whistler.

Flat Design

If you were to sample hundreds of minimalist websites, you will most likely see the majority utilized flat design in textures, icons, or graphics in the UI. This breaks from the traditional trend of designers using shadows, textures, and other techniques to make elements look 3D or lifelike. Flat design is a key component to minimalist UI design, but it has to be done well. It’s crucial that the interface still feels like a space a user can interact with, making sure it’s apparent where they need to engage on your website.   

Embrace the Space 

Embracing the negative (or white) space in a minimalist design is key. This attribute is one of the defining characteristics of monochromatic minimalism. Negative space is a tactic to direct the attention and eyes of the customer to where it matters. The abundance of white space allows users to see the important page aspects more clearly and therefore, easier to digest. This is similar to the concept of less-is-more, but it’s important to highlight the importance of white space as an entirely separate component to minimalist websites.

Maintain Balance  

As true with any graphic or web design, maintaining balance is key to your design. This golden rule doesn’t disappear when designing a minimalist site, so make sure this rule guides you when integrating all of the above key components of a monochromatic minimalist design.

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating monochromatic minimalism into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

 

bringing the outside in with natural design

Natural design originally made its way into web design via eco-conscious brands. However, it has made its way into the top trends of 2021 since growing in popularity across different industries. The natural imagery, calming colours, and soothing fonts aren’t just for eco-friendly companies anymore. Due to the pandemic, the past year resulted in more of us spending more time indoors and on screens. It’s no wonder we wanted a more soothing and natural user experience online, bringing the outside in. 

Graphics

One of the key elements of natural design is the presence of natural landscapes in graphics. Actual landscape photographs, hand-drawn mountains, and lifelike foliage are key attributes of graphics. This type of imagery projects a whimsical, yet realistic (or sometimes abstract) vision of what we see when looking at nature. Natural themes also tend to utilize nature-inspired textures to add depth to graphics. Using the grain of wood, tree bark, and veins of leaves are great ways to accomplish this. All of these elements are inspired by nature, which is what we all need a little more of, right?

Colours

The outside world provides a rich and deep range of colours that inspire the natural design theme. The colour palette of natural design primarily focuses on earth tone colour schemes. Some of the common colours used are softer greens, muted turquoise, and warmer colours like faded pinks and oranges. The softness of whites, beiges, and grays tie it all together. If you’re looking to incorporate natural colourways into your design, a good rule of thumb is asking yourself if you see it in nature. 

Fonts

The fonts that accompany natural themes tend to be ones described as organic, soft, simple, and in their own way, powerful. Similar to the traits of graphics used in natural design, you’ll generally see a lot of fonts that appear hand-drawn. Some of the fonts will go as far as to take on the appearance of leaves, vines, or the texture of tree bark, actually using natural elements to make up the composition of the font. These highly stylized fonts will generally be accompanied by simple, clean fonts. 

Who’s Using Natural Design?

While natural design was originally used by eco-conscious brands, this has greatly expanded over the years. Other industries using this style are health-conscious brands, self-improvement, and sustainable fashion. However, it has reached beyond the scope of health, and industries that are traditionally perceived as high-stress are taking on a natural theme.  For example, real estate and financial companies use natural design as a way to counter stress and create a soothing online experience for their customers. What better way to get your customers to sit down and stay awhile on your site than create a calming visual experience for them? 

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating natural design into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

Example of dark mode user interface

Dark mode started to take off in 2019 and has grown to be adopted by most operating systems, plugins, apps, some websites and even made its way into print. 

But why has it taken the UX and UI worlds by storm? Well besides the inherent cool factor of being dark and moody, fonts and elements stand out significantly more on a dark background, increasing the accessibility for sight-challenged people. While these are good enough reasons alone, there are a few more that should grab your attention.   

Cheers to Your Health

With the vast amount of time we spend on screens, the option to give your eyes a break is a coveted concept. Bright screens create stress and strain on eyes that can result in dry, tired eyes and lead to a suppressed production of melatonin, affecting sleep. Dark mode can alleviate these issues by reducing the total amount of white light your eyes process over the course of a day. Particularly in darker environments, dark mode is more relaxing on the eyes.  

Extend Your Battery Life

Using dark mode on devices significantly increases battery life. Depending on what level of brightness your screen is at, you can save between 15% and 60% of your battery compared to screens viewed in bright white. While it’s nice to go further between charges, this can be extremely useful in emergency situations when your phone is your lifeline.  

Captivate Your Market

For the same reasons Dark Mode increases accessibility for sight-challenged people, the contrast of fonts and elements on a dark background are attention-grabbing for any user. But we all know it’s not just about grabbing attention, it’s holding it as well. Some research has shown that utilizing a dark theme increases the length of user engagement, meaning more interaction with your site. This makes dark mode a potentially excellent tool to captivate the attention of prospective users. 

Top Tips for Dark Mode

Here are some of our top tips when it comes to incorporating dark mode:

  • Avoid Pure Black – First and foremost, be sure to avoid pure black as the primary surface colour. A dark grey, such as colour code #121212,  is easier on the eyes.
  • Bold Doesn’t Mean Bright – Avoid the halo effect of pure white text on a black background by using a darker white font. This results in greater contrast and a more bold appearance.
  • Don’t Over Saturate – When it comes to the colour saturation of text and graphics, dial it down when working with a darker background. The most visually pleasing colour range is between 200 and 50. 

 

Curious if your business can benefit from incorporating dark mode into your brand strategy?  Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today! 

planner and coffee cup - SMART goals

Goal setting is an important aspect of marketing, and really in all aspects of your life.  At Cloud9 Marketing, we set our bars pretty high. We are goal setters not only for ourselves but for our clients. But we aren’t just spontaneously and carelessly going about making wishes and hoping they come true. No, there is a method to our madness!

In order to help guide our goal setting, we use the SMART method. The SMART method of goal setting is a method used by many businesses and people in order to help them stay focused and increase the chances of success in obtaining their goals. 

Although this method will not guarantee success in achieving your goals, it will definitely make the process of goal setting more efficient and give you a sense of direction.

S – Specific

Avoid making generalized goals and keep them specific to you and your brand. Answering the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) will tailor your goal to match the needs of your business. 

M – Measurable

How do you know if you’ve been successful if you haven’t predetermined what success is? Setting tangible indicators of success will allow you to track your progress and let you know whether or not you have achieved your goal. 

Lucky for us in the digital marketing world, there are many useful tools and platforms which provide us with detailed analytics and metrics of our webpages, advertising efforts, social media profiles and more. Read more on tracking website metrics here.

A – Achievable

Of course, it’s great to set the bar high, but avoid setting it TOO high. If your goal isn’t achievable, then you’ve ultimately set yourself up for failure. It’s important to look at where your business stands currently and understand where to set realistic benchmarks. An Important question to ask would be: do you have the resources and abilities to achieve these goals? 

R – Relevant

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are relevant to your ultimate business objectives. If your ultimate goal is to increase in-store sales, perhaps it’s not the best idea to spend your annual marketing budget on a campaign to increase traffic to an e-commerce store. It’s essential to look at the big picture and create a plan and goals that are relevant.

T – Timely

Setting timelines is essential when setting goals because it creates a sense of urgency and pushes you to start working towards achieving success. If you don’t set a start and finish date, your goal is just going to sit in limbo like those tasks that have been on your personal to-do list for the last two years…(obviously not speaking from personal experience).

The next time you are setting marketing goals for your business, try the SMART goals method. If you need even further guidance with your marketing initiatives and strategies, connect with us for a free consultation

If you own a business or are building a brand, you may be questioning the importance of social media marketing. You may be asking yourself: Does your business need to be on social media? Does social media marketing really work? The simple answer is, ABSOLUTELY!

As of May 2019, there are almost 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide with Facebook leading the pack at just over 2.3 billion users. The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media.

Today’s consumers are influenced significantly by what they see on social media. In a 2017 survey, 78% of consumers said that companies’ social media posts impacted their purchases.

If you’re not using social media for your brand or business, that’s a lot of missed opportunity!

Here are just a few of the many reasons why social media marketing is important for any brand:

Brand awareness

Social media platforms offer a great opportunity to build awareness for brands. From targeted advertising, hashtags, geo-tags and more, the opportunity to reach new audiences and gain exposure is vast.

Building brand awareness doesn’t always have to come from the brand’s side either — when customers feel loyalty to a brand, they are often compelled to share their love in posts and photos, spreading the awareness even further.

Authenticity

Social media allows brands to show their human side and be authentic. Authenticity resonates well with customers and allows them to feel a personal connection.

Engagement

Whether through comments on posts or direct messages, social media provides a great way to connect directly with customers. Engagement on social media can also improve customer service experience in the event of an issue as customers are able to communicate with a brand instantly.

Traffic Increase

Social media is a great way to drive traffic to a website. There are numerous opportunities to direct people from social platforms to a website such as links in posts, posting blog posts to social media, using product tags on Instagram, and many more. Social media advertising allows even greater opportunity to drive traffic to a website.

Customer Insights

Most social media platforms and social media scheduling platforms offer great analytics tools which can be used to dig into information about customers and followers. This analytical data provides brands with access to real-time data which can be used to improve marketing strategies and increase effectiveness.

 

Looking to boost your brand’s social media presence but are not sure where to start, check out our social media management services here.

With Cloud9 Marketing managing your social media, we boost your brand awareness, improve online credibility, and increase sales and/or customer acquisition.

Staying on top of trends is something that is essential to every marketing strategy. Summer is the time to heat up your marketing plan. Here are some ways to keep your strategy looking fiery and how we can help you.

Go Mobile

You may think it seems obvious but the warmer weather drives more people outside and away from their computers. You need to adjust your marketing efforts to mirror this. Think about how well optimized your mobile site is. If you are using paid advertising, increasing bids on mobile devices will create positive results.

New ideas to boost engagement

Summer is a great opportunity to try new ideas to boost engagement. Just because your business is winter focused doesn’t mean that you should drop off the radar in summer. Think outside the box. Contests are a great way to engage with your audience. Get them to post their summer pictures or share your posts.

Get involved with the community

Summer events mean plenty of opportunities to reach out to the community and connect with a new audience. Sponsor a sports team or even create your own event. By having fun with your marketing strategy you can build solid relationships that will benefit you later in the year.

Pick a theme

Choosing a theme for your summer marketing strategy can be really effective. Tell a story around it using tactics that build on each other throughout the summer.

Focus on visual content

The sunshine means people have less time to consume content, therefore you really have to grab their attention. You can post images with shorter captions, do a vlog, or even start a podcast. Creating downloadable content that people can view when they don’t have cell phone reception is effective too. You may find that social platforms that are more visual, such as Instagram are more effective in the summer.

Evaluate last year

It’s always important to take some time to step back and think about what worked last year and what you could have done better. Evaluate the results and build on successful campaigns and learn from unsuccessful ones.

Build momentum for Fall

If your business is seasonal, you want to be using summer as a time to plan your marketing campaigns for the winter and build momentum coming into fall! Network with new and potential clients, or create buzz for a product or service that you will launch once the summer ends.

Need help with your summer marketing strategy? Book a consultation at Cloud9 Marketing today!

computer

As we learn to navigate these uncharted waters, confusion and uncertainty are at an all-time high. Not only is this situation putting pressure on everyday life, but business owners are also feeling the pressure and impact of these troubling times. 

With people around the world being told to stay home, one of the heaviest hit industries has been the tourism sector. And here in Whistler, we have certainly felt the impacts of this. Many local businesses have temporarily shut down operations including tour operators, hotels, restaurants and more, causing a trickle-down effect to our mountain town.

If your business has been forced to close or limit its services, you may have questions as to what the best practices for marketing during a time like this are. A lot of businesses have chosen to “go dark” and have completely put a hold on all marketing efforts including social media.

But is going dark on social media the right move? In our opinion, no. 

The term “social distancing” has become a staple in our everyday vocabulary as of late. However, we believe the term we should be using is “physical distancing.” This is a time more than ever that we need to maintain connections with people and be social, digitally that is. 

(If you’re more of the listener than a reader, hear more about this topic on our very first podcast, Social Media Marketing During a Time of Crisis. Listen now at: https://bit.ly/2y79Ue2.)

Why You Should Be Posting

With most of our time now being spent at home and away from public situations, people are turning to social media for entertainment more than ever. For some, social media may even be the only social connection they have. Before this pandemic, the average adult spent two hours a day on social media, imagine where these numbers must be at now…

Social media enables businesses to connect with people all over the world. Maintaining a presence during these times will allow businesses to expand their community and maintain the one they have worked so hard to build. Now is the time to establish who your brand really is and invest in relationships rather than transactions.

And with so many businesses choosing to go dark, this could, in fact, be the least cluttered time ever on social media for tourism businesses. Use this time to stand out from your competitors enabling you to be top of mind for when things return to ‘normal’. 

What You Should Be Posting 

As these are unprecedented times, it can be a challenge to determine what posts are appropriate. With so much anxiety and heaviness surrounding the situation, businesses should be focusing on content that is light-hearted and inspirational. 

This is also the time to present the human side of your business. People are looking for a connection more than ever. Tell stories, show personality, find a way to connect with your audience. Be sure to also monitor and reply to any comments — this is a great way to make things personal.

Some examples of what to post:

  • Repost user-generated content
  • Create video tutorials
  • Share stories of favourite past memories
  • Introduce your staff
  • Support any local initiatives or emergency communications

Other Marketing Efforts

So we’ve established that maintaining social media presence during this time is important, but what about other marketing efforts? 

We recommend refocusing any efforts towards achieving conversion goals to efforts that help build community and engagement. This includes turning off any paid advertising across all platforms.

Planning For the Future

Although we hope this will all be over soon, we cannot predict exactly when everything will return to business as usual. We can, however, use this time to start planning for the future and ensure we have a strategy set for when the time comes. Because when it comes, it’s going to come suddenly and those that are not prepared will be left behind.

Create a plan starting at the beginning of the end of all of this. If possible, begin to create quality content to use in order to avoid scrambling at the last minute — Draft posts, create videos, write blog posts, etc. 

We also believe that focusing efforts on regional markets will be more successful at first. It will take some time for economies to recover and travel bans to lift, which may create barriers for international visitors. 

For more on this topic, be sure to listen to our very first podcast, Social Media Marketing During a Time of Crisis where Cloud9 Marketing team members Virginia-Rae Choquette and Hailey Elise discuss how to navigate social media during this current time of crisis. Listen now at: https://bit.ly/2y79Ue2

cash register - consumer journey

Depending on your type of business, there is almost guaranteed to be multiple touchpoints in which a consumer will interact with it before making a purchase. These touchpoints can range from seeing a print ad in a magazine, liking a social media post on Facebook, visiting your website or emailing your customer service department. 

All of these interactions are part of what’s called the consumer journey. The consumer journey looks at the overall experience of your business’s customers from discovery and awareness to (hopefully) purchase.

Consumer Journey Mapping

Although understanding the steps along the consumer journey is a great start, an even more effective strategy is to create a consumer journey map. 

A consumer journey map is “a visual representation of the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company.”

How you create the consumer journey map is entirely up to you. For some, a blank wall with sticky notes is sufficient, while for others a detailed spreadsheet on Excel is the preferred method. The most important aspect is that you are able to understand the map and make use of it. There are some great consumer journey map templates that can found online with a quick search on Google.

Why It’s Important

“With the help of a customer journey map, you can get a sense of your customers’ motivations, needs and pain points.”

Consumer journey mapping is important because it allows you to see exactly how your consumers experience your brand rather than how you think/want them to.

A consumer journey map allows you to step into your customers’ shoes and understand things like abandoned shopping carts, page visits and more. This understanding allows you to better refine the journey leading to a better and more effective consumer experience.

And a better consumer experience leads to increased sales, brand loyalty and more efficient marketing strategies.

Need help with understanding your customers’ journey? Not sure where to start? We can help! Connect with us for your free one-hour consultation.

 

Quotes taken from this great Hubspot Article: How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map

person holding phone - local SEO

Most business owners that have a website have heard about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. But what about local SEO? 

What is Local SEO?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website in order to maximize the amount of organic traffic directed from the search engine results. 

Local SEO goes one step further and is the process of optimizing your website for a local audience. This process will help ensure that people in your area will be able to find your business online, and in turn in person. This is especially important for businesses that offer regional services or have a brick and mortar location. 

Statistics show that over 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information so optimization for local SEO is essential for any business owner.

The Google 3-Pack

Being in the Google 3-Pack is an important goal for any business. Google uses the searcher’s location and displays the top three ranked businesses in a prominent location near the top of the search results page. The Google 3-Pack also displays relevant information to the user that they may need immediately, including address, phone number, store hours and more. 

Local SEO is not the only factor that determines which businesses are displayed in the 3-Pack, however, it does play a significant role.

How to Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Here are a few tips and strategies you can follow in order to optimize your website for local SEO.

Google My Business

Claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing is the first step to improving your local SEO ranking. If you have not claimed your listing yet, you are not alone — approximately 56% of businesses have not claimed their GMB listing. 

Completing your GMB listing will enable your business to be listed on Google Maps and in local search results. Your listing will show location, business hours, a link to your website, reviews and more.

Claim your Google My Business listing here.

Location Pages 

Adding location pages to your website will also help increase your website’s local SEO ranking. This could be in the form of adding your location address to a “Contact Us” page, or by creating separate pages for each location if your business has multiple locations. 

It’s also important to ensure that your full and accurate address is listed on your website in at least one location. We recommend adding it to the footer of your website so that it appears on every page of your website.

Business Reviews

Reviews from customers can play a role in your website’s ranking and inclusion in the 3-Pack. Positive reviews also encourage search engine users to click on your listing. Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews through email newsletters, signage in your store or just simply by asking them. 

Local-based Content

Consistently adding local-based content will help boost your local SEO. Consider writing a monthly blog post about a local event or highlight and be sure to include keywords that are relevant to your local area. For example, if you are a Whistler-based business, you could write about the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and include keywords such as World Ski and Snowboard Festival and WSSF.

Mobile Optimization

Most business searches are done on a mobile device so ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is extremely important. Mobile-friendliness impacts SEO overall so it is an important aspect for any website in general.

Although these are just some of the ways to optimize your website for local SEO, following these steps will surely improve your ranking and increase your chances of being featured in the Google 3-Pack. 

Need help with your website SEO? Not sure where to start? We can help! Read more about our Search Engine Optimization Services here.