Archives by Year: 2017
In today’s world, everyone is a design critic. With consumers’ easy access to the corporate ear through social media comes highly accessible opportunities to improve user experiences. Plus, in the growing digital age where most people live in interfaces almost as much as their real lives, the spotlight on visual communication has expanded from the creative population to the general public.
Whether you’re frustrated with Netflix’s poor organization of movie options, enjoying the “Sort by ‘Price: Low to High’” option on a retail site, or feeling enticed by a Facebook ad for a product you didn’t know you needed, you’re (probably unknowingly) assessing graphic design.
With the rising population of design critics, it brings to mind questions like: How do we measure the strength of a design from a consumer perspective? How do trends affect our experiences? And how does the evolution of visual communication affect our opinions and experiences? It’s time to enhance our way of thinking about design criticism — to polish the lens through which we look at visual communication.
When looking at an ad from the 1920s, 50s, 70s, etc. one typically gets an immediate sense of the era from which it originated. But have you ever wondered what will be the defining visual design characteristics of this decade? What will we look back at and say “that was so 2010s?”
This question came to mind a few years ago while attending the Cincinnati Bockfest parade. A local business’s van rolled through in a branded vinyl wrap and suddenly I had an “aha!” moment. I found myself noticing their brand identity, identifying the aesthetic as a clear reflection of the current era. Although I don’t have a photo of that van to share, the images below illustrate what I believe to be some of the iconic graphic styles of this decade:
This modern design status-quo often dictates people’s opinions, but I think viewers sometimes misuse “good design” to describe what is actually trendy or current design. While various design techniques fall in and out of style over time, not all trendy designs are strong visual communication and vice versa. For example, in one of my first college design classes, we were taught that the use of drop-shadow was outdated. My peers and I misinterpreted that point as “the use of drop-shadow is poor design.” I eventually learned that although the use of this technique often appears outdated and therefore unappealing, it is not necessarily a reflection of bad visual communication. (In many cases, it can actually be used quite tastefully in a modern way, but I digress.) Even when used distastefully, if the composition communicates the message successfully, isn’t that the primary indicator of good graphic design?
So where do we draw the line between “good” and “on-trend” design? These days, the motifs I notice in modern visual communication are geometric shapes and patterns, symmetry, monoline styles, metallics, handwritten display fonts, knolling, and, of course, flat and minimalistic design. It’s easy to mistake designs with these elements as well-done, but that’s not a guarantee.
In the end, the success of a design, no matter the level of modern aesthetics, is dictated by its ability to achieve its goals. Good design may not always be on-trend and may be mistaken for bad design when in reality it is just outdated. Sometimes good design is unappealing to those immersed in mainstream trends, but draws in its target audience nonetheless. Other times, on-trend styles contribute to the quality of a design when used to strategically target a specific audience.
Think back to past eras’ aesthetics: although they look outdated, is the message clearly communicated? It is important for designers and critics alike to know the difference between “good design” and on-trend design. But it’s imperative for designers to be consistently immersed in the world of design education in order to stay sharp. It’s one thing to be well-versed on the principles of superior visual communication — it’s another to have the ability to adapt to modern aesthetics. Decent design communicates, period. Good design communicates strategically. Great design does so at a superior level.
“If you’re running a business that’s not considering the impact that you have on the environment and society or the impact that those things have upon your business, then you’re not operating a business that’s really going to be in existence in the future.” This quote by Kate Wallace, New Belgium Brewing’s assistant director of sustainability, speaks volumes to the mission of Impact Relations, the newest evolution of public relations.
Prosper for Purpose has been working with Yulu Public Relations, a fellow B Corporation, and strategic PR agency, to launch Impact Relations as its own industry. Both agencies are on a mission to showcase organizations who are striving to make a difference. Impact Relations focuses on sharing powerful stories from organizations and individuals to create positive social or environmental impact.
Impact Relations was founded on transparency to create a positive shift in the way businesses and agencies operate. Impact Relations was started in 2011 by Melissa Orozco, founder and creative director of Yulu, with the idea to use PR as a force for good.
When asked about the creation of Impact Relations, Melissa stated, “The original inspiration for Impact Relations was the emergence of Impact Investing from its industry roots of investment banking. Seeing the social and environmental impact become increasingly scalable, and possibilities widen once the discipline of Impact Investing was founded, we wanted to build a similar value-aligned industry within our field of PR. And Impact Relations was born.”
Melissa went on to explain the passion behind the creation of Impact Relations from both her team and Prosper for Purpose. “We are a group of skilled communicators who are committed to challenging our industry’s status quo. In fact, we’re so passionate about the type of PR we do, that we felt it needed a new name. So in our shoot-for-the-moon fashion, we’re creating a new industry for the type of PR we do. We call our expertise and service “Impact Relations,” a new industry that’s emerged from public relations, which leads and inspires by example. Impact Relations is a discipline defined by authentic, resonant communications strategies that help businesses be better, perform better, communicate better, and lead better, to make a positive environmental, governance, and social impact.”
One great example of Impact Relations is Yulu’s World Housing project. Inspired by TOMS Shoes’ One for One business model, World Housing created a similar model for real estate. For every home sold, World Housing constructed a home for a family in a developing world community. Yulu helped bring this story to life by reaching media outlets and creating a video showcasing the inspiration behind the project.
We are excited to be working with Yulu to create this new sector of public relations. Please help us spread the word about Impact Relations by engaging on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you believe your organization is practicing Impact Relations and you want to make a positive difference in PR — share your story!
During the second quarter of 2017, we had the pleasure of working with three amazing organizations as part of our 12 Months of Giving campaign. We are so happy that we have the opportunity to share their stories and help them work towards their goals.
Our April pro bono client, The Greater Cleveland Food Bank, began in 1973 as a clearinghouse to recover food that was being wasted. It is now the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio. Their goal is to raise awareness about food insecurity in Ohio — one in six people is food insecure and The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is looking to bridge the meal gap.
Forbes House, our May organization, is the only domestic violence shelter in Lake County, Ohio. Their non-disclosed location is an ideal place for abuse survivors in Northeast Ohio to heal from the trauma of abuse and rebuild their lives. Their mission is simple and effective — to empower individuals and families to end the cycle of abuse.
In June, we shifted our focus to the Thea Bowman Center, which started as a food bank 50 years ago. The Center serves not only as a food pantry, but also provides after school programs and summer programs aimed towards children and senior citizens. Thea Bowman, a catholic nun from Mississippi whom the Center was named after, was a leader in her community who aimed to make sure that people utilized their talents. She was a lover of all people — something the Center aims to emulate to this day.
Each of these organizations brings something wonderful and new to the table in terms of how they are assisting others. Our time with them may have been short, but we truly enjoyed learning more about each organization and helping them prosper.
Did you know one of the world’s oldest forms of communication is still widely used today? Calligraphy, the combination of visual art and communication, has roots tracing back to ancient China as early as 200 BC and has influenced many cultures’ visual communication styles.
From scrolls to social media, calligraphy’s impact on society has lasted centuries and continues to reinvent itself in modern visual communication. Why is it that while most visual communication trends fade and recycle from era to era, calligraphy’s ubiquity has never seemed to diminish? Today we take a look at the history of calligraphy to discover how this ancient form of communication has remained relevant all these years.
The origins of calligraphy date back to ancient China during the Shang dynasty when the writing was often carved on turtle shells or animal bones. Official calligraphy script was incorporated into Chinese writing in the 3rd century BC and led to the earliest form of cursive script. Ancient Chinese calligraphy styles greatly influenced Japanese and Korean calligraphy.
Islamic calligraphy can be traced back to the 6th century and is strongly tied to the Quran. The language is written from right to left and has varying styles, including Kufic, Naskh, regional and modern styles. Islamic calligraphy is written not only on paper but also on tiles, vessels, carpets and inscriptions.
In Western culture, calligraphy influenced the creation of the Greek and Latin alphabets. Christian churches perpetuated the use of calligraphy by hand-copying the Bible and other sacred texts in order to promote and spread the religion.
After the introduction of the printing press in Europe during the mid-fifteenth century, the original purposes of hand-written lettering dwindled. But contrary to other instances of obsoletion, calligraphy did not meet its end. Instead, its purpose evolved to meet new needs.
Like all fonts, hand-lettering communicates a distinct personality and voice. While designers now have a plethora of downloadable calligraphic fonts at their fingertips, authentic hand-lettering is known to be the ideal, higher quality option. This demonstrates a remaining need for calligraphic artists in a post-printing press era.
Additionally, hand-lettering videos have become a prevalent social media trend, inspiring the general population to observe and practice calligraphy for fun and to enhance personal communications. The growing popularity of “bullet journals” has also encouraged the rise of modern-day calligraphy.
Calligraphy has more than just a history — it has an evolution. This evolution, along with calligraphy’s nostalgic charm as a consistent stylistic trend, is the reason it has stayed relevant throughout time. Unlike other visual communication trends, its uses have evolved with society’s evolving needs and cultures. The question now is: What will we use it for next?
The inspiration for this blog post came from Prosper’s Vice President & COO, Jenny, who recently brought in an authentic calligraphy set from China (pictured above). The set inspired our team to learn more about the creation of calligraphy as the combination of design and writing resulting in a powerful form of communication.
Summer is officially in full swing and there’s no better time of the year to clean out your closet, basement or extra storage spaces to organize your home. Donating your gently used clothing, food, toys, and other supplies is a sustainable way to get rid of extra items without throwing them away. However, donating the right items to places where people in need will actually receive them is vital. Below is a list of ways you can make a difference when it comes to donating your items.
- Research before you donate to make sure your items will go to people in need. Check out this list of where to donate everything in your home from A-Z.
- Separate toiletry items from food items to avoid the food tasting like soap or other strongly scented products.
- Wash your clothes before donating them for a better chance that they will actually be worn. Also, be considerate of what you are donating by making sure the clothing is in decent shape.
- Find a suitable drop-off location for your donations. Some good options are Goodwill, Salvation Army, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Dress for Success, The City Mission, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, homeless shelters and churches.
- Take the time to have a conversation with the people you are donating to if you meet them. Just taking the time to hear their story will make a big difference in both of your lives.
- Forget to ask what is needed before you give, especially when it comes to donating food. Choose non-damaged packaging, non-expired food and nutritious options to give.
- Include soap, shampoo and conditioner when donating to the homeless. Switch out those items for baby wipes instead.
- Send snacks such as sticky and sweet breakfast bars since the receiver may not have access to dental care. Instead, donate snacks such as applesauce, pudding cups, trail mix and beef jerky.
- Donate to clothing bins found in gas station or store parking lots. Often times, these boxes are a scam as donations are often resold for profit instead of reaching the right people.
- Think of donating as a one-time deal. Continue to donate your gently used items by putting reminders on your calendar to keep you on track.
Donating is a great way to get rid of extra items in your house without feeling the guilt of throwing them away. Many people are in need of food, clothing and toys so it is important your donations actually reach them.
The Prosper for Purpose team became intrigued by local entrepreneur Andrew Bennett after learning how he set out to address the gap between individuals and experts with the knowledge they needed. So, Margot and Hannah sat down with Andrew to hear how this passionate young entrepreneur followed his vision to connect people and, ultimately, spread knowledge.
“I wanted to start something that every single person in any organization could be attracted to in order to gain new skills and expertise,” the co-creator of KnowledgePost told Team Prosper earlier last month.
Andrew started KnowledgePost in 2014 after realizing “there was a major disconnect between those in need of professional expertise and those who can provide it.” On KnowledgePost, users match with experts who offer services such as career coaching, consulting and mentoring, to name a few.
Andrew is a firm believer that everyone has a specific skillset that can increase others’ understanding. KnowlegePost opens the door to learning opportunities by connecting professionals and companies who will make a direct impact by sharing expertise with each other.
He loves being able to make a difference in so many lives by linking people with those who offer the services they need. Before he started KnowledgePost, Andrew was involved in Engage Cleveland where he saw nearly ten thousand young professionals in Cleveland with missed opportunities to enhance their futures.
Even though Andrew is an independent entrepreneur, his main advice for recent graduates and young professionals is to surround yourself with mentors from different disciplines. He reiterated how imperative it is to follow your true passion, as he did — the rest will fall into place. Andrew sees KnowledgePost becoming a tool that users can engage with to build strategic partnerships and relationships.
Andrew is from Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Elon University in 2008 with a degree in marketing. He has an older brother and older sister. In his free time, Andrew enjoys traveling with his girlfriend Nora.
You can get started with KnowledgePost today — connect with the experts and opportunities you’re seeking.
My passion for purpose began the day I met one of the Lost Boys of Sudan – Majier Mamer Deng, otherwise known as Nico. I met him nearly ten years ago through Cuyahoga Valley Church as he was sharing his heartbreaking yet inspiring story of surviving the Second Sudanese Civil War that broke out in the 1980s.
During the war, the Sudanese government turned against Sudanese villagers, displacing thousands of boys and girls. At the time, Nico was just nine years old and was forced to walk hundreds of miles in the scorching heat facing dehydration, starvation, wild animals, and an armed militia.
Thousands of young boys lost their lives on what felt like never-ending walks to different refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. When the children finally made it to the camps, they stayed there for years living off small rations. Nico desired to become educated and stop civil wars from happening in his country. He was chosen by the United Nations Refugee Agency to be resettled in America during the early 2000s to gain a higher education. He achieved his goal and touched thousands of people with his unforgettable story along the way.
After meeting Nico, he quickly became a member of my family as we did anything we could to share his story and change the lives of others. My family fundraised for Nico to see his mother in Sudan after 21 years of being separated. We helped speak to schools across Northeast Ohio to share his story. We even took him on his first-ever vacation at the age of 30. He changed my perspective on life and inspired me to always share motivational stories that had the potential to change people’s lives forever. I didn’t even know it at the time, but I was falling in love with public relations and storytelling at a young age thanks to the time I spent with Nico.
From my experience with the Lost Boys of Sudan, I knew I wanted to combine my passions of storytelling and philanthropy into a career. I spent an incredible four years studying strategic communication, marketing and social media at Ohio University. Now, I am actually living my dream of working to make a difference. Thanks to my internship at Prosper for Purpose I’m helping some amazing organizations, including the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and 1% for the Planet.
My story has come full circle and I am beyond excited to see what is in store for me at Prosper this summer!
Every year, Prosper for Purpose receives dozens of requests for free consulting and services. Our 12 Months of Giving campaign is our way of being able to respond to more of these organizations to help them share their stories and achieve their goals. In this blog post I will introduce the organizations that we were honored to work with in the first quarter.
Our January pro bono client, May Dugan Center, was named as a tribute to May Dugan and her lifetime work as a one-person counselor and advocate for her neighbors in need. The mission of the Center is to help people enrich and advance their lives and communities. The May Dugan Center does this by providing in-house education and resources, as well as health care and food bank opportunities, to people of all ages. During our consult, we helped members of the board and staff review their key stakeholders and messaging.
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, our February organization, just recently launched a three-year initiative to fully rehab 100 Cleveland homes with a ten-house initiative in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just build or rehab homes, they fortify communities and revitalize local neighborhoods, something Prosper was really excited to get behind. Our time focused on creative ideation of strategies and tactics to grow awareness and support.
In March, our focus was on Child and Family Advocates of Cuyahoga County, which serves underage children who are abused. The nonprofit has wonderful attorney volunteers who make sure kids are receiving the best legal assistance they can get. The Child and Family Advocates of Cuyahoga County provide training for the guardians assigned to the children, and have volunteer coordinators who make sure the children are appearing at court while also maintaining contact with the child and family. They advocate for the kids—the volunteer and guardian’s sole duty is to support the child’s best interest. We made recommendations on how this program could grow and serve more children.
Although our time was brief with each of these organizations, we were so impressed by the work they are doing and enjoyed our time with each of them.
On April 21, members of #TeamProsper attended The 10th Annual YouToo Social Media Conference at Kent State University to learn about developments and trends in social media and digital communication.
The conference opened with speaker Greg Josken, digital marketing and social media manager for Disney Theatrical Group, who talked about Disney’s social media strategy now that we’re 10 years into the social media “revolution”.
As Greg walked us through a few of his extraordinary projects, one particular lesson stood out: When applied correctly, social media can be a successful and cost-effective tool across all levels of engagement with your audience, from awareness, consideration, and conversion to loyalty and advocacy.
It was pretty crazy to think about where social media was just 10 years ago. Some major social platforms were still fairly new at the time.
- MySpace launched in 2002
- LinkedIn began in 2003
- Facebook launched for students at Harvard in 2003
- Twitter was born in 2006
Even crazier is the fact that online social networking has been around for more than 30 years. Check out this infographic by MarketingDirecto.com for neat facts about the past few decades of social media.
At “The Evolving Social Media Landscape – Pay to Play” breakout session, we learned how to make our ad dollars go further. Given the many changes to the Facebook algorithm and the decline of organic reach, approximately 80% of posts are not seen! So how do we ensure our message is reaching our audience? Through very targeted and affordable social media advertising. When developing content, it must be engaging, measurable, and have a purpose.
Another trend we must take into consideration when planning our social media strategies and advertising plans is the use of mobile. Mobile is taking over. Research shows that “57 percent of mobile users will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load and 30 percent will abandon a purchase transaction if the shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile devices.” It’s time to invest in mobile and the first step you can take is to make sure your website is optimized for mobile usage.
An afternoon session focused on the future of social media and interactive tech. How will virtual and augmented reality technologies impact social media and communications over the next 10 years? What’s the difference between the two?
Augment.com breaks it down for us:
“Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.
“Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.”
Some examples of AR and VR already being utilized today include Target’s Cartwheel app and Facebook Spaces.
So, how do we prepare for what the next 10 to 30 years will bring to social media? Be agile, be ready for change, and always remember that people want to do business with people. It’s important for brands to remain and be increasingly engaging and authentic on social platforms.
What does your future social media strategy look like? Email us if you need help or have questions!
Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Be grateful for what you have.” In this day and age, where quite a few of us have more than we need, you would think more people would wake up and appreciate the great splendor of the world. But, unfortunately, we don’t.
Many times when something good happens we say, “I am so lucky and grateful for this blessing in my life.” But, if one small bad thing happens 20 minutes later a lot of us quickly forget about that blessing. Humans tend to gravitate towards the negative.
That’s where gratitude comes in. Gratitude is an extremely powerful feeling that leaves a lasting impact on not only your life, but the lives of others as well. But, as much as gratitude is a feeling, it is also a practice. You really do have to practice feeling grateful for things. You woke up this morning in a comfortable bed? Incredible! You have gas in your car? Miraculous!
It’s also important to remember that negative things do happen and we should feel grateful towards those things as well, even if at the time they seem awful. It’s all about perspective.
When we practice gratitude it shines through in every aspect of our lives, especially work. Considering we spend most of our days at work, expressing gratitude on the job is extremely important. Let’s take a look at some ways gratitude can boost your morale at work.
1. Practicing gratitude helps you focus on the positive.
I wake up every morning and write in my Five Minute Journal. The journal is a constant reminder for me to focus on things for which I’m grateful, as well as a few things that would make my day really great. Some days, I’m so tired that I simply write I’m grateful for my comfortable bed. Other days, when I don’t really feel like doing anything, I remind myself how grateful I am to work at a place that I love and don’t dread going to every day.
This simple practice sets my tone for the day and allows me to appreciate the small things in my life just a little bit more. Remaining positive is absolutely key in the workplace. Stressful things are bound to happen, but if you focus on things you’re grateful for instead of stress, negativity and worry, I promise your job will be a whole lot easier.
2. Feeling grateful helps improve your relationships.
Have you ever met someone who just seems like a light in your life? Someone who radiates positivity and exudes gratitude in every aspect of their life. Think about the way you feel when you’re around them—joyful, content, happy. You just can’t get enough of them. You probably find yourself feeling grateful for their existence because they bring you so much joy.
Now think about someone who focuses solely on the negative. Someone who complains about every small thing in their life. You probably have a totally different feeling about them.
Positivity is contagious and truly makes the workplace an enjoyable place to be. Practicing gratitude makes life seem a bit brighter. Once you start focusing on expressing thankfulness and appreciation, it will affect other people as well and lift the whole office up with you.
3. Gratitude does wonders for your self-esteem.
Taking the time to focus on things you are thankful for and all of the positives in your life leads to higher self-esteem. And self-esteem has been linked to improved career success. Who doesn’t want that?
Once your self-esteem builds, so will your confidence. And confidence in the workplace is key. Have you been dying to start a new project or shoot out some fresh ideas that have been brewing? Start practicing gratitude and the confidence to go for something new will come with it.
I can drone on and on about the benefits of being grateful, but the one thing I want you to hold on to is that it just feels good. Gratitude brings so much joy into your life as well as the lives of others. Who doesn’t want to feel as much joy as possible?