Web content

Client: Kaye-Smith

Project: Company blog

A Guide to Corporate Gift-Giving

Although the weather is still warm(ish), and there are plenty of leaves that haven’t even changed color yet, in the world of promotional merchandise it’s starting to look a lot like the holiday season. The holidays are frequently the time of year that companies show their appreciation for employees and clients, and it’s a golden opportunity to demonstrate thoughtfulness and creativity. So now, while pumpkin displays are still fresh, is the time that businesses should be thinking about corporate gift needs.

Some suggestions to ensure that your gift-giving efforts are successful:

  •  Don’t skimp on quality. It’s better to buy a lower-priced item of very good quality than something that costs more but isn’t made as well. For instance, if you’re trying to decide between corporate t-shirts and hoodies, and your budget will only allow for an entry-level hoodie, go with a high quality t-shirt. The recipient is much more likely to wear and enjoy it.
  •  Get creative. Sure, a water bottle is always useful, but it’s likely that most people have at least a couple of those already. A unique gift shows a personal touch.
  • But don’t forget to be practical. While a fancy plate might look lovely, how likely is it that the recipient will actually use it? We’ve all received the gift that just takes up space (until it gets given away, tossed, or just forgotten).
  • Remember the packaging. A gift that is wrapped nicely makes a much better impression than one that is not.
  • Be sensitive to cultural differences or customs that could make certain gifts inappropriate or awkward.
  • Be aware of corporate policies that could restrict gift-giving (for instance, some companies do not allow employees to receive gifts from vendors).
  • If at all possible, deliver your gift in person.

Remember, any gift is a reflection of your company. Make sure yours reflects your company in a positive light.

In need of some gift-giving inspiration? Check out our idea showroom: http://brand.kayesmith.com/showroom/25345


The Next Revolution in Advertising is…Direct Mail?

How many pop-up ads did you have to swat away like flies at a picnic the last time you were online? How many advertisements clutter the extra spaces of the websites you visit? If you’re like a lot of people, the numbers are significantly lower than they used to be.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a large upswing in the use of ad-blocking software. Unwanted online advertising has long been viewed as an annoyance by internet users and has gotten increasingly intrusive as companies have discovered more ways to mine user data. A report recently released by Adobe and PageFair (a startup that helps companies recoup some of their lost ad revenue expenses) states that the worldwide use of ad-blocking software increased by 41% over the past year. On top of this, Apple’s upcoming iOS 9 release, due out next month, comes with the ability to use ad-blockers.

While this trend is probably welcomed by the average internet user, it is a real problem for companies that rely on digital marketing. According to the report, it adds up to a loss of almost $22 billion in advertising expenses.

Due partly to trends like this, direct mail marketing has been looking to be an increasingly attractive advertising channel. Among its advantages:

  • An extremely high response rate: 3.7% for customers and 1.0% for prospects (compared to .62% for all digital channels combined)
  • A lower volume of direct mail = less competition for attention
  • Preferred by consumers over digital advertising (partly due to perceived privacy differences)
  • Less intrusive than online ads
  • More copy space to tell your story


Client: Veer

Project: Created articles for contributor-targeted newsletter

Finding your artistic style

Artistic style is your creative fingerprint, so to speak. The more unique and well-done your images are, the more likely it is that customers will seek them out. Some guidelines to developing your own creative style:

  • Create. A lot. As you practice your craft, you will begin to discover what works and what doesn’t.
  • Look at the work of others. You’ll learn something, and you may come away with some good ideas for yourself.
  • Focus on what interests you. The more a subject inspires you, the better your images will be.
  • Challenge yourself. It is sometimes easy to fall into the habit of recreating the same thing over and over, but you will soon get bored. And your boredom will be reflected in the end result. Take risks, and think outside the box.
  • Never stop learning. Read articles. Take tutorials. Participate in workshops.
  • Explore. Remember to have fun.

It can take years to recognize your style. Keep creating and curating, and eventually a pattern will emerge. Remember that potential customers are more likely to license an image if it is something fresh – because they want to stand out as well.


Education narrative shoot

There is a definite trend in contemporary advertising toward lifestyle-themed campaigns (think: pharmaceutical and financial industries). To help viewers relate to a product or service and see how integral it can be to their lifestyles, companies often like to portray the same person in a series of daily life scenarios. Many of our customers, likewise, are seeking images with the same models in different situations that could easily belong in the same narrative.

To meet this customer need, it falls on the photographer to be able to create and portray a character and to depict moments from his or her life, almost like a filmmaker creating storyboard images for a film. The idea is to create narrative images of a believable and relatable person and of a lifestyle.

Education is a popular topic, so one suggestion would be to capture a day in the life of a teacher. As you’re conceptualizing your shoot, keep in mind how the end-client might subtly suggest a connection to its product or service through this story. This can help to guide you to the specific shots you’re looking to capture. After that, just enjoy the process of capturing the narrative of this character’s day, from breakfast, to the classroom, to yoga class afterwards. You’ll be adding value to the images by offering the potential use as a series, without compromising any of your shots as stand-alone images.


Food styling: tips and tricks

Food has always been a popular shoot subject, and we receive many culinary images from contributors. Some leave the editors drooling (especially if it’s right before lunch). Want to know the secret to creating food images that keep customers licking their lips rather than looking away? Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Natural light is always best. Shoot by a window, and use a fill card when needed to eliminate dark shadows.
  • Try a shallow depth of field. While some subjects look fine with everything in focus, a shallow DOF often improves the aesthetic and can add real beauty to your subject.
  • Keep the props simple and appropriate. White dishes, clear glasses, or a simple butcher’s block will highlight your subject nicely. Unless the situation really calls for it, avoid busy patterns and color palettes. And that grilled cheese sandwich will really look much better on a plate without scalloped edges and a floral pattern.
  • Have a frame of reference. Don’t zoom in too tightly. Include a detail or two for context, such as the rim of a glass in the background.
  • Be sure the food is fresh. Be vigilant about such things as wilted or discolored produce, congealed sauces, overcooked meat, etc.

One more thing: while you’re shooting, remember to capture some stock-friendly variations (both portrait and landscape formats, some with copy space).


A few words about keyword disambiguation

We realize it can be easy to overlook, but our site often asks you to clarify some of your keyword terms before submitting your images. This clarification process is called “disambiguation.” The reason for this is that some terms have more than one meaning in Veer’s controlled vocabulary (such as “green,” which can refer to either the color or to the concept “eco-friendly”). If the preferred meaning is not specified, the site has no way to know which exact term is wanted and is therefore unable to attach it to your image. (Think of it as traveling down a road and arriving at a fork: you can either go right or left, but if you don’t choose either path, you won’t go anywhere.) The result: a picture of a child recycling which will not be found if a customer searches on “eco-friendly.” We don’t want to see this happen any more than you do. So be sure to take a moment to disambiguate your keywords before you click that “submit” button. More images found = more happy people.


Client: Veer

Project: Lead editor for contributor-targeted newsletter

Link to August 2012 newsletter

Link to February 2013 newsletter

Link to May 2013 newsletter