How Video Can Help Your Company Build Trust

Since trust is vital to successful business transactions, creating tools that build trust should be part of a company's communication strategy. 

Video is a particularly good tool for this, for several reasons:

1. It's personal. It takes the viewer inside your company and reveals the people, passion, and purpose that drives it. 

2. It hands control to your viewer. It shows, rather than tells—allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions.

3. It's real. Video offers less filtering than text does, and so it is perceived as truer. The viewer is able to see the person and place without it being filtered at the level text can be.

4. It's emotional. Because video brings images, motion, sound, and music to the experience, it far outperforms any other medium in producing an emotional experience. A viewer who is moved by your story is one step closer to choosing your business.

In the video example above, you'll see how one of our clients used video to take prospective customers inside their organization and build trust. In this case, meeting the people behind the scenes provides the assurance that residents will be cared for with respect and compassion—which is exactly what their customers want. 

The right kind of videos can be the most credible ways to deliver trust-building messages.

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10 Ways to Create a Winning Annual Report [and How to Know What Your Reader Craves]

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Your annual report may be your most important communication tool—and for good reason.

It offers an snapshot of company performance, shows how you are creating value for all of your stakeholders, and offers a glimpse into the passion and purpose that drives your organization.

To get the most from your investment, your annual report should be designed as both a marketing tool and a reporting tool that can reach shareholders, employees, and customers.

Winning the hearts and minds of today's stakeholders, however, isn't a simple task. As competition for viewers' attention soars, your annual report has to both capture and hold your reader's attention.

So how can you make sure yours will rise above the competition?



Today's reader will no longer wade through long and tedious pages of grey text. And understandably so. Their world has changed, making it necessary for them to consume content differently. Knowing how they are likely to engage with your message is the first step in building a winning annual report.

Understanding these five trends can help you reach your audience:

1. COMMUNICATION FATIGUE. People are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of communication that bombards them daily. As a result, they have to filter out much of it. To break through this barrier, companies need to be producing higher quality content on all levels. 

2. SHORTENED ATTENTION SPANS. It takes mental energy for people to filter content and find the messages that are relevant to them—and mental energy is a limited resource. To conserve energy, today's viewer scans and decides within seconds whether to further engage with a message or whether to abandon it.

3. SKYROCKETING VISUAL APPETITES. The human brain responds to powerful visuals far more than it responds to words. And as visual fare becomes more sophisticated, it raises the bar for everyone. Today's consumer will filter content via images before reading text and will abandon it if it doesn't satisfy their craving for a rich visual experience. 

4. EXPLODING DEMAND FOR VIDEO. Because video is more compelling than any other medium, demand for video content has never been higher. When given a choice, viewers will choose video over other formats. Today's annual report messages need to include video as part of their delivery strategy.

5. MOBILE DELIVERY. The use of mobile devices is growing rapidly, and viewers will quickly abandon content that isn't mobile-friendly.


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So how can you make sure your annual report message gets read, understood, and acted on? By finding fresh methods of delivery that speak to today's reader.

Here are 10 tips that will transform your annual report:


1. CLARIFY THE "WHY" BEHIND YOUR BUSINESS. Annual reports can no longer be about numbers. They must create connections by showing the benefits a company brings not only to shareholders, but to employees, customers, and society at large. As the primary narrative of your company for a given year, an annual report has to convey the "why" that drives your business. It does this best through story and with a distinctive, compelling statement that encapsulates the company's purpose in a few sentences. 


2. INCLUDE BETTER DATA VISUALIZATION FOR YOUR KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS. Don't make your reader dig through pages of text to get your most important messages. Make it easy for the browsers who want to self-direct to content they're interested in. Effective data visualization delivers in seconds, an idea that would take paragraphs to explain in text—and busy readers love this. 


3. ADD INFOGRAPHICS. Infographics are 30x more likely to get read than text, so use them to simplify complex ideas, create visual clarity that requires less mental energy, or deliver an executive summary of the high points.


4. AMP UP YOUR PICTURES. An investment in top quality photos is not a luxury, it's a must have if you want to keep your reader engaged. Pictures really are worth more than a thousand words, and good pictures reflect handsomely on your business. (If you're not convinced of this, imagine how long it would take to create a narrative that evokes what a photo conveys within seconds.)


5. GO DIGITAL. Go beyond the downloadable PDF and into the digital world with a custom annual report website devoted only to this content. (See how Home Depot hits this out of the park.)

Dedicated microsites are a best practice for any targeted messages, and for good reason: they are entirely focused on just one message and make it easy for a viewer find what they're looking for with minimal effort. This is something that simply cannot be done on your existing web page, because your home page has multiple goals—rather than the single goal of delivering your annual report message.


6. PAIR IT WITH VIDEO. Video is the fastest growing and most persuasive communication tool available. Add a video version to be more compelling, make your message easy to share, and make it more memorable.


7. USE DESIGN TO DIFFERENTIATE. Too many companies don't make great design a priority for their annual report, even though it is one of their most important communication tools. But great design can be the very thing that will get their annual report noticed and read. (If you're still not convinced about the power of great design matters, think Apple.)


8. MAKE IT EASY TO BROWSE. Use white space and snack-able content to help viewers to find the content that interests them. Remember that people read in this order: pictures, headlines, captions, subheads, and bulleted lists. Readers should be able to catch your most important messages even if they never go on to read the full text of the report.


9. MAKE IT MOBILE-FRIENDLY. Some of your viewers will use their phones to review your annual report, so make sure your distribution plans include a mobile-friendly version.


10. TELL A STORY. Your annual report is your company's story. It provides the context for your numbers, but also reveals the culture, contributions, vision, and values of your company—the very things that will move someone to join, invest in, or buy from you.

Using best practices can help you rise above your competitors and get heard. Never before has the battle for your shareholder's attention been so intense, but fortunately, it's possible to improve your readership, your image, and the impact of your annual report by following these tips. 

Need some inspiration? 

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Is Your Company's Online Presence Working?


For most businesses, it’s very likely that customers will interact with your company more online than in-person. It's also the case that nearly everyone searching online for your type of business won't get past the first page of Google results; and once they visit your website, they won't stick around if they can't immediately find what they are looking for.

Because of this, every business needs to ask if they are investing enough in their digital presence to attract attention, drive website traffic, and generates sales leads.

The Quick Test

How well does my business online presence rank?

If you aren’t sure how well you're doing with your online presence, here's a simple checklist that covers some of the essential areas you may be overlooking (score from 0-5):

_____  We have set up a complete Google My Business profile.

_____  Our business appears on the first page of search results for relevant searches.

_____  We have set up trustworthy measurement tools (such as Google Analytics), so we can see what kind of traffic we're receiving.

_____  We successfully use digital advertising (e.g. AdWords) to drive traffic to our website.

_____  On the first page of our website, it's obvious who we are, what we do, and what problems we can solve for our clients.

_____  We use social media effectively to drive traffic to our business. We have Facebook, Instagram and YouTube/Vimeo channels and have a content posting strategy that is working for us.

_____  We use video to effectively differentiate us from our competitors.

_____  Our website is mobile-friendly.

_____  Our web pages are visually compelling, with high-quality photos and videos that look better than our competitors.

_____  Our call to action is easy to find—and speaks to a prospective customer's need.

_____  Visitors to our website can easily find what they are looking for—with minimal clicks.

_____  We have an outbound email strategy that delivers useful content to clients and prospects.



5 points = complete
4 points = nearly complete
3 points = partial
2 points = vague, at best
1 point = non-existent
0 points = what's this?

How well did you score?



Our online-presence game is on-point. 



We're ahead of our competitors but still have room to grow. 



We're leaving many business opportunities on the table. 



Our online-presence is severely lacking, help!



The digital world is changing rapidly, but it's entirely possible to create a sustainable online presence even if you're a small business. Creating and executing a plan to improve in each of the areas above will take you a long way toward reaching your business goals.

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Is 2018 going to be your best year ever? [7 Tips]

With each new year, we all have the chance to draw on what we’ve learned, embrace new ideas, and build on our successes.

May we share with you some of the milestones and insights we've gained this year?


For CMBell, 2017 was a year of milestones—our 20-year anniversary, the production of a record 140 videos, the release of our signature anniversary video production, and the expansion of our digital services

These milestones, and the remarkable clients we have worked with, inspire us to enter 2018 with great optimism and excitement. We are truly seeing the power of communication to change the course of a business.

7 insights from 2017 that can help you win in 2018

As we head into the new year, we'd like to share 7 insights we've gained this year that have made a difference for our clients:

  1. Too many businesses are leaving money on the table due to a weak online presence. 
  2. One vital item can cause even a great video to fail: the lack of solid distribution plan.
  3. Two essential internal communication strategies can be game-changers during mergers, layoffs, and downsizing: more listening and more congruence between actions and words.
  4. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is worth a million.
  5. Revealing the people behind your brand is a killer way to build brand loyalty.
  6. Powerful images aren't optional—they're a competitive edge.
  7. Using video in your internal communication strategy can be exactly what your CEO needs to drive strategy and inspire employee engagement.

See more tips below.


Too many businesses are leaving money on the table

Companies are leaving money on the table by not being fully aware of how they’re ranking and appearing on the web—and by not knowing what to do if they’re performing poorly.

If you're struggling with your digital strategy, this quick audit can show you how you're faring online—and be the first step in making 2018 the year to outperform your competitors with a stronger online presence.


One essential element can cause a great video to fail

Although video is the most powerful communication tool a business can use, producing a video is not the end game. A video must be part of a video marketing strategy, tell the right story, and get in front of the right people.

If you're not sure how to build a video marketing strategy, our popular Definitive Guide to Video Marketing makes it easier to chart your course.



Two Strategies that are easy to overlook when downsizing

In 2017 we consulted with businesses experiencing rapid change, mergers, and downsizing. While there is no way to fully ease the struggle employees face during this time, there are ways to make their experience better.

We came away with two deepened insights through this:

  • listening must be a bigger part of communication strategy,
  • and businesses must have congruence between what they say and what they do. 


A video is worth a million words

We have loved bringing the power of video to businesses of all sizes this year and seeing the impact it is having—from raising money and increasing awareness to driving sales, building loyalty, and increasing web traffic.

Video is truly a game-changing communication tool that can get your company seen, heard and remembered like never before.


The best way to dispel myths about your industry

This year we worked with clients who struggled with a negative image of their industry, clients building an emerging brand, and clients who were being outsold by a competitor.

We were reminded (again) that while people are tired of being sold to, they never tire of story. And revealing the people behind the brand is often its most persuasive argument.


Great images are a competitive edge

Since today’s consumer looks at visuals before deciding to read anything about a brand, an investment in great images and design is essential.

Whether telling the story about world-class engineering, extraordinary food presentation, or the passion that inspired a business, great images helped our clients' differentiate their brands this year.


Video takes internal communication to new levels

In 2017 we developed a web page and video content for a large corporation and helped them bring video to the forefront of their internal communications for the first time.

We saw the unparalleled power of communication to clarify strategy, inspire a sense of mission, and instill the values that drive an organization. Video is truly a culture-builder!

Yes, you can make 2018 your best year ever

Every new year brings the chance to excel in new ways. We hope some of these insights will inspire you as you keep reaching for better results from your communications—and that 2018 will indeed be your best year ever!


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14 Tips on Communicating with Employees During Layoffs, Mergers, or Other Times of Change

Are you in the midst of layoffs? Budget-cuts? A merger or acquisition?

If you are downsizing, then you know the anxiety it produces among employees and the way it impacts morale, productivity, and customers. Communication during these times is a powerful tool that can help keep your employees engaged during difficult times. Here are 14 internal communication tips we’ve seen work during difficult times:

  1. Start inside. Cascade the message from your inner circle out—making sure employees get the news before the public does. Although social media makes this challenge, it helps to create an hour-by-hour schedule that outlines who gets what messages when—and how. 
  2. Explain the why. Employees are more likely to accept difficult decisions if they understand the why behind them. Work with your legal teams to determine the guardrails on what can be shared—and what can't. 
  3. Speak the truth. Truth appears to be a diminishing commodity in a world of spin-doctors, but truth-telling ultimately is essential to building trust. Give as much detail as you can, but never promise things you can't deliver. People will accept difficult news more easily than they will forgive untruths.
  4. Start with the vision. People endure hard times when they know it's worth it. Maybe the layoffs will allow the company to remain competitive. The more detailed and inspiring your vision is, the more it will fuel employee support through hard times. If you can provide a timeline, even better.
  5. Recognize the symbolism of actions. Cutting budgets while redecorating an executive’s office? Building a new corporate headquarters during layoffs? Timing could be entirely coincidental, but the actions of leaders are always symbolic and send messages whether intentional or not. Communicators need to be at the table during these decisions to manage the optics of the situation.
  6. Be consistent. Make sure there's parity between what you're doing and saying. If your company values have always been about respect, then respect must be a guiding principle in how people are treated during times of change. Actions always are the most powerful form of communication.
  7. Be present. Round with your team each week, even if you don't have good news. There is consolation in knowing that a leader is listening.
  8. Don't go dark. We recommend regular updates even if you don't have any big news to communicate. There's always something to say—even if it's that you're still waiting on the outcome of a report or working on meeting your targets. 
  9. Recognize the employees' struggle. Showing that you understand the impact on your team builds camaraderie.
  10. Speak personally about the situation. Corporate-speak can feel cold and uncaring. Balance expressions of empathy with reasons for hope, and be willing to talk about what is difficult for you about this situation. 
  11. Recognize that communication is ongoing. Remind your leaders that they will have to repeat messages over and over before they gain traction in your organization. 
  12. Use video as part of your communication mix. Why? Communication that is passed on verbally migrates messages. But video preserves the message exactly as you want it—no matter how many times it is shared. And it engages more of the senses by adding sound and motion—so is more likely to be watched and remembered.
  13. Ensure a balanced diet. Look at the communication employees are receiving and ask what percentage is business/operational information, and what percent is inspiration. Although you need both, it’s often the latter that is too sparse.
  14. Explain limits. If you are in the midst of negotiations or can't provide more information, tell them why. This helps them realize that you're not withholding information purposely.

During difficult times in a company, it’s easy to want to take a low profile as a leader. But these are exactly the times when presence and communication is most important.

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A Primer on Uploading and Distributing Videos

Now that your video is done, some of the most important work still remains

It’s easy to celebrate the completion of your new video and think that it will now magically get seen by the right people. But this is generally not the case. Knowing how to distribute your video is essential to making it work hard for you.

How do I decide how to distribute my video?

There is no one answer that fits everyone. That’s why we’re providing some quick tips on uploading and distributing your video. Following these will help ensure that your video gets the maximum return on your investment.

Where can I distribute my video?

Here are some ways:

  • Your website. Sometimes it can go in multiple places, so don’t let just one location suffice if it is suitable for more. (Example, a company introduction might go on your home page, product page, or recruiting page).
  • Your Vimeo or YouTube channel. You should have these for increased distribution.
  • Facebook. Decide if you want to upload to Facebook and get more views, or embed to Facebook from another platform and keep the traffic going to the same place.
  • Instagram (must be 60 seconds or shorter).
  • Emails (to clients, employees, board members, donors—or whomever you’re trying to reach).

Should I host our video on Vimeo or YouTube?

Vimeo and YouTube cater to different audiences. If you’re primary goal is reach, YouTube might be for you. But if you want higher engagement and a better user experience, Vimeo is the right choice. We use both for varying reasons and projects, but prefer Vimeo because of its higher quality player company values.

How to download videos from Vimeo

1. Visit the URL where the video is located.


2. Click the “Download” button and download in “Original” quality.
(Ask Vimeo account owner to change settings if no button exists)

Tips for uploading videos

Be strategic about which platforms the video is uploaded/embedded to.

Uploading vs. embedding can be a complex decision that should be discussed by a team before distributing any video content.

Uploading is the practice of hosting video data on a service site (Vimeo and YouTube are most common). The video will be distributed from where it was uploaded—passing any data and value to the upload platform.

Uploading a video to two or more locations will split the traffic and decrease the perceived value and significance of the project.

Embedding is the practice of “adding an object from another website.” While the video is still uploaded to a hosting site (for example: Vimeo) the video object appears on the website on which it has been embedded. Data and value are still passed to the upload platform, but the visual occurrence passes to the embed location.

Embedding a video to two or more locations will maintain the data and value for all the occurrences since the video is still hosted in only one location.
Deciding which video is posted or embedded on which platform(s) depends entirely on the project content, subject, and goals. These decisions should be clearly thought out and communicated.

For a basic example:

Uploading a video to Facebook will get more interaction and views, but is a much less robust marketing tool as the system is designed to help Facebook before your business.

Embedding a video on Facebook will get less interaction and views, but it will pass rank and traffic to a more robust hosting site.

Uploading a video to Vimeo will be much less likely to get interaction and views, but the hosting platform is built to help your business and the viewer community—making this an ideal platform for sharing content with people who want to see it.

Embedding a video from Vimeo produces a high-quality player and product to display the video, however, videos embedded from Vimeo are not passing search ranking on to the video content.  

Uploading a video to YouTube can be an effective way to get your video found by strangers, but the platform is built for Google to sell; small videos can easily get lost in the barrage of other content.

Embedding a video from YouTube provides a lower-quality player and product, but the views and interaction will more improve your search ranking for the topic.

There are many scenarios and strategies to discuss. With so much time invested in each project, it’s important to place similar time and importance on the distribution of the video, to get the most from your investment.  

Always upload videos in the highest quality available.

The general standard for uploading is 1080p, however, 2k-4k+ quality videos are becoming much more common with recent advancements in technology. When you upload a lower quality version, it will not look or sound its best. This is exacerbated when shown in larger venues and reflects badly on the team.

Titles matter.

A good title will follow the goals of the project. It may be more descriptive or more emotive depending on the project. Generally, the more targeted the audience, the more targeted the title.

Three examples:

1. The authentic video company that posts their demo reel to Vimeo and host on their already popular website.
They title the video: “Real” Because it says so much about the company in so little time.

2. The teacher who wants people who search for “Adobe Premiere tutorials” on Google to watch his video on YouTube.
They title the video: “How To Get Started with Adobe Premiere Pro CC - 10 Things Beginners Want to Know How To Do” Because it is a functional title that specifically targets beginning users of Premiere Pro CC.

3. The owner of Denver Doughnuts who posts a video to social media wanting their customers to learn about new offerings.
They title the video “Denver Doughnuts – Our 2018 Menu Explained” because it balances functionality and feel.

Keep descriptions interesting and concise. Link out to contributors or relevant websites.


ON | Athlete Refugee Team - The Human Spirit

There are 65 million refugees on earth right now.­ The most in recorded history. There are 31 refugees from 5 different countries who train in the Ngong Hills of Kenya as the Athlete Refugee Team (A.R.T). This August 2017, five of the athletes will be at the world athletics championships in London. Go see them run and proudly represent and provide a symbol of hope for the 65 million refugees worldwide.

Thanks Ladi Demko, Olivier Bernhard and Feliciano Robayna for the opportunity to shoot this amazing story and for the support your company has given to these athletes.

Add as much information as possible to the informational fields.

Adding [a(n)]:

Closed captions (CC)
Audience type
Genre (ex: documentary, lifestyle, etc.)

Adding information can improve platform understanding of how to sort and show videos based on user search and interest. As many details as possible should be added to each piece of content. This will help your content get found and viewed by the target audience since hosting platforms use this data to decide which videos to show certain users.

Always include closed captions and/or subtitles.

People frequently watch videos without sound, so we strongly encourage use of subtitles and/or CC. We typically add these at negligible if any cost to videos we produce, but it’s always important to double check so you can reach the maximum number of users.

Consider removing the download button for more control over content distribution.

A common problem is content being downloaded in a low-quality format and then being uploaded to platforms. Consider removing download capabilities in the video settings to minimize the probability of lower than “original” quality content being published.

Create thumbnails that sell.

Thumbnails should be designed and supplied with each video project, as they are vital to a healthy click rate. Check your thumbnail design to be sure it works well in the smallest application—like on a mobile phone.

If the original thumbnail is not easily available/accessible, use Daniel Ehniss’ tool to download one.

Paste the URL of the video into the search bar and download the thumbnail in the highest quality available (likely the default).

Upload the thumbnail to the video platform and ensure that the change has correctly taken place upon upload.

You don’t have to be the expert, but you should call on one if you need it.

How a video is distributed is paramount to the success of your project. Strategies should be discussed at the start of the project and improved throughout its creation and launch.

The number of variables for each project is an overwhelming and complex task to discuss. If you do not have someone experienced in this, contact for help distributing and uploading your video content to get the maximum return on your investment.

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How Communication Can Build a Values-Driven Culture

There’s no better way to bring your mission and values off your walls and into your halls than by showing your leaders and employees walking the talk.
And there’s no better communication tool than video to build a values-driven culture. Video can capture symbolic moments in which people bring values to life in authentic ways—and spread the role-modeling throughout the organization.
The video above is just one example. One of our clients showed up in force at the California International Marathon, and we captured footage of the president and many employees participating—to help spread the idea that they’re taking their own health seriously. The video is one in a series developed as part of an internal communication strategy to deliver signature messages about the culture they’re building.

7 Ideas You Can Use to Bring Your Values to Life

Not sure where to begin? Here are seven ideas to start you thinking about how this could look in your company.

  1. Innovation: Capture stories of employees and leaders innovating throughout your organization.
  2. Service: Showcase real customers telling real stories of outstanding service.
  3. Respect: Interview employees talking about what respect looks like in their daily work.
  4. Compassion: Feature stories that show—don’t tell—what it looks like to bring compassion to your work.
  5. Eco-friendliness: Show employees involved in eco-friendly initiatives.
  6. Integrity: Interview employees who can describe acts of integrity they’ve observed among their peers.
  7. Quality: Take your customers behind the scenes by interviewing employees who are shaping high quality scores.

Leaders have to repeatedly find ways to bring focus to their company’s values for them to become more than words on a wall. To really drive behaviors and build culture, share your best stories and capture your leaders talking about your values in personal ways.

Still wondering where to start? We can help you put together a values- and culture-building package that will get viewed and remembered.

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Neutral Color Guide (When to Use Neutrals)

Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright.
— Van Wyck Brooks

While colors are trending towards bright, vivid hues, the hard-working neutrals—white, gray, black, and brown—have a staying power because of their flexibility. They might not be your favorite color, they don't tend to steal the show, they aren't usually even noticeable, but they are the bedrock of strong design.

“I don’t think neutrals are going to go away,” notes color expert Denise Turner, owner of the consultant business called Color Turners and member of the Color Marketing Group Board of Directors. "Neutrals continue to flourish, as companions for brighter hues or as standalone, monochromatic color schemes."

Neutrals create a cozy atmosphere and bring a sense of sanctuary. They diffuse the stresses of the world, offering restoration and balance—something we could all use a little more of. But beyond their neutrality, neutrals can be powerful. Big brands like Apple and Nike use neutrals to great advantage. They are the canvas on which to showcase bolder work.

White Space is where the world and all distraction falls away. Where the voice of the Divine can be heard. Where the Truth of who you are is found. Where miracles happen.
— Valerie Rickel


White is a color. And white is never just white.

White is both complete and pure—the perfect example of innocence, cleanliness and peace. White can be used in marketing to represent new beginnings, providing a blank slate and give a platform to new ideas. White stands for simplicity, coziness, cleanliness, and the potential for invention.

Apple turns to white for its branding, products, and packaging. White doesn't come off as disposable and is pure and quiet, according to Apple's Chief Design Officer.

Off-whites are another important sector of the neutrals. They have a subtle, stylishly elegant and classic connotation attached to them, and have come to suggest environmental responsibility. They have often symbolized sustainable resources such as natural fibers and recycled paper products. The hard-working neutrals are an often-used tool for those who work with color. Their flexibility and staying power make them an important part of your color mix.

Think white is boring? Try layering different whites in a variety of textures. You'll end up with a sophisticated look that is both calming and encouraging.

Classic, neutral, soft, warm, comforting, good taste, smooth, subtle, natural.

The inner equilibrium of Cezanne’s paintings, which are never insistent or obtrusive, produces this calm almost velvety air.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, referring to the color gray


Most of us are indifferent to gray. And therein lies its power. Gray is quickly surpassing brown as the favorite neutral. And it covers a wide range of hues—soft gray to charcoal to hematite. And that's not even considering metallic and pearlescent accents. As gray nears black, it becomes more mysterious and dramatic. The more silvery or white, the more illuminating and lively gray becomes.

Because gray comes in a wide variety of intensities, shades and subtle nuances, it can add a designer feel. It has also captured the world of technology marketing. New York City designer Jenny Wolf considers gray the new white. "It's a nice alternative to white," she says. "It's neutral. It's timeless."

But gray is also pretty hard to pin down, as it is rarely a perfect mix of black and white. A very small amount of subtle color that is added to gray ends up lifting and energizing this powerful neutral.

Gray is the truly perfect neutral—the middle ground between black and white. This is why color matching is best done against a gray background. It is a difficult color to find in nature, as things that often appear gray from a distance are usually complex mixtures of other hues. Because of its perceived neutrality, gray has connotations of responsibility, fairness, loyalty, accountability and wisdom. This translates well in the corporate world where those are desirable attributes.


  • Dove gray is soothing, calming, enlightening.
  • Neutral gray is classic, sober, corporate, practical, timeless, quality, quiet, neutral, logical, deliberate, reserved, fundamental, basic, modest, efficient, dutiful, methodical.
  • Charcoal gray is steadfast, responsible, staunch, resolute, restrained, conservative, professional, classic, sophisticated, solid, enduring, mature.
  • Silver is sleek, classy, stylish, modern, cool.
  • Dark gray is conventional, constrained, serious, solemn, inflexible, strict, self-disciplined.
 Precision & Poetry in Motion by  Pentagram

Precision & Poetry in Motion by Pentagram

 Coca-Cola can concept from New York-based designer  Ryan Harc

Coca-Cola can concept from New York-based designer Ryan Harc

You can have any color as long as it’s black.
— Henry Ford


Black is powerful. It’s visual heft gives it authority and weight. Is black a neutral? Absolutely. When used in a palette, black is a base—allowing other colors to shine. However, when left alone, black can also be a dominant focal point. Because black is the absence of all color, it seems to stand alone—giving off an air of seriousness, control, independence and mystery.

Black is a shortcut to sophistication and elegance—think black tie event, or the little black dress. But it is also power and authority. Want to be a martial arts master? Earn your black belt. Need to call in the authorities? Here come the men in black.

In marketing, black implies affluence and seriousness, making it an ideal option for marketing higher-end, big ticket purchases. American Express chose black when they created their status Centurion card (aka the Black Card).

Finally, because of it’s reserve and separation from other colors, black is one of the best colors for high contrast and superb readability.

Sophisticated, secure, quality, reliable, serious, controlled, independent, mysterious, reserved, dramatic.

What can brown do for you?
— United Parcel Service


The color brown is layered with so many levels of meaning. On the one hand, brown is simple, inexpensive, rugged and natural. As one of the most common colors in nature, it is comfortingly safe and stabilizing, as well as friendly and approachable. On the flip side, brown can be rich and decadent—like roasted coffee beans, aged leather or dark chocolate mousse.

Brown is a surprising color. You'll be hard-pressed to find many who will claim brown as their favorite color, and yet we surround ourselves with this neutral.

Light browns are on the rise, especially in larger purchases like cars, sofas or carpet. "For those big-ticket items, we'll make the safer choice such as neutrals, from rich gray to camel," says Emily Kiker Morrow, Director of Color, Style and Design at Shaw Industries. Morrow says, "We're seeing browns shift to the colors of spices and beverages. Think mocha and cinnamon."

Taupe and beige share many of the attributes of gray, but are warmer and sometimes lighter. They are thought of as authentic, organic, modest, and unobtrusive. Hues of taupe and beige have a timelessness and basic lack of "trendiness" that foster a confidence in the longevity of the shades.

Using brown in advertising can help denote ruggedness. It is the color of the United Parcel Service (UPS)—with their trademark brown trucks and uniforms. Adopted by UPS both because brown is easy to keep clean, and due to favorable associations of luxury. UPS refers to itself as "Brown."


  • Light brown/beige: Friendly, approachable, sincere, honest, genuine, practical, reliable, conservative, constant, unchanging, loyal.
  • Light golden brown: Comforting, yet energizing. (Just like your favorite coffee drink.)
  • Golden brown/tan: Ageless, timeless, straightforward, uncomplicated, natural.
  • Taupe: Classic, neutral, practical, timeless, quality, basic, authentic, organic, versatile, inconspicuous, understated, discreet, compromising, modest; be careful to pair it with colors that keep it from appearing bland.
  • Dark brown: Strong, sad, depressive, materialistic, prudent.


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Custom Video Packages to Grow Your Business

Video is more likely to be viewed and remembered than all other media. It’s powerful, easy to share, mobile-friendly, and suitable for many different types of uses, from in-person events to social media.

We offer several video packages designed to grow your business and build your brand.


Build your brand internally and externally with the most effective tool available: video. This package can take many shapes—from showcasing your produce or service to a CEO message that unpacks the most powerful ideas behind your brand.

Mission, vision and values

Video is exploding as a tool for inspiring employees and customers with your company’s mission, vision or values. And for good reason: As Simon Sinek says, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Starting with the "why" is the best way to inspire both sales and employee engagement. This video package can feature your own employees, customers or donors talking about what your mission, vision and values mean to them—and brings your aspirations off the shelves and into the lives of real people.

Customer testimonials

Studies show that today’s consumer trusts his or her peers more than they do experts. So parlay this into making your business more successful by showcasing how you’re helping your customers. In this package, we capture a series of customers on-camera sharing their own experiences about why they love your company.


Ads aren’t the only way to engage your customers. Stories that show—rather than tell—what you’re about, why your work matters, and how you’re helping others create a powerful connection with your viewers. This package is ideal for showcasing stories that reveal compelling truths about your business.

Promote a service or product

Opening a new business? Launching a new service? In this video package, we showcase your product or service in ways that compel viewers to buy from you.


Need to explain a new service? Help customers get answers to common questions? Create content that establishes you as an online expert? Our explainer video package features whiteboards and similarly styled videos to make complex subjects simple and easy to follow. 

CMBell offers individual custom videos in a wide variety of price points and styles—as well as the packages listed here.

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Freedom Isn't Free

And today, on this holiday, we pause to reflect on the wise and courageous words found in our Declaration of Independence.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases what soever. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of war fare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


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8 Ways to Create Authentic Patient Video Stories

In today’s market, video marketing is an essential—and nothing works like a riveting patient story.
But not all patient video stories are created equally. Some feel flat, boring, too promotional or too predictable, while others depict a relatable experience and compel the viewer to feel connected to the organization.
Here are 8 ways to make sure your patient testimonial videos are getting watched and remembered.
1. Find a story that fits your strategy.
A story that doesn’t advance your brand is money wasted, so start by linking your story to a brand message. For example, if you want to position your organization as clinically superior, find a story of a difficult patient case that was solved successfully. Then, let the story reveal and let the viewer form his/her own conclusions.

2. Be authentic.
Viewers crave real stories—and are quick to spot things that have become too polished or corporate. Stay away from re-enactments and stock footage, tell the story as it actually happened, avoid overly promotional talk and most importantly, be sure to include the struggle.

3. Take time to truly understand the whole story before the interview.
Talk with the interviewee before the recording session so you can understand his or her story and think about how to draw it out during the on-camera interview. Ask for and review any articles, other videos, web content or press coverage that give you insights into the story. Then create your list of questions based on what you’ve learned.

4. Prep the interviewee.
Before the interview, let the subject know what to expect, like:

  • What the video is for.
  • Where it will be used.
  • Why you are interviewing them.
  • It’s normal to have multiple takes.
  • The interview will happen like a conversation, where we ask questions and you answer.
  • They shouldn’t plan to read or memorize anything beforehand.
  • What kinds of questions we’ll be asking.
  • Answer the question with a full sentence, and link to the question. So if we ask “What’s your favorite color?” You’ll reply “My favorite color is blue.”

On the day of the interview, give the subject time to get comfortable in front of the camera before diving in. Engage in some conversation that isn’t part of the interview to help release the tension. Set a tone of warmth and curiosity before you even begin the interview.

5. Build trust.
Telling someone’s story begins with trust—and that begins with attentive listening by an interviewer that is truly interested in the subject. Be awake to small insights or elements of the story that could be fleshed out with more questions, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper. The best elements of a story are rarely the first answers.

6. Hook your audience at the very beginning.
Begin your story with something that draws the viewer in within the first 30 seconds, so the viewer is compelled to stay with you—like this video.

7. Build a character.
Great stories aren’t driven by a chronological listing of events, but by developing a character. Humans have an insatiable appetite to look into the lives of other humans, so look for visual and verbal details that may not even be part of the story but reveal something about the person. Go beyond the story details themselves and ask what’s important to your interviewee, what his/her dreams and motivations are, and how this experience impacted him/her.

8. Capture b-roll and location shots that flesh out the story.
Shoot b-roll that supports the story line, and select the interview location with care. Whether it’s a professor in her classroom or a senior in the home they’ve always lived in, locations can help tell the story. Even if the viewers don’t realize the full impact of the location, your subject will and this could produce a better interview.
Wherever you shoot, make sure it’s quiet, has good lighting options, and is available before and after the shoot for set up and take down, as well as for the actual interview.


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Trust of CEOs Has Never Been Lower: Here Are 9 Tips on Communicating to Build Trust

Trust is the currency of leadership. It’s what inspires others to follow, support, and engage in a leader’s vision.

But there is troubling news on this front: this precious asset is in steady decline, with only 37% of the general population saying that CEOs are credible, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global study with 33,000 respondents

This general mindset of distrust filters into the workforce of every organization—even into those with high trust factors. That’s why understanding how to use communication to build trust is such a timely skill to cultivate—and one that almost every leader can improve upon.

 Only 37% of the general population says CEOs are credible

Only 37% of the general population says CEOs are credible

 64% say they find leaked information more believable than press statements.

64% say they find leaked information more believable than press statements.

 55% say a company’s social media page is more believable than advertising.

55% say a company’s social media page is more believable than advertising.


9 communication Strategies That Can Help a CEO Build Trust

1. Address your audience's biggest concerns.

Does your communication strategy include listening? Create ways to ask your employees what kinds of things they want to know more about—what questions they’d like answers to, what changes are causing them concern, what ideas they have for improvement, and what their biggest obstacles to success are. Then craft messages around these topics. When audiences see you’re engaged with them, they’ll be more engaged with you, which builds a trust relationship.

2. Deliver messages via peers—rather than leaders.

While employees need to hear from leaders, the trust study states that peers are now seen as credible as experts. This is a good time to initiate ways to have appropriate messages delivered by employees.

Consider the subject matter experts in your organization who can speak intimately about the day-to-day operations and topics your audience is most familiar with. Bringing the voices of in-house experts into the conversation can signal a unified workforce, so trusting the message doesn’t hinge on perceptions of any one messenger.

3. Communicate empathy, reassurance, and calm in the face of fear and uncertainty.

Emotions are contagious, and this is why leaders especially need to project calm, warmth, and hope in their communications. Employees pick up on fear in their leaders, and it can spread quickly through an organization.

Today's employee is dizzied by the speed of change, complexity of life and pervasiveness of communication—and as a result is often anxious. But rather than reacting to anxiousness, address the root causes in your communication. For example, a person’s worries about technology, immigration, centralization and globalization could all be tied back to a fundamental fear of job loss. Knowing the sources of these fears can help you craft messages that address the underlying issues.

Not all messages are innately reassuring, of course. But striking a calm, hopeful tone can help defuse unpleasant messages.


Percent of respondents with each fear who also believe that the system is failing them —2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

4. Use truth to build trust.

It’s easy to avoid discussing harsh realities because of their unpleasantness, yet the short-term benefit of avoidance is outweighed by the long-term effect. Misinformation, incomplete information or withholding information eventually erodes trust—the most powerful human and organizational currency. As a leader, you influence truth-telling by modeling this behavior and rewarding it in your organization.

When delivering tough messages, couple them with a plan of action and the why behind the decision. Paint a picture of what’s possible if the plan is implemented, to give people a focal point.

Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
— Isaac Newton

5. Monitor the optics: Do behaviors match words?

Is there a gap between what your organization says and what it does? Consider designating a coach outside of the C-suite or the company who can see things with a fresh perspective, and have them review significant actions against your mission, vision, and values to ensure parity.

Zappos understands the significance of building a culture that is cohesive with a company’s words and values. As their CEO, Tony Hsieh, says: “Our belief is that a company’s culture and a company’s brand are just two sides of the same coin. The brand is just a lagging indicator of the culture.”


 The "Stairway to Culture" in the  Zappos  Headquarters

The "Stairway to Culture" in the Zappos Headquarters

6. Deploy and train your middle managers as communicators.

Middle managers are the culture torchbearers, the influencers, and the tone-setters because they have more contact with both employees and leaders. It’s no wonder that communication from direct managers is the most effective channel for reaching employees, according to a CEB survey of more than 1,000 employees.

Provide your managers with communication training and tools and unleash them to do the important work of leadership armed with better skills and information. One CMBell client did this well when they focused a year-long communication initiative on leaders and conducted a survey at the end to determine its effectiveness. They found that their most important ideas had taken hold with their leadership team—with 9 out of 10 of them saying they better understood the why behind their work, knew more about their key strategies, and had a better understanding of the value of working together. From there, the managers could confidently reach the front-line staff with key messages they were already well-versed in.

7. Speak from your heart.

The Edelman study says that spontaneity and outspokenness make speakers more believable. Using your own voice and speaking about things that you care about conveys authenticity and builds trust.

Appropriate self-revelation creates connections, too. When delivering bad news, expressing your own sadness about it conveys empathy, which builds trust.

In this video example, the CEO broke from her standard business updates and delivered a message of inspiration that was based on her own personal experience and passion, generating enthusiastic responses from her internal audience. These kinds of messages can be important tools for building culture.

8. Use video when you can’t be there in person.

Video is perceived as more authentic than other media, according to a Viostream study. Viewers perceive fewer filters in video than in text, where words can be interpreted and misconstrued. Video also delivers additional and important communication through body language and tone of voice that can’t be conveyed as accurately in text alone.

Video can also be a very useful tool for delivering messages where precise language is essential. We recently worked with a client involved in a merger in a heavily regulated field where words had to be chosen carefully. A video message from the CEO allowed the message to be delivered directly to the audience using the precise language required by law.

And finally, video has the added advantage of being more personal and is the next best thing to being there—which is often impossible in large companies with a geographically distributed workforce. In video, leaders can convey both information and emotion, which can build trust.

9. Avoid corporate-speak.

Are you globally extending goal-oriented potentialities? Scaling intuitive partnerships? Building collaborative and idea-sharing modalities?

Even for employees who may understand it, jargon can make your message boring, less believable and can make you less accessible as a leader. Instead use short, simple words that can be widely understood.


How and where your message is displayed is just as important as the message.

Click below to see our infographic showing the best digital channels for employee communication.

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2017 Design Inspiration (8 Trending Examples)

What's up with design trends anyway?

Let’s start with novelty. It turns out, we're wired to seek out new experiences. A chemical reaction takes place in the brain when it encounters something new. The brain releases dopamine, which prompts us to seek more new experiences. Thus, novelty is not only pleasurable, but actually pushes us to learn and grow.

On the flip side, we also tend to follow trends for less sincere reasons. For some, the need to keep up with the "Joneses" (or at least appear to be keeping with the times) is paramount. And like it or not, we’re also motivated by the need to fit in and conform to the group.

So what does this mean for design trends? Are they making our brains grow, or just appeasing our pride? Probably both. Advances in technology, the predominance of mobile and a voracious appetite for content have pushed design to change and grow. And there are a couple of possible reactions. Ride the waves of trend, keep it traditional and solid, or innovate. At the end of the day, a designer who understands the needs of her client will get it right.

1. Material Design

Although not a trend itself, Material Design cannot be ignored in a discussion of design trends. Pioneered by Google as a visual language, Material Design uses graphics and motion to cue viewer responses.

The basic idea is that visuals and motion should have predictable behavior that is based on reality. Material Design employs deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography and intentional white space. It also plays heavily with grid, and employs "cards" to serve as entry points to larger groups of information. And where Google leads, everyone follows.

2. Semi Flat

Skeuomorphism: a digital object that demonstrates the attributes of it's real world counterpart. Drop shadows! Gradients! Textures! Everyone loved it.

Then everyone hated it. And designers reacted by introducing flat design. Flat design took the world by storm. No more shading or gradients or textures. It felt more...authentic.

Skip ahead. Flat Design became Flat 2.0, then Semi Flat. Don't get me wrong, it is still flat design, the goal is not to create illustrations that appear to be photographs. But for the sake of dimension and movement, a bit of light has been added back in, as well as subtle shadows. Even gradients are sneaking back in, along with subtle complexity (think pattern and print).

And yes, Google Material Design has the full set of "rules".

3. Bold Colors

Color trends are being affected primarily by two factors. The first is the move to mobile. We're interacting with technology in every environment now, and designs on those screens need to pop. This is leading to a rise in brighter, bolder colors. You probably wore it in the '80s and '90s. So look out for vibrant duotones and color transitions everywhere.

Secondly, we're all facing technology burnout. The more we surround and immerse ourselves in technology, the more we want to pull away. Pantone nailed it when they named the 2017 color of the year: Greenery.

4. Geometric Shapes, Patterns, and Lines

Oh the '80s. Squiggly lines, geometric patterns, and shape confetti. A resurgence of this trend started in 2016 and looks to continue.

5. Dramatic Typography

At this point, it should be no surprise that bold typography is also on the rise. In a realm that is increasingly saturated with graphic input, any small advantage is sought. Daring type treatments can be achieved through size, color, texture and arrangement. With small screens and even smaller attention spans, viewers have come to depend on bold fonts in high-contrast bold colors.

And while the strictly hand-lettered trend has probably peaked, we'll still be seeing traces of organic influence on type.

6. Custom illustration

Brands are no longer just looking to have their own fonts and colors, but their own illustrative style. And the less corporate, the better. We're seeing organic and hand-drawn custom illustration everywhere as companies try to make themselves appear fun and make their products more accessible.

7. Original Narrative Photos

As consumers encounter the constant barrage of new content, our desire for truth increases. And photos that appear candid, unfiltered, spontaneous and gritty feel more original and genuine. Anything viewed as stock has come to represent what is wrong with the corporate world.

The perception is that anyone with an iPhone can take a great shot. Viewers are looking for cues like simplicity, movement, flash to convey reality, raw emotion and the ordinary. So while professional photography will not be going away, we will seeing a more subtle use of post-production tools.

8. Integrated Motion

We'll be seeing motion everywhere: paralax scrolling, animation, looped video headers, cinemagraphs and a predominance of GIFs.

Whether subtle or complex, they not only capture interest, but quickly convey emotion. And they help tell stories.

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Happy Mother's Day from CMBell

Ever hear someone say they are "just a mom?" We're pretty sure there's no such thing as "just a mom," and today is our chance to celebrate those who have chosen to devote their life, love and resources to the noble, important work of motherhood.

It's hard to find a line of work—or love—that has more impact on the planet than creating, nourishing, educating and inspiring another human being to reach their full potential. And while others are involved in this noble work, mothers are often the engine behind all of it.

Mother's are paid in love, so don't miss the chance today to thank a mom—yours or someone who was like a mom to you. Let them know how much the countless, selfless acts of love on your behalf mattered. 


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17 Top Internal Communication Channels [Infographic]

Video outperforms all other media in getting viewed and remembered. 

People remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 70% of what they see and hear. So it's no surprise that video is the most powerful communication tool there is. Video can combine arresting visuals with sound and motion, making it more engaging to the human brain than any other form of communication.

Video is versatile for internal communication too, because it comes in all price points and many formats—from whiteboard explainers and motion graphics to interview-driven or cinematic stories. It ranks fourth among most-used digital channels, with 81% of companies surveyed reportedly using it for internal communication, according to Gatehouse. 

This is why video is becoming a central part of internal communication plans.


Curious what video marketing can do for you?

Read our Definitive Guide to Video Marketing and find all of our tips and tricks to help your business grow. 


A microsite is a simple website that is highly focused and makes it easy for the viewer to find exactly what they came for. This is in contrast to a general company website that is designed to deliver many different messages and risks losing the viewer before they find what you want them to read.

We highly recommend microsites for targeted large-scale internal communication initiatives for several reasons: They are quick to produce, effective, highly focused, and provide great analytics. 

For example, a microsite would work well to explain a merger or acquisition by featuring the primary content on the landing page—and having links that unpack the message in more detail.

Blogs are a versatile internal communication channel and come from leaders as well as employees and departments. The challenges are to keep it real, to keep it in the voice of the leader (if ghostwritten), and to keep the content coming. Most blogs fizzle when writers begin to see the work involved.

Still, they offer an inexpensive and personal way to communicate with employees—and can target special interests ranging from IT changes to personnel issues. They're also a good way to create more personal connections with a leader.

Bill Marriott's blog Marriott on the Move is a good example of a blog that carries a definite personal imprint of its author. DocInTheD is a physician and the CEO of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. You likely have blogs you follow that can inspire you with possibilities as well.

Facebook, YouTube,  Instagram, and Twitter are among the highest-traffic social media channels and can be targeted by interest groups, departments, or topics. These interactive channels can be suited to sharing ideas and issues and for monitoring feedback from employees.

The downside, of course, is that social media cannot be controlled, which means it remains one of the most challenging channels for communicators to monitor and influence.


Enterprise communication apps that are dedicated to employee communication are on the rise, and for good reason. They provide a customizable channel for delivering text, audio, and video content to employees throughout the company—allowing employees to communicate beyond email and phone calls. 

Apps vary by vendor but can allow preference settings and be used to deliver:

  • News
  • Executive updates
  • Videos
  • Recognition
  • Blogs
  • Access to mission-critical sites for employees
  • Notifications
  • Surveys

While willingness to download an app for internal communication is growing, the issue of using one's personal device for work remains a challenge.

According to Gatehouse's annual State of the Sector report, email is still the most frequently used channel for internal communication (96% use it).

It can be challenging, however, to reach those whose inboxes are full or who don't have desk jobs. Here are some tips on getting your internal communication emails read.

1. Start with the main point in a single sentence.
We’re sometimes tempted to start at the beginning to tell the whole story, thinking that a reader needs to understand what led to the point. In some cases, this requires too much work for the reader to get to the point, so they abandon ship. Start with a summary statement that gives them enough information if they go no further—or a reason to proceed.

2. Invest in writing a good subject line.
This not only helps someone decide if he or she should read it, but helps them find it later. Retrieval of emails later can be time-consuming and downright frustrating if the subject line isn’t clear. Examples:

  • New vacation policy starts Friday
  • Here's the annual president's address to employees
  • Announcing the addition of new partner

3. Make it easy to browse.

  • Use subheads to help the reader find the section pertinent to him or her.
  • Use bullets instead of paragraphs.
  • Underline, highlight, or change font colors on the key point (deadline, cost increase, action needed).
  • Make action items and next steps stand out visually (in the subject line, when appropriate).
  • If more detailed backstory is imperative, indicate where the reader can find it. Title it clearly and put it at the end, so only those who want it can find it.

4. Give your reader just-in-time information.
Many readers prefer to focus on just the next step, rather than the next 10 steps. Most don’t have time to save it and review it over a period of months as it becomes relevant.

See four more tips here.


Podcasts are being used for internal communication because they fit nicely between text and video—giving employees content to listen to while engaged in other activities that don't require visual focus. Whether doing chores, or exercising, people increasingly crave content to enrich life's more mundane activities. 

A podcast:

  • Can be authentic and believable
  • Can feature voices of employees
  • Can personalize leaders

Podcasts are a versatile tool, but companies that use them will need to have an effective delivery channel (think apps and e-letters).


E-letters are more sophisticated versions of emails that aren't used for daily interactions, but for important messages. And according to Gatehouse's internal communication State of the Sector report, 84% of companies surveyed report using it, making it third among most-used digital channels by employees. 

Because e-letters are developed using third-party services, they offer vastly better design options, great analytics, and mailing list management. Their ability to preserve the look of an email is higher than regular emails, making them much more engaging once they are opened. But like all email, they must compete with an increasingly full inbox. 

Here are the first three of 14 tips we offer for creating e-letter emails that employees will engage with:

  1. Use a third-party tool. It would be nearly impossible to create the essential features that these tools now offer, from sophisticated designs to insightful analytics, automated features that help you manage and grow your lists, and mobile optimization. We use Campaign Monitor, but there are others to choose from, as well.
  2. Use great design. A reader makes a split-second decision about whether to engage with your email based on how it looks. Good design will absolutely increase your readership.
  3. Curate content with care. Make sure that your distribution lists and topics are right for each other. 

Want to learn more? You can find the rest of the tips here


An intranet is a website that is only accessible to authorized viewers—usually your employees. Ninety-three percent of companies report using their intranet as a channel of communication, making it second only to emails, according to Gatehouse.

An intranet can be a solid framework for employee communication—allowing your teams to share content like news, blogs, forms, messages, team workspaces, directories, and training material.  

Although an intranet has the ability to reach your entire workforce, because the quality varies widely its effectiveness is highly impacted by the user interface, design, and content.

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Yes, your walls can talk! They are free communication channels that can reach employees and customers many times a day. Think of them as ideal places to communicate some of your most timeless messages—your mission, your history, your values. 

Walls are versatile and suitable for digital as well as traditional messages. If your main traffic areas aren't delivering your signature messages to your team, it's time to make use of these targeted channels.


Portable displays are good for targeting specific messages that need to be shared in different locations. Celebrating a prestigious award? Reinforcing your new mission statement? Announcing a new service for employees? A display can make the rounds to departments and employee events to spread the word.

Screens dominate our workplace—and provide an affordable way to deliver messages, so it only makes sense to use them as an internal communication channel.

Whether it's repurposing videos or infographics on a wall monitor or showcasing your mission or values as screensavers, never underestimate the simple, hard-working nature of using your company's screens to deliver signature messages. 


We don't need a study to tell us that in-person communication is the most effective channel.

But did you know that communication from direct managers is the most effective channel for reaching employees, according to a CEB survey of more than 1,000 employees?

Since so much of communication is conveyed in nonverbal cues, in-person message delivery provides more information to take in like eyes, body language and voice tone. And, we know that emotions are contagious—and much easier to deliver in person than in print.

Companies that are serious about internal communication should focus on training and resourcing their managers and leaders in communication.


Forums and meetings are effective ways to deliver your ideas because of their ability to combine in-person communication with other effective channels. They offer the increased efficiency of one to many, maximizing the time of busy leaders. 

But like other channels, this one is only as good as the content. So here are some tips on making live meetings work better:

  • Coordinate messages: If you have multiple speakers, have someone review all of them with an eye toward the entire event—and edit out redundancy.
  • Focus: Leaders have a tendency to want to share a great deal of content, so create time limits and help them focus on unpacking their one big idea. Too much content can prevent hearers from remembering the most important ideas.
  • Variety: To work, events like this need to be created with a nod to theater and experience, engaging the senses with variety, taking breaks, involving the audience, and creating time for reflection and personal application.
  • Include video: This provides a welcome break to talking heads. 


Newsletters, magazines, and other print channels aren't dead, but complement your digital channels.


  • Help reach non-desk employees
  • Are easily shared
  • Are good for the pick-up-since-it's-handy impulse
  • Can be repurposed digitally

Since they can be more costly than other channels and are harder to measure than many digital options, use them in situations where other channels aren't effective.

There are times when a simple letter from a manager is actually effective—like when the message itself is compelling and doesn't require a lot of visual support. Think things like a positive change in benefits or other things that have a high personal impact on employees. It can be easy to forget this lowly channel, but its affordability and suitability for certain kinds of communications should keep it on your list as an option for occasional use.

To make this effective, however, personalize the letter as much as you can. If it's truly from the president, it won't need much added visual treatment.


Upon occasion, it will make sense to send something to your employees' homes. Whether it's a reminder postcard, a newsletter, an invitation, or a simple letter, employees have more time to read at home than they do at work. And, if it's a high-impact message, it won't hurt to have it available for other members of the family who might be interested.

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CMBell Company and Clients Win Five National Awards

Creative work by CMBell and our clients has garnered five awards from the 34th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards competition.

  • Three gold awards were given for an internal communication microsite, an OB direct mail, and a video on reducing the cost of homelessness.
  • One bronze award was given for an e-letter.
  • One silver award was given for a video on innovation in health care.

The award-winning work was produced by clients in Los Angeles, Denver and Roseville.

In this year’s competition, nearly 4,000 entries were judged by a national panel who reviewed creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design, and overall impact.

Hats off to our creative team and to our clients for earning this recognition!

GOLD: AHSCR—Internal communication website communicating the reasons behind the new strategic direction and outlining a vision for the company's future.

GOLD: Littleton Adventist Hospital—Direct mail piece as part of a larger campaign that significantly increased market share.

GOLD: White Memorial Medical Center—A video about their work to reduce the cost of homelessness in Los Angeles.

SILVER: Adventist Health—A CEO update on innovation within the company.

BRONZE: AHSCR—One of a series of e-letters sent from the CEO to leaders as part of an internal communication campaign that raised understanding of the vision, values and mission of the organization.

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