communication

Color Psychology: Blue is the Color of Calm and Constancy

Color Psychology: Blue is the Color of Calm and Constancy

Maybe there's a reason that blue is the #1 choice for corporate branding and identity, as many hope to cash in on the intrinsic belief that blue represents constancy, quality, and achievement. It does seem to be a color that many executives like—and as you can see, we’ve used it for our own brand because of its classic, timeless appeal.

OPEN COMMUNICATION

Blue puts us in a peaceful frame of mind, helps remove our walls, and opens conversation. Social networking sites employ the color nearly to excess. A quick glance at your smartphone will likely reveal app icons in various shades of blue.

More Than a Mission Statement: How a Mantra Can Build Your Brand and Culture

More Than a Mission Statement: How a Mantra Can Build Your Brand and Culture

Words and images are powerful tools for building a company’s culture. And yet they are too often underused in business.

While mission and values are at the center of an organization’s culture-building language, a mantra can flesh those out. If, for example, excellence is one of your values, a mantra can focus attention on how excellence occurs.

Website Makeovers To Inspire You

Website Makeovers To Inspire You

Creating a new website can easily slip into the “not today” category, and for good reasons.

It’s easy to get caught up in a flurry of worries like: What if I can’t find the right vendor? How can I be sure that I’ll get a website that helps grow our business? What if there are cost overruns? What if there are delays? What if I haven’t managed an outside web vendor before? Or where do I even begin?

How To Get More Than You Paid For From Your Web Vendor

How To Get More Than You Paid For From Your Web Vendor

Creating a winning website is one of the most exciting and high-impact marketing tools you will make. And getting more than you paid for is the best outcome! 

As a client, you don't often realize how much you can do to help make this happen. The place to start is with an understanding about how web vendors estimate their costs and manage the project. Your web vendor typically allocates a set number of hours to create your new website.

Why Video is a Must-have Tool For Executives [And how you can get over your fear of being on camera]

Why Video is a Must-have Tool For Executives [And how you can get over your fear of being on camera]

Most leaders are hesitant to appear on camera—it’s normal. But a good video team can change that, making it possible for you to use this vital tool in ways you never thought possible.

Here's what a good video communication team can do for you:

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

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

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.

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

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:

How Communication Can Build a Values-Driven Culture

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.

Neutral Color Guide (When to Use Neutrals)

Neutral Color Guide (When to Use Neutrals)

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.

Custom Video Packages to Grow Your Business

Custom Video Packages to Grow Your Business

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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.

Brand-building

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.

Microdocumentaries

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.

Explainers

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.

 

You can grow your business

 

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.

 

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.

FEARS FURTHER ERODE BELIEF IN THE SYSTEM

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.

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.