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.

Is Your Company's Online Presence Working?

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.

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:

A Primer on Uploading and Distributing Videos

A Primer on Uploading and Distributing Videos

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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.

Example:

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)]:

Language
Location
Tags
Keywords
Website
Closed captions (CC)
Subtitles
Thumbnail
Audience type
Genre (ex: documentary, lifestyle, etc.)
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 Christian@CMBell.com for help distributing and uploading your video content to get the maximum return on your investment.

You can grow your business

 

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

 

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.

Source: www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration

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.