Voltage Creative

Web Development & Design | Online Marketing

Debugging code can be as simple as this..bit.ly/1taKS0p #SNL #fixit

Voltage now has an instagram!! Go follow all of our office shenanigans at: voltage_creative

A Step by Step Process for Debugging Code

Debugging code can seem intimidating, but as long as you follow this simple process, it’s fairly easy to do.

RT @TadCarpenter: Energy, persistence and that white icing stuff from Toaster Strudels conquer all things. —Benjamin Franklin

RT @Illustrator: Inspired by a battle between angels and demons: @GingerMonkey_TL‘s Archangels playing cards. bit.ly/1jWZ8XD http://t.co/g5wb6JyK6u

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RT @MayorSlyJames: Last day to send in your choice for the most creative spaces in #KC. Use #CreativeKC14 – voting starts next week!

Meet Aspen! Our buddy in the office this week #officemascot #kansascity #rivermarket instagram.com/p/ntgL2bw9uI/

Your business card is CRAP! youtu.be/4YBxeDN4tbk

What’s in a brand? – Take a look at our newest Voltage blog post #branding #kansascity bit.ly/1kDzaF0

What's in a Brand?

Many people think a brand is a logo, and while a logo is a big part of a brand, it is certainly not where an organization’s brand starts and stops. A brand is so much more than a logo, and managed properly a brand can precede your organization and do the important work of conveying your mission and business, even when you’re not around.

So all that sounds great, right? Sure. But the ultimate question is what are the elements and how exactly do you “properly” manage them? Well, here you go:

Brand Elements:

1) Logo
Yes, I said this is not where a brand starts and stops, but it is definitely an important element and will be the most recognizable brand asset in your arsenal.

2) Colors
These will obviously be seen in your logo, collateral, website and more, but it’s important to apply these same colors to events, apparel and anything else intended to carry your brand.

3) Typeface
Your typeface should be displayed in your brand and used in your website, collateral and ancillary brand vehicles.

4) Messaging
This (and the next item) is often overlooked as they’re non-visual brand aspects. Your messaging can be as simple as a tagline and mission statement, but can include talking points, messaging per organization audience, brand differentiators and more.

5) Tone
The tone most directly refers to messaging, but can also relate to visual brand assets as well. Essentially, this is the style in which you want your message to be perceived—traditional, humorous, candid and transparent, etc.

Now Manage It:

1) Brand Standards
All of the above should be recorded in a brand standards document that covers each brand element and serves as a single reference point for all those charged with implementing or utilizing the brand. Much like messaging, a brand standards document can vary from the extremely simple (logo, colors and typefaces) to an extensive document that defines the above mentioned items, but also displays proper and improper uses, messaging, talking points, audiences, tone and much more.

2) Consistency
Employing the above brand standards document will ensure the logo and related assets are used and displayed consistently across all forms of media. This is key and what it does is (over time) build recognition to the degree where viewers need only glance at your brand representation to understand the messaging is from your organization. What this means is that as you proceed, your marketing will become that much more powerful and cost effective because it will take less and less effort to communicate who you are and what your about as viewers already have an inherent understanding of your brand essence.

3) Beware of Deviation
It’s easy to think your brand is becoming stale because you live it every day. You may think its time for a refresh in colors, messaging or even the logo, but beware of knee-jerk reactions. We always tell our clients that (typically) when you’re starting to get sick of your brand identity, people are likely just getting to know it well. Unless there is core change in business practices, naming, mission, etc, keep your brand consistent until it becomes dated or starts to become irrelevant. And how do you know this? My recommendation would be to consult an outside brand development organization that can evaluate your look and feel, messaging and core business to ensure your brand still aligns. Often times, organizations are too close to their own brand to not only see flaws, but to see the positives as well.

4) Keep it Simple
It’s easy to get carried away with all the elements mentioned above and thus there’s a tendency among organizations when developing brand standards to try and tell the story relating to every aspect of their organization. The desire is to ensure audiences have a thorough understanding of what your organization has to offer. Unfortunately, this has an opposite effect of the intended and lessens viewer comprehension. Understanding of a brand both visually and messaging-wise has an opposite correlation with respect to the number of messages trying to be communicated. In a nutshell, the more “stories” you attempt to tell, the more complex the global story gets and the less likely a viewer is to comprehend the important things.
Do your best to boil down your brand elements (and this includes your logo) to their basics and remember that your brand is your organization’s signature, and much like your signature (that you sign on the dotted line) it identifies you and tells people who your are, but it does not need to tell the whole story. Rather, it needs to tell just enough to capture your audiences’ attention and open the door for viewer exploration and conversations that will lead to conversion.

Do you have questions about your brand or need to take a next step to refine it?  The Voltage team would love to have a free consultation with you and share insight on what specific next steps to take.  Contact Voltage today to learn more!

Catch Voltage’s @coreydmorris and Ryan Lorei on Tech Circuit on the KMBZ Business Channel at 1pm. 1660AM or online at KMBZ.com

Check out our newest post on the Voltage Blog: SEO Changes Google Has NOT Made bit.ly/1rEXJXP #SEO #google

SEO Changes Google Has NOT Made

This week’s online marketing blog post focuses on SEO specifically and on things that Google has not changed over the years as most of the press and attention is put on things that are changing rapidly.  The inspiration for this post came as a colleague asked me for my perspective on last week’s Moz Whiteboard Friday (6 Changes Google Hasn’t Made) where Rand provided detail and commentary on six areas of SEO that have not changed.  As I was typing a response, I realized that I was creating a long-winded blog post reply rather than an email, thus I’m sharing it here on the Voltage Blog as well.

Overall, I’m NOT surprised by the fact that Google hasn’t made a lot of these changes. In my opinion, they make ranking algorithm changes for 2 reasons and have a criteria or rationale for each.

  1. To improve their product (search results) for users: In this case, they are looking for ways to make adjustments to existing variables or for new signals to incorporate to provide the most relevant and beneficial search results for a given query. Examples of this are their use and integration of universal content, localization of results, search history impact on results, and specifically using Google+. There has been and still is a lot of speculation that social engagement and popularity on Facebook and Twitter have an impact even though Google flat out denies that there is any whatsoever.
  2. To neutralize spammers and those exploiting the algorithm: This really is a sub-mission of number one, but it is big enough to have a “web spam” team at Google that is separate from the team that manages and improves the algorithm for the purposes of number one. This is evidenced by the major announced spam filtering initiatives like Panda, EMD (exact match domain), and Penguin we’ve seen in the past few years.

In terms of the specific six items that Rand walks through in the video, I’m not surprised at all by the fact that many of these remain the same. While most of the industry headlines focus on changes Google makes and the 500+ algorithm updates they made last year alone, the core of SEO has not change or been removed entirely.

  1. Links from “on-topic” sites matter more than “off-topic”: This one is really interesting and while my research and advice to clients normally revolves around topical relevance for links, I do see that others have impact as well. I think Rand is right with his example that in a more closed to niche link graph that what botanists think is the most relevant/important gardening site may not be the same as what consumers think. It is dangerous for Google to write off all off-topic links and look at vacuums for industries as then every site will seek to have the same finite set of industry authorities link to them. When that’s the case, then how can Google tell the sites apart from a linking perspective?
  2. Anchor text’s influence would eventually plummet: I haven’t personally performed the number of tests or conducted extensive research to isolate the impact of this variable. I don’t overemphasize this with clients as my approach and view is that this is just one of many variables we need to address on-page for internal linking and with inbound links from other sources. I don’t think that on our own sites that if the only thing we optimize is anchor text for internal links that we’ll see much impact. Just like optimizing only title tags will make a splash. The key is to use keywords consistently and optimize across all of the on-page variables. Regarding inbound links, we know that we can go too far and get into trouble by having too many links out there that have the exact same anchor text. Thus, it is best to not focus too much on this variable and just consider how it rolls up into the rest of what we can control and optimize.
  3. 302s and other redirects would be treated more like 301s: Despite the fact that there are misplaced 302s all over the web, I think that Google has been so black and white with this topic that they don’t feel a need to expand and make assumptions about long-term 302s. It took me a few years in SEO before ever seeing the value in 302s, but twice in the last year I’ve had legit reasons to use them during some complicated site launches and do see their place. I think like a lot of other variables, it is incumbent on the site owner to figure out how to work with their CMS or technology to get the codes right for their intentions.
  4. Rel=Canonical would be come more of a “hint” and less a directive: This is something that must be implemented with care and tested. It is less black and white than 301 redirects, but I do appreciate how Google does typically make it directive. It falls into the same category as title and meta description tags though. If you don’t use it right or provide meaning, then Google reserves the right to ignore it or penalize based on misuse.
  5. Shares from trusted/important/influential social accounts would have a more direct and observable impact on rankings: I was at the SMX Advanced show a few years ago when the opening keynote panel included Rand and a presentation of the correlation and causation argument. This debate still gets discussed even though Google flat out denies that there is any direct relationship or impact between social engagement on Facebook and Twitter on search results. I still push clients to research and explore opportunities as I agree with Rand that there are likely many citations that come out of social engagement that provide benefits that do touch on known search variables.
  6. Google would take more cleanup action on hyper-spammy keyword niches in PPC (porn, pills, casino): This is really interesting to me as I haven’t/don’t spend a lot of time on the forefront of research and monitoring of Google’s spam battle. This is why I follow Moz and continue to try to learn DAILY in this industry.

I have no disagreements with Rand’s assessment as most of my assessments above are in addition to what he presented or are viewed through the lens of how I address these matters specifically with my clients.  I like to encourage anyone interested in online marketing and SEO to watch for the weekly Moz Whiteboard Friday videos as they are a 10 minutes well spent each week.

Feel free to comment or get in touch if you want to talk about how this information impacts your website and SEO plan.  We love to consult (for free) and talk about options available for marketers, website owners, and more.

Thanks for reading!

Tune into the KMBZ Business Channel next Wed at 1pm to hear Voltage’s @Rhino44 @coreydmorris on KC’s monthly Tech Circuit show. #kc #techhub

Voltage is currently seeking a summer intern to work on website development projects.(PHP, MySQL,Wordpress) If interested-please contact us!

RT @ppchero: TOMORROW – @Hanapin‘s @ecouch11 will be live-blogging the big AdWords Announcement. Be there and take part! bit.ly/1msE9vN #PPC

The Role of Color: PMS vs. CMYK

pantoneWhat is Pantone? As a client, you may hear your designers and printers refer to this magical word often. Pantone, or PMS (Pantone Matching System) refers to a standardized set of colors. This proprietary color space allows different printers and manufacturers from all over to refer to the same color system for color accuracy. In PMS, a single number specifies each color.

There are many benefits in choosing to print your designs using the Pantone system over CYMK format.  CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. This system uses a certain percentage of each of these colors to make up your desired color.  Think back to 3rd grade art class… We all knew that if you mix a little bit of yellow with blue, you get green. Now, if your friend next to you tries to mix the exact same colors, are they going to turn out the same? Not exactly.

The biggest benefit you will receive from using the Pantone system is a consistent, reproducible color.

Case study:business-cards

This is a small example of some business cards we just finished for one of our clients.

The left side color is printed in PMS colors. The one on the right is the same color printed in CMYK. Notice the large difference in color?

Choose Wisely!

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Interested in design topics?  Please comment to share ideas or questions and we’ll address them on the Voltage Blog.

RT @Econsultancy: 19 technical #SEO considerations you should look at today ow.ly/vyYJe

RT @Marketingland: Email Senders Stymied By Yahoo’s Adoption Of Anti-Spoofing Measure by @pamelaparker mklnd.com/PZKUcZ

   
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