Robyn Koenig

Creativity doesn’t have to be elaborate or flashy, and it doesn’t have to be reserved for the “creatives” alone. Low-key creativity is the effortless, no-pressure strategy to get your brain working in an imaginative way with others.

Creativity doesn’t start in an email
Get those creative juices flowing with face-to-face interaction! The key to a collaborative environment is getting to know your coworkers on a personal level, away from the computer screen. Try kicking off a meeting with a quick creative exercise and have everyone share their piece with the team. Not only will this bring everyone some laughs, but it will start the meeting with high energy, ready to jump into a productive meeting.

Here’s an exercise our team tried in a recent meeting:
Each participant has a piece of paper with 30 blank circles on it and a pencil. Team members are challenged to fill in as many circles as possible in only three minutes. The aim being quantity, not quality.

Culture of creativity
Give every team member every creative opportunity and constantly promote a positive work environment and culture. Providing a creative and unique work space can improve company morale, and science shows that positive moods tend to promote those “a-ha” moments. So, bring a whiteboard and handful of candy to your next meeting (this always works for us).

Encouraging creativity doesn’t stop with our Bright Lights – we challenge you to complete the 30 circles exercise with your team and tag us on Facebook or Twitter with the photos. We can’t wait to see where their imagination takes them!

Shawn Nesaw

Now more than ever, businesses use social media to promote and build trust in their brand, reach new customers, provide customer service and sell products. Individuals use social media to consume and share content, both written form (like this blog…please share it btw) and visual form, interact with friends, family and brands, meet new people and in some cases, build their personal brand.

There are a lot of fish in the social media sea, so it’s important to leverage channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to expand your business’s audience. That starts with having a strategy in place and a path forward. Here are three tips to really harness social media for everything you can:

1. Make the Most of Your Content

2. Engage with Others

3. Be Authentic

In each tip, I’ll also give some actionable takeaways for you to use right away. Let’s get started.

At the basic level, social media is free and even when it’s not free, it’s arguably the most cost-effective way to promote your brand. A consistent presence on social media allows a brand to reach people at all times of day, every day of the week.

Every business and personal brand fights for attention online so if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need effective content with a long shelf life. In other words, take whatever you’re doing and make it go further. Develop a strategy specifically catered to your piece of content that will help leverage its reach on social media.

ACTION ITEM: Think of your brand, your story, your products. Come up with a big story to tell people about your brand. Tell the story of one of your best products. Try developing that story into a written piece of content or a video. From there you can do a lot of things to squeeze as much of that juice as possible out of that big piece of content. Here’s a quick reference list:

  • Break content into smaller pieces to share on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as separate posts.
  • Create graphics for each smaller piece of content using a free software like Canva. Let the images do the talking. Shares are a great metric to measure on social and these are super-shareable on Instagram stories and Twitter.
  • Tell your stories in 15-second clips on Instagram Stories. To up the authenticity factor, use your phone to record and post (more on being authentic later).
  • Break videos into shorter vignettes and post to all channels.
  • Create a list of hashtags to use on Instagram and Twitter to help expand the reach each time you post. However, beware of banned Instagram hashtags that can downgrade your posts.


One of the easiest ways to ensure audiences know you’re legit is to talk to them. Talk to them as if they just walked in to your branch, as if they are next in line at your deli counter or if they just took a seat at your bar.

We all know social media is a communication tool. We communicate everything, the best and worst moments in our lives. But for a lot of businesses, they post content for the day and forget about it, only coming back to post more the following day, never taking the time to take their communication efforts a step further.

That’s the short game, it’s fairly easy and doesn’t take much time. But if you’re trying to build a brand using social media, play the long game. Post your content but also take time to comment, answer questions, pose follow up questions and say thanks. In fact, if you really want to measure how well any one post is doing on Facebook, for instance, see how many comments it received. At this point in the history of social, meaningful engagements are more valuable than the likes anyways.

ACTION ITEM: Talk to people using social media. By either starting conversations around a product or trend or carrying on the conversation based on comments you see from your audience, taking the time to talk to people will pay off in the long run. Here are a few things your business or brand can do to engage more with others.

  • Respond to comments on posts. In a world of people waiting to speak, it’s nice to know some people are taking the time to listen.
  • Search hashtags relevant to your brand and like/comment on posts of others.
  • Use the ‘ask a question’ feature on Instagram stories. Create a story the day after, answering some of the questions.
  • Retweet relevant content your audience might like on Twitter.
  • Share content that is meaningful to your audiences; don’t always be self-serving.


They can smell it, inauthenticity. It stinks and most people using social today recognize it quickly and move on.

Authenticity also falls in line with engaging others and can lead to increased attention for your brand.

Authenticity is #winning in 2019 and will trend that way for the foreseeable future. Why? Because in a world of fake news, fake accounts, fake lives, chatbots, AI and more, people yearn for authenticity. Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock,” wins on Instagram not simply for his rugged good looks but because he talks to his fans and lets them peek behind the curtain, just a bit, which keeps fans super engaged.

ACTION ITEM: “You do you” is a good mantra for this tip. Being authentic means being yourself and making sure your brand is represented well on social, so when a customer walks through the door, they know exactly who they are doing business with and what experience they can expect from you. Here are a few things to try to be more authentic.

  • Share in-the-moment photos of your products, your store, your employees and even your customers using Facebook and Instagram stories. Tell your audience about everything that makes your brand special.
  • Instead of always talking to people through text posts, use video. Don’t be afraid to use video, live or pre-recorded, straight from your phone, to say hi, tell people about a promotion they should check out, explain a product or even tease a new Try video content on LinkedIn. The platform has the capability, but not many people leverage video there yet. You should.
  • Share user-generated content. If someone posts about your product, at your location or mentions you on their feed, tell people about it! Consumers trust other consumers who trust you.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, you must really be serious about making changes to how you’re leveraging social media this year, which is awesome! Each of the tips I covered are important, but they don’t all have to be done at the same time if that’s not possible for your business.

Before you make any moves to implement these strategies, empty the dishwasher, wash the car or do whatever it is that produces your best pondering, wondering, thinking cap. Consider your goals, audience, brand, core values and everything in between to help you decide what you’re going to tackle first and the strategy you’ll employ.

If you still have questions about any of the strategies covered in this article, I encourage you to start practicing good social media by reaching out to us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. We’re here to help!

Cari Ashkin

Like others, we were ready to pack up for the beach, fire up the grill and break out the frisbee for this Memorial Day weekend.

For most Americans, the holiday unofficially kicks off the summer season and the bliss that comes with it. But in that rush towards all things “fun in the sun,” we also intend to take a moment to remember the reason for the holiday.

Memorial Day – firstly known as Decoration Day – began in 1868 with Union veterans and the families of the honored dead paying their respects at cemeteries. Often confused with Veterans Day, Memorial Day is solely dedicated to those who died in the nation’s defense. It commemorates those who gave “the last full measure of devotion,” as President Lincoln eloquently described in the Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg cemetery in Pennsylvania.

For our clients at Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground, their Memorial Day ceremonies are held with an understanding of the long line of sacrifices that stretches throughout our nation’s history. Aberdeen Proving Ground’s memorial monument at Festival Park even includes a quote from Lincoln’s address in its dedication, stating:

“This monument stands as a tribute to the Department of Defense civilians, military service members and support contractors of Aberdeen Proving Ground and the former Edgewood Arsenal…we honor their lives and their contributions to our national defense. Each gave the last full measure of devotion while performing their duties.”

At Memorial Day ceremonies, it is tradition to take a moment of silence in remembrance of our fallen heroes – a tradition that began during World War II. At that time, newspaper columnist Ernie Pyle covered stories of life on the ground with the infantry, painting vivid pictures with his words. His most famous column chronicled the death of Captain Waskow and the heartbreak soldiers experienced when faced with the deaths of their comrades.

Pyle described how during a hard stretch of fighting in the Italian mountains, the Army hired Italian muleskinners to carry the bodies of fallen Americans down the mountainside to a collection point at the bottom where Pyle waited with other soldiers. Friends of the deceased took an opportunity during a break in the fighting to see their fallen comrades.

“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand [of Captain Waskow], and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.”

We cannot truly honor those soldiers, like Captain Waskow, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, because their actions honor them far beyond what we are capable. We can only pay our respects for what they gave to our nation.

We can and should enjoy our Memorial Day weekend, but we should also give pause to remember and thank those for their sacrifice. For that moment of silence speaks volumes.

Robyn Koenig

For many, the first step into your industry-of-choice starts with an internship. In preparation for this “real world” introduction, take the following steps to earn your graphic design internship.

  1. Research the company
  2. Be yourself
  3. Bring a portfolio
  4. Talk through your process
  5. Send a thank you note

After selecting companies you feel fit your creative spirit and career aspirations, pour your passion into crafting a perfect cover letter and resume, remain diligent about following up with prospective employers, answer every phone call and monitor email to ensure you don’t miss out on the opportunity for an interview. Then, after all the waiting — and let’s be honest, some stress — you receive the call offering an interview for the design internship of your dreams! So, what do you do now to prepare?

1. Research the company

Now that the interview is scheduled and placed on your calendar (hint, hint!), the first thing you should do is research the company, in detail, if you haven’t already. Read about how the company started, make note of the leadership, research their company culture, list of clients and portfolio of work. This initial step will help when the employer asks, and they will ask, “Why are you interested in a design internship with us?” You will demonstrate that you took the initiative to research and familiarize yourself with their company.

2. Be yourself


This one tops the list for any interview, but it’s true. Most people get a case of the nerves during any interview, so you are not alone if you feel anxious the day-of. Take a few deep breaths, try to stay relaxed and just be yourself. Employers want to see the real you. Not only do employers look to see if your skillsets are up to par, but they also take into consideration how you fit into their culture. Have personality during the interview and show the company why you’d be a great extension of their team.

3. Bring a portfolio

When interviewing for a graphic design internship, make sure you bring a professional and polished portfolio in digital and/or print versions. If you designed a website, bring an iPad or laptop with you to the interview so you can walk through the site — do not rely on the interviewer to supply the technology. If you designed a printed piece, bring a mock-up so you can talk through your design process from conception to implementation. An equally important second part to this step — take pride in your work. As you talk through your portfolio with the interviewer, speak with confidence about the things you created. Do not mention what you should have done or would have done. Talk about your pieces in a positive light and focus on things you did well in the execution, or how you solved the design problem.

4. Talk through your process

While your portfolio shows the interviewer the end-product of your creativity, it does not convey the story behind your creative genius. Start with explaining the project or assignment to show your understanding of the audience and design problem. Demonstrate your critical and design thinking by answering the following questions:

  • What challenges did the project present and how did you solve them?
  • Did you work within a budget or time constraints?
  • What was your strategic approach?

As you explain, take ownership of the project and the design decisions you made along the way. Describe your purposeful design choices that influenced your decisions and the strategy behind them. Please know, graphic design professionals do not want to hear you did something “because it was pretty.”

5. Send a thank you note

After you make it through the interview — and, you will definitely make it through — be sure to send a thank you note to the interviewers. This may seem like an outdated gesture, but a handwritten thank you note speaks volumes. Take the opportunity to thank them once again for their time and consideration and to express your interest in interning with their company. Not to mention, it will help you stay fresh in their minds as they make their decision.

Making the best impression during your interview requires preparation. While you’re there to try and land an internship, you could also be speaking with your future full-time employer. Take the necessary steps to impress before and after the interview, and always remember to be yourself.

Great news! We’re hiring a Graphic Design Intern for Summer 2019 so you can put these new skilled you just learned to use! For the details and to apply online, visit the careers section on our website. Be sure to submit your application by March 15.

Katie Bouloubassis

With 500 million tweets sent per day by approximately 100 million daily users, Twitter is the fourth largest social media platform behind Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

As new updates roll out on Twitter, it’s tough to adjust, learn and implement the new features quickly. As an ever-changing platform, Twitter requires constant monitoring due to the rapid timeline updates of current events.

With the Tweet Tips below, get ready to actively engage with your current and potential customers on Twitter!

Tweet Actions
Creating original content to post and quoting existing tweets of others allows you to easily engage with followers. The comment you add makes it easy for your followers to understand the reasoning behind the retweet and how it connects to you and your business. Quoting essentially makes the entire tweet yours, so the engagement and impressions garnered from the “new” tweet reflects positively on your account.
What to Tweet
Your followers clicked the follow button for a reason. For the most part, you should tweet about your brand experience. As a business, you’re recognized by audiences for a product or service and they want to hear about it. A key component of any social platform, but especially Twitter, is engaging with others. Take time to find conversations around your industry’s topics and engage others in those conversations with a comment or a quote retweet. While your tweets should relate to your business, don’t shy away from engaging in other conversations that do not relate directly. Any comment added continues a larger conversation, and broadens your follower base.
Post a Poll
Utilize Twitter’s poll feature to expand engagement in a fun and creative way. Propose an open-ended question to your followers on a topic of your choice with up to four answers. A. Bright Idea’s campus recently received a makeover, sparking our own version of the poll-gone-viral, blue vs. gold dress debate. After several disagreements on the new color of one of our buildings, we took to Twitter to let our followers decide — blue or gray. Select how long your poll stays open, whether you want immediate results after 24 hours or a week to collect as many votes as possible.

Trends and Hashtags
Twitter has a daily list of trending topics and hashtags. The trends change multiple times a day, so when you see one that applies to you or your company, use it immediately. Using hashtags allows your content to become easily discoverable and essentially increase your chances of higher engagement and impressions, as well as gaining followers. Twitter bases trends of location, making it easy to select the best option for incorporating into your tweets. You can change the settings to see surrounding cities’ trends or country and world-wide trends. Crafting tweets to include additional hashtags can expand its discoverability, but Twitter recommends keeping it limited to no more than two hashtags per tweet.
Tagging
Tagging people and businesses in your tweets is, in essence, a way to talk to specific people or businesses directly on Twitter. With overly cluttered news feeds, if you have something to say to someone, tagging is the way to go. Additionally, tagging expands the reach of the post, garnering more impressions and in some cases, overall engagement. Giving shout-outs to other businesses through tagging can spark conversation or result in retweets, likes or follows.
Moments and Lists
Personalize your Twitter with Moments — curated stories about what’s happening, powered by tweets. Moments have a variety of topics, such as: Today, News, Sports, Entertainment and Fun. Moments can showcase your company culture, events and announcements for the public. When creating Moments, we recommend you use a mixture of videos, photos, gifs and full-text tweets to keep your followers engaged.Lists serve as a great tool when you want to narrow down your search on a specific topic. As a curated group of Twitter accounts, Lists include accounts that tweet about similar topics in one central location. Lists essentially become a separate timeline of its own, streaming tweets surrounding the designated topic. Create your own Lists or subscribe to those created by other Twitter users to engage in conversations related to your business.
280 Characters
In September 2017, Twitter introduced the roll-out of the new 280-character count to select accounts before officially granting all members usage in November. As advocates for perfect grammar and correct spelling, we enjoy the 280-character limit. Now, you don’t need abbreviations and number substitutions for words to save space. Don’t sacrifice your content’s value for the sake of condensing a tweet — take advantage of this gift and use the extra 140 characters as needed. While some users became outraged over this update, others used the extra space for fun, like Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres.

Remember, Twitter is a great tool for you and your business when used appropriately. Have fun and try out all of the features of the platform. Let us know if you plan to use Twitter more in 2018 or ask us any questions about the features mentioned by tweeting us @aBrightIdea96.

Shawn Nesaw

Keeping up with all the updates to each social media platform is a daunting task. With no set schedule for updates, some channels have multiple updates in one month and zero updates in another. Similarly, some channels have numerous new additions in one update, while others don’t.

With social media constantly evolving, it’s imperative for social media pros to stay up to date with the latest from each platform so they can stay ahead of the curve and use new features to address communication goals as soon as possible. Let’s get right into it – here is the June social media update round-up.

Facebook 

June saw a big improvement to Facebook Live video with the implementation of closed captioning. This update provides more access to Facebook Live video for people with hearing impairments. For this feature to work, turn on captioning settings and the captions will automatically appear in your live video.

Safety Check was updated with four new features:

    • Fundraising
    • Expanding community help
    • Sharing a personal note when completing a safety check-in is completed
    • Introducing crisis descriptions

Facebook Messenger’s video chat in feature also received an update to now include animated reactions, filters, masks, effects and the ability to take screenshots of your video chat.

 

Instagram 

We all grow and change and so do our Instagram feeds. The new Archive feature, introduced in June, allows users to move photos previously shared on your feed into Archive where only you can see them.

If you change your mind, select “show on profile ” and the image will reappear in its original spot. Just click the circle arrow in the top right corner of the app to start archiving.

Also rolled out in June, after you go live on Instagram,  you are prompted to share a replay on your Instagram Story to let more people catch up on what they missed.

 

Twitter

In June, Twitter rolled out new features for businesses allowing them to add buttons to drive actions in Direct Messages (DM).

Probably the biggest change in June across all platforms was the Twitter facelift. This generous and well-deserved update to the Twitter user interface (UI) this month showed users that Twitter is still a viable social media player and that it listens to its users. Without getting too technical, here are the new changes to Twitter.

Click to watch
  • Slide right to access your profile, additional accounts, settings and more.
  • Refined the typography throughout the app so headlines are bolder and distinct from the rest of the text in your feed.
  • Round profile pics
  • The icons and the reply button changed from an arrow to a speech bubble and all the icons were slimmed down.

 

Snapchat

Snapchat unveiled Snap Map, which allows users to see what people are up to around the world by using the new maps feature. Pinch on the screen to zoom out and view the map. This feature allows you to also select your location settings so you can decide who can see your location while you are on the app.

Additionally, Snapchat introduced the ability to design custom Geofilters right in the app for any special occasion – birthdays, anniversary parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. Until now, this ability was reserved for desktop and designers. To get started, tap “On-Demand Geofilters” in Settings. Pricing for Geofilters starts at $5.99 in the app.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn received a few updates at once to improve the mobile experience. Now, you can see your connection history. Use this new feature to add some personal detail when you reach out.

Another new feature, Search Appearances, allows you to see how many people found you in search and the companies and job titles of the people searching for you.

Three other minor changes to the platform include:

  • Implementation of a new drag and drop feature allowing you to easily reorganize volunteer and education sections of your profile
  • Ability to add an image to any comment across the LinkedIn platform, when words just won’t do
  • Provide quick reply messages for when you want to reply, but don’t have the time

If you do not see these updates on your phone, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and update the apps to receive the latest features and check back next month for another roundup of social media updates.

Shawn Nesaw

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to consume copious amounts of chocolate and whether you’re celebrating with your gals, pals or significant other, it’s also a great time to appreciate some heart-felt tunes. We polled our team and present for your listening pleasure our mostly-mushy — we’ve got a few rebels in there — Valentine’s Day playlist.

Valentine's Day Playlist

Check out our playlist on Spotify!

Katie Bouloubassis

We developed our own list of major social media trends we think are really going to take off this year. Since some of the items on our list were relatively mainstream last year, we’ll explain each tool and give our insight on how you and/or your business can utilize these this year, either on your social media accounts or website.

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the emergence of social media. Since its humble and somewhat intangible beginnings, social media has become the way to engage audiences in a discussion surrounding campaigns and increasing brand awareness for businesses and products. Consumers also seek reviews from family and friends about products and services through social media before making decisions to buy. The content users post on their social media channels evolves as quickly as the tools used to capture the content.

At A. Bright Idea, we continuously research the latest applications, tools and techniques. Here are the top four social media trends we’re excited about and look forward to implementing this year:

Boomerang: One of the hottest features we’ve seen in the past six months is Boomerang. This Instagram-exclusive feature loops a series of photographs together to create movement, making them visually similar to a GIF. Users can film Boomerangs within the Instagram app, adding it to their “story” or through the stand-alone Boomerang app. As video continues to rise in popularity throughout social media, Boomerang adds another level of engagement, furthering the wide use of video features to every day users. If you’re on Instagram, you should try Boomerang. We recommend using it once per story and very infrequently in your actual Instagram feed. Boomerangs are compatible on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram.

When you win new business!

Live Video: Live video serves a purpose for broadcasting information or entertainment. It gives audiences a direct connection with the broadcaster in real-time for a true-to-life experience. Facebook, Instagram and Periscope are the most popular applications offering this service. Live video thrives due to its unedited, unrehearsed and in-the-moment content. The uses of live video are many and worth a try. If you’re looking to boost engagement on Facebook, we recommend using Facebook Live to get a nice bump in engagement. Facebook algorithms play favorites with their in-app tools, allowing your live video content to reach more people than a normal photo or video. We recently wrote a blog to serve as the beginners guide to using Periscope for live video. You can use the tips in that article for any live video application.

360 Video and Photographs:
Panoramic video and photographs give a 360-degree view from where the user stands. Images and video captured leaves a lasting impression from the stunning views or perspectives of the photographer. For social media, posting 360 images provides the audience with an interesting perspective. The post becomes more engaging, enticing audiences to interact with the photo to see the entire image. Currently, Facebook allows users to post their panoramic or 360 photographs directly to their account. YouTube supports 360 video. We anticipate an uptick in 360 video use with event centers and venues trying to showcase their amazing spaces to potential audiences. 360 video improves leaps and bounds on the Y2K era “virtual tour” with the use of Virtual Reality viewing devices and interactive features within the video.
Click the photo to enter the full interactive experience on Facebook (view on your phone for the best results)

Drones: Another popular piece of technology that we think is going to make waves on social media is drones. Drones are radio-controlled aircrafts used in many practical functions. The aircrafts vary in size, shape, type and capability. First introduced in military surveillance applications, todays off-the-shelf drones are primarily used by professional and novice photographers and hobbyists alike. In order to operate a drone, you must first register the craft with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Guidelines for flight are listed on their website under “Fly for Fun.” Drones squeezed their way into the mainstream in 2016, mostly on YouTube but now Target and Best Buy sell drones so we’re anticipating seeing more wondrous drone video and photography on Facebook and Instagram this year.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s our drone “Buzz”.

As with everything in life, “everything in moderation.” The same is true for social media. The trends above balance accounts and create diversity of posts while adding personality and fun to a feed. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Use the trending social media services sparingly. A feed of nothing but Boomerangs and drone shots might get engagement in the beginning but will become unexciting to audiences over time.

Let us know the top social media trends you engage with on a daily basis by commenting below.

Lisa Condon

The new year brings with it a rebirth of colors that add to the hope of warmer times ahead. And if the Pantone Color Institute has anything to say about it, four leaf clovers, leprechauns and spring foliage are in luck after its latest announcement.

Every year, Pantone announces a color or colors of the year. For 2017, Pantone selected “greenery” as Color of the Year (or for my fellow graphic designers out there, Pantone 15-0343). The shade of choice is “a fresh and zesty yellow-green.”

Pantone is internationally respected by the print and design industry as the authority for its “products, services and leading technology for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity.” When Pantone speaks, designers and communicators listen.

With over 1,800 colors in its database, color selection and usage of Pantone’s designs can seem overwhelming at times. The selection of appropriate colors for our designs helps us tell client’s stories through our visual expertise.

I recently had a conversation with my colleague Brian Lobsinger, our director of visual communications, West Coast operations, about using greenery to cut through the visual clutter.

Our advice is identifying complementary shades for the color of choice. These can take the most ordinary creations and give them a jolt of vibrancy and character. For greenery, color complements include:

– Neutrals
– Brights
– Deeper shades
– Pastels
– Metallics

Most notably, these are found in red, brown and gray hues.

Green happens to be my favorite color, and I find it a refreshing tone. Using complementary colors is a great way to produce dynamic, inspirational visuals that grab the attention of the audience and produce stunning results.

Tell us how you plan to incorporate Pantone’s Color of the Year – greenery – into your life by commenting below.