Graphic Design and Website Design for Successful Business in Christchurch!

We want to help small to medium sized businesses open their doors to compete with corporate identities. We have both the technology and the design skills, coupled with our positive and friendly team attitude, to work with you in successfully marketing your products and services in the great ocean of opportunity that is - the internet.

We are Graphic Designers, Website Developers, Print Specialists. Some of us are practically technical geniuses! - and can create iPhone Applications and iPad Applications to give you the edge to stay ahead of modern trends. Why limit your business and your potential points of contact to just a business card?

Yes, the business card is still an essential tool which we believe will never be outdated, but it’s still only a prompt, a teaser, a handy little must-have item to encourage your potential clients and current contacts to dig a little deeper. Beyond the business card is your online presence - and if you’re not there, if you’re not instantly accessible, that will be it for some people. They will find someone who is.

We’re impatient people us modern folk, and businesses today must cater to that need and step up to accommodate modern clientele and their modern expectations. You must be instantly accessible, offer clear concise information about what you do, what you offer, when you are open and what hours you are open, and how to contact you - both through email and direct contact if needed.

A website allows your business to be accessible 24/7 - removing the usual limitations of traditional business. Yes, you certainly may not answer your phone in the small hours, but your website will be dutifully working for you - offering information, showing the quality of your products and services and promoting, promoting, promoting.

Give us a call - peruse the rest of our website! Our doors are open and we are here to open your doors to the world - through website design and website development, graphic design, logo design, branding, printing, social media (including creating a facebook or other social media presence), and we even offer secure and fast website hosting.

We are all that you need to promote yourself and all that you could want to make the experience an enjoyable one. Contact us today to discuss your many options and let us help you put out the welcome mat.

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Posted in Branding

Graphic Design Business Cards

So you’ve decided to design your own business cards. This happens for many reasons - you may be a student wanting to cut costs, you may have an existing design that you can update and get printed without needing a professional designer, or you may be a designer yourself, merely requiring the digital or offset print services that we supply. If you have your own design then we are more then happy just to help you through the next process of deciding which direction to go with printing your business cards - or letterheads, compliments slips, brochures, envelopes and more, and we can arrange your printing for you. We will take your design file, run it through our pre-press checks, add it to a ganged-print offset run or slip it into the que for smooth digital printing and deliver to you a printed product you can be proud of.

So if you are a budding graphic designer, a computer-savvy business-person or just a somebody doing it themselves in the true kiwi way - here are some tips and advice on designing your own business card including layout design, file setup and print-ready exporting; enjoy.

Standard business card size has always been 90 x 55 millimetres. A new size that has become print standard is 86 x 55 millimetres. This new size allows cards to fit better into wallets, so it’s very popular - but either size will do. I should say here that if you have your own printer you would be best to ask them the setup and specifications they require for a print file. Every printer can be a little bit different, and some may charge to change your file to their specs, and charge you without letting you know you could have prevented this fee by changing the file yourself - or asking beforehand, as I recommend. Here I will list the standard requirements that any non-trained designer should be able to do. Nothing fancy, just simple file setup.

Before you start getting all creative, set your page up to the right size. Make your page size the size of the business card plus the bleed that is needed around the outside edge of the file. If you want your business card to have a white background, it is still recommended to do this. So for a 90 x 55mm card, make your page size 93 x 58mm. This adds just 1.5 millimetres of bleed onto each edge of the card, but printers need this extra so when they trim they are trimming within the margin of your card design - there is no way they could trim your cards neatly if they had to trim exactly on the edge of your card! You would either loose to much of your design, or you would see white edges where the design finishes - not good either way. If you would like an 86 x 55mm card, make your page size 89 x 58mm.

Next I would suggest making a box that is the ‘trim size’ of your card - 90 x 55mm or 86 x 55mm, and placing this onto your page in the centre. Then you can see exactly where the edges of your business card will be. If the box will be in the way - use the guides on the page to mark where this size is, then delete the box. The important thing with knowing the trim size of your business card - or any design for print - is that you do not place any text too close to the edge. “Keep all text 3mm in from the trim edge” is a good rule to go by. The same applies for graphics - but in many cases you may want the picture to bleed off the edge of your card, so in that case you would ensure your picture is stretched right to the edge of your page and into that bleed area.

After all that you’re ready to go - but the basic principals of setting a page up correctly before you start is a sound one and could save you many, many hassles later on - and even save you money from the print companies who may wish to charge you to fix a file with or without notifying your first.

Design, design, design! There are many sources of inspiration online should you wish to go searching, or if you have your own company logo or brand colours or design - use those. Ensure any logos you use are good enough quality for print - files from the net or pictures taken from websites and online will often not be good enough for print - this is because screen resolution (the quality of an image to view online - 72dpi) is so much less than print resolution (min. 300 dpi), that web images for print rarely work. If you’re not sure don’t worry - we check all our files before proceeding to print.

Once you have a design you’re happy with and have ensured nothing is too close to the edge to be cut-off, then you’re about ready to export the file or save the file for print. Save your current file! I hope it was saved at the beginning but if not - save now! Next step; Convert your fonts. IF, and that’s a big if - the software you’re using has this ability - then select “convert fonts to paths” or it could be “convert fonts to outlines” - which is the same thing. This is usually found in a drop-down menu. Basically this converts all your fonts into graphic ‘bits’ or images. They are no longer fonts, and this means they cannot be edited like fonts anymore so don’t save over your original file!!!! If you wish to save this file, add ‘ctp’ (converted to paths) onto the end of your file name, or simply write ‘paths’ in the file name. We convert our fonts because each computer has different fonts, some the same, sure, but if the printer’s computer doesn’t have a specific fancy font you’ve used, it may by default convert your font to a standard font with none the wiser until you receive your printed business card and realise that’s not what you wanted! Argh! Terribly disapointing so let’s avoid that.

I am aware at this point that some home publishing software may not have this convert fonts option - let your printer know if this is the case. Even better - if you can include a screen capture or print-out of what your file should look like then you will know you’ve done everything you can to get the print design you want and are expecting.

Export or save (depending on your software options) your file as a PDF. This is standard print file type. Try to avoid JPEG or JPG file types - this file type compresses the file, lowering the quality. PDF is best, and this advice is simply from my own 10 years experience in the industry. Open your file to check it - PDF’s open in Adobe Acrobat (a great program to have handy!), and you can check that the file size that exported includes the bleed, as it should have. Your business card file should be 93 x 58mm or 89 x 58mm.

Send the file to us - or to an experienced professional print broker of your choice - and best of luck!

In future blogs I will go into some related topics for designing your own, such as; whether or not to use Pantone Colours, CMYK colours or RGB colours, and explaining Vector and Bitmap file types and Digital vs Offset printing. Meanwhile if you have any questions or things you want me to write about for your information, please feel free to drop us an email.

If this is all a bit much we would love to design something wonderful and creative that suits your own business and marketing needs - get in touch and we will arrange a meeting to discuss your ideas and flood you with our own. Likewise if you need a website or a website update, website hosting, iPhone applications or iPad apps, or any other digital or offset printing, die-cutting, custom printing or marketing products, talk to us we can help. Graphic design is what we do!

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Posted in Branding

Graphic Design businesses in New Zealand

If there was ever a time that we, as Kiwi’s, feel a pride in our country, in our lifestyle and our people, it is now. So right now, use that feeling; that force of pride, to re-orient your business toward success.

There has never been a better time than now.

At Activate Design we have revelled in the sucess that New Zealand has seen, witnessed the struggles and the sheer amount of work that has been put in through so many arenas ; both sporting and marketing, image and organisation, management and creativity - these things that have had to come to a new level of quality to show New Zealand is the beautiful country we know it to be - for those many, many visitors that have come to see where we are lucky enough to live. And it’s been through this marketing of our country that many of us have come to realise how amazing we are, how awesome are the things we have to offer - places to go, people to meet - and that it is simply through time and effort that we can PUT THE POLISH ON WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE CAN DO and present ourselves to the world in the same light.

We want to continue this snowball of enthusiasm. We passionately want to use that feeling that the World Cup has instilled in each of us as we have brought that home into our own business, and through us into your own companies - and we know we need to do this now. So here is the call for action - come to see us now, today, this week, make contact, take those first steps to grabbing some of the abundance of New Zealand pride and let us inject it into your own marketing and business image while the feeling is fresh. While the world is watching.

We are graphic designers, marketing experts, logo designers and website developers. We have the motivation and we have the skill to grab this opportunity that New Zealanders have been given and pass it on to you. We want to make your business shine the way our team has shone. We know that New Zealand has world class service providers and best of the best products and services to offer but we need to shine the light and tell the world, tell those who visit our country - and there will be a lot more coming to see our beautiful country now!

What we have done through hosting the World Cup is effectively market our country to any and all potential visitors, and this is exactly what you need to do with your business. You need to shine the light on what you do - is your website up to scratch? Do you have one? Does it rise to the challenge that we have risen to as a country and show the quality of what you do? Is your brand recognisable? Is it sharp and clean and representitive of your business identity?

We want to see New Zealand businesses grabbing the marketing ball and running with it - right down to the small stuff. NOW is the time to come and see us to re-brand or smarten up that existing brand, to get that website up and running with style and flair, to get that range of print stationary to show your brand and identity in a classy way - not a mis-match of styles and colours. We can both design and arrange the printing of your business needs from business cards to letterheads, printed pens, pads, compliments slips, bookmarks, christmas cards, invitations, promotional posters and flyers, brochures, all these print tools we can use to advertise and reinforce your brand so we can ensure you offer the same level of quality to your customers, and inspire other businesses to rise to the same level. Our skills extend into social media, websites, web hosting, iPhone applications and iPad applications and we welcome your queries and interest in this area to see how these modern marketing tools can be used to your benefit.

hope you can sense the passion that we have, here at Activate Design, to bring some success to our fellow Kiwis. We hope you see the sense of urgency that comes from this unique opportunity, to springboard from this recently gained success and recognition and ensure that YOU are seen, that YOU benefit from standing up with a polished brand and identity in what you do - standing shoulder to shoulder with the successful, proud, business people of New Zealand.

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Posted in Branding

Upgrade Your Logo Design

So it's probably time you upgraded your old logo. Right?

When logos are not designed with both the web and print media in mind, it can cause you a whole lot of issues with colour / resolution / print reproduction and digital reproduction - all kinds of headaches we know how to work around - or better yet - create a NEW brand with these issues in mind. At Activate Design we have the advantage of being in both the online media and print industry, to work with the boundaries of any media.

Let’s face it - your logo is under a whole lot more pressure these days. It needs to be able to be reproduced on such a variety of different media. It needs to work on your business card - there’s a start. But will you go Offset or Digital with your printing? Or both?! Spot colours work with Offset printing, where if you must have that exact shade of Agent 99 Red - then you’re going to get it. Digital can be hit and miss, but it can also be a cheaper way to go with some printing. Understanding the colour breakdown of what you want to accomplish can take us a looooong way to helping you choose the right colour.

How many colours? If you were producing full colour print for every advert then go all out, but if you’re small, you may want to think about costs of colour say, for printing onto bags, balloons or usb drives. Products where your logo must be small, simple, and easy to read even in on something as small and simple as a pen.

Websites, Social media sites - your logo has to have punch. It needs to be recognised in the 3 seconds it takes most people to skim over a page online. If it’s particularly interesting, you may get people stopping to check it out - fantastic! It’s got to show the theme or style of your business, it’s gotta shout out that you’re the last stop for that product or service that’s needed, tease them a little, and lead them to your own website. You don’t have a website?! See us urgently for web development to coincide with your company rebranding!! We can even host your website and organise your printing right here at Activate Design in Christchurch!

Have you thought how your logo would appear on an iPhone or iPad application? Is it straightforward enough not to lose it’s impact on a small hand-held device? It needs to be. Who knows where it may end up... Some of here at Activate practically live in cyber-space and there’s a lot of new stuff going on - a lot of new platforms for you to springboard a new improved company brand - including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube, etc. etc.

Rebranding is a way to ensure your logo and identity keep up with todays print and media trends. Let us professionals give your business a new logo from which to spring forth. It is spring, after all. Challenge us to get Activated! on your project and generate new interest and new beginnings, for your company.

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Why do you need a website for your business?

This is a good question that opens up a multitude of reasons why a business without a website, in these times, is at a distinct disadvantage. Don’t be left behind in today’s thriving online business and social media applications - contact us at Activate Design where we make website development for your company, group or just yourself, an enjoyable and smoothly efficient process. You may even find some new enthusiasm for what you do simply by opening your world to us so we can show your talent to the world.

Traditionally, products and services have only been accessible between normal business hours, usually 9 -5. As you now know, business has expanded it’s hours to being accessible anytime, all the time. This is simply what we, as consumers, expect! Instant accessibility, clear readily available information and where possible, products and services that can either be purchased in the instant we desire them, or arranged to be utilised at a time that suits us. Anything less than that and we know we can find what we want elsewhere. This is the new standard that businesses need to rise too to be competitive, and it takes a lot of combined skill, efficiency and passion for what we do, to be the people that lift businesses to this level. And we can. It is why we have been here for so long, and why we will continue to be here.

As well as instant accessibility, your website will give potential clients an opportunity to find you that they otherwise might not. Personal visits to your company location require time and effort that only those who know where you are, or happen to be in the area you are in, are likely to visit you. For everyone else - and this may include those throughout the world - finding the product and services that you offer will be something they find online. So then, there is a whole pool of potential customers that those who do not have a website, are missing out on. And the quantity of those who will come across your website will be far, far greater than those who stroll past your shop.

Other advertising means will never amount to the same accessibility as having your own site. An advert in a magazine will only appear for so long, as with a newspaper advert or a TV commercial. These things are finite. A website will be there as long as you want it to be, which should be as long as you are in business. It is of great benefit to keep your website updated, but as long as you have an online presence - you have as good as a sales team working for you 24/7.

A final advantage I will mention here would be on-going sales. A customer visits your store, they like what they see but they leave without making a purchase. At any point in the future should they then wish to make a purchase, find out more information, or contact you for any queries - they have instant access through your website. If they had to come all the way back to your store to do so - would they? Or would they find a similar company online and take their business elsewhere. Can you take that chance? We don’t think you should have to. We offer a professional website design and hosting service to ensure you cover all your bases, presenting your business as a wider scope through which customers can view you.

Give our friendly team a call today to make a start.

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Posted in Branding