The “how” of designing an effective survey

Survey know-how series, part one of four:
Shape your survey questions to get the most valuable information.

In a world full of emails, advertisements and direct mail, adding surveys to your communication mix can be an effective way to let your subscribers know that you're listening as well as talking. The simple act of asking people what they think, want and know can open up a dialogue that will allow you to glean valuable information and also let your subscribers feel heard and valued.

Like email, however, a successful survey needs some careful planning and execution. In this first post of our new survey know-how series, we're covering the "how." That is …

"How the heck can I write solid questions and answers that will result in a positive survey experience for my audience and valuable insight for me?"

  • Think about the layout of your questions. Start with a few non-threatening questions, such as the person's experience with the subject or some non-specific demographic information, such as state of residence or an age range. You probably only have about 20 – 30 questions worth of attention span, so think about what questions are going to get you the most valuable answers. In most cases, asking up to 50 questions, such as Emma now lets you do, is best used for particularly devoted respondents or for a more in-depth look at an issue. In these situations, it's helpful to clearly explain the purpose and benefits of the survey to your audience so that they're more likely to stay engaged.
  • Ask one question at a time, to avoid frustrating or confusing your respondents. For example, if you allow Yes/No as answers for the question "Should we spend less money on A and put that money toward B," you may lose the attention of those who agree that A is getting too much funding but don't agree that B deserves it.
  • Write answers that are both exhaustive and mutually exclusive. To do that, make sure that all possible answers are available, but that none of them overlap. Add an "other" option if necessary to achieve exhaustiveness. So for example, if you're asking for age ranges, the following answer choices are difficult for both 19-year-olds and 30-year-olds: A) 20-30 B) 30-50 C) 51 and above. (Sure, that example seems obvious, but we've all taken surveys and been faced with similarly impossible-to-answer options.)
  • Lastly, use neutral language to avoid bias. Write your questions so that the respondent wouldn't be able to guess your opinion or preference. Steer clear of leading questions or particularly positive or negative language. For example, "What is your favorite Emma summer feature enhancement?" would work better than, "Isn't is awesome that you can now add up to 50 survey questions?"

Taking the time to order your questions thoughtfully and frame your questions effectively creates a survey that can give you just the kind of information you're hoping to learn about your audience. And this knowledge can be a valuable tool in your organization's decision-making.

Once you couple that survey with a "Thanks for taking our survey" automatically triggered email, you're well on your way to having customers who feel pleased and appreciated.

Next in the survey know-how series, we'll explore the "why" of customer experience follow-up surveys.

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

5 pointers for visually effective email campaigns

Two Emma customers that use images effectively in their email campaigns: Hooprama and Goddess of the Hunt.

Wondering how to improve your next effort? Creating an email campaign can seem daunting sometimes, so keep these tips in mind for your next big send.

1. Don't be shy – use images.

There's nothing less inviting in your inbox than opening an email only to see text, text and … oh, yeah, more text. Although your information is no doubt interesting, your readers' time and attention spans are limited. So make your campaign fun!

Pictures are eye-catching little gems that make your content feel more readable and personalized. Thanking your audience for their support? Show a picture of your appreciative staff to put a face on your gratitude. Advertising an upcoming event? Sprinkle in some pics from last year's shindig so potential attendees know what to anticipate. We can be vain creatures, we humans, and if there happens to be a photo of moi in your write-up of last week's mixer, well, you can bet I'll not only feel special, but I'll also share it with my friends and open your next email with gusto.

Of course, if your readers' email programs have images turned off, they may not see your photos at first, so make sure your campaign is still visually appealing by formatting the text in creative ways. Which brings us to…

2. Break up your content.
Yeah, yeah, breaking up can be hard to do (we know), but it's vital in your email campaigns.

  • Consolidate content into lists. Great for skimming!
  • Highlight different sections using Emma's table tool to insert background colors.
  • Make use of layouts that space your content in unexpected ways. Think outside of the basic letter structure.
  • Experiment with the horizontal rule tool to put a thin border between articles.

Visually let your readers know that even with their busy schedules, your email is quick and easy to read.

3. Keep it a little consistent.
Every Monday, I get a newsletter from Oprah. I admit it. (It's a good read, OK?) And every Monday at work, I cringe at the thought of someone catching me read it. But what keeps me hooked is that whenever I open it, I know exactly where to direct my eyes for a hasty once-over. Before I know it, my "I-don't-want-anyone-to-see-me-reading-this-touchy-feely-email" attitude gives way to intrigue as I start clicking the links that appeal to me. On top of that, the email stays consistent within itself, using only a couple fonts (in reasonable sizes) and sticking to a uniform, easy-to-read color scheme.

If you build a campaign that is somewhat predictable in terms of timing, content and placement, with a little restraint shown in your font and color choices, your readers will know when and where to find their favorite pieces.

Of course, for every rule, there is an exception…

4. Now spice it up.
You have to know the rules before you can break them, so once you've figured out a general framework for your campaigns so that readers know what to expect, find a way to still keep it fresh. Disrupt the norm occasionally with a new banner graphic that calls attention to a big event or sale you're advertising. Keep readers guessing a little, so they never feel like they've read it all before. If you have a column on basket weaving every week, but this week you have nothing to share on the topic, don't fill the space just to stay consistent. Put something new in its place or try a simplified mailing with less content this time.

Which raises another issue, really…

5. Keep an eye on that length.
Mark Twain once said, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." Long-winded email campaigns, my friends, won't always endear you to your audience. Although it may seem slightly counterintuitive, creating long messages is an easy (and quick) mistake to make.

And it's understandable — after all, you're an amazing organization doing great things, and you want to share it all. The truth is that it's harder to spend time figuring out what's most important to your readers. The key is to take the time to do just that. When your email campaign is too long, readers are less likely to read your content. Such a paradox!

So here's the secret: Don't give it away all at once. You want to direct readers to your website, right? Well then, leave a little to the imagination and make them want more. Give only a headline or a brief teaser to an article so they can easily scan for topics that pique their curiosity. Then direct your readers to the full story with a "see more" or "continue reading" link, which will take them straight to your website. Right where you want 'em.

And now, with your images, easy-to-read chunks and manageable length, your readers won't feel over-or-under- whelmed with the "body language" of your email. Prepare to be heard (and seen).

Subject line remix

Five effective subject lines that defy conventional wisdom.

If you've ever seen tips for writing an effective subject line or maybe even attended a conference about email marketing best practices, you've probably been advised to abide by a certain set of tried-and-true principles.

First, the experts often say, include your company or brand name so that the mailing becomes instantly trusted and recognizable. Next, keep it short to make the most of the fixed space for subject lines in most email clients and webmail applications. And lastly, use the subject line to highlight the most important part of your campaign message and get your readers to click.

These are great guidelines and are always a helpful place to start. But it's worth going your own route sometimes, too. I've recently noticed five subject lines in my inbox that have seemingly ignored or temporarily kicked conventional wisdom to the curb, yet still grabbed my attention.

Subject line #1
He Is Both Father and Mother

  • The mailing content: A Father's Day story from a non-profit celebrating a father who played both roles to his family after his wife passed away.
  • Why it stood out to me: Curious, quirky and open-ended phrasing.

Subject line #2
Pods, Prefabs, Parking, Planting, and Paralyzing the Press

  • The mailing content: An assortment of environmental stories.
  • Why it stood out to me: Effective use of alliteration.

Subject line #3
School Lunch: Would You Eat That?

  • The mailing content: A story of a teacher eating the same lunch as her students every day.
  • Why it stood out to me: A hot topic in the news, followed by a question that instantly engaged me.

Subject line #4
Do You See God in Your Coffee?

  • The mailing content: A report on searching for the perfect cup of coffee at local coffee shops.
  • Why it stood out to me: Again, an engaging question (and one that brings back fond memories of late-night, college-dorm-style philosophical discussions).

Subject line #5
Abe Lincoln slaughtered vampires!

  • The mailing content: A review of a newly released novel.
  • Why it stood out to me: Pop culture references paired with American history … now that's a winning combination. Even if you don't have a vampire novel to promote, you can sneak in a reference now and then that's on everyone's minds. (FYI: Millard Fillmore was totally on Team Jacob).

All these creative examples take a unique angle – looking for a relevant but unexpected way to present your mailing can yield strong results and bring new life to your newsletters and other campaigns.

So when is the appropriate time to mix it up a bit and try your hand at something outside the norm?

  • If you're in a rut and you've been following the same formula for writing subject lines for the last year, it's prime time to mix it up.
  • If you've found success in the past with a certain style but your response numbers are beginning to trend in the wrong direction, even previously successful subject lines are worth revisiting.
  • If you find yourself about to announce a new service or product, that's also a great opportunity to try something new.

Feel free to weigh in below with recent subject lines that grabbed your attention … I look forward to your feedback.

Creating effective welcome triggers

How three customers crafted stylish and effective automated welcome emails.

Creating a trigger
Setting up a trigger is simple.

You're probably familiar with the trigger email feature, which allows you to queue up emails that send automatically whenever a specific event occurs, instead of sending manually to a group all at once. This is such a handy tool to have at your fingertips that we wanted to spotlight a few ways to make the most of it.

Emma allows you to set up four styles of triggers: when someone signs up to receive your emails, when someone has a birthday or other date-related event, when someone clicks a link in a campaign or when someone completes a survey.

That first type, sending an automatic welcome email when someone signs up for your mailing list, can especially make a difference in how engaged you are with your audience.

A welcome trigger is one of the best and simplest ways to make contact with new subscribers. After all, they've just signed up and you're fresh on their minds, so you know they're interested in what you have to say. However you craft your welcome email, don't think of it as just an auto-sender. It's your opportunity to connect with your audience, capture their interest and set their expectations.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my welcome email enticing? Check that your subject line is branded and specific, and consider including a coupon or special offer in the email.
  • Does the tone of my welcome email convey my brand's personality? (Nothing is duller than a welcome email that looks as if it's been written by a robot.)
  • Have I set expectations for what my subscribers will receive going forward?

So let's take a look at a few examples.

Chinet Welcome Email
Chinet's welcome trigger offers a coupon.

1. Chinet, manufacturer of household products, created their welcome trigger at the end of May, and it's experiencing some of the highest response rates we've seen across all industries: a 78% open rate and a whopping 93% click-through rate to their $1-off coupon. Which goes to show that there's no need for extravagances — a moderate coupon can be wildly successful among interested subscribers.

Gussy Welcome Email
Gussy's welcome trigger takes a colorful approach.

2. Maggie Whitley's welcome email is bold and colorful, conveying a playfulness that matches her website and brand. She's the owner of Gussy, an online shop of ruffled totes, headbands, baby blankets and more, and she lets her fans know from the get-go that she'll personally communicate with her subscribers, as well as send out audience-wide campaigns. Her email marketing is all about creating relationships. The welcome email offers 15% off any online purchase, and it's seeing a 79% open rate and 21% click-through rate.

A welcome trigger with perks.

3. The European American Bakery Cafe offers a $5-off coupon in their welcome email and sets expectations about what subscribers will receive, including exclusive online offers, a first look at new menu items, invitations to upcoming events and shop updates. These are perks shared exclusively by new people in the bakery's club, and their welcome email is seeing a 74% open rate and 29% click-through rate.

*****

So is it time to develop or revise your organization's welcome strategy? A welcome trigger that's immediate and engaging sets the tone for future communication and paves the way for a lasting relationship with your subscribers.

For more about how to use Emma's welcome triggers, visit our help section.

Where in the World is Emma in 2010? July Edition

Jonathan Gesinger & Taylor Schena presenting at HOW in Denver, June 2010.

We were all about representing in Denver & Portland last month, but we didn't really have much going on in our other Emma city, Austin, TX. We're making up for lost time now, attending two events there in July.

You all hear from me each month about these events, so — as much as you love that, I know – wouldn't it be cool to hear from the Emma peeps who will be attending this time around? (I hope you said yes.)

MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World 2010

July 7 :: The comfort of your own computer

"We've participated in virtual conferences before, but we love the idea of this one being exclusively about email marketing and social media integration. There's so much great content out there, and for this event, it's free!"
- Rami Perry, Emma Small Business Manager


Technology Business Accelerators event at University of Texas

July 8 :: Austin, TX

"This is a really fantastic event for us to share Emma's expertise with more than 300 marketers and small business professionals who are hoping to learn more about marketing their company online. We're so excited to be partnering with the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas. Hook 'em, Horns!"
- Jonathan Gesinger, Emma Satellite Business Development Manager


Alabama Franchise Alliance Kick Off Luncheon

July 13 :: Birmingham, AL

"This event is all about effective communication strategies, and I couldn't think of a better topic for us to speak about for these franchisors and franchisees. They're looking for better ways to communicate both with one another and with their customers, so I'm looking forward to showing them some best practices."
- Casey McCormick, Emma Sales Associate


Online Marketing Summit's Regional Tour

July 21 :: Austin, TX

"Our previous OMS sponsorships in Denver and Portland led to lots of great conversations about email marketing, so we're glad to have such a popular, content-driven event here in Austin."
- Jonathan Gesinger, Emma Satellite Business Development Manager

If you're in the area for any of these events and want to say hello in person, just leave us a note here and we'll set something up. Keep enjoying your summer!

June design showcase: Studio Design edition

It's an exciting season for the Emma design team as we roll out Studio Design, our shiny new feature that gives customers a more hands-on approach to their custom stationery. In case you're wondering … if you opt for Concierge Design, that means our designers will create from-scratch email stationery that extends your brand. With Studio Design, you'll use an interactive form to choose a style, colors, textures and elements for your designer to implement in your custom design. Think of it as choosing the ingredients for a cake that we'll be baking just for you!

So this month's showcase is all about this new design option. With these Studio Design examples, you can see the final version of the stationery, as well as the shapes, textures and elements that each client selected from the interactive form. A texture is typically the overall background component that will blend into the entire header image, while an element is more of an accent image. Combined with a logo, they make a stationery header. We thought you might like to see these textures and elements at work, paired with the final header design.

Client: Neuhaus Foot and Ankle
Emma designer:Taylor Schena
Design level: Studio Design
Theme choice: Modern

Our friends at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle wanted to use the colors from their website and implement a structured and professional aesthetic.

After browsing the textures available, they chose a modern texture accented by two modern elements, which Emma designer Jennifer Kasdorf originally created.

Taylor applied Neuhaus' brand colors to their preferred elements, keeping in mind what we know about the Foveal viewport in email marketing.

The result is a completely custom header that's consistent with current Neuhaus branding.

Client: Simply Taken
Emma designer: Jennifer Kasdorf
Design level: Studio Design
Theme choice: Fancy

Simply Taken is Staci Pruitt's photography business, which primarily serves the NATO and military community based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Her website is squared off and clean, with just a few subtle embellishments. When the time came to create stationery, she wanted the same aesthetic.

She choose sharp corners and a handful of elements from the "Fancy" category, designed by Jessica Peoples (formerly Jessica Saling – congratulations, Jess!).

Jennifer took the time to really familiarize herself with Staci's product and crafted a lovely design that successfully mimics the Simply Taken website.

Client:Joy Along the Journey
Emma designer: Taylor Schena
Design level: Studio Design
Theme choice: Floral

You can imagine how important it was for Karen from Joy along the Journey, a hospitality network, to express a sense of welcome in her brand stationery.

She chose floral elements, created by Jessica Peoples, to communicate that openness and also to maintain consistency with the Joy Along the Journey logo.

Taylor found a great shade of blue to use from the network's website and carefully worked in the floral elements. When Karen ended up changing her mind about her element selection, Taylor, of course, made the revision. As part of the Studio Design process, you chose the components, and your designer is happy to make essential changes until the product is something everyone's proud of.

Client: Heaven on Earth
Emma designer: Taylor Schena
Design level: Studio Design
Theme choice: Floral

Taylor's had a busy month, hasn't she? For this Studio Design, she built a custom header for Heaven on Earth, Rachel Bolden-Kramer's yoga practice, which strives to foster connections and community through customized plans.

Rachel opted for one floral element and one floral texture, both of which were created by our Denver-based designer, Leigh Bernstein. Taylor saw Rachel's vision right away and chose to accent the tree graphic, while making the fern image a more subtle part of the background.

The final product is soothing and uplifting: heaven on Earth, indeed!

Cheers,
Your Emma Design Team

What Leonardo da Vinci knew about your email campaigns

How knowing about the eye's Foveal viewport may change the way you look at your next campaign.

At Emma, we're always thinking about audiences and the important role design plays in communicating your message. We also do a lot of thinking about the concepts behind the why. Why is one campaign more effective than another? Why do some links get clicked more?

We often talk about reasons like headlines and timeliness, but here's another concept you might want to be consider: the Foveal viewport. The fovea is the part of the eye that makes it possible for us to have 100-percent visual acuity. So what the heck does that mean? Well, when we look at something, we see only a small area of it in complete focus. We may think we see the whole picture clearly, but we don't. Leonardo da Vinci was actually the first person to discover this issue with sight lines. Elements that fall outside this area get blurry – they get blurry quite fast, actually. As our eyes move, or to use a fancier term saccade, this area of complete focus moves as well. This area of complete focus is called the Foveal viewport.

For example, when we look at this web page, we may think we see the whole page in focus:

You think you see it, right?

But here's our reality, with only the Foveal viewport in complete focus:

What you actually see, through the Foveal viewport.

Another way to see the size of this is to hold your thumbs up next to each other — the area of your two thumbnails is roughly the same size as the Foveal viewport.

So how can you apply this to email design?
+ You can place your most important content where your audience is most likely to see it when they first open your campaign.
+ You can place pieces of related content in close proximity to each other.
+ Since the Foveal viewport moves as a person looks at something (and our eyes look for things that stand out), you can place any calls to action as close as you can to the related content.

Let's say you're creating a campaign with an announcement about your new deli lunch menu.

How's the lunch promo look?

Not bad. Appealing photo along with hunger- and thirst-inducing copy. (Excuse me while I go grab a pop.) Ah. Now, let's take a look at the Foveal viewport.

Lunch, as your fovea sees it.

Your first thought might be that the viewport will move, so no worries (that's what I thought too). But it's been shown that people often don't even see items that fall outside the viewport. So what if you shortened the copy a bit to get that button closer?

Proximity … yum.

Much better. Besides the copy being easier to scan, the button you want people to click on now falls within the same Foveal viewport. Pretty cool.

It's also worth noting that too much focusing between saccades can cause fatigue. This refocusing happens hundreds of times every minute without us even knowing it, but the effort adds up, so you might want to avoid making your audience work so hard when they're reading. Because let's face it – do you really want your audience to feel tired after they read your emails?

Here's what you can do:
+ You can minimize the amount of content you're asking people to look at.
+ You can minimize the amount of content you're asking people to decide between.
+ You can be sure your email templates aren't too wide.

Knowing what Leonardo da Vinci knew about how eyeballs work just might change the way you look at your next campaign. With a few tweaks to your designs, you can help your audience see things the way you want them to see them.


Editor's note: This post launches a new series from Emma's UX team – they'll be sharing ideas, tips and expertise about email usability (and perhaps occasionally mentioning medieval geniuses).

A fresh approach to custom design

Emma's new Studio Design gives you stylish options in a hands-on format.

Announcing a faster (and super fun) stationery design option.

As you're dreaming up new ways to showcase your organization's style in your email campaigns, we're proud to unveil Studio Design, a faster, more hands-on way for you to request the custom brand stationery that frames your newsletters, surveys and promotions.

New! Studio Design :: $99

With our latest design offering, you'll walk step-by-step through an interactive form to design a custom header, selecting from our ever-changing menu of hand-designed textures and elements. You'll choose from styles such as vintage, retro, elegant, edgy, modern and classic to find a look that suits you.

You'll have more creative control than ever, with easy options to set your logo, colors, shapes and more before you send your selections to a designer who'll artfully assemble them into one-of-a-kind brand stationery.

Best of all, your stationery is ready in two working days, about half the time of our current stationery design process.

Fresh summer designs for your seasonal campaigns.

And just in time for your summertime promotions and events, we're featuring a suite of limited edition summer design elements to help you add a little seasonal — and possibly beachy — fun to your next stationery design.

Take your pick from sea shells, waves, nautical elements, beach balls, palm trees, ice cream, sunglasses and more. Then choose the colors you want and create a summer campaign to share what's new with your audience.

Go ahead … if you're a current customer, check out Studio Design today! Otherwise, please take a few seconds to get in touch so we can get to know you and tell you more about it.

We hope this additional design option and quicker turnaround time helps your organization make the most of whatever flavor of custom design you'd like in your email campaigns. (If that flavor happens to be rocky road, would it be weird if we show up sometime next week with a spoon?)

As always, we're here to answer any questions you may have, so don't hesitate to send us an email, give us a call at 800.595.4401 or visit our help guide, where you can even chat online with us.

The art of the correction message

What to say when what you said wasn't what you meant to say.

Here at Emma, we like to talk about how your email marketing strategy is a constantly evolving conversation with your customers and clients. And, as is the way of all conversations, it's likely that someone will eventually misspeak. When that someone is you, it can be a bad feeling — few things are more humbling than making a public mistake. Fortunately, the conversational nature of email is on your side, and you can correct yourself as soon as you realize your error. A prompt correction and apology lets you not only set something right but also to show a nice flicker of personality. If done with a touch of class and maybe even a little humor, an apology can even strengthen the bond between you and your subscribers.

Now, because nobody's really jockeying for the nickname, "The Joe Biden of Email," be sure to get your message in front of fresh proofreaders before you send it. But since even the most careful vetting process can miss an error, it's comforting to know that your proofreaders aren't your last line of defense — your audience is.

Listen to your readers. The RSVP name and email address you associate with your email marketing strategy isn't just there to let your readers know who they're hearing from — it's also there so they can get in touch with you. If your loyal readers spot a mistake in your email, an email reply is the handiest way for them to let you know about it, so use an active email address and keep a close eye on your inbox.

Making the most of a mistake can help you strengthen the bond with your audience.

Nashville's Belcourt Theater boasts a devoted audience of film buffs, so when the beloved movie house recently misidentified a showtime for one of their upcoming films, a diligent reader was happy to let them know. A strong communication channel with their audience meant that the Belcourt was able to promptly issue a correction message. As a bonus, they turned a typographical error into an opportunity to show appreciation for their readers. What should you do if you find yourself in a similar position? The same thing you would do if you misspoke at a dinner party: Correct yourself, apologize for the error and give credit to anyone who may have helped you see it.

(Note: This apology format does not apply to dinner parties where a game of charades is involved. For charades-related gaffes, the universally accepted apology is an exaggerated shrugging motion coupled with a bashful smile.)

Be prompt. You'll probably see one of the highest spikes in activity in the two hours immediately after you send your campaign. The sooner you send a correction message, the more likely these early respondents are to connect with your correction rather than your error.

Be specific. You don't always have to craft a completely new message to address a mistake — sometimes it's better to correct your original content and send it out again. If you send a revised version of your original message, be clear about the correction you're making, starting with the subject line. If your audience clearly sees "correction" there, they'll probably skip the first message and go directly to the follow-up. In the introduction to your email, it's a good idea to specifically address the error, just in case some folks were puzzled by your earlier message.

Be courteous. Anne Holland's website, whichtestwon.com, offers readers a fun opportunity to play armchair web consultant to a new split test every week and then test their guesses against real-life results. Her weekly email notifications are critical to her operation, so when she misidentified a guest speaker she'd invited to host a webinar, she quickly realized her faux pas and issued a humble but humorous apology. Then, in a show of solidarity, she deliberately misspelled her own name. The correction message addressed an earlier mistake and showcased her own graciousness.

Be accommodating. If your error affected the audience's experience — say, for example, a broken link to a limited-time offer — you may want to take an extra step, like extending the deadline on the offer to accommodate your readers.

Remember, email is one of the more personal communication channels available to you, and if someone has invited you to share information with them regularly, they're likely to be forgiving of the occasional mistake. Careful proofing will keep your message consistent and your apologies rare, but everyone makes mistakes from time to time. (Hey, we've had to correct ourselves before, and email is kind of our thing.) A prompt correction and apology will go a long way toward showing your customers the human side of your business.

May design showcase: tasty creations

In this month's showcase, we're highlighting stationery designs that are especially, shall we say, appetizing. Flavorful? OK, we'll just say it: These designs are downright delicious. They're also extremely flexible. (Didn't see that one coming, now did you?) Our restaurant, catering and food retail clients often need to send out last-minute campaigns for spur-of-the-moment promotions, so their stationery designs must be usable for nearly any kind of campaign. Fortunately, our designers are experts at uniting existing brand standards with the unique attributes of email design. And they also really, really like food. At their desks. Preferably sent via (ahem) priority overnight service. You know, to prevent staleness. Just sayin'.

Deluxe Foods

Client: Deluxe Foods
Emma designer: Leigh Bernstein
Design level: Concierge Design

This specialty food retail shop from Seattle, Washington, needed a stationery design informed by its current website branding, which balances the refined look of 19th-century English fine china with a thoroughly non-snobby attitude.

Leigh took the header directly from the website in order to replicate the look exactly, since the fonts used for the logo and navigation bar are not standard, web-safe fonts. For the footer, however, she created a beautiful Nouveau design that is consistent with Deluxe's existing aesthetic: organic but not overtly floral, dainty but not froufrou. And because image-based borders cannot stretch to accommodate longer campaigns, Leigh designed the footer to just barely creep up the sides of the frame. That way, the swooping lines serve to draw the eye back up to the content without sacrificing the stationery's flexibility.

Cactus Restaurants

Client: Cactus Restaurants
Emma designer: Elizabeth Williams
Design level: Concierge Design

Before we began designing, Marc at Cactus Restaurants sent multiple logos and several other files for Elizabeth's reference, including photographs and Lotería cards. And although most of those images did not end up in the stationery itself, they were still important to the initial design process because they helped her understand the design aesthetic at Cactus – whether that be the design of the menus, the website or even the décor on the walls.

The end result highlights their most-used design elements (logo, font-specific slogan and the lithograph-style image of four men) while incorporating new design ideas that take advantage of email's particular capabilities. Elizabeth completely customized the standard "send to a friend" link in the top right corner, and she built a permanent sidebar with an editable text box, which will collapse and disappear if Marc chooses not to input text.

Jailhouse Brewing

Client: Jailhouse Brewing
Emma designer: Jimmy Thorn
Design level: Concierge Design

The folks at Jailhouse Brewing wanted an edgy design incorporating multiple elements in a rowdy, unstructured way. "I don't want it to be too clean," read the design request … and right away, we knew this would be fun. Oh, and did we mention it was for beer?

Jimmy started with the logo, which fortunately was available as an EPS file, meaning that the image quality was perfect and the background was transparent. Jailhouse provided the scratchy gray background texture, so Jimmy digitally "tore" the edges and added just a bit of a drop shadow to the header. From there, he found a few key images to add to the design, including a photograph of the brewery from Jailhouse's Facebook page that he antiqued and framed with an old-fashioned border. The slogan (and its distinct typeface) are also integral to the identity of the Jailhouse brand, so Jimmy made sure to highlight it in the footer and support it visually with the ball and chain.

Sweets Truck

Client: The Sweets Truck
Emma designer: Leigh Bernstein
Design level: Concierge Design

Anyone who speaks with Molly at the Sweets Truck – be it Sam in sales or Kelley in design – can't help but note how sweet she is! It's fitting then, that she runs a mobile bakeshop with to-die-for cupcakes. And even fittinger that her custom stationery express that same charm and friendliness.

And since Molly already had established brand standards for font styles and color, Leigh was able to draw directly from provided elements to begin the basic design. The circular icons are images that Molly uses consistently on the web and on the truck itself, so Leigh knew to spotlight those without putting them in the background of the content area, which would have caused rendering problems in certain email programs. She also used the approved Sweets Truck font for all image-based text in the sidebar, while sticking with a web-safe font for the live type at the bottom. With those little tricks of the trade, Leigh was able to protect and promote Molly's brand identity and still ensure that all readers will see the *exact* design that she does on her own machine.

Until next time … hugs, brand extension and stomach growls from your entire Emma design team!