Feature of the Week: Get the look of metal letters, cost-effectively.

Our latest install at Revolution Mill in Greensboro included a new sign with brushed aluminum laminate foam letters. These letters are a cost-effective alternative to metal letters and provide a high-quality look with precise, polished edges.Available in a wide variety of standard and custom fonts, these letters from Triad Signs are lightweight, durable and the perfect fit for your interior signage needs.

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Be sure to contact us with all your signage needs!

Burlington: 888-927-8290 | Greensboro: 888-346-1169

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PIP Welcomes New Graphic Designer to the Team!

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Julie was born in South Carolina, but grew up in sassy little Saxapahaw, North Carolina. Always a lover of crafting, coloring, and creating art, she earned her Associate’s degree in Advertising and Graphic Design at Alamance Community College.

Excited about entering the design industry here at PIP, Julie will work on a variety of prepress and designing projects and helps maintain social media accounts.

Past projects have included creating a poster and brochure for the Alamance Burlington Middle School, designing a pop-up invitation for an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, illustrating a fairy garden information board for the horticulture department at the State Fair, and executing the layout for the Explorer Literary Magazine.

Her favorite volunteer projects have been designing a t-shirt for the Humane Society and another for the Student Planet Career Days, as well as illustrating two coloring / reading books for a primary school in Malawi.

Free-time hobbies include drawing realistic graphite portraits, painting and playing around with different media, capturing images with her camera, making music on a variety of stringed-instruments, and mastering new skills, at the moment, juggling.

3 Steps for Successful Marketing and IT Collaboration

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When it comes to the most effective way to architect, execute and measure digital initiatives, marketers and their information-technology counterparts seldom see eye-to-eye.

Mismatched expectations and attitudes come into play, along with some natural left-brain/right-brain differences, according this widely read 2015 Benchmark Study of 131 U.S. marketing and IT executives.

Measuring the Digital Divide

Thirty percent of marketers polled expressed optimism that relations with IT would becollaborative and productive, while just 13 percent of IT respondents said so. Twenty percent of marketers agreed that working with IT has ‘significantly improved’ alignment between the two functions, whereas a mere four percent of technologists felt the same.

However, a clear majority–63 percent–did agree on the likely root cause of their differences: namely the misalignment of cross-functional metrics and goals.

“IT professionals measure success based on functionality,” observes Northwestern University’s Jim Carey, the study’s chief architect. [For example], if the website is up and running or the company’s mobile app is working as it should [technically], then all is well, from IT’s perspective.

Marketers, however, gauge success against both the public’s brand expectations and customer-experience standards set by industry leaders (like Amazon, Apple and Zappos). So something IT leaders perceive as a roaring success, experience-focused marketers may view as a big disappointment. So much for collaboration.

But wait, there’s hope.

Sage Advice from One Who Knows

Motorola Solutions’ exec Eduardo F. Conrado, the rare bird who oversees both Marketing and IT functions, acknowledges such differences, and describes steps he’s taken to help his groups collaboratively combine forces:

  • Break Down the Siloes–Conrado says that IT may be so focused on back-office (e.g. transactional) functions that they forget about customer-facing systems that impact both marketing and sales. Bringing the teams together into the ‘front office’ (and under a common manager and budgeting authority) “naturally diffuses tensions and increases collaboration,” he claims.
  • Challenge Assumptions–Conrado feels that the 4 P’s of marketing are outdated, and that B2B companies should shift to the A.V.E. model (solutions, access, value and education)–which again “starts with customers and backs into the solution and how we solve their problems.”
  • Jointly Map Out the Customer Journey–Start with customers (not the IT solution) and, together, identify all company touchpoints and interactions. “Marketing designs the customer journey, in conjunction with IT, so that the technology and customer goals are always moving in lock-step.”

Hamburger Menus, Cinemagraphs and Other 2016 Web Design Trends

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The New Year is here, along with fresh prognostications about trends and techniques that will shape the look, performance and response of websites in the months ahead.

Over the years, website design trends, and, in fact, most topics related to website enhancement, have been among our readers’ faves, including previous forecasts andtips, page design, and the subtle effects of shapes and color on the user experience.

Summarized below are some of the hottest and most interesting web design predictions for 2016, including a couple from the Hubspot list.

Hamburger Menus

So called because the three-lined icon resembles a little stack of sliders. One familiar example is Google Chrome, which places the bug in the upper right hand corner. Designers are going the burger route to reduce the clutter of nav buttons and dropdown menus, which Hubspot says can distract users and detract from their on-site experience.

Homepage Background Videos

Hubspot points out that human brains process video 60,000 times faster that text, which means that videos not only grab attention, they also convey a lot of information in a very short time.

With this effect in mind, designers will step-up the practice of integrating video into the primary home-page image, as shown in this simple, spot-on example for a British cleaning service. PayPal also pulls the effect off nicely, as does this software developer.

Cinemagraphs

This eye-catching visual treatment lets designers animate portions of a static photograph to bring the image to life. Cinemagraphs didn’t appear on Hubspot’s 2016 trend-list. But the designer-focused news site, Creative Bloq, predicts they will ‘come of age’ this year, mainly due to consumers’ appetite for Apple’s similar ‘live photo’ iPhone feature, and to technical advancements that simplify designers’ use of the effect.

Mouse over these samples to experience it for yourself, or check out these product-driven examples. Then you may begin to envision the same possibilities as brands who have already integrated cinemagraphs into websites, TV, email, social media and digital-display campaigns.

Given What Customers Expect From Small Business Websites, it may be time to discuss these and other enhancements with your web developer or creative services provider–especially if there’s a new site or site redesign in your 2016 marketing plan.

Getting the Message Out With Internal Signage

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Even the world’s most well-known companies can’t afford to assume that everyone understands what their brand is all about. (Previously, we’ve written about how VW reminded customers it was in Das Auto business.)

What about your own staff? Shouldn’t they be on board with the company mission and vision, even more so than your customers? After all, employees are your brand ambassadors.

Internal Signage Reinforces Brand Values

Internal brand values can include such qualities as customer satisfaction, integrity, continuous improvement, community service, and the like. The more your staff understands and promotes your internal brand values, the more happy, productive and loyal they will be.

Integrated marketers sometimes forget that operations and HR are just as important as sales and advertising. In order for your internal brand values to be consistent with external marketing messages and customer expectations, your staff at every level needs to practice what you preach.

Use Signs To Align With Your Mission

Here are some of the ways that your owned media can be used for internal signage to boost employee morale, promote the company’s culture, and remind everyone of their mission.

By Department

Make the office structure clear to new hires and carry your brand identity throughout the company by clearly labeling each department.

Friendly Brand Reminders

Remind both staff and visitors about your mission and values with consistent brand messages around the office to provide motivation and encourage unity among colleagues.

Operational or Instructional Signs

Greater efficiency and increased safety results when employees clearly understand their jobs. Well-placed procedural reminders can help save time, reduce costs, and promote a healthy work environment.

Window Graphics

Think beyond the wall for ways to convey your internal messages. Products or brands can be listed in window graphics using individual logos and lettering, or with frosted or contra-vision graphics for additional privacy.

Logos or word clouds added to internal windows, doors, or glass office-partitions can promote your corporate identity, while creating a sense of separation and privacy. However the message is carried, you’re also enhancing safety by making the glass panels visible.

To be successful, every department of the company should understand and support the internal brand values along with external marketing messages. Truly integrated marketing extends to both inside and outside audiences.