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February 2016

Where is the Bromance?

The Black Eyed Peas once asked where is the love? I want to ask where is the romance?

According to the dictionary,

Love (noun) is a strong feeling of affection.

While,

Romance (noun) is a  quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.

We make mistakes all the time, at work, at home, or even on the road getting there. That’s part of being human. At work, you learn from your mistakes. At home, unconditional love helps you overcome them. In between both worlds, we come across different behaviors that might push us to write a book on how to lose friends and alienate people.

People’s relationships revolve around meeting the other in the middle. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to maintain a relationship, but It takes one clear moment to realize that we don’t have to! Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need a social experience that drives us to keep bits and pieces of ourselves in the hiding, put our comfort and pleasure behind, and engage in conversations we don’t want to have, especially when socializing has become focused on gossip, feeding desires and putting one’s interest first.

People may wrong us all the time. It’s normal. The better we know and love someone, the more we’re likely to spare them the agony. Maybe this is why we search for love. We look for a sanctuary, a keeper or a shield.

Time may change who you care about and how you care about them, but I hate to believe that such civil behaviors only exist in romance. I hate to believe that if we are not in love, we are becoming avatars in our own skin.

Civilizations have been adding new words to the encyclopedia over the years. Bromance is one of them. Instead of expanding, today, our dictionaries are shrinking, losing words that do not fit their definitions anymore: the true meaning of friendship, love, caring, and sharing a genuine moment.

Long live bromance!

What is my definition of bromance you ask?

  1. Treating others the way you like to be treated
  2. Respect them and their boundaries
  3. Always have good intentions and assume the best
  4. Help or jump at the opportunity whenever you can (aka genuinely CARE)
  5. Which leads me to my final point: BE PROACTIVE.

A daily dose of the above prescription is advised for a better work experience and a smoother stay at home. Trust me on this one!

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

What is the impact of technology on Design?

As a designer and a print fanatic, I am always wondering which movement do we belong to nowadays.

Where does all these technological advancements and infinite choices available for modern day designers, leave us?

If we make a concise trip inside the history of graphic design, we cannot but notice the sense of order artistic movements have provided designers back then. We also cannot deny how much the socio-political context influenced certain movements, but there was always a universal feel to the artworks of the same era. While today, rapid developments are shaping our interactions, tools and audiences on a daily basis.

If we take a look at the historical timeline, we can easily categorize the movements in respective phases. When one movement ended, another one began (of course disregarding the fusion in the couple of years during the transition period).

Back then, each movement had its timeframe, tools and context. Even war and war propaganda influenced graphic design universally, and were considered as a movement, first during WWI, and then another time in WWII.

Every phase represented a piece of the puzzle. A puzzle that could not be completed without the results of the industrial revolution, the first photographic implementations, building up to the New Wave movement, also called the electronic Art Nouveau.

Ah! The computers.

They revolutionized everything. For the last 30 years, they kept offering us new tools and platforms to express ourselves. But did it erase all the rules?

Imagine a designer born just after WWI. In his career journey, he would have gone through several movements and his skills would have evolved from decade to decade.

His tools: lithography

His platform: posters

His audience: whoever saw that poster

Now, fast-forward to the year 2015, where this same designer is exposed daily to numerous printing techniques, offset, digital, silk-screen, and most recently 3D printing. Add to that the electronic choice of not printing at all.

His platforms: Posters have turn into posts and google ads, press ads and billboards, e-shots, newsletters, led screens and projection mapping among many others

His audience: the whole world

Without forgetting the context where all these choices are happening: wars, social and environmental issues, globalization, fast-paced competition and daily technological advancements that push us towards a greater communication between different social groups and over boarders into different cultures with unlimited personal interactions.

While plenty might disagree and recognize all the above mayhem as an achievement, a break-through, I miss the days where posters were our public speakers, shouting visual slogans and beautiful illustrations. I miss the impact of the Bauhaus movement on serifs and non-geometrical typography and I especially miss the days where the first avant-garde futurists welcomed advertising as a manifestation of modern life.

It was that simple!

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

The decision that changed my career path

From a banker to a marketer; the transition was easier than I expected.

As a banking and finance graduate, the first thing I had in mind (typically) is to apply for a multinational bank; and so I did!

Credit officer was the title I earned after several trainings, seminars, exams and hard work.

Although all the signs showed that I was leading the right and quickest way to reaching the top, I was not happy. This wasn’t what I wanted to spend my life doing.

Thus, day after day the banking corporate environment did not fit me; I did not belong there. The punching machine was my worst enemy at the time and breaking the rules was my best friend. I missed wearing jeans and t-shirts, putting my nose piercing, listening to music while working. I so wanted to call my clients by their first names.

After several internal battles, I made up my mind and decided to resign after 4 years at the bank having one thing in mind: to discover what I love most and start building my new career around it.

Since I was little, I was a big fan of creating characters and stories – mostly funny ones. I found a great joy in writing and sharing my thoughts and feelings. In parallel, I enjoyed analyzing figures and facts.

Marketer! Social Media was and still is “the” hit; so why not dig deep into its world?

Social media is a very fast moving industry; you have to keep on running to catch it. You have to open your eyes and ears and be able to adapt to changes.

On the bright side and despite the big difference between the corporate world and the ad agency world, the analysis skills I acquired during my experience at the bank were key to my success as a marketer. Being a social media marketer requires analyzing figures and writing reports and that was a big part of my job at the bank. To my surprise, creativity was not enough to succeed as a social media marketer!

Clientele relationship is the common point I love the most between my old and new job. Meeting with the client, assessing his needs, consulting and advising…But I rarely settled for a corporate bond, and social media paved the way to turn these rigid links into friendships. And being the sociable and dynamic person I am, I was rewarded big time.

Luckily, some of my clients at the bank became my clients at the agency!

That shift in my career was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Layal Harfouche
Business Developer

Graphic Designers’ secret tricks

Designers use many types of software on a daily basis, in order to communicate their ideas. For better or worse, they are our daily bread.

In fact, we spend most of our days learning new features, to speed up our work and get more out for less effort; and the rest of the time, crying our eyes off in front of that “Force Quit” alert window!

But, fellow designers, there is still hope! Because once we’ve overcome the beginners’ learning curve, there are some real gems hidden inside each program that can help us cut down the frustration?

Here are some of the tricks that we learned while working in our studio:

  1. Ever witnessed a sudden pause in Photoshop while saving? Cry no more, here’s how you can fix it and continue working peacefully.

How to resume a paused application:

  • Go to utilities- open terminal.
  • Open active monitor and copy the (PID) number of the paused application.
  • Go to “terminal” application and write ” kill-CONT (PID number) “

The PID is a number associated to every single process running on a Mac.

  1. If you are like me, you probably prefer illustrator to everybody’s beloved Photoshop. However, I always envied how we can easily make a compound path of text over in an image in the latter. Well recently, our superstar Senior Art Director Zeina found a way to do it using Illustrator:

– First, Select the word or sentence. Create outline. Go to Object, Compound Path, Make.

– Then, all that is left is to Select the photo you want to clip, Arrange it to Back.

– And finally, Select all, and Make Clipping Mask (or Command 7).

  1. We are all familiar and in love with the new mock-ups (especially the free ones). Well now, we can create our own mock-ups in Photoshop, and thus speed up that endless process while preparing a presentation:

– Design any shape you want to use as a mock-up on a new layer.

– Convert the layer to Smart Object.

– Click on it.

– Replace Artwork. Save and Close.

  1. Ever wanted to Copy and Paste in Place an object from one file to another in Photoshop? It’s very easy:

– Select the layer of the object.

– Right Click on it, and Choose Duplicate Layer.

– When the Duplicate Layer opens, before you click Ok, Go down to the Document menu, and choose the other file’s name.

– Click Ok.

– Now when you go to the other file, you will find the object pasted in the same position!

And before we wrap things up over here, here’s a bonus shortcut, by our Senior Designer Larissa; whenever she wants to quickly shift from vector fill to stroke, she uses “Shift x”. It works in both applications: Illustrator and Photoshop.

Stay tuned for more!

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

 

The basics of keyframes in after effects

Keyframes allow us to set a shift from one action to another over a period of time.

Long story short, if you don’t have any of the little symbols on your timeline, your animation isn’t doing much. If it is, delete the file. ‘Tis haunted.

(Unless it looks cool; then just sell it somewhere.)

2How to spot Keyframes in the wild:
Keyframes are created automatically the second you click on the stopwatch. Everything you do afterwards gets recorded as a new motion.

DO NOT CLICK ON THE STOPWATCH AFTER YOU FINISH YOUR ANIMATION.
Seriously. It’s like a self-destruct button. It will erase everything you’ve done.
So just press it once in the beginning unless you want to delete everything on purpose.

There are 5 common keyframes:
A- Linear (Diamond): Main shape. Select either the stopwatch or the tiny diamond shape to get it set.
Sharp movements; movement starts and ends at the same speed.

B- Linear in (arrow pointing the right)
Smooth start.

C- Auto-Bezier (Round): command/Ctrl+click to convert a normal keyframe into it.
smooth rate of change.

D- Linear out (arrow pointing the left)
Smooth end.

E- Continuous Bezier (hourglass)
Eases both sides of the keyframe

 


To convert a regular Linear keyframe into whichever one you like, right-click on the keyframe – Keyframe assistant:

Easy ease is the hourglass, whereas easy in and easy out are the linear in and linear out.

 


Interpolation:
Linear interpolation: Robotic effect.
Bezier interpolation: You can manually move the beziers around to get the motion/speed wanted.
Auto-Bezier: You sit back and let after effects take the wheel.

Shortcuts:
Keyframe navigation:
J: previous frame
K: next frame.

You can also hold shift when you move the current time indicator, and this will snap your cursor to a keyframe.

 

 

If you want to place the keyframes manually for some unknown reason, (maybe the J and K on your keyboard are jammed from that time you allowed your dog to have pizza) you can click on the little diamond shape to create a keyframe and press on the arrows around it to move from one keyframe onto the other.

 

Other functions for the keyframes:
Right click – rove across time, automatically spreads the keyframes along the timeline enough for a smoother animation.

 

Right click – toggle keyframes allows you to make abrupt/sudden animations without a motion in between.

If you want to grab keyframes and spread them evenly manually, select the desired keyframes, click on alt and drag them according to your liking.

 

 

Vickie Boschiero
Junior Animation Art Director

Happy Valentine: A Marketing Story

Good day loved ones!

As the month of love kicked off and the most romantic day of the year is on its way, how about we share some love?

If you are wondering what does Valentine have to do with marketing, let me clarify it in a few words. We have reached an era as most of you know, where marketing is acquiring a new understanding and a new reason for being. When once marketing was purely about selling, today, marketing is all about loving.

Yes, loving.

Take Brian Sheehan’s insightful book “Loveworks” for example, about how top marketers create emotional bonds with consumers. Aside from its content of course, the title itself and the subtitle, pretty much sum up why brands use marketing today.

With the daily increase of connectivity and smart phone usage, consumer behaviors have shifted immensely, relying on the web as their primary source of what we traditionally call “word of mouth”. But of course, it goes way beyond that, exposing users to endless stories and information about a myriad of brands and products. This amalgam of brands, channels and information has made the once powerful hard sell technique almost obsolete. Which leaves us with what? The one and only soft sell. As its name refers, soft sell relies on emotional selling propositions rather than unique features. This is where brands and marketers should shift their whole online strategy into one that accompanies the user 24/7 in a 360 experience. If we try to dissect how users make purchase decisions online, we end up with the 4-stage consumer journey based on the “Moment Of Truth” or MOT.

new customer journey

In a nutshell, the Moment Of Truth takes users into 4 different stages. The zero moment of truth happens when the prospect researches the ideal brand to purchase following a stimulus (the very first stage in the journey) triggered by his or her specific need.

At this stage, the brand with most exposure and information will surely catch the researcher’s attention. This is the most defining moments of all, because it will convince the prospect to convert and become a customer. Once this is accomplished, the user buys the product, and through experiencing it, becomes an influencer for other prospects, assuming of course that he or she likes what they bought.

This Zero Moment Of Truth focuses on attracting consumers through useful and engaging stories.

For those reasons, content marketing has proven to be most effective. Activations, videos, user generated content (UGC), infographics and endless other types of content, all blend together to tell a brand’s bigger story. Brands and people have become in a way “one”, sharing stories, information and emotions to create and sustain everlasting bonds.

What I’m stressing on here, is the importance of relationships in our marketing world today. No partner likes to be cheated in real life. Consequently, no brand or consumer likes to be cheated by their other half as well. Brands should consider their audience’s needs and what they are seeking, in order to make their relationship not only work, but bloom, into a forever after love story.

So dear marketers, go out there, share your love and most of all enjoy it!

And happy Valentine in advance.

Tony Raad
Content Creator and Creative Writer