Person's lens
Marketing 501,

Designing Through the Lens of Your Audience

Empathy is a crucial component of any successful design project. Understanding your audience — or not — can greatly determine the effect of your design. Does your creative offer an engaging human experience? Or are you hitting a brick wall when it comes to connecting with the user?

Look Listen Logo
Marketing 501,

A Visit to LogoLand: Behind the Scenes of a Brand Mark Refresh

As creatives, we’re constantly scrutinizing our own work for opportunities to improve upon it, especially when there’s some daylight between then and now. Recently, we took a good hard look at our logo and decided — though it has served us well — the time was right for an upgrade. We wanted the new mark to hold on to the brand equity of the original while encapsulating the refinement and sophistication that’s been the result of our company’s growth. Our design team went deep into the data, and we’re incredibly proud of the result. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the work.

News & Work,

Steps Towards Change

Many of us have spent the past several months having difficult conversations. Fewer of us have had these kinds of conversations our entire lives. And while the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion within our company isn’t a new one, the ongoing struggle playing out on our city streets has led us to reexamine our commitment, efforts and room for improvement in combating racism at all levels of our workplace.

Start the Conversation… Virtually

Planning is essential to action that creates lasting change. With that in mind, we invite you to listen in as our CEO Kit Hughes and Tim Cynova, Co-CEO of Fractured Atlas, discuss their part in the work of anti-racism. Steps Towards Change will feature the pair examining their roles as white, male CEOs working toward the goal of equity and meaningful change. The Conscious Capitalism in Action Virtual Gathering goes live Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. EST.

Why Should You Care?

As two white males in leadership roles, Kit and Tim are aware of the privilege they enjoy and the oppression that does not directly affect them. They are using Conscious Capitalism’s platform to start meaningful conversations with their peers centered around racism, leadership, and whiteness. These discussions are meant to share the importance of anti-racism work and to engage white, senior-level leaders in business to create healthy, open environments that allow their workplaces to thrive.

Kit, Tim and several other leaders within the Conscious Capitalism network are collaborating to address the problem of systemic racism instead of leaving the work of solutions to those who are oppressed. In terms of an internal focus, Kit would like Look Listen to be “an example of a company that is open to the feedback and the corrections it needs to make to be diverse and inclusive.”

He also believes “white male CEOs should recognize their critical role in marshaling resources to correct a system that works against people [who are not white].”

When asked about his thoughts related to the upcoming session between two white males, Tim explained the importance of sharing his unique experience that helps white, senior-level leaders learn and inform others about the journey towards anti-racism.

How Can You Tune In?

If you’d like to begin — or continue — the journey to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace (and ultimately, society), a quick registration is all it takes to join Tuesday’s live stream and take in Kit and Tim’s conversation. Ready to join the conversation? Follow us on social or drop a line — we welcome your thoughts.

News & Work,

November is Coming: Information Disorder & the Election

Remember the 2016 US presidential election? Remember scrolling past extreme headlines and wildly inaccurate memes, only to see them shared later by a high-school classmate/Facebook friend known for their questionable judgment? Remember the results of the election? Of course you do; how could any of us forget?

When discussing information disorder, or “the various ways our electoral environment was and is polluted,” it is important to note that not all incorrect election-related information is shared with the knowledge that it’s flat-out wrong — a big problem nonetheless.

Types of Information Bias
Image credit:
Claire Wardle & Hossein Derakshan

While disinformation and malinformation share the intent to harm, misinformation is differentiated as “misleading information created or disseminated without manipulative or malicious intent.” Unwittingly sharing misleading headlines, cropped images, Photoshopped content, out-of-context (or just plain wrong) statistics, opinion pieces as news and so much more falls into the category of misinformation. Chances are though, someone created that content to be shared with literal reckless abandon — using disinformation to encourage the viral spread of misinformation.

Accidents Happen… But They Still Have Consequences

While misinformation occurs without malicious intent, it can still cause irreversible damage to organizations, people, and — memorably — elections (Pizzagate, anyone?).

Speaking of Pizzagate, a recent example of misinformation gone viral is the co-opting of legitimate disgust and concern regarding child sex trafficking to push an anti-mask agenda in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. Well-meaning people by the thousands never stopped to fact-check the artfully designed Instagram and heartfelt Facebook posts claiming — wrongly — that wearing masks leaves children vulnerable to kidnapping and exploitation.

Image credit: Instagram

Social media plays an outsized role in the accidental spread of false information. According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, “people who prefer social media for news are more likely to share made-up news and information than those who prefer other pathways.”

There is hope though. Earlier this year, Forbes gave an overview of social media sites making strong efforts to combat misinformation ahead of this year’s presidential election.

  • Following the infiltration of Russian bots on Facebook during the 2016, Facebook now requires campaigns to give their US mailing address and state how much they spent on each ad.
  • YouTube recently shared several changes meant to make the platform a reliable source for news, including the removal of election-related content that violates their policies, the increase availability to authoritative election news and the overall reduction of misinformation.
  • To make it easier for users to identify political candidates, Twitter has reintroduced election labels with pertinent candidate information as well as provided badges for candidates who qualify for US primary ballots. The popular social media platform has also began applying labels to certain tweets from political leaders in an effort to reduce the effects of misleading information.
Twitter Labeling Misinformation
Image credit: Twitter

Caught on Video

When discussing fake news, information disorder or other phrases related to incorrect information, there is usually only a focus on the diction, or text, of a fabricated news site. With this mindset,

“the implications of misleading, manipulated or fabricated visual content, whether that’s an image, a visualization, a graphic, or a video are rarely considered.”

For example, while we can’t say for certain whether or not President Trump knowingly shared this fabricated video of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Twitter users who shared it to virality actively participated in spreading misinformation.

While video deepfakes and other misleading visuals are hard to stop, researchers at the University of Waterloo recently developed an AI tool capable of detecting misinformation in the form of text. Ultimately, the researchers’ goal is to have their new technology be used by social media and news organizations as an automated fact-checker.

Clickbait and Switch

Online clickbait can be defined simply as “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” Specifically, when speaking in terms of a headline, we can use the phrase partisan emotional clickbait, which is a headline that appeals directly and explicitly to the emotions of the partisan reader.

A prime example of partisan emotional clickbait originated during the 2016 presidential campaign. An article from The Political Insider claiming WikiLeaks confirmed Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS was later debunked, but not before its striking headline resulted in over 700,000 engagements on Facebook. The damage of this work of fiction may very likely have affected the voting cycle.

Debunked Claim about Hilary Clinton
Image credit: Insider

Clickbait has a bad connotation (and gives us flashbacks from 2016), but it can also be used for good. Twitter users are now following an effective trend that uses pop culture to lure people to voting registration sites.

Clickbait Trends
Image credit: Twitter

Check, please!

With the high volume of content spread, retained and discussed everyday, it is impossible to stop all bad information from showing up on your timeline or interfering with an election. The best way to combat information disorder is to stay informed and to use and contribute to news with positive intention.

Source-checking, fact-checking and logical processing will all help us navigate this year’s upcoming presidential election.

While we’re on the subject, have you registered to vote

laptop keyboard with strip of rainbow color
Marketing 501,

Where Style Meets Function: ADA and Color Theory

In case you missed it, we recently celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law, kickstarting a movement that has provided both protections and opportunities for the millions of Americans living with disabilities.

In addition to improving physical accessibility in buildings, providing reserved parking and offering modified work schedules, there are several improvements to be made to make the lives of Americans with disabilities easier, especially from a digital standpoint.

The last time we discussed ADA, we focused on ADA-compliant websites. Just as important, however, is accessible color theory. Let’s dive in.

What is Color Theory?

GIF of the color wheel
GIF by 99designs

In general, color theory “refers to the standards and the concepts related to the use of color that can be applied in various types of design and art.” Remember the color wheel (red, yellow blue, primary colors, secondary colors, etc.)? If not, let’s take a trip down memory lane; it’s important to understand the three concepts of color and how to incorporate them into your accessible website:

  • Complementation refers to the way colors relate to one another. Colors on opposite ends of the color spectrum are more visually appealing, add balance to the eye and avoid straining.
  • Vibrancy is simply energy and emotion conveyed through color. It can also guide your audience to specific products, instructions or actions you want to highlight. For example, brighter colors can be used for graphics to generate excitement, while darker colors can be used for text when providing scholarly information.
  • Most relevant for accessible design, contrast creates visual interest by creating clear separation between items. Effective use of contrast reduces eye strain and focuses user attention by clearly dividing elements on a page. It’s typically best to use light colors for backgrounds and dark colors for text; effective contrast is one of the stark differences between an accessible design and one that is not.
Multiple examples of good and bad contrast in button images
Photo by

These elements, used with adequate text ratio (which we’ll cover next), are crucial for accessibility.

Text Matters, Too

Those with complete or partial color blindness may have trouble reading your website without additional accommodations in place. When color cannot guide them to a certain button or action, accessible text can do the job. Some necessary considerations for creating accessible text:

  • For small or regular size text (12px or less) the contrast ratio between the text’s color and background color must be at least 4.5:1.
  • For large text, (18px text or 14px bold text) the contrast ratio between the text’s color and background color must be at least 3:1
  • Ensure your website’s text can be easily converted for screen readers or other assistive technologies.
    • Avoid using images rather than text – this allows users to adjust the size and color of the text as they see fit. 
    • Use colors with symbols (such as asterisks, colons or arrows) or words to indicate importance.
Stack of books on graphic design and fonts
Photo by Jeroen den Otter on UnSplash

Test, Test, Test

Wondering how your design elements — or entire website — stack up against ADA guidelines?  The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of standards created for web developers to maintain web and mobile accessibility. Additionally, there are a number of resources available that can test the contrast of your website elements, including:

GIF showing the appropriate contrast ratio of text and background colors
GIF by Medium

Accessible is the Aesthetic

From a creative standpoint, proper use of color in web design can, of course, stimulate emotions, generate sales and make your website look pretty. However, making your content accessible to all, including those with visual impairments, is great design in itself. As marketers, our goal is always to reach as many prospects as possible. An aesthetically pleasing website that doesn’t function well for all users is not only exclusive, it’s bad marketing.

At Look Listen, all of the content we produce is ADA-compliant to ensure a memorable digital experience for everyone. Ready to audit your site? Get connected now.

Featured Image by Tirza Van Dijk on UnSplash