Expertise is Knowing What To Leave Out (and When)

It’s the negative space that matters.

  • It’s not just about what you say it’s about what you choose not to.
  • It’s not about using the right images it’s about knowing which ones to leave out.
  • It’s not about writing a lengthy speech, it’s about saying what you mean in as few words as possible.

An expert communicator is someone who knows not just the right words to say but what to leave out.  An expert designer knows that a great design is one with a lot of negative space… a lot of nothing.  A good actor knows that it’s not about the lines you deliver it’s about the pauses and the space in between them. Poems are not words strung together, they are wide open empty spaces populated by the occasional oasis of text.  Here’s the bottom line for business folk:  Pick a designer or communicator who gets this.  Why?  Because this is how you move messages effectively and with deliberate grace.  Anything additional is just clutter and you need people who understand that “less is more” never went out of style to begin with.

Meet Your Makeover: Why Design Really Does Matter

Question:  Is good design really worth investing in?

Answer: Yes, but not for the reasons you think.

So much emphasis today is put on content; content for your website, content for SEO, content for your white papers, etc… But what about straight-up good design?  Is making things shiny more important than populating them with content?  Are they equal?  Is it ok to have a bland and boring website as long as it’s loaded down with good content?  Before I answer that let me tell a quick story.

The Magazine With No Margins

I remember in college getting a magazine in the mail that was typed in 6 point font with 1/90th of an inch margins on each side.  It had no spacing between the articles, no pictures and from 3 feet away looked like pages of solid grey because of the density of text.  I remember opening it up, looking inside and immediately throwing it out (and thought about throwing up).  The lack of design consideration made the text worthless. The content was meaningless because the design context it lived in made it unusable, unapproachable.  I’m sure the writer worked diligently assembling the zine and writing the content and painstakingly assembling every copy and mailing them out to bands and bloggers.  But what they missed was that the design was inseparable from the content.  They are like 2 sides to the same coin, form and function.

Balance Your Act

Having great design work that your content lives in means that you’re balancing both sides of the coin. The function part of a brochure, blog or website is the content; good stuff that people want to read.  The form part of the equation is the romance; the emotional and experiential component of your material.  So while content might get read, content + design gets remembered .  The opposite is true as well; if you only have good design but aren’t saying anything worthwhile then you’re just another shiny jingle jangle on the internet.  Having great design doesn’t mean you will get any more business… period.  Design is not enough just like content is not enough. Balance your act.

It Pays To Be Remembered

There’s an old adage in the marketing world that a potential customer needs to see your brand 7 times or more before connecting their need with your service (aka remembering you).  The frequency of communication is important.  Likewise the quality of communication is also vital.  You have to say something in a memorable way.  Design is the “memorable,” it’s the context.  Have something to say, frame it in a good design and you will be investing in those necessary 7 exposures.  How much is that worth?  Well, it’s a lot less expensive to pay for good design work than using crappy design work for 5 years and wondering why your materials aren’t generating any buzz.  How much would you pay to get remembered?  Up your ante this year by creating your company’s materials with a deliberate form/function balance.  Need help with that?  Email us.

YouTube Statistics

If you need convincing that YouTube is a serious exposure tool and not just a place to watch cats do funny things then check out these statistics straight from the source:

  • Hundreds of millions of users from around the world are uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily—over 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute
  • The equivalent of 150,000+ full-length movies in theaters each week
  • More video is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than the 3 major US networks created in 60 years
  • 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 25 countries across 38 languages
  • YouTube’s demographic is broad: 18-54 years old*

Remember that not all video is created equal. If your company has video content that’s not hosted on YouTube then expect it to receive less overall traffic and exposure.  Why?  YouTube is owned by Google and shares a similar search algorithm when it crawls video content. So if you tag and title your videos correctly and put them on a YouTube channel, chances are your content will receive better search engine rankings than if your video was somewhere else.  So 2 things to learn here.  First, get your company creating video content. Second, get serious about YouTube. It may have started for fun but it’s a serious tool now.

* Source:  YouTube Press Page (

How To Light A Room For Video

If you were at our “From Zero To Video” seminar at the Baltimore Washington Chamber of Commerce last week then you heard a little bit about how to set up a room to create your own videos.  In addition to the theme, story and goal of the video let’s take a quick look at something that most people never consider when it comes to creating video: setting up the room.  If you or your business is shooting your own video blogs, client testimonies or talking-heads content then make sure you take a close look at this chart.  It illustrates some basic “I’ve never done this before” best practices for creating quality video with a bare minimum of gear.

How to light a room for video

© 2011 The Munich Group

Young Artist Spotlight: Chris Iwaskiw

If you’ve seen our latest “What is Social Media” video then you’ve heard some of the musical compositions of 14-year-old Chris Iwaskiw, an up and coming musician and artist. We asked Chris a few questions about how he does what he does and wanted to share his answers:

chris iwaskiw art

How long have you been composing music?  How did you get into it?

I’ve grown up fascinated by music.  My mom plays many instruments including piano and guitar for our church services.  Our family had been in Joyful Sound concert band for I don’t know how long (I play the flute as well as drums; this is the first year we aren’t a part of the band), and we have always done musical activities.  However, my fascination with music stemmed from the excellent compositions of Nintendo’s video games, especially David Wise’s work on the Donkey Kong Country series.  About a year and a half ago I was really interested in making my own music using the computer, and I tried to find a program to do so.  There are a lot of videos on youtube of Mario Paint Composer, a free program modeled off of the music-making part of Mario paint for the Super Nintendo.  I got that, and was very interested in it for about two weeks.  Then, after seeing a youtube comment on an MPC video recommending Finale Notepad, I checked it out.  I paid the ten dollars for it, and started working.  After a month or two, I upgraded to Finale Songwriter, the program I still use today.  I’ve exploited the program to no end, and I’m hoping to get the more high-end program FL Studio very soon.

What’s your creative process like?  When you sit down to create a piece what do you do first?  How do you see the final product in your mind?

I play around on my keyboard in my basement A TON.  When a motif or riff sticks out to me, I often head to Finale, where I write it down, and it all kind of evolves from there on the program.  Sometimes ideas originate completely devoid of the keyboard though.  I often don’t start writing until I have some little string of notes, whether it be a melody, or bassline, or whatever.  Sometimes I start writing because there’s a particular instrument I want to use (for example, in “Snakes” I had really wanted to use the bassoon at the time). But really everything just evolves from the starting idea.  When it’s done it’s usually wildly different from what I first imagined, and I think, “How did this end up sounding like this?” (Often for the better, I might add).  Afterwards I name it based on the feeling it represents, unless I already had some huge plan for it all (I usually don’t though).

What’s the best part of creating music in your opinion?

It’s fun.  I love enjoying my own music.  Some people look (or listen, in my case) to their own art and find faults everywhere and can’t bear to see it.  I, on the other hand, really enjoy my music.  I still find faults and think things could have been better, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it all.  If I had zero fans whatsoever, I wouldn’t be discouraged one bit.  I write music because I enjoy it, not necessarily for others to enjoy it (of course, I do love it when others enjoy it)

What’s the hardest part?  When do you get stuck?

Sometimes I just can’t come up with good ideas.  The biggest thing in my way is the technical limitations of the program I’m using.  It really isn’t meant for some of the things I’m using it for (it’s a sheet music printing program; I exploit the playback and recording feature).  Whenever I’m tired of composing or coming up with ideas, I arrange some video game music or (very recently) hymns.  It’s fun to not have to write anything yourself and just work around a previous work and make it new.

What do you see yourself doing with your musical talents in the future?

I really want to compose for video games, movies, and other media.

* Artwork also by Chris Iwaskiw  |  Make sure to visit Chris’ Youtube channel HERE.