Designing LEED print ads for international audiences


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Designing LEED print ads for international audiences

Last year, the USGBC design team was tasked with creating a new print ad series for both China and India. We had a goal to make LEED feel more localized, indigenous to China and India, and integrated with the issues the country is facing.

The ads would focus on various issues that LEED addresses, including energy, indoor environmental quality and water/waste issues. The key audiences we wanted to reach included building facility managers, LEED clients, manufacturers of building materials and LEED APs, just to mention a few.

As I designed these pieces, I wanted to focus primarily on photography, with typography as a secondary design element. We had statistics that covered issues about water, air quality and energy use, so I wanted to use these a typographical elements rather than just supporting copy on the ad.

First, I had to source photos that felt relevant to the locations, as well as to our audience. I chose a bright and bold color palette to complement the photography and help the copy stand out as an overlaid design feature.

In our final designs, I really wanted people to take away the line “a better future for India” or “a better future for China.” The goal I focused on was showing that LEED-certified buildings can help address some of the main issues both locations are facing daily.

Print ads for LEED in China

The final ads we have been running show off high-quality photography and bold typography and create a dynamic layout for viewers. If you want to read more about our efforts in both India and China, visit gbci.org.

View more recent design for international projects

Creating an infographic to tell the TRUE story


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Creating an infographic to tell the TRUE story

As USGBC and GBCI, we take pride in celebrating our program milestones. That’s why we created an engaging infographic to highlight the first 100 certified TRUE Zero Waste projects. Our target audience was current TRUE participants, program prospects, the media and the waste and sustainability communities.

TRUE infographic

The infographic visually represents data about TRUE.

The design highlights the following data points for the program:

  • Number of projects by certification level
  • U.S. states and other countries (Ireland and Canada) with TRUE-certified facilities
  • Types of facilities certified (manufacturing, retail, etc.)
  • Gross square feet of certified space
  • Tonnage of total waste diverted from landfill
  • Estimated annual cost savings/reduction

Designed for social media, presentations and media outreach, the infographic is a fun and creative way of pointing out what it means to be TRUE-certified.

TRUE infographic

How the infographic appears on a mobile device.

Read more about TRUE-certified facilities in the project directory.

See more about designing for TRUE

Design case study: The SITES AP ad campaign


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Design case study: The SITES AP ad campaign

This spring, our USGBC design and marketing team decided to switch gears with our current SITES advertising campaign. SITES is used by landscape architects, designers, engineers, planners, ecologists, architects, developers, policymakers and others to align land development and management with innovative sustainable design.

Because SITES touches so many different people, we decided to focus on people themselves, to drive home the connection to the professional. Currently, the SITES team is highly focused on growing the credentialing program. They are interested in driving registration for the SITES AP exam, and the new print ad needed to support that goal.

The SITES AP establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development and provides landscape professionals with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise and commitment to the profession.

When designing, I always start by pulling as many photography options as I can before moving into layout. I pulled 16 different photos, and then started laying out the ad with the given copy. I went through three design rounds before landing on two final layouts that connect with the SITES audience.

Next, I decided the photos and typography could stand alone, without any additional design elements to tell the SITES AP story. The ads are simple and concise, and the message is clear. Check out the project over on our Work page!

See more design case studies at USGBC

Designing the Arc brochure


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Designing the Arc brochure

You might find it unusual that an organization so focused on the environment would design printed marketing collateral. In this “print to digital” day and age, why would you rely on paper to promote your message?

While curbing wasteful printing has always been a priority for our USGBC marketing and communications team, sometimes paper speaks louder than a screen. In fact, science shows that paper can be more effective and memorable than digital.

When we sat down to strategize our marketing for Arc, a digital platform designed to help building projects collect, manage and benchmark their performance data, we knew we needed to supplement our heavily digital-centric marketing with a standout print brochure.

Arc brochure design

The goal was to create an impactful leave-behind to complement the team’s sales efforts. The brochure would be used in meetings and presentations and distributed at various events. The team got started on the design, aiming to have the brochure ready for distribution at Greenbuild Europe, which took place in April in Berlin, Germany.

The trifold design brochure conveys Arc’s innovative and data-centric functionality, with simplicity and ease of use. Its compact size (5.66 by 16.98 inches) is portable, but large enough to accommodate the perfect amount of information, so it’s useful to our customers. The die cuts add dimension and make the brochure eye-catching and modern.

Arc brochure

Per our printing guidelines, the brochure was printed on Mohawk Options paper stock, using soy-based inks by a local FSC Certified printer.

See more of our recent design work

Links we love: What the social media team uses


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Links we love: What the social media team uses

As part of the USGBC marketing and communications team, two to three people handle our social media marketing for USGBC, LEED, our GBCI family of brands and associated accounts like the Center for Green Schools. Across our social media platforms, they balance the needs of creating fun social engagement opportunities with sharing important announcements and keeping a consistent tone.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the resources where they find inspiration:

Julia Pergolini, Social Media Manager

  • I use Hootsuite’s services from time to time, which is originally how I became familiar with their blog. It’s one of the very few that I subscribe to with my regular work email, because I appreciate the content and find it useful for digital content knowledge well beyond the realm of its core services. Also, they offer free webinars galore! They’ve been around for a long time, and I think that counts for something.
  • I’m a huge fan of the knowledge that TrackMaven features regularly on its blog. As a customer of TrackMaven’s analytic software, I trust them as a resource and value what they are about as a company. I subscribe to this blog in my email, but I also love visiting their website (something I can’t say about every company!).
  • I’m new to Sprout Social, but am digging it already! Their design style is great, and visually appealing content is always a plus. They have excellent, relevant resources with digestible and creative delivery. They also look at social in broad contexts and include a lot of information specific to community and project management. I look forward to using their tools more often.

Sarah Stanley, Media and Communications Manager

  • I like the Social Media Today blog—whether it’s an overview on a new feature released on Facebook or just a quick how-to guide on navigating a certain function, this website is a good down-and-dirty resource for getting a basic understanding of hot topics quickly. Another similar resource is Social Media Examiner.
  • As the line between marketing and PR continues to blur, it’s important to expand the industry or trade publications you’re referencing. Sources like PRWeek and AdWeek are not only good for staying on top of what’s happening in the industry, but they also provide in-depth looks at current and recent campaigns. Seeing what others are doing can help spark ideas for how you might leverage social media to support your own goals.
  • Follow the experts. Those who are leading social media efforts for brands should also be on your “must follow” radar on Twitter. Their insights, tips and work are powerful lessons. Try the aumcore list of thought leaders to get you started.

Learn more about creating social media content

USGBC wins AIGA 50 award


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USGBC wins AIGA 50 award

Feature image: Photo by Amanda Gann, courtesy of AIGA DC.

I’m so excited to finally share the news! Our TRUE Zero Waste Certification System branding package, designed by USGBC’s senior graphic designer, Nia Lindsey, was recognized by AIGA DC as one of the 50 best created in Washington, D.C., over the past two years. AIGA 50 honors design that makes an impact, and over 400 entries were submitted for the 2018 competition.

Many from our team were able to accept the award in person at the 15th biennial AIGA 50 Gala, where we rubbed shoulders with some of the top creatives in the area. View all the winning work from 2018.

TRUE Zero Waste is a program for businesses to define, pursue and achieve their zero waste goals, thereby reducing their impact on the natural environment and our collective health. With that in mind, the goal was to create a logo and brand that was innately simple and minimal, while at the same time flexible and adaptable. The final logo embodies a nontraditional, continuous cycle using bold, clean lines.

Read about other award-winning design work at USGBC

Creating links optimized for UX and SEO


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Creating links optimized for UX and SEO

Studies have shown that in general, people on the web do not read content word for word; instead, they quickly scan pages. From the point of view of search engine optimization (SEO), as well as user experience (UX), hyperlinks should concisely describe the content that you are linking to, to jump out at the user and serve as anchor points for scanning.

Your links should rarely say “click here,” “learn more,” and so on—that conceals what a user is clicking on and provides almost no SEO value. It can also be helpful to place your links at the end of a sentence. This way, a user understands the full thought you are trying to convey before having to decide if they want to visit the link.

Here’s a breakdown of some more tips for maximizing SEO and enhancing UX with your hyperlinks.

Use your keywords.

The part of the text that is hyperlinked will be given more weight in search engine rankings than the rest of the text. This will give some benefit to the page containing the link, but it will help the page that is linked to even more.

For example, we have an article that mentions LEED v4. We hyperlink the phrase “LEED v4 is the international standard of high-performance structures” to the static LEED v4 webpage, so the static LEED v4 page will now be more likely to come up if someone searches “high-performance structures.”

If an external website links to your site, the same rules apply. The more visitors and inward-pointing links a site has, the more the entity is considered an authority, and the more SEO value a link from their site to another has. Think about what words people may be searching that could be used to direct them to your content—those are the keywords to place into your web content, especially page titles, headlines and links.

Get into Google Quick Answers.

Google Quick Answers are boxes that appear at the top of a Google search after someone asks Google a question. Getting your content into a Quick Answer box can significantly increase traffic to your site. You can enhance your chances of appearing there by phrasing content in a way that answers a specific question. You could also phrase a link as a question or answer and then link to your own content.

Example:

  • Not optimized: Smart Cities, a course on using smart technology, features Alyson Laura, as she discusses smart cities with two guests.
  • Optimized: Smart Cities is a course on using smart technology. It features Alyson Laura, as she discusses smart cities with two guests. (This is phrased as a direct answer to a question—”What is Smart Cities?—and the entire answer is linked.)

However, make sure you don’t put in extra keywords where they don’t belong—this is called “keyword stuffing,” and you will get the opposite results that you are looking for. Keep a natural flow to your content, and use keywords when they are appropriate. Basically, what Google says is key to great SEO is to create great content and an overall great user experience.

Make choices that are best for your site.

Google does not give away all its secrets, and what is best from a UX standpoint depends on many factors. Even the experts disagree on questions such as “Should I include just the noun in the hyperlink, or the noun and the verb, or the entire sentence?” Here are my thoughts as we look at a few scenarios.

Example:

  • After you finish your first class, review Smart Cities to learn even more.

This simplification helps create clarity for both users and search engines, but if you want to emphasize the user taking an action, you can link the verb as well:

For a list of resources on the page, it is often best to use the full title of the page you are linking to and to link the entire title. From a user perspective, you may also wish to describe what the page does, if it is not in the page title.

Such choices depends on the design of your site (consistency is important), how many links are on the page and how important it is for the user to see the link. Often, rather than integrating the link into the body copy, you can make it stand out to your user by creating a button over the link.

Learn more about user experience on the web

Email marketing cheat sheet


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Email marketing cheat sheet

You don’t need to be an email geek to know that email marketing isn’t dead. In fact, email marketing has an average ROI of 3,800 percent.

Whether you’re working on a one-off email or a nurture campaign, keep these tips in mind for a better email experience.

Write like a human.

Remember that your email is being sent to a fellow human being, and write accordingly. Write in a conversational, trustworthy and upbeat tone. Be concise!

Example:

Original copy: The LEED Steering Committee recently added select Parksmart measures to the LEED innovation catalog.

Edited copy: Boost your LEED project score with Parksmart.

Cut the text.

An email is not a webpage. The copy should serve as a teaser and encourage the reader to take action.

Get creative with format.

No one wants to read long paragraphs of text. Use icons or bullets to break down information so it’s easier to read, especially for viewing on mobile.

Example:

Original copy: “The benefits of Parksmart are that it enables a frictionless experience for your garage user and the environment through removing parking headaches, welcoming and encouraging cyclists and beautifying your garage”

Reformatted copy: The layout below conveys the same information in a format that’s easier to read:

Include a clear call to action.

What is the one takeaway of the email? What is it that you hope your audience will do with the information? Don’t be afraid to get creative with your CTA either.

Examples:

or

Get inspired.

Look at your own inbox to see emails that stand out to you. Visit Really Good Emails for some email inspiration.

Use A/B testing.

Don’t be afraid to test! Every email is a chance to learn something new about your audience. Test your send time, subject line or “from” name.

Learn more about email marketing strategies