Sparks March 2006 -

Sparks March 2006

In the News

Proof in the picture: Positive brands win
As regular Sparks readers know, your brand is an emotional connection with your customer.

What happens when you neglect your brand relationship? Your target market remains closed to your message. Research conducted by University of Louisville scientist Dr Harry Whitaker shows that, when presented with a logo for a company the consumer had a negative impression of, the consumer’s emotions overrode the brain’s logic processing centers. In other words, the consumer “tuned out” the brand message because they had a negative emotion associated with the brand.

The opposite is also true. Consumers with positive brand associations exhibit greater activity in the information-processing centers of the brain. This means they are open to messages from the company because of that positive emotion.
See the research here (click on Beyond “What Happened” to “Why”).

Strengthen your brand by creating a more positive experience for your customers. The better they feel about you, the closer they’ll be listening!

Top 3 myths of search engine rankings
Concerned about how your website ranks in search engines (SEs)? Unfortunately, many marketers (and even web developers) have mistaken views of what will help sites rank higher. Here are the top three:

“Use keywords in meta tags.” Meta tags are HTML code that is invisible to viewers but readable by SEs. In the early days of the Web, SEs used meta tags to help them index a site. Thanks to unscrupulous coders who used misleading keywords to manipulate SEs, most engines don’t even read meta tags any more.

“List your site on as many search engines as possible.” This old chestnut has never had an impact on rankings. Over 90% of SE traffic is controlled by the top 3 engines: Google,, and Yahoo. Getting included in a search engine that only three people use isn’t going to help your site’s ranking. Focus on the top SEs and any directories related to your business for best results.

“‘Stuff’ keywords on the home page.” This tactic has long been frowned on by SEs. Keyword stuffing happens when a coder “stuffs” the same words in every conceivable nook and cranny on a page. Some developers even create blocks of keywords colored the same as the background so they’re invisible to the eye but still readable by SEs. If your site uses this method, it can be permanently banned from the major SEs.

The best way to improve your rankings is to provide valuable content. See our Sparks archive for more on the topic!



This month’s winner: Jen Cairns!
Long-time VisoVerbo player Jen Cairns wins a digital print featuring this one-of-a-kind design. Have a favorite quote or saying? Send it in! If your quote is chosen, you’ll receive a T-shirt with a custom design! Check out your competition here.

Client Spotlight

Indiana University Office for the Vice-President of Information Technology
Following on the success of Indiana University’s METACyt Initiative, which resulted in the largest grant in IU’s history, which resulted in the largest grant in the history of IU Bloomington, we were asked by the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and Research at IU to design the cover of a new Life Sciences Strategic Plan.

The report, presented to IU Trustees in February, calls for spending more than $1 billion over the next 10 years to establish IU as a national leader in life sciences education and research. The strategic plan, which (if adopted) will set strategy for IU’s life sciences efforts for the next decade, calls for building on the university’s strengths in analytical chemistry and cancer research. In addition, the plan encourages “technology transfer” that turns scientific discoveries into commercial opportunities.

Our design for the cover was based, at IU Associate Vice President Craig Stewart’s request, on the design for the highly successful Information Sciences Strategic Plan. A wide stripe down the side in IU’s signature crimson sets off the university’s logo, seal, and report information.

We presented two concepts for the main cover art. The first concept featured a dynamic and colorful illustration of cell structures, combining both the literal message of life sciences and the metaphoric
message of collaboration which is at the heart of the plan’s success.

Our second concept took a completely different approach, focusing tightly on the photo of a young girl’s face and pulling out the tagline in order to emphasize the effects of the plan on future Hoosiers.

Craig chose the cell structure design and we then finessed the cover to create a strong color palette and dynamic typographic composition. With a small initial print run, the report will eventually reach a circulation of thousands and define the strategy for life sciences
development at IU for years to come.