Monthly Archives: January 2013

Ways To Make Graphic Designers Cringe

BuzzFeed released 17 hilarious, cringe-worthy designs that are sure to make you feel uncomfortable. Here’s a taste, but be sure to check out the entire list on BuzzFeed.

1. Kerning

7. The “I just learned Adobe Ilustrator look”

12. Way too twee

Author: Eric Swenson


Precious Privacy

Where has our precious privacy gone? With the advent of texting, tweeting, Facebook, and Instagram—to name a few social platforms—we journalize to the public from the time we wake up until we’re nodding off at night. Is it so important to publicize what I had for lunch or my opinion of the latest movie release? Maybe not, but sharing my opinions and thoughts with my immediate friends is important, and I likewise value their opinions, admittedly more than those of the 4,000+ Facebook followers who don’t really know or understand me.

I have a prediction for the future: Generations to come will go to great lengths to regain the privacy we have given away so freely. Let’s face the fact that corporations like Facebook and Google have more images and content from our private lives than we would prefer. Privacy is a precious commodity that we protect and value. Online discussions of personal medical issues, for example, can detrimentally affect one’s professional future. Photos from one’s sixteenth birthday night—or from a fraternity party otherwise forgotten by all attendees—could show up on a potential employer’s background check and be taken out of context. Even the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently cried foul after some photos she posted on a Facebook page she thought was private somehow propagated through the blogosphere.

Privacy settings are a moving target and porous at best on any given day. Anything we post on a social site is a published document that will outlive all of us. We need to remember that and be more prudent in what we put out there. The intimate details of our lives should be known only by us and our close friends and loved ones.

Author: Donald O’Connell

Vanguard Direct Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

On Thursday, December 27, two teams of Vanguard Direct employees volunteered for the day to help with Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts in the Rockaways. Vanguard Direct partnered with New York Cares, New York City’s largest volunteer organization, which runs volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools. Through New York Cares, one team went to an action center and the other went to help “muck out” homes devastated by the storm.

The first group went to an action center, a repurposed daycare center that was flooded during the storm. While they try to rebuild the center, volunteers have turned it into a distribution point for donations. Those in need were able to pick up donation packages (including items such as soup, stew, and oranges) prepared by the volunteers and were also able to go through clothes and take whatever they needed. Raffles were held in the morning for donated coolers, playpens, and strollers.

Volunteers helping to distribute donated goods to Hurricane Sandy victims. Vanguard Direct employees pictured include Nomi Kaplan, Ron Clemente, and Kathy Lupo.

The second group went to help “muck out” two houses that were destroyed by the storm. The first house needed its floorboards removed, and dressed in Tyvek suits, safety goggles, and respirator masks, our crew took to tearing up the floor with crowbars and hammers. Having cleared all the debris from the residence, we were finished by noon and able to move to a second location. That house required the tiles to be ripped up from the entire, water-damaged first floor. Needless to say, all volunteers were physically spent by the end of the day.

Taking a break from mucking. From left to right: Michael Hiney, Zachary Smith, Natacha Arora, John Mehl, and John Carew.

Other volunteers came from all walks of life and ranged from students to retirees, from white-collar workers to victims of the storm themselves. Despite the diversity, it was clear everyone was here for one reason: they simply wanted to help. Although so much has been done to relieve the pain of the storm, relief efforts are expected to go well into the spring. If you have time to spare, gather up a few friends or coworkers and take a day to help ease the pain from Sandy. Every little bit helps, and it ended up being a lot of fun for everyone involved. To take part in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, visit and make a difference today!

Vanguard Employee Volunteers

Group 1: Samanta Ramroop, Andrea Moglia, Kathy Lupo, Nomi Kaplan, Ron Clemente

Group 2: Michael Hiney, Zachary Smith, Natacha Arora, John Mehl, John Carew

Author: Zack Smith

Augmented Reality and Print

Too often we look at digital technology tools and say, “Uh oh, this will be another nail in the coffin for print.” Some of these tools clearly create alternatives to print, but other emerging technologies are creating exciting opportunities for print.

One such technology is augmented reality (AR), and it is fast becoming one of the more exciting digital technologies used to enhance printed communications. AR is best thought of as an overlay technology used to enhance reality. Computer-generated images and data are used to augment the reality of what you see––often through mobile devices.

There are two types of AR: geolocation-based and vision-based. Geolocation-based AR uses GPS and compass-based tools to point out particular areas of interest. Vision-based AR uses similar tools to create an interactive experience connected to the image or data. Both can powerfully enhance an experience.

How does this relate to print, you ask? Think about a publication where the person on the cover begins to talk to you. Think about a photo of a boat advertisement that begins to sail off into the sunset. Or how about that steak ad that begins to sizzle in front of your eyes?

Strong words and images have long carried very high advertising value. Just imagine what value AR would add. If a picture tells a thousand words, an AR experience increases that value tenfold.

The marketing and branding opportunities are endless, but what about operational solutions? Have you ever had trouble reading the instruction booklet for assembling a barbecue grill? Wouldn’t it be nice to scan that booklet with your phone and see a 3-D animated display of the grill coming together? Or in retail, wouldn’t it be nice to have a sales clerk scan a box to animate what the contents look like once they are assembled? How about using language translations to help non-English-speaking citizens complete an important form or document that qualifies them for some benefit?

Using geolocation-based technology, marketers are exploring how they can make AR a “personal” experience that targets individual preferences. Just as no two Google search results are alike, each AR experience could be unique. Google analyzes your searches and interests to the point where it provides search results that are targeted to you. Geolocation-based AR can provide targeted AR to you in a similar way.

If you’re using Foursquare to track your interests and movements, a geolocated AR experience can use that data to provide you with an experience that lives within your Foursquare data. For instance, if you are a music enthusiast who frequents jazz clubs in NYC, your AR scan of an entertainment magazine might point you to the upcoming jazz schedules at your favorite spots.

The vehicles most used to link AR to print are mobile devices, and it’s important for marketers to embrace mobile technology in a way that supports user preferences. Mobile devices have become the de facto curators of digital assets across a spectrum including business, communications, and entertainment.

Marketers who adopt this technology and find creative uses for it will emerge as thought leaders and create points of distinction for themselves. They will continue to add value to the marketing communications equation and avoid commoditizing themselves. The printed product should no longer be thought of as a “product” but rather as an integrated solution to a communication challenge.

Author: Robert O’Connell