Black and White

Branding Insights for Business Success

Black & White is an ongoing compilation of cogent and compelling essays, articles, whitepapers and presentations by Nocturnal offering actionable insights and practical applications to help transform great businesses into successful, thriving brands.

From The Desk Of…

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By Ken Peters

Our methods of communication say a lot about us, and how we feel about the audience we’re communicating with. Email is mundane, perfunctory. Receiving hand delivered correspondence can be a delight, yet writing letters has become something of the past.

A colleague recently lamented, "Some people only communicate with me via Skype. Some, Skype for Business/Lync. Others only by text message. Yet others only use Facebook or Facebook messenger. One only communicates by Twitter DM. Then there's Basecamp. Not to mention email. When everyone wants to reach me at once, it sounds like a pet store at feeding time."

Culturally, we’ve moved onto digital forms of communication. Mail is seen as “junk.” Expensive. Sluggish. Business moves fast. Speed is essential.

Slow down. Taking the time to put your thoughts on paper can enhance the impact, and results, of your communications. The fact that you could dash off an email, yet choose to write then post (as in mail, not upload) a note may end up saying much more than the message itself.

Technology is wonderful; I’m speaking to you through a blog after all. But, have you ever received an e-card – no matter how beautifully designed – and not thought to yourself, “They couldn’t send a ‘real’ card?” Technology doesn’t do your brand any favors when it diminishes the human connection.

Emails, tweets and texts are temporary, and disposable; easy to overlook, to flatly ignore. Paper has weight, and heft. Paper has a voice. The printed page touches, and can be touched in ways bits and bytes on a screen cannot.

Apple takes great care in crafting what they call the “unboxing” experience of their products. Every detail of the packaging, and process meticulously designed to resonate with the consumer; reminding you that you are in receipt of something truly special – that you are truly special. Such brand rituals create important signals, and connections.

Receiving a beautifully designed envelope made from quality paper; opening it, removing, and unfolding the contents to reveal the message can be a powerful brand ritual of its own – full of sights, scents, sounds, and tactile sensations that become indelible brand signals forming personal connections.

Sending your message in an easily disposable digital format marks that message as disposable. In business, if you’re message is seen as disposable your brand is going to be seen as disposable.

Communications from your brand should be coveted. An email from Steve Jobs would have been exciting to receive. Perhaps even printed out and placed in a file for safekeeping. A letter from Steve Jobs, on Apple stationery, would have been archival framed and hung on the wall.

Make personal connections whenever you can. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that have the greatest impact. Whether handwritten or printed, crafting your correspondence with care on stationery or corporate letterhead lends your words weight – literally.


Ken Peters is Co-founding Partner and Creative Director of Nocturnal Branding Studio, a full-service branding and design agency located in Phoenix, AZ. He's been known to design for everyone from Silicon Valley giants to start-up cat toy manufacturers. His work has garnered him everything from a host of awards to a grateful kiss on the cheek. He also makes a mean teriyaki chicken dish, but it hasn't earned any awards. To talk to Ken email him at:


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