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Our team of writers brings you daily trend coverage, new products, inspiration, information and fun ideas. With an archive of more than 2,194 articles, you're sure to find something you love. Or if you have a great idea, let us know!

Vintage Jewelry - The Ultimate Present for Your Wife’s Birthday


So, it’s that time of the year again – your wife’s birthday is coming up and you are looking for the best way to express your love for her. A million ideas run through your mind and you just can’t decide on the perfect gift to sweep her off her feet.

For any man out there, this can be a stressful situation – wanting so hard to make your woman feel special on her day but not knowing what to get her. You may have considered jewelry as an option because well, which woman doesn’t love jewelry? But not just any jewelry; we are talking about something different and unique – vintage jewelry. Just like many other past fashion trends, vintage jewelry is making a major comeback.

vintage jewelry

Rich in style and history, vintage jewelry is timeless.  Not only does it look stunning, but it also has the power to take you back in time. Every vintage piece is a powerful style statement with a story behind it.

Vintage Style: What’s the Appeal

Since vintage jewelry comes in a variety of styles and shapes belonging to different eras, there is plenty to choose from. Whether you are looking for a beautifully hand-crafted bracelet or an elegant set of crystal earrings, you are sure to surprise your lady love with your choice. There are so many reasons why you can never go wrong with a vintage piece.

Vintage Is Unique

In today’s era of mass production and standardization, it becomes difficult to find jewelry that is unique in its design and appearance. With contemporary jewelry, you are likely to find the same or very similar designs wherever you look.

In the past, jewelry making was a different affair – each piece was beautifully handcrafted providing a lot of attention to detail. You will find each piece of vintage jewelry different from the other.

If your wife is someone who loves originality and standing out from the crowd, a vintage piece is sure to be a valuable addition to her jewelry collection!

Vintage is of Better Quality

If we carefully inspect a vintage piece, we often find that it looks as good as new despite being made years ago. This is because vintage jewelry is often handmade, with each piece carefully crafted to last for years to come.

You can see the amount of time and effort that has gone into getting every tiny detail just right. With a decline in the quality of materials available and a change in crafting techniques, very few manufacturers today can match the quality of an antique piece.

Vintage Jewelry Has a Story to Tell  

If your wife is someone with an interest for everything historical, she is going to love owning vintage jewelry. Every vintage piece takes you back in time to a different era and tells stories of the past. This is what makes this jewelry a lot more valuable than modern varieties.

Vintage Doesn’t Cost an Arm and A Leg

Some people may have the misconception that vintage jewelry costs more than its contemporary counterparts. Despite its growing popularity, there are many affordable options and with a bit of research, it is possible to find good value for money.

Buying online is a great option as you can take your time going over the options and find excellent deals by comparing prices of different vendors. So no more sleepless nights when deciding to buy your queen an exquisite birthday present.

vintage jewelry

Vintage is Trendy

In the hustle and bustle of the world that we live in today, we are gradually finding ourselves returning to our roots and cherishing the beauty and simplicity of the good old days. This applies to jewelry too!

Vintage never goes out of style; it is always eye-catching and helps one stand out from the crowd whether it is worn at a party or on the red carpet. Your lady is sure to turn a few heads while flaunting her vintage jewelry and she will love you for it!

There’s Plenty of Choice

When buying vintage jewelry, there is so much choice that you are sure to find a piece that your wife will instantly fall in love with. A beautiful vintage ring featuring diamonds or stones is something that any woman would love to wear on a daily basis as a symbol of her man’s love.

Choose from designs of the Georgian era that come with simple yet elegant floral designs or if you are after something more artsy, perhaps something from the Art Deco era will be more suitable.

If your wife loves pearls, the classic pearl necklace – Pearls of Joy – is a fashion staple any woman would love to own as it’s the perfect accessory to add a touch of class and elegance to any outfit.

Pendants are another great option – they are simple yet chic and definitely very much in style. A beautiful pair of earrings or a bracelet can also be bought depending on your wife’s preferences. Pay special attention to the kind of jewelry she usually wears so that you can buy something in line with her personal style.

vintage jewelry

At the end of the day, a good birthday present for your lady is one she will remember and cherish for years to come. It is for this very reason that vintage jewelry is the ultimate present for the most special woman in your life on her birthday.

No woman will be disappointed receiving a stunning piece of jewelry carefully selected by the man she loves. It is timeless – a good piece of jewelry will be of value now and forever. And the best thing is, there is a style to suit every personality. Whether your wife is a minimalist or someone who loves making bold fashion statements, you are sure to find a piece that will make her feel loved on her big day!

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How to Plan a Fairy Tale Wedding


fairy tale wedding

Once Upon A Time…

A little girl dreams of meeting prince charming, being whisked away on a white horse (or unicorn), and having the perfect fairy tale wedding. As she grows older, the reality of adult life can make her more cynical about these golden fantasies. Fortunately, with careful consideration, a healthy dose of planning, and a sprinkle of fairy dust, the bride-to-be can still have the fairy tale wedding that she deserves…

 

What Does Magic Mean to You?

When we think of fairy tale weddings, perhaps the first image that comes to mind is of a Disney prince and princess being wed in a grandiose castle. That’s all well and good; however, people of royalty aren’t the only characters in Disney films to get married. Consider Robin Hood & Maid Marian in Robin Hood, Carl & Ellie in Up, Mulan & Shang in Mulan, or even Pongo & Perdita in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The point is: you don’t need to come from a royal family, or possess kingly amounts of wealth, to have a fairy tale wedding.

The concept of a fairy tale wedding was introduced to the world by Disney films, where we also find talking furniture, singing animals, and impromptu musicals. This concept has since gone on to make crazy amounts of money for the wedding industry. So, you have to ask, what does it mean to you to have a fairy tale wedding?

It’s not so much the surface level things that make your big day magical; its how you feel about everything that’s important, which is determined by the people who help you celebrate this momentous occasion, and the vibe you create, whatever your budget is. Forget about what someone else’s vision of a fairy tale wedding is – what’s yours? What would make your day magical?

Identify what would truly make for a fulfilling wedding, and then you can plan your perfect day accordingly, whether that’s with white horses and a multi-tiered cake in a castle, or a disco and a BBQ in your back garden.

fairy tale wedding

 

Castles in the Sky

Not everyone can afford to hire a castle or a palace to get married in. However, there are plenty of more affordable venues, like stately homes, hotels, or ballrooms that can just as powerfully evoke your inner princess. Ballrooms tend to possess impressive architecture, complete with chandeliers and beautiful curtains.

Then there’s the option of foregoing buildings altogether; how about getting married in a forest? Outdoor weddings can be a beautiful alternative, and tying the knot in a natural landscape full of trees creates a different kind of fairy tale magic. This can be coupled with large marquees for the wedding reception and portable food stalls for the catering to create a unique and memorable alfresco wedding experience.

You can also save money by booking cheap or free venues for your wedding reception, such as having it at the house of a relative or close friend, in a local park, or on the beach.

 

An Invitation to the Magic

With personalised wedding invitations you can ensure the magic begins long before your guests reach the venue. Entice guests into your fairy tale fantasy with a beautiful design that reflects your unique style and gives them an insight into the kind of vibe to expect on the day. Just imagine how delighted you’d be to receive such a lovely invitation delivered through your letterbox.

 

Sprinkle a Little Magic

Wherever the ceremony is held, it’s the small details that can transform your normal wedding venue into a fairy tale-come-true, as if by magic. Using inexpensive fabrics as drapery is a beautiful way to decorate your venue, and can be used to cover tables, walls, and any other surface that feels too bare. The use of ribbons is another great way to add a visual touch of class.

The lighting is also important. Having the place decorated in fairy lights looks beautiful and doesn’t cost much. When night falls, using candles in candelabras is a classier alternative to electronic lighting and creates a more romantic atmosphere. Then you have the centrepieces on the tables, which can be elaborate and beautiful without breaking the bank.

fairy tale wedding

 

Fairy Tale Flowers

Of course, flower arrangements are an absolute must, and add a touch of natural magic to any room. Typical fairy tale flowers are roses, peonies or hydrangeas, which can be arranged in colourful bouquets. Alternatively, using just one kind and colour of flower can be visually striking, and white flowers in particular evoke a sense of purity and magic. Using trees to adorn the aisle adds a sense of the fantastical as the bride walks among them on her way to tie the knot.

 

Dressed for the Part

No fairy tale wedding would be complete without the dress. What constitutes a magical look will of course differ between each bride-to-be. It could be an incredibly sparkly and attention-grabbing affair, along with velvet gloves and loud jewellery, or something much more understated, perhaps adorned with a tiara and a choker. It all depends on your tastes.

Once the bride’s outfit has been meticulously designed, then all the royal subjects need to look the part too. The outfits of your bridesmaids and pageboys all deserve careful consideration, and the style of their clothing should complement the style of the overall event.

 

Here Comes the Bride

One of the most important parts of the whole day that should be injected with fairy tale magic is the bride’s entrance. There are many ways you can make it stand out; the use of dramatic music, or even better, live music, can make this special moment all the more emotional, as well as having bridesmaids scatter rose petals around the bride as she enters.

fairy tale wedding

 

And They Lived Happily Ever After…

A fairy tale wedding may seem like something that’s exclusive to your most cherished dreams, but with planning and action, you can turn those dreams a beautiful reality.

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The Hottest Color and Shopping Trends for Spring and Summer 2019


Hottest Color and Shopping Trends

 

Shoppers and retailers have one thing in common: they always want to stay on top of the latest trends. And that is why everyone should be on the lookout for the hottest shopping trends out there.

 

The thing about fashion and shopping trends is that every season, a lot of things fall out of favor and many other trends rise. And yet there are classics that continue to reign, so you should know about those eternal trends.

 

Whether it’s for spring or summer, it can be quite difficult to keep up with these ever-changing trends. So today, we will take a look at the colors and trends that are dominating this year, so that you don’t get left out. Suffice to say, spring and summer 2019 are going to be exciting.

The Colors of Spring and Summer

 

For 2019, the hottest colors are going to be red, clear blue, yellow, orange, and metallic. You can go bold with your color options this year because these hues are going to be everywhere.

 

Wine red, mandarin orange, butter yellow, teal, and mauve are the colors of the season. However, metallic pieces should not be ignored, because these items have been conquering the runway for a while. Even various metallic shades are being used to shake things up: pink, gold, and green that lean towards silver, for example, are worth exploring.

 

For even more options, there are other sleeper picks to look out for. Living coral, which is a salmon-pink color, is a surprisingly popular pick. Dove blue, lemon verbena, dusty rose, and even beige are slowly making a case for themselves.

 

The color theme of spring and summer 2019 is “empowering colors”. These various shades could make anyone feel empowered.

Denim and Leather Remain in the Spotlight

 

Fashion designers are still flaunting their skills by using these two, ever-reliable materials. Denim and leather are all over the runways, and you can expect them to be everywhere this season too.

 

However, crochet and vinyl are hot on their tracks and are eagerly waiting for their moment in the spotlight, because these fashion choices are definitely gaining popularity.

Shoes and Accessories to Wear this Season

 

Instagram really is taking over the social media industry by storm, and that is part of the reason why millennial's are so trend-conscious these days. Accessories that are slowly captivating this generation are micro-sunglasses, fishing hats, scarves, and necklaces. It’s interesting that millennial's are stacking as many necklaces as possible—this is a surprising new trend that remains relevant in spring and less for summer 2019.

 

And don’t underestimate the power of statement earrings. Bigger, angular, and embellished statement earrings are really making their mark on the fashion world these days.

 

As for shoes, you’ll see a strikingly large amount of yellow being worn everywhere: runways, streets, etc. Footwear choices that were popular last season are expected to remain on top of the trends this year. But also try animal prints, transparent bands, and rope/braided slippers if you want to spice things up.

Other Trends to Watch Out for

 

Catwalks were filled with asymmetrical, one-shoulder dresses. But even more interesting is the fact that the polo dress is seemingly making a comeback. The oversized shirt, the so-called boyfriend shirt, and the oversized blazer are also in this season.

 

If you want to keep things interesting, the Wild West remains an important theme that anybody can try. Cotton is combed with heavier suedes and leather. The western focus easily shifts from practical outerwear to more romantic clothing.

Keep up with the latest fashion trends this season and visit The Shops @Rockvale at 35 S. Willowdale Drive, Lancaster, PA 17602.

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7 Ways to Boost Your Brand Identity Online


brand

Before you can take steps to boost your online brand, you need to know what you want it to be. Your brand identity is akin to your personal identity.

 

The characteristics and traits that differentiate you from others constitute your personal identity. Your brand identity is made up of the look and feel of how your company presents itself including your:

 

  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Jingle
  • Slogan
  • Typography
  • Packaging
  • Content

 

Your brand identity includes any visual or audio representations that others recognize as your company.

Be Consistent

Brands that consistently and honestly promote their message are powerful. Think about some of the most famous brands. What is it about them makes them recognizable to you?

 

Is it their logo like McDonald's golden arches? Or their slogan like Verizon's "Can you hear me now"? What do you think of when you hear "Good to the last drop?" That's right, Maxwell House coffee.

 

How did these major brands gain such recognition? By consistently and repeatedly exposing the public to their visual, audio, and content-related brand identity.

 

The more consistent you are in your branding, the more familiar your target market will become with your business.

Create a Brand Book

Once your company has established your brand identity and chosen your logo, tone, typography, and design styles, you want to be sure all employees and departments consistently speak in one voice.

 

Creating a professional brand book will keep your entire team on point with your brands message. Also, being able to align your business strategy with your brand position is facilitated by the creation of a brand book.

 

It also saves time for companies of all sizes if you add staff to your team or replace a designer. New employees can get up-to-speed very quickly by referring to your brand guidelines.

Speak with One Voice

Your brand is also reflected in what you do and don’t say on social media. Part of your brand identity is to know your target audience and to speak to them on all relevant platforms in the same voice.

 

Spend more time on the social media platforms where your target audience hangs out. For example, if you are selling clothes for teenage girls, your social media focus should be on Instagram and Tumblr as opposed to Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Be sure that the type of language you use, like your captions on Instagram or your Facebook posts, speak directly to your audience.

 

All content you publish and share, such as blog posts or social media stories, should reflect your brand and be consistent.

 

Whether your brand voice is humorous, makes use of colloquialisms, or is more fact-based and diplomatic, as long as you "speak" consistently and authentically, your audience will feel a connection to you and be more likely to trust your brand.

Use an Emotional Appeal

Did you know that most purchase decisions are based on emotion? For brands who are trying to get more buyers, understanding this concept can help.

 

Your brand story should communicate feelings by appealing to the emotions of your target audience.

 

Even if someone in your target audience sees an online video, image, or post, and they are not ready at that moment to make a purchase, they will feel a connection to your brand.

 

If they consistently see the same or similar messaging that elicits an emotional response, when they are ready to make a purchase, guess whose brand they will remember? The one they feel an emotional connection to and the one they trust is the brand they will purchase from when ready.

Be Creative

When you are developing your brand strategy, be creative so that your online voice and content is unique, engaging, and compelling.

 

It is vital that your brand stand out from your competitors. So when deciding on your company logo, the fonts you use, the colors you choose, and your overall style, make sure they all resonate with your prospective customers.

 

To determine your correct voice and identity, study the demographics, preferences, and needs of your target market.

Understand Your Competition

For your target market to purchase from you and not your competitors, you should know who is competing with you in the same space and what they are doing to attract customers.

 

Do some research to find out where they are hanging out online and be sure you are there, too. Your goal is to do what your competitors are doing - only do it better.

 

Also, try to identify gaps in what your audience needs to see or hear and develop your brand strategy around what your competitors are not doing.

 

You want your brand to fulfill needs, be the solutions for any problems, and be memorable and recognizable.

Show Some Personality

Some companies decide to create a fun and humorous brand identity. If you are in a niche where being comedic is appropriate, give it a shot.

 

Some major brands create silly or outrageous online campaigns that work. A few examples are:

 

  • Charmin: Using cute and silly campaign strategies, like the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat, help to keep Charmin a leader in the toilet paper industry due to their creative marketing strategies.

 

  • Old Spice: Historically known as your dad’s aftershave, Old Spice chose to rebrand in unusual and humorous ways, including using sassy social media strategies to remain relevant and memorable.

 

  • Squatty Potty: This brand utilizes unusual and comedic marketing to promote a rather bizarre concept. But it works. After receiving financial backing from appearing on Shark Tank, Squatty Potty enjoys market dominance in a somewhat sensitive niche.

 

Creating and building a brand identity is a process, and it is often not a finite one. In the case of Old Spice, they needed to rebrand to remain competitive.

 

Continue to study your market and your competitors. Measure the success of your current branding initiatives and marketing strategies.

 

Make changes where needed and test branding strategies frequently to keep your brand in the minds of your target audience.

 

Image Pixabay CC0 License

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things to Keep in Mind to Make Your Website Look More Attractive


website design

All the web designers wish that they work on a well designed and formatted website. However, it doesn't mean that the website has to look all glitter and flawless. It means that how professional and sophisticated your site looks. Reason being, a number of websites are available online that are attractive but are unable to enchant and captivate potential customers. Therefore, web designing is crucial if you want your business to grow when it comes to web designing.

 

This article has clubbed together some of the top ways in which you can make your website look more attractive.

 

  • Keep the basic design simple

You must have noticed that certain websites have dozens of highlights, drop shadows, borders, and colors over the webpage. This would look colorful but might often fail to attract the customers. If you are planning to create a web design that it is loaded with colors and lines, this might be the right to drop it. Reason being, visitors will find it really hard to hunt for the relevant information and might consequently drop the idea of visiting your site.

 

In this era, minimalism in everything is becoming more and more wanted. Therefore, you should adopt a more sophisticated design that looks neat and tidy when approached. Adding tons of flashy elements will ultimately turn off the impression of your content and services provided.

 

  • Make the navigation over your website easy

An ultimate goal that every skillful web designer aspires to achieve is to give the best customer experience. A responsive web designer will make both the ends meet to get the best out of what is available. One of the awesome ways by which he can achieve this is causing the navigation over your website simple. Customers are in a great hurry to hunt for the required information.

 

Therefore, the website should look clean, neat and well organized so that the customers can get what they want easily with just a few hits.

 

  • Use the white space thoughtfully

Having a cluttered website design makes it tough for any visitor to be able to differentiate between various thoughts and ideas. It is necessarily the empty space that is devoid of any text or image and is strategically used to give a neat layout to the site. Moreover, white space determines the readability of the content published on your website along with deciding how appealing it looks to any visitor.

 

  • Use big and high-quality images

Using high-quality images may take a bit of time to get loaded, however, will make your website appear one in a million. Using these high-quality images will enable your site to look more professional. This will attract customers and eventually increase the traffic on your website.

 

Therefore, factors like choice of font, quality of images, use of CTA buttons etc. are essential when it comes to web designing. The first impression over your potential customers must be great. This will make them to visit our website more often.

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How to Build Your Website to be Safe From Cyber Attacks


cyber security

Today, at least 55% of all websites are built on content management systems (CMS). Data from Web Technology Surveys show that only 45.4% of websites are coded from scratch.
While CMS platforms such as WordPress present an easier way to build websites and also come with a lot of SEO tools and advantages, they are not without downsides.
The key one is cybersecurity with studies showing that most come with security vulnerabilities. This explains why websites built on CMS are among the top hacking targets on the internet.
Whether you are using a CMS or coding your website from scratch, it is essential that you take precautionary cybersecurity measures.
Remember that the internet users of today are highly informed and super-conscious about cybersecurity and are therefore likely stigmatise your brand at the first sign security loopholes.
Here are some cybersecurity tips to take into account when building a website using a CMS. Some of these measures are also applicable to hand-coded websites.

Ensure secure hosting
Before everything else, you need to ensure that you subscribe to a reputable and adequately secure web hosting.
The first step to determining the best web hosting provider is by reading other customers’ online reviews. It is important to note that some of these reviews may be faked and therefore only settle for a well-known provider.
Also, ensure that the hosting provider offers the necessary tools to secure your site and its functionality. Some of the things to look for include the SSL certificate and an SFTP option. CMS platforms such as WordPress provide free SSL certificates.
Another thing worth checking is whether the hosting provider offers backup tools. These tools protect your data from loss in the event of a system failure. While the task of backing up your data relies on you, you should ensure that the hosting provider has sound backup procedures and they back up their servers regularly.

You should also check whether their servers are maintained adequately and have a published security protocol.
Have a web-application firewall (WAF) in place

Another must-have tool in the website building process is a web application firewall (WAF). This tool can be software or hardware based, and its main purpose includes filtering unwanted traffic between your website server and data connection.
Common forms of cybersecurity issues addressed by WAF include hacks, DDoS attacks, Brute Force attacks, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and Zero-day exploits.
Even better, this tool offers virtual patching before CMS platforms release virtual patches. The virtual patching is on a continuous basis meaning that hackers have no room to exploit unseen security loopholes.

On top of that, a WAF increases site speed and performance via top-level caching mechanisms. In the unlikely event that your website gets infected, a WAF greatly enhances the ability to clean your website faster and efficiently.

If you are using WordPress, there are numerous WAF plugins that you can install on your website. Popular plugins include Wordfence, Sucuri, Cloudflare, Stackpath, and NinjaFirewall.

Have Monitoring tools in Place
Website security monitoring tools are meant to help you to scan for vulnerabilities on your website and take the necessary measures.
Without these tools, you are likely to remain in the dark on the potential dangers facing your website until it is too late.
For most CMS platforms, there are multiple free tools that you can install to receive updates on your website security. The most common with WordPress users is SiteLock, a tool that identifies and fixes threats.
Other common monitoring tools that you should look for include Scan My Server, Sucuri, Quttera, Detectify, Web Inspector, and Netsparker Cloud. Each of these tools has unique monitoring functions, and therefore you should explore each and its benefits.
Use a VPN

A VPN is another must-have tool for your website security. With cyber attacks becoming complicated by the day, cybersecurity experts are recommending an extra layer of security on top what is commonly used.
What a VPN does is to encrypt your internet activity hence keeping off snoopers including your ISP, government agencies and cyber attackers.
In most instances, hackers must identify your hosting details to be able to perpetrate attacks on your website. A VPN alongside SSL completely hide your activities and CMS usage behind multiple layers of encryption.

Whether you are building your own site or for a client, a VPN will help you hide your trails and therefore keep attackers at bay. When shopping for a VPN, only settle for reputable brands and do research on where they stand in terms of speed, security, and accessibility.
There are many VPN options out there, but from our own experience, NordVPN is the best for website security.
Final Verdict
Website security should be a top priority for every web developer irrespective of whether they are coding from scratch or using a CMS. The website building process should involve measures such as researching and installing highly reputable security tools.

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Lighting Colour And The Effect On Our Sleep


lamp shade

Sleep is one of the most important activities that we engage in and it’s essential to ensuring optimal health. Lack of sleep can compromise your ability to perform even the most basic mental functions like focusing on a task or processing thoughts clearly. That’s why it’s paramount to not only focus on the quantity of sleep but on the quality as well.

According to experts, light exposure can have a tremendous effect your body’s internal clock. This is what makes us feel sleepy when it’s dark and energized when the suns out. New research suggests that it’s not just the presence or absence of light that affects our circadian rhythm, but the color of that light as well.

This might explain why we feel a certain way when we see a beautiful peachy sunset or the blue light emanating from our electronic devices.  Read on to find out how lighting color can affect your sleep.

 

Blue Light

It’s a well-known fact that the blue light coming from our laptops and smart devices can have a detrimental effect on our circadian rhythm. That’s because it suppresses the body’s ability to produce melatonin and this gives rise to problems like insomnia and restlessness. That’s also why we tend to have a harder time falling sitting in front of a laptop or smartphone screen.

The PLOS Biology journal published a 2015 study which was aimed at understanding how mice responded to light color exposure. What makes this study unique is the fact that it focused on the effect of light color on suprachiasmatic nucleus. This is the part of the brain that regulates time through chemical signals. As such, the researchers checked the mice’s mental and physical chemical reactions to light color changes.

During the research, the mice were exposed to different levels of light intensity and darkness while measuring their suprachiasmatic nerve signals. To achieve this, the researchers used a “fake sky” setup, kind of like in the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show. The researchers also tested the mice’s response to different light colors like the purples and peaches that you get during sunrises and sunsets.

The data showed that the mice reacted normally to regular light exposure. However, the response of their suprachiasmatic nerve signals showed a 30 minute delay whenever they were exposed to conditions that went from light to dark without any changes in color hue. This is like working on your laptop all night and being exposed to its blue light and then suddenly switching it off without any sort of transition light color.

This research also shows us that the mice actually needed changes in light color to help them transition from light to dark. So the intensity and color of light has a strong correlation to our sleep patterns because science has shown us that there is a strong link between humans and mice in terms of suprachiasmatic nerve signals.

It’s also interesting to note that LED light bulbs may affect our ability to fall asleep because they emit more blue light than other light bulbs. But, according to the Elektra lighting design team, light fittings with specially engineered LED light can actually facilitate better sleep by emiting a unique amber glow.

 

Rectifying the Problem

The good news is that there are certain methods that we can apply to correct the problems caused by blue light exposure. The most obvious solution is to work on drastically reducing your exposure. This is understandably difficult for anyone living in the 21st century because we conduct most of our lives through a screen interface.

But, even if you can’t eliminate the use of blue light emitting screens during the day, you may do so at night. Try and read a book instead of looking at your cellphone, resist the urge to check emails or texts before bedtime, and avoid watching TV for at least two hours before you sleep.

If you can’t completely avoid blue light exposure at night, then wear orange tinted sunglasses while looking at the screen to reduce its effects on your biology. Orange tinted glasses help to block the blue light, thus making it easier to fall asleep afterward.

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Why Every Business Needs a Style Guide


style guide

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Whether you’re a big believer in marketing, or you think that if you build it people will buy it, the fact is that your business is a brand. Your brand is like your business card, and it’s what people will experience long before they actually do business with you. It precedes you, and it’s something that you need to fine-tune constantly if you want to be able to stand out from the crowd.

 

To give you plenty of food for thought, we’ve put together a simple 5 minute read that will tell you everything you need to know about a commonly overlooked creative tool: the style guide. Have a read, sit back and reflect, and then put the hints and tips into action. Your brand will be all the better for it in no time at all.

 

A style guide saves you from wasting time discussing tangential ideas

The first thing to note about a style guide is that it will always save you time in the long run. People will probably think you’re indulging in a drawn out needlessly creative endeavor when you suggest creating a style guide, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

It will take some time to get it right, but that’s just the cost of building a brand that actually stands for something. Commit to finishing your guide no matter what, and always remember that it will save you plenty of time later on. It’s there as reference material for the lifetime of your business, and it will prove invaluable when it inevitably comes time to rebrand, or when you’re launching a new product or service. The more you put into it now, the more it will give back when you need it.

 

It will ensure you stay ‘on-brand’ at every creative turn

Staying true to your brand is easier said than done. When you’re in the thick of it and faced with half a dozen mounting deadlines it can be all too easy to churn out a logo that’s okay, and a tagline that you think is ‘good enough’. The problem is that once you launch them into the market they’re now the face of your brand. If they don’t fit with what you’ve done before then they’ll just confuse people.

 

You could always retract them, but then you just look like you’re chopping and changing the offering based on negative feedback. And that’s a surefire to lose your voice of authority and open yourself up to further criticism. Your audience doesn’t want to believe that you’re just telling them what they want to hear. They want to believe that you’re the authority, the thought leader, and the trendsetter that they’ve been waiting to buy into.

 

They connect your brand to your target audience

If you want to know why style guides matter, all you need to do is think about the last bad branding exercise you saw. It could be a website, fashion label, home collection, or anything that left you speechless. With so many different creative threads to play with, you’ll probably have been confused at how they could have got it so wrong.

 

The issue will, more than likely, have been that there was no style guide in place. The style guide is what you use to ensure there is uniformity and a common thread running through every aspect of a marketing campaign. It’s easy to copy and paste the same old tagline, but there’s a lot more to uniformity than that. You need to tailor each offering so that it’s suitable for every new platform and setting, but in a way that’s sensitive to the core of your brand. Which leads us nicely onto the next point on our list.

 

 

You can express your brand’s core ethos in a variety of different mediums

Your brand needs to have something at the center of it if it’s going to connect with the people you want to do business with. It’s an emotion that it evokes in people, and it will be far stronger than their memory of your latest tagline, sale, or discount offer.

 

The problem with tackling different promotional mediums without a style guide is that most of the time a different person will have input into each platform. You may all be working for the same end goal, but unless there is central creative guide you can all refer back to then it’s unlikely you’ll end up pulling in the same direction.

 

Your customers will actually know what you stand for

Businesses like the The Word Point work in a very specialist niche, and so need to target a specific section of the online market. This means that they need to stand for something, and just as importantly, they need to ensure that their customers know they stand for it.

 

By compiling a style guide that focuses on precision, flexibility, and knowledgeable input they can build a creative framework around their brand. If you can do the same, you’ll be able to tell a potential audience of millions what your business stands for.

 

What should your style guide include?

The specifics will depend on the size of your brand, and what industry you work in, but there are a number of core features every style guide must have:

 

  • Your logo, along with alternative forms that are used in specific settings, or on specific platforms
  • Guidelines on the position, sizing, and background colors of all content pages and their contents
  • Base typography that will be used for all of your content
  • Your core color palette that can be referred to when designing new content
  • A list of things to be avoided at all costs as they are not in alignment with your brand’s ethos

 

Static or dynamic style guides?

A style guide has to be a dynamic document, but one that is governed by a certain set of creative rules:

 

  • Guides need to evolve with the times so that they reflect the changes businesses undergo as the years go by
  • They must adapt to the launch of new sections of the business, but do so in a way that brings the new ventures under the same core brand of the business
  • Style guides cannot be chopped and changed purely because a new idea doesn’t fit in with them. Think about whether the new idea has had anything like the degree of thought put into it as the style guide, and then decide which one you’re going to keep

 

Getting the balance right between process and creativity

The final thing to say is that a style guide is a great way to help you find the right balance between process and creativity. If you have a deadline, it can be all too easy to submit something that does the job and be done with it.

 

What the style guide does in these instances is keep your output honest so that you can see whether your new content actually adds anything to your brand. Often you’ll find that referring back to the style guide points you in a subtly different direction that makes all the difference to the finished article. Ideal if you want to enhance your brand every single day.

 

pauline farris

BIO: Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.

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Interview With an Artist - Colors & Music


In our previous articles, we've talked about color and psychology, the meaning of colors in different cultures with particular attention to how colors evoke emotions. We know that music holds the same power - we are able to experience a variety of emotions by listening to music, and today we are wondering what is the connection between sounds and colors - can we connect one color with a certain sound and whether these have the same meaning when interpreted by our brains?
To discover more, we are talking to Umut Eldem, a composer, pianist, and art researcher. His main field of research is synesthesia, and he will tell us more about this curious phenomena.

 

Hi Umut! Your field of interest is synesthesia, could you tell us more about what synesthesia is and why is it so interesting for you?

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which a person experiences multiple senses from only one sensory input. For example, along with hearing a sound, a person with synesthesia can also feel a certain taste; or while reading they can see that some letters are in different colors. What is particularly interesting for me is when people can see colors and shapes when they hear music, also called chromesthesia (sound-to-color synesthesia). Every synaesthetic person usually has their own colors they associate with different notes, letters, and so on.

 

Do we know any famous artists who had/have synesthesia?

It is known that certain composers had synesthesia, such as Olivier Messiaen, Franz Liszt, and Duke Ellington, but we didn't know much about it until recently. Now, we can do MRI scans and see that different parts of the brain are active when people with synesthesia experience an input of sound or other senses, which is different than the reaction of an average brain. Science couldn't prove it before the technology allowed us, but what is more interesting for me is to understand how these composers correlated notes they wrote and instruments they used to create music with their condition and the colors they saw. This could also help us understand their music better - the ideas they expressed and what we actually identify with.

 

Umut Eldem - photo of the artist

 

How can scientific research in this area connect with your artistic research?

There are many scientists researching synesthesia, especially cognitive scientists and neuroscientists, and what they are exploring is a more practical side of synesthesia. They are researching whether is more common to males or females, is it more common with artists, left-handed people, etc. They are trying to answer the question of why is it happening.

As an art researcher, I am looking into the ways that we can have a better understanding of the artistic manifestation of synesthesia, and how to use it to express ourselves as artists in more than one discipline. What I'm exploring is how we can use synesthesia even if we don't have it, and how an average brain connects colors and sounds. Knowing more about it can help musicians experience musical concepts of the composers they listen to better and bring the process of creating and performing music to the interdisciplinary scene.

What are you working on right now?

My current research is pointed at discovering a general theory of how we connect colors and sounds in order to develop software which can convert music into visual ideas, shapes, and colors in an intuitive way, and to use it as a tool for performing musicians. So, for example, as the violin plays, you can project the video performance which directly responds to the music played. This will, of course, be different from the audio visualizers on media players of computers, where it just mathematically connects frequencies to visuals.

I am also conducting artistic experiments where I can see how visual input affects musicians. I am adding ‘synaesthetic’ colors to their sheet music and finding out if it is easier for them to play like that, or more difficult. The practical result of this research will be to enhance music performance.

 

Do you use colors in your performances, when you play music?

Before learning about synesthesia, I didn't. But now, my interest is growing and I am implementing colors in my performances. For example, I did a performance with a narrator, which was reading a piece to the audience, and my soundscape was playing from four speakers set in the room. I used light bulbs which were connected to an app on my phone, so I was able to change the color of the lights based on the tone of the story and also the sound, integrate different colors in different parts of the text.

Performance “Prelude”

 

How did the audience relate to this piece?

The thing is, when you present an audio-visual piece, music, and colors together, the audience will usually find it pleasurable as long as they roughly go along together, so it is difficult to understand these sensations deeply. However, I have received comments from the audience that they did find harmony in the way the lights were responding to the music and the story, and connect to the story on a new level.

Although, what is much more interesting for me, as I said before, is to have a video that responds to live music in an intuitive way to our perception. This might be a new way of experiencing music.

What kind of artistic experiments do you do?

What is interesting for me to work with is improvisation. I like to see how a musician plays a "red triangle" for example. If they see shapes changing on the screen, how will a pianist, a violinist, and a drummer react to these shapes as they change? For me, as an observer, this reaction of music to visual art has an aesthetic value, but for the musicians, it has an insightful significance - by doing this they discover more about themselves and how they correlate visual ideas with the music and which aspect of music they will turn to.

 

Melissa Mccracken Synesthesia examples

 

How is synesthetic art different for musicians and visual artists?

Visual art is usually stationary, comparing to music when we talk about paintings for example. There is a static image that we process in our own time and have an individual experience, while music is a more temporal process and we all have the same time to experience it. When a classic artist responds to music visually, they are putting music into one frame. There are synesthetic painters who draw the music they hear, such as contemporary Melissa McCracken. When you are a visual artist with chromesthesia, it is easier to express it because you already see colors and you are creating a visual output. It is also easier for the audience to relate to the synesthesia of a visual artist, but for music, it often requires an explanation or an additional dimension, like a visual element to realize the synesthetic potential of the music.

Visual artists are very inspired by music. Is it a myth that they spontaneously reflect what they hear?

I would say that it depends on the artist, but we all have the ability to connect what we experience between different senses, with or without synaesthesia. We are all reflecting differently, it is all very idiosyncratic. With synaesthetic people, everyone has their own color for the same source, and you will usually get something different. The interesting thing is that even though we always react to music in our own way, there is still a pattern in the big picture. Our experience is unique, but there is a general tendency of people to connect music and art in the same way. For example, we tend to combine warmer colors with fast, happy, exciting music, while we combine colder colors with the opposite- slow and sad. I immediately think of the ‘Blues’ music genre. I believe that the biggest value of my research is understanding this general tendency in combining visuals and music in creating something unique.

What is next that is coming up?

Next week I am delivering a workshop as a part of my project "Drawn to music", as a part of the project week NextDoors, in Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, in Belgium. There will be musicians playing in response to visual art, but also the musicians that will draw what they hear. This two-way process will repeat itself and we will see how artists react visually to music and musically to visuals.

 

If you want to contact Umut and give your input to his research or ask him about it, you can reach him by email. You can also find him on soundcloud.

Umut’s lecture on synesthesia you can find on youtube.

 

Author: Nina Petrov

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Tips for Strategic Writing for Your Brand


strategic writing

Content marketing is essential for branding. Special marketing content plays an important role to increase the engagement of customers. To get desired results, you have to create engaging web content with a tagline, a catchy message, and call to action. With inspiring stories, you can create the first impression with your customers. Consider the advice of professional writers with the story and essay help to give a different voice to your business. Make sure to engage people with your brand to drive desired behavior.

Every brand needs high-quality, original content to bring your brand to life. Here are some essential components of strategic writing:

  • Tagline (a clear message for your customers)
  • Web content
  • Brand manifestos and brand stories
  • Marketing brochures
  • Important marketing articles

Strategic writing for your brand is necessary to increase the engagement of customers on a deeper level. Feedback and involvement of people are essential to get fresh ideas to make your brand memorable. Original content is authentic and compelling for your customers.

Bring Traffic with Articles

As per Derek Halpern, you have to spend 20% of your time in writing and 80% in its promotion. If you know promotion tactics, you can bring visitors even with mediocre content. Without contagious content, your dream to get tons of traffic can’t become a reality. Communicable means engaging articles. Try to write on interesting topics that force readers to share it with other people. With contagious articles, you can naturally increase your traffic.

Work on a Proven Idea

If you want to increase awareness of your brand through your writing, you have to be shameless to steal ideas of other people. A tool like Buzzsumo may help you to find strong ideas. Type your keywords in the search field and check the most shared blogs and articles based on your anchor texts.

Check community sites to see massively contagious articles and blog posts. If you are blogging in the marketing niche, you can find great ideas from Buzzsumo. It is true that you can steal ideas, but you can’t steal words from other articles. Your readers will ultimately find that you are a copycat. This situation can ruin your credibility.

Keep it in mind that you can improve articles and an original idea so that people can’t recognize it. Here are some ideas to enhance the quality of your article.

  • Write smart articles to impress readers.
  • Articles must contain actual ideas and force people to share it.
  • The article should have practical value so people can get some credit for sharing it.
  • Make sure to create the content that people would like to read.

Before writing on an idea, read maximum articles available on the internet. Keep it in mind that stealing an idea from a person is plagiarism, but stealing from several sources is research.

Use Visual Elements in Articles

People love graphics, so include several images in an article. Make sure to create custom images to illustrate important points. Your article must have these visual assets.

  • Photos of interesting/relevant events, concepts, things, places, and people.
  • Graphs and charts to explain/illustrate the numbers behind a phenomenon or story.
  • Visuals represent concepts, elements or procedures that enable better/faster understanding.
  • Screenshots with explanations/examples/notes of different events
  • Comics, such as storyboards or illustrations that tell narratives visually

Copywriting Techniques

A story can sound completely different depending on the narrator. A few people have extraordinary talent to tell a boring story into an engaging manner. If you are not gifted to write creative stories, you can create viral headlines. A weak headline can kill your article, so create an exciting headline. Clickbait headlines aim to exploit the inquisitiveness gap to provide enough information to make readers curious.

Optimize Articles with Relevant Keywords

Without targeted keywords, you can’t optimize your articles. The Keyword Planner of Google helps you to brainstorm potential keywords. Keyword optimization is essential for link building, content creation, and content strategy.

After choosing focused keywords, you have to mention it in the title tag. Keyword optimization is essential in a link building strategy. Navigational links, breadcrumb links, inbound links, and internal links must have optimized keywords. To get a better ranking, you have to connect with searchers. Target keywords are necessary for your content.

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