Carve Out A Slice of Your CO2 Holiday Footprint

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Holidays = Lots of travel—Black Friday mall trips, grocery runs, vacation getaways, and cross-country trips to visit family. People are motivated by different reasons to choose their mode of transportation, especially for the holidays. And as we all know, climate change has been top-of-mind for some years now. With nearly 47 million travelers taking to the roads, rails, and airways this Thanksgiving, we can all do our part to reduce our CO2 travel emissions as we head out for turkey and stuffing this year.

Follow these six easy steps, and you can start your holidays off greener:

1 – Travel off peak.

Traveling at off-peak hours can prevent sitting in traffic on congested highways. According to a publication from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average commuter who drives to work in urban regions loses the equivalent of five vacation days each year because of delayed traffic. Don’t give up your well-earned time off to traffic slowdowns!

2 – Pack light.

Extra weight causes cars to lose efficiency and use more fuel to travel. Leave the kitchen sink at home.

3 – Maintain your car.

Prior to driving, perform seasonal vehicle maintenance. Changing your oil and properly inflating your tires can improve gas mileage and reduce traffic congestion due to preventable breakdowns. Proper maintenance can reduce your car’s emissions by more than half. Many drivers put vehicle upkeep on auto pilot, waiting for a “ping” from the car’s onboard reminder or by following decades-old habits. Keep your automobile in peak condition all year by following AAA’s seasonal advice.

4 – Trip chain.

It’s easy! This is when you combine errands into one trip. Not only do you cut down on drive time, you also use your car more efficiently. Starting a car after the engine has been turned off for more than an hour pollutes up to five times more than when the engine’s warm.

5 – Utilize transportation resources.

Get travel updates with online tools such as NY511 before you leave home, and you are less likely to get stuck in a jam.

6 – Spread the word.

Encourage friends and family members to be conscious of the environment during the holidays. If everyone took just a few of these simple, easy steps, it could make a big difference, because—It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air. This Federal Highway Administration air quality awareness initiative keeps Americans focused on the small steps they can take to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

ASC wishes all a safe and CO2-smart Thanksgiving!

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Keeping in Style with New York State’s Brand Guidelines

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Brand (or style) guidelines have become a standard in the design industry, and since a brand is, essentially, what people think of when they hear or see your name, guidelines are pretty important. However, all brand guidelines are not equal in complexity or flexibility—in fact, each guideline presents its own set of opportunities and challenges.

Brand guidelines exist for a reason.
Brand guidelines serve an important role in the visual and often written language of a government or corporate entity. Their purpose essentially is to maintain a brand’s integrity across all mediums and help deliver the brand message in a recognizable and effective manner.

The best brand guidelines have common characteristics.
Successful brand guidelines have a common set of principles about delivering a brand’s visual message for design and content creators. These include:

• Detailed guidance for design and editorial personnel

• Justification for design decisions

• Strict rules that allow flexibility in how it is implemented across mediums

• Clear and concise examples of usage

• Thorough set of options and variables important to the execution and propagation of the brand’s visual language

New York State branding guidelines serve an important function.
Government agencies are no different than corporations when it comes to brand guidelines. In fact, it may be even more imperative that a government agency employs strict and effective brand guidelines, since multiple departments, divisions, and other agencies may be implementing the agency’s communications. New York State recently rebranded with the purpose of building a cohesive and consistent message. The spearhead to this was the release of the New York State Brand Guidelines and the re-launch of ny.gov in 2014.

For companies like ASC, that work daily with New York State agencies, becoming fluent and skilled in applying the new guidelines required an investment of creative time to become adept at guiding clients in how to give their projects and initiatives an identity within the framework of the guidelines. Our team took on the challenge and dug deep into the brand’s identity to find creative solutions.
How we approached the task, and what we learned, offer some ideas we think others will find helpful.

Designing for a brand leads to creative solutions.
The rules within the New York State Brand Guidelines provide direction, and although some may view rules as limiting, we don’t see them as inhibiting effective design. In fact, when used properly, guidelines don’t hinder creativity at all; they enhance it and push designers to find creative solutions within a predetermined framework.

Recent New York State design products can demonstrate how guidelines can expand design. A good example is the 2015 New York State Energy Plan, which leverages the guidelines to advance public understanding of the State’s roadmap to a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system. Energy-theme icons within the framework offered by the State guidelines further ideas and initiatives, and communicate a sense of forward movement to the reader.

ASC took a practical approach to examining the guidelines that included the following steps:

• Quick overview of the guideline and noted points of interest or concern followed by a thorough analysis for full understanding

• Identify patterns and points of consistency within the copy and examples that can help with design and problem-solving

• Examine the recommended usage of typography, making sure that we legally acquired copies of fonts used

• Identify access to photographic images that follow the guidelines which include client-submitted, contracted photography, and online stock resources

• Understand how color is used to communicate the brand’s message faithfully

• Ensure brand assets such as logos or icon systems in the guidelines are readily available (following brand guidelines without addressing key assets can lead to inconsistencies and risk diluting the brand)

• Research how the new guidelines are applied to existing products

Design decisions should always have sound reasoning behind them, and the State guidelines help support that reasoning when questions occur. With this in mind, keeping the channels of communications open about guideline implementations allows for transparency, understanding of proposed solutions, and helps the client understand how their message can be successfully – and consistently – executed for the public.

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