Please welcome…



It’s been a while. Yeah, I know, I know – too long. I’ve come to terms with the fact that unless I schedule time to write that it won’t get done. And starting today, I’m committing to writing a brief message on a weekly basis. Anyway…

First off – I’m sad to report that Shawn has returned to the Soo. Shawn came to Toronto with the intent of gaining a few years of big city experience to take back home to Sault Ste. Marie. We consider ourselves lucky that he stayed with Mystique for 8 years and in that time produced a lot of good design. We wish him continued success.

I’m pleased and excited at the addition of three new designers to the Mystique Creative family: Alyssya Polsinelli, Renee Richards, and Vincent Hiemstra

Many of you may already know Alyssya as she’s been on our payroll for a quarter now. Alyssya was offered a position after a successful internship with us.


Graphic designer


Alyssya Polsinelli
Position: Graphic designer
Age: 21
Born: Toronto
Education: Durham College
Likes: Dancing, Baseball, Music and Traveling
Dislikes: People leaving garbage in my car and when my desktop is messy.
Inspirations: My mom

Renee has just moved back to Toronto and is looking to make her mark on the TO design community. Look for her blog tomorrow.




Renee Richards
Position: Graphic designer 
Age: 23
Born: In Toronto but lived in North Carolina most of my life
Education: Appalachian State University
Likes: Seeing anything I’ve never seen before, innovative designs, travelling
Dislikes: Puppies with clothing, lemon meringue pie, movies with subtitles
Inspirations : Stephan Sagmeister, John Saunders, Lance Wyman, Sean Ohlenkamp

And our newest import Vincent, who has crossed the big pond to join us for his internship.




Vincent Hiemstra
Position: Intern
Age: 22
Born: Zeist, the Netherlands
Education: Graphics College Utrecht
Likes: Reading, Traveling, Online Gaming
Dislikes: Ketchup Flavored Chips, A line at the movies, Traffic
Inspirations: Chris Metzen, Jack Vergel 

Please stop in and get acquainted with the new design staff here at Mystique Creative.

Paul Bies
Mystique Creative


Tag – you’re it!

Unless you’re going to invest a lot of money in advertising and promotions, the only way is to somehow manipulate how your customers find you.

We’ve all heard of SEO consultants who promise number one Google rankings. Lesson number one: Guaranteed rankings are a myth! Search engine crawl rates and algorithms are so different and unpredictable, making guarantees is irresponsible and misleading. However, there are ways to help get higher rankings than you already have, and this multi-part article will give you some insight into these. So don’t forget to come back and learn a little bit more.

A little insight
Anybody can build a nice looking website. But a lot of designers aren’t concerned about, or know how to build a site that drives business. Unless these pages are optimized correctly, you might as well take them offline, because nobody will be able to find them unless YOU tell them the url, and who can afford to do that without big ad budgets? Try optimizing for search engines. It’s cheaper than using media advertising, and it works!

Some stats to think about
During a recent survey on user attitudes, 56 percent use search engines on a daily basis. 35 percent of those do at least one search per day, 21 percent search four or more times a day. Only one percent say they never use search engines. Note: everyone surveyed was an Internet user. 57 percent use the same search engine. 30.5 percent used several search engines, and 13 percent used different search engines for different types of searches. By far, Google led the way with 66 percent, followed by Yahoo at 55 percent, MSN at 54 percent and AOL at 49 percent.

91 percent of those surveyed, said they’d search differently if the initial search failed to find a suitable match within the first three pages. A survey two years ago prior found the figure to be 71 percent. 26 percent said they’d give up a search if they didn’t find a match on the first two pages. Searchers are becoming increasingly discriminate due to the seemingly endless pages of matches. Women more so than men. 44 percent of women don’t go past the first page. Only 37 percent of men agreed.

What does this mean to you and your site?
Web surfers use these search engines and directories to find web sites by typing a particular search phrase. How they write the phrase is determined by how ‘search savvy’ they are. The more focussed and targeted the phrase, the better. Higher ranking web sites leverage the way the search engines perceive a site based on the user’s search phrase.

For example, in your Google search field, type in ‘direct marketing toronto’. Down the middle of page one, you will see the following match:

Mystique Creative: website design Toronto, graphic design Toronto …
Some business owners tend to overlook direct marketing as a useful tool in a … 2008 mystique creative – marketing strategies and solutions – toronto … – 11k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this

Mystique Creative: Toronto website design firm offering graphic …
A Toronto firm providing website design, web development, graphic design, market research, and direct marketing strategies. – 10k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this

The whole tag and nothing but the tag
Start by building your site the right way. Sure throw in the pretty pictures and text that match your brand, add backwards navigation so the viewer will know what page they’re on, but that’s not enough. It’s what you don’t see that’s important – the HTML code. It looks like gibberish to the untrained eye, but each line of code is governed by ‘tags’, and that is what makes your web page tick.

A lot of you have heard of Head Tags and Meta Tags, but what are they and what are they for?

A typical web page is split into two parts, the Head and the Body. ‘Natch. The Head contains Meta Tags that search engines use and scan to figure out the basic content of a page, and if done correctly, will categorize the site by ranking. It also contains link tags to style sheets and other scripts that control the look of the page. The Body contains formatting tags that help to structure the page as you would like to see it. Some of these tags also help echo the importance of the Head tags.

The three most important Head tags are the Title tag, the Meta description tag and the Meta keyword tag, and in a nutshell, here’s what they do:

The Title tag is exactly what it says. It is the title of your page and the way it is written can help with your site’s rankings. It should define who you are in as few words as possible.

Next is the Meta description tag. This is a descriptive text that appears on search engine results and just as important as the Title tag. This tag contains concise text that any searcher will understand as to what you have to offer and contains key words used by the search phrase.

Finally, the Meta keyword tag. Every pertinent word on that web page MUST appear here. These words cannot be arbitrary words. They have to be considered very carefully, as they are the words used by a searcher in their search phrase. Researching the best keywords is an artform in itself, as the SEO practitioner must consider the many different search phrase possibilities that any one web user will input.

All three of these tags used together help to target your viewers in their search for your web site. This is only the beginning.

Coming soon:
Google loves content-rich web sites
Other important page tags
Linking, both internal and external
Site submissions and the importance of Blogs, RSS feeds, Link Exchange, etc.

Frank Beecham
Mystique Creative


“Green” becoming mainstream?

There is justifiable concern out there for the environment, therefore a colour shift toward more natural looking colours is occurring in consumer products. So predicts the Color Marketing Group (CMG), an international association of colour design professionals. This group has predicted colour trends accurately for the last 43 years.

So what does this all mean? Well according to CMG appearing “green” will be extremely desirable to a broad spectrum of people, be it corporate leaders, designers of all stripes, marketers and individual consumers. Not to worry, this doesn’t mean we will suddenly be colour blinded by various shades and tonal varieties of the colour green, it simply means, consumer products we buy, will look more natural. There will be an inclination for products to look hand made, undyed and unbleached. Textures and natural imperfections will suddenly and proudly show through the packaging. Natural colours are becoming very fashionable in the retail world but has been an important trend in graphic design for a few years now and is bound to increase. These include off whites, rock and soil colours and brownish greens while blues continue to remind us of sky and water, which is inspired by environmentalism. Meanwhile metallics are becoming less cold and alienating and are becoming warmer – coppery, bronzey etc.

Hand in hand with environmentism is globalism, which is inspiring a host of ethnic accent colours. These are coming from India, China and Latin America. Some of these include Moroccan reds and glowing oranges, rosy pinks, sunny yellows and turquoise. These colours exist already in home design and fashion but look for these to also show up in restaurants and hotels.

If nothing else, colours and textures set a mood but in this latest trend “to be green” seems to be part of a larger transcending movement toward a global view. Is this a temporary blip, with a lot of band wagon jumpers vying for consumer dollars? What of it, if growing global/environmental awareness is a result.

Shawn Richards
Senior Graphic Designer
Mystique Creative
shawn richards

Our first blog

We’ve been thinking about starting a blog on our site for some time now. We struggled to answer the questions that I’m sure many other business managers ask: Do we need a blog? How will this blog help us to achieve our commercial objectives? Who’s going to write it and maintain it? And above all this – do we have anything to say worth reading?

The answer to the first question seems self-evident after answering the rest. The answer to the second question seems relatively easy – If our content offers expert information, insight, and practical tips or tools, then not only does it build our equity as a generous brand but also it invokes something more valuable – dialogue with our customers and prospects alike. Having a blog makes this a whole lot easier, not to mention, a whole lot faster. And let’s not forget, from a marketing point of view – search engines are currently in love with blogs – so we get extra brownie points towards our optimization efforts.

As far as who writes it and maintains it – shoptalk will feature a number of contributors, all offering their own perspective, based on their experience, on a variety of relevant topics promoting success for your small to medium sized business. We welcome your questions, comments and criticisms and look forward to the opportunity to hear your views.

But hang on a minute, I’ve just sped past the difficult bit – do we have anything to say worth reading? Time will tell. You be the judge. Check back frequently – better yet sign up for our RSS feed, so you’ll be notified when we’ve posted new material. And please, let us know your thoughts – your wisdom will be a welcome addition to this endeavor.

Paul Bies


Mystique Creative


Paul Bies