Looking for a Tax Credit? Donated Those Old Air Miles

Did you know that you can donate your unused loyalty reward points to bring down just how much you owe at the end of the year – and the more you give, the more you save. If you have miles or points on a card you know you’re never going to get around to using, it might be time to donate ‘em and actually get rewards you can use, like a lower tax bill in 2014.

Did You Know: Only specific loyalty programs allow you to transfer your points, so choose wisely! We’ll have a quick list later on, so check it out.

Going for a Small Gift

Maybe you have multiple cards with less than $200 worth of miles on them (each can be valued differently, so make sure you get receipts from your chosen charity after you transfer your points!) or maybe you just need a tax write off. It’s the end of the year and it’s just around the corner, so it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about it now.

If you give $0 to $200, you’ll receive a 15% tax credit.  Again, you’ll need to make sure that you get a receipt from your chosen charity to prove your generous donation.

Who Lets You Donate Points?

Only select cards allow you to donate points, let’s check them out!

  • Air Miles Reward Program
  • AIMIA (Aeroplan)
  • Esso Extra
  • Petro Points
  • Shoppers Optimum
  • HBC Rewards
  • Club Sobeys

Most of these cards are limited to select charities and they may charge you a small fee (anywhere from $20-$30 to $.10 per mile) to transfer the points. You’ll want to also remember that your points can expire in as a little as a year, so it’s good to make a habit of donating those dusty ol’ points at the end of the year.

Did You Know: 92% of Canadians are members of at least one loyalty program? You can actually pass points on to heirs or to charity in most cases, don’t be afraid to ask your card issuer what options are available to you.

Larger Rewards, Larger Write-Offs

If you’re a first time donor giving anywhere from $200 to $1,000 in rewards points, you can earn anywhere from 40% and 54% – but only if this is the first time you’re donating reward points.

Luckily when it comes to donating points, you’ll only be able to donate them to licensed, registered charities. This means you won’t end up getting tricked by some scheme to donate them to a fake charity – though if you’re trying to donate to a charity that isn’t registered, you may be able to work with the card issuer to get it done.

While we can’t help you pick the right charity to donate all those unused, soon to expire rewards points to, we can help you find a beautiful new home or sell the one you’ve outgrown. Give us a call today and see the difference the Goodale Miller Team can make for you!

Three Reasons Custom Logo Design is the Way to Go

Logo design is important for every kind of business, but are you sure it’s right for yours? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking that you can design your own logo and save yourself some money. It sounds like a great plan; one problem though: if you’re not a designer you shouldn’t try designing logos. Sure, logo designing looks really simple, but it’s difficult and you need to understand colour theory and shape psychology. When you want a logo that’s going to resonate with your audience and really communicate something, you need a professional to design your logo! Here we’re going to go over the reasons why you need a real custom logo design and how it’ll help your business. Let’s get started!

  • Get Your Face Out There

Whether you’re a brand new business who is trying to establish your brand and audience, or if you’re an established business that wants to take its brand in another direction, you’re going to want to have a logo that projects success and confidence. A custom logo design can make the difference between a brand that gets noticed and one that makes people wonder what you’re about and why they should care.

  • Go Dynamic!

You can put a logo on virtually anything these days, and when you get that kind of visibility you want to make sure that it’s the best you can do! A great logo design will be able to go on everything from apparel and merchandise to promotional materials like business cards and fliers. You want to be able to blow it up to the size of a billboard, so you’ll want to make sure you get your logo from the designer in a dynamic format like vector.

  • Make an Impression

The whole point of a custom logo design is to make that brand impression! You want people to look at your logo and KNOW what you’re talking about. You want to become a memorable brand in your area or your niche? You are going to have to start taking the steps to creating a memorable brand; this means you’re going to have to have a dynamic impactful logo that tells people who you are and what you’re about! The right custom logo design will carry you through the years and build your brand recognition; your customers create the brand, all you can do is hope to steer its direction!

So if you already have a logo and are considering redesigning, you probably should; if you’re a new business who needs a logo, you definitely should. You’ll want to look at different design companies (like us!) to get your design done, but you’ll need to check out their portfolio to see what kind of work they’ve done before. You want someone who has some experience with businesses like your own, so you can be sure that you’re getting someone who can do the best work for your business!

What is Quality Content?

You should optimise your content for SEO, but you also need to make sure your content is of quality. Quality content and optimised content are simply two separate things. Quality is content that you would want to read; if you think about it that way, there’s a lot of content out there that falls under the banner of poor quality. You can’t afford to keep throwing money after bad content, but you’re not terribly sure what good content is. Here we’ll be talking about what makes content quality and how you can make sure yours is every time you post it.

What is Quality Content?

Would you read your content? That’s the chief question that you have to ask yourself whenever you are trying to figure out what quality content is. We’ve all dealt with bad content online where it’s stuffed to the brim with keywords and little information; if it makes zero sense and you’re turned off right away you know you’re looking at bad content. If you don’t want to read something, other people (especially your readers) aren’t going to want to read it either. If it’s extremely apparent that the author of the material isn’t a native English speaker, it’s probably not quality content either. If you enjoy, learn and are entertained by content it’s good content!

Be Useful

Now that you know what quality content is, you need to know how to make it useful. While many will extoll the benefits of using article directories (also lovingly known as “content farms”) to do all of your content, but you shouldn’t discount having a blog on your domain. You could also guest blog or hire writers to create content for you; you want to make sure that you’re writing interesting and fun content that will pique the interest of your audience, make them hungry to learn more about what you’re offering. Be like Google and “do no evil”, offer the readers something useful that they didn’t know before. Everyone loves that “Huh!” moment that they can share with friends and family. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you have knowledge that people are searching for. Provide them with value and they’re more apt to do business with you.

High Quality Articles Helps Your SEO

Trying to figure out how to get your SEO efforts off the ground can be hard, but when you use quality content you’ll have a much easier time getting indexed by Google. The more quality content you have on hand for Google to index the better. People will want to share your fun blogs with their friends on social media sites like Facebook, getting you indexed more often. If you’re not getting good results from your current SEO efforts, you should check out your content and see if there are areas where you can improve. Be informative, entertaining and most of all put your best face forward.

Should You Revamp Your Logo?

A logo is your business’ first point of contact with the world, but is yours effective? Logos are a labour of love and knowledge; without either part you’ll end up with a bad logo that could actually hurt your image. While there are no real rules for logo design, here we’ll be going over a checklist of things you can do to make sure you have the best logo possible. Let’s go!

Is it Trendy?

If your logo is trendy, that’s bad. Sure, right now people are going to look at your logo’s bubble sticker effects and have an affinity towards it, but when the next web 2.0 trend rolls along will they even remember that you exist? Trendy is bad, but durable is where you want to be. Look at the logo for Coca Cola; they’ve rarely had to change it in 100 years because they did it right the first time.

Does it Stand Out?

Does your logo stand out in the crowd or does it blend in? You want your logo to stand out and be special! This is the impact statement, the impression you need to make on your audience. Every time they see your logo they should thing “Aha! It’s such and such company and they can give me a good deal on x and y.” When people think of the products and services you provide, you want them to think about you and what you’re offering before they think of your competitors. Your logos is the entry point to branding, so don’t neglect it.

Can You Use It?

So you have a fantastic logo that looks great on a screen, but when you print it for door hangings it’s horrible… it’s just no usable. A great logo is going to transfer across all mediums: business cards, vinyl decals, billboards, signage, websites and more. You need that usability factor in your logo to make sure you can get your image out there and that you get the most for your money.

Does it Make Sense?

This is a biggy when dealing with logo design. Does your design actually make any sense? Is it a dump truck with clowns on the back of it for a cake shop? If so, it’s probably not making sense. While a little whacky is fun, you don’t want to go so far out there that no one can understand what you’re trying to say. You also want the colours to make sense as well, since each kind of business has positive and negative connotation colours.

If you have problem areas with your logo, you need them to be addressed by a professional design team (like us!) who will be able to help you capture the essence of your business with an effective durable logo. With the right application of colour theory, geometric shapes (very few businesses need non-geometric shapes incorporated in the logo) and custom lettering you can have a logo that will get you the results you need.

Why WordPress Makes Website Design Easy

If you’ve ever tried to design your own website, you know how hard it can be! Trying to figure out code, margins, what colours to use can be so frustrating, and half the time your site will end up just a big mess that you end up abandoning; even worse you may spend tons of money trying to find someone to fix it. Why spend all that time and money on a website that might not work when you can use WordPress? With WordPress website designs, you get everything you need and none of the stuff you don’t.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a CMS, or content management system, that allows you to publish content like images, videos, text and more in blog format or build entire sites. It’s a push button solution that lets anyone of any skill level finally have the website that they want. When you’re trying to get the business website that you want, WordPress is the fastest and cheapest way to get there!

How WordPress Makes Design Easier Than Ever

WordPress revolutionised web design with themes! Themes allow you to download many different designs and “skin” your website. While you can use one of these themes that tons of other people are using, you’re going to want to make sure that you use a unique design that really showcases who you are as a company and business. You can have a designer to go over a theme that you’ve found for free, and customise it.

Save Money with WordPress

Having someone design your website from scratch can be expensive, but you’re going to want to find someone to help you create the best design possible. Theming WordPress is a lot faster and easier on designers than other frameworks, and you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a great website. But design isn’t the only way that you will save money with WordPress:

  • WordPress has built-in SEO tools that help you get noticed by the search engines! Why spend more money on SEO than you have to when you can get half the work done for you up front!
  • WordPress offers a great knowledgebase to get your WordPress site off the ground. You won’t have to hire a programmer to install it for you when you can do it yourself.
  • WordPress has millions of plugins for every need. Display multimedia on any device and publish all kinds of content at the click of a button.

WordPress is a great tool for anyone; if you’re opening your website for the first time or deciding to overhaul what you have, you’re going to love WordPress. You won’t have to spend a lot of time and money to get the website that you need to be successful, and you’ll always be able to find a designer that can help you customise it to your tastes and needs. No matter what kind of business you have, it’s the right choice for you. Check out the WordPress site here and see what else it can offer.

 

The Importance of Colour in Brand Identity

Colours are such a major part of our lives. We base our personalities on them, we pick just one to be our favourite, and many people decorate their whole house in just one colour! Colour can make customers associate your brand with anything from tough and durable to soft and delicious; suffice it to say that you want to pay attention to the importance of colour for your brand identity. Here we’re going to go over everything you need to know so you can get a handle on your brand, so keep reading!

What is a Brand Identity?

Brand identity isn’t something that you can really control completely but you can help shape it. When you think of Coca Cola you probably think “soda”, “refreshing”, etc. This is party of their brand identity. You’ll also think of the iconic red and white colours along with perhaps the Santa holiday branding they’ve created as well. Red and white would be Coca Cola’s colour branding. Red is a very common colour for food and consumable brands; Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, all of these use red to imprint on customers. You need to use your colours just as wisely!

What Kind of Business are You?

Before you try to figure out what colour represents your business best, you have to think about what kind of business you are. Look at businesses like your own and see what they use. What colours are memorable about them and will they work for you? If you’re a construction company, you’ll want to use construction colours like steel, yellow and orange. If you’re a real estate agency you’ll want to use blue, white and grey. These are just examples but you’ll really want to think about what your brand colours should be.

Hire a Professional

While you can research colours and consumer psychology as much as you like, you’re going to need to hire a professional to get the best brand identity. A design team (like us!) will be able to help you select the right colours and even cycle through different colours to see how people react to different combinations. Your customers create your brand, you and your designer can only hope to give a positive impression out of the gate to get people to love you and associate you with a solution to their problems. If Google had picked a serious name and a serious colour scheme, do you think they would have been a successful as they are today? It’s something to think about.

Colours are part of our lives and you can’t avoid the importance when building your brand identity. Apple has a clean white look that makes people associate them with a clean simple lifestyle. How do you want your customers to perceive you? By working with a designer you’ll be able to craft your brand and get loyal customers who will come back to you again and again.

Easy Winter Travel Tips for This Year

Let’s face it, winter travel is rarely easy – but this season is promising to be a bit trickier than normal! With fewer flights running across North America, the usual snow storms and overbooked holiday flights with outrageous fares, it’s important to know when the best time to travel is!

And while we can’t exactly book you your next flight, taking a little break from house hunting or selling your home in the winter months when the market isn’t exactly booming is always a great idea. Let’s get started.

Know Where the Deals Are

Deals just aren’t for travelers looking for the cheapest way to get home – it just makes good sense. Most of the deals in North America revolve around American holidays, so it’s good to know when they are to get the right deals.

Mid-January Best to Fly – When it comes to island vacations or just flights in general, the best prices will come in the last three weeks of January and the first half of February; most don’t fly during this time of year – but you won’t be able to book the good prices for these flights until the second week of November. If you’re looking at skiing, you’re better off just going around Christmas instead.

First Two Weeks of December – From about the 3rd of December to the 15th you’ll find all kinds of deals, and not just on flights either. You’ll beat the holiday rush crowd and could pay as little as half of what you would on either side of those dates.

Book in December for Valentine’s – Looking for the best rooms and flights, but always seem to miss the window? You’ll want to start looking at reservations in late November, early December.

Cheaper European Flights

This year you’ll be able to fly to London, Oslo and Stockholm for much cheaper than in recent years, but you may have a tough time finding an affordable flight to Spain or Athens. You’re going to want to book ahead of time and search for non-stop flights, avoiding anything with too many connections. The more plains that are in the chain the more you’re going to have to pay.

It’s All About Timing

You’ll want to make sure that your timing is perfect – or at the very least close to it.

Fly in the Mornings – The earlier you fly, the less likely you are to face troublesome delays; likewise, try to make sure that your plane isn’t landing at primetime (7pm to 10pm) to avoid getting stuck on the tarmac for too long.

Book Your Seat – Make sure you know where you’re sitting ahead of time – if you don’t have an assigned seat you’re more likely to get bumped when they overbook the plane.

Just like preventing winter travel snafus, buying or selling luxury homes is all about preparation and having the right agent. If you’d like to know more about what we can do for you, or you’re just trying to figure out if now is the right time to buy or sell a home, give us a call today!

How to Research Your Home’s History

Have you ever wondered what your home looked like when it was built? Who has lived here, is there any historical significance? Maybe you want to learn more about the home you’re already in or maybe you’re trying to learn a bit about a luxury home you want to buy – but how?! Here we’re going to show you how to research the history and style of your home.

Did You Know: The more you know about the history of your home, the better decisions you’ll be able to make about listing it, decorating and renovating it? It’s true!

Uncovering Your Home’s Architectural Style

Uncovering your home’s original architectural style is a great way to learn about the history of the house. Once you know what the style is, you’ll be able to figure out what the home’s original features and colour palette and choose your renovations more wisely.

Need to find your home’s style? Click here to check out this handy reference guide.

Talk to the Neighbours

When in doubt, have a chat with the neighbours. This may not be ideal (especially if you’ve got a luxury estate with no neighbours around!), but if you can have a chat with them, you should. They’ll be able to tell you about what changes, if any, have been made to the home.

They might even be able to tell you anything of historical value about the home (this can be especially important if you’re trying to learn something about older luxury homes before you buy). Make sure you stick with neighbours that have lived in the area for a while to get the best information.

Searching for Clues

You might be amazed at how easy it is to uncover some of the original details of your home. You’ll want to look around and take pictures – that weird light fixture in the hallway and the strange moulding in the dining room could all be clues! Here is a quick list of things to look out for:

v  Lighting

v  Floorboards and Moulding

v  Hardware

v  Cabinetry

v  Floorboards

v  Windows

A smart craftsman will be able to replicate old details of your home and bring them back to life.

Researching Your Home’s History

If you’re not content with guessing and hearsay, it’s time to level up to researching the history of your home on your own! Most information out there is in regards to genealogy, but you’ll be amazed at how far records can go back – you may even find out interesting stuff about the land your home (or future home) is built on – and all the homes that came before it! Check out these resources:

Ontario Land and Property Records

Ontario Ministry of Government Services (search for land archives)

Trying to learn a bit more about the home you already own or one you’d like to buy? We can help! Everyone on the Goodale Miller Team has been living and working in the Oakville luxury real estate market for years and we can help you understand not only the history of homes, but the actual value. Contact us today and see what we can do for you.