I may have graduated from college when N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys were still topping the charts, but that doesn’t mean the homework has ended! Every time I get a new client, or a new project, I still have to do my research. In order to provide an effective solution to my client’s problem, I need to learn everything I can about THEIR clients, their business, and their goals. Graphic design is just a visual solution to a problem. That’s it. Yes, it’s a type of art, but it’s end goal is to solve a problem. So here’s a breakdown of what this process looks like:
1.Research the business.
Let’s say I’m designing a logo for a hair salon. I’d start by learning everything I could about their business-how they got started, why they’re in business, what they focus on, etc. Basically, learn the how and why of their business.
2.Research their competitors.
Once I know everything about their business, I start researching their competitors. I look at what they’re doing, and use it as a springboard to start the process of providing a design solution.
3.Research their target audience.
I can’t provide an effective solution for their problem, without knowing WHO they’re trying to sell to. For example, if their ideal client is children, then the logo and marketing materials should reflect that. A masculine, angular logo would not be as effective as a more playful, colorful logo.
4. What are their goals?
In order to solve their problem, I need to know where they want to go! You can’t give directions without knowing their destination. So knowing what the client’s goals are is crucial to delivering effective materials.
5.Think, think, think
As Winnie the Pooh once said, think, think, think. For some people, that means on paper with a pencil, for some, it’s just in their head. I do a combination of both. I usually start by going for a walk outside. Being in nature really helps spark my imagination, so a walk outside is always helpful for me. I usually spend quite a bit of time thinking of ideas before even getting to the pencil and paper part. Once I have a few ideas, then I break out the sketch pad and pencils, and start drawing out some rough sketches. This could all take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. When I get to the point where I think 2-3 of the sketches are fleshed out, and I’m happy with them, THEN I get on the computer. So really, the computer and programs are just a tool I use to put my brainchild out into the world.
That’s it! Luckily for me, I love the homework. Hands down, it’s the most important part of the process. Without it, I couldn’t do my job well.
As always, shoot me a message if you have any questions, or drop your comment below.
Photo Credit: Rose Trail Images
I’m starting a new series of topics that will hopefully help new designers on their journey. First up- knowing which program to use. For the purposes of this article, we will only focus on Adobe programs, as those are the industry standard.
Adobe Illustrator: Just like the name says, it’s used for illustrating. It’s what you want to use if you’re creating logos. It can also be used for designing a poster, or postcard, although I prefer InDesign for those. Illustrator creates vector files, and allows you to save the files as AI (Adobe Illustrator), EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), PDF, or SVG, amongst others. You will mostly save files as EPS or PDF, unless saving them for web use.
Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is THE tool to use to edit photos. Most photographers will use Lightroom to edit their photos, but Photoshop is where you would go to remove a stray sign, clean up a tabletop, or edit the color of a flower. Some people use Photoshop for layout, but there are MUCH better programs you can use that give you more flexibility and control.
Adobe InDesign: InDesign was Adobe’s answer to QuarkXpress. InDesign came along, and quickly took over as the go-to layout tool. InDesign was created to integrate seamlessly with Photoshop and Illustrator. It also addressed several of the issues people had with Quark, such as poor customer service. Quark has made huge strides, but it’s too little, too late now. InDesign has such a stronghold on the market, Quark stands little chance of making a comeback.
InDesign is mainly a page layout program, used to lay out every from books and newspapers, to postcards and business cards. It especially shines when laying out multi-page documents, although I personally use it to layout just about everything.
Have more questions about how to use these? Shoot me a message!
There’s a lot of talk about branding these days. It seems to be the new buzz word. So what is a brand?
According to Wikipedia:
“A brand is an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. Name brands are sometimes distinguished from generic or store brands.”
Basically, a brand is your customer’s experience with your business. This means that every time someone interacts with your business, through ads, seeing your business card, seeing your logo on a sponsorship form, coming across any marketing or mention of your business, you are building their impression of your company. This is why it’s so important to be consistent in your brand. What does that mean, though? Consistent branding is key to sending the message you want. Below are some easy ways to keep your branding consistent across all platforms.
• Have a set color palette, and use these colors in everything you do. I always recommend customers have a brand board so they can refer back to it whenever they’re creating a marketing piece. You can have anywhere from 2 to 6 colors, but keep it simple. Provide these colors to anyone designing something for your business. You should have CMYK values, RGB values, PMS codes, and Web codes for all your colors.
• As with above, choose specific fonts you want associated with your brand, and always use these. I would suggest no more than 3 fonts, although you can add in variations of those fonts by using bold or italic versions. Keep it clean and simple-that helps get your message across.
• Keep your photography consistent throughout your marketing. Have a similar style of photography, similar color palette for the photos. So don’t use a muted nature scene in one ad, and then a vibrant downtown scene in the other. It confuses people, because you’re not clear about your message.
• Always use your logo (high resolution version) in all your marketing materials. You should have a black version, white version, and if applicable, color version of your logo in various file formats. Your designer should tell you which versions apply to which platforms.
• Keep your social media imagery consistent. Use the same profile photo for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Post the same types of images, and keep your message consistent throughout.
• When people see a post on Instagram, it should tie in with your website, and your business card, ads, etc. Consistency is KEY in branding.
The above tips should help you get started in making your branding consistent across the board. As always, shoot me a message if I can help you with your branding needs!
There are tons of different articles on the internet about effective marketing ideas, and how to grow your business. After being in business for over 14 years, I’ve narrowed down the 5 which I think work best.
Starting and growing a business is a lot of hard work and hustle, but these 5 tips will help you achieve your goals faster, as long as you put in the work!
1. Word of Mouth
The #1 way to grow your business is to talk about it, to everyone! Talk to your cashier at the grocery store, your waitress, your mailman, your grandma's neighbor's cousin who is visiting with his entire family. Tell everyone you know about your business. Ask your family and friends to tell everyone they know, too. Do your best work, every time, and encourage your customers to share about your business. Reach out to old clients and ask them to spread the word. Most will be happy to tell others about their good experience.
2. Social Media
You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform (really, who has time for that?), but you should be active in at least one or two. My preferred is Pinterest (did you know it’s not actually a social media platform? It’s a search engine!), but Facebook and Instagram are great, too. Pinterest actually helps your SEO, though, and can help drive traffic to your site. Be consistent, plan what you want to publish, and curate your feed (especially on Instagram) so that your brand is clearly showcased. Research the times when you have the most traffic, and use a tool like,Tailwind, or to schedule your posts to publish during that time.
Direct mail is still a great way to bring in clients. You need to do some research, though, before putting together a piece to mail out. Decide who your target audience is, and then research what's important to them. Are you targeting men 18-45 that go to fitness retail shops? Find out what sports they focus on, where they take place, what their average customer does for a living, etc. Then create a piece that is specific to that audience to send to them. If you're targeting women’s clothing boutiques for women ages 25-45, you could send out a custom postcard, in a thick cardstock with a velvety feel, in a soft hues. Whatever you send out, be sure your message is clear, and has a call to action. Don’t list every single thing you offer-instead give a brief blurb and then invite them to reach out to you. Don’t forget your contact info!
If you are like me – an introvert - the idea of networking makes you want to hide in a corner. The results, though, can’t be denied (see #1!). Networking is one of the best ways to increase your potential client base, and bring your business into the spotlight. So do something to relax before going (I like a glass of wine, myself), strike up conversations, and just treat it as a way to expand get outside your comfort zone and meet some new people. Eventually, it becomes less awkward, and you start to enjoy the process!
There are tons of different articles on the internet about effective marketing ideas, and how to grow your business. After being in business for nearly two decades, I’ve narrowed down the 5 which I think are the most effective, and they are the suggestions I make to my clients to help them grow their own businesses.
Starting and growing a business is a lot of hard work and hustle, but these 5 tips will help you achieve your goals faster, as long as you are consistent in your efforts.
1. Word of Mouth
The #1 way to grow your business is to talk about it, and provide excellent service. Tell everyone you know about your business. Ask your family and friends to tell everyone they know, as well. Do your best work, every time, and encourage your customers to share about your business. A referral offers customers and incentive to share about your business. Reach out to old clients and ask them to spread the word. Most will be happy to tell others about their good experience.
2. Social Media
You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform (really, who has time for that?), but you should be active in at least one or two. My preferred platforms are Facebook and Instagram, but Pinterest is also a great one to use, because it helps improve your SEO. Be consistent, plan what you want to publish, and curate your feed (especially on Instagram) so that your brand is clearly showcased. Research the times when you have the most traffic, and use a tool like Hoot Suite or Planoly to schedule your posts to publish during that time.
Direct mail is still an effective way to bring in clients. You need to do some research, though, before putting together a piece to mail out. Decide who your target audience is, and then research what is important to them. Are you targeting fitness retail shops targeting men 18-45? Find out what sports they focus on, where they take place, what their average customer does for a living, etc. Then create a piece that is specific to that audience to send to them. If your targeting women’s clothing boutiques for women ages 25-45, you may want to send out a custom postcard, in a thick cardstock with a velvety feel, in soft hues. Whatever you send out, be sure it is clean, expresses your message clearly, and has a call to action. Don’t list every single thing you offer-instead give a brief overview and then invite them to reach out to you. Don’t forget your contact info!
If you are like me – an introvert-the idea of networking makes you want to hide in a corner. The results, though, can’t be denied. Networking is one of the best ways to increase your potential client base, and bring your business in to the spotlight. So do something to relax before going, strike up conversations, and just treat it as a way to expand your horizons and meet some new people. Eventually, it becomes less uncomfortable, and you start to enjoy the process!
5. Email Newsletter
A well-crafted and thought out email newsletter can be highly effective. The key to a good newsletter, though, is to provide quality content. Don’t just talk about what you’ve been doing, offer something of use to your clients. A freebie of some sort. For example, I might send them a link to this article. A shop owner might offer a discount of some sort. Send them out consistently, make sure your brand identity is strong throughout, and include a freebie of some kind. Talk about your business, of course, but also give them a reason to get in touch with you.
I hope these tips help you in growing your business, and taking it to the next level. When applied consistently, you should see growth within just a few months! If I can help you with any of these steps, let me know. I can design anything from social media graphics, to ads, to email newsletters. Just email me and we can set up a time to chat!
People always ask me what my process is for creating logo. How can a client know that the logo I design is something they’ll like? They are concerned that their investment will be in vain.
After working as a graphic designer for nearly two decades, I have been able to tailor my process, and have learned which questions to ask my client in order to guarantee their satisfaction with the outcome of their logo. If you can answer these questions honestly, and share this info with your graphic designer, you will be much happier with the final product.
1) Who is your audience? Identify who you’re trying to attract. If you sell children's items, don’t create a logo that looks very modern and corporate. You want something that makes people think of children when they look at your logo. If you are trying to attract corporate clients, keep the logo clean and simple. Flowery, cutesy logos will turn them off.
2) What are some of your favorite logos? This will help your designer know which way to lean. If your favorite logos are, for example, the Apple Logo, Nike and AT&T, you trend towards simpler, cleaner looks. Give the designer a visual, because WE are visual, and that’s how we learn best.
3) How will the logo be used? You want to be sure that the logo you end up with is one that fits all your needs. From a small label to a billboard, it needs to be readable. So be sure to know what your end use will be.
4) What are your business goals? This doesn’t necessarily help with designing the logo, but does give the designer a clearer picture of where you want your business to go, which ultimately will affect how s/he approaches the design of your logo.
5) What are YOUR thoughts about how the logo should look? Most people have an idea in mind. The same way you tell your hairdresser how you’d like your hair cut, give your designer an idea what you are looking for. The more information you provide them, the happier you will be with the final result. Once you do that, though, step back and let them work their magic. They are the artist and they will be able to execute your vision.
I promise that if you follow these 5 points, you will end up with a logo that embodies the essence of your business.