You want to tell the world about your business. Your website home page is full of the important facts people need to know, and other pages on the site are just as detailed. But, somehow, your website rarely results in phone calls or e-mails from new leads.
As a copywriter, this is a common complaint I hear from new clients and business acquaintances. As long as you know your audience (and their hot-button needs), and can articulate them in writing, you’re all set. You have one foot on the path to getting regular leads and sales from your website. Best of all, it only takes a couple of simple adjustments to make it happen.
As a designer, I am often wanting to use alternative methods for printing, or special papers, inks, or die cuts for a particular project. Early in my career, I would design to my heart’s content only to discover that after the fact, the client didn’t budget for such a piece. So I would have to go back and retool the design to fit the print and production specifications to fall in line with their budget. This not only applies to Print. It can apply to new media depending on what technology is used to deliver your content. Either way, it is a mistake that I don’t make any more.
The reason I don’t make that mistake anymore is that I always ask what the client’s budget is. Most of the time they tell me outright. Sometimes, I get the feeling that some clients think that I am trying to squeeze additional money out of them, but the reality is that I need to know the budget in order to move forward with any kind of success. Much like any other significant purchase you make in this world, you tend to budget for it—even informally. For instance, when you go to buy a new or used car, you know how much money you have to put down—and you know how much money you can afford for monthly payments. After you do the math, you are left with what your budget is. The same goes for house shopping, etc., and the same should go for any business purchase you make—including your brand identity and any marketing collateral.
Love of Learning Montessori School is an independent school that provides Montessori education for students from infant/toddler through 6th grade. In 2008/2009 the school celebrated its 25th anniversary and felt it was the right time to take the school to the next level to increase enrollment and to foster an even greater relationship between the school and its community of families.
Love of learning Montessori School was looking to revamp its image to more accurately represent its mission and philosophy and give the school a more unified & credible presence. Previously, their logo was very hard to read and was dated. Their print materials and website had no consistency and this translated into an unorganized and unprofessional presence. The school’s image didn’t fall in line with the quality of the education they provide.
Pile of some of my sketchbooks or journals I have filled over the years.
I wanted to come up with something that would entertaining to my readers but still show the behind the scenes of what it is I do. So, what I have come up with is Sketchbook Bingo!
Over the course of my career, I have always kept a journal or small sketchbook with me. It’s what I use to put my to-do lists in, as well as logo concepting/sketches or jotting down ideas when I wake up in the middle of the night. The concept here is basically to randomly pick a current or previous sketchbook, and just flip to a page and show it here. Then I would just write what my memories are of that particular page. It might be something relating to a client project or it could be something that one of my kids drew when they snuck the book away from me. Whatever it is, I thought it would be somewhat entertaining, and also give you a glimpse of my process—even if it isn’t always directly related to my work. Mind you, some of these sketches may seem rough, or unfinished. These aren’t supposed to be finished illustrations. Just ideas and a little fun.
In these modern times of instant gratification, I sometimes get requests to create an identity for a client and they need it “yesterday.” They ask if I can crank it out in a couple days. Usually the answer to that question is “Sure, I can whip something up but it wont be good and you will find yourself wanting to change it in the near future.” The fact is, you are doing your business a major disservice by not thinking conceptually and strategically, and not allowing for the time and research it takes to create a meaningful logo that represents you and your business on a deeper level. Your identity is the cornerstone of your business and shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought.
You may have designed your logo yourself in PowerPoint or used an online logo site to have your design created. Or, you may have even had a professional Identity designer create your logo/identity for you (kudos to you). While I am not a big fan of the first 2 options, the reality is that however you get your logo/identity made, it is often up to you to make sure it is used properly and I find a lot of businesses fail at that.
Even if your logo/identity is sub par, by implementing some of these tips, you can most definitely improve upon what you have and how it is perceived. See how many of these tips you already implement. The more you can check “yes” to, the better chances are your identity will be more successful.
Contrary to popular belief, your logo is NOT your brand. It is however a visual representation of what your company or business represents—their values, their positioning and the experience they deliver to their customer. The logo is an identifier that reminds people what the brand is. The brand is what keeps people coming back for more because of the experience it provides. The logo/identity is only one facet of the brand, and the identity has many facets in and of itself.
As a designer, there are a host of terms that are unique to my profession. I forget that my clients may not know what I am talking about at times because it is just second-nature to me. This is usually evident when I get the “deer in the headlights” look from them or receive an uncomfortable silence from them on the phone. I have to remind myself that I need to take that into consideration when discussing projects. There are many clients who are already savvy since they have been in my industry in one way or another. Then there are the clients who just don’t know and that’s okay. It’s part of my job as a designer to educate my clients and this list is for them and anyone else who cares to know. I think it is important to have clear communication with your clients on all levels. It makes for a better product and a better relationship, because in the end, we build relationships with our clients.
Here is a tutorial I created of how to make annotations in a PDF file. This is useful for people who manage design projects and prefer not to print a copy of a proof out and hand write edits and either fax back to designer or in some cases, sit on the phone and go over the edits live. I’ve done that before and it is time consuming. This tutorial will teach you how to simply note your edits directly in the PDF and this creates a clear and concise “paper trail” of edits, so there is no question what the edits are, and if they have been made or not. Using this function will save time both for clients and designers.