Someone told me today that Christmas was only 7 weeks away, and before you all groan I am not going to blog about how you need to start planning you Christmas marketing (you’ve probably missed that boat and should be concentrating in Easter!) Instead I thought I would share some of the great gift ideas that are available for the loved one in your life who is a graphic designer, photographer or just is a bit of a geek when it comes to things like pantone and fonts.
Logo design, usually the first piece of marketing a company does, often one of the things that can cause the biggest problems if not done right at the outset. The best logos are often very simple, think Nike or the famous McDonalds M. Their simplicity belies what goes into the design process.
So I thought I would give you a quick insight into the process and how that blank piece of paper turns into a distinctive and relevant logo.
The marketing material you use in your business can make or break your business. In some cases it’s the first impression a potential customer or client will have of you and it will either make them feel confident in using your services or turn them away and seek out your competitors.
I see it time and again with companies approaching us for a revamp of their logo, websites, brochures, flyers etc. Often they’ve had it done quickly when starting up with very little thought about it, in some cases just going for the cheapest and seemingly easiest option and letting the printers / magazines / sign companies they've approached do the design work or even worse have knocked up something themselves or using online templates. At the time it may feel like it is another box ticked but then 12 months down the line realise they need a better image.
I've put together a few questions that I hope will help any new start up business or indeed any business that is looking to update or change their image.
Networking is one of the main ways we build contacts and gain new business. It is not an easy option and takes time and dedication, but the pay offs can be well worth it. Wherever you are based there are oodles of networking opportunities from ad hoc events to more committed referral groups such as BNI.
Your business card is a key tool in these situations, but just having a business card (and believe me there are many people who turn up and don’t have any with them) is not necessarily making the most of this opportunity.
So after rule number #1 – HAVE ENOUGH CARDS TO GIVE OUT – what else can you do with your humble business card to make the right impression?
If you are a bit depressed being back in work after the Bank Holiday and the thought of a whole 13 weeks till the next one - here are a few light-hearted observations about the lot of a graphic designer (although at the time I often don’t see the funny side!)
1) If you have two versions of a photo, the wrong one will make its way to the printer
2) If you show a number of designs to your client – your least favourite will be picked ...
3) ... or any combination of the worst elements of each
4) Supplied logos are never larger than 20k and never EPS files!
5) Spell checkers don’t work (American spelling has a lot to answer for)
Whilst writing my previous blog on the importance of design in creating a good impression it got me thinking about how logo design also made an impression on me, and again it was music and band logos (I think I may have to dig out some of the 80’s classics from my garage).
Maybe I was just a strange teenager, but I used to memorise the logos and using the lines in my text book (wallpapered in my favourite band of course) I would try and get as many logos of my favourite bands and artists on a page as I could.
Logos like Ultravox and Visage appear to be very simple but looking closely and the interest is in the letters 'AV' on the Ultravox logo. Simple but effective. Did it make an impression, YES and I still prefer simple, clever logos that don’t rely on fancy photoshop or illustrator effects for impact (see our own logo for example).
Right here goes, my first blog… what to write about?
I was thinking the other day about first impressions. We all say it, “first impressions count”, but what does it really mean? In business it is more than just wearing the right clothes and having a firm handshake. It is also about the first visual impressions whether that is your business card, stationery, website, store frontage or even vehicle livery. If we make our minds up about a person, or business in a few seconds based on what we see then design must play a central role in how a business presents itself.
Now I have always been fascinated by design (even before I knew what a graphic designer was) and I was thinking about how and when design started to really have an influence on me?
No this is not a reflection of my new meat cravings since I have fallen of the vegetarian wagon, but an acknowledgement of what I think is one of the most dramatic and successful design rebrands in recent times.
Love or hate McDonalds, I can honestly say that if you had asked me if I thought they could reinvent themselves away from the garish red and yellow plastic, hoody-hell that is my experience of McD’s, I would have said ‘no way’.
In fact, having worked with some big brands in my time I know how entrenched branding that has survived since it was created in the 1970’s can be and how big a mountain changing one of the core colours (red) and replacing with a dark green would be to overcome. But (in Europe at least), this is what has happened.
When you start up a business what are your priorities?
Premises. Staff. Stock. Suppliers.
Where does you business identity come in this ever expanding list? For many start ups, in my experience, pretty far down the list would be the honest answer.
The catalyst usually comes when there is a need for business cards, stationery, advertisement or signage. “ Can you send us your logo?” is a phrase that sets you panicking. “I haven’t got one” you reply sheepishly only to be assured that it isn’t a problem and that free design is all part of the cost.
Now at this stage you may well breathe a sigh of relief, but this may not be the answer you were looking for.