One early summer day a few years ago, I was clicking away in my sister’s yard in suburban Atlanta, mostly concentrating on the plethora of flora on display. Her boxer, Cricket, a most contented canine who would never dream of leaving her people when off leash, meandered down the sidewalk and then stood, transfixed. When I saw the preserved image, I thought she was gorgeous enough to be Miss June on a 12 Months of Beautiful Boxers calendar. Certainly, I love the dog and am biased, but I have to say, virtually each time we walked together at a neighborhood park, we were stopped by at least one passer by who said, “That is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen.” What can we say? She rocks that brindle look.
When Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump announced his running mate to the world last week, something else was revealed, the “official” campaign logo (above).
Initial reaction was, overwhelmingly, negative … except perhaps for late-night talk show writers/hosts who, let’s face it, consider Trump the gift that keeps on giving. But I digress. Response was so negative, and mostly R rated, that the campaign made a quick modification to the version below.
Now, graphic design is similar to art, not everyone agrees all the time about what is “good” and what is “bad.” However, most graphic design, especially a logo, is not designed for contemplation. It’s designed to communicate, instantly. The initial Trump/Pence logo accomplished that, but the message was not what the campaign intended … at least I certainly hope it wasn’t. Some logos fall flat and really don’t communicate anything, even the name of the business or organization, which is as basic as it gets.
There’s a tendency to really stress out and overthink the logo development process. Trust me, I know. I’ve done that, with a lot of help. I consider myself a survivor in this particular field of battle, so please allow me to give you the opportunity to learn from errors of my own, and many others.
You don’t need to be cutting edge. If you start reading articles on the latest logo designs, your eyes soon will cross at terms such as “minimalist,” “undesign,” and pretentious uses of “flat,” and “smooth.” Don’t get me wrong, professional graphic artists and marketers who are interested in starting trends instead of following them need to be up on the lexicon, but more than likely, you just want something reasonably eye catching (in a good way) that gives people an idea of who you are and what you are doing. By definition, trends change. You don’t want to invest even a few dollars in a logo design so eclectic that you have to update it in five years.
Don’t steal. If you think that you can be innocent of copyright infringement by taking someone else’s design, changing the colors and maybe adding a wave here or a flourish there, think again. Stealing a design from an artist, organization or business is no different from stealing a “secret sauce” recipe from a competitor’s restaurant or an automobile from a competitor’s car lot.
Unless you are Nike, the Red Cross, Target or other big leaguers, you need text in your logo. If your organization’s name is really long, try initials, an abbreviation or acronym. If your business is well established in the area, use that name with pride. Don’t make it tough for faithful customers to find you simply because you feel it’s time to update your logo.
Spend some money. Unless that nephew who is “really good with computers” has a portfolio to show you, don’t depend on him for something as important as your logo. A professional graphic designer need not break the bank. There’s a lot of good talent out there, and some very talented young graphic artists who need to add to their portfolio who will give you a good deal.
Doodle. Have zero art talent? Who cares! You are a consumer of graphic design, and when it comes to communicating your ideas to a graphic artist who will produce your logo, your notes and doodles will be as valuable as your words. If you see a style of logo that you like, or color palette, it’s fine to send links to your graphic artist, but remember, don’t steal designs.
Here are some ideas and links that might help you start the process.
Pinterest. You can find pins on fonts, color palettes and a recipe for a nice mocha frappe to drink while you’re doing your research.
Abbreviations and acronyms. Make sure that great shortcut for your business isn’t already used by someone else. This can be a copyright issue as much as a design.
Local talent is by far the best way to go for customer service. Nothing beats sitting down opposite a graphic artist and reviewing those doodles, mission statements, current designs and color palettes together. There’s much less room for misunderstanding regarding deadlines and budgets, too. With that said, some of the vendors on this list may be worth trying for the cost savings. You can research customer reviews, but keep in mind that there is a lot of trolling going on out there, so a business could be padding positive reviews or getting assaulted by a competitor.
I can connect you with a professional graphic artist who won’t break your bank, and I can help you navigate the entire process. So please give me a call if I can help. As I said, I’m a survivor on this battle field.
121 Lavenia Lane, my grandparents’ home in Magnolia, Ky., was quite a lifeforce, just as my grandparents themselves. As a child and teenager, the homeplace was closely clipped, pruned, painted, and “picked up,” but of course as my grandparents got older, a type of wildness crept into the place. But even the wildness had a beauty of its own. In those last years, the flower beds were always full but never planted, the blooms appeared voluntarily from the countless plants set over 50-odd years of living and gardening. And, although many basic chores were forgotten by my grandmother, she always kept the porch and carport swept clean. If there were puddles, she’d up-end the broom so the bristles would dry without warping … so perhaps not so very wild really.
Hi all. Chip here.
It’s the dog days of summer, so what better time to get back to the blog?
Prue* and I have been pretty busy, beginning with my first dental cleaning; rotating our presence around a few of Metro Louisville’s excellent parks; making two trips to the country to visit family; and finally an excellent production of Romeo and Juliet in Central Park by Kentucky Shakespeare.
I don’t remember a lot about the dental cleaning, but boy did I have a great dream! I was in a field of the softest Kentucky bluegrass ever. Half was in the sun and the other half was in shade so all I had to do was just roll over to warm or cool myself, accordingly. There was a never-ending row of posts to water, and I could have all the grilled meats and gooey cheese I wanted.
I awoke sans one tooth and with breath that, according to Prue, smells like nothing, which she says is a monumental improvement. Prue and I give major props to our vets at Johnson Animal Clinic for taking great care of me. All the vets are great but my personal favorite is Dr. Brian who refers to me as “Big Pup,” despite my diminutive stature. (The fact that I share this term of endearment with other canine clients in no way diminishes my affection for the dude.)
Prue’s “country cousins” do not currently own pets but they seem to like me OK, and they love grilled meats so I’d love to visit more often. Sometimes I get to go off leash, but I got into trouble once when I chased a geriatric beagle from the yard, across the street and into someone else’s yard. What can I say? The dog had a shifty look. Prue was concerned that, with the hound’s advanced age, I might have given him/her a coronary.
She prefers that I remain polite but aloof regarding strange canines, mostly because nearly every dog we meet weighs approximately twice as much as I do. I, on the other hand, reserve my fear and trepidation for the Blue Viper.
Sinister, isn’t it?
Why Prue brought this menace into our lives is beyond me. It’s a cunning reptile, posing most of the time as a retractable leash, but let the demon jump from Prue’s hand as we are walking and it transforms into a relentless pursuer intent upon injecting its venom into my ankles or backside. I have to admit, the thing terrifies me. Twice it has attempted to overtake me as I fled from its demon fangs. Prue has been forced to give me daily sedatives, cleverly disguised as Milk Bones, to keep me from fraying at the edges.
Such is the life of a dog.
If my prose seems a bit more dramatic than usual, blame the Bard. Kentucky Shakespeare welcomes pets to its performances in the parks, so our friend, “Auntie Brenda,” invited us to accompany her a few weeks ago to see Romeo & Juliet. It was a wonderful and unique performance. During the first act the cast wore traditional period costume. At the beginning of the second act, actors wore sort of a combination of period and contemporary dress. By the end of the play, everyone had transitioned to contemporary wardrobe.
In addition to being dog friendly, performances are free! Readers with well behaved doggies should take the opportunity to add some culture to their canine’s lives. Romeo & Juliet ends soon but the summer season extends to Aug. 12. (As a plus, Central Park has some enormous trees to sprinkle during intermission!)
*Person Responsible for Ultimately Everything
I ran across a wonderful article from HootSuite recently. As a rule, I try, often without success, to avoid writing and using negative headlines, but in this case, the content of the piece is too valuable to write off simply because it is written in a negative voice. The author, Sam Milbrath, knows her stuff.
Were I a betting woman, I’d wager the most frequent reason that businesses/organizations repeat themselves, often ad nauseam, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., is that they’re fresh out of anything new to say. As someone who struggles with this myself, I err on the side of deafening silence rather than the drone of repetition. The former is bad news, but the latter will get you unfollowed much more quickly.
In Milbrath’s first point, she mentions a previous post about the social media “rule of thirds,” that’s also worth your time. Here’s the breakdown:
- One-third social content that promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
- One-third social content that surfaces ideas and shares stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
- One-third social content based on personal interactions and building your brand.
Regarding bullet point two, a great place to find those ideas and stories is from your own Twitter and Facebook feeds. Every business or organization has its own trade publications, online communities, accrediting/oversight boards, and industry big hitters you should be following.
When you share content from other sources, be sure you give them appropriate credit. Often you will find a blog post or article that is framed around another article, such as the one you are reading right now. If there are no fresh insights and it essentially just links to another article, make sure you use the original piece in your blog. There’s no need to separate the content with another “generation” of social media unless it provides some unique, helpful insights, something I hope my posts provide.
Every few months, I review who I’m following on Facebook and Twitter. I drop those whose content I’m not reading or sharing, for whatever reason, and find a new source to follow for a while. It’s worth your time to do the same.
I can’t encourage you enough to take to heart the author’s suggestion to develop contests, giveaways and other ideas for user-generated content. Not only does it give you original material, it broadens your base of followers, and thus, customers and donors.
Take stock of your social media habits as you read point five. If you are new to social media, it’s possible you are creating spam and don’t even know it!
Finally, don’t forget, every reader/customer/donor interaction is an opportunity. Always put your best face forward. Be polite. Own up to mistakes. Accept constructive criticism, and even rude complaints, with grace. Social media is here to stay. Develop tactics for the long haul.
Need assistance or ideas for getting started or moving to the next level? Give me a call. Initial consultations are free of charge.