New Discussion: Designistration!

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There are so many really bad logos (trademarks, service marks, brand marks, etc.) in the marketplace now a days. Symbols that may be cute, or funny, or colorful, but don’t provide the basic needs of a real logo. As you know these basic needs are:

1)    to identify the organization by being different from other symbols in the organization’s market,
2)   to be simplified enough so that the viewer an easily identify the organization, and
3)   to impart a feeling of the entire organization – not just a part of it.

Unfortunately, a great many logos now-a-days seem to be nothing more then a drawing – devoid of any design stability. A drawing that shows part of the organization – or all of the organization at once – like the output of a blender. For example, I recently saw a “logo” on Facebook where the “designer” asked his Facebook followers to rate his new logo design. The logo was for a blog about beer and football – really, that’s all I know. The designer took a rather poor drawing of a beer mug and stuck it next to a rather poor drawing of a football. Instead of “keep it simple stupid” (kiss) it was more like “keep it stupid simpleton.”

If you want our logo to be done cheaply you will be doing your organization a disservice. Remember, “good design is not cheap, and cheap design is not good.”

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New Discussion: Hey Folks, there is NO Free Shipping!

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Some of us are aware that there is no Santa Claus – and no Easter Bunny – and no Tooth Fairy. Well, there also is no free shipping! True, you may not find a fee for shipping on your purchases, but that’s because the shipping charges are buried in the cost you have been quoted. So, you (and everyone else) assume part of the shipping cost because it is built into each, and every, product.

The larger companies can afford to bury the cost by amortizing in over their entire line of products – and, because they sell greater volumes of merchandise, they can also have the freight companies reduce the per-package cost to them. Smaller companies cannot – and so they need to show shipping as an add-on. In some cases the smaller companies are actually being forced out of the marketplace, because they cannot compete with the larger merchandisers, and big box stores.

Ahhhh, the modern miracle of free shipping.

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New Discussion: Don’t Duck the Issue!

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When writing an ad – or doing marketing – don’t duck the issue. You need to be honest with your target market. Tell them what you are selling (or promoting) and why this particular target market should buy it!

People are not dumb. True, they may be fooled every so often, but is that really what you want? Remember, the best customer is a repeat customer. And, the second best customer is one who recommends your product, or service, to others.

* Tell it to them straight

* Don’t confuse them

* Don’t scam them

* Don’t talk down to them.

Your advertising or marketing message should be clever, but not too clever, so as to lose your audience.
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New Discussion: Research vs. Bullsearch!

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All companies need valid research in order to develop their products, services, and events. But, the research needs to be “valid.” Research that is developed to meet one’s own predetermined conclusions means little or nothing, and should be redefined as “bullsearch.” No, no, not searching for a great deal on cattle – sort of a combination of “research” and “bullshit.”

Who is hurt when a company uses bullsearch? Well — everybody! We all know about the poor research used to develop the Ford Edsel and the Coke Classic. A great deal of time, energy, and money was wasted with ill conceived research (bullsearch). Luckily these two companies were big enough to withstand the impact of putting out unwanted products due to bad research and bad decisions – based on inaccurate research.

Word to the wise: make sure that your research is neutral based. It’s better to not move ahead on an idea – then to produce something with little need – and less want.

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New Discussion: The Purpose of a Logo!*

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We all know the general purpose of a logo: to identify an organization, a product, or an event. But, that’s just a surface explanation. What do we really mean – and how do we accomplish that goal?

In order to design and implement good working logo the designer must understand how to project a company (organization, product, event) in a multitude of ways – all at the same time. These are the seven basic steps to take into consideration:

1) the logo needs to project the company in both an obvious and a positive way,
2) the logo needs to identify and define the company to the target market,
3) the logo needs to identity and define the company to the general public,
4) the logo needs to identify and define the company to the employees, investors, and suppliers,
5) the logo needs to be easily recognizable,
6) the logo needs to be different from other logos in the marketplace,
7) the logo needs reflect the company’s direction and value (even as it develops its mission) for a period of at least 25 years, because changing logos over and over again just loses the audience.

The larger the organization is, the more complex the process. But, whether it’s a large company, or a small company the general process is the same.

* brandmark, trademark, servicemark, event mark, identifying symbol
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New Discussion: Visual Coordination!

Visual Coordination artThere are several terms to describe how a company, or organization, should present itself to its audience: branding, identification design, etc. But, they are all basically telling us the same thing: to be well recognized by your audience (and by the general public) a company, or organization, needs to coordinate all of its materials. In other words, all of these items need to reflect the same basic design and the same basic message. It’s true that the media will change, materials change, and the delivery method of messages change. However, the basic rule remains the same – you want to teach your audience about your organization and present its message(s) – not confuse them.

Having different symbols, colors, names, messages, etc, if not extremely well organized will just confuse your audience – and the full impact of your message will not be felt. On the other hand a well coordinated, and maintained brand effort will help your company.

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New Discussion: Degrading your Website!

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Several years ago we were called in to redeveloped a simple website because it was not pulling in traffic. The basic pages and text were fine, but the graphics was off-putting. The site was so dull and the navigation difficult, so viewers really couldn’t relate to the site – even though all the information was contained in the site.

When our redeveloped site went live – the audience came alive. The response was very good and continued to be so. However, that didn’t seem good enough for the owner of the company, and over the year’s she had three, or maybe five, other web developer’s work on the site – none of them with any real connection to the company’s audience needs. The site has been terribly degraded: both text and graphics. The website is attracting fewer people, even with social media pushing people toward the site. The president of the company can’t understand why traffic is declining. Leaving well enough alone is an art that some entrepreneurs cannot get their heads around.

If you are going to make changes on your website, please make sure that you use a qualified professional – one that understands what the audience is looking for – and that the changes improve the site – not degrade it.

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New Discussion: I Have This Great Idea!

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I was attending a networking meeting and the meeting was coming to an end. I was just about to leave when a woman came over to the table that I was sitting at. She asked if she could sit down. I nodded ‘yes.”                                                                                            

“I understand that you are in advertising,” she said.                                                              

“Well, more branding, but yes we do advertising” I replied.                                              

“I have this great idea.” she said. And, then she went on to tell me that she couldn’t talk about what the idea was (because of legal issues), but she needed a logo for her company.

She didn’t have a name for the business, or a business plan, or a marketing plan yet, but
she wanted to start with a logo. She couldn’t pay me right now, but there would be plenty of money when she launched her start-up company. She said that she would be putting away about $100 to $200 for the logo (trademark) and for the packaging – and for one ad on social media. I said that I was late for another meeting and excused myself. I didn’t give her my card, and hoped that no one else had either.

But, here’s the biggest problem of all: she will get someone to do project.



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New Discussion: Observing and Selecting!

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Although it was a while ago, a lesson that has stuck with me since school (and has certainly helped me as a designer) was one taught to me by my professors: observe and select.

While walking around a local harbor on a bright, comfortable, late winter’s day, I noticed a number of people with cameras were photographing all around me. They were shooting the harbor, the surrounding trees, the various ducks, and the building: the obvious. None of them bothered with the wonderful patterns that were appearing in the icy waters. I selected the scene above, shot it, and stood and waited to see if others would see it. Sadly enough in the half hour I waited no one bothered to really check out the ice patterns – other then just a glance.

In design, advertising, and marketing today a similar thing is occurring. People are in such a rush to get the job done that they miss the most obvious of things – and if they do see interesting forms and trends, they tend to overlook them and do what everyone else is doing. It seems to have become a rush to mediocrity.

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Comment on: New Discussion: Networking and Fishing!

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Mike Willett commented:

The word Networking has been made very popular these days, primarily through companies such as Amway, to describe their form of business. Though many hot shots in the business world laugh at such a company and their members, you must remember that two men began a company that has reached well over 11 billion dollars in sales. That has to stand for something, and is an excellent indicator that networking can be extremely beneficial to those that use it as a process for furthering their businesses.

Learning how to be in touch with others in business, how to communicate need about information, product, association with others and more that come with networking, can, and is quite beneficial. Most any business can benefit from some of many forms of networking, yet many refuse to understand what really is very basic and very needed communication and sharing of ideas and information.

Though the word networking has been the “over used” term in the last 10 years, the very act itself has great benefit to those that use it properly. In other words, communication with others actually still works. Imagine that!


Mike Willett
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