31 July 2006

Brilliant Branding Builds Business

Branding is more than product recognition or a simple logo. It is the overall intellectual and emotional impression people have when they think of your company and its product. It is a strong and consistent message about the value of your business.

A memorable and trustworthy brand reinforces customer loyalty. It helps them remember that your business provides the perfect solution to their problems. Therefore, to succeed in branding you must understand your customers’ needs and issues.

Brand building is an ongoing business strategy that has an easy-to-measure cost in time, money, and effort. Its value, on the other hand, is harder to establish because it involves measuring emotional associations that may not immediately translate into revenue. Branding is an essential element of success, however, and it should be reinforced during times when business is booming and when sales are slower. You want customers and potential customers to maintain a positive association with your company and its services.

You control the messages you send out through marketing, advertising, customer service, and your Internet presence. Branding is a combination of everything your company uses to present itself. Here are a few key elements to analyze and enhance in your branding strategy:

1.
Professionally designed marketing materials (logo, stationery, ads, and the like): These tell customers your company is strong, confident, and credible. Your marketing materials should reinforce your company's image and positioning over and over and over.

2.
Consistency in advertising: Develop a tagline to succinctly describe your company - and use it! Develop a campaign that can provide different messages, but is recognizable as your brand.

3.
Excellent customer service - always! Make sure your entire staff positively represents your business image.

4.
A strong and professional Website: It must be easy for viewers to navigate and understand. It should let visitors know what your company does and why they should care. Provide compelling, easy-to-understand, and interesting content. Make it easy for visitors to make purchases.

5.
Differentiate your brand: Make sure your customers and potential customers understand why you are different from the competition. You want to establish a superior benefit with you target audience that encourages long-term loyalty.

Branding is not what you say about your company and products; it's about your customers' perception of your company and products. To strengthen your brand, make sure you can answer the following questions: What do you do that is different from anyone else? Why do you matter to your customers? If you can't answer these questions, you don't have an effective brand.

ACTION ITEM: Take a good look at your company and product/service strengths. Determine your primary strengths and benefits and then make sure your branding strategy (marketing materials, advertising, sales, customer services, logo, etc.) reinforces this. Simple, eh?

What's the Lowest Price?

by Mark Monlux

Dear Mark,
There is no question in my mind that I should not sell myself or my fellow artists short, but I don't make any real money at the jobs I'm currently holding, and I could really use the money right now.

So, when something comes my way I am tempted to consider the gig and possible compromises in pay because I'm not really far off when I goof around about being a starving artist. Not to get too personal, but if it wasn't for my wife and her paycheck I don't think I could make rent anywhere on what I earn.

This is why I come to you smart people for wisdom ... and an idea of what actual (or best figure possible) price I should ask the few times I've been contacted to do work like this. I know that I'll learn in time and it'll become second nature to me, as it did with you I'm sure.

So, I suppose that what I'm asking for (and I do feel very amateur asking) is some sort of "don't go any lower than this" price to ask for, an idea of what I should want/ask for regarding the renegotiating of the rights.

Signed,
Struggling


Dear Struggling,
I can tell you not to go lower than the prices inside the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guideline Handbook. Those are real prices from projects that were work on and completed by designers in the industry. Because of FTC collusion laws, neither I, nor the Guild, can tell you what I think a price should be, I could be fined or get 4 years.

But, what we can do is tell each other the prices we did receive because they are of historic record. And that is what the Guild does to arrive at these figures. They conduct a survey asking for prices on completed projects that fall into the categories provided by the questionnaire. The questionnaire does not ask what the prices should be; only what that person actually invoiced.

And those prices are often compromised figures working stiffs negotiated lower to claim the project. So, the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guideline Handbook (or PEGs as we call it for short) is a filled with prices that were compromises. Anyone looking at those prices and thinking that they are high are really shooting themselves in the foot.

When I look at those prices, it take the knowledge that these were negotiated prices I look to the high range or even add 20% before I consider the initial offer I make to the client.

Because, it is much easier to negotiate down a price than it is to raise a price while negotiating.

28 July 2006

"No Pain No Gain" May Not Be Good Advice

PHILADELPHIA - For David Kozlow, turning 40 was a major pain in the neck. And in the ankles, back, groin, shoulder and hamstrings.

A lifelong athlete who played high school lacrosse and college football, ran a 5:20 mile and bench-pressed 300 pounds, the attorney found himself approaching his 40th birthday with a laundry list of exercise-related injuries.

One of those ailments, a herniated disk in his neck, took two years of acupuncture and heat therapy to alleviate the pain.

"I still had the mind-set that I was in my 20s," he said. "It took a few years for me to come to the conclusion that I couldn't really do what I used to do, and I had to readjust my sights."

Getting older hurts — and when it comes to exercise injuries, doctors say that's more the case than ever before. Many are seeing increasing numbers of baby boomers with blown knees, sore backs, stiff shoulders and other complaints.

"The volume of people in their 40s, and even in their 30s, coming in with (knee) osteoarthritis is much higher than a decade ago," said Dr. Jess Lonner, director of knee-replacement surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. "It's a highly motivated generation that plays harder than a generation ago."

Sports injuries among baby boomers increased by 33 percent from 1991 to 1998, according to figures cited in a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report. Baby boomers in 1998 suffered more that 1 million sports injuries, to the tune of nearly $19 billion in medical costs, said the report from 2000, the most recent data available.

The highest numbers of sports-related injuries came from bicycling, basketball, baseball and running, according to the consumer report. The most common injuries come from overuse and affect knees, ankles, lower back and shoulders.

Aging can't be avoided, but injuries can be. And doctors say that doesn't mean all avid joggers must hang up their running shoes, or lifelong basketball players must necessarily forgo the neighborhood court — it's all about exercising smarter.

"The old adage 'no pain, no gain' should be less relevant as we age than when we're younger," Lonner said. "It's a matter of being educated in how to exercise appropriately and what signs to look out for when exercising, like muscle soreness and joint pain."

For Kozlow, the solution was to switch from strenuous weightlifting to a workout that was gentler on muscles and joints. Now he does yoga and tai chi every day, strength training with light free weights and push-ups every other day, along with isometrics and elastic resistance bands. He also walks to and from work — about a 35-block round-trip.

"The goal was to be pain-free and to be fit without hurting myself," said Kozlow, who didn't rely on drugs or surgery to heal his injuries. "You have to readjust your mind-set and be more attuned to your body and its limitations, which can be hard to admit."

As we age, experts say, it's easier to get injured and it takes longer to heal sprains and strains. The physical changes and ailments that can come with age include loss of muscle mass, decreased bone density, diminished muscle and tendon flexibility, and joints less able to handle impact.

If the idea of exercise is to keep in top physical condition, hot-dogging it on mountain bike trails or trying to relive those varsity-letter glory days in "weekend warrior" style can be counterproductive, said Dr. Vonda Wright, clinical instructor in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Many of us may still feel like we're 20, but we're not 20," she said. "Men come into my office with ruptured Achilles' tendons or muscle tears because they insist on doing the same things they did when they were much younger."

Doctors recommend a physical exam, including a cardiovascular work-up, for baby boomers looking to get active or stay fit. The results can be used to tailor an individual fitness program with the lowest injury risk.

"It all depends on the person. If you repeatedly get banged up by being on the basketball court, you should think about getting on a bike," Wright said. "There's a time to reconsider doing extreme sports, but there's never a time to stop being active."

25 July 2006

Salespeople Can Be the Definition of Success

by Jeffrey Gitomer

The sales world is the real world. It is the heart of the world's commerce, the pulse of the world's economy.

And salespeople drive it.

Many people (including salespeople) never give a thought to the depth of sales and selling.

Think about what sales consists of: It's about communication, engagement and needs. It's about negotiation, orders, money and competition. It's about customers' expectations, delivery, keeping promises, relationships and reputation. It's about goals, success and failure.

And sales has its own language. Consider the following real-world sales definitions:

Customers: People who provide revenue.

Satisfied customers: People who will shop any place. All satisfied customers are vulnerable to the competition.

Satisfaction: The lowest level of acceptable service.

Loyal customers: People who buy from you more than once and are willing to refer someone else to you and give a testimonial.

Angry customer: An opportunity to recover and serve in a memorable way. Also an indication that you did something wrong.

Price: The most feared word in sales. Often confused by weak salespeople for "value."

Discount: Money you take off the top line that comes right off your bottom line.

Not interested: The prospective customer's response when a salesperson is not interesting.

Engagement: A salesperson's ability to gain interest on a genuine level.

Objection: A stall or an indication of buyer interest. Either way, the customer is saying, "Clarify."

Cold call: A rude interruption of a prospect by a salesperson who is too lazy to network or earn a referral. It's also the worst way to make a sale.

Service: Something to be of 24/7.

Belief: The inner feeling that allows a salesperson to win sales.

Opportunity: Every interaction with a customer or a prospect.

Referral: If approached properly, the easiest sale to make.

Unsolicited referral: The ultimate sales report card.

Testimonial: The most powerful sales tool.

Brochure: A bunch of self-serving messages that marketing people and advertising agencies put together at great expense, which customers throw away without reading.

Training: If presented in a real-world, compelling manner, an opportunity to learn.

Boss: A leader, a teacher, a coach, an encourager. Not a manager.

Real boss: The customer.

-------------------------------
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, is president of Buy Gitomer of Charlotte, N.C. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached by email at jgitomer@bizjournals.com or at 800-242-5388. He also has a web site at www.gitomer.com.

21 July 2006

19 July 2006

Art of Making Money

ART OF MONEY GETTING
Golden Rules for Making Money
by P. T. Barnum, 1880


ART OF MONEY GETTING

1. DON'T MISTAKE YOUR VOCATION
2. SELECT THE RIGHT LOCATION
3. AVOID DEBT
4. PERSEVERE
5. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT
6. DEPEND UPON YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXERTIONS
7. USE THE BEST TOOLS
8. DON'T GET ABOVE YOUR BUSINESS
9. LEARN SOMETHING USEFUL
10. LET HOPE PREDOMINATE BUT BE NOT TOO VISIONARY
11. DO NOT SCATTER YOUR POWERS
12. BE SYSTEMATIC
13. READ THE NEWSPAPERS
14. BEWARE OF "OUTSIDE OPERATIONS"
15. DON'T INDORSE WITHOUT SECURITY
16. ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS
17. BE POLITE AND KIND TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
18. BE CHARITABLE
19. DON'T BLAB
20. PRESERVE YOUR INTEGRITY

15 July 2006

The Many Faces of Rembrandt van Rijn




Of all the fine-art superstars, only one painted, drew, and etched nearly 100 self-portraits – Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch Baroque artist. Was he an obsessed narcissist or just a perfectionist refining his craft? Why he was so prolific at whipping up pictures of himself will remain a mystery, but that won't stop art historians from glamorizing his eccentric achievement. Painting in a "dark manner" called tenebrism and using printmaking techniques known as burnt plate oil, Rembrandt emerges with a stoic stare. He gradually ages from his 20s to the year of his death in 1669. Like many artistic geniuses, the life of tragedy boosts fame, and he had his share of both. Although he didn't slice off an ear or kill himself driving drunk, he reputedly dove into poverty and also witnessed loved ones die from the plague. We crave his reactions to these events in each portrait, but creepy lighting and kooky outfits sometimes steal the show.

Don't take our word for it; judge Rembrandt's work for yourself in commemoration of his 400th birthday.

Self-portraits

Rembrandt 400

The Rembrandt House Museum

Rembrandt – Olga's Gallery

Celebrating 400 Years of Rembrandt

14 July 2006

Unfair Boss Could Shorten Your Life: Study

That crummy boss in the window office could be slowly killing you, according to a study of British workers published on Monday.

Researchers in Finland who did the study found that workers who felt they were being treated fairly had a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in all Western societies.

"Most people care deeply about just treatment by authorities," study author Mika Kivimaki of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health wrote in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine. "Lack of justice may be a source of oppression, deprivation and stress."

People consider that they are being treated fairly at work when they believe their supervisor considers their viewpoint, shares information about decision-making and treats individuals fairly and in a truthful manner, the study said.

The researchers tracked the 10-year incidence of heart disease in over 6,400 male civil servants in London who had been polled on their perceived level of justice and injustice in the workplace.

"In men who perceived a high level of justice, the risk of coronary heart disease was 30 percent lower than among those who perceived a low or an intermediate level of justice," the researchers said.

That finding was not accounted for by other risk factors, from age and socioeconomic status to cholesterol levels, alcohol consumption and physical activity, the authors said.

Rania Sedhom, a labor and employment attorney with Meyer Suozzi English & Klein in New York who commented on the research, said a parallel study in the United States could find even more dramatic results because of the longer American work day.

10 July 2006

Top 10 Design Tips You Don't Learn in Graphic Design School

You don't learn everything you need to know in graphic design school. Here are Web design and print design tips from the real world. They're the sort of design tips you learn from the school of hard knocks.

1. Know Both Print and Web Design
While Web design may seem very sexy, you'll be more marketable if you have a thorough understanding of both print and Web design. Contrary to popular opinion, print isn't going away any time soon. Even if you decide you only want to do Web design, someone, someday, will ask you to do print work.

2. Work with Printers
It's okay to admit you don't know how to do something. When it comes to print design, the best thing to do is run your ideas by your printer. Most printers are happy to answer you questions; if they're not, you should find a new printer.

3. Intern, Co-op
Right now the graphic design market is very, very tough. Who knows what it will be like when you graduate? Students with experience and a good portfolio will have an edge.

4. Learn Marketing
Whether you plan on working in-house, for an agency, or for yourself, you better know something about marketing. It's not about how pretty your designs are, it's about the results your designs get.

5. The Customer's Always Right
Most schools don't teach you how to deal with customers. The customer -- whether that's your boss or the person who hired you -- is always right. If they're wrong (if they pick the ugliest design, for instance...which of course you should never design something you don't like), it's your job to educate them. Be prepared with concrete reasons why the design you like is the one that works.

6. You're Too Busy
If you're just starting a design company, no matter how much work you actually have: to your customers you're buried in work. No one wants to hire someone with lots of free time on their hands. They can't be very good if they don't have any work, right?

7. Design Logos in Black and White
Even in today's technicolor world, companies need black and white versions of their logo. At some point, they will need to fax and copy their logo. It's easy to design in black and white, then colorize a logo. It's not always so easy to make a color logo black and white.

8. Always Have a Contract
I don't care how well you know the person, you should always have a contract. The contract tells the customer what to expect from you, and what you expect from them.

9. You Own the Files
If you've read tip number eight, then you know you shouldn't begin a job without a contract. That contract spells out who owns the file, which normally is you. If the contract doesn't spell this out, your customer can get the files from you and turn them over to another designer.

10. Networking Never Ends
You might think that you want to guard all your customer and design secrets, but the truth is you'll be a better designer if you network with other designers. You'll have people to bounce ideas off of, vent to and learn from. You might even be able to pick up extra work occasionally.

07 July 2006

Can we use fonts in logo design?

by Mark Monlux

Question

I'm creating a logo for a small, local business that provides a service. I want to use a font for the logo...I called someone at type foundry and they said that fonts are owned by their designer and therefore can be used if purchased for anything except a logo because of trademark laws. Most commercial and free fonts have restrictions on use.

What do people usually do? I don't want to have a font created...I just want to shop for one to use!

Even if the logo is trademarked - aren't you really just claiming ownership of the composition/artwork/name of the logo - not claiming ownership of the font?

And...last question, if the small business isn't going to trademark the logo - then can any purchased or free font be used???

I hope you are able to get back to me on this - I am new to the graphic design business and would like to know how other people deal with this issue.


Answer

It is true that the USA Copyright Office does not copyright typeface design. However, that does not mean that typeface does not have some restrictions. Specifically in the Copyright Ruling of 1988 it says regarding typeface: Useful articles are not protected except to the extent the articles contain artistic features capable of existing separately and independently of the overall utilitarian shape. Variations of typographic ornamentation [or] "mere lettering" are not copyrightable. So, the question here is: does your logo contain artistic features capable of existing separately and independently of the overall utilitarian shape?

If your answer is “Yes” then you are dealing with something that has a copyright, and anything you create from it would be seen as a derivative. What to do? Some typefaces have been around for centuries and are open to fair use as their creators copyright has expired. Other typefaces are new or adaptations. Your instinct to contact the type foundry, which sold you the font, was the right one. Ask first, get permission. Most type foundries have user agreements printed with the disks they supply or posted online at their websites. All user agreements are not alike. Read through them and see if permission is already granted. If the foundry does not hold all the licensing to the typeface then they should be able to provide you with the name of the artist who created it.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, if I outline the typeface and make it a graphic, won’t I be able to call it my own?” Not so according to The TypeRight Guide to Ethical Type Design: “The data in a font is protected by law, so you are not allowed to take it to create your own font. This misconception has encouraged piracy and the illegal production of ultra-cheap font CD-ROMs by individuals and companies that profit at the expense of original designers' efforts.”

Lettering artist are underappreciated, even in comparison to illustrators and graphic artists. Just like illustrators and graphic artists they live from the licensing of their work. Negotiation over their licensing should be do the same way you negotiate with your photographer or copywriter. And as with working with any professional, you will be pleased with how easy, and affordable, it is achieving a favorable result.

Now you also might be saying, “Hey, I don’t know where this font came from.” That’s the same as saying I don’t know where this photo, illustration or logo came from. Just because you don’t know the origin doesn’t mean you can use it. And with technology it is getting easier all the time to see where the typeface came from. Look at the information file for source information. Should that fail a number of font foundry websites have OCR search engines which can help you. My personal favorite is MyFonts.com’s What the Font?! which has helped me countless times.

Okay, so the short answer is: it’s typically permissible to use typefaces in brochures, books, magazines, and other enlightening, and informative works because the typeface is being used as typeface. But specialty uses are going to require that you do a little homework. And be sure to read that user agreement which comes with your font.

06 July 2006

When Aerosol Outlaws Became Insiders: Graffiti Art at the Brooklyn Museum



An exhibition of twenty large-scale graffiti paintings from such influential artists as Michael Tracy ("Tracy 168"), Melvin Samuels, Jr. ("NOC 167"), Sandra Fabara ("Lady Pink"), Chris Ellis ("Daze"), and John Matos ("Crash"), Graffiti explores how a genre that began as a form of subversive public communication has become legitimate—moving away from the street and into private collections and galleries. Forms of graffiti have been discovered on ancient Roman and Mayan architecture and like today were both illegal and a form of communication. Modern graffiti, which is associated with hip-hop culture and spans all racial and economic groups, began in the mid- to late 1960s; it made its way to New York City and quickly became a phenomenon.



Urban youth used the sides of subway trains and buildings as their canvases, reclaiming sections of their neighborhoods by "tagging" them with stylized renditions of their names or the names of the groups they formed. The self-taught graffiti artists turned the walls of public (and sometimes private) buildings into giant panoramas and subway cars into moving murals. Later, graffiti artists began to paint on canvas or large sheets of paper, attracting the attention of art dealers and collectors. One of the first dealers to collect graffiti was Sidney Janis. His heirs Carroll and Conrad Janis donated almost fifty works from his estate to the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. Graffiti is drawn primarily from this gift and supplemented by material the Museum's Libraries and Archives.

This exhibition is organized for the Brooklyn Museum by Charlotta Kotik, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator and Chair, Department of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.




Through September 3, 2006. To learn more visit:

www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/graffiti/

05 July 2006

A Most Famous Work of Art




Interesting concept...

A couple capture people's facial expressions while they observe one of the world's most famous works of art in Florence, Italy.

View video here.

03 July 2006

Email Design Guidelines

This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, but to me these are the key issues that seem to be overlooked in most of the emails I receive and a great deal that are sent through Campaign Monitor. We're all busy people, so here’s a summary of what you should be doing to meet each of the guidelines.


1) Never use images for important content like headlines, links and any calls to action.

2) Use alt text for all images for a better experience in Gmail and always add the height and width to the image to ensure that the blank placeholder image doesn't throw your design out.

3) Add a text-based link to a web version of your design at the top of your email.

4) Ensure your most compelling content is at the top (and preferably to the left).

5) Test your design in a preview pane, full screen and with images turned on and off before you send it.

6) Ask your subscriber to add your From address to their address book at every opportunity.

If you’re interested in the reasons behind these tips and learning just how important they are, read on...



www.campaignmonitor.com