Beautifully Ugly

I was flipping through our morning newspaper and came across a common advertiser that I’m sure many of you are familiar with: Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. It’s a cringe-worthy abomination in the eyes of most designers. Crass typography. Cheesy illustrations of Ollie sprinkled throughout the flyer. Each page packed with hyperbolic descriptions of all kinds of “buyout!” specials that won’t last long. It’s beautifully ugly. Why beautifully ugly? Because it’s perfectly-suited to the message and the messenger. The imagery, typography and writing style is crafted to fit in a way that’s memorable and impactful—and appropriate. This makes it a great example … Continued

Local SEO: 10 ways to boost your site’s visibility locally

I just completed a course at UCDavis on Optimizing a Website for (Organic) Search. There was a ton of valuable information conveyed in the course, but an area that I found particularly helpful was the section on Local Search. This is valuable for many of my clients that are local businesses that target almost exclusively to local clientele: Top 10 Localized Organic Factors Domain Authority of Website Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain City,State in GMB Landing Page Title Click-Through Rate from Search Results Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword … Continued

SEO: What is it and why is it important?

First, I’ll start with a definition: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in organic search results. The organic results are all the unpaid links that show up when you type in a request in a search engine like Google. Why is it important? If your website or web page does not show up in search results, or shows up on page 15 of the results, your website will be basically invisible to anyone searching for your product, service or organization. And growing your business or organization will be significantly … Continued

Data visualization: The powerful influence of designers and data

I was reading a very engaging story on infographics in the current issue of Smithsonian and thought it might be relevant to share my perspective on this subject. The story begins with a summary of how infographics and data visualization have influenced events throughout history. Incredibly, it’s a very old, dating back 8,000 years. However, the early uses were used primarily as maps. After all, a map is a visual representation of our world based on current data available. Today, the available data is much more vast and the need to make it understandable is a struggle for almost all … Continued

Eight design principles for nonprofits

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I was reading a post on mashable.com this morning and saw a list of design rules for nonprofits that I thought would be appropriate to share in this post. These tips were gathered from designers and creatives who work with nonprofits. The original post included 10 rules, but I think these eight are the most important: 1. Highlight the organization’s positive impact. This is kind of a no brainer so you can see why it’s the first rule. Telling your story by sharing the impact your organization makes is critical to getting donors to engage and want to help. 2. Let the design tell … Continued

Digital marketing trends for 2015

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Last year, digital marketing accounted for 25% of all marketing dollars spent. And according to a Gartner survey, that will rise to 33% this year. As a nonprofit, it’s essential to plan and implement your digital marketing strategies in areas considered most important in 2015. Based on an article in the Huffington Post, here are some predicted areas for concentration: 1. Email marketing Create smarter, more targeted content that speaks to your audience. 2. Building connections by building relationships Your audience will give to organizations that they know, like and trust. Social media helps establish personal relationships quickly and for very little cost. Nonprofits that connect by being more … Continued

Research-based design = insightful design solutions

| by | Strategic design | 0 comments

Third in a series of posts highlighting the importance of strategic design in today’s economy. It is inspired by the book “the Strategic Designer” by David Holston. Charles Eames, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, stated that effective design cannot depend solely on a designer’s preferences. Instead, it should be strongly influenced by business goals and customer needs. This of course seems obvious. However, it takes research to determine what those goals and needs are. Design research can take many forms. There are companies who focus strictly on market research and can do in-depth analysis of … Continued

Client/Designer relationship: The client always comes first.

Second in a series of posts highlighting the importance of strategic design in today’s economy. It is inspired by the book “the Strategic Designer” by David Holston. The title says it all. It’s all about the client and the problem he/she wants to solve. As a designer, this can be challenging. We put our years of experience and education on the line when we present our ideas. Our heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears can be all wrapped into solutions to our clients’ problems. When we don’t see things the same, issues arise. There’s a disconnect. Figuring out the source … Continued

Three essential principals of strategic design for today’s economy

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First in a series of posts highlighting the importance of strategic design in today’s economy. It is inspired by the book “the Strategic Designer” by David Holston. I just finished an enlightening and thoughtful book on the strategic importance of design in business today. I’m going to share with you some of what I believe to be critically necessary aspects from the book that all business decision-makers should embrace. I’ll start with what I think are the three principals of strategic design in today’s economy. 1. Design is more than aesthetics. Strategic designers are more than decorators of your communications … Continued

Email marketing — you can’t ignore its effectiveness

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Email marketing can give you a ROI that exceeds any other marketing channel — $43 in return for every dollar invested. For a comparison, non-catalog direct mail returns about $15 for every dollar and catalog direct mail returns about $7 (according to DMA’s Power of Direct economic impact study). For tips and in-depth email marketing best practices, listen to this podcast that includes email experts from ReturnPath, Constant Contact and Smith-Harmon: http://www.box.net/shared/nmkz98ilki At Evolv Design, we can help you develop an email campaign that will tie into your current brand, if you have one, or help you build your brand … Continued

It’s all about impact.

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  You know the old question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. From a marketing and design perspective, this is a particularly relevant question to ask. If your marketing/design message is not heard, does it make a sound? No, probably not. It’s all about impact. Maximizing the impact of your message will greatly increase it’s chances of being heard. Creating a giant “tree” that is quickly and efficiently dropped so that it maximizes its impact will absolutely make a sound that will be heard. Take a … Continued

It’s all about voice.

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  To me, typography has a voice. It can be forceful. Timid. Upscale. Cheap. Persistent. Animated. This is somewhat subjective and can vary depending on the viewers’ perspective. It is, however, a significant part of how you communicate to your audience. And finding the right voice for your company or organization takes careful thought and care.   Take a look at the examples below: Can you guess the products/companies behind the examples above? One is Audi. One is Mini. One is Dodge Ram. I’ll bet you can guess it even without seeing the rest of the ad. They are all … Continued

It’s all about the process.

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Successful design generally follows a path. The path normally takes these steps: Problem definition and research Concept/idea development Design development Execution Evaluation Seems simple, right? However, along the way the path has forks that will influence the design. Influences like trends, business operations, clients’ opinions, and the end users/viewers’ opinions all factor into the direction the design will take. At its core, though, design is about problem solving. Flexible and adaptive methods of problem solving are key to getting to a solution that answers the original problem. Projects will bend and sway to get to successful design solutions—influenced along the … Continued

Be powerful beyond measure

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson. Powerful beyond measure. That’s … Continued

2013 Web marketing trends to grow your business

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

Image courtesy of 6S I was reading an article this morning on internet marketing trends for 2013 on startupnation.com. There were 13 trends that they highlighted in 2013. While some that were mentioned fall more into the short-lived fad category, most were trends vital for remaining relevant and necessary in 2013 to maximize your revenue and growth. The first one, “design matters“, of course made my morning. It does matter. Good design is becoming more and more valued and well-regarded in the business community. With companies like Apple, Nike, and Google setting the example, design is no longer considered mere … Continued

Research-based design = insightful design solutions

| by | Design/marketing insights | 0 comments

Third in a series of posts highlighting the importance of strategic design in today’s economy. It is inspired by the book “the Strategic Designer” by David Holston. Charles Eames, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, stated that effective design cannot depend solely on a designer’s preferences. Instead, it should be strongly influenced by business goals and customer needs. This of course seems obvious. However, it takes research to determine what those goals and needs are.

Four characteristics of great logos

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

I came across an article online from Inc. magazine today about great logo designs. There are some incredibly good points made in this article. I’ve been creating logos for almost 25 years now and I’ve learned a lot of things during this wonderful journey. And this list summarizes some of top items. Take a look:  

Online media: an effective way to reach a new audience or connect with current supporters.

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Online media is certainly a cost-effective way to reach new customers. The interactive nature of online media gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. The design and metrics employed on your website and other online media can determine online brand recall and behavioral responses. The influential effects of clear, effective and visually-outstanding online media: can make viewers desire certain products or services believe in certain principles or causes make educated purchasing decisions We can help you and your company or organization with creating clear, effective and visually-outstanding online media as well as print media. By choosing … Continued

Be powerful beyond measure

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson.

We build better brands, one DNA strand at a time.

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A brand is more than just a logo. It is the sum total of everything a company does that creates an identity in the consumer’s mind. However, the logo can be the key linchpin that keeps the wheels of the brand rolling in the same direction. And if your logo does not stand out from those of your competitors, your sales will suffer. Logo development may seem like a less-than-critical part of your business development, but it could result in your business never getting off the ground. It can also lead to your business going under or underperforming when it … Continued

Vision statements for design projects?

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

Imagine this: try creating a story that explains what you envision for your next website, logo or brochure. I was reading an article in Inc. Magazine the other day that shared a vision statement for Zingerman’s Farmers’ Market: “It’s the longest day of the year; the sun is at its pinnacle of warmth and light. Throngs of people are milling around the Roadhouse parking lot, amazed and excited at the abundance of locally produced goods, ranging from several gorgeous varieties of tomatoes to handmade soap and artisan crafts, to herbs and plants, plus a very strong synergy of Zingerman’s items—cheese … Continued

Email marketing — you can’t ignore its effectiveness

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

Email marketing can give you a ROI that exceeds any other marketing channel — $43 in return for every dollar invested. For a comparison, non-catalog direct mail returns about $15 for every dollar and catalog direct mail returns about $7 (according to DMA’s Power of Direct economic impact study). For tips and in-depth email marketing best practices, listen to this podcast that includes email experts from ReturnPath, Constant Contact and Smith-Harmon: http://www.box.net/shared/nmkz98ilki At Evolv Design, we can help you develop an email campaign that will tie into your current brand, if you have one, or help you build your brand … Continued

Small business marketing in a tough economy

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

I was recently reading an article in Entrepreneur magazine that had some useful advice for small business marketing in a downturn. I’ve borrowed some of the suggestions and changed a few that I felt missed the mark. Below are five suggestions to consider: 1. Value, not price, will make you stand out. Cost is paramount in the minds of many consumers. But, it’s not as overriding as you might think. The worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it is the most decisive part of the sale. For example: If your buyers believe your price is … Continued

Small is powerful

| by | Small business marketing ideas | 0 comments

This was the subtitle of a book I was reading this morning: “Speak Human: Outmarket the Big Guys by Getting Personal”. Here’s an excerpt: Small businesses in the United States alone “produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms” and “create more than half of nonfarm private gross domestic product.” They’re a huge economic driver, and they add to the cultural fabric and diversity of our communities. But for some reason we tend to think they should all try to get bigger. Systemize, grow, franchise, retire, and get a boat somewhere; is this really all there is … Continued

The power of taglines

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I was discussing taglines with a client of mine and thought this would be a good post for this blog. Our discussion was based on fixing what I viewed as a poor tagline. To me, it lacked the important qualities that a tagline needs to be effective. A good tagline should be a powerful, condensed, compact declaration of your brand. Taglines show their value when customers connect to your brand’s distinction in this short, simple statement. This statement needs to encapsulate the feeling you want people to have about your brand. You should take great care in creating one. The … Continued