• Posted on March 6, 2017 11:16 am
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    Well, I did it. I hit the PUBLISH button on MY Designs' Build Your Custom Workshop. This is an idea that's been floating around for the last couple of years, and I finally put it into action. Do you have an idea that just won't go away? You know it's good, or at least you're pretty sure it's good....or it sounded good...or maybe iit didn't....maybe no one will like it...maybe....SEE WHAT JUST HAPPENED THERE? This time, I ran the idea past a couple of people who could give me valuable feedback. Then I worked with Linda DeLuca, a professional presentation coach and published author. She has a fantastic program called "4 Weeks & Done". Each week - for 4 weeks - we met and each worked on one project. Sometimes I had time during the week to work on it, but most weeks I actually did the work while we met. I knew what I wanted this project to look like (design), but I had to plan out how I was going to get there (strategy). First, I wrote out the details/goals/timeline, then created the items needed, did a soft launch, and finally tested the system (structure). It all worked. Design + Strategy = Structure. So I hit the PUBLISH button. What made this experience different for me was the emphasis on the strategy part. The "4 Weeks and Done" approach emphasized the fact that purpose is not the same as strategy. While it's vital to be crystal clear about the purpose of a project - whether that is a new type of workshop or a brochure or even a website - it's just as important to plan out HOW the purpose will be achieved. Next post I'll focus on how this works for websites. In that case, the strategy MUST work together seamlessly with the design to achieve an effective website structure. So let's trot back around to where I started this post, MY Designs' Build Your Custom Workshop. The purpose of this kind of workshop is to address a need that I've witnessed for quite some time. I have been teaching workshops to small groups for several years, and it something I really enjoy. What I like about the smaller groups (and what participants have told me they appreciate) is the ability to be address actual problems or challenges rather than general practices. Busy schedules often get in the way of people signing up for a specific class on a specific day. I thought about doing webinars, or having downloadable content or doing podcasts. All are great ways to reach people and help them work around tricky schedules. But there is a lot of that out there already. No, I wanted to offer my workshops in a different format. So my approach is the opposite of all that. Build Your Custom Workshops are one-to-one, on the topic you pick, and the day/time that works for you.  Good old fashioned, face-to-face learning. Ask a question, get an answer instantly...like chat, but in person. I've reserved time 3 days every week for these workshops. You can visit MY Designs' Build Your Custom Workshop page and read about the topics before you select one, then pick a day. If you just need my advice to help you finish up a project - or even get one started, you can do that too! Bottom line, you get two hours of my undivided attention to help you in any way I can.  

    Design Strategy, Workshop
  • Posted on January 2, 2017 12:18 pm
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    This year happens to mark my 30th year as a professional graphic designer. 30 years!!! Things have really changed in this industry, I can tell you that! What if I had not adjusted my course and adapted? I would not even be using a computer! I would be hand-lettering and using markers to color. And of course I would not have kept up with the pace of today's market. I remember when the billboard company I was working for got its first fax machine. FAX machine, people. The sales manager in our Shoals office would call me to tell me he was going to fax me an art request, then tell me what was on it. When I received the actual fax (which he had just read to me), the instructions ended with "Call me when you get this". No one trusted this new technology - lol!! 2017 is off to a roaring start for MY Designs with a brand new website. This comes as a result of deliberation and planning.  2016 was full of some enormous challenges - some that had begun the year before (family health). Some that just came out of nowhere (tornado on Nov 30). Needless to say, I had the opportunities to study priorities during December, which happens to be the time I set aside time to plan for my business. According to Merriam Webster, the definition of design is:  to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan:  devise, contrive  a: to conceive and plan out in the mind  b:  to have as a purpose:  intend  c:  to devise for a specific function or end The goal of this yearly planning is to decide where I want to end up at the end of the coming year. What goals do I want to set and achieve? Then I have to decide what I want my journey to look like. What route will I take? And very importantly, does it align with the long term goals I already have in place? In fact this is just an adjustment - course correction if needed - in the big picture. Priorities My business has several areas that need attention all of the time. These are: Creative graphic solutions Clear communications with my clients and for my clients Classes and tools to help my clients make the most of their brand But I have to continue to grow and adapt with the world so I can continue to serve my clients. So here are some new things I will be focusing on in 2017: SEO Safety and Security Social Media My monthly posts will delve into these topics to share with you how you can make the most of them. In addition, I am going to be changing the way I schedule workshops. Stay tuned for a special announcement about that coming in a couple of weeks! Setting priorities is great, but keeping them in the picture does not happen by accident, it happens by design. That is an important part of design strategy. If you are not already on my mailing list, please consider signing up.

    Design Strategy
  • Posted on April 2, 2016 12:33 pm
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    What can you do to make sure your brand stands out?   That is a top concern for most businesses when they think about the next marketing brochure or ad or website. As a designer, I am often asked to "make it really stand out" - whatever it is that I am designing. Of course that is my intention, but it's not quite as simple as that.  So this Del Monte ad would really stand out today I think. But perhaps not in a good way. However, back when it was actually in circulation (circa 1950s), it was standard practice to take this approach towards women. In fact, back then, this ad would NOT have really stood out. There are three questions you should be able to answer before you design (or have your designer) create any marketing materials:   1. Who is your audience? Who specifically are you trying to reach? You know that "Everyone" is the same as "no one"...right? So from a design point of view, understanding whom you are trying to reach is vital to creating a message that will resonate with them. This Rainier Beer went for the "good for everyone" approach to marketing. (If you have an hour to kill, spend some time searching "real retro ads" online.... entertaining to say the least!). Was it targeted to the moms? Pick up a six pack for the next time Paw Paw comes to visit. So just like when you are writing your marketing plan, you are supposed to know your target market...now think about them as actual people. If you plan to do any kind of social media (and of course you do) it is IMPERATIVE that you know who your target market is. Write out, in detail, the profile for your perfect client. Think about things like: values, age, gender, culture, career, family life, activities they may be involved with, type of entertainment they spend money on, goals, fears etc. If you are targeting both men and women, make two lists. The idea here is to find these things out if you don't already know. Your Branding should take these things into consideration because it should shape the design of your communications. 2. How can you show you value and appreciate them? This may should a little on the warm and fuzzy side, but really it's just about getting to know your market and paying attention to them...as people, not just statistics. Look at the big brand's advertising...they go for the emotions, the human connections. These companies go to great lengths to make their markets feel like they really "get" them. There are many ways to do this on the marketing side, but in relation to design, we want to look at how your next ad or brochure or website can show your market that you value what they value...or even better, you value your market on a personal level. In this day and age of 24/7 mass-marketing, it's the personal touch that stands out. 3. How can you deepen and strengthen your relationship with your market? You may wonder, "How can design affect your relationships?" Today's branding focuses on making your brand relatable and relevant. Face it, we are all busy and we are all overloaded with marketing messages every day. It's when that message transcends the rest of the marketing clamor and becomes something more important than a sales pitch (in the eye of the target market) that you have a chance of creating a "relationship" status. That's why companies have twitter accounts and not just a Facebook page or website. It's why social media is so powerful.... it’s all about the relationship. But people (especially those who have grown up in the digital era) are savvy when it comes to marketing messages, so if your social media comes across as salesy in any shape or form, you will lose that person. If you have invested time to figure out the first two questions above, you should have what you need to deepen this budding relationship. The way you present information to your market, whether it is through your website, printed materials, social media, video or in person should reflect what you know about them and what you know matters to them. The bottom line is that marketplace relationships flourish by design, not by chance. Marketing pieces should stand out in the right way to the right people if you want them to be effective in your overall branding. That's design strategy at work for you.

    Design, Design Strategy