Creative Instinct Blog – Branding & Marketing Tips for Busy Professionals

Informative articles and tips on marketing for small businesses.


5 Tips for Your Company Logo Design

There are a million people in the logo design industry today dishing out crappy logos in bulk for crowd sourcing sites. How do you as a serious professional stand out from the crowd and produce quality logos that don’t suck? Read on to find out.

1. Use a Visual Double Entendre

Some of the best logos in the world utilize a technique called a visual double entendre, which is an overly fancy way to say that it has two pictures wrapped into one through clever interpretation of a concept or idea.

The WinePlace logo below is a perfect example.

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2. Color is Vitally Important

One of the most important considerations for logo design is the color palette. This is not a superficial decision, color carries meanings and communicates ideas. Sometimes you’re pegged to the colors of a brand, but other times you’ll have the freedom to explore. We love the rich palette used in the Zion logo below.

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The colors here grab you and pull you in, they bring life to the illustration and give further context to the shape of the landscape. That being said, remember that a good logo is versatile and will still function well in grayscale:

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Beyond a grayscale version, I like to also provide clients with a true single color version, using only black and negative space. This would be a little tricky with the logo above, but definitely possible. Always consider what it is that the logo will be used for and whether or not the various use cases require different versions.

3. Avoid the Cliché

Every few years or so, some new fads come along in logo design. It’s great to study design trends to keep up with the times, but with logos that use the same idea over and over again get old, fast.

4. Make it Ownable

I don’t believe that “ownable” is a real word, but you nevertheless hear it quite a bit in marketing, (marketers love to make up words). The concept is definitely an important one that ties closely to the previous tip. Rather than following the herd and using a cliché design, you should instead strive for something that is uniquely recognizable. The Evernote logo below is a good example in this regard. It’s really just an elephant head, which doesn’t sound like a very unique concept. However, the way it’s drawn with the curled trunk and page fold in the ear makes it instantly recognizable.

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5. Everybody Loves Custom Type

While we’re on the subject of being unique, there’s almost nothing that can give your logo a unique feel quite like some awesome custom lettering. Logos with this much customization often require additional time to develop, but can be well worth the investment.

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Custom type helps ensure that your unique logo will stay that way. Keep in mind though that if your logo is famous enough, people will always try to rip it off. This certainly holds true for a favorite script logo:

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The awesome Coca-Cola script has been stolen countless times in awkward parodies throughout the last few decades.

Need assistance with your company logo?

If you’re a startup looking for a great design for your new brand, or a seasoned business in the market for a brand refresh, Gwen Canfield can help. Contact her at gwen@creativeinstinct.biz, or visit www.creativeinstinct.biz. Do you know of a business that could use help with branding, marketing or website design? Please feel free to refer them. Thanks!!

– Article written by

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5 Branding & Marketing Tips for Startups

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There’s a lot to do and plan when you’re starting a new business. But don’t neglect the marketing and branding side of things. Here are 5 clever tips to make sure your marketing and branding are as good as they can be.

1. Make Sure Your Logo is Clear and Eye Catching.

Every startup needs a great logo, and it’s not an easy thing to achieve. There are lots of mundane and boring logos out there, but the best businesses have something that’s both clear and instantly recognizable. This is what you should be aiming for if you want to perfect your branding.

Think about what it is a logo should do. It should let people know what your business is called, give them an idea of what you do and catch their attention. If you manage to tick those three boxes, you have a great logo.

2. Build Partnerships.

When you’re starting out at the bottom, it’s not easy to get noticed above all the other startups in the market. Building partnerships with industry leaders and influential people in your sector is one way of getting seen and heard.

Talk to the leaders of companies that offer products or services that are linked to yours but are not direct competitors. If you can benefit from the existing customer base of these bigger companies, your startup will receive an instant boost. They’ll expect something in return though.

3. Focus on Your Target Customer.

You should have a fully rounded idea of who your target customer is and how you’re going to connect with them. It might sound ridiculous but drawing up a plan of what your ideal customer looks like, thinks about and does in his or her free time can help reach them better.

The way you design the imagery and iconography of your business should also be tailored to your target customer. Take the same approach to your social media output too. If you’re targeting young people, it’s best to take a more casual approach.

4. Throw a Launch Party.

There’s no better way to let people know you’ve arrived on the scene than throwing a launch party for your startup. It can act as a signal of intent and get people aware of your brand from the very beginning of your journey.

They can also be good ways to make contacts that could prove valuable in the long-term. Invite business owners and influential journalists and industry figures. Give out free gives and put out food – you can even get some logo cookies customized with your own brand logo.

5. Foster an Ethic Around Your Brand.

Your brand shouldn’t just be a hollow entity, it should mean something, and your customers should see what it means. This isn’t easy to do, but all the best companies try to do this when they’re starting out.

Your brand ethic can revolve around whichever idea you like, but it should be something real and sincere. Nowadays, customers can easily see through empty promises. Your ethic should transcend your marketing and branding ideas.

These 5 clever tips will give your startup just the boost it needs.

Startup Company or Seasoned Business…

Need assistance with your company branding, marketing or website design? If you’re a startup, the answer is “yes!” If you’re a seasoned business, perhaps you’re considering a brand refresh or a website facelift. If so, contact Gwen Canfield today for a free consultation — I’d love to help! Email me:  gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. Visit my website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.

Article by Young Startups» http://www.youngupstarts.com/2015/05/09/5-clever-marketing-branding-tips-for-startups/


BUSINESS GUIDE TO CREATING A PERFECT LOGO

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– Original article by

Your logo is not just a picture; it’s your brand’s identity. Used in virtually all marketing materials, from your website and business cards to advertisements and social media, it plays a prominent role not only in people remembering your brand, but how they perceive the value of it.

If you want to establish yourself as a credible and authoritative source in your industry, you need to have a high quality logo that:

  • Represents your brand/business
  • Reflects quality services
  • Engages and evokes emotion from consumers
  • Is recognizable and memorable

Your logo should reflect your brand’s identity and purpose, not just your personal taste and preferences. Relatively speaking, you have a limited space to work with, so each element and attribute — from the colors to the shape to the text — needs to serve a specific purpose.

ANATOMY OF A LOGO

There are three main types of logos — logotype/wordmark, iconic and combination mark — each with their respective benefits and limitations. Logotypes or wordmarks use the company’s name, but in a unique design or custom-font (Disney, Coca-Cola, Ray Ban). Iconic logos use simple graphics or symbols that can have a literal or abstract association (Apple, Nike, Mercedes). Combination marks incorporate both text and graphic, often allowing the two to be integrated or stand-alone (Starbucks, McDonalds, Adidas).

To choose the best logo for your brand, it’s important to first understand the different elements involved and how they influence consumer decisions.

COLOR. The colors you choose to incorporate into your logo is often the hardest — yet most important — decision. The color will be the first thing consumers notice about your logo. In fact, researchers have found that as much as 90% of consumers’ judgments are based on colors alone. To explore what colors are associated with which emotions, check out this infographic from Designhill:

SHAPE. Using a recognizable shape can be a useful tool in creating a logo people remember. Keep in mind that it should translate well across various platforms, and will often be used in different sizes.

FONT. If you do decide to have text in your logo, the type of font you choose is important. Comic Sans doesn’t necessarily illicit a professional tone.

While they should be examined and explored individually, ultimately all the elements of your brand are relative and interconnected. Nothing is isolated, which is why it is essential to hire a logo design company who understands, appreciates and applies the psychology involved in marketing.

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TIPS FOR LOGO DESIGN

Make a statement. You want to engage and interest your audience, without overwhelming or confusing them. They shouldn’t have to wonder what it is they are looking at.

Ask yourself how your design measures against competition. How do you want it to stand out from your competitors? What artistic elements do favor in other logos? Is it too similar another company’s? See what else is out there and what successful brands are using, but don’t mimic them. If people view your logo as a “knock-off”, chances are they will assume your product/services are cheap. If you want to stand out against your competition, you need to be different.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Sometimes it isn’t what you decide to add to the logo as much as what you decide to leave out. The man who originally drew the Apple logo, Rob Janoff, said he drew the apple with a bite taken out of it so it wouldn’t be mistaken for a cherry, only to later learn “bytes” are fundamental units in computing.

Know your target audience. To create a logo your target audience will respond to, you need to understand who they are so you can get an idea for the perspective they have.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOGO DESIGN COMPANY

Be wary of companies who promise to have a logo to you within hours, especially if the price is alarmingly inexpensive. Being skilled in graphic design does not necessarily equate to being well-versed in marketing and advertising tactics. You aren’t hiring them to just create a graphic you — you are hiring them to help build your brand’s identity.

Regardless of the type of designer or company you choose, there are a few important questions to cover before hiring them:

Will you be able to contact them directly? It is helpful if you are able to give the designer as much as information as possible to work with so they have a thorough understanding of what you are trying to achieve. While design may be their specialty, mind-reading is not. Being able to provide comments and feedback throughout the process is a win-win.

What kind of businesses have they designed for in the past? Check their portfolio. If they haven’t worked with businesses similar to yours, make sure they done a good job at representing other companies.

If you are having trouble deciding on a logo, or choosing between different designs, enlist the help of others. Ask people what they think the logo represents, or what type of company is behind the brand. (Obviously this is most effective when the opinions come from strangers, not family and friends.)

The most famous and established brands didn’t get where they are today solely because of their logo. But while the success of your company hinges on the quality of services/products you provide, the important role your logo plays in influencing the perception, engagement and interest of consumers can’t be understated or overlooked.

Original article by Posted: 08/26/2015 10:40 pm EDT Updated: 08/26/2015 10:59 pm EDT. 

 


18 SIGNS YOU NEED HELP WITH MARKETING


Article by Eric Samson for Entreprenuer magazine. Image credit: Entrepreneur Media Inc.

Marketers find the right audience for your business and convert passive shoppers into active buyers. The most successful companies in the world get ahead of the competition and thrive thanks to quality branding and marketing.

Even if your business is already growing, it can always grow faster. Marketing can help. If you run a company without a marketing team, or have a limited marketing staff, here are 18 reasons you may want to hire professional help.

1. You would rather look at company financials than Google Analytics. Data is powerful, but if you do not know how to harness the power of your website analytics you are severely missing out.

2. You get overwhelmed thinking about advertising, your company website and social media. Your business loses out on a lot of opportunity by not engaging in any marketing activities. Of course, you should not make the even graver mistake of hiring an intern to manage all of these things.

3. Your idea of marketing is a $50 ad in a local newspaper or a $15,000 TV spot. Targeting, you say. What targeting?

4. Your business gets a lot of website traffic but a relatively low number of sales. It is time to polish up your conversion funnel to capture more visitor value.

5. Your company website hasn’t had a makeover since 2012. In fact, you probably haven’t touched it since it was first created.

6. People have a hard time trying to find your company on Google.

7. Email newsletters make you cringe. You are also inclined to hit spam when you get more than one email from a company or its representatives.

8. You like the idea of having lots of fans and followers on social media, but have no idea how you would even engage them. Funny cat pictures do not count.

9. You are unfamiliar with the terms bounce rate, call-to-action, click through, and impressions. You also think that sort of gibberish wouldn’t even apply to your business.

10. Your sales team has a hard time explaining what you do, how your product or service differentiates itself from competitors and applicable use cases for your offerings. Marketing helps provide great collateral and copy so others understand your company a lot better.

11. You love a good billboard ad and you hate clicking anything on the web. Wait, seriously?

12. You think you are smarter than your customers. In a day and age where customers have real voice and will not be silenced, you better be prepared to put your ego aside and actively learn from potential buyers.

13. You enjoy the idea of an endless flow of new customers but regularly forget about engaging your already existing and loyal clients.

14. You create all of your images in Microsoft Paint or PowerPoint. You believe tools such as Illustrator and Photoshop have too much going on.

15. Anything related to marketing is done with a set-it and forget-it philosophy. If it works, why tweak it? Or, if it doesn’t work, give it more time. Unfortunately, you only throw away money this way.

16. You believe companies like Charmin, GoPro and American Express would have grown anyways, without needing to invest so heavily in marketing. You’d be wrong.

17. You never thought to tie in the ongoing marketing initiatives you have into a larger, structured campaign. Marketing impact multiplies when tactics are complimentary and cohesive.

18. You hate the idea of a company blog, though you spend a majority of your time reading articles created and published by like-minded brands.

How you promote your business matters, and having a qualified marketing team can help you grow your bottom line tenfold. The sooner you invest in professional branding, marketing, and a quality website, the faster you will be able to leapfrog over the competition.

Gwen Canfield Founder of Creative Instinct

Need Professional Help?

Creative Instinct provides custom branding, graphic design and website design to busy professionals. Let us help your company! Contact gwen@creativeinstinct.biz for a free consultation. Visit www.creativeinstinct.biz to learn more about us and see samples of our work.

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Link to Entreprenuer article: http://www.creativeinstinct.biz/#!magazine/c8as


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WHAT’S YOUR COMPANY’S FONT PALETTE?

font paletteIf you want to ensure that existing and potential customers recognize your brand, you need to go further than just designing a memorable logo-you need to create a cohesive experience. One of the most undervalued yet effective ways to do this is by selecting a font palette to use for all client communications, marketing materials and other representations of your brand.

Graphic designers are happy to discuss typography as well as style guides for company use-often as an extension to any branding work they’re already doing for you. The resources available to improve your typographic brand are better today than ever before.

Wistia, a Massachusetts-based provider of video hosting and analytics, employs two key fonts universally. When customers use Wistia’s web-based application or read the company blog, they feel like they’re visiting different parts of the same whole. That result is due just as much to the company’s consistent use of typography as to the logo at the top of the page.

“For a brand to have a personality, all the things it makes need to look like they were drawn by the same hand,” says Joe Ringenberg, design lead at Wistia.

If you think about typography as ‘voice’, then it’s imperative that voice is carried across all marketing. If you want those messages to be effectively connected to your brand. By maintaining consistency in that voice, you stand a far better chance of having these messages accrue and aggregate and reinforce each other.

Wistia’s typeface selections drive home the company’s clean aesthetic and mission. Look ensures across-the-board appeal.

Keeping the use of these typefaces consistent across all materials Wistia creates requires a companywide commitment. Encouraging an entire company to think about design on some level is the ideal. Doing so makes it easier for everyone to stick to branding guidelines.

Need assistance with your company’s branding, marketing or website design?
Creative Instinct can help! Contact gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. Visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.

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Article condensed from Entrepreneur magazine—Feb.2015, written by Thursday Bram »


10 MOST OVERUSED FONTS THAT CAN DAMAGE YOUR BRAND

The lack of brand discipline is something we notice often when we work with small businesses. It can be very damaging. Exposure of a consistent brand is essential to building name recognition. To achieve it, companies need image guidelines that all of their employees follow; these must include a company font to be used on all communications, presentations, etc. That font will speak to your brand forever. To make sure it has strength, here are 10 fonts to avoid at all costs:

1. Comic Sans

No one is surprised that this is No. 1. Comic Sans may have been cute and playful once upon a time, but everyone and their mother has used it for homemade signs and logos, so avoid it like the plague. It should never be used in corporate settings.

2. Papyrus

You might think this has a “natural, beachy” feel, but it doesn’t. That has been worn off with overuse. It now appears stale and used up.

3. Copperplate

You think it’s strong and professional, and it’s just perfect for your law firm/accounting agency/serious business. If you want to look like everyone else in your industry, have at it.

4. Curlz

Going for the cute and perky look is not a bad thing for certain industries, but doing it with the same font ad nauseam does nothing but destroy your uniqueness.

5. Mistral

This one saddens me because, once upon a time, it was stunning and fresh. Sadly, like all of the other fonts listed, it has been beaten to death. Don’t be tempted; Mistral is like John Mayer—once deeply attractive but now totally overexposed. Keep looking.

6. Yearbook

Unless you are working at an athletic department circa 1945, run for the hills. Not every single high school on the planet has to use the same font.

7. Brush Script

Like Mistral, many think Brush Script has just the right amount of pizzazz; it doesn’t. At best, it was a pale imitation of Mistral.

8. Bradley Hand

With all of the “hand drawn”-looking fonts, I don’t understand why we’ve settled on employing only a few of them. Sadly, Bradley Hand has become Generic Hand.

9. Cooper

I am sure this was the coolest font ever, in 1970 or 1920 (when it was designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper). But it isn’t cool and edgy now anymore.

10. Kristen

This font may be cute for school posters and youth events, but no font is effective for branding when it’s as beaten to death as this one.

It may seem like I’m making a big deal out of something small, but for branding just as for everything else, the devil is in the details. Logos cost money because good designers don’t just rely on fonts to create an image that will speak to your brand and stick with your customer. No matter how cool the latest (or oldest) font may be, it’s totally uncool for your brand to use tired imagery.

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Need help with your branding? Call on us!

When you create a powerful business brand, you’ll attract the clients, projects, and referrals that you want. Deliver your branding message consistently, and your reward will be consistent profit growth. Let Gwen Canfield with Creative Instinct guide you through the process. We promise, it will be painless.

To see logos we’ve designed for other small and mid size companies, click here.

Call Creative Instinct now at 501-244-0573 for a free quote on branding for your business, including: logo design, brochure design, website design and much more. Or, send an email to Gwen at gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To see samples of our work, visit www.creativeinstinct.biz.

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This article is an edited excerpt from Ragan’s PR Daily. Written by Amy Tobin.
Link to original article: 
http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/28b25e07-44f5-4496-a3cf-0bb5c04326ae.aspx#
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HOW TO DESIGN YOUR BUSINESS LOGO

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Logo designed by Creative Instinct for Q-Pond in Little Rock, AR

Before you start designing a business card or picking colors for your letterhead, you need a logo. Featuring your company name, embellished with a little color and perhaps a few graphic touches here and there, your logo is the most important design element because it is the basis for all your other materials: stationery, packaging, promotional materials and signage.

Through the use of color and graphics, your logo should reflect the overall image you want your company to convey, advises Interbrand, a brand identity and marketing company. It should give people a feel for what your company is all about.

For example, say your product is an organic facial cream you will be marketing to health-conscious consumers. Your logo should represent your product’s best benefits — being all-natural and environmentally sound. Creating a simple, no-nonsense logo using earth tones and a plain typeface will give the impression of a product that is “back to basics,” which is exactly what you want to achieve. Take that same product and give it a slick, high-tech look with neon colors, however, and people won’t associate your logo with the down-to-earth product you’re selling.

Two Types of Logos

Logos come in two basic forms: abstract symbols (like the apple in Apple Inc.) or logotypes, a stylized rendition of your company’s name. You can also use a combination of both. Alan Siegel, chairman of Siegel+Gale, a design firm specializing in corporate identity, warns that promoting an abstract symbol can prove very costly for a small business on a budget. In addition, he says, such logos are harder to remember. “A logotype or word mark is much easier to recall,” says Siegel. “If you use an abstract symbol, always use it in connection with your business name.”

Do It Right – Reap the Benefits

Trying to create a logo on your own may seem like the best way to avoid the high costs of going to a professional design firm, which will charge thousands for a logo alone. However, be aware that there are a lot of independent designers, including many who advertise online, who charge much less. According to Stan Evenson, founder of Evenson Design Group, “Entrepreneurs on a tight budget should shop around for a designer. There are a lot of freelance designers who charge rates ranging from $35 to $150 per hour, based on their experience. But don’t hire someone because of their bargain price. Find a designer who’s familiar with your field . . . and your competition. If the cost still seems exorbitant, remember that a good logo should last at least ten years. If you look at the amortization of that cost over a ten-year period, it doesn’t seem so bad.”

Even if you have a good eye for color and a sense of what you want your logo to look like, you should still consult a professional designer. Why? They know whether or not a logo design will transfer easily into that can’t be transferred or would cost too much to be printed. Your logo is the foundation for all your promotional materials, so this is one area where spending a little more now really pays off later.

Need help with your branding? Call on us!

When you create a powerful business brand, you’ll attract the clients, projects, and referrals that you want. Deliver your branding message consistently, and your reward will be consistent profit growth. Let Gwen Canfield with Creative Instinct guide you through the process. We promise, it will be painless.

To see logos we’ve designed for other small and mid size companies, click here.

Call Creative Instinct now at 501-244-0573 for a free quote on branding for your business, including: logo design, brochure design, website design and much more. Or, send an email to Gwen at gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To see samples of our work, visit www.creativeinstinct.biz.

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This article is an edited excerpt from Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition, published by Entrepreneur Press.
Link to original article:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225660#
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