Beware the Shiny Object

It’s the time of year when I realize that if I want the silver to look shiny again I’d better polish it. We have accumulated a lot as most of the rest of the family on both sides have left or given it all to us, not wanting the hassle of cleaning it themselves. But I love shiny objects and it’s worth it to me to take the time to get that shine.

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My parents got this for their 25th Anniversary. It could use a lot of shining up!

In business, though shiny objects refer to those ideas that get our attention to the detriment of the goals we’re striving for. If you have lots of great ideas it can happen a lot! I know in my case that it’s a real challenge. So I am working on narrowing down my focus to be the go-to graphic designer for Wealth Managers that need to publish white papers and books to demonstrate their thought leadership. I can still work with all kinds of other clients if they fit my schedule and skill set of course. However, the website, emails and other marketing I end up doing should be centered on that goal. If you fit that description please get in touch! If you aren’t in that category get in touch too and I’ll see if I can help or know someone who can.

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You need a Business Card

I know you are on the web and findable on Facebook as well as other social media sites but do you have a business card? If not then consider getting one tailored to your brand so that it’s handy to give out when face to face with a client prospect or anyone you want to stay connected with.

I mention it because I have been handing mine out over the last few months and realized that I’m almost out. Before creating the final file though I made sure to get a company email address to look more professional. All the emails will still go to my mac.com address but I now feel more committed to the business I started back in 2010!

Here are examples of three I’ve designed recently for clients:
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A colorful business growth idea!

I was driving down a highway one morning recently when I saw a tractor on the grass that had been left there, probably by whoever had been cutting the grass with it. It was a distinctive green color so I thought, “that must be a John Deere tractor”. From where I was passing at a good clip, there was no way for me to know for sure what brand of tractor that was, except by the color. What a great idea for that company to have branded with that distinctive color.

With clients, I worked with at an agency, keeping color consistency for their brand was a must. Major brands know that their particular color very effectively sets them apart, either in the supermarket aisle or in ads, signage, and in the rest of their collateral.

 

Logo design using green for 14 day challenge promotion

Logo design for packaging using green for a 14-day challenge promotion

 

So when I work with my clients at Pat Creedon Design, I suggest that they consider color in their branding, it can get attention as well as an immediate association with your company if used consistently over time. Their color can then help grow their small brand into a bigger one and even a trusted one over the long term!

Design Unlimited

When it comes to graphic design help for your business, why limit yourself? I recently worked on logos, handouts, flyers, invitations, PowerPoint presentations, white papers, nametags, car magnets, direct mail, email marketing campaigns, and business card designs. Not to mention a 175-page book.

Over the course of my career, I never limited myself when it came to designing whatever was needed. I got to try my hand at all kinds of graphic design projects, from tiny toothbrush package inserts to giant building-sized billboards. I’ve even designed the panels of trucks a couple of times.

 

Truck

Truck design

Having worked successfully on all of these projects gives me a breadth of experience I can bring to my current and future clients, no matter what graphic design needs they have for their businesses.

Designed to Grow

We visited a garden over the weekend. We belong to The Garden Conservancy and so we hear about local homeowners who have opened up their gardens to the public on certain days of the year. This local garden has acres and acres of woods with all kinds of daffodils in bloom.

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A couple stopped my husband and I and asked if this was created recently or over a number of years. I said that we had been coming to visit it when it was open for over ten years. It was like this then but has grown. They’ve added more trails and more daffodils over the years making it worth coming back to year after year. They were so impressed with our knowledge when we answered some more of their questions that they joked that they wanted to offer us a tip!

This garden was designed to grow, bringing serenity and awe to many. I aim to do that with graphic design for businesses I work with now and for years to come!

Three Reasons to Learn Something New (Part 3)

In my last two posts I explained the first two reasons to learn something new:

1. It Opens Up New Opportunities
2. Helping Others Helps Us

So now on to reason number three:

3. We Can Make New Friends

When learning web design on my own, besides creating a website for myself to practice, I saw a chance to design one for a non-profit I was interested in. I offered and they gladly allowed me to do a whole new design and keep it updated for them, both really valuable experiences. While I was working with the group I made friends with one of the other volunteers there. She and I had the group in common but it grew from there when we realized other things we both enjoyed things like foreign films and travel. She became my main movie-going buddy and she also took a trip to San Francisco with me to see a friend I had out there when my husband wanted to stay home. The website was a success while the non-profit lasted and our friendship has outlived both!

Wildlife Rescue Groups' website

Design and development of a local wildlife rescue organizations’ website.

Have you thought of other good reasons to learn something new? If so, please talk about it in the comments. Whether it leads to new opportunities, ways to be more helpful or lasting friendships as it has in my case, or none of the above, you still have learned something new!

Three Reasons to Learn Something New

In my own business, I have to be open to learning something new pretty often. It’s because opportunities come up that require a different skill than I have but that I can acquire without much effort if I want to. That brings me to this blog post on three reasons to learn something new. The first is below. The next will appear in my next two posts so stay tuned.

1. It opens up new opportunities

Like I said, sometimes I get offered a new assignment that is not something I’ve done before. So I open up my Lynda.com account and search for the courses they have on it if available. Then I start learning!

Learning by doing

I just got a job revising an ad created by another designer in a program named Sketch. It’s a program I’d learned about once and knew would be a good one to add to my skill set. I would need to get the program to do the job and luckily my client agreed to pay for half of the cost. Then I dove into the online course on it and learned enough to do the project.

Sketch welcome

Sketch, a Mac-only program

Learning has career benefits

Up until 2012, I had only a beginner’s knowledge of Adobe InDesign. In a past job, I worked in QuarkXpress. That was great because it helped me land a job at a corporation’s in-house advertising department that used that program. In my business though, I knew I needed to get up to speed on InDesign, which seemed to be becoming the industry standard. So I learned it by doing all my client work in it. As it happened I was getting several projects that involved longer documents like white papers and ebooks. That helped me at the day job when they gradually switched over to InDesign. I was quickly becoming the go-to expert my co-workers relied on when they couldn’t figure something out.

Thanks in part to the way learning something new opened up opportunities for me I was able to take on the challenge of growing my business, enough to do it full time now!
(To be continued.)

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Graphic design, who needs it?

I was recently at the dentist and I saw a sign that said: “You don’t have to floss every one of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.” When it comes to graphic design, not all businesses need it, just the ones that want to keep going! That’s because without it that business is presenting an unprofessional face to the world that sooner or later will hurt it and maybe even cause it to sputter out. Not all businesses will die out. I have a client that has had a title search business for several decades. He works with other businesses that need his services. By word of mouth, a steady stream has come his way so no logo or other branding has been needed. (He calls me because I tutor him in Word 2010.)

But his is an exception. Most businesses need branding to show they’re serious about their service or product. I’ve done the graphic design for many different well-known brands over the years. I use those experiences to bring graphic design help to small businesses, individuals, and entrepreneurs. It provides the professional edge to companies, giving them the confidence to go after better clients and gain loyal customers.

I floss all my teeth because I want to keep all of them. (I’m funny that way.) If you want to keep your business going then we can help you with that. And I promise working with us will be a lot more fun than flossing!

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Get this right and your business will be on its way!

Did you know how important it is to brand your company consistently with web, print, and social media? Get this right and you will have a company look and feel that will reassure customers and potential customers that you take your company seriously.

I understand how difficult this can be. I started my company back in 2010 without a plan for how to brand it. I of all people should have known better since my business plan was to brand small companies! But it’s easy to get caught up in the moving parts and forget to look at the overall picture. I created a look I liked for my business card and some print materials.

Then an ad opportunity came along so I created another look for that.

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An Ad for My Company from 2010 or 11

I had a website to match for a while that I based on a template I liked.

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My old Website

But then I wanted to add WordPress to my skills and the theme I liked was a different look again.  It may be  time (Ok it is time) to use my skills to create a consistent brand for myself. I will keep you posted on that.

How should you do it?

That’s where I encourage you to learn from me and not do it the way I did. Instead let Pat Creedon Design give your brand the look that suits it, or work with the one you have to get that professional consistency across all your materials whether printed or online. With a website (preferably with a blog), a Facebook page, a Twitter page and your LinkedIn company page branded with the logo, colors to match your brand look and feel, consistent fonts and a good photo you’ll be on your way!

Why DIY doesn’t work with Graphic Design

Unless you are a Graphic Designer!

DIY is big. It even has a cable channel (that I watch all the time). But Do It Yourself design of logos, ads, brochures, and even websites when it’s the branding and promotion of your own business? Not a good idea.

Would I write my own song? No!

I just got a music composer as a client. She has been my client before when I designed her first CD cover and insert. I’ve never written a song, whereas Monica has written many. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Well maybe I’d try to learn an instrument first or learn to read music! But even with some rudimentary knowledge like that I doubt a song will be penned by me anytime soon.

Have computer, will DIY your design?

If you’ve never designed a brochure, logo, website or ad where would you start? You have a computer and know how to use it, but is that enough to start designing your business materials? Maybe not. If I needed a song written I would not rely on myself to do it. I’d definitely find an experienced songwriter. If you need promotion or branding, your business will definitely benefit from hiring an experienced Graphic Designer. It’s worth it!