Tag Archives: branding

Books I Love: Letterhead & Logo Design 11

rockport letterhead logo design 11 book

As much as I embrace technology, I still love the tactile nature of books and continue to expand my home library. A few readers have asked why they should invest in books when the internet has an endless stream of inspiration. I use the internet for the majority of my visual research for projects but it’s healthy to break up your routine. Flipping through books and magazines with a pen and paper close by for thumbnail sketches often shifts my mindset and helps me come up with fresh, unique ideas.

rockport letterhead logo design 11 book

I find the design titles by Rockport Books to be especially helpful. I own a few of their books but my personal favorite is Letterhead and Logo Design 11. Unlike the internet where search results can be questionable, when I’m working on a design projects I reach for this book more than any other I own because the featured work is all top-notch.

rockport letterhead logo design 11 book

Featuring more than 400 letterhead and logo designs, I feel like I discover something new each time I flip through it (trust me, it was hard to limit my scans to a handful of pages). The book was compiled by Design Army and they spent over two weeks evaluating over 5,000 entries from all over the globe. Of the results, Design Army says, “Along the way, we confirmed what we already knew: It’s the little thoughts that have the biggest impact. They inspire us to push farther. They work harder. They last longer.”

rockport letterhead logo design 11 book

There’s not so much work jammed into Letterhead and Logo Design 11 that you get overwhelmed; it’s just filtered down the the best of the best. And as designers, isn’t that what we want?

The Brand Gap

My favorite book on branding is The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. Last year, it was passed onto me as a PDF and I love not only how clever it is, but also that the advice is easy to comprehend. The diagrams and corresponding text never leave you feeling like you need to be an expert to digest it. Here are some of my favorite out-takes from the 170 pages:

To get more information about The Brand Gap and other amazing branding & business books, please visit Neutron LLC.

The Triple Threat: Personality, Branding and Blogging

Find a way to humanize your brand, use your personality, and take your brand
from good to great. -Guy Kawasaki

Do you envision your blog as a brand? If you do, try embracing the concept of brand personality. To understand what brand personality is, envision your brand as if it were a person. It would have values, beliefs and interests. These attributes are what would make it unique.

Groundbreaking package designer Walter Landor felt that everything you project into the world goes toward creating your brand. Each little piece is of equal importance, equal weight, and has to be appropriate to the audience it is reaching or the message that it is trying to promote.

The energy that you put out on your blog will be directly related to what you receive in return. Since your blog is a brand and you are the central driving force behind developing its personality, it is further defined by every action you take and every post that you create.

1. Determine what your goals are. These goals will pull you through the tough times, give you a focus and ultimately, a way to measure your success. I prefer defined goals that I can actually measure such as reaching a specific rank on Technorati every six months, gaining a certain level of traffic every year, posting a set number of articles to my blog each week, and so on. Without any gray area, it’s much easier to see if you’re hitting the mark.

2. Find out what your readers want and need. How does your brand fit into their life? The best way to determine your reader’s needs is to ask them. Develop a direct connection between your blog and its readers. Do some old fashioned research, whether it’s through polling, emails or a survey post. As an incentive, run a contest.

3. Clearly communicate your blog’s personality. This can be facilitated through being trustworthy, relaible, developing a unique slogan and having a memorable blogging voice.

Marketing has become a mass-produced commodity that lacks authenticity. Our saturation point has been reached and the old rules no longer work. Though used mostly for products and services, branding can also be applied to people. The key to developing an authentic brand is to be true to who you are and to follow your own, unique path. This individuality is the one thing that you can claim as yours. Though others may try to impersonate it along the way, it’s usually fairly easy to spot the original voice among them. Give some thought to the one thing that makes your brand unique, the one attribute that no one can take away from you. This is where you should focus your energy.

The characteristic that many of the most successful blogs share is that people are following the BLOGGER, not the BLOG. A blog’s theme can be replicated, but the personality behind it cannot. There may been hundreds, if not thousands of blogs in a saturated niche. So ask yourself, why do you repeatedly go back to the same blogs when you can probably get the same information from another site?

Gala Darling, a pink-haired force of positivity

Gala Darling’s consistent voice and unwavering positivity, Heather Armstrong’s sarcastic tone and over-the-top stories and Jane’s jaw-droppingly original styling are all examples of unique, immediately recognizable characteristics. Notice that I didn’t refer to their respective project names of iCiNG, dooce, or Sea of Shoes. What these bloggers do can stand on its own, period.

As Tom Dorresteijn notes, “The concept of brand personality combines inside-out and outside-in; identity and image. A personality has its roots in the identity but is strongly externally focused. It is not ‘be who your are’. Personality is: Become who you should be.”

If your blog was a living, breathing person, what adjectives would you use to describe it?

The world belongs to those who stand out, stand up and stand for or against a cause which they can strongly defend, those who can talk crowd and keep their virtues or walk with kings and not lose the common touch – their identity. An independent mind is a frontier of change in the world. -Tayo Korede

Make your brand come alive. Give it a personality that jumps off the page. Strive to make your readers’ experiences memorable. Once you establish a level of quality on your blog, never look back.

What is your blog about?
What characteristics make it unique?
How do you plan on taking it to the next level?

Advice #15: Choosing Promotional Items for a Press Kit

Who are the best promotional goods company/website out there? I’m building my press kit for graduation this fall and I want to have a little goody to hand out. Unfortunately, a lot of the promo companies that I find do not take an order of less than $200. I’m a student, so money is tough when they tell me they can’t just make 50 or 100 of one item. I don’t need a 1000 pens!

First of all, the extra (takeaway) item you include in your press kit does not need to be fancy or expensive. When dreaming up an item to add to your press kit, consider usability. You didn’t mention your major, but an item that can be worn, stuck to a surface or pinned up for display will probably be more appealing to the recipient than a knick-knack that collects dust. Though, to keep things headache-free, try to avoid items that require sizing, such as t-shirts (unless you’re very familiar with the recipients).

The coffee mugs, baseball caps, paper weights, keychains and ballpoint pens on the big sites that are produced for behemoth corporations usually lack personality. They simply slap their logo on the front of a standard-issue product, print up a few thousand and hand them out at company meetings and conventions.

Certainly, you can make more of an impact on a smaller budget while still reaching your target market.

The top promotional items that I can think of for a small budget are:

1. Pinback button: The appeal is universal and if the person chooses to wear it, your promotional appeal majorly increases. There are tons of sites out there, but I highly recommend Busy Beaver Button Co., who I’ve used many times. There are many shapes and sizes of pins to choose from (the squares are super cute!) and the quality, price and service are all fantastic.

2. Sticker: Everyone loves stickers! And, even if your sitcker gets affixed to a car bumper or street sign, it’s still working to promote you! Just remember to include your website URL or email so people who love your work can find you. Sticker Robot did an awesome job on my Mouth With Pill stickers:

3. Postcard: Postcards are a perfect way to showcase your work. Think of a fun, catchy and imaginative design that makes people want to tack it up on their bulletin boards, refrigerators and office cubicles! If possible, get your name or website on the front. Chances are that viewers won’t take the time to flip it over. Overnight Prints produces postcards for reasonable rates and the quality is great. Out of all of the online printers I’ve tried, they have been the best by far.

4. Tote bag: A little bit more expensive, but highly functional. Do you have an amazing logo, phrase or image that should be splashed across the canvas panel? A tote is nice because you can bundle your your press kit inside of it to hand off! Most of the sites that I could find had a 50 tote minimum and went up from there. My boyfriend runs a screen printing business and did mine, so I didn’t have to worry about the amount. If you do plan on getting totes made, I’d suggest contacting a local printer who can work with you in person to pick out the tote, inks and discuss other printing details.

5. Calendar: If you’re going into a design-related field, showcasing your skills on
the promotional item is a great way to impress the recipient. One of my favorite projects in school was this calendar, which conveniently fits into a CD case.

It’s the perfect size for displaying on a desk and if done in InDesign, updating it every year is super easy.

Readers: Do you have any more promotional suggestions for a press kit? What do you use?