Creating A Stellar Website

Creating a website for your business is one of the first steps to take in any marketing plan. It’s one of the things that cements the reader to your brand and really allows them to explore who you are, what your business is all about. It also tells them why they should use you for your stellar product(s) and or service(s). Think of it like a window into the soul of your business, because that it essentially what it is.

Your site should be exciting, clean and straight to the point. Lay out who you are, what you do and any other information you think will be useful. Sell yourself and your products.

Think about the way you design the website to begin with. No one wants to be looking at a screen with 20 different colours, a flying unicorn going across the screen and flashing lights, do they? Refer to this article to give you some ideas on how to start off.

Simple, clean and refined is the best place to start. You can build on that and make your website reflect who you are as a business after that. The key is to build your foundation first.

Typography and calligraphy is what comes next. Take a look at some different fonts and find one which is dynamic, unique but easy to read too. Then once you’ve decided on that you should look at your line spacing, the size of the text and the colour. Black is traditional however slate grey may add that air of modern to the site.

Image Credit: Pexels

When you pick your colour scheme, don’t think that more is more; because it’s really not. If you try to incorporate every colour of the rainbow into your website you will fall flat and the customer will be confused as to what your theme is supposed to be.

Think about the implications of certain colours and what they will mean for the tone of your website. Here are a couple of examples of colour schemes to get you started:

Grey, Yellow, and White – Monotone colours with a splash of vibrancy can make your website spring to life and feel incredibly clean and modern.

Red, White, and Pink – Using different hues of the same colour is a clever way to add tone and depth to your design when you want to stick to just one colour.

Green, White, and Blue – Cool tones will always make you think of the great outdoors or a sense of calm. Using pastel shades is a way to make the space feel larger and more sleek, whereas splashes of colour add that element of character.

Your logo and branding is possibly the most crucial step in creating that website which is ready for your information and content. Designing a logo that represents the tone, mission and overall feel of the brand can be difficult, but it is a rewarding mission once you have completed it.

You will need to take extra time making sure that the banners and headers for your website and social media platforms are cohesive with the logo and fit your tone of voice well.

Finally, once everything is designed you can look at the content. Remember to stay engaging, informative and to be transparent in your delivery. Gaining trust as a company takes time, and the website is the perfect place to start.

The Ugly Truth About Your Business’ Brand

Think about your favourite brands or at least the brands that are most recognisable for you. You’ll probably think of things such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and other similar big name brands that we’ve seen all over the world. The reason we think about these brands is that they’re internationally renowned. We’ve seen them on everything from newspapers to online advertisements and even television commercials. They’re hard to miss and, as a result, they stick in our minds.

Now let’s take a look at your own brand. Perhaps you don’t even have a logo or a name yet. Maybe you’ve just used your name as the name of the company, and perhaps you took 5 minutes to make a quick little logo in the paint program that comes bundled with your operating system. Either way, it’s unlikely that you’ve put much effort into your branding thus far, and that’s something that needs to change.

Logo design is worth the money

Many marketing companies will charge you a hefty sum of money to get something like a logo designed. Some logos can be deceptively simple. Despite some logos being incredibly basic, there are many that cost several hundred million dollars, such as the rebranded BP logo that has totalled over $211,000,000.

However, there are also equally cheap logos, such as Google’s which cost absolutely nothing. Twitter is also in the same boat, with a logo that cost just $15 to make. Those are extreme cases where either something simple turned into something iconic, or the logo was designed in-house and thus cost the company nothing.

Either way, getting a logo designed professionally will go a long way in business, and it’s recommended that you replace any ugly branding you currently have with something made to order from a reputable designer.

Customers are put off by a lack of branding

If you show up to a trade exhibition and lack any kind of advertising or banner, then the chances of you attracting any kind of attention are slim. This is because customers are put off the idea of a company that doesn’t actually have any branding. It makes your company look ugly, cheap and questionable.

If you want to look trustworthy in the eyes of the consumers, then you need an eye-catching design. Be it the logo or just some text that represents your business, it should be clear, bold and represent your company. The colours you use will also make a difference in how the customer perceives your brand.

For instance, red colours are typically seen as passionate ones and green is a natural and ethical colour. This theory is important because if you use a simple black and white logo, you don’t invoke any emotions or feelings from the customers and they’re less likely to purchase from you.

As you can see, an ugly brand can break lots of potential sales. If you want to create a brand that’s worth talking about, then you need to invest the money and resources into your branding instead of ignoring it and using placeholders all the time.

6 Tips for Newbie Graphic Designers Who Want to Increase Their Rates/Prices in 2017

In graphic design, it is important to avoid being a “commodity”. The founder and CEO of brand strategy design consultancy Blind, Chris Do, agrees that one of the things you’ll learn over time is that you’ll need to “make room for better clients”.

In order to gain more opportunities in the future, you’ll have to make the tough decision of leaving your comfort zone of existing clients.

As one self-taught graphic designer (Ben Burns) who moved from $400 to $30,000 logo designs said to me once, “It’d be hard for Tarzan to swing through the jungle if he never let go of a vine.” So sometimes grasping a new opportunity will take one hand as opposed to two.

Here are my six tips for budding graphic designers looking to make more money:

How Not to Work for Cheap

Every design project you complete takes you closer to being a better graphic designer.

It will be important for you to remain mindful that your value is increasing. With increased value and expertise comes the need to revise your rates. Do not fall into the trap of pricing your work at a lower rate than market rates just to land the next project.

Know your worth. One obvious indicator that you can raise your rates is being in demand.

Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your Rates

Are you afraid to raise your rates? There’s absolutely no reason to feel this way.

Whether you studied graphic design in school or you’re self-taught, you should have confidence in your skill sets to know that you work is better than the competition’s.

When you think about every other professional out there (dentists, lawyers, doctors, architects, fashion designers, artists, etc.), they all charge what they know they’re worth.

For instance, let’s say you land a logo and identity project for a startup or established company; you want to come out the winner, so ensure you consider how much your client stands to make over the lifetime of the logo and identity.

All They Can Say Is No

Your ideas and time are valuable. If you feel your next logo design should cost $1,000 USD then charge that amount even if your previous rate was $100 (or significantly lower).

The worse thing that can happen is that you lose a prospective after you submit your quotation. It’s not the end of the world.

The people who understand the value your work will bring will pay what you’re asking. After all, creativity takes tremendous mental capacity, especially if you’re constantly doing custom work versus production work (templates).

Examine Your Present and Past Clientele

Some of you have been in busy for at least three years and you’ve just been getting by on minuscule earnings, even with a steady stream of design projects.

Perhaps it’s time you take a very bold step and being firing those nickel-and-dime clients. You know the one’s I’m referring to; they’re always asking for a discount and complaining about how “expensive” your quotations are.

But take my advice, this is a step in the right direction; this was the way I was able to charge more.

Look At the Prices of the Competition

It is important that you always try to recognise your value as your skills and work improve. As you grow, you’ll need to reassess your value as a graphic designer.

One way to tell what you ought to be charging is to take some time and examine the competition locally and internationally.

If you work is comparable or better than others in your industry, it’s one indicator that you should be offering your design and creative services for around the same price or significantly more — particularly if you bring more value to a design project.

You Are Not an Impostor

My final bit of advice to you, especially if you are self-taught, is to move beyond the “impostor syndrome”.

Just because you weren’t formally or classically trained in graphic design with a degree behind your name doesn’t make you any less of a graphic designer. Let your work speak for itself.

Go one step further and take some time to have clients write you a testimonial (three to five sentences) immediately after a design project completion. People like hearing from other people and not from the business/entrepreneur.

This will help boost your confidence to increase revenue. Once you’re able to embrace your abilities and authenticity, you’ll feel more justified in raising your prices.

 

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What Are Some of the Biggest Fears Every New Graphic Designer Encounters?

Two graphic designers sit down to discuss the initial struggles of pricing logo design in this interview via The Futur (link to YouTube Channel).

Half-way through the interview and everything already resonated with me. I’ve done this for the majority of my entire freelance graphic design career.

The hardest part is usually figuring out what to charge and for whatever reason there’s usually a fear that you’ll turn prospective clients away.

But, as I’ve come to learn for myself (first-hand experiences are invaluable), to get the kinds of clients you want, your prices have to be at a price point that demonstrates the value you’ll bring to each project.

At the end of the day, it’s all about believing in yourself (your creative ideas and abilities).

Enjoy the interview. It’s filled with insight and personal experiences that I’m certain you’ll find clearly relatable.

MasterCard Remakes Its Well-known Logo for the Digital Era

In 1997, MasterCard launched Priceless®, the widely successful advertising campaign that spawned this infamous slogan, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” Yesterday, the brand that started in 1966, it launched the evolution of its brand identity with a new brand mark and design system.


Their new logo (MasterCard brand mark), though reminiscent of its iconic red and yellow predecessor, has been updated and streamlined to something ideal for the digital age powered by user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) design. MasterCard’s ditched the drop shadows and bulky serifs. In it’s place is the round FF Mark featuring the text in small (lowercase) letters. It’s an admirable minimalist approach for the future of branding.

Mastercard_new_logo
Mastercard’s new logo still maintains the iconic interlocking red and orange circles

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer (MasterCard), Raja Rajamannar stated that “MasterCard is one of those unique brands that is instantly recognizable around the world,” and in order to succeed in the current fast-paced “digital age”, they “want to modernize and elevate the brand in a design that is simple and elegant, yet unquestionably MasterCard.” The company seems to be embracing its new identity and personality, having incorporated digital technology into its daily operations.

I will say that compared to a lot of the most recent rebranding exercises that we’ve seen over the last several months, between Uber’s rip-off of a redesign and Instagram’s gradient tool happy logo, MasterCard’s brand evolution might actually be…priceless.

MasterCard_Logo
This Mastercard logo design was launched in 1996

The evolved brand identity will be rolled out to all MasterCard products, communications, and experiences, starting with Masterpass later this month. It’s being touted as one of the most comprehensive design system ever introduced at the company and will commence roll out Fall 2016.

Mastercard_logo_timeline
A historic timeline of MasterCard’s logo designs since the 1960s

Instagram Unveiled a Redesigned Logo That’s Just Horrible

So Instagram decided to change its logo. I can tell you this much, I am not a fan. It’s not as bad as the time ‪Uber‬ did a redesign, but its not that good either. ‪

Here’s what Instagram had to say for itself:

“Today we’re introducing a new look. You’ll see an updated icon and app design for Instagram. Inspired by the previous app icon, the new one represents a simpler camera and the rainbow lives on in gradient form. You’ll also see updated icons for our other creative apps: Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse.

Instagram_icons
The updated icons for all of Instagram’s photo + video sharing and other creative apps

We’ve made improvements to how the Instagram app looks on the inside as well. The simpler design puts more focus on your photos and videos without changing how you navigate the app.

The Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day. Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become…”

Insta pic

Okay, now let me jump in right here. While I agree that with the exceptional growth of any company (especially one that’s a social media and tech platform), your branding should also evolve to reflect said growth; but for all that is good in the world, do it RIGHT!

Here’s Instagram’s promotional video giving you a little feel for what went into the logo design process. It reminded me of Yahoo’s rebranding effort in 2013, which did not go so well either.

Looking at the new logo (icon) compared to the old classic design, you almost feel as though the design team got ridiculously frustrated and just hit the gradient tool and went with the first mix they could come up with. The design has been flattened and that’s okay, but at the very least, Instagram could have kept some of the personality and subtlety of the old logo.

The only upside to a flat design, is that it makes for better UI and UX. It’s also far easier to apply across various branding medium – smartphones, computers, merchandising, stationery, and so on.

Instagram
The previous logo (icon) had depth and dimension

Over to you, Instagram!

“…Thank you for giving this community its life and color. You make Instagram a place to discover the wonder in the world. Every photo and video — from the littlest things to the most epic — opens a window for people to broaden their experiences and connect in new ways.”

What do you think of Instagram’s new designs? Leave a comment below.