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Tales from the Past: Santa Claus and Advertising

Thanksgiving is over and twinkling holiday lights have started to pop up at shopping centers everywhere.  With Thanksgiving over, Holiday Shopping Season has officially begun and with that the start of advertisements galore. One of the icons of the holiday advertising season is the jolly old man who lives in the North Pole – Santa Claus. To recap for those unfamiliar, Santa Claus is the modern day figure that reportedly lives and works at his workshop with his elves at the North Pole. There they make toys that they give to well behaved “good” children on December 25th.

As a graphic designer in Orange County, California and a life-long advertising enthusiast, I got curious about how long Santa has been advertising products. When did he start advertising products and why are ads with Santa so darn popular! So after much research, I’m sharing with all of you what I’ve learned!

Santa Claus was created somewhere in the 1700s. He’s based on a few different legends, and traditions including the Dutch Sinterklass and the British Father Christmas. Both of those figures were actually based on a fourth-century Greek bishop called Saint Nicholas of Myra who was known for his generosity and gift giving.  As time progressed and traditions came to the USA and melted together we eventually got the modern version of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus has been the brand ambassador and spokesman for a number of products over the years. The oldest known advertisement featuring Santa Claus has been traced back to the late 1860s. Santa is seen standing in a sleigh with two of his reindeer in front. He’s wearing a red and green hat, red jacket and white pants and he’s selling a type of candy called “Sugar Plums” for the U.S. Confection Co in New York.

All through the last part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, Santa Claus was featured on everything from magazine covers to wartime propaganda. His now traditional look was solidified during the 1920s when Saturday Evening Post Magazine artist Norman Rockwell created the now iconic look for their covers. From there we jump to the 1930s when soft drink giant Coca-Cola used Santa Claus in the first of their advertising campaigns. After this, Santa appeared in as a slew of other retailers’ advertisements. From that first Coca-Cola campaign in the 1930s until present day, Santa has sold everything from beverages and food items to household items and more.

 

There are a few reasons Santa Claus has been an enduring figure in advertisements. One reason is that he is a Public Domain character, which makes his name and likeness available to use in any manner the advertisers would like to use it.  This makes “the Big Guy” an easy character to put in the advertisements quickly.  Additionally, as a society, we have long associated the character of Santa Claus in all his names and forms with Christmas. The concept of being good and having a special gift given to you is something ingrained in a lot of people from childhood. Using a symbol from their childhood makes Santa Claus a good, easy way to subconsciously sell something to the masses. Santa Clause becomes a symbol, one that evokes nostalgia for many and a feeling of deserving a reward for their self-assumed good behavior. This makes Santa Claus the perfect character for an enduring relationship with advertising during the holiday season.

I hope this article sheds a little light on Santa Claus and his role in American Advertising.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a great holiday season and a lovely ending to 2018!

Style Profile : 1980s

The 1980’s were a time of excess and change. The economy in America was booming, walls (both figurative and literal) were coming down. This was the height of the “Me Generation” where individual identity and capitalism reigned supreme. MTV was new and very popular, cassettes and vinyl records were the music listening formats du jour, personal computers were the hot new thing and everything was just bigger, brighter and looking toward the future. Design in this era was no different. Here we take a look at the big, bold, futuristic design style of the 1980s!

Characteristics

Colors:

Pastels, jewel tones, and neon bright hues. Top colors that were popular include sea foam green, mauve, black, bright cobalt blue and a floral like pink-purple. Colors are very saturated and bright

Type/Fonts:

Blocky type, tech/futuristic (8-bit) type, brush scripts, sans-serif

Notable design elements:

A very popular style was the Memphis Design Style that was named for the Memphis Group. This style includes bright colors, large geometric shapes, and a flat 2d look that have become part of the hallmarks of 1980s design.

Another notable design style is a futuristic style that includes lots of black, bright colors, gradients, sharp lines and symmetrical grids that evoke the feeling of computers and technology that was on the rise at the time.

Other notable elements include matched elements, farmhouse/shabby chic, incorporation of American flag motif or colors, and type effects such as neon light, mirrored, metal, and gradient styles to name a few.

Is this style trendy?

As of October 2018, the style of the 1980s is trendy. Brand leaders who are influencing design trends and calling the shots for advertising and design are creating visual styles for companies by finding inspiration in their 1980’s era youth. It provides these decision makers a feeling of freshness with its geometric patterns and script fonts while still providing a sense of nostalgia for these leaders who are in their late 30s and early 40s.

Why Use it?

This style is especially great for a brand whose target market grew up during this time period.  It allows the business to call back a time of prosperity and appeal to the nostalgia of the community. Also, can be used if the business simply wants to be on trend for the current year.

When to Use it

If a brand doesn’t have a target market that grew up in the 1980s then use this style very sparingly. Best used for advertisements, flyers, or for a special 1980s themed event.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it be used for a company logo unless the business is an 80’s themed brand.

How to Use it

The 1980s look is about contrast and excess. Mix elements that are opposite of each other and make things big. Remember more is better! For example, layer a pastel background with a large flat geometric pattern is a jewel tone and top the whole thing off with a brush script or use a background in black and layer on a symmetrical grid and use with blocky type in a neon color that also uses neon effects.  It’s a really fun decade so make sure that playfulness and sense of fun come through!

Some examples:

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Product Highlight: Brochures and Rack Cards

I’ve had a wave of calls recently asking me about brochures and their lesser-known cousin, the rack card. As a graphic designer in Orange County California, I do all kinds of brochures and I’ve started doing a lot of rack cards. Because I’ve been asked about them so much, I wanted to discuss the differences between the two.

Let’s start with a brochure. Most of us think of a brochure as an 8.5 inch x 11 inch sheet of paper folded in thirds with information on each of the six panels. This is called a Tri-fold brochure and it is only one type of brochure.  While brochures can be a piece of paper folded in different ways like a Tri-Fold Brochure or a Gate Fold Brochure. They can also refer to small booklets too. Brochures are tried and true. We’re all familiar with the format and they do a good job of segmenting out the information and helping to promote a business, event or whatever content they hold.

They can hold a lot of information in the form of text and pictures. You can actually use them as a addendum for your website.  They do a really nice job of talking about individual services or products as a mini catalog in a smaller, lighter weight format than a traditional catalog. They also are great for frequently asked questions or going in-depth on a new or featured product or service

Before websites were around and certainly before they were popular, brochures did the job websites do now. They told a prospective customer about a business or event and gave them all of the reasons they would need to make the phone call and hire the business or attend the event

Around this same time, Rack cards were doing the support work. They were placed in high traffic areas and gave just enough information to peak curiosity. After websites became popular, website replaced brochures, brochures replaced these 4 inch x 9 inch informational gems

When I first started my business, I was told (as I’m sure many other business owners were told as well) that I needed a website and I needed a brochure. That was it.  The website told the customer everything they needed to know about my business and the brochure was a great leave behind for a face-to-face meeting. If they were interested in me after the meeting, they’d read the brochure and then go to the website. That’s what I’ve seen from businesses for the last almost seven years–Websites, brochures, and business cards with the odd postcard or flyer thrown in for extra oomph.

Well, everything old is new again and people are starting to circle back around to rack cards. They are less expensive to create than a brochure and are great at doing support work for a business’ other marketing materials.

So, what is a rack card exactly? They’re skinny 4 inches x 9 inches cards with information about a particular business or event on them. As someone on the phone said to me in trying to explain what they were looking to have me create for them  “The thing I want, it’s kind of like a brochure and a flyer had a baby. It’s flat like a flyer, but skinny like a brochure”.  This happens to be exactly what a rack card looks like; a skinny two-sided flyer.

I love them because they are so good at doing support work and are a great middle ground between an information heavy brochure and an image centric flyer. They are also very versatile. You can put information on one side and photos on the other, photos and information on both sides, or just photos or text. Another great thing about rack cards is that they are slim so they can be easily stored in a bag or folder and handed out at meetings, left on tables at networking events or just put out in information racks (hence the name by the way) or on a table. If you are looking for an easy way to support your brochure and website or need to hand something out at an event consider a rack card.

If you need help designing a great brochure or rack card that will fit in with your new or existing branding, contact me today!

Tales from the Past – The 1972 New York City Subway Map

The purpose of design is to help communicate information using visuals. As a graphic designer in Orange County, I can’t think of anything that would need to communicate information better than a map or diagram.  It’s one of the best ways to help get hundreds of thousands of visitors from point A to point B.  Today I’m going to tell you about the 1972 New York City Subway Map and what we can all learn from the situation.

1972 NYC Subway Map / Image Credit to www.nycsubway.org

Our story stars in New York City, the 1964 World’s Fair brought an unexpected wave of over 50 thousand visitors to the city all trying to navigate a foreign subway system with mixed results.  This led the Transit Authority to redesign the map and it was released in 1967. This map was better than what they had and used color-coding for the first time. However, in the early 1970’s when the Metropolitan Transit Authority was formed the new head of the agency, William J. Ronan, wanted a new more modern map of the subway system. Having been working with the design agency Unimark on other signage projects, Ronan asked them to also redesign their subway map to be more modern and solve the issues that had arisen from the 1967 version of the map.

I see these types of committees and presidents a lot as a graphic designer. Whenever someone takes over an established company and especially in the case of a merger. The new head, wants to make a statement. Often times, this statement is a total re-brand. The new map was Ronan’s big brand statement as the newly appointed head of the M.T.A.

The map redesign project was overseen by art director and designer; Massimo Vignelli. At this point in time, Vignelli was already an award-winning designer. He had come to the United States from his native Italy in the late 1960s to set up the New York branch of the Chicago based, Unimark International. The map created by Vignelli and his team was released in August of 1972. Eager to get the map out there, the M.T.A. skipped their usual field-testing with the general public and pushed the release of the map. This gamble did not pay off. The look of the map was very clean and modernist. It wasn’t really a map in the true sense of the word, but more of a diagram. It was based on the diagrams used in parts of Europe to explain the subway or underground trains systems there.

Without market research companies can’t address the issues that can sometimes arise for their customers. This is exactly what happened with the 1972 release of Vignelli’s modernist map/diagram.  “The Vignelli Map” as it started being called shook the general public and was highly criticized. A majority of the criticism had to do with the fact that it wasn’t a true map and the topographical details typically found on maps wasn’t there or was distorted in some way. The general public didn’t like the water around the station stops was depicted in browns versus blues. They didn’t like that landmarks and open spaces were incorrectly sized. The public also didn’t like the inaccurate placement of stations and rail stops in an effort to streamline stations. This map, wasn’t a little hand-held pamphlet either, it was wall signage and large posters that went up at different points in the subway system.

In this case, the design team was up against a challenge. On one hand, they needed to simplify the confusing maze-like subway system into something legible. This is especially true since the New York subway system, at the time, was very confusing as it was the product of a merger of three different companies’ stations and rail lines. On the other hand, they need something the general public and the out of town travellers that the map was meant for want to use it and feel they can understand.

Two additional factors that I feel led to the eventual discontinuation of the Vignelli map were that it was part of a series of four maps, with only one being released and the other is that is was called a map versus a diagram and the public was expecting something different than what was released.

The Original Vignelli Map was used from 1972 until 1979. In 1979, a new map redesigned by a different designer was released. After a series of redesigns, Vignelli and his team were invited back to design a newer updated version of their iconic map in 2008.  A few years later to create an interactive version of their map called the Weekender. Vignelli agreed to creating the Weekender on the condition that all of the parks and topography were removed and that it was called a diagram versus a map. M.T.A. agreed on these conditions and it was released in 2011 and as of 2015 was still in use.

This situation illustrates how design can make or break something. The design of the diagram was good and easy to read as long as the user was expecting a diagram. However, the riders were expecting a map and were trying to orient themselves with topography, which a diagram isn’t going to help them do. This led to the project being considered ‘flawed’ and was replaced. It also shows how important it is to follow the design and marketing process and to not skip steps.  Skipping steps and rushing to release a project can lead to total crash of the project because there isn’t time to smooth out the major flaws or bugs in the project.

 

Hopefully, you learned a little something interesting and if you need help using visuals to communicate to your audience, contact me!

Logo Stories: The How and Why of Choosing One

As a graphic designer, I’ve created logos, but I also work with logos on a regular basis. Logos have stories, there is a reason why a businesses logo speaks to them and why it reflects their brand. I’ve collected few stories of how and why real business owners chose their logo. I’ve also included my professional takeaways to give you some insight into good points of each logo and points that may cause issues in future. Let’s meet some of my business owner friends and their logos!

Skyrock POA Logo Lisa, Skyrock POA

This logo is very personal to me. I designed it myself, and if you look really closely you can see pen marks where it’s colored in – it’s actually a photo of the original drawing. Our little mini-business is breeding and showing POAs (Pony of the Americas), which are Appaloosa colored ponies. Since we started about 25 years ago, we’ve had several World and International champions, Regional and State champions that we’ve either shown or bred or both. Our ranch is called Skyrock POAs. I’m part Cherokee, and you can see that the logo is drawn in a Native Southwestern style. It has a spotted pony, and a shooting star, or a ‘sky rock’. A shooting star has meaning in many cultures, but I like the ‘wish upon a star’ element, meaning to fulfill your dream. We are small and on a shoe string, but the name has become well known across the country. So it combines 3 or 4 elements into one design and I feel it really represents us and what we do.

Designers Takeaways: “it combines 3 or 4 elements into one design and I feel it really represents us and what we do.” To me as a designer, that sentence is the one I want you to notice. This is what a logo should do at the end. It should combine multiple elements to create something that reflects you and your business. Reflecting you is important especially when you’re a small business like Skyrock POA or an individual agent /solo entrepreneuer.

Cappys World of Spirits by Laurie AlleeHolly, Cappy’s World of Spirits

My parents had a liquor store. The logo ended up being a world, Cappy’s World of Spirits, it started to be just Cappy’s, but when we were all working trying to set up the store my sister, Kathy, drew a world on a fabric sheet trying to have the feeling of all the different areas of the world where the liquor and wine came from. [I don’t know] if my parents were just humoring Kathy and using it at the time – it seemed to stick. We had world globes of all sizes in the store and people seemed to bring globes in and leave them. Cappy’s World of Spirits now just a ghostly store….

(**Note: I don’t have a copy of their logo, but I found a great photo of the store by photographer Laurie Allee on her blog Glimpses of South Pasadena**)

Designers Takeaways: Similar to SkyrockPOA, Cappy’s World of Spirits is also a family run business with a hand drawn logo. While I personally don’t have an issue with using a hand drawn logo created by the owners or their family, other designers might not be so accepting. Logos generally have a lot of research behind them. This research helps the logo do many things to help the business including positioning a brand in the marketplace, standing out from their competitors, and avoiding plagiarism among other things. One of the things that can happen if a logo is drawn with out this research behind it is a risk of accidental plagiarism, similar to what happened with the Rio Olympics and the Tokyo Olympics. Lastly, Businesses that choose to hand draw their own logo may need their logo created in a scalable digital format that works in many sizes for other items such as signage, websites, and promotional products.

On the positive side, I love that their logo, a globe or world, which is also part of the name of the business, reflects the décor of their shop. A brand is a lot more than a logo. Branding is about the décor of the business, the mission of the business and the service experience of the business’ customers. The logo is the visual representation of all of these traits.

Manifesting WellnessKathleen, Manifesting Wellness

I started by writing down words I liked, words that felt connected to my purpose and the energy I wanted behind my brand. Then I asked people to tell me what makes me stand out, why they’d want to work with me over someone else. This generated a lot of descriptive words about me that I may not have thought of myself. Between those two activities, I had a long list of words and concepts to play with. Process of elimination and combining different words resulted in Manifesting Wellness because whether it’s teaching people about the benefits of essential oils or chemical-free living or empowering them with personal growth coaching, this is my desire for everyone…to manifest wellness in their lives. The colors are my two favorites; purple being my absolute favorite. My graphic artist came up with the design, with the idea of me spreading light to everyone as the image.

Designers Takeaways: I think this method is a great way to get started on not just a logo, but also naming a business. In Kathleen’s case, she’s an independent agent and her business name needed to reflect her as a person. For a business that starts off with more than one employee or is definitely something that might be scaled to include employees in the future, think about the purpose of the business and who its customers are or will be. Write down words based on the qualities of the business and what would attract their perfect customer.

Swallowtail SkinTherapyElizabeth, Swallowtail Skin Therapies

I chose my logo when I was in Esthetician school. As part of the licensing requirement students were allowed to see clients through the school. Toward the end of the term, the instructors told us to create business cards and practice handing them out to clients. I had the image of a tree in my mind and Thrive. When I went on Vistaprint, I looked through images of trees and colors…nothing popped. Then I saw this image- BAM!!! The face was bold- only 2 strong colors- and a butterfly. In that moment I changed the name of business to Swallowtail Skin Therapies. Recently, Swallowtail butterflies appeared as answers to my prayers. It is a striking image and it owned by Vistaprint. For now it works, it gets my business noticed and I am remembered. In time, I may change it. And I am patient.

Designer’s Takeaway: It is pretty common for new businesses especially independent agents, “solopreneurs”, and the like to use template sites for their initial marketing materials from template sites. As a graphic designer in Orange County, I’ve seen countless business cards and logos from large template sites over the years. If you’re fresh out of school or want to test out your business concept and just get your feet under you, then sites like these are fine. Unfortunately, when a business uses logos and marketing materials from a template site they don’t own the designs, which means a rebrand and an investment in custom branding is in their future. Also, their chances for being confused with a competitor are higher than businesses that have made the investment in custom branding.

Full Circle YogaKristen, Full Circle Yoga

I have long been inspired by the Japanese enso, a perfect circle made with a single brush stroke in a state of meditation. As a yoga center I wanted what we do to be the largest and clearest word, and the enso in YOGA was the best place for our name: Full Circle. We played a bit with the placement of our name in relationship to the word YOGA, and decided that in the middle was best, even though some people say it “YOGA FULL CIRCLE.”  😉

We found a font with a brushy appearance, such as one would make with Japanese kanji.  Full Circle is also a play on our company’s LLC and our family name: Fewel Circle. Here’s a little more about the history of how we chose the name Full Circle Yoga:

The name of our yoga studio came to me in a dream 15 years before its inception.  Full Circle Yoga comes from the heart of the phrase “come full circle,”whose many meanings transcend culture, and provide an expectation of what a healing center should be.  Healing centers should be a place of education and experience to help you to move along your path with guidance and care. But the transformation takes place when there is a point at which you feel differently about yourself and the connections you hadn’t made before. Some meanings and images of this phrase “Full Circle” that we associate with our healing center are embracement, inclusion, connection, perseverance, realization, and insight.

To come “full circle” also means having the perseverance to continue the path you know is right for you, and that it is something worth doing toward that end.  If you are a seeker, and want to know more about the strength that’s in you, you have to be willing to dig in! If you are a natural healer, you can learn to channel that energy in a direction that furthers your life’s purpose, and to have your experiences with sometimes mystical and powerful energies validated.  Coming full circle means you took an active part in this learning and growing process and came back better and stronger than ever. “Personal growth cannot be given or bought, but it can be modeled and taught!”

Designer Takeaway: This is a great story. It speaks to their brand, which again is a buisness’ décor, mission, and the feeling their customers have about them among other things. I think it was also a smart choice for them, marketing wise, to have what they do, yoga, larger than their name (despite that some people confuse the name). By doing this, it allows potential customers to know what they do in 10 seconds or less. I feel like their name inspired their mission rather than the other way around, but the best part is, that’s okay.

Be Confident Life CoachConnie, Life Coaching

I love suns, I’ve just always been attracted them! I didn’t think to tell you that. I just gave you the word shiny and waited to see what you would come up with. I loved [my logo] then (when it was first finished) and I put it away for a while, but now, I took it out and looked at it and I still love it. It’s perfect.

Designers Takeaway: A past client told me the above logo story. I’m hoping I transcribed it correctly. What I think this story shows is the power of a designer. When a business owner uses a designer to create their logo, it’s the designer’s job to create something that reflects the business or the agent/coach even if they just provide a few words such as Shiny or Modern. A good logo also has staying power, it’s something that is liked and useable by the business when it’s first created, but also years down the road.

Catering On TimeSandy, Catering On Time

I wanted a logo that represented class and fine dining. I wanted a white glove because that is the service I give to my clients. The tray is because we offer service at every level. Gold of the tray to reflect prestige. The line underneath Catering On Time, is to emphasize the company name. Your Party, Your Way, is to make sure people know we would like their experience is truly for them and their ideas for their party.

Designers Takeaway: I love how much thought went into each part of their logo. If someone has clear intent of what each portion of their logo should mean and how it will tie in with their business they need to clearly indicate that to their designer. A designer client relationship is built on trust and good two-way communication. When those things happen, a business gets a logo that fits their vision just as Catering on Time’s logo fits their vision and reflects their brand.

These are just a few stories of how and why real business owners chose their logo. I hope they’ve inspired you a little to choose a logo that reflects your company’s brand and all that a brand entails. There is no right way to create a logo, but it is in a business owner’s best interest to hire a professional graphic designer to help you. If you do need help with a logo find a graphic designer that you trust and feel you’ll share good communication with each other. Obviously, I hope you’ll consider Purple Rose Graphics and look forward to the honor of helping you grow your dream.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Show Gratitude for your clients

This is a time of year where as much as things speed up they also slow down. They let us take a pause and reflect on the past year. It’s a time where we can express our gratitude for all that we have. This is a great time of year to show your gratitude to your clients, your employees and your loved ones. Without their support all year we wouldn’t be able to continue to run our businesses. There are so many ways to show your gratitude, I’ve compiled a short list of things you can do!

1-Custom Card

My favorite way has always been with a card. I think the tangible aspect of having something to hold is great. It’s a physical reminder that you are thinking about the other person. My dad’s late boss used to this. Every holiday, he’d get a lovely card in the mail with a personal note from the boss. Even after he retired, the cards kept coming. I fell in love with the idea of sending a card because I could see how much those cards meant to my dad. That’s why I, personally, like to write my own message on the inside, but if that’s not you, that’s okay. There are plenty of cards out there with messages already to go on the inside.

If you’re worried about what to say, write from the heart and tell the person a few (nice, clean) reasons you’re thankful for their support or write a favorite quote on the inside. I’m a graphic designer so I love to make my own cards and I love to make cards for my fellow business professionals. This is great for sales professionals and those in management.

2-Give Away

This is another great one for those in sales or management. Choose a fun item that has a purpose such as a mug or photo frame. You can contact a promotional items company to get them for you with your company name, logo and message on the item. It’s a sweet gift that will show the recipient that you are thankful for their support, plus it’s a great marketing tool as these items usually sit on a person’s desk all year long.

3-Phone Call/Email

This is the easiest and least costly item on the list. It still has impact because you are reaching out with a personal phone call or email. There are so many apps now that let you write on your photographs and you can easily use that as quick e-card. Personally, I’d opt for the phone call because it harkens back to an era when the pace of life was slower and a lot less digital. Nowadays, we’re overwhelmed with e-mails so the phone call feels more personal to me. However, if e-mail is the recipients favored mode of communication, use it!

4-Host a Party/Event

No joke, host a party. It doesn’t have to be formal. It can be an open-house style party where people come and go. A networking friend of mine does this every year. They get a cute invitation made, open up their back yard at their house, provide snacks and desserts and invite everyone over. It fosters a relationship with clients and builds morale amongst employees. People work with the people they know and trust. It’s also fun to get to know new people and be in a different less structured environment

5-Discount

This is the second easiest one and perfect if you have a lot of clients to thank. Provide a discount code on a pre-determined product or service. You see this a lot with very large companies, but small companies can do it too. This method thanks current customers for their support and can also be used to attract new customers.

Here are just 5 ways to show your gratitude for your clients and/or employees. I hope they have inspired you to be show your thankfulness this time of year.

Lastly, thank you all so much for your support of Purple Rose Graphics! None of this would be possible with out you. So, thank you for everything!

LESS IS MORE: WHAT HALLOWEEN AND HITCHCOCK CAN TEACH YOU

LESS IS MORE: WHAT HALLOWEEN AND HITCHCOCK CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT ADVERTISING

This month I have a treat for you!! A guest blog from the amazing blogger (and my best friend) Reina Victoria of A Dash of Gonzo!

It’s October, so ‘tis the season to get spooky. Yet there are so many lessons to be learned during Halloween, particularly for design. The basic goal of all advertising is to create a reaction, and that is often in emotions — in the case of Halloween, fear.

Yet the great master of Hollywood horror himself, Alfred Hitchcock, knew that fear wasn’t always in what you saw; rather, it was in small details and what you didn’t see; he built anticipation, making people psychologically invested in his project. Less, for Hitchcock, was always more.

We’re going to dig in with some of the best examples of Hitchcock’s approach. And since it is Halloween time, all of these will have a horror theme. Keep reading… if you dare…

USE OF COLOR

One of great imitators of Hitchcock was Steven Spielberg in Jaws, including the fact for most of the movie you never saw the shark (fun fact: this was because the mechanical shark, lovingly known as Bruce, kept malfunctioning and they had to figure out how to film without him). But for everything the master director has done, we’re going to focus on the iconic poster.

Every color comes with a feeling. Blue is usually a calm, tranquil color… until you notice there’s a giant dark shark in it that takes up a good chunk of the poster. The rest of the image with its light colors, right down to the swimming girl, is jarring in its innocence. There is only red in one place — the title, to attract attention. Yet the red is clever, because it tells you subconsciously about this film without saying outright, “Hey, this is a scary movie!”

FONTS

Most of the time, stereotypical Halloween fonts look like they’re either bloody or carved and can become clichéd very quickly. Yet look at the title fonts for two scary movies — Silence of the Lambs and Scream. These are clean and not stereotypical horror fonts, yet they send chills. And part of the reason is the letter spacing.

Look how close the letters are in The Silence of the Lambs are; they’re practically on top of each other, giving a claustrophobic feeling. Scream does the exact opposite — spacing out the white letters so far on top of black that you wonder what’s lurking between them. Either way, you wouldn’t recognize it unless you were looking for it, which was exactly what Hitchcock wanted.

SOUND

The Exorcist’s theme song is iconic yet utterly simple: tubular bells. Yet if you hear it, it’s shakes you. There’s something incredibly ominous about the tone, yet if you listen to it, you realize it is very minimal. Like the fonts, you’re looking for what’s hiding in the background.

William Freidkin, the film’s director, actually had the opportunity to use a different score. He decided against it, opting for not much more than the music you know from the movie. It’s almost inspired by Hitchcock, as Bernard Hermann’s famed Psycho theme was almost exclusively screeching violins. Instead of being a hummable melody, it is an accent to what is going on onscreen.

ANGLES

The way a camera points to capture a specific image or movement can often give you a feeling without anyone telling you what to feel in that exact moment. Close-ups, point of view, upward angles… all of these can give an psychologically ominous feeling.

Take Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and its most famous scene of Danny riding the halls on his tricycle. We get point of view shots and upward angle tracking shots until we eventually meet the creepy sisters. We get close-ups and points of view from Danny, cutting quickly between them. Yet putting all the pieces together, we get an iconic and terrifying moment in cinema.

The Shining Danny Big Wheels Scene

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Probably some of the best (and most terrifying) advertising done today is for the FX series American Horror Story. Every season has a theme — this year is “Cult” — and each one approaches its advertisements with a distinct visual style that is sure to shake you, from its posters to its online banners.

 

One tool the show uses is 30 second to one-minute teaser trailers. If you look at the one in “Cult,” it doesn’t really say much. And yet the sound of the clowns, the voiceover, swaying movements, the camera angles looking down on the action, the pops of color… it’s frightening. Yet it’s clearly not random; it makes you wonder what’s going on, and in turn want to tune in. And isn’t that what good advertising is all about?

At the Movies-Movie Posters and Graphic Design

One of my absolute favorite things to do when I have free time is to watch movies..  I like all kinds of movies, but long before the movies are released in the theater the marketing posters arrive! Now –my- fun begins because as a graphic designer in Orange County, CA I just love to swoon over my favorite movie posters. They take me back to when I was growing up. My favorite last “taste of summer” before school started was to go to the movies. So as summer draws to a close, I thought I’d share a little information about what makes movie posters so special and “Introduce” everyone to one of my favorite famous designers.

What’s the purpose of a poster?

The purpose of a poster is to get people interested in an event, item or whatever the topic of the poster is. They can be used to entice people to enter a store for a special sale, get them interested in trying a new product or service. In the case of the movies, the poster is meant to whet people’s imaginations and get them interested in seeing a certain movie. They often depict characters and parts of the storyline in order to catch interest.

 

Do posters have to be a certain size?

No, but the idea is that they are large enough to read from a distance and get the point across. Standard movie posters are generally 27 inches by 41 inches. These are called a “One Sheet” by the movie industry. Many times people create smaller versions of the poster as a customer take-away.

 

Can any designer create a movie poster?

Yes and no. As a graphic designer in Orange County, CA I do create posters. I know other graphics professionals who do as well. Movie posters-especially for the blockbuster A-list movies-are a specialty of the profession. Many designers who create movie posters work for entertainment companies or marketing firms that are associated with the entertainment industry.

 

Are any of these movie poster designers famous?

Absolutely! A friend of mine is a huge movie buff, when I told her I was writing this, she said to me “ You can’t talk about movie posters without talking about Saul Bass”.  She’s right of course!

Who is Saul Bass?

Saul Bass was an icon in graphic design. In addition to creating logos for well-known companies such as AT&T, United Airlines, and Girl Scouts USA, he created movie posters. Bass changed the landscape of the movie poster industry. Prior to Bass, movie posters looked very different. The designs themselves were pretty flat, oftentimes cluttered looking with drawings of main characters and depictions of main scenes of the movie. Sometimes they featured big block type as well, such as the poster for the 1940 Motion Picture “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.” Bass changed all of that. He is credited with pioneering new ways to feature type (many still used today). His posters also featured a more modern look with simple icon like images that spoke to key scenes. One of his most enduring posters is for the 1959 Otto Preminger film “Anatomy of a Murder.” It features a silhouette of a body seemingly cut in pieces with the title of movie stamped out of the legs and torso of the silhouette on a yellow block background. The cast of movie is typed out on a an orange block background. Bass’ last movie poster was created in the 1993 for Schindler’s list, but was ultimately rejected. Bass passed away from cancer in 1996 at the age of 74 capping off prolific 5 decade long career.

Now you know a little bit about movie posters and a are a little more familiar with the genius of Saul Bass. Remember the purpose of a poster is to get people intrigued enough to want to know more! If you need a little help with your next poster! Contact me, I’d be happy to help!

Font Selection Basics

As a graphic designer in Orange County, I get asked a lot about fonts & how to choose them. There is some technique to choosing fonts or type, but I’ve assembled a few tips to make the process a little easier. Here are some basics to get you started in being a font selection pro!

-aim for the target (market)

You must know who your customers are! Know the look they expect to see! Use fonts that appeal to the age & demographics of your customers. For example a bank’s customers expect to see something more formal & professional looking than customers of a daycare center would be looking to see. You can also choose type based on era. For example if you’re having a 1950s themed event, you can choose fonts that have a 1950s feel to them!

-keep it simple

When first starting out don’t clutter it up by choosing 6 different fonts! It looks disjointed & can be confusing!! Stick to 2-3 max!

-know your options

There are so many different font classes that I could (and will) devote a whole article to them! These include Serifs (like Times New Roman), Sans-Serifs (like Arial), Scripts (Edwardian Script) to name a few! It helps to know the classes of fonts because it keeps you focused when choosing a specific font!

-opposites attract

A chunky font with a skinny font look great together because they have different weights. The same goes for a script with a serif! Any time you have contrast you’ll have interest! So think about how you can create contrast by selecting different weights, heights, or styles.

I hope this helps make choosing fonts for your next project a little easier. If you still feel like it needs the touch of a pro, please feel free to contact me!

Social Media Best Practices

Let’s Connect on Facebook! View Me on Instagram! Follow me on Twitter!  We live in a very social world where Facebook and its Social Media peers have taken over as main way for customers to connect with their favorite brands. Due to this shift, social media has become a place where graphic design is starting to (if it hasn’t already) become very important. This means your brand’s look needs to extend to your social media accounts. It’s a place to have a little fun with your design’s look, while keeping your brand’s message consistent. The most social media savvy folks are posting multiple times a day. I interviewed Eric Padilla, the owner of Palatable Promotions  in Brea and got the scoop for everyone on how to get your social media accounts on point.

Here’s his tips and a few of my own!

Don’t ignore your banner/profile/timeline photo.

I see these spaces unused by a lot of companies, especially smaller companies. They have a great profile photo, but ignore the large banner space at the top of the profile. These spaces are great real estate to post an advertisement about a new product, a special sale or share what your company motto is. Some of the biggest brands such as REI Sporting Goods and TJ Maxx do this. It’s the online version of an “elevator pitch” or “10 second introduction”

Keep your photos and pictures to the point.

The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true online where people idly scroll past image after image only stopping if something catches their attention. The job of your photos is to catch their attention. On social media, authenticity is king so don’t be afraid to post the occasional product photo or “behind-the-scenes” type photo to your accounts. Your followers want to meet the faces and see the steps to create their favorite products and services.  “[Non-professionally shot photos] are a good idea in moderation when re-posting other photos and for Facebook Live/Snapchat purposes, but professional images should be used more often.” Says Eric, “With real estate, non-professional photos are a horrible idea. Studies have shown that listings with professional photos sell for $3,400 -$11,200 more than similar listings with non-professional photos. It’s best to purchase a professional camera or hire a social media manager that provides their own photography that isn’t taken on an iPhone or Samsung. First impressions are everything and with so many options out there, one less-than-stellar shot could have someone pass you up for your competition.”

Your social media graphics matter

One of the things Eric and I agree on is using custom graphics.  We both feel that using custom graphics is the way to go because it keeps your branding consistent and looks professional.  It all goes back to your first impression. You want to consistently use your graphics to create a good first impression and enhance your image with your customers. Eric adds that “With proper usage of branded graphics, photography and engaging content, a social media page can not only capture an audience but retain it. Using outdated graphics can hurt engagement and ultimately reach.”  Having custom graphics helps with brand recognition, which should be your first priority when marketing. Companies that are remembered and trusted are companies that are hired. There are many factors he says that will boost a company’s bottom line on social media including consistency, ad budget and type of page to name a few, but custom graphics are a big help in getting and keeping customers coming back to your social media pages for more!

Don’t use too much text on social media.

Eric’s last tip for us all is “Don’t use too many words because it hurts reach and engagement. It may also be flagged by Facebook and unable to run as an ad if the image/graphic is more than 20% [text]. Less is more when it comes to text, so be concise and work with a professional…”

Now you have a few tips that can inspire you to set up or polish up your social media accounts. So, if you’re ready to get your social media graphics on point then give me a call. Let’s create something amazing together.

Banner Basics

The weather is warmGraphic with Graduate's caping up and the days are getting longer, which means it is definitely spring time and also graduation season. Many students are graduating in May and others in June. These are also times for celebratory parties and often times proud parents create banners for such occasions.  Here are few things to remember when creating a banner!

Keep it Simple!

Don’t crowd the banner. It’s a large space in the sense that it is measured in feet with the average banner running around 5ft x 8ft. However, a banner crowded with text and pictures is going to be harder to see all of the elements at a distance. Keep it to a few major pieces of text and one or two images. For example you can say “Congratulations [Name]! Class of 2017!” as text and use a photo of your graduate or the school’s logo as images.

 

Photo Resolution

Remember the photo or the logo that looks so crisp and nice at 5 inches may look fuzzy or blurry at 5 feet. That’s because small photos, especially digital photos, lose resolution quality (aka they get blurry looking) as they get larger. If it’s a photo you don’t have in any other size but a small size, for example a scanned childhood photo, that you simply must use, be okay with it looking less than perfect. As a graphic designer in Orange County, I do everything I can to give my clients crisp looking photos, but no system is perfect and sometimes the photos simply can’t be that big. To get best quality photos on your banner, provide the largest photo file you can to your designer or local sign shop.

Fonts & Colors

A large item like a banner needs to readable from a distance. It is best to use text that contrasts with the background. A light background color such as white or yellow with a dark text color works best. A favorite option for many creating a banner for a graduation are to use the school’s fight colors. For example, Cal State Fullerton’s would be orange and blue and UCI’s are blue and gold. A thicker darker heavier font such as Impact, Rockwell or even Helvetica Bold will be easier to read.

In Summary:

-Keep the amount of text to a minimum

-Use large photos with a high resolution or be okay with the photo be slightly blurry or fuzzy looking.

-Use contrasting colors for text and background

-Darker Fonts will be easier to read from a distance

Whether it’s being held at the graduation ceremony or it’s adorning a wall during a celebration I hope these tips give you a little insight to creating a great banner that your graduate will keep for years to come! If you need help designing the perfect banner contact me today!

By the Book…Cover

I fell in love with design as a child during numerous family trips to the local bookstores. It was through book covers & later magazine spreads that lead me to want to be a graphic designer. Since April 4th is National Librarian Day it seems fitting that I write about a famous book cover & the designer who created it.

Why are Book Covers important?

Book covers are the finishing touch on an Authors journey to publication. Occasionally, they are the sole reason a reader buys a book. Ultimately book covers are a marketing tool. They are the attention grabber that gets the audience to stop & read the back of the book and are used in other promotional material for the sale of the book.

Can anyone design a book cover?

Yes, and no. Most designers are happy to design a book cover for an author. However, designing book covers is a specialized niche industry. There are entire design agencies that do nothing but churn out amazing book cover designs.

Do any of these book covers become iconic?

Sure, actually a lot of book covers become iconic. They end up influencing design as an industry. Often these cover designs create trends that permeate down into general design. My favorite example is that book covers and general design a few years back favored a minimalist look, solid colors & thick geometric type. Often, book covers can spark trends in the general public, especially when they become movies! This is exactly what happened in the 1990’s with Jurassic Park.

What happened with Jurassic Park?

In 1990, author Michael Crichton released his novel Jurassic Park. His publishing house, Alfred A Knopf, had one of their designers create the book cover for him. The designer, Chip Kidd, created a book cover featuring a skeletal silhouette of a T-Rex. As anyone who is familiar with Jurassic Park knows the T-Rex is one of the main dinosaurs featured, so it makes sense that it would end up being the book cover. Jurassic Park got chosen to be turned into a movie in 1990 when Steven Spielberg was working with Crichton on a pilot for a TV show. Often when a book gets turned into a movie a new look is created for the movie posters & marketing materials. Steven Spielberg who directed Jurassic Park liked the dinosaur skeleton on Kidd’s book cover, so he kept it. It became part of logo for the movie & for Jurassic Park itself in the film. After the movie was released in 1993, everyone went dinosaur crazy. The poster, dinosaur skeleton image & Chip Kidd became iconic.

Who is Chip Kidd?

Kidd is a graphic designer who focuses on creating book covers. He is credited with creating a paradigm shift in the book cover design industry with his striking, artistic and impactful cover designs. Kidd still works in the industry & has been with the publishing house Alfred A Knopf since the mid -1980s. He’s rumored to create around 75 book covers a year, which is pretty prolific especially since a cover can take months to create. His long list of clientele includes Michael Crichton, John Updike, and Dean Koontz among other famous authors.
While I’m not as famous as Chip Kidd, I’d still like to help you create a great design for your business or event. So if you’re looking for custom logo design, business cards, or branding products, give me a call or use my handy estimate request form!

Celtic Design

When most people in the United States think of the month of March they think about Saint Patrick’s Day, with it’s green color scheme, and love of all things Irish.

However Saint Patrick’s Day flattens out a robust culture to a few tired stereotypes. Archeologists believe that humans first stepped foot on the island around 10,500 BC/ BCE. Since that time it has been home to many groups including the Celts, the Normans, the Romans and the British. Due to so many groups living there over the centuries, Ireland is full of history and symbolism. Ancient Irish culture, specifically the Celts, have inspired many designers.

Before I talk about the hallmarks of Celtic Design as we know it now, I want to delve into history a little bit. Although they first appeared in ancient Greek and Roman texts around 2500 years ago, the Celtic peoples lived across Western Europe during the Iron Age.  They were referenced in these texts as a single group, but that wasn’t true. The Celts were tribal and nomadic people with not one tribe or region, but around eight of them.  Each region had a separate language. Today only Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Breton, Manx and Welsh are still spoken.

The Irish Celts had a vibrant culture that centered around the clan system. They created art for all types of purposes, some we know about and some are still a mystery. A lot of the art left behind is stone and metal work, which doesn’t give a clear picture of all of the art that was created by these groups. Much of the art we do know about was created but monks but not all of it. It was very ornamental, featuring very little symmetry and preferred curved lines to straight lines. Celtic artwork shows influences from other cultures and features a variety of spirals, knot work and figures and more.

A few of the hallmarks of modern Celtic Design include:

  • motifs of interlocking knots, images of nature, and spirals.
  • colors are highly saturated and bright.
  • type that imitates the hand drawn letters originally created by monks for illuminated manuscripts (books with pictures and text).

It’s still a very popular style of design.  It calls to us through the ages because it gives a chance to embrace our roots and explore a time and a people that we don’t really understand.

4 Tips For Choosing A Graphic Designer

“How do I choose a graphic designer?” It’s a question I get asked often by friends and colleagues. There is no right way to do this. I can’t give you three easy steps and -voila- you’ve got a designer you love.  Choosing a designer is a pretty personal thing. It’s important for you as the client. You want to work with someone who can fill your need and provide you the outcome that you’re expecting. The client-designer relationship is also important for the designer. I won’t speak for other designers, but for me, I want you to love working with me and to love the work I provide you.  There are lots of ways to make this type of choice, but here are the recommendations I give to my friends.

  1. Look over their website and especially their portfolio. Keep in mind the type of work you need done while you’re doing this. For most artists and graphic designers, their portfolio is where they share all their best work. If the style of the work shown matches what you need done that’s great. Some designers can design to multiple styles, while others prefer to stick to just one style. Personally, I do my best to create work in multiple styles. Many designers have their portfolio cut into sections based on product, others have everything listed together. Don’t expect to see every single piece of work this person has done. First off, it’s not practical. Most designers, especially if they’ve been at it for a few years will have a lot of past work. Secondly, not all companies welcome the idea of sharing the work the designer did for them. For example, I have done several pieces for web and application development companies that I can’t share because of non-disclosure agreements.
  1. Check to see if they are a specialist. Quite a few designers choose a market they like, or types of products they prefer and they cater to those industries. Many designers are also classically trained artists and illustrators, while others aren’t. I’ve met designers that only do business marketing products like business cards and flyers and ones that only do invitations and stationery. I’ve met designers that only work with a specific industry such as beauty products or real estate. Personally, I like having the flexibility to serve many types of customers, which is why I chose to do many different types of products.
  1. Call them up and ask all your questions. Most designers I’ve met, myself included, are completely happy to answer your questions about their services. I would recommend asking about their policies and contracts. It makes sense to not only understand how much you are spending, but expectations in delivery of proofs and the making of payments. If you have a very specific need, definitely make that known when you call or email them. For example, I have had previous clients that needed work done in two languages. We discussed the fact that I’m monolingual, but I was willing to design in a second language if they provided the text for me, which they did. The design came out beautifully and the client was happy.
  1. Personality Compatibility. If you are just doing a one-time project with no chance of repeat, or have an ‘emergency’ project to complete, then this guideline isn’t as critical. If you are planning on doing a lot of projects with one designer, or are thinking of putting a designer on retainer, or a work-for-hire contract, commonly referred to as a 1099, this actually matters. It matters because you want someone you can work with easily. My best clients and favorite projects always stem from compatibility in personality. I believe that stems from the ability to communicate effectively with each other. For example, one of my very first jobs was for a bicoastal jewelry and accessories company. I frequently had calls with their head of marketing who was based on the east coast of the United States. I have family with east coast roots and I can tell you that the communication style and pace of life is very different on the east coast versus the west coast. To another designer they may have seemed demanding, blunt and maybe even rude, but for me it was very easy to understand what they wanted and when. I worked with them for a long time and they’ve always had nice things to say about me to others.

Now that you have my recommendations I hope you have an easier time choosing a graphic designer. The bottom line is this: it’s important that you feel comfortable with the designer you choose and like the work you receive from them.

If you’re in need of a graphic designer in Orange County for your next project, I’d love to help you out. Take a look at my portfolio and contact me today!

 

Ask the Designer: Brochures

What is a Brochure?brochures

A brochure is a type of advertisement that communicates information from the sender to receiver, such as from a business to its customers.  Brochures are typically printed on glossy high quality paper in full color, and are folded. They can be as simple as a folded sheet of paper, but can also be complex, like the ones that get folded into booklets that are either glued or stapled.

Where Does the Word “Brochure” Come from?

The word brochure is thought to be of French origin and means “to stitch together” and was introduced in the late 1740s.

What is the Oldest Brochure?

One of the oldest brochures found on the internet dates from the 1500s and depicts common occupations in Germany

What do I use a brochure for? What information do I put into a brochure?

The type of information you put into your brochure depends on how it’s going to be used. Below, I’ve detailed out a bunch of common uses.

Point of Sale: Typically displayed in front of the customers of a particular service. The purpose is to advertise additional services to the business’ current customers.

Respond to Inquiries: Typically given, or sent to potential customers who are already interested in your services. The purpose here is to help answer their questions and provide reasons for the potential customer to buy from you.

Leave Behind: As the name suggests. This type of brochure is usually left behind after a meeting a with a potential client. The purpose is to re-inforce the recently presented sales pitch by stating all of the advatages and usages of the product or service in question.

Direct Mail: This type of brochure usually comes to a targeted demographic through the mail. The purpose is to inform people of a business’ products or services, and to entice them to become potential buyers by requesting additional information, or have them take advantage of a special offer.

Sales Support: Typically used as an aid for a sales person while in a meeting. They often have expanded information, as well as more photos, and larger type that can be read and referenced quickly and easily.

Brochures are always folded in thirds right?

No, a traditional fold where the sheet of paper is folded into thirds is very common and very popular, but it isn’t the only type of brochure in existence. There are many many types of brochure folds, but here are the most common types:

Traditional Folded: These are the ones people are most accustomed to viewing.  The page is printed on both sides with the same number of panels and then folded with the panels one ontop of the other.  Example: Tri-fold, Bi-Fold

Z-Fold: The page is printed on both sides with the same number of panels and are folded in a zig-zag or Z shape.

Roll Fold: The page is printed on both sides with the same number of panels that are folded from one side to the other with each panel immediately laying on the one immediately ahead of it i.e. 4 on top of 3, etc. When standing brochure appears rolled in on itself.

Gate Fold: Panels at the edges are half the size of the center panels with the two sides folded to meet in the middle giving the impression of a gate.

As a graphic designer in Orange County, I can help you create the perfect brochure for your business, product, or service. Please contact Purple Rose Graphics today to learn more.

Poster Design

2016-06-11-10-52-14-1It’s November already and that means holiday and holiday travels are around the corner. Air travel has made it possible for the average American citizen to be “home for the holidays.” Air Travel in America became popular in the 1950s with the rise of jet planes over air piston planes. The 1950’s also happened to be part of the golden age of advertising when the real “Mad Men” were busy creating now iconic posters for travel companies.

One of the most popular styles of poster was created during this time. That popular style was known as the “International Typographic Style”, also known as the “Swiss Style”. Hallmarks of the Swiss Style are a clean structured layout with bright colors. They usually featured just a few design elements with simple easy to read text and sometimes a slogan or tagline. Another popular style was a version of pop art. Today it could be called “retro style” as this particular type of pop art is a classic style of advertising design from this era. Much like Swiss Style, “Retro Style” also features bold graphic images and very little text. Although it does have more text in some instances than Swiss style.19290387688_d542edeaa3_o

No matter the style, these posters feature air travel as exotic, exciting, affordable and safe. Air travel used to be a luxury reserved for the wealthy and many people still didn’t believe that it was safe. The posters had a double use, they had to convince people to invest in air travel, but they also had to convince people to use a specific airline when they did travel.

As a graphic designer in Orange County, I design a lot of flyers and posters. So I can tell you that the main job of a poster (even now in the age of social media and smart phones) is to reach out to a business’ target market and convince them that they need a specific brand’s products. Overall, that’s an easier poster to make because you only have one objective. In veunited_airlines_mainliner_poster_18857333543ry simple terms, the marketer and designer isolate the target market and choose the best way to convince this market that they need a specific company’s product over the competition. What the airlines at this time were facing wasn’t just how to fill their flights over their competition, but how to fill flights overall. It’s a two-pronged objective and makes the creation of their marketing and poster advertising that much harder. That’s why a lot of the posters emphasize a certain city or region with the name of the airline in much smaller type.
Even after all the twists and turns travel posters and airline marketing have made over the years, those early days are still looked back on with nostalgia. What made those posters incredible (and something we still want to emulate) is that they achieved a two-pronged objective of creating an industry, and notable brand within that industry, all with just a few hand-drawn graphic elements and very little text. Today they still evoke an emotional response in us, and that is why we keep going back to 1950’s design and the era’s iconic travel posters.

If you’re looking for a graphic designer in Orange County to help you come up with a poster for your business, contact me today for a quote.

How To Choose a Logo for Your Business

 

howto_graphic

When starting a business, the first thing most new business owners do is to pick out their new logo. This is your visual identity for your customers. You pick out a designer, tell them about your new company and what you like and want to see in your logo. After a few days or so you receive a proof, or draft, of your logo. Many designers give you anywhere from two to four options. Sometimes you get a chance to make changes, but some designers just have you pick the one you like as is.

So, how do you evaluate these logos to choose the best one for your business? Well, as a professional graphic designer in Orange County, California, I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of logos! Here are the five tips I always tell my clients to help them evaluate their logo options and choose the best one for them.

#1. Uniqueness

It is vitally important that your logo design is unique. The design world has trends that make particular design features, such as “watercolor” brush script for 2016, more popular than in previous years. In addition to making your logo look more generic, using trendy design features also dates your logo. Have you ever seen a logo for a business and thought it looked so “ten years ago”, and not in a good way? Don’t be that company! Your logo needs to grow with you.

Also, you don’t necessarily want your logo to hit on certain obvious themes that are common in your industry. It can set up you to look more generic, and may also even cause legal issues. Having a unique logo ensures that you are not accused of plagiarism. Even though your designer may do research to help you achieve a unique logo, be proactive and educate yourself on the logos your competitors are using.

Lastly, a unique logo means your customers are more likely to remember you, and if they remember you chances are always better that they will hire you!

#2. Appropriateness

As I always tell my clients, you know your industry better than I do. Make sure the logo option you select is appropriate for your industry, your proposed customers and the cultures that your logo will encounter. Logos have to reflect your company’s personality and what you do with little to no text. Make sure to communicate with your designer and steer clear of any images, words, or phrases that could be considered offensive for what you do or the circles you’ll be interacting with.

#3. Balance

Choosing a logo is very subjective. The personal preferences of you and whatever team you might have will come into play when choosing a logo. I shy away from telling anyone what is a “good logo” or a “bad logo” for this reason. However, the one physical characteristic that I recommend is looking at the whole logo for balance. Your logo does not necessarily need to be perfectly centered, but every element in the composition should make sense.

samplelogo_crowdedA balanced composition is not too crowded, nor has too much white space. The text should be plainly legible and all of the design elements should be spaced out well and complement each other; unlike my sample here, which has none of the above.

 

 

#4. Flexibilitysample-logo_flexible

Logos should be flexible. They should work just as well in black and white (commonly called gray or gray scale) as they do in color. They should look nice on a dark colored background and a light colored background.  If you have text with a symbol, make sure the two elements work well together and separately.

For example, the symbol can be used for patterns, as a background watermark, or other places where you might not need or want the text. The same standard goes for the text. Lastly, your logo should look good at any size, whether that be small enough for your business cards or large enough for your building’s exterior signage or a billboard. My sample here has a few of these elements depicted.

#5. You Love it!

I mentioned earlier that choosing a logo is a subjective endeavor. So, despite all the suggestions or rules you might hear, as the business owner you should love your logo! Choose the option that you can’t take your eyes off of and that makes you smile like you’ve just had a really good first date. If you get stuck between two options, figure out which parts of each option you really like and which parts you don’t like. You can refer to tips 1 to 4 for additional guidance and don’t be afraid to talk it through with your designer or with someone you trust.

Ask the Designer: CMYK vs RGB Color Models

"Ask The Designer" graphic

A few months ago I was at a networking event when I ran into an acquaintance.  He told me about some struggles he had recently encountered with a logo design that he was creating for his website. When he printed his design, the colors were all off and someone told him it was because the design was in RGB and not CMYK. He wanted to know if this was true and what all those letters meant.

I explained everything to him, but this conversation made me realize that there are many people who don’t know what the acronyms RGB and CMYK stand for. As a graphic designer in Orange County this knowledge is an integral part of my daily work, and so I would like to share with you a quick overview of CMYK vs RGB and how they are used in graphic design.

What is CMYK?

CMYK is a color model used in the printing process. If you’ve ever heard of 4-color process printing, this is the color model it uses. In its most simple terms, a color model is the way that colors are created.For printing and all things ink related, the CMYK color model is used. The letters stand for each of the principal ink colors used. The C stands for Cyan, M for Magenta, Y for Yellow and K for Black.

What is RGB?

RGB is a color model used with digital devices such as computers, projectors, and televisions. The letters stand for each of the main colors of light used; R for Red, G for Green and B for Blue. This color model mixes these three different colors of light to create all of the colors that are needed for a project. Pretty much anything you see on the Internet is going to be using the RGB color model.

How are they different?

There are two main differences between the two color models. The first is that CMYK uses ink and is for printing, while RGB uses light and is usually used exclusively for digital devices. The second, less obvious, difference is that RGB is additive while CMYK is subtractive. Additive color starts with black and adds red, green, and blue until you get to white.  Subtractive color starts with white and removes cyan, magenta, and yellow until we get to black.

If you have something created for a digital device in RGB and then decide to print it, the colors will be way off. If you use designs created in CMYK to publish online or use on a digital device, the colors will look okay, but may not show the deep color shades that they otherwise would.

It’s always a best practice to have your design created in the color space it’s going to be used in. As a graphic designer in Orange County, I always discuss my clients’ plans for their designs with them in detail so I can make sure it is in the correct color space.

Colors are a powerful part of any design, whether it’s for a company logo, a wedding invitation, or a simple birthday card. If you’re looking for a colorful design of your own, please contact me today!

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