your business, your logo

What's in a symbol?

Past conversations with clients or prospects as well as a few recent articles about the process of logo creation have me thinking today. You start a business, and you need an identity. Or, you feel the identity of your business does not correctly define your business or is not creating the impact you had hoped for. The first step in creating a business identity is the logo - the symbol that will bring associations of your business to the thoughts of clients and prospects. Often, small businesses cannot afford to pay much, or do not see the value in paying much, for a logo. Why does it cost so much for a designer to put together a logo - can't they just put something together quick and charge less? They are supposed to be creative, after all.

If your thought process leads you to cheaper is better, it is not impossible to come up with a logo for your business. However, take a step back and consider this: if you are providing a quality service or product, do your quality thresholds require a certain amount of time to achieve? And do you want to be paid for, and profit from, your work? Do you want material that speaks to the quality you produce? If the answers are, "yes", you can better understand the time and processes a designer takes to deliver this small, but important and effective symbol of your business to you.

Once you have your logo, everything else can grow and flow from there. Your identity material (cards, letterhead, envelopes), marketing material (brochures, folders, postcards, sell sheets, rack cards), and social media logo treatment (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) will all be based on the functionality and appearance of your logo. So you can see where that logo is the most important step in the development of your brand. Yet so often, it is given short thrift, little thought, minimal effort, and few resources.

Your logo, the symbol of your business, is the seed of all your business growth. It will likely be the first thing that prospects see about your company, before they meet you, before they even get a look at what that symbol represents. Logos are an important visual representation of your business. While everyone brings their interpretation to the logo, logos can enhance a first impression. Logos can build loyalty and establish a brand identity. Many hours of strategic thought may go into the creation of a logo. Or a logo can spring from a more personal preference, as the apple is said to have been for Steve Jobs. (Even so, think of everything the apple connotes - it packs a powerful wallop for such a simple symbol.)

Logos should be functional. They should work well anywhere. They should be easy to reproduce. They should be a distinct representation of your company and reproduce well in black and white. Logos that are less "trendy" have the ability to remain "current" with minimal changes over the course of decades.

There are three basic types of logos. The first two may be easier to pull off less expensively than the last. The first is a font-based logo - IBM, for example, or Sullivan & Sons plumbing. There are choices within this choice that may enlarge the scope of the logo project - what font to use? Something more classic? More modern? Conservative? Playful? Serif? Non-serif? Does my color choice enhance or detract from my message?

The second type of logo is an illustration - set apart, or integrated more closely with your business name. There are generic designed symbols available, e.g. a house for a realtor, a pen for a writer, a hammer for a carpenter. Here, there are questions about the art work. Is it available for commercial license? How many other realtors, or writers, or carpenters have that exact same logo? How does that logo differentiate you from all other competition in your profession? Custom designed illustrations can set you apart from the competition, but will cost more as they are being uniquely created for you.

The third basic type is an abstract, custom created symbol. The Nike symbol requires communication of underlying associations with the symbol. Apple is rather an abstract symbol for a computer, iPod, or iPhone. The ReMax balloon is an abstract, but eye-catching logo for a real estate business. Again, symbol, font, color choices all play into the design of a custom logo.

The bottom line is, whatever your budget, whatever your preference for logo type, you should work with a designer to produce the best symbol possible for your business. Your business is unique, and your logo should reflect that. You should look toward your designer for creative ideas and suggestions, but you should also be part of the process and provide insightful information about your company, after all, you know it best.

For a look at the design process in action, check out this online article via Imprint on Paul Rand + Steve Jobs, a peek at the process that designer Paul Rand followed when he created a logo for NeXT, Steve's second act. Also an interesting article on design is this question about the NASA design - do you prefer the "worm" or a "meatball"? I have to say, while I am not a vegetarian, in this case at least, I am not a fan of the meatball.
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cmc landscaping

There's nothing like a nice lush green lawn.

cmc home page
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to create a new website for CMC Landscaping along with some ad work. The company wanted a simple, clean site to replace an older site. I opted for rotating banners, some of which change seasonally, at the top to highlight some of their key service areas. The company also wanted some limited time offers resembling coupons placed on the home page to highlight special offers for the season.

The site has been recently updated to reflect their fall cleanup specials and to lead into their winter season. Another enhancement made this fall was the addition of Zip Bars to keep the pages uncluttered and keep relevant information above the fold and accessible with a click. As the site progresses, we will be adding photos of all the great work CMC Landscaping does! If you're in the Walpole/Norfolk area and in need of fall cleanups, landscaping projects before the snow starts flying, or winter plowing, give them a call!
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compression

File compression can lead to depressing results.

One of the biggest problems I run into is dealing with misunderstandings about file types and their appropriate uses on the web and in print. We have become so used to "getting stuff from the web" that people tend to think they can save any jpg, png, or gif graphic they have found on the web to their hard drive and use it for print or other media. You can't do that and expect to have a good looking print job. Why? One of the biggest reasons is file compression.

Files for web are, generally speaking, highly compressed. Files are compressed because some can be quite large, and large files require more disk storage and download more slowly. Files for web have been compressed for optimal screen viewing - to display clearly, but to take up as little storage space as possible and to download quickly. They are compressed for screen viewing - 72 dpi (dots per inch). Printed material often requires about 300 dpi - or more! That can add up to a lot of detail lost in your photo or logo.

To then take that photo and increase it to the size needed for a brochure or newsletter, you are asking the computer to fill in bits of information that it does not have. The result - a very pixelated view.

One of the biggest tip-offs that you may have a problem getting a jpg printed is the size of the file. Smaller size files like 20kb - 100kb are not going to be able to be scaled up with good results. Those are going to be more suitable for web. If you have a file of about 300kb, that could be workable for a small printed photo. Larger files of 1MB or more will yield better results for printing. Smaller files will yield better results at smaller print sizes. I like to think of file size/photo size as someone once described the art of selling and setting prices for products - "It is easier to cometh down than to goeth up."

Whenever you look to complete a finished product - website, social media sites, printed brochure, banner, tee-shirt, the best thing to do is consider what quality and size you need for each media. When printing materials, it is also best to know where it will be printed, to find out what the specs are from that printer, and work with the printer to deliver files in the best condition possible to have the best outcome.

Quality in results in quality out.
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duck duck ... duck

ducks

Ducks, ducks, and more ducks.

The Neponset Valley Sunrise Rotary Club has run Duck Race on the Charles in Dedham for a number of years; this year marked its 9th year. The duck race is an endeavor that puts plenty of "fun" back into fund raiser. Check out some of the Duck Race photos.

Racing ducks, not to be confused with our little yellow rubber "spokesduck," are " adopted" and numbered. First duck to cross the finish line wins $1,000 for the person having the corresponding number. There are also second, third, and fourth place prizes, not to mention free food, games, face-painting, pony rides and the like on the day of the race.

Last year, I revised the look of the flyers and posters, created a save the date half-flyer, and we created a Facebook page for our ducky friends; visit them at Duck Race on the Charles. NVS Rotary hopes you will like their page too. (The spokesduck tends to quack a little less in the winter months, but he'll have plenty to say come spring time.)

The Duck Race had pretty good press. Releases were submitted to local papers, the Patch, Our Town, and other media sites. This year, I ramped up Duck Race banners, carrying design elements over from the flyers and posters. With these banners, I had the chance to work a little larger than I normally do, which was a lot of fun; the largest banner was about 15 feet. Here's the jpg below. The banners were produced through Norwood Printing. They did great work.

duck_race_banner
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rally for ally bike run

Rally for Ally Bike Run: VROOM, VROOM.

rally for ally bike logo
The second fundraiser for the Alexandra Smith Foundation, a motorcycle ride through Walpole and adjacent towns, was held June 26th. Everyone had a great time, and we raised more money to help provide extra care services for Ally Smith, who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in December. Since this event was so different from the first Rally for Ally, the event planners wanted a different logo. So I came up with the Rally for Ally bike.

I knew immediately that I wanted to incorporate the event title in the bike, and it wasn't too long before I thought of giving the text a 60's feel—a photo of Ally at an outdoor concert inspired that idea. I found "Keep on Truckin'" at Dafont. I purchased a commercial copy for about $20, but it is free on Dafont for personal use.

It's one thing to know what you want, and another to actually get the effect you want. I had no experience drawing motorcycles. Initially I thought of tracing motorcycle photos in Illustrator but in some cases, I felt like I lost important detail. So, using a photo as a guide, I began with the tires and body, contorting the text into the shape I needed. I decided to give the tires a little spin and to alter them so they were not perfectly round and stagnant. Decisions had to be made on what detail to leave in and what detail to take out. The handlebars were the trickiest part; my first efforts looked like a scooter. Initially, the plan was to keep the logo in two colors (red and orange and red and slate blue were initial options) but we decided to go full color. A few little curly cues in the back for exhaust added a little flair.

ally_bike_half
Once the logo was set, I reformatted the flyer, poster, and collection can layouts from the first event and carried the bike run theme throughout. We updated the website with the logo and created an easy registration mechanism through PayPal. Printing donations helped us get the flyers, signage, and other collateral into the community. Initially we planned to go with two-color print on shirts, but we got a break on tee-shirt printing too, so decided to go with full color and the logo was optimized for the tees. We promoted the event through various biking websites and event pages.

Event day was beautiful. About 200 bikers showed up for the ride at the Walpole VFW. Food donations allowed us to provide coffee, pastries, and fruit before the ride and a delicious barbecue afterwards. A few local bands provided entertainment. I had a lot of fun taking photos that day, as did other photog enthusiasts! Pictures of the ride are up on Ally's site and there are also plenty of photos on Ally's Facebook page, Ally's Road to Recovery.

ally_moto_banner
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the alexandra smith foundation

On December 28, 2010, the lives of my friends were changed in an instant.

Their daughter, Alexandra (Ally) Smith suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a two-car collision. As of February 9, Ally remains in a coma, but has fought through surgeries and medical issues and is currently at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston undergoing extensive therapy. Happily, family, friends, and community have rushed in to provide support in so many ways: a shoulder to lean on, lodging near Beth Israel where Ally was first taken, food delivered to the hospital, hot meals delivered to the family, financial support, volunteer support for fundraising, and so much more. It was clear from the beginning that we should do our best to provide financial support to help pay for the daunting medical and care costs that come with TBI. So, The Alexandra Smith Foundation to support Ally Smith was established.

Rally for Ally postcard
This will not be a blog about running the gamut of emotions, circling back and forth between sadness, disbelief, hope, and celebrating milestones large and small. This is about using your ability to help where you can. Fortunately, with my background in communications, design, writing, and fundraising, I was able to help provide the foundation with design materials needed to make a start. My advice to give to anyone in such a situation would be: whatever your design capabilities and software skills, try to keep your communications clean, to the point, easy to read, and consistent.

First, we needed a logo. Ally, an assistant at Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment had dreams of being a veterinarian; she has always loved working with animals, has ridden horses for many years competitively and for fun, and is caretaker for a number of dogs and horses in the area. Horses? Dogs? I knew I wanted a reference to her love of animals. I started a few rough sketches. Eh. She is also known for her easy-going nature, and her smile. "Ally's smile" was mentioned by nearly everyone who came to visit at Beth Israel. I chose a well-known non-serif typeface - Myriad Pro, and I gave a small nod to her love of animals with a paw print over the "i" in "smith". I wanted her name to stand out and be easily recognized through the community. I nestled "the" at the top, and used a curved line, representative of her great big smile to tie in her name with "foundation." I was pretty sure the main color would be red. I did experiment with green, Ally's favorite color, but red is a color that commands attention, and I knew we needed to draw that attention to the situation.

Flyer for Rally for Ally
I tabled the idea of letterhead and other identity material for the time being, and moved right on to development of the website. A Facebook Page, Ally's Road to Recovery, was already established, and growing (1,039 supporters to date), so it made sense to be able to quickly bring that community to a website. Ally's boyfriend, Bobby locked up a domain name for us and prepared information for the press, some of which we used for the text of the website. Using Real Mac's RapidWeaver, I chose a new theme, SNo3, from seyDesign as my starter template. I loved the ability to add a slideshow at the top of the page, but kept the slideshow just to the home page and opted just for one picture on each of the other pages. I had a few photos to work with, supplied by Ally's sister Vanessa. I gave them a quick brush up in Photoshop and formatted them before loading them in. Some of the pages still need a bit of work, but we managed to get enough information in there for a good start and the site launched on January 17, 2011.

Rally for Ally logo
In the meantime, I was drawn into the Team Ally meetings regarding a quick first fundraiser. That's where I met Dave Thornton, who happened to be the brother of a fellow Rotarian. Dave is an idea guy. Lots and lots of ideas. That snowballed into a logo for the "Rally for Ally" (coined by Dave) fundraiser to be held on February 12th at Finnegan's Wake, and posters, and flyers, and can wrappers, and labels, and postcards. I began with the logo. "Can we have that today?" I had to work fast. I wanted to come up with something that incorporated more of a feel for Ally's love of horses, so I designed a rope brush in Illustrator, used Myriad Pro again, but tweaked the edges of the letters, and stuck to the same color. Then I turned my attention to the poster and flyer, the can wrappers, the wine labels, logos for tee-shirts and banners, trying to keep it fast and consistent. Thanks to Dave Luongo and Bay State Envelope for the printing services and for making it all look fantastic!

We expect the Rally for Ally on February 12th to be a great time for a great cause, to help a young lady who has touched so many lives in her 23 years. We continue to pray for her full recovery.
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quackin' up

duck race
The Neponset Valley Sunrise Rotary Club is getting ready for the annual Duck Race on the Charles. The Club will be selling ducks at local supermarkets over the next few weekends and you can adopt a duck by going to nvsrotary.org. Many business sponsorships are also available. The event will support many local and international charities and it promises to be LOTS of family fun.

To produce this flyer, I chose a template that I've used for other Rotary events, but I wanted to inject a bit of fun into it. I reversed the template by moving the gradient to the bottom (rather than the top) and left the top open and white. The blue gradient on the bottom also helped create the feeling of the ducks floating on water. I got my hands on a rubber duck, shot a quick picture in my office, spiffed the duck up in Photoshop, added a drop shadow and pulled it into the In Design layout.

One duck looked a little lonely so I added a couple of others to make it look more like a race. I played around with object effects until I got a look I liked. Red and yellow text was used to draw more attention to the flyer. I added an outline to some of the text to help it stand out more, and added a few effects to some of the text as well. For another marketing tool, I created a a Facebook Duck Race on the Charles page and used a piece of the layout (the Duck Race on the Charles text and the duck heads) for the profile photo.

Duck Race 1 PDF
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return of the puzzle

program cover
Last month I used AV Bros Puzzle Pro once again for a program/ad booklet. The booklet was made for the Neponset Valley Sunrise Rotary Club's first annual Service Above Self Award. The Award was presented to the Challenger Program at a dinner to boost awareness of and to benefit the program and other Rotary charities. The Challenger Program in Norwood provides sports programs for intellectually and physically challenged youth. Eighteen years ago they began with Little League Baseball and have grown to include football, soccer, and basketball programs for Norwood and surrounding Neponset Valley towns. Steve Grogan, Patriot's Hall of Famer, was the keynote speaker, and the athletes that attended were delighted that he signed their programs.

In putting the booklet together, I began by reviewing digital photos that were provided by the Challenger Program. I knew I would need at least six (for a six piece puzzle, two columns, three rows) and that I wanted to represent every activity the program supported—including skating activities. I also chose a few extra photos so that I had alternates at hand. I knew the cover area would be 8.5 x 5 and created a document in Photoshop that would fit approximately within the parameters of the final layout (there is actually a quarter inch white space around the picture to the right).

Color choices of blue and yellow fit well with the Rotary logo and Challenger uniform colors. I filled the background layer with blue and added a layer with a yellow star pattern. After several adjustments to both layers the stars were faintly visible in between the photos and the background framed the collage. Since I knew I would use the puzzle splitter, I placed the photos carefully in a grid to retain a more or less complete photo within each puzzle piece. I managed to fit seven pictures in, combining a football player with football teammates in the second row, column 2.

When the collage was split with the Puzzle Pro filter, adjustments were made to the tabs for a better overall look. I pulled the pieces out into five files, created clipping paths, converted to eps and placed them in the (Quark) layout. Text was then added and the text and images were arranged for this final look.
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happy cinco de mayo

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I thought it would be fun to take a look at fonts designed by typeface designers in Mexico. The 2010 Type Directors Club award winners includes Cristobal Henestrosa of Mexico City. Cristobal's revival typeface, Espinosa Nova, is based on types used by Antonio de Espinosa, a Mexican printer of the 16th century. The typeface is number six on the TDC list. (Another winner, Deliscript, was recently showcased by fontshop.com.) For a list of Mexican (or Mexican inspired) typeface designers and a few typeface samples, you can visit the Mexico Font Scene.

If you’d like to see some modern Mexican graphic design, check out this sampling on Blog of Francesco Mugnai. The blog features Mexican design that they deem the "world's best."
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lorem ipsum whatum?

When creating design mock-ups of websites, newsletters, brochures, ads and just about any other material that includes text, designers often use a filler text—Lorem Ipsum. Lorem is a dummy text used by printers and typesetters since the 16th century; the current standard form was most likely developed in the 1960’s. The text makes a great content placeholder because it has good letter distribution, looks like readable text, and pulls a client’s focus to the overall design and away from the meaning of the text.

The currently used standard Lorem Ipsum text reads:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

There are many variations of “lorem ipsum” text, some humorous. There are also lorem text generators online where you can obtain generated text that should be free of meaning and embarrassing word choices/combinations. Many text generators can produce text in multiple paragraphs, bulleted lists, etc.

Lorem Ipsum text is said to have stemmed from a passage by Cicero, written in 45 BC, which makes its origins more than 2,000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia traced the words back to a text from 1.10.32-33 of Cicero’s de Finibus Bolorum et Malorum (roughly translates to On the Ends of Good and Evil), a treatise on the theory of ethics popular during the Renaissance. Lorem Ipsum text is not meant to have meaning and is not pure Latin text; words and letters from the Cicero passages have been omitted in the Lorem Ipsum text. To see the entire passage and the words and letters of Lorem Ipsum text that were pulled from it, you can visit http://www.lipsum.com. (Lipsum.com also features a text generator.)

To read a 1914 translation of Cicero’s passages by H. Rackham, you can visit Wikipedia. It shows the major source of Lorem Ipsum highlighted in that translation to be read as follows:

“Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?”

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christmas card time

xmas card front
I’d advise any business person who plans to send holiday cards to think about card design well in advance of the holiday season. Sending cards can be fun. Scrambling to get them designed at the last minute — a lot less fun.

I seem to recall saying last year that I would take more holiday photos so I had more choice for a photograph this year for my holiday card. Well, although I took lots of family photos, I never did take a lot more photos that I felt comfortable using for this project. I experimented with a few of them — and a few different designs — but decided to save them for another day. I opted to get away from the photo card again this year and designed this year’s card using text and illustration.

xmas card inside
The two things I did accomplish this year were to set aside time early on to create a card and to create the illustration myself for a change. I am happy to say, I hit my deadline of sending my cards off to print before Thanksgiving. I may even have them in hand before Thanksgiving! (With a little more planning, I may get them done before Halloween next year.)
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casamar villa brochure

I have recently finished an 8.5 x 11 brochure for Casamar Villa in Mexico. Casamar is a small villa located near Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca. The proprietors of the villa added suites to their property and are making many changes to their business. They wanted to expand their clientele beyond the surfing community (Puerto is a surfer’s paradise) and are now marketing to clientele of all ages who are in search of a peaceful place to vacation while enjoying the cultural, environmental, and athletic adventures available.
brochure outside
brochure inside

In addition to creating the brochure, the client was also creating a new website. The website has undergone several transformations, but the colors of the inside panels, and to some extent the outside panels, of the brochure were originally selected with the website in mind.

Most of the photographs were taken by a local photographer in Mexico. I used those initial photos to get a feel of the villa and the surrounding area. A few photos were supplied later by the clients and through iStock photo.
surf panel


The initial design featured one entire panel given over to kneeboard photos, and then surf photos (with the exception of the wildlife photo that is in place in this version at bottom right). I really liked putting that panel together and I loved the energy of the panel.

But because the target market was evolving, that focus on surfing was scaled back and more photos of boating, wildlife, horseback riding, etc. were introduced throughout the entire brochure. As more changes are made to the villa, Casamar’s marketing pieces and website will continue to evolve as well.

Need to freshen up your marketing? Contact Scrivo!
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newsletter redesign

2 page spread
Over the spring, I redesigned Ursuline Academy’s newsletter. One of the biggest changes was to go from a black and PMS interior to full color. The final piece is five color: CMYK plus PMS 625 (green).

With the introduction of color, it’s tempting to focus on the use of color versus the overall impact of the layout. I decided to “let the pictures do the talking” by allowing them to be the most vibrant color source on the page.

I did introduce different pastels, a light blue for the swim article (on the 11 x 17 interior spread shown above), a hint of “brick”, a pale yellow, a little pink and lilac, for some background graphics and article boxes. But, for the most part I left article boxes in a shade of green (the school color) and used the PMS for article headers and for the silhouettes (the theme was “the faces of Ursuline”).

Some common elements throughout the newsletter were: the subject headers at the top with a dotted line and their circle photo counterparts, the silhouettes with facts about the school and the students, green circles with page numbers, green article headers and black subheads, a green frame and shadow around the photos — which pulled them off the page, and several photos of faces around which text was wrapped, like the one in the lower right corner of the sample above. Most of the text in the newsletter appears in black on a white background to enhance readability.

Once a consistent layout was designed, the pattern was occasionally broken to avoid monotony, deal with the requirements of the stories or photos, and to keep each spread fresh.
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