New graphic and web design testimonialI just received a nice testimonial from Juju Z. Treat Company. I helped them create a logo, identity, branding, business cards, labels for their products, and ultimately created a website for them. I had such a fun time working with them to create something custom and unique that truly speaks to their their vision AND their target market. Here's what nice things they had to say about me. Thanks guys! "We came to Sara looking for a unique design that would perfectly fit the vision of our new business. Together through some helpful marketing meetings and brainstorming sessions, Sara provided us some samples that truly spoke to our ideas. She ran with it to not only create a distinctive, hand-drawn peach for our logo, but a full identity that equally matched our business direction. From there, Sara created the perfect label for our marshmallows that will help our product get noticed during our critical start-up phase." ~ Jeff and Karen Brunings, Juju Z. Treat Company
New Marketing and Design TestimonialI love working with acupuncturist and healer, Michelle Turley. Michelle came to me, wanting to stand out and get a new look for her business that embodied all the things she is trying to do. Based on her likes and dislikes, we brainstormed about symbols and ideas. From there, I hand-painted her a logo and used hand-drawn science illustrations on herbs on her marketing materials, including business cards, flyers, Vertical Response newsletter, and website. We had a fun time working through the steps and I am very happy with how everything turned out. Michelle recently provided me with a wonderful testimonial. Thanks Michelle! You rock!
"I highly recommend working with Sara. She far exceeded my expectations and opened my mind to multiple opportunities. Every time I leave a meeting with Sara I feel so very grateful she is leading the way and so very excited and inspired about the future of my business. Sara always gets the job done in a professional, timely matter and with an artistic touch that WILL get you noticed!!!!" ~ Michelle Turley, L.Ac, michelleturleylac.com
What's your business vision?One of the first things I ask my new design clients is what is their vision for their business? This often stifles folks. Most people think that getting a logo and some marketing materials is the first and main thing needed to promote a successful small business. But how do you know who to appeal to or where to put your efforts if you don't know where you want to go/grow? In my half hour free consultations, I often ask question after question, trying to find the correct design style and direction that will match my clients' needs. If you don't have a clear vision of what you want for your business, how can you effectively appropriate money and time into marketing and advertising? If you have a plan but fail to convey it to your designer, how will they create something that appeals to your target market as well as create something that can grow with you? If you don't know where to start, then start by asking for clarity. Second, talk to a marketing firm. Third, seek help from small business development centers or business life coaches. Or, if you haven't the time or money for those and need to hire a designer anyways, find a designer that has a marketing background so you can formulate a direction and plan that works for you.
Client testimonial from Summer Wood Skin CareSummer Wood of Summer Wood Skin Care recently hired me for a full logo, identity and website package. Summer is an ideal client who clearly explains her expectations, finds examples of work she admires, and trusts me to add design flair when necessary. Summer recently gave me a wonderful testimonial:
"Sara recently completed a logo, website and cards for my new business location (summerwoodskincare.com). She is a breath of fresh air to work with! She is creative, timely, thoughtful and professional and a gem of a woman. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of a fresh image for their business!"Thanks, Summer! You rock and I am happy to recommend you for your fantastic skin and hair removal treatments.
Design and marketing for the budget-mindedA lot of small businesses and non-profit organizations approach me for graphic design and illustration work. Many of them have seen better days in terms of business, and therefore are very budget minded. However, being aware of your budget and having tight purse strings doesn't mean you have to fore go having a clean business image. Yet it doesn't mean that you are going to be able to put everything in the hands of a professional, snap your fingers, and have the perfect image and marketing package created for you without lifting a finger. If you are willing to put time and effort into the decisions behind the design, your business too can have a distinct look that reiterates your reputable brand for less than a standard bid. I'm broke, but want/need a design. What can I do? If you are on a budget but seriously want to improve your image, then you need to be committed in helping to create this change. What that means is that you need to spend the time to research your own vision for your design and make notes of things you like and don't like. Your willingness to get your hands dirty will ultimately help you get the end product you want.
- How picky are you/ your organization or can you trust the professionals? Furthermore, how picky can you afford to be? I have come across numerous sole proprietors who don't know what they want yet have a very small budget. Understanding that time=money, they either decide to trust me to create something that will fit their needs OR they are very precise and ask me what they can do to reduce my time spent. The non-picky clients tell me general themes they like with a general direction, knowing they can trust me to create something that keeps their interests and directions in mind. The picky ones need to really do their homework (as listed below) so that all the details they want are clearly conveyed to me, or any designer, prior to starting.
- Second, decide who is your market, what you want to do, and why you want to do it. Be sure that your reasoning stands behind making the investment. For instance, if you are an event coordinator for an event that is trying to attract a Gen-Y, party crowd and sell fundraiser t-shirts to this market, then you need to have a t-shirt design and marketing program that appeals to them. A good option in attracting this crowd is through social networking and having a basic website that people can go to from there. You know that this is the market who is regularly spending $30 or so at events and know that if you have a design that speaks to them, they will come to the event, bring a friend, and most likely buy a t-shirt. On the contrary, if you are trying to attract this same crowd, the last thing you want to do to market to them is take an ad out in the economic or real estate section of the daily newspaper and have a committee of retirees decide on the logo.
- Do your homework. What styles/ themes do you like (i.e clean and corporate, grungy, artsy and hand-drawn, modern, Asian, etc.), what logos do you like, and what attributes speak to you and your target market (i.e. colors, shapes, symbols)? Find some fonts, come colors, and components that mean something to you (and your business) and make a list (please include URLs). Include some words that summarize your business direction and add those to the list as well. A good designer will know how to tie all of these characteristics into a sweet logo/ identity/ branding that really reflects your business. Without providing this information, you may become victim to a very common logo dilemma where logos and their businesses do not reflect one another.
- Decide how you want to relay this information. Do you want an email campaign, a flyer, a website, advertisements, and a social networking plan to relay the information? Decide on what you want and what is realistic in terms of your time and budget, knowing that many marketing efforts are ongoing versus a one-time project. And keep in mind that once you decide on how you will market you need to decide if you want to have products with this image to sell and/or maintain during the event or afterwards. If so, how will you market during those times and do you need to include another marketing option?
- Decide on your selling points and your message. These are the items that will be added to whatever marketing venue you choose to use, from websites, to flyers, to postcards and email blasts. Once you take the time to decide on your concise message, it's easy to have other people help spread the word (and relay the correct information).
- Find a designer that you can relate to, work with, and who understands your budget. Visit their online portfolio, contact them, and see if they are a good match for you. For instance, I specialize in hand-drawn, artsy, grungy themes and have a background in marketing for small businesses and artists. Though I may fit the budget of a start-up firm looking for a very clean, corporate design, we are not necessarily a good match. Just as a designer who specializes in large, corporate clients may not be able to work with a local artisan looking to create a funky and fresh marketing campaign for their upcoming open studio event. Additionally, if you are willing to do the dirty work, you will want to find a designer that rewards you with either a sliding scale or an hourly fee versus a firm project by project bid.
- Be realistic with what you are asking for. Once you receive an estimate or two and you notice that all of your requests can't be met for the budget you have, you need to reassess. What can you cut out? Or is it worth it to spend more and increase your budget so you can sell cute, fitted t-shirts knowing you will get more people buying those than the traditional, boxy tee? Should you try to gain sponsors so you can get a larger crowd to your event knowing once they are there, they will spend more? Or should you cut out one of the modes of marketing, such as advertising, and solicit volunteer efforts instead?