Design From the Heart


Why do your customers buy from you? Is it because your company provides the Best Price, Quality & Service? Blah, blah, blah…snooze.

Every amateur marketer or salesperson relies on these points to sell their services, but that’s not what we buy.

We buy the intangibles

We don’t buy the sweater. We buy the feeling of the fit, the energy of the color, and the experience of the texture. We invest in who we feel we become in the sweater.

We purchase pride and prestige

We pay for the feeling of belonging to something bigger, something popular, current or trendy. Bang wagon Superbowl fans understand this. Not unlike last minute Valentine’s Day cards, team gear flies off the shelves the days leading up to the Superbowl – Not to mention all the Skittles in Seattle. We don’t want to feel left behind. Wanting to be a part of the fun.

Think beyond Price, Quality and Service. Aren’t those expected anyway?

Have you ever seen an ad for a dental office touting they are the cheapest dentists in town, using the highest quality fillings while they drill into your tooth faster than any other dentist within 100 miles? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. And a little frightening.

Design From the Heart

Choose your words carefully and get to the point with your copy. Period. Just because you write it, doesn’t mean they’ll read it.

Use authentic adjectives to describe the products you’re selling (Luxurious Ride, Painless Fillings, Current Styles, etc.).

Don’t go overboard with the over-promising adjectives or you’ll sound like an infomercial (Amazing Offer, Spectacular Savings, Unbelievable Quality, etc.).

Use pictures to provoke a thought or evoke a feeling. Prospects are more likely to remember your story if they figure it out themselves and Photos are a great tool to create a perception of your company in their minds.

Focus on the feeling and speak to the senses. You’ve heard it before “Sell the Sizzle, NOT the Steak”.

Details about Price, Quality & Service are important in preventing buyer’s remorse, so be sure to reinforce these attributes after the sale. This reinforces your customer’s excellent decision and creates confidence. Stay in touch and you’ll likely land a repeat customer.

Do Your Business Cards Measure Up?

Measuring Tape

This little seemingly insignificant 2″ x 3 1/2″ piece of paper can be the difference between a follow up or no follow up after a networking event like a Trade Show, or Conference.

There are really only 2 purposes for your business card, Establish your Brand and provide your Contact Information.

Here are some tips about what NOT to do with your card.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Font Frustration

Don’t make your font too small. Avoid light colors and distracting elements.

Your name, company and relevant contact information should be easy to read at arm’s length. Don’t make me get my readers out. It makes us both look bad.

Icon Overkill

Only include social icons if it is important to your company.

If you haven’t secured your vanity URL ( ie: ) then a Facebook icon is unhelpful. Facebook thanks you for the advertising though. You must list the full URL if you can’t be found by name.

Unless you have a purpose for showcasing your social presence, leave it off your card. If you don’t manage your social sites, it’s like inviting someone to your house when you’re out of town.

Information Overload

Your Business Card is not a brochure. Decide what’s important first, before you design it.

  • Do you need your address if no one ever comes to your business?
  • Do you use a fax anymore?

Inconsistent Branding

Is your logo the same as on your website or store front? Policing your brand is crucial to building trust. Be sure your logo is consistent and clear.

Don’t forget about the back of your card. This is a great place to share your brand message or logo. Reinforce a promise or give directions.


The Cost of Free Design


You’re in a meeting discussing the need for a new brochure and redesigning your company logo, when George (from accounting) offers to create the logo for FREE. Everyone’s excited that the project can be done in-house and you’ll save tons of money because it’s free.

Sounds like a great idea right?

Wrong. Nothing comes for free. Free is costly and free can be damaging.

You may not know how much revenue is lost if a design is done poorly. But if you miss the mark with your customers, you will lose business. Maybe a lot of business!

Do you have someone on staff that can design a logo for free? What does that mean anyway?

Doesn’t it mean they are going to stop doing the job you are paying them to do to dabble in design?

Doesn’t it also mean that if they were a great designer, they probably wouldn’t be working for you in accounting?

Even if your billing representative artist comes up with a new design, they may not understand the file formats needed for various projects.

An incorrect logo file format might be:

  • Rejected by a printer
  • Incompatible with different computers
  • Painfully slow to download
  • Reproduce with terrible results

Be sure your designer can do more than sketch something fresh. If the designer happens to be your boss’s sister, you’ll want to approach this gently.

Professional printers will typically ask that the artwork be created as an .eps file.

Experienced designers know exactly which file type to use.

Asking your designer to provide the final artwork as an .eps file might be all you need to do to avoid a lot of pain and money lost later.

Ready for a Redesign? Talk to an Expert Today.

Even Sticky Marketing Messages Get Stale


Even the stickiest marketing messages can get stale and outdated over time. On average, everyday we’re bombarded with 14,000 advertising messages when you add up all of the emails, billboards, TV Commercials, etc.. Only a few of them stick.

It’s a daunting number but still far fewer than the estimated 1 million stale pieces of gum stuck to the famous “Gum Wall” in Pike Place Market in Seattle. In the 1990s, visitors began sticking their gum to the wall while waiting in line at Seattle’s Market Theatre in Post Alley.


Once named the world’s second-germiest tourist attraction, Seattle’s Gum Wall is second only to Ireland’s Blarney Stone. Pike Place Market’s gum wall will soon be scrubbed of 20 years’ buildup. Seattle is refreshing their gum wall this weekend because they are running out of space. But you can be sure that the tradition will start over and a new fresh wall of stale gum will appear very quickly.

Seattle is refreshing their gum wall this weekend because they are running out of space. But you can be sure that the tradition will start over and a new fresh wall of stale gum will appear very quickly.

Maybe it’s time to refresh your stale marketing message with a more current flavor like this wrapped coffee mug. Imagine your mug amongst the choices in the office breakroom and be sure it stands out. Keep the message simple and graphic strong on this branded coffee mug so this one ends up lasting in the hands of your customers.


​Try Something New

Tips for Effective Signs to Promote your Business


When you combine the internet, television, radio, billboards and direct mail we’re exposed to 14,000 advertising messages every day but only 5 of them stick with us for more than 24 hours.

Summer is the season for outdoor activity that brings more pedestrian meanderers, road trips and outdoor events offering some new possibilities for marketing your business. Street side flagssidewalk signs and promotional canopies are some ideas that may apply to your business.

Here are 6 tips for designing a sign that will be remembered.


The biggest difference in designing a sign is scale. Considering that a brochure is maybe 8 1/2″ x 11″ and a business card is 3 1/2″ x 2″, large scale design requires a different mindset when designing it.

Signs have to be read and understood from a distance; often by people who only have a few seconds to look in that direction. Everything should be big and simple for maximum impact.

Billboards can be 14′ x 48′ so art file resolution is paramount and vector art is required to avoid a blurry image when enlarged.

  • File Resolution
  • Graphic Clarity


Designing for location can be tricky if a single design is going to be used for different environments. If you design a sign with a sky blue background that will have the sky behind it, it will blend in too much and not get noticed.

A sidewalk sign or street-side flag, however, may have lots of different colors behind it, so a bold solid color may be your best choice to break through the clutter.

  • Environmental Clutter
  • Viewing Distance


Generally graphics and color should be bright and saturated. Avoid light colors or pastels and opt for colors that will stand out – especially between your text and background.

For images and graphics, pick a single element and go big with it. Your design has to catch the viewer’s attention in a second and a single, simple focal point will help.

Color can be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in designing an effective sign.

  • Go Big and Bold!
  • Keep it Simple


Aside from the company logo, pick a single typeface. A san serif font works best for signs.

And make it big! Think about lettering in terms of 10 to 100, that’s 10″ tall for every 100′ of viewing distance.

Bold lettering can increase the readability from a distance but avoid italics as they confuse the view.

An industry standard is to keep your message at 15 words or less and use the 3 x 5 rule. That’s 3 lines of 5 words or 5 lines of 3 words. Less is better if you can make your point.

  • Simple, Bold Type
  • Simple, Short Message


While contrast is an important consideration of any design project, it is especially important when you only have a couple of seconds to get someone’s attention.

Every focal point must be clearly distinguishable.

With type, size and simplicity as key factors, selecting colors that stand out from one another will help get your message noticed.

While I’m personally not a fan of using borders in design, the use of a border can help to create a contrast between your sign and the background environment. Of course, using a border on a street-side flag will not make much sense.

  • Bold Colors Create Contrast
  • Borders are OK


Substrate is the material that your message is being printed on. Knowing the material and method of printing can help in your design process.

Whether it’s a vinyl banner, fabric flag or a graphic-wrapped bus, consulting with your manufacturer can help you provide the appropriate art files for best results.

Knowing if your sign will be for indoor or outdoor use can help you select the appropriate substrate to print your message on.

  • Select Lasting Material
  • Environmental Exposure

Most designers don’t spend their day designing signs. Typically it will be the same person who creates brochures and business cards and only asked to design a large format graphic for special occasions like tradeshows, outdoor events or special promotions.

Reaching out to your manufacturer before you begin designing for large format graphics can help you avoid the headaches that may come after the design is finished.

Markit in a big way!

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Top Tips for Postcard Design


The postcard has evolved into the marketing instrument of choice for many successful B2B & B2C companies. Marketing Postcards provide a method of presenting your company’s message quickly and clearly, without asking too much of your prospects’ time.

A lot rides on the design of your postcard because you must capture the reader’s attention before they discard it (if you will).

For valuable insider tips on getting the most from a postcard

Size Matters

When many think of postcards, they conjure up images of the old-school 4″ x 6″ ineffective version. Today’s postcards come in many sizes that get you noticed in a mail stack of #10 envelopes.

We recommend designing a 6″ x 11″ postcard with an in-your-face image area to get their attention.

Color Outside the Lines

Always, always, always print your postcard in full color. Wow your prospect with color. Don’t stray too far from your brand colors but certainly don’t be shy about making them big and bold.

Use color on the entire postcard and beyond. Don’t use borders; bleed your colors off the edge of the sheet to create intrigue.

Use full color postcards for maximum impact.

Write it Right

Keep your copy short and to the point.

The reason postcards are so effective is that we’ve learned to scan subject lines in our email for relevant content. Write your headline copy like you would an email subject line. The advantage postcards have over emails is that you also have graphic images and color to get their attention as well as copy.

Use 2 or 3 word headers, bullet points, and just enough copy to engage your reader. Make them want to look on the other side.

Break the Code

The front of the postcard captures attention, but the back of the card should be designed with the clear response mechanism (or call-to-action) in mind.

Consider how you want people to respond and make it easy for them with a phone number, website, address or map to your location.

QR Codes can be added to the design to allow potential customers to scan the card and give them more detailed information on their mobile device.

Tell the recipient exactly what you want them to do; visit your website, sign up for conference, call for more information, go to your store location on Saturday for the 2 for 1 sale.

The response prompt should be the focus of the back of your postcard.

Postcards can be used for more than just mailing, the offer many benefits:

  • They make for a great tradeshow booth handout
  • Fit nicely into a pocket in presentation brochures
  • Are an effective “leave behind” at sales calls with potential customers
  • Don’t take up much space next to the checkout at your store

Following these design tips will increase the response rate of your postcard.

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Why You Must Know the Four Personalities of Design


Perception is reality. How your customer perceives and receives your message is just as important as the message you intend.

The telephone game shows us that what is heard is rarely what was said. We send and receive communications in many ways, depending on our personality types (Personas).

Marketing requires we make broad assumptions about our audience while targeting them enough to get them to act. The complication is that we are all a mix of 4 personas.

  • Get to know the 4 personas and how they buy.
  • Understand your customer’s personality.
  • Talk to them the way they want to hear it.

Here are the 4 Personas and how to engage them…

Director (Competitive)

This persona doesn’t have much time, wants to get down to business, and move on to the next challenge. These are the ‘Natural Leaders’ that are awesome at their best, and insensitive at their worst. This crowd has an eagle-eye view. You won’t find them in the weeds.

Who are they? CEO’s, Owners, Upper Management

What they want? Achievement, Control, Winning

Best ways to engage them?

  • Authenticity. Don’t pretend you’re not trying to sell them.
  • Clarity. Give it to them in bullet points.
  • Efficiency. Tell them on the cover of the brochure and above the fold on your website.
  • Challenge. Let them think it’s their idea.
  • Get out of the way. Allow them to act fast and decisively.

Socializer (Spontaneous)

This persona is great at brainstorming. They love coming up with ideas and discussing them. Similar to a Director, they don’t spend too much time on one idea. These are the 3rd shelf shoppers; they won’t be searching the bottom shelf at the grocery store for items they have to reach for.

Who are they? Public Relations, Salespeople, Entertainers

What they want? Attention, Peer Appreciation, Persuading others

Best ways to engage them?

  • Activity. Give them something fun to do.
  • Ask. Get their ideas.
  • Specials. “Free”, “Buy now”, “Save” work well. Starbursts on your site.
  • Shine. Be the shiny object that gets their attention.
  • Fast & Easy. Don’t make them jump through hoops to purchase.

Thinker (Methodical)

This persona does it correctly every time. These are spell checking, spreadsheet formula writing dynamos. Unlike Directors and Socializers, Thinkers take a long time to purchase while analyzing all of the information. The Director set the goal of getting man on the moon but the Thinkers got us there.

Who are they? CPA’s, Engineers, Scientists

What they want? Precision, Accuracy, Dependability

Best ways to engage them?

  • Proof. Graphs, Charts and Research.
  • Solutions. Exactly how does this solve their problem?
  • White Papers. They will scroll down on your site for details.
  • Information. Feelings have very little to do with their buying habits.
  • Time. Don’t rush them. They are a slow sale.

Relaters (Humanists)

This persona wants to know what others think. They frequent online forums and seek out groups for their opinions. Relaters look at your testimonials from other satisfied customers to support their decision. They will go out of their way to avoid buyer’s remorse before they purchase.

Who are they? Negotiators, Counselors, Customer Service

What they want? Stability, Consensus, Friendship

Best ways to engage them?

  • Predictability. Don’t surprise them with an up-sell.
  • Stories. Let others tell your story and listen to theirs.
  • Testimonials. Share feelings from other satisfied customers.
  • Modesty. Flashy, boasting messages are a turn off.
  • Time. Once again, don’t rush them. They’ll get back to you in a few weeks.

It’s likely that you see yourself in more than one of these personas. You may be a Director-Thinker, or a Socializer-Relater.

Analyzing the titles of your current customers can reveal a lot about their personality types and how to talk to them through the sales process.


Your designs should include bullet-points for your Directors and an easy to understand offer for your Spontaneous types on the cover or above the fold on your site. Then for your Thinkers and Relaters, place testimonials and statistics inside or below the fold on your site because they will do their research and find them.

Refresh Your Brand

When developing your brand strategy it’s important to be consistent and authentic from the inside out. Altering your brand can change the perception about your business to your customers and community so carefully consider why you want to make the change.

Reasons for refreshing your Brand:

  • Out-Dated Design
  • Doesn’t reflect current business
  • New Products/Services

For companies, changes in the industry and marketplace are inevitable. How we market our businesses can also create a necessity for change.

There are risks, however, in changing the perception about your business to your customers.

Rebranding Risks:

  • Customer Confusion
  • Loss of Brand Recognition
  • Retelling Your Story

Rebranding is often a result of necessity rather than desire. Businesses can lose market share and their competitive edge if their brand doesn’t reflect current trends in their industry.

Many large companies make alterations to their brand over time that we don’t even notice, and we can learn from them to keep our brand current.

Refreshing a tagline, a font, or colors can successfully update your brand without a complete overall, reducing the risk of losing the recognition you have. You can phase this rebrand in with your current brand so cost can be minimal and spread out over time without confusion.

The Man with Two Brains


It wasn’t long ago that designer’s studios were equipped with tools like X-Acto knives, drawing boards, T-squares and dark rooms. The evolution of computer graphics has increased the efficiency of design, and allowed for spectacular effects that were not possible before.

The technology of design, however, can get in the way of great design if you don’t understand the strengths of the designer you choose for the project.

It’s a left-brain, right-brain thing.

Would you ever ask your CPA to provide your quarterlies in a font that represents your brand? Or hire a painter to download the appropriate apps on your tablet to run your business? In essence, this is similar to what designers are asked to do every day.

Every designer has different strengths and you’ll waste resources and overspend if you don’t know their specialty.

Don’t waste your money hiring the designer who created your logo to change a name on a business card every time you hire a new employee. It’s like asking the team that designed you car to change your tire.

Having more than one designer is best, so you can use them only when you need their specific talents. Some are great at font selection, others are color specialists, while the best choice for the project may be the designer that can most efficiently get the changes made in a file created in software program that none of us non-designers understand. Also, be sure they all understand the basics of your brand.

A team of designers will keep your brand fresh and current.

Great on-going design for your business requires a solid understanding of your brand, eye-catching imagery that doesn’t get in the way, and a compelling message that leads your prospect down a direct path to purchasing what you are selling.

Don’t have time to manage a team of designers? Get to know us!

Stand Out with Intangibles that Leave a Lasting Impression


When we think of design, usually an image, logo, brochure, or web site pops into our heads. These are very tangible designs that we see. Something we can relate to, and yes, they are extremely important in sharing our company’s image with our customers.

But there is so much more to your Brand. And if you don’t get the intangibles right, those images will stick with your customer far longer than the pretty picture you paid to create.

Create a brand that stands out. Not just with a great logo or website, but make an attempt to understand your customer’s experience and manage it. Help them have a great day and look forward to the contact they have with your company. It doesn’t take much.

Chart Your Brand – Teach the team all across the organizational chart with an internal brand campaign. Use Employee Handbooks that outline expectations and create Mentor Programs where coworkers model best behaviors. Print Posters reinforcing company values and reward years of service and leadership with Incentive Awards.

Break down barriers to exceptional, natural customer service. Start by answering the phone. So simple, but so rare these days. If you must use an automated service, reduce phone prompt choices before personal contact. Train your team with a script of key points and questions to gain information you need, then encourage them to relax and be themselves.

Packaging your Brand – Make sure your brand is everywhere it can be. Review packaging of products on boxes, wrapping and shipping supplies. Offer solutions and ease of support with downloadable instructions what are well branded. Be sure all profiles on social media are consistent.

Establish Follow up Systems of Gratitude. With the ease of automation, no one has any excuse not to send a thank you. Emails are bare minimum, a phone call is great, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned hand written note card. If your crowd is more current, maybe a post in the social realm is what your audience expects. What fits for your brand? However you do it, recognition is critical for establishing brand loyalty.

Design your brand by understanding what your customer wants. Every person within your company is in the position of supporting your brand, and the companies that do this stand out. Be the Nordstrom, the Google, or the Land’s End in your industry and your customer will be your best and most effective sales team.