October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
So my blog endeavors have been slowly trailing off these past few months, but for good reason (mainly)! I’ve launched a new blog that is a part of my business website, finicky designs. I’ve been hard at work building content this past month and have just started posting regularly.
I will be featured on a blog this upcoming week, which I will declare as my official launch. So hop on over to my new site and follow my blog via email! OR, if you’re not super interested in receiving every single post from me in your inbox, subscribe to my monthly newsletter that has one featured blog post and a slew of creative inspiration.
Thanks for sticking with me! I look forward to seeing you on the other side.
April 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
Today I received an e-newsletter from Terrain. First of all, can I just say- I pretty much only receive Terrain’s emails so that I have something in my inbox to open that I know I’ll completely enjoy the design of. These emails are like a breath of fresh air for me, and this email was no exception.
I love spring. And I’ve nearly had to bind my own wrists together to keep myself from planting flowers and breaking out the deck furniture. This Terrain email was filled with Spring! So, here are my Terrain picks for the day that will hopefully leave you feeling fresh and ready for sunshine. (pst: there’s a Terrain Mojito recipe below!)
April 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
And why you shouldn’t fall for it.
First, I’d like to address why I’ve never won the battle against an online logo service. By the time a company calls me and requests a proposal, they have already made up their mind to purchase the logo they’ve received online. They’re not giving me a fair chance, and they’re not placing any more value to my services than that of an online logo service. The best I can offer them that afternoon isn’t a logo- it’s simply a proposal. Words and a price estimate. Each time I’ve talked with a company in this situation, I’ve tried to get to know them and begin the research process- to hear their needs, find out more about their target audience… I go into consultation mode. And they simply don’t want it or don’t think they have time for it. They want me to tell them that I can match the price of an online logo for 20+ hours of custom design work, in-depth one-on-one meetings, several well thought out, thorough design concepts, specific revisions, and the implementation of not just that logo- but that identity into every visual avenue of their business. I simply cannot do that for what an online service is asking- I would be selling myself, my talent, and my services short.
So let’s dive into why you should choose a personal professional designer over an online logo service.
1. A personal designer is just that- personal. First of all, let’s look at why those companies called me before purchasing their logos online in the first place. Is it possible that they know better? They know that what they purchase online simply can’t compare to what they’d receive from me- so they decide to “give it a shot” before settling for something they found online. A personal designer goes beyond a brief form that’s filled out in a few minutes. There’s a relationship you’re making, a partnership you’re establishing, and that designer has your vision and your company’s best interest in mind.
As I’ve mentioned before, a designer’s job is to visually problem solve. How can a designer solve a problem sufficiently if they’ve never had a fluid conversation with you? Sure, a designer can receive detailed specs on your project, but unless you’re sitting face to face (or Skype to Skype), talking about the lovely weather and your child’s soccer team- certain pertinent details about you and your company will never surface. I take pride in my one-on-one time with my clients. I can often gain a real understanding of what my client’s personal preferences are simply from the light conversations that we have. My goal is to understand you, your business, and your target market as much as I am able. The success of your company rides on my ability to communicate your company to the public- and I don’t believe this can happen through a brief online form. How well can these designers see your heart, your vision, your direction?
2. Your logo design goes beyond your logo. If a handful of designers are able to put together a design for your company logo that you’re happy with, does it really stop there? A logo is just a piece of a big picture your company communicates. A designer shouldn’t create a logo with just a logo in mind. They should be thinking through how a logo looks when placed on one of your photos, when included in a brochure, when the elements are used in letterhead, business cards, and websites… it’s your company’s identity, it’s your company’s image.
After I’ve established a partnership with my clients and their businesses, they return to me for other design pieces, because I know their company’s identity better than anyone else. I know how to put together a brochure that says “your business” better than a designer who sees a generic logo, several colors, and some specs. Your logo design goes far, far beyond just an icon with your company name- and that’s something these random designers cannot control.
3. Your custom logo may not really be all that custom. How is it that it takes me from 15 to 20 active working hours to come up with three, great concepts tailored for your business- when online, a few designers can come up with around fifteen concepts for your business in less than 24 hours? It’s not that these logos have been used before, or that some aren’t even made from scratch just for your business (which I believe may be the case for several reputable online companies such as the one I used as an example in my previous post), but these logos are already made to a certain point, waiting to be tweaked with varying colors and font types, being “customized” for your business. Just browse through some of these online sites at the logo examples. Is there a theme throughout certain groups of logos? Are you guaranteed to end up with a leaf in your logo if your company has anything to do with gardens? How innovative are these logos? Remember, they’re showing their BEST projects and their BEST work. If you’re not blown away by the creativity they’re displaying as their best, you can’t be sure of what you might get, especially if you didn’t pay the extra fee for a top designer.
Designers have the eye for truly great design. If you can’t tell whether or not the logos on the website are really all that great, grab a design friend or someone with a keen eye for good design and get their opinion. How do you feel about the logo that they’re showing as their best work? There’s a reason why the logos of well noted organizations across the world aren’t seen on any of these websites. I’m not implying that there aren’t good and talented designers that work through these sites. I’m not saying that you’re guaranteed to end up with a poorly designed logo. What I am saying is that you probably aren’t going to end up with the very BEST logo for you and your business. If you aren’t pleased with the website’s examples- you won’t be pleased with the logo you’ll receive.
4. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you do decide that you’d really like to go with an online service, please know that what you pay for is really what you’ll get. Steer clear of poorly designed websites or websites full of ads and flashing red prices. Avoid anything that advertises a too-cheap-to-be-true final cost; READ THAT FINE PRINT! Often times you’ll be tricked into paying up front for concepts, and then paying again for final files, additional files, rights to files, etc. etc. Be prepared for some curve balls and lots of unchecking of boxes that opt you in to things you’re not interested in.
Say you’re convinced that working personally with a designer is definitely far better than gambling with a cheap online logo service, but you simply don’t feel like you have the money or resources to use a designer. Well don’t settle, as easy as it might seem!
Here are a few tips for you and your startup to make hiring a personal professional designer possible:
1. Do your research and find a designer whose work you admire and think could capture your vision.
2. Get a rough quote from that designer so you have a figure to work towards and can anticipate, plan, and budget for.
3. Decide on the importance in investing in something that’s the best for your company from the very beginning. It is truly an investment, and in the long run- it will benefit your company.
4. Let your designer treat you to coffee and a good conversation. Talk things through with them, figure out what exactly your needs are, then discuss budget. Many designers offer stages and individual costs for each stage for your logo and brand identity, helping make the final figure more attainable.
Also remember you don’t have to live around the corner from a designer to work personally with them. I say if you have a phone and a computer- we can work together! It can be just as personal having a Skype session to talk through your ideas and vision as it can be sitting in a coffee shop together (though I’m afraid I won’t be able to say that your coffee is on me). No matter which path you pursue, or what decisions you make for you company- I hope that it’s the very best and that you thrive. It’s entrepreneurs and business owners like you that make a difference in our community and our economy.
Melody Christian- finickydesigns.com
April 12, 2014 § 3 Comments
Don’t we all just love a good deal?
It’s happened to me several times. I receive a call from a company looking to update their brand. They’re tight on budget and time, and let me know that they’ve found the perfect logo online and are just a click away from purchasing it. BUT, they heard from a friend that I do great design work for businesses, and want to see what I can offer them before they go through with it.
I’ll be completely honest with you: not once have I been chosen above the $100 logo they’ve found through an online logo service. My proposal disappears into a bottomless pit of an email inbox. The company hasn’t even taken the time to send me a kind reply of rejection. (Tomorrow I’ll explain why this is.)
In this blog post, I’m going to dissect the appeal of these online logo services and the reason why I’ve never won the battle against them. Then stay tuned for a follow-up blog post about why you should choose a personal designer over an online logo service.
1. It’s cheap. When you look at comparing costs between working one-on-one with a designer and simply plugging in your information online and getting a variety of logo choices- the online resource wins by a landslide. I simply cannot hand over a logo that is worth 20+ hours of my hard work for $100. Nor $200. Nor even $300. So when a potential client asks me to “do one better,” I can offer that client a referral discount, or if they’re a non-profit- a ministry discount… but I cannot compete directly with that price.
2. It’s fast. Remember my little post about time being key for a designer? Well apparently the designers these online services hire don’t need the time! Many (if not all) boast to have logo concepts to you as quickly as 24 hours! Literally, you can sign up this morning, and wake up tomorrow with an inbox full of designs for your company. Our culture is a culture of RIGHT NOW. So why not a logo?
3. There are SO MANY concepts to choose from. Often times these sites break up the price points depending on how many concepts you want. Sometimes the lowest price bracket offers a minimum of 15 concepts. Fifteen! And from there, you can receive as many as 120 concepts depending on how much you would like to pay! WOW. Why choose a designer who can only provide you with three, maybe four concepts when you could have as many as 120?
4. Multiple designers, all competing for your business. Who wouldn’t like to have dozens- no, hundreds of graphic designers working on YOUR logo? And if you want to pay just a little bit more, you can be guaranteed to have some of the site’s TOP designers working on your project. Sure, you can put your project out there and have multiple designers give you a proposal from which you can choose from. But multiple designers all presenting you with real concepts- OH, and your money is refundable if you don’t like any of them? Surely, how can this be beat?
I’m going to quickly walk you through using one of these online logo services- and to make sure you’re confident I have nothing to hide, I’m even going to walk you through one that is one of the top logo design services. They’re reasonable (no $79 package here), they’re thorough (very limited in the fine print), and they have an overall decent design of their website (which means they actually contract out designers that can design). So, here we go.
And that’s it! Depending on your choices- you can expect to see up to 120 concepts within a week or two.
Now before I completely lose you and you help yourself to one of these sites- let me ask (and please do answer in the comments)… what’s the catch? Why do you think it’s better to hire a local designer to design your company logo than go online through a service? Why is it that a cheap, quick logo with hundreds of concepts and multiple designers working on your business identity shouldn’t be a reasonable option?
Read part 2 of “A logo for only $100!” and discover why you would choose a designer like me over a service like this.
March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
If you happen to follow me on Pinterest, you would surely see by now that… I have a slight obsession. A crazy obsession. With FOXES.
Now, I understand- foxes are sly and carnivorous little creatures. But let’s move away from the actual animal here and talk about the amazingly fun and fascinating designs these little creatures have inspired.
Love foxes, too? Want to keep in-the-know on all my crazy fox finds? Follow my (not) ever-so-original titled Pinterest board: What Does The Fox Say?
Have your own list of fabulous foxy finds? Comment below with your url and I’ll check it out!
February 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
Oh, a post like this has been on my mind for a very long time. I’ve seen so many poor photos plague company webpages and Christmas cards. Your photos can make or break your brand (or your Christmas card), so choosing the right photographer is critical. Here are few thoughts before diving into my top 5 tips for hiring the right photographer.
First of all, this is based on my personal experience with hiring a photographer, both personally as well as professionally. This is what I, as an individual, have found to be true for me. With my design background and training, I have a good eye when it comes to composition, color, and well put together visuals- so I am a credible source when it comes to knowing a good photographer and what you want to look for in photography. Second, a photographer is an artist, so each has their own style. Different styles will appeal to different people. So I’m going to try my best to take out the subjective style part of this and boil is down the more nitty gritty side of things. And last, while I enjoy photography and have taken photos for my clients many times (per their request)- I am in no way saying that I am a professional photographer or advertising my photography services. I admire and respect professional photographers and what they do. I am not at their level of expertise. I pride myself in becoming knowledgeable about the industry so that when my clients need a photographer, I know how to point them in the right direction.
So, now that we have all of that out of the way… here are my top 5 tips for hiring the right photographer.
1. Like what you see. A photographer’s portfolio acts the same as a designer’s portfolio- it speaks directly to you. As I mentioned above, each photographer has a certain style. Pay attention to the lighting, the overall tint of the photo, the color, the filters… do you like it? If not, you won’t like your photos either. A portion of what a photographer does is wrapped up in editing and post processing the photos, and if you really just don’t like a particular reoccurring style throughout their portfolio, you should probably reconsider. Also pay attention to the composition of the photo (how the people are framed in the shot) as well as the poses they’re in. Is it awkward feeling or natural feeling? Do you get caught up on how the subjects are placed in the photo, or is the composition pleasing to the eye? Does it feel forced or comfortable?
2. Pay close attention to detail. Every detail. In everything. Follow a few photographers on Facebook? Pay attention to what they post. Are there spelling, grammar, and simply careless errors being made? Look closely at the quality of their photos (I mean- really close). Are all of their photos in focus? Is the exposure correct? Does the photo feel authentic and real, or is it hiding behind over-processed filters? Pay attention to their design style. Do they know good design? Is their website clean, fresh, and appealing? Is it simple and easy to navigate? Their sense of style in these areas reflects their sense of style in their photography. Pay attention to their equipment. Do they have the necessary equipment for a professional shoot (flashes, lenses, possibly a backup camera for weddings)? When you meet, do they show up well prepared?
3. Communicate well with your photographer. I can set up an entire photo session without talking to my photographer over the phone or meeting them ahead of time in person. Yet by eliminating the face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) interaction, I’m risking not knowing how well we will communicate with each other and how comfortable things will be during the shoot. Can you tell a fake smile from a natural smile? I know I can. And if you’re not comfortable in interacting with your photographer, you won’t be able to relax enough to let the real smile through. You want a photographer who is personable, who is able to direct you clearly into poses that feel natural and comfortable to you, and who can command a pretty-darn-close-to-real smile from you in even the most stressful of moments.
4. Inquire about prices and hidden fees. Photographers should be able to tell you up front what they charge. Do your research and compare photographers and their price lists. Make sure the quality of their photos lines up with what they charge for their services. Know that more expensive photographers typically have more experience and simply take better photos. You get what you pay for. But at the same time, don’t feel too afraid to take a chance on a newbie every once in a while. One of my favorite photographers here locally is just starting out. They (husband and wife) are extremely knowledgeable about the technical side of photography, have an amazing eye for good composition and beautifully styled photos, and are great with post processing- but they’re still new, still building their portfolio, and their costs reflect that. Also make sure you are aware of what the price packages include. What prints or digital files will you receive? Do they have packages that fit what you’re looking for? Are there any hidden fees (such as traveling, multiple location, or outfit change fees)?
5. Ensure your photographer knows you and your intent. Photography is a very personal thing. This is your image, and there is some story you’re trying to tell through your photos. Your photographer should inquire about this and make sure that they completely understand what you want from the photos. Are you celebrating love? Are you wanting a photo of your entire family for Christmas cards? Are you needing a professional photo to go on your website? There is always an intent and a goal with having your photos done. Make sure you communicate that to your photographer and that they don’t go into a shoot without being well informed of that intent ahead of time.
Let photographers be the creatives and professionals that they are, but make sure you do your homework ahead of time so that your experience is memorable- not miserable. Once you find a photographer you work well with (and probably become friends with) and truly admire the work that they do- you’ll have a photographer for life.
Are there any red flags you’ve found when hiring a photographer?
Want to add anything to the list, photographers? Is there something you specifically look for when referring your clients to a photographer, designers?
February 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, the 2014 Pantone color of the year is…
Yes! Radiant Orchid! And can we all just take a moment to sigh in its beautiful femininity? *ahhhh* I’ll admit, the color has undergone quite a bit of criticism with plenty of purple party poopers ripping on its… purpleness. Does anyone else think “Effie Trinket?”
BUT, all of the criticism aside- there’s something so refreshing to me about this color. I’ve always gravitated towards purple- but usually only rich, deep purples. Purples that almost appear more black than they do purple. So to be introduced to a light purple that I actually like- it’s a big deal for me. So here are some of my very favorite things I’ve run across in Radiant Orchid:
So, what are your thoughts on Radiant Orchid in 2014 so far? Yay or nay?
Wow, right now I feel so… girly.