Monday, December 28, 2009

Branding – What Is That?

It's YOU – It's what you present to the world to represent who you are.  Branding – it’s not just for large mega companies anymore.  Branding tells a simple story about who you are and what you are about – or a complex story about your philosophy or your mission statement.    It gives you a chance to become memorable and stand out from everyone else.
Who are you and what do you do?  How many time have you been asked that question and better yet, do you have an answer?  Your 5-10 second commercial is part of your brand.  Something you can tell a person about what you do if asked in an elevator.  “I’m a graphic designer and I specialize in…” or “I’m a construction worker and I’m really excited about LEED certified building.”  You should be able to express who you are or your service is or what excites you in 15 words or less.  You only have a short amount of time to capture your audience.  If you are looking for employment you have is even less time.
The same principal applies to how you look on paper.  What makes your document stand out from all the rest?  There are millions of correspondence that slow around the business would.  What if (and I know some of you are going to try this) every single document you sent out had a dot in the upper right corner?  What if that dot were red?  What if you had a slogan after the red dot?  Do you think every time they saw a red dot they would think of you?  Of course they won’t remember who you are but they will remember the red dot and think about where they saw that red dot and will look for that red dot among the sea of white paper on their desk because they liked what you had to said.  That’s a form of branding.
So get your dots out and brand yourself.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holiday from GAgrafx

2009 is coming to an end
Reflect on past events lightly 
Direct your energy to the coming years ahead
It’s a new beginning.

"Live Long and Prosper"

Happy Holidays 
from the rest of us Trekkies!

Quote from Mr. Spock on the star ship Enterprise - Star Trek

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Color / Colour

Let’s talk about color. How about RGB, CMYK, HTML – what does all that mean? I’ve had clients ask that very same question. What’s the best color for my project? Well…that is another very good question. To a client there is only one color - the one that they like. To a designer it means hundreds of colors - there are multiple hues, tints, shades, blends, etc. that might come close to a client’s favorite color. What about the client that cannot see multiple colors – how will all of this change your design?

Color-blindness makes it difficult or impossible to distinguish some colors, depending on which receptor is affected. The term color-blindness itself is somewhat of a misnomer, since color perception is altered, not eliminated. True color-blindness, wherein a person can distinguish no color at all, requires a malfunction of all three kinds of color receptors, and affects only 0.003% of the population regardless of gender.

Color is a beautiful and complex subject. It has the power to subliminally convey values and/or tell us stories. Perform a web search and you’ll find a multitude of articles regarding the many shades of color. This article is just my spin on color encounters as a creative graphic designer.

RGB stands for the colors of Red, Green, and Blue. Add together red, green, and blue light to create white light. Additive primaries are the result of adding the colors together to get White. Colors on screen are displayed by mixing varying amounts of red, green, and blue light.
Working with images destined for the screen or the Web, we designate colors by the amount of red, green, or blue in the color. In your graphics software these numbers might look like this: 255-RED, 255-GREEN, 0-BLUE. A number between 1-255 designates the amount of each RGB color. Keep in mind that RGB refers to an on-screen color mode.

CMYK - To reproduce full-color photographic images, typical printing presses use 4 colors of ink. The four inks are placed on the paper in layers of dots that combine to create the illusion of many more colors. CMYK refers to the 4 ink colors used by the printing press or subtractive primaries plus black.  C = cyan (a blue-green color), M = magenta (a reddish pink color), Y = yellow, and K is a pure black ink, the key plate or keyline color.

PMS – (Pantone Matching System) Pantone’s color matching system uses a unique coding scheme. (examples PANTONE 185 C, PANTONE Rubine Red, PANTONE Cool Gray 1): There are over 1,400 solid (spot) colors that comprise the PMS for printing ink on paper. The majority of these colors are referred to using a three– or four–digit number followed by a C, M or U. The letter suffix refers to the paper stock on which it is printed: C for coated or gloss paper, U for uncoated paper and M for matte or dull paper.  There is a small selection of colors in this System that use names or name and number combinations, such as the 14 base colors (i.e., PANTONE Reflex Blue C, PANTONE Orange 021 U) and grays and blacks (i.e., PANTONE Cool Gray 5 C, PANTONE Black 3 U).

HTML - colors are defined using a hexadecimal (hex) notation for the combination of Red, Green, and Blue color values (RGB). HEX – Hexadecimal Number System is a base 16 number system and is used by computers to reference colors. We generally use a 10 base number system starting with 0 to 9. In the hexadecimal system the range is 0 to F. The Hex system is just another way to select browser safe color palettes, and choose readable color combinations to use effectively on the Web.

OK, so some color definitions may be way too complicated for newbies and too much information for the client that wants everything now. The point is - consistency. You want your color to match your client’s design across all platforms – printed materials, presentation, and web design. You want your design to come as close to a color match as you can for your client. This should be true for your own personal marketing – business cards, stationery and for those who have their own website. Oh yes…both spellings are correct (color/colour) depending upon where you live (US or anywhere else).

So keep it clean, keep it fresh, keep it colorful and most importantly keep it simple.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stay Cool

Mercury goes Retrograde from September 15th to September 23rd.

What does this mean? To an astrologer it means a whole lot of things. To me it means Murphy’s Law – “If something can go wrong, it will”. Business contacts are lost, miss-communications, mechanical breakdowns, computers develop a life of their own, printers stop printing for no reason, electronics decide they want to play somewhere else, late or missed appointments, lost keys, etc. Not the best time to sign a new contract.

What do you do? Step back and asses your situation. Leave 30 to 45 minutes early for your appointments. Check your oil and tire pressure next time you fill up at the gas tank. Reschedule any commitments or appointments that could possible overlap. Stay in touch with your business contacts using a verity of social networking media. Keep a spare key close and in the same safe location.

Where do you go from here? Turn things around. This is a great time to reflect – clean house, revamp, redo, reorganize; listen to everything instead of reacting quickly. Review your contact list and make sure you have current contact information. Update your resume weather you are working or not. Step away from the computer – it’s just a machine with hic-ups – turn it off and they will soon go away. Reread your documents two or three times before you send them out –this includes emails – Spell Check does not always catch the errors. Now is a good time to do those things you wanted to ‘get around to it’ someday.

Keep a positive attitude, commune with nature. Smell all those flowers…stay cool.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to Basics

Sometimes the unthinkable can happen…we rely on technology so much that we forget how to use our basic skills – something as basic as a pencil or pen.

Due to circumstances out of my control (as they always are) I find myself without a working computer to procrastinate away the hours, no connection to the internet to surf unrelated topics, no cable to watch my favorite shows and annoying static on my favorite radio station. Moving is easy – the hard part is finding all the bits and pieces that connect to my techno life.

Penmanship / calligraphy / cursive writing are becoming a lost art. The more I rely on a computer the sloppier my handwriting and spelling become. My hands have forgotten how to fluidly draw because I intuitively draw with my whole body using all my senses.

But I’ve been using a computer for so long that I’ve forgotten what a curved line feels like in my hands. When I use my hands my mind, sight and touch focuses on the project at hand and my body generates creative energy towards that project. I give life to that project and the computer helps smooth and sharpen the finished project. Well, sometimes that little jagged edge is OK.

So give life to your next project. Try storyboarding or sketch out your next idea on paper. Handwrite a letter to a friend – it’s a lot more personal than an email and will mean a lot more to the person receiving the letter. Pick up a pen/pencil, dust it off and start creating – curves are sexy.