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Posts Tagged ‘creation’

logo design with design thinking

Designing a logo with Design Thinking

A notable part of a brand is their logo. The symbol that represents the brand will be printed and displayed digitally diverse sizes, and alongside colors, shapes, images and typography, will help customers identify that particular business.

The logo is part of a system called visual identity, which is part of a larger system, the business' branding system.

The logo design process is different for each designer. I, for one, do the typography displayed alongside the symbol by hand, and that is called handlettering.

For the whole process, both handlettering and the creation of the symbol, I use a process called Design Thinking.

Design thinking was invented at Stanford University, and it's a problem solving process. It consists of seven stages: defining, researching, ideating, prototyping, selecting, implementing and learning.

The best thing about the Design thinking process is that it's not a rule, but a reiterative


Defining the project with a brief

When it comes to a Design project, Designers need to start off from somewhere. Usually, we get a mail, a call or a meeting, but that's not quite enough. It's important to acquire thoroughly information about the project, the company. That way, the design problem can be best defined and a better solution created.

I also will want to make sure that the person I am talking to is a decision maker in the company. It's easy to not get the full picture when dealing with a representative or a speaker of the decision making force of the company.

Some of the topics I will try to find out are:

  • who works in the company;
  • what are the company's branding specifics (mission, vision, values, personality);
  • finding out about the service, product, how they function, how they are sold;
  • finding out about the audience and the target market;
  • finding out about the mediums used within and without the company, how people interact with each other within the company is as important as how the company interacts with people without;
  • pricing of the product or service: this information reveals a lot of how the product is perceived in the market;

It's important to communicate to the client that all information is important. Nothing should be left outside of the conversation. There is always that project that ends with the client casually saying something at the delivery that could have been used to do a better job.

A brief should contain all details of a project. That way, the project will stay on its track. Defining the deliverables should be easy with the information you acquire.

It's important to remember that, with the Design thinking process, you are free to go back and forth on the stages outlined in this article at any given moment of the project or when the need surges.


Inspiration

Researching the brand, the audience, and the competitors will give an idea of the scope of the brand and the impact of the service and product on the market.

When it comes to designing a logo, it's important to take into consideration what the client has provided but not forget to expand the creative mindset by looking further than what's obvious.

There are different ways to collect information for inspiration. I personally like to start off by writing down words that cross my mind related to the project, either on a mindmap or on just plain list style.

I find useful to browse the web whilst throwing random words on Google to see how a certain word connects with its meaning both visually and perceptually. This exercise helps me to get out of the conventions I have of my own experience and my own perceptions of a subject.

Visually speaking, I create a Pinterest board per project to have an idea how the final brand should look like. Consuming other people's work extensively helps to bias my mind to the style that best fits the project, and also helps me to be attentive t details that I know I want to try out.


Ideation

The ideation process is that stage where you brain dump ideas. Some people like to be restrained to 10, but I personally prefer to restrain to time per sketch in the beginning, and then pick ten.

The point of quick sketching is to allow a variety of ideas to surge. That way, you don't need to worry about finding the perfect shape just yet. Seeking quantity over quality will allow a variety of styles, forms, and shapes that you wouldn't have if you were stuck with one grid or look. I like to do this without the use of an eraser and preferably with a pen.

The best sketches can be selected and developed further, with a little bit more detail and time allowed to work on each.

The tools and the methods are not really important for idea generation. It depends on what works best for you, I am simply outlining what works for me, my process and way of looking for a solution.


Refinement

Refining a bunch of logos, or prototyping them, will provide a better insight and allow a comparison basis to what could work best and what would not, as well as what can be done better.

Prototyping and refining the logos will allow the designer and the client to best visually a potential outcome to the project, and thus choose a direct in which to continue working on.

A prototype is a working model, which when it comes to logos makes less sense to define as if it was a product prototype. However, some particular aspects may be found in the presentation of these prototypes, such as dummy colors and applications (for example, on mockups).


Finalization

Typically, at this stage, I will have 2-3 picks that will be selected and developed to the final stage. It's not always so black and white, but I will always present the logo I think should be presented in the middle, after a "but" sentence. I know that the client will always have a personal favorite, but the logo that should be picked should always be the one that best represents a solution for the design problem.

Never present a logo to the client you don't want to be picked. If you don't want a particular sketch to be picked, don't show it. It's never the client's fault to pick a bad idea, but the designer's for showing it.

Finalizing a logo consists of making sure all the elements are outlined in a vector format, the color palette is defined, the typography is chosen and all the sub-imagery, such as icons and patterns, are ready to be applied and tested.

The finalization process is the one that will bounce you back and forth the most. Because we designers have this... Perfectionism thing.


Visibility

Make sure the logo you design is recognizable in small and big sizes, to ensure adaptability across platforms, such as on a website or app icon and posters.


Colors

It's important to remember the usage of colors when it comes to the industry and how colors affect our brain. You can read more about that here.

Also notable, colors appear differently in different medias. Print colors are even harder to be consistent with, since it differs from printer to printer, and even in between printing rolls. The material that it gets printed on might also alter tones.

The easiest way to ensure that the brand and the logo colors will be consistent across media is to define all the color codes.

Usually, I will include:

  • HEX
  • RGB
  • CMYK
  • LAB
  • PANTONE Uncoated, Coated and sometimes metallic

Designing on sRGB will to ensure a wider color space and better compatibility between different devices. However, each display will have a certain way to read colors, called color calibration, and it's nearly impossible to certify that the color will show exactly the same for everyone.


Spacing

One of the aspects that I am obsessed with when it comes to logo designing is spacing.

It's important to understand that spacing is an optical illusion. Round objects, like a circle and an "O" will appear smaller to the eyes when set aside a square and an "H" respectively. So, just because the spacing between an "O" and a "H" and a "I" is the same, doesn't mean that they are optically spaced and sized the same.

In the pictures bellow, the optical spacing and the metric kerning (space between characters) are shown to exemplify how your eye will perceive each.

Ohi Spacing Optical Spacing Grid
Ohi Spacing Optical Spacing
Ohi Spacing Pixel Spacing Grid
Ohi Spacing Pixel Spacing

The optical spacing fits better to the eye, and show better a balance between the characters. Notice how the "O" is slightly overriding the baseline when compared to the other letters so that it looks right when it comes to the size. The "I" looks smaller than most letters, therefore it gets pushed a bit further away to the right so that it looks its size.

When it comes to the spacing between the logo and the type, I like to pick an element in the logotype to create balance in the piece, like it's shown bellow.

Logo spacing

This practice creates usage boundaries to ensures consistency and right placement of the logo across medias.


Useful tools

Pinterest

Pinterest is my favorite moodboard website. Word.

Visit website –>


Google Docs

I use Google Docs in an interesting way. In the start of a project, I use it to uncover information from the client. I add him/her to the document, which allows us to edit it at the same time and have a conversation. That way, I make sure we are both on the same page (literally) and helps me build the brief and the brand book at the end of the project.

Visit website –>


Docracy

Docracy is a great website to get a template for a contract.

Visit website –>


Affinity Designer

I love Affinity Designer, but I use it mostly for Illustration. It is a great alternative to Illustrator.

Visit website –>


rgb.to

My to go tool to convert my colors between RGB, CMYK and PANTONE. I like to add LAB colors as well, so I use Illustrator to get the LAB colors and to compare the CMYK from RBG.to.

Visit website –>


Coolors

Personally, choosing colors can be really painful depending on the project. Coolors has a cool "random" button that will do the start for me. I always have a mood in mind, and as soon as I find a good color, I might adjust it, then I lock it and find other 2 colors.

Visit website –>


Logobook

Logobook is a collection of the old logos of the world, and it can really break our conventional approach to logo design because it doesn't follow trends.

Visit website –>


Logo Design Love

Another great Logo inspiration website.

Visit website –>


Trademark Vision

Trademark Vision searches for visually similar trademarks.

Visit website –>


Google Image - search by Image

A great alternative to trademark vision is to Google Image search by Image, which will come up with visually similar results.

Visit website –>

 


 

How much should you be consuming vs creating?

How much should you be consuming vs creating?

We creative peeps loooove seeking inspiration. Oh, God bless the Pinterest boards, right? I personally create private boards for each branding project or small projects. There's a lot of value to it, otherwise it wouldn't have become so popular. But how much is actually too much? When it blocks you.

The value of inspiration

I love Harvard stories and researches because they have facts funding them. Anyway, we could say it's common sense that nothing is new, everything is reinvented. When a fruit rots on earth's bed, it provides nutrients for another to grow instead. It's cyclical.

In the "Why inspiration matters" article in Harvard's website, it's laid out that, according to two Psychologists, Todd M. Trash and Andrew J. Elliot, Inspiration has three main qualities.

Evocation

Evocation means the inspiration comes unintentionally.

Transcendence

We are limited beings, therefore, inspiration can come from a sudden awareness of new ways to solve issues. It's what we call "vision".

Motivation

Being inspired however does not make anything real by itself—and I like to point that out to my "I have a million-worth idea" friends. It is not worth being inspired and having a great idea if you don't act on it: make it real.


Inspiration, therefore, is a kickstarter to creative problem solving. And that's all. You have to be careful, that, in order to innovate you don't consume too much of what inspires you, so that you don't become biased by what you've seen. I've heard of many Designers who use that Pinterest moodboard strategy only at the beginning of a project. The issue with coming back to whatever you use as inspiration is you may be inclined to copy details, aspects and even the feel instead of creating something more authentic and with your personal touch.


When does inspiration become a creative block instead?

As we know, inspiration is a kickstarter for creativity. It sounds odd that it could block it instead. Have you ever experienced creative block? I have, and I do often as a stupid mistake I keep repeating. I know the source of my creative blocks: over consumption of other people's works. It causes me to compare my skills with other's instead of developing my own. And then, this is when the value of becoming slightly more mindful of what and how much we are consuming comes in handy. It can be we are just consuming too much and doing too little, as well as when we have to deal with something hard or with a fault with our own skills, that cause us to compare them with someone else's. That's a huge block recipe right there. Unnecessary, self induced pressure due to lack of confidence.

Have you ever heard Gary Vee saying that you shouldn't dwell on your weaknesses? That's exactly it. We tend to be too pushy with ourselves which causes us to compare.


The threshold: consuming and creating

Another thing he says is more, more, more. But more of what? More of doing. When does inspiration become threatening to creativity?

You can have a large amount of inspiration. At some point however, you have to execute it. You consume, absorb, stop consuming and go do. If you mix that up, chances are you will get stuck with over analysis.

Try that for yourself, find what inspires you. Consume it like a delicious dish, savor each bite. When I look at type, I look at the curves, the edge, the way the line goes. I intentionally process it in a way I will remember later, so that I don't have to come back to it during the creative process of a process, no peeking allowed. Attention with intention.

The beauty in this process is that it's cyclical. Meaning, once you get onto a new stage, you can basically allow yourself to intentionally seek more inspiration for another part of a project, as long as it doesn't interfere with what you've done. It's a dangerous lane to walk on.



 

How Procreate App and the iPad Pro changed my workflow

How Procreate App and the iPad Pro changed my workflow

One day I woke up and Photoshop and Illustrator weren't cooperating. Or maybe it was my computer having its days. It was that day that I said "enough" to depending on just one device. If I really have to depend on technology, I might as well have a backup device, right? You've gotta be prepared.

Having multiple devices saves time. And time is precious. If one doesn't work, you jump to the next and think about how to fix the other later. Or you know, ask someone to figure it out.

I am an Apple maniac (no, this is not sponsored). I watch all the keynotes. I read all the blogs. I am hooked about the brand and the way they do marketing. The choice, then, was between an iPad Pro and a MacBook Pro.


Why the iPad

Little did I know. After a little research I found the Procreate App. I was blown away. I found a device and an app that would change my workflow and help me depend less on buggy apps (sorry Adobe, it's true).

Moreover, I can go around with just the iPad. No more thousands of sketchbooks. Traveling light? YES! I am not saying, however, that you shouldn't use regular media to work with. In my point of view, it does save a lot of paper, pen and pencil. I am still fascinated by paper, even if I use it less in my workflow.

In truth, the tool you use doesn't matter much. It all depends how it fits in your workflow and how much time it saves you. If you are like me, and you do a bunch of sketches and you need a backlit table, than maybe having a tablet like the iPad is a good idea and it will save you some money and time on the long run.


Designing

I love to sketch on the iPad using Procreate. I even developed my own brushes to sketch my lettering works, ones that makes it feel more natural. 

Talking about natural, let's talk about the Apple Pencil. The weight, the material and the overall design make it really intuitive and seamless to handle it. It just feels right. As a Visual Identity Designer, I depend heavily on my pencils and I was a bit skeptical with it substituting the regular pencil, or if I'd adapt. It's more precise than all pressure sensitive styluses I have tried and seen. It's a no-brainer for creative Apple Pro users.

There are many great other apps, but Procreate is my to-go, specially because the price and value don't match. That's right. I would have paid way more for that app. So good, almost as good as chocolate.

Anyway, it allows you to create your own brushes (much like Photoshop). You add a brush tip and a grain and all the dynamics. It also allows you to create and store sets of brushes and color palettes.

In the latest update, it has also added the possibility to stream and record the screen (it has always made a cool timelapse of your works automatically).

 

Procreate has sped up and cleaned my process, as well as made it easier to document it. I can now make cool videos for my clients if I wish to. It has many other great features.

All in all, the iPad Pro + Procreate combo has made my life as a roaming Designer lighter and faster.

Writing

That's right. Writing with the iPad Pro is awesome. The Smart Keyboard has an awesome key travel. The flow is there, you don't need to apply too much force to click. Right now, I use iA Writer both on iOS and on the Mac to write most my content, and Day One for journaling. There are many other great apps, like Ulysses, that work seamlessly between devices.

And then there are apps like Penultimate and Journal that have made my meetings with clients seem "cooler". In reality, it became more interactive. We get to draw and write our ideas as we go. Yes, much like with real paper and pencils but without wasting tons of material or losing important papers while commuting (I had that issue!).

Photography

I sometimes go around photo-shooting bands. It's just a side hustle, but, on the road, you've gotta edit. I have found it is extra handy editing on the iPad. I have a 760D from Canon, that connects with the iPad allowing me to edit with Adobe Lightroom and Pixelmator.

Even tho I could have gone for the Mac Book, I'd still would have to carry a bunch of papers and the Bamboo Fun for editing.

In fact, I have shown iPad (not necessarily the Pro in this case) + Camera + Adobe Lightroom combo for a photographer friend/client of mine and she was amazed.

Now I am down to one amazing device + one single pencil and a bunch of awesome, powerful apps, like Procreate.

Reading

Reading is a passion of mine, and I must say I was excited to have thousands of books on the iPad as I was with Procreate.

I mostly use Scribd and iBooks, but for example, my mom uses Amazon's Kindle and there is also Bluefire Reader.

I read a lot, a medium of 50 books a year. Some of them more than once. I sometimes cannot figure out what I have read where. The iPad has made it easier to hightlight, annotate and find passages and quotes in books. It's a very complete and seamless experience, even if you a night reader like me. I only read before bed, so reading with a backlit device is not a good idea... However, you can fix the light within the reading app's configuration and within the iPad's configuration as well use Nightmode.


Quick wins:

  • having multiple devices is a back up;
  • the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil + Procreate app is a great sketching /painting combo;
  • The tool you use doesn't matter much, as long as it saves you time;
  • The iPad Pro + Apple Pencil can be an amazing asset to graphic designers, illustrator, painters and even photographers;
  • Writing on the iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard is just as on a computer, or even better considering the quality of the keyboard's build;
  • Reading on the iPad is quite productive as well, since you can highlight, annotate and search quotes within books;

Bonus: List of my most used apps + a free brush

Graphics

Writing

Reading

Free Procreate brush - gone marker

Free brush for Procreate - Gone marker

How to start a creative business

How to start a creative business

The most important question to ask yourself when starting a creative business is: why? The answer to that question is the ultimate fail proof to whether you are bound to lead your industry or compete with everyone else. Your business will be successful if your reason why is to help other people, not yourself make loads of money.

“[...] so let him who wishes his benefits to be prized consider how he may at the same time gratify many men, and nevertheless give each one of them some especial mark of favour to distinguish him from the rest.”

Excerpt From: Lucius Annaeus Seneca. “L. Annaeus Seneca on Benefits.”


It starts with motivation

As with any emotion, motivation needs to be controlled. Use your motivation to start a useful business and not a mess of thoughts and ideas that you throw in social media.

Start by documenting your process. Gary Vaynerchuk is a strong advocate of documenting, and before I even heard him saying that, I spent about 5 months writing my process down. Writing my process has helped me figure out how to proceed with my clients.


Know your audience

Knowing your potential clients requires you to understand who your audience is. I remember back in University, our teacher made us create client profiles that would determine the type of people we'd like to be in touch with our imaginary brand.

Knowing your ideal client will do wonders to create sales.


Know the needs of your audience

Knowing who your audience is the first step to knowing wheat they need. Sometimes people don't know what they need, but you can identify the problem and help they solve it.

It doesn't matter if you are an illustrator or a musician: people still have needs to consume your creative works. People have primal needs and emotional needs.

Primal needs are those related to survival, whilst emotional needs are the rest. Whether they need to consume art or a service to solve a problem, or buy a product that will save them time. You need to identify what kind of need your product/service covers and what problems you are solving.


Know your niche

Niching down can be very scary for most people, but the truth is that if you don't, you will invariably be competing with others. You need to dominate, not compete.


Know your unique angle in the market

Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition/Point (USP) is the key to standing out in your share of the market.


Build your brand

As simple as it might sounds, it actually requires a lot of work and thinking. You need to validate your idea, build a brand image and a bunch of other facets to your business.

You need to make sure your brand will stand out.


Visual Identity

Building a visual identity tends to be the most sought after asset to a brand — even by business that are not business yet.

However, a visual identity supports a brand to build awareness.


Create advocates

Next step, is to build your audience. What does it take? Time, patience and a lot of work. There is no cutting corners.


It's not about a plan: it's discipline

Your business is not defined by one or two plans; it's defined by how much you work and how disciplined are you.

A Brand is a living plan: no amount of "budget planning" or "business planning" will determine how successful you will be. It's about what you do, how you do it and when you do it.


Patience

It takes time. Becoming the brand you want to be, gaining followers, being noticed... It takes time to become relevant, and it requires you to show up everyday. Like I've said before: there is no cutting corners.


Know your process and teach it

All of us creatives have a lot to share and talk about. You have the chance to talk about your brand and your niche through social media and a blog. This way, you position yourself as an expert in your field.

The benefits of writing

  • Writing helps you gain clarity
  • Writing helps you remember
  • Writing helps you learn further
  • Writing helps making things more solid (and thus more achievable)

Conclusion

As long as the reason why you are doing your thing is turned towards others, you will be bound to create a brand that resonates with people.

For that, you will need to focus on the people and on the problems to be solved.

Get me to help you out

Let's chat, you and I, about your idea, your struggles, your fears, or whatever else regarding starting your creative brand as a business.

starting_a_creative_business

My two steps for productivity

My two steps for productivity

My two steps for producvity

Let’s start with “What is productivity”. I don’t know about you, but I have this huge list of work and personal goals to complete. And it just keeps growing. From client work and business development to personal projects, personal development and targets. I therefore write a lot in order to organize all of that. And I do a lot too, in consequence.

 

Breaking your to-do list in more digestible steps might seem unnecessary but man, it helps. Let’s say you have to create a website. You simple don’t “create” a website. You need to get hosting, an address, get the Design done, write the content… It’s more practical to break it down and go step by step.

Productivity, for me, is creating a better version of myself by accomplishing the things I have and want to do. I can only create that better version of myself if I have clarity of what I have vs want to do. It’s called prioritizing.

 

Everyday, every week, every month throughout the year, a small step at a time.

 

Much of what we do is consequence of what we think. Are you thinking with clarity? If you aren’t thinking with clarity, chances are you are doing what’s truly important for yourself and your progress — whatever that looks like for you. Writing brings you the clarity you need to progress, thus it increases your productivity.

Productivity has to do with commitment with your now. Creating a better version of yourself now in order to get where you want and have envisioned. It’s important to be aware of the future you want to build, but getting too caught up with dreams without taking action will not be helpful. That said, what do you have to do now?

It does not mean that the path is straight, without holes or bumps. Mistakes are made, wrong turns will be taken. It’s better (and sometimes cheaper) to fail early, however. Guess what, getting where you want will be mostly about adjusting the course rather than following a straight sailing.

 

I do not have a secret formula for creativity or productivity, no one does. I only know what works for me, which I learned from people who are extremely productive and successful in their lives. You kinda have to learn a bit here, a bit there and find what works for you.

I have committed to success through failure. Whether I learn from my own mistake or others, the path to success is knowing that productivity means setting priorities, doing things, often failing, trying again and again until it kinda works, and doing all of it over and over. Productivity is about knowing what you have to do and when you have to do it. Each step has its priority. If you set yourself a low target, you will sabotage yourself by doing less than you can or, worse, giving up. As Sean McCabe (I love quoting this guy!) “Never lower your target”.

Productivity at its best happens when I have a set of big goals for myself, an urge to take action now. After I have broken down the steps necessary to progress I know what to immediately do instead of hanging around. It’s the easiest, on point on way to start doing things for me.

It may seem overwhelming at times, you have this list in your head of all the things you want and have to do. Actually, scratch that. Most likely you don’t have clarity in that, even, much less on how you can be productive. My steps for productivity are simple.


Step 1: write

Oh, boy, ain’t I a big fan of writing. Some people tell me they have it all in their heads. Cute but not helpful.

Writing is about gaining clarity. Where can you improve? What are you doing that is keeping you away from your goals? What are you assuming? What is it that you should be doing more of?

Fear is irrational. People are afraid of progressing. It makes no sense. We wrongly assume we "can’t", "aren’t" entitled, but the truth is, we are the ones who keep ourselves away from doing things that matter.

Writing will help you visualize your goals

People often think their goals and dreams are impossible.. They seem really big and scary things to accomplish and that they are not entitled to have these things. Success is not entitlement, it’s a self created and conquered asset. Real, success. Well, guess what, if you are scared of writing the big things you want to be or do, chances are you will never get to do or be them. If you are afraid to face them on a piece of paper or on the screen, chances are you will create excuses left and right not to get to it. Chances are you will listen to the people that tell you that what you want or desire is impossible. It’s not impossible unless you make it so yourself.

Writing puts your goals in perspective and aligned with the now

Everybody tells you should write down your goals. You will not achieve anything without clarity or enough action.

Your big dream of owning a beautiful house in your favorite neighborhood or country seems like a distant, reality. What if you forgot for a second about the big thing and tuned it down to small things you can do with what you have now? Get a job while opening your company, investing, accumulating money, researching the house of your dreams, buying the house. Break it down even more.

Again, it’s painful and scary. But guess what, nobody needs to approve your actions much less what you write, if you are that self aware. People feel ashamed to think big because we are taught to work for others and not build. “Nobody is entitled to success because I can’t/don’t know how to create it to myself”. Whatever success means to you, find out what you can do now. Immediately.

Writing helps you prioritize

Only you know what’s important and vital to you. Whether the prioritization will be macro (the big goals) or micro (the first steps for that big thing you want to do/be/get), only you know. No one else does, no one should word it to you but your own self. What is it you want to do? The great thing about writing is the self expression, learning to write and speak with your own voice. Writing will bring you the clarity to know.

What does it have to do with prioritizing? If you know your destination, the trip is about setting your course. Your mind is full of curves that are distracting you from what really matters. Writing will help you materialize it in order to set your course. Once you know what you want, you know what to do next. It’s an ongoing, endless process.


Step 2: doing

Or facing the elephant in the room. I know, starting something is hard. You can give yourself an excuse, or you can regret later not doing something when you had the time and energy (that you waste on Netflix as a lie to yourself that you were busy).

Wouldn’t it be great if things solved themselves?

If you are not doing, you are not moving. You have to keep moving; the only way to progress is motion. Looking back and realizing you could have done much more will not make the future materialize and become true to what you want it to be.

That’s regret. Regret is the worst.

The most “popular” deathbed regrets are:

  • “I lived in the comfort zone.”
  • “I hated my job.”
  • “I never gave as much as I took.”
  • “Worrying about what others thought of me.”

Regret is the worst.

Regret is the consequence of lack of action or unmeasured actions. That’s why I write. Your priorities will change, your wills will change, your dreams will change, but as long as you are not regretting…

Productivity is about doing what puts you forward, not focusing on what you will regret later.

“Can you evaluate what you aren’t doing now that you will regret later?”

It’s amazing how this mindset shift will turn “motivation” and “productivity” into a process and a habit. Doesn’t matter where you are, how you feel, who is telling you to stop or whatever other hell you might be going through. Motivation comes from doing. Productivity comes from knowing what is more important to do now and doing it.

What to do when working from home gets too much?

What to do when working from home gets too much?

What to do when working from home gets too much?

Humans are wired to habits. The better the habit the harder to form — the worst the habit the harder to forget, such as alcohol or nail eating. We learn habits when there is a positive reward — a feeling of accomplishment or an immediate good sensation. Hearing my alarm go off at 5:00 is like having a hammer hitting my head. It's a habit hard to form but it is rewarding to be more productive. However late or early you wake, it doesn't matter, as long as you take enough action to enable resting schedules.

The reason why you feel it's "too much" it's that you are getting burned out. And that comes to everyone. I'd be an idiot if I said that being productive at home isn't a good thing, but we need to be intentional about how we work and how we rest as well. It's easy to get lost in all the things we have to do, and sort of feeling like giving up. Having a lot of problems is a good sign, that means you are creating success to yourself.

Avoid burn outs by being intentional about how you work and rest. Rest might mean one thing to me and an entirely different thing to you. You and I have different goals. Rest to me means getting sh*t done without the pressure of having to do it. It gives me time to think about angles and things, gives me the capability to take distance in a detached mindset — which also allows me to see things in perspective. How could it work for you?


There are, actually, many ways to rest in order to keep going. What? You can't afford to rest? Can you afford burn out? Which is more expensive to you?


However you span and separate your breaks, you still have to take a break. You cannot afford a burn out, but you can work to afford your break. I work my ass off every single day of the week. I do sometimes get closer to the point that hey, I just want nothing. Do I do nothing? No, but decreasing the pressure on myself and doing what I want and not have to do. And that is extremely necessary to understand and have because it gives me clarity and puts me in perspective to my own business. It's such a big action enabler.

Many of us nerds who work at home forget that there is a magical world outside our batcaves. Let's not even talk about the lack of people around. I mean, humans who? I do think most of us creative people are some kind of introverts (I actually am an ambivert) so that might not feel like a problem. It is obviously. Working digitally is great because we have tools to enable "work on the road". But we don't do that because we are too comfortable in our nests. We don't go out, we work at home, we see people when we have to and rarely meet some great individuals. So much left on the table.

Our brain kinda works like a muscle, you know. When you work a muscle out too much it becomes sore, and at some point, it stagnates. If you keep doing the same things over and over again — and you should have that kind of discipline because you have only yourself to hold accountable for in the end — you will hit a ceiling of growth and productivity. That's when creatives "burn out", because they haven't given the same importance to rest and mobility as to work itself.

Holding yourself accountable for your own schedule of work and rest is not easy. Have discipline with your schedule, and don't forget to add breaks in it. Span? Up to you. Don't need a schedule? You are a badass. Either way, you cannot afford burn outs, so you have to be intentional about your work and rest habits, whether your seasons are short, mid length or longer Whether you'd rather take breaks every other week or every 7 weeks, every 3 months or every other year and so on, or you work on a schedule or not, it doesn't matter as long as you are intentional about it.

3 reasons why revisions are bad for your Design business

3 reasons why revisions are bad for your Design business

3 reasons why revisions are bad for your Design business

 I used to include 2-3 revisions during a Visual Identity process. What truly happened was: I'd show 3 different designs to the client, we'd pick one and develop that further... And I ended up not having the best result because the client had the space to ask for change by micromanaging the project. Here's the psychology behind it: we both knew that we could change it later, instead of producing the best result right away. 

"Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure."

- Confucius

Revisions decrease trust

This is heading (and the next one too) is much related how you view your own business. It's psychology: if you don't trust your own expertise, neither will the client. You have to work with intention to build a relationship with your client based on mutual trust. Your client hired you for your expertise, to tell what are the best decisions to be taken and so on. This has to happen before the contract is even signed, to assure that the person is even the kind of client you'd really want  to work with.

Once you take responsibility for a problem, you need to assess it responsibly. It sounds obvious, but if you keep giving your client work to do, you are just passing decision responsibilities forward.

Revision vs feedback: to give a revision means going back to refresh a look. It is a backwards – even tho it might seem the opposite. By asking feedback you require a review. This means an assessment and not a refreshment. Therefore, by asking for a review, you are educating your client to give real valuable information to the process.

Revisions decrease the value of your work

I will rephrase this to "Revisions decrease the perception of value of your work". When you allow revisions, you set yourself as the opposed of what you want to be seen: an expert. If you are an expert, you are a professional on what you do, not a mechanic. You are not repairing, you creating a solution to a problem.

"But what if the client doesn't like the logo I designed?"

Then you started wrong. You need to remember: they hired you to solve a problem. You need to know exactly what your clients problems are. You need to know from the start what the problem is and pro actively give them solutions before you start Designing or Sketching anything.

Preventing revisions: finding great clients (not good nor bad)

There are no such things as clients from hell. There is bad management of your clientele, it's slightly different. Are you accepting work from people that don't perceive the value of their proposal? Are you accepting work from people who don't follow through? Are you accepting work from people looking for a bargain instead of the value that you propose to offer?

How to spot and stop a bad client

Let's all agree on something: if you let bad clients in you are either desperate or you have a bad filter. When it comes to bad filters, there is an easy way to create a killer one: questionnaires. You can automate the workflow so that the client that completes the whole thing is definitely already a notch up. 

You should stop from the start

There is a huge advantage here. You want to work with people you know will follow through, won't micromanage and will actually give you important feedback.

Clients who trust you are hard to find, but it's mostly your fault if they don't.

So they fill in your beautiful questionnaire (by the way, I strongly recommend Typeform) and you receive the answers. The first thing you will notice is if they even filled everything, the quality of their answers. Typeform actually shows you how long they took to fill in your questionnaire, which is a good indicator. People that value their time will recognize the value of your work – as long as it's clear it will make them money. Successful people value their money and their time.

I like to personally contact the clients after they fill in my questionnaire, but you can automate this step with your email marketing provider (I recommend Sendinblue). One of my brand's biggest traits is being personal, so it doesn't make sense to me to automate the follow up. 

The next step is to be in touch with them and find out more about their company, idea or project so you can identify what kind people they are. You can do this with a personal meet up, a Skype call (been my favorite so far) or however they prefer, as long as you are able to assess whether their mindset aligns with your work values. Remember, you are the professional. It looks good if you are able to educate them. It's usually during the critical point of discussing a project (noticed how I haven't mentioned money yet?) that you will notice whether the client likes to micromanage.

Clients that micromanage typically show off as a know-it-all. Humility is a key part of success: being able to understand that we don't know everything and also that we need to listen.

People that aren't able to delegate are egotistical and that will not lead them to success. They will stagnate by trying to control everything and just not the important decisions.

The classic budgeting client

If you are a Designer or an artist, you know what I am talking about – I am sure this applies to other industries as well. The thing is, there is always someone that will do the job for less, so you have to be ok with less people coming in. Scary, right? Yeah.

A person that values their time and money, who sees you as an expert, will understand the value of your work and will pay "your worth". They key aspect of budgeting is that prospect has to see your work as an investiment, not an expense.

A professional learns the problems and takes control (responsibility). A professional is an asset, not an expense. An expense (or expensive if you will) job is made by people who follow commands, not solve problems.

Case Studies

3 ways case studies help bring in potential customers

Case studies are seriously overlooked by most business owners. Small, medium or large businesses should be able to write compelling content to help bridge the gap between the business and the customers. Whilst blog posts are interesting and educational material, case studies have a stronger appeal to the client: it focus on the process and research instead of only the final result.

Depending on the industry you are in, the traditional case study is meant to showcase an external project and your own study upon it. It's an intensive analysis of an individual, group or project, either way. Usually your methods or products have had an impact on the final result, which is an important asset to any brand.

Documenting

You might ask yourself how that is possible; "how does documenting help my brand?" In fact, a serious business look for equity, and documentation is part of creating a system towards that equity.

No brand comes with manuals, therefore making official documentation on your processes is a valuable asset to your brand's future. It also assures consistency in the process of creation and therefore, it supports your brand's image.

It's great to see people using quick video stories in the internet. That's a way of documenting a personal brand — and most people don't even notice it. That is personal brand building at its natural state. It's an error to any business owner not to think about the brand's future as well as its path. Documenting is the one of the ways for brand equity. How do you make an impact on people's lives? By documenting your journey: successes and failures. Patents are part of a brand's equity: documenting inventions, even if they never become real. People will resonate with you and feel closer to your brand when you show them what's up.

It also increases engagement (Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories, Snapchat etc) between your brand and the consumers of your content. It will make people more propelled to buy from you.

Leveraging your products/services

By creating case studies, you have the opportunity to show off how your services and products enable results to real customers. By bringing the key people in, you can trace down all the real experiences and combine it with your own documentated process. This is valuable information because you are able to asses the reality with clarity.

Building trust with potential customers

The external reason for creating case studies is to bring in new customers to your business. For example, creative workers such as Designers or Photographers are able to bridge the gap with customers by writing cases studies that show off the behind the scenes and the processes used to create an image or a logo or any other final product. It's social proof: if more people have used a product or service, it's more likely that others will too. By allowing reviews and testimonials, for example, you help potential customers understand the quality of the final result and what they can expect.

Referrals are a helpful way for potential customers to trust you. That's because they will be referred by people they already trust, which immediately makes you trustworthy. Again, that's social proof. We always look towards people that are close to us, like friends and family, people that we know, like and trust, for references. 


Quick wins:

  • Documenting for brand equity;
  • Documenting helps consumers resonate with your brand;
  • Document both successes and failures;
  • Documenting also increase engagement;
  • Document the process;
  • Case studies help leverage a business' products and services by showing real results;
  • Find ways to build trust with customers;
  • Testimonials and reviews help potential customers make a buying decision.

What to do now:

  • Blog, vlog and put out social media stories of what you do;
  • Write case studies that apply to your products/services and niche;
  • Ask actual clients to write reviews and testimonials and display them on your website;
  • Ask your clients for referrals — word to mouth is still the best marketing strategy.

 

 

The Branding Girl • Y-Tunnus: 2791209-3

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