Graphic design & web design blog.
The Designers Notebook.
Well, here we are starting off 2012. Hopefully with a bang. I’ve read a few reviews of 2011, and it was a good year for a lot of businesses. But what is coming up now? What about us mere mortals in central Alberta?
2012 will clearly be the year of the mobile device, that much is clear. From apps, to having a mobile version of your website – the amount of internet bandwidth now being served to mobile devices is growing (I’ve seen it might be 7% in the US). More than that though, social media is the soup de jour, the buzziest buzzword we’ve had in a long time, and everyone wants to know how to, what to and when to.
It’s pretty amazing. We’ve had a tremendous run of creative marketing pieces this past 6 months. Redpointers have created some stuff that is pretty darn impressive. We’ve written copy, printed brochures, made maps, murals, and continue to crank out websites. The problem is, most of it hasn’t been published, released or otherwise produced. It’s been a good year (or longer) since we updated our portfolio. What gives? Well, remember that story of the mechanics car? Yeah, a designers website is kinda the same.
But what are we to do? We’re really proud of the work, and think we’ve really achieved some effective outcomes. We really believe the clients get to launch their products, and we should refrain from jumping the gun. So to whet the appetites of those who check our website daily for updates (we know you are out there, Googlebot!) Here is a short list of highlights to preempt the invariable January portfolio update.
In this age of social media, interactive media, click ads and online networks, a once immovable bulwark of business is slowly dying. the business card. In the “olden days” the mighty rolodex would sit on the office manager or salesperson’s desk – the mighty gatekeeper to leads, key contacts and everything to keep the greasy wheels of a post war boom running (but they date back to the 17th century).
Now that we have online maps, business profiles and SEO aren’t business cards obsolete? Yes… sort of. Designers have a short time to re-define the business card to make them efficient and relevant to newer, younger industries defying convention.
Its not often a potential landmark business opens in any community. Red Deer has been graced with something very unique - our very own coffee bus - the Traptow's Cool Beans Bus, straight from the Oxford Circle in London! Kevin and Becky Traptow have gone to great...
Yes. Mistakes happen. Yes. We make them. Mistakes teach designers what they’ve missed, and what they don’t know. Mistakes also give us the opportunity to show integrity, and to make things right. I think mistakes are the single greatest opportunity to show you care about clients. Will you abandon them or make it right? Will you take your lumps or be indignant? Heroes don’t often rise when nothing is wrong.
I think mistakes are the single greatest opportunity to show you care about clients. You rise and fall on your reaction to errors.
We had a stationery project go bad this month. It was a collection of small things that culminated in a botched print run.
Now, in this case it has turned into a lot of extra work for us. But how can you know if you’ve gotten it right?
Well, it’s election time again in Canada and Canadians are busy listening to the parties and their platforms. Now, it may be more efficient if the parties would wait a bit longer before calling an election, we seem to get elections more often than we get spring, but we all have to play the hand that’s dealt to us, and get out there and vote.
Now what’s really key in this election, in our view, is not platform, it’s not star candidates and its not scandals. It is clear, the major issue is… who has the best election website? So who should YOU vote for?
Don’t ask us. This post is not about policy. It’s a light hearted review of some nerd’s handwork. Read the platform pages on the above sites and make a decision, but most of all, vote. Otherwise we’ll end up like Venezuela. Seriously.
Planning a wedding? There is so much to think about... colours, guests, venue, photography, attire, flowers, invitations and on and on. We took a little stress off a beautiful bride to be recently and coordinated her wedding print for her. Honestly, it was a privlege!...
January 2011 is a pretty big month - it marks the official five, count 'em, five year anniversary for Redpoint Design. It marks the end of 2010, in which we saw explosive growth, not in terms of volume, but in terms of technology (social media and all that rabble)....
Well 2011 is upon us with a (snow bound) bang, with all the yearly predictions going around, we thought we'd best offer our own. After an intense session of divination research, we’re ready to reveal some rather startling predictions. Don’t blame us, science doesn’t...
Most of our clients receive email one of two ways: on a Microsoft Exchange Server, or through POP/SMTP. For those that use an Exchange server, there is likely an IT staff involved, or at least an external IT supplier like Bulletproof Networks handling the email. For those without IT support, POP is the likely method of email transfer.
Now, Redpoint is not an IT firm – we are a creative agency. We host websites for clients, and help with email config within our scope of expertise. Usually, that includes a couple devices. Recently, I got a new iPhone and as a result, have been managing correspondence more and more on the hand-held. Two things annoy me about email – spam and my laptop and smart-phone missing messages. I also realized I was paying data fees to download 30 spam messages a day on my phone. I know there are clients and people in the general public that suffer the same spam problems. Here is a quick solution.
A month or so ago, the gang here went up to Edmonton to the Graphic Design Association of Canada’s Edmonton Chapter’s charity auction “a Creative Cause”. It was an art auction raising funds for a notable shelter in Edmonton. It was awesome.
I love art auctions. My wife and I used to go to the Red Deer College “Affairs of the Arts” every year, RDSO and whatever we could. I was excited to go just for the experience, but also because I had donated some work to the show. It’s an odd thing for me, really – to have produced a creative work that is not marketing related. I haven’t done that in at least a dozen years. Wow. A dozen years since I’ve pursued a personal creative direction. I was both paralyzed and excited at the same time – followed by relief that some of the work I donated actually sold (I was well outdone by a colleague down the street)
What struck me at this event was how much good ART was being produced by the design community. Printmaking, painting, jewelery, photography – just about anything you could imagine was available that night. There are some really good creatives making some really great fine art. That got me to thinking – what is a creative?
OK, so let’s be honest here. Advertising, marketing and design are crafts that constantly drive towards the next “innovation” or the next “big idea”. Market segments are competitive within themselves to attract customers, and these days the holy grail of advertising is a spot going viral. I personally think this is good and bad at the same time – good because you can reach a market far bigger than you can with standard media, bad because the game is that much harder, and innovation is that much harder to come by. Well, maybe not bad – maybe we should just call it harder. But the game remains the same.
Well here is an example of something really innovative. And I find the best ads always seem so logical and natural and your first thought may be “How was that never done before?”
An ad for the Nissan Sentra does all this an maybe more. A car commercial showing how fun a car can be with no car. So logical, you’d think it would have been done before. Have a look here:
The design industry has come a long way in 20 years. Heck, it’s come a long way in 10 years. On holidays this summer I noticed something while whiling away the miles on the Trans Canada. We seem to think only computers can render type these days – its a rare thing to write a letter, particularly in business, and the world ceases to exist when an email server goes down. The only thing average people actually write anymore is a grocery list. But there was an age where sign painters created an awful lot of marketing by hand and brush. I’m a little young to really have lived in this era – when a skilled calligrapher could hand letter in various fonts and sized with accuracy – but somedays I’m jealous of their craft. The last remaining thread of this line of craftspeople is perhaps the window painters that appear around Red Deer on Westerner Days and Christmas.
So we thought about this at the studio, and Kayla and I went out and photographed some samples of hand painted signs in August. Read the full story to see some samples of the original graphic design: hand created signs.
We meet all kinds of different people in the design industry. Some people just need a business card and some need more complex communication solutions like large websites or trade show booths. One consistent thing that pops up more and more is the actual act of “communication” – the realization that what we say gets read and what we gets noticed. More and more of our clients ask things like “you tell me what to say”.
People are either passionate about their company’s communication, or too busy for it, but we’ve learned that everyone cares.
Enter Aaron Sheppard from Career Assistance Network
One of our longtime clients, is the managing partner at the Red Deer Career Assistance Network – a company that serves workers and employers all over Central Alberta. Aaron offers front line service to clients, and facilitates group programs for “work”. For “fun” he markets his company well, creates programs and diversifies his company into new niches at every opportunity.
So much of the design and communications industry is based on speed these days. Printing presses are built for quick turnarounds, websites are updated in moments and twitter sends information in seconds. Well today we saw the completion of a project that has actually been on the books for over two years! The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery has been undertaking a massive revitalization for the past 3-4 years with major renovations, new staff, new programs and a new ability to host national level exhibits, the MAG is truly not the Museum we might remember. We were asked in the midpoint of 2008 to start looking at new exterior signage for the building.
Today I went to McDonald’s in Red Deer for the first time since an emergency stop on the I15 in Salt Lake in 2003, which was arguably one of the most terrifying experiences of my life – an American McDonald’s – I shudder at the thought even now. It was pretty scary almost hitting a herd of Elk or Moose or something near Delburne in 2005, but Salt Lake was life changing terror.
But I digress… It has been nearly 7 years since my last mono et mono with Ronald. A birthday party drew us today. I was utterly shocked. The restaurant, Red Deer’s first, looked more like Earl’s than McD’s – wood trim on everything, new booths, even easy chairs and a fireplace! This place has gone uptown! New menu boards tout a myriad of new healthy products – photos of grilled chicken and salad have replaced the Quarter Pounder and the Big Mac.
Then we had the birthday party, and we even had a personal server! Super fun – terrific Playland! Wow! This is clearly not the McDonald’s I remember. Is it? Then the food came for the kids: same happy meal (with milk and apples for an option, mind you). Same branded toys trying to imprint on the kids. In the end the children all ate the same high calorie, high sodium fat bombs I enjoyed as a child, and they’ll hopefully be saved by their blazing metabolisms the same as I once was. Truthfully, this doesn’t bug me too much, we hardly go for hamburgers, and is it was terrific to get out with friends.
Many of you have visited the Redpoint office. It is bright, open, and even has a “homey” feel. It is a space that we love. It gives us room to grow, create, move, work, and hang out. On the negative side, the walls are in need of a paint job. The baby blueish grey washes out colour, and mixed with fluorescent light can make one’s complexion look blotchy and translucent. The colour also just dates the office, and hinders our creative environment. Or maybe we’re just being picky? An office makeover may be in the works… so we have to ask the question, to paint or not to paint?
People make judgements based on their surroundings. Certain colours produce certain reactions. (Thanks to a Colour Theory class I took a few years back) Beautiful surroundings instill trust, and positivity. Also, while perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. Warm colours (yellow, orange, red) evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Cool colours include blue, purple, and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference. That said, are our office walls making the Redpoint team, and those who enter sad or indifferent? Perhaps not the best for a lively and creative environment.
I visited the retirement swaré for a long-time client yesterday and it was a bitter-sweet experience. It’s sad to see friends retire, but it’s good to think of the times we’ve had working together over the years.
Redpoint bids a font adieu to Lois McPherson of Red Deer College after 22 years of admirable service. Here’s looking for the third hole in one!
The laughs and smiles at events like that are always heart warming. It’s great to hear the stories and laugh at the tribulations people have endured. I was standing listening to the account of a woman who has had a large impact on my career (mostly by booking photoshoots that require me to sprint from one end of the Centrium to the other multiple times) and I found that as I wiped the obligatory tear, I was moved by the impact each person has in their careers, communities & colleagues. I don’t think we as designers, creatives, and communications people realize what we are doing most days. We are creating visual history every day we come to work.
I’ve been talking a lot about content lately and thought to myself this weekend: “I’ve got another good point… Photography!”
I wrote last year about photographic creativity, so this is not so much about that. This is more about how to manage the photographic process as it relates to marketing. Most marketers have two avenues for acquiring photography assets: professional and in-house. Professional photography always gets better results. In house photography is always cheaper and results are questionable, and this age of large mega-pixel digicams proves bigger isn’t better.
Now, I’m not trying to say I’m a good photographer with these tips, but I am a pretty good art-director (and modest, too), and I’ve seen a lot of interactions with clients and ‘photogs’. For a photographer’s thoughts, read this comment to one of my previous posts. What I really want readers to get here, is that the process takes time and money, but it means the difference between a mediocre piece of communication vs. something that truly moves people and will illicit a reaction.
Let’s break it down.
The Red Deer Homeshow, this weekend at the Westerner , is one of the biggest trade shows in Red Deer, and we’ve been bustling all month preparing numerous projects for the “really big show”. One could argue Trade Shows are one of the more wasteful marketing activities one could pursue – you need large flashy booths, lots of give-aways (read: print destined for the trash) and if you are a large firm at the Calgary Oil-show, you might even need beer girls to spice things up. All of this amounts to a lot of extra raw materials being used and a lot of it is unavoidably wasted, trapped in the bottom of someones show-bag, never to be seen again.
I always recommend a “use what you actually need” approach to marketing. Buy the right amount of brochures, even though they get “cheaper” when you purchase by the pallet. Drive customers to websites where they can get further information rather than printing a large catalogue. These are all earth saving tips for an industry that is wasteful by it’s very nature. (Does the world really need another tri-fold brochure?)
A good piece of hardware might last 10 or 15 years! The average message might last 1 year.
Trade shows are the opposite of this ethic: you need lots of material, it has to be compelling, and messages are almost always timely – they don’t carry over year-over-year. Shows are messy, busy and you need to set up and break down fast, which usually increases waste. So what can you do?
Let’s get started!
We’d love to talk with you about your company and where you want to take it.