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I often tell business owners just starting up that good design is a "shortcut to professionalism." With the right branding and consistent application of styles, a company can appear more established than it actually is. Well-designed business cards, a sharp website, and sleek marketing materials can give the impression that...
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September 6 is Fashion's Night Out, the industry's global initiative to "restore consumer confidence" and "bring the fun back to shopping." Fashion is a tricky thing: We all want it, but we can't all afford it. When I hear people talk about how expensive clothes are or how they get...
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Is Good Design Good Business?

Sometimes it's hard to convince a decision-maker that design is a good investment. For some, "adequate" is enough. This weekend, while in Las Vegas, I saw a couple of examples that may illustrate the difference good design makes on a product's perceived value. We started our evening at a smaller...
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The Worst Tagline of All Time

I guess one could argue that the title of this post is The Worst Blog Title of All Time, but I thought something flimsy and superlative was appropriate to the content. A common obstacle small-business owners encounter is a desire to serve more than just a target audience, in the...
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One pillar of effective marketing is consistency. Presenting a business or product in the same way serves two purposes: First, it repeats the image made on the viewer to increase brand recognition; secondly, it provides an impression that the business is established.  How often have you seen a business card...
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Record-Keeping for Minimalists

I don't like clutter. Junk mail and empty envelopes are my least favorite form, and rubber bands, paper clips, and other idle office supplies are a close second. (Third: Recycling build-up. Fourth: Disorganized/outdated browser bookmarks.) There's a certain amount of clutter that comes with an artist husband--illustration board scraps, pencils,...
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I am always trying to do everything work-related faster, and somehow over the years, I've become a pretty fast typist. Every once in a while, I'll get a little obsessed about my typing, wondering how fast I am and whether it's pretty accurate. There are tons of testing sites around...
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A lot of people have built themselves websites for personal or small-business use, but they don't understand how to get users there.Have you ever Googled yourself and tried to figure out why some old webpage shows up high in the search results? Are search engines a mystery to you?(Side note:...
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Automaker Mazda's website has a good article about rebuilding their brand and making it globally consistent. In addition to addressing their own company's efforts, the piece offers solid general information about the importance of branding and what it can mean to your business. Namely, personality and emotional connection with consumers...
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When I sit down to work, I need a clean desktop: The physical desk where I'm sitting should be uncluttered, and the virtual desktop of my computer should be neat and organized. Clutter in all its forms paralyzes me, so when it accumulates, I find that taking a few minutes...
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So, yesterday, I went to a lighting seminar presented by Holly Randall. She's an adult photographer--which I am not interested in being, though I'm not a prude--but since she takes photos of people on a full-time basis, her knowledge of lighting (models) is applicable to the fashion and portrait photography...
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So, for probably about a year, I've been seeing people using post images they created with the "Mad Men Yourself" feature at AE.com. Since its inception, the avatar generator has been improved with added features, and some of the most recent images I've seen include new backgrounds and larger sizes....
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Designers and other creatives are often stereotyped as lazy slackers with diva attitudes .There's a new commercial (for Intuit's build-your-own-website service) that shows one dissatisfied customer saying, "I hired a designer to build my website... five months ago..." with a been-there-I-can-relate overtone. Strangely, though, it's been my experience that many...
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We all know that change is the only constant. This law applies to our relationships, bodies, and business lives: Friendships (and loveships) wax and wane, our health fluctuates, and industries come and go. We can keep relationships happy by improving our communication skills and working to establish friendship "rules" and try...
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If you're tempted by the prospect of requesting free work from someone or participating in a spec relationship, take a moment to fill in the blanks of this paragraph and read it back to yourself. _________ is a gifted _________. He/She is good at what he/she does, so skilled at...
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What is "spec work" and why is it bad? "Spec" stands for "speculative." Spec work is "work done prior to engagement with a client in anticipation of [possibly] being paid," according to AIGA. (Boiled down: Spec is knowingly working without a guarantee of compensation.) Spec work can be disguised as:...
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What makes a great logo? It's hard to say, since there's such variety to successful logos. Nike's swoop is recognized worldwide, but it doesn't exactly represent the name--and the glut of logos that have used a nondescript "swoosh" since are fodder for mockery among designers. Some companies use an icon...
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CNN has a story today about a man who, since 2001, has been falsely claiming to have survived the 9/11 Pentagon attack and a couple of tours in Iraq as a Marine. Before being caught, Richard Strandlof formed the Colorado Veterans Alliance to bolster his lies. He also toured as...
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I just saw the new issue of In Style at the grocery: It immediately looked weird to me, but I asked Dan, and he didn't see the strangeness of the image. So I quickly roughed in what SHOULD show for comparison: Someone hacked off half of poor Drew's body! Help....
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A friend of mine is having a problem at work. In the past few months, he has helped his firm secure a new client and has worked directly with the client on a few successful projects. In fact, the success of this ongoing work has created the opportunity for his...
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