Friday, 8 August 2014

Surviving July without a Mac

And so it happened that after seven years of faithful service, my old Mac Book Pro decided that the time had finally come to shuffle off this mortal coil. Never having had any problems with it in all the time I'd had it, it came as a shock when it  finally dawned on me that it had not only gone, but that it had gone forever. I have to hand it to Apple, because in the twenty-five years that I have used a Mac to do my job, this was the first time I have ever had a real problem.

Thankfully my broker Rupert from Huber Dixon Insurances, had – as always – made sure that I had the best business insurance he could get me, and Sterling replaced my Mac and all the software, new for old, without so much as a whimper. But still, due to the sheer logostics involved in bringing many individual components together, I was left without a computer for the best part of a month.

Now I could easily have hired a Mac with software at any time (£75 + VAT per day - rip-off or what?), but instead I made a deliberate decision to go without and have a computer-holiday. What happened because of that decision was truly enlightening.

I'm lucky that a greater part of my work involves creative thought processes and coming up with ideas, for which I have everything I need in my head. And because I am a product of an age where designers were trained to think for themselves, draw for themselves and visualise by hand, all I need to get an idea across to a client is belief, eloquence, a pencil and paper.

I'd forgotten how good it feels to draw, but I don't intend to forget again. Visualising by hand also re-kindled my passion for typography. The close attention you need to pay to letter forms in order to draw them accurately has made me fall in love with type for type's sake all over again.

When I did need to produce digital work of any kind I was able to use a spare Mac in another Studio. It was damn good fun. We laughed a lot and we all learnt from each other, but most importantly I was reminded that there are good people out there who will trust you and whom you can respect in return.

On the days when I didn't have a great deal on I made the effort to do something different. I went out. I met friends I hadn't seen for ages and others that I had. I took my camera to Stonehenge and my sketch book to The New Forest. I went to London, to Museums, Art Galleries and Concerts. I even went Bat spotting. And the consequence? I remembered that even the mundane moments of doing something different are a vast improvement on wasting your time in a semi-vegetative state on Google.

I have always been of the opinion that the worst thing about the internet is that it was somewhere for the people who had nothing to say, to say it. But I was wrong. The worst thing about the internet is not that those with nothing to say were saying it, but that I was listening.

During my time of Mac-lessness I wasn't completely out of reach. I can get everything and emails on my iPhone, but somehow looking at an email on a tiny screen makes it easier to see just how pointless the majority of them are.  Thankfully that also seems to make it easier to delete them - straightaway, without wasting time reading them. And because responding to emails on a tiny iPhone keypad takes longer, I re-discovered how easy it is to actually use the phone to phone someone. Remember that? Talking to people rather than hiding behind emails? It's a very warm and rewarding experience and I whole-heartedly recommend it.

I have changed the way I have worked for years because of my computer-holiday, and I have to say it is so much better and infinitely more rewarding. But with all my new knowledge, new discoveries and re-discoveries, re-kindled hobbies, passions and joys, new friends, new opportunities and the inner joy that comes from spending your time in a fulfiling and meaningful manner, where am I now?

Why, back on my Mac of course.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

What's behind a logo design?

The short answer to that is Your Brand.

Before you can do anything, you need to correctly identify your brand and define your brand values. Then and only then can you even begin to think about putting a face to your brand  - giving it the right outfit, hairdo and make up - making it entirely appropriate to your brand and your brand values and to the markets you aim to attract. In other words, making it fit for purpose - making sure it represents your business and what your business stands for.

Every idiot thinks they can "design" a logo. I see the results all the time, every day, every where I look. Little graphic things that are sometimes even quite pretty, but that in actual fact mean nothing, say nothing and worse of all, do nothing for your business.

A logo is only 10% of your Brand, but it's the face that the public see and (hopefully) learn to recognise. Logo and brand design is probably the most crucial and specialist area of all graphic design. It should be a major investment for any business, and no business worth its salt should use anyone less than a brand design professional to produce it, because getting it wrong could be a disaster.

And by the way, logo and brand design is a specialist design field not taught on web developer courses. It is not something that you should let your web designer 'have a crack at', no matter what largesse crap they tell you! HTML does not = Logo Design in any stretch of any imagination apart from their own. And the same goes for your friend's husband or your sister-in-law's neice or the bloke down the road who was good at art at school. (Weren't we all?!)

Your logo is the face of your brand. It needs to be memorable, recognisable and distinctive. It needs to reflect your brand values.

Creating the brand

I help companies create brands. Some from the very beginning and some later on when a company decides to take their business to a whole new level. Re-branding involves taking a good look at what exists and working out what is needed to make it work better or more usually, properly.

Managing the brand

Creating the brand is the first step and having a plan about how to make it work for you is just as crucial. If all you have is a new logo or website or brochure and you don't know how you're going to manage your brand, then you're probably going to throw away all the money it cost to have done. And it should cost money. No one who knows what they're doing will do it for free or 'on the cheap'.

Brand management is about creating a strategy. It's about looking for opportunities to use your brand to engage with your customers. It's not just about one thing either. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a new website and a Facebook page is all you need; brand management is about maintaining relationships with your customers through every available appropriate avenue. Websites are crucial, but they're not the answer to life, the universe and everything.

So if you're serious about having a proper logo with a good healthy brand behind it, please call me, and not the bloke who's going to be doing your website or your daughter's friend's uncle's aunt. Do it right first time!