jewelry brand and packaging inspiration

The Go Media Logo Design Process: Bunny Paige Made Better

Jewelry Brand and Packaging Inspiration: Bunny Paige by Go Media

Every day here at Cleveland graphic, web and logo design firm Go Media, my understanding of what this company does grows. And everyday I am amazed by what we accomplish.

I am lucky enough to have my hands in much of the company. I work as social media manager, on Mockup Everything, Shirt Mockup and the Arsenal, as well as Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. My duties, however, lay outside the design services side of Go Media – so I view it from afar and admire it from the outside. The past couple of months, however, I was treated to a view from inside the world of design services.

I was able to be a part of the Bunny Paige Branding Process.

Bunny Paige Rebranding

Bunny Paige, a handmade jewelry and accessories company from the heart of Cleveland, reached out to Go Media to help fine tune the company’s current brand. Owner Lauren Tatum and her team have done an amazing job of building brand recognition and gaining loyal fans. Now that the business has successfully grown, Lauren is ready to take the brand to the next level. The goal of the project is to refresh the current identity to create a more sophisticated, refined, and professional brand.

Here’s what she came to us with:

Jewelry Brand and Packaging Inspiration: Bunny Paige
Original Bunny Paige Logo
Jewelry Brand and Packaging Inspiration: Bunny Paige
Bunny Paige jewelry

A huge fan of Lauren Tatum’s jewelry line, Bill and Lauren here at Go decided to pull me in to the project. After all, I have an investment in Lauren’s brand and obsessive knowledge of all things related. (Think Tokidoki, Japan, Kawaii, skulls, loads of sparkle!)

Jewelry Brand and Packaging Inspiration: Bunny Paige
Bunny Paige Landing Page featuring original logo

Let’s Rebrand!

Kick-Off

First, we met with Lauren to nail down her needs. We had a lively kick-off, where we got down to the nitty gritty with Lauren. We learned about the inspiration behind her intricate designs, where she came up with the name Bunny Paige (her childhood nickname), the incredible audience supporting her, and where she wants the Bunny Paige brand to go.

Lauren also shared her Pinterest board with us, which gave us a feel for her aesthetic – some textures she enjoys and her dream packaging.

BP Pinterest1

Brand Direction

The meeting with Lauren was enlightening and exciting for all of us. We were ready to get down to business. The next step in our process was the brand direction included in Lauren’s package – a proof including thoughts and visual examples to explain the ideas behind the aesthetic.

I immediately got down to business to compile this style board. The images I pulled together emphasized the sense of dimension we wanted to bring to the Bunny Paige character – as well as the color and texture we imagined playing with.

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Design Exploration

The style board was sent to the client, who gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. This cued Bill, the designer on this project, for take off. Bill referenced the style board when creating Lauren’s logo. He also contributed his own very specific ideas to the concept. So, off he went.

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Design Refinement / Feedback

After cautious exploration and illustration, Bill sent over his first round of proofs to Lauren for her feedback. This included a logo redesign, type treatments, logo/type lockups, color scheme + textures, rabbit head (logo) redesign with color scheme and textures, business card design and gift bag design.

bunny-paige-branding-3

Feedback Round Two

Lauren was thrilled about the direction Bill was headed in, but had some feedback regarding the proofs. We decided to get together for another face-to-face meeting for so that we could clearly communicate what she wanted to move forward with and what she would like to see modified.

Lauren loved elements of Bill’s design, including –

  • The tuft of the rabbit’s ears
  • The small stitching of the rabbit’s mouth
  • The oval shape of the rabbit’s face (option 2)
  • The chosen color schemes
  • The fonts

Here is what Lauren wanted Bill to further explore:

  • Harder textures
  • The angle of the rabbit’s face
  • The emotion (or lack of emotion) the rabbit may project upon the viewer
  • A cat eye shape

With that, Bill got back to the drawing board with much enthusiasm. Here he is seen trying to focus on the direction of the cat eyes shapes Lauren was referring to.

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After working up about 20 new and different looks, narrowing those to about 10, then 3 finalists, Bill put the new eye shape in a new and improved face shape (akin to a masquerade mask motif), added a new nose and POOF! Magic happened!

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A Few More Revisions!

Bill continues to refine the bunny and font, according to a few more bits of feedback. Here are his next round of revisions –

0165_BUNPAG_brand_refresh_wb_post-feedback_v3-01 0165_BUNPAG_brand_refresh_wb_post-feedback_v3-02 0165_BUNPAG_brand_refresh_wb_post-feedback_v3-03

Getting Close!

Lauren’s last email proved Bill’s design almost hit the mark. A few emails back and forth lead to final revisions, which include the final touches – smaller cheek bones, slimmer eyes, modifications to the chosen deco type treatment. New textures also emerged.

Logo-Redesign

 0165_BUNPAG_brand_refresh_wb_post-feedback_v4-05 0165_BUNPAG_brand_refresh_wb_post-feedback_v4-06

Final Design Approval

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We were so thrilled when Lauren gave us final approval on the designs. She wrote, “I love it ALL! The font, logo, texture – they all feel cool, cohesive, and very Bunny Paige. I’m so in love with how this whole process turned out! :) Thank you so much for all of your hard work, dedication, and passion, Bill. You, Heather, and Lauren have made this whole process a really enjoyable and exciting experience and I sincerely can’t wait to continue working with you in 2016!”

Last Stop…Pulling it all together!

Fellow Cleveland printing company, Jakprints, got involved to print Lauren’s business cards. We also connected Lauren to local packaging company Tap to work on her packaging. Lastly, Lauren’s business partner Dan integrated the logo into her website, bringing the branding process full circle.

Over the coming months, you’ll see the branding process reveal itself, so stay tuned to Bunny Paige’s official website and Instagram. Until then, here’s a peek at the reveal!

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To get the full Go Media branding experience yourself, please contact us!

Great Bouncing Icebergs!

Happy Holidays from the Go Media Crew

Great Bouncing Icebergs!

Can you believe the year is almost over?

We’ve really enjoyed working with you, our clients, customers and new-found friends, throughout 2015 and feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.

Thanks to each and every one of you for inspiring our lives and work. Here’s to new year filled with hope and happiness!

Great Bouncing Icebergs!

ugly sweater mockup template

Just a free Ugly Sweater Mockup Template to get you through your day

Ugly Sweater Mockup Template

We’re really getting into the Christmas mood here at Go Media. How do we express that? We create an ugly Christmas sweater mockup template, of course! We want to spread some joy, so please spin some soothing holiday jams and download this freebie with a hot cup of cocoa in your hands. Enjoy it and have a wonderful, safe and happy holiday season.

Ugly Sweater Me

Learn out our Arsenal Membership, which offers you unlimited downloads for only $15 per month. No, we promise it’s not a Christmas miracle. It’s real life.

Learn about our Arsenal Membership

sports branding

Sports Branding Insight With Todd Radom

how to use an opacity mask in illustrator

Try this Opacity Mask Tip with your New Vector Brushes for a Tattered, Torn Effect

How to Use an Opacity Mask in Illustrator (A Newbie’s Guide)

Hey Fans of Go Media’s Arsenal, the best resources for designers on the planet. We’re here for a quick guide to using your new Brink Design Co. Industrial Vector Brushes, just released a day ago! These 100 handmade vector brushes were created with an unparalleled level of detail, made using a variety of different mediums and techniques to give your work that dirty, grungy, industrial look so many of you, our loyal customers, have been requesting.

Hop on this train, as the pack is 21% off through Monday, December 21st. And these vector brushes are exclusive to the Arsenal, so you won’t find this detailed work elsewhere

Learn More Now!

Or, if you love the Arsenal products in general, you could join our Membership and gain access to our huge product library ($10,500+ in products) for only $15 per month. No strings attached, cancel at anytime. And yes, we’re totally serious.

Membership Me

———-

Now, let’s get to the tip!

Skill Level: Newbie
Tools Needed: Cool Illustration, Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack and Adobe Illustrator

1. Install your Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack Vector Brushes (or, as I like to call, 100 handmade brushes from the heavens)
Instructions are included with the pack.

what's-included

2. Open your illustration in Adobe Illustrator. We chose this cute little monster guy.

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3. Start going crazy with some brush strokes. This is the fun part. Soak it all in.

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4. Group your brush strokes all together. Ensure that your monster is left out of the mix.

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5. Object > Expand Appearance

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6. Using your Pathfinder Tool (Window > Pathfinder), select the first option – Merge

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7. “Control C” to copy this element. Next, go into your Transparency Window. From the drop-down, select “Make Opacity Mask”

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8. Click on the small black box within the window.

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9. Click “Invert Mask” and BOOM.

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10. Click on the masked area if you’d like change where your mask is placed.

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11. You’re done! We hope you’ve enjoyed this tip. Make sure to pick up the Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack and create something great everyday.

Shop Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack

quotes on creativity

Need a Boost? Read these 12 Quotes on Creating the Authentic Work You Were Born to Do

Quotes on Authenticity, Creativity, and Kicking Ass…

Sometimes we all need that extra boost to inspire our work. Here are some of our favorite quotes on art, creativity, and authenticity. May they inspire some vulnerability in your day today!

“What would happen if we left our heart on stage every time we created anything? It’s a bust your ass to shine, honest to a fault, no bullshit, zero apology performance. If you look at the work of some of the most successful people in the world, you’ll see it as the undertone. It isn’t just something they do, it’s who they are. It’s the kind of performance where your heart and soul bleed.” — Srinivas Rao, The Art of Being Unmistakeable

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” —Maya Angelou

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” Jim Jarmusch

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.” — Austin Kleon”

“I believe that you’re great, that there’s something magnificent about you. Regardless of what has happened to you in your life, regardless of how young or how old you think you might be, the moment you begin to think properly, there’s something that is within you, there’s power within you, that’s greater than the world. It will begin to emerge. It will take over your life. It will feed you. It will clothe you. It will guide you, protect you, direct you, sustain your very existence, if you let it. Now, that is what I know for sure.” — Michael Beckwith

“The advent of Google+ and the emergence of the personalized web means this is more true than ever. Brands, and their advertising partners, must wake up to this challenge and define themselves with clarity, consistency and authenticity. Otherwise they just might find themselves shouting in a ghost town.” — Simon Mainwaring

“I cannot say this too strongly: Do not compare yourselves to others. Be true to who you are, and continue to learn with all your might.” — Daisaku Ikeda

“You want to be popular? It’s easy to do. Just be a total weirdo and love yourself for it.” — Dan Pearce

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” — Brené Brown

“If you think dealing with issues like worthiness and authenticity and vulnerability are not worthwhile because there are more pressing issues, like the bottom line or attendance or standardized test scores, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. It underpins everything.” — Brené Brown

“The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.” — Simon Mainwaring

“No one loves authenticity like a graphic designer. And no one is quite as good at simulating it.” — Michael Bierut

What is your favorite quote on art, creativity, authenticity or building a life you love?

7 Ways to Know If You’ve Hired a Great Designer

Looking to Hire a Great Designer?

You’ll know you hit the money when you find they have these traits:

1. They have excellent use of color
After hiring designers online, I kept getting designs that felt 7 out of 10. I couldn’t put my finger on why the designs seemed awkward. Eventually, I realized: The problem was the use of color.

Many self-taught designers skipped studying basic color theory. They didn’t understand the importance of using an accepted color scheme structure (like tetradic or triadic) and sticking to it. Once a color scheme is chosen, all colors on your website- with almost no exception- should be inside that color scheme, or be a color derived from it, called a “swatch”.

Before a designer starts working on a new project, I now always ask for the color scheme and explain that I’m looking for a good use of color. This is to ensure that the designer spends time thinking about color, and because related work (such as blog sites or marketing materials) needs to use the same color scheme.

2. They are likely not programmers.
It’s nearly impossible for one person to be a master of both programming and design. There are exceptions, but it’s extremely rare. Often, a good designer will have another person in their firm (or an external company) which converts their design to responsive HTML. It’s important that they’ve worked with this person in the past so that they can vouch for their quality. I’ve found it’s better and cheaper to use that combination, rather than have 1 person who does both. The reason: In this case, both parties specialize in a small area, and do it very quickly and professionally. A “jack of all trades” has not spent all day in PhotoShop, nor spent all day implementing the latest coding frameworks. He or she will be slower and lack quality in both areas; in my experience, project failure is higher in this case.

3. They openly admit when they are too busy.
When I pitch a project to a designer and they respond, “Sorry, I have too much work from other clients to make this proposed deadline,” then I am 100% okay with that. It demonstrates that they are realistic and committed to quality. The worst is when a designer takes on too much work, and then returns garbage or is unresponsive to my emails.

4. They can work with a short deadline, but are brutally honest about what that means.
The best designer I know is someone I’d only hire under special circumstances. His work is incredible, but I can’t use him for any of my projects, because he cannot work within deadlines.
I rarely have that advantage. When a project comes up, it needs to be out the door yesterday.
The best designers are ones who will be honest, and say, “Here’s what I can do between now and then”.

5. They are religious when it comes to choosing fonts.
The right fonts make a huge difference. I’m not sure how they do this, but the best designers have a knack for finding the perfect fonts to fit the feel of the page. It’s also critical to ensure your front-end developer properly implements the fonts, using Google Fonts or possibly Cufon.

6. They add subtle details, and it makes the site better, not worse.
For example, if your business is selling nuts, then a great designer might add little squirrel characters in a subtle way. It’s pretty hard to do this without ruining the site.
It’s easy to make something plain with a simple “web 2.0” look. However, once you have a design that feels clean, but on close inspection, is quite detailed, you know you’ve found a great designer.

7. They admit when something is outside their specialty.
I once needed an icon done, and I asked my best designer to take on the task. He refused: “Icons are really hard, and not my specialty.” That really impressed me. Sure, he could have accepted our money and tried to learn on the fly (as way too many contractors do). But that would have put our project at risk. I really appreciated that. In the end, we got a great icon done by someone who specializes in icons.

Extra tip: Conversion to HTML is just as important
There’s nothing worse than getting a great design, and then having a front-end developer ruin it. This is extremely common. As I stated above, use someone recommended by your designer. Make sure that you see their work and test it in a tablet and mobile format, to ensure it’s responsive.

What do you find to be great traits in designers you know? Please share in the comments section below!

Enplug’s Entrepreneurial Journey: Zach Spitulski Spills Secrets to his Success

Enplug’s Entrepreneurial Journey: Zach Spitulski Spills Secrets to his Success

By being named one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs under 30, Zach Spitulski (Enplug) has been grouped with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox, and Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi of Dropbox. Not a bad crowd to run with, right?

So what is Enplug?

Enplug is a revolutionary digital signage software company. Because it uses a universal operating system and app marketplace, businesses can showcase engaging content real-time, integrating social media with ease. This means that businesses using Enplug can essentially turn their displays into a giant smartphone, making their content approachable, relevant, and engaging.

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Go Media was excited to sit down with Zach, Creative Director at Enplug, to learn about how Enplug did it. What worked? What didn’t? What tips did he have on becoming an entrepreneur?

Go Media: So tell us about how you started your Enplug journey:

Zach, Enplug: I was at attending UCLA at the time. I was on a Southwest flight (open seating) to San Francisco to see Pink Floyd–I tripped over a bag and ended up sitting next the the guy’s bag that I tripped on. His name was David Zhu, an original founder of Enplug. I showed him some things I was working on at UCLA and he asked me to join his team. It was the summer between Junior and Senior year at school, I had to decide: school versus dropping out.

Go Media: So, goodbye UCLA?

Zach, Enplug: In school, I thought I wasn’t doing enough. I remember being unhappy just doing school. I was preoccupied with wanting to do something else…something that utilized what I was capable of. I was always itching to do more. It was a simple decision for me–I just decided to believe. Convincing my parents that it was going to be okay was tougher.

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Go Media: So, what happened next?

Zach, Enplug: UCLA ended up being accommodating and said I could come back if it didn’t work out. So, I started working with Enplug. Through David, I met Nanxi, Enplug’s CEO and Navdeep, but I call him Petey…Enplug’s CIO. After I decided to leave school, we all pooled our cash and lived in Koreatown in a 1 bedroom. It was cozy living–there were 4 of us and an engineer. We worked the whole summer and then pitched to Start Engine.

Go Media: Out of all the incubators out there, why Start Engine?

Zach, Enplug: We applied to a few: Y-combinator and others, but Start Engine had Howard Marks. He knew interactive space and seemed savvy in the industry. We thought he would have the guidance and the opportunities to raise a good base.

…And he did. We moved out of the 1 bedroom at the end of 2012 and then rented a house in Bel Aire. It’s actually the same house we still have. About a dozen people still live there, but now we have offices in Culver City.

In the beginning, we were trying to convince people to find organic growth. But now we’re a leader in the space, especially in the LA space. We’re very prominent, and it’s really exciting to see. My friends, or even just other people will say, “Hey, I saw the Enplug software running here,” to me most of the time. We’re locally relevant with big goals. We’re not just in LA–our software is used across the world.

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Go Media: Let’s talk more about your evolution of sorts–what are your company’s goals now? Have you changed them since you started?

Zach, Enplug: When first started, we wanted to rework the space. When we looked at what the space was offering, it seemed prehistoric. “Where do we start?” Was our biggest question.

Well, we had to start over. “Let’s rebuilt this,” we thought. “Let’s make it interactive, scalable, and reliable with a software development kit.” Essentially, we wanted to show people we could tap into social media and make it work.

In that respect, we have similar goals. Now we’re modifying our own product and making sure we stay ahead in the space.

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Go Media: Let’s talk about your team. It started with a small, core group, and now you have a team of over 50 people across the U.S, Africa, and Europe. How do you build a successful team?

Zach, Enplug: It starts and ends with the people. You have to trust each other. Honestly, you have to get along with one another. We’re strong on having a good vibe. With David, I trusted him. I believed it. I was willing to take the risk. People who join now have the at similar trust and belief.

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Go Media: So far, it all sounds like rainbows and roses. Let’s dig deeper. Can you tell us about a mistake that you’ve made on your entrepreneurial journey?

Zach, Enplug: Personally, I always should trust my gut. A few times, I ignored it. Whether when I was hiring staff or a making a decision on the product–the decision seemed logical and rational, but my gut didn’t like it. For hires, for example, there have been qualified hires with previous success at various companies. But my gut said that maybe they weren’t a cultural fit. We’ve done it a few times, and it’s always been a mistake and always causes more problems than it’s worth. Trust your instincts.

Learn more about Enplug here and
connect with them on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram and Google +

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Tutorial: Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne’s Texture Lot One (Free Poster Mockup Included)

Conference Poster Tutorial

Hello there! It’s Simon on this end of the keyboard. I’m very happy to make my return to the Zine with a poster design tutorial, that will explore the possibilities offered by Jason Carne’s Texture Lot One. The tutorial will have us explore texture use tips and tricks, but also customized black and white conversion, large scale sharpening, type pairing, layout building, and more.

I’ll be using Photoshop CC for the tutorial, but any version of Photoshop past CS3 should be fine. Note also that I’m working on a Windows-based system, but other than visual appearance and slightly different keyboard shortcuts, that will not have any impact on the process we’ll go through.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Introducing Jason Carne’s Texture Lot One

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As the hero shot image tells us, the set contains 30 “finely crafted” textures, that will help us to give a wide array of artifacts to our flat, digital art. They come from a multitude of source material: burlap, cork board, a scratched cutting board, stone, and more.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The textures come in the form of high resolution, black and white textures.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The level of detail is superb, and gives us plenty to leverage to add substance to our compositions.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

And one more for the road, just because we can.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Go pick Jason’s Texture Lot One up now at the Arsenal!

The brief

Let’s talk some more about the piece we’re putting together here. It’s a poster for a (fake) architecture lecture, focusing on Cleveland’s brutalist landmarks.

What is brutalism? Glad you asked:

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for “raw” in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material béton brut (raw concrete). British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into “brutalism” (originally “New Brutalism”) to identify the emerging style.

Wikipedia

So, what does a brutalist building look like? There’s this amazing Tumblr called F**k yeah brutalism out there, and it’ll help me to answer that question:

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

(Education Wing, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 1971 -Marcel Breuer & Associates – via)

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

(State Historical Center, Columbus, Ohio, 1970 – Ireland and Associates – via)

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

(State Historical Center, Columbus, Ohio, 1970 – Ireland and Associates – via)

There is something monolithic, synthetic, and minimalistic at times.

Now, why choose Cleveland as the focal point of the fake lecture? It happens that Cleveland has its share of brutalist buildings. A 2007 article from the Plain Dealer lists the major local representative landmarks of the movement: Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus, Cleveland Justice Center Complex, Crawford Hall (Case Western Reserve University), and more.

Assembling the free assets needed

It happens that there is a CC-licensed image of the Cleveland Ameritrust Building, one of these major landmarks, available on Flickr for us to use as the base of our poster. We’ll need to grab the biggest size available (4028 x 2704 pixels), through the all sizes page.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Other than the high resolution version of the image, we’ll also need to have two (free) typefaces accessible to us: League Spartan Bold, and League Gothic.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The last asset we’ll need to have at hand is this beautiful, free aged paper texture, courtesy of our very own Dustin Schmieding:

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Got it all? Then it’s time to get started!

Preparing our Photoshop document

We’ll use is a “standard” 18″x24″ canvas for our piece. For the readers outside of the USA, feel free to use an A3 format. Note the fact that we’re using an RGB document, as some of the filters we’ll use require that color space to function.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Next, we need to setup a grid. It’ll help us when building the composition. First, we’ll leverage Adobe CC’s New guide layout functionality to build a six columns by 8 rows main grid (View > New guide layout).

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The result is a grid based on squares of 3″x3″.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Note: if you don’t have the CC version of Photoshop, you can leverage the power of GuideGuide to accomplish the grid-related tasks quickly. The current version isn’t free, but older versions are.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The next set of guides are going to help us establish the boundaries of the center column. We need vertical guides at 4.5″, and at 13.5″.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Finally, we need horizontal guides at 11.5″, and at 12.5″.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

And with that, our document is ready to go. It’s time to get started for real.

The background

Background color

The first thing we need to do is give a solid color to our background layer. It’s going to be the base for the effects we’ll build up through the tutorial. We’ll be using a very light gray, #ededed. If we were using pure white, the contrasts would be too strong, and some of the texture effects we’ll apply later would be “washed out.”

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Photographic manipulations

Next, we need to place the photo in our composition. We’ll place the photo as a smart object, in order to maintain a lossless workflow. It will also guarantee us access to the untouched original file. To do so, we have to use File > Place (or File >Place embedded in Photoshop CC), and navigate to the photo file.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Once the image is included in our file, we will give it its final positioning and size using the absolute positioning tools at our disposal. The center point of the image should be at X: 2.55″, and Y: 26″. The image is scaled up to 125%.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

With that done, we need to sharpen the smart object, since we scaled it up. We’ll use the high pass filter for that. The Zine archive features a short article about the technique already. Let’s start by duplicating the smart object.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Next, we need to run the high pass filter (Filter > Other > High pass). We’ll use a radius of 100 pixels.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The result doesn’t look like much. To obtain the desired effect, we need to change the copy’s blending mode to soft light @ 100% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Next, we are going to clip the copy to the original layer (CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+G). This contains the high pass effect to the layer it’s clipped on.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

With that done, we can change the blending mode of the original layer to multiply @ 100% opacity. This will make the photo adopt the soft gray we’ve used as background color as its main color once we’ve converted it to black and white.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Black and white adjustments

Desaturating a picture IS NOT a proper way to convert it to black and white. We are going to use a black and white adjustment layer for that. The preset we’ll use is called blue filter. Cyan, blue, and magenta hues in the original image will be light, while greens, yellows, and reds will be untouched or dark. For a higher contrast, the greens, yellows, and reds could be purposefully set to darker (using a negative value in the sliders).

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The next step is a curve adjustment layer, set to the lighter preset. This allows us to soften the black and white conversion.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Finally, a levels adjustment layer allows us to push the contrast up.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

It’s time for some layer organization.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

A hint of texture

We are going to add one of Jason’s textures above the background. It will help us to generate a subtle grain effect. The texture is Corkscrewed – Light.

Go pick Jason’s Texture Lot One up now at the Arsenal!

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

It’s placed centered in our canvas, rotated of 90°, and scaled up to 225%.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After converting the texture layer to a smart object (Filter > Convert for smart filters), and sharpening the texture (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen), we can change its blending mode to soft light @ 75% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

That texture concludes our work on the background. Before switching gears and attacking the content columns, here’s a look at our layers so far.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Content columns

Setting up the columns backgrounds

Back when we set up the grid, we created a set of special guides that we’ll now use to delimit central column for our text. The column is split in two parts, one with a red background, and one with an almost-black background.

Let’s start with the almost black. It sits at the bottom half of the canvas. Here’s the area we have to delimit.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After creating a new layer, we need to fill it with a very dark gray, #040404.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Finally, the blending mode of that layer should be multiply @ 98% opacity. This will allow us to bring a hint of translucency in the shape.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The next shape will be its pendant at the top of the composition, and will be filled with a very bright red, #eb1d1d.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The blending mode of that layer should be multiply @ 50% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The shape’s translucency is too high (we need to remember that it will be the background to text later on). In order to address this, we’ll duplicate the layer, and change the blending mode of that copy to normal @ 50% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Layer organization

A quick note about layers, as we’re about to add type elements in there. Here’s what they should be organized into. The background elements have their layer group, and each half column elements have their dedicated layer group. From there, it’ll be easy to add the type in the proper group, so everything stays organized.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

It’s time to talk about typography

As announced at the beginning, we’ll be using two type families: League Spartan Bold, and League Gothic.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The main title

The main title reads “CLEVELAND / BRUTALIST / LANDMARKS,” and is set in all caps League Spartan Bold, colored in #ededed, that is 48 points tall, and with tracking set to 250. Each line is its own text object, and they are aligned to the grid lines within the column.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

In order to further ground the title element, we are going to add horizontal dividers underneath each line of text. The dividers will be colored in #ededed, and measure 6″x0.125″. The dividers are positioned underneath each text line, 0.125″ under the text line. We’ll use shape layers to generate the dividers.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

And here’s what the layers look like.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Additional information

We are not creating a proper conference poster if we don’t add the secondary information like the lecturer’s name, a date, a location, and a URL. The information is broken down as follows:

“NOVEMBER 20TH 2015 AT 07.30 PM / CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART / A LECTURE BY DR RYAN G. BRAVIN / www.clevelandart.org”

The individual type objects are aligned in a similar fashion as before, on the grid lines. “NOVEMBER 20TH 2015 AT 07.30 PM” is set in League Gothic Condensed Regular, that is 72 points tall, colored in #ededed, and with kerning set to optical.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

“CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART” is set in League Gothic Regular, that is colored in #ededed, that is 60 points tall, and with kerning set to optical.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

“A LECTURE BY DR RYAN G. BRAVIN” is set in #ededed colored League Gothic Condensed Regular, that is 72 points tall, and with kerning set to optical.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Finally, the URL to the site of the Cleveland Museum of Art, www.clevelandart.org, is set in #ededed colored League Spartan Bold, that is 24 points tall. The text object is located at X: 9″, and Y: 22.8″.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Here’s what the layer organization looks like:

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

And with our type in place, our piece is almost complete.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Now, it’s time to layer some more textures to polish the piece!

Textures and artifacts

Here’s a theory: one of the motivations to add textures to our work is to help us to add depth to our digital art, and to break away from their flat, clean, and precise origins. At this point in the process, the photo is pretty gritty, but the type above it is very clean. Adding more textures will allow us to weather that type and the column backgrounds.

The first texture we’ll add is PackingFoam.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

It’s placed centered in the composition, rotated 90° clockwise, and scaled to 55%.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After sharpening the texture (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen), we can change the blending mode to screen @ 15% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The next texture is the freebie we grabbed at the beginning, BB_AntiqueEnvelope_04.jpg.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

It’s placed at X: 18″, and Y: 19.9″, rotated 90° counterclockwise, and scaled up to 1,150%.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After sharpening, we’ll use a clipped hue/saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the texture.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

A clipped levels adjustment layer will help us to enhance the texture further.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Blending mode: soft light @ 35% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The next texture is from Jason’s set, and is called Corkboard.

Go pick Jason’s Texture Lot One up now at the Arsenal!
Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

It’s placed centered in the composition, rotated 90° clockwise, and scaled to 55%.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After sharpening, the blending mode should be changed to soft light @ 25% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The texture levels are coming together nicely. We’ve added grain, light noise, and small artifacts to the piece with a few layers of substance. Let’s have a look at the layers before the ultimate polishing touches.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Last details

Lossless vignette effect

There is a way to create a lossless vignette effect in Photoshop, thanks to shape layers. The first step is to draw an ellipse that fits the canvas. It should be colored in #040404.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Next, we need to use one of the tools accessible via the direct selection tool (A), in the toolbar. It will allow us to display the ellipse inverted, getting closer to the vignette. Once the active tool is the direct selection tool, we need to change the path operation button‘s setting to subtract front shape.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

The result is a very sharp edged ellipse, almost ready to be a vignette.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Next, through the layer’s properties panel, we need to feather the layer mask to 350 pixels. This creates the fuzzy edge for the vignette.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Finally, the blending mode for the vignette can be switched to soft light @ 50% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Last but not least: halftones

The last piece of the puzzle is a halftone effect. First step, to create a merged copy of the piece so far. We’ll use the CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+SHIFT+E shortcut for that. It’ll create a layer containing a merged copy of the piece so far. I called it Halftones.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Once the layer is generated, it needs to be converted to a smart object.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After resetting the color palette to default (D), we’ll use the filter gallery’s halftone effect (Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Halftone pattern). We’re using a size value of 8, and a contrast value of 50.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Then, we need to change the effect’s blending mode to soft light @ 100% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

After that, we can change the layer’s blending mode to soft light @ 50% opacity.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

And our piece is now done! Here’s a look at our final layer stack.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Wrapping things up

Phew, that was a long tutorial! I hope that you enjoyed it, learned a few tricks here and there, and that your outcome matches the goals you had at the beginning.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Did I leave anything unclear? Any suggestions? Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below! I’ll be happy to help out.

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

Mockup your poster using the free sample below from our Poster Mockup Templates Pack and please share your work with us in the comments, by tweeting at us at @go_media, or sharing them on our Facebook page.

Free Download: Free Poster PSD Sample from Go Media

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

If you already purchased Jason’s texture set, I hope you enjoy them, and that this tutorial gave you a sense of what you’ll be able to accomplish with them. If not, go grab them while they’re hot!

Go pick Jason’s Texture Lot One up now at the Arsenal!

Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne's texture lot one

And on that note, that’s it for me! Until next time, cheers!

Print Poster Tutorial – Bringing Doodles and Sketches into Your Illustrator Workflow

Time taken: 1 hour 10 mins

Difficulty: Beginner to mid-level

Resources used: Blobs font

Screen Shot_1_header

The assigned project was to create cool and fun gig poster prints for a student union nightclub event – a big campus shindig before the kids go back for the holidays. Out of ideas and inspiration, I thought I’d raid my sketchbook for inspiration – something that I often do when faced with designer’s block. I happened upon a couple of doodles and sketches that I figured would be ideal for a winter, holiday design with a bit of an edge to it.

Print Poster Tutorial

A few character sketches that I figured would make fine subject matter –

go_media_sketch_2

The doodle that gave me the main idea for the piece –

Screen Shot_2

After scanning the sketched page, I brought the first sketch into Photoshop .

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I cropped the scan, selecting the character I wanted to use.

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I painted out the unwanted areas, cleaning up any loose pixels. Using the (⌘M, Ctrl M) curve function, I created contrast and more consistent blacks, while whitening the negative space.

Screen Shot_5

I opened up the doodle sketch in Photoshop and repeated the curve clean up of the scanned image (⌘M, Ctrl M). I then created a new work path (path menu, new path) and pathed out with the pen tool (Option-click + P, Alt-click + P) the specific area I wanted to use.

Screen Shot_6

After selecting the chosen path layer (path menu, make selection, “0” feathering) I cut and pasted this path into my original scanned layer.

Screen Shot_7

After joining the two sketches into one file, I applied a darken mode (layers menu) on my overlapping layer. I then used the eraser tool to notch out some of the pixels to join the two sketches together.

Screen Shot_8

To prepare the sketch for Illustrator, it was important to close off any open pixels.

Screen Shot_9

Choosing the brush tool, I meticulously closed off any open areas. Once this was completed, I merged all layers (⌘E, Ctrl E)

Screen Shot_10

The next step was to bring the cleaned-up file into Illustrator. After creating a new file in Illustrator, I pasted the sketch image into my workspace and using the live trace function (choose “image trace” in head menu) I chose the “3 colors” setting. I chose this because although it picks up the odd gray areas in a black and white image, it recognizes details that default tracing often ignores. In this sketch that was highly–contrasted, it generated a pretty even and solid image result and it wasn’t difficult to tidy up the odd grey path at a later stage anyway.

(It should be noted, that the live trace feature doesn’t work with all sketches and it’s sometimes better to path out the sketch, this particular sketch happened to be pretty “loose” and “sketchy” in appearance anyway, so it lends itself to live tracing, plus I made sure that it was correctly prepped for live trace in Photoshop.)

Screen Shot_11

Once the sketch had finished tracing, I expanded the object and fill (object, expand, expand appearance).

Screen Shot_12

Once the file had been expanded, I went into the image with my Direct Selection Tool (A) and deleted the background white and inner-white areas (for the purposes of this tutorial, I have illustrated this using a grey background).

Screen Shot_13

After taking out all unwanted white areas, the sketch was ready for more detailed clean-up. The image actually required little clean-up. There were a couple of paths that needed closing and merging but no need for anything super-accurate due to the sketchy nature of the artwork. To clean up the missing line-work on this sketch, I used my favorite brush the “blob brush” to replace any incomplete and broken lines with clean black lines.

Screen Shot_14

With all paths closed, it was easy to select areas with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and fill with a specific Pantone color (swatches, open swatch library, color books, Pantone + CMYK Coated).

Screen Shot_15

Upon completion of the character coloring process, I created a new layer and drew a rectangle (M).

Screen Shot_17

Using the eraser tool (Shift+E) and choosing a rounded shape, I notched out the rectangle to give it a “snowy” look.

Screen Shot_18

This is a very easy trick to do and creates a nice illustrative effect.

Screen Shot_20_1

To add some snowdrops to the design, I selected my blob brush with a left- angled brush.

Screen Shot_20_2

After adding some snowflakes, I went into the blob brush again, and selected the opposite brush angle and added the rest of the snowflake effect.

Screen Shot_21

Getting to this stage of the design gave me a better idea of how I could integrate the copy. I think in design there’s often a “natural order” when it comes to composition and by trying things out, opportunities for copy placement often arise naturally and without meticulous planning.

go_media_sketch_3

Having seen the design evolve, I also saw an opportunity to add some dynamic copy without having to resort to simply picking a font from a hat! So, I went back to the drawing board and sketched out some copy elements to place into the design.

Screen Shot_22

After scanning the design into Photoshop, I repeated the curve adjustment process to prep them for bringing into Illustrator.

Screen Shot_23

I brought the copy sections into Illustrator and live-traced each one, expanding and removing the white areas.

Screen Shot_26

I added color to the copy-shape paths and roughly re-sized it to fit the space, then repeated this process with the other copy elements

Screen Shot_27

I planned this design to include copy in the central area of the composition. After discovering the perfect font online called “Blobs”, I drew a simple curve shape with my pen tool (P) to add copy along the path.

Screen Shot_28

Using the “type on a path” tool in the pen tool sub-menu, I added copy to the path.

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After laying the central copy down, I used the pen tool to draw simple triangle shapes as word-dividers.

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The copy was working out well, but I wanted the copy to fit the design shape better.

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Using the free distort tool in the head menu (effect, distort and transform, free distort) I added distortion to the copy segments – expanding the appearance after each distortion (object, expand, expand appearance).

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I repeated this process with other copy areas.

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Once the main copy areas were finished, one of the final design touches was to add footer copy with social media info.

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After creating the footer copy in white, using the Blob font, I copied and pasted the green rectangle shape I created earlier, transforming the scale and shape.

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With the design almost complete, I just needed to add the club’s logo to my design.

Screen Shot_38

The design was complete.

Screen Shot_40

A quick checklist I always make sure I do before taking the illustrator file to large format print:

  • Ensure that my artwork/artboard is cropped specifically sized for my poster requirements with plenty of bleed clearance around the edges between edge and artwork
  • Convert all font elements into shapes (object, expand, expand/fill)
  • Ensure all paths I want spot-colored are attributed a specific Pantone color (swatches, open swatch library, color books, choose swatch color specific to your printers requirements)

ben_poster

How the finished and printed poster design, printed for Roland DGA, looked.

Share your designs with us on our Flickr Pool Showcase and as always, feel free to leave any comments and questions below!

how to focus at work

Forever Distracted? Here’s How to Bring Focus into Your Creative Work and Life

One thing I’ve come to learn about myself is just how easily distracted I can be.

Up until recently, I could barely continue to write a blog post without checking the email that pops into my inbox, or create header imagery without stopping to favorite a tweet from one of our Twitter followers. I used to think I was extremely efficient, always crossing tasks off of my checklist. But now I know that my scrambling was far from effective. I’ve found some better ways to drown out the noise. I hope they’ll serve you well, too. (Please share yours in the comments below!)

1. Prioritize based on the big things.
Once you’ve recognized that you need to bring focus into your life, take a look at your responsibilities. What is highest, not on your small task list, but that list of annual goals you wrote – with high hopes – at the beginning of the year? Start restructuring your priorities based on these. Write your year’s goals and post them up right next to your monitor. Now that you’ve reframed things, you may find a much more efficient way of getting those tiny tasks done. After all, those are the items that are getting in the way of leaving your job to freelance full-time (or whatever that dream may be).

Speaking of the little tasks, try David Allen’s famous ‘Two-Minute Rule.’ When faced with a task that can be completed in two minutes, go ahead and complete it right away. The others can wait.

2. Block Out Your Next Day’s Activities
Here at Go Media, we use Google Drive for everything. One productivity hack that has helped me tremendously is planning out my day the day before in my calendar. Something about creating those blocks makes me feel like I should stick to my word. Yes, it sounds obvious, but you can only roll your eyes if you stick to it. And bonus points if you stick to your plan and leave by 5:00 pm. (You need to go home and recharge).

3. Just Say No.
Bill, the President of Go Media, encourages us to jump out of a meeting if we’re swamped with work or fighting a monstrous deadline. He respects us and knows we’re serious when we do so. I’m not sure about your boss, but if you show her or him that you really mean it, it just may work for you too. The overall message is, dedicate time to what you really need to be doing. Time is money.

How to Focus at Work, Home and Life from your friends at Go Media

4. Vow to Respond to Email at only 1 to 2 points in the Day
As mentioned, I used to respond to my emails at the drop of a hat. I’ve stopped that. Unless something is incredibly urgent, I will wait until it’s time to check – usually right when I get into work and mid-afternoon. This gives me more time to concentrate on bringing more success to our Arsenal, the home to the world’s very best design resources (my goal).

5. Get in the Mood
My ideal creative environment and atmosphere involves a warm blanket, dim lighting and perfect Spotify playlist. The pen seems to flow most steadily from 8:30 to 10 am, when you can hear a pin drop here in the office. Where and when are you most creative? Capitalize on that.

This isn’t always possible, so when you’re not in your ideal environment, attempt to get back to that spot. I’ve found that some apps will help.

Turn off the Noise.
The very thought of using an online app to block distractions gave me a bit of a panic attack, but this is the very reason I needed it. If you’re the same way, it’s time to face the music. Try Freedom or Focus Booster.

Turn on the Noise…for a bit.
I manage our social media here at Go Media, so I have to spend time scouring the web for cool stuff, posting on Twitter and Facebook, tumbling, pinning, stumbling. I can’t be forever blocked from the fun stuff. Using an app like Stay Focused keeps me on track; it gives me a start and stop time – then redirects me back to the rest of my daily work.

How to Focus at Work, Home and Life from your friends at Go Media

6. Jot Down Brainstorms for a Rainy Day.
While you’re in no-distraction mode, head to a to-do app like Google Keep or Teux-Deux. If you’re a blogger, like me, jot down at least one possible story subject a day. If you have a really brilliant idea and the ideas keep flowing, open up a Google Doc and begin your stream of consciousness. Allow yourself to write for a few moments and leave it there for a rainy day. These brainstorms will definitely come in handy on those days when distraction is at an all time high and we might otherwise spend a very frustrated hour staring at the screen.

Oh, and speaking of to-do lists, I used to think it was fun to keep a whole list of them, due to the joy of crossing them out. Then, I compiled a list like this.

Untitled-1

Familiar?

This never-ending list completely overwhelmed me, brought me to a point where I didn’t know where to begin.

In order to save myself from the to-dos eating me alive, I started following the 2 minute rule, mentioned above and began plowing through the tiny tasks during scheduled, short breaks in my day (usually around email-checking times).

So, those are my suggestions for bringing focus into an otherwise distraction filled day. What are yours? Please share with me in the comments section below. I’d love to add some new tools to my collection.

30+ Quirky, Free Fonts We’re Shouting Out

improving relationships with clients

Conquering Customer Service: 5 Tips to Keeping Your Customers and Clients Happy

Improving Relationships with Clients & Customers

Whether you’re the head of an advertising agency, the president of a design firm, or a freelance designer exchanging emails with a customer, you need to be educated in the world of customer service. After all, we are dealing with people – customers or clients – always. And whether we want to admit it or not, they’re always keeping score. Their opinions can drive – or destruct – your business – so make it a global issue.

We talked with Zappos, a company who’s rocking the customer service world, to see what lessons we could learn about improving relationships with customers and clients ourselves here at Go Media. Find their quotes throughout the article, as well as our thoughts on the matter below.

Be Available

Recently, we added customer chat to our sites – the ArsenalMockup Everything and Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. The ability to connect with clients, fest attendees and customers has been extremely refreshing and has conversions as well. The best part is being able to talk one on one with the people that visit our sites day to day. We learn more about who they are, what they are looking for and how we can fulfill their needs. This has taken a lot of the guess work out of the question: “How do we make our clients and customers happy?” Because, well, they can just tell us.

| We recommend Olark |

Ensure Your Entire Company is Focused on Customer Service

We’ve established the fact that customer service is at the very foundation of your business. It should not simply relegated to those folks answering the phones or on chatCustomers and clients do call or connect with other employees, you know. Gasp! Are those other employees equipped to serve your customers with as much knowledge, love and care?

Cassie from Zappos recommends, “1. Hire the right people – those that are in alignment with your company culture. 2. Train them well – make sure they fully understand and are immersed in your company culture and expectations of the culture. All of our new employees, regardless of dept or job, goes through 4 weeks of new hire training where they learn about our culture and what we mean by Delivering Wow through Service. Everyone learns how to do the job in our call center and takes customer calls. 3. Treat them like adults and let them do their job.”

Integrate Customer Service into Company Culture

When your client or customer calls, or walks into your office, how will they know they’re at ( > your office here < ) ? What will make your call, your visit stand out? Will it be the enthusiasm in your voice and sense of humor combined with your unparalleled customer service? Or the way you ask your customer silly questions to fill the silence?  Make it memorable, instead of as dry as when you call the cable company…

“Zappos customer service is all about the culture and the people who drive it. The idea is, anyone can be taught how to run a computer or answer phone calls, but we go through several interviews to make sure we’re a fit with the culture here. Part of that culture is making the experience of contacting us more personable and not so robotic. We like to chat it up with customers even it doesn’t have anything to do with our site, or products. We call it, the Zappos experience. We want to make customer feel good about contacting us and not the “Oh man, I gotta call the DMV” feel.”​ – Miggs El Rudo, Customer Service Representative, Zappos

Encourage, Allow Time Personal Connection

Many times, customers feel rushed off the phone, client meetings are cut short. Cutting a meeting off at the end of an hour or hurrying off customer chat can be seen as cold, uncaring. What if you gave the other party the time they needed to be heard?

“We try to be more personable here so that we can connect with the customer a deeper level than just your average customer / rep relationship. We show empathy and are more caring. We try to relate to a customer on any level they feel comfortable with and often times, it ends in us sending them a card or small gift. We call it PEC, or Personal, Emotional Connection. For example, before I came to Live Chat, I answered phones. My longest call was 4 hours. This customer needed to swap out her jeans because the were too small. She was talking about how her husband was on her case about gaining weight and then I expressed to her my weight issues as well, and that was it. We just went on and on for hours.​” – Miggs El Rudo, Zappos

Call Them Before They Call You

Clients reach out regularly in order to see to it that their design needs are getting fulfilled. Customers call or chat to ask questions about a product, it’s ins and outs, or with feedback. All of this is well and good. But being pro-active means you’ll knock it out of the park. Call your clients and customers, from time to time, and with no reason or motive, to check in on them. Send them a holiday card or show up with a Valentines Day gift in hand. This unexpected call or visit will blow them away (and up your chance at return business, should you be upping your game all around – and we trust you are).

“At Zappos, we are empowered to make all decisions when we are assisting customers, notes Zappos customer service representative Pamela. “We have many gifts we can send customers for special occasions and just because. I have sent customers flowers for a wedding, sympathy and just for being a great customer and making a great connection.”

Above all, connect with your clients and customers authentically and with kindness, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

What are your rules for excellent customer service?

Social Networking 101 – A Newbie’s Guide to Guaranteed Success

Social Networking 101

Even if you are living under a rock, you know that you can’t escape social media. As a small business owner, you simply a) shouldn’t live under a rock, and b) should embrace the powers that be…social media.

Networking via social media can be a tricky feat, however. You don’t want to come off as a creeper. But how do you connect with people when you aren’t face-to-face?

Untitled-1

Facebook

Facebook may be the easiest place to start since it’s a platform that most people are on. First, make sure you have nothing to hide on the platform (remove embarrassing photos, etc). Then, think of an influential friend you may have. We’re not saying that this “influential” person needs to have 1000 friends. Instead, when we say “influential,” we mean that this person shows meaning in a field of interest. Take a look at that person’s friends (yes, this is stalker-esque. Deal with it). Do any of these friends show value to you in a business capacity? See if you have friends in common, and then, simply ask the mutual friend for an introduction! If you’re feeling full of gumption, you can take matters into your own hands and message him/her. If you don’t want to come off that strong, start interacting with the person of interest via their business page and see where that takes you. You should also take a look at the groups your influential friends have joined. Perhaps there’s something that will resonate with you and help you with your networking journey.

Summary:
DO clean up your profile. DON’T post last night’s escapades.
DO (lightly) stalk your influential connections. DON’T be afraid to ask for an introduction.
DO search for groups to join (via influential connections, a simple search, etc). DON’T join “Yelling at Inanimate Objects” or any other group with similar embarrassment factor.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most traditional social networking tool out there. It’s more formal than Facebook and, we find that people usually connect on LinkedIn only in a business capacity (whereas Facebook connections are usually much more social). Their groups can be extremely useful–you can search by keyword or even search for specific people. Join groups, soak up the wisdom within the groups, and start messaging people to see if you can connect in a business capacity. You can also play the “friend-of-a-friend” game mentioned in the Facebook blurb above. However, make sure you are making meaningful connections. Be prepared to explain why you are interested in connecting (i.e. do you research!). It also goes without saying that your profile should look and feel professional.

Summary:
DO create a professional, current profile. DON’T be as casual as you would be on Facebook.
DO utilize LinkedIn groups to network. DON’T join groups without understanding the group’s dynamics, expectations, or purpose.
DO your research. DON’T randomly ask to connect with people.

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Twitter

Twitter all starts with your bio–make sure it’s crafted succinctly to demonstrate your rock-star status. Your business interests should be apparent. Make sure you are keeping your own content fresh, as people won’t want to follow-you if you only offer stale nuggets here and there. We also recommend using a #FollowFriday, retweet often, and ask questions–these methods may help you get more people to notice you on what can seem like a deep abyss of information and contacts.Then, take some time to find the right people to follow. Start by using Twitter’s own search platform–simply search for a person or handle! We also find that these sites to be helpful, thanks to the all-knowing people at Mashable.

Summary:
DO craft an amazing, compelling bio. DON’T try to be cute if cute doesn’t fit your job description.
DO ask questions and seek advice. DON’T YELL FOR ATTENTION VIA CAPS DURING YOUR TWEETS or tweet the mundane.
DO find interesting people to follow. DON’T spam them by tweeting at them all day long, thus becoming the horrible “super-fan.”

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Instagram

Instagram has this awesome blog to help you figure out how to get oriented on this very visual (and awesome) social networking site. Definitely take some time to sift through their wisdom. Then, focus on using imagery to tell your story. Post imagery that helps elevate your brand and makes potential contacts want to know you. Follow relevant industry peeps, and unleash the power that is the hashtag.

Summary:
DO figure out what instagram is on a personal level before using it on a professional level. DON’T jump right in if you’ve never used it before.
DO treat Instragram as part of your social media strategy. DON’T simply treat it as a place for “pretty pictures.”
DO utilize smart, effective hashtags. DON’T use endless hashtags that make us wish we had never found you on insta. #stopthehashtags #besmart #youcandoit

There are so many different social media platforms that can help you network–these are the top ones out there, in Go Media’s opinion. Go forth and conquer! Still nervous? Social media is all about testing things out–so try a few things, analyze what you’ve learned, and then reassess your methods. Good luck!

Personal Branding Podcast

Personal Branding Podcast For Graphic Designers With Kimika Hudson

WWW Dot HUH? – How to Select the Perfect URL For Your Business

How to Select the Perfect URL For Your Business

Follow the KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) philosophy in selecting a URL for your business. Yes, you can be creative and meaningful, but ensure that your URL is, above all, easy to remember and as error-proof as possible. Perhaps the most enjoyable way to test out your prospective URL is with the ever-famous Cocktail Party Test:

Let’s pretend for all intensive purposes that you’re at a Go Media cocktail party. Why not, right?!? Go ahead! Tell us your URL!

  • Do we look confused?
  • Do we need to write it down?
  • Are you spelling out words and correcting us when we repeat it?
  • Are you writing down the hyphens, underscores, or apostrophes for us?

If you answered, “Yes,” to any of these questions, it’s time to simplify your URL and incorporate the additional tips below. Then, and only then, may you attend another cocktail party to try it out.


How-to-Select-a-Good-URL-for-your-business-Keep-It-Simple

Be Unique But Memorable. Brands such as Zappos or Amazon work because of the brand marketing, not because they are immediately intuitive. If you have the gumption to create a name this unique, ensure you have the marketing at your disposal to make your URL memorable for your audience. Remember that your audience, however, may never fully catch up. You may have to purchase alternative spellings to your URL and redirect them to your site (Example: Flickr.com versus Flicker.com.)

Compete Wisely. Have you checked out your competitor’s URLs? What works (or doesn’t) about what they have chosen? Make some keyword lists about what makes your brand or company special. Use what differentiates you to make your URL sing.

How-to-Select-a-Good-URL-for-your-business-Think-Bigger

Think Big(ger). You may currently be a unilateral business and doing quite nicely. But what if one day, you decide to branch out? Take our business, for example. Our name, GoMedia, encompasses any media out there–if we had named ourselves after our first love (illustration) and called ourselves GoIlustrate.com, it would be harder to grow as a company and a brand.

Be Social. In today’s day and age, social media is an essential part of your business. Confirm that your URL can work seamlessly with social media. Have you checked out Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Can your name be integrated there? Is it too long, too short, or already taken? It’s not a game changer if you’re unable to snag the same exact handle, but you need to make sure that you’re social media persona ties into your brand and makes sense.

Secure Your Domain. Once you’ve decided on your domain and URL, we strongly suggest securing your domain for many years. It’s really not that expensive, and instead of having to renew it each year, you’ll be set. Plus, in the unfortunate instance that you forget to renew your domain one year, securing a domain for 10+ years will help you avoid headaches related to buying back your domain and editing all of your marketing collateral with an updated URL.

Starting a business is exciting, thrilling, and full of “head-in-palm” moments. You don’t need to add to the stress by creating a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad URL. Be creative, be smart, and most importantly, K.I.S.S. Hope to hear about your URL at one of our get-togethers in the near future!