Brand Marketing 101 for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Brand Marketing Strategy

A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of forgoing brand marketing and branding strategy during the early stages of their startup’s development and set-up. Most business owners tend to focus more on the product, and even though what you’re selling is important, the image you’ll be selling is even more so.

This is why defining your brand identity at the beginning of your startup efforts is crucial for the survival of your business.

Why? Keep on reading to find out!

Why is branding important for your startup?

Establishing an identity should be your first step.

One of the main reasons you should start brand marketing early on is because this is the only way to establish an identity for your business. And that doesn’t just mean creating a logo design fit for your company, some social media pages, and a quick website. Your branding will involve much more than just your name and a few designs. It’s your organization’s whole personality.

This is why it’s critical for you to choose a brand identity that represents your values as a startup makes you relatable to your audience. Having a precise vision of what your startup should be will save you a lot of time, money, and heartache.

Don’t forget to give your audience what they want

Good branding will also help you influence your audience, and turn them from viewers to customers. Most importantly, branding is great for customer retention, because it’s always cheaper to make your customers loyal than to look for new ones.

Startup branding is also a great way to inspire your audience and create an emotional bond with them. In the end, no matter how good or innovative your idea is, if you can’t require loyal customers, your business will most likely not be a success.

Early branding ensures that your marketing strategy will promote engagement and inspire loyalty towards your products and/or services.

How about the competition?

Brand marketing will also set you apart from the competition. A brand is more than just a name and an image, and it is strong enough to offer your company a competitive advantage, especially if your market is nearly saturated and there are a thousand more other companies that offer the same products and services.

A quick summary

To summarize, early branding in the startup business has many advantages, the most important being:

  • Creating an identity for your company
  • Giving your direction, marketing-wise
  • Making your business memorable

So, how do you work on your branding strategy when you’ve just started your business? Here are a few tips you might want to follow.

1- Get to know your market.

This should be a crucial part of your branding strategy because there is no way your brand will be successful without learning about your market of choice. You need to be able to pinpoint who your customers are, where you belong in your market, and how your services and products compare to those of your competitors.

One of the first decisions you should take is to choose who you want your audience and loyal customers to be. Create concise user and buyer personas and learn how you can communicate and bond with them. The best companies are, after all, the ones who know how to please their customers.

Focus on a niche, and you’ll be able to make a faster impact. How to recognize your niche? Easy, since it’s based on what you’re selling. Your services and products should be able to focus on an existing problem and be the perfect solution for it.

As an example, here is an answer to these two questions with The Puff Cuff company:

  • What is their niche?

Answer: people with naturally thick, textured hair

  • What problem do their products provide a solution for?

Answer: Styling thick curly hair is always difficult and problematic, which is why the company created the PuffCuff Hair Clamp, “a tool that makes it easy to achieve stylish looks without putting stress on curly hair or causing pain”.

2 – Learn more about the competition.

Even the most famous brands in the world can be at a disadvantage. This is why when you’re starting a new business, one of the first steps you need to take is learning more about your competition. You’ll need to work harder than the brands that are already established, so make sure to do it in a smart way.

Studying the competition offers quite a few advantages, the most important being:

  • The ability to determine whether or not there is a gap in the market that you can fill,
  • and how you can make yourself different from what’s already in the market.

This brings us to our next point…

3 – Make yourself different.

We know it hurts to read this, but your product alone is not enough to make you look good, no matter how incredible or genius it is. The only way you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from the rest of your market is by good branding.

For example, the brand Supreme is one of the world’s most desirable brand, and it stands out because of its exclusive, cool, underground image.

Separate yourself from the herd by having a unique voice and image. This is how your audience will remember you.

4 – Create the image you want to relay to your audience.

Finally, once you’ve done your research and identified the character you want your company to have, you should work on the image you will relay to your audience. A lot of variables go into a company’s image, especially a startup. From designing the perfect logo to your tone of voice to the typography you use to your color scheme, all these elements come into play to create your brand’s identity.

Also, remember that you can’t do everything alone. Especially for startups, using the services of experts are the best way to make sure you’re creating the perfect brand for your business. It might be expensive, but it is the single best thing you can invest in this early in the game.

Final Thoughts

Brand marketing is more than just coming up with a business name and creating a cool logo. It’s a whole strategy that should be well-studied and defined because it’s the one thing that will make you shine in an oversaturated market.

Website Design Trends 2019

7 Latest Website Design Trends to Follow in 2019 to Keep Up with the Modern Market

The reliability of a website hugely depends on the design of the website. Audiences are more drawn to a clear and descriptive site which communicates the essence of its content easily to them. Establishing a brand reputation and driving more traffic to the site are the main two goals of every website and the modern UI designs targeted towards these enhancements go a long way to ensure long term results.

With the current interest in the web designing field, it is being subjected to a wide range of experiments and a number of trends follow. The web design trends for 2019 are projected as follows.

1 – Strong User Interface:

A seamless user experience is the core of the web designing. In converting the visitors to actual clients, a strong UI is crucial. The UI that makes the process of finding content easier on the website without any hassle and completes the whole operation without any fuss is a popular among netizens and a simple change in the user interface by making it clearer and faster can ensure these improvements. Among the new trends in web design, minimalism has been a great favourite of the viewers, photo-based content, pastel or lighter shades of colours are being popularly used for the designs.

2 – White Space in Abundance:

To clear out the clutter, white space is added generously to the sites. This modern website design trend appeals to the aesthetic sense of the viewer while it gives the website a cleaner look and makes it possible to bring the content to focus. A white space is not meant to be white; technically, white space refers to the blank areas of space on the site that work to further emphasise the content that is put up there. Though the sites are hosting ads to profit from them, a site that has all sorts of ads and pop ups surrounding its content is less likely to be given much attention while a clearly thought out and designed site has better chance in reaching the goals. Too many graphic elements packed into one also produce the same effect of clutter.

Additional Helpful Resources:

10 exciting web design trends you can’t hide from in 2019

What are the Top 10 Web Design Trends in 2018? Get The Best Trending Web Design Tips

Can you tackle the web design trends for 2019?

3 – Customisation:

Customization is among the fairly new website trends and has been gaining popularity since its introduction. A website with its customized contents – graphics and illustrations, impact the viewers in a positive manner and helps them stand out. The importance of visual content cannot be stressed enough and to stand out from the competition, the content needs to be exclusive. The uniqueness of the brands is communicated to the audience through its visuals and customized designs as well as illustrations and graphics add to that aspect and stand proof of the brand’s creativity and innovation.

4 – Subtle but Distinctive Use of Colours:

An assemblage of a few different bright colors can do more harm to your website than good. But a bland color can also affect it negatively. Striking a balance regarding the color scheme is extremely important and making sure that the application of it complements your content is paramount. A content-based site requires more solid color backgrounds to feature lengthy content while a photograph based site requires a general white background to complement the photographs, but for the site explaining certain services of the company or a process, the use of different colors in contrast with a basic white or any light colored background helps the audience take in the information smoothly and make the content look interesting.

5 – Mobile Integration:

Launching a mobile version of the website alongside the desktop version is among the new web designing trends. This trend is in keeping with modern times as the audience is more likely to be surfing on their mobile rather than a desktop. With the growth of this crowd, the latest trends in web design have mutated accordingly. If a site does not open properly on mobile, chances are that its viewership will be greatly harmed. More than half the audience online depends on their smart-phones for all works related to the internet and the site’s adjustability to both can only add to its advantages. A design that is responsive to the screen or launching a mobile app can be considered to deal with issues such as these.

6 – Integrated Relative Videos:

Video content is a tool abundantly used across the websites to increase their SEO ratings. The optimization is often based on how much time the views spend on your website and video contents are reputed for making people spend more time on the site. However, videos relative to the content or intent of the website are recommended as non-relative content can drive away audience just as fast. Websites had procured short welcome videos to add to their home page which summarised the basic ideas conveyed on the site; modern trends have the designers inclining towards animation and “how-to” videos which arrest the interest of the viewers while imparting useful information to them.

7 – Engaging Scrolling:

With the modern generation scrolling on social media, the trend of short and concise material is going out the door. While lengthy material is not preferred as to bullets and key points, the audience seems willing to scroll. Among the new web design trends, this experimental feature is to be carefully implemented. Making the pages longer inevitable calls for the content being sufficiently rich with information and graphics aimed towards making the audience understand its meaning correctly. This technique also leaves much space to be experimented with and the content can be properly spaced out to draw attention where required with the help of color and gradients.

Verdict:

A website is the backbone of the brand, both marketing and sales are directed from the websites. Thus, spending enough on the proper construction of it and giving it a look which keeps up with the trends but also does not abandon the trademark of the brand is to be carefully conducted. The content on the pages are to be extended that consideration and consistent high quality content is to be featured on the site to not compromise with the reliability of the brand value to achieve positive results.

Writing and Graphic Design Hero

Highlighting the Importance of Writing for a Designer

How to launch and run a thriving design business has nothing to do with righting, write? Wrong! These days brand identity designers, logo designers, game designers, graphic designers, and even flash designers need to be able to spot the spelling mistake in the first sentence of this article. Designers can no longer be the master of their own dream world, where they choose and decide when, where and how they interact with the design project. It is highly crucial today more than ever that corporate design solutions align with client objectives from the largest corporation to the smallest enterprise. To become a successful designer, you must be able to cope with writing skills.

Why Writing is Important for Designers

Writing has its own worth regardless of the profession. From a technician to a designer, everyone needs writing abilities in order to communicate in a better way. However, for designers, it is far more important than just to communicate. Mentioned below are some of the reasons that elaborate on the importance of writing for a designer.

1. Writing Helps You Describe Your Design

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein

Very often, designers are required to explain the perspective and intentions of their design. Failing in the practice can lead to an ultimate thought that designs are not intuitive. Excellent writing skills enable you to think as a writer rather than a designer, which could help you finding the lacks in design if any. Writers usually do not hesitate to point out when the designs do not make sense as it could lead to a wrong description of a particular design. Searching for the mistakes in your own plan will allow you to manage an improved outcome.

Simply, it can be said that writing skills for a designer not only help him with literature but also helps improve as a designer.

2. Content First Designs are Trending

Gloria Tillison – A front-end developer at Crowd Writer illustrates during a seminar,

“Designers need to realize that the market is competitive, and every single person is focusing towards SEO with their designs and contents.”

She further said: “Content-First strategy is adopting widely in the world and we as a designer needs to cope with it as early as possible.”

Words are powerful and essential in any content of the website which cannot be ignored at any cause. As Biz Sanford from Shopify content team explains,

“Words are essential for helping users accomplish their tasks, and by thinking about them while you sketch, you’ll uncover problems early and be able to move faster later.”

Consider this page, by designer Justin Jackson, puts on the importance of words in a webpage.

3. Writing a Better Title, Body & Meta Tag Improves SEO

A designer is always focused on the SEO of any site he is designing for. In this regards, different tags have their own role and importance. Every tag has some particular requirements as well e.g.

  • A good Title tag is below 60 characters and includes a keyword or synonym.
  • Similarly, Meta tag lies in 150 to 160 characters and of course with a focused keyword.

Sometimes clients provide you with these tags; otherwise, a designer himself put the efforts. Designers with writing abilities will not find it difficult to manage these tags.

Despite the fact, the body content is always provided by the customers. However, usually, they are unaware of SEO. Good designers take care of SEO by modifying the given content with little changes.

They might need to add some transition words, convert passive sentences to active, shorten the sentences’ length and add focused keywords for better SEO and readability of the page. All of such work requires a good understanding of literature and excellent writing skills.

4. Sharing Your Ideas Help the Design Community

Many designers resist to share their work and have a feeling that someone may steal their idea or come up with a similar one. But they need to understand that what they have been creating is not coming all alone from their mind. There must be some inspiration and motivation from other works and designs.

Writing about your work, therefore, can be beneficial for you and others as well. It serves as the best tool to share your work and ideas which can help other designer feel inspired with and understand your design or your prototyping process.

5. Build an Audience & Start Business

With regards to looking for some kind of work, it can in some cases be hard to come up with new opportunities. Why not thinking about people coming to you rather than you approach them? All you need is to make it simpler for individuals to get an understanding of what you do and how you work. Writing allows you to do this efficiently through blogs, as it can enable you to build an online presence and become join communities to showcase your talent.

Once, you have developed your audience, it will be more convenient to launch your very own business. There are many businesses which were started just in a similar manner with writing blogs and building networks. They created their connections using their content, and people started recognizing them. So, this scenario is best for you to kick start a business when you already have a market and people know where to go for designing.

6. Let You Communicate With The Client In A Better Way

With the world being so fast, effective communication has become a primary skill to understand your client and make them understand your points. Since the market is growing vast, more professional seeking work and more communication happen in writing.

Remember the time when a confusing email from your colleague or customer left you uncertain, what to do with this. Such a gap in communication slows the process of designing.

Quick Tips For Getting Started With Writing

Now, since you are familiar with the necessity of writing for you as a designer, why not try some resources that can improve your skills. There are numerous tools and software that can help you to find a writer within you or assist you in different regards.

Grammarly: It is the software having several characteristics. It supports you to improve your writing by correcting grammar issues. It’s premium features allow you to check for plagiarism if by chance your piece is duplicated. It also lets you check the work with human proofreaders.

AustralianMaster: This is a human proofreader and editor. It can help you check your written material for errors, may it be structural or grammatical. They will correct it for you and add value to your written piece.

Writing Ocean: One of the most enriched hubs with different kind of composition marks. You will find here the best dictionary, easy to understand grammatical rules and a lot more.

Accurate Cite: When you will start writing, you will realize the importance of referencing. Accurate Cite can help you understand all these rules and regulations in a free flow manner. It also provides you with automated citation.

MHR Writer: They have professional and skillful authors who can assist you in any every type of composition. They will help you to make your cover letters and resume which can get you more work.

These tools will surely help you to develop a better scripting ability to benefit from the facts that I have described previously.

graphic design jobs

Graphic Design Jobs: Where to Find Your Dream Career Online

Seeking employment in the field of graphic design? When you’re looking for a new start, LinkedIn, Indeed, Simply Hired, Glassdoor, and Monster aren’t your only options. There are several sites that can connect you to your next freelance gig or running into the arms of an agency that will appreciate your talents. But where do you start looking? We are here to help!

Here are some sites you may find helpful:

AIGA Design Jobs: Professional Jobs and Internships courtesy of our friends at AIGA.

AngelList: Positions offered by Tech and StartUp Companies

Authentic Jobs: Design opportunities for graphic designers, developers and other creative professionals

Behance: Design Jobs, Internships and Freelance Work

Coroflot: Jobs in the areas of Graphic Design, Product Design, Creative Direction and more

Creative Hotlist: A creative job-board featuring categories like design, illustration, art direction and more

Design Milk: Design, Art and Architecture positions

Dribbble: Jobs for Designers

Higher Ed: Graphic Design Faculty Positions

How Design: Graphic, Web and Interactive Design opportunities

If You Could: A site covering a myriad of creative jobs

Krop: A multitude of creative positions

Media Bistro: Creative Jobs in areas like Graphic Design, UX & UI, Video, Web Production and more

Smashing Magazine: Jobs for Designers and Developers

The Dots: Creative jobs covering a range of roles. Some prestigious companies list here.

The Drum: Jobs in Marketing, Design and Creative Position, as well as a range of others associated with this field.

For Freelancers Specifically:

DesignCrowd: Freelance Design Jobs in areas including logo & branding, web design, print design, graphic design, product & merchandise, art & illustration

Freelancer.com: Post your skills/capabilities and get hired.

The Creative Loft: A premium job listing website for jobseekers and professionals of creative industries.

Upwork: The largest & most trusted freelancer site. Post your skills and clients will find you.

Make sure to check out our other posts related to job hunting!

The Magic Element to Include in the Best Graphic Design Cover Letter Ever

An Open Letter to Student Designers

Please Avoid Making These Mistakes We Often See on Design Resumes

How to Land the Design Job of your Dreams

Graphic Design Portfolio Examples to Inspire You + Important Tips

How to Have the Best Graphic Design Portfolio on the Block: 3 Tips

Good luck everyone!

Must Have Apps 2019

Seven Must-Have Apps Before Your Next Business Trip

Must Have Apps for 2019 to Download Before Your Next Trip

Seasoned travelers know you can do a lot of little things to make being away from home more comfortable. You can follow tips to pack lighter, such as rolling your clothes and using hotel laundry services and certain credit cards accepted everywhere. What you may not have considered are the apps you should download before your next journey.

Experts predict that U.S. domestic business travel will reach 483 million trips a year by 2020. By the year 2021, experts predict business travel spending will reach $1.7 trillion. If you aren’t already traveling as part of your work, you’re likely to at some point in your career.

Figuring out which apps are worth downloading and which are a waste of time isn’t an easy task. Dozens of travel and business apps are available. We’ve done the work of sifting through them and figuring out which are most beneficial for business travelers. Here are seven of them.

1. Skyscanner

Skyscanner offers a mobile app that allows you to sort through the different prices for flying to and from various destinations utilizing business class. Some airlines offer discounts at specific times of the year, so pushing your meetings a week or two out might save you as much as 50 percent or more on your business class fare.

The app also notifies you of any specials, helps you track which airlines have the best deals and offers a chart which shows the cheapest months and days to fly. If your company makes travel arrangements for you, you can still offer input to the assistant making plans by looking at your Skyscanner app for the best dates before asking them to book your travel.

2. HotelTonight

Have you ever headed out on a business trip that ran a bit longer than expected due to intense negotiations or a sudden added meeting or two? In large cities, the hotel you were already in may be booked up for a conference or other event. There are times when you suddenly have to find a hotel room at the last minute.

Enter Hotel Tonight, a way to find a hotel in any city with a few filters. The app has a partnership with some of the best hotels in the largest cities. They offer their unsold rooms at a discount. You can book rooms in advance or look for something at the last minute. The app includes a full description of each hotel along with ratings from other travelers.

3. CWT

This app is the perfect tool for syncing your travel itinerary and work calendars. If you plan to do a little sightseeing at the end of a work day, then you can also plan side trips around important meetings, meshing the best of both business and leisure travel.

You can also share your itinerary through the app with your work colleagues, which reduces communication issues and keeps everyone informed of when essential meetings are on the schedule. This app helps keep you productive and on task while on your business trip because you see at a glance what’s next in your planned day.

4. Elk

You might have some issues with actually converting your currency into foreign currency when traveling, including that there are only a limited number of banks which convert currency. Last-minute travel plans don’t always allow enough time to convert. You may find yourself in another locale with different money than your country uses. However, in tourist-heavy areas, they will likely still take the United States dollar and other popular currency in exchange for goods and services.

Elk is a currency converter for those trips that take you outside of your home country. The difference between what your local currency is worth in another country varies daily. You can quickly see if you’re being treated fairly and also being fair to others by using Elk to convert currency in real time. The app works with an iOS device and integrates with your Apple watch, putting information at your fingertips.

5. Netflix

You may have some downtime during your business trips, so entertaining yourself is a vital part of travel. Watching videos is one way of keeping yourself entertained. Listen with headphones, and you won’t disrupt those around you.

If you have a Netflix account, downloading the app is a must for any traveler. However, there may be times when you don’t have access to cellular data. You’ll want to download a few movies or episodes of shows to your app, so you can pull them up even without WIFI access.

When you do have WIFI access, your viewing options are unlimited. Remember that downloads take up space on your mobile device, so delete files after you’ve viewed them.

6. Google Maps

Google Maps is one of the top means of navigating in a car or on foot. If you’re in an unfamiliar city, you can pull up the app and figure out what restaurants and stores are near your location and get walking or driving directions to the destination. The maps also integrate with Google Reviews, so you can see what others think about a particular establishment before frequenting it yourself as well as get price ranges.

Google Maps also offers stop-by-stop directions for local mass transit along with departure and arrival times for trains and buses. Never again will you feel overwhelmed by big city subway systems you aren’t familiar with. You can pull up the app and figure out the best route to take along with where to get on and off transit.

7. Expensify

One of the worst parts about business travel is keeping all those receipts and tracking expenses, so you can get reimbursed or prove your per diem. Fortunately, there’s an app that simplifies the process of expense tracking.

The app is free to download. You take a snapshot with your phone of a receipt and describe the expense and submit a final report to your company when you’re finished. Even if your company doesn’t partner with Expensify, you can track costs for your records in case you accidentally misplace a receipt or to make your final report easier to pull together for accounting.

Be Choosy About Apps

The seven apps above represent some of the most useful ones we’ve found. While numerous apps for business travelers exist, be selective about which ones you use. The best apps serve a purpose by making your travel experience easier or reducing your workload in some way. Look for apps that expand communication between you and your home office or solve problems likely to arise while traveling.

graphic design portfolio examples

Graphic Design Portfolio Examples to Inspire You + Important Tips

Newly graduated? Actively seeking employment in the field? Super comfortable in your current position?

No matter what your status, the Go Media team suggests you regularly work to keep your design portfolio up-to-date.

Seasoned designers, we know that this task may seem daunting. However, in order to show beautiful work, you simply have to put the time in. Being methodical about adding work is far easier and more effective, in our view. Slow and steady always wins the race.

We have launched a couple blog posts about what your design portfolio should include. They are:

How to Have the Best Graphic Design Portfolio on the Block: 3 Tips and
How to Create a Graphic Design Portfolio 

Here are five of our most important tips.

  1. Only show your very best work. Your portfolio should be well curated. Less is often more.
  2. Cover all of your bases. If you have excellent work in branding, print, web, illustration, show us. Well-rounded designers are few and far between.
  3. Tell us a story. We love case studies! Show us your thought process from start to finish. Include illustrations, notes and various rounds. Address failures & successes along the way. We love to see how designers move throughout the design process. No matter what the outcome, we will respect you for guiding us along your path.
  4. Put as much time into your portfolio as you did completing the project. If you took eight hours to create a logo for a client, take roughly eight hours to work on that respective portfolio item. Dedicate yourself to mocking the logo up on multiple templates until they look perfect. Write, rewrite, proofread the copy to go along with your portfolio item. Construct a thorough case study as referenced above. If your logo appears in a store, restaurant or other location, go out and photograph it! Take time editing the photos so that they are professional in quality. Gather testimonials on your work if possible. Don’t stop until you’re proud.
  5. Show that you can work with clients & meet deadlines. Students, this one is for you. If you have not yet had experience in the field, ask your friends and family if they need any design work. This will get you some freelance work in the door and show us that you have experience, no matter how minor, working for clients. Get ready to illustrate the work you’ve done in your portfolio, as well as discuss how you communicated with them and managed to meet important deadlines.

Here are some portfolios that have inspired us with notes about why we enjoy them.

Ekaterina Oloy
Los Angeles Based Illustrator, Artist and Visual Storyteller
What We Love: Katia’s Portfolio is instantly spellbinding. Each project is accompanied by a full case study or accompanying materials that help you relate to Katia’s
work. This is the standard that all other portfolio’s should be judged against.

Skinny Ships
Design and Illustration by Richard Perez and Jennifer Derosa
What We Love: The cleanliness and fun spirit of the work. It makes you want to work with them.

Hom Sweet Hom
Hand Lettering by Lauren Hom
What We Love: High-quality, vibrant work that hits you in the face!
Great brand consistency

 

Ron Draper
Artist and Designer living in the UK
What We Love: Nice high-quality, bold imagery. Some portfolio items tell a story of Ron’s process.

Jordan Metcalf Studio
South African Graphic Designer
We love Jordan’s copy. As you know, we love a story and it gives more substance to his work.


Chuck Anderson
No Pattern Studio – Chuck Anderson
Artist, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Creative Director
What We Love: Chuck’s Portfolio is filled with over-sized, juicy imagery.
The quality of his presentation, in our opinion, is simply on another level.

Kate Moross
Designer
What We Love: Kate’s bold and captivating presentation

Erik Marinkovich
Lettering Artist and Designer
What We Love: Clean and crisp overall. The work is breathtaking! Copy is simple and straightforward.

Creative Mints
A Boutique Human-Centered Design Agency from Prague
specializing in Branding, UI and Illustration
What We Love: Creative Mints shows a beautiful variety of work in their portfolio

Go Media’s Online Portfolio
We couldn’t let you leave without bragging about our own graphic design portfolio!
Here at our Cleveland Graphic Design and Web Development Firm, we love showing off the work we do in the areas of not only design and web, but print, illustration and web marketing.

Our Rich Wonder portfolio item is a great example of one of our case studies. We used illustration to help us
explain our thought process through the project.

We hope you enjoyed this post and it inspired you to add to your portfolio today!

Remote Graphic Design Team Management

Remote Effectiveness: 4 Ways to Work Effectively with a Fully Remote Graphic Design Team

Remote Graphic Design Team Management & Collaboration

Sometimes it seems that everyone is working remotely these days. If you are a millennial, this is probably not news to you, but if you happen to be older and unaccustomed to working with a remote vendor, here are four suggestions that can make your project and management run more smoothly:

Set Expectations

Remotely produced or not, you want your stuff done on time, and it you have a serious hard stop, you’ll need to communicate that early in the process. Make sure your team knows what you need and when you need it. Many remote designers are loaded with projects and will naturally give priority to those customers that express a sense of urgency. If a deadline is missed, be sure to let your vendors know that this can’t happen again in the future.

Communication Preferences

Don’t think that email is the only way you can communicate with your remote design team. Apps like Slack work great for some people, while others like a more intense project management app like Basecamp, for example.

While simple apps like Slack allow you to directly message your remote design team, more complex platforms like Basecamp will allow multiple people to work on your project and keep the current version available to everyone. Not having to email v.1, v.2 and other project iterations avoids the problem of different persons working on non-current project versions.

Set Communication Parameters

First, understand time zone issues. Many remote designers in India, for example, have a lot of U.S. based clients, and therefore they may have no problem working odd hours so that they can communicate with you at your convenience.

Other times, even in the U.S., someone working for you from their studio apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin may not be available at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. You and your team need to set parameters for the most efficient and timely communications. Also, make sure you have an understanding about when emails will be returned. If you agreed to wait 24 hours before receiving an email reply, don’t get hyper and send panicked emails if the proper time period has not elapsed.

Money and Payment

Ensure that you read any contract before signing it. Make sure that you own any of the design work that you are paying for, and that copyrights will be yours. (You may need to consult a lawyer about this issue.)

Agree upon a currency to be used for payment. Worldwide, most remote designers will accept U.S. dollars, but you may find one that would prefer a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, so you should be prepared to understand how to buy and pay for items with it.

Do not deviate from payment terms that you have agreed upon, and if your remote designer asks for money earlier than what is spelled out in your contract, that could be a red flag. Also, observe all internet payment security measures, and never give anyone your social security number.

Working with a remote team can be great; just make sure you pay attention to the points mentioned above.

Designers collaborate with AI for better UI/UX

AI in Design

When you hear artificial intelligence (AI) discussed in the news, it’s usually related to new technical achievements in how large sets of data can be organized and understood. But the value of AI goes beyond just data science and can actually extend into other realms like web design.

Normally, web design is thought of as a purely human endeavor, like a form of art that is mostly reliant on creativity. However, advancements in AI have opened up an opportunity for designers to collaborate with smart computer systems to develop user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) content in a more efficient manner.

Let’s explore how AI and machine learning (ML) are used in web design today and how we can expect these two fields to blend in the future.

Basics of Artificial Design Intelligence

The web development community uses the term Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) first popularized by site builder Wix to describe how new automation technologies contribute to UI and UX work. This change in how professionals approach design methods has skyrocketed in popularity during recent years. Companies like Adobe have even begun to experiment with machine learning to build AI-centric design tools.

Obviously, design has evolved light years since the early days of the world wide web. Back then, webpages were manually coded in HTML while designers tried to determine what colors, fonts, and styles worked best in an online environment. This was a period of great experimentation, marked with plenty of failures and lessons learned.

As the internet matured, common design strategies and best practices emerged to help developers create a consistent experience for users. At the same time, back-end servers have come to rely on automation to build dynamic web-based applications. The ADI movement combines these two concepts to elevate how UI and UX design is accomplished.

Pattern Recognition

Much of modern artificial intelligence is based on a concept called machine learning, where a team compiles a wide range of data and lets a computer network analyze it through a sequence of algorithms. The goal is for the AI system to identify patterns and trends that might not be readily evident to a human.

Early ADI adopters realized that decades of web design experiments – successes and failures – could serve as a useful data collection to run through algorithms. The result has proven to be a powerful tool when it comes to humans collaborating with machines to improve UI and UX.

Consider logos: They’re the foundation of development projects. Back at the birth of the internet, companies would create their own image file to serve as a digital logo. Time passed and some organizations realized they could outsource that task to experts in branding and web design. But still, it remained a purely manual effort.

Fast forward to today and designers leverage logo-makers that run on an AI system. Thanks to the massive data sets that algorithms have already crunched, the process is now as simple as answering a few questions, filling in a few criteria, then waiting for the system to propose different designs. This logo-while-you-wait process relies on the AI engine to analyze the latest logo trends to develop something that fits your company’s needs.

Designing in the trenches – WordPress: If you work in WordPress, and it’s hard to avoid it, you’ll be elbows-deep in artificial intelligence and machine learning plugins before you realize it. There is a true explosion of new products hitting the market in this area, ranging from spam detectors to grammar improvement to a variety of recommendation engines.

A common scenario is a small business owner builds a website on a DIY platform like Wix and then realizes the extreme limitations, so asks you to migrate their website to WordPress, spiff it up, and turn it into a cash cow. Before you realize it, AI and ML are your project partners.       

Integration of Tools

Web design is not just about colors, fonts and logos. The best websites in the world deliver a positive UX experience for each visitor. This means that when a person arrives at a website, they are easily find what they are looking for thanks to the combined design power of humans and AI.

One of the primary goals for AI and machine learning when it comes to web design is to make the UI and UX personalized for each user. Not all people agree on what display or set of features is best, especially if they come from different places on the planet and speak different languages. But AI makes it possible for designers to create flexible templates that adapt to the person using them.

Web developers have realized that they can integrate AI-based tools directly into their designs to add value for users. For example, users may want to edit PDF documents directly in their browser. In bygone days, that would have been a tall (or impossible) order, but with AI and machine learning doing the heavy lifting, content can be ”visually” extracted from third-party files and made easier to manipulate on-the-fly, even in a document format formerly considered to be locked-in.

Another design feature that can be AI powered is an in-browser chat tool. Businesses that sell goods or services online often want to provide a way for their customers to get quick support. With an AI-based chat tool, this digital customer service representative can answer questions and point the way to useful information, often finding solutions without having to escalate their query to a human.

Privacy Considerations

You can’t talk about the data that powers AI and ML in today’s world without talking about how to protect it. Proper collection, storage, and use of data is no longer simply an ethical question. With the stringent GDPR regulations put into play in 2018, and the accompanying fines for misbehavior, it’s a financial survival question as well.

How far has AI come? It’s getting perilously close to being able to consistently hack the vaunted Captcha plugin using machine vision. Heretofore Captcha has served as a trusted website gatekeeper against automated spam but appears to be on the verge of becoming obsolete.

Consider implementing the following precautions when working with AI/ML in your own online life and suggest clients do the same when you hand off a completed site:

1    Almost every site collects some sort of data that falls under GDPR bur few site owners take the time to properly secure themselves against the latest smart malware attacks. A WordPress maintenance plan costs a little bit but removes that particular worry. It’s exactly what it sounds like – outsourcing your security. For some, it’s well worth the peace of mind to bring in experts.

2 If you’re a freelancer or work for a company that collects customer data, you should already have a virtual private network (VPN) in place to keep hackers from stealing or corrupting your information. Already in use by 25% of people who go online, VPNs are rapidly becoming the de facto method of protecting all the info an insatiable AI algorithm needs to become smarter.   

3 Don’t sign up for any AI tool that doesn’t clearly spell out their privacy policy for how they will use your data. Avoid any sort of machine learning experiment that requires private information like a home address or social security number.

The Bottom Line

The advancement of AI/ML will continue to revolutionize all areas of technology, including web design. And we shouldn’t depart the premises without allaying fears that the end game of this technology is to replace designers. That’s not the likely outcome of all this – at least not in any foreseeable iteration of the industry.  

Instead, what we can anticipate is for web designers to begin trusting AI as an augmented partner, using it to accomplish repeatable tasks in an efficient way. This frees the designer to focus on the creative tasks that no amount of AI can simulate and benefits the end user, which is the ultimate goal.

Salary guide for a Graphic Designer in 2019

Guide to Graphic Designer Salary 2019

Graphic designing is one of the rapidly growing professions that has penetrated its roots not only in the information technology and in sciences, but ensured its application in a massive list of industries.  

However, the designers have lucrative jobs and highest salaries, but those are not meant for all. Various factors define the salary range of an individual or a group of people with a specific skill set. A common perception of a graphic designer is that they are confined to the animations and games industry, but, in fact, they have an expanded utilization of their skills.

In this post, I am sharing some of the prerequisites of becoming an in-demand graphic designing, the career prospects, and the salary you may expect to withdraw. Keeping reading for a quick review of the different aspects you may come across soon in your career.

Prerequisites for Becoming a Graphic Designer

Getting a certificate or higher national diploma may not be as necessary for a graphic designer as it is for a doctor, accountant, fitness trainer, or business consultant. It is the field that tests your aesthetics, subject matter understanding, and skills. However, you may learn the basics of graduation or online courses.

Artistic Sense

Graphic designing demands a sense of love, affection, and deep understanding of art. Designs, done for a website, mobile application, or social media marketing; appears on the front.

It represents the business or its idea to the people at large, so it has to include the aesthetics of appealing, intriguing, and captivating users. An artist may never find it difficult in crafting and sketching ideas on a paper or screen.

Analytical and Sharp Mind

A designer may require analyzing his or her production with the perception of the end user or a client. If an image, post, banner, or logo is not worthy of pursuing further if it does not seem to be the right fit at first glance. Their sharp mindedness can also help them easily understand the scope and requirements of the design they intend to create for a certain cause or purpose.

Flawless Communication

In addition to verbal and written communication, the designers are also evaluated on how they can convey a message through creative images, shapes, icons, and other designs. Graphic designing is more concerned with the visual context so that a user or potential buyer gets the message before reading the actual text.

Usage of expert design tools

This is something obvious that a designer will have to get expertise in the software, applications, and online tools that may aid him in producing exemplary designs. They must acquire hands-on experience using applications such as Photoshop, ProofHub, Canva, DesignBold, Illustrator, Marvel, Sketch 3, and Pixelmator.

Time and Project Management

Working on multiple projects is a norm for any graphic designer that may demand timekeeping and tracking the progress of each project. Like any other project in the IT industry, designs do have deadlines and has to be prepared in urgency as well. So professionals are required to be the project managers.

What are the Available Career Options for Graphic Designers?

There are endless opportunities for any graphic designer to explore. It all depends on their interest, knowledge, and skills. Following are some of the career prospects in considerations.

Web Designer

A web designer job is among the highest paid gigs because they have a significant role in planning and developing an entire website. The job may demand a designer to create graphics, pages, layout, and suggest and implement design changes for improving the user experience.

Specifically, there is a surge in eCommerce web design as more and more online stores are entering the web to have a fair share of profit and make their business a success. For the web stores, the web design and development proves to be foundation stones as it has to potential to erect their venture from scratch and skyrocket it in prominent search engines.   

Creative Director

A creative director is not an entry-level job as it is a position to manage an entire team of creative minds such as photographers, artists, graphic designs, copywriters, and video editors. Creative directors usually oversee activities of the artwork produced for the billboard, magazines, television, and the web.

Photo Editor

The job title of photo editor may seem to be quite a basic one, but has a significant demand these days with the increasing number of online stores and the need to refine product images. The product photographers may use a high-resolution camera to extract real-like images of the products, but a photo editor makes it worth publishing and presentable with his or her sharp editing skills.

Architecture & Engineering Drafter

Quite an interesting and fascinating job option for a designer lies in the architecture and construction industry. Planning a completely new home, office, building, or a multi-story commercial hub all may demand drafting for the start with a versatile approach.

Other countless job opportunities may include:

  • Art Director
  • Video & Film Editor
  • Flash Designer
  • UX designer
  • Product Designer
  • Gaming and Animation/Animator

How much a graphic designer should expect to earn?

The way a salary package of a professional depends on various factors, the remuneration of a graphic designer also relies on multiple factors such as experience, city or state, and industry-specific expertise.

Experience and Portfolio

The experience and portfolio of a graphic designer play a major role in defining his or her salary range. The beginners or starters are surely paid the least, whereas it increases as soon as they get exposure and work for renowned brands and companies. According to average salary limits,

PayScale repots an average salary of a designer to be $43,251 per annum in the USA, in general, whereas the salary range differs in cities and states with prosperous economies. The salary range starts with as low as $31,069 and escalates to $61,473, whereas bonuses and commissions are awarded accordingly.

The PayScale further describes the starting salary of an entry level designer to be around $30,218, which increases to $34,015 and $35,549 for a mid-level and senior resource respectively.

City and State of work

The city or state where you live matters the most when it comes to salary limits. It is the economic differences that affect the salary of professionals like graphic designers and others. These are calculated in line with inflation and gross domestic product.

Designers may not base the selection of a city or state based on slight salary differences, because a city providing lucrative jobs does have an expensive lifestyle.

For example, if you search for an average salary of a graphic designer on Glassdoor, you will get a figure around $67,198 per year in San Francisco that is about 33% above the average national salary. On the other hand, the website reports as low as $46,209 a year salary for the same job in Houston, which is even below the national average.

I have searched for different cities and came up with a conclusion that their lies slightest differences between cities, whereas a huge salary gap if compared to towns or small cities.

Conclusion

To most of the creatives and artists, a slight difference in different positions and roles may not matter, as they are inclined to produce the best they can. The thing they really care about is meeting the expenses and saving enough in a retirement plan.

It is obvious that the salary in every profession increases with the passage of time, experience, and expertise. However, moving to a big metropolitan in pursuit of higher salaries may not always be a viable solution.

Conversely, the graphic designers shall work on their skills and refine it enough to master a specific trade that no one else in the niche possesses, and, that’s where you get a competitive edge in asking for a higher salary or a significant raise.

Eight Business Mistakes to Be Aware of After Your First Year

Mistakes happen. We are human, and we are not infallible. The trick is not necessarily avoiding mistakes altogether, but instead using them as a learning experience. In business — particularly when running a startup — it’s also essential that you deal with any problems as soon as possible to prevent them from growing into something insurmountable. Some business mistakes may even come back to haunt you later down the line, in that case, it’s about being prepared.

Of course, the best thing to do is to avoid making the mistake in the first place. That’s not always possible, as some things are just going to play out how they play out. However, you can avoid some common problems during your first year of business — mistakes which many other entrepreneurs have made in the past. Here are eight examples.

1. Register as a Business Entity

In the U.S., most states require you to have a business license or at least be registered before you can start operating as one. This process is not the same as incorporating or starting an organization, but it’s just as important because it separates your personal assets from your business assets. What does that mean?

If you’re selling a product that hurts someone or makes them sick and they decide to sue your company, that’s where the business entity comes into play. When registered as a business, that essentially takes over, and the person(s) suing can only collect from your business assets and funds, including available insurance. If you’re not an “entity,” your personal assets are on the table, too. It could very well be the difference between only losing your business funds and supplies or losing your home and personal materials, too.

The most common form of business entity is an LLC or limited liability corporation.

2. Plan Ahead

There’s no way to know for sure what’s coming in the years ahead. Your business could slowly start to grow, die off entirely or hit a sudden boom bringing in millions of dollars a day — you just don’t know. But that doesn’t change anything in regards to planning. You should always plan ahead and have multiple contingencies for when an event or scenario plays out. Don’t prepare just for success, either.

More importantly, you should remember to set goals you can strive toward. Don’t just set them in the near future, either — consider two, five and even 10 years down the line. What would you like to achieve? What new avenues, products or services would you like to pursue? Would you like to be in new markets?

Expanding your business into new markets or opening up new locations, for instance, will be necessary to grow influence and support. But it’s important to understand the risks, timing and requirements, so you don’t incur more significant problems. Do it at the wrong time, and you’ll stretch your capital and assets thin, which could result in failure for the entire operation.

Start with a huge list of desirable yet realistic goals and narrow down what you want to achieve as you continue to grow.

3. Learn to Protect Your Business

Too many startups fail simply because the owner or owners were not prepared to deal with certain unfortunate yet legal events. They did not consult legal assistance, they did not file the appropriate paperwork to protect their assets or they did not draw up a contract to prevent gutting or theft.

Imagine two friends working together to build a startup. Things start to go sour, and one decides to leave, but they want to take “their” ideas or accomplishments with them. It’s too late to draw up a contract to protect the business at that moment. So, you should do it beforehand.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Protect intellectual property through trademarks, copyrights, etc.
  • Draw up a contract before things get hot and heavy, explicitly outlining what stays with the business and who gets what during a split
  • Create similar contracts for partners, vendors and investors
  • Consult attorneys, accountants and bankers for advice and support — don’t do everything yourself
  • Acquire the necessary insurance or emergency financial support

4. Don’t Incorporate Too Early

Many companies and business owners will decide to incorporate when they’re running low on funds, which opens up their business to public investments and incredible growth. It’s a good idea, and it’s a great source of capital — but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your business.

Do not incorporate until your business has a clear foundation and it’s apparent whether you’re going to sink or swim over the coming years. That might sound vague, but you can predict relatively well through past performance how a business will do on its current trajectory.

There are many requirements of an incorporated business you may or may not be able to deal with. For example, investors are going to want the company run the way they think is best, which means making decisions that please them — not necessarily how you would want your business to be shaped. This can completely alter the planning and design phases, as you must incorporate what your investors want as part of your decision, as opposed to only what you or your team might want.

5. Undervaluing Your Products or Services

The price you charge for your goods when you enter the market sets a precedent for your business. In most cases, it’s difficult to raise prices or change a payment plan after your company is in operation, even with iterative product updates. You’d have to make substantial changes to warrant the increase, and many customers are going to be against it or upset by it.

That doesn’t mean you should never change prices, but the critical point here is that you don’t want to undervalue what you have to offer when you’re just starting. A lot of businesses set their price points too low because they aren’t confident or they fear failure.

Before launching anything, explore the market thoroughly to review comparable products. What are similar companies charging? What do your products or services have that others don’t? What’s a good price range for your industry?

6. Avoiding New Technology

For any business, the adoption of new technologies, systems and tools is going to be a costly endeavor — that’s just how it is. The bigger the team, the more time and resources it will take to roll out a new solution — which includes higher costs.

Money aside, you should never be afraid to adopt new technologies or solutions. Many will help teams do their work more effectively, increasing output and ultimately lowering operating costs. In other words, it’s almost always worth the investment.

Do your research beforehand. Also, don’t adopt too many new platforms at once, just work on a single upgrade at a time. When assessing what to try or what to install, consider what parts of your normal day-to-day operations could do with a little improvement.

7. Know Your Ideal Customer

You could have the greatest idea ever for a business or product, but it won’t make a difference if you don’t know who your customer is. That also means understanding what they want, how they live and how they might interact with your business in the future. Will they be willing to upgrade to a new model as soon as it’s available, for instance?

Knowing your customer is not just vital for regular business operations and development, it’s also crucial to marketing. You need to speak directly to your customers through your marketing campaign, including those that have yet to invest in your business.

8. Need Strong Marketing

Speaking of marketing, you won’t see a lot of growth if you aren’t continually promoting your business. Marketing takes many forms from online and social media content to word of mouth referrals. Furthermore, as a local business or new startup, your marketing campaigns are going to look a lot different than large organizations.

You won’t succeed at marketing, however, if you don’t understand your market. That means getting to know your customers, understanding your competition and knowing the current market sentiment. Are people just not interested in the products or services you wish to sell, for instance? How can you change that?

If you don’t learn to market early, you’re going to have a much more difficult time later on. Not to mention, you won’t have a consistent way to bring on new customers and clientele.

Mistakes Happen, So Learn to Correct Your Trajectory

Even armed with these incredibly helpful tips, you’re going to make a few mistakes. That’s okay. What’s important is that you correct your trajectory as soon as you realize what’s happening and that you learn from any errors, so you don’t repeat them.

Running a startup business is not a simple or easy feat. It’s challenging, there will be lots of obstacles and it takes a lot of time, patience and money. But you can make it happen. Just stay focused on your goals, trust in your support and keep pushing forward.

Hiring a Professional Logo Designer

7 Reasons to Hire a Professional Logo Designer

Hiring a Professional Logo Designer

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What makes a company stand out? Is it a unique product that no one else in the industry is selling? Is it dedication to providing round-the-clock customer service? Is it a history of contributing money to charity?

All of these are certainly true, but in a more basic sense, what makes a company stand out is simply its logo. For something that is essentially just a small illustration, it can exercise a remarkably powerful influence on consumers.

To illustrate, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Apple, Nike, or McDonald’s? Before you even start thinking about what these companies are about, your mind will conjure up an image of the half-eaten apple, the iconic ‘swoosh’, or the yellow ‘M’ against a red background. This is the power of the logo.

If you are a business owner yourself, coming up with a logo to represent your company should be one of your top priorities. And unless you are also a designer, it is advisable to leave the task of bringing your vision to life to a professional logo design company.

Doing this has several benefits over trying to create one on your own, or leaving the job to amateurs, and we will cover the most important ones in the rest of this article.

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1. To Establish Your Brand Identity

Think of a company as an entity that has two key features. One is its internal structure, which is a kind of mechanism for producing wealth. The other is its outward appearance, the image it projects into the public sphere. The marketing discipline of branding is primarily concerned with the latter, namely with the process of forming and disseminating the company’s image. And a logo is a key element of this process. The purpose of a logo is to encapsulate your company’s brand identity into a simple, reproducible form, so it can be used as a visual shorthand for representing your company to clients and customers.

2. To Make Your Products And Services Recognizable

In a hypothetical world where marketing never took off as a commercial activity, there would be little means of distinguishing between various products and services that society produces. One can of tuna would look like any other, and consumers would have no means of telling them apart, even if they came from different factories. Now, imagine adding a logo of your favorite seafood brand to one of the cans. Suddenly, the can without a logo will look boring and nondescript, whereas the one with a logo will immediately jump out at you. The point should be obvious – having a logo is crucial to make customers notice your products and services.

3. To Set You Apart From Your Rivals

We will extend our example from the previous paragraph, and ask you to imagine that a competitor of yours now has their logo on the other can of tuna. We are now back to square one – the cans are indistinguishable insofar each of the has a logo plastered over it. This is where the element of competition comes into play. In order to make your can stand out, your logo has to be better at identifying your product than the one your competitor is using. And a professionally designed logo will always look better than a doodle by an amateur, so make sure that your company only uses the former.

4. To Build Trust With Consumers

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A logo is not just an image. It is also a symbol, and symbols have meaning. Take the symbol of the cross. For a non-christian, a cross is just the intersection of two lines. For a believer, the cross represents the very core of their faith. A logo rarely inspires such adherence, but it will nonetheless communicate some sort of message to people that are aware of it. And the message your logo should be communicating is one of trust. And if your customers associate your logo with a sense of trustworthiness, they will be more willing to do business with your company.

5. To Communicate Complex Messages
Logos are used to build trust, but they can also transmit more specific messages. In this sense, a logo is a means of describing the thing it is associated with, whether it is your company as a whole, or a particular product or service your are offering. Take the famous Nike ‘swoosh’. For one of the most famous logos ever created, the ‘swoosh’ is rather minimalist in its design, but only on first glance. The ‘swoosh’ resembles a ‘tick’ used to mark the completion of a task, conjuring forth images of success. It also evokes a sense of motion due to the a variation in thickness, another idea which is in line with Nike’s brand identity.

6. To Enhance Your Aesthetics

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While a logo is arguably the most prominent visual element of your company’s aesthetic, it is by no means the only one. Equally important are your choice of color, font, and website layout. The question then becomes: which element should you develop first? There is no one answer to this question, but we would like to argue that by opting to first design your logo, you will make it much easier for yourself to come up with the other two. Our reasoning is the following: a logo combines all three of the aforementioned aspects of your visual aesthetic in a neat little package. It has a specific color scheme, it often includes some form of writing, and it’s overall shape is a good starting point for developing the layout for a website.

7. To Create a Legacy

If you sit down and sift through a book on medieval illustration, you will find a lot of images that resemble logos of today. These so-called heraldic symbols were used to identify various institutions, guilds, and families. More importantly, a heraldic marking was a sign of legacy – it implied that whoever wore the mark came from a long line of descendants of good repute. And your company logo can also work in this fashion. Once your company gets established as a reputable name in your industry, its logo will slowly start accumulating value over time. Eventually, your logo might even outgrow your company, becoming a true symbol of its own.

Conclusion
As you can see, a professionally designed logo can bring substantial benefits to your company. Whether you are trying to differentiate yourself from competitors, raise brand awareness, or communicate more effectively with consumers, a logo can help you achieve these goals, all for the price of a single illustration.

Before and After Comparisons of Famous Logo Redesigns

Why Your Business Should Consider Investing in Influencer Marketing

Where should you invest your online marketing dollars? Tracking online marketing efforts isn’t an easy task. Results aren’t immediately noticeable for some campaigns, and building a brand name adds value to your company in ways other than strictly monetary.

Influencer marketing utilizes people online with an established fan base and voice to get the word out about your products and company. However, influencer campaigns tend to offer a slow build toward name recognition rather than fast results. Ongoing investment and working with multiple influencers works best for most businesses.

There are eight key reasons your business should invest in influencer marketing.

1. Reach More Millennials

The millennial generation is one of the largest generations since the baby boomers, and they are now a vast buying block. About 70 percent of millennials tell surveyors the recommendations of their peers influence their purchase decisions. In a sea of businesses and online advertising, standing out to a marketing-savvy demographic isn’t easy, but your brand can still reach millennials where they live via social media influencers.

2. Keep up With Competitors

As more marketers realize the value of influencer marketing, your competitors get on the bandwagon. Remaining competitive requires embracing the same types of marketing but also thinking outside the box.

Work with influencers your competitors aren’t already working with. Think about who has similar audiences to yours, develop relationships with them and reach out for partnerships. The idea behind influencer marketing is creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Your audience should be a gain for the influencer and vice versa.

 

Lululemon Athletica teamed up with well-known names and micro-influencers to get the word out about its brand. In the screenshot above, professional surfer Malia Manuel shows off her Lululemon gear as she holds a yoga pose. Posts such as this give customers a reason to visit Lululemon’s website or Instagram page.

3. Grow Your Social Following

When an influencer mentions your brand, you gain access to their followers. While not all will respond to a campaign, some will. You’ll gain likes, followers and shares each time you work with an influencer on a campaign, and try out this auto likes instagram free trial to increase your brand.

Another way of engaging with influencers on social media is by commenting on their posts and sharing their content with your followers. Make sure your comments aren’t spammy but are related to the post at hand and add value to the conversation. Folks interested in the topic may find your comment interesting and click on your profile to learn more about you.

4. Create Instant Trust

New brands sometimes have a difficult time building trust with new customers. You don’t have a proven track record and users have no real reason to trust you and your customer service. However, they may already trust the influencer, who does have a proven record of only recommending the best products and services in the industry. Getting a recommendation from an influencer people already trust lends credibility to your brand.

 

50 Floor utilizes the help of a well-known influencer on the landing page of its website. Richard Karn is famous for his role as the handyman Al on “Home Improvement.” When site visitors see his smiling face, they immediately think of high-quality work ethic and home improvement. Finding a recognized and trusted influencer lends credibility to your brand name.

5. Find Influencers Easily

Figuring out who to contact at a print magazine and how to create the right resolution and size ad is a grueling task for someone new to the advertising game. However, finding an influencer is as simple as researching a topic and seeing who is talking about that trend on social media. You can see at a glance which accounts have a decent following.

Pay attention to how many people interact on their profile pages and not just how many followers they have, as some people have a lot of bot followers. Are their users engaging when they post content? Pay particular attention to any branded posts they put up and how their followers react. Getting attention from 3,000 highly targeted and engaged users is preferable to little attention from a million followers.

6. Gain Sells

A powerful influencer mentions your product and the orders roll in. While influencer marketing isn’t always fast, there are times when it is. A recommendation to take advantage of a special offer works well, especially if the audience trusts the influencer has their best interests at heart. Working with such an influencer increases your sales.

One example of a company utilizing an influencer to sell a product is Glossybox working with YouTube influencers. It created videos of the influencers opening its monthly subscription boxes and then using those products. The conversions from a Revfluence campaign were phenomenal, with 150,000 views and $3,000 in monthly sales — for far more than a single month.

7. Create Unique Content

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is creating content regularly. However, working with influencers gives you content to share on your social media sites and even on your website. Influencers create reviews, videos, short posts, photos and more.

The cost of hiring a professional writer and photographer is far more than the cost of bringing on an influencer who also creates this type of content. A smart marketing mix is splitting your budget between influencers and unique content.

8. Add a Fresh Perspective

Figuring out ways of marketing your products isn’t easy. Over time, ideas grow stale, and you need something fresh and cutting-edge. Influencers brainstorm ideas with you because they know what their audience responds best to. The way they see your brand may be slightly different than the way you see it. Their unique viewpoint allows them to showcase you in a new light with a fresh audience.

Cost-Effective Tool

Influencer marketing is one of the most effective tools you have for increasing brand awareness. Approach it as you would any other type of marketing endeavor. Do your research, study the competition and create a plan. Keep in mind that the best results often take time, but don’t rule out immediate benefits, either. Look for ongoing partnership opportunities that expand the reach of your brand and add fresh ideas to your business.

Creative Social Media Marketing Ideas You Can Implement Today

Creative Social Media Marketing Ideas You Can Implement Today

Due to the information revolution, marketing strategies are rapidly changing. What was in trend a couple of months ago, now is passé. With that along, ways of using the same marketing tools are constantly changing. Just a couple of years ago financial investment in commercials was at its peak – millions were invested in advertisement videos. Nobody could predict that social media would become so crucial in the marketing world.  

it is not easy to keep up with all the trends that are going viral. Here are the most creative ways in which you should use social media if you want your business to keep up with hot trends.

Creative Social Media Marketing Ideas

1. Collaborate With Another Brand

This is a great way of gaining new followers and exposing yourself to a different audience. The only point of partnering with another brand is to choose not a competitor, but a brand with only a slightly different target audience. That way both parties will widen the audience and benefit from the collab.

2. Use The User-Generated Content (UGC)

The pressure of constantly creating good quality content for your social media and website can be a nightmare. Why on earth then you would not use and share the content your followers and fans are literally providing you with. You can make different Instagram campaigns asking your audience to engage and post a photo with certain hashtags. It can be anything from asking a simple question, to selfie with your brand’s product. Also, keep in mind that people will always believe more in your brand’s service if they see other people besides you enjoying it as well.  

3. Giveaway Time!

Did anyone ever say no to free stuff? People love getting things for free. Giveaways and contests are a great way of getting new followers and UGC that you then share on your social media. Conditions of contests and giveaways are usually consisted of liking or following your account, and maybe posting a picture or writing a comment on a certain subject. Either way. it is a fun way of engaging your audience with your brand.  

4. Hop on Hot Trends Wagon

Unlike before, when you only had to think about selling the product, now you have to think about sharing ideas, lifestyles, and humor with your audience. That is why it is super important to stay on track about trending topics and state your opinion here and there. Before you do that, you should be aware of a couple of things. First is that you have to completely understand the trend, and why people are buzzing about it. And second, make sure that it is relevant to your service/product in some, at least vague way. Adding something valuable to the topic will bring you more integrity, and respect from your audience. Plus you will earn some new ones as well. Keep in mind that keeping up with all the different trends and topics is a full-time job. If you want to do it right. It was never a better time to outsource this task to professional managers of social media, than today. Having an advantage of being a remote job, you can even choose experienced social media agency based in Sydney. Location does not matter.  

5. Include Behind The Scenes

There is no better way of your audience getting to know your brand in depth, than by letting them see who is behind your products and posts. It is a more intimate strategy that builds trust and creates deeper, more personal relationships with your users. It helps them see your team and working environment in the right spotlight. You can share photos of your team working, having a break, team building… Or even short videos including funny moments with your coworkers.  

6. Create Educational Videos

Good How-to video has never been left unshared. These videos are very eye-catchy, as they are visually appealing and the audience can learn something new from them. Most shareable contents are usually regarding crafts, hacks, and cooking. Try to find a topic that is in some connection to your product or service and that will at the same time be attractive to the audience. It will help you grow your followers and build trust in the knowledge that stands behind your brand.

7. Let Influencer Borrow Your Social Media

This is another creative strategy of using your social media. Basically, you are collaborating with a relevant influencer and letting them post on your behalf on social media for a certain period of time. This creative strategy brings your brand a fresh perspective and adds new faces to your followers. People are identifying with other people much easier than they do with brands. Allowing this takeover, influencer’s audience will be exposed to your brand, and vice-versa.

If you have not already, start implementing these social media marketing strategies. Invest your time in searching for the most effective marketing strategies, and make sure to keep up with the newest social media marketing trends.

Marketing Strategies for Freelance Designers

7 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Freelance Graphic Design Business

Marketing Strategies for Freelance Designers

If your success as a freelance designer only depended on your talent and work ethic, you’d have an endless stream of clients. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, you have to master the combined arts of marketing and promotion. You have two overarching goals. Establish name recognition. Connect with the clients that you want to work with. Here are seven strategies that you can employ.

Start with Your Business Plan

Many people see a business plan as a tool for launching a small business, or something they must create to attract investors. It’s also very useful for setting the foundation of your marketing strategy. In your business plan, you will identify:

  • Your Target Audience
  • The Specific Products and Services You Offer
  • Your Market
  • The Factors That Differentiate You from Other Graphic Designers

Create a Portfolio

Your next step will be to create a portfolio of the design work you’ve done. Refer back to your business plan. You should certainly share a wide variety of work samples, but focus on the kind of work that sets you apart, and that appeals to your target customer.

Don’t worry if you haven’t done a significant amount of paid work. It’s more important that you showcase quality work that clearly demonstrates your skill set. There’s nothing wrong with including student or personal projects in your portfolio.

Establish an Online Presence

Once you’ve selected the items you’re going to include in your portfolio, it’s time to begin building an online presence. This includes creating a website and getting active on social media.

https://www.instagram.com/welovewebdesign/

All of your other marketing efforts will focus mostly on getting people to your website, landing pages, and social pages. These are the places where you’ll make sells, introduce the details of your products and services, and develop relationships with customers and potential clients.

Keep in mind that your profession is going to lead to very high standards when it comes to your website. Other freelancers may be able to get away with a website they build from a free template. Your website is going to reflect on your professional capabilities. Everything from your choice of font, layouts, color schemes, and images really needs to be on point.

Your web content also needs to be extraordinarily professional. If you’re more artist than writer, you might want to source some professional services and tools such as:

  • White Smoke – A helpful spelling and grammar checking utility
  • Rewarded Essays – A copywriting and editing service with an excellent reputation
  • Grammarly – A grammar checking utility that works as an app or plugin
  • Google Docs – Keep your web content documents organized in one place you can access anywhere.
  • GrabMyEssay – Another reputable source of professional content writing services

Reach out via Email

You can begin working on a solid email marketing campaign right from the start. In fact, you should. For every dollar spent on email marketing there’s an average ROI of 32 dollars.

It’s easy enough to get started. You can begin collecting email addresses with a simple form on your website. Later, you can adopt a more comprehensive email marketing solution that includes email templates, an autoresponder, and other advanced features.

Share your Work and Your Insights

Used correctly, your social media sites can become a goldmine of customer engagement and promotional opportunities. Some of this can include direct promotional content. Just keep in mind that the key to successful social media marketing is in building relationships and establishing thought leadership. The best way to do this is by creating and sharing relevant content.

If you haven’t started blogging, now is a good time. Share your expertise and insights about graphic design techniques, industry trends, even your experiences as a freelancer. Anticipate questions your target audience may have, and challenges they face that relate to your profession. Then create and share content that addresses their needs. To keep your writing at a professional level, try Hemingway, Hot Essay Service, and Power Thesaurus.

Target Long Tail Keywords

SEO is the process of making your website, social media, and content easy to find on Google and other search engines. Keywords are an important part of this. When your content contains the words and phrases that people who need your services enter into search engines, your website and other content will filter to the top of search results.

The problem is that two or three-word keywords tend to lead to very generic search results. That’s no way to get found by members of your target audience. Instead, focus on long tail keywords. These are longer, more detailed phrases that make it more likely that you’ll get the attention of people who are interested in the specific services that you have to offer.

For example, the phrase ‘Graphic Design’ is likely to return a very large, very generic list of search results. As a freelancer, you’re not likely to make the front page. Now, imagine that the search keywords are, ‘Graphic Design in Cook County’ or ‘Graphic Design for WordPress’. That narrows down the field significantly.

Use Client Testimonials and Referrals

Neightan White, a content marketing expert at Supreme Dissertations says, “Anything you say about your own talents and capabilities will always pale in comparison to the word of a satisfied client. This is why it’s imperative to identify clients that you’ve really impressed and ask them for a testimonial or recommendation.”

When you get positive feedback, use it to your advantage. Share testimonials on social media, your landing pages, and your website. This is a great way to build trust and thought leadership. Referrals are extremely valuable in building up your business through word of mouth.

Final Thoughts

If you can master the art of marketing and promotion, and combine that with your superb graphic design skills, you have an excellent chance of establishing a solid client base. This will lead to your ongoing success as a freelancer.

Seo Automation Activities

The Key SEO Activities You Should Automate

Nowadays, many companies leverage search engine optimization (SEO) in order to boost their visibility and exposure online. In the modern competitive landscape, SEO has become mandatory rather than just optional, especially if your company wants to outrun numerous competitors on the market. However, as beneficial as SEO is, there’s no denying the fact that it’s a time-consuming process that requires a lot of dedication.

As a matter of fact, it takes a bit of time before SEO starts to show viable results and companies must constantly monitor as well as improve their efforts. During that process, there are a lot of tasks that are repetitive and even mundane. These tasks can take a lot of your time but fortunately, they can be automated in order to streamline your SEO strategies and practices. That being said, here are a few of the key SEO activities you should automate to save both time and resources for your campaigns.

Keyword ranking

Keywords play a vital role in your SEO campaign. They are words or phrases your company ranks for in order to improve visibility online, thus allowing your consumers to find you more easily. Companies rank for keywords that are relevant for both their business and their customer intent.

What’s more, companies oftentimes change their keyword strategy based on a keyword’s performance and its ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Rankings Page). Therefore, you must always be up-to-date with how a keyword or keywords your company has opted for is performing.

However, search engines such as Google change and update their algorithms regularly. That’s why you must constantly adjust your SEO efforts in order to ensure good rankings for your keywords. You can automate this process and get weekly updates about keyword performance. That way, you can make more strategic decisions and adjust your campaign if need be.

On-page SEO audit

On-page or on-site SEO is a crucial activity for your campaign. You must regularly audit your website and ensure that all elements are SEO friendly. That way, you help both search engines and users better understand the context and the content on your website’s pages.

However, checking for problems on your website can be quite a daunting task. It may take you days to identify issues, and even then you may not find all of them. Luckily, automation can help you find all issues quite effectively. However, you must rectify the problems on your own. Nevertheless, it will still save you a lot of time. Here’s what automation can help you find.

  • Broken or missing internal links
  • Duplicate content
  • Missing title tags
  • Missing meta descriptions
  • Unfriendly URLs
  • 404 errors
  • Redirects, and so on

Analytics reports

Tracking the progress of your SEO activities and campaigns is vital. Companies oftentimes track metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to evaluate the performance of their campaigns and determine whether or not their efforts are bearing fruit. SEO activities drive various results you must track in order to determine if your efforts require improvements or not.

Going through the information from numerous metrics can be time-consuming. However, with automation, you can get regular SEO reports that will portray the whole picture. You can automate any analytic report and have it ready in a moment’s notice. This task is essential because you can have reports ready for yourself, shareholders, clients or upper management whenever they’re needed.

Tracking backlinks

The link profile for your SEO strategy is one of the most important factors. According to Google, content and high-quality backlinks share the first place as being the most important ranking factors. Backlinks you create on relevant and reputable sources help build your visibility and exposure, as well as help improve your website’s domain authority.

Backlinks are also the key source that drives traffic to your website. That’s why it’s important to track your backlinks and monitor their performance. However, there are numerous backlinks to check through manually. That’s where automation comes in handy. You can automate backlink tracking and get updates about various factors, such as:

  • The number of backlinks pointing towards your website
  • The number of dofollow and nofollow links
  • The most valuable backlinks
  • Domain and page authority of websites
  • Link status
  • Trust and citation flow

Competitive analysis

One of the more important activities in SEO is competitive analysis. Your main competitors in SEO aren’t the companies who compete against you in the market but those who outrank you on search engines. Keeping an eye on competitors is vital for the success of your own strategies.

However, the point of a competitive analysis isn’t to copy your main competitors but instead, to identify gaps that can be exploited in order to gain a competitive advantage.

By automating competitive research and analysis, you can be updated about your competitors’ SEO strategies and efforts without wasting time to do it manually. That way, you’ll always have vital information regarding competitor backlink strategy, content creation and publishing, keyword rankings and so on.

Automation in SEO can greatly help your company save time and resources on mundane yet necessary tasks. That way, you can focus more on improving your own campaigns and your efforts instead of falling behind.