Internet Marketing Services, Wilmington NC

Posts Tagged ‘Graphic Design’

10 Things to know about your Graphic Designer

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010


1. How long have they or the company they work for been in business?
Freelancers and small shops come and go at an alarming rate. To prevent getting stranded mid-project, ask how long they have been in business.

2. Who have they done work for?
Do you know any of these past clients? Do they have a complete body of work for these previous clients, or just one job? Most reputable designers have amassed many projects per client. If you only see one project per client, chances are the client wasn’t satisfied and moved on.

3. Portfolio. Portfolio. Portfolio.
Make sure you look through their portfolio. Do you like what you see? Do you like their style? Is it varied and fresh or does everything look the same? If it all looks the same, you are probably working with a designer that designs for themselves and not you. Remember that all clients are different and the work should reflect the client, not the designer.

4. Are you truly getting custom work?
Many “designers” rely on creating work from pre-existing templates. Templates anybody and everybody can buy. This is not design. Design need to come from scratch.

5. Good credentials are a must.
How much professional experience does the designer have?  And more importantly, does this person have a formal degree. Don’t get me wrong. A degree does not automatically equal quality. But having a formal education in graphic design gives a professional designer and edge over the others. This person has learned the important foundational principles of design. There are an overwhelming number of unqualified desktop publishers or people who have certain software skills. Don’t confuse this with creative graphic design skills.

6. Do you like this person?
This sounds simple enough, but the relationship with you designer needs to be close. You need to click and be comfortable talking with your designer. They need to be personable, a good listener, easy to talk to and really get what you are saying. You should feel at ease that you will receive a product you will be happy with. And most importantly, you need to have access to your designer. Make sure they will be doing your work. Your account should not be bounced around from one designer to the next. The work will only suffer.

7. Is your designer timely, quick and responsive?
A designer is inevitably the last person in a long chain of events to make or break a deadline. If they are slow, unresponsive or absentminded you will end up in trouble. More importantly you will end up loosing money. Ask them about specific turnaround times. As for time estimates for the major stages of a project and when and how you will communicate status updates. If you are constantly trying to track down your designer you may want to start looking for a new one.

8. Who really owns the artwork?
This should be a simple question but it often gets overlooked. Do you own the artwork during the process and at the end of the project? Many designers retain the rights to the artwork. Clients find this out the hard way.

9. What do you get in the end?
Make sure you have a clear outline of what you will receive at the end of a project. This helps both you and the designer. You know what to expect without getting nickle and dimed to death and the designer won’t feel like you are trying to get more than you payed for.

10. You get what you pay for.
Beware of lowball pricing. As for most things in life, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Good design takes time and designers should be paid for their creativity and work.


Cost Effective Business Card Design

Friday, June 19th, 2009

pillowsdesignmatters1I am at the very tail end of redesigning Talk’s business cards. And by tail end I mean – they are being printed right now. The design process was similar to most. I explored three or four options that made sense for our specific needs. Then one of the ideas rose to the top of the list. Why? It offered a flexibility that the other options lacked – the ability to change existing employees cards, add new cards or even change the whole look without breaking the bank. An example of great timeless design couched in today’s most current trends. Speaking of couches, the concept is very much like buying the best couch you can afford knowing you’ll be living with it for years to come. All you have to do is switch out the pillows to reinvigorate and update the look.

Translate that to business cards and here is what you have:

The couch or “main card” is where we’re spending all the money. We are printing a large quantity with a few of the bells and whistles. A really thick stock with die-cuts, 2 sided printing with double hits of black, pms 139 (our signature color), a dull varnish overall and finally a spot gloss aqious varnish. Sounds like a lot but its actually relatively tame – safe even.  We are intentionally only using the Talk logo and permanent Talk info on this part of the card. No updating and no reprints necessary.

Now comes the fun part – the accent pillows are labels that are applied to the “main card” in smaller batches. All employee and specific contact info goes on a label that has been customized for each employee. Including a variety of colors that correlate with our new website and custom illustrations of each employee. The best part – the printing will literally cost a few dollars since they are being printing in very small batches on a digital press. We can change and update the labels whenever we see fit without incurring the costs of traditional printing.

Great design. Cost effective. Flexible. I think my work is done so its time to kick up my feet and take a rest.


Things We Love 5/6

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


Debbie loves Cracker Barrel – I made my first pilgrimage to the Mecca of southern cooking last week. I was concerned it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But it actually surpassed it. The veggie platter was yummy and the service friendly. When they learned it was my first visit, they gave me a beautifully wrapped map detailing all 579 locations across the country. The map (and enclosed Chix Stix candy) kept the Talk team well entertained on the way back from a business meeting in Winston Salem. I got a great lesson on my state capitals. And a delicious reminder on how excellent customer service and smart marketing is the best way to bring your customers back for seconds.

Jennifer loves organization tips – Those who know me know I am an obsessive straightener and organizer.  I continue to be fascinated by those who can live and work amongst clutter.  So, I was delighted to come across an articled titled “10 Ways to Let Go of Your Stuff - Confessions of a Clutterer” in the March issue of Real Simple magazine.  The author, Erin Rooney Doland, makes some wonderful points for those who are trying to recover from this condition.  You can read more at or

Kirsty loves my Share This button – I installed this plugin on my FireFox browser to help me more easily share great content I come across online. With the click of a single green button, I can email, IM, Text or post what I read to more than 30 social networking and bookmarking sites. Now, I never have to worry about looking for a post’s sharing button, or fret if they don’t have a button for my favorite sites.

Nathan loves Twitback – I wrote about a number of elements that really make Twitter better for businesses a few weeks ago, and one of these elements was creating extended profiles, or what some call “twitter backgrounds”. These custom twitter backgrounds work great for branding your twitter profile more, or giving that little bit of extra information that the normal twitter profile just doesn’t provide. It used to be that in order to create this extended twitter profile, you had to have some photoshop skills, or access to someone who did. Well, Twitback handles all that for you!

Shawn loves Birds Of A Feather, Letterpressed Together – Yes, this is another letterpress blog. But this time with a twist. Color. And lots of it. Bright colors have really been catching my eye lately. Perhaps it’s because I am redesigning our Talk business cards and Web site with a fresh new palette, or maybe I’m just feeling it this spring. Whatever the reason, the letterpress experts over at Studio On Fire really hit the ball out of the park with a colorful peacock themed wedding invitation set.

Susan loves periodic table of typefaces – I’m a self-proclaimed font dork. I can spend hours looking through sites like and checking out the latest and greatest fonts. And the periodic table of typefaces make finding classic fonts I like (and even ones I don’t) that much easier. Though it only shows one or two letters, that’s usually enough for me to know if the style fits what I’m working on.


Anatomy of a good ad campaign

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Have you ever been watching TV or flipping through a magazine and wondered what the ad agency was thinking creating an ad that stupid/ugly/confusing/etc? It happens all the time. And as a marketing girl, I have to wonder what they said to their client to make them agree to pay for an ad campaign that will only get their company laughed at.

Then there are times when you come across an advertisement that is so spot on in every aspect that you kinda want to tell someone about how cool/beautiful/moving etc it was. For these types of ads it all comes down to good advertising anatomy. If you follow these five cannons of advertising, your campaign will get noticed for all the right reasons.

Clever copy is king. When you use words to their fullest advantage, whether through deliberate word choice or creating a play on words, you make the copy inherently easy for the reader/listener. But beware of being too clever. Live with your word choice for a few days to make sure it still makes sense when the copywriting high wears off.

Make each word count. You don’t have much space on a one-page ad or in a :30 commercial, so choose your words wisely. Don’t use ten words when five will do. Don’t restate one idea multiple ways. Choose the best, most effective statement and cut the extraneous ones.

Show don’t tell. Great, well-written copy can only take the message so far. You also need strong visuals to convey the idea fully. Everyone reacts to verbal and visual differently, so an effective combination of the two will attract the most attention.

Don’t be coy. The point of any ad is to make people want to do something in relation to your company. An ad that is clever and visually stunning means little without a clear call to action. It can be as simple as “call to find out more” or as specific as “visit our website to register to win a free vacation.” Whatever your end goal is, make sure to state it clearly.

Give them what they need. When it comes to contacting your company, keep it simple. Make your contact information easy to find, easy to read, and most importantly, easily accessible. The more avenues you offer (phone number, website, physical address) the easier it will be for them to find you.


Things We Love 4/1

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Debbie loves Chuck, the cute nerdy (not) guy that comes on NBC every Monday at 8:00 p.m. and makes me laugh out loud for an hour –  Zachary Levi stars as Chuck and he’s constantly getting in and out of close calls with super secret spy pal/love interest Sarah. I rarely get this attached to TV characters, but this is one of the few programs that I schedule my evening around. I’ve become a fan on Facebook and I’ve checked out their website a time or two. I usually post something about the show on Twitter or Facebook before or after tuning in. Sigh. I have a TV crush. Sorry dear.

Holly loves parents on Facebook – I know it sounds a little crazy, but I honestly love that my parents and their friends are starting to hop on the Facebook train. My Facebook profile has become such a personal, important component of my life over the last four years, and it’s nice that now my parents are able to take part in it. I no longer have to describe in detail the events I went to or the pictures I took, because all of that is for their viewing pleasure on my page. I’m excited we are learning how to use social media to stay connected as a family - I just hope they keep the stalking to a minimum.

Kelly loves the Wilmington Azalea Festival.  By far the best party every year in the South, the Azalea Festival is a five-day celebration of local artwork, tours of amazing gardens, rich history and southern culture.  With concerts, fairs and pageantry, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.  I first attended the Azalea Festival shortly after moving to this beautiful coastal town five years ago and I have not missed one yet!

Kirsty lovesLiving Social” is social cataloging for Books, Movies, TV Shows, Albums, Video Games, Beer, Restaurants and more. Its “Pick Five” is also the hottest trend on Facebook. The site touts itself as the the most comprehensive interest-based online community, helping more than 7.5 million users catalogue their interests, seamlessly integrating with Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, hi5, and Orkut. That’s for sure. Facebook friends across the nation have been bonding over the top five movies they grew up on, the top five albums of all time and the top five TV shows they’ve seen every episode of.

Nathan loves delicious – No, not tasty snacks, though he does love those, too, but what is considered a social bookmarking site. In other words, in the same way you can “bookmark” a page in your browser for viewing later, with delicious you can bookmark it online, allowing you to access it from anywhere that has an internet connection. What’s more, you can also share all of your bookmarks easily with your friends! For example, check out what Nathan has bookmarked recently.

Susan loves Clever design – Some people go through life plotting out stories based on random actions they see. Some notice smells wherever they go. Others see designs and patterns in even the most innocuous settings.  And then I see pictures like this, where the latter of those types saw something and took the time to make it a reality simply because they could, and I just sit in awe a few minutes.


Things We Love 3/25/09

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


Debbie loves handwritten notes. As a young girl, I used to write letters to my grandmother all the time. Then came the love letters in junior high. Followed by the long distance hellos when I lived far away from friends and family. Today, email has taken the place of many letters. But there is no substitute for a handwritten note from a friend or business acquaintance. It only takes a few moments and 42 cents to make someone’s day - and make a great impression. So put away the keyboard and pick up the pen. It’s great PR for your personal brand.

Holly loves – Not only is this site a great way for non-profit organizations to create donation pages, but it is also super simple and easily personalized. Talk’s First Giving page for the Walk For Those Who Can’t features custom branding like our logo and a personal message. The site also helps non-profits by hosting free webinars about ways to promote and maximize your fundraising efforts. Show some love to First Giving and a great non-profit by donating to Talk’s Walk page!

Kelly loves “The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media” by Paul Gillin.  Exploring how and why social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and blogs have gained increasing popularity and credibility with consumers, this book is perfect for anyone looking to take their business to another level through social media.  Gillin offers proven strategies for businesses and organizations to leverage new internet-based social media outlets as well as simple ways marketers can effectively benefit from these resources.  If you want a better understanding of social media, but don’t know where to start, this book is perfect for you!

Shawn loves working with and for people who have a sense of humor. Bosses, clients, vendors, co-workers and even the occasional wrong number are all included. I’m a firm believer that you can do your job AND have a little fun. I would even argue that some lighthearted laughter here and there can make you a better employee. One of the great things about Twitter and other social media outlets is that you get to know someone’s personality or lack thereof. If you can make me laugh, you have got my attention. And keeping someone’s attention is one of the biggest hurdles. So lighten up and have a little fun.

Susan loves Evil Movie Megacorporation Rebranding – I’ve always wondered if logos created for movies were designed by a real designer or just one of the movie’s crew. Some logos are cool enough that I would want to be a customer, and others are so atrocious I wonder why the characters even trust the company. Now, the folks over at the blog SpaceSick have given facelifts to the brands of fictional evil corporations to make them more appealing. It’s amazing what a little creativity and color can do for a corporate image.


Say What? 3/23/09

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

While brainstorming Talk’s new business card design:Process Icons

Shawn: “We could do a taco. You could be the lettuce.”

Susan: “If I’m the lettuce, would you be the beef?”

Shawn: “Yes. And you could say, ‘Lettuce see where we stand on this’ and I would say, ‘Do you have a beef with me? Let’s ask the big cheese.’”

Susan stares blankly at him.

Shawn: “So no assemble your own taco business card kit?”

UPDATE: When relayaing this story to a friend, she said, “It would be great it you called it a Talk-O kit.”


Ten ways to build your blog readership

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

So you’ve started a blog. Now what? Now the real work begins – you have to attract readers. Here are ten tips to help build your readership and turn your blog into a must-read.content-comm-tech

Write well and edit better. It’s no secret that good writing is key to getting readers. But you must also be able to edit your entries to make sure they are mistake-free and that make sense to the reader, not just to you.

Back up your brand. Writing a blog does you no good if no one knows what company (or person) is blogging. Back up all your marketing and publicity efforts with a blog design that reflects your company’s brand – visual identity, core values, tone, etc.

Content is King. Write content that your target audience will want to read. They must learn something to want to keep reading.

Don’t Get Stale. If content is king, fresh content is queen. You have to produce fresh information to encourage readers to come back, and come back often. If you don’t care enough to update your blog, why should a reader care to read it?

Keep Is Simple. Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog by including a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) subscription button. With one click they can get your content to come to them as soon as you update it.

Be Direct. Don’t simply ask readers to subscribe, offer the RSS feed as e-mail so your posts go directly to their inbox. Use your email database to drive traffic to your blog, then use your RSS feed to capture additional emails to drive your e-marketing campaign.

Harness the power of e-marketing. If you already have an e-newsletter, link those articles to your blog. If you don’t have an e-newsletter, start one! Then promote it on your blog and link the articles back to your blog.

Tag You’re It. Use tags and categories to help boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The more relevant your tags are, the better chance your blog has of coming up on a Google search.

Be vocal. It’s not enough to simply write your blog. You must interact with other bloggers in your industry and community. Become a reader and commenter on others’ blogs to build a reputation for being knowledgeable and social.

Don’t be an island. Make your blog part of the online community. Link to blogs similar to yours in both your posts and through a blog roll on your site. If you promote other worthy sites hopefully they will link back to you, encouraging their readers to become your readers too.


Make an impression at your next company event

Friday, March 6th, 2009


Whether you are hosting a 500-person corporate event or simply a small company gathering of 25, having an invitation that is high on the wow scale will help drive up the attendance. And earn you much deserved kudos for your creativity and attention to detail.

With the right design, a four-color invitation printed off-set or digitally could capture the style of your event beautifully. But if you’re looking to set your business apart from the competition, opt for a printing method that offers a little more elegance, like these for example:

  • Letterpress – This is the oldest form of printing. Ink is applied to the raised portions of printing plate, which is then pressed onto paper.
  • Embossing – This form of printing uses a combination of heat and pressure to create a three dimensional effect on the paper. The raised image is embossed, and the reverse side, where the image is indented, is debossed.
  • Engraving – The most formal printing option, engraving involves cutting grooves into the paper one letter at a time. Though many printers use computerized engraving, it is still a time intensive process, as the entire image is not done in one impression like letterpress and embossing.

These three options are going to set you back a little more than traditional printing, but the extra effort and cost would be well worth it for the right soiree.


Say What?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Process IconsBeing creative people, we say a lot of crazy
things. Say What? will give you random snippets of conversations overheard at Talk. Here’s the first installment.

(While perusing a new paper sample book)
Susan: “Did you feel the chameleon? You totally have to feel the chameleon!”
Shawn: “I think I’ve been asked that before.”



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