Design Thinking: The Secret Sauce of Successful Business

In 1973, IBM CEO Tom Watson declared, “Good design is good business.” He recognized that design was more than cosmetic but served a purpose that went far beyond aesthetics. He realized it was also a solid business strategy. Today, numerous prominent companies have proven his observation to be correct. The corporate world began to sense the business value of design in the 1960s. The industrial revolution spawned a large number of new corporations and along with that proliferation came the need to create clear distinctions between them. A distinctive logo to represent them became essential, and the more savvy companies went even further, designing visual systems that made it clear to employees precisely how the company wished to be presented [...]

Design Thinking: The Secret Sauce of Successful Business2018-07-20T00:10:20+00:00

9 Ways to Improve Your Brand Image

A brand image is the sum impression of a company's "personality" in the minds of customers. It can be at the same time factual and imaginary. Brand image develops over time as a result of customers' cumulative experience across numerous touch points. A strong brand image results in an overall favorable impression of the company and its products and services and fosters a sense of trust. A common misconception is that brand creation involves designing a great logo, a smart marketing plan, or well-crafted communications materials and advertising. It’s true, these are essential to a strong brand image but don't do the entire job in and of themselves. Consumers are smart. Telling them how great your products are doesn't work. [...]

9 Ways to Improve Your Brand Image2018-06-26T23:33:52+00:00

Hits and Misses—Both are Essential to the Creative Process

Let’s face it. We’re human. We all make mistakes. We do our best to avoid them and are embarrassed when they happen. In our culture failure is something to be avoided at all costs, but ask yourself, where would we be without it? In the creative process, both hits and misses play an essential role whether we like to admit it or not. Where would we be without the electric light bulb? Thomas Edison's creativity provided us with an invention that changed the world, but did you know that it took numerous attempts to get it right? Edison missed the mark over and over again before arriving at the final functional version. Edison famously said, “I didn't fail 1,000 times. [...]

Hits and Misses—Both are Essential to the Creative Process2018-06-22T00:19:36+00:00

Designers are from Mars, Clients are from Venus

Designers and clients come from different worlds. The creative arts and business sometimes seem to be at cross-purposes. The focus of design professionals often centers around producing work that is artistic, fresh, conceptual and delivered with a high degree of craftsmanship. Business clients, on the other hand, while understanding the value of innovation and quality, are primarily concerned with achieving strategic business goals such as promoting products, acquiring new customers and maximizing profits. While at first glance this apparent dichotomy may seem problematic, these differences in priorities can provide excellent opportunities for both innovation and effectiveness. The most effective business communications are often born out of a symbiotic relationship between talented designers and savvy clients. It's when creatives and clients [...]

Designers are from Mars, Clients are from Venus2018-06-21T23:57:01+00:00

Can Brands Be Created?

Recently, a design colleague asked me about the nature of my business. I explained that I’m a designer and brand communications consultant. I ensure that my clients’ visual communications are consistent with their brand image and messaging. He told me he does all that too, but he also creates brands. My reaction was, “do you really”? It got me thinking. Can brands be created? Brands can be defined, expressed, managed, steered, shaped, evolved—and they can certainly be damaged, but can they be ginned up out of nothing? My 30 years of experience in the business tells me the answer is no. Here’s why. First, let's consider what a brand is and what it is not. Some confusion comes from the [...]

Can Brands Be Created?2018-06-09T18:38:30+00:00

Personas: Defining Your Customers

In today’s competitive environment, it’s more important than ever to not only engage with customers—but the right customers. The more targeted your marketing, the more likely it is to reach people who will appreciate your brand and your products. A good way to target these key customers is to create fictional, generalized representations of them. These are called personas. Personas help you to better understand your customers. They also make it easier for you to tailor content to their specific needs. For example, instead of sending the same lead-nurturing emails to your entire database, you can segment them by persona profiles and tailor your messages specifically to them. How to Create Personas The strongest personas are based on market research [...]

Personas: Defining Your Customers2018-06-09T18:29:02+00:00

How Custom Images Strengthen Brands

Stock photography and illustration offer many advantages over custom images. Stock imagery has become ubiquitous in brand and marketing communications over the past decade—and for some good reasons. Let’s consider why they are so popular. The biggest advantage is price. Royalty-free images are plentiful and can be obtained at a low cost. You can also preview them in advance so you know exactly what you’re buying. You can download them immediately, which is advantageous when facing a tight deadline. There's no doubt stock imagery is a valuable resource and appropriate for many creative projects. But there’s a downside as well—especially when it comes to branding. A Few Considerations 1. One of the main objectives of branding is to present your [...]

How Custom Images Strengthen Brands2018-06-09T19:02:06+00:00

Brand Identity: A Good Logo Is Not Enough

Many people equate brand identity with a logo. While a logo is the cornerstone of any branding program, it alone does not a brand make. Designing a world-class logo is a great start, but brand identity involves much more. A well-designed logo embodies a company's essence, but only so much can be intuited from a symbol alone. What’s more, due to the glut of logos in the marketplace, it’s harder than ever to differentiate a brand based on a logo alone. Today, brand identity requires a much more holistic approach. Seamless Customer Experience A brand is defined by everything a company says and does. It's the net impression of each individual with whom it engages. A brand isn't just a [...]

Brand Identity: A Good Logo Is Not Enough2018-06-09T20:07:49+00:00

Simplicity is Complicated

Design simplicity is an important hallmark of effective visual communication but achieving it can be challenging. According to, “…Americans are subject to some 3,000 essentially random pitches per day. Two-thirds of people surveyed in a Yankelovich Partners study said they feel “constantly bombarded” by ads. 59% said the ads they see have little or no relevance to them.” It’s clear we're subjected to far more marketing messages than we can possibly absorb. Considering all we see on the web, social media, advertising, magazines, apps, videos, and retail displays, it’s hard to take it all in. In fact, if  a reader isn't engaged within a second or two it's likely they'll move on. All of this clutter has forced us [...]

Simplicity is Complicated2018-06-09T20:55:25+00:00