Hoodies are in the shop and available for pre-order! Use code HOODIE15 and order before December 1 to take 15% off! As always, my hoodies & tees are designed and printed right here in Utah which means your money goes to support local artists and makers like myself, and in no way fuels the corporate Black Friday bullshit machine.
StartUp is a new series with Alex Blumberg from This American Life & Planet Money that follows Blumberg as he starts a podcast company. I’ve been hooked from the beginning, listening and re-listening to episodes as soon as they come out. The series is currently on it’s seventh episode and packed full with lessons pertaining to starting a business and investing.
Give it a listen over at Hear StartUp.
When designers don’t know which problems to solve, we spin our wheels. We make products prettier when we could be solving customer’s needs and generating real value. So any company that’s serious about design should get equally serious about listening to customers.
What Fuels Great Design by Braden Kowitz
There are two sets of design professionals. The first set are commodities, and deliver value on a production level. These designers set their rates by the hour, and have a direct relationship between time and money. Typically these professionals have a fair amount of competition, and their market becomes saturated over time. They possess no un-fair advantage, and rely on self-promotion and marketing as a means to winning new work. What’s more, in the tech age, there is likely a product or service available that can accomplish what they are offering for a lower price with little-to-no disadvantage for the end-user or client.
Above I’ve described about 99% of design agencies and freelancers operating today.
The second set has de-commoditized themselves. They function on a conceptual/intellectual level, and have established themselves as disrupters in their industry. Think 2004 Apple. This set of professionals charge for the solutions they provide, not the amount of time it took them to solve the problem. Clients are willing to pay over 3x what the competition would charge because they’re providing a value, service, or product that isn’t available anywhere else in the market.
The latter is the 1%. There are a handful of designers and agencies that fall into the second category. 37 Signals, Undercurrent, Ben Pieratt, Frank Chimero, & Khoi Vinh immediately come to mind. They are offering something that is not readily available and can not be crowd-sourced. They’ve established their unfair-advantage, and bring concrete value to the table with every project. This group does not build business around self-promotion or marketing, instead the work seeks them.
With that said…
How have you de-commoditized yourself or brand? Can you measure your value outside the traditional time-for-money proposition? What is the problem you’re facing and is it worth solving? What is your unfair advantage?
These are all questions I pose to myself somewhat daily as a designer. As of yet, no clear answer has emerged, and more often than not, I find myself taking on work that puts me back in the first group. However, the second option is attainable if we reconsider our approach as well as think critically about the problems at hand. What is clear is this: If I’m doing work that provides similar or little value more than a pre-built template or crowd-sourced solution, than it’s the wrong kind of work.
If non-voters started voting for outliers who live their morals, our democracy would change completely in less than a decade.
We left off with Part 2 of my logo process with a set of refined sketches. The next step is presenting the sketches to the client and determine a final direction, as well as gather any potential feedback they may have. In this case, the client felt the above sketch best communicated the intended brand and most reflected the audience. To see the other sketches, go back to Part 2.
After client sign-off, I make any additional tweaks to the sketch I see fit with pencil and paper. In this case, I feel it’s pretty close to the intended result and any additional tweaks can easily be addressed on the computer, so I scan it and begin the digitization process. Working in illustrator using shapes and the pathfinder tools I vectorize the sketch and make the necessary alterations to the final letter-forms.
Early in the process we determined that the core mark would be the SCPW. From there, I’d deliver additional variations that took into account the full name of the organization.
Above is the full Summit Community Power Works logo.
Additionally, given the industry, we liked the idea incorporating a badge treatment into the brand, which can be seen above.
With final mark and logo variations intact, I now send to the client for final approval.
There it is, my full logo process from start to finish. I’m more than stoked on the way the final result came out, and even more importantly, so is the client. If you’re a designer, please chime in with any questions or feedback, as well as thoughts on your own process.
If you’re in the market for a new logo or identity, or simply need to tweak your existing brand feel free to reach out with any questions.
If the work you’re promoting on social media isn’t getting enough traction to build a customer base, the answer is seldom that you need to promote it more. What it probably means is that you need to do better work–or at least refocus that work to be more valuable to its intended audience. Social media is an amplifier, so it can only amplify value in the work you do. It can’t create value that isn’t present in the work itself.
Random thoughts from this morning’s coffee sesh.
- There is seldom, if ever, a clear path forward.
- Everyone is on a discrete path, all you can do is explore your own.
- There will always be opportunities if you look for them and have the courage to pursue them.
- Nothing is once-in-a-lifetime except for the interactions we have with others.
- The moment is all around us. Quit looking for it on a screen.
- Never let fear of the unknown or ‘what-if’ mentality control your decision making.
- Living on your own terms is achieved through financial independence.
- Only spend money on things that bring real value and align with what you want to achieve.
- You can have a lot more fun when you’re not worried how you’re going to pay rent.
We left off with Part 1 of my logo process after creating a mood board that reflected the desired style and direction as established in the initial creative brief. Now, with a bit of reference material and inspiration in place, I’ll bang out a couple pages worth of thumbnail sketches. The point of these sketches is to get as many ideas on paper as possible. As such, I like to sketch in pen as it prevents me from getting too detailed or editing sketches. Depending on the project constraints, I’ll spend about an hour roughing out potential ideas.