By: Lisa Slagle
I read THIS article by Jeff Welch at MercuryCSC about how not everyone in the outdoor industry is an "ER" (Surfer, Climber, Snowboarder, etc.), and I thought about it all weekend. Welch states that not everyone is an "er." Some people would be more aptly described with an "ing" suffix. Like someone who lives in Texas may go snowboarding one or two days a year on vacation, but they would never buy a board, book a heli trip, or end the season with a goggle tan etched deeply enough into their pores to identify with the word snowboarder. They enjoy snowboarding without having to call themselves a snowboarder.
I'm an ER.
In just about every facet of my life, I'm a 100% all in, ER.
Snowboarder. Mountain Biker. Business Owner. Designer. Writer. Rapidly turning back into a filmmaker.
The difference between the ER and the ING suffix is a level of commitment, passion, and a willingness to completely absorb the mini culture associated with whatever noun-ing you're into.
I think my creative philosophy has a lot to do with this mindset of er-ing, and these are the traits I look for in my creative team, too.
Hi, Lisa here from Wheelie Creative. Lately, we have had a lot of business owners coming into our office trying to figure out if they need to re-brand their existing companies. They already have established businesses with varying levels of success, and they want to know if changing things up is a good or bad idea. In my opinion, it could go either way. Ready to geek out with me for a few minutes? Let's talk it out:
By: Lisa Slagle
If robots came into our office, froze all of us (even Scout) with ray guns, hacked into our website, and rewrote the content, it would probably sound something like this:
A free email series for small business owners who want to learn more about design, branding, and making websites that rock
Hi, Lisa here from Wheelie Creative.
Here's another nerd session for your Sunday. Today it's about one of my very favorite topics: brand development. This is just a bit of a buzz word, but it's a good one, and one that is really important to your business.
Brand development is so much more than just a good logo and a stack of matching business cards. It's everything that happens to your customers as they buy and use your products. It's how your employees feel when they walk in the door to work in the morning. It's how you talk to potential clients. It's your reputation, both good and bad. It's your pictures on Instagram. Brand development is literally everything that involves your company and your customers.
The simplest explanation of this is that your brand is what people say about your company when you're not in the room.
Boom. Soak that in for a second.
To take this to the next level, here is one massive secret to building a strong brand. Literally, it's one word: consistency.
In a lot of ways, brands are like people. People whose actions are consistent build a strong identity for both themselves and the public. Consistent people become known by the reliability of their actions-- i.e., their commitments. Think about celebrities--whether flattering (Jennifer Lawrence) or faltering (Lindsey Lohan), people are able to easily identify consistent behavior. Brands are the same way-- they are built based on their willingness to commit and their ability to follow through.
Failure to commit is one of the strongest ways to weaken a brand.
Who knew owning a business and building a brand was an exercise in commitment?
Here are three tips for keeping your brand consistent:
1. When it comes to design, don't fake it. I'm huge into authenticity when I brand a company. When it comes to design, don't fake it. Don't be something you're not. I'm not going to make a company a logo and visual identity that doesn't represent them accurately and that they can't grow with. My goal in branding is to accurately portray a company through idealism, originality, and authenticity. I like to do this with the use of story-- visually showing the world why you and your company are awesome. I'm passionate about getting this right.
You are your brand. Just be yourself. You can't try to be your competitor. You can't try to be your favorite company. But you can be yourself. So rock it.
2. If you don't know who you are, how is anyone else supposed to, either?
There's a sweet Carl Jung quote that stuck with me: “The world will ask who you are, and if you cannot answer, the world will tell you.” -Carl Jung
This is pretty much the essence of branding. Good design helps show the world what your company looks like. You get to show the world what your company acts like.
Which brings me to branding tip number three:
3. Be kind.
If you're going to do one thing over and over, it might as well be acts of kindness to your customers, your employees, and the world at large. Tom's Shoes is a prime example of a brand built on heart and integrity, and people support them because of that alone. The awesome shoes are almost a bonus, even though they are, indeed, a for-profit shoe company. (Their graphic design is simple and gorgeous as well, which helped them get noticed initially.)
And today, that's all I've got. Next week, read about how to use Instagram to build your company's brand.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
If you'd like to sit down and talk to us about design and improving your company's brand, we would love to geek out with you about it. Just hit the orange button below:
Want these tips and tricks on building a better brand emailed straight to your inbox?
It's the beginning of the year, so I have been receiving a lot of logo projects. Luckily, I love creating logos over here at Wheelie Creative Design! I have a pretty dialed 3 round Logo Process. For all you potential clients out there, here is some information on the design process:
The 2014 Wheelie Creative Design calendars are back by popular demand!
They're heading out to my clients as a thank you for their year-round radness.
By: Lisa Slagle
I'm working on the Wheelie Creative Design winter ad campaign this week. Above is the web banner and Facebook cover pic I came up with. It took a full day of riding my bike around Whitefish, Montana to get the right shot, so I thought it was worth posting a bit of the design process.
By: Lisa Slagle
Congratulations on your shiny new business! This is exciting news, and I'd love to help you launch this sucker into an oblivion of success! As a new business owner, you have a lot to do, but I'm here to help you with the branding and design side of your entrepreneurial endeavor.
Why you, new business owner, need a professional graphic designer:
by: Lisa Slagle
I used to date a guy who worked at the dump.
It was the only job he could find when we spent a summer in Bend, Oregon three years ago, and he was a champ for going with it. At least it paid well, and toddlers stared at him in awe from their car seats as if he had the best job in the most interesting place possible. Citizens dumped their trash in Location A at the landfill. He transported an open-bed semi truck bursting with trash from Location A to Location B, dropped it off, and went back for more. He came home and told me about the strange or magnificent, often pristine, usually usable items that he moved around that day. It was actually illegal for landfill employees to bring anything home from work, so he simply told me about the truckloads of furniture, exercise equipment, building materials, and electronics that he moved from A to B. We talked about it a lot, and these images of piles of inflated soccer balls and retired iPhones stuck with me. I think about the amount of trash we all produce. I try to be conscious of my resources, and I often think about sustainability in my personal life and at work. How can I, as a designer, work sustainability into my company? What is my version of sustainable design, and how can I do it better?
I believe everyone is an artist. My clients often look at proofs or samples and initially say something along the lines of, "Wow. I never would have thought of this. I can hardly draw stick figures" or "I'm not creative at all." Everyone is creative, though, and whether it's through drawing, painting, computers, sculpture, photography, interior design, cooking (talk about a personal lack of skills...), or another medium, artistry hides within every single person-- it's just a matter of releasing that hidden creativity and letting it do its thing. It's an individual evolution from concept to production that we refer to in the industry as the ever-ominous, vastly ambiguous Creative Process.
Recently, I gave my students at Flathead Valley Community College the assignment to write a few paragraphs on The Creative Process. For the most part, all of them killed it. I was impressed by the honesty and thought that went into everyone's answers. A lot of students mentioned creating with music in the background. Almost all the responses were funny, heartfelt and just barely self-deprecating. A few students included samples, and a few of them wanted to talk to me in person about their processes. I like it when I can get other people's wheels to turn, especially creatively, and I like it when someone sets my mind in motion, too. In fact, I appreciated everyone's efforts so much that I decided I might as well do my own homework assignment and post my answer. The exact assignment was: Write a blog post about your creative process– how you find inspiration, how you work through your ideas, and what you think helps you produce the best possible design solution. Must be 3-6 paragraphs.
by: Lisa Slagle
Luke Mehall is the man. He writes. He climbs. A lot of times, he writes about climbing. When he is not getting rad on rocks, Luke is the editor and publisher of The Climbing Zine and the author of Climbing out of Bed. He is also one of my most entertaining clients-- our phone meetings always involve a lot of ideas, laughter, and the occasional story about the Gunnison Valley. Here, Luke answers 10 Questions from Wheelie Creative about rock climbing and graphic design.
Name: Luke Mehall
Company: Benighted Publications
Job Title: Publisher
Location: Durango, Colorado
Wheelie Creative: What is The Climbing Zine, and what does it do?
Luke Mehall: The Climbing Zine is first and foremost, a zine, which means its a creative writing based outlet for something a little bit different than any other climbing publication. We also have a website (thanks to Wheelie Creative Design) that has the same focus on featuring well told, interesting stories related to climbing.
WC: What is your job within The Climbing Zine and Benighted Publications?
LM: I'm the publisher and the editor.
WC: Does that mean you are a badass climber?
LM: My Mom thinks so.
WC: Thought so. What are some projects you have worked on with Wheelie Creative Design?
LM: Lisa at Wheelie Creative Design has designed three book covers for me, redesigned our original website (www.climbingzine.com), and built a brand new website that we launched this spring.
WC: Why do you think a good website is important to the success of The Climbing Zine (or any business for that matter)?
LM: It's something people notice if you don't have a good website these days, so it's basically a no-brainer. If your website is up to date, people notice more now than ever. It's expected. Wheelie Creative Design helps us keep up with the times, by offering a user friendly, appealing website.
WC: What is your favorite part about working with Wheelie Creative Design?
LM: Lisa's commitment to creativity. She's not just someone I hire to do graphic design work, or to build a website, I rely on her to see what she thinks of "off the wall" ideas, because at the core of our mission is to remain creative and to avoid being stagnant or boring.
WC: What do you love more-- rock climbing, or this interview?
LM: Rock climbing, but I must say these are some good questions :)
WC: What have you learned from working with designers?
LM: If they are on the same creative space as I am we can work through the inevitable trials and tribulations of doing business, if not, I'm better off finding someone I vibe with.
WC: What are some upcoming projects or events at The Climbing Zine?
LM: We have just released our fifth volume, The Dirtbag Issue, and our first book, Climbing Out of Bed (with cover designed by Wheelie Creative Design). On the horizon is a fall book tour for Climbing Out of Bed, and another book, Climbing Out of the Bathtub, more tales of freedom.
WC: What is your advice to other companies when hiring a designer?
LM: Find someone who not only does professional work, but a person who you get along with, and can have a conversation with, even if it is not about a project you're working on!
By: Lisa Slagle
Western Nephrology is one of my favorite clients. Their company mission is to provide the highest quality, compassionate medical care for patients with kidney disease. About a year ago, Wheelie Creative and Western Nephrology started working together on a corporate rebrand and new website. The website ended up being huge, brimming with helpful information ranging from meal options for dialysis patients to patient testimonials. The rebrand included new letterheads, announcement cards, typography, and marketing materials. The results have been very well-received by their patients and staff alike, and I am very proud of the new marketing collateral I created for them. This morning, I asked West Neph marketing wizard, Amy Nesbitt, a few questions about her experiences working with a designer. Check out her answers below:
Wheelie Creative: What does Western Nephrology do?
Amy Nesbitt: We are a physician group specializing in kidney care with multiple locations across the greater Denver Metro Area.
WC: What is your job within Western Nephrology?
AN: I'm the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. I handle all the marketing, social media, and physician relations.
WC: From working with you all year, I know that you love your job. How did you get into marketing?
AN: After college, I moved overseas and fell into marketing for an agency marketing company in New Zealand. I knew it was something I really enjoyed.
WC: What are some projects you've personally worked on with Wheelie Creative Design?
AN: Our website and rebranding, all of which have been extremely successful for us.
WC: What is your favorite part about working with a designer?
AN: I really like that I can think creatively and collaborate with you, and we can come up with solutions that appeal to a large market audience. It is a more relaxed, fun atmosphere for me because design is so creative.
WC: What have you learned about working with a designer over the past year?
AN: Communication is imperative! You can't expect someone to be on the same page with you unless you tell them exactly what's on that page.
WC: Very well-said. Why do you think design is important to Western Nephrology?
AN: Without a designer, there's no true way to communicate to our audience who we really are. By incorporating a designer to show our patients who our physicians are, and who we are as a company, our patients can relate to us. And that's what it's all about-- helping our patients instantly relate to us.
WC: What are some upcoming projects and events at West Neph?
AN: We are adding another physician to our staff, which is exciting. We are looking into more and newer advertising opportunities, and of course, we are in the very first phases of our biggest internal event of the year, our annual holiday party.
WC: Last question--- What is your advice to other companies when hiring a designer?
AN: You need to have a personal connection with your designer. You'll be interacting with your designer more than you think you will, so it is really important to have a positive connection with them. A lot of companies think they will hire a designer, tell them to make something happen, and then it's done, but in my experience, it becomes a long-term relationship as your company grows and continually creates new projects.
Thank you Amy!
For more information on Western Nephrology and to view their website, please visit www.westneph.com
by: Lisa Slagle
Featured Story: 10 Questions with ColoRADogs, Fort Collins, CO
Name: Nancy (Pants) Tranzow
Location: Fort Collins
Job Title: Founder/President/ Head Crazy
1. What does ColoRADogs do?
We are a rescue, advocacy, education and outreach organization. We rescue all breeds but our focus is on “Pit Bull” type dogs. We advocate for breed neutral laws, educate about responsible ownership and reach out to at need communities to provide resources to dog owners so they can keep their buddies.
2. Well that's rad. What is your specific role within the company?
I’m the Founder/President and head crazy of the group. I am the go to girl and where the buck stops. I am in charge of getting out our message, fielding inquiries and coordinating rescues, especially in the case of cruelty/fighting cases. I am also in charge of making my Board feel supported and cheering them on as they do amazing jobs in their roles.
3. What projects have you worked on with Wheelie Creative Design?
Our branding, cards, brochures and getting great advice about wording and communication.
4. What has been your favorite part about working with a designer?
They know their job and are professionals at what they do. I did not have to worry about that aspect of our organization and my design is unique to us, noticeable, and isn’t some lame self-developed logo that is obvious that a non-professional developed it.
5. What have you learned about design or working with a designer?
That they are worth every penny! A designer can help bring your organization to the next level through personal branding that shows the public who YOU are.
6. Why or how do you think design is important to ColoRADogs?
Because we work with Pit Bulls, and often fighting victims, our logo needed to be welcoming, fun and cartoonish which is what our dogs are despite what their past is. People KNOW who we are through our logo and it has helped make us more approachable and brought a lighthearted aspect to a sometimes difficult endeavor.
7. What upcoming projects or events are happening at ColoRADogs?
We are in the process of finishing a “mini-barn” so we have a place for dogs to decompress while they wait for fosters. We are at local dog related events and will be participating at the first annual Colorado Mountain Dog Festival. We are also working to develop laws to present to area councils where BSL is present in order to try to replace them with breed neutral legislation.
8. How can people get involved and help more dogs?
We need people to become more educated about Pit Bulls and how abused they are as a breed instead of the usually “monster” myths. But for all dogs, consider fostering for a group if you have room. If not, donate what you can. Make sure they are reputable. Ask to walk a dog. If you have a neighbor who is struggling, help them out so they can keep their dog with them. Sponsor the cost of a spay/neuter. The way to truly make a difference is to keep dogs out of the shelter and in their original homes with people who love them. But, money always helps. It is our biggest struggle to keep funding coming in.
9. What is your favorite aspect of running a non-profit?
We are helping people and dog, and making a difference one pup at a time. Nothing feels better than saving lives and changing hearts and minds…nothing!
10. What's your advice to other companies when hiring a graphic designer?
Look at their previous work. Make sure you “click” and that you communicate well with each other. Find the designer that does the type of work that fits your company and finally, appreciate them and PAY them well. People look at artists/designers as somehow not being as valuable as say, their bookkeeper. But they are far more valuable. They will brand your company and that is a huge part of what will help you be successful. They are worth every penny! Best believe it!
Check out the ColoRADogs at: www.coloradogs.org
Wheelie Deep Thoughts
This is where we showcase fun stuff-- new work, case studies, weekly updates, job openings, and general awesomeness from members of the Wheelie Crew.
Read Posts About:
Glacier Park Conservancy
Spencer Trail Signs
Glacier Park Inc.
Whitefish Trail Signs
The North Fork
The Montana Scene
Logos We've Made