Website Creator 12 Released by Summitsoft – Easily Create Fully Responsive Websites

for immediate release

FINALLY ANYONE CAN EASILY CREATE FULLY RESPONSIVE WEBSITES

OMAHA, NE – February 10, 2017 – Summitsoft Corporation announced today the release of Website Creator 12, the first website designing software that incorporates fully automated Responsive Website components.  Now visitors to your website will always see your web pages at their best, whether they navigate on a desktop, tablet or smart phone.  It is estimated that over 65% of all web traffic is now coming from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.  Make sure your site is ready to shine on those devices.

You don’t need any programming skills to create a gorgeous website, with the intuitive visual interface and Drag & Drop simplicity.  Make the most of all the advanced features that Website Creator 12 offers to create eye-caching sites.

A few of the many features in Website Creator 12

  • Graphic Templates
    • Over 1000 ready to use graphic templates to chose from with many of them being full screen background images
  • Get Social
    • Add Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to grow your online presence.  Connect your social accounts to your blog and get popular on the web
  • SEO and Analytics
    • Website Creator 12 generates the HTML5 code and CSS3 to get your site indexed quickly. So you’ll be easy to find on Google, Bing and other search engines
  • Pictures, Videos and Galleries
    • Add captivating content: chose animated galleries, panoramic photos, videos, music and more.
  • Sell Your Product Online
    • Complete Shopping Cart functions with credit card payment facilities
  • Powered by Website X5
    • Millions of people have chosen the Website X5 engine to create successful websites worldwide
  • One Year Free Website Hosting
    • Website hosting provided by One.com, a global leader in website hosting with 24/7 chat support

About Summitsoft

Summitsoft Corporation is a publisher of productivity software products, creating innovative business solutions for professionals and home users. Summitsoft offers software through major retailers in North America, South America, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Europe, as well as on the Internet.

Press Contact:
Lynn M. Rudolph
Media Relations
Summitsoft Corporation
lrudolph@summitsoft.com

Summitsoft Releases Business Card Studio 10 and Creative Fonts 3D

Summitsoft Releases
BUSINESS CARD STUDIO PRO 10 and CREATIVE FONTS 3D

OMAHA, NE – April 30, 2016 – Summitsoft Corporation, a leading developer and publisher of Windows productivity software, announced today the launch of Business Card Studio Pro 10 and Creative Fonts 3D.  Both products are major updates to existing products and offer many new and unique features.

•    Business Card Studio Pro 10 – combines the revolutionary ACG (advanced concept generator) and 3D Text Studio, giving you design options never before available in any business card software.  After you input your name, title, business name and other data, ACG generates an unlimited number of business card design variations.

Then you are able to alter the various card designs, including 3D effects, for a unique look.  When you’re done, Business Card Studio Pro 10 assists you in designing professional looking letterhead and envelopes, creating a consistent look on all your printed material.  Now you finally have all the tools that professional designers use.

•    Creative Fonts 3D – 3000 OpenType® Fonts and 2000 Alphabet Art Fonts all created by hand at the SummitType™ Foundry, and fully licensed for commercial use.  Included in Creative Fonts 3D is 3D Text Studio, which allows you to make any font 3 dimensional for maximum impact.

About Summitsoft

Summitsoft Corporation is a publisher of productivity software products, creating innovative business solutions for professionals and home users. Summitsoft offers software through major retailers in North America, South America, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Europe, as well as on the Internet. For additional information please visit our website at www.summitsoft.com

Press Contact:
Lynn M. Rudolph
Media Relations
Summitsoft Corporation
lrudolph@summitsoft.com

Summitsoft Releases PhotoTools 2

Summitsoft Releases PhotoTools 2

OMAHA, NE – January 25, 2016 – Summitsoft Corporation, a leading developer and publisher of Windows productivity software, announced today the upcoming release of PhotoTools 2, which will replace the Company’s older product, Photo Tool Kit.

PhotoTools 2 was developed to utilize the newest Windows® operating system and has everything you need for advanced editing, enhancing and effects. Your photos will come to life with vibrant color and deep highlights that are sure to impress.

PhotoTools 2 is packed with filters and effects that take your photos to the next level and make it easy to enhance or fix any photo. If you want to restore an old photo or make a new photo look like it was taken on a vintage instamatic camera, PhotoTools 2 has what you need.

• Photo Editing Tools
o Crop, Color Adjust, Re-Size, Black&White and Layered Images

• Photo Enhancement Tools
o Auto Enhance, Color Correction, Retouch Tools, Heal & Clone Brush, Fix Perspectives and Photo Alignment

• Photo Effects Tools
o Text, Color and Lens Effects, Distortion, Textures and Borders

• Panorama and Collage

No matter if you take photos with an expensive DLR camera or your smart phone, PhotoTools 2 will help take your pictures to a new level that will impress your friends and family.

About Summitsoft

Summitsoft Corporation is a publisher of productivity software products, creating innovative business solutions for professionals and home users. Summitsoft offers software through major retailers in North America, South America, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Europe, as well as on the Internet.

Press Contact:
Lynn M. Rudolph
Media Relations
Summitsoft Corporation
lrudolph@summitsoft.com

Summitsoft Releases WEBSITE CREATOR 10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Summitsoft Corporation

Summitsoft Releases WEBSITE CREATOR 10

OMAHA, NE – January 13, 2016 – Summitsoft Corporation, a leading developer and publisher of Windows productivity software, announces the next generation in website design with the launch of Website Creator 10.

You don’t need any programming skills to create a website with Website Creator 10, all you need is a mouse! You work with a fully visual intuitive interface, with plenty of previews of your work that are constantly updated in real time. Website Creator 10 has all the features you need to create attractive and professional websites.

  • Responsive Web Design (RWD)

Website Creator 10 is the first website design software to utilize Responsive Web Design technology. When you create your website with RWD, it doesn’t matter if your website is viewed on a desktop, tablet or smartphone the pages will be automatically adapted to the size of the device being used so that content and pictures are clearly visible and visitors have a perfect navigating experience, always!

  • Optimized Websites

Being among the first in the rankings of search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing is fundamental for your site’s visibility and increasing the number of visitors. You provide the content and Website Creator 10 will do all the rest, generating code according to industry standards. You don’t have to be a programmer, Website Creator 10 prompts you for the necessary information, such as titles, key words and alternative text, to best optimize each page.

AN ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION

Save time and effort, because Website Creator 10 includes everything you need to create eye-catching and fully comprehensive websites. There’s a specific tool for every job, from editing images and photos, to creating buttons, to automatically generating menus, right up to going online with the built-in FTP engine. You don’t need any other software – Website Creator 10 has it all. You are free to sign up with any web provider you prefer, but it’s worth remembering that Website Creator 10 includes registration of your own domain name, 30 GB of web space and one (1) full year of free website hosting.

About Summitsoft

Summitsoft Corporation is a publisher of productivity software products, creating innovative business solutions for professionals and home users. Summitsoft offers software through major retailers in North America, South America, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Europe, as well as on the Internet.

Creating a logo for a landscape company

Tips & Ideas for Landscape Company Logos


Rubin LandscapeCreating a great logo for your landscape company is one of the most important things you can do to build a lasting brand and grow your business.  Whether you’re just starting out, or you have a landscape company that has been around for decades, your logo is a critical part of your company’s identity and it’s important that it showcases your business in the best possible way.  After all, a good logo has the power to attract and retain new customers while an ugly logo can easily turn people off.

In the garden and landscape business, you’re selling a service.  Homeowners and local businesses hire you to help improve the curb appeal of their homes and establishments.  So your logo needs to not only represent your company, but keep in mind that your landscape company logo will also reflect the qualities of the people who hire you and choose to work with you.  To that end, you need to have a good understanding of your target market before you start the design process.  Are you going to be an accessable and affordable option for homeowners who need some help or are you going to cater to a high-end clientele.  How you answer that question will directly impact the design of your company logo.

You also need to have a firm idea of your brand personality before you create a logo.  Check out our free Brand Personality Quiz – it only takes a few minutes and will help steer you in the right direction as you create a logo for your landscape company.  

Color Ideas for Landscape Company Logos

 

Color-graphicOn the surface, when you first think about logo colors for a landscape company, your first thought is probably, “Ok, let’s make it green!”  And the thing is that green really does work very well for this industry.  Not only does it tie in perfectly with the idea of nature and lawncare, but it also evokes a feeling of growth and health.  That being said, there are a lot of other colors in the spectrum, so here are some other ideas for great colors in a landscape logo to get you going:

 [icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Green is the go-to color for landscape company logos. When in doubt, green will almost always work.

 [icon name=icon-ok][/icon]Try incorporating multiple shades of green to add depth.

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Don’t shy away from bright sunny colors like orange and yellow – they’ll help give your logo an upbeat, accessible feel

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] For a high-end, streamlined look plain black and white works great even for landscape companies

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Use several shades of the same color, which gives a rich, lustrous appearance

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Try pairing various shades of green with brown or a deep red for a rich, natural feel

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Using blue to help accent your company name or different parts of your logo will help evoke the feel of a strong, loyal landscape company

Image Ideas for Landscape Company Logos

 

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One of the great things about creating a logo for a landscape company is that you have an almost endless supply of images that all work extremely well.  There are so many images that tie directly to your industry that the hardest part will probably be honing in on just the right image.  Also, keep in mind that logo images carry a lot of brand personality so even if you choose a tree to represent your company, make sure the design of that tree reflects your landscape company. 

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Let nature be your guide.  Trees, leaves, grass and flowers all make wonderful logo images

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] If you focus on residential landscaping, help drive that point across by including a home with trees or a yard in your logo

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Don’t be afraid to go with an abstract design if your landscape company is a little more youthful and modern.  A simple circle or swoosh can work very well for the right company.

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Most landscape companies are local and showcase your local pride by pulling in a local monument, your state outline or anything else that helps tie your homebase to your logo

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] For an understated look, you can always go with a simple monogram or your company name.  This works particularly well for more traditional and high-end landscape logos.

Font Ideas for Landscape Logos

 

FontBall-graphic

Out of everything, the font you choose for your logo will convey the personality of your landscape company more than almost anything.  There is no right or wrong way to choose a font either – it’s something that you will likely have to play around with until you find the right fit.  That being said, there are definitely some font types that work better than others for landscape logos.  Here are a few tips and ideas:

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] The majority of landscape companies will want to be perceived as hard-working and stable.  A strong serif font similar to Times New Roman can help get that feeling across

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Stay away from casual handwriting fonts – they will make it more difficult for people to take your lawn and landscape services seriously

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] Incorporating a sans-serif font similar to Arial into your landscape logo can help give your brand a high-energy, efficient feel

[icon name=icon-ok][/icon] A formal script font can work for landscape companies who focus on very high-end clientele, but will be far too formal and exclusive-looking for most companies


Download The Logo Design Book

Summitsoft Introduces Powerful & Affordable Graphic Design Software

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Summitsoft Corporation

Summitsoft Introduces Powerful & Affordable Graphic Design Software

Create beautiful graphic designs and vector illustrations with Graphic Design Studio

OMAHA, NE – APRIL 28, 2015 – Summitsoft Corporation has recently released its illustration and design software titled “Graphic Design Studio”, bolstering its industry-leading productivity software portfolio. The software offers graphic design tools for all experience levels and includes 2,000+ pre-designed vector graphics and royalty free images.

The software’s vector-based objects allow for infinite scalability since, unlike raster images, does not require individual pieces of information to create a full image. This allows users to scale the image up or down as much as much as they desire without losing any image quality. In addition, the vector-based objects allow for efficient edibility since users can modify individual elements of their images without affecting other objects in or around each image.

Graphic Design Studio, along with its detailed help guide and drag and drop technology, makes Summitsoft’s latest offering one of the most user-friendly and affordable design titles on the market. Here are a few other highlights of the highly-anticipated illustration software:

  • Flexible tools including full layer support, powerful Bezier editing tools and support for SVG files
  • 65+ commercial use fonts
  • Over 100 Professionally-created design Ideas including posters, postcards, web banners, and more
  • A flexible, open canvas to create graphics in any size and any amount of detail

Graphic Design Studio starts at a retail price of $39.99 and is compatible with Windows® XP, Windows® Vista, Windows® 7, Windows® 8 operating systems on PCs with a with Pentium 400 MHz or higher processor. To learn more about the newly-released software, visit Summitsoft.com or facebook.com/summitsoftcorp.

About Summitsoft Corporation

Summitsoft Corporation is a top-ten publisher of productivity software products, creating innovative business solutions for professionals and home users. Summitsoft offers software through major retailers in North America, South America, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Europe, as well as on the Internet. For additional information please visit our website at www.summitsoft.com.

Business Cards 101

Business cards can help you create a positive first impression and having a well thought out and high-quality card let’s others know just how much you care about your business and their relationship. Here are a few tips in creating the perfect business card for you and your business.

businesscardstudioinfographic

Learn more about our Business Card Studio by visiting the product page here or subscribe to our mailing list to receive updates on all our productivity software and exclusive offers!

Why Now is the Time to Start Your Business

Happy National Entrepreneurship Month! If you didn’t know, November has been set aside as the month in which we celebrate those who have the guts, drive and determination to venture out and start their own business. This month we’ll also celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 17-23), National Entrepreneur’s Day (November 18th), Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (November 19th) and Small Business Saturday (November 29th).

With all the focus on entrepreneurship and small businesses, it might be the perfect time for you to start thinking about making your dreams of business ownership a reality. Now really is the perfect time to start your business and here’s why:
Low barriers for entry

Never in the history of our country has it been easier to start a business. For many businesses, the startup investment needed has dropped substantially and the U.S. Government has realized that small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine that really drives our economy. This means that both money and assistance for new businesses are easier to find than they were years ago.

You’ve just got to make sure you set realistic expectations for your new business. Starting small and growing your business organically will take less startup capital, but will probably be slower to grow. If you have big billion-dollar business dreams, you’re going to need a lot more funding, but the potential reward will likely come sooner. It all depends on the amount of risk you’re willing to take on.
The tools for success are fantastic

If you haven’t noticed, there are some pretty fantastic business tools available these days, which are either incredibly inexpensive or completely free. You can now download and have access to everything from accounting software to website development tools to email programs on a shoestring budget. 10 or 15 years ago, just those three items alone would cost tens of thousands of dollars, but today, most budding entrepreneurs can easily afford these tools for a very small price.

The advent of smartphones and social media sites has also made finding new customers and marketing to them so much more affordable. For a local business, running a targeted ad through Facebook is a much better use of marketing dollars than placing a traditional ad in a newspaper or on the radio. Put simply, the tools available to entrepreneurs today make starting and running a business more straightforward, more affordable and more fun.
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes

While the image of a moneyed, techy, white male in Silicon Valley might inadvertently pop into your head when you hear the word ‘entrepreneur’, that visual only represents a very small slice of the people who actually start businesses each year. In the U.S., entrepreneurs come from every race, age bracket, weight class and income level and are almost as likely to be female as they are male. There are no rules about who can apply to become an entrepreneur – a great business idea and a great drive to succeed are all that is required.

That’s the beauty about starting your own business – anyone can do it. There are no prerequisites and your unique entrepreneurship story is one that people will want to hear. So if you’ve been second-guessing yourself and telling yourself that you don’t “fit the mold” of what an entrepreneur looks like, it’s time for you to get some new glasses, because there is no mold for entrepreneurs.
Time is of the essence

It may be tough to hear this, but that great business idea that you’ve been sitting on for years? Someone else has probably thought of the same idea and is working to turn that idea into a business right now. Time is of the essence and the longer you wait, the more likely it is that someone else is going to come along and turn your business idea into their reality.

What are you waiting for? Don’t miss your chance to do what you’ve always dreamed about. Start taking action today to make your business dreams a reality. Even just one little step each day is a little step forward and moves you closer to your goal.
There is no better time than the present

There will never be a perfect time to start a business. The economy will be bad or you’ll have a family emergency or there will always be some other reason not to get your business off the ground. There will always be excuses not to start your business, so you might as well bite the bullet and become an entrepreneur today.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and start a business, there are thousands of places to get the help you need. Here are just a few of the official websites new entrepreneurs should take a look at:

Small Business Administration – sba.gov
Chamber of Commerce – uschamber.com
S. Copyright Office – www.copyright.gov
S. Department of Labor: Office of Small Business Programs: www.dol.gov/osbp
S. Patent and Trademark Office: www.uspto.gov

Recommended Reading to Boost Your Small Business Brand

Building a strong brand is a challenge for businesses of any size, but when you are a small company with a limited budget, the concept of branding often seems like a luxury that you just don’t have time for. The thing is, if you want your business to be successful, you can’t afford not to work on your brand. For a small business, having a strong brand can mean the difference between thriving and closing shop.

Here’s the good news – creating a strong brand doesn’t have to be a drain on your budget. With the right tools and right information, you can create a brand that people will not only remember, but will absolutely love. At it’s core, good branding starts with a good logo, but it’s so much more than that. If you really want to learn how to grow your small business by building a brand, why not take a look at what some of the best minds in the business have to say.

Here’s Summitsoft’s recommended reading list for branding and logo design:

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Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

A great book that covers how to develop a great brand from start to finish. Packed with case studies, logo examples, and practical logo design tips, Logo Design Love is a great place to start if you want to get serious about creating a great logo and a great brand.


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Essential Elements for Brand Identity: 100 Principles for Designing Logos and Building Brands

If you’re looking to really educate yourself on the subjects of branding and logo design, then Essential Elements is a great place to start. Designed to lay a foundation of what the basics of good branding and logo design entail, it also dives into deeper topics tied to branding that will make you well versed and completely comfortable with branding basics.

 


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Building Better Brands: A Comprehensive Guide to Brand Strategy and Identity Development

Written by one by Scott Lerman, a branding consultant who has worked with legendary brands like Harley Davidson, 3M and American Express, this book ties in a host of real-world branding examples to help lay the foundation for brand building. While the companies featured, may be Fortune 500, the lessons are still applicable to businesses of any size.


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Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

If you’re looking for branding insights from some of the best minds in the business, then you may want to check this book out. The author draws upon interviews from a wide variety of minds like Malcom Gladwell, Seth Godin and Wally Olins to give the reader insights into understanding consumer behavior in relation to branding.


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The Logo Brainstorm Book

While aimed primarily at professional logo designers, The Logo Brainstorm Book is also a great place to start if you’re just a regular joe, trying to design a logo for your business. Offering an extensive collection of logo elements and logo basics, this book also includes a series of exercises to help get the creative juices flowing. A helpful tool if you’ve ever gotten stuck while trying to design a logo.


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Building a Big Small Business Brand: How to Turn Your Brand into Your Most Valuable Asset

One of the few books that is actually focused on branding for small businesses rather than how large brands were built, this book is highly recommended for any small business owner. Written by Dan Antonelli, a Creative Director who has worked to build brands for over 750 small businesses, this book offers a clear vision for how to grow your business with effective branding and stellar logo design.


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Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistable Brand on Any Budget

If you’re trying to build a brand on a shoestring budget (and let’s face it, many small businesses are), Maria Ross’s branding guide offers a wealth of insights. Offering a clear 10-step plan for how to create a strong brand, this book is also packed with real-life examples and strategies that any small business can incorporate – no matter the budget size.


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Do-It Yourself Brand Design: Make Logos, Ads and Everything in Between

If you want to develop a world-class logo and brand without spending a fortune, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and take on some of the work yourself. Gabrielle Weinman’s excellent DIY branding manual helps you determine where you should be focusing your efforts and your marketing dollars along with offering creative tips for color, style and developing a great overall brand design aesthetic.


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Logo Savvy: Top Brand Design Firms Share their Naming and Identity Strategies

If you’re still in the planning process and haven’t officially launched your business, you might want to give Logo Savvy a quick read before you take your business live. Offering fantastic insights and recommendations from some of the best branding minds in the world, you’ll learn all about how to choose a business name and create a logo that will help your business stand out.


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Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks

For those who are visual learners might benefit from picking up this extensive overview of the history of logos. Less a ‘how to’ guide and more of a general overview and history, you can still learn a lot just by studying the history and design of some of the most successful brands in the world.


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The Secret Life of Logos: Behind the Design of 80 Great Logos

This book offers perhaps the best insights into what it takes to create a truly great logo. Dozens of top logo designers walk through the logo design process from start to finish and the drawings highlighting how logos evolved from conception to final design are invaluable. If you like history and want to gain a better understanding of the logo design process, you’ll definitely enjoy The Secret Life of Logos.


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Really Good Logos Explained: Top Design Professionals Critique 500 Logos and Explain What Makes Them Work

A great way to learn anything is to study what works and Really Good Logos Explained offers some stellar insights into what makes a good logo. If you’re in the process of designing a logo for your business, you could benefit from getting some in depth analysis on why successful logos work. Take those insights and apply them to your own logo design and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.


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Designing Logos: The Process of Creating Symbols That Endure

One of the best all-encompassing logo design guides, Designing Logos covers everything from answering the question of “what makes a logo good?” to what the final logo design needs to include. With over 750 illustrations, this book is an excellent step by step guide for designing logos and is a great place to start as you work on designing a quality logo for your business.


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The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

A classic work on the topic of branding, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding takes real world examples from some of the best-known brands in the world and pairs them with a step-by-step guide for how to build a brand. A definitive text on the topic, many small businesses will benefit greatly from reading the section on web branding.


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Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea into a Big Brand

If you want to learn what really makes a brand thrive, you need to check out this book. From product positioning to developing your company personality to narrowing in on a target audience, Breakthrough Branding illustrates why branding is so much more than having a great logo. Written in a way that is accessible for nearly everyone, it’s one of the best all-around branding books on the market.


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What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest

When building your brand, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Take the best of what some of the most successful brands in the world have done and apply them to your small business. What Great Brands Do outlines what great brands like Nike, Zappos, and Apple all do and how you can apply the same principles to help your business succeed.


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Brand Against The Machine: How to Build Your Brand, Cut Through the Marketing Noise, and Stand Out from the Competition

One of the biggest challenges in branding your company is establishing your voice in an authentic way. Brand Against the Machine shows you not only how to establish an authentic voice, but also how to define your target audience and cut through the noise to reach them in an impactful way. A non-traditional look at building a brand from the ground up that would be a great read for any small business owner.


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Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

A somewhat well-kept secret is that the key to great branding is all about great positioning. Positioning yourself to capitalize on your competitors’ weaknesses is a strategy that can pay off big time and Positioning walks you through the methodology for how to establish the right presence. A great read for small business owners operating in saturated markets.

This list reflects just a handful of the great branding and logo design books available on the market today. There are hundreds of other fantastic books, not to mention blogs, written with the express purpose of helping you steer your brand in the right direction. If you have a book recommendation not listed here, make sure to let us know about it in the comments.

 

How to Write Copy that Sells

“The customer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything.” – David Ogilvy

The art of writing good copy is one that few do well. It’s a challenge to write content that is not only engaging, but that boosts sales as well. The good news is that with a little hard work and focus, you can create stellar content for your business that will boost sales. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Focus on one simple goal

To write really effective copy, you’ve got to focus your efforts. What action is it that you want your reader to take? Do you want them to sign up for your email list?   Do you want them to download a free trial? Do you want them to make a purchase?   Focusing your copywriting efforts on achieving that one goal will help add clarity to your efforts. The structure, language and action items can all be tailored to your purpose when you focus on one goal, which means that the chances of success will also increase.

Don’t bury the lead

Customers aren’t going to wait around for you to tell them why they should buy – you need to lead with the good stuff. Hook them from the beginning with the best things about your product and then once you’ve got them hooked, you can get into all the details.

Don’t talk down to your customers

No one likes the feeling of being patronized, and taking a “we know best” tone is insulting to customers and will turn them off in a heartbeat. Assume that your customer has the intelligence to understand what you’re selling. And if you are selling a product that actually is complex and a bit difficult to grasp, there are ways to educate people through your content without treating them like they are children.

Know who your target customer is

It’s so important when you are writing sales content, that you know who you are writing for. The tone, language and structure you use could vary widely based on who you’re writing for. For example, if you have a product aimed at the teen girl market, the language, graphics and content you present will be dramatically different than if you’re trying to sell something to an upper-class middle aged man. Knowing who your customer will make your content better and your sales will show it.

Understand the needs of your customer

Once you know who your target customer is, understanding what it is that your customer actually wants or needs the next step in crafting solid content. When you can identify what the need is, it becomes much easier to create content that speaks to your customers. Similar to setting your primary goal, you’re going to want to focus your efforts here. While it may be tempting to show that your product can address a wide variety of needs, you’re going to be more successful if you can show how your product takes care of the primary need of your customer.

Explain the benefits

This may seem like common-sense advice, but focusing on the benefits of a product rather than the features can be a challenge. It goes back to understanding the needs of your customer. You can run ads, create brochures and design entire websites to explain the benefits of your product, but if you don’t tell the customer how it’s going to improve their life, you’re never going to get the sale. When creating your sales content, keep the customer front and center in your mind and ask yourself, “what will my product do for you?”

Make it a conversation, not a presentation

We all remember those teachers and professors who would stand at the front of the classroom and read straight from the textbook. That type of presentation is incredibly boring and more likely to turn customers off than it is to make a sale. When creating content for sales, try to make it a conversation rather than a presentation. If it helps, bring someone else in the room to talk through the content and take some notes. How you phrase things verbally will likely sound much more relaxed than if you were to try and write it out.

Edit aggressively

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and when it comes to writing good sales content, you should make da Vinci’s phrase you personal motto. The first draft of any piece of content that you write is exactly that – a first draft. Take the time to really comb through your content and remove anything that doesn’t support your main goal or isn’t targeted at your customer. Don’t be shy about editing – the simpler your message, the easier it will be for customers to understand.

Ask for the sale

Growing up in the retail business, one of the first things I learned was that if you do your job, asking for the sale should be the easiest thing in the world. The same thing goes for your content – if you’ve done your job, asking for an email signup or a free trial download or a sale at the end of it should be feel incredibly natural. Use action words to spell out clearly what you want your customer to do and then make it incredibly easy for them to complete the process.

Finally, remember that content is important. In this day and age, crafting good content should be at the foundation of any business. Invest time and energy into getting your sales content right and it’ll have a direct impact on your bottom line.

10 Business Lessons from Swimming in the Shark Tank

If you’ve seen the ABC hit TV show, Shark Tank, then you are already familiar with the premise. For those who have not experienced the phenomenon, the short version is that entrepreneurs pitch their business to a group of highly successful potential investors in the hopes of exchanging some equity for capitol. For anyone involved in business, it’s fascinating to watch the negotiation process take place and the business insights offered by the Sharks are pure gold.

Many of the insights offered by the Sharks pertain directly to pitching your business for investors, but there is quite a lot that you learn about business in general as well. One of the recurring themes that you see is that while every business starts out small, there are a number of key factors that separate the success stories from the flops. Here are ten killer business lessons from swimming in the Shark Tank:

1.Differentiation = Domination

One of the questions most often asked by the sharks is, “What is so special about your product that I couldn’t just do it myself?” And that question gets right to the heart of what makes one business a dominant force while another company falls flat.

If you want your business to truly succeed, you’ve got to offer consumers something unique. If you’re just another face in the crowd selling the same products at the same price, then it’s just more noise in the marketplace and your business is never going to be a raving success.

The best position to be in is one where you’ve invented a completely new product or process where you hold a patent, but even if that isn’t the case, you can still take steps to differentiate yourself. Really look at your business and at your competition and think about what makes you stand out. Is it that you provide a level of service that none of your competitors can offer? Do you offer a higher quality product than anyone else? Or do you have better prices? Whatever your differentiating factor is, once you find it, that should be your complete focus.

2. Be prepared

Being prepared isn’t just good advice for the Shark Tank, it’s good advice for life. Time and time again, entrepreneurs step into the Shark Tank and fail to get the deal because they weren’t fully prepared. Either the presentation is weak, or the entrepreneur is completely thrown by a question or comment from one of the sharks, or sadly, the entrepreneur just gives off the appearance that his or her heart is not in it 100%. Whatever the situation, the common thread is that a failure to prepare is tantamount to preparing to fail.

The most successful Shark Tank stories all begin with an entrepreneur with a solid product and an even more solid plan. They’ve got a roadmap for where they want to take the business and have planned for success. For your business to realize the kind of success that you dream about, you’ve got to know how you’re going to get there. Take the time to craft a well-designed plan from the start, and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

3. Know your numbers

One of the most painful things to watch on Shark Tank is when an entrepreneur is asked some basic questions about the numbers of their business and they just flounder. You can see the stress creep over them – they start sweating, they get a little twitchy and the words coming out of their mouths make no sense. If you want to succeed in business, you have got to know your numbers.

No matter what type of business, whether or not you went to business school or how large the business is, at the end of the day, understanding key things like profit margin, customer retention, website visits and conversion will play a major role in how successful your business ultimately is.

Data and analytics may seem overwhelming if you don’t have a business background, but understanding your key metrics tells you where you are today and it helps define your goals for the future. If numbers aren’t a strong suit for you – find someone who can mentor you on that side of the business or invest in a class or some good business books. You’ll be a better business owner for it.

4. Learn how to sell

In the Shark Tank, every entrepreneur is trying to sell two things: their business or idea and themselves. When you watch the show, you can see a clear distinction between the guys who know how to sell and the ones who don’t. There are some key fundamentals that all the great sales guys have in common:

  • They know who their target customer is and have a plan in place to capture that market
  • They have stellar product packaging and branding
  • They sell the benefits of the product, not just the features

Focusing on those three things can be enough to set you apart and get that sale and at the end of the day, the sales are what keeps a business going.

5. Tell your story

One of the really cool things about Shark Tank is that you get to see not only how an entrepreneur pitches their business, but you also get to hear the back stories. You get to see what inspired a new invention, or how a family worked for years out of their garage to get a business off the ground and it’s incredibly powerful.

Your own story is powerful too and making that story a part of your brand narrative makes your business more interesting and more relatable. Sharing the origins of your business gives it a personal touch that will draw customers in and make them intensely loyal.

6. Who you know matters as much as what you know

When a company lands a deal on Shark Tank, they get two incredibly valuable things: 1) Capital to grow their business and 2) An investor with a massive business network. For many of the small businesses that appear on the show, landing a deal means gaining access to retailers or marketing channels that wouldn’t have even thought about taking a meeting with them previously.

The point is, who you know in business is just as important as what you know. Take the time to get to know other small business owners, get involved in your local community and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with people at events. Networking is an important part of creating a successful business and you never know where your next sale or lead is going to come from.

7. Don’t let good advice go to waste

Even though the sharks on Shark Tank have incredibly diverse backgrounds, the one thing that they all have in common is that they have been incredibly successful in the business world. Each shark has had the unique experience of taking a business from just an idea to a massive, multi-million dollar success. Needless to say, advice from such successful sources should be taken seriously.

Now a lot of people hand out business advice like it’s going out of style, but if you have the good fortune to get some input from someone who is successful, well-respected and well-intentioned, do yourself a favor and just listen. Chances are, the advice you get could save you a lot of time and money.

8. Keep your ego in check

A common theme on Shark Tank is the entrepreneur who doesn’t know how to listen. They waltz into the Shark Tank with the greatest invention known to man and get extremely defensive whenever any shark questions anything about their product. On the show, these entrepreneurs are usually eviscerated verbally before they are quickly shown the door.

In real life, failure to keep your ego in check could mean you losing it all. It’s a difficult line to walk because while you have to believe in your product 100%, you can’t be so stubborn that you can’t change or adapt when the situation calls for it. So believe in your business, but keep in mind that you may not know everything.

9. Get your hustle on

As much as we’d like it to be true, a business doesn’t just magically grow on it’s own – it takes everything you’ve got to build a strong, successful business. On Shark Tank, you can see a clear distinction between the entrepreneurs who are putting everything into their business and the ones who are just doing it as a “hobby business”.

The entrepreneurs who are really in it to win it exude passion for their company. You can see that they live it and breathe it every moment of every day and they are hustling for every lead, every sale and every opportunity. If you want your business to succeed, you’ve got to work at it every day.

10. Stay hungry

One of the really cool things about Shark Tank is that while all of the sharks are incredibly successful, you can see that they each still have a hunger for success. They all want to make more money and help build the next great American company.

Every business is going to have ups and downs, but maintaining a hunger for success will keep you moving forward through every stage. It’s that passion for success that will sustain even if things don’t always work out according to plan.  Are you hungry?  If not, find something that will give you the motivation that you need to succeed.

How to Create a Consistent Brand in 3 Easy Steps

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – the key to great branding is consistency. You’ll see this in virtually every textbook, blog post and eBook about branding and it’s not wrong. Offering up a consistent image for your brand directly correlates to the level of success you’ll be able to achieve.

You might think, “Ok, how hard can it be to use the same logo and fonts and colors in my marketing?” And while your logo, font and color choices are all vitally important in maintaining a consistent brand image, your brand is so much more than what it looks like in an advertisement.

To offer up a truly consistent brand image and build your business, here are three things you should focus on:

Really understanding your brand position

Your brand position helps explain who you are as a company and who you want to sell to. A good brand position helps establish where you fall in the marketplace and how you are different from your competitors and understanding your brand position will help set the tone for all your marketing and branding.

Still not clear on what your brand position is? Take a look at these questions to help clarify:

  • Who are my customers or who do I want my customers to be?
  • What do you want your brand to be known for?
  • What do you do better or different from your competition?
  • How would I describe my brand’s personality?

When you understand what you brand position is, it becomes much easier to focus your marketing efforts.

Establish your brand image

Once you’ve established your brand position, work on cementing an image for your brand. Crafting a brand image is hard work and will definitely include the following:

  • Creating a killer logo
  • Choosing a font or set of fonts to use in all marketing, social media and branding
  • Choosing a color palette to work

You’ll also want to think about the type of imagery you’ll use in your marketing and branding pieces. Are you going to include lifestyle shots with people using your product? Or is a clean, modern look without people a better fit?

If your logo features a character or animal, you may even want to think about making that a focal point of your branding. Even if your logo doesn’t feature a character or animal, a type of company mascot that embodies the personality of your company can be an easy way to create a consistent brand image.

Articulate your brand standards and stick to them

Once you establish your brand position and your brand image, don’t be content to let your ideas just float around in your brain. Commit those branding ideas to paper so that you have something tangible to draw from. Better yet, put together a simple brand standard guide, which outlines the following:

  • What your logo looks like
  • Any variations of your logo (alternate colors and layouts)
  • How your logo should be used
  • Any colors that are important for your brand
  • Any fonts that are important for your brand
  • Any brand images, artwork, or mascot
  • Specifics for how your company name should be printed (lowercase vs. uppercase)

If you have a specific perspective on what type of imagery should be used, a description or even examples would be helpful to include.

Don’t forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a brand. Building a strong, recognizable brand takes creativity, time and a lot of sweat equity. If you put together a brand plan and stick to it, you’ll be making headway before you know it.

10 Branding Horror Stories That Will Keep You Up At Night

Rebranding a company well is a really tricky thing. A company’s logo and brand are the public face of the company – it’s what customers relate to and tinkering with that image can have mixed results.

There are many great stories about how a fresh logo or brand message helped revitalize a struggling company. On the flip side, there are also the branding horror stories. The cautionary tales of when marketing teams are allowed to run amok with gigantic budgets only to produce results that are laughably bad.

While these branding horror stories may send a shiver down your spine, don’t let them keep you up at night. Learn from the very large and very expensive mistakes that these companies have made to make your branding efforts more successful.


Pepsi overpays for a new logo

b2ap3_thumbnail_pepsi-logo.jpgIt may or may not be surprising to learn that Pepsi has modified their logo at least once a decade over the last century. That’s in stark contrast to Coca-Cola, who’s logo has hardly changed at all. The most recent logo change for Pepsi was unveiled in March 2013 and the response has been, well underwhelming.

The white stripe across the logo is evidently supposed to look like a smile, but the width of the stripe varies wildly from product to product giving the logo an inconsistent feel. Even worse, it’s estimated that Pepsi spent nearly $1 million on this logo makeover. Money well spent? We think not.

 

 


b2ap3_thumbnail_accenture.jpgAccenture: The ultimate in generic branding

If you’re looking for a lesson in how not to rebrand your company, look no further than Accenture, which up until 2001, was known as Andersen Consulting. According to the marketing people at Accenture, one of the reasons they chose the new name was that it was inspired by the phrase “accent on the future”.

Well when you base your entire corporate identity on a generic business term, you’re going to end up with a pretty generic company name and brand. Accenture means nothing and is really the quintessential corporate business name. On top of that, the name change was reported to have cost Accenture roughly $100 million. I’d say they overpaid a bit.

 


RadioShack tries way too hard

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-Shack.pngThe-Shack.pngIn 2009, the ultimate dad store tried desperately to give itself a facelift and began marketing itself as “The Shack”. While RadioShack is great for a lot of things – batteries and dad gadgets most notably – it has never been one of the “cool” kids. And to be honest, that’s just fine – not every brand can be cool and to some extent, had RadioShack tried to embrace it’s nerdiness it would have been perfectly placed for a major comeback in today’s geek chic culture.

Unfortunately The Shack never caught on and the sad attempt to rebrand one of the best-known retail brands in the world missed the mark in a major way.


a1sx2_Thumbnail1_olympics460.jpgLondon Olympics logo leaves people confused

While the Olympic rings are an iconic logo that have withstood the test of time, the logos designed for specific years have mostly fallen flat, and non moreso than the 2012 London games logo. Created by the designers at acclaimed London design firm, Wolff Olins, this mess of a logo cost roughly $800,000.

While the logo is definitely bold, the London Olympics logo has also been called ugly, ridiculous, childish and awful (not to mention some of the other descriptions which aren’t safe for print). It’s an eyesore that will go down in history as one of the worst and most expensive logos ever made.


Capital One’s logo goes retro with a swoosh

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_CapitalOne.jpgThe phrase “going retro” can be a fun way of saying that a company is embracing it’s roots and getting a little funky. Or it might just mean that the company has done something to date itself by 30 years. When Capital One unveiled it’s new logo in 2008, it featured a bright red swoosh and the response was basically…crickets.

Including a swoosh in your logo design isn’t the worst offense in the world, but it’s been done a million times and hasn’t been considered “cool” since the early 90’s.


b2ap3_thumbnail_GapLogos.jpgGap enrages customers with it’s new logo

Rebranding your business with a new logo is always a bit of a gamble. Some logo makeovers are done well and give the brand a much-needed face lift (see Apple or UPS). Other logo makeovers…well let’s just say that they miss the mark. This was the case with Gap’s attempt to update their logo in 2010.

The problem with this logo makeover was that it was so drastic that the change alienated and angered what was a very loyal customer base. Taking the iconic blue box and replacing it with a logo so modern and void of personality had both customers and the design community up in arms. It didn’t take long for Gap to see the error of their ways and they quickly reverted back to the classic, beloved blue square.


Burger King scares away customers with the creepy king

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_BurgerKingKing.pngOof – this one still gives me the heebie jeebies. Back in the late 20-ought’s, Burger King unleashed what I’m sure they thought would be an edgy version of their king mascot. The ads depicted the king showing up in random places, including some poor guy’s bed and the marketing efforts were targeted at young males.

Unfortunately why Burger King was creeping everyone out, their competitors – namely McDonald’s and Wendy’s were putting their marketing muscle behind product and price. The result was that Burger King lost market share and are now focused more on promoting their actual product as opposed to a creepy mascot.

 


Qwikster: An exercise in pointless branding

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Qwikster.jpgAs of 2014, Netflix is both the darling of critics, consumers and the stock market with it’s high-quality programming and ultra-accessible streaming services. The term “Netflix binge” has become part of the American lexicon and very much appears to be exactly what consumers want.

However, there was a time when Netflix was just a small DVD-by-mail service. Once streaming started overtaking the DVD portion of the business, the higher ups at Netflix got it into their heads that they needed to create a completely separate brand for the DVD portion called Qwikster. Besides being an incredibly stupid name, establishing a new brand was completely unnecessary. After the immediate backlash, the folks at Netflix quickly came to their senses and Qwikster died a quiet death.


Tropicana ditches the orange and gets ditched by customers

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Tropicana.jpgFor decades, the iconic image of an orange with a straw shoved in has been proudly featured on the Tropicana orange juice containers. It’s a clever image that was not only embraced by consumers, but helped make Tropicana the biggest and most well-known orange juice brand in the United States.

Then the folks at Tropicana got it into their heads that they needed a fresh, modern look and updated their logo and packaging. The redesign can really only be described as “grocery store generic” and was panned across the board. The result was that Tropicana’s sales dropped 20% and just a few short months later the classic look was resurrected.


New Coke causes mass hysteria and rioting

b2ap3_thumbnail_new-coke.jpgOne of the most well-known branding blunders came from one of the most iconic brands in the world. In 1985, Coca-Cola was losing market share to a sweeter-tasting, more hip Pepsi and decided that it was time for a new look and a new recipe. They scrapped the old classic Coca-Cola recipe and with high hopes, launched New Coke. And then all hell broke loose.

The Coke-drinking public revolted. People started buying the classic version en masse and hoarding it and protest groups were formed. Fortunately it didn’t take long for Coca-Cola to course-correct and a mere 79 days after the much-vaunted launch of New Coke, Coca-Cola classic was reborn with a surge in sales.

 


3 Easy Ways to Up Your Branding Game for the 4th of July

3 Easy Ways to Up Your Branding Game for the 4th of July
For most small businesses, holidays are a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, they present an awesome opportunity to do something fun and different with your marketing strategy, on the other hand, it can be challenging to find the time and resources to make changes to an already jam-packed calendar.  The good news is that there are some really quick, easy and fun ways that you can show off your 4th of July spirit and the best news of all is that you don’t have to bust open your marketing budget to show that your company has holiday spirit.  Here are a few tips for how you can incorporate the 4th of July into your branding:

1. Freshen up your color scheme

There is no better way to show your 4th of July pride than by incorporating red, white and blue into your color scheme!  There are so many areas that you can quickly and easily update the look and feel of your branding that you’d almost be crazy not to do something fun.  For example, think about changing your website background to a patriotic image or update your Facebook photo to the American flag.  You can also tie in a patriotic color scheme with any emails you send, which will help provide some consistency and will look great to boot.  If you have a physical location, think about updating your window displays to show off a little patriotic pride, have some patriotic gifts like stickers, flags or temporary tattoos to hand out to your best customers.
2. Show off your company’s personality
Holidays like the 4th of July are awesome opportunities to showcase the unique voice of your company and there are so many ways to do this.  Because there is a broader context through which you are pushing your messaging, you have the opportunity to play up some of your inherent personality traits and still get your message across.  A few ideas include posting some candid shots from your company bar-b-que on your Facebook page, writing a company blog post about your favorite 4th of July traditions (make sure there is a logical tie-in to your product), or sprucing up your company uniforms with a patriotic touch.  There are many, many other things you can do as well, but the important thing to keep in mind is to let your personality sparkle. (See what I did there? Laughing)
3. Connect with your customers in a totally non-sales way
As a small business owner, your ultimate responsibility is for a healthy bottom line, but that doesn’t mean that your messaging needs to be sales-focused 100% of the time.  Try sending out a personal email to your best customers wishing them a happy 4th of July.  Better yet, if you have a little extra cash to spend, send an actual card or postcard with well-wishes or a thank you.  As mentioned above, you can also think about some small, inexpensive gifts to hand out to your best customers – something that ties in with the 4th of July and your business works best.  Your customers will appreciate the gesture and even if the idea doesn’t generate a ton of revenue, you’ll have fostered some goodwill and helped build a loyal customer base.
Whatever you do, make sure that all your efforts are well thought out and are genuine.  Above all, you want your branding to be authentic and genuine to your company’s unique personality.  Happy 4th of July week!

How Not To Design Your Logo

There are about a million places on the internet that tell you how you should design your logo, and based on what the company is selling, every article is going to vary slightly. In a nutshell, they are all going to tell you the same thing: you want a logo that is unique, simple and memorable. We even have our own tips for creating a great logo (which you should absolutely read!)

But telling you how to design an amazing logo is not what this article is about. This article is all about what you need to do to avoid logo disaster. This is how not to design your logo and reading this article could mean the difference between logo triumph and logo failure. So read on to find out the 8 things you absolutely shouldn’t do when designing your logo:

Use stock art, clip art or photographs

There are a few rules of logo design that everyone generally agrees upon and one of those rules is that your logo, above all else, must be unique. It may be tempting to grab some free stock art or clip art from one of the thousands of websites that provide them, but grabbing a free image off the internet is one surefire way to make sure that your logo fails.

The reason that clipart logos fail almost every time is that in general, these images are neither unique, nor are they memorable. If your logo is going to represent your unique business, it needs to do the job of helping to set your business apart from your competition. A free graphic from a random website is not going to help you accomplish that, no matter how cool you think it looks.

That’s not to say that free logo and clipart sites don’t have value. What you do want to take from logo websites and clip art websites is inspiration. Take a look at what is out there and let it help inspire you to create something that has the feel of the images you love, but is 100% unique and 100% your own.

Copy Someone Else’s Logo

Oof – this rule is a big one. You may think that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but to a logo designer who has put their blood, sweat and tears into a logo design, imitation is really just theft. Yes, there are some beautiful logos out there and yes, today’s technology makes it incredibly easy to copy or lift someone else’s work, but it is absolutely not worth it in the end. Do yourself a favor and commit to never copying another designer’s work.

Use a complicated visual metaphor

When trying to up the ante with your logo design, it can be tempting to try and do something overly clever or meaningful. When done right, these visual metaphors are a fun and interesting way to help consumers engage with your brand. For instance, Amazon’s A to Z smile, representing that they carry everything “from A to Z” or the arrow hidden in the white space in FedEx’s logo are both great examples of visual metaphors that really work.

Unfortunately a simple visual metaphor is rarely easy to execute and most of the time the metaphor will be lost on your customer. A surprising example is Toyota’s logo. You may look at those ovals and think, “hey, that’s kind of a clever way to show the letter T.” However, there is actually a lot more meaning behind that logo design than you would ever guess. Here’s what Toyota says about their logo:

“The current Toyota Mark consists of three ovals: the two perpendicular center ovals represent a relationship of mutual trust between the customer and Toyota. These ovals combine to symbolize the letter “T” for Toyota. The space in the background implies a global expansion of Toyota’s technology and unlimited potential for the future.”

While the logo itself is solid and conveys the brand well, I would be shocked if many consumers knew the actual meaning behind Toyota’s highly visible logo. The point is, visual metaphors can work for your logo, but it’s best not to make the metaphor the entire logo.

Go With the Tried and True Cliché

It might be that the saddest thing in the world is a cliché that thinks it’s not a cliché. The same goes for logos – the most lackluster logos are the ones that use the same worn out image as every other business in their industry. It’s the tooth on the dentist logo or the scales of justice on the lawyer’s logo or the grains of wheat on your local bakery’s logo. No matter what the industry is, there is sure to be at least one logo image that is so overdone that it’s the first thing you think of.

Creating a logo without employing some sort of cliché can actually be a challenge. You want your logo to be clear about the services or product that your company provides, so it’s natural to want to showcase that in a very clear way. It just so happens that usually the clearest visual is usually the biggest cliché. To avoid walking down the “it’s been done to death” path, try thinking of new ways you can present that old cliché. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint is all a logo needs to give it new life.

Design By Committee

Because designing a logo is neither simple or straightforward, it can be tempting to get as many brains in the room to help with the design process. One word of advice here, “Don’t.” Assembling a committee of individuals with strong opinions about what a logo should look like may seem like a great idea, but in general, one of three things will happen:

  1. It’ll turn into a democracy where each feature of the logo is voted on.
    • When democracy rules, the process feels very fair, which is great for your committee members. However, the resulting logo is usually a mess of ideas from each contributing individual and is too weak to stand on it’s own.
  2. The loudest voice in the room will win.
    • It’s safe to say that with any committee, there will be at least one individual who is just a little bit more dominant than the rest. It’s often the case that the loudest individual doesn’t always have the best ideas either. Unfortunately when you decide to design your logo by committee, you run the risk of the loudest member of the team running away with the project.
  3. Compromise will be the name of the game
    • If your committee is composed of nice individuals whose goal is to play nicely together, you may end up with a compromised logo. This type of committee will give a little here and take a little there until the logo is a mess of some elements that everyone liked. The problem is that when there is no cohesive theme, the logo ends up being confusing and messy.

So in a nutshell, don’t leave your logo design up to a committee. It’s fine to get multiple opinions or to let employees and family vote on the final design, but the logo design process really needs a strong hand guiding it from the start to be successful.

Use a free logo designer

If you have a limited budget for designing your logo, it can be tempting to use one of the plethora of free logo design websites available these days. While it’s true that these websites make it incredibly easy to design a logo, it’s also true that they offer the same stock images, fonts and colors to every other person who uses their service. In other words – you get what you pay for and in this case that is a stock logo that is probably being used by a dozen other businesses.

There is nothing wrong with taking these free logo websites out for a spin. It’ll be worth it just to give you a little inspiration on what your logo could look like. However, when it comes time to commit to a logo for your business, you’re going to want to make sure that design is 100% unique.

Ignore General Kerning Rules

If you’re not well-versed in the world of fonts, you probably aren’t familiar with the term “kerning”. Kerning is the amount of space between letters and it is vitally important if you want to have a logo that is legible. When done right, you won’t even notice kerning in a logo. All you’ll notice is that there is a beautiful, legible logo right in front of you.

On the flip side, you definitely know when a company did not use proper kerning in their logo. If the letters are too close together, the company name will probably be illegible. If the spacing is too small between words, the logo will be confusing and could even cause words to appear in your logo that weren’t there before. If you want your logo to have the right impact, pay attention to the kerning and you’ll already be a step ahead of your competition.

Throw in a random shape or color

So your boss comes to you and says that he absolutely loves the Nike swoosh and wants to incorporate it in your new logo design, which also features a bulldog. While there are obviously plagiarism issues with using the Nike swoosh in any way, it helps illustrate an important point – don’t add swooshes, shapes or colors to your logo at random. Even if you love the way a shape looks, you can’t include everything in your logo and you shouldn’t try to fit shapes in where they don’t belong. For best results, keep your logo simple and try to avoid throwing in the kitchen sink (even if your boss is the one who wants to do it).

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Small Business Name Rocks

When you are starting a new business, one of the most nerve-wracking tasks is actually settling on a name. Naming your business is such a stressful process in part because it feels so permanent. While it’s true that some companies survive rebranding initiatives, it’s very difficult (and expensive) to change a company’s name and retain any semblance of a customer base after you make the change. In other words, when you choose your business name, you’re pretty much stuck with it.

In a small business, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have the budget or resources for a full marketing push to help establish the brand, which is why it’s even more important that a small business gets the name right. You want to create a business name that customers are going to love, and more importantly, remember. To that end, here are our 5 most important tips for creating an awesome name for your small business:

1. Spell It Out

You may not think it’s incredibly clever to spell out exactly what you do in your business name, but being obvious can save you a lot of marketing dollars. There’s no question about what kind of business the Rock Rapids Bakery is and there is nothing wrong with saving your customers some time and legwork by telling them exactly what you do. This is especially helpful if you are a local business, which will rely in some part on foot traffic. When people see your logo – don’t make them wonder what you do, just tell them!

2. Short and Sweet

Iconic companies have something in common – they all have names that are short and easy to remember. Nike, Honda, Coca-Cola, Google – all these names are simple, short and roll off the tongue with ease. When naming your small business, you always want to err on the side of simplicity, because if it’s possible for a customer to confuse or misunderstand your company name, they will. Try to stick to company names that are 1-2 words long and are easy to remember and you’ll have an easy leg up on the competition.

3. Sticky Factor

Great company names, like great songs, just have a way of finding a way into your brain and sticking there. They are interesting and memorable and there is something intangible that just draws you in. While it may be difficult to put your finger on what makes a small business name sticky, you can get a feel for how memorable it is by running your idea past friends, family and collegues. Ask enough people and you’ll probably find that there is one name that is remembered a little more consistently than your other options.

4. Tell Your Story

Great brands make it a point to be great storytellers and tying your small business name into a personal story helps foster an immediate connection with the consumer. I think about Raising Cane’s, a fast food chicken fingers joint; the restaurant chain is named after the founder’s dog, Cane, and there are pictures of that dog plastered all over the place. Just knowing that little bit about the company gives me a personal connection and when I crave chicken fingers, it’s usually the first place I go.

Think about the people, connections and shared stories in your life and how they could form the basis for your company name. The personal touch may take a little longer to explain to potential customers, but it’ll help build a loyal customer base, which is a rare commodity in this day and age.

5. Make It up

If you’ve exhausted all your options and nothing in Webster’s Dictionary is really striking your fancy, why not be bold and just make up a new word? There’s no reason why you can’t – Google did it, Mozilla did it – you can make up a new word for your small business name too. It’s a bold option to invent something completely new, but often times, boldness leads to a lot of respect in the marketplace.

Just note that creating your own made-up name for a company can be a little dangerous as well – particularly for small businesses without large marketing budgets. You’ll have to spend a little extra time educating the customer about what your company does. When in doubt, combine two well known words to help get your point across.

New Product Alert! Classroom Fonts is here

It’s not often that we use this blog to hype our products, but in the case of our newest addition, we feel that it’s at least worth a mention.  We’ve just launched the brand new Classroom Fonts collection and it is the perfect tool for any teacher or parent.  We’ve worked with the team at SummitType Foundry to hand craft 50 totally new fonts designed specifically for use in the classroom.  Backpacks, fractions, schoolbuses, cursive and schoolboard are just a handful of the font types that you’ll get in this amazing collection.

On top of that, we’re throwing in over 540 clipart graphics that have been hand-selected for use in the classroom.  You’ll get a little bit of everything in this pack including: food, sports, geography, holidays, standard symbols, school supplies, world flags and so much more.  Use these graphics and fonts to create posters, banners, signs, worksheets, and anything else for your classroom.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Classroom Fonts Collection today!

When should you hire a professional to design your logo?

Every business needs a logo. It’s the visual representation of your company and while no company has ever lost business because of a good logo, there are plenty that have lost business due to a bad logo. In other words – your logo is important, so don’t screw it up!

There are a lot of different options out there when it comes to choosing how you will design your logo. While some prefer the cost effectiveness and flexibility of logo design software, designing a logo yourself is not necessarily the right move for every business. There are circumstances where it makes sense to bring in a professional logo designer and here are a few situations where going pro might make more sense:

You’ve got the money

It should come as no surprise that hiring a professional logo designer is a more expensive option than creating a logo yourself. A good logo designer will have invested in education and experience that will help set them apart from the competition and that experience will cost you more than the best logo design software.   Average costs for a good logo design will range anywhere from $250 to around $1,000, which may be equal to the entire marketing budget for a lot of new businesses. However, if you have the budget, there are benefits that a professional logo designer brings to the table that can certainly make the experience worth your money.

You’ll accept the cost even if you don’t love the result

It’s a fact of life that sometimes things just don’t work out. You could end up hiring a designer with a great portfolio, fantastic references and a style that you love, but for whatever reason, you just never get on the same page about your logo. Most professional logo designers will allow a certain number of reworks, but occasionally it becomes apparent that you and the designer might never agree. When this happens, you may have to shell out a “kill fee” to terminate the contract. It will likely be less than the total cost of what a final logo would be, but you’re still paying and receiving nothing in return. Every design contract is different though, so just make sure the terms are clear up front.

Your field is highly design-conscious

There are certain industries that require a higher level of sophistication in a logo in order to compete. Think about graphic design, art, architecture – all these fields have a perceived level of experience that the logo needs to show. If you operate in one of these fields, you may be better off hiring a professional to design your logo, rather than attempt to make a go of it on your own. Hiring the right professional will ensure that you have something truly unique that will be sophisticated enough to make the right impression in your competitive field.

You’re starved for ideas

While there are a lot of resources to help you get inspiration for your logo, if you’ve tried to design your logo and are struggling to find the right look and feel, it might be time to call in a pro. A good professional logo designer is going to be creative by nature and should be able to provide you with a variety of ideas that would work for your company’s logo.

You don’t mind taking advice

When you hire a professional logo designer, you’re not just hiring them for the end result, you’re also hiring them for their expertise. An experienced designer will have specific ideas and suggestions about what you should and should not do with your logo. If you’re open to taking advice and direction about the look and feel of your logo, hiring a pro might be the right way to go. Note that the logo design process needs solid input from both the client and the designer to work effectively, so communication is the key to success when a professional logo designer is hired.

You have limited time

If you’re like most small business owners, time is the one thing that you’re always running out of. You may think that you don’t have the time to sit down and design your own logo and if you aren’t comfortable using a computer, or don’t feel comfortable doing it, you may be right. Hiring a logo design professional can take some of the burden off your shoulders and free up some of your time. Keep in mind that while you won’t actually be spending the time designing the logo, it’s going to be vitally important that you spend enough time working with the designer you hire to make sure that he or she understands what you want and need out of your logo.

In closing, remember that your logo is an important part of your business. If you’re going to hire a professional, take a good look at their portfolio, request references and remember that when it comes to design, you often get what you pay for. If you don’t have the budget to support hiring a pro, your best option is to actually design that logo yourself using intuitive software like Logo Design Studio Pro.