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We are so thrilled to announce that our branding work for Red Queen Book Arts has earned an award of merit in the AIGA 100 Show. The show is run by the Salt Lake City chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, and is the region’s most prestigious juried design competition.
The Winning Entry
Logo for the specialty book arts gallery, Red Queen Book Arts.
The gallery draws its name from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Located in Salt Lake City, the gallery carries a large collection of both modern and antique collector’s editions. Red Queen Book Arts seeks to introduce the new collector to the world of book arts as well as support established collectors find rare treasures.
Thoughts on the Design, the Award and the Show
Steve, Kira and I were in New York City the night of the awards ceremony and so Karen accompanied the client to the show—thus marking the second time someone has attended a show and picked up my award in my absence (ask me about this after a drink sometime). I interviewed each key player on the project and think the answers are really interesting for someone considering a branding project with us or with another firm.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone that worked on this project!
Melissa (the client):
What did you enjoy most about the logo design process?
Firstly, the communication. I sincerely appreciated that everyone took time to get on the same page. Then, the beginning and the end! I loved the beginning, when creative juices were flowing and lots of possibilities were floating around. It helped to know that I was working with talented professionals and could trust the process, and then once we settled on a direction, it was absolutely delightful to see the end result!
What did you find the most surprising or difficult?
The biggest surprise for me was that no one expected me to suddenly become visually literate. I worried heading in that the design process would require me to have a lot of informed opinions about design, and that wasn’t at all the case, thank goodness.
The only difficult thing was settling on the final design as it meant closing the door to some other great ideas.
What did you learn about the logo design experience that you would like to share with other clients?
Be clear, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I found it helpful to be upfront about how I communicate, and when I asked for time to briefly consider a decision it was given gracefully.
Amber, as an aside, I want you to know that I am just blown away by what you, Steve, and Kira have delivered. The branding you guys came up with is incredible, and I don’t take it for granted. I know that you all put in a lot of work on my behalf, and I’d like to thank you once again.
Congrats on your well-deserved award!
Kira (the designer):
We’ve done a lot of logos together, what made this one stand out as something we should enter into an award show?
There was a lot of freedom with this project and I spent a lot of time. Those two things generally result in great design.
It was nice that the client was given two very different directions she had a strong feeling for one. And its awesome to have an art director that also has strong opinions and gives direct and constructive feedback (and design therapy)—and takes the time to give it to you even though she is very busy.
Other things that played in to it: the name was great and the store concept was interesting and unique. The project benefits someone I really like (and someone who supports and believes in my abilities as a designer). Creating a strong logo and identity system around a cool company makes the process much more enjoyable and easier.
Walk us through your logo design process, how long does it normally take both an effort and duration?
I think just the logo process took two months. That is a luxury! People always want to rush this process and often get a logo that they have to spend more time and money fixing later.
Once the mark was finalized the rest of the identity formed organically as small projects for the company came up. Again, not such a rush to lock everything down.
Having time to think about the project, play with it and come back to it allows me to come up with something more refined and less obvious. Most of my design drafts and concepts happen in my head when I have a minute in the shower, or in line, or before I fall asleep (or while I shop)—it’s impossible to know how much time is spent there, but it’s vastly more than time spent physically drawing or drafting it.
Karen (the copywriter):
What did you think about attending the event?
I thought the identity for the event was pretty fab and the letterpress work for it was gorgeous.
I was surprised by how “sponsored” the event was–I don’t think anyone on the board who spoke didn’t mention a sponsor, and the sponsors themselves presented the ingots and had a change to further promote themselves there. (I really wished they’d been briefed on how to pronounce the winners’ names, too.)
But I was very pleasantly surprised the wine for the event was free, and that was a result of a sponsorship, so maybe I shouldn’t complain too much!
What did you think of the work this year?
Hand-drawn type was everywhere, and I saw a trend towards work with an “artisanal” feel. The student work was really, really strong–I think a lot of professionals were jealous! As a copywriter, I was a little disappointed, as there weren’t that many really striking uses of copy (other than that for Red Queen Book Arts, of course).
Nilauro (the client’s husband):
AS: I thought it would be interesting to also get the opinion of someone who wasn’t involved in the project or the industry, but attended the event.
Overall this was a great event. The Leonardo was an excellent venue, and it was a pleasure to see so much amazing work from local artists and designers.
The look and feel of the event from posters to the logo were top notch.
Free wine. Thanks!
The display of award winning work was put together well and had a nice flow.
Things to work on:
Ensure ahead of time that everyone who will be getting up to speak is familiar with their script and has a chance to rehearse as necessary.
More diversity in the Copper Ingot winners. The winning entries were great, but several were extremely similar.
The silent auction organization needs work. People need to be more aware of the auction and to be given more time to actually look and bid, and there needs to be outreach about how it works and when the auction will close. Giving people bidder numbers is a great way to increase participation.
In closing, it was eye-opening to see work by such talented artists and I enjoyed attending.
Some pictures of the event
Side note, I freaking love the long shot of Karen, Melissa & Nilauro.
Thanks for taking pictures for us, Nilauro! See more of his amazing work here ›
Here are three shady things that I’m currently annoyed with. Thanks internet!
1. Favorited Tweets are the new Twitter Spam
We’ve had a rash of favorited tweets lately. If you go to the profile they contain spammy links to grow your followers. Which could really be another point—places that allow you to buy followers.
2. Click this extra email so I’ll get your email
People, stop doing this. I’ve received a few of these lately from business contacts — people that have requested things from me, or clients have requested I send things to people on their behalf. Learn how to better manage your email. Please quit subconsciously promoting messages like, “my email inbox is more important than yours, so I must spam you this extra step and clutter up your inbox if you wish me to see your precious message” and, “I can’t manage my own stuff so I’m putting the burden on you.”
FTLOG – their tagline is “End Email Overload” and they are a service that multiplies the work of using email.
3. LinkedIn Website Stalking
Apparently there is a way to hide a LinkedIn profile box on your website and get visitors names, titles and company names. There is a little part of me that thinks things like, “man, I wish I knew who was on my website.” How great would that be in my line of work? Someone from a large company looks at our site — and then magically I send them a capabilities brochure. Sure, that sounds awesome, I’d love to know, but wait… it’s insidious.
Oh, and here is a 4th bonus one.
Dan Graham is a cousin of mine that passed away, his Facebook profile is still active.
Thanks Facebook! When will Facebook finally allow profiles to be changed to memorial profiles* and quit promoting that you invite the deceased to your events?
*Facebook Memorial Profiles aren’t really a thing, I just wish they were and I think they should be.
[UPDATE: 5/31/13] Our friend Mike let us know that you can now memorialize a Facebook account. Information here.
I made the best cake yet. Now to understand this you probably need to know that I don’t cook anything. We’re not sure how I lived alone for so long. Over the years Steve (who is a fantastic chef) has coaxed a few things out of me. I did start baking a little while ago, a few things from scratch, lots of boxed cakes. If you are short on time or cash, by all means go with a box. However, if you have an afternoon and some extra scrilla, go the scratch route.
This cake that I made, it’s a dream. I didn’t know yellow cake could be this good. It’s the cake that’s in the current edition of Martha Stewart Living and I went with all-organic ingredients. As I was putting in the ingredients I kept asking myself if the organic and pricier versions were worth it. These are my findings:
|Cake Ingredients||Worth It?|
|1 Stick Unsalted Butter||Not the stuff we bought, organic butter yes, but the super grass-fed cow butter no.We bought the Supernatural butter that the Paleos love—it was $10 for a pound at our local little gourmet food store. You can get it cheaper at Whole Foods, but it’s still pricy.|
|1/2 teaspoon fine salt||—|
|1 1/2 cups granulated sugar||We used raw/organic sugar. The jury is still out on worth it or not.|
|3 large eggs,
|Yes! Organic, local eggs will make all the difference. We get the Clifford Farms ones.|
|1 cup whole milk||Yes — organic dairy, happy cows, no hormones, etc is important to us.|
|1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract||Probably not, tasted about the same, cost a whole lot more.|
|Frosting Ingredients||Worth It?|
|1 stick unsalted butter, softened||See above.|
|4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature||Yes! The organic cream cheese was a transcendent experience.|
|5 cups confectioner’s sugar||No! Expensive, tastes the same and there isn’t enough in one bag to frost a cake. The trifecta of fail.|
|1/4 cup whole milk||See above.|
|1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract||See above.|
Cake Ingredients & Design
All of this got me thinking about what was worth the time and cost and what wasn’t. I’m often asked the same questions when it comes to design and building apps and websites. So here is a short rundown.
The caveat here is cost — if you have a larger budget, by all means get the best of the best, everything will be exponentially better.
|Design Ingredients||Worth It?|
|Logo||This is the cream cheese. A cheap logo won’t kill you, it’s better than nothing and if you are just starting out it’s not the place to drop serious cash. However, if you can afford it (and a good logo/branding is going to run you $6,000–$10,000 or more) it’s a transcendent experience.|
|Website||This is the eggs. The eggs, for us, are non-negotiable when looking at organic/non-organic. A website is the same, you must have a good site. However, you can have the mass-market organic egg of sites (build it on WordPress now, make it good, you can always take that and upgrade later). Eventually, when you can afford it, you want the Clifford Farms of local/organic egg websites.|
|Fancy Business Cards||This is the organic confectioners sugar. As in, not worth it unless you have money to burn. We have some cheap (but nice) cards, because if you are doing a lot of business, you are handing out a lot of cards—and those cards shouldn’t be costing you $1+ each to hand out.|
|Custom Photography||This is the grass-fed butter. You must have good photos on your site, and even good stock photos don’t come cheap. However, if you are very particular (like you eat a Paleo diet) you want to spring for the custom photography.|
|Mobile App||This is the organic vanilla. Only when all other things are covered should you even think about doing this. It might not move the needle at all, or it might be the greatest finishing touch.|
What do you think?
Do you agree or disagree? What is worth it to you when you bake? What is worth it to you in your business communications?
When we slid into the mobile app game everyone was still trying to figure out the best solution (hey, it’s an evolving sport even today). Since then we’ve built native apps, HTML5 apps, shell apps, responsive websites, mobile sites that compliment the full site. We even wrote the book on it to help clients figure it out.
It’s funny when you start to talk mobile strategy—seems like everyone has a really strong opinion. I was talking to someone the other day that was so anti-native and so pro-HTML5 I could barely get a word in edgewise.
Our really strong opinion is that you have to choose the right strategy for the project, no reason to put a stake in the ground and declare your position across the board.
Different Mobile Strategies Explained
Let’s look at what we’re talking about here:
- Native App: An app built to run on a specific platform (iOS which runs on iPhone/iPad/iPod, Android, Windows Phone).
- Pros: Works really well on the specific device; can access device features like the camera, contacts and email; can work offline; is easy for users to get from an app store; easy to charge money for the app.
- Cons: Expensive to build; has to be redesigned slightly and redeveloped completely for additional platforms.
- HTML5 App: Also called a web app, uses new web technology (HTML5, CSS3, jQuery) to produce a product that looks and functions almost identically to a native app.
- Pros: Design and develop once to hit every platform, even the ones with smaller market shares like BlackBerry; can be developed by a traditional web developer instead of finding a specialist; easy to push updates anytime; best bang for the buck if you can sacrifice certain features.
- Cons: Difficult to charge money for; some users will have a difficult time “installing” it (saving it to their devices homescreen); cannot access some device features; can be slower than a native app.
- Shell App: An app that uses HTML5 or another kind of programming language that is then wrapped with a piece of software (PhoneGap, Appcelorator) to function like a native app and be released via the app stores.
- Pros: Develop one app and release on multiple platforms.
- Cons: Hybrid apps don’t always look right cross platform—iOS has very specific design patterns that are different from Android and vis versa; many developers find they spend as much time trying to learn yet another system as it would take to do it natively; many people find that they are just not quite right. As of yet, this isn’t a course we recommend taking, although it has a lot of promise.
- Responsive Website: A website that changes layout depending on what device you use. The website uses the same HTML5 code and then controls the display with CSS3.
- Pros: Works well on a variety of devices and platforms; the only strategy presented that includes a view for a traditional desktop/laptop as well as mobile and tablet; easy to keep all views in sync so there is only one place to update code.
- Cons: Can be expensive to build if it’s not truly needed (some designers/developers are pushing for always including a responsive site—great idea if your client has the budget); needs to be really well thought through to decide what is dropped on the mobile view versus the desktop view to make sure each experience is complete and not just a crummy fail over.
- Separate Mobile Site: A site that compliments the regular website, but is developed to be completely separate.
- Pros: Works exactly as intended on the mobile view; can be designed/developed to use the same content as the main site (so there aren’t multiple places to update things); can be a cheap and easy add on to an existing website without touching the current code.
- Cons: Even though you can use the same content, it’s a different set of code so if something major (like the logo) changes it will need to be updated in multiple places; it is not as complete in the information as the complete site and often includes a “view full site” button.
Different Mobile Strategies in Action
We built this app natively for Boart Longyear. Why: This app is used on tradeshow floors where there often isn’t internet available; the app connects to the device’s camera to scan codes and pull up the related information.
We built this app using HTML5 for Boart Longyear’s Drillers Connect. Why: This app is used all over the world, most workers in the field will use an Android or iPhone to access the information, but some will look it up on a desktop.
Despite our best efforts to use Dreamweaver/PhoneGap we just cannot get an app to come out and install on the other side.
We built this website to be fully responsive. Why: Each view had to have full access to the entire site. Many people search for their next job while on their lunch break at their current job, and they do with a mobile/tablet device. To include the same information on something as small as a phone or tablet we shortened the logo and introduced alternate navigation.
Separate Mobile Site
We added this site onto the current Chow Truck website, we also have two more of these in the works. Why: There are very few businesses that we would recommend doing this for — but a restaurant, especially one that is in a different place every day—is going to see the most traffic from mobile phones. When you are in the car, on your phone there are very few things you want to know: where the place is, if they are open and what’s on the menu. About us, history, news, awards, etc are not as urgently important. Plus, we’ve recently learned that Open Table strongly encourages restaurants to have a mobile site and menu.
The Future of Mobile Strategies
Mobile strategies are evolving quickly. We look forward to the day that a shell app or good HTML5 to native wrapper works well, native apps are expensive—but in the right light give the proper ROI (anyone else taken out a second mortgage to support a Candy Crush habit?). We were fully onboard thinking that everyone needs a responsive component, but then we looked at the additional design/development and realized a lot of smaller clients are good with a single target site—as long as that site still works on a mobile it doesn’t have to exactly fit the mobile.
What are your experiences, either as a consumer or site owner with different mobile strategies?
I was going to use one of these book covers for my first book, some of you even helped by voting on them. In the end, even though they were clever, they were scrapped for a design that allows you to read the entire title from the Amazon thumbnail image.
I’m posting them here for reference on a future post about how to publish a book.