Before & After Magazine: A quick mention of a great design resource

I don’t plan to give away all of my secrets.* But I wanted to pass this along:

Before and After website

Before & After is a resource devoted to helping improve design. I find the articles enjoyable and helpful, and I know clients who appreciate my work will occasionally appreciate resources like this. There are a variety of free resources in addition to their paid service.

* Of course I won’t give my secrets away, but I’ll gladly use them in the process of serving my clients.

Why Your Logo Matters

books-on-a-shelf-bwDo you remember in grade school how your parents and teachers would try to keep you from being judgmental and cliquish? The most memorable phrase was, “Never judge a book by its cover.” And I’m revealing that I am a child of the 1980’s, but who could forget the second phrase of the Transformers theme song: “More than meets the eye…” We were raised around attempts to help us look past appearances and make a more discerning appraisal of the people and situations around us.

Fast forward to present day. You are running a business. You don’t have any big corporate office that tells you what to do. You are completely independent. Right around the time you got started in business, your first few customers or clients sort of found you. The thrill you got from meeting their needs helped propel you to launch your own business. Then you realized that in order for your business to survive, you will have to begin reaching out and communicating to others about what you do. You need to network. You need to market yourself. How do you do that without a business card? So you head down to OfficeMax and put together a business card. You select an image from their nice clip art library and put it there beside your business name, along with your phone number and email address. Now you’re ready to network. You’re ready to step out there and…be judged.

Logo design is important because it is the main element through which you make a first impression. Your logo (whether it is on a business card, your website, your vehicle, or your estimate form) sets the tone for what your customers can expect from you. Your logo tells who you are, and it also reveals a little bit about your future aspirations.

Let’s take a moment to make a critical distinction. In the mind of many business owners, logo design and branding are synonyms. They are related, but they are far from interchangeable. A logo is a unique representation of a business, service, or idea. Logos often incorporate stylized text or graphical elements, and they may include one or many colors. A brand is what a person thinks concerning your business or organization. It is the sum of the first impression and every subsequent impression that a person experiences about your business or organization.

In short, your brand is the mark you leave:

Cattle Branding

Your logo is one of the tools at your disposal to create a brand:


There are many ways to reinforce a brand over time. Every interaction your have with your customers or clients is an opportunity for you to strengthen (or weaken) your brand:

    1. Pre-Sales Conversations
    2. Emails
    3. Website Experience
    4. Pre-Sale Product Samples
    5. Delivery of Product/Service
    6. Service After the Sale

Your logo is only the initial step in creating or strengthening that brand. But unless your logo is effective, you may not have a chance to get to the other steps.

If you would like to make sure your logo is sending the right message and helping make a good first impression, contact us today.


The cattle branding images in this post are in the public domain.

Backup, backup, backup.

Hi everyone,

Andy here. I am writing this post on a borrowed computer. My main system is being restored to its factory state because a hard drive glitch (either software or hardware…not sure) rendered my computer non-functional.

Hard drive problems have consumed half a day of productivity.

I have lost at least 4 hours of productivity so far. I will have to reinstall all of my applications (no small feat…I use Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium and quite a few other programs). I may have to replace my hard drive with a new one if in fact this turns out to be a problem with the drive itself.


But I have not lost any data.

I made a backup copy of my data just a few days ago. And I was able to access my limping hard drive’s files to get all of the subsequently modified files.

So after a half day jaunt into the world of PC tech support, I will be back in business.

What about you? If something happened to your main computer or computers, would you be able to bounce back in a matter of hours? Most medium enterprises have dedicated IT personnel who are tasked with, among other things, making sure backups happen. But I dare say many — if not most — small businesses do not have any type of backup process.

What does all of this have to do with design? Not a whole lot — except for the fact that I will be able to continue offering excellent graphic design services once my system is operational again. I hope you also have a backup plan in place so that in the event of a failure, you would be able to say the same thing.

If you don’t currently have a backup plan, here is what I recommend:

For home users: Buy a large (>1TB) external hard drive and some image backup software like Acronis True Image. You can sometimes find packaged deals that include a hard drive and the software. Install the software and use it to make backups of your hard drive at least weekly.

For small businesses: Your needs are different from home users. You can tolerate less downtime. If you have fewer than five computers, you may be able to manage it yourself. If you have a more complex system, you may want to contact a company who specializes in data backup and recovery. Computer Consultants and Merchants of Greenwood, S.C. can help.

Setting up a backup plan is about as much fun as purchasing life insurance. But in the event you need it, you will be oh so glad you have it.