There is a black hole in design projects. It's this realm right between the development of the creative brief and the presentation of those first few design concepts.

Sure, the client knows is that their designer is hard at work – brainstorming, ideating and being as creative as possible in order to deliver the most fantastical design concepts imaginable. Obviously.

But where exactly does the designer go? Do they trek through the mountains of Tibet in order to find inner peace and bolster their creativity? Do they flee to an uncharted island to perfect their focus?

Most project managers and clients probably couldn't say what goes on during this time. And it's problematic because then, when the first rounds of designs are reviewed, designs come out of left field and no one is quite happy with how it all came out.

Goals and expectations were not established, and feelings get hurt.

Mood boards are like a lifeline back to the mainland. They bridge this gap that we all struggle with, whether you're a designer or not. And they run both ways, helping both designers and clients communicate better with one another.

In this week's episode, Liz and I discuss my own process for using mood boards in design projects. I talk about the tools that I use to brainstorm design concepts and build out mood boards. In particular, I share how they help me communicate better with my clients and ensure that we are both on the same page regarding their needs and desires.

Flipping this concept around, Liz also shows how marketers and noncreatives alike can use similar tools to talk to their own designers. 

Read More

Share:

Our work culture thrives on people telling others – coworkers, bosses, friends, spouses – how busy they are.

Really though, we love to say it. Don't tell me you never feel just a little bit of pride when you tell your friends that "No, I can't go out on Wednesday night. I'M BUSY."

But busy-ness becomes a dangerous trap. It's so easy to just say "I'm too busy" and to move along from one task to the next, checking things off your list without really putting your full brainpower into any particular item.

So when we feel like everything is on fire, and out inboxes pile up with endless newsletters and emails, how do we – as marketers, content creators, and designers – keep our creativity flowing and continue to think outside the box?

In this week's episode, Liz and I dive into the tools and techniques that we both use day-to-day to get ourselves out of the "check-the-box" mentality. We share how we push ourselves to keep thinking creatively, in order to fuel the passions that we both have for what we do, and to continue to produce higher-quality work.

Read More

Share:

A few months ago, I posted a question to Inbound.org, asking users to tell me how they would rate their own company's logo, on a scale of one to 10, and why. The responses were all very positive, each a rating of nine or even 10, and I enjoyed reading the reasons behind the ratings, all of which were varied and completely subjective. 

But it got us thinking. What is it that really makes a logo so great?

How can you, someone in charge of your company's branding, make sure that your logo and other brand elements aren't outdated or missing the mark?

In this week's episode, Liz and I explore the way people critique their own brands, and how they reach out to others for feedback as well. Ultimately, we find there is a balance between you taking charge of your brand, as someone who truly knows their own business, versus bringing other knowledgeable stakeholders into the discussion to really make sure your logo and brand are achieving the goals they were designed for.

Read More

Share:

The Guide to Creating Mind Blowing Content

Let's face it, there is a lot of content out there. How do you get yours to stand out? Simple, make it mind blowing.

42 pages full of ideas for creating awesome content that converts visitors into leads and leads into customers!

We are no stranger to talking about blogging on the Creator's Block podcast. (We've talked about why people hate it so much, as well as three quick strategies for writing killer blog introductions.) Why do we talk about it so much? Because while we can all agree that blogging is an essential part of any successful inbound marketing strategy, it's also the marketing activity people tend to complain about the most. 

Specifically, there are two excuses that crop up in conversations both internally at Quintain and with our own clients time and time again. First, "I don't know what to write about." Second, "But I don't have any time to write a blog - I am so busy!"

So, on today's episode of Creator's Block, Shelby and I aren't just complaining and commiserating - we're providing you with tested strategies and tips for picking great topics and finding the time to blog. (Spoiler alert: You have more to say than you think, and guess what? We're all busy.) Enjoy!

Read More

Share:

The topic of cheap logo design, or low-cost design work in general, is one that quickly causes riots to break out in the design community. Keyboards sailing through the air, potted succulents shattered on the floor. Designer anarchy.

Or, at the very least, passive-aggressive comment chains on social media.

But what are the reasons business owners turn to cheaper design options in the first place? More importantly, what do you stand to lose by going with a cheap design, and what might you gain?

I will always be an advocate for good, labor-intensive creative work, but the prevalence of cheap, quick design work can't be denied.

In this episode of the Creator's Block podcast, Liz and I walk the line between these two extremes and dive into the positives and negatives of "low-rent" logo design, and what they mean for the people who write the checks.

We also talk about what business owners truly miss out on by not being involved enough in the logo design process, or by overlooking what is essentially the cornerstone of their entire visual brand.

In the end we came to a similar, simple conclusion: You get what you pay for.

Read More

Share:

I'm a bit of a junkie when it comes to NPR podcasts - especially since a lot of their best radio content airs when I'm busy here at the Quintain office, working on content for our clients. So the fact that I can catch up on what I missed on live radio after it airs makes me happy. 

But I'm not here to wax poetic about podcasts or NPR. Instead, I want to share a specific episode of Fresh Air, during which Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed Media was interviewed regarding what he learned about the fake news that plagued the recent election. (It's approximately 36 minutes long, but there is a transcript at the link.)

I tuned in as a politics nerd. But to my surprise, I found myself riveted as a marketer

By the conclusion of the interview, I had to admit that while I find the idea of fake news utterly repugnant, those behind it weren't successful by accident. In fact, when you push the heaping mess of politics aside, there is a lot us marketers can glean from what they were able to accomplish. 

So in this week's episode of Creator's Block, Shelby (in her first week as my full-time co-host!) and I talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of fake news. Because while you may want to roll your eyes and dismiss fake news, there is plenty to be learned.

Read More

Share:

Welcome to the first episode of Creator's Block of 2017! To kick off the new year, we brought Shelby Clarke (our amazing graphic designer) back to the recording studio to discuss a blog post she wrote some time ago: "7 Things a Graphic Designer Isn't." 

Not only does she make a lot of great points in the original article - seriously, go read it, if you haven't already - this post opens up a much larger discussion around the unspoken friction that often exists between marketers and the creatives that work with them. 

On the one hand, marketers have a clear vision or idea that they want to execute - but then a project they thought would be "simple" turns into something needlessly complex. Or the final product delivered is nowhere near what they wanted, and they don't know why or where things went wrong.

On the other hand, designers and content creators want to deliver the best product possible for those marketers - whether that be a logo or a blog post - but sometimes feel willfully misunderstood or treated like order takers, instead of the creative problem solvers they are.

So this week, we made it our mission to answer three questions: Why does this kind of dysfunction happen? What can you do to fix it? And finally, what big changes lay on the horizon for Creator's Block? Enjoy!

Read More

Share: