Protecting what is important and valuable is a natural instinct that is part of every person’s natural response to a threat. There are many academic and scientific articles debating whether this is an in born response or a learned response. Regardless, in my opinion, we protect either ourselves or what we care about in a natural way . . . in most cases that is.
I am always shocked at how unmotivated some business owners, especially creatives, are about protecting their work. This created work is the lifeblood of their business, their life, and their ability to earn income.
Not only are many creatives not protecting their work but also they are not protecting their businesses. There are simple and effective ways to safeguard your ability to conduct business, protect your intellectual property and ensure your ability to keep what is yours.
First, let’s talk about legal forms, documents, etc. Sign-up for a service like Docracy.com that makes using real legal documents, agreements, contracts, etc. easy, simple and cost-effective. They say they are “legal for the people”. Don’t ever apologize for having a clearly spelled out agreement for your clients to review and sign. A well laid out agreement spells out what you will provide as a service to the client and it lays out what the client will also hold to on their end (pay on time, how much they will pay, etc.).
Nothing damages a working relationship more than miscommunication or lack of clearly communicated expectations. Don’t let it happen to you. Also, get a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before discussing a project with a client. This puts the client at ease because they can safely discuss their project needs with you knowing you are protecting their product, widget, service, etc. that may be new and yet to be unveiled. It also protects your advice, ideas, concepts, etc. that you might share that will benefit the client. You should also use agreements for contractors or employees as well. Spell things out clearly, as I mentioned, and everyone will be better off in the long term.
Next, let’s talk insurance. Simply, get business insurance. Whether you work from home, you have an office or you work in a shared workspace you need to protect your equipment, your assets and your ability to make money. If you lease an office (excluding shared workspaces or executive offices) you will be required to have a minimum amount of coverage that is spelled out in the lease terms. This protects both the property owner and you from liability claims.
For example, if you have a client meeting in your nice new office and the client slips and falls YOU or YOUR company are liable for any injuries. There is no guarantee said client will sue but they can.
The other part of the insurance need is to protect your equipment. If you are in the creative business like we are at Buzzbomb Creative, then there are very important pieces of equipment such as our computers, our backup drives, tablets, photography equipment, etc. that we need to do our client work. What happens if someone breaks in, stealing and/or damaging the tools you need to deliver to the client and you to get paid? What happens if your $8,000+ Mac Pro tower flat lines in the middle of a huge project? The right business insurance will ensure that you are covered in case any of these events happen. If you have an insurance agent, call them today. If you don’t, do some research and talk to someone in your local area today.
Let’s talk about billing and collecting money. At Buzzbomb, we use a cloud billing, invoicing and estimate service from Harvest. This service does charge a monthly subscription based on the company size and needs but it streamlines hour tracking, expense tracking (like mileage) and billing. It allows us to customize our invoices and estimates while allowing you to track your outstanding invoices, create custom reports to see how well you are doing and also track hours by project. If you choose, Harvest also allows you to give clients the option to pay you with a credit card or even using their PayPal account.
Finally, I want to talk about intellectual property (IP) and copyright. IP theft or violations are incredibly common today because of the ease in finding creative work online. If you have a portfolio or music or photography on a website then you are exposed to this risk. Remember, if you create it, then it is yours. If a client has not paid for a created work, it belongs to you or your company until they pay for the work. Don’t release created work until the invoices are paid in full or you lose any leverage you have to collect that payment. Your client agreements should spell this out. Also, if you have interns, contractors or employees you need this topic clearly spelled out to ensure you protect your company. The US Copyright office has some great information on their site. Also, a non-profit organization, CREATE.org has a free kit to test your exposure to copyright infringement or intellectual property theft.
I don’t want to make anyone think that it is a war zone out there. Simply, you need to take basic steps to protect yourself from unseen hazards and from damage to your company and ability to earn a living. Clear written communication with clients and your team are a must. Protecting your assets and equipment has to happen to ensure you aren’t left high and dry. Finally, protect what you create, the ideas you have and the concepts you develop.
See you next week when I discuss how to simplify some parts of your work life.
Filed Under: Business
Last week I encouraged you to be in a constant state of learning from work experiences, life experiences and education experiences. I want to shift this week from learning experientially to learning about the resources available to the small business owner, entrepreneur or freelance artist.
These resources can help you avoid legal troubles, tax troubles and just allow you the opportunity to enjoy owning and running your business however small it is today and however large it might become.
Again, I want to emphasize that I am definitely not an attorney or a tax professional. Simply, I am sharing from my own experience in starting a company with my wife three years ago that is now thriving and from my experience in joining a young company as a full partner and setting a path for growth & success.
I have had so many opportunities to share these learnings with excited entrepreneurs, small business owners needing advice, Buzzbomb clients as well as students. Now, I want to share these practical items with more people. I’ll have some action items for you at the end if you fall into one of the preceding groups. Let’s jump in.
- Pick a Name- Identify what you are going to call your new venture, business, company, etc. Be sure to pick several options. More on that in the next point.
- Research - Do your research and see if the name has been registered in your state (in Texas we search the Texas Secretary of State database), if the name has been registered as a trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office as well as learning about the process here.
- Buy the Domain - While doing your company name research, buy as many domain variations of the name as you can afford. We prefer using DreamHost versus other providers to buy and host domains because they offer a simple, easy to use service with great tech support.
- Company Structure - Talk to a CPA or a lawyer (ask around to see who you know in those professional fields) to determine which company structure (sole proprietor, LLC, LLP, S-Corp, etc.) is the best choice based on your state tax laws and the IRS. You will also need to get your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and if you will collect sales tax (check your states laws) a tax permit. Also, if you are going to have employees you will need to check your states laws to determine what if any payroll taxes you will need to pay.
- Register the Name - If you are registering as a sole proprietor, you can probably handle this process yourself and it is usually inexpensive to register as this type of business. With other company structures, you will probably need some help from a CPA or an online provider such as LegalZoom or MyCorporation
- The Tax Man – Paying taxes is important. It is simpler for a sole proprietor compared to and LLC that has employees. It is important to not only educate yourself by finding information on the IRS website but consult a tax professional (Not H&R Block, no offense to anyone who works for them or has used their services) but a licensed CPA. If you don’t pay what the IRS and your respective state tax agency, they can take your property to settle the bill. Don’t wait to do this!
- Your State – Most states have numerous resources for the start-up company and for small business owners. Look it up, read, learn, and use any free services they offer.
- Your City – Chambers of commerce are a great way to meet other business owners, find new clients and stay involved in your business community. There is usually a fee but one paying project and you have probably more than covered the cost. Also, most counties in metropolitan areas have free small business resources available to you as well.
- Insurance – Get business insurance. There are so many ways to protect your equipment, your personal finances and your health. Talk to your insurance agent today and get the coverage you need.
- Mentors – Identify other established business people that are in your circle of friends, your parent’s friends, in your church, in your social circle. Offer to buy them lunch or coffee and ask for their help with your company or new venture. They will probably enjoy the chance to share their experience with you and it will be valuable information.
- Read –Yes read, on your Kindle, your iPad or an actual book with pages and stuff! There are so many great books out there that you can choose from. Some can be related to your industry and some will be more general on the subject of business. Some of my favorites are:
- “Quitter” by Jon Acuff – This is not a book about quitting rather it is about how to chase your dream while working somewhere that isn’t the dream job. This book was the catalyst to my working towards leaving my last job to join Buzzbomb Creative. Also, Jon is hilarious in person.
- “Steve Jobs” by Walter Issacson – Say what you want about Steve Jobs but he was part of making a tremendous impact on how we consume information and how we create.
- “Great Idea, Now What?” by Charles T. Lee – I am currently reading this book about making ideas happen.
Take the time to actually learn what you need to so you can not only start a company but also run it well and find success. If you are a professional that people will hire to create art, branding, music, provide services, etc., then you understand your value to those needing your unique service.
You will find tremendous value in also utilizing professionals in the finance and legal worlds. This will pay off in the long run by providing peace of mind and protection from costly mistakes.
Take advantage of the free resources I listed above as well. Don’t rush into your new venture and later have to pay to change things you could have set up correctly in the beginning. If you already have a company up and running then see if you are set up properly to avoid any legal, tax or financial issues.
I did some things well in helping my wife start her company three years ago but I also made some mistakes. A few of those mistakes were costly but we learned what not to do, whom to hire to take care of those areas (taxes, CPA) allowing me to help you avoid the same problems.
Here are some to-dos if you are about to embark on an entrepreneurial journey:
- Name your venture
- Do your research
- Register your company
- Buy the domain(s)
- Hire a branding agency to create your brand identity
- Talk to tax and legal professionals
- Do more research
Next week I’m going to share how to protect your intellectual property, your company and your assets. See you then!
Filed Under: Business
We should always be in a constant state of learning. Learning from our work experiences (no matter how insignificant the job may seem), learning from our family experiences, our educational experiences and relationship experiences shape who we are today.
Every stop along the way provides another valuable tool to your tool belt. That tool may not be used in the immediate future but it will be useful at some point in a way that may surprise you.
Looking back on the landscape of my work life, I can easily break up my work experiences into the following categories:
- The Pre-Adult Years
- The College & Ministry Years
- The Retail Management Years
- Client & Project Management
For each category, I’ll briefly describe the work and what I learned in that season of my work life.
The Pre-Adult Years
I never had a “real” job in high school because of a very busy extracurricular calendar during the school year as well as helping with my family’s agribusiness ventures. Many who know me today cannot believe that I ever took part in anything related to farming and ranching. I love surprising people.
- Age: pre-teen to high school
- Tractor navigation technician*
- Cattle health diagnostician*
- Hay bale inventory specialist*
- Skills Gained:
- Work ethic
- Time management,
- Heavy machinery operation
*Fancy names for driving a tractor, getting cow poop on you and good old hay hauling
I didn’t enjoy working with my family in farming and ranching but I learned about work ethic, about entrepreneurship and about integrity by watching my uncle Mark (he and my aunt Johnnie raised me most of my life) and the approach he had to each day.
The College & Ministry Years
During my decade long college career (those years were not all consecutive) I had work-study jobs for the first two years but later worked in retail and on staff at several churches.
- Age: 18-23
- Skills Gained:
- Customer Service
- Asset Management
- Budget Management
- Public Speaking
- Life Coach
I had no idea how to be a pastor! I was a young kid but the integrity I observed in my younger years along with the work ethic I was fortunate to develop were all I had to apply to a job with what I believed were overwhelming responsibilities. I simply worked hard, tried my best to honor God with my efforts and conduct myself with integrity.
The Retail Management Years
I spent nearly eight years working in the consumer electronics world primarily as a manager for two different retailers. One of those retailers was the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer.
- Age: 24-32
- Skills Gained:
- Sales conversion
- Customer service
- Profit & Loss management
- Budget management
- Staff development
- Human resource management
- Inventory management
- Asset management
- Loss Prevention
- Sales management
- Training and development
- Hiring process
When I entered my retail years, I had no idea how to work in a fast paced retail environment nor how to manage that many people (as many as 40 direct reports) but I used the people skills I had developed as a pastor to develop solid relationships with those around me.
The Client & Project Management Years
I moved into my first corporate America job that involved client management and project management at the beginning of this phase.
- Age: 32-today
- Client management
- Project management
- Cross functional team building
- Creative thinking
- Creative writing
- Product development
- Direct mail development
- Social media strategy
- Problem solving
- Art department traffic management
- Start-up strategy
That first job introduced me to the world of cubicles. Working a 9 to 5 job in a cubicle was foreign to me along with using Microsoft Office. How in the world was I going to figure out how to manage projects occurring in all of Best Buy’s locations in the U.S.? The scale of the projects and responsibility were overwhelming and I was worried about failure. Thankfully, I used the same people skills that developed in my pastoring days, nurtured great relationships with my clients and with those in other departments in that company. Each job I have walked into in this season of life has presented the same overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and fear. The key to overcoming those feelings was looking back to the journey and drawing on each unique work experience to provide the skills I would need to be successful.
There is an opportunity to learn something valuable, something useful or something necessary that will carry you into your next role or position. Don’t ever sit around disappointed in where you are because you could miss what you are supposed to LEARN.
The point here is to never waste time. Instead, throw yourself into something productive that gets you around people, keeping your people skills sharp and asking for responsibility over something even if it is just managing the competitive games for 400 high school students hundreds of miles away in Colorado for a week.
To wrap up this weeks installment, every experience along the way when looked at individually seem to have no relation to each other. This is not the case. They were all part of the plan and each built upon the last. Also, each stop opened the door to the next stop. All of these experiences are part of what makes it possible for me to contribute to the successes at Buzzbomb Creative. Your every stop along the way will do the same.
See you next week when I will dive into some practical things every business owner needs to know when starting a company.
Filed Under: Business, Strategy
The Cassie Reid Counseling rebranding project is live on The Work. This project actually launched in late 2012 but we just put the finishing touches on some final pieces for their new branding. Learn more about the development of their new brand identity.
Filed Under: Branding, Clients, Digital, Identity, Logos, Print, Website Design
The beer brands that will launch from Grapevine Craft Brewery have been unveiled! Their brewery is under construction this summer and they plan on being fully operational by fall! The brand identity of each beer reflects the history and heritage of the great city of Grapevine, Texas. Check them out on The Work page
Filed Under: Branding, Clients, Identity, Logos, Product
Recently I was invited by an instructor from the Arts Institute of Fort Worth to speak to his Professional Practices class about the business side of becoming a freelance artist and how to start their own business.
I get excited to share about the business side of well frankly, business. I love the business of doing business. Contracts, agreements, tax strategy, client management, project management, liability insurance are all areas that I love to learn more about as well as utilize in our daily work. It is definitely not the “sexy” side of any business.
For example, in the creative world, designers, like the tremendously talented Paul Sirmon (my business partner and creative director at Buzzbomb Creative), have higher visibility. This is because at a creative agency, the product is the visual communication, or the brand identity, or the web design, etc. are the most “visible” result of our efforts. This is the “sexy” part of our biz. I am a creative person but I am definitely not a designer.
So it was an honor to have the opportunity to share my experience in starting a successful business and detail our efforts to grow another company from a design studio into a full-service branding, design and consulting agency. The word “experience” is key because I only share lessons learned from things that I did well as well as mistakes that were made that led to finding solutions to correct those mistakes.
Let me add a disclaimer, I am definitely not a CPA nor am I an attorney. Simply, I have been blessed to have these two opportunities (so far).
This post is the prelude to a multi-part blog where I will share not only these experiences as well as practical tools to help a start-up or small business owner find success but also the journey to this place. The three primary topics are Learn, Protect and Simplify.
Next week, I will dive into the work experiences that have landed me where I am today.
I’m looking forward to putting these thoughts and experiences in writing. See you next week.
Filed Under: Business, Clients, Strategy
“Should I give the client what they want or what they need?”
This is a question that comes up a lot in my work as a creative professional. It was a huge topic of discussion within the in-house environment I worked in previously. To really tackle the ins and outs of in-house will take a separate post on another day. I think to answer the question at hand, or just theorize, we need to analyze both sides of the equation.
In order for any business to succeed it must have a continuous stream of clients. To have and keep clients they must be kept happy. So how do you keep those clients happy? Customer service, quality of work, relationship, trust, timely delivery, etc.
Let’s start with customer service because this seems to be at the center of every conversation I’ve ever had debating this topic. Customer service is paramount in any business. The old phrase, “the customer is always right” consistently comes up in discussions about customer service. Only sometimes the customer is not right.
The Team Want side of the argument tends to rely heavily on the surface aspects of customer service. For example, approaching it in the following manner. “After all, if the client hired me to do something and they want it done a certain way then I accommodate them and they walk away happy lauding my efforts to all their peers. This in turn brings more clients. They are paying after all and essentially become my boss.” Anyone that’s ever had a job knows it’s not always a good idea to oppose your boss, instead choosing to comply and be praised for it. The downside to this mindset is that you could land in a situation where you are constantly the button pusher just doing what you’re told.
The Team Need side of the argument says this: “If I’m a professional and a subject matter expert in my field, then I am best serving my customer by delivering what I know they need, rather than want, in order for them to have a successful project.” When hired by a client you must act as a partner with them to see their goals accomplished. The client is challenged, but sees success and lets their peers know you’re the pro and they should use you if they want the same. I think that in most cases a client approaches a professional to help them with something they are not able to do on their own. As such, you must assert your expertise. The downside to this scenario is that you could possibly turn away clients and lose business.
Here’s a black and white example of Want vs Need. You visit the doctor to check out a problem you’ve had. You’ve done your research on WebMD and feel you have a pretty good handle on the situation. So you go in for the visit and tell the doctor to test for a, b and c. She does and the results come back with nothing, however, you still have the problem. Team Want loses. So you return to the doctor and he says, “Well, your assessment was way off and we really needed to check d, e and f.” So d, e and f are tested, problem identified and solved. Two bills later you’re back to normal. Team Need wins!
There is a third option though. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where a client demands that your work be done a certain way. When this happens you have a choice to make: A) Do what they ask, have a happy client, be annoyed, and sometimes end up not achieving the project goal(s); B) Politely decline and send them on their way; or C) Find a middle ground. I always opt for the middle ground, but err on the side of need most often. Obviously you have to pick your battles and determine whether the relationship is worth the work or not, but generally need outweighs the want.
In the age of the internet, with a breadth of knowledge at your fingertips, anyone can research everything. However, like the Tower of Power song, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Regardless of the profession, let’s assume that all clients have a limited or dangerous knowledge of the subject, but it doesn’t make them the pro. A pro typically has years of experience failing and succeeding. A pro has discovered along the way what works and what doesn’t and applies that to their work daily. By dictating to a pro how to approach his or her, work a client can actually hinder the process, lengthen the project and ultimately end up without a satisfactory solution to their problem.
So let’s get back to our avenues of customer satisfaction.
- Customer Service - I believe that the best way you can serve a client is to solve the problem they approached you about.
- Quality of Work - Exercising your expertise and pushing yourself within strategic boundaries births innovative, creative solutions.
- Relationship - A relationship is a two-way street. Give and take. This is where the middle ground comes in. Mutual respect is fostered and partnership is created. This creates trust, but must be handled with respect at all times.
- Trust - Getting to a place of trust with a client unties your creative hands more and more.
- Timely Delivery - The fewer speed bumps hit during the project leads to a more timely delivery. Less reworking and more creating.
I think that relationship with clients is paramount to long lasting and fulfilling successful work. Again, respect from both sides is key to creating a meaningful relationship. Similar to a close relationship with a friend or in a marriage, sometimes difficult conversations need to be had, but can ultimately tighten the bond. Picking your battles and being honest are important factors too. I think of our work more like a covenant than a contract because of the give and take.
Having said all that it’s extremely important to me that we not become monkeys pushing buttons for our clients. You can train a monkey to do whatever you want. In the end we like to believe that our clients want us for our brains, work and expertise. We’ve had clients approach us with a common opener of, “I already know what I want. I just need you to make it on the computer.” In those cases we politely decline and sometimes recommend peers in our field that are happy to do that kind of work.
Either way, there is no successful way to land completely on Team Need or Team Want. Instead, it is a balancing act to land in the sweet spot between both. Also, since there is no standard sweet spot, we must immerse ourselves in the project to understand exactly where such a spot will be found for that particular job.
Filed Under: Clients, Strategy
A highly informative infographic design project launches from The Hive. To celebrate the new year, we had the opportunity and privilege to partner with Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education on this challenging project.
Take a moment to peruse the infographic design we crafted that highlights the impact of their efforts on education reform in Florida. Find it on The Work page http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/excel-in-ed-infographic-design/
Filed Under: Digital, Infographic, Print, Product
Today is my dad’s birthday. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on him and the impact his life has had on me.
My dad is a retired police officer but even after his retirement he has found other ways to serve and protect. Growing up I always lived with the idea of him getting hurt, or worse, on the job. I know at some point I took his safety for granted, but the realization of that fact has given me a huge respect for the work he did and still does day in and day out. As a kid, I recall listening to my dad swap work stories with his buddies which gave me some insight into what he did and how he worked. I knew I’d never grow up to be as awesome as he was.
My dad’s work ethic and sense of right and wrong left a lasting impression on me. He believed in doing what was right regardless of the politics or how difficult the choice might be. To him, it was important to work to the best of your ability because it’s something you love and care about even when doing “just enough” is acceptable. These values are the core of what he taught me either by example or in lessons. I can’t thank him enough for that. It goes beyond the job, employer or the paycheck. They are done for the benefit of people that either are affected by your actions or rely on that job well done.
Granted, I’m not saving lives or righting wrongs in my work, although an argument could be made that I right design wrongs and there are certainly plenty of those out there. It’s not life or death, but still … people rely on me to do my work to the best of my ability to get their message out. This is why I love working with people who want to make a difference in their world. I have this perspective because of my dad.
Another important quality he taught me was that relationships come first and work comes second. I’m still learning this and continue to grow in this aspect.
I’m thankful that my dad was always supportive of the things I wanted to do. I went from aeronautical engineer to architect to designer. I think it took a while for him to see design as a legitimate career, but he came around. There was a time or two that I wanted to be in a big metal band. He wasn’t super hot on that idea and that was probably a good thing.
I know not everyone is fortunate enough to either have a dad around or have one as great as mine and for that I’m sad. I’ll meet my first child in the next few months and I hope that I can be a fraction of the dad mine has been to me.
So happy birthday, dad. You’re my hero. I love you and thank you for teaching me what matters in life.
Also, thank a cop for risking their life to keep you safe.
Filed Under: Inspiration
If you’re like me you sometimes have a hard time expressing your true feelings for the love of your life around this time of year. So we decided to give back to the community by creating this wonderful Valentine’s Day poster. Feel free to download and dispense at your discretion.
We all get spam. Most of the time they’re solicitations for a killer authentic Rolex, but every once in a while you get a gem. We’ve been collecting these gems on occasion and one in particular inspired this poster. The copy is directly from the email with the exception of the line “Ode to a Random Inbox.” Be advised that should you choose to actually send a message to the email address on the poster you are a) doing so at your own risk and b) a sad loser.
Enjoy it people of the world.
Valentine Spam Poster
Filed Under: Misc, Wowzers!
The first brand identity project to launch from The Hive in 2013 is Razor Asset Management. This Southlake, Texas based wealth management firm kicked off 2013 by opening their offices.
Check out more of the brand elements that we developed for this brand identity launch http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/razor-asset-management-brand-identityidentity/
Filed Under: Branding, Identity, Logos
A fresh project launching from The Hive. We had the great privilege of working on this website redesign for our good friend Natasha Brown.
Check out the website design and additional brand elements we developed for Natasha Brown Photography. Check it out on The Work page http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/natasha-brown-photography-website-design
Filed Under: Website Design
Recently Arby’s decided it needed a rebrand. Usually I leave the branding criticism to the numerous blogs out there that do a fine job trashing and praising work in the field, but this time I just had to share my thoughts.
Call me old school if you like, but I’m not convinced that a rebrand is always necessary. That is, unless it enhances and propels a brand into a new direction or improves upon the existing core personality. The Arby’s rebrand does neither in my opinion. Granted I wasn’t in any of the closed door meetings leading up to this change, and I realize we all have emotional connections with brands we love and/or grew up with and, therefore, are unlikely to approve of such a change so my opinion may be incorrect in the long view.
In this post I just want to explain details I see as failure in contrast to the old logo or more likely praise for the previous logo.
First let’s remember those grand old signs that used to be icons of the road. At least in West Texas where I grew up. Here is an image of the sign at the Arby’s in Wichita Falls, Texas (near James Reid’s hometown) which still stands and I hope it continues to stand forever and ever. Side note: it reminds me of an old Denny’s sign that used to be an icon in Amarillo where I grew up. I remember years ago when it was torn down and I still have an empty spot in my heart for it. It had this large ball of lights at the top of its impressive height. For all I know it wasn’t original to that Denny’s, but that’s beside the point.
Anyway, on to the logo. Above are the original logo and new logo side by side for your reference. My main complaint here is with the typography. And by typography I’m not just referring to the letterforms and kerning, but also how it all fits together to create a nice cohesive mark.
When I think of roast beef sandwiches (the reason Arby’s exists and what differentiates it from other fast food shops) I think of the old west. The large brash cowboy hat is a big clue that I’m not the only one. So the first obvious fail in the new logo is in the choice of letterform. Boring sans-serif has replaced a slab serif with personality. Not to mention we lost the capital A which was most likely an attempt to make the new mark more friendly and approachable. I think the previous lettering did that and more.
What’s with the giant apostrophe? And is it supposed to be shiny or is it a vague reference to slicing which is what they’re hanging their brand on in this new direction? It’s huge and cuts into the S and has those weird little notches. The only meat slicing blades I’ve seen are full circles. Now they could have been trying to simplify the mark by omitting what would be highlights on the blade, but they certainly have no problem with a clumsy third dimension as seen in the extrude of the hat. I’m not sure and maybe one day a commercial will come along that explains it to us.
Now let’s look at how the old type fits. Notice the left side of the top of the hat comes down in line with the A. The straight leg helps our brain complete the shape and creates a nice relationship between the hat and the type. It makes them look like they belong together, but they didn’t stop there. The right side of the hat comes down in line with the apostrophe which fits nicely between the Y and S without having an awkward gap between them. The apostrophe carries on to the Y which curves around and gives you a nice connection point with the brim of the hat. This is a classic example of balance, rhythm, harmony and relationship which this new logo lacks. Not only does the new logo lack some, but all manner of balance, etc.
The stroke weight of the old logo and type match well and it seems in order to achieve that in the new logo they added the 3D extrude to bulk up the hat without altering it.
I think this is a good example of how most things are handled these days. Whether it’s typesetting a book, creating a logo or whatever the job may be, today it seems we see a lot of lackluster work in the details in comparison to graphic design of yesterday. I think when designers had to draw everything by hand attention to detail was not easily overlooked. Today with computers it’s much easier to overlook these things.
I love the details. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the details and overlook the big picture. I’d like to think that the work we do here at Buzzbomb is reminiscent of this old school way of working. Details, message and big picture are all important. I can’t say with absolute confidence that we achieve this in every project, but we certainly try. This work is a craft and one I care deeply about. That’s why it pains me when I see bad work and I’m sorry Arby’s, but the new logo is bad work in comparison to the old work.
For another post about this new brand with a bit more info on who’s responsible you can read it over at Under Consideration.
Filed Under: Branding, Logos
We wanted to share some joy as we celebrate the Christmas season. We are honored to have the opportunity to do what we love each day here at Buzzbomb Creative. Thank you for an amazing 2012! This has been a year of taking steps of faith and beginning new things. Take time to celebrate with those that you love and have a very Merry Christmas! We will see you next year!
Filed Under: Misc, Wowzers!
This is the latest project to launch from The Hive. It was an honor to work on this project for Kevin Weaver.
Check out the cover design and book layout we developed for Kevin’s new book. Check it out on The Work page http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/re_orient-cover-design-book-layout
Filed Under: Branding, Product
Excited to launch another branding & identity project from The Hive. It was an honor to work on this project for New River Fellowship Church in Hudson Oaks, TX.
Check out the branding elements we developed for their coffee shop http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/riveroak-coffee-co/
Filed Under: Branding, Identity, Logos
We actually created the brand for Circles Conference in early 2012 but it is just now making it’s debut on our Work page.
Each week for the next 12 weeks we will be debuting a new brand that was either developed recently or sometime in the last year here in The Hive. We hope your eyes enjoy feasting on each new brand as it rolls out.
Learn more about the branding development for the Circles Conference here by going to The Work page,
Filed Under: Branding, Identity, Logos
Yet another branding & identity project launching from The Hive. We actually completed this project early in the fall but have been busy here in The Hive and didn’t have time to post the work! Surgical Esthetics is a Beverly Hills, CA based company focused on regenerative therapies in dentistry.
Check out more of the brand elements that we developed for this brand launch http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/surgical-esthetics/
Filed Under: Branding, Identity, Logos
We are thrilled to announce the latest brand identity project to launch from The Hive. Grapevine Craft Brewery launched their digital presence this week with more to come in 2013 as they build their facility in downtown Grapevine, Texas.
Check out more of the brand elements that we developed for this brand launch http://www.buzzbombcreative.com/work/grapevine-craft-brewery/
Filed Under: Branding, Identity, Logos
Many of us claim to be perfectionists in some area or possibly in multiple areas of our lives but what do we really mean when we claim to be that? Perfection both as an idea or in reality is a standard that impossible for flawed humans to ever achieve or master. Seeking to attain perfection in any area we pursue (work, school, parenting, singing, basket-weaving) will only result in frustration and a feeling of not achieving or accomplishing our goals.
My grandfather, Wallace A. Reid, Sr., (rest in peace Grandad) seemed to be a perfectionist so working with him was a very trying experience for myself and his other 5 grandsons. He had a ready-made workforce in us to help replace the roof on his house, mow his lawn, repair a vehicle, tape & mud sheetrock and even digging the trench for the concrete footing for a new brick exterior on one of my aunt’s houses. Wallace was a decorated WWII vet with a Purple Heart that lied about his age to join the U.S. Army. After leaving the military, he raised 4 kids while working as an electrician in the Civil Service at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK. After “retiring” from that job, he opened up his own electrician shop in my hometown of Grandfield, OK while also serving as the city inspector, all around handy guy for his church and farming with my uncles. Basically, he was a jack-of-all-trades and could take apart complex items like engines that would perform better after he reassembled them. What my fellow cousins and I didn’t understand was that Wallace truly pursued excellence because he didn’t believe in doing anything halfway. He lived the mantra of “measure twice, cut once” rather than hurrying through any project. This attitude lives on in me today and I am thankful for it. Ask my wife what it is like to simply hang pictures in our house and she will tell you it involves much measuring, calculating, laser levels, bubble levels and other necessary tools to get it done right.
Obviously, excellence is a much more fruitful pursuit when compared with chasing perfection. According to Dictionary.com, excellence is the fact or state of excelling and excelling is to surpass others or be superior in some respect or area; do extremely well. I don’t see excellence as a competitive mindset, rather I identify more with the do extremely well portion of the definition. In speaking to some leaders that are part of the technical arts staff at my church, I asked what their driving motivation was when working in the audio, video and lighting areas of church production. They all told me without fail and without hesitation that their goal is always to strive for excellence and not perfection. They all stated one way or another that seeking perfection only led to frustration, disappointment and feelings of coming up short of the finish line. With excellence, they ask of themselves, their paid staff and volunteers to put forth their very best effort in learning and executing the production standards for every service, large or small. This is subjective to each person’s level of technical prowess and knowledge allowing each to be held to a standard that is in a way customized to them alone.
This attitude of excellence is what we integrate into every client project or long-term client relationship. We cannot be perfect but putting forward our very best effort, sharing the best of our knowledge and experience is the price of admission for us at Buzzbomb Creative. Our process begins and follows this practice of excellence through the completion of each and every project. From the initial meeting with the client, presenting the design and copy options through the delivery of final files we want the experience to be one that makes a client feel part of the process and that their business or organization’s expectations are not only being met but exceeded.
How are you striving for excellence in your personal and professional life today? Leave a comment and let us know!
Keep challenging yourself,
Filed Under: Strategy
What exactly does the title of this post mean? You might be wondering if it is related to my leaving a full-time job (with benefits, a steady paycheck and some security) behind as of last Friday but in reality it is something totally different.
Four years ago, I had just returned from a company trip to the beautiful Atlantis resort in Nassau, Bahamas wondering what in world I was doing working at a company where I didn’t fit in, where I was unhappy with my job but not wanting to leave behind the highest salary I had ever earned in my professional life. Little did I know that in two short months I would be shown the door as part of a company downsizing that resulted after the company was bought out by two private equity groups. I was numb as I sat in the HR directors office barely listening as a “downsizing” specialist reviewed my three-month severance package instead my thoughts drifted to the Christmas tree with gifts overflowing underneath waiting at home with my wife. Christmas Day was only 9 days away and I was scared to death about what would happen to our house, our family, our wonderful life.
The year that followed was one that built character, strengthened my marriage and opened the door to amazing new relationships and actually finding out what my passion in life would be. I also learned that God is my sole provider. Not me, not some company or corporation.
I had always assumed that I would work for a company and said company would provide a paycheck, some benefits and a way to save for retirement. Never had I asked myself just exactly what it was that I was actually passionate about. During that year of unemployment, I spent much of my time working as an unpaid intern for the NexGen department at my home church, Gateway Church. It was an amazing time that reignited my passion for people and giving God time to begin the rearranging in my heart that was needed in order to be ready to arrive here today.
Two years ago, my wife, Dr. Cassie Reid (yes, I married way above my pay grade), launched her company/private practice and I was privileged to be part of the process to support her vision, her dream and her destiny to help people by using skills gained in her academic pursuits and in her spiritual journey. Before, during and after the company launch I discovered I had a passion to help business owners, non-profits and churches present themselves with excellence in print, digital media and in person.
Knowing what you are passionate about doesn’t necessarily translate to actually doing what you are passionate about. I became very good at talking to people about this passion whenever I was given the opportunity to talk about it. This was a “safe” way to believe that I had something to pursue for my destiny but it involved little to no risk.
I continued working at the job I held for the past two and a half years at a direct response marketing and donor development company specializing in growth initiatives for Christian, media-driven organizations. It was a good job, with good pay, good benefits and I enjoyed working so many of the fine people there. Again, it was safe but in my heart I remained frustrated that I wasn’t chasing my dream.
Following the successful launch and growth of her private practice, my wife turned her laser like focus onto me. She really began pushing me to start exploring how this passion could be directed into an opportunity for me because she was for me and believed God had something amazing for my future. I am so thankful for her because had I never met her and not had the privilege of marrying her, I would have never left my job at Best Buy six and a half years ago because in her words “You are better than this. You can do so much more.”. She also happened to be reading Jon Acuff’s book “Quitter” which is not about quitting but about discovering how to pursue your dream job. She told me I needed to read it, so after she gave me her copy, I promptly put it on my nightstand and left it there to gather dust. I didn’t want to read about how to have my dream job, I just wanted it to appear ready-made for me.
After not reading the book, I shared my frustrations with my friend Manny Martinez of Hello Somebody. He turned to me and told me I needed to attend the Quitter Conference as his guest so I could hear Jon Acuff share in person about how to actually be doing rather than dreaming. Manny had a personal relationship with Jon and this also allowed me some time privately to speak with Jon as well. I humbly accepted and with only a week until the conference, I hurried to read and finish the book.
The book and the conference changed my entire perspective. I returned home emboldened and ready to take the necessary steps to move forward with my dream job. You can listen to a podcast about my experience at the Quitter Conference and since here or on iTunes.
There was a piece missing though, a business partner with the same vision and heart that I had for churches, non-profits and small business owners. Little did I know that this person was very close in proximity to me. Paul Sirmon, formerly the Senior Creative Director for Media at Gateway Church, had left Gateway and I wanted know why he would leave such a prestigious and cushy gig. Over lunch and some steaming bowls of pho bo we found we had similar vision for what we wanted to do. I was intrigued but not sure what to do with that information. We kept in touch over the spring but continued our discussions. We thought maybe a strategic alliance was best but neither of us felt peace about it. After much discussion and time Paul invited me to join him as a partner at Buzzbomb Creative. Now what am I going to do? My wife and I prayed about it and placed it in the care of some amazing people who I trust with a big decision like this. All had no red flags after praying about it so I took the leap and put in my notice a month ago to leave behind my job and trust God for what was to come.
Every stop along your path matters. All the positions I have held over the past decade have so clearly prepared me for being part of this company. While at each job, I couldn’t see that but God orchestrates things perfectly whether we understand His hands are steering the ship or not.
I am proud to be a partner here and look forward to the people and organizations we will develop relationships with as we build their brands and grow their organizations.
Filed Under: Destiny, Inspiration
This past Thursday and Friday brought the first ever Circles Conference put together by Ismael Burciaga. Not only did we create the logo and tag line for the conference, but I was very honored to be asked to speak at the event and stand alongside an impressive lineup of rock star types from the creative world.
I spoke about branding for non-profits. It was a collection of quick tips, our process and a case study of the rebrand we did for RU4Children this year.
Here’s a quick recap of the finer points:
- We need to take branding serious.
- We owe it to ourselves, our clients and the world to go above and beyond. Give 100% to every project. I would say give 110% but we all know that’s just a dumb thing to say.
- Always look to improve the project at hand. Don’t just do what your asked but be a partner that’s looking out for your client.
There were a few other things that didn’t quite make it into the presentation, but I wanted to mention them here.
- Client Relationship Building and maintaining a healthy respectful relationship with your clients should be a priority. Do this through your work ethic and customer service.
- Trends When it comes to branding, leave the trends to the teenagers. Unless you’re building a consumer brand or something intended to be a flash in the pan stay away from trends.
- Purpose Designers, cool should never be the reason you’ve designed what you have. Generally speaking, we are here to solve business problems: create awareness, increase revenue, divert attention away from a fiasco, etc. Cool doesn’t solve business problems, strategy and purpose do.
I hope to speak more in the future. If you would like to contact us for speaking at your event please contact us here.
Until next time people.
Filed Under: Branding, Inspiration
I have a system. I didn’t really care for the randomness of words like some and a few. So I assigned them numbers and here they are.
A/An = 1
A Couple = 2
A Few = 3
A Handful = 4–5
A Half Dozen = 6
Several = 7
Some = 8–9
A Bunch = 10–11
A Dozen = 12
A Baker’s Dozen = 13
A Lot = 14+
Filed Under: Misc
What is a strategy and why does it play such a crucial role in our process? Dictionary.com offers up this very applicable definition of strategy:
“a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world.”
Simply, it is having a plan. Everyday, plans are formulated for routine tasks such as what to cook for dinner, how to get the kids up and sent off to school, navigating traffic to get to work or for more complex issues such as starting a new business, or a new product launch.
Presidential candidates have their campaign teams develop new ones to either attack or defend a position. Corporations create one to launch a new product or for damage control. Armies, navies and air forces create strategies to meet a new challenge or to engage the enemy. A start-up business, newly launched non-profit org or a fast-growing church might have missed forming one.
Strategy is part of our everyday lives whether we realize it or not. However, having a great strategy is many times not part of the process. Sometimes this is due to time constraints or not understanding why having a great strategy is important for finding success. We aren’t suggesting that you need to over-think a meal (although we often do when considering a place to dine for lunch each day) but taking time to understand the problem or challenge, formulating a plan and executing said plan will mean the difference between success and failure.
At Buzzbomb Creative, strategy begins the moment we meet a prospective client and is tightly intertwined throughout every step of our process. We want to understand 4 key elements: who, what, why and how. The story. This is because, a brand is actually the story. What was the reason for creating the company, organization or church? What purpose or audience will it serve? The story is what we want to understand, to learn about. Only then, can we begin the journey of creating or refining the brand so it leads to a successful launch or re-launch. We want to get the who, what, why and how moving in the same direction, pulling in unison rather than each part moving in different directions and failing to advance the goals and success of the client.
One example of an established client wanting to update their branding can be found on our work page.
Please read more about our process with clients. We would love the opportunity to create a strategy for your brand whether already established or just a vision that you would like to make a reality. Invite us in so we can hear your story and learn about where you want the story to go. Give us a buzz so we can talk soon.
Filed Under: Branding, Strategy
Welcome to the new and improved BuzzbombCreative.com. With the updated site and rejuvenation of the business we thought it would be a good idea to reacquaint (or just acquaint in some cases) folks with our vision and purpose for being here.
Buzzbomb Creative is a branding, strategy and design agency. Put simply we are here to create and enhance the brands of small businesses, churches, ministries and non-profits. We have a passion for smaller entities and want to help them reach their branding goals. Just because you’re a small company doesn’t mean you can’t be awesome and make an impact.
Let me try to explain it this way. Have you ever had a favorite mom and pop restaurant? The food’s great, the wait staff are awesome and friendly, but their menu, photography and booths are not appealing. Maybe it took you a while to muster the courage to go in the first time, because the place scared you a little bit. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer those places over the big chains. However, I don’t love seeing all the missed opportunities in the mom-n-pops. The food and service are only part of the equation, but they’re missing a huge portion of their market and not realizing their true potential. Generally this happens because of a lack of understanding, a fear of the cost and/or the DIY mentality.
Now imagine that same place, but this time the exterior and interior are visually inviting, the menu is easy to read and the pictures actually look like food you’d want to order. Imagine how many new customers would come in if that initial first impression wasn’t a hurdle, but an invitation. Business would grow, prices could increase, buildings could expand, not to mention the profit growth. Having said that, maybe I’d rather it stay unknown and keep it to myself rather than fight a crowd. Alas, that doesn’t do the owner any good and eventually they’d run out of money and close which means I wouldn’t have it any more either, but I digress.
The point is that every business wants to be successful and building a solid brand that connects with its audience is important. One thing I want to stress is that when I say “branding” I’m not talking about a logo. A lot of businesses understand that they need a logo when they launch, but consider that to be branding.The problem with that perception is that most small businesses, whether that’s a church, non-profit, restaurant, brewery, etc., expect their logo to communicate everything about who they are and why. That’s not the case. The logo is just one small piece of the larger puzzle. Logos are good. Logos are important. I love logos. Logos are one of my favorite things to design. One of these days I’m sure I’ll have a long rant on logos alone, but for now let’s get back to branding.
Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney said,
“A brand is a living entity—and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.”
Strategy, messaging and design all work together to create, enhance and maintain a brand. If your brand is the essence of who you are as a business then logos, websites, videos, print materials, advertising, etc. are all just expressions of that brand. And so are doors, booths, chairs, customer service reps, products, packaging, the voice that answers the phone, you name it. If all of these things matter and your business needs to stand out then how in the world are you supposed to do it all?
You don’t. That’s where we come in. We create unique solutions that amplify your brand’s connection with its audience. Unique and custom tailored to your needs, your message, your vision and your audience. We are thinkers. Sometimes we think too much. One of our favorite clients recently told us, “I’ve never had anyone over-think my business like me other than you!” That’s what we love to hear and, honestly, why would you settle for designers and marketers to help your business that don’t do that?
When we take on a client we don’t think of it as a project. We consider it a partnership. We want to be the branding and communication arm for our clients and create a long lasting relationship that benefits both parties. We do this simply because we can’t perform to the best of our ability without fully understanding our client and sometimes that takes time. As in any relationship, you don’t generally marry someone you’ve been on one date with so why should a branding agency be any different?
So take a look around the site, if you haven’t already, leave a comment, and/or contact us if you’d like to take your business to the next level. We’d love to take you on a date and see what develops.
Filed Under: Branding
Today we lost one of my personal heroes of the design and typography world. I was fortunate enough to meet Doyald twice (see pic above). This man was an absolute amazement to me in his ability to letter flawlessly with a pencil. He was truly a master of his craft.
I was thinking of attempting to letter a tribute poster of some kind, but it would just make me look bad.
You can read more about him here or here or here or here or here, etc.
Filed Under: Misc
Hey kids. Check it out! We’re excited to see that the logo we did for the BBQ War website has been featured in the Web Designer magazine released in December 2010. I guess since it’s from across the pond December is current here. Either way it’s super cool to see that.
Thanks to Ismael Burciaga for the opportunity to work on this project.
Has anyone seen any other buzz about the logo out there on the world wide internets? If so post a comment with the link.
Filed Under: Wowzers!
Some of you may or may not know that Wired magazine has recently been publishing a digital iPad version of their print magazine for a few months now. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend you try out an issue. It is quite an awesome experience. I love the interactive ads, the incorporation of video and extended article information. I believe that this is the future of publishing and I’m liking it. Since I come from a primarily print background that is a little heretical for me to say. I resisted the Kindle for a long time before I began to embrace the joy that is digital reading.
Now that I’ve professed my love for the medium and the product let me say a few things that I don’t like.
Okay, so my complaints are really just one. The file size of each issue is huge. Granted the amount of content may warrant it, but there’s a couple of reasons I’m not a fan of the size.
The download time can be excruciating. I’m at my parents for the holidays and they don’t share my interest in fast internet connections. It took a long time to download this latest issue. What makes it worse is that I thought I could just play a game or browse the internet on the iPad while it worked, but apparently it will not download in the background. So it pauses the download making it an even longer experience.
Secondly, I’m not sure I want to keep multiple issues at that size on my iPad from now until eternity. For some reason a print copy is easier to part with. Digital seems to me that I can keep it forever if I want because it doesn’t take up any “space”. Not physically anyway. I haven’t checked to see if I can back up old issues to my desktop, so I’ll admit this isn’t the most researched and thorough review you’ll find.
I have no doubt that Wired and its peers are constantly searching for a more optimized solution, but for now I can’t see this current setup as a long term mobile content solution.
Filed Under: Technology
Filed Under: Photography
The site is almost ready. If you’re viewing it now your patience is greatly appreciated.
Filed Under: Misc
Here’s some fun fish eye shot taken of Gateway Church’s new Southlake Campus.
Filed Under: Photography