Being Thankful

This is a personal story about how we weathered “Irma.”

It was one year to the day we left Pennsylvania to move to Venice, Florida.

Wednesday, September 6th.

With the threat of Hurricane Irma coming, our adult children urged us to leave while we can and made hotel reservations for us. So my husband and I and our 11-year old dog and 11-year old cat left in our 2 cars. We evacuated our home and headed for a hotel in Dothan, Alabama. All pet-friendly hotels were booked solid with no rooms to be found when they reserved our room. We were grateful.

We left on what we thought would be a 7-hour drive – completely doable in a day!
It took us 15 hours. The roads displayed a mass exodus.

Hurricane Irma

There we were…. Sweet Home Alabama. The song was ringing through my head.
Our hotel was filled with Florida evacuees. We met many wonderful people, had numerous conversations about the storm, its potential effects, what we heard from home and what we heard on CNN. We found a new appreciation in just being safe.

I had safely packed up my 27” iMac desktop computer so I could continue and complete two CotterVisual projects that were in progress. With wifi and computers we can work anywhere. We also have redundant back-ups – one in the cloud, one time machine back up on the desktop and one external hard drive so the work is always accessible. But I needed the safety and comfort of my large screen iMac.

Thursday through Monday, September 7th-11th.

The local church brought lunch and dinner for us each day — even when there were tropical storm conditions. 48 hours before Irma hit Dothan, everything closed down in anticipation of the worst. The people knew they had hundreds of Florida evacuees in the area and they were incredibly kind and generous.

In the time spent before and during the storm, many friends reached out to us offering places to call home — if the worse were to happen and Irma took ours.

We thought about what we left behind, what might happen with our stuff and what might be in our future. We thought about the predicament of where to go if our home wasn’t livable. From the sounds of it, we knew there would potentially be nowhere to live nearby in Venice and we might have to go elsewhere until we could rebuild. Who even thinks about this….until faced with this possibility?

For me, this was a mentally exhausting and an emotionally draining experience.

In running all the possibilities through our minds, we knew the only one was that — we wanted to stay in Venice and rebuild — if it came to that. We might live in Austin, Texas or Chapel Hill, North Carolina temporarily but we wanted to continue to make our home in Venice — the area we have come to love and call home.

Tuesday, September 12th, 7am.

We got our 2 cars all packed up with our stuff and the 2 animals and their stuff. We were ready to go. I put my key in the ignition, turned it, nothing…. the battery was dead. People at the hotel quickly came to my rescue and gave my car a jump. I drove on to AutoZone for a battery. Once the battery was installed I had to enter the security codes for my car radio. I had the right codes. They just wouldn’t work. So I drove 15 hours in the sounds of silence. It gave me much time for my mind to wander and think. In the scope of things this was minor. It was just another reminder of all we had NOT lost.

We had reserved a “hard to get” pet-friendly hotel room in Gainesville, Florida in case we could not get enough gas to travel all the way home. As it turned out, we did find gas. We had a 1/2 hour wait. We couldn’t stand the thought of being away another day… so we kept on driving for home.

My neighbor had texted me earlier that our home was fine and the power had been restored … so that much we knew.

As we exited the highway heading for Venice in the dark, everything looked normal. A wave of excitement ran through me as we approached our street. We saw a lot of tree and plant debris in the road but there it was, our home… standing there waiting for us. The electric garage door worked and opened for us as if in a greeting. Welcome home.

Brand > Branding > Visual Branding

Brand > Branding > Visual Branding

Are you aware of the distinctions between brand, branding and visual branding?

Here’s a basic overview.

I have used the reference to “you” here, which can be a person, company, product or just about anything your brand efforts are focused on.

What is a Brand?

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Why Change A Brand Name

Why Change A Brand Name?

Do you know what brand name changes mean?

Dunkin’ Donuts recently announced it will be shortening its name by dropping the word ‘Donuts’.

Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts name has a strong brand personality. We’ve been trained to know what to expect from the brand by the way it identifies itself. It has meaning to us as consumers and is widely recognized. Why would they consider changing what others work so hard to achieve? They are currently the undisputed leader of the donut industry with a more than 60% market share, and a presence that runs to 11,300 restaurants globally.

Historically….

Successful brand name changes infographic

Changes made to a brand name usually predict that things will not be the same as they were. By changing the name, companies hope to convey their transformation and focus. Often that desire for a renewed image is an effort to breathe life into a damaged brand.

When?

When might a brand consider changing its name? When there is a change in strategic focus or the name change will enhance meaning and value in the minds of consumers.

Why?

Does ‘Dunkin’’, as a name, carry greater value than Dunkin’ Donuts? Is it just a result of current trends to use shorter names and/or acronyms.

Does it bring greater resonance to the consumer brand market where it has become more and more difficult to stand out?

And then, there is always this most important question remaining. Will consumers embrace it?

Is Dunkin’ Donuts unknowingly placing doubt in consumer’s minds because now they will be driven to determine whether the product is the same or has something about it changed? The perception in consumer’s minds becomes; what will we get from the Dunkin’ brand that we don’t already get now from Dunkin’ Donuts?

Would Dunkin’ Donuts change something if there wasn’t some sort of problem? Or… could this possibly be an agency’s strategy to generate a ton of work!

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

Using visual images simplifies your message and supports or often takes the place of added text. It’s shorthand for a concept or something hard to describe.

People’s visual recognition and association is very quick. Images communicate quickly. It‘s like the saying, “a picture is worth 1000 words”. But only if it is the right visual.

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Keys To Building A Strong Visual Brand

3 Keys To Building A Strong Visual Brand

How do you build a strong visual brand? In one word … consistency.

Why build a strong visual brand? Because every impression of your visual brand has value! When your customer views your visual brand consistently and repeatedly it builds recognition and memorability in their mind. Customers make a connection with your company more quickly and easily. This is simply because the more we see something, the better our recall of it is. It’s subliminal so most times we are unaware it’s happening.

If you want to build a strong visual brand, you can start with your three most important visual assets….
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Create a logo

How To Create A Great Logo

Great logo designs look incredibly simple. It’s easy to understand why one could think they are just as easy to create. Understanding how logos are designed is one way we can learn to appreciate logo design.

Design Thinking

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designer life hacks

Steal These 18 Designer Life Hacks

When I graduated college and was seeking a design job I had the critical design knowledge I needed but practical real world knowledge has come with experience. Newly minted designers might appreciate the real world wisdom in these simple life hacks.

Be confident.
Don’t take rejection personally. Your work will not be accepted by all. It doesn’t mean your work is not good design.

Be authentic.
You can’t be everything to everyone. Develop your YOU. Try different ways of presenting to discover a style that works best for you.

Be focused.
Follow your path and be open to where it leads. Focus on your design strengths and find a niche.

Be positive.
Keep the faith. A positive attitude will help you succeed.

Believe in yourself.
Continue to love what you do. Don’t lose the love of your craft or your ability to be great at it.

Be resilient.
Don’t give up. Revisions are a fact of life. For the mostpart, they are meant to make the end product as good as it can be.

Be social.
Be open to meeting new people in all walks of life. You never know where someone might lead.

Be easy to get along with.
Work well with people. It’s a fact… people will do business with people they like. It is the easiest way to keep a client or a co-worker happy. Getting along with those around you everyday is just about everything. It doesn’t matter how good a designer you are if you don’t play well with others!

Be timely.
Adhere to timelines. Hone the skill of managing your time well and you will be a far better worker than most. As Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “80 percent of success is showing up.”

Be reliable.
Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going  do it. Don’t let people down.

Be honest.
Integrity is a highly regarded trait. Adhere to moral and ethical principles.

Be happy.
People enjoy being around and including others who are happy. This can also reflect in your design solutions.

Be curious.
Ask many questions about how others hone their design skills. Find out the best and most efficient way to do things and why.

Be inquisitive.
Great design begins with asking the right questions – getting at the heart of the problem you’re setting out to solve. The key to a successful design can be hidden in what a client, a user, a boss or a co-worker says. Learn to listen.

Be a student.
Keep learning. Set aside time for developing your skills and experimenting.

Be humble.
Know you are not the smartest person in the room, even if you are 😉

Be grateful.
Appreciate your gifts. Help others be good at what they do too.

Be the best you can be.

 

 

A Reading Guide For Designers Who Want To Write

What I Wish I Knew About My First Pay Check by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company

 

Power of Visual Storytelling

The Power Of Visual Storytelling

Average attention span is 8 seconds50% of our brain functions are devoted to visual processing. We interpret visuals in less than 1/10th of a second and then are quickly compelled to organize them into a narrative. It’s just what we do. If there isn’t a story there, we make one up. That’s why stories can be so powerful.

You can use this to your advantage. Powerful visual storytelling can evoke emotions that will build engagement with your customer.

Here are some ways to incorporate visual storytelling into your marketing.

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Brand Relationship Building

How You Can Master Brand Relationship Building

Branding is very simple. The typical thought process behind branding awareness is a logical progression. It goes something like this:
> A logo is your brand
> Branding is more than just a logo
> A brand is every touchpoint and beyond just design
> A brand is a relationship

Yes, a brand is a relationship. It’s an emotional connection between you and your customer.

How do we build this brand relationship?

1   Consistency
A company establishes who they are, what they believe in, how they speak, and what they look like. They then bring that to every interaction, every time. This builds familiarity and trust… which drives loyalty.

2   Authenticity
A company needs to be authentic in who they are and what they offer. Brand authenticity builds trust which, again, results in a strong long-lasting relationship with customers .

3   Transactions
Transactions are without emotion. Beyond the transaction, lies nothing. Features lists mean little when your company can only offer as much as its competitor. Why then, would customers remain loyal to the brand?
What happens when you continue to build the emotional connection beyond the transaction? That’s right! You can reap the long-term relationship benefits you want.

4   Stay the course
Emotional relationships take time and nurturing to build. Have patience.

5   Every interaction is meaningful
Build the relationship through powerful and memorable ongoing interactions, before, during AND after the sale.

Like any relationship, branding develops over time. Be patient. The results may surprise you!

 

 

Branding … Good And Bad

5 Ways To Build An Unforgettable Brand!

Where Customers Take Control of Branding