Posts

Logo Design Asheville NC

Logo Design – It’s Not That Damned Hard…

Logo Design Asheville NCActually, logo design can be horribly difficult. There are so many forms, so many shapes, so many fonts, so many tools, so many colors that it can be a difficult thing to whittle down to the essential, creative process of logo design. We’ve nailed the process – and if you need a beautiful, non-crappy logo, you’re in the right place.

We’ve done hundreds upon hundreds of logos – everything from sports teams to e-liquid companies and pretty much everything in between – but the logo design process remains the same:

Step One: Gather info on who you are, what you are, who your audience is and what your “vibe” is as a person or as a business. We’ve got a comprehensive logo design questionnaire that we use to gather info, and we’re always happy to chat and gather ideas the old-fashioned way. Once we’ve got a lock on what you’re about and what you’re looking for, we gather it up, put it between the ears and get the process really rolling.

Step Two: Think. This is always the hardest part to bill – but it’s the most crucial part. Inspiration doesn’t always come when you’re sitting at your desk from 9 to 5. Sometimes, it’s in the shower. Sometimes, it’s while I’m feeding the chickens. I can spend, quite literally, 20+ hours thinking about a logo design direction before anything ever reaches paper or pixel.

Step Three: The blank sheet. I keep a number of sketchbooks, Moleskines, notepads and Post-it note pads around me at all times. When the ideas flow, they hit the paper as soon as I can get them there. Sketches, roughs, notes, dumb jokes – they’re all part of the logo design process. Ideas about your name, ideas about your audience, ideas for generating more ideas – all on the paper.

Step Four: The pixel. After the sketches are where they need to be (also known as coherent,) the work of digitizing the logo roughs begins. Photoshop, Illustrator and (gasp – 1997!) Freehand round out the tool box. A zillion fonts to choose from – but by this point, we have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for. We build anywhere from 6 to 15 “rough” ideas and let you start narrowing them down.

Step Five: The back and forth. Once the initial round is done, we let you play with them. Combine, rearrange, add, subtract. It all helps us get down to the final, perfect piece. We usually find that 2-3 rounds of revision are sufficient, but if we need to keep going we can keep going.

Step Six: Done. You’ve got a killer, 100% original logo. We deliver in a variety of formats (PDF, AI, EPS, PSD, JPG, etc.,) and we make sure you’ve got everything you need – color specs, font specs, spacing conventions, all that jazz.

Since your logo is arguably the MOST important part of your identity and marketing, it needs to be good. Hell, it needs to be GREAT. Let’s get started on making something great.

We ran across this video of Aaron Draplin’s process – and while it’s a 15 minute video that shows how some of the stuff is done, it’s the years of experience and his genuine talent that makes the process look so smooth and quick. It’s worth a watch. Now, if you just imagine this guy being a 6′ 4″ graying doofus, about 100 pounds lighter and with a coffee cup permanently attached to his left hand, you get a good idea of what it looks like here when we attack the logo process. Enjoy! Then, when you’re ready to roll on YOUR logo, click here.

 

BRIXTON POUND

Designer Currency? Why Not?

BRIXTON_POUNDTalk about keeping it local! The Brixton 10 pound note, designed by Jeremy Deller, is pretty damned fabulous, and the concept of using local, alternative currency is something that I fully support.

I’m not a huge fan of our current fiat currency (thanks, Federal Reserve – but that’s a story for another time,) and for promoting local trade and keeping money SERIOUSLY in the local system, these boutique currencies hit the mark.

Our current bill designs leave a little something to be desired (white space, anyone?) and the monetary system is obviously pretty broken – so why don’t we burn it down and make a local currency for Asheville? I propose a Lane Reid 20 dollar West Asheville note. If they can do it in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, why not here in our own little town? Imagine, walking into Gas Up to grab a brew and pulling out a $20 Black Wolf. You’d be a superstar almost instantly!

Stay tuned – we’re going to design some money for West Asheville. Nominations for denominations are now open – contact us with ideas on who you think should grace our currency.

I’ll be on the Million Dollar West AVL Buck. Cash value 1/100th of a cent.

 

OUROBOROS CASSETTE DESIGN

Quick Cassette Design for Ouroboros Boys

OUROBOROS_CASSETTE_DESIGN

We had the pleasure of doing some quick design for Asheville’s own Ouroboros Boys. To build these very simple 2-sided j-card designs, Nick sat down and helped pick some bizarre images, we threw them together in Photoshop, and we wound up with a couple of cassettes that fit right in to the feel of the Ouroboros Boys music – strange, uncomfortable, loud, but ultimately cool.

If you’re down for some trippy, surfy punk with a little bit of rag time thrown in, check out Ouroboros Boys. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Jailbird Asheville

I’m Getting Arrested. Again.

Asheville MDA Lockup

I’m getting arrested in June. No, it’s not for my good looks, it’s not for my rapier wit. Heck, it’s not even for 3 felonies I (or we) commit every day. It’s for a good cause – the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

MD affects a large number of folks – and a large number of folks start off as kids with MD. Having 5 kids of my own, I have a soft spot for helping out the young’uns where I can.

My bail is set at a paltry $1500 – and you can help! Click here to donate. Every little bit helps. I’m going to the hoosegow  on June 18, so you’ve got some time to gather your shekels and help me out.

All donations are tax-deductible – plus you get the pleasure of having done something awesome for someone else.

Keep it beautiful, people. Let’s all do what we can where we can. If you can’t help now, give someone a hug. Send a sweet email or text. Reach out and spread a little joy.

Don’t think about my carcass rotting in jail. Just love somebody…

HAYWOOD ROAD ASHEVILLE NC

9 Reasons You Belong in Asheville

9 reasons you belong in Asheville. We can think of about a million more – and most of them are better than the stuff in this video, but – it’s still pretty cool. We’re pretty proud of our town – and it looks like Buzzfeed dig it, too. Check it out:

We heart Asheville. We heart design. We heart you.

crying baby

WordPress Security Issue – SUPER IMPORTANT!

WordPress XSS VulnerabilityAccording to Sucuri, there’s an XSS vulnerability that affects a large number of WordPress plugins. Now, what does that mean for you and your site? Not a whole lot, really – but it DOES mean that your site might have a hole that could be exploited by ne’er do wells. Most likely, though – your site is fine. But, to be cautious and stay out in front of stuff, your site and your plugins needs to be updated.

How?

Well, you can call us – we’d be happy to help out.

Or, you can take the DIY route and update your site and plugins yourself. It’s really very easy! Check out our video for super-easy instructions.

We also suggest using Sucuri’s security scanning plugin. Installing is easy – watch the video below.

Here’s a partial list of major plugins known to be affected by “The Hole.”

There are bound to be others – but the main takeaway here is this:

UPDATE YOUR SITE AND PLUGINS!

It’s a good idea to update things fairly often. WordPress developers and the community as a whole are a pretty proactive bunch, and you can bet your bottom dollar that plugin and theme developers are staying on top of this breach – and other breaches and snafus that nobody is really aware of. They stay on top of things – but to keep your site as safe as humanly possible, keep updated.

We try VERY hard to never touch core files or modify things to a point where you can’t update things. If we’ve developed your site, you should be able to update EVERYTHING at will without worrying about overwriting work we’ve done. Unless we’ve specifically let you know that you shouldn’t update something, get after the updates.

Keep it fresh, keep it updated, keep it clean!

HITCH HIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY LOGO

Mobilegeddon – Should YOU Worry About Google’s Mobile Update?

Mobile Site Update? Don't Panic!Is your site mobile responsive? Does it have a mobile-only version? How much does it matter? Is it time to panic?

Depends on your traffic. Depends on your site. Depends on a lot of things.

But the main thing here is: DON’T PANIC. (towel optional.)

Here’s the nuts & bolts: Google released a new algorithm on April 21, and it favors sites with a mobile responsive or mobile-specific architecture – but only on mobile searches. Searches from desktop machines (and laptops) won’t be affected. That’s sort of good news to the majority (~70%) of searches. But, if you’ve got a site that relies heavily on mobile/tablet users and traffic from mobile sources, you really need to pay attention to Google’s latest update and get your site in order.

See, with 30% of ALL internet traffic using solely mobile devices, you stand the chance of being ranked lower in (not eliminated from) searches from those devices. How much lower? Google doesn’t really say – but a couple of spots can make or break a search. If you were #8 and still on the first page of Google searches, and you drop to #11, you wind up on the second page – and your click-through rates will die off. Second page listings get about 5% of clicks – distributed amongst the whole of the second page. If you were already on the second page, we need to talk – but that’s a conversation for another day.

So – is it worth panicking over? Well, maybe…

Go to Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. If you run your site through and the tool says you’re mobile-friendly, you’re in the clear. Kick back and relax.

If the tool tells you that you’re not mobile friendly, it’s still not time to freak out. Check out your site stats – if you’re not getting a lot of mobile traffic, you might not need to be too concerned about the rankings hit. If your primary traffic isn’t using mobile devices, you can wait and deal with it later – although not catering to 30% of potential users probably isn’t a great idea. If, however, your stats show that you’re getting a high percentage of users coming in on mobile devices, NOW is the time for action…

Step 1: Give us a shout. We can help your site be mobile-friendly. If you’re still not sure of how Google’s latest shenanigans will affect you, reach out and we will help ease your fears (or help whip you into a proper panic.) We can take a look at your audience and your traffic. It might be less painful than you think. We’ll shoot straight with you – and if you need a hand, we’re happy to help.

Step 2: Relax. It’s really not the biggest deal in the world. Yes, you might see your rankings suffer a bit in mobile-only searches. But, if you’ve got a good, functional and well-optimized site that just happens to be afoul of Google’s newest birthing, you can recover. All things considered, the numbers of even worst-case scenario “penalty” just don’t add up to a massive freak out. It’s a percentage of a percentage of a percentage – it’s not like your site is going to disappear from the rankings. Small hit – possibly. Big hit – highly unlikely. But, still – it’s worth paying attention to. Get responsive, get happy, get back, JoJo, to where you once belonged.

Now, the “don’t panic” mantra comes with a warning: Any time Google rolls out a major change in how they rank sites, you really need to pay attention. It might not affect you in a major way at the time of the roll-out, but you can rest assured that these changes will at some point come back to bite you. If it’s a small problem, it can wait – but there’s a cumulative effect with minor problems. It can snowball, and you can wind up in trouble. If you’ve got red flags with Google, you don’t know when it’ll add up to a legitimate penalty. Staying “clean” with Google is never a bad thing. If you find a gap in your site, how it’s constructed and how it looks to Google, it’s best to stay in front of it. Fix it BEFORE it has a chance to make a massive impact on your rankings/SERPs. Playing catch-up after a penalty from Big G is not a winning proposition.

So – carry on, good people. It’s not the end. The world has survived massive shakeups at Google, and we’ll all be on the other side of this one soon enough. Until then, enjoy a little music with your coffee. We are…

ASHEVILLE COFFEE MAP

Asheville Coffee Map

I almost hate to admit how many of these I’ve supped in. At one point, I did most of my design work from coffee shops – and while fun, I was going broke from my bean-squeezins habit. While in the midst of my nomadic office life, I wrote a bit about it (on the now semi-defunct DesignAVL.) You can check out the posts by clicking here. Some of them are obsolete, some are still semi-interesting. They’re all about coffee. That’s good, right?

Now – bask in the convenience:

RED CARDINAL CHARLEY HARPER

Heroes of Design: Charley Harper

charley-harperCharley Harper is freaking terrific. In his words, his design style is “minimal realism,” which equates to being very graphic. Since that’s what I do for a living, his goods really ring a bell for me.

Harper’s work has a way of boiling things down to their absolute base shapes and forms, which is the very essence of graphic design. Simplicity is such a difficult thing to design – and Harper had a real knack for the simple. Even in his more complex pieces, he never loses that sense of simplicity, immediacy and grace. He does a tremendous amount of animals (especially birds,) but some of his less popular works (landscapes and people,) are really beautiful.

Harper’s an interesting fellow, humble and super-soft spoken. Check out the video below to dig a little more. You can also check out a wonderful array of his works with a simple Google search. Dig it! I know I do.

*Photo of Harper in studio came from here.
PATH WAY THROUGH FORREST

Love. Now.

Asheville NC

As some of you know, it’s been a tumultuous summer here at Blue Dozen. We’ve had some family issues crop up in our (well, MY) life that have been painful, un-fun and downright distracting. We’ve kept a stiff upper lip in spite of all that’s gone on, and it’s looking like sunnier days are ahead. We’re all back in the office and we’re all ready to kick ass and take names in the manner which we’ve grown accustomed. Projects have still been rolling in and rolling out – and they’ll keep rolling. Since design and development and coffee-drinking is part of our DNA, there’s a great solace in the workaday world here. But, it’s been rough. The creative wells run dry faster when there’s an outside stressor. Then again, we can use the stress to create great things – and we feel like we have. Take THAT, issues!

Through all the garbage that’s been going on, one thing has kept ringing true – love the people around you. When things go haywire and life is cold and hard, you’re going to want to know that you have a group of folks who are in your corner, and you’re going to need to have peace and comfort in knowing that you’ve done your level best to love them, cherish them and show them how important they are in your life.

Friends, family and, yes, clients are all part of that. Spread love to those around you, and when the storms of life arrive, that love will be showered back onto you. We spread love – daily. We love what we do, we love who we do it for (that’s the client stuff,) but our family is, and will always be, priority one. We make no excuses for that – it’s been our modus operandi since we first opened our doors. Love of family – it’s the thing that really gets us through the rough patches.

So, what am I really saying here? I don’t know, really – just wanted to pop in and let you all know that while things have been rough, it’s love that has sustained us. We thank our family for that, and we thank YOU for that.

If you haven’t yet, take a moment and hug those that are important to you. Call someone just to say “I love you.” Be good to those around you and be good to yourself. This world is too big and too complicated to go it alone. We all need support, and we all need warmth and hugs and shoulders to cry on. Reach out to those that are close to you. They’ll be your shelter.

Thanks to our clients. Thanks to our families. Thanks to love.

Have a great week. I know we will.