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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.

 

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.

2 More Web Sites Launched…

We’ve been developing sites at a furious pace, and we’ve recently launched a couple of sites using WordPress and WooThemes. The sites use the same back bone (Canvas by WooThemes,) but have totally different uses. This is an abject demonstration of the power and versatility of WordPress as a web development platform.

First, Choose Your Company. We’ve worked with Eli on a number of projects, but he never had a site for his development company. He contracted with us to develop an easy, quick site that he can use to display his Yahoo! stores development and custom coding ability. We developed his sweet new logo and then moved on to build a great, flexible site with a portfolio segment that makes it simple to display his great and diverse work. Check ’em out!

Choose Your Company Website Design

Next up is Stylish Minx. This is a simple blog-style website for a style blog (see what we did there?) MaryAnn has a great fashion sense and a real passion for sharing her budget-conscious tips and outfits. Simple, gorgeous and super-functional. Built using Canvas by WooThemes, this site is easy to use and super search engine friendly. Go by and get some tips to beautify your grungy self…

Canvas by WooThemes Development

Help! I’m Getting Arrested!

JAILBIRDYep. I’m getting arrested on June 26, and I need to raise bail. Do you have any idea how hard it is to smuggle a McGriddles into jail? I’ll wither.

Am I getting arrested for insanely great design? Nope. Building excellent websites? Nuh-uh. I’m getting arrested to help raise some brass for muscular dystrophy. They’re coming by my office, putting me in shackles and taking me downtown. I might get beaten, water boarded or tickled profusely. No matter what happens, it won’t be pretty. Mainly because I’m pretty unattractive*, and most everything I do isn’t pretty because of it.

How can you stop this? How can you assure that I will make it out alive? How about a little help in raising bail to keep my carcass out of the county jail? Please? I’m begging – don’t let them take me away.

Muscular dystrophy isn’t funny, and I certainly don’t want to make light of the need here. I have a healthy family, and for that, I am truly blessed. But MD is very real, and it affects many folks in many different ways. If we can raise some coin to help fund research, summer camps for kids with MD, purchase medical equipment or keep a clinic open, I’m happy to go to the klink.

My bail has been set at $2400. You can help by donating any amount. Little, small, giant, extra-large – anything helps.

MDALOGOTo donate towards my bail, click here. You’ll be taken to MDA’s donation site, and your donation will be applied towards my bail. All donations are tax-deductible, plus you’ll get that warm feeling knowing that you helped a great cause. Of course, keeping me off the streets might seem like a good cause, but helping those with MD is an even better cause.

So – donate to my bail. I’d appreciate it, and you’d be doing a really, really good thing.

*I’m gorgeous. Just trying to be humble to raise a few shekels for charity.

WordPress Site Design & Build: NeighSavers.com…

We worked with Bev Greene at Matchpoint Projects to develop a sweet new site for NeighSavers. We’ve worked with Bev on numerous occasions – she manages projects, we do the work, the client wins! It’s a great match. See my point? See what I did there…

Anyway – Neigh Savers Foundation is a great cause that helps re-home retired racehorses. The racing lifespan of a horse is very short when compared to the average length of a horse’s life, and often these magnificent animals are allowed to languish when they’re no longer able to race. So, Neigh Savers steps in and helps find homes for the horses. Very nice.

They’ve been scuffling with an outdated website, and along with Bev, we helped develop a new and feature-rich site. Some of the features…

  • Built with WordPress, so it’s easy to maintain, super search engine friendly and highly configurable right out of the box.
  • Built around WooThemes’ Canvas, so you know it’s got all the slick features a modern site needs.
  • Easy donation buttons to help drive conversions in the right direction.
  • Integrated “Horse Portfolio” so it’s easy to display horses for adoption, as well as equines who have found their forever home.
  • Fully responsive, so it looks and functions great on every device.

It’s a great cause with, if we do say so ourselves, a pretty terrific website. It’ll function well for years to come, and Neigh Savers will reap the benefits of a truly modern, functional and attractive website. We designed a logo and identity package for Neigh Savers previously, and it’s nice to be able to launch a website that displays their new look, logo and identity.

Working with Bev as a project manager was a blast as always, and knowing that our work was going to help animals in need felt really super.

WordPress site for Neigh Savers