Archive | bestof

[2011] 3 Steps to Brighter Branding

These are the essential V’s of visual style — three simple steps to keep your personal or business brand in line. This isn’t a check-list. There isn’t anything that can be crossed off, completed, finito. Each of these requires an ongoing process to keep it balanced, sustainable. Oh no, this here is a checkin-list. Check in with your V’s on a monthly basis. Your biz and brand will thank you for it.

Streamline your visuals.

Visual style magnifies your business and simplifies your updates + edits. Even for my own projects, I like creating a simple visual style guide — a color palette and a handful of graphic elements, like buttons and icons — in a Word document or Photoshop file. This helps get new projects started, and it especially helps when jumping back into a project (like updating your own website!) to maintain a consistent visual brand. Let’s not recreate the wheel each time.

Polish your voice.

We’re drawn to the beauty of an authentic voice – even in business. It’s everything: the message, the language, and the display itself. Copy isn’t just for explaining your services. Keywords + phrases aren’t just for SEO. Yes, how you shape your message matters. So what keywords + ideas are part of your biz voice? (For me: creativity, sustainability, light, balance, beauty, growth.)

Refine your values.

This is the core of your work, why you do what you do, what lights your fire. Beyond the what of your offer, this is the why. For some folks, this is easy to nail down — for others, it’s more challenging to pinpoint. The important step here is to constantly circle back to these values of yours. Review, refine, reflect. Keep that at the heart of what your work offers.

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What tricks or tips do you use for your visuals, your voice, or your values? I’d love to hear them… Email me, tweet hello, or leave a comment below!

PHOTO BY D SHARON PRUITT

CATEGORY: bestof, General · 1 COMMENTS

[2011] Scratching for Inspiration + the Creative Habit

Some book are like beacons for me. They keep calling me back, over and over. Guiding me through the dark. I need to own a copy, just to have it nearby. The list is short (yes, I’m particular) — but Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is near the top. It has great energy and sure-fire lessons for honing your creativity in daily life. (Plus, the book’s design is a killer in simplicity + typography.)

One of my favorite lessons learned is scratching in Chapter 6.

“The first steps of a creative act are like groping in the dark: random and chaotic, feverish and fearful, a lot of busy-ness with no apparent or definable end in sight… I call it scratching.”

This act of scratching put a name on all the tangents that I feel compelled to – trips to the museums, walks around my city neighborhoods, hours spent in bookstores. Exploring of the world for ideas, connections, sparks of inspiration.

When I’m just getting started with something new (or like now, in between projects), I remember: it’s time to do some scratching.

Click through my folder of “inspiration” web links. Go for a walk. Flip through some old sketchbooks. Pick up a novel for a half hour. Take a field trip to someplace new. And something always comes from that — wheels turning, mind whirring, the engine starts.

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What are you scratching at this week? Where are your favorite places to go when you’re scratching for inspiration?  If you do creative work of any kind, I highly recommend getting your hands on The Creative Habit — worth it!

CATEGORY: bestof, inspiration · 3 COMMENTS

[2011] Challenge of Creative Doing

Image by Amir Kuckovic

The challenge of creative work is in the doing. It’s not finding the ideas, or selecting the best-possible photo/paragraph/project to display, or knowing the best way to share it. It’s not even knowing the technical tools to make it happen. You can master Photoshop or your new Canon 5D or that fancy Scrivener writing program or the new-to-you WordPress web platform — no problem. It’s not any of those details.

The true challenge is sitting down to make it happen.

It’s putting your fingers on the keyboard, clicking the shutter, creating the first mockup, pressing publish. The endless excuses are full of needs: for the right resources, enough funding, or time in the day. My personal favorite is the urgent need for more brainstorming. Oh, there is always the need for more brainstorms!

But it’s amazing what happens when we just start. Do it now. Get going already. Things fall into place: the resources come, a good-enough solution arrives, time expands. (Brilliantly, even brainstorming happens while we’re doing!)

So let’s meet the challenge. Push it forward. Click continue. Ship it out.

I’m challenging myself with this today — and I’m pressing publish to prove it.

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I’d love to hear about what’s challenging you. What “needs” are stopping you from doing? How can you let go and make it happen? Say hello, or leave a comment below…

PHOTO BY AMIR KUCKOVIC

CATEGORY: bestof, inspiration · 3 COMMENTS

[2011] Olé Olé: Genius + Creativity

What is the nature of genius? And how do we, as business folks and creatives and world-movers, tap into that kind of genius on a moments whim?

In this inspiring TED talk , Elizabeth Gilbert dives into the nature of genius and its history. This is a must-must watch!

P.S. Seen it before? It’s worth watching again!

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What’s your genius?

CATEGORY: bestof, inspiration · 0 COMMENTS

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