Blog Archives

Introducing The Dog Studio

Introducing The Dog Studio

AJ-MT-Shopped-SMA fresh approach to greeting cards and social stationery for dog lovers.

I’m excited to finally share my big news with you! For the past few months, I’ve been working hard at starting up an exciting venture with my sister, renown dog photographer Amanda Jones, and my brother-in-law Chris Jones. Our new company, The Dog Studio, pairs Amanda’s stunning dog portraits with my enthusiasm for beautiful design to create contemporary stationery and cards — and eventually gifts and home items. Very soon we will be releasing products that dog lovers (and lovers of dog lovers) across America will go crazy for! We hope.

Ultimately, we want to influence the quality of dog imagery used on products everywhere. And make beautiful cards and gifts. Our goal is to create products that are unique, smart and beautiful while giving back to the dog community. For that, we have created a “Royalties to the Rescue” program that makes financial and product donations to groups that help shelter dogs.

Here’s an example of our cards…

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

We will be launching to the resale trade in May at the National Stationery Show in New York City. In September we hope to launch our online store so everyone can buy one! Or two or twelve.

We hope you’ll come along for the ride! Learn more about it and how you can keep up with us at www.thedogstudio.com.

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The Workshop Workshop: “Facilitation by Design”

Facilitation by Design Workshop

This week I attended a workshop on…workshops. A part of AIGA‘s Design for Good initiative, “Facilitation by Design” was led by service design superstar Renna Al-Yassini of user experience firm Adaptive Path. With loads of experience under her belt leading diverse groups to successful solutions, Renna led us through her process of how to prepare and execute a productive collaborative session.

Workshops can help with…

…gathering information
…making decisions
…clarifying direction
…generating new ideas
…building consensus
…creating compromise
…making a plan
…gleaning knowledge
…engaging teams
…boosting morale

Why a Workshop?

Collaboration. Workshops (like designers!) are by nature collaborative. As opposed to a regular old sit-down meeting where people may discuss a topic, a workshop is designed to resolve a specific challenge question by engaging invested participants. Problem-solving is approached with pre-conceived activities designed to gain perspective from diverse participants. It’s the perspective of the participants that brings the most value to the session. Whether it’s designed for morale-building or to conceptualize improvements for the staff onboarding process, getting the right people in the room who can speak to the details of the problem and offer constructive insight toward a solution is key.

Problem-solving. Workshops solve problems, or at least one specific part of a bigger problem. They can be used to bring different community groups together for consensus-building and planning (like building a local dog park), or strategic planning for companies or nonprofit organizations. They can be used in the very beginnings of a project, such as the start of a new design initiative, or checking in on the progress of a longer-term project to see if the roadmap is on track. Or it can be used at the end of a project to set final deliverables and a launch plan.

Flexibility. The beauty of the workshop is its flexibility of application. Once you get that the collaboration can be designed to target any specific challenge question (that is, what do we want to accomplish by coming together?), you can see that it can be used to approach any business problem…or community or organizational challenge, for that matter. The problem can be big or small, involving many participants or just a few. Which brings us to…

Who Needs a Workshop?

Workshops are not limited to launching a new design initiative. Here are just a few examples of who can benefit from a workshop:

  • Nonprofit organizations for strategic planning
  • Banks for new line of business ideation
  • Community coalitions for creating a roadmap
  • Marketing departments for successful brand rollout
  • Corporate mergers for information gathering
  • HR departments for troubleshooting internal processes
  • Product development teams to review & refine product design

What’s your main business challenge right now? Maybe it’s time to reach out to an objective facilitator to create some structure and collaboration around tackling it.

For more information:

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Step 3: Translating Brand into Visual Identity

Here we are at the point where the rubber hits the road in the brand development process. We’ve learned all about your company and described your brand in detail. This is the arty part: creating an identity that reflects all the chatter.

Between the core values and the personality we’ve defined for your brand, we usually have an idea of the general direction the creative needs to go. In the case of Green Jay below, we knew we wanted to do something very specific — utilize a bird, which reflected the company name as well as the concept of “ecological landscaping” from the brand frame. We offered one option that diverged from this idea, if only to show that our concept was the right direction. And we wanted to use green to reflect the sustainability value of the company. Anything else felt “off-brand.” In the case below, we nailed the logo on the first round and were able to complete the identity design very quickly.

Example of Logo Development

First Round of Logo Concepts for Green Jay Landscaping

How does the design process work? I usually start by writing down keywords that must be incorporated into the design. They will reflect the brand frame, of course, but go a little beyond so they are more aspirational. I will also do some visual research at this point, to get inspiration from images across the Internet (see our post about Niice.com). And then I play around with the typography and experiment with color until it just feels right. Next come sketches of the logo, combined with some vector work in Illustrator until the logo options feel real enough to present to the client. We shoot to present three to five initial logo design options. Sometimes there are more if they are coming very easily. We never want to overwhelm, but we do like to share a variety of looks for our client to react to.

From here, the client chooses one direction. We’ll iterate on that a few times until the logo is finalized. Then it’s time to move on to designing the stationery and marketing collateral. Easy!

See all the posts in this Brand Series »

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New Work: Green Jay Landscaping

Green Jay Logo

Green Jay Landscaping called me in need of some help refining their brand and identity design. While the company had been founded a year before, the logo their web design company had created didn’t quite hit the mark in reflecting their brand. While there are always budgetary concerns when starting up a new business, it’s important to get the brand and design straight right off the bat.

In any case, we kicked the project off with a Brand Workshop, then worked closely with the client to develop a Brand Frame that reflected the values and personality of the company. Then it was design time! We showed them five or so options for the logo and business card, but there was one clear winner, which reflected their approach to ecological landscaping the best.

Green Jay Landscaping Business Cards

New Business card

 

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2013 Wrap-Up: Our Creative Year in Review

For me, 2013 was kind of a slog. But despite the challenges this year brought, we got to work on some very awesome projects. Here’s what stands out.

Wwwordpress!

2013 brought responsive design and some really great WordPress themes that we designed for clients — seven total, five that have already launched.

Stylo Furniture & Design Website

We helped Stylo Furniture & Design launch their first e-commerce site, powered by WordPress.

townecrier.com

Our local client Towne Crier Cafe opened in Beacon in October. We designed the new website in conjunction with the grand opening. Full site coming soon. View site »

lisacuemanphotography.com

We helped our one of our favorite animal photographers Lisa Cueman launch her new portfolio site and blog this year.

mpoweroregon.com

Portland client MPowerOregon launched their new site in June. We also helped pull their logo and corporate identity together.

Branding & Identity Design: Alexander Project Services

What’s more fun than a branding and identity design project? One where we get to rename the company! This project also included a website (more WordPress), the proof of concept which drove our design. Read more about the project here »

Alexander Project Services Stationery

www.alexanderprojectservices.com - launching any day now!

New name, brand identity and website for Alexander Project Services (formerly BAF) in 2013.

Event Branding: Windows on Main Street 2013

This year was the 100th birthday for Beacon, and my town celebrated in style. We jumped on the bandwagon with Windows on Main Street and created a retro branding theme for the 2013 version of this annual community art event. The branding brought high visibility to the event!

WOMS Main Street Banner

Banner in the middle of Main Street announced our presence with authority!

WOMS Coasters

Coasters were distributed in all the pubs through the summer to promote the event.

WOMS Ad in The Paper

We even did a wee bit of advertising this year.

New Product Launch: MinderPet

This might have been my favorite project from 2013. It hit our sweet spot of combining product development, branding, and communications design. Read more about the project here »

MinderPet Packaging

Logos

And finally, a few new logos…

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