all together now – standards and consistency

With so much marketing taking place through a multitude of different mediums and applications, the tendency is for messages to become ever more fragmented — and more easily forgotten.

start with a vision

Don’t think of standards and consistency until you have clear vision about why you are important to your audience and are able to distill that in the form of a phrase or brief paragraph. Starting with a vision will keep you on target as you plan and develop materials. Expect lots of distractions in the form of formatting settings, clipart, etc. that you will encounter along the way. Your ability to stay on target will be critical to your long term success.

think contextually and systemically

Your audience will very likely make decisions based on a variety of different elements working together— a personal connection, website, proposals, social media, etc. — so when possible build all of these things to work together. Creating a prioritized list of contact points with your audience and then creating success for those interactions is a great starting point.

Thinking in terms of interactions, beliefs, values, and benefits – instead of things – can also  keep you on track. For example: don’t think of a logo in isolation, but think about, develop and judge your logo in the context of how supports a larger message that prompts your audience to act. It’s very easy for the logo discussion to consume all your energy and resources—a distraction, because your logo will rarely be seen in isolation. Thinking about how your audience sees things can keep you on target.

build for simplicity first and consistency second

Avoid the temptation to impose elaborate designs on services like MailChimp, Facebook, PowerPoint, and similar applications that change often.

follow the leader

Some people say good artists borrow but great artists steal. So be a great artist and find someone to copy and borrow from (in the planning stages) and then put them aside. As you gradually hone in your design and message, the choices you make will make your work unique and compelling in its own way.

Eric Shew is a graphic designer and front end developer living in Bellingham, Washington.

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115 West Magnolia, Suite 210
Bellingham, WA 98225

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