(If you already read last weeks newsletter, read no further, this is a repeat for those who missed it.)
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This is going to sound snobbish but I feel compelled to voice a concern: The availability of cheap, accessible signage (in many cases) has become bad for good design.
On a recent visit to Chicago I saw countless temporary and permanent signs that were produced but not designed. It's obvious that someone went to the signmaker chose a font and paid them to crank out a sign without any regard for the quality of the design or any appreciation for where it would be installed.
Unfortunately, some of those who make the signs seemed to view such jobs as opportunities to play with gradients, colors, and special effects. Put enough of the resulting signs together and it's surprising how profoundly they can degrade the look and feel of an entire street or shopping district.
How about it signmakers -- do you struggle with this?
Have you seen my InDesign Ideabook?
315 template files in 19 different categories -- Everything from brochures, newsletters, and direct mail to packaging, calendars, and books (one CD works with both Mac and PC). Use two or three files and you'll pay for the entire book and disc...
For Adobe InDesign Here For QuarkXPress Here
How to name a business
We all profit when someone, who is good at what they do, is confident enough to tell us how they think. I recently stumbled on a particularly valuable set of insights published by ZinZin, a naming and branding agency.
It doesn't get much better than this. I assume we are reading (for the most part) the philosophies of ZinZin's chief executive, Jay Jurisich - formally the co-founder and creative director of branding agency Igor.
Why reveal your core ideas? Because, while there is lots of science to naming, the spark, the magic of naming, is an art.
The ZinZin Naming Guide (923KB PDF)... Here
The Compendium of Amazing Names... Here
The ZinZin website... Here
ZinZin/Jay Jurisich's Twitter feed... Here
No surprise that Jay Jurisich is an artist... Here
An easy way to teach customer service
I'm going to veer off my regular track today to discuss something I feel strongly about: good customer service and the lack of it.
Why discuss customer service in the context of marketing and design? Because you can spend a fortune getting people to try your client's product or service, but if they or their employee does a poor job of serving the customer, their entire investment - the storefront, the office, the inventory, the marketing materials, and so - can all be lost in a matter of moments.
I want to propose a different way of thinking about customer service - a simple concept that you can share with others that doesn't take a lot of explaining. Here it is. Chuck Green's new rule of customer service:
Treat every customer as if they were the friend of a friend.
That's it. A simple, easy to understand maxim that, if everyone were to follow, would turn bad customer service good overnight.
By the friend of a friend I mean someone you don't necessarily know much about, perhaps whose name you don't even remember - just someone who you recognize as the friend or acquaintance of someone you care about.
How would that change things? Because you would treat them as if there was some consequence to your encounter.
If you recognized the person walking up to the proverbial counter as the friend of a friend, wouldn't you turn your full attention to them for a moment?
Wouldn't you be certain that they were treated well by your organization?
Wouldn't you be slightly embarrassed, perhaps a little protective of them, if your organization let them down in some way?
And, if they were unhappy with how they were treated, wouldn't you say something to assuage them -- something to lessen the tension or improve the situation?
Of course you would.
It is that simple recognition, that tiny little distinction, that separates good customer service from dismal customer service. And the oddest thing about it is, it costs absolutely nothing to provide yet it is something that can clearly make or break an organization.
So I ask anyone who accepts a paycheck for interacting with customers and clients: Isn't it your ethical responsibility to act in a manner that does so much good for the organization? Isn't it clearly better for the customer, you, and your organization all around that you extend yourself in this way?
And here's an even larger question (the toughest one of all) &mdash a question every employee should ask themselves: If you acknowledge the importance of good customer service and you're still unwilling to provide it, is it fair or ethical of you to continue to work for the organization that employs you?
How to write
As its author, Maria Popova, defines it, "Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn't know you were interested in until you are." The quality of the definition gives you a taste of the type of information you'll find there.
What got me headed in this direction was the list of Henry Miller's 11 Commandments of Writing included in the ZinZin's Naming Guide I mentioned last time. Brain Pickings, a wonderful collection of insight-insights, presents Miller's list as well as tips on writing from David Ogilvy.
How to write? These are two of the masters - at two ends of the spectrum.
Henry Miller's 11 Commandments of Writing & Daily Creative Routine... Here
10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy... Here
The Brain Pickings home page... Here
Maria Popova's Twitter feed... Here
Have you collected your free week of Lynda.com?
To me, it is THE venue for learning how to use all of the top design-oriented software programs and for discovering more about the design business and its community.
Click here for a 7-day free trial to lynda.com Here
I heart pencils and pens
There are two types of people in the world: Those who care about writing instruments and those who don't. Which one are you? If you can pick up a ballpoint pen without thinking about its design and functionality, you are far too sane and practical to care about this post - you may leave the room.
If, however, you are so obsessed, you will LOVE JetPens.com - and, by the end of this session, will have shelled out at least twenty or thirty bucks you hadn't planned on spending today. Sorry.
These are a few of pencils and pens I've purchased in the last few years.
My favorite: The Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil... Here
Uni-ball Alpha Gel Shaka Ballpoint Pen... Here
Zebra Tect 2way 1000 Drafting Pencil... Here
I reviewed the Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil for CoolTools... Here
Meet illustrator Vikki Chu
Great sketch style. I love the stories Vikki Chu's illustrations evoke.
Vikki Chu's website... Here
And her Tumblr page... Here
You can purchase a few of her illustrations on Esty... Here
From my Facebook and Twitter conversations...
Why a "senior" discount? Seems like most of the older folks I know have a larger disposable income than those who are younger. It's no small point -- as soon as a marketer treats the individual as a group, they lose some part of the personal connection. And when they favor one group they often alienate another.
Join me on Pinterest.com Here
My Dad says, "Patience is a waste of time."
For all the style-obsessed (me)... I understand that, in the last couple of years, the AP Stylebook has changed "Web site" to "website" and "e-mail" to "email."
Meet the amazing Bradley W. Schenck
Illustrator? Animator? Architect? Designer? Typographer? I'm not certain what to call Bradley W. Schenck. Instead, I'll just direct you to his web page labyrinth and you can decide for yourself.
The Celtic Art Works... Here
Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual... Here
The Toaster With TWO BRAINS... Here
About Bradley W. Schenck... Here
The design of visual illusions
The winners of the Best Illusion of The Year Contest for 2012 have been posted. I point you to them again this year because I think they offer valuable insights into ways of capturing interest through visual means.
The contest is held by the Neural Correlate Society, a nonprofit organization that, "promotes scientific research into the neural correlates of sensory perception, awareness, and cognitive experience."
The 2012 finalists... Here