Branding advice from a grade-schooler

A quick anecdote of something that happened a week or so ago…

True story– I had to do some banking at Chase about a week ago, and because it was in the afternoon, I took my 6 year-old with me, rather than wait until the morning to go. Now, whenever we visit the bank, the tellers will give her a lollipop– usually red. This time, however, she got a blue something-or-the-other flavor. We completed out transaction and went on our way. When we got in the car, she commented that she liked the blue better than the red. I aked her why, and she replied that “the blue matches the bank better.” I asked her why she thought the blue “matched” better, and she replied that “the color of the bank is blue, so the blue lollipop matches better.”

And with that one sentence, my first-grader showed a keener understanding of branding than some business-owners out there.

links for 2009-10-27

Happy freelancer, cheesy young’un

I just finished reading today’s post on Freelance Review titled “How happy freelancers beat the home office blues” (a link to the post is here), and it reminded me of something I jotted down a long while back. Here it is, in all its unabashed cheesery.

BTW– Bear in mind that it was written back in Sept of ’96 (when I was just 22 years old), so please, be gentle.

Ten Different Ways to Spruce Up Your Day!

  1. Say hello (or extend a smile) to a complete stranger.
  2. Pet a dog or a cat.
  3. Whistle.
  4. Smile. They cost nothing, but boy, are they worth a lot. (see #1)
  5. Stop for a minute and look at the sky. Pick out shapes and characters in the clouds.
  6. Buy something nice for yourself– even if it’s just buying a piece of gum.
  7. Remind yourself that there are people in the world worse off than you.
  8. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes.
  9. Nap.
  10. Remember: If everything seems to be going wrong, things can only get better.

Is there a Point of No Return?

I’ve been struggling with something the last few weeks. I’m currently in the middle of redesigning the look for my site (and, by extension), my online presence in general, and, well, not to put too fine a point on it… I’m having a bit of a creative block.

I know, I’ve read the blog posts, twitter streams and facebook updates woefully talking about how you are your most difficult client, and how we need to impose deadlines on our personal work. And, from my experience, they’re absolutely right. I know this, because when I’m designing for someone else– be it when I was still employed full-time (BTW– I’m still looking *nudge, nudge*), or those times when I’ve done freelance  work– I can get things done. My creative output puts breeding rabbits to shame. I can come up with winning designs, execute them, get them approved by the boss/client, and released in a matter of a couple of hours.

Okay, maybe the rabbit reference was a bit much. But here’s the thing. When I start doing something for myself, whether it’s brainstorming a logo, redesigning the look of my site, or setting up a somewhat regular schedule for a blog, I simply get stuck. The muse (if there is one) goes on break.

Then I find myself weeks, or even months, later, with very little accomplished, and usually not a lot to show for it. So then, when I do revisit the work, I start to want to go in a different direction (instead of just refining what I already had), to try something new, because maybe the next time, the next idea will be that much better, and maybe even The One.

So, right now I’m taking what I already had, I’ve turned it on its side, shaken it around, found what I think worked already (in this case, a somewhat stricter adherence to a grid), and now I’m working on incorporating the new ideas (a heavier reliance on web-safe typography, rather than replacing text with images). My goal is to have this rolled out in the next 4 weeks. No, let me rephrase. I will have this rolled out in the next 4 weeks.

But the whole thing got me thinking about a bunch of things. Do you take one idea and see it through to completion before trying something else? Do you work with multiple concepts at the same time? Is one method better than the other?

Or, do you get to a point with an idea, or, in this case, a design, and just see it through to completion? More importantly– should you? Do we take that idea– the one we thought was The One— and tweak it, massage it, refine and polish into whatever it is it’s going to be? Or, do we look at it, write it off as unusable, and move on to a newer, shinier, model? Do we do both, and pit them against each other in an idea “Thunderdome”? Or neither, and we throw our arms up in defeat, grab a soda and plop down to reruns on cable, hoping the whole mess will work itself out in some weird passive-aggressive tantrum?

So, how have you dealt with this? Have you? Or, am I just over thinking things? I want to know what you think.