Fighting my demon

He’s always there and he’s the sternest of taskmasters. My demon, Mister Perfect.

He looks like Heat Miser and he sits on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. Telling me all the ways I’m falling short.

Listen, if I typed the laundry list of things I need to accomplish over the next two weeks, your eyes would glaze over and you’d be SO outta here. So I won’t. This is a blog, not War and Peace and god knows we see enough venting on facebook.

But I’ve been catching myself over this past weekend, focusing on what I CAN’T accomplish rather than what I’ve been able to get done, and I need to stop it. Mister Perfect is keeping me from enjoying the cool things I GET to do, and is lying to me about all the things I think I HAVE to do. The choice was mine. They’re all cool things—except the grading, which I do flat-out loathe. 

So the next time the Mister tells me we won’t have enough photographers at the Silent Auction, I’ll tell him we will. When he says that my stories aren’t well written, I’ll him they are. And if he even dares to suggest that I’m a bad partner because the floors aren’t vacuumed, I’ll remind him that self-care begins with prioritizing, and that’s just hot high on the totem pole this week.

Keeping in mind, of course, that the person who really needs to hear all of this is me.

 

 

Answer the question!

Look, if you want your message to rise above the thousands of voices your target audience is exposed to every single day, you’ve got to answer the question.

“What’s in it for me?”

May sound simplistic, may sound selfish, but you gotta appeal to viewers on a personal level. Tell them right off the bat why they should buy your product, come to your event, sign your petition. 

And we’re not talking about listing a feature. For instance, say a new car gets great gas mileage. You could say that, but it’s more effective to state the benefit of owning a car that gets great gas mileage. For most folks, that would be more money in our pockets. Ka-ching! For some, it would be less time spent at the filling station. Others would like to know that they’re shrinking their carbon footprint. So the benefit is a fatter wallet, more time for fun things, or being a greener citizen.

Get it?

And by all means, don’t give us a list of benefits. Focus on a primary, maybe one secondary. After that, spell out clearly your mandatories and a call to action. Never assume your audience magically knows what you know. If there is important info that will answer questions your viewer might have, include it someplace…it doesn’t have to shout.

We’ll leave hierarchy, typography, white space, and the other elements and principals of branding and design for another post. 😉

A trademark violation question

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 11.15.55 AM

A family member just sent me the above query on facebook. It’s regarding a squabble between West Sixth Brewery and Magic Hat.
Here’s my reply:
Well, it does appear that if you flip the 6 logo upside down, it’s eerily similar to the #9 logo. Look at the shape of the 6 and the shape of the 9. They both have thick and thin strokes in the same places and a ball-shaped terminal.

If the 6 was a different typeface, I’d think the comparison might fall apart.

But both are encircled, and have a little accent mark in approximately the same place (the star shape and the # sign), and both are two-color designs with a background color and a foreground color.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be the designer of the 6 logo (he or she didn’t do enough research—they should have found this label and strayed far, far away from these similarities), or want to defend this against a brewing company with (I’m guessing here) much deeper pockets.

Some people think graphic design is easy. This is a great case to demonstrate one way that it’s not. Not only do you have to craft an identity that conveys a message about your client’s brand or service, you also have to do your research to avoid tripping over others’ trademarks and copyrights.

It’s all about the campaign.

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It's all about the campaign.

I just wrapped up a job I’m really excited about, for the sixth annual Hands Together in Flatrock Music and Arts Festival. Like many jobs, it started smaller than it ended. I was hired to design a poster and a T-shirt for this annual festival held in a very diverse neighborhood in Nashville. The design was to utilize a hand motif that’s been used previously, and reflect the diversity of the area.

I did a bunch of brainstorming and arrived at a place that felt appropriate for this burgeoning neighborhood. It’s a vibrant place, with lots going on. I sent a rough to my client for approval. He liked it. So together we worked through the approval process for the poster. It went smoothly, and after they were printed, my client got very positive feedback from sponsors and people in the neighborhood.

I moved on to the shirt design, which initially was only going to be a couple of colors. Because of the success of the poster, my client was able to find some money to print with more colors. Hopefully, this will translate into sales at the festival!

It was also at about this time when he decided to advertise with Nashville’s weekly arts magazine, the Nashville Scene. We did a quick renegotiation, and I was able to carry this project all the way through to completion. I’m proud of the way it all works together across sizes, formats, and color platforms. I’m also glad to work with a client who trusts the process and was with me every step of the way. Thanks, TC Weber. It was a fun gig and I hope to work together with Flatrock again next year!

Why fitchthehomeless doesn’t work

I have issues with fitchthehomeless. I appreciate the desire to fight back against Abercrombie and Fitch’s misguided philosophies on target audience and sizing restrictions. (If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it details Abercrombie’s mission statement of providing clothes to cool kids exclusively, and the fact they don’t manufacture clothes for larger females.) In response, the  activist filmmaker goes to a Goodwill, buys up a bunch of A&F clothes and then hands them out to homeless people in Los Angeles. The call to action is that we do this, too, thereby changing A&F’s branding from that of an exclusive label for cool kids to that of homeless people.

But the clip’s author treats the homeless people he gives the A&F clothes to as nameless, faceless beings…almost as dehumanizing as the policies he’s railing against. Perhaps a simple boycott would be better? Perhaps speaking directly to those “cool kids” and inviting them to act in solidarity with their “less attractive” brothers and sisters would be a more potent message for change? 

There’s a disconnect between motivation and message here.

Today I ran. In the rain.

Two weekends ago, I achieved two things for the first time ever. I ran a half marathon, and I ran in the rain. It was a bizarre and emotional yet numbing experience—a topic for another day.

Today, I ran! In the rain.

And what’s so noteworthy is that, for the first time today, as a result of the half marathon, I didn’t use rain as an excuse not to run.

There have been many mornings when I wanted to run and couldn’t, because it was raining.

Read that sentence again. Yep, it sounds crazy to me too right now. I ran 13.1 miles in the rain two Saturdays ago, and I’m still here!

Hi! I’m waving!

So I’m wondering if rain was really an excuse not to run? Did I really believe I “couldn’t” run in the rain? That’s nuts. Especially for a quadruple Cancer. I crave water. I thought about it this morning—we all spend nine months encapsulated in fluid before being born. For me it was 10, but again….topic for another day.

So here’s my takeaway. The next time I use the word “can’t,” I’m gonna look a little closer. ‘Cause this morning’s run was magnificent. So is the feeling of having blasted through a restriction….even one I’d built my own self.

What’s in a name?

In my experience teaching graphic design at the Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville, one of the hardest things I’d ask of my students was to brand themselves. Rockstar students who’d usually excel mightily at linking target audience with message would sit for hours in bewilderment when it came time to focus on their own strengths and how they might fit into the marketplace.

I had this same struggle when figuring out what to call this baby venture that’s just setting sail. For years I’ve loosely called my realm of services Heather Lose Design. It seemed to make sense to use my name since I grew up in Nashville and have been working in media for so long, with good results. People know me, so I wanted to keep my name in the mix. But…

Recently I wrote two stories for the May/June East Nashvillian, including the cover story.

I am doing publicity work for a crazy talented young musical artist named Nathan Diller.

And I do radio. Have done for years.

So “Design” is a box that’s become too small.

Friends are gold. I turned to facebook and asked whether Heather Lose Productions would be a good fit. And man, did I get some solid feedback. Studios. Media. Heather Lose Unlimited. (As if! Thanks Laurie!) Shenanigans. Lose Lobos! (Bwah.) And some other fabulous ideas too. It was pointed out, beautifully, that “Productions” may signify music too much in our particular market, and that it puts the focus too much on what others are doing. (Thanks Daryl and Shelley!)

The one that sticks, and the one that feels right, is Heather Lose Creative. It encompasses not only my professional services, but also my personal projects including the Tennessee Fireworks Project, my work with the Nashville Community Darkroom, and yeah, even my garden which is infinitely beautiful and brings such joy.

So this feels good. Call me Heather Lose Creative. Because truly, that’s who I am, and that’s what I do. Always have, hopefully always will.

Nice to meet’cha.