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Branding–on a budget

Branding your business is one of the most important steps you can take to position yourself for success. While I recommend working with a branding professional to maximize the power of your company’s image, I know that some small businesses want to make a consistent and powerful impression on their potential clients but don’t have a lot of money to spend on branding. Read on for three ways you can create a powerful and effective brand for less!

1. Find out what your clients say about you: Open your lines of inquiry to anyone who has had experience with you and the product or service you’re selling: clients, former employers, friends and family. Ask them what they tell people when they’re recommending you. How are you perceived in the marketplace? What are people saying about you that excites—or dissuades—your potential clients?

2. Use your knowledge to empower your business: Critically analyze your feedback, highlighting the best and worst of the comments you’ve received. How can you change your offering to emphasize the aspects that your clients value most?  Take a hard look at all the ways you’re interacting with your clients—directly, through email or face-to-face meetings, and indirectly, through your marketing efforts—and strategize ways to put a spotlight on the best you have to offer.

3. Make smart marketing decisions to get the most bang for your brand buck: Think carefully and critically about communicating your brand through a selective array of marketing materials optimally suited to your target audience. You’ll want to establish a consistent look, beginning with a strong logo that should evoke a feeling or mood in your audience that will be carried throughout the rest of your materials. Equally important, you’ll want to ensure you are using the right marketing strategy to attract the right clients.


Great yoga ads

I came across a collection of 6 kooky yoga ads on yogadork.com, one of my favorite yoga blogs. It’s worth clicking through to read the entire post, especially if you enjoy yoga and creative advertising ideas, but my favorite was from the Y Yoga Center in Shanghai:

Yoga Straw

Short, simple, memorable, and effective. Not to mention motivating me to work on my backbends!


A rebrand for my alma mater

Most people who know me–or at least who have been around me between September and December of any given year–know I’m a proud graduate of the University of Georgia and a big fan of UGA football. I was thrilled last week to see that UGA has unveiled a brand refresh, and that it looks phenomenal!

First thing’s first; I’m glad to see the primary logo, by which the school is most often recognized, remains the same:

Georgia G

… and they’re not necessarily retiring the other images affiliated with the school and its athletic programs:

Miscellaneous Bulldogs

… but that they’ve replaced it with a much simpler, stronger, and more modernized bulldog whose jaw is mercifully in alignment (that’s always bothered me):

Bulldog Logo

And of course, sharp new typography and uniforms:

New Uniforms

Overall, I’m pleased as both a designer and a fan with the brand refresh. It gives the school’s athletics programs a fierce, competitive, and modern look will staying true to the school’s roots and history (very important around these parts). Congratulations to UGA and its partner Nike on the new brand–and Go Dawgs!


Upcoming maternity leave

StorkI’m pleased to let you know that Red Queen Design Studio has an exciting event on the horizon–I am expecting my second little princess in early June!

I place a high value on both my business and personal relationships with clients, so I want to publicly announce my plans are for maternity leave, for returning to work, and for taking care of my clients in the meantime:

My maternity leave is scheduled to begin on Friday, May 24 and will continue through early September. During that time, I will check email as often as my (and baby’s) schedule allows. If urgent design needs spring up, I will do my best to tackle small projects, and I will have a talented and trusted back-up designer on call to help if I am not available or when projects are too large to handle with a new little one. Once I return to work in September, I will be working condensed but full-time schedule that will allow me to perform the same amount of work I always have, while also accommodating my growing family. I’ll keep my blog updated on the specifics in the weeks prior to my return.

In the meantime, I’m feeling great and working hard, so if you have design projects that are imminent, I’ll be happy to get them put to bed before I leave on May 24.

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you’d like to discuss the timing for an upcoming project, feel free to contact me at hello@redqueenstudio.com. Thank you!


Client Spotlight: MUKORO | BESPOKE

Style mentor Stan Mukoro established MUKORO | BESPOKE to assist executives, star athletes, and other highly successful men in creating effortless wardrobes, immaculately tailored to each individual’s lifestyle and personality.  Mr. Mukoro selected Red Queen Design Studio to create not just a logo for his company, but a graphic identity that would convey the full message of MUKORO | BESPOKE’s customized offering.

First, Red Queen combined a signature typeface and individually kerned letters to create a masculine, refined, and effortless logo for MUKORO | BESPOKE—a logo that demanded an equally powerful business card as the cornerstone of the company’s graphic identity. Red Queen guided Mr. Mukoro in selecting the colors (midnight blue and black), the papers (rich, luxurious, and heavy) and the printing technique (back foil for subtle contrast on dark paper) for the card, which would be built in two layers for added weight and tactile appeal.

Close communication with the printer brought our vision for the card to life. The printer first created a sample run to ensure the black foil stamp on dark paper had the subtly elegant look demanded by the MUKORO | BESPOKE brand. Upon our inspection and approval, the individual cards were trimmed and hand-assembled to create a final product with the same sartorial sophistication that characterizes Mr. Mukoro’s work.


(Press proofs of the business card.)

The MUKORO | BESPOKE business card is not one the recipient stuffs immediately into a pocket, but one that is inspected and admired, whose heft and texture are tested for a few moments before it is slipped away for safekeeping. It’s a card that is impactful and memorable, a 3.5” x 2” representation of the man it speaks for. Most importantly, it’s a card that works constantly for Mr. Mukoro, simply because it is too compelling to be tossed aside and forgotten.

To learn more about Stan Mukoro and MUKORO | BESPOKE, please visit www.mukorobespoke.com, designed and maintained by Red Queen Design Studio.


What’s your color?

Pantone swatches

One of the most important aspects of your graphic identity is the color combination you choose to represent yourself. Color tells a story and evokes emotions, and when used consistently, can make a significant impact on your target market.

When choosing colors, be sure to choose the right combination for what you do. Home Depot’s signature orange gets people excited, energized, and thinking of construction and home improvement–but that same orange would send exactly the wrong message when applied to the logo of a funeral home. Your business should use colors that fit with its purpose and its spirit.

Once you’ve chosen a color combination, you should use it wherever possible to connect it consistently with your business. Don’t stop with your website, brochure, and business cards—bring color into your office, into your clothing, into your office supplies and accessories. I often wear red when attending networking events because it helps people connect me with my business, and I’ve gone so far as to work with a client’s interior designer to select a logo color palette in keeping with the decor of their office. Consistency is key when using color to enhance your brand!

To ensure your colors are consistent in print, your designer should assist you in choosing Pantone colors: special inks that guarantee your colors will come out perfectly every time rather than the hit-or-miss color representation you may get from printing in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black–four ink colors that combine to create a full spectrum). If color is a critical component of your brand representation, you’ll definitely want to make sure your business cards are the same color as your letterhead, your envelopes, and your brochures, and Pantone inks are the best way to do so.


Site redesign!

Welcome to the new Red Queen Design Studio website!

You know what they say about the cobbler’s children… well, the same thing goes for the graphic designer’s website. I’ve been running Red Queen Design Studio for 7 years now, and I’ve been using the same logo and website for that entire time. It was high time for a redesign.

Why redesign?

First, my look was beginning to feel tired and old. Both my logo and website represented the design work I did in the mid-2000s, and I began to feel an increasing disconnect between the website I designed for myself in 2006 and the work I do for my clients nearly seven years later. The new logo and website are clean, minimalistic, open, and friendly–just like my more current design work.

Second, I was no longer excited by my graphic identity, and that’s never right! A business’s graphic identity is an important cornerstone of its marketing message, and one of my rules of thumb is that you should always get a little thrill when you look at your marketing materials. It was time for me to start following my own rule more consistently!

Third, it was just fun. I love what I do, and I get just as excited to design for myself as I do for my clients.

So, I am proud to present to you the new Red Queen Design Studio logo and website. Be sure to check out our new portfolio page and drop by often for blog postings and studio news. And feel free to let us know what you think about the new look–or let me know if I can help you with your own identity refresh!–by clicking here.


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