A Seattle local who is doing it right. Chase Charvis, awesome photographer. This is a video of his keynote at the PhotoPlus Expo last month, don’t matter if you’re not a photographer — if you’re passionate about what you do, watch this and be inspired.
If you weren’t online this last week, you missed it. Last Monday, Gap revealed it’s new logo — and… it was BAD. The internet was booming with hate speech about this branding monstrostity.
On Thursday, Gap tried to defend it’s decision — and then announced it’s plan to crowd-source a solution that might save them from the huge blunder they made. As if that eyesore of a logo wasn’t offensive enough, now the design community was being asked to bail them out?
Exactly one week after the logo was unveiled, it’s gone. Yesterday’s press release announced that they would be returning to the classic blue box logo and that they had no plans to crowd-source a new one.
This whole fiasco has been incredible! Last Monday it was all anyone was talking about! This weekend, friends of mine who have absolutely zero interest in design were talking about how dreadful the new mark was! You thought the backlash to the Tropicana rebrand was bad? This was unlike anything I have seen… some of the comments on the Gap Facebook page were almost violent with RAGE about the design.
I’m not going to bother asking what you thought of the new mark… you hated it! But man… what do you think of how people basically used the power of the internet to shame away a logo in only one weeks time? Also, does anyone know who designed this logo?
Is this a rant or a pep talk? I don’t know – maybe a little of both. Been reading for the Pagebreak Podcast, been talking with people who are doing some awesome things that are making them very happy and also been talking with people who aren’t doing much and can’t figure out why they aren’t happy. It’s all got my brain lighting up… So how can you change the world and get rich doing NOTHING?!?!!???
It was not that long ago when the adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know ” really held a lot of weight. The gatekeepers of industries held futures in their hands and success in some areas was widely dependent on getting that “big break” or “being discovered.” Once you got that then you would “make it.”
At this time, right now… all of these concepts seem so dated to me, yet so many still hold them as truths and use them as essentially as an excuse for why they can’t do what they really want to do, why they have no power and why they are unhappy with life.
Is it just that it will take a longer time for these old ideas to die out or are people clinging to them because doing so means they can ignore the new reality?
We live in an age where the internet has afforded anyone with a connection a voice. If you have something remarkable to share with the world and you can (are willing to) dedicate your time and energy into sharing this remarkable thing with as many people as you can by cultivating a community, you have power. No one gave people like Perez Hilton or Gary Vaynerchuk a “big break,” and these guys are no where near superstars – but they’re something even better. They are putting out into the world something authentic to themselves, they are doing what they want to do in life and they have created it on their own by working hard, being real and genuinely caring about what they do.
If you are reading this and thinking “They got lucky, not everyone can do that,” well — you’re right and wrong. No, not everyone can create their own celebrity gossip empire, Perez did. If you can do it better than him, do it! If you can’t — I bet there is something that is unique to you, that YOU can do better than anyone else, do that.
So you can listen and decide to use all these amazing opportunities available to you to your advantage, or you can continue waiting for someone to give you that “big break.” It’s your choice.
Just realize that if you choose the later and you are never happy and you never have power and you never effect any meaningful change in the world around you — you have no excuses and no one to blame but yourself.
(Hey, that’s me!)
So the wait is finally over, Niki and I have been scheming about this for a long time now and then over the last couple weeks pulled it all off…
PageBreak is a design, business and marketing-themed book club and podcast, started by Liz Andrade and Niki Brown. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of designers, developers, freelancer (like ourselves) and to discuss and enjoy books about the stuff we love to do!
We’re starting out with the plan to pick a new book and record a show at the end of each month, so if you have a suggestion we’d love to hear them! You can subscribe to the show via iTunes or stream the show at pagebreakpodcast.com (we’re working on a site with commenting and all that jazz, so stay tuned…)
Book #1? Rework by 37Signals Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Make it through the show (or download it and skip to the end) to find out what we’ll be reading for September, maybe you’d like to read along? If you’ve read Rework and you want to discuss it with me and Niki or other listeners of the show – head over to the GoodReads PageBreak group!
I noticed this about 3 weeks ago on a trip through the grocery store and it caught my eye. Crystal Light has updated their packaging and I give it a thumbs up! What do you think?
What the hell is “Whuffie”!? I know, it’s a silly sounding word, but bare with me! The word originates from the sci-fi novel by Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In the novel, whuffie is a form of reputation-based currency and in Tara Hunt’s The Whuffie Factor, she applies this fictitious concept to real life marketing and shows how you can use the power of social capital to build your business.
If you want to talk about whuffie without explaining the word, this term sums it up, Social Capital. Think of each authentic social interaction as a transaction (an exchange of social currency,) the more meaningful transactions you make the more capital you gain and the greater your social worth. If you’re building your personal brand, if you’re engaging with your community, YOU are a social capitalist!
I generally haven’t been drawn to many of the books that came out this year about social media, for the most part they all come off to me as gimicky and not very genuine… it’s the new generations version of “get rich quick” books. Not a fan.
The Whuffie Factor doesn’t offer any quick tips or tricks on navigating the community or growing your personal brand, but what it does offer is solid, real world examples of how people in an assortment of industries used social media platforms to reach a new audience and grow their brand reputation.
I suggest this book in companion with another book I wrote about this year, Crush It. Read The Whuffie Factor first to get a lot great information about real world use of social marketing techniques and to get the wheels in your head turning, thinking about your reputation as a form of capital, then pick up Crush It to get a pep talk and reality check on just what you’re getting yourself into by beginning this investment in your personal brand equity.
Have you read TWF? What did you think? What do you make of this whole concept of “social capital”? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!!! :)
I work as a web designer in a mid-sized design firm in Chicago. I love my job, but also have heard a lot about the importance of growing a “personal brand” using social networking tools. I think I would one day like to start my own design business, but RIGHT NOW I am happy with the job I have. Isn’t it kind of a waste of time to start blogging, using twitter, youtube, etc. if I am not actually doing freelance work?
The idea of “personal brand” has to do with thinking of yourself as a unique part of your industry, and marketing your one-of-a-kind skills, style and personality as its own brand — and in my opinion, it is NEVER a waste of time to start growing one! Growing your personal brand through the use of social networking tools is something that can be beneficial in many ways, whether you are a freelancer or 9to5er, here are a few…
1. Just because you’re happy and secure at your 9to5 now does not mean you always will be. In the economy of today, layoffs have been widespread over many industries and if a sudden change in economic climate puts you out of a job, having well-laid foundation with your personal brand could give you a leg up in a competitive job market!
2. Future potential employers will look at your online profiles if you are applying for a staff position! This is the case for many industries nowadays, but especially in web design. Being a web designer, it is so important to be educated about emerging trends and technologies on the web and the only way to really understand these tools is to use them!
3. In addition to using social media tools to grow your personal brand, you will also be benefiting your current employer and current clients by educating yourself more about these tools!
4. If you hope to start a business in your future, make an investment in that future and start making your name known NOW. Building a foundation now will only help you when you do break out on your own. Buy your vanity domain name (yourname.com) and secure your name on as many of the social networks as you can.
5. Blogging and social networking will help you connect with other in your industry, which can come in helpful if you need to relocate to another city, outsource a project, ask questions about software or code, get a design critique or business advice, or just to nerd out about a new font you just bought! Your interactions with those in the design community will aid you in improving your skills at your 9 to 5 and you can make some awesome FRIENDS along the way!
These are just a few reasons why I see social networking as valuable to those in the design industry, maybe some of you disagree with me? Leave a comment and give me your thoughts on the matter!
I pre-ordered this book back in July, so I was pretty excited when the postman showed up yesterday with my copy of the new book by Gary Vaynerchuck (just released on Tuesday,) Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion.
You may remember my mention of Gary in the post Ditching your 9to5 to be Freelance & Fancy Free or my interview with Niki Brown where she notes Gary as her “internet celebrity crush.” He’s a charismatic guy, who loves what he does and therefor does it well!
Crush it! is a business book unlike any I have every read —it’s a quick read, too! Having just finished it last night, I am excited to share my thoughts on it and personally recommend that each and everyone of you pick up a copy today! As I write this, it is down to $11.99 on Amazon, 8 bucks under the cover price!
There are a few things I don’t like about most business books, that I bet you don’t like either!
First, I really can’t stand the “get rich quick” angle, also closely related is the “make billions working just a few hours a day” idea. These sound too good to be true, because for 99.999% of us, it’s not true. Gary doesn’t offer any overnight success or leisure wealth, he offers a simple formula — do what you love the most, do it better and work harder at it than anyone else and you will win.
if that sounds tedious or repetitive, just close this book and go do your best to enjoy the life you’ve got because you’re not cut out for this. (page 107)
I have a hard time getting into many business books, because they seem so focused on the dollars that I can’t relate. Sure, money is nice, everyone needs it. But money is not the reason I went into business for myself! In all honestly, If I had stayed at the design firm I was at before breaking out on my own 1.5 years ago, I would probably be making a larger income there than I am taking from CMD+Shift Design right now. It’s not about that. I was working 60, 70, 80 hour work-weeks and realizing that I could do the same thing for myself and have a better investment in my future! Instead of building up someone else’s brand, I could build my own and I could do it on my own terms! Crush It acknowledges that success is not only about dollars and cents, long term success has to be fueled by passion!
If you enter a niche because you’re following the dollars, you won’t keep it up. It’s too much work, and you will get tired and frustrated and you will eventually fold. (page 93)
I came of-age very actively involved in my local independent music scene, from the ages of about 16 to 20, there wasn’t one weekend that I was not out at the local shows supporting small bands and the “do-it-yourself” culture that surrounded that. It was being a part of that culture that made me shy away from design in the first place, associating it with sleazy advertising agencies and the “evil-corporate-machine, blah blah blah.” This same anti-establishment attitude is what of course also makes me chuckle to myself when I tell people I am a business owner. Of course, I’ve grown up a lot since then, but I still have a strong appreciation for business who are really doing it RIGHT, who are honest and who don’t let big bucks turn them into heartless machines. It’s refreshing to read a business book that acknowledges money is important, but also that the legacy you leave is what really holds weight with the people who matter!
How you build your business is much more important than how much you make while doing it. (page 128)
I’m not in ka-hoots with Gary Vaynerchuk or anything, I just think he has some great things to say about business, and a lot of his attitudes line-up with mine. I know a lot of you who read this are working hard at building your personal brands, I know many of you are passionate people who are looking for some guidance or maybe a little kick-start to get you moving! Well, then you will appreciate this book!
Have you already read this book? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and tell me your point of view.
Why I started “Ask A Freelancer.” – From time to time I get emails asking for advice about freelance matters. I hope that by publishing these inquiries and my response I can do a better service to my blog readers than just responding one email at a time. Plus, those of you who may have input on the matter that I didn’t think of can chime in with a comment! If there’s a question you have or a subject you’d like to get an opinion on, please contact me!
I’ve been thinking about my business and branding. I plan to begin freelancing and I’m not sure what to choose as a domain name and I’m not sure how to go about designing my logo.
Right now I own a dot com for the company name I came up with, Visual Blade but should I be using my own name instead? You work by yourself and I notice you picked a creative name, what’s your opinion of what I can do to choose the right one?
- Daquan Wright
It’s really up to the individual freelancer if they are to use a company name or simply go by their own name. There are fair reasons for both, no real right or wrong answer here – but here is some stuff to think about.
Having a brand name other than your own allows for ease if you plan to expand to a larger operation in the future. If you’re goal is to someday turn your one-person operation into a huge firm with receptionists and account executives and an H.R. Department, a company name might make sense. However it’s not the rule, some of the largest firms in the country are named after their founder.
It can be beneficial to use a company name if you want to define a personal brand, that is separate from your business, should you start up something new or move on to another company. Instead of being known as “Liz Andrade Design,” I am “Liz Andrade from CMD+Shift Design,” the two are strongly linked and people recognize that CMD+Shift is MY brand, but in the future I might be Liz Andrade from some-other-thing-er-rather. Again it’s all just about how you want to be perceived and what you feel more comfortable with.
Now, Some people choose a company name to give the illusion that they are larger operations than they really are. I don’t suggest this. Be honest with your potential clients about who you are and what you offer, trying to trick businesses into hire you will not turn up good for either party!
The decision all rides of how you want to project your brand and your personal preference really. There is no right or wrong. You have a unique name and that may be something that works to your advantage. There is probably not some other web designer under the name Daquan Wright out there, so you may not have to come up with a memorable business name, you already have one!
I made a call out on Twitter and found out some great stories about Freelancers business names and why they chose them!
I am a bit of an internet and computer nerd and I like the idea of choosing a business name that was a little nerdy. I used to be a big fan of the old Revision3 cooking show, Ctrl+Alt Chicken and at one time had the wireless in my apartment named Ctrl+Alt Liz (even though I am a Mac user, haha.)
Most designers I know love their keyboard shortcuts, most of us have a favorite keyboard short cut! So when it came time to choose a name and I saw that the domain cmdshiftdesign.com was up for grabs — I took it! It wasn’t until after buying the domain that I started to think about the name further and it’s possible double entendre, “Command Shift” could refer to my ideas that design has the power to change the way we perceive the world and ourselves and the brands around us.
In this day and age it is very important that you have the website address to match your business name, it is good that you have visual-blade.com, but if you choose to use Visual Blade as your brand name, keep trying to get visualblade.com as well! In print, like on business cards, that hyphen is nice because it serves to separate the words to make it more clear what the name is, however in spoken form you will have a better chance at people understanding when you say “visual blade dot com” as appose to “visual hyphen blade dot com.” Also people may find about you via word of mouth and going off the business name itself, the first domain they are likely to try would of course not include the hyphen.
Whether you sell your company under your name or not, you SHOULD (everyone should) own yourname.com if you can get it! Being that you’re blessed with a unique name, it looks as though daquanwright.com is available, go register it!
Of course, it’s always best if you can snag a dot com instead of a dot net or other extension, depending on your plans for the future you may want to invest in a dot tv as well, or if you’re living outside of the United States, the extension associated with your region.
Be careful, domain names can be addictive. How many of you have an arsenal of names that aren’t even being used or are all redirecting to your hub site?
Once you’ve settled on a name you will be doing business as, it is time to register that name! You can find the forms for this through your local Chamber of Commerce.
As designers, you’d think this part would be easy – but it’s hard to design for yourself. I’ve seen designers who strugle with being satisfied and who are constantly changing their logos, (which makes growing brand recognition near impossible!) If logo design is not your expertise, talk with someone who is more versed in this and get their input. You may find that investing some money into bringing in an outside designer may make you more happy with the final result!
I am reminded of the design blog that Brian Hoff writes, The Design Cubicle. He has a great article on there about creating the logo for his site, and what made me think of this – even though the article is nearly a year old is because Brian opened up his process to the design community. I recall during his sketching and refinement phases he would tweet out drafts and ask for feedback from other designers! This is a great way to learn more about design and how to accept criticism! Plus you may get connected with some new people in the community!
Am I missing something? What is your advise for Daquan? Why do you use the business name that you do? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
I notice in all different types of niches these days, people are embracing the things they are most nerdy about and advertising their nerdisms as part of their own personal brand.
Are you a crazy cat lady (like me)? An internet junkie? Are you a collector? An aficionado? What is YOUR nerdism and how do you use it as part of your authentic personal brand?