Without computers, cell phone reception, internet, egos, portfolios or freezing, gigantic, conference rooms, AIGA Austin’s Design Ranch lets you detach from the instant gratification of the world wide web and connectivity to the world by getting your hands dirty and reviving your creative spirit.
150 designers, developers, directors, educators and creatives alike were lucky enough to attend the well-known conference in the middle Hunt, TX, that quickly sold out this year.
Erin St. Pierre of St. Pierre, Jenna Hubert of KPS3 and I (Kelly) represented Reno at the 2012 Design Ranch, unbelievable by most. The general consensus of Reno was “The biggest little city? What do you even do there? Like you actually live there?”
Cell phone reception and 4G service went down about 2 miles outside of the ranch. Letting go of the tiny, black device we can’t seem to live without was going to be the first of many challenges at the ranch. Four days without instagram, Facebook, texts and important stuff like email and news.
Pulling up to Camp Waldemar set an overall tone for the week. Built by German rock mason Ferdinand Rehbeger, the buildings that make up the camp are beautifully constructed, with stones pulled right from land the camp sits on. Spacious green areas, lined with low hanging branches at the foot of the Guadalupe River. This wasn’t work and it sure wasn’t a conference.
Each day, an 8 am bugle call brought us from slumber into the dining hall and then we set off on our way to a day of 100% hands-on workshops cleverly named PAINTING MYTHS & LEGENDS, PRINT WITH IT!, AN EXQUISITE CORPSE FILM PROJECT, or BOOBS. WEENIES. (OH, AND SCREEN PRINTING.)
The challenge for me anyway, was learning to start and finish the creative process with paper and pencil, paint brush or a Diamond Sharpening Stones Combination tool.
I really had to tap into personal technical drawing skills. Learning how to redraw a square or triangle actually proved to be quite difficult. Watching others around me quickly assemble or draw their piece was also intimidating. The faster they seemed to work, the more was produced and seemingly more fun and creative the work was turning out. I had to turn off my brain and ego just a bit to really take advantage of the hands-on experience.
“During the first class, I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to do. I hadn’t fully grasped the concept of not overthinking and just creating. It was intimidating at first. But when I started getting to know everyone in the room, I realized that not everyone there was a designer. I started to relax and just make stuff. Which is what I love to do as a designer.” said Jenna.
Dirk Fowler said it best during his workshop, Print With It!. “Why aren’t you printing already?”
His question was posed just seconds after he made his 2 minute introduction.
“It took everyone a while to get into the pace and the energy of the class. Everyone strived for perfection with their first print and the Dirk would say something like “Okay we have three more hours, where’s your next one?” It was refreshing to know you could mess up and still walk away with a really cool print.” said Erin.
In what seemed like endless amounts of free time, we enjoyed laying in the sun, talking with workshop leaders and favorite designers, checking out the work in other workshops, paddling in the river and even horseback riding.
After night workshops, the three of us took a stab at two-step lessons, huddled around the campfire and danced the night away to Austin’s’ claim to fame, constant live music.
Design Work Life’s Courtney Dolloff said it best, “I think every attendee left with at least 30 new friends and something new to try. Our computer-induced tightness and burnt-out spots were healed by getting our hands dirty alongside respected peers and allowing our eyes to relax and take in open outdoor spaces.”
Check out Courtney’s in-depth daily blogs about life on the ranch here http://www.designworklife.com/2013/04/20/today-on-the-ranch-04-20-13-part-2/.
You’ll even see a couple of people you may know if you look closely.
When Chris Gandolfo (@solidcreative) of Solid Creative came to Stan Can Design™ with his new business venture, Solid, we were ecstatic that he enlisted us to work for him, instead of him working for us.
For the past three years, Chris has been our “solid” programmer. Pun intended. Now that the tables were turned, he was trusting us with his brain child, an interactive web agency focused on three specific target markets, golf, craft-beer and wine. His goal is to make website integration easy for companies that often don’t have the time to implement the digital world into their business seamlessly.
“We chose beer, wine and golf because those are the three things, besides my lovely wife, that I enjoy most,” said Gandolfo. “Stan and his crew made it easy for us because they were able to explain their design thinking in a language that we could understand.”
After a few brand discovery meetings, revisions and sleepless nights over this little symbol we like to call, the logo, Chris chose his favorite. For him, the logo represented his growth in the web development community, his commitment to his work and clients and himself.
Written by: Stan Byers for NNBW
Chances are, your business or the company you work for has a logo. But is it doing its job? Is it pulling an oar? After 25 years in graphic design, I’ve seen some sweet logos.I’ve seen some duds. And I’ve seen some of the best logos left on the table. So how do you arrive at an effective logo? Simply put: Good designers make good logos. Great businesses make great logos.
Translation: Designers are highly capable of developing good looking, eye-catching, strategy-minded logos. Businesses are the ones who need to consistently support this oh-so-important piece of the branding puzzle. If you Google “good logo design,” you’ll find numerous articles that give the attributes of what makes a good logo. When I completed the exercise to see what you would see, almost all of the good ones point to the writings of Paul Rand, one of the fathers of modern graphic design. So instead of just putting my twist on his principles and taking credit for
his great writings, I will outline and expand on them here briefly.
An effective logo is: Distinctive. Does your logo imitate the look of a successful competitor or another brand we admire? Are you secretly trying to steal someone else’s success? I cannot tell you how many times clients have asked me to add mountains or a swoosh to a design. The point of difference, or distinction, is lost when you imitate another business or design. If it is distinctive, it probably should make you a little uncomfortable because the frame of reference is new or unique. Remember when the new Ford F150s came out? The design was unique. It was, and still is, more ownable.
Visible. When given the proper amount of space, does your logo ask your audience to take note? Does it have an impact or gravity? Can you truly see it? Usable. Is the logo easy to use? Generally, the more visually complex a logo, the harder it is to use. Does it feel the same in different applications? Memorable. Is there something a little bit special about the visual? Does it reward the viewer with an unexpected twist? Or point to timeless qualities? Universal. Is the logo understandable by the target audience? If your market is a small niche, maybe you can tip your hat to an inside understanding. If is it quite large, will your logo appeal to the young and the old? Blue and white-collar workers? Men and women?
Durable. Is this design going to hold up well? Does is work well large? Does it work well small?
Timeless. Is the logo trendy or timeless? Paul Rand designed the ABC TV logo in 1961 and it has remained virtually unchanged for 50 years.
All of the above are a given when you work with a professional designer. Here’s the kicker: At any point, your business and your employees can add more to the logo’s effectiveness than any designer could just by the way you treat your logo — my earlier point about a good logo versus a great logo. Logos are badges of pride.
Think of how you feel when you see the American flag versus how the Japanese flag makes you feel. You probably have a deeper emotional connection to the American flag even though the Japanese flag is much more visually impactful, agile in infinite applications and regarded by many communications experts as the best-designed flag. It’s not so much the way the American flag looks but rather, what it represents that gives it power. It’s time to give your logo the Spaghetti Sauce test. Which works best?
“Oh man! You have got to taste this! This is the best sauce I’ve ever made!” Or,“I think this smells funny. Do you think it’s going
bad?” A lot of the success of your logo and brand identity rests in how much pride you and your company are able to put behind it. If
you treat it with respect, others will too. A couple of pointers for logo owners: Be consistent. Be consistent to the point of boredom (at least in your eyes). Think of the poor guy at the Campbell’s Soup factory. He’s probably tired of seeing the same old soup can. But consumers have come to rely on it.
No scanning the soup aisle, which means less chance of the consumers discovering and buying something different. The consumer only sees your messaging occasionally. About the time you are getting sick of it, others are just starting to take note. Don’t ask your logo to do too much.
Good logos identify, they do not describe or illustrate. What if the Nike logo was a cool 1970s shoe illustration? It would be very hard for
them to turn around and sell $100 dress shirts or software years down the road. Don’t ask your logo to sell. Take note of the great brands.
If you are not sure, make it a little smaller. Most good designers will consider the environment that a logo will exist in and develop comprehensive designs to help you visualize the new work in context. If you have a logo and are not really sure how to use it, ask a graphic designer to create a visual identity package. Consider asking the designer to work on trade dress (brand-friendly packaging or design) at the same time. One of the reasons Coca-Cola has been able to stay contemporary without discarding the equity they have developed in their logo is that they change their trade dress (packaging) occasionally, but in keeping with the brand. It helps keep things fresh on the shelf while
staying true to their well-established roots. Logos and brands get their value from the products and/or services that they represent, not vice versa.
I believe every company can benefit from brand development before the brand identity is created. Brand development is a group of processes that define the personality or values of a company. Brand identity or visual identity is the process of taking the discovered brand to a tangible, tactile form. At Stan Can Design, we have developed a very straightforward process for defining a business’ mission and vision (the starting place of your brand), and the words and images that express your brand.
Like us on Facebook and you can download our Mission and Vision Worksheet free of charge. You can take the results to any designer or ad agency and it will take a lot of the subjectivity out of the creative, strategic process and add clarity to your brand.
Stan Byers is president of AIGA
Reno/Tahoe and owner of Stan Can Design™.
Contact him at 775-813-7602 or through stancandesign.com.
For 2012′s holiday season, Stan Can Design decided to give holiday ornaments to our clients, friends, colleague and neighbors. The problem was to find a solution for getting them in hand in an awesome way. After seeing samples of new technologies, we decided on a box. Find it, build it, brand it, print it, done.
We designed the little black box specifically to be printed by Panda Printing Company’s HP Indigo Digital Press, the only one in town. It’s special because it’s the only printer that prints HP ElectroInk White, the only “true white ink.” These printers can only hold 12×18″ paper, our box template was built edge to edge, so a traditional die cut wouldn’t work.
Tracy Byers, Stan’s wife, is a avid scrap booker and suggested we have “the scrapbook lady” die cut the boxes on her state-of-art Silhouette machine. The Silhouette is a scrapper’s (and Graphic Designer’s) dream come true, as it is a simple, scissorless way to cut shapes and letters of materials including vinyl, card stock, fabric and heat transfer material up to 12″ wide and any length. We worked very closely with Scrapbook Paradise owner Laura Evasovic, to design a box template that would work for our project, her machine and the printer.
“Even though we used new technologies, this was not a simple click of a button and it’s done. It was the result of our experience and design processes,” said Stan Byers. “We placed restrictions on ourselves and designed within those parameters and didn’t give up!”
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Most of the time we think a “brand” as being the image or the promise portrayed in a business marketing messaging. Some brands are great at living their promise. I have never seen or experienced a better example of brand living up to their promise than in a recent project we did for the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.
The RSCVA recently got a cool new 4-wheel drive Willy’s Panel to help remind people of the outdoor adventures here in Reno/Tahoe. They set up a shoot to show off their cool car and in a conversation, it dawned on me that it would be great to feature people that represent the various activities, biking, hiking, boarding etc.
But…the shoot was in two days and I really didn’t have a great model/talent pool readily available.
Out of desperation, I suggested that we call the people at Scheel’s and see if they could help us with some props. Scheel’s jumped at the opportunity and provided the shoot with props and avid bikers, skiers, golfers, fisherman, all employees of the sports store posing as models. Being educated in the Old School of Advertising, I was taught to never use friends, family and non-professional talent. I was quite nervous (and felt like a carpetbagger). We had to use them, there was no other option available.
Part of Sheel’s promise as a store is that their employees are involved in the activities that they sell the goods for. Also, employees are actively involved in their community. The “talent” did not seem rushed to get back to work or put out that management forced them to represent the company. They were a real joy to work with and the result is obvious in the photography.
The price? Four sandwiches, four bags of chips and four sodas. Thank you Scheel’s, Calor Pearson, Aubrey Matteson, Terrin Hicks and Chris Pyrah.
Are you sure these are not models sent by the Ford Agency?