Creative Southis an annual 3-day conference down south in Columbus, GA catered toward creatives ranging from artists, graphic designers, developers, letterers, and more. It had been on our radar for quite some time and we decided this year we had to make it happen.
What an incredible experience! It was like being amongst our creative brethren. The conference took place at the historical Springer Theater in downtown Columbus. Each day was filled with talks from various creatives, covering different topics from realities of failures, pricing your clients, cultural influences on design, and much more. With the hoard of experiences and creative backgrounds of each speaker, there truly wasn’t one bad or unnecessary talk during this conference. The perspectives alone were enlightening.
You know what else was awesome? The SWAG! From free camping backpacks and t-shirts to all the amazing art, we left with way too much cool stuff, and much lighter wallets. Besides that, we even got to witness the creative artistry of various conference-goers who battled in the different events like the Adobe Creative Jam and Ink Wars.
The vibe at Creative South was great. Still an intimate festival, their slogan “Come as friends and leave as family” rang true. We met so many awesome creative people from all over the country, sharing the same love for the creative field.
We’re already looking forward to Creative South 2018!
When tackling a new project, you’re usually conditioned to think things will be straightforward: get project done by deadline and stay within your budget. Simple, right?
More often than not, we run into issues that both lead us to going way past our deadline and over our budget. It doesn’t have to be like this. Regardless of the size of your project, there are many ways to keep things on track.
1. Stay organized
All projects need a proper project manager – someone to maximize time, budget, and resources that’ll lead you to the finish line. Have a proper upfront meeting that can clearly establish the goals of the project – either laying out what kind of shots you want or what story you want to tell.
2. Know your scope
While successfully finishing your project is the end goal, you have to take into account all the steps it takes to get there. Each step is equally important as each step in your project depends on what came before it. Managing the scope of your project helps your stay on track
3. Proper feedback
Provide feedback that contains your input as well as a solution. Giving feedback that simply says that it’s not working for you or not what you want, makes moving forward toward your goal much harder than it should be. Providing next steps and ideas to make the project more to your liking, and reasonably so, will keep you on the right track. Adding more time to figure out what works best will ultimately cost more money.
4. Be prepared.
Have content ready to be implemented in order to finish out your project and meet your deadline. Let’s say you’re creating a brand new website. Not having content ready during the development phase of your project can easily put you behind. What good is a pretty website without the copy and photos to fill it ? Stay on track.
5. Know how to use your rounds of revisions
Make use of your rounds of revisions to either edit or improve the content already provided, not add additional content. Adding additional content which will also probably be revised only extends the project, rather than meeting your original deadline. For instance, if you decide that after x amount of revisions that you want to start over with, say, different colors and fonts, that will end up costing you more. Another example would be going into a fifth round of revisions, when your scope only included three rounds. This will not only extend the project, but will also end up costing you more.
Having a less-stressful, easy and successful project is not always a reality, but is a possibility. Document the time and steps taken throughout your project and you’ll already be one step ahead. Stay organized and revise accordingly, knowing full well how you’re project should be progressing. It’s always a learning game and will be an experience that’ll keep you on track for the next project you undertake.
Office spaces are slowly, but surely, moving away from the typical boring white walls. These days more companies are heading in the direction of colorful decor that brightens up company moral and makes a statement about one’s business. Companies like Google and Facebook inspire visual effectiveness when it comes to office decor and a sure fire way to do that is getting creative with art installations.
The Benefits of an Office or Retail Art Installation
Art Installations boost moral.
In general, visual elements create an exciting atmosphere in the workplace. Colorful custom installations create a new boost of energy and can positively impact employee performances. In addition to that, it influences productivity levels, moods, and employee behavior. They also become an instant eye-catcher for new and existing customers.
Art Installations work anywhere.
We’ve discussed office spaces and installations on office walls but that doesn’t necessarily restrict your creativity to just that. You can spruce up outside walls that can attract the attention of an entire community in addition to your office space. Think big!
Art Installations can send a message.
Installations are always custom and unique and can provide a statement about your company and what your brand represents. As a design company, the Bright Light office art sends the message of “Create Your Future” as we create productions and solutions for companies that ensure the opportunity for businesses to grow and evolve. Depending on what your brand stands for, there’s always a creative outlet that will allow you to stand out.
Check out some photos of art installations we’ve done below.
Your website is your greatest asset for attaining new business. Especially in this day in age where people walk around with the internet in their pockets, constantly thinking of what businesses they can use for their needs and necessities, having a fully-functioning website puts the ball easily in your court. But not any website will do. Having a website that is outdated, or poorly designed, or isn’t responsive, works against your more now then it ever did. If this is the case for your, it’s time for a new website.
But my website is just fine! I don’t need a new one. Yes, you do.
If you’re on the fence, ask yourself these questions:
Is my website servicing my current needs?
Businesses continue to grow over time and that means you could easily be outgrowing your current website. Does it have features you need to showcase your brand new call-to-action? Does it showcase your up-to-date portfolio? Technology also grows and evolves in addition to your business, and it happens that things that were “super awesome” and “flashy” back in 2011 are just not ideal in 2016.
A new website just might be the thing you need to grow and evolve with the future.
Is there functionality I’m looking to have that my current website does not provide?
It’s 2016, if you’re website isn’t optimized for mobile aka Responsive Web Design, then you’re doing it wrong. In the last year, mobile searches have already surpassed desktop search, so if you’re website isn’t mobile-ready, you are missing out on a huge market of potential customers on the prowl for you business.
Are you selling products physical or digital? Why not sell them online with your own easy-to-manage online store? It’s easier than ever to incorporate a an e-commerce store like Woocommerce into your website. Take orders, make customize your product, manage stock — there’s an array of flexibility without the hassle of an actual store.
Have my marketing efforts changed?
As your company ages, so can your branding and marketing efforts. If you’ve changed either of these things, it’s also probably time you redesign your website too. As said previously, your website is one of (if not the most) important business assets. If your current brand isn’t lining up with your website, your audience isn’t going to connect. It’s time to update.
Why can’t I make changes and updates to my website?
There’s no excuse to not be using a content management system (CMS) to manage your website. Systems like WordPress have come a long way in making it so much easier for you to be in control of what goes in and out of your website. Long gone are the days of having to edit lines of code to make a simple text edit, or upload some new photos.
Circling back to outdated and poorly designed sites, it’s time to redevelop your site to a fully-functioning and easy to use CMS that will allow you to keep up with the times and keep your website looking fresh.
If any or all of these apply to you, it’s time for a new website.
Bright Light Media, along with GIGS, Headfirst Summer Camps, and Georgetown Events came together to throw the first annual community event, Pumpkin Rock N Roll in Kensington, MD.
Warner Circle Park was transformed into a full-blown Halloween extravaganza, filled with tons of family-friendly attractions, festival-style music performances, costume contests, and the main event: The Pumpkin Roll, a derby race of Halloween pumpkins-turned-boxcars.
And with over 2,000 attendees, the event was definitely a success!
BLM was responsible for branding the event, putting together a logo and all the marketing materials to share with the community. We put together an event website, designed posters, flyers, volunteer t-shirts, and event banners.
We couldn’t have asked for a better time, weather, or turn out. Let’s do it again next year!
As stated in our previous blog, an effective brand creates an emotional feeling or attachment, providing a better chance the everyday person will identify, use, and stay loyal to your company/brand. This is the goal. Your finalized logo is only half the battle. The other half: you need to practice an effective form of brand management.
What is brand management?
Brand management allows you to control and supervise all the tangible and intangible parts of your brand. There are concrete things like the product itself, print materials, publication relations (PR) and the not so concrete things like that emotional reaction to the actual product that we keep mentioning. Managing is a constant process of gathering all the various ways your brand is being used on all media fronts. You want to capture the attention of your niche market, you want them to buy your product, remember you, and most importantly, become a returning customer.
So how do you go about this? Here are some key points to effective brand management:
Create brand guidelines
Gather brand colors, logo, and the voice you’re going for
What is your brand’s agenda?
Use your brand in different scenes and settings
Find the ways your brand works appropriately – what works and what doesn’t
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Consistency is key
Once your logo and/or tagline have been created use it everywhere your brand appears.
The more your brand appears, the easier it is for people to have that memorable relationship with it and that’s the goal, to be memorable
Be consistent with your brand over time and across different platforms
Achieve consistency and credibility with your brand and company
Find your market and place yourself accordingly
Position your brand into similar areas for what your brand represents
Figure out what sets you apart from your competitors who are reaching out to the same market
Utilize social media and communicate and keep up with your target markets
In essence, an effective brand is only as good as its competent management. Be prepared to constantly push your brand. One successful push doesn’t equal a successful brand. Monitor your brand as the world perceives it. Press for a strong and clear message for the market you are trying to reach and make sure they have just as clear an understanding of your company as you do. Make a lasting impression.
A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. You can’t control the process, but you can influence it. – Marty Neuimeier, The Brand Gap
A company’s brand, before anything else, is the first thing a potential client associates with a company. It is the first thing they will come in contact with and begin to make a judgement as to whether this will be the company that is suitable for their needs. In regards to brand loyalty, will your brand be the one that they come back to each time, build their lifestyle around, or create an emotional attachment to? In short, having a substantial brand is extremely important.
How much does it cost for Brand Identity?
It’s time to take the plunge toward a lasting impression. So how much should you invest? Are you rebranding? Do you even have a logo to start with? It can be a very daunting task when trying to figure out where to begin in building your brand. Like any real investment, the prices vary depending upon your needs and current standing. For companies, it can vary by the size and how well established one is as a company.
Here’s an average consensus of brand identity costs for businesses:
General Start-ups / New Businesses – $1,500 – $7,000
Small Businesses – $7,000 – $10,000
Medium to Large-sized Business – $10,000 – $200,000
The Brand Identity Process
Your brand is a serious, long-time venture and an essential business activity that you will have to put a lot of time and effort into. You want a good brand identity and to get that, one must look at it as an important investment not only financially, but also from a manner of time, just as you would the selection of your office space or any business equipment that furthers your businesses growth. Treat brand identity the same, if not better, and do your research on reputable design firms who can meet your requirements and decide just how much you want to put into the future of your brand.
The general process of brand identity:
Research – Creative brief of what the business is and what their needs are. Clarify the vision and strategy.
Brand Strategy – Identify brand strengths and weaknesses, target audience profiles, and evaluate competition.
Sketches / Concepts – Imagine all the possibilities and placements of this brand as well as visualize the future of this brand.
Mocks – From colors to typefaces, choose the right visual elements to mock and start to bringing the brand to life.
Presentation – Present your new visual identity to the organization.
Finalize – Prioritize the brand and use the elements with real content.
Nine times out of ten, many established companies would rather not spend the money for a logo, let alone an entire branding package as it seems like a great brand identity is easy to attain since so many companies have great ones. This is the greatest lie one can tell themselves when trying to create a brand.
The bottom line is: clients with great brand identities invested a lot into making them great (aka you get what you pay for). The more money and time you put into a seasoned design agency, the more likely you are to attain the brand identity you’ve envisioned for your company and one that delivers results. And that’s any company’s goal, right?
Ready to spruce up your brand identity? Contact us today.
UX Magazine recently posted an article titled Why Web Design is Dead, which caused quite a bit of an uproar amongst the web designer community. The article in question is a little misleading as it thrives on a headline that boldly states web design is going the way of the dodo, but then tells the reader that UX (user experience) design is what needs more attention. It’s fine to praise UX design but there simply is no reason to throw web design under the bus in the process. Web design (UI, user interface) is one thing and UX is another. They’re separate, but equally important.
“Commoditization by Templates”
“Why hire a web designer if you can achieve a fairly acceptable design for a fraction of the cost using a template?”
Sure, using templates is most likely an affordable and easier solution to get your website up and running for the world to get a gist of what your company has to offer, but there could easily be a downfall in that. First off, tons of people have that same thought and are approaching the creation of their company website with grabbing some template on WordPress and calling it a day. You’ve quickly fallen into the boat of losing your identity and no longer being unique amongst your competitors. Besides that, your templates are coming with too many extra plugins and features, including ones you just don’t need. The problem with this is even the best companies have a hard time keeping their plugins up to date, which easily leads to sites being hacked. (This is something we can’t stress enough.) Using a template is settling for something that is close enough to what you want but doesn’t perfectly fit to your needs. Having a web designer actually do their job for you fulfills everything you need, allowing you the ability to attain exactly what you need.
“Web Design Patterns are Mature”
This maturity is good for users: they will find consistency in their daily use of the web.
This point we can agree with. The consistency that web patterns have in keeping up with other web/tech innovations is enough. You can easily argue t-shirts and shoes are mature but that doesn’t mean we don’t still use them. We just choose ones that we think look great or have rad designs. Same goes for websites. It’s a designers job to make these mature web patterns look visually appealing and enticing for a company’s potential client or audience.
“Automation and Artificial Intelligence are Already Doing the Job”
When something can be successfully automated, it means that its practices and standards are established enough as not to need much human input.
Similar to the point of templates, anything mass-produced or automated doesn’t allow yourself the chance to be unique against your company’s competitors. When it comes to business, you always want to set yourself apart from the norm.
“Facebook Pages as the New Small-Business Homepage”
Today, this function has been completely overridden by Facebook pages. They are so efficient in making a business visible that they are rendering basic web pages useless.
There is no way a Facebook page can replace a functional website. Just like any social media outlet, Facebook pages in addition to an actual website are fine. You can easily reach out and communicate with your audience, but the essence of what your company represents is easily lost. There’s no visual stimulation or uniqueness that comes in presenting yourself through your website. Also, just looking for simple information on Facebook can be a hassle in itself.
More importantly, don’t forget, when it comes to Facebook, businesses have to pay for their existing audiences to actually see them: Read More at Forbes
“Mobile is Killing the Web”
How often do you visit a web site from your mobile device by directly typing the address? Only when you don’t have the app, right?
Not every company fits the bill to have an app for a smartphone but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their website is obsolete on mobile web solely on that fact. I may not always directly type a web address to get to the website I’m looking for but I google a ton of things that lead me to said websites. This point is simply not strong enough to make in slow down of web design. If the site isn’t responsive, then that’s a whole new story.
In the end, no matter the importance of UX design, web design is clearly not dead and there will always be a need for it. Web designers will continue to find innovative ways to make sites to do what they’re intended to do: sell a company’s services. If you’re in need of web design services, feel free to contact us today.
When it comes to your new website or marketing materials, choosing the right images to visually entice your potential clients can be a little difficult. Do you use stock photography? Do you have a professional photographer shoot photos for you? What if you don’t have the money to splurge on a professional photoshoot? These are just a few of the questions that can run through a clients mind when choosing the imagery that best represents your company and the services and products you offer.
Custom photography is usually the way to go and is worth it in the long run.
Custom Team Photo vs. Stock Team Photo
Custom photos positively impact websites because it shows you’ve taken the time to provide a vision of what your company has to offer in comparison to your competitors who are using common stock photos shared with so many others on the internet. Stock photos were shot with another person’s vision in mind, which means you’re now attempting to fit someone else’s vision into your puzzle. With custom photography, you’re in control of the vision and what your company’s message is trying to convey. It also allows you to use your photos whenever and wherever you like. When it comes to photos of your employees, custom wins all the way. Potential clients are able to put legitimate faces to the company instead of bland stock photos of strangers who you would never meet in your dealings with a company. It’ll always make a client feel at ease if they feel like they know you better.
Stock photos options can be great! Stick to high-quality stock images
That being said, stock photos aren’t entirely bad if used correctly. There are always pros and cons. While it can be the cheaper option in a short-term situation, you can run into some issues. Depending on what your company does, your competition could easily be checking out similar stock photos or in some cases, the same exact photo as as you. That quickly brings you into the situation of your website or materials going from completely original to ordinary and template looking. This destroys your ability to separate yourself from the crowd. There is clearly a difference between using beautiful shots of a city location and using the same familiar, generic stock personality that everyone else uses. If anything, stick to high quality stock images. Places likeistockphoto,dollarphotoclub, and Getty Images (although Getty can get costly itself) can provide very nice photos that can easily be the missing piece to enhancing your site or advertisement.
Final word: You can use both when it comes to your marketing materials and needs, but it ultimately comes down to how you use them. You just need to find the right fit and balance to keep your brand unique to you.
Instagram, the platform used every day by users to share their stories visually with images, has become a powerful force in social media. With an average of 55 million photos uploaded each day on this vast and fast-growing social network, it’s a tool that, if used correctly, can benefit brands and grow their audience.
Why should your brand use Instagram?
While it can’t be said for all social media, Instagram is a platform for everyone. Whether you’re a small business starting up in the world or a well established brand, Instagram is a visual force to be reckoned with, allowing just about anyone the option to tell (and sell) their story. Coming up with content for your feed can be challenging, especially with seeing what works and what doesn’t on the platform. But that doesn’t mean potential users shouldn’t try and keep at it. In the last couple years, mobile media has surpassed online media consumption and will continue in that direction. So take advantage!
Don’t have thousands, or in some cases, millions of followers? Don’t sweat it. Instagram users are eager to connect with brands on a personal and inspirational level, and finding the right visual vision for your brand can make all the difference. Here are three points to get your going:
Audience: Target the right demographic, using proper hashtags for your brand.