Last week we attended a fundraiser for a client for whom we had recently launched a new website. It was refreshing to have the time to stand by the bar and engage in a rambling conversation that flowed from one off-beat subject to another. Suddenly, our client mentioned he was going through our online portfolio and the big revelation he had was that we are storytellers. Exactly. He got it.
As he moved from the topic of one client to another, from identity to websites, he understood our work, he got the meaning – the message is the most important nugget of information and that’s what we focus on first. From there we have a foundation to design from – and to tell a story.
Stories enlighten, bring us together, captivate. Logos condense a story into a simple, memorable mark. Photography, typography, graphics and words explain a story in print and websites. Environmental graphics tell a story and guide. All the pieces come together to create an experience that reflects a client’s business. A brand.
We may not be sitting around a campfire or standing on a stage telling a story, but the visual stories we tell are just as intriguing…and vital to any business.
Photo: Robin Cox
We all have the ability to choose, yet sometimes positive choices aren’t always clear. Our client, Preventionfocus, is dedicated to helping adults and children make positive choices that positively impact their lives and the community.
We just launched their new website – the third site we’ve created for them to keep their online presence current – with the goal of clearly describing their mission and services and promoting their value. The challenge was how to succinctly tell their story of focusing on prevention while being a portal to crisis services for those in need.
We’re not done just yet. Next in line are feature videos and photos showcasing their clients and programs and coordinating social media for maximum community outreach.
Learn more about SVML.
This link was originally posted on International Women’s Day and I think it’s worth including in the stream. Whether we like to admit it or not, designers don’t work in a vacuum. At least I find myself in a creative rut when I don’t get out and look around. Keeping in touch with other creative’s work inspires me and the team.
Here’s a brief compilation of the women designers whose work influences me and keeps me excited about design and it’s relevancy to society and business. Not on this particular list, but the designer who inspired me the most as I embarked on my career in Southern California, April Greiman. Hey, it’s International Women’s Day and we rock in a unique way.
Last year at this time, our client, Sodexo, was reaching the final stretch of their new, modern building construction. This new state-of-the-art building would house the Buffalo service center employees and move all operations from three separate office buildings into one. Gone would be the traditional cubes and tidy corridors. In their place, a completely open floor plan with centralized offices and plenty of collaboration areas.
One of the first problems to be solved was how were hundreds of employees going to navigate through the new complex. Secondly, how would the established corporate (Europe-based) brand be implemented to meet the needs of this regional, American office place.
Working closely with the Sodexo facilities team, key areas of navigation were determined and we began the process of designing signage that complied with the brand, identified area groupings, showed the way, was updatable and complemented the modern elegance of the building.
We searched high and low for certain products – personal nameplates that matched our specific design, steel wall mounts for wayfinding and conference room signs – with no luck. This gave us the chance to work with local manufacturers to design and develop custom pieces. Results were a win-win-win.
With access to thousands of visual impressions a day, there seems to be much confusion in the business world.
New clients for whom we’re creating logo/identity/messaging/branding for have a common mantra, “We want our logo to look like so and so’s and our website to look like so and so’s and our graphics to look like so and so’s, and our photos…” You get the picture. They’re having an identity crisis.
Then we ask, “So, who are YOU?” There’s generally a very clear answer, but one that doesn’t remotely relate to what they think their company’s outward facing persona should be. After explaining that those alter-identities and brands are not them, the fun work begins in uncovering their true identity by homing in on what they are all about, and how they can best make a connection with their audience and clients.
Sure, we’re all influenced by the ever changing visuals we encounter – and it’s cool to be inspired and impossible not to be. But the best thing a business can do is to be true to itself and have the courage to reveal its own identity. That’s how to connect with your real audience.
Learn more about Secret Valley Media Labs.
Photo, Robin Cox.
Getting wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of managing projects, answering emails, running a business, and producing good work sometimes leaves creatives longing for the good old days when we could just, well, create.
There’s no need to look back these days, as we’re in the midst of a yet-to-be-revealed fine art project that has brought together a wicked team of smart, insightful and talented people and it’s been a great reminder of what can be accomplished through open creative collaboration where everyone feels free to share ideas (the good and the bad), debate concepts and do what it takes to bring to life a particular vision. Not that we don’t collaborate here on a daily basis, but the synergy working with this particular influx of new creatives is revitalizing.
When our client, Samantha Bergman, came to us asking if we’d be willing to bring her artistic vision to life by letting our unbridled creative wheels roll, we immediately started brainstorming. Looking back, our ideas were OK, but they evolved into a much clearer picture when we sat together and collaborated with the client and additional creative team members we hadn’t worked with before. The initial project has evolved from a single fine art photography gig into a long-term project that not only takes us to other parts of the country, but lets us push our skills in website design, marketing, social media and more.
Before signing off, we have to give a shout out to Kyle Juall for his photography assistance and COOCOOU27 for their vast collection of mid-century modern furnishings. When Michael Merisola and Kyle came to our home to pick up a piece of vintage furniture, we had no idea our meeting would reveal unexpected talent.
It’s an exciting journey and we’ll keep the updates rolling.
Learn more about Secret Valley Media Labs.
Not far into the development of iKoss Consulting’s new website design, it became apparent we needed to sit down with the client and listen to their story. Not only the obvious story of the direction and growth of their business, but those little gems of insight that are revealed through casual conversation. And we couldn’t wait to sit down and chat.
iKoss Consulting has been a client of ours since 2002 when we first developed their logo and first website. We’ve kept in touch with Blair and Jen Koss over the years and have always admired their ability to stay focused on a goal and achieve what they set out to accomplish. Plus, they’re intelligent, interesting and a lot of fun to be with.
After an afternoon filled with stories and laughs it became obvious we had to tell their story through their people, with Blair and Jen front and center. The consultants at first were a little hesitant to be subjects of a photo shoot, but after a glass of good Pinot they were fine. As we continued to shoot throughout the day, the group’s camaraderie and love for what they do was reflected in the camera lens.
Since the one requirement in building the site was to do so within the Microsoft 365 environment, which is very restrictive and makes most designers cringe, the images became the driving force of the site and social media channels.
Without taking the time to just sit back and listen to the client, we wouldn’t have learned that iKoss is people – people who work hard as a team to guide their clients through change.
To see the team in action check out ikoss.com