Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does our talk match our walk?

The great thing about dealing with people is that we have an opportunity to prove ourselves to them. This is one of the most powerful aspects of our business. We're consumers ourselves and have had our fair share of bad customer service. In our staff meetings we talk about creating that "Raving Fan". What would it take to make that client want to tell someone about you?

Great price?
Customer Service?
Commitment?
Professionalism?

Dare I say, all of the the above and more. Oh sure there are people out there who could sell ice to an Eskimo, but that doesn't last for long and rarely creates a repeat client. Studio490 doesn't do "One and Dones". That means, that even if a client only has a single project, our services should be of such superior quality, that when they need someone again they call us.

In light of all the so called Truth we've heard over the last several months, we felt compelled to tell you that there is a company out there that stands on it's values. That is built on it's integrity and is driven by it's Character. Studio490 is that company.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tradeshow booth development

We've all been there, you spend weeks working on the design with the input from others trying to meet a deadline. You finally get all the chefs in the same kitchen and they agree. You send the final file to the printer.

Times passes....

You get your trade show graphic and it's perfect. To be sure the size is right, you set up the table top in the conference room and put up your new trade show booth in all it's glory. Someone walks in (or you invite them to see the beauty) and they say, "hey, I thought we stopped using that vendor?"

Change is the only constant and while that is good for printing companies, it's not good for those of us who want some closure. So, I've developed a process which I call "Supportive Panels". I design my trade show booth to allow me to use or not use these panels. They are usually designed on a 11 x 17 inch panel which is then printed out in color and mounted on foam core. We simply attach them to the trade show booth graphic to address specific trade show events.

When the supportive panel is not needed, it is removed and the message underneath is used. We also use these on easels to put on the table next to the main graphic.

11 x 17 work well because they are a cost friendly size. 1 panel usually cost about 14.00

Tj Todd
Studio490

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Well it's about time! - Google, Yahoo spiders can now crawl through Flash sites

Adobe has announced that it is working with Google and Yahoo to finally ensure that Flash SWF files are indexable by search engines. Google has already gotten a jump start on this feature that designers have been asking for since the late 90s, too.

read more | digg story

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Effiective vs. Eye Candy

So here's the scenario...

You've just been to 3 new websites that look more like a video game than a website. The talking avatars and Myst like pages are still dancing in your head like Christmas morning sugar plums. You sit back in your chair and say to yourself, I need a site like that. I want something that wows someone when they visit my site. I'll get the next Webby for sure.

You contact a design studio (such as Studio490) and they rain on your parade by telling you that an all Flash site is all but invisible to Search Engines.

You may ask yourself, then why do I see so many sites with all the crazy movement, voice overs, transitions and more?

The Answer....

They usually belong to an established company which really does not need to worry about being Found. It's more about reinforcing their brand with a cool site. Here is a test, what is the name of the shoe company that has a tag line of "Just Do it"? Can you find their site without having to use Google?

When you don't have to worry about your audience discovering nike.com, you can focus on different brand angles.

I believe a combination of Flash and html is the best of both worlds. The flash sets a tone to the site, but the html provides you a platform to stay "Findable" on the search engines.

Your objective should be to educate your soon to be clients on your products/services and entertain them enough to have them remember you.

Let Studio490 take you to the next level of web development.

Tj Todd
Studio490
CEO / Creative Director

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A big hat makes me a chef...right?

The Professional Web Designer

We're often approached by clients who have ran across someone who sold them a bill of goods and left them with a less than perfect web solution. Just as a big hat doesn't make you a chef, just because a person says they are a web designer doesn't mean they are a professional one.

What makes a professional web designer is their ability to listen to the client and suggest the right business solution. Even though that solution may not be something the "Designer" does. A true professional should tell you what you need and not just what you want to hear. Most clients don't know their meta tag from their link exchange, but it's your web designer who should.

It does Studio490 no good to design and develop a web solution that never exceeds its clients business expectations. That simply makes a unhappy customer and they don't return.

The Client

Just as it's important to hire a professional web designer, we believe it's important for the client to know what they are asking for. If they don't, then be open to feedback from that professional. Know when you're asking for a Lexus on a Yugo budget.

Spend some time learning what you will need to ask for before you find someone to provide that service. Look for a professional who has references, testimonials and samples. Ask about qualifications and how they do business. A professional will be more than happy to talk about their company.

Know what's included and what is not in the scope of the project. Project Creep is very common in web development and it's best to define what the cost will cover.

A committed web professional and a educated professional client is a winning combination. You can see our references to see.


Tj Todd
CEO / Creative Director

Studio490

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What is Graphic Design?

I never thought of Design as such a cryptic service until a couple of people asked me, what I did for a living. When I told them the three services I provide Graphic Design, Web Development and Marketeer. A couple of them would say, "Design? like Business Cards?" or "Design, like creative stuff?"

It was then I chose to write about some products and which areas they fall in.

First Up.... LOGO Develpment








This is one of the most overlooked things a company forgets about when it starts to build it's Brand. Brand? I know, we'll get to that later. Let's stay on point with the LOGO.

Your logo is the mark or image that everyone will associate with you and your company. The Golden Arches, the Swoosh, the Apple just to name a few are logos that company have developed to brand their company.

Most people are in such a hurry to get a brochure or a sales slick they forget that their logo needs some work. Just because you spent 2 hours in MS Word making text Dark Blue, doesn't mean you've captured the essence of your company with a mark. A logo is powerful when it conveys what your company is or what it does.

This is where Studio490 comes in play. We interview our clients to be sure they logo is doing the right thing for them. Just like a big hat doesn't make you a chef, MS Word might not make you a designer either. Let us help you establish a Logo that can communicate your company effectively.

Next up....Collaterals

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Broken Road of a Collateral

So you went into MS Word and did your letterhead last year.

Then you realized that your company logo should be more than just words and so you brought the topic up in a sales meeting and the guy who sells stuff on eBay was the most creative person in the group. So he whipped up a logo using paint shop pro over the weekend.

Next thing you know the logo is in your power point which was put together by your Sales Manager.

3 weeks later you are attending a conference and your secretary has been working on a brochure / calendar combo and you say, "hey, drop in our new logo and print out 100 for the show."

I paint these situations because this is just what happens everyday in business. May I suggest you print out all of those materials and lay them out on a table next to each other.

Do they look the same?

I'd bet a Venti Mocha Frap that 7 out of 10 are not. They were made be different people at different times with different reasons. Not to mention that none of these very skilled and willing people were Creative Professionals.

That disjointed look you now see all throughout your Client Facing Materials are what your clients see everyday while dealing with your company. Your brochures look different than your email blasts. Your business cards look different then your website. Your powerpoint look different than your closeout materials. When they get some project materials from a SA they look different still.

What is this saying to your client?

Is the process of your business this disconnected? Are my orders being handled properly? Am I paying to much to a company who is spending more time on my project than they should be?

This is where a Creative Professional such at Studio490 comes in and asses the single brand of the company, adjusts all materials that are not company branded and develops a process for employees to follow to avoid future disconnects.

Having a single brand applied to all client facing and internal facing materials will streamline the development process of communicating with your client. After all, you want a sales person to be selling and not trying to design your next newsletter.

Contact us today and let us exceed your expectations.

You can see some of our work at www.studio490.com and our references from clients we helped fix that broken road.

Thank you

Tj Todd
CEO / Creative Director
Studio490

tjtodd@studio490.com

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Project Mis-Management

In most cases you know about the project 2 weeks or more before it's due, but what happens?........You wait.

14 days away from deadline - You think, "I have plenty of time to get this done and I have other things to do."

Big Mistake! Are you sure you are the one who will be working on it? More than likely, you won't be the only one investing your time on this project. So, take a moment to think about involving those unknowing players about this project. At the least, it will get everyone thinking about what needs to be put together for the project.

7 days away - You get your outlook reminder and snooze it until 3 days before.

3 days away - In passing you mention to your marketer or graphic designer, "We have to get together about something today." The end of the day comes and goes with nothing mentioned.

2 days away - The next morning you get a email or a page over the intercom to come to the office. You get brought in on a project that now has a 2 day time line. The kicker is, no one is ready to give you the information you need to perform your task. You spend that day chasing down people who are involved and don't know it yet. Of course they don't know anything about the project. So at the end of the day, you realize that this project is doomed from the start.

1 day away - The day before the project is due, there is a meeting of all of the players and they look at you like, "so you have everything you need?"

After shaking your head, you inform everyone that you do not have everything you need and that you need their help to complete the project. Everyone gets this look on their face like, oh God, what will I have to do for this?

Having been in this industry for quite some time I've seen this happen way to many times. Now that I think about it, it happens all the time. But, it happens from the top down. Those on the bottom try to build in time to do the project and those at the top seem to ignore the project until the day before it's due.

I have two words to fix this situation..... Project Manager. There only job is the coordination of projects. It's there job to plan and track projects and timelines. Big picture people should never be able to pass out a projects to anyone but other managers. Ideally, the Project Manager. Some one with a 1,000 ft view should be in charge of projects. They have a big enough picture to see what needs to be done first and what needs to be adjusted to meet the deadline.

Any time I can Project Manage my own projects, I never paint myself into a corner when it comes to delivery. So, it can be done.

The other side of this coin involves rushing a process that will ultimately represent your company to your client. So why cut the production time a short as possible? You get out what you put in. So, the next time you rush a project like this to the client and a mistake gets brought to your attention, realize you've done this to yourself.

Plus, you'll keep your staff happier if you don't dump rush projects on them constantly. Give them the time to be the talented people you've hired them to be.

If you find yourself in a position of having a Graphic Design, Web Design or Marketing project and in need of a Project Manager, feel free to call Studio490 for help.

Tj Todd
CEO / Creative Director
Studio490


Friday, January 18, 2008

Communication 101

I worked with a company some years ago and after listening to their situation, I suggested developing a Corporate Blog. After meeting with Management about the concept, I was told to shelve it until next year. I looked at him and asked him why? After pausing for about 10 seconds to choose his best excuse he said, "we need to take Baby Steps."

I said, "with all due respect, you're a technology company with a website that was developed as a student project, you have no cohesive Marketing materials in place to compensate, you don't write press releases, don't advertise.... what are you waiting for?" He simply, said "No".

I regrouped, went through my idea and pitched it along with a Marketing Plan for the upcoming year (some 2 months) later. I mentioned that I wanted to start a Corporate Blog for them and tried to educate them as to why I felt this was a great idea. Time passed and I proceeded to make plans of how I wanted to architect this new Marketing Tool.

Another project came up and and I felt this would be the ideal situation to implement the blog. I sent out emails describing how I would use the blog and why it would be such a great product for their clients. I thought I was gaining ground on this until one day one of their Directors said, "Tj, what is a blog?" I learned a valuable lesson that day about communication.

  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you told them
  • Tell them again

It was then I realized that they were not unwilling to commit to this idea due to a lack of potential or investment, but unwilling to commit due to a lack of understanding. It took me over 3 months of talking about the concept to get someone to say, "I really don't know what that is."

Have we really come to a place in our culture where we are afraid to ask for more information due to public image?

So, I sat down with the Director and went over what a blog was (again). During the process he asked questions about the software and then gave me buy-in. I think this was the same thing that happened when websites came around. Some were like, "oh god I don't know what that person is talking about", but I don't want to sound out of touch so I'll just say, "well, I don't know if that is the right fit for us at this moment. Let's put it on the side and consider it next quarter." Now look at how many companies have websites.

To all those out there that want to ask the question but don't want to seem less knowledgeable than someone else, ask it anyway. Learn something today to benefit yourself tomorrow.


Tj Todd
Studio490

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tip #1 - Trade Show Booth Development

We've all been there, you spend weeks working on the design with input from others all while trying to meet a deadline. You finally get everyone on the same page to talk about the same topic and everyone signs off on the project. You send the final file to the printer.

Times passes....

You finally get your trade show graphic and it looks perfect. To be sure the size is right, you set up the table top in the conference room and put up your new trade show booth in all it's glory. Someone walks in (or you invite them to see the beauty) and they say, "hey, I thought we stopped using that vendor?"

Change is the only constant and while that is good for printing companies, it's not good for those of who want some closure to a project. So, I've developed a product which I call "Supportive Panels". I design my trade show booth to allow me to use or not use these panels as needed. They are usually designed on a 11 x 17 inch panel which is then printed out in color and mounted on foam core. We simply attach them to the trade show booth graphic to address specific trade show events.

When the supportive panel is not needed, it is removed and the message underneath is used. We can also use these on easels to put on the table next to the main graphic.

11 x 17 work well because they are a cost friendly size. 1 panel usually cost about 20.00. For a very small amount of money you can now tailor your booth to the event your attending.

Contact us today to let us help you get the most of your trade show experience - 704-948-1587

Tj Todd
CEO / Creative Director
Studio490

www.studio490.com

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year from Studio490

Happy New Year

So now what? After the Christmas gifts have been given, exchanged for the right size or re-gifted...now what? After we've stayed up until midnight to toast the New Year and sing that song no one knows the words to.....now what?

Better Business that's what! Our team at Studio490 has spent some serious time over Starbucks coffee cups talking, planning, focusing and sipping over our goals for 2008. One phrase kept surfacing to the top of the conversation...

You can't go where you've never been, if you don't do what you've never done.

May sound like a cliché, but that's just what we plan to do. With clients ranging from Medical, Non-Profit, Heavy Equipment, Insurance, Software, Environmental and Service, we plan to move into areas that break the normal channels of our industry service.

We look forward to working with you.

Tj Todd
CEO / Creative Director