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February: Design Strategy

... failing to plan is planning to fail

This month, DTG readers and subscribers of the Design Cafe share their top priorities for 2006... planning promotions, Promotional Ideas, Marketing Ideas, Studio Ideas, and Tips for planning a design
      We hope you enjoy these thoughtful comments as much as we did. BRAVO! Each of these will win a great prize from the Design Center.

Let the information shape the design

Jim writes:
      "Maybe it's due to the fact that I studied journalism in college, but my main design strategy has always been and will always be -- let the information shape the design and not the other way around. Strategize what information is most important and plan the design around that.
      Think: What is most important? And then: How can I arrange the different elements I must include so that which is most important is presented in a way that is dominant?
Of course, there are many different ways to achieve this primary goal -- that is where the "art" of what we do comes in. But, we have to constantly remember that we are not solely creating things that are just pretty to at which to look.
We are designing things that have a function -- and that function is to communicate.
We must always keep in mind what we are trying to convey and let that guide what we do most fundamentally.
It shouldn't be a surprise that my most favorite software is Quark Xpress for Mac OS X. I'm eager to give version 7 a whirl soon! (I also like most Adobe software, including Photoshop and GoLive.)"
[END QUOTE] Jim is a self employed freelancer from Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, USA

Marketing Plans for Designers

Richard writes:
      "Promotional Ideas for Designers #1 Calendars #2 greeting cards, thank you, etc. (direct mailers) #3 T-shirts compressed into specialty forms. (cars, books, hearts, etc.) #4 there are tons of various specialty promotional items out there. research your target market and use items specific to those markets. A little thought into your target market will show more than the actual item.
Marketing Ideas for Designers: Working as a pro bono with Non Profit Organizations can be a huge marketing/prmotional source for anyone. Offering your services for said organizations can bring your company into sights of thousands of people and business. Designing flyers or newsletters for non profits can be a great way to plug your business and services while helping the cause. Networking with companies whose clients can use your services is another huge asset. A little work at discounted rates or trade for exposure and referrals can result in much more than what would be generated from just the one sale of services.
Planning a design
#1 get as much info on the job from the customer. Theme, style, colors, copy, list of applications to be used, etc.
#2 Get examples of what the client would like to see in their design
#3 research info/ideas from customer (Google is a blessing)
#4 With all research made, sit down with client again to go over artist ideas and concepts. (Thumbnails)
#5 Rough drafts Windows XP Pro SP2 CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop"
[END QUOTE] Richard is a printing industry professional from Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Tips for Print Designers

Sherry writes:
      "Because I am responsible for the marketing, design, budget and production for all collateral materials, I may look at Design Strategy differently than many graphic designers do. My basic design strategy is to look at the costs involved with producing the final design:
1. Not all colors are created equal. The two-color logo with 3 screens is actually 5 thread colors if it needs to be embroidered on a shirt. Certain PMS spot colors look very different when printed in 4-color process, or printed on coated vs uncoated paper, forcing the use of more expensive paper to keep the colors accurate.
2. Consider postage costs in your design. An oversized postcard may be eye-catching, but the extra postage may make it cost-prohibitive for direct mail. The same goes for those cute square brochures I�ve been seeing. Postage is much higher for the odd size. Pay attention to the Postal Service guidelines on dimensions.
3. It can be created, but at what cost? Odd or multiple-direction folds may involve extra steps in production, slowing down delivery time and increasing costs. What size press sheet does the printer use? An 8.5 x 14 sheet may only be a little larger than an 8.5 x 11, but if the printer can get 2 standard sizes per press sheet compared to only one legal size paper per press sheet, the larger design is twice the paper cost.
4. Grayscale is not black and white. Be sure you see how the design coverts into black and white because grayscales do not come out clear on flyers reproduced in-house or in newspaper ads.
Creating design within a budget can create powerful and useful marketing materials...and show your client that you are truly "part of the team".
I use Windows XP and usually create in Pagemaker or Illustrator"
[END QUOTE] Sherry is a professional in business from Cincinnati, Ohio

Expand beyond print

Mona writes:
      "Our strategy this year is to expand our services beyond print by doing more ecommerce. ie. banner ads, email blasts and website design to give our clients more marketing power under one roof."
[END QUOTE] Mona is a printing industry professional from Naples, Florida Presstige Data Mail dot com

Happy February

And, that about wraps it up for this month. See our 1995 Design Planning issue, and our 1994 "What Designers Love" February issue!

See'ya next month -- and don't forget to participate in another upcoming topic in the Design Center

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