Friday, June 25, 2010

A Mentee's Journey: Getting Ready

I met with my mentor briefly last night at a large networking mixer for ASBA and BNI. Bottom line, we have set our weekly schedule! I'm very excited to be part of this amazing program, and I feel very lucky to have a great mentoring team. I do have only one direct mentor (Pat Harter of Provision Team Consulting), but I can ask the mentoring team virtually any question, and have the ability to have their expertise in their fields guide me through this path.

My first actual mentoring meeting is this coming Tuesday morning. I'm bringing my "business plan", if I can call it that, and see how it can be improved; even a marketing plan can't really be implemented without a solid business plan. I'm also bringing in my new workbook from ASBA, goals I hope to accomplish over the next four months, pencil and paper, and an open mind. I'll point out here I'm going to have weekly homework as a point of accountability for what I want to achieve. I'm told I'll be working harder than I have before, so I hope I'm up to the task.

I looking forward to learning quite a bit from my first session with Pat! I'll chime in next Tuesday after my session - stay tuned.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scripts: Not For Wimps

Most people don't realize a script font, such as Brush, Edwardian Script, or Snell, are considered serif fonts. Careful considering must be given when using these fonts together with other serif fonts, such as Times New Roman or Bodoni.

If you choose a script typeface for your main headline, I would offset this by using a sans-serif, such as Arial, in the body. You then could use the script typeface for sub-headlines or for special CTA's (call to action's), such as "Sale Today!" Pay strict attention to the size of these typefaces. Visually, the body may not be any larger than the headline, but type-size-wise the body may actually be as much as 20 points larger, depending on which script font you choose. Also, DO NOT use the script typeface throughout your document! Go ahead, laugh - but unfortunately I've seen it. It looks very unprofessional and makes your document very difficult to read all the way through.

Avoid using most script typefaces in reverse (black or dark-colored background with light or white text) unless it's thick and bold. The Brush font is a good example of a thick, bold script typeface. An example of a typeface not to use in reverse is Scriptina. It is very elegant but it can be very difficult to read. Another strike: if you use Adobe Distiller to create a .pdf file of your document, Scriptina does not embed, and that can cause issues with your commercial printer.

Finally, remember to not use an outline, or stroke, on your chosen script font. Most script fonts have thick and thin points, just like a serif typeface. The thin points create visual problems if you outline your text. Say you use Scriptina and put an outline around the text. You've just elminated more readability with the font by decreasing the amount of white space used to create the font. The thin parts look thinner, to the point of near-non-existence, increasing the difficulty of reading.

Use script fonts sparingly, without an outline around the text. I like using them to create elegant invitations; sometimes used as a headline for a grand opening of a beauty salon; occasionally, acting as a signature.

Happy designing!


A Mentee's Journey: Getting Started

Much like a sports professional looking to stay on top of his or her game, I decided to enroll in a mentoring program. Today I met with my new mentor, Pat Harter. His role is that of a teacher, while mine is that of a student. He will make suggestions based on what I would like to improve, and I will give him a weekly update as to my progress. I like the accountability factor to help guide me in a good direction; mostly, though, I like the idea of being able to learn new ideas for growing my business.

I've decided to blog about my journey over the next four months to help me stay on track with my goals. My hope is that those considering such a journey themselves might read and gain some value from my experience.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Document Design 101: Text Boxes #2

When working with Adobe InDesign, you can manipulate the text boxes to virtually any shape needed. Suppose you have a strange shape to wrap text around; you can either put a text wrap around the form, or you can add points to the text box and, using the Direct Select tool, shape it to fit around the form.

As stated previously, make sure to keep some space between the edges of the text box and the text, especially if you've decided to put an outline around the text box. The reader's eyes tend to stop when they reach the end of a sentence, and the outline of the box can simulate the end of a sentence as much as a period.

Lastly, if you plan to use a background color for the text block, keep in mind that not all colors play well together. For example, if you decide to use a blue background, do not use red for the text. This will cause a visual distortion, making the text very hard for the eye to focus or read. Instead, choose a lighter color, such as yellow or white. Black backgrounds with white text are very effective when used to call attention to certain pieces of information, such as a call to action or a coupon with an expiration date.

Happy designing!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Business Card Basics

Your business card is the receptionist of your business. After face-to-face networking, your business card is the key reminder of your new meeting. How then should your receptionist best represent your business?

Keep it simple. The design doesn't have to be boring, but if a potential customer has to look for your e-mail or phone number because it is too artsy-fartsy or too complicated, you probably have lost a customer. If you have too many competing elements or drop shadows on your text, it may cause your card to look too busy, thereby losing the message.

Keep it simple. Text should be no smaller than 8pt, and I recommend your company name (assuming there is no logo) should be no larger than 18pt. No drop shadows; keep in mind, if your company is advertising in a newspaper or needs to send a copy of the card over via fax, special effects won't pick up well through a fax or a flatbed scanner.

Keep it simple. No more than three different typefaces. Use color to point out the important pieces, such as your name and phone number. If you use your photo along with another (i.e., a realtor), you might ask your designer to watermark or fade one side of the other photo so your mug shot gets primary importance; better still, if you want to use your mug shot, leave any other photo out.

Keep it simple. Black is a color not many businesses can carry well; it also tends to carry a negative message, so try not using this color for your background unless it's the only color that works. If you decide to use black for your background color, be careful when selecting a secondary color to use (other than white). Try using a percentage of that color; remember, black will push lighter colors forward, making them more noticeable.

Keep it simple. Try not printing on the back side unless it is absolutely necessary. In many networking circles, it is nearly required to use the back side of a business card to write down where you met your contact, if you decide to offer a special price, scheduling a day/time for a meeting -- the list goes on.