A Tasty Way to Promote a Design Company

Sarah Talbot Design StudioSarah Talbot who owns a Cornish Design Company called DesignStudio has an innovative way to promote her design company through a cook book she has designed. I asked Sarah if she would consider an email interview for Graphic Design Blog and she kindly agreed. My thanks to Sarah for taking part.

1. Please could you tell us a little bit about you and your company and the type of design work that you do?
I run a graphic design company called DesignStudio, we typically work with small to medium sized businesses helping them to strengthen their ID within their marketplace. We build open and professional relationships with all of our clients, in light of this we are able to understand and pinpoint their needs, likes and dislikes which has led to producing the best possible design solutions to meet individual requirements, from a simple brochure or a much broader campaign.

2. The idea of creating a cookbook as your design company’s brochure is very unusual, what gave you the idea?
The recipe book has come from a very unique service that we offer our clients, we bake them their favourite cake and take it along to development meetings. So popular has this service become I decided to make it a feature of my new brochure.

3. Has cooking always been a passion of yours as well as design?
I love cooking, anything foody and I’m there. The fact that I now combine two of my passions in life is fantastic!

design cook book

4. I understand that some of the recipes came from your existing clients, how did they respond to your unusual request for recipes?
They loved the idea, most of the recipes are mine, but some are from clients. Some of my suppliers have pages as well as initially they were upset that they weren’t in the book. It’s also a thank you to my clients for their support for my first 2 years in business.

5. How has your book been received by potential new clients?
Brilliant, people’s eyes light up when they see it. It has been described as ‘porn for foodies’. It’s great because, although at the end of the day I’m selling my business and looking for new clients my new brochure contains nothing about my company, no services, no features, nothing. People’s guards go up when you try and sell to them – this does exactly the opposite.

6. How do you plan on distributing the brochures, will they be used as a direct mail piece or handed out at meetings and events?
They are being handed out at networking events, they will be used as a direct piece of mail and followed up with cold calls. They will also be given to my existing clients to hand to possible referrals.

7. Have you any further plans for spin offs of the brochure ( e.g. recipe postcards as marketing material)?
Yes! I will be starting my own networking event by the end of the year. Called ‘afternoon tea with sarah’, this will be informal, invite only and instead of having a guest speaker we will have a guest baker who will cook their fav cake, with my help, live in the DesignStudio kitchen! I can’t wait…

8. Do you think you will do a follow up design cook book next year?
With out a doubt, I can see a whole series of books, maybe one day I’ll do a Delia style ‘all in one’.

9. Has the concept been successful in terms of generating new business, or increasing the profile of your design company ?
I have only had the book for a week, so too early to say as yet. But I think absolutely, it had already increased my profile, I have 2 live studio radio interviews this week I will be appearing within the Cornish press. And I think because the book so interrupts the traditional selling, I think it’s a certainty of not only generating new business but attracted exactly the types of companies that I’m looking to work with.

10. Have you ever done any other unusual marketing campaigns for your design company?
Not really for my company but I have sent out live penguin boxes containing clockwork penguins for one of my clients John Richards Shopfitters. http://www.penguinholiday.com hopefully should explain it!

Have you had success with an unusual marketing and promotional campaign for your design business? Drop me an email if you would be interested in sharing your idea on Graphic Design Blog.

A Good Problem to Have?


Guest post by Bryan Zimmerman

First allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bryan Zimmerman, and I reside in the USA about an hour and a half West of New York City. I just graduated from college with an AS in Visual Communications, and am in dire need of some advice. I came across this site a few days ago, and was overwhelmed by the close knit community. It seems that here in the United States we “think” we know it all, but the only thing we are really good at is putting others down when they ask what they call a “stupid” question. This community is the exact opposite, which is why I will come here from now on to read “intelligent” posts and replies.

With that said, here is my dilemma. When I began college a year ago, I had my eye on becoming a web designer. As the months passed and I learned new and exciting techniques and software, I began to sway toward other mediums. I have written poetry since I can remember, and when I took my composition classes they opened up a whole new world to me. The same happened with photography, video, illustration, etc.

I guess what I am getting to is where to start? Suddenly, I have basic knowledge to manifest my thoughts and ideas into real world solutions. My problem is that now I want it all, and having just turned 41 I feel like my time is limited. One day I may be on a Flash kick, and the next day it’s Photoshop. I am currently dabbling in Apple Final Cut and Logic (I have been a guitarist for the past 25 years, so some of it comes natural).

What does one do when one is so excited by all of the possibilities, yet has no logical path to follow? Do I just pick one thing and become the best I can? It seems the job market wants you to be everything. Also if I pick just one, I know the others will call out to me until I pay attention to them as well. I thought about putting a website together showcasing everything, but then I am not dedicating myself to anything.

I’m not sure if I am making any sense, but if anyone can relate and offer suggestions I will be eternally grateful.

Thanks you for reading this post, and thank you for this community. You guys are awesome!

Best Regards,
Bryan Zimmerman

Keywords are Not Just Important to Web Developers


I am a bit of a fan of TV invention programs, if your from the UK you’ll know of Dragon’s Den which is one of my favourites. I am a bit of an “Inventor Wanabee” always trying to come up with new ideas some completely daft others OK. I have never quite got an investor/company to sign on the dotted line though (almost, but not quite). Anyway back to the point – as well as looking at design related blogs, I take the odd look at inventor ones.

At Inventors Garage I found an interesting lead to an article on the Wall Street Journal. Essentially the article explains that keyword searches are now being used by product developers and designers to find out what the consumers are searching for. For example a company that made hardware for engineers sold products where the user had to install circuit boards in their computer. By checking what keywords were being searched for alongside their product they saw that users were attaching the word USB to it. This led to it designing and selling versions of its products with USB interfaces, one of its most successful product launches.

Next time I have an idea I think I will try it as a keyword to see if there is any demand. I wonder if there are any other ways that keywords can be used too?

Tumbleweed Plugin Revives your old Blog Posts

tumbleweedIf you look in the sidebar of my blog you will see a new section called Tumbleweed. This is a neat little plugin I discovered reading Andy Beards Blog post I have a new pet. What this plugin does is shows your readers older posts they may have missed. This is ideal for relatively new blogs like mine which have early posts when reader numbers were lower. Read Andy Beards blog for more information or download the plugin from YackYack.com. There are currently a few issues with the plugin, so it may not work on all blogs

6 Reasons Why a Logo Should Cost More than your Lunch


After taking part in a few forum conversations about $50 logos, and then reading David Airey’s – What’s Your Logo Worth it prompted me to put pen to paper.

Why should a logo cost more than your lunch?

  1. A logo is the very first impression people get of your company –
    Before a potential client even walks through your door, your logo is a representation of your company. It can make a company appear large, small (whether it really is or not) fun, serious, professional…
  2. A logo needs longevity
    Once a logo is designed it will represent your company for many years.
  3. A logo needs to be original
    A logo should be designed specifically for your company. A cheap “generic logo” may not reflect your company’s values. A cheap logo may also use clip art which could end up being used by another company.
  4. A logo should look professional
    You wouldn’t take a potential new client to Mac Donalds for lunch, in effect this is what is being done with a cheap logo. A logo should give your company a professional image, appropriate to its needs.
  5. A logo should reflect the time and thought gone in to designing it
    One of the problems here is that people don’t always realise the amount work that goes into a professionally designed logo:

    • The research – even if the budget is quite small I would expect at the very least to find out who the company’s main competitors are and how they present themselves
    • The brainstorming of ideas
    • The rough sketches
    • The 4 or 5 logo options worked up on the computer
    • The amends, tweaking and further amends
  6. A logo is the starting point of your whole corporate image
    The colours typography and style of a logo will often dictate the corporate look of the rest of a company’s literature.

Any more suggestions?

A post also worth reading is Vivienne’s How much should you pay for a logo?

Why is a Good Design Brief so Important?

ChocsTrying to produce a good design solution, from a bad brief is like trying to choose a present for someone you have never met before. They end up with a generic box of chocolates, then it turns out they hate chocolate.

There are 3 types of bad brief:

  • The brief that is so tight, that you wonder why the client didn’t do it themselves
  • The brief where however hard you try the client can’t or won’t give you any information beyond the size of the document. Then when you take the visuals in they say “that wasn’t really what I had in mind” this is more what I was thinking (Arggg! now comes the brief)
  • The second hand brief (its like a game of Chinese Whispers). No, I take that back, sometimes a second hand brief can be good, it depends how good your client is at taking a brief. The problem arises when they are not and you are unable to find out any more information.

A client of mine who wasn’t used to taking design briefs asked me if I could create a set of questions for them that would help them collect the information I needed for a design project.

These are a few of things I suggested they ask

  • Information about the company, what they do what they are trying to achieve with this project
  • Project message/theme
  • Are there any corporate guidelines?
  • Who are their competitors
  • “Look” and “feel required”such as contemporary/ traditional/brash/minimal/corporate/fun/examples of similar things they like
  • Target audience
  • Budget
  • Technical Spec

The more information you have, the more likely you are to fulfil the clients requirements.

All the questions above are in my design brief sheet in the Design Resources Section of my blog. If anyone has any suggestions on anything I should add to it please let me know.

How do you go about getting a good design brief?