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Blending two different cultures: a Branding Case Study

Blending brands

Branding our differences

We published a story on Adobe Slate yesterday about our process for a particularly tricky project – marrying two different businesses and product styles for a new joint venture. Click the image above to read the full article over on Adobe Slate, as well as visiting Plannercraft on Instagram and our Facebook page for more in progress shots.

There were a number of challenges we faced in blending two distinctly different branding styles for the businesses alone (see Relax & Grow and All Sorts of Performing Arts). This was before we even consider the joining of very different dance styles.

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Cover image: the Importance of a Great Cover!

Portfolio-Mockup

This month we have seen a number of cover issues arise. I thought this week’s blog post could be a way of covering these frequently asked questions to help you get your book right first time.

Can I use a cover I’ve already had designed?

Our packages all include cover design, however some authors come to us having one “ready to go”. In some cases, we are approached as “I’ve had this designed for me by [my daughter, my neighbour, a uni student, my dog]”, and while we celebrate creativity in all its forms, great cover design is key to good sales. People unfortunately DO judge books by their covers, and when its shown at 2x4cm on Amazon it needs to make an impact!

I’ve even received covers from other graphic designers that don’t meet the basic standards! Artwork not in the correct ratio, let alone the correct size and resolution for print. A few have even come with licensing issues (and therefore fall foul of our terms and conditions).

Cover guidelines for designers

If you are going to use another professional designer and/or illustrator to design your cover, then we recommend the following…

  • Add on extra design for bleeds as well as any formatting issues that may arise through changes in your book. We would recommend a 9th of your cover design size all the way around – too much is a lot better than too little.
  • Make sure artwork is supplied in a vector-based format PDF, with fonts embedded.
  • Any images and fonts used must be supplied with appropriate proof of licences.
  • Do not provide spine artwork with text unless your title is over 130 pages.
  • If your design has an underlying texture, provide this as a separate file.
  • Ensure your cover is legible when viewed at thumbnail size.
  • Mock book covers are unacceptable.

What we do with unacceptable designs

Where we are provided with unacceptable covers, we either ignore the file provided or use it as a base concept (depending on the issue).

A recent example used a strong concept, but all the images used had licensing issues. Instead, we used the basic concept to create a stronger, impactful cover that works much better on the platform.

Where this is not possible, we will ask you about the file you have provided in order to get a brief for your new cover.

Our usual process for cover design

Where we are left to do the cover design as included with your package, we simultaneously design your cover to fit your book’s specification as well as viewing it at thumbnail size. Our vast experience in cover design has been honed across many platforms, so we can deliver cross platform success.

Our cover development stage occurs towards the end of our process. Once, your book inners have been completed, we can ensure the perfect design including any spine that may need to be included. Before the sign off of your inners, this cannot be guaranteed. So by this time, we thoroughly know your book and its intended/likely audience, sales platforms and production methods.

We develop 3 initial concepts for your book outer as well as how the back of the book would work. It’s easy in these times of online book buying to underestimate the importance of your back cover. You can then choose your preferred concept, mix and match or we can create a new concept based on your feedback.

Once you are happy with your book design, we also develop a mock up book for social media and other marketing strategies. That way, you can market your book before its even out on Amazon. We encourage our authors to build their following throughout the book publishing process. If you want to ask your followers about your book concepts that is fine, and we can even help you by supplying social sized images.

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Padlocking your brand

So you’ve built a great brand, reputation and following for your product or service – how do you keep it secure?

All design is covered in the UK under copyright law, however this only covers and protects your logo etc in terms of being copied or adapted by other designers within the UK. Intellectual Property (IP) is a minefield these days with so much information being available in the public domain – and a more laid-back attitude that has arisen from an increase in designers that have not come into the industry through the traditional path. For this reason, more and more businesses are looking for additional ways to secure their IP. There are a number of ways you can do this, and the ideal solution will depend on your product/service and what you are looking to protect.

We would always advise you to get advice from an IP law Professional. We have previously used Harrison Clark Rickerbys for a recent client.

Copyright

Copyright is what protects an individual design and its designer. For instance, your brochure would be copyright to the original designer or agency that created it for you under the majority of circumstances.

All designs are automatically covered by copyright within the UK, although we would always advise keeping all proof of your designs, time and date stamped and mailed to yourself unopened until the occasion arises. Proof can start right from the client briefing stage, so be sure to document and identify any files you are provided with as well as your initial sketches and any prototypes. The copyright will remain with the designer unless agreed by a legal agreement (either through employment contract or through the client agreement). Kissed Off only release copyright under very specific circumstances (and this is covered under our terms and conditions), and then it has to be issued in a certain way. We take copyright very seriously both on behalf of our design work and on our client’s behalf.

Trademark

Trademark protects you from others using your logo to promote their own services and other nefarious purposes.

To apply for a trademark, you have to go through the IPO – we would recommend using an excellent IP legal service to do this in the most cost effective and secure manner. Mistakes in trademarks applications can be costly. The IPO only deals directly with UK trademarks, and for global coverage you would need to apply to each country individually. There is a period of public consultation and you should allow 3 months for the whole process as well as considering whether to trademark your name and/or your logo.

Patent

Patent protects an individual product or product element and it must be proved to be unique from other products already on the market.

A patent is on the design of a product as a tangible item. It must be unique to other items already on the market – whether they are patented or not. For instance, you couldn’t patent a victoria sponge as the recipe is widespread and has historical usage. A patent application requires technical drawings that prove the design belongs to you, and can also include a product sample. There is also an application form for you to describe what makes your design unique. This will prevent others from creating the product the same as yours, but may not stop people from finding an alternative solution to the same problem. We would advise taking legal advice before starting and during your application.

What else can I do to protect my brand?

We would also advise our clients to get accounts started on all social media as soon as they have decided on a name for their product or brand. You can also work towards getting authenticated status for many platforms.

We also advise to do regular Google image checks for any images that are exclusively their copyright to check for any abuse on other websites and social media.

This guidance is offered for information only, and not intended as legal advice. We would always advise that a client seeks qualified legal counsel.

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Our Graphic Design Workflow

Here’s a quick overview of our workflow for our graphic design projects…

Briefing

Our briefing process begins right from our first contact with you – where that is through Twitter, by email or by phone. This is the stage to give us lots of information – whether its the draft content for your document or branding guideline for your previous identity; no piece of information is too small.The more information you can give us at the beginning the more prepared we are for our first meeting with you, and likewise the more accurate your initial quote will be. This first stage of our workflow is a key building block for your project and its importance cannot be underestimated.

When we meet you for the first time, we will discuss your brief in detail as well as any initial costings we have prepared. The more information we have prior to this meeting, the more accurate we can be about costs and deadlines. We will also discuss how you envisage the project to turn out, extent of works and any additional formats you’ve considered. We will also raise points that you may not have considered, as well as identifying any costs that could be limited or ways the projects longevity can be increased. Every project is unique and this is a key meeting for us to develop the route forward. A quote approval form will need to be signed before any work commences, a copy of which will be stored on the cloud for both parties to access at any time, but will be locked from any future editing.

Concepts

Following this meeting, we will immediately go into concept mode – typically we develop 3 times as many concepts as we will present to you. The number of concepts will vary by project type and will have been set as part of our quoting process – but typically will be between 3 – 10 concepts per project element. At this stage we may proof some initial concepts for comment to show the direction we are taking, these will probably take the form of screenshots and copyright will remain with Kissed Off Creations Ltd and are not for public distribution. Once this stage has been completed, we will send you an electronic proof in PDF format which will be sent and tracked to you by email. You will be able to download this PDF, comment on it and send it back to us for us to action. Please indicate your choice of concept and any amends you wish to make at this stage.

Logo Design

In terms of logo design, following completion of amends on your chosen concept we would send a PDF for you to approve by digital signature. This locks the PDF for both parties so it becomes a snapshot of how the logo should look. We will then output your logo into varying formats for print and web as well as black only and white only versions for use on a colour background.

All other design projects

After the concept has been amended, we would request an interim sign off. This means that the inherent design or concept would not change after this point; any amends after this stage should relate only to content or they may be applicable for an additional charge if the change causes significant impact to the document. The sign off then becomes a green light to lay out the rest of the document(s), which we would proceed to do as promptly as possible (workload allowing) in order for you to give your final seal of approval. Usually before final sign off occurs there are 1 – 2 sets of amends to content either for accuracy or aesthetic reasons.

Final proof

The final proof we send to you will not be what goes to the printers. The final proof  will be laid out so it is clearly understood how the final project will look. For 3D items we may also create a photographic mock up to make proofs easier to understand. Your final proof will be accompanied with a Proof Approval form at the end of the PDF for you to digitally sign. Signature on this form means you are happy for it to go to print, and that you have checked all the points listed on the form for accuracy (including brand names and terminology). Once this form has been signed, it will lock down the PDF for editing and return to us for our records.

The final print files will then be prepared in line with the signed off file and printer’s specifications and sent electronically to them for proofing and printing.

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Our 2015 Portfolio has launched!

Portfolio-Mockup

Portfolio 2015 has launched and is now available for download!

This year’s portfolio has been filled with some old favourites as well as a range of images that have never been seen before this launch. As our birthday is just around the corner, we will be incorporating this new look into our new website when it goes live! Soon, www.kissedoff.co.uk will have a great new look as well as implementing a lot of tech behind the scenes to make it as accessible as possible for all.

Sneak Peek

Here’s a quick sneak peak (along with the slideshow above) of what you can expect in our new Portfolio…

Digital-Artistry
Digital Artistry, Illustration and Photography services

We offer a range of digital artistry, illustration and photography services. We’ve chosen just a small selection of our more popular images to represent this for our latest portfolio. We offer a range of styles, so contact us today to see if we can help you.

Branding
Corporate ID, Branding and Logo Design Services

We offer a range of branding packages to suit all businesses and products, but if you are looking for a more individual specification we also offer a full bespoke service that can include print, digital and social options.

Publishing-Cover
A range of our latest publishing projects

Our latest portfolio also includes examples of our most recent eBook and paperback projects as well as how those projects have developed into other literature and marketing materials.

To download your copy of our new Portfolio – follow this link Portfolio 2015

Can’t download? Then email us or call for your copy.

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5 Things I Love About What I Do

In any business or career there are always highs and lows, the trick is to concentrate on the highs. There are things I love about what I do, and I want to share these with you.

#1 – The smell of print

This may seem odd in this day of digital publishing, but I still love the smell of print. Even if its a Blurb or CreateSpace book – nothing beats that just printed smell and the sensation of achievement when I first hold that book (or whatever else) in my hands and turn the first page.

#2 – The Client’s response

As we are starting at the end of the process, I also love seeing my client’s faces when they hold their final product for the first time. Recently, I had the most overjoyed reaction to a lovely book “Girls Who Do It” by Sophie Reynolds (Available on Amazon ), and it made me realise that what I do is not the important thing, but how I do it and what it gives my clients. A book can mark the achievement of a lifelong dream, so the sense of achievement is no longer contained to me, but also extends to my clients and their co-authors and family.

#3 – A good Client relationship

The best design comes from a good healthy client/designer relationship. My best work has been for those who not only trust me in my knowledge, but also in my respect for theirs. Some of my clients have become friends with whom we have shared interests and even lifetime goals.

#4 – The thrill of the first proof

This point is where many a design (or designer) has become unstuck. However I have received some my best praise at that initial proof stage – whether through promptness of turnaround or assessment of brief, the first proof is a crucial first step in the client/designer relationship.

#5 – The concept

Following the initial client meeting(s), the concept stage is the most free part of the process. Sometimes it is daunting to start with that blank sheet, especially if the client has given you little direction, but sometimes the best solution is to start doodling. Rough frameworks, areas of content, lists of visual priorities are all good to break that blank page fear.

So when things get difficult, focus on the positives – make lists, doodle and make mistakes – this is how we expand our creativity. If you are the client,… learn to trust your designer as long as he/she listens to you also – only then will the best design occur.