Aggravating Accreditations Animosity

We often have to source accreditation logos in order to get a job designed, printed and finished. Clients will help as much as possible but they normally give us low resolution web versions of the logos. This is fine; clients are not designers or printers and this is exactly why they come to us.

accreditsWe will approach the various accrediting bodies and request the logos, in proper vector graphics format suitable for high quality print. Obtaining the logos can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming, unfortunately – but we never give up!

For bodies whose sole existence surrounds accrediting an organisation with reaching a certain standard; whose raisons d’être is putting a logo on something, these bodies seem to have no idea about their accreditation logos. Some of the difficulties we suffer are…

  • Despite our asking for vector files suitable for high quality professional print, they still send us tiny low res JPEGs that would look very bad when printed.
  • It seems as if they have never, ever been asked for a logo before. We may as well be asking for a lightly grilled stoat!
  • They will not give the logo to a third party.
  • They will not give the logo to anyone!
  • We can’t get our request past the admin assistant, who repeatedly just sends us yet another tiny JPEG.
  • The logo simply does not exist in a format suitable for professional print.
  • They try to lecture us on the suitability of the logo, or tell us the tiny low res JPEG will print just fine, they print it every day on their office ink-jet.

So here’s our issue with all this:

These bodies exist to put their logo on stuff – why don’t they have the tiniest modicum of  logo knowledge? After all, they’re in the logo business! Do they really want their lovely accreditation logo to look like a fuzzy, badly coloured mess of pixels because the only way to get it is to pull it off a web site? How is this good for their corporate image?

Why are they so precious? Surely the benefits of having their logo reproduced beautifully every time, outweigh the one or two rogue or nefarious uses someone may put it to if it was freely and easily available – most people are very honest and would not use an accreditation mark they do not deserve.

And to those bodies who just refuse to give us the logo… Why? What are you afraid of? why do you even exist? What’s the point of the “can’t supply our logo to your designer” policy? These are responsible businesses who care about their image enough to employ a professional designer and printer to produce their stuff – surely these are the ones you ought to be most eager to give the logo to?

Rest assured, we may spend a while doing it but we’ll always endeavour to get your accreditations in the correct format and ensure your printed material looks superb.

How much is your brand worth?

Here’s an interesting piece of information…

There are several companies whose brand is worth more than the rest of the business. Can you get your head around that? It means that if you separated the brand from the rest of the business, the people, the experts, the desks, chairs, buildings, vehicles; the brand alone would be worth more than all that put together.

big brands that are worth more than the rest of the business

google a monster whilst eating an apple at an ibm running microsoft in a superdry hoodie

So I’d suggest that building your brand is a worthwhile endeavour. Especially if your business is just a couple of people, their skills and expertise, and a some office furniture. When you come to pass on the business or sell it, your brand could seriously enhance the bottom line.

Whilst you’re not allowed to put an actual value on your brand or logo, there are legitimate ways a good accountant can use them to make your business worth more on paper. And in any dealings with investors or banks, they will effectively and expertly guess what your brand is worth and take it into consideration.

Building your brand, keeping a firm hold on it and how it’s used, associating it positively with your business, level of service and the face you present to the public should be part of your weekly routine to grow your business. It’s as important as chasing invoices, finding the next job and using a good accountant.

Je Suis Charlie

My Je Suis Charlie badge has just turned up…

je-suis-charlieWe can’t allow those with a deranged and violent iron-age religious agenda to tell us what we can and can’t say; who we can and can’t insult; where we can and can’t use satire and mocking.

If we’re not allowed to speak our opinions and thoughts out loud, how will we all know who are the racists, the misogynists, the anti-gay, the pro-violence..? How will we all know their agenda and intentions?

Everyone ought to be allowed to say absolutely anything so everyone else can judge them on what they say, on how they say it and for what they are.

Information graphics

You don’t have to be a pro to design some awesome information graphics or warning signs.

I love these, spotted by a friend in a local station; great typography, straight to the point, carefully crafted message. And an excellent sequence that grabs the attention and peaks the curiosity, draws the audience in and eventually connects them with the product…

nasty-puddle

Excellent work.

  • Thanks to Steve P. for the pics.

Troubled by noise.

I have great problems using popular shopping sites because I can’t separate the signal from the noise. Extraneous “offers”, buttons, icons, ads, box-outs, tiny ads between bigger ads, text-only repeats of graphic buttons, recent history, things I may be interested in, things others also bought, random crap…

When I do manage to drill down to the tiny bit in the middle that should detail The Thing I’m interested in, I still suffer noise overload.

6types

This image shows the tiny bit of real info in the middle of a hugely complex and noisy Amazon window. It took me about 30 seconds to find out whether or not delivery is free because for some reason I simply blanked out the large “Delivered Free in the UK”.

In the highlighted part, there are 6 styles of type. That’s one line of text with 6 styles of type! In that small section as a whole I think there are 17 different styles of type. It goes against everything I was ever taught in graphic design school, and it just looks absolutely horrible. It’s insane, but I wonder why I find it so troublesome and why no one else seems to.

I mean, I assume they have run tests and know this is what the majority of people want, and that most people don’t have an issue. Haven’t they?

Let me tell you about people who dress right and turn up on time…

As an arty-farty, graphic designer type, I often have to deal with the rule-the-world, businessman type. You know; the moisturised face, shaven to within a picometre of its life, stiff suit, ties with big blue knots coordinating beatifuly with their striped and shiny shirts.

I find these people try to impose their mores and values on everything and everyone they meet. Like robins and bluetits, they’ll peck to death any one who dares to exhibit non-standard behaviour or independent thinking. And they’ll do this because they genuinely think it will improve the world: If they can force everyone to look uniformly neat, turn up on time and meet their deadlines, then everything will be OK… won’t it?

Not necessarily.

I’m a bit, well… Bohemian of appearance. I’m sometimes late and I’ll occasionally miss an unimportant or arbitrary deadline by about a day. But I’m a helluva designer: Use me and you’ll get something off-the-wall, eyecatching and professional that will do the job better than a similar peice of work from most in my geographical area.

So why is it that I was recently told my services were no longer required after sending some proofs to a client a few hours (well alright, a day) after I said I might? This client was your typical business type; filofax’d and Vodaphone’d to the eyeballs; suited and booted; Saab; spikey hair; the lot. The thing is, he’d previoulsy had a logo and leaflet designed and had given me the artwork on CD so I could use some of the elements for the job I was working on.

Not only was this artwork technically very poor and no doubt caused the printer massive headaches; but it was also designed very badly; like someone had quickly run it up in Microsoft Word. Bad fonts, clip-art and all.

My ex-client was very happy with it, though. No doubt because the “designer”, who quite clearly couldn’t design his way out of a wet paper bag, turned up on time, met his arbitrary deadlines and wore a suit.

This small rant isn’t about why I can’t be a slacker and get away with it. It’s about why the business-types who rule the world can’t accept that some of us are not business-driven and don’t want to rule the world: Or the consequences of their being unable to see beyond the narrow, hot-desking, water cooler chat, name-badged world they live in.

Business-types can’t design, so they come to a designer for great-looking material. Yet they insist on the designer they choose putting aside the very things that make him creative and capable of thinking outside the box. They insist on their designers becoming… well, becoming business-droids.

Choose a business droid to do your design and you’ll get design that looks like it was done by a business droid.

Business card design

How a properly designed business card is one of the most important parts of the image you project.

Designing a business card really isn’t like designing anything else in your brand or identity system; which should at minimum have logo, business card, letterhead – or more commonly nowadays, email footer or signature, and can have other things such as sales material, notepads, invoices, vehicle graphics, web site.

Your card is often the first exposure someone will get to your business brand or identity – it will probably be seen more than your letterhead or email signature and by more people. Your cards could be passed around from person to person without your knowing. It needs to clearly and instantly communicate who you are and what you stand for whilst at the same time suggesting quality and reliability.

So don’t just settle for VistaPrint’s thousand cards for £50: They’re badly printed, cheap and generic and will make you and your business look cheap and generic. Someone receiving an unpleasant card will subliminally assume you’re not taking your business seriously, or are running it like a hobby.

And don’t do it yourself! There are rules…

  1. Don’t use Comic Sans (for anything at all); your business is not a joke!
  2. See rule 1.

A designer won’t choose any default Mac or PC font for your business card because it would send a very bad subliminal message: Just as the feel and quality of cheaply printed cards does, it suggests that your business is generic and lacks originality. Your card should differentiate you and help your business stand out from the crowd. Times and Arial (not a real font, in any case) are so familiar that they will fade you into the background of the typographic landscape.

Having said all this, don’t go on to pick a silly font that looks like flames or is very curly or “gothic”…

There are graphics and aesthetic rules about what fonts should and can be used, where and how. A designer will know what kind of font to use near to the font in your logo for example, without weakening it. S/he’ll know how big to make the type, which weights or variations of the font to use and where. A designer will maximise the use of the tiny space available in a business card, s/he will know how to use colour, layout and positioning to convey style and sophistication.

A properly designed and nicely printed card will win you business, get you remembered and get you ahead in the race to be noticed.

Kevin Simpson can design and supply artwork for card that will help you stand out from the crowd. Get in touch to find out how quick and easy it is to up your game by improving your image.

Jan 2011, Kevin

Can I edit my artwork files?

Yes, you definitely can. But…

A few clients come back to us and ask if they can have their artwork files so they can edit them and reprint. Most of the time we’re more than happy to give you the files, after all you’ve paid for them and they’re yours (but see the addendum at the end).

As to whether or not you can edit them: there may be a problem in that the software professional designers use isn’t the same as your office software. As standard in the print and design industry we use one or several of the following software packages to prepare your artwork…

  • Quark X-Press
  • InDesign
  • Illustrator
  • PhotoShop
  • Lightroom or Bridge
  • Acrobat
  • LyX (because we often set scientific or technical journals)
  • FontForge  (because we sometimes carry out specialist font design or editing work)
  • Hundreds of thousands of professional Open Type, and Type1 fonts

… and or others depending on exactly what you need.

So unfortunately, unless you have these software packages you won’t be able to edit your artwork. The specialist software we use is important because preparing a job for professional, high quality print is a specialist skill and involves knowing about the technicalities of lithography, print industry practices and the mechanical limitations of the print process. For example, we printers don’t use the same RGB colours as your office software; we use the CMYK colour space, this fundamental difference is only a tiny part of the list of incompatibilities.

There are very good reasons for the differences in the software, most of which you benefit from by dint of the fact your office software is cheaper and easier to learn if it doesn’t have many of the more esoteric print-industry capabilities. When did you last need to control colour trapping or under-colour removal in your Word files for example. When did you last need to add bleed, slug and trim to an Excel file? Or employ character tracking in a Powerpoint presentation?

Basically, I suppose what I’m saying is, yes you’re perfectly free to take your artwork files (assuming you have paid for them) but you’re unlikely to be able to do much with them. It’s not a trick: we need the extra capabilities of the specialist software to ensure you get a tip-top quality job from us, all professional designers and printers work the same way.

So what should you do..?

Let us have your edits and we’ll make the changes for you, the cost will be minimal because most of the work is already done. We can then guarantee you’ll get a similar high quality job in the re-print.

For more info on the differences between professional print-industry software and office software see this excellent Wikipedia article… wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_publishing
Kevin, March 2007

Addendum:

As I said at the beginning of the article, clients do on occasion ask us for artwork files. Again, as above, in most cases we’re more than happy to supply them. Where we’re not happy, is usually where we’ve prepared artwork for you for free.

We only prepare artwork for free to ensure a great quality print job at a reasonable price; either because a client does not have artwork already, has lost it or the artwork was not prepared properly for professional quality print. We go to the time and expense of making proper artwork for you at no extra cost as an investment in you as a client. We want you to be happy with our work and the price you pay; happy enough to come back to us for future work. We’re conscientious about giving you quality for your money, in fact it’s more important for us to give you this quality than it is to make an extra £50 in artwork charges.

Many printers will not go to this much trouble and will either provide you with disappointing results (provide a “just print” service, as we say in the industry) or turn you away until you can come back with proper printable artwork. If we were to give you the artwork we have prepared for you for free, we’d be simply giving away our advantage and the thing that makes us better than most other printers.

But we don’t want to hold you to ransom! We will give you your artwork but we have to charge a fair price* for giving away our “edge”, or our investment in you as a client.
*we only charge our standard artwork rate and no premium.

Kevin, September 2011