Archive for February, 2011

Projecting an Image

This week, as well as last, all of the ads seem to have been tied into President’s day. Presidential savings. Presidential trivia. Presidential this. Presidential that. That got me to thinking about image. Normally, of course, the president has a very specific image. He’s supposed to be above the fray of normal bickering, projecting a strong, confident persona that the country can rely upon and look up to in times of crisis or trouble. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see pictures of him walking his dog or playing catch. Of course you will. There’s not a president in recent memory that has missed these photo ops. It makes them one of us. An ordinary man.

Your business projects an image too. What kind might depend upon your business. Plumbers are more down-to-earth, sleeves rolled up kind of guys whereas a car salesman? Yep, that’s a suit and tie much more slick kind of presentation. Everything of course ties into your company’s brand. That’s what conveys the overall image of what your company is all about.

Personally, I like that my business demonstrates a personal touch while maintaining a professional demeanor. You’re always going to be able to reach me, I’m always going to get back to you but I can play with the big corporate boys having worked on everything from mom and pop business materials to global corporation’s collateral materials.

What does your business presentation say about you? If you haven’t looked at it in the while here’s a fun and productive way to see what your current image is. Take your collateral material and toss it on a table. Does it all project the same brand? Is is a cliché for your industry? I love thinking more creatively and not having to have a picture of money if you’re a banker – what about the people you provide services for? Use pictures of them so that they relate to your services. Does it need a bit of freshening up? Are your designs innovative and exciting or are they boring and overused?

Take a minute and see what your customers and clients see. Then call me. I can help you project the image that you should be. Let’s talk…

Debby is a working writer, designer, artist, photographer and guest lecturer in Southern California. If you are interested in hiring her she is available for ghost blogging, strategic marketing planning, graphic and web design, photo shoots and more. You can email her at djohnson@debrongraphics.com

Balancing Act

As a business owner running a successful enterprise I can’t afford to have an employee mentality. There’s no such thing as punching the time clock and working 8:00 to 5:00. It seems like my work day is never done,always emails to answer, billing to catch up on, bills to pay, office supplies to purchase and an assortment of little things that just need to be done.

Add to that the last minute emergency projects that always seem to crop up, pushing aside what I had planned and my life could easily revolve around work, work and more work. I think like most business owners I want to project an image of the woman who can do it all, balancing work, family and leisure activities. Sometimes though, its the family and leisure activities that suffer. I really try not to let that happen.

There are times that my phone rings as early as 7:00 a.m. and as late as 11:00 p.m. Why? I’m not really sure. Maybe its because people know I work a lot – seemingly all the time. Maybe they just assume that I want to be be woke up early to answer a question that could easily wait until regular business hours. I don’t know. I did really question the new client who called at 1:00 a.m. to order business cards. Did they really expect any business to answer at that hour of the night? So I’ll be honest, there are times that I don’t answer my phone. I don’t answer when I’m in a meeting, when I’m on a crunch project that I need to finish and I don’t answer when I’m watching my son’s school performance. Then I’m an engaged in the moment.

I even schedule days off. Fun, adventure days to go and explore the world, recharge my creative batteries, take photos, people watch (great for a writer!) or just hang out at the movies with my son. I think those moments are important too. They help to make up for working until 1:00 a.m. and setting my alarm for 3:00 a.m. to finish a project that my client ‘forgot’ they needed until the day before a big presentation.

There are times it feels like walking a tightrope trying to keep it all in balance. I just end up weighing what’s important in my life and what has to be done right now. Like today. I have a list of projects to get done and my son really wants me to take a break and watch his dress rehearsal. I’m lucky. Lunch is now scheduled for 2:00 so that I can be there. Yeah, the lunch that I don’t normally take because I’m working. Like I said, it’s all about balance.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

It seems pretty simple to say, “do what you love” and your business will grow but its not always possible to work at your dream job. So, if you can’t do what you love then try loving what you do. Look for what you love in your job and explore those avenues. It’s amazing what will happen to your creativity and your productivity.

I started my design career in a roundabout way. I’ve worked doing medical billing, collections, worked for social services, planning departments, and other interesting jobs along the way. My love of art and design was always there, I just had to find ways to use it. It was as my last ‘job’ as a word processor that I was able to transform that position from typing to design. Every time I produced a document I gave it that little extra something. It didn’t take long before that was noticed by my managers and then they were referring presentations to me for ‘dressing up’. Those presentations turned into brochures, flyers and much more. I studied hard and absorbed everything I could along the way.

Sometimes that’s what it takes. Working hard and showing what you can do. After a while I was the go-to person for web design, creative presentations and I was even speaking at seminars about marketing, design, and giving inspirational talks. I’d read the book “Fish” (if you haven’t read it I HIGHLY recommend that you do!) and had shared it with others where I was working. The sole message of that book is to find what you love in what you do – if they can sling fish at a fish market and love it then I could certainly love what I was doing. I took that message and gave some talks about how to do that, what the benefits are to you personally and to your company when you approach your job this way. I was even able to write for the company newsletter. I’ve been a writer for as long as I remember. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t found something I loved in what I was doing.

And the rest is, as they say, history! I left the company to grow my own business which is going strong today. Now I get to help my clients show what they love about their business while expanding, reaching new clients, and keeping existing customers.

It’s pretty simple. Do what you love, love what you do.

Debby is a working writer, designer, artist, photographer and guest lecturer in Southern California. If you are interested in hiring her she is available for ghost blogging, strategic marketing planning, graphic and web design, photo shoots and more. You can email her at djohnson@debrongraphics.com