graphic design

Client Spotlight: Cloud Creative Events

We first began working with modern luxury wedding planner Cloud Creative Events a few years ago, the way we start working with many of our small business clients – on a single small project. She had created her own website, as many solopreneurs do, and got in touch with us for a little SEO treatment, which went really well.

As Cloud Creative has grown, we’ve implemented several short rounds of website improvements over the years to expand on the site’s content and reflect their growing team and portfolio.

In the last six months though, we’ve been working with Cloud Creative a lot more. Owner KC Cloud was ready to make some big moves, so in that time we have redesigned their logo, made several more website updates (especially to expand the portfolio and publicity pages), and we’ve also updated their pricing booklet and created new business cards for KC and her team – all without complicated and expensive design “packages” since we just track our time.

We couldn’t be more proud – take a look!


Updated Website:

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New Business Cards:

 
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Updated Pricing Booklet:

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Top 5 Things to Know About Working With a Graphic Designer

It’s not easy to know how to work with creative types like graphic designers, so we’re sharing our top 5-ish tips we wish potential clients knew:

1. Just because we’re “creative” doesn’t mean we aren’t professional.

Not all creatives have blue hair and facial piercings (but to each their own) or sleep late and work all night. At Green Apple Lane, for instance, each of us offices from home, but we have dedicated real offices in our homes, and we manage our time really well. Potential clients sometimes ask, “What types of clients do you serve?” to which we proudly reply that we work with all types of clients from all types of industries: lawyers, healthcare professionals, car dealerships, luxury wedding planners, auto mechanics, cake bakeries, political campaigns, dairy farms, private schools, beauty products, professional photographers, art classes, funeral services, real estate, authors, and the list goes on. This has made us chameleons, or Janes-of-All-Trades, because we have to dive head-first into all of these fields, and we love it! And depending on the client, we’ve had meetings in board rooms, coffee houses, garages, or just over email and phone. We’ve met in flip flops and business suits. We’re in the business of whatever your business does, however you do it.

2. Tell us the issue, not what you think the solution should be.

Design solves problems, so it’s our job to come up with the perfect solution. When you tell us the problem and the solution, you run the risk of severely limiting our thinking and boxing us in, which is a bummer, because then you don’t really get to realize the full benefit of our expertise. We love it when you tell us “what” and leave the “how” up to us. And try not to make your feedback too specific. Actually take a minute to think about what it is that you don’t like about something, and share that with us. For instance, instead of deciding “It should be in red,” (which is telling us the solution), say, “The color isn’t right, I’d like it to be more bold/in-your-face.”

3a. The design isn’t for you, it’s for your customer…

More often than not, the opinions of whether you, your spouse, your child, or even your designer PERSONALLY like a design are completely irrelevant, unless we are your ideal customer (and it’s highly unlikely that all of us are your customer, unless you’re in front of a grocery store selling Thin Mints).

3b. So please don’t tell us what your spouse thinks.

If there’s one thing that really gets under our skin, this is it… “I showed the design to my ‘insert relationship here’ and they said didn’t like it.” First off, while this person is probably super smart and amazing, the designs are based off of your direction, because you know your business and your clients best, not your spouse (unless this person is a business partner, in which case, their input should have been considered from the beginning). This person has not been privy to all the conversations we’ve had leading up to the design and this is likely their first time to hear about the project, so honestly, their opinion is not really relevant to the project. One caveat: if this person brings up actual relevant feedback or questions to you and you agree, feel free to pass those along to us, but please just pass them off as your own thoughts and opinions and don’t pawn it off on your hubby or your kindergartner.

4. That person who created that thing for you a long time ago was not an actual designer.

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Sometimes clients have a previous experience with a “graphic designer,” (read: someone with a bootleg copy of Photoshop), and their expectations were shattered somewhere along the way, so they’re feeling understandably hesitant to work with a designer again. But a professional graphic designer spends years learning software programs, typefaces, color theory, marketing strategy, and how to decode people’s feelings and turn those feelings into visual imagery. If the only file types you were provided with at the end of the project were jpgs with white backgrounds, that is a tell-tale sign you worked with someone masquerading as a designer. In that case, you have every reason to feel salty about the experience, but please know this probably-well-intentioned person was simply a novice at best, and you should have a completely different experience working with a professional. Now if you were provided files embedded inside a Word document, on the other hand, this person was a monster and you were lucky to escape (a little designer humor).

5. Finally, the cardinal rule: Don’t ask if you can take us out to “pick our brain.”

This is what we do for a living and we LOVE it, but we take our craft seriously and we also have bills to pay like everyone else. We charge by the hour, just like an attorney, for our time and expertise, so don’t ask us to give up 1-2 billable hours to dispense that advice for free in exchange for a coffee or a salad (or even worse, “exposure”). Close friends and family are the most common offenders here, not typically a new contact, as this is a more informal “ask.” We love you, so if you want to have coffee and talk about your super cute kids, your stressful mother-in-law, or your new puppy, we’re all in, but if you want to talk shop, offer to pay us for our time first (and you may even be surprised with discounted rate), but don’t make it awkward by expecting it to be free.

Client Spotlight: Lindsay's Art Cart

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When we were initially referred to Lindsay’s Art Cart by mutual friends and clients, the art-teacher-turned-small-business-owner said she was ready for her very first website. Up until then, her business, which offers private art parties and public art classes at various locations around Arlington, TX, had grown popular among friends of friends, and she would market the classes and parties by creating facebook events, and using the eventbrite plugin for merchant services. Lindsay already had a logo she loved but she needed a dedicated home on the web for class info and an event calendar she could populate with classes and parties so customers could register quickly and easily.

We went right to work on what turned out to be a ridiculously cute web design for Lindsay and her adorable Art Cart logo, which went live New Year’s Day 2018. Shortly afterward, we began working on promotional pieces for her first summer art camp for kids (2018), a t-shirt design, A-frame signage she could haul along with her to any venue, and more.

Last summer, we pitched another project to Lindsay: an ABC’s of Art Coloring Book which she positively LOVED. Together, we came up with the art mediums for each letter and with the help and creativity of our summer design interns, we launched the coloring book at the end of summer 2018, which can be purchased at several shops around town and also on her website. Lindsay said it was a dream come true!

As a result of what began with just a website, business is booming: so far in 2019, her revenue has increased 71%, with unique visitors to the site up 150%, and overall visits to the site up 167% (2019/2018). Some sessions of her 2019 summer art camp have already been sold out for weeks. Lindsay’s boundless energy and positivity are unmatched in the business world, so it is always a pleasure to work on projects for Lindsay’s Art Cart, and it is a joy to watch this business continue to grow and flourish – we can’t wait to see what comes next!

Web Design Trends for 2019

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Design trends are history in the making, and we’re going to take a closer look a few you’ve likely been seeing lately:

1. Getting “Serious” About Logos

We’re still seeing a rise in brand identities shedding their initial startup quirkiness and turning toward a more modern, sans-serif version. It might be a little bit boring, but perhaps they’ve just matured… or maybe they are just playing into what they know we all feel comfortable and familiar with. Either way, expect to see more brands rock a clean, modern version as 2019 marches on.

2. Outlined Text

Half here… half gone… there’s something intriguing about outlined type, which draws the eye – a smart move for memorable branding!

3. Iconoclast Illustrations

More expressive graphics are popping up all over the web, melding physical & digital landscapes together in an abstract way using photo collages and three-dimensional illustration.

4. Adventurous Fonts

While logo designs are continuing to trend toward sameness, we’re seeing more headlines with vintage, abstract, chubby, and nostalgic fonts. An easy way to break up the monotony without going off the deep end is to use various weights of the same font instead.

5. Massive Type

We’re seeing text blocks so large that they break a word or sentence into fragments, which forces you to focus your full attention in order to read each word in it’s entirety – brilliant!

And to round out the Top 10 design trends of 2019:

  • Overlapping Elements

  • Inclusivity in Design

  • Brutalism

  • Grid-Style Text Blocks

  • Designing for Mobile first

ready to update your website in 2019?

Client Spotlight: Devan Allen Campaign

It’s been years since we last blogged about Devan Allen and our design work on her personal projects in speaking, advocacy, and real estate, but not long after that, Devan discussed with us her next big endeavor: running for Tarrant County Commissioner.

We immediately hopped on board and began designing logo concepts, building her campaign website, and creating several social media graphics as well as signage for her campaign kickoff event.

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This was the largest campaign we worked on to-date, as Tarrant County has a population of just over 2 million (each commissioner represents roughly a quarter of the county, but that still requires a sizeable campaign)!

Devan always said, “We will not be outworked” throughout the campaign and she was absolutely right. We’re proud that she chose Green Apple Lane as the creative agency for her campaign branding, website, and graphics and we were overjoyed to witness the moment she won from the watch party at her campaign headquarters. We learned so much about big campaigns and the many rules and regulations required for political creative, and we’re so proud that the work was not only popular and well-received by the community, but successful in the end.

Client Spotlight: The Oakridge School

We have worked with The Oakridge School for nearly 10 years on all kinds of projects from their golf tournament collateral, summer programs brochure, booklets, invitations, flyers, and logo modifications. Then, almost a year ago we were invited to respond to their RFP for an opportunity to become their official Agency of Record, which would make us responsible for their admissions campaign for the entire school year. We jumped at the opportunity, and to our delight, our proposal was accepted. Design is our first love and we are happy to invest our creativity into any project, but putting together a complete campaign is every designer’s dream.

Our Methodology

We wanted to keep the amount of text minimal but include words associated with the cornerstones of an independent education: Academics, Arts, and Athletics. The background is a photo we shot of their iconic fence line – it not only provides a visually dynamic eye-line, but it represents being “inside the fence,” and it also showcases the oak tree line along the edge of campus. The ornate frame at the top holds the call to action, which literally points straight into the word cloud. Or, if your eye lands directly in the word cloud, there’s a good chance your line of sight will be directed upward into the call to action, as it springs from the center like a thought bubble.

“When you really break it down, marketing is just the psychology of getting someone to give you a moment of their focus, with the hope and possibility of something more. The only way they’re going to give you something more, however, is if something about you makes them take a second look. Something that makes them pause,” said Chris O’Neill, the CEO of Evernote, at SXSW 2018 (see our Conference Recap here).

Many private school ads heavily incorporate the school’s colors, but their signature deep navy and hunter green were getting a little bit lost in print publications, as many other schools share at least one of these colors in common with The Oakridge School. So we went in the complete opposite direction and used a sunset colored overlay, including the famed “Millennial pink” and coral (the 2019 Pantone color of the year), which really help the ad pop off the page. “It’s so different from what everyone else was doing, and that’s what we loved most about it,” said Laura Heymann of Green Apple Lane.

The campaign design worked well in print, online, and even fit in seamlessly with the school’s website. We isolated each word and included a photo background to correlate with that word (the art room for “create,” a cheering crowd for “win,” etc.), all accented in a blue overlay to fit right in on the existing home page carousel.

In addition to the campaign graphics, we used hard data from their web analytics to advise and make media placement recommendations for the duration of the campaign term, including a radio broadcast ad on KERA (the Dallas-area PBS and NPR station), for which we also crafted the copy.

Additional design projects

(unrelated to the campaign)

  • 40th Anniversary (“Ruby” anniversary) logo alteration and related signage

  • Assorted social media graphics

  • Athletics marketing piece (select panels shown)

  • Admissions marketing piece (not shown)

  • Infographic marketing pieces (select area shown)

  • Custom “instagram photo frame” signs for various occasions, and more!

Ready to stand out?

Project Spotlight: Website Redesign for Inspirations Catering

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Business owners are used to wearing a lot of hats and handling everything from the accounting to the janitorial duties around the office. There are tons of companies out there trying to capitalize on this fabulous trait shared by so many entrepreneurs. Business owners are increasingly being told they can quickly, easily, and beautifully build their own websites. And while it’s not exactly untrue, it’s untrue for many. Don’t forget from our Conference Recap: 94% of first impressions are based entirely on design, and 90% of the information people retain is visual in nature.

So how do you want to introduce yourself to your customers?

What information are potential clients going to infer and retain about your business, based on the functionality, professionalism, and the overall look of your website?

These are important questions to ask before you set out to save a few bucks and settle on a DIY website. There is no way to know how much money you might be leaving on the table from customers migrating away from your website because it didn’t feel like an extension of your business. We work with a lot of folks who have started out on their own, and whether we redesign the site from scratch or even spend just a few hours organizing and rearranging things, the site feels completely new.

Working with a professional designer should not be seen as an expense to your business, but an investment in your business.

Here’s a quick case study in the website of Inspirations Catering & Events. We’re not here to call them out, in fact, we love these folks and love their shop even more, but their previous website is a perfect example of a small business owner feeling like they MUST handle everything themselves and doing the best they could. The previous site didn’t include their logo, didn’t make use of their color palette, and some of the pages weren’t very easy to read due to dark type on a dark background or wonky spacing.

Click any photo below to enlarge it.

New Homepage (left) vs. Old Homepage (right):

We were able to take all their existing content and put it into a format that is SO much more user friendly, clean, open, organized, and professional. They are masters at what they do with food, and we’re happy their new website better represents that expertise to their customers. We still have a few new photos to swap in but it’s a huge step up!

New website:

Previous website:

The previous website simply didn’t represent the upscale look and feel of this business. Check out the gorgeous interior of their shop and some of their beautiful charcuterie boards from their grand opening:

*And please note those super-cute cheese-board cookies from Sugar Bee Sweets, too!

So whether you’re …

  • starting a completely new endeavor and need an online presence

  • you designed a website on your own but it doesn’t feel like the best representation of your business

  • you worked with another designer previously and need some help with website updates (due to lack of time or skill - makes no difference to us)

  • you want to switch web platforms (leave Blogger or Wix, for instance)

… we can help! We work on all kinds of websites - Wordpress, Squarespace, you name it. You keep being an expert at what you do, and WE will help you showcase it.