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4 Ways To Safeguard Your Brand

4 Ways To Safeguard Your Brand

1. Get a Trademark

An essential but often overlooked step to establishing your business ownership is to register a trademark. A trademark is whatever represents your brand in the industry. It can be a logo, slogan, product name or even a color.

As noted on the Government of Canada, a registration “provides proof of ownership, provides you with licensing opportunities to maximize your trademark’s commercial potential and protects your trademark’s value.” You will need to pay a fee and renew it regularly, but it’s a relatively simple step that can save you from many headaches in the future should anything go awry.

You’re likely very familiar with Apple. Did you know that before Apple formed, there was already an Apple brand? In 1978, Apple Corp (a music company founded by the Beatles) sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement. In 1981 the case was settled, with Apple agreeing to avoid the music industry. Obviously, that didn’t happen! And as a result, there were some hefty fines and restrictions incurred.

It takes a minimum of 2 years to start a trademark process. We recommend starting right away so that no one snatches up the biz name or slogan you spent hours brainstorming! It’s sad, but true…there have been some businesses that possessed their company name years before another company decided to trademark it. The original owners lost because they couldn’t afford the high court fees necessary to prove original ownership. Don’t let this happen to you!

It’s free to search for your desired trademark. Either call or do a web search  to ensure your desired name and icons are not already being used.

Getting a trademark is comparable to having car insurance. You never expect to get in a car accident, but you’re not going to risk getting into an accident without coverage.

2. Get Your Copyright

In contrast to a trademark (protection of a unique mark for your business), a copyright protects the work of the author. This can be a graphic, website, or play, for example. The copyright protection is immediate–as soon as the project has begun. Although a registration is not necessary, it’s highly recommended to ensure no one steals your work. A visible copyright symbol © is a simple way to show the world that it is your original work.

To register your copyright, check out the Government of Canada Copyright page.

3. Use Commercially Licensed Assets Only

stock images

Image by Cottonbro

There are two predominant types of licensing available—personal and commercial. A personal license allows you to use resources for personal projects only—for instance, wall décor in your home, a family invitation, etc. A commercial license is designed for business owners to use a product legally. There is typically a cost involved to support the original creator.

So should I buy out all my brand assets? While it may sound like a prudent move, it’s unnecessary and would likely cost you a good deal of time and money. For commercial assets, read the fine print on how an asset can be used. For instance, an image purchased through Adobe Stock can be used on a sale flyer but cannot be reproduced in any way for resale (i.e. you can’t include a stock image in your art and then sell it on Etsy).

4. Use Original Design Work from Ethical Sources

artist

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

After you’ve done your due diligence in picking out a unique brand name, you’re ready to enter the design phase. The design phase includes your logo, colour palette, illustrations, and fonts handpicked to embody your brand. It is easier than you would think to fall into copyright infringement, intentional or not.

According to The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Copyright is the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work. The creator is usually the copyright owner.”

How do I know my assets are all ethically obtained? The best way is to choose a trustworthy designer skilled in creating custom artwork for all your branding needs. Always try to pin down the origin of your fonts, photos, and illustrations. Ensure proper permissions are acquired.

Your brand assets are invaluable and worth protecting. Taking the steps needed to safeguard your business brand will require some time and money but the payoff of credibility and peace of mind makes it a worthwhile investment.

What is Branding?

What is Branding?

Coca-Cola, Nestle, Starbucks, Pepsi…what do these companies all have in common? There’s a high chance you consume at least one of these products and it’s not just because they taste good. The products are highly successful because they have mastered the art of branding.

Take Coca-Cola for instance. Their ads seem to always evoke feelings of warmth and optimism. In the commercials, you see families and friends gathered, bottle of Coca-Cola in hand.

In one the most famous commercials of all time (1971 Coca Cola commercial), we see a group of people singing “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” Coca Cola has always relied on the marketing approach of evoking a positive, carefree vibe for its customers. It’s an effective approach as it is a beverage of choice in many family gatherings, parties and restaurants.

In our increasingly competitive business market, we all want our company to stand out and be recognized in a sea of other businesses offering similar products and services.

You’ve probably heard the term “branding” used frequently to describe a company’s brand style, but what exactly is it?/

Entreprenuer.com defines branding as “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

Put into simple terms, a brand is your company’s personality: who you are and how others perceive you. It is what sets you apart from your competitors. Your consumers develop a sense of what to expect from your product or services based on the values and qualities you choose to communicate in your design, slogan and marketing campaigns.

For instance, if you are a daycare provider, you may opt to style your marketing material with bright colors, playful fonts and simple illustrations to characterize your business as a place for children. Your slogan is “Providing a Safe Place for Children to Grow.” Naturally, you will make it clear to your prospects that your daycare teachers are CPR certified and provide continual video monitoring to ease the concerns of the child’s parent.

On the other hand, if you are an attorney, you will likely go for a more sleek and professional look using neutral colors like gray, navy or crimson red.

In branding, your goal is to solve a problem or fulfill a need specific to your target audience. There are multiple ways and styles of doing this. Do your research and decide what approach will work for your unique clientele. Remember Corona’s “Find Your Beach” commercials? They  offer their consumers a much needed escape from work. Then you have the famous Nike swoosh “Just Do it” intended to motivate you to workout and purchase their line of athletic apparel. Different approaches work for different companies.

Effective Branding will..

Make a clear statement about you

  • Make you appear trustworthy
  • Provide an emotional connection to your customer
  • Motivate your buyers to make a purchase
  • Promote customer loyalty

branding

Ready To Get Started? 

Here is a step by step process to help make you a branding rock star…

Step 1: Identify your business objective. Be as specific as possible about what you wish to accomplish in your business and develop a company mission.

Step 2: Research, research, research. Who are you competitors? What are they doing right? Don’t reinvent the wheel, but also keep your brand unique.

Step 3: Decide your marketing style. Is your jewelry line going to have an elegant, upscale look to appeal to white collar professional woman? Or are you an up-and-coming video game store appealing to college students with an edgy grunge look?

Step 4: Write out your goals. Decide the step-by-step process of how you will create your brand. Do you have a logo? What social media accounts will you primarily use to market yourself? Does the style of your website reflect the style of your brand? What are your budget goals?

Step 5: Maintenance Mode It’s easy to get off track and focus on your immediate tasks, but it’s vital that you keep on top of your brand strategy. You may have to take a step back and re-evaluate your current marketing approach. Decide what’s working for you and what’s not.

This a great starting point and should be reevaluated periodically to ensure your business success. If you are unsure, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you work out the details. As tempting as it may be to jump into the launching of your brand, it is wise to plan strategically so that you have a firm foundation.

2019 Website Trends

2019 Website Trends

In our constantly evolving world of web design, it’s befitting we stay on top of the latest trends to remain competitive. Not surprisingly, time spent on the World Wide Web is continuing to rise. Mobile first websites (that is, sites designed to first and foremost look great on mobile devices) is a definite must.

As attention span is increasingly becoming shorter and shorter, we must compensate for this by developing websites that load quickly and successfully capture their gaze.

More Movement

You’ve likely noticed the trend toward more dynamic sites. A simple hover of the mouse can create interesting effects such as slide-in text, fade-in photos, shifting graphics, or a pop-up on your screen. Engaging video backgrounds are now very commonly seen on the site header. All these things are intended to be attention grabbers, and it’s highly effective (provided that it’s also fast-loading.) It is satisfying for viewers to interact with your site and inspired with their mouse clicks. Just be sure not to overdo it.

Creative Use of Geometric Shapes

Colorful graphics and shapes are becoming increasingly popular. It’s a great way to add interest without slowing the site down as the images tend to be low resolution and therefore fast loading. It’s common to find these geometric shapes on the website header to direct the user’s gaze to pertinent information including your CTA button. The design should be strategic and correlate with your site theme. Keep it fresh, original, pair it with photos when appropriate
and don’t forget the “less is more” principle.

Below is an example of a site that effectively uses hexagon shapes to form an exciting and colorful picture collage.

Original + Quality Images = Attention Grabbers

At one time cheesy stock images were all the rage. OK, at least acceptable. Fast forward to 2018, and it’s a very different picture, literally. If you want to appear credible and gain the attention your site deserves, be thoughtful in your image selection. Choose only high-quality images that seem authentic for your website; if you have original photos — even better. However, there is indeed no shortage of high-quality stock images available from several different sources.

We love Pexels.com for a decent royalty-free selection that is cost-free. Adobe Stock is another excellent option with a broader variety for pay by image or month plans.

Asymmetrical Design

As original, cutting-edge web design is gaining recognition, and there is a growing trend toward asymmetrical design. The asymmetrical design is just as it sounds; a design layout that is not symmetrical and not following a grid layout. For instance, you could have a text block balancing out an image. It must be used strategically so that it still appears balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Chatbots

Chatbots are becoming more and more common in our ever-increasing technological generation. Many prefer digital communication to potentially waiting several minutes on hold to reach customer support. It’s convenient for users to type in their questions and receive instant feedback for their query. It benefits business owners as it allows them to assist customers without being physically there. Besides, you can gather information about your potential customer to serve their needs better.

Bright Colors & Gradients

In the last few years, we’ve seen more and more vibrant color schemes stylized on websites. Instagram popularized this concept by being one of the first companies to brand their logo with the flamboyant purple, pink and yellow gradient. It’s an effective way to gain interest when applied to headers, images, page backgrounds, and even text. It can be incorporated boldly to add intensity or subtly as in the below website examples.

Alluring Typography

As web browsers are better supporting custom fonts, we are noticing an increase in gorgeous typography that can sometimes gain more attention than the images! Bold, eclectic and occasionally custom fonts are a nice touch and should tie in with your company design style. Experiment with different font pairings that look good together.

Sites like TypeKit, FontSquirrel, and Fonts.com make it easy to check out different fonts and obtain the web font information.

Conclusion

In our constantly evolving world of web design trends, there is one thing that will remain the same: UX Design or User Experience. Ensure that your site functions well and navigation is made easy. Make sure your website provides ample information and is a satisfying and visually pleasing experience. Just as you would expect on a world-class cruise ship, go the extra mile and exceed your client’s expectations.

Das Studio Ecommerce Importance

Das Studio Ecommerce Importance

Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on businessess

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting businesses, large and small, across the world. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported that 92% of small businesses were negatively affected by the epidemic.

It is drastically changing the way we shop and do business—from essential to nonessential items. As safety measures have come into place, many business owners have had to shut down temporarily or even permanently.

Amid the seclusion and ambiguity, we find a drastic change in the way people purchase items. Many buy in bulk to prepare for the worst. There’s an increase in online shopping, as customers feel safer receiving orders at their front doors versus jam-packed stores.

Even before the Covid-19 outbreak occurred, online purchases have become quite popular (Hello, Amazon Prime). It’s just so easy to do a product search, check reviews, then type in credit card info without batting an eye. It wouldn’t be surprising if e-commerce purchasing continues to rise even after the pandemic is over.

Rather than bemoan the shift in the business market tide, why not rise above it?

Maintain your business and thrive

Here are some ways you can maintain your business and even thrive in the face of uncertainty.

1. Create a landing page with a sign-up form to stay in touch with your customers. Share this link across your social platforms or through email.

2. Start an e-commerce site and sell your products online. You could even offer gift cards for buyers to purchase now and use later when life becomes “normal” again.

3. Ignite your social media presence through your platforms of choice. Don’t just start up a Facebook page with a few posts here and there and expect a following. Regularly update and provide new, informative messages that will engage your audience.

Whatever direction you decide to go, stick to the course and don’t give up. Allow this change to grow you and your business. You may have to switch up your online approach a few times before you find what works. Ultimately, you know your customers best.

As Helen Keller wrote, “a bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.”

 

Contact us if we can help you in your online business journey.
2020 Design Trends

2020 Design Trends

Our world is evolving at an ever-increasing rate with new trends. Technology-wise, we now have airpods, smartwatches, and security systems accessible on our mobile devices. Graphic design is no different. Just as the fashion industry goes from one fad to the next (You’d better re-think that leopard print shirt!), so too does graphic art styles.

If you want to be competitive in your market, you’d best stay on top of the latest design trends. We’ll take a peek into upcoming trends we predict will be hot for this tech-driven year of 2020.

Collage Style

Back when you were a kid in school, did you ever cut out magazine pictures and paste them on a poster board to create a one-of-a-kind hodgepodge?  You’ll see it in graphic design as well. There is a certain appeal in paper-cut illustrations that gives off a vibe of authenticity to your viewers.

Bolder Text

We anticipate heavier typefaces as designers strive for engagement in a sea of competitors. Large text is easier to read and more impactful–expressing power, confidence and influence. Brush scripts will continue to rise popularity as well as custom fonts made specifically for the brand.

Geometric Shapes & Lines

Designs made up of shapes and lines was wildly popular in 2019, and we expect this trend will continue to evolve in 2020. The style is reminiscent of our ever-growing age of technology and digital lifestyle. Lines form the basic patterns of design and can bring a simplistic edginess to modern designs. The sky is the limit when it comes to the blends of lines, solid colour, and gradients that can be superimposed on one artboard to form a unique and stunning design.

Ultra Bright Colours

Vivid colours are in again, with every colour of the rainbow uncovered in these striking designs. Bright, contrasting colours will always capture attention more than dull pastels.  Duotone colour palettes maintain their popularity in addition to those gorgeous gradients we find in art sponsored by Apple, Instagram and  Spotify.

Vintage

On the flip side, you’ll see vintage styles continue to make a comeback from pretty much any time frame. You may notice the retro colours of the 70’s (think maroon, tan and pea-green) or an Art Deco style design such as this lovely restaurant logo. Designers will combine these former styles with modern designs to create something absolutely unique and exceptional.

Illustrations

More and more companies are turning to hand-drawn illustrations for the authentic flair it delivers to their products. You’ll find this style is frequently juxtaposed with photographs in a unique and harmonious way. Check out this mixed media art at it’s finest.

Liquid Art

In contrast to geometric shapes, liquid shaped graphics give off a creative vibe with their smooth ambiguous edges. You will commonly see this art as bright gradients and patterns with dots, triangles and other shapes.

Animation

Animated logos, text and graphics on websites have recently become a staple in website design and will remain popular in 2020.  Dynamic graphics animation can transform a boring website into a sleek, engaging one.