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Black Is The New Black

As a born, raised, and educated New Yorker, I’ve always had a thing for black. Spend some time walking the streets and avenues of the Big Apple and you come to realize that, especially for the natives of that grimy jumble of noise and color, black just makes sense. From Uptown beboppers to Village beatniks to Lower East Side punk rockers, black has always been the color of the street, the shade of the subterranean creative class.

In her recent New York Magazine article on the subject, writer Amy Larocca reminds us that, historically, due to the high cost of the dye, black was worn exclusively by the upper crust and royalty, and that aura of power is still associated with the darker shades. And like a true New Yorker, Larocca has strong opinions on her city’s ebony-centric style sense.

“We wear black because it confers a no-nonsense power,” she says. “We wear black because we’re not here to see a show; because we are, in a sense, with the band. The band is New York, and the color is black.”

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Clarity Write This Way

As someone whose career has often been dependent upon an ability to produce clear and succinct writing, I become frustrated at the level of writing skills I encounter doing business every day. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Journal, I am not alone.

Author Josh Bernoff describes bad business writing as “a hidden source of friction that is slowing your company down.” Bernoff points to his recent survey of 547 business people who spend an average of 25.5 hours a week reading work-related material. All agreed that shoddy writing costs time, energy, and productivity. In a recent study conducted by online benefits and compensation information company, PayScale, 44% of managers surveyed pointed to writing skills as the quality most lacking in new grads.

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Driving Home The Less-Is-More Lesson

Like most Nashville drivers, I spend a lot of time these days crawling along in the city’s increasingly crazy traffic, longing for some clear, open road. Stopped dead in a recent rush hour, I was struck by the number of ads for lawyers all around me. Splashed across billboards and plastered on the sides of passing city buses, they’re everywhere.

I did a bit of homework on attorney advertising, and quickly found out that before 1977, a lawyer publicly soliciting services was considered by the American Bar Association to be below the dignity of the profession, and it was pretty much illegal across the country. A Supreme Court decision back in ‘77 changed all that, and the floodgates opened for attorney advertising.

While advertising is used across a wide range of specialties, the most common ads are those from what are known as “tort” lawyers – things like personal injury and medical malpractice. Frankly, in both design quality and tone of messaging, the vast majority of these ads don’t do a lot to dispel the “ambulance chaser” stereotype.

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Look Before You Leap

Whenever a new or existing client comes to us wanting to redesign their company’s logo, we always stop and ask a few very pertinent questions. First of all, why are you considering altering your logo? What motivated you to make this change? And finally and most importantly, are you subconsciously blaming your logo for deeper, less visible defects within your company?

Like the car lover who buys a vintage Mustang and immediately heads to the body shop for that candy apple red paint job without ever checking under the hood, you may be making cosmetic changes while ignoring problems that are festering just beneath the surface.

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A Blog At 50

We did it. Just about a year ago, we promised ourselves to finally get down to writing a blog centered around our growing business, and get it out there once a week, every week. We did take a week or two off for some holiday or other, but you’re reading number 50. We figure that’s some kind of milestone, and we intend to celebrate!

Several years back, when everybody started doing it, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the whole blogging thing. With years as a gainfully employed music journalist under my belt, the idea of writing for free held zero appeal for me. A mentor of mine turned my head around when he said, “If you’re blogging on a regular basis to your target customers, and you’re doing it right, you are not writing for free.”

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