The Art Of Balance

One of the truly useful skills for any entrepreneur is the ability to keep all of the various balls in the air while maintaining a solid footing. Whether it’s a work/life thing, a financial chore, or finding the time to work on, as opposed to in, your business, maintaining a sense of balance is always challenging but absolutely essential.

From day to day, from project to project, I somehow maintain that balance, but there are times when life just throws the proverbial monkey wrench into the works and things get wobbly. A recent such “life happens” event found me in San Francisco, far away from home and office for a long three-week stretch to take care of some family business. Living and working remotely while dealing with other pressing matters was pulling me in several directions at once. And while I managed to stay surprisingly productive, my equilibrium was most definitely out of whack.

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What A Beautiful Mess

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

– Albert Einstein

I recently stumbled into this vintage photo of Albert Einstein’s desk along with the above quote. In addition to serving as a fascinating glimpse into the working life of a genius, it provided me with a little vindication as to the seemingly chaotic condition of own desk on any given day.

My clients, who come to me for clean, elegant design, might be a little shocked by the mess, but a recent study from the University of Minnesota’s Carson School of Management suggests that I may be on to something. The study had some subjects perform prescribed tasks in a messy environment, while others were asked to carry out those same tasks in a clean uncluttered space.

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Personify Your Brand

One of the real challenges associated with operating a business is the building of a distinctive and authentic brand that separates your company from the competition. A good way to get to the heart of the matter is to focus on the “human” side of your brand. Fact is, brands are an awful lot like people, and vice versa.

People and brands are all around us all the time, and we interact with them in very similar ways. There’s that all-important first impression. You meet someone, you size them up, and, if you’re like me, you remember their face but not always their name. The face, that initial impression of your brand, is your logo. Is it memorable? Does it stand out in the crowd? Does it communicate the message and the unique tone of your business?

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A Recipe For Branding Success

There’s a lot of talk these days about the myriad health benefits associated with consuming “pre-industrial” foods. A ton of research and a succession of books, articles, and even films like “Supersize Me,” have inspired the rise of a diverse cultural group dedicated to eradicating the chemically colored, flavored, and modified stuff you find packaged on the average grocery shelf.

Amid the crowded cacophony of expert voices on the subject, author Michael Pollan stands out. Like the diet he advocates, Pollan keeps things simple. With his book, “Food Rules,”* the author manages to distill a lot of history and some complex, powerful ideas about food into easily digestible morsels for maximum impact.

Pollan provides an important lesson for anyone working to build a durable, authentic brand that gets noticed in a crowded, noisy marketplace. He keeps his “food rules” short and potent (“If it came from a plant, eat it; If it was made in a plant, don’t,” and “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.”). He gets right to the heart of his message. He gets heard.

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The Art of Letting Go

As a growing design and branding firm, we spend every day refining and applying our “Clarity By Design” process in the service of our clients and their brands. But there are those times in the creative process when clarity can be hard to come by. We’ve all experienced the exhilaration of stumbling upon what seems like the perfect concept or solution to a particular puzzle. We’re jazzed, and we can’t wait to implement it. Fast forward a few hours, and we’re still wrestling with that brilliant idea, just trying to make it work. That jazzy feel has devolved into a dirge. “But it has to work. It’s great, and I’ve invested so much time going down this road! Ugh! I’m getting nowhere!”

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