A Real Page Turner!

Here at Cronin Creative we get to work on a wide variety of projects, from logo design to content creation, from advertising to music packaging, from marketing collateral to website design. Like many, we spend our days in front of our computer screens, creating and delivering our design and content solutions in the digital realm. But, not surprisingly considering our backgrounds, we still hold a special place in our creative hearts for the refreshingly analog entity known as the magazine. We love designing them, holding them in our hands, and, yes, even taking the time to read them!

As business owners and creatives, we’re proud of our roots in the magazine world. Back in the day, we honed our skills in the Big Apple, writing, editing, and designing for venerable publications including Interiors, Musician, Creem, and Billboard, to name a few. Since establishing our own company in Nashville, we have broadened our scope considerably, but we’ve jumped at the chance to work on glossy publications for companies like T-Mobile and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Currently, I serve as Art Director for Nashville Interiors, where I’ve relished the opportunity to help create and publish a high-quality magazine featuring real editorial content and arresting photography. We understand that not-so-little details like heavy, luxe paper and top-quality printing send a subliminal message of luxury and sophistication that help the reader slow down and savor the tactile magazine experience.

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Blogging For Clarity

When the term “weblog” was originally coined back in the ’90s, I was working as highly paid (well, paid anyway) music journalist for a national publication. As you might imagine, the prospect of writing for free was an idea that held absolutely no appeal for me. Heck, they gave me real money to crank this stuff out!

I’ve learned a lot since those fledgling digital days, much of it from well-written, informative blogs, ironically enough. I’ve also become a small business owner, and one of the most important takeaways for me has been the realization that if you’re blogging consistently to the right audience about your company’s unique value proposition, you are not writing for free. In fact, the benefits to your business, to your own personal growth, and to your bottom line, can be substantial.

Noted business writer John Jantsch writes about the benefits of blogging in his excellent book, “The Referral Engine.” In an article from his “Duct Tape Marketing” blog, the author describes his own well-established blog as “the single greatest business asset I own.” Jantsch goes on to elaborate on some of the unexpected benefits of blogging.

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The Case For Space

I loved those vintage suitcases, and I hated to see them go. Having recently made the move into a smaller home with smaller rooms, I was busily arranging and rearranging (I can’t help myself), trying to squeeze in all my favorite stuff and still keep a spacious and airy feel. It wasn’t working. Finally, I stopped. Steeling myself to the task, I began to methodically remove every non-essential piece of furniture, every knickknack, every extra accessory. Then I got to those suitcases.

Actually, I should know better. There’s a quote from “Little Prince” author Antoine de Saint-Expuéry that we repeat often here at Cronin Creative. It goes like this: “A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” With that in mind, I finally surrendered to the idea of removing the beloved luggage, and voila! The room opened up, it breathed easy and just felt right. It also felt a whole lot bigger.

When you think about the messaging around your brand, think of that room. While it may sound counter-intuitive, when it comes to that messaging, taking things away adds a ton of impact.

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Rule #1 – Be Yourself

Back in the nascent days of Cronin Creative, we were presented with the opportunity to show our portfolio to the marketing director of a large medical company here in Nashville. Excited, we took the meeting and things were going great. Then we started to proudly display our graphic design work, most of it from our immediate music business past.

As she perused the CD packaging and marketing materials we designed for country artists like Reba McEntire and Marty Stuart, we could feel the executive rapidly fading. The meeting was, for all intents and purposes, over. With our music biz roots exposed, our potential client shut down, and, thanking us for our time, showed us the door.

We’d learned our lesson, or so we thought. We resolved to hold back a bit, thinking our too-colorful past might hurt our chances with future clients. That didn’t last long. For a lot of good reasons, it just didn’t work for us. The minute we decided to embrace and fully own who we are and the value of our experience and what we have to offer, we began to attract the clients that fit. We learned that there’s no substitute for authenticity in business.

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Not The Same Old Song

I’ve always been a sucker for a music biography. I can’t help myself. Digging into the sometimes inspiring, oftentimes trashy chronicles of my rock ‘n’ roll heroes brings out the kid in me every time. And occasionally they offer up a nugget of genuine insight.

I recently picked up a copy of “Delta Lady,” a biographical memoir from Rita Coolidge. For those of you who may not go back that far, Coolidge, the inspiration for Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady,” evolved from the queen of the ’60s backup singers to a successful soft-rocking ’70s solo artist, charting 25 hits and surviving a celebrity marriage with Kris Kristofferson along the way.

Coolidge relates the tale of her decision, several years back, to stop performing her signature hit, a mellow cover of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher.” Having performed the song countless times over the years, the singer had finally had enough and removed it from her set list. She subsequently attended a concert by Luther Vandross, one of her all-time favorite singers, where Vandross stubbornly refused to perform any of his hits. Leaving the concert disappointed, Coolidge changed her tune, adding “Higher” back into her set and vowing to somehow present the song “fresh” at every performance.

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