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GCU Community Newsletter #13 – July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011

Busy, busy, busy in the last seven days! I’m still seeing artists who are unsure about the new marketability standards, and what that might mean for them. To help those who aren’t sure if their design skills are up to par, I’ll be posting a series of articles titled Design 101 where I’ll be guiding you through the basic rules of design (yes, there are rules; yes, rules can be broken, but you must first understand them and how they work). Look for the first to appear next week.

Hidden Gems: Birthday for Birth Mom - artist Sandra Rose Designs

Last week, our Critique Clinic drew quite a number of submissions from artists seeking advice on improving their cards – if you haven’t read the responses, what are you waiting for? Our Design Spotlight was on Janet Lee Palaggi of Janet Lee Designs; the Rainbow Connection gave us a beautiful and trendy Nautical color palette; and Doreen Erhardt’s Dash of Inspiration – Cup of Creativity celebrated artists around the world.

Until next time, don’t forget to pass the love around!

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Put Your “Pro” Face On: Back of Card Credits

It’s time to talk about the Back of Card Credits (BOC). That’s the information printed on the back of every one of your Greeting Card Universe cards – your logo + your store’s URL.

I don’t know about you, but when I pull a greeting card out of the rack at a grocery store, I look at the card’s front, inside, and the back as well.  So do shoppers. The BOC is the second face of your store, something that represents you as an artist, a greeting card designer and a business person whenever a shopper buys your card and sends it to someone.

Just as you want your storefront to be professional looking, you want your BOC to be as professional as possible. It’s your brand, it helps sell you to customers, and it says a lot about you as a business. A logo can make or break a business, which is why companies pay thousands of dollars to design firms to come up with consumer-attracting logos.

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. When the recipient of a card flips it over to look at the back and find out where it came from, no matter how nice your front of card design is, a BOC that looks amateurish, ugly, sloppy, or just plain bad will not draw shoppers to visit your store.

And in case you weren’t aware, in the beginning GCU actually had cards returned by shoppers because the BOCs weren’t well done – hence the option for shoppers to choose a “simplified” BOC instead – meaning store URL, no logo.

Hidden Gems - 35th Birthday - Ya-Graphic

So what goes into making a good logo? Think about the company logos you see every day, the logos of companies you trust to give you a great product experience in exchange for your money.

The basic rules of logo design are:

Follow the Fundamentals – The logo must follow the basic principles of design – form, clarity, consistency, space and color. This means your logo must have aesthetic appeal, the same as the greeting cards you design, and be designed to attract shoppers of all types. No personal photos. The logo should not appear distorted or squished. Every element of your logo, including any fonts you use, must be visible and above all, recognizable or readable at a small size. For GCU, a 200×200 pixel square is the ideal size for BOC.

Form Follows Function – Keep it simple. You logo must be instantly recognizable and usable in any context, at any size, on any background (from plain to patterned, any color) – whether on the back of a greeting card, in a store banner, on a T-shirt, on a matchbook cover or a bumper sticker. The fussier and more intricate your design, the further you’re getting away from a functional logo. Do not under any circumstances use shadow, 3D effects, texture effects, embossing, beveling, glare, a photograph or gradients. Simple is best.

For Consistency: Use your logo on every product you produce, on every on-line store you maintain, on your business cards, brochures, and everywhere else. Branding is important to create consumer awareness. The more shoppers see you out there, the more they’ll want to find out more about you.

Find Your Face – Choose an image for your logo that represents something about you as an artist, or some aspect of your business. For example, my CorrieWeb logo is an illustration – the Earth encircled by different animals because a lot of my art has animals in it, and our tag line is “The Wonderful World of Corrie Kuipers.” Your logo should be unique, and have a classic, timeless quality that will not become dated in two years. And don’t be a copycat. It’s a fact that copycat logos will fail. Don’t believe me? Just ask Pepsi. Their old logo was very similar to the one used by Coca-Cola. It wasn’t until Pepsi completely redesigned their logo to be unique that they saw a big increase in sales.

Hidden Gems: Mother Birthday - artist Maria Dryfhout

For the Forum – You may not be aware, but the picture you upload to your ARTIST PROFILE which appears in your Forum posts is the same picture used for BOC unless you choose otherwise. If you want to show your “little old me” face to the Forum, and a professional logo for BOC, you need to: go to MANAGE STORE > ARTIST PROFILE. You’ll see two boxes – Artist Profile Picture and BOC Picture. Upload the appropriate graphic to each. Be sure to SAVE your changes.

Bottom line? If you’re designing and selling greeting cards, you are a professional. If your logo doesn’t reflect that, you may be losing sales – not just now, but in the future.

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The Critique Clinic is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to all GCU artists seeking peer review, advice and tips. Any artist may submit or leave a critique. All artists are encouraged to check the comment threads – you’ll learn something that may help you with your own marketability.

The title you choose from your greeting card is as important as your keywords. Search engines place great weight on a title, so you shouldn’t use a string of random words. Instead, titles should be unique and descriptive without becoming a shopping list, such as “To my Aunt – Chinese New Year Lanterns” not “Aunt, Lanterns, Chinese New Year, Red.” Also, when shoppers do an off-site search through Google or other search engines, they won’t see an image of the card in the search results, just the title. Would a string of random words entice YOU to click the link?

Tanya (Moonie) at Moonlake Designs has made a small collection of high quality photographs available to any artist who wants to use them. Other artists have joined in. See her Forum post for all the details.

Websprinter continues to maintain her very helpful list of Free Art Programs.

There is a GCU artists’ group on Facebook? We encourage you to join, post cards for your fellow artists to admire, share news, and have fun!

DID YOU KNOW you can “like” this newsletter or any post on the GCU Community blog, or include them in your social bookmarks? Or Google +1 them! Just click the title of the post, which takes you to the permanent link page. At the bottom of the page you’ll see buttons for social sites like Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.

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The next Newsletter will be published on August 5, 2011

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cathy Gangwer permalink
    July 28, 2011 1:37 pm

    Thank You for good info!

  2. July 28, 2011 3:43 pm

    Thanks for the boc reminder. I thought I’d put up the new version. This made me check and realize I hadn’t.

  3. July 29, 2011 9:00 am

    i’m doing lots of tweaking–thanks for the consistently helpful tips 🙂

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