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Choosing a name for your business and things to watch out for

Choosing a name for your business is an important, fun, and sometimes very difficult task when setting up a business. Iain Cameron Design and Illustration couldn’t be more practical or dull. But my company very nearly had a whole different name, with some other very interesting connotations, that involve sex and animals. I’ll get to that story later…

News business cartoon

It is interesting to look at company names, and how they work for a business. Should it be memorable, or descriptive, or visually appealing, or trustworthy? Does it even matter? The word will take on the meaning of the brand. For some people the word ‘virgin’ implies an older man with a beard who wants to go into outer space. For others it implies Richard Branson.

Aka Spiderman

A number of freelance designer/illustrators brand themselves with a different name. They do this to stand out, be memorable, and to grab the URL (web address). Designing around a brand that isn’t actually your name is also a lot easier than designing for yourself. When starting my business I considered this a good direction to follow, but ultimately couldn’t live with the idea that other people would think I was giving myself a nickname.

Business naming cartoon

The other issue with the AKA thing, is it always implies to me some 35 year old surfer, DJ, music video director wannabe who happens to be ‘slumming it’ with Photoshop and Illustrator until his (always a he) film, sorry ‘movie career’ takes off. Sorry guys, don’t take it personally, but AKA and a one handed shuffling movement just kind of roll off the wrist…

Look at the little monkey with the letter!

Which brings me to a company with a great name. I love Mailchimp, the email marketing service provider. I love the name. It’s simple, it’s sweet, it’s warm and cuddly like a monkey that delivers emails. Their website is also very well designed which will always give me a warm glow brand wise. I have a poor memory for names, but am very good at remembering important stuff in a round about way. I once said at a meeting in a previous job, ‘why don’t we use the monkey mail company’. They knew who I meant…

Mail chimp cartoon

Dog gone it

Before I finally went with my company name being ‘My Name and what I do’. I very nearly gave it another name. I searched for weeks for a company name. I combined colours and animals, various other random words, significant words, references to song titles, bands, lyrics, clever stuff, stupid stuff, but ultimately nothing I could live with. Or someone got there first, or the URL wasn’t available.

Until I came up with ‘Bad Puppy Design’. With an image etched in my head of a sweet puppy dog with a guilty look on it’s face. And the URL was available!!

Bingo, I’d found it! But just before buying the domain name, I thought I’ll just see what’s on BadPuppy.com, might turn out to be another design company. Well apparently not. It’s one of the world’s largest gay porn websites.

Business name outing

So a lucky escape. Although from what I’m not sure. I’m not homophobic, so it’s the porn bit that is the issue. But somehow ‘gay porn’ made it even funnier. The thing is it may well have generated traffic. On telling another designer this story he replied, with his head slanted to one side, ‘but would that be the sort of traffic you were after?’. Which is a point. But if none of us wanted traffic that at some point was on their way into or out of porn sites, none of us would have any traffic… Although predictive text on Chrome made for interesting reading typing in the address.

As of right now the domain name is still available. You can have my ‘Bad Puppy Design’ company name suggestion for free!

summer-beer-copenhagen

Back to work after a relaxing summer

summer-beer-copenhagen

Back to school work

With August about to turn into September, I find myself happily going up through the gears back into proper work mode. I’ve had a great summer, my first real break in many years. My batteries are recharged, and I’m raring to go from my base in Copenhagen.

One of the best aspects of living in Copenhagen is the work, life balance. The business side of the city clearly winds down a bit during the peak summer months, but then cranks back to life with everyone refreshed, with ideas and eager to explore possibilities.

We are three!

My design business will shortly be three years old. I am very proud of what I’ve achieved, and grateful to all the clients I have been lucky enough to meet and work with. Here’s to the next three years!

So if you want to see some of my work, here is web design.

This is for graphic design, specialising in logo design.

And my other core area Illustration.

Skål, Slangevar, Cheers!

say cheese

Choosing and adding photos to a WordPress web site

add photo website

Everybody say ‘cheese’!

The importance of great photos on a website

You can make or break a web site with the correct photographs. It is worth spending time and effort on finding the correct materials.

Ideally hire a photographer, they can really make an incredible difference to getting great photos. You can also take your own. If a friend has a good camera borrow it or get them to take some for you, as the correct equipment can really make a difference. My one photography tip would be to take way too many shots.  It is hit or miss with photography. If it takes 50 photos to get one great one, take 500!

Stock photos

Alternatively use a stock photo web site. Be careful with these as they can give your site a generic look. Spend time finding the special ones. Often what seems like a great photo when seen in isolation does not work on a web site. Other times a seemingly dull unremarkable image transforms a page. So I recommend trying a number of options. For the stock photo sites there is a download ‘comp’ option, so you can try them out before paying.

‘But I can just take photos from the internet’ is a quote I have heard a disappointing number of times.  It is illegal and you run a very real risk of being caught. Either by the photo’s copyright owner, or by your own clients. Do you want dishonesty added to your brand?

Further photo advice

Adding a face or faces (real faces not stock images) adds a human element to your website. It makes you appear more approachable and potential clients or customers get to know a little more about you.

For a team photo or office photo, sunshine makes an enormous difference. On a bright sunny day get your team outside, get some photos taken also of your office/business and surroundings if relevant.

Photo size

The size of your photo should be the actual size you can see it. The bigger the image, the longer time it takes an image to load, slowing down your site. Dimensions are in pixels, the dpi (dot per inch) should be 72.

In Photoshop, get the dimensions correct using Image > Image size, DPI is irrelevant here. Using pixel dimensions full width of this page would be 1130 pixels. The photo I am using of the cheese above is 800 pixels wide.

Then File > Save for the web. Save as Jpeg at 100% quality – as the web is at 72dpi, the image will be saved at 72dpi.  When naming your file, describe your image with regard to SEO. For example company-name-team.jpg. Use a dash (-) between each word.

If you are using another image programme, then Google how to save an image for the web in that programme. Photoshop Essentials is available from Adobe for around 100 DKK per month.

Examples

www.bannermanbandb.co.uk. A professional photographer was hired by the client.
www.doka-danmark.dk/om-os/ Team photos in the sunshine.

Stock photo sites

www.photodune.net
www.istockphoto.com
www.colorbox.com

Inspiration for writing your blog

Whether your blog is part of your business or you are blogging for fun, getting going with writing content is often the hardest part of the process.

There is a very inspirational video interview on the WP Elevation site with professional blogger Bill Belew. www.wpelevation.com/2014/02/episode-19-bill-belew/

Watching this will give you some good tips, and should leave you feeling energised. The two main points I took from the video (and there are lots) is ‘you haven’t really started until you have written a hundred articles’, and ‘just press publish!’. Bill is also a fascinating character, and Troy at WP Elevation is a great interviewer on all things WordPress.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 18.58.11

If you are still struggling to get going with writing for your blog, advice from Morten Rand-Hendriksen of lynda.com is to set aside thirty minutes once a week at the same time. What ever is written after 30 minutes, just publish. This way content will build steadily, and deadlines concentrate the mind.

From my experience the regular addition of content also makes me more alert for other possible subjects for blog articles.

It is important to understand it is unlikely you will know how your writing will be until you get going. It will evolve over time. You can always delete or edit old articles if you become uncomfortable with old content.

 

 

Dores Inn, Loch Ness Scotland

One of my favourite places to visit whenever I am back in Scotland is The Dores Inn restaurant, in the village of Dores on the outskirts of Inverness by Loch Ness. The food is fantastic, and the surrounding scenery is sensational. May be worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Inverness from which to visit, I recommend Bannerman Bed and Breakfast as it is a lovely bed and breakfast in a great location in Inverness – I designed the website, and my sister owns Bannerman B&B!

If you use the code <I know your brother> you may get an extra sausage* for breakfast.

*Other breakfast options are available.

Dores Inn Loch Ness

loch-ness-inverness-scotland

Labradors running into Loch Ness never to be seen again… Nessie likes a labrador. Dark chocolate or white chocolate, she’s not fussed.

Loch Ness Scotland

Told you…

Inverness Loch Ness

dores-inn-loch-ness-scotland

 

copenhagen-back-streets-fe

Beautiful back streets of Copenhagen

Copenhagen has lots of fantastic classic and modern architecture. However the beautiful back streets of Copenhagen have a charm of their own. The combination of mixed architectural styles, tight spaces and different colours and the Scandinavian light makes for a wonderful aesthetic experience, best described as ‘hyggeligt’.

copenhagen back streets

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones special effects video

Wonderful video showing the work of the special effects team on Game of Thrones. Does not contain spoilers!

Game of Thrones, Season 4 – VFX making of reel from Mackevision on Vimeo.

My top 5 tips for anyone interested in a new website

Internet graphicLet me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of Internet Land… with my Top 5 tips you need to know if you are interested in a new website!

1. Use WordPress

Which CMS?
At close to 20% of the internet and 66% of the CMS market, you’d be silly not to. While things can change quickly, with that level of users, you won’t be stuck with outdated technology in the medium term. What is a CMS?
*
I don’t care what anyone says, ‘CMS Street’ is a brilliant gag!!

 


 Number 2. Your web site must be responsive.

Responsive web design cartoonWith 30-40% of all internet traffic now on smart phones and tablets, your site must automatically fit the user’s device. P.C sales are falling. Smart phones are increasing. This is only going to become more important.


 Number 3. Have a blog.

New content graphicIt’s just a page filled with articles in reverse order, latest article first. It can be a ‘latest news’, a diary, or your thoughts on your field of expertise. It does not need to be on the front page, but can be. Google loves new content, and the more your customers can learn about you the better. It will increase the chances of your customers finding you, which is considerably easier and cheaper than finding your customers. Here’s a great video interview with Bill Belew on WP Elevation, very inspiring for writing a blog.


 Number 4. Don’t concentrate solely on Social Media.

Mark Zuckerberg cartoon Facebook and Twitter are great, but don’t think you don’t need a website. It should be the centre point of your online marketing campaign. The mother ship. Then occasionally post a link to new content on Facebook or Twitter which will bring visitors to your site. Your site with your branding, selling your services, not Mark Zuckerberg’s.

 


Number 5. Get all your important information on your front page in a nice user friendly style.

Shiney object cartoon People are lazy, and the internet has scrambled a good deal of people’s ability to concentrate – when online at any rate. Therefor all the important information needs to be on the front page. Conversely don’t overdo the information. Simplify, and minimalism with small pieces of bright colour, to help direct the eye. This is very big online at the moment, and is referred to as ‘flat design’. It’s all to do with smart phone screen size, and all the information people now receive from social media, SMS, email etc. With apologies to Sesame Street for borrowing the image of Big Bird from www.muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Muppets_Most_Wanted. So that is My top 5 tips for anyone interested in a new website. Do you want to know more? Do you disagree? Leave a comment below.

Johnny Marr explains the writing of ‘Heaven knows I’m miserable now’

The genius of Johnny Marr of The Smiths explaining how he wrote ‘Heaven knows I’m miserable now’.

1 minute 44 seconds.

Just delightful.