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Ahhh, the annual report – one of my favorite pieces to design.

My roots are in publication design, and I am extremely comfortable with multi-page publications. I actually enjoy the formulaic process of setting up style sheets and creating a cohesive unit of type, photos, sidebars, etc.

A main reason I enjoy annual report design is because it is one of the more elegant pieces an organization will produce. I work with many non-profits, and this is their chance to communicate and show off to their supporters.

Thus, annual reports have developed into much more than financial figures. Annual reports contain a recap of all the things accomplished throughout the year by an organization. They are often filled with great stories accompanied by great images.

One of my recent annual reports was for Alpha Resource Center. This was the first year they outsourced a graphic designer. We used some stock photography and set up a photo shoot to get images of the people they were highlighting. The result was quite a bit of positive feedback.

I’ve also worked on many Santa Barbara Zoo annual reports. In 2010, the Zoo did a mini 2009 annual report to trim down what seemed like a superfluous expense. They cut articles, pages and photos. They learned that a fully-decked out report was actually a necessity. The Zoo returned to full 36-page 2010 report this year. The large beautiful images highlight the variety of animals and the year’s milestones. A design challenge is that the report must contain the large list of donors. I’ve included this list as a special insert section on a different paper stock. The donors stand out, and the integrity of the general layout is not compromised.

Here’s a short article in case you missed the flags flying on State Street this month. Kudos to the photographers who really made these flags great: Rashun Drayton, Sheri Horiszny and Tony Luna.

http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?nid=60671

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Logos are one of the ultimate design challenges. They should truly represent a company in one small image.

In some cases I spent hours, months and years perfecting a logo for a client. Other times, a simple type treatment organically evolved into the ideal logo.

There are a few key guidelines I use when designing a logo:

(1) Make the logo as timeless as possible. Who wants to invest time and money for a logo that will look old and tired in just a few years? Some inevitable dating will happen due to the nature of art and design. But the original logo should be strong enough to only need a thoughtful refresh after a few decades. There are some instances when a logo actually needs to look ultra-modern and reflect the style of the time. I am more playful with my typestyle and art choices in those cases.

(2) Start in the black and white. Many companies use beautiful, colorful illustrations for a logo. When reproduced in black and white the illustration becomes an ugly, muddled mess. I ensure the logo looks good in color and grayscale by designing the first drafts in black and white. This also prevents the client in getting caught up in the color choices before we have a solid concept.

(3) Design the logo for multiple sizes. I’ve worked on a lot of sponsorship pieces with large groupings of logos. Many logos are completely illegible when ran only one inch in size. Sadly it defeats the purpose and destroys any chance for brand recognition.

Logo design is a fun challenge. I enjoy getting know my client as I delve into research, brainstorming and variations.

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I strive to design a beautiful piece that has a purpose – sends a message and drives business.  For some pieces, it is difficult to find the beauty. In others, it is difficult to get beyond being a pretty piece of portfolio work to effectively convey a message.

Photos of Pacific Stoneworks completed jobs provide plenty of beauty, but also serve a great purpose. Prospective clients can see variety and capabilities, and the photos establish credibility.

The standard letter-sized, tri-fold brochure doesn’t provide the proper space to showcase so many photos with short copy points.

This postcard-sized, multi-panel brochure gave each photo its own beautiful page.  Easy, simple copy points are inviting to read as one browses through the photos. We were also able to present their exclusive digital template process. In other advertising pieces it has been difficult to convey this message while showcasing images of their beautiful work.

 

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I began working with West Coast Athletic Clubs (Santa Barbara Athletic Club, Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club, Ojai Valley Athletic Club) through a wonderful partnership with the amazing women of Wells Marketing.

The clubs have the difficult task of setting themselves apart from all other gyms. Members know the difference – more services, amenities, less crowds, friendships and a second home. Challenge: to simply convey these ideals in newspaper and magazine ads.

In early ads, we used existing photos and updated their previous ad campaign design. The previous campaign did feature a pleasing design, but the use of several small photos did not make a connection with readers nor grab attention.

Later, we used stock photography to convey how the clubs benefit the every day lives of their members. This allowed us to move forward without a large expense as we worked on developing a new campaign.

Custom photography (Lindsey Eltinge) was then incorporated to capture actual members at the club. Members talked about what makes each club special to them instead of the over-used testimonial of “how much weight I lost.” First approach was how the club improves their life, and secondly why they love the club. In February of 2010, we even incorporated a marriage proposal via SBAC’s ad campaign (she said yes!).

Most recently, we’ve photographed (Jeff Lipshitz) members doing the activities they love. Some of these members are high-ranked athletes in their field, and they discus how their membership makes these things possible.

Welcome to the BZ Design blog.

My aspirations for this site: to give my current and prospective clients a chance to see what I’m working on. I hope to post descriptions and photos detailing current and past projects.

I look forward to sharing and reading your feedback. More to come.

Cheers!

Barbara