graphic design

Free websites – you get what you pay for.

Posted by | Marketing, Services, Websites, Writing and Editing | No Comments
FreeThis year I've seen a couple of campaigns designed to get Aussie businesses online with free websites and free domain names or free lessons on building your own. I won't mention them by name simply because - well, it's bad for my business! I don't build sites for free (but mine ARE affordable). However with anything that's free, you get what you pay for. (Note that you can have a blog site with static pages hosted on WordPress, Typepad or Blogger, and you can access a range of templates, all for free, however you can't host these sites on your own standalone domain name, and this post discusses sites hosted on your own domain name.) Yes, you can get up and running with your own website all by yourself, but I would suggest that if you go down that route, contact someone like me for assistance with graphics, SEO, and as part of that SEO copywriting. These days anyone can put a website up. You might have the best product in the world, but unless you know a bit about how keyword analysis works, how search engines work, and how to write copy that will use the system to your advantage, you're not going to get found. SEO is a real art, and with search algorithms changing at a rapid pace in line with website evolution, you need to constantly tweak your copy and keywords. I've seen so many small business sites let down with poor grammar and punctuation over the years that I highly recommend having a copywriter help you with your website material. The worst offenders are apostrophes: often popped in where they don't need to be and left out where they do, incorrect tenses and misuse of plurals. Poor grammar and punctuation looks unprofessional. Competition is tough out there. As well as SEO-friendly copy on your site and great graphics and images, telling your own story could make the difference between people buying your product or someone else's. People remember stories; they engage with them. Simply saying "Buy my widget because it's the cheapest" won't differentiate you from the competition, even with a good price. Saying "Buy my widget - I developed my widget as a result of there being nothing on the market that quite did the job. It took me ten years of experimenting to get it right, to tailor it especially for our local market and local needs..." is far more memorable, human and compelling as a sales pitch. People can relate to you and trust you. Look and feel is also a big part of the web experience. You not only have to grab your readers' attention with copy in the first five seconds, your site has to look professional and coherent. With free websites you are often constricted as far as design goes; apart from your logo there won't be much to differentiate you graphically from another business which has taken up the free site offer. Most free sites have a very limited number of templates and unless you're a whiz with coding or know someone who is, a limited number of options you can do with those templates. Often too you may be limited as to the number of pages or menu items you can list on your free site. You might not be able to expand your site in the way you want down the track. Free sites mightn't let you feed in your twitter and facebook feeds or offer a range of widgets and plugins. These are all items to think about if you're considering taking up a free site offer with your own domain name. Unless you're a marketing, copywriting or graphic expert, consider spending some money and getting professional help with your free site, or take the plunge and have a unique site developed. Domain names are cheap at the moment - from $9 a year and hosting with the fab Crazy Domains guys starts at $54/year. I can start you off with a micro-site to which you can add your own pages and menu items from $495, and it won't look like a free site built on the same template 50,000 other Australian businesses are using.

The Power of Fonts

Posted by | Design, Services | No Comments

iLDAD? or iLOAD?

I was driving down the M2 Hills Motorway a couple of days ago when a white van pulled in front of me. I noticed the Hyundai logo and then the van's model name. I thought it said "iLDAD". Ill dad? Blimey, I said to myself, that's a strange model name. Maybe something got lost in the translation from Korean.
Austin Allegro

Austin Allegro

Ah, but wait. I tailgated the van for a moment or two just to read the name more clearly and realised it said "iLOAD". The font that was used featured an "o" with square corners. Had someone in Hyundai been channelling the designers of the ill-fated 1970s Austin Allegro with its quartic steering wheel? (For the unenlightened, the quartic steering wheel wasn't round. It was rectangular with slightly rounded corners. I suspect it caused many bruised thighs and was a key reason for the Allegro's lack of sales. There is a reason why steering wheels are round.) The upshot was that it was hard to tell the "O" and "D" apart. A classic case of not thinking carefully before choosing a font or typeface.

similar but different... not quite the Hyundai font but the same effect with the quartic O

The typeface used by Hyundai was modern and clean - probably too modern when used in that particular word. A car model number has to be readable at a swift glance. When you're driving, your brain is reacting in fractions of a second. You may need to recall that car's model name and number plate for any reason - let's say you heard a police report on the radio that police were searching for a white Hyundai iLOAD which had been involved in a major crime. Oh, you think. Well, that's not the car in front. That car is an iLDAD. It's not just car names that have to be readable at a swift glance, either - it's anything you put on paper or the internet that is intended to attract customers. The exceptions may be heavy metal band names or products aimed at Generation Y or Generation Z. But for most of us, finding a font that matches our branding and is easy to read is paramount. That doesn't mean sticking with Times New Roman (ugh); there are literally thousands of fonts out there for the taking, ranging from the striking and simple to the elegant and filigree. Even fonts with swirling serifs can be eminently readable. There's no excuse for doing an iLDAD! (And by the way, Hyundai, what's with the lower case i? Channelling Apple as well?)

Graphic Design – Ryde Business Forum

Posted by | Portfolio, Services | No Comments
RBF invitationWe design all of Ryde Business Forum's marketing material, and because cost is an issue for every not-for-profit organisation we use specific, simple templates for invitations, rather than design something completely new for each event. Events can be anything from workshops for a maximum of fifteen people to lunch or breakfast for around 200 - as this invitation was for. Arion Productions  changed RBF's branding from staid and traditional three years ago to fresh and inviting, with sans-serif fonts used in all marketing material, and the 'wave' device of blue, green and white common across all invitations, the website, stationery and newsletters. Aqua and green colours have been introduced as part of the corporate look, which was previously Reflex Blue and white. We believe the change in branding has definitely made a positive impact on the way RBF is perceived by members and future members.

Graphic Design – CDS

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CDS Annual ReportI've designed the annual report for the wonderful people at Centre for Disability Studies since the early 2000s. When I was engaged to do the job initially the brief was to modernise the look and feel of the report. Budget was a real issue and for several years we did the whole job in two process colours. Careful use of white space and those two colours taking specific roles in the document still made the annual report look clean and fresh. The 2009 report was the first we did in full colour and it looks one hundred per cent better again. Those two colours - the red and the blue - are still very much in evidence and apart from full colour photos and black body copy they are the only colours used in the document, retaining a clear link with the organisation's corporate colours and previous reports.

Graphic Design – SCG

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SCG brochureFor this client, Stonewater Consulting Group, I designed a branding package - logo, corporate colours, style guide, marketing material, business cards and Word document templates. SCG was a startup employment agency when they asked me to design a logo. They knew what they wanted - a drop of water making a big ripple. The brief for the entire look was that it had to have a slightly traditional feel in terms of fonts, but modern, clean lines. These clients are a pleasure to work with - and if you're looking for an executive role in Sydney, I recommend you seek them out -

Tell the world without it costing the earth

Posted by | Featured | No Comments

We work with a lot of small businesses, and we know how hard it can be financially to market your business. If you don’t have a website, you’re not in the game. You need professional-looking brochures and flyers people can download. You need to be found by search engines. Doing all this yourself takes time, and as we know, time is money, especially when you’re running your own business. But most website and marketing companies charge a bomb, right?

Arion Productions is a business communications company – that means we help you with all aspects of communicating what you do to the big wide world. You can use as little or as much of our service portfolio as you wish. Whether you simply want a brochure designed to an existing look and feel, or a whole new identity for your company including a website, we can do it. We can even take photographs for you.

Importantly, we can help you write compelling copy for your marketing materials and media releases, so your company has a professional identity.

Best of all, this service doesn’t cost the earth. Contact us to find out more.

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