How Solution-Oriented Logo Design Can Backfire Lauren Nelson | October 21st, 2016

When it comes to logo design, the conventional thinking has been to aim for something that represents what you want people to associate with your brand: selecting a conservative font to convey traditional values, choosing specific colors to connect you with certain emotions, opting for modern graphics to frame a company as cutting edge, and so on. We want our designs to establish us as the solution to a problem.


Image Source:EAP Foundation


These assumptions have been tried and tested by time, generating solid results for those who incorporate them into their design strategies. But… you know what they say about what happens when you assume.

One researcher at Kansas University questioned whether this common branding tactic was truly best practice or just a function of habit.

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Make an Inspired Creative Brief Nick Bowersox | October 20th, 2016

We’ve heard it before. We’ve probably said it before. It’s an all too common and not at all helpful framework for evaluating design:

“I don’t know what I like until I see it.”

Many entrepreneurs feel this way when writing a creative brief for a creative project. For most, it’s difficult to express your visual preferences in words, and even harder when you don’t know what those visual preferences are.

Rather than waiting for the first round of designs to hone in on what you do and don’t like, save valuable time on projects by gathering inspiration from these design showcase websites. With a collection of inspiration and a little guidance, your creative brief will be more dialed in and both you and the designer will be speaking the common language of design.

Here are some great inspiration resources for a variety of design projects:

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Fresh from the SPRING: JMJ Audree | October 20th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for JMJ. Check out more great work on JMJ’s profile page.

Nicely done, JMJ, nicely done!


3 Practical Business Lessons from the Presidential Debates Arielle Kimbarovsky | October 20th, 2016

campaign-2016-debateImage Source: NY Daily News

We’ve never experienced a U.S. presidential race like the one we’re living through today. To say that this election is unprecedented is an understatement. But while, in this polarized climate, the debates may seem more like a sadistic sideshow than anything resembling productive rhetoric, the debates do offer important lessons for business owners.

Yes, you read that right.

Those of us in the business world may not be arguing about Wikileaks and assault allegations, but we are familiar with the tension that has underscored these high-stakes political squabbles. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that a lot of meetings actually end up becoming debates, because they’re usually used to make decisions from a pool of opposing opinions anyway. And even if they aren’t necessarily relevant to the way you or your company structures meetings, the presidential debates can certainly teach us a lot about the way that we interact with each other in group settings.

With the final presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle in the books, we’re left to reflect upon the aftermath of three contentious, momentous evenings. They resulted in large amounts of memes and Twitter jokes… but not a whole lot of resolution or confidence in the candidates. So what can we learn from these debates that can translate into our work lives?

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Crowdsourcing as a Talent Scaling Solution Lauren Nelson | October 18th, 2016

Image Source: Synergy Global

Hiring people is hard. There’s a lot that goes into the decision. From recognizing the need to justifying the costs, sifting through applicants and interviewing standouts, negotiating contracts and onboarding new hires — it’s a complex process with a lot of room for error.

The stakes are even higher for startups. Every penny spent has got to delivery a return, and new hires take a whole lot of pennies. What’s more, those new hires, if they’re worth their salt, are probably going to turn around and ask you to spend even more pennies to make it possible for them to do their job. This is especially true when it comes to marketing and design.

But this is where crowdsourcing can help minimize risk and maximize return.

Wait a minute, you might be thinking. Crowdsourcing as a talent acquisition strategy? Since when?

Since… well, always. There are three distinct ways using crowdsourcing platforms for your creative needs can help you better manage how you scale your team.

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Why Your Company Should Be Investing in Podcast Advertising Lauren Nelson | October 17th, 2016

Image Source: Shutterstock

It’s being called the “Golden Age of Podcasting.”

For those who’ve been in love with the medium years, it’s about time. The concept was born in the 1980’s, truly getting its legs with the dawn of the internet. At that point, it was primarily just on demand talk radio. MP3 players changed the game by making content accessible on the go, and contributions from Tristan Louis, Dave Winer, and Adam Curry made the content consistently available via RSS. In 2004, journalist Ben Hammersley referred to the booming medium as “podcasting.” The term stuck, and in 2005, “podcast” was the New Oxford English Dictionary’s “word of the year.”

As Apple and Yahoo! launched platforms which allowed listeners to subscribe to and organize their favorite podcasts, use exploded. Ricky Gervais broke records in 2007 when his show got 260k downloads per episode in its first month. Adam Corrolla set a Guinness World Record in 2011 after his show was downloaded almost 60 million times in a two year time period. By 2013, Apple was boasting more than 1 billion podcast subscribers using their platform. In 2014, Sarah Koenig launched the show Serialwhich became a pop culture phenomenon. It topped the charts on iTunes before the first episode ever formally hit the web, and stayed there for three months — long after the first season had ended.

Today, more than 1/3 of Americans say that they have listened to podcasts at some point in their lives, while 25% say they have listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s significant because it indicates truly explosive growth in the medium — a 75% increase since 2013. To put this all in context: the same number of Americans using Twitter are listening to podcasts.

Talk about a MASSIVE audience. Of course it was going to pique the interest of advertisers, who have quickly seen strong results from their initial efforts beyond the “offer code” standard rolls. As Digiday reported:

While podcast advertising is dominated by direct response advertisers, some prominent brands have advertised on podcasts, including Google, Ford, PayPal and HBO. And more should join in, said McCrery, pointing to ad effectiveness studies Podtrac commissioned from independent third parties, including GfK, Future Research Consulting and TNS. Podcast advertising results in 62 percent average unaided ad recall, an 81 percent average increase in product or service awareness, a 187 average increase in usage intent, and a 69 percent average brand favorability rating.

Despite the explosions in podcast visibility and the demonstrated effectiveness of podcast advertising, dollars have been slow to follow. In 2015, brands shelled out roughly $31 million for podcast advertising spots. That’s, frankly, a drop in the bucket relative to traditional radio ad buys, which accounted for $17.6 billion in the same year.

The upside of all that, for brands at least, is that podcasts represent a wild, wild west of advertising, boasting relatively low costs and untold potential performance — or the ever rare low risk/high reward scenario. If you’re looking to reach a new audience, podcast advertising is the way to go right now. Why?

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Psychographics: The Key to Effective UX Design Lauren Nelson | October 13th, 2016


Image Source: Flickr

Marketing has long been a space dominated by conversations about demographics. Ask someone in the field to describe their target audience, and the most consistent elements will be rather general and ubiquitous delineations we apply to people: gender, age, income, career, and the like. This information is, undoubtedly, important, if only because data on such groups and their behavior is far more readily available. And at the end of the day, some customization is better than none.

But when it comes to design, demographics can fall woefully short in terms of generating meaningful insights. Not every 30-something woman making a healthy living as an accountant feels and thinks the same way, and while design is most certainly an element of a platform or application’s function, it’s also a form of psychological influence via the aesthetic. Demographics, unfortunately, don’t tell us much about psychology — not reliably, at least.

The psychology of a 30 year old female accountant with six kids, a strict Catholic upbringing, recent losses in the family, and an underwater mortgage is going to be different than that of a 30 year old female accountant who has never married, owns her condo outright, subscribes to pluralism, and is a proponent of marijuana legalization. On paper, they’re part of the same group. In life, they have very, very, very different motivations, preferences, pain points, and perceptions of reward.

In theory, one could get intensely granular on demographics and try to come up with a rudimentary psychological profile for the buyer. But in order for that to occur in most cases, one would have to focus in myopic fashion on a sliver of an audience, which isn’t very useful when you need to design something for use by your entire audience.

No, if you want your design to really resonate with your audience, ditch the demographics in favor of psychographics.

While demographics looks at relatively static and quantifiable characteristics, psychographics pay attention to the behaviors, interests, attitudes, and lifestyles of the individuals in question. The goal is not to determine who someone is, but how they are. And given that a user experience is, at the end of the day, how someone interacts with your brand via a specific medium, understanding how they typically behave and make decisions is of much greater value than what buckets they might fall into on a census.

There is, however, a reason that psychographics are not widely utilized in marketing, at least not in a systematic fashion: the data is notoriously difficult to collect. Site usage data reflects what happened, but not why. Questionnaires and surveys can be a challenge to construct in a way that provides answers you need, especially since you might not know what you need until it’s staring you in the face. And when you try to decipher this information, your own assumptions can taint the interpretation, leading to faulty conclusions.

The only way leveraging psychographics in your UX design attempts works is if you commit to making UX design a process instead of a destination. That idea might be off-putting to some at first, but those who have been in the game long enough know that this framework is the one most likely to yield a consistently positive user experience anyway. Products change, services morph, trends swell and ebb. If your approach to UX design is “one and done”, your results won’t be durable anyway.

So how can you start using psychographics in your UX planning and design?

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Fresh from the SPRING: rudyy Audree | October 13th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this clothing project.

Let us start the slow clap for rudyy. Check out more great work on rudyy’s profile page.

Nicely done, rudyy, nicely done!


Everything Marketers Need To Know To Avoid Violating Copyright Law Ross Kimbarovsky | October 12th, 2016


Image Source:


If you’re not creating content, you don’t exist on the internet. Tweets, images, blog posts, comments, your Facebook posts – these are all content. Marketers know that when done correctly, content marketing can be a valuable marketing channel. As I wrote previously:

“Content marketing” refers to creating information (content) that has value to others. The creator of the content ultimately wants to sell a product or service to prospective buyers who benefit from the content, but the goal of content marketing is rarely to sell directly. Instead, the goal of content marketing is to encourage people to read and perhaps engage with the content, and to begin developing a relationship with the person or entity that created that content.

There are many terrific guides about content marketing, including this one from Kissmetrics. But before you rush to share another image or write your next blog post, consider this: content marketing can have many serious legal consequences. If done improperly, marketers can violate copyright law and expose themselves, their employers, and their clients to substantial legal risk, money damages and embarrassment.

I created this guide to help marketers understand the basics of copyright law. I know a bit about the subject: I received my law degree 21 years ago. Before founding crowdSPRING, I was a trial attorney focusing on complex commercial and intellectual property litigation.

If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please leave a comment and I’ll consider revising the guide to include your question (and an answer).

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection provided to those who create original works. Under the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display the work. Any or all of these rights can be licensed, sold or donated to another party. You do not need to register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office for it to be automatically protected by copyright law (registration does have benefits – see “What can you do if someone else is using your content?” Q&A below).

Let’s take a look at these rights in more detail.

The copyright owner has the right to reproduction. This gives the copyright owner control over who can or cannot reproduce their work. If someone copied this guide and pasted it on their own site without my permission, that would violate my copyright.

The copyright owner has the right to derivation. This gives the copyright owner control over who can or cannot make derivative works. If you take a screenshot of  part of an image, or translate this post into another language and publish it without permission,that would violate my copyright.

The copyright owner has the right to distribution. This gives the copyright owner control over who can or cannot share their work, including sale, import/export, and commercial trade. If you share this guide as part of an eBook, for example, without permission,that would violate my copyright.

The copyright owner has the right to public display. This gives the copyright owner control over who can or cannot post their works publicly, including online. If you share someone else’s work without permission in public, including online, that would be a copyright violation.

The copyright owner has the right to sell, transfer, or license their rights. This gives the copyright owner the right to legally appoint someone else as the copyright holder or to grant someone else permission to use the work.

Copyright laws around the world can differ in significant ways. Most countries are signatories to various international treaties and agreements governing copyright protection, such as the Berne Convention. Under the Berne Convention, if your work is protected by copyright in your own country, then your work is protected by copyright in every other country that signed the Berne Copyright Convention.

What does Copyright protect?

Copyright protects works such as image, writing, software code, photographs, poetry, movies, music, video games, videos, plays, paintings, sheet music, recorded music performances, novels, sculptures, photographs, choreography, and architectural designs.

To be protected by copyright, a work must be original and “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” This means that the work must exist in physical form. A tangible medium includes paper (even a napkin or cardboard will do) and digital storage.

The work must also be the result of at least some creative effort by the author. For example, simply listing people’s phone numbers in a phone book’s white pages isn’t sufficiently creative (and as you’ll read below, you can’t protect facts).

Does Copyright protect ideas?

No. Copyright doesn’t protect an idea, system or process. You would need to obtain patent protection for those.

For example, if your small business is creating software programs, you would generally be unable to protect under copyright law the algorithms, methods, systems, ideas or functions of software. Your code, however, is protected – nobody can sell or distribute your code without your permission. Allowing people to copyright ideas would thwart the purpose of copyright law (to encourage people to create new work).

Copyright also does not protect facts (regardless of how long it took to uncover such facts). For example, anyone is free to use information included in a book about the discovery of America or about how a television works, if they express that information using their own words.

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On #WorldMentalHealthDay, Praise for Neurodiverse Creatives Lauren Nelson | October 10th, 2016


Image Source: Imagine Therapies

On October 10th every year, folks around the globe recognize World Mental Health Day, and this year is no exception. Established in 1992, the day is intended to raise awareness related to struggles involving mental illness and mobilize resources to address those struggles. With the rise of social media, the visibility of the day and the conversations that surround it have been, thankfully, greatly enhanced.

This issue is incredibly important. It is estimated that at least one in five people are living with some sort of mental illness or mental health struggle. Intense stigma surrounding diagnoses often prevents people from seeking out help and support, which compounds the pain and loneliness associated with these experiences. Through courageous and vulnerable public discourse on days like today, we can help each other live happier, healthier lives.

And this is a subject of particular relevance to those occupying creative spaces. Whether you’re a designer, writer, or marketer, so much of what we do involves dynamic, out-of-the-box thinking. And as it turns out, people whose brains are wired a bit differently tend to be particularly good at those sorts of tasks. As a result, researchers have found again and again and again that creative types experience mental illness at a much higher frequency than those in other fields.

True, there is some debate over just how strong this scientific evidence is, but even if the frequency weren’t higher, it would still be important to talk about creatives living with mental illness, if only when considering how the nature of the work impacts such experiences. So much creative work is done in isolation, whether that a function of how the work works, an attempt to encourage creativity, or an element of freelancing. And for those living with mental illness, isolation is often dangerous. Being alone with your thoughts when your thoughts turn mutinous is never a good thing.

To this end, creatives, perhaps more than anyone, need days like today. Not only because it reminds us that we are not alone, but because it provides an opportunity to recognize another important fact: mental illness doesn’t meant you’re defective. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or deficient. It means you’re different, and difference is not inherently bad.

That’s not said to diminish some of the very painful aspects of living with mental illness by any stretch of the imagination. But the differences in the way your brain process information means you’re going to see things differently than others, bringing valuable perspective and insights to any table at which you sit. The differences between your life experiences and those who are neurologically atypical can make you a more compassionate and empathetic thinker. And frankly, your persistence in the face of adversity and judgment speak to a strength not everyone can boast. These are positive elements of neurodiversity that too frequently get lost in the shuffle when we talk about mental illness.

So on this year’s World Mental Health Day, we tip our hats to the creatives who live with mental illness every day. We applaud your resilience, we stand in solidarity with you in the face of discrimination, and we celebrate your neurodiversity. You are exceptional. Never forget it.

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