The Importance of Solo and Small Law Firm Logos [INFOGRAPHIC] Nick Bowersox | January 24th, 2017

In today’s legal marketplace, increasing competition, advertising noise and the commoditization of legal services has put substantial pressure on attorneys and law firms to develop unique brands that stand out from the crowd. Smart lawyers and law firms know that it’s impossible to differentiate when your potential clients don’t notice you.

Yet when you look around at the logos of small law firms and solo practitioners, it’s hard to ignore that most attorneys and law firms do a poor job when it comes to branding their legal services. In fact, most firms give their current logo a “C” average. Ask yourself: would your clients hire you if you were just an average attorney?

Unsure if your current logo is helping your firm stand out? Learn what makes a good logo and common branding mistakes in the legal industry in this infographic designed by crowdSPRING creative tina_chelle:

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10 Tips for Naming Your Startup or Small Business Ross Kimbarovsky | January 23rd, 2017

Naming your company can be challenging and time-consuming. If you need help or simply don’t have the time (it took us nearly 50 hours to name “crowdSPRING”), you can leverage crowdSPRING’s community of 200,000 designers and writers to come up with your company name or a product name.

Whether you leverage crowdSPRING’s community to help name your startup or small business or find a name on your own, you might find the following 10 tips useful:

1. Think about what you want your company name to convey.

Your company name is an important part of your company’s identity. The name will appear on your business cards, letterhead, website, promotional materials, products, and pretty much everywhere in print to identify your company or your company’s products and/or services.

Service oriented businesses should consider whether it will be easy for their prospective customers to recognize what services the business provides, based on the name of the company (example: Friendly Dog Walkers or Bright Accounting).

Businesses located in rural areas and serving rural communities may want to project a smaller, hometown feel with their name. However, businesses planning to focus on bigger markets or bigger customers might want to project a larger, more corporate image with their name.

2. Brainstorm to identify name possibilities.

Once you understand what you want your company name to convey, you should set aside some time to brainstorm. Think about words that describe your industry or the products/services you offer. Think about words that describe your competitors and words that describe the differences between your products and services and those of your competitors. Also, consider words that describe the benefits of using your products or services. Finally, think about words (and phrases) that evoke the feelings you want your customers to feel when they see your company name.

While brainstorming, look up Greek and Latin translations of your words – you might find new ideas from doing that exercise. Look at foreign words too (we spent some time with a Swahili dictionary looking for strong names).

Expect this process to take some time (it took us about 40+ hours to brainstorm and then another 10 to finalize names – we went through MANY possible names). Don’t forget to leverage resources, including a dictionary, thesaurus, and any other resources that you think may help.

3. Keep the name short, simple, and easy to write and remember. Also – consider acronyms of the name.

Think about the names of companies you admire. They typically have a few things in common: their names are short, simple, easy to write and easy to remember. (Examples: Apple, Google, Virgin, Southwest).

Obscure business names are often difficult to write and even more difficult to remember. This is a problem because for most startups and small businesses, word-of-mouth advertising is the most successful form of marketing. If your customers can’t remember your name or can’t spell it for others, it will make it difficult for them to help promote your business.

While it might be tempting, avoid using a “K” in place of a “Q” or a “Ph” in place of an “F” when coming up with your company name. Such letter substitutions make spelling the name very difficult.

Also, don’t forget to consider the acronym of your company name (an acronym is composed of the first letter of each word in a phrase). You might not use an acronym, but your customers might refer to your business by an acronym. A name such as Apple Support Services can result in an unfavorable acronym – ASS.

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20 Statistics About Branding Every Entrepreneur and Marketer Should Know Arielle Kimbarovsky | January 20th, 2017

Image source: JuralMin

Successful entrepreneurs know that good branding is a vital factor in determining our success, but with so much advice and so many statistics on the topic, it’s not easy to figure out what’s actually important.

Branding is the way that we communicate with consumers, differentiate from our competitors, and create a name for ourselves in a world full of startups and great ideas. A brand is much more than the company’s logo or the product or service being offered. A brand is your company in the present, future, and perceptions of the public. Essentially, branding is about communication.

Startups and small businesses communicate through their names, logos, and messaging. It’s becoming increasingly important to have a strong brand (for example, there are over 30 million small businesses on Facebook alone), a recognizable name, and a logo that rises above the rest. This is one reason why so many companies regularly rebrand their businesses.

With all that in mind, we collected 2o important insights on branding that every entrepreneur and marketer should know.

1. 78% of consumers believe that companies focused on custom content are more trustworthy than companies who simply churn out generic content. When companies create custom content, their audience is more likely to believe that the company cares about the consumer’s time.

2. Companies that have blogs generate 67% more leads per month than companies who don’t have blogs- and companies have noticed. Blogs account for 434% more of indexed pages on Google.

3. In the last 3 years, email rates on mobile devices have increased by 180%, pushing companies to focus more on creating mobile-friendly email campaigns and newsletters.

4. Marketing messages reach 561% more people when shared by employees rather than by the brand itself. This is because people are more likely to trust other people, rather than a faceless company.

5. 70-80% of consumers ignore ads on the sides of websites or search results- regardless of the search engine they are using. Often, they find those ads to be less trustworthy.

6. 84% of people purchase a product because of a referral– even if they didn’t directly know the person. Recommendations are extremely important, which is why consumers turn to Yelp or Amazon for reviews and ratings. Nobody wants to pay for a 1 star product or service.

7. 90% of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices. They expect a seamless transition between web and device-native applications through color, flow, and overall quality.

8. First impressions are incredibly important to develop loyalty; 48% of consumers report that they are more likely to become loyal to a brand during the first purchase or experience.

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Inspiring Advice from Self-Taught Designer and crowdSPRING Creative AVARTDE Nick Bowersox | January 20th, 2017

In our 12 Questions blog series, we feature interviews with someone from the crowdSPRING creative community of 196,000+ designers & writers from 200 countries. Today we feature Dino, who goes by the username AVARTDE.

Dino is a self-taught designer from Indonesia that has been on crowdSPRING since 2012. During that time, Dino has participated in over 600 projects with a focus on logo design and redesign. We asked Dino 12 Questions about design, creative inspiration, and what it’s like working on crowdSPRING:

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Does Your Law Firm Website Follow These 10 Best Practices? Ross Kimbarovsky | January 19th, 2017

In today’s legal marketplace, increasing competition and the commoditization of legal services has put more pressure on attorneys and law firms to stand out from the crowd. Simply put: it’s impossible to differentiate when your potential clients don’t notice you. Even worse, if your online presence isn’t professional, your clients will choose another firm. Paradoxically, it might be better not to have a website at all if the alternative is a poorly designed site with bad content and missing information.

Your brand, including your website, impacts your business and your potential to find new clients and grow revenues.

Poorly executed website design is the reason I left my midsize law firm 10 years ago when I founded crowdSPRING (where 200,000 designers and writers from around the world help law firms, attorneys, startups and businesses with logo design, web design, graphic design and naming).

Shortly before I left my law practice, I led a redesign of the firm’s website, working with a leading vendor in the legal space. But after several months and a big reveal, I was very unhappy with their work – it made our firm look just like tens of thousands of other firms in the U.S. and made it impossible for us to stand out. In frustration, I looked for a better way to help law firms, startups, businesses and agencies with logo design, web design, graphic design, and naming. That’s how crowdSPRING was born.

Large firms spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their brands and often, tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on website design.  Smaller firms don’t have a budget that size. The truth is that you can get a great website design for much less (small web design projects on crowdSPRING start at just $899).

Whether you work with an agency, a freelancer or post your project on crowdSPRING, here are 10 essential web design best practices and tips. We’ll point you to great  resources and examples and highlight recent changes in web design. And if you already have a website but are considering a website redesign, it’s a good idea to start with your homepage.

Here are our top 10 tips to help you create an awesome website design for your law firm or legal practice:

1. Keep the design simple, fresh, and unique.cs-site

Your website reflects your brand. It is the first impression a visitor will form when they visit your site for the first time. If you use an off-the-shelf template and your website looks like hundreds of other firms on the Internet, you’ll miss an opportunity to create a unique impression. Why would a potential client remember your site when she has seen dozens of other sites that look just like your site?

Take a look (above) at the homepage for TSMP Law Corporation, a boutique Singapore law firm. The page is airy, engaging, and different. In fact, if you visit their site, you’ll see that the main image rotates and shows a few variations, including highlighting their women attorneys.

The site looks different from most law sites and that’s a good thing.

Consider the impression you want to make and the message that you want to communicate to your clients and potential clients.

To simplify the message, incorporate large Hero areas in your homepage design. Even if you are not familiar with the term, you’ve seen “hero areas.” Hero areas are large blocks (typically an image and text or just an image or text) on a website’s home page. Their size and prominence draws the visitor’s immediate attention. It also sets a visual tone for the rest of the page and site.

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Fresh from the SPRING: tomblue Audree | January 19th, 2017

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:

The challenge of this project was to refresh this technology blog’s existing logo. The blog’s owner did not have the original logo designed by a professional, and wanted to see what could be done by the talented creatives at crowdSPRING. The project received 500 entries and while tomblue’s design didn’t take the prize, it was a standout in the crowd.

Let us start the slow clap for tomblue. Check out more great work on tomblue’s profile page. Nicely done, tomblue, nicely done!

Create a Successful Logo With These 10 Essential Elements Nick Bowersox | January 18th, 2017

A good logo is a major contributor to making that crucial first impression on a customer. They convey your company’s values, tell a story, and even help people trust your brand. If your logo does not convey the right message to a prospective customer, your company is at an immediate disadvantage. It could even mean the difference between selecting the competition over you.

We asked some of our best creatives to collaborate on guidance to help entrepreneurs create the perfect logo for their brand. They came up with 10 key elements that are essential to every good logo, regardless of industry or application. When reviewing your current logo or getting started with a new business, make sure your logo has these 10 elements:

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UK Experts Weigh in on Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2017 Arielle Kimbarovsky | January 17th, 2017

Image source: Geralt

In a recent post, we asked six US-based marketing experts to predict the key digital marketing trends they expect to see in 2017. When we published their answers, we were curious whether the trends highlighted by the experts were universal. The UK is one of our leading markets and we wondered how digital marketing trends in the UK differ from those in the US. After all, while some businesses focus on a specific geographic market like the United States or North America, many businesses, including crowdSPRING, have a global focus. For example, crowdSPRING works with clients from over 100 countries and creatives from nearly 200 countries.

In many respects, marketing is marketing, whether in the US or across the pond. Much of the digital marketing conversation last year, in the US and in the UK, focused on content marketing. In fact, there were globally, probably more posts published in 2016 about how to do content marketing than actual content marketing posts. We wrote a few popular posts about content marketing in 2016 on the crowdSPRING blog: How To Create Content Marketing Unicorns, A Mile In Their Shoes: Framing Your Content Marketing Strategy, and Repurpose Great Writing With Visual Content Marketing.

But beyond content marketing, everyone – from entrepreneurs to experienced marketers/CEOs have had to rethink the way they approach marketing, at home and abroad. While most marketing trends impact businesses and marketers around the world (after all, there aren’t really any borders on the Internet), some trends impact different geographic regions in disparate ways. In today’s noisy world, it’s more important than ever to understand not only the big picture, but also geographic marketing trends.

After recently publishing an article about 2017 digital marketing trends from six U.S. marketing experts, we reached out to six UK marketing experts to see whether marketing trends in the UK mirror those in the US for 2017. Here’s what UK marketing experts had to say:

Exclusivity

As a highly respected digital marketing influencer, Sam Hurley knows a thing or two about digital marketing trends in the UK. In fact, as an influencer, sometimes he even helps set those trends! In 2017, Hurley believes that there will be four majors factors that impact marketing: highly enjoyable user experiences, owned influencer marketing campaigns, “pay to play”, and private social channels. While the first factor is more self-explanatory, Hurley emphasizes the idea that more competition means an increased demand for anything that cuts through the noise:

Everything is pushing marketers towards advertising on Google and social. Social Media ad budgets alone have doubled worldwide over the last 2 years — going from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016. The only way to beat that is through solid presence built through stand-out personal branding and relationships with those of high-status…but with wide-spread use of intelligent programmatic ads on the horizon, ads should certainly be part of ANY strategy.

Whether it’s paying more than your competitors in ads, “buying” exclusive rights to an influencer, or even targeting customers through unique social apps, Hurley says that tailored outreach will become more important in 2017:

Facebook Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat and now Google Allo…these are the apps of the future, holding colossal advertising potential. Closed social is the new kid on the block and it isn’t going anywhere. 1 in 7 people are active on WhatsApp – every month. Expect to see ultra-targeted promotion within such platforms, completely tailored to personas through monitoring of your conversations and phone calls. Facebook already began using WhatsApp data for ad targeting, which is a clear indication of what’s to come.

It seems like 2017 will mean a more tailored, potentially more time consuming approach as customers realize they have lots of options- forcing the companies to go directly to customers.

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10 Smart Tips To Help Authors Create an Amazing Book Cover Design Ross Kimbarovsky | January 16th, 2017

Many people use the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” to remind others that people should not prejudge the value of something based solely by its outward appearance. Yet when it comes to actual books, few heed that advice.

The simple truth is that today, nearly everyone judges a book by its cover. Covers matter. A lot.

Fierce competition has made standing out from the crowd incredibly difficult, especially for indie authors. Smart indies know that a striking book cover design can help to differentiate in a noisy marketplace, particularly when competing against traditionally published books. In fact, it’s entirely possible today to create self-published book covers that are impossible to differentiate from books released by traditional publishers.

Below, we’ll offer 10 smart tips to help you get an amazing book cover design for your upcoming book. But before we get to the tips, let’s be sure you understand why book cover design is more important today than it has ever been.

Traditionally, when books were purchased at retail, a striking book cover was necessary to get the reader’s attention when placed on a shelf next to hundreds of other books. But because most retail stores displayed just the book’s spine, it was impossible for authors to differentiate unless the prospective reader picked up their book or the book was displayed in a more appealing manner. Great book cover design has always been necessary to get the attention of retail merchandising managers if you wanted your book featured – and that remains true today.

Today, however, particularly for indies, the vast majority of sales occur online. This has allowed indies to compete against traditional publishers but has also made it clear that to get the readers’ attention, a great story must be matched by a great book cover design.

A typical reader will do a search on Amazon and will look at a handful of books. Sure, content and reviews are important, but the book cover is the first thing a potential reader sees and the cover can either make or break that initial impression. This is not surprising. Great images create an emotional reaction in people. Because images are processed by our brains 60,000 faster than words, a great cover is critical to make an amazing first impression. A poorly designed cover not only fails to create the emotional reaction you want to create in your readers, but also implies that the contents of the book are also sub-par.

Covers can lead to more (or fewer) sales, can allow you to price your book higher (but underscoring the message of quality), and can lend you credibility as an indie author.

Don’t just take my word for it. Smashwords founder Mark Coker tells a story in his ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success about R.L. Mathewson, a romance writer, who went from selling five or six copies a day of her romance novel, to selling over 1,000 simply by updating her book cover image.

The creatives on crowdSPRING (nearly 200,000 from just about every country on earth) have helped many authors and both non-traditional (CreateSpace, among others) and traditional publishers (Random House, among others) with amazing book cover designs.

Here are 10 smart tips to help authors create an amazing book cover design:

1. Be sure the design looks professional.

Whether you create your own book cover design (some authors are talented artists and can create effective covers without professional help) or get professional help on crowdSPRING or elsewhere, the most important element of an amazing book cover design is that it looks professional. Great book covers are easy to read – typographical elements are distinctive and clean. Images on the cover are connected to the story and audience. A book cover for a thriller shouldn’t be confused with a romance novel. We’ll offer plenty of examples below and you’ll find other examples in our recent look at some great book cover designs of 2016.

Look at book cover designs of other books in your genre. What color palettes do they use? What kind of imagery do they have? How are they using type in the design? Don’t copy – but look for examples as inspiration for what works.

Here’s a good example from a recent project on crowdSPRING for the book Bogeyman. The book is about a serial child-killer and the lawmen who tracked him down.  This book was to be published through Amazon’s CreateSpace, so it had some special requirements (which are easy to accommodate on crowdSPRING). The winning designer, faucetana, did a nice job capturing the drama and the dark elements of the story.

 

Often, even if you can design your own cover, consider whether you should. A great design doesn’t need to cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Focus on your strengths – writing – and let professionals help you with the other critical elements that will help your book succeed.

Advanced Tip: When you’ve created a few variations of a book cover design, send these out to trusted friends and colleagues for their feedback. It will help to have some objective feedback from someone other than you. This is one reason we include free focus groups in every project on crowdSPRING, including all book cover design projects – so that authors can easily and quickly survey their friends or others (privately or publicly), to get some feedback to the cover designs being considered.

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Your Logo Matters: What You Must Know About Branding Your Law Firm Ross Kimbarovsky | January 12th, 2017

Branding is not optional. Every law firm and lawyer has a brand. But the vast majority of law firms and lawyers spend little or no time thinking about their brand. In fact, as I wrote previously:

For decades, law firm branding in the United States was simple: take the last names of the key equity partners, pick a font, and you have a name, logo and a brand. Such  simplicity has one very important drawback – it’s ineffective.

In today’s legal marketplace, increasing competition and the commoditization of legal services has put more pressure on attorneys and law firms to stand out from the crowd. Simply put: it’s impossible to differentiate when your potential clients don’t notice you.

Your brand impacts your business and your potential to grow revenues. It’s not surprising, then, that the chief marketing leaders at some of the nation’s top professional services firms regularly review their firm’s brands. In a 2013 survey by Greenfield/Belser, the vast majority of professional service firm CMOs and CEOs planned to change their brands within three years.

 

In an updated survey of law firm branding (2016), Greenfield/Belser emphasized that branding is critical for law firms:

We have seen branding and positioning theory emerge as an effective route to understanding the complex psychology that results in name recognition, visual memory and loyalty between clients and their lawyers. On a practical level, we have watched branding at work in a few law firms—and we are impressed by the results and the quick acceptance by lawyers and management committees.

It’s true that your law firm’s brand is more than the firm’s name and the logo. A successful brand has many elements (to learn more, we recommend you read the following (and watch the video): Five Tips To Help You Brand Your Law Firm or Law Practice). Contrary to popular belief, branding elements don’t include generic phrases. Nearly every law firm claims “they’re client-focused”, they “achieve results”, they “are innovative”, etc. It would be nice if that were true, but it’s not and prospective clients simply ignore those bombastic claims.

Even though a brand is more than a logo, a strong brand starts with a strong logo.

Below, we’ll discuss ten important things you must consider in getting a great logo design for your firm. But first, I want to be sure you understand why you should pay attention.

Why is the logo is an important foundation of a strong brand?

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Tens of thousands of the world's best and most successful entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies and nonprofits rely on crowdSPRING for affordable and risk-free custom logo design, web design, a new company name or other writing and design services. More than 197,000 designers and writers work on crowdSPRING. We create designs and names people love. 100% guaranteed.

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