Twitter Link Roundup # 304 – Terrific Reads for Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Designers! Amanda Bowman | August 4th, 2017

Jasu Hu

Dependence on smartphones has been linked to potentially concerning problems for today’s youth, including deteriorating mental health and a substantial intellectual decline as people age.

A recent essay in The Atlantic on this subject shares some startling statistics, including that “iGen” teens aren’t interested in working and earning their own income. In the late 1970s, 77 percent of high-school seniors worked for pay; now, in the mid-2010s, only 55 percent do.

This decrease in independence, and consequently, happiness, has been strongly linked to smartphone addiction.

We will need to monitor and limit connection time – for kids and adults – if we want future generations to be mentally and physically strong, productive, and independent.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

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Fresh from the SPRING: nenadlapcevic Audree | August 3rd, 2017

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

 

The challenge of this project was to create a logo for a luxury vacation rental in Florida. The style was to look classy, high end, and have the feel of a watercolor painting.

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

Nicely done, nenadlapcevic, nicely done!

 

Supercharge Your Small Business Marketing: How to Market to the Social Media Generation Katie Lundin | August 3rd, 2017

 

Imagine you’ve used the internet since your hand was large enough to hold a mouse. Imagine you can’t remember a time before MySpace or Facebook. Imagine you’re part of a generation that makes up a majority of the voting population and workforce.

The social media generation doesn’t need to imagine these things. This is their reality.

As of 2016, Millennials overtook Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. And, their unique approach to buying (not to mention their spending dollars) should have a strong impact on the way we market.

So how can businesses reach this important group of consumers?

Traditional advertising is not the way to go. Millennial and Huffpost blogger Matthew Tyson reports:

Only about 1% of millennials claim that a compelling ad influences them. The rest are almost naturally skeptical of advertising. They think it’s all spin, so they don’t bother paying attention.

It only makes sense when you consider how many ads they’ve been exposed to. Promotions just become untrustworthy white noise. So, if ads are out, what’s in?

Michael Brenner of NewsCred explains:

Everyone wants millennials’ attention, loyalty — and ultimately, their dollars. Earning those takes consistency and consideration. I found that content marketing is at the heart of both of those keys to success with this generation.

In other words, you need to learn how to write for, and market to, the social media generation.

“But, wait a minute,” we hear you say… “Millennials don’t read! They have short attention spans and they can’t be bothered.”

Forget everything you think you know about the social media generation.

Millenials do read.  In fact, a 2016 Pew study found that the 18-29 year age group read more books per year than any other age grouping reported.

But they read differently. In addition to reading books, the social media generation reads electronic media. Tons of electronic media. Maestro, an online branding agency claims:

They’re voracious consumers of electronic media. They do web searches, scan websites, and read blogs. At work they’re flooded with e-mails, text messages, instant messages, Tweets, and social media news feeds.

Social media: if you want to reach Millenials – that’s where you need to be – providing content for the social media generation right on their home turf.

But, not just any content. Quality content targeted to millennials.

Are you ready to take your business marketing to the next level? Here’s how you can effectively reach Millenials.

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Why a Minimalist Logo Can Work Great For Your Business Arielle Kimbarovsky | August 2nd, 2017

Successful businesses often share a common trait: they have unique, simple, smart logos. As we wrote previously:

The most important job of a logo is to help customers and customer prospects identify your company. That’s why the best logos are simple and memorable. Just think about how many logos you are able to recognize in your everyday life! Those logos serve as a reminder that Nike was the brand that made your shoes, or that Apple is the reason why you’re reading this on a Macbook.

Unique, simple and smart – these have been core elements in great graphic design for many decades. In fact, like other cultural norms, design often follows trends. This is not unusual. As we observed in talking about logo design trends:

Customer preferences and markets change over time, so it’s important to understand trends before you settle on your brand.

I’m not suggesting you follow fads. For example, for some time, it was very popular to have 3D, animated logos but those were impossible to print and often very difficult to read. Lasting trends help you to better shape and define your brand. Passing fads can lead you astray.

When it comes to design, especially for business, trends and fads can be confusing. Some are useful but others can be distracting and counter-productive.

But there’s one current design trend that we believe is powerful and can help businesses to build stronger brands: minimalism.

Even though minimalism has become very popular only recently in the design world, the aesthetic is actually much older. In the US, minimalism can be traced back to the 1960s as artists in New York rebelled against conventional artistic details and materialism.

In fact, the concept of minimalism is older than the 1960s. It originally roots itself in Japanese culture.

The aesthetic was widely known in Japan as Ma, an architectural philosophy which translates to “the space between”. Instead of that space standing for a gap, the philosophy of Ma views it as the negative space, the silence, and the root of meaning.

Eventually, Ma spread beyond Japanese architecture and culture, influencing Dutch and German artists to focus on modern, geometric lines and primary colors. Hans Hoffman, German-American abstract artist, was one of the early artist heavily influenced by the concept of minimalism:

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

Eventually, minimalism spread beyond fine art and emerged in the world of graphic design. In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more brands jump aboard the minimalist trend as they simplify their branding from their messaging to the logos themselves.

You’re probably already familiar with the idea of minimalism in logo design. As we previously wrote:

Companies want their logo to be instantly recognizable, easily interpretable, and timeless. Overly complex logos often fail to achieve those goals. Web designers often talk about restraint — not putting everything, including the kitchen sink, on a page. The same should be said about logo design.

Many graphic designers agree. Some of the most famous and recognized logos in the world, such as the logos of IBM and ABC, came from graphic designers like Paul Rand – a designer who appreciated simplicity in design. Instead of creating overly complicated corporate logos that were popular at that time, Rand and his clients focused on minimalism and created several iconic logos. But how can you achieve the same success?

How can you achieve the same success as these iconic brands, with a logo design or redesign for your business? Here are some tips to help you get started.

Understand Minimalism

First, it’s not enough to merely understand what minimalism means. It’s important to know what minimalism actually means in relation to logo design.

Since minimalism in design focuses on simplicity and elements that already exist, it’s about working with design restraint. Practicing design restraint doesn’t necessarily force you to create a boring logo. Instead, restraint pushes you to remove any details that could distract from the logo’s message, memorability, and recognition.

And it works! We’ve written a lot about famous and unique logos on crowdSPRING. Almost every single famous logo practices some form of minimalism – and we can all agree that there isn’t really anything boring about the Apple or Nike logos. They use space and simplicity to make very strong statements.

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10 Best Cities in the United States for Startups and Entrepreneurs Amanda Bowman | July 31st, 2017

Silicon Valley has dominated the U.S. startup ecosystem for many decades. Despite repeated efforts, only a few cities outside the Valley (New York and Boston) have historically had the critical mix of funding, network, and talent to fuel vibrant startup centers.

But this is becoming less true today, as more and more entrepreneurs find their way across the U.S. There are now many metro areas with growing infrastructure and increasingly skilled work forces that can support tech startups. The good news is that these new metro centers are significantly less expensive than Silicon Valley or the East Coast. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best places (outside of Silicon Valley and the East Coast), to build your startup.

 

austin-davide-damico.jpg

Austin

The Texas capital recently was named the #1 place in America to start a business by CNBC. According to the 2016 Kauffman Growth Entrepreneurship Index, Austin grew its startups faster than every city except Washington, D.C., with their startups growing by 81.2 percent.

In large part due to the University of Texas at Austin and other universities’ influence, Austin is known for having an educated workforce. Employers and people interested in growth industries are drawn to the youthful, smart energy that flourishes there.

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Twitter Link Roundup #303 – Terrific Reads for Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Designers! Amanda Bowman | July 28th, 2017

Growing up, my parents always taught me that showing initiative is one of the best ways to achieve success – at work, or in any area of your life. Understanding that you have to take a risk – ask questions, make a recommendation, pitch an idea – is the first step in becoming someone that influences their surroundings, and doesn’t simply sit back in the safe zone watching things happen. If you’re looking to further your goals and extend your reach in your life, start practicing being more proactive by engaging with the world around you. Start initiating change, and watch as the world starts changing with you.

Need some tips on how to promote initiative in your work environment? Check out Jean Hsu’s recent piece on it for some great insights and tips on how to bring out the best in you and your employees.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

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How Self Discipline Can Unlock Your Business Success Katie Lundin | July 27th, 2017

Do you want to start your own successful small business? Or grow your existing business? Maybe you have no interest in owning and running a business, but want to be more productive at work?

“I could do that,” you think to yourself.

So, why haven’t you?

To accomplish any of these things you’ll need self-discipline. As the late business philosopher and guru Jim Rohn said,

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

Merriam-Webster defines self-discipline as:

 the ability to make yourself do things that should be done

It sounds so simple. But before you stop reading and think you already know what you need to do, we bet there are a few tips and tricks that you probably haven’t seen when it comes to self-discipline. Worth a few more minutes of your time?

Paradoxically, living with self-discipline is not as easy as it sounds. And yet, it’s vitally important to your success. Author, business coach and consultant, Dan S. Kennedy asserts,

In the entrepreneurial environment, there’s a lot to be said just for showing up on time, ready to work. The meeting of deadlines and commitments alone causes a person to stand out from the crowd like an alien space ship parked in an Iowa cornfield. The ability to get things done and done right the first time will magnetically attract incredible contacts, opportunities and resources to you. All of this is a matter of self-discipline.

Self-discipline has the power to transform your life for the better. Imagine how much you would accomplish if you completed every task you set out to do; or if you established healthy, productive habits and actually followed through. Self-discipline very well may be the key to unlocking your untapped potential.

If you’re tired of “what ifs” and ready to do what it takes to reach your goals, check out these 9 tips for strengthening your self-discipline.

1. Change Your Perception of Willpower

2. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

3. Leverage Goals to Counter Temptations

4. Take it One Step at a Time

5. Prioritize

6. Show Yourself Compassion

7. Lean into Discomfort

8. Stay Focused

9. Cultivate Your Internal Resources with Self-Care

 

1. Change Your Perception of Willpower

Our very first, possibly most important, tip for increasing your self-discipline is to not give up before you even begin. So many people claim that they have no willpower. And in so doing, they absolve themselves of the responsibility of behaving as though they have willpower, so they don’t even try.

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Fresh from the SPRING: radunicolae Audree | July 27th, 2017

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

 

The challenge of this project was to create a tough steely logo for a  tough steely video game. Mission accomplished.

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

Nicely done, radunicolae, nicely done!

The Business Owner’s Guide to Creating a Unique Logo Arielle Kimbarovsky | July 25th, 2017

Everyone wants a great logo design that is memorable, recognizable, and reflective of their brand. But often, people forget that their logo has to be unique too.

Sure, the Apple logo is iconic and instantly recognizable. But when companies want a logo that looks just like the Apple logo, they misunderstand the goal of effective branding.

Even though Apple’s logo is well designed and praised by designers everywhere, copying that logo would not only expose the business to a lawsuit, but also would fail to differentiate in the marketplace.

That’s one reason why you should never buy a premade template logo design at one of these so-called “logo stores”.

Instead of copying or mimicking famous logos, the best designers look to create a unique brand. The breakthrough designs they create often come from the deeper meanings they find within the company, which is the reason why so many companies have logo origin stories or hidden meanings.

The secret is to uncover that deeper or hidden meaning before designing the logo. A unique logo design will stem organically from whatever makes your company unique.

We’ll give you some actionable tips below to help you find a unique logo for your business. But first, let’s look at three popular, existing logos (Starbucks, Sony VAIO and Baskin Robbins) to see how they incorporated their company’s story into the logo design.

Starbucks

The original Starbucks logo started out as a brown, more “scandalous” version of its current logo. Initially, the company’s logo included an unclothed siren (double-tailed mermaid), as inspired by history, according to Starbucks writer Steve M:

There was a lot of poring over old marine books going on. Suddenly, there she was: a 16th-century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, or siren.

In the logo, the siren was placed in a brown circle with the Starbucks original name, “Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices”. According to Greek mythology, sirens were seductive, and a popular image among churches in Medieval Northern Europe. The idea was that the siren would symbolize the seductive nature of coffee and Seattle’s seaport ties (the original source of Starbucks coffee).

A few years later, Howard Schultz acquired the company and set out to modernize the logo. Several iterations of the logo later, the siren was simplified, the name was removed, and the logo looks a lot cleaner. But the charm and the story didn’t change, which contributes to the widespread success and fame of the logo.

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6 Ways User Interface and User Experience Design Can Help Your Business Amanda Bowman | July 24th, 2017

A smooth, visually appealing experience with your business’s website or mobile app is an important element in creating happy, loyal customers.

Big businesses may have an advantage because of their existing brand awareness and their larger marketing budgets, but that doesn’t mean small businesses and startups can’t compete with them. In some ways, smaller companies have an unfair advantage when it comes to design because their sites and apps don’t have to be so bloated.

Provide your customers with a straightforward, intuitive, attractive experience on your website, and they’ll be happy to become repeat customers.

A website or app’s ability to bring in repeat business relies on whether people understand and appreciate it. “Am I getting value from this? Is it user-friendly? Is it fun?” These questions form the basis of a prospective customer’s decision as to whether they will become regular users of that site or app, or will never come back.

That’s where User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design come into play.

User Experience is the way a person interacts with and uses a product, system or service. User Interface is closer to what we consider visual design. If you think of UI design as the tool you consume a bowl of cereal with – a spoon – UX design is the overall experience of pouring the cereal into a bowl and using your well-designed spoon to eat it.

You can create a web and app experience that is useful, pleasing, and impactful – but you have to understand how UX and UI can help you and optimize each to improve the experience for your customers and prospects.

Rahul Varshney, Co-creator of Foster.fm says:

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.

Knowing the difference between UX and UI design and how to best use each creates a significant competitive advantage for your business, and just like good customer service, is thoughtful, effective, and hugely impactful on the lasting success of your brand.

UX design

According to Time News, 55% of web users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. This means that you have 15 seconds to get a person’s attention, clearly demonstrate the services you offer, and illustrate why your company is worth their time.

In fact, as we’ve previously pointed out:

the attention span of a human adult, according to BBC News, is 9 seconds (the Associated Press reports that in 2012, the average attention span for a human was 8 seconds). Nearly one fifth of all page views in 2012 lasted fewer than four seconds. And to add fuel to the fire, people read only approximately half of the words on a web page that has fewer than 111 words (and only 28% of the words on a web page that has more than 593 words).

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