Fresh from the SPRING: deepu Audree | April 13th, 2017

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

The challenge of this project was to update the logo of a family business in Arizona that is being taken over by a family friend. They wanted it to stay familiar for their old customers while attracting new ones.

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

Nicely done, deepu, nicely done!

Unlocking Marketing Trends: How to Leverage Micro-Influencers Arielle Kimbarovsky | April 12th, 2017

Contracting a celebrity or a big time industry figure to advertise your product or service is often difficult and nearly always, expensive. As a result, few small businesses or startups can afford to leverage influencers.

Yet influencer marketing continues to be an effective marketing tactic.We’ve even written previously about how small businesses can benefit from influencers in How Influencer Marketing Can Pay Off for Small Businesses in 2017. In fact, research shows that 70% of consumers would rather learn about a brand from content than from traditional advertising.

Given the high cost, how can startups and small businesses actually leverage this marketing strategy?

The solution is to use micro-influencers. Unlike big time influencers who have thousands or even millions of followers, micro-influencers have a couple hundred to a few thousand followers. They are often less popular, less well known, more niche, but still highly relevant to their respective audiences.

Micro-influencers give smaller businesses an advantage by allowing the businesses to target smaller, more unique audiences.

According to Digiday, the best follower range for maximum engagement is between 10,000 – 100,000 followers. Fergus Thomas, co-founder of Irban Group, adds that these micro-influencers are not only more effective but feel more authentic:

With the same amount of budget, brands can collaborate with 20 or 40 ‘power middle influencers’ to reach different demographics and see better engagement, compared to one or two celebrities.

With smaller price tags and more follower engagement, micro-influencers aren’t a “second best” option to more popular influencers- they’re often the best option for influencer marketing. But how do you leverage micro-influencers for your business?

1. Figure out what you specifically need from micro-influencers.

Maybe you need a sponsored post or a social media “takeover”. Perhaps you need a video or a review. Either way, it’s important to understand what kind of tasks you need the influencer to do. This will help you target micro-influencers and communicate with them. By knowing your path upfront, you prepare yourself to direct a micro-influencer and make the most for your money. For more information, check out this ebook from TapInfluence: 8 Things Influencers Can Do For Your Brand.

Read the rest of this post »

Why Investing in Design Early is Crucial For Startups Ross Kimbarovsky | April 12th, 2017

Logo design is often one of the first tasks an entrepreneur needs to outsource when starting a new business. Used to doing most of the work themselves, it can be hard for a small business owner to justify the expense of a professionally designed logo.

Though cheaper options such as ready-made design stores and designing your own logo exist, they rarely produce the type of quality design that is expected in today’s business landscape. In some situations, these options can even harm your business.

When it comes to design, investing in quality as soon as possible is the best way to get the most growth out of your business. Otherwise, you may find yourself working harder than necessary to earn customer trust and stand out from the competition.

Here are five reasons that investing in design early influences business growth:

1. First Impressions Matter
2. Communicate visually with your customer
3. Make your business memorable

Watch the video for more detail on these three reasons to invest in design early plus two more:

How To Use Design Thinking to Innovate Your Business Katie Lundin | April 11th, 2017

“How did you come up with that? I could never think of that.”

Creative people are often viewed as mysterious, whimsical and ineffable creatures. And yet, the innovation and solutions creativity generates have incredible value. What if I told you that there is a method to the madness? That you, too, can innovate and problem-solve with the best of them?

Enter “Design Thinking”, a strategic method used every day by designers and creatives. Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems for clients. Or, as I learned to think of it when I was getting my degree in design: “The Process.”  

What exactly is the process? While there’s plenty of wiggle room within the basic structure; it boils down to just four basic steps: empathize, brainstorm, prototype, and test.

The design thinking process may have originated with designers, but the business world has started to take notice because of the agility, speed, and innovation that it promises. Let’s take a look at three companies that have embraced design thinking to great effect and how you can, too.

1. Empathize

It all starts with empathy.
 “Strategic design thinking has one single goal: to understand and solve a problem for its consumer,”  says Rakia Reynolds of Skai Blue Media. And in order to understand and solve a problem, one must start by empathizing with the people who are experiencing that problem.

Dutch fabric manufacturer Vlisco was a company in danger until their design thinking team discovered new avenues for business growth by empathizing with their consumers. Vlisco products had dominated the African fashion textile market for most of their roughly 170 years. However, evolving technology in fabric manufacture and a subsequent increase in Chinese competition had Vlisco worried. According to Karen von Schmieden of This Is Design Thinking,

Vlisco recognized the necessity to transform from a traditional trade oriented business into a value adding business.

The key to this evolution turned out to be the first principle of design thinking- empathy. Empathizing with your consumer allows you to better understand their needs; in turn giving you the tools to meet those needs. Vlisco formed an Innovation Team responsible for finding a solution to their predicament. This team focused on understanding their consumers’ experience as the starting point.

“We did a lot, and I really mean a lot of ethnographic research,” said Betty van Breemaat of Vlisco’s Innovation Team. “We spent a lot of time with our actual consumers, talking to them, understanding their problems and filming everything. Something that hadn’t been done before within Vlisco.”

Read the rest of this post »

These 14 Mobile Apps Will Increase Your Productivity Amanda Bowman | April 10th, 2017

Time. Money. We all wish we had more of them. This is even more keenly felt by business owners and entrepreneurs, for whom time really is money. Finding ways to more effectively use the amount of time available to us is a classic productivity problem.

As our lives and careers become increasingly mobile, countless apps and services have flooded the market attempting to solve that problem. There are now so many options available that finding the right one for your personal needs has almost become a productivity problem in and of itself.

In the spirit of saving you time, we’ve compiled some of the top mobile apps and services used by business owners and entrepreneurs. Because as Shirley Temple (yes, seriously) once said, “Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.”

Read the rest of this post »

7 Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn from the World’s Best Brands Ross Kimbarovsky | April 7th, 2017

Entrepreneurs and small business owners typically don’t believe they can learn anything useful from the biggest and most successful companies in the world. After all, brand building at-scale is typically very different than brand building in the startup and small business world.

Nevertheless, smart entrepreneurs and small business owners pay careful attention to important market forces and trends that shape some of the world’s best brands. These entrepreneurs and small business owners know that despite the many differences between large and small companies, important insights that can help shape their marketing strategies.

BrandZ publishes an annual most valuable global brands report. The 2016 Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report offers important branding lessons for startups and small business.

Google is listed as the most valuable global brand, with Apple, Microsoft, AT&T and Facebook rounding out the top five. It’s remarkable that all of the top five brands are technology companies. In fact, the only non-technology company in the top 10 is McDonald’s (at number 9).

In this video I outline 7 key takeaways from the BrandZ 2016 report (and the important lessons for small businesses and startups) including:

1. Disrupt yourself before you become disrupted.
2. Integrate your marketing efforts.
3. Have a clear and consistent brand purpose.
4. User experience is a key differentiator.

Watch the video for more detail on these four important takeaways plus three more.

Notifications Kill Your Productivity: How To Reclaim Your Life Arielle Kimbarovsky | April 6th, 2017

We are bombarded by thousands of electronic notifications each day.

On an average day, people check their phones over 150 times between 6:00 am and 10 pm. And that’s just their phones!

Many people believe that notifications help us to stay on track. Paradoxically, they don’t. Notifications actually hurt our productivity.

Blogger Sid Savara says that notifications don’t just distract you temporarily, but they actually change your work habits, “Rather than actively setting an agenda, email forces you to react to items as they come in – regardless of their true priority.”

In fact, science proves that notifications are mostly bad for us. According to a study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology, interruptions as short as two seconds long are enough to double the number of errors made in a task. Such brief interruptions were found to be extremely disruptive because they broke the flow of the task by diverting attention, making it difficult for participants of the study to properly focus on the task at hand.

To compensate for the problems caused by notifications, we pretend to multitask, trying to assess reminders about future events or answer questions, while still completing our work. This too often becomes counterproductive (not to mention, error-prone). Multitasking costs the economy $450 billion dollars annually because this loss of productivity often increases stress and creates a cycle of disruption.

To combat this loss of productivity, business experts and entrepreneurs have begun practicing something called “monotasking”, or single tasking.

While this seems easy at first glance, it takes a lot of discipline to turn off or ignore notifications. Manoush Zomorodi, the host of WNYC’s Note to Self podcast explains:

Our gadgets and all the things we look at on them are designed to not let us single-task. We weren’t talking about this before because we simply weren’t as distracted. Humans have a finite amount of neural resources. That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day, you’ve used them all up.

So the reality is that we actually can’t handle all of the daily notifications we receive because they cause us to shift our attention away for too long. It turns out that periods of deeper focus are more likely to result in productive, high-quality work.  But you have to create an environment that allows you to focus more deeply. Here are our tips for pairing your notifications down to just the essentials.

1. Identify what you really need to know.

Image source: Robert Wiedemann

Make a list of all of the notifications you have now, including your phone and computer by looking through your notification settings. Then, begin to categorize the apps in groups of importance. Odds are pretty high that you are receiving notifications that you’re constantly ignoring or deleting. But they are negatively impacting your productivity, even if you think they’re not. Spend a few minutes and kill them so that you never see them – before they kill your productivity.

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: sionxxx Audree | April 6th, 2017

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

The challenge of this project was to create a strong and simple logo for a fitness website that will focus on nutrition, workout plans, meal prepping and more.

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

Nicely done, sionxxx, nicely done!

(Ebook) STAND OUT: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business Nick Bowersox | April 4th, 2017

Do you ever wonder why one entrepreneur fails while another succeeds?

Sometimes, it boils down to luck.

But, success and failure is about more than luck. It helps to have an advantage when starting out.

Over the past two decades, crowdSPRING Founder and CEO Ross Kimbarovsky has spoken with thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners about their startup ideas and existing businesses. For the past six years, he has also mentored at Techstars and at Founder Institute.

Here’s what he observed: too many people are scared of what it takes to start or grow a business.

To help people deal with the fear of starting or growing a business, Ross has taken the lessons he learned over the past several decades and shared them in a free, 100-page ebook called STAND OUT: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business.

In the book, he lays out 23 years worth of personal, actionable insights to help you start your new business or grow an existing business.

This book will help you learn how to:

  • Find Your Great Business Idea
  • Name Your Company
  • Brand Your New Company
  • Create a Strong Online Presence
  • Raise Money for Your Business
  • Negotiate Successfully
  • Hire and Fire Employees
  • Be a Great Leader
  • Stay Healthy
  • Execute 21st Century Marketing
  • Make SEO Work for You
  • Accelerate Your Growth
  • Avoid Costly Legal Mistakes
  • Avoid the Fear of Failure

Read the rest of this post »

7 Simple Rules To Help You Get a Great Design For Your Business Amanda Bowman | April 3rd, 2017

A client walks into a bar.
The bartender asks, “What can I get you?”
“A soft drink,” replies the client. “and make it pop.”

Why do some entrepreneurs fail while others succeed? Why are some lawyers or doctors better than others? Why do we prefer working with certain people (designers, accountants, plumbers, electricians, etc.) and avoid others?

The answer might surprise you.

It’s true that we favor people who do a great job. But it turns out that people who do a great job also often share a common trait: they’re good communicators.

The 200,000 designers and writers working on crowdSPRING have helped tens of thousands of the world’s best entrepreneurs, small business owners, agencies, Brands, agencies and non-profits with logo design, web design, graphic design, industrial design and naming.

After more than nine years and tens of thousands of projects, we know with absolute certainty that if a client wants a great result in a design or naming project, they need to do two things well: (1) draft a good creative brief (we help with that if you post a project on crowdSPRING), and (2) provide good feedback throughout the project.

Good design requires an iterative process. Just like writing, a design’s “first draft” often needs refinement and revision, editing and exploration. Your continued presence and feedback are critical to this process, and knowing how to communicate with your designer effectively is an important skill to have.

“Strong reasons make strong actions”
– King John / William Shakespeare

If a designer’s job is to take your challenges and craft solutions, your job is to provide effective, purposeful feedback.

How can you make sure you’re providing useful feedback? Here are 7 simple rules that will help ensure that your project stays on the right path.

Is your feedback specific and concise?

It’s important when you provide clear and specific feedback. One of the best ways a designer can figure out what works and what doesn’t work with their design is through your comments. “It needs more zing,” is not just vague feedback, it doesn’t give the designer any direction or explain why it needs more “zing” in the first place. You don’t want your designer to guess what you mean. Make your designers swoon with useful feedback like: “the colors you’ve picked aren’t vibrant enough – we know our target audience prefers lively, bright colors like yellow and pink.”

“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.”
Andrew Grove

Read the rest of this post »

Join the crowd that's raving about the crowdSPRING Blog

Get our weekly digest of can't-miss content on how to take your brand to the next level.

Creative needs?

We have 200,000 creative professionals ready to help you with custom logo design, web design, or a new company name. Take your project to the crowd!

Click to get started on

Free eBooks

interviews with graphic and web designers

12 Question Interviews with cS designers.
Get it »

contracts for graphic designers

Contracts for designers who hate contracts.
Get it »

contracts for software and website developers

Contracts for software developers who hate contracts. Get it »

Latest tweets

crowdSPRING @crowdspring
crowdSPRING on U.S. National News
crowdSPRING @crowdspring
RT @Kate_L_Harrison: 77% of consumers make purchases based on brand name. Here's how to pick a good one! @crowdSPRING @Inc
crowdSPRING @crowdspring
Small Business Spotlight of the Week: TripBucket

About crowdSPRING

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 200,000 designers and writers work on crowdSPRING. We create designs and names people love. 100% guaranteed.

Learn more »