A small sampling of design work by Sloan Creative — view portfolio
Every year around the country, design schools crank out newly-minted young designers, eager to make their mark in the world. Well-versed in the latest software and hip design trends, they have visions of working on the plum, high-profile projects they see in the design magazines and awards annuals. Unfortunately what many schools fail to teach these budding Rembrandts is a class in ‘Reality 101.’
Unrealistic Deadlines + Zero Budgets = Reality
Graphic design and advertising has always been a world ruled by never-ending deadlines. The recent economic implosion has only added to the pressure to produce… In some cases for a fraction of what a designer would have been paid just 5 years ago. As companies downsize and marketing budgets dry up, designers lucky enough to hang on are being asked to do more, for much less and if you don’t like it, there are a hundred, equally talented and hungry creatives waiting in line to take your spot.
Adapt or Disappear.
One of the most useful talents a designer can develop in my opinion is the ability to ‘create quickly’. Sure, we would all love the luxury of being able to sit and ponder, doing multiple design revisions, exploring various approaches until we have ‘THE’ visual solution that surely will land us in the pages of Communication Arts. More often than not however, the reality is your client or boss will slap an order on your desk that morning saying “I need a logo design by this afternoon… Must have!” “Oh, and don’t forget the website revisions and email newsletter… Today please.” Sound far-fetched? Hardly.
Sleep Fast… Design Faster.
Years ago I had the good fortune to work for a very wise man who not only was my boss but became a mentor to me. Once I had been up very late preparing for an important client meeting/presentation. The next morning as we rode to the airport to catch our flight, I was grumbling about my lack of sleep. Hearing my complaining, my boss turned to me and simply said, “Randy, learn to sleep fast.” Priceless! To that sage bit of real-world advice I would add this; “Designers, learn to design fast.”
You need it when? No Problem!
Sometimes, facing extreme deadlines can produce surprising results. The poster at the top of this post came as a result of just such a deadline. A client of mine called one Thursday morning and asked if I would be interested in designing a poster to promote a speaking event featuring political humorist Jim Hightower that my client’s organization would be hosting. I said of course. Then came the the kicker… “We need it by this afternoon!” Of course you do.
Never one to shrink from a challenge and needing to pay the bills, I accepted the job. Fortified with a quad shot espresso and staring at a blank screen I dug in. Initial design began at 9:00am and the poster you see above was finished and approved by noon! The file was sent to the local Kinko’s, (again real-world budget here folks, no time or money for a printer) and the posters were hanging proudly in local store windows that evening. Mission accomplished. The funny thing is, the resulting poster has consistently received some of the highest praise of all my peices over the ensuing years during portfolio reviews and new account pitches. Just goes to show that often your first design idea is your strongest and it is best to go with the flow and trust your gut instinct. And sometimes, you simply have no other choice!
You know what the funny thing is though? Despite the deadlines, shrinking budgets and approvals by committee… Each day I wake up and get to be creative for a living! It’s who I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A Life Designed
Bionic Bearings… An Extreme Brand Makeover
Anyone who tries to tell you that looks “don’t matter” is quite frankly… Wrong. Whether it be the initial impression that a person forms upon meeting you for the first time or the reason one car catches your eye on the lot over a hundred other choices, looks matter very much indeed and never is this more true than in the world of ‘product branding.’ Granted, it helps certainly if the service or product you are trying to sell actually has merit, works and provides a valuable benefit or service to the consumer, although this isn’t always the case. It is the packaging and presentation however that ultimately draws you in, establishes a comfort level and can sway the decision-making process as you choose one brand over another.
As Brand Manager for Nistevo Sport MFG, an industry leader in the competitive inline speed, roller derby and recreational skating markets, I was recently asked to ‘re-boot’ an existing product’s image and help breath new life into it in the eyes of the skating marketplace. It’s this kind of assignment a confessed brand junkie like myself lives for… This is the “good stuff!”
Luigino Racing, the high-end inline speed skate boot division of Nistevo has for the past few years offered a line of wheel ball bearings to customers for use in their inline and quad skate wheels. While the bearings were very high-quality and popular, they were not capturing enough market share and Nistevo ownership felt the line could use a fresh image, thus Bionic Bearings was born. The first order of business was to design an eye-catching logo. After creating and presenting various design concepts, the logo (above) rose to the top. The optically interesting dot treatment represents a ball bearing moving across the page and was paired with a modern typeface that I felt would appeal to a broad market of skate enthusiasts, from speed to derby and beyond. I could easily envision this on the bottom of a skateboard. We had our logo.
Once the logo had been chosen, I set out to apply the new look to packaging, (shown at top) and a website, BionicBearings.com, creating a stand-alone brand presence, something the bearings had never had before, always having been sold as a sub-product on the Luigino website in the past. Energetic, vibrant colors were used throughout the packaging and website along with a clean, almost minimalist layout approach. Large, bold images tell the story over copy as skating is about intensity, color, grit and action, a story best told through the eye of a camera.
After the website was launched, a hang tag design followed and a social media campaign was put into place to spread the Bionic ‘love’ and so far the rebranding effort seems to be paying off very well. Nistevo reports a dramatic increase in skate bearing sales since the launch of Bionic Bearings and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Becoming a ‘Brand Evangelist’…
In these harsh economic times and dwindling job opportunities, each one of us is a walking ‘brand’ and if you don’t think of yourself that way, you should. What message is your brand giving off to prospective employers, customers and important social contacts? Perhaps after some careful consideration you will find, like Bionic Bearings, that it’s time for a brand makeover. If so, go for it… It’s worth the effort.
A Life Designed
A New Beach Town… The Ultimate Branding Challenge!
Over the course of a graphic designer’s career, one would consider themselves very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, i.e— identity campaigns, web development, collateral design, etc. But the chance to brand an entire town?… Now there is a creative soul’s dream!
Just such a dream came true for me when I was selected by visionary town developer Casey Roloff to provide complete brand development and marketing services for Seabrook, an emerging coastal community on the Washington coast.
From 2005 thru 2008, I had the opportunity to create a wide variety of marketing and branding materials for this charming, New Urbanist beach town including; brochures, magazine and newsprint advertising, billboards, invitations and holiday cards, email newsletters, home sales sheets, postcards, special event posters and apparel, signage and more.
“Sloan Creative captured our vision and made it come to reality with over 120 sales totaling $60 million dollars in an unlikely place. Randy and his team have the energy and enthusiasm to dig deep into what your company goals are so they can better tell your story to your target market. I highly recommend Randy Sloan to any business trying to improve their brand or identity in a very memorable way.”
– Casey Roloff, Founder/President Seabrook Land Company
The time I was fortunate enough to spend working on this amazing project alongside a group of very talented, passionate and dedicated people remains a highlight of my career and one I will always remember with great fondness. If you ever have the chance to visit this idyllic beach getaway, GO! You will not be disappointed.
A Life Designed