Jul 13 2016

The Hard-To-Spot Problem in Your Photos That Could Cost You–and How To Fix It

Being an online seller is already a lot of work, even when your customers are happy. Your day-to-day hustle can turn into a huge headache when your customers get a product that isn’t what they expected–or worse yet, if they aren’t buying at all!

What’s the one hard-to-see thing that can save you from that headache? White Balance.

white-balance-example
These four images are all of the same product! They just have different white balance. Which one do you think is the best?

What is White Balance? It’s the balance of hues in your photo that makes the object look the most natural to your eye. Digital photos have different levels of tints and tones, and it can make a real impact on the final photo. It’s not the easiest thing to see, when you look through your photos one-at-a-time.

Take a look at the four images to the right. Those are all the exact same photo, of the exact same product! The only difference between them is that they each have a different white balance. (bonus: can you tell which is the best-balanced one?)

From there, you can see one problem right away: someone could easily buy this product online expecting one color, only to receive it in a different color. And that means an unhappy customer.

And, if your photos are inconsistent, that can make YOU look inconsistent. You only have a second to build trust online, and if your photos are all over the map, online shoppers won’t feel as comfortable trusting in your product.

“I See The Problem! But How Do I Fix It?”

Product Photos Made Simple will include some specific apps and techniques you can use to adjust your photos for better results, but a couple of things you can do right away:

  • Make sure to compare your photos. Look at other photos from this batch of products, and look at older product photos, and see if they’re consistent with each other.
  • Ban fluorescent lighting from your shoots! Fluorescent lights–particularly those long, tube-style lights you’ll see in stores and offices–very often make people and products look sickly and green. Look for a different lighting source to shoot your products–you’ll likely be much happier.

Want more, better, in-depth help for your product photos? Support our IndieGogo campaign, and you’ll get Product Photos Made Simple, a How-To Guide specifically for people who DIY and don’t have time to waste!

Learn how to take better product photos, even if you don’t own a real camera!

Get Product Photos Made Simple! »

Got an extra Second? Share this with your people.

Your help getting the word out is valuable beyond words! So, share our e-mail tips with others who might benefit, encourage folks you know to check out the IndieGogo campaign, and share it on social media. The more who jump on board, the faster you’ll get this guide delivered straight to you!
Jul 06 2016

Take Better Product Photos and Make More Sales

Can Better Product Photos Help You Make The Sale?

IMG_1354You have a killer product, and you know how much time and sweat you put into making it just right. But, making your product amazing is only part of the battle. Showing off your products with beautiful, high-quality photos can also make the difference between getting that sale or losing it.

When you’re selling your goods online, perceived value helps you make that sale. When your product photos are of good quality, you build trust in your customer. And, if you’re selling on marketplace sites like Etsy or Amazon, or selling via Pinterest, you need to stand out. A good product photo makes online shoppers want to choose you over all the others.

Take Better Photos and Make More Sales with Product Photos Made Simple.

Team Upswept is working on Product Photos Made Simple, a whole collection of simple, do-it-yourself tips that anyone can use to create better product photos, more consistently, and in less time. Even if the only camera you have is a smartphone, you can get photos that make your products more crave-able, so you make more sales!

Take Better Photos and Make More Sales!

Get Product Photos Made Simple! »

This guide is designed for you–not for pro photographers.

This guide is NOT for professional photographers! Product Photos Made Simple is a How-To for busy small business owners and creatives who want better-quality photos with minimum fuss.

We’re working on Product Photos Made Simple because we know how it can be when you’re just starting out. We’re thinking of Etsy sellers, startups, small businesses, emerging fashion designers, creatives who do custom commissions… the list goes on. A lot of you out there may not be ready to buy fancy photo gear or hire a professional photographer yet, but we want to help you get there, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

That’s why Product Photos Made Simple is designed to give you the knowledge and techniques to get cleaner, more consistent product photos in less time. Even if all you have is a smartphone, you’ll get tips you can use to make better photos easily.

Here’s a sneak preview of just some of what you’ll get:

  • Lighting basics to help you get great shots without equipment
  • Do’s and Don’ts for getting consistent results
  • Ways to control or even build lighting without stressing your budget
  • The best photo apps for your phone, and how to use them to get the best possible results
  • Tips on how to do product styling when you don’t know where to begin
  • Knowing when it might be time for you to hire a professional, and where to start

Support the Product Photos Made Simple IndieGogo campaign, and you’ll be among the first to get this super-helpful guide! Click the button below to get the details and reserve your copy, or pick up one of our extra-special campaign rewards!

Get product photo tips that help your business grow, all in one place!

Pre-Order Product Photos Made Simple! »

Jun 24 2016

Why Letting Purpose Drive Your Brand Makes Your Business Stronger

13346343_1196444653700637_7813261431133060895_oJessica and I recently enjoyed a panel discussion at Pull The Weeds, an exhibition and event centered around purpose-driven branding hosted by FIRNW. Kirk SouderThom Walters, and Jen Michaelis Van Arkel shared their thoughts about what drives branding when social good is at the center of the organization.

The most obvious purpose-driven brands are the ones that are engaged in social change–particularly organizations in the non-profit sector, organizations that do good. But, purpose is important to every brand. Walters commented, “we’re moving into an economy of influence and experience.” Today’s consumers are active and engaged, and they choose the brands that align with their own personal values. In our digital world, access to a company’s values and impact on the world is merely a click away. Consumers won’t fall for a veneer of good–they’re informed and insightful, and they demand authenticity.

Many small businesses and entrepreneurs also set out on their path because they have a hope to live out their own purpose, and do work that aligns with their own values. Walters believes that, “brands are living entities; they have souls,” and they’re constantly evolving. And, that makes a lot of sense, because your business is also constantly evolving.

Simply put: what your business brand needs right now may not be the same as what it’ll need a year from now. And, as Souder phrased it, “the alignment between the soul of your brand and the soul of the people,” is key to building a brand that’s strong and that will grow with your business. It’s a good idea to check in with yourself every so often, and see if and how your business and your values have changed.

And, when you connect your business with doing good in the community, you’re doing something that can have an incredible and lasting power! Many non-profit organizations that focus on community work can only do it through grants and charitable donations, but a business already has an income, and is already self-sustaining. As Souder notes, “if you can tie a plow to [for-profit companies] to do good… they’ll be able to do it without a constant influx of philanthropy.”

And, as Michaelis Van Arkel stated, “it’s not necessarily about size.” To her firm, the size of the business is less important than the strength of their desire to do good. When your potential clients and customers share your values, they’ll still be drawn to you and be more likely to choose you, no matter how big or small your business might be.

Considering your company’s impact on the world isn’t just good for the world, it’s also good for your bottom line. By addressing society’s challenges, you have the opportunity to create shared value. You have an opportunity to create an economy of sustainable change by looking for what’s culturally relevant, and tapping into that.

Jun 06 2016

Use Your Web Site to Make Your Business Findable

Summer is upon us in Portland, and that means tourism! People from all over come here for vacations, explore our city, and fall in love with it. You might be making special plans to get ready for the buzz of tourists, especially if you have a storefront or tourism-based business, but there’s one thing you might be missing: is your business findable online?

If you have a web site, take a moment to make sure your web site is ready for summer: here are just a few ways to make sure people can find your business and buy into the amazing things you’re offering!

Include your address on your web site, somewhere.

If you’re looking for walk-in customers, it’s hugely important that your physical address be on your web site, and that it’s easy-to-find. Just one example of why: a recent technology study revealed that 64% of smartphone users convert their search for a restaurant into an actual visit by the end of the day!

Having a mobile-responsive is critical, especially if you get a lot of customers from out-of-town.
Having a mobile-responsive web site is critical, especially if you get a lot of customers from out-of-town.

It’s common for people to search for your location on your web site while they’re on-the-go, so it’s absolutely to your benefit to make it easier for them to find you! Make sure your address exists somewhere on your web site Homepage, even if it’s just in the footer.

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

Speaking of customers who search on-the-go, a web site that isn’t easy to use on a mobile device? That can really sink your business. This is doubly true if you depend on tourist business and out-of-town visitors, like Random Order Pie Bar does! Tourists are much more likely to look at your web site on a mobile device, so giving them the best possible experience will help them find you, and become your newest customer.

An added bonus: when your web site is mobile-friendly, it also ranks higher in mobile searches. So, having a mobile-responsive web site will also give you a nice boost in search engine rankings!

Does your web site need a mobile facelift, but you’re not sure where to start? If so, it might be time to hire a creative team to refresh your web site, and make it look its absolute best on every device.

Use prominent call-to-action links.

Whether you’re a walk-up business or an online shop, a prominent call-to-action does a lot of the work for you–an eye-catching message with a clickable button makes it easy for customers to buy in. One great example is Beer Quest PDX–there’s a “Sign Up” link built right into the top of the web site, so customers know exactly where to click to buy in, and sign up for a beer tour adventure.

What do your customers need to buy into what you offer? Make it easy for them to buy in: design your web site with an appealing call-to-action, and put it in a prominent place, so they can make that purchase the instant they decide to choose your offering.

Just Say No to PDFs.

Have you ever visited a web site and clicked on the link to their menu or rate sheet, only to be faced with a PDF that’s hard to read online? That can get pretty frustrating, right?

Imagine doing that on a mobile device? Even worse! The print is surely too small to read, and you have to clumsily swipe and scroll and search for the information you want.

Again, this is about making it easy for people to want what you’re offering, and to learn more about it. Using a PDF instead of a standard web page may seem easier for you, but is that worth hindering your potential customers?

I’ll admit, “No PDFs” isn’t the most hard-and-fast rule–PDFs can have their place on a web site, especially if you’re selling a e-books, or if your content is the product. But, for simple information that your customers and clients will want to access quickly, create a standard web page for that content.

What else can you do to make your web site do the work for you?

There are awesome brand and design strategies that can be built right into your web site, so you spend less time worrying about marketing, and more time doing what you love. But, that means getting more specific, and building a web experience that’s a perfect fit for your business. If you’re ready for a refreshed web site that does the work for you, just click on the button below and tell us a little more about your business. We’d love to hear from you!

Tell us more about you! »

May 27 2016

Getting Real About Timelines

Good design can't happen without content! What content do you have to work with?
Good design can’t happen without content! Do you know what content you have to work with?

It’s the end of a new client consultation. We’ve discussed your company and why you love what you do. We’ve talked about the features your new website will have. There’s just one question lingering: “How long will it take?”

The answer? “It depends.”

Not the most satisfying answer, we know! Timelines often vary at least a little, and it depends not only on the size and scope of the project, but also the flow of communication that you, the client, have with your creative team. While our creative team has internal milestones for our design and build process, there are also ways you can take an active role to help get your new website online on-time.

Communicate Your Timeline.

Have a desired timeline in mind? Let your creative team know up-front. Any good creative team will do its best to meet your timeline needs, especially if there’s a special event that corresponds with the launch of your website. Everyone would ideally like to have their website completed “ASAP”, so letting us know why ASAP is actually important to you helps us prioritize and plan. That way, we can ensure your project moves ahead at the right pace, and be certain that we’re all on the same page on launch day.

Make Time for Feedback.

When you embark on a major branding or web project, make sure you’re ready to set aside time to respond and give feedback. Your creative team wants you to go home happy at the end of the project, and that means you’ll need to let your team know what’s working for you and what needs refinement. The longer it takes for you to give feedback or sign off with your approval, the longer we’ll all have to wait before we can launch your new brand or web site.

Depending on what step of the process we’re on, you’ll want to reserve about an half an hour to an hour reviewing and responding to the work we send to you. And, if you’re the kind of person who likes to sleep on a decision before making a final call, build that into your timeline, too.

Don’t Forget About Content!

The minute you sign your creative project agreement, you should begin gathering and assessing what content you have to work with! Content is what drives any good creative project–especially when it’s a new web site design–and if you don’t already have strong photography, written copy, or content strategy, then you’ll have to create it. And, that can take way longer than you expect it to, so it’s good to start early.

Keep in mind that the content you create isn’t always set in stone–the web is a dynamic and ever-changing medium, and you can adjust content post-launch. But, if you’re able to make decisions about content early in the process, then your creative team can plan strategically to make the best use of your content. If content creation makes you feel stuck or overwhelmed, we offer copywriting, content strategy, and photography services to help you get it done right.

Going through a website redesign is a lot of work – for you and us. We know what it’s like to be a busy business owner, but ultimately, your new brand or website can’t help your business grow if it never goes live! It may take more of your effort than you’re expecting, but we’re always here to help guide you through the process. We want your business to look awesome, and we’ll be able to do that even better with your help!

Are you still struggling to get started? Share your struggle with us–we’d love to help you solve it:

Tell us about it! »

What ideas do you have to help make a timeline stick?

Have you used other strategies to keep projects on track? How do you prepare for a new project? What have you learned from past projects? Leave us a comment below and share what’s worked for you (and what hasn’t!).

May 12 2016

All Work and No Play Makes Dull Creative Work!

It’s all too easy to get stuck in work mode. Working long hours, rushing to the gym, then going home to eat something and fall asleep. Only to wake up early and do it all again. But as a creative agency–or any type of business, really!–it’s important for us to remember take play breaks.

Design Week Portland helped us take a break a few weeks back. This year’s opening party featured fun and games to help creative types unwind. For me, it can be hard to silence the little voice in the back of my mind, reminding me to send that email or make sure I did that thing I was supposed to do (remember that thing?!). But it was impossible to be distracted by projects and to-do lists while I was snuggling a 5-week-old puppy or defending my Jenga champion crown.

The next day, I felt a little lighter thinking of that adorable puppy and that silly 60-second portrait drawing. Those happy memories brought a smile to my face when I needed a boost, and I felt more ready to take on the creative challenges of my day. A little excitement can go a long way in replenishing those creative juices. People are like cars: we all need to stop and refuel from time to time.

This week, find time to play more. See what happens when you give yourself a recess. Does it make you a happier person? More creative? More inspired?

Creating something fun in a different medium can recharge you for your everyday work.
Creating something fun in a different medium can refresh you for your everyday work.
There's nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!
There’s nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!

When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.
When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.


May 06 2016

Bringing strong brand to web design for Random Order Pie Bar

The "Before" Picture: Random Order's old site didn't incorporate their updated branding.
The “Before” Picture: Random Order’s old site didn’t incorporate their updated branding.

When a once-humble pie shop gains a worldwide audience, a lot of eyes will suddenly be looking for it, especially on the internet--a lot of business dream of that level of fame, but not all of them are ready for it! It’s easy for a potential new fan to see you in a magazine or on TV, pull out their smartphone, and go online to find the best pie in Portland. That means the pressure is on your web site to make a great first impression, and give them what they need to find you.

Random Order Pie Bar was more ready for fame than some, when Travel & Leisure magazine first rated their Vanilla Salted Caramel Apple Pie among “America’s Best”. When the owner of Random Order reached out to Team Upswept, they had updated their signage, menus, and other brand assets with a bolder and more polished look, and they also wisely gathered high-quality photos of their beautiful and positively scrummy pies!

But, even with all of these assets in their hands, their brand refresh was far from complete. None of their new brand imagery was being used effectively in their online presence, and they were also losing potential customers because of their not-so-mobile-friendly web site. The overall look-and-feel of the old web site felt heavy and staid, which didn’t fit at all with the welcoming and active environment of their cafe. That’s where Team Upswept came in!

Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order's updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)
Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order’s updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)

Our first order of business was designing the new web site to make the best use of their brand assets. Their updated logo now shows front-and-center with a gorgeous, full-width photo of their now-famous pie, and brand fonts are also used prominently, to tie in with their printed menus and advertisements. Their “Pie to the People” tag line also appears in multiple locations throughout the site, so this clever catch phrase can stick in the minds of future tourists and customers.

We also updated their menus to highlight both their pie flavors and cafe selections, with prominent calls to action for special ordering your favorite pie, or visiting the shop for a coffee drink and a slice. And, of course, we incorporated more of the lovely photos of the food, drinks, and cafe space throughout the site, to share the quality of their hand-crafted treats, and the community they’ve built over the years.

Random Order's new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.
Random Order’s new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.

And, now that Random Order’s reach extends far outside of its Portland, Oregon home, we made sure their web site would be easy to use for visiting tourists and local enthusiasts alike, by building a web site design that displays gracefully on mobile devices. With more and more people using mobile devices to learn about their pies–especially when traveling in from out of town–it’s absolutely critical that Random Order Pie Bar have a mobile site which is easy to use.

The new mobile site for Random Order achieves the same goals as the desktop version, and brings the brighter, more welcoming look to people on-the-go, and folks who are looking to sample a slice or a whole order of their famous pies can easily find their location or contact them with questions or special orders.

If you know me, then you know that I get more than a little excited about pie, so working with people who make some of the absolute best pie in Portland was a total blast. My only complaint? Looking at all of those photos made me so very hungry pie. Maybe that’s my cue to head up to Alberta St. and grab a world-famous slice for myself! 😉

Portland branding and web design by Upswept Creative

Apr 01 2016

Creative Mornings PDX with Jelly Helm

CM_Ethics_2200x1237

“The punch line is…” he said “Ethics have shifted from the tribe to the individual.”

What do donuts, ethics, and creativity all have in common? They were the bright stars of my Friday morning a few weeks ago at Creative Mornings PDX. The donuts, however, were easily outshined by the charming, charismatic speaker, Jelly Helm (there weren’t any jelly donuts, in case you were wondering).

At their core ethics and creativity seem to go hand in hand. The key to developing a creative mind, Helm suggested, lies in empathic understanding and listening. It’s as simple as noticing the world around you. If we can be alert and foster awareness, we can cultivate a sense of what the world needs. Listening is the superpower of the universe.

According to Helm, however, our happiness cannot be fulfilled by solely listening to what the world needs. It also has to fulfill our sense of purpose. Joy is the result of balancing our obligations to ourselves and to the world. He closed the morning with a poem by the Irish poet, John O’Donohue:

Beannacht / Blessing

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

 

Mar 04 2016

Legal Marijuana and Changing Brand Perception

Branding is all about creating a memorable impression of your work that appeals to your ideal client. Sometimes, that means overcoming common assumptions about your product… and when it comes to public perception, legal marijuana dispensaries have an especially tough challenge.

Marijuana was legalized in Portland less than a year ago, and as a previously illegal product, it had a lot of less-than-positive sentiment attached to it. Dispensaries have a lot to gain from the newly-opened market, however, and they’ve taken a few different strategies to help ease our transition from marijuana as a taboo item to a desirable product.

Make cannabis fashionable and high-end.

new-vansterdam
New Vansterdam is a Portland-area dispensary that’s chosen to take the high-end approach to their branding.

One of the splashiest advertisements to pop up was the huge billboard for New Vansterdam, which I first encountered traveling eastbound on the Burnside Bridge. This particular marijuana retailer not only had to combat the stereotypes attached to our idea of the “average” marijuana enthusiast, but it also had to entice a Downtown Portland audience to travel up to the (arguably, not-so-hip) land of Vancouver to replenish their supply.

Making weed into something coveted and “cool” was their game. Their use of sweeping, dramatically-lit landscape imagery and clean, stylized logo design communicated a more exclusive feel at a glance. They also chose their language carefully–referring to themselves as a, “cannabis market,” calls out to the high-end audience that would choose to shop at boutiques with hand-selected wares over a big-box department store.

Emphasize the health aspect.

farma
Farma is one of several cannabis retailers that’s chosen to emphasize the medicinal aspect of the product.

The medicinal uses for cannabis have been a hot topic for years, and some dispensaries have chosen to double down on the health angle–the green cross symbol calls back to the medical connotations of the original red version of the symbol, and it has quickly become an easy, visual shorthand for marijuana dispensaries.

Retailers such as SE Portland’s Farma have taken that medicinal angle a step further, and built their brand using a clean design aesthetic, with an equally clean look to their facility. Even without going inside, a peek through the front window reveals an entryway area boasting clean, white walls, with modern graphic decoration in their iconic green. This all ties in seamlessly with their slogan of, “Dispensing Modern Medicine.”

Make marijuana approachable.

The transition from weed being illegal and frowned-upon, to being both legal and acceptable isn’t going to happen overnight. Oregonians are still getting used to the idea that they can talk about their marijuana use in public, and it isn’t an activity that’s only for ne’er-do-wells.

We can’t help but think that the owners of Hi Casual Cannabis had that in their minds when they created their advertising. Although their brand assets may not be as well-developed as some of the other dispensaries in the area, their sign design is intentionally approachable, using playful type and energetic color.

Their simple decision to use the phrase, “casual cannabis,” is also a smart move: it reaffirms the idea that marijuana is both something that is 100% okay to use, and that people can smoke weed without harming their overall lifestyle. “Casual Cannabis,” sounds more like an ice cream sundae or a double-bacon cheeseburger: it’s a Sometimes Treat that we can enjoy as part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle. 😉

Feb 12 2016

This Weekend! Photobooth at Valentine’s popUP!

12627964_618424141640355_1148175536_nCome see us at the Valentine’s popUP event, and get in on our festive and fun photobooth for Valentine’s weekend! Stop by on Friday for the kick-off cocktail party, or visit us over the weekend and browse some super-amazing locally-made goods. Pick up something special for your sweetie or yourself, or share the experience with someone you like.

And, we’ll bring the fun in our photobooth! We’ll have some fun Valentine’s-y props on hand, and we’ll be ready to make some lighthearted and fabulous photos with you!

Valentine’s popUP at UP Design Lounge
4048 N Williams Ave., Portland 97227

PHOTOBOOTH HOURS:
Friday: 6-8pm (or later!)
Sat. & Sun.: 11am-3pm

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