May 14 2018

Authenticity Online

Authenticity can often seem like it’s in short supply. Especially on the internet. Whether it’s a snarky meme or “fake news,” genuine voices are in high demand online. People are starved for them.

Whether you’re managing the social media channels of an established business, or taking a DIY approach to building your own online marketing materials, it’s so important to keep it real. Trust is the basis of any good relationship, customer to business included. Connecting with potential customers from a place of genuineness, honesty, and passion will make them more likely to purchase your product or services. In fact, 80% of consumers polled said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.

Here are some ways you can find your authentic voice in your online marketing efforts:

Authentic to You

In order to come off as honest online, you first have to know yourself. At the very least, know your brand. Is a funny and light-hearted tone appropriate, or does your marketing require a more serious approach? What sorts of images will communicate your desired tone? Think these elements through before you start posting, or you may risk of coming off as calculated and facetious.

Being true to the core of your business identity is the first step in attracting the kind of customers you want.

Share Your Excitement

It’s no secret that passion is appealing. You should feel passionate about the work you’re doing. If you aren’t, it becomes much harder to get people to pay attention. I believe humans have the capability to be passionate about anything, we just have to find the angle that lets us connect with it. If you’re managing social media for a client, spend the time to learn the ins-and-outs of the business. Even if it seems really boring at first, you’re likely to find something that fascinates you eventually.

For example, last year I was tasked with promoting a conference by and for professionals in a particular field of social science. I don’t have a social science background, and at first glance it could seem dry and academic to the average person. But as I performed my due diligence and really dove into the deep end with what this field was all about, I discovered this conference was actually very progressive. They had booked speakers centered around social justice, provided continuing education opportunities, and kept the price of registration as low as possible in order to accommodate low-income professionals.

Because I took the time to learn these things, and really get onboard personally, I was able to highlight them in an engaging way on social media. Finding your way “in” to a topic you’re tasked with promoting is one of the most important aspects of being a successful social media manager.

Don’t Be Afraid To Have Fun

Having fun with the topic at hand, when appropriate, is a great way to show genuine excitement and passion about the products and services you’re advertising. Don’t be afraid of it! A great example is Wendy’s twitter account. No one wants to engage with an account of a fast food giant that just posts ads all day. That’s why Wendy’s snarky, sarcastic, and meme-filled feed has found such viral success. People are both shocked and amused, and you can tell that the person (or team) behind the handle is having a blast.

 

Getting started marketing online can be intimidating. It’s not easy to decide  what to put out to a potentially massive audience, And I hope these have helped you wrap your head around the topic.

If you find yourself needing some more guidance, or you’d rather hire professionals to collaborate with you on the decision making process, Upswept Creative is here for you! We can work with you to take the stress out of online marketing, and get your social media presence on a course to success. Schedule some time to sit down with us today – you won’t regret it.


Apr 26 2018

Letting Go: 3 Things Holding You Back From an Awesome Brand Redesign

Do you get an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you look at your logo? Do you feel sheepish when you hand out your business card? You may be thinking about a brand redesign, or even know deep down that you need to refresh your brand… and yet, it feels like an awful lot of work that you don’t feel prepared for.

I’m not going to tell you that rebranding isn’t a lot of work, because it does take time and energy! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, however. In fact, if you’re overwhelmed in your work, a rebrand may be exactly what you need.

Even if you think you have to stay the course, here are some thoughts that shouldn’t hold you back from a brand redesign:

“I don’t want to lose the brand recognition I already have. ”

Businesses both big and small can stay strong, even through multiple rebrands. (IBM logo evolution via Hongkiat)

You’ve worked hard to build your customer base, so it’s totally normal to feel hesitation about turning people away. However, we’ve seen a variety of businesses update their visual identity, and still keep going strong–the trust they’ve already built keeps their loyal fans coming back, while updated branding attracts new eyes.

As long as you make the right adjustments to your branding, you can keep your audience and keep evolving your business. Your creative team will often guide you through how to debut and start using your new brand assets, so your customers know what’s happening. It will take your audience a little while to adjust, but new branding will help you make sure the customers you love will stick around.

“My current logo is already on all of my tags, t-shirts, signage, etc.”

It may seem like a lot of trouble to incorporate a new logo and brand messaging. And yet, isn’t it a bigger problem to have a brand you aren’t proud of stamped all over your marketing?

Sticking with your current branding means everyone who engages with you will see an ill-fitting brand that makes the wrong impression. And, that outdated brand will continue to draw in all the same people–including the “wrong fit” clients that you don’t want to keep attracting.

It’s true that printing new business cards, having new signs made, or replacing other brand assets will take some time and resources. But, investing that time and effort now will help you connect with more of the people who are right for you, and that will make your life much easier in the long-term.

“I don’t have time to deal with that right now.”

Time is precious in any business! But, if you don’t have time right now, when will you? Free time rarely appears on its own–you ultimately have to make the time for things that are important to the growth of your business.

And, consider this: how much time could you save if your marketing was refined for who your business is now? If you can attract more of the right customers, and fewer customers that don’t fit, you could save a lot of time in your day-to-day. You could deal with fewer questions or less back-and-forth on pricing, you could focus on your best and most beloved products, rather than maintaining a huge product line. The possibilities are plentiful!

 

Rebranding is daunting–I get it! It’s a big task full of tough decisions. But, thinking critically about your brand is how you not only survive, but thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape. Facing your fears, acknowledging where your brand can do better, and making those tough choices will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated about your business.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone! Upswept Creative offers all the resources you need to have a successful brand evolution: web design, logo and graphic design, and social media management to get the (new) word out. Contact us right now to start feeling good about your brand again.


Jan 19 2018

How Much Will Your Website Really Cost?

When we talk website design with potential clients, one thing we hear pretty regularly is, “I have no idea what this kind of thing costs.” It’s not just about shopping around between different providers, either–there are a lot of factors that can affect your total investment.

If you want to get a better sense of what you can expect to spend, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

Good, Fast, Cheap: what are your real priorities?

image courtesy Berkonomics

There’s a saying in the creative world that Good, Fast, and Cheap doesn’t exist: you can only pick two.

What does that mean? Well, if you need your new website “ASAP,” and you want it to be both beautiful and effective, then it’s not going to come Cheap.

Conversely, if you’re looking to save money, you’ll end up “paying” for the project in other ways–you’ll either be waiting a long time to finally get your new Good website, or you’ll get a website that was created Fast, but is low-quality.

If you want to pursue a new website, make sure you know your priorities. I suspect you won’t want to sacrifice Good on your web project, so be prepared to either pay more, or wait longer for its completion.

What resources do you have?

Once you know what your priorities are, it’s time to look at where you’re starting from. There are a lot of moving parts to a website. A good website professional will be there to take on the design, coding, and strategy for you, but there are other important pieces to building a website that works well:

  • Your brand voice. Do you know who your business is? Do you know who you’re trying to reach? Your website team needs to know those things to create a website strategy that works for you.
  • Written content. Do you have descriptions of your services or products? Do you know what to put on your homepage? Your website pro can guide you, but someone needs to create the words that help your website sell.
  • Photography. Do you have professional-quality photos that represent what you do? Do you have a clear photo of yourself for your About page? Good design can get you part of the way there, but photos are what will put a face on your brand, and help tell your brand story.

These are just a few major project pieces that your web design professional will need to make your website work well for your business. If you’re missing any of these pieces, you’ll need to either need to create them yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you.

How much time do you have available?

Now that you’ve figured out what pieces you have, and what pieces you’re missing, take a look at your work week How much time do you have available? Realistically?

It’s easy to get excited about the idea of a new website, and say “yes, of course I can get you that content,” but creating good content takes time. Even if you have the best intentions, if you’re already too busy to answer your emails or post on your Instagram, then you probably won’t have time to create a customer persona or craft a brand statement.

If you do have some time to spare, there may be ways you can use your own knowledge and skills to help the process along. Just remember: nobody gets good at something new overnight, and it could take you hours upon hours of work to get it right. And, even if you *can* handle content yourself, there may just be better ways for you to use your precious time to keep your business running!

A professional creative has years of expertise that helps them get the job done faster and better than the average person. If your time is valuable to you, then keep it for yourself, and pay for a professional assist.

What are you willing to do? What do you NOT want to do?

You’ve gotten this far. You know what you need, you have the time to make it happen. Now it’s time to be honest with yourself: what are you actually willing to do to keep that website working well?

If you love blogging and want to regularly update a blog on your website, then hey, that’s great! If you used to work as a copywriter and want to craft your own website copy, then that could be helpful.

But, if the idea of writing your own bio makes you break out in hives, then maybe you should ask your website team for a copywriting quote. If HTML terrifies you, then ask your website professional about a maintenance package, so you don’t have to update the site yourself.

Whatever you choose, be honest with yourself about what you can do, what you should do, and what is better left to the experts.


Aug 04 2017

Portland Business Spotlight: Janet Price, Makeup Artist

Janet Price is a Portland-based professional makeup artist with over 13 years experience in film and television, as well as print, stage, and theatre makeup design.

Janet Price grew up in Los Angeles during the reign of Mouseketeers and The Gong Show. As a kid, she felt surrounded by the entertainment industry — it was normal for people she knew to go in for auditions, and shows that she saw on TV were being produced right down the road. Her involvement in the industry felt natural. It wasn’t strange to think she’d  grow up to be a Mouseketeer, because that’s what LA kids did.

Artist applying makeup on a woman's face.
Janet Price at work. Photo credit: Gary Norman, www.garynormanphotography.com

In 1984, Janet moved to Oregon with her family and got involved with high school drama productions. Fascinated by the parentally-forbidden art of makeup, she studied library books to teach herself how to work with theatrical makeup while secretly painting her face at school and making sure to arrive home before her dad did to wash off the evidence of her artistic rule-breaking.

While Janet chose not to pursue makeup artistry as a career, she continued to expand her knowledge about new products and techniques as a hobby she couldn’t shake off.

Some years later, Janet was flipping through a Northwest School of Film class catalog and found a 3-month intensive Makeup for Film + TV class and was excited to get formal education. The class instructor, Christina, began to casually mentor Janet after the class ended, no doubt seeing Janet’s talent for the work and her affinity for the industry. Christina was preparing to retire, so she gifted Janet makeup and tools that she wouldn’t need once she retired. Christina recommended Janet for her first job as an assistant makeup artist, on a Paramount Universal film that was shooting in Portland. It took just the one recommendation from a veteran artist, and Janet’s work as a makeup artist  took off from there, booking jobs of all sizes in film, TV, theater, and studio settings.

Janet Price Logotype by Upswept Creative, 2016.
Janet Price Logotype by Upswept Creative, 2016.

We worked with Janet in 2016 to create a new logotype, business card, and brochure website, which resides at http://www.janetpricemakeup.com/. She hoped to modernize her brand, and make her work easier to find. Now, when professionals in the film industry are planning Portland-based productions, they can easily find Janet’s work and contact her through her new website. That means less of her time spent looking for work, and more of her time spent doing the work.

What is your passion? Whether it’s a side-hustle or your main gig, we’d love to help make your brand shine and spread the word about how awesome you are. Whether you want to revise your website, change your branding, build a strategy for marketing more effectively, or you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with us to schedule your FREE consultation, and we’ll use our extensive online experience to help you get clear on your next steps.



May 25 2017

Meet Sarah Giffrow, our fearless Creative Director and Benevolent Overlord!

Sarah steers the ship at Upswept Creative, deftly serving up smart branding solutions and building beautiful, usable websites that make sense and look awesome.

Sarah Giffrow HeadshotSarah created her first webpage more than two decades ago, when she taught herself HTML to stave off boredom over a summer in high school. In college, she ditched her journalism major and decided to make a go of it in the then-fledgling industry of web design.

Before launching her own creative studio more than five years ago, Sarah was doing web design and management in the non-profit / education sector, and side-hustling in wedding and portrait photography. Motivated by a desire to explore different avenues for her creative skills, solve new problems, and feel more connected to clients, she decided to go out on her own, giving rise to Upswept Creative and, indirectly, this blog post you’re reading right now.

Creative Convergence

Driving her own creative endeavor allowed Sarah more time to get to know local creators and business owners. She observed gaps in their marketing and online presences, and began to figure out ways to help them.  

“Getting to see their work close-up and experience it in-person, I knew how skilled and passionate they were, and I wanted to help them show that to others, and get the kind of die-hard fans they deserved.”

That connection to the vibrant independent business community remains a priority in Upswept’s work as we expand our service offerings and grow our team. On her hopes for the future of Upswept, Sarah says, “I’d love for us to really become known as a resource for independent businesses, so we can keep helping people grow their passions into their livelihoods.”

Being Yourself

Sarah has faced many of the challenges typical of creative work, and lessons learned along the way inform her strategies to help clients better, particularly in figuring out how to differentiate herself in the local market bursting of talented competition.

To attain success, Sarah says, you must “understand deeply what sets you apart in your industry. Communicating that authentic expression of who you are and what you do in a clear way is critical.”

Though thriving in such a lively market can be tough, Upswept Creative wouldn’t be the same studio if it existed in a different city. One of the values Sarah identifies with in the Portland creative community is a “deeply-held belief that, if the service or the product doesn’t already exist, we can create it! We [Portlanders] place a lot of value on supporting businesses with local roots, and we aren’t afraid to try something that hasn’t been done before.”  

Beyond Work

Sarah on Skates!Outside of work, Sarah spends much of her time involved in roller derby with the Rose City Rollers, as a skater, official, and juniors coach. Sarah loves to bake, much to the enjoyment of anyone who’s attended an event at Upswept HQ, and this year is enrolled in the Google Academy of Organic Gardening.

Your Turn!

Now that you know a little bit more about Upswept’s leadership, we’d love to get to know you better, too. We like to kick off every new project with a get-to-know-you meeting, so we can assess your unique business problems and craft an elegant, beautiful solution just for you!  Get started by scheduling your free clarifying consultation and see what kind of awesome Sarah and rest of Team Upswept has in store for you.


May 11 2017

DWP: Good Design Solves Problems

On April 28th, Upswept Creative hosted a panel discussion at HQ as part of Design Week Portland. What started as a fun idea tossed to the group in one of our team meetings very quickly evolved into a fully realized, (and totally booked!) event. Creative Director and Benevolent Overlord Sarah had been thinking a lot about design, and what makes good design really work. So we assembled a diverse set of design professionals for our panel and happy hour, to help us explore the topic, “Good Design Solves Problems.

Our hope was to represent perspectives on design from multiple design disciplines, so  panel consisted of Design Scientist and Innovative Strategist Stef Koehler, Architectural Designer Callie Coles, Apparel Designer and Founder of Hubris Apparel Rita Hudson-Evalt, and Upswept Creative’s very own Sarah Giffrow, who specializes in website design and branding.

THE DISCUSSION

 

Design Week Portland panel
Our wonderful panel, from right to left: Stef Koehler, Rita Hudson-Evalt, Callies Coles, Sarah Griffrow, and the moderator, Josselyn Haldeman.

The panel dove right in, addressing the question at hand. How does good design solve problems? Kohler spoke on her practice of making the problem bigger, “see all the parts,” she said. “Look at it as a system. Don’t make it simple, complexify it.”

A major piece of creating beautiful, problem-solving design is finding out exactly what a client’s problems are–and that can often be tricky. The panel agreed that most clients don’t have the language to communicate exactly what they want, and that means it’s a designer’s job to pull it out of them. “The client may not know what the problem is. Get ahead of the problem…Make the dress that lets them feel like themselves,” said Hudson-Evalt.

Sarah chimed in with an approach all of the panelists could agree with: communicate with your client. “Have a conversation. Engage with the client to pull answers out.”

As an architectural designer, Coles described how she will go into a space to observe how people use it. When do people start looking confused? Where do they look for direction? “[There is] no substitute for observing what people do real space,” said Coles.

“[Create a] balance between ‘brand’ and what the user actually wants to get to. First impressions- big photos, catchy phrases- can get in the way of finding the pie or buying the shoes. What is the interaction the end-user wants?” said Giffrow.

Design Week Portland nametags
Professional name tags. So fancy!

This touched on a major theme of the evening, empathy. To get inside the end user’s head, a designer has to be empathetic to that experience. Hudson-Evalt suggested, “Talk to people constantly, what they need from the dress/what they want. Realizing themselves in the mirror.”

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Team Upswept Creative had such a blast putting on the event, and we hope everybody who came out enjoyed themselves, too. Thank you to all of the panelists, Design Week Portland, and our lovely audience for braving the heat to make it out to our little event.


Apr 13 2017

Portland Business Spotlight: Katie Proctor, Owner, Books with Pictures

Portland’s Katie Proctor is on bold mission to bring comics to everyone. Her nearly year-old shop in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood, Books with Pictures, has quickly become a community hub with an explicitly inclusive mission: to be a space that is welcoming to people who love good stories without regard to age, race, sexual orientation, gender expression, or disability status. We loved collaborating with Katie in creating branding assets for the shop in support of that mission, and we’re such big fans of her shop that we wanted to shine a light on our favorite local comics seller.

Books with Pictures Logo by Upswept Creative, 2016.

On Radical Inclusivity

The shop — it’s spacious layout, bright lighting, and friendly displays — the diverse stock, and Katie herself are all tuned towards making entry into comics an easy and stress-free experience, making it OK for adults to not know anything about comics when they come in, or for parents to come in to get a comic for their kids and not know what they are looking for, or should be looking for. You don’t have to feel like you are already part of the “in” crowd, is the thing. Because at Books with Pictures there is no “in” crowd, just folks who like to read books and connect with each other about it.  

Heroes are for Everyone Sandwich Board
Recently shared on Books with Pictures Instagram Feed

Katie says that comic books have forever been full of stories of misfits overcoming the things that set them apart from mainstream culture to find their own power, and there is a lot happening in terms of diverse content, identifiable storylines for people who feel like outsiders. Most of her customers are new to comic book stores, and it’s clear that a big part of Katie’s passion is in creating a safe and welcoming space where there’s a book for anyone who comes into her shop, whether they are looking for the mainstream offerings, or something else.

Katie has a diverse background which includes information design, bike advocacy, biomedical ethics, sales enablement programs, computing cultures, and history of science. She has been reading comic books since since adolescence, but really got into them after having children, who are five and seven now.

On Being So Much More Than a Bookstore

Katie Proctor Headshot
The One and Only Katie Proctor. Headshot by Upswept Creative, 2016.

It’s a daring thing to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore, but Katie says the key to being successful and vibrant is to be a resource for the community that it can’t get online. In addition to carrying the less-mainstream titles (Yes, she has more than one book for kids in which the princesses fall in love with each other), a big part of this mission is fulfilled by the many events the shop hosts every month.

There is some kind of lecture, signing, panel, or class every Wednesday night, Yarn with Pictures, a monthly knitting group, as well as events and programming in partnership with University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Helioscope Studios. In keeping with her community-oriented theme, Katie is excited to foster synergy between our city’s comics luminaries and its up-and-comers.

Books with Pictures is the kind of local business we love to work with, one with a clear message of inclusivity and positivity that makes a real effort to be present in the community it serves. Katie Proctor has built something beautiful for all fans of comic books, and we are proud to highlight her talent and hard work.


Mar 30 2017

Social Media Management 101

Online marketing is so widespread, it’s hard to imagine a business today without some kind of presence on social media. But how do you even get started? It can be a lot to tackle. What is a good social media strategy? How do you manage posts across platforms? What does success even look like? This post will bring you through these basics of social media marketing.

A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST A WISH

The first step in any cohesive social media strategy is to formulate a plan. Start by asking yourself, “what do I want my online presence to accomplish?” At first, you might simply want  to increase followership across platforms, getting your other brand assets in front of as many eyes as possible. Another goal could be to increasing website traffic, which is a good goal for online retailers. These goals will form the basis for the rest of your social media strategy, so feel free to take some time, do some research, and really think about what you want out of a social media presence.

PUZZLING PLATFORMS

There are so many social media platforms to choose from!

Once you’ve set your goals, you can identify the platforms your company should be active on. Facebook is a pretty universal option, but it doesn’t always need to be your main focus. I Growing a presence on LinkedIn could be valuable, if you run a business-to-business operation. Instagram is ideal for visual-heavy businesses, like fashion designers or photographers. Twitter allows you to quickly reach an audience and link to out-of-platform content like a blog, or ticket sales site. Crossover content between platforms is ok, but it’s important to take into consideration these strengths and weaknesses when creating content.

CONSISTENCY IS QUEEN

Now that you know your active platforms, you can start drafting content. Posting regularly is the most important thing, so be sure to come up with a posting schedule you can actually stick to. A consistent stream of content, even if it’s just three posts a week, shows people that your business is active. You can also use social media tools like Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule multiple posts at once, to help you manage multiple platforms.

STICK TO THE PLAN

One of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing is determining success, but you’ll never be sure if you’re succeeding if you change tactics too often. It takes time to grow a strong social media presence, so practice patience. Use the built-in analytics tools most social media platforms provide, and keep track of your goals as the weeks go on. Experimenting with different types of content, posting schedules, and platforms is all great, but make sure to give each plan enough time to see if it’ll catch.

If this all sounds like a lot of work, you’re right! Many small-business owners get overwhelmed by the nitty-gritty details of ongoing social-media management. It’s ok if you’d rather spend your time on other aspects of your business! Upswept Creative has our very own Online Marketing Maven in Josselyn Haldeman, who will allow you to do just that. If you’re interested in her services, be sure to say so when you reach out.


Feb 02 2017

How To Build A Brand That Reaches Your Dream Clients

Branding can be a hard thing to understand. You know that a strong brand can help you land more clients and make more sales, but you may wonder: how does that happen?

It’s important to make your brand distinctive, so it sticks in your clients mind. That means knowing your own values and staying in touch with your Why, instead of focusing too much on your competition. But, knowing who you are is only one piece of the puzzle: you also need to know who your customer is.

Know Who Your Brand is Talking To

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all brand. It’s often said that, “you can’t please everyone,” and that’s especially true for branding. A brand that appeals to a hip, trendy 20-something isn’t likely to attract a 40-something shopper who’s more interested in quality than trends.

To build an effective brand, you need to know who you’re talking to. That means making choices about what kind of people you want to attract! Think about their age, their preferences, their habits, and you can start making choices about how your brand will engage with them and appeal to them.

Choosing your audience might seem scary, at first. You might feel as if you’re turning away other customers by choosing an ideal audience, but trust the process! Your brand will be much more powerful when you tailor your brand to a specific group, instead of trying to please everyone. If you try to attract too wide of an audience, you can easily end up with a weak, non-specific brand that doesn’t resonate well with anyone.

Are You the Same As Your Customer?

When you’re an independent business owner, it’s easy to think that building your brand is just a matter of choosing things that appeal to you. If that’s what you’ve been doing so far, STOP for a second, and ask yourself: “are my ideal customer and I actually alike?” 

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their customers are just like them when, in reality, their customer is much different. You are not your customer, and even though you may both like your work, they may be drawn to it for different reasons.

When you’re building a refreshed brand, it’s important to find the balance between your own values, and what will appeal to your customer. You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not (please, don’t do that!), but you DO need to make choices that appeal to your ideal customer.

“How Do I Start To Identify My Ideal Customer?”

This can be a question with a lot of layers, depending on where you are in your business. If you’re an established business looking at a refresh, you can learn a few things from your past customers and experience. If you’re a newer business, however, you’ll need to operate more on research and instinct.

As a starting point, here are a few questions that businesses at any level can start with:

  • What are my ideal client’s demographics? Think about age, gender, family size, income, education, and so forth.
  • What are their habits? How does their typical day go? How do they spend their free time?
  • How does what my business offers fit into their life? What problem will it solve for them?
  • What do they value most? What is important to them? Style? Practicality? Uniqueness? Being socially conscious? Choosing high-quality work? Etc.

Understanding your ideal customer’s mindset is huge for building a strong brand that helps you grow and succeed! Try putting yourself in their shoes and seeing how they think. Walk yourself through what their experience with your business might be like. You could learn a lot from it!

Need more help understanding your brand?

Our Finding Your Brand Center workbook is free, and here to help you build your brand foundation. >>

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