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Seeing it in Real Life

Perhaps one of the coolest things about what we do is that the things we make often jump off the screen into real life. The majority of our business is devoted to making fab websites, but we also provide branding and print design services to our amazing clients. Branding (or logo design) in particular is so much fun because these designs are almost always used on business cards, postcards, mailers or even t-shirts.

We recently designed the branding identity for MC Fitness and Performance – a new training facility in Northeast Philly that provides bootcamp classes, small group training and athletic development training. I’ve known Mike Cusack, the founder of MC Fitness and Performance, for about 2 years now. I first met Mike when I was trying to get my butt in shape for my wedding. Bootcamp with Mike paid off – my beautiful couture gown by Janice Martin Couture had to be taken in over 4 inches from the start of the construction and I have Mike to thank for it!

MC Fitness and Performance branding by Beth Blinebury Design

The branding design for MC Fitness and Performance was a collaborative project between Andy and I. Andy had started working on some initial concepts and there was one circle-style logo that Mike really responded to. From that initial concept, I incorporated the lightning bolt into the typography and developed the color palette. The logo then went back to Andy for final tweaks like the circle’s cut-out edging and the distressed texture. Fitness branding can be tricky because you want to avoid anything too cliché (e.g. barbells). We definitely found some inspiration in this compilation of great gym and fitness logos from Abduzeedo.

Since Mike got his hands on the logo files, he’s been actively branding his studio with big decals and custom paint to match the lime green of the logo. And we really love seeing our work come to life in his space!

space

Image courtesy of MC Fitness and Performance via Facebook

Image courtesy of @mcfitnessperformance

Beth Blinebury at MC Fitness and Performance

And it’s me, post-workout posin’ by the wall-size MC Fitness and Performance logo!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun photos (mostly of my dogs and beer).

Images courtesy of @mcfitnessperformance

T-shirts are a first for us.  We haven’t seen our branding designs on anything you can wear, so seeing Mike poses with his adorable nephew in matching MC Fitness and Performance t-shirts made our week!

We are currently in the process of designing the full website for MC Fitness and Performance, but you can check out the preview site here and take advantage of the grand opening special rates on bootcamp and training!

An abundance of Bel Biv Devoe references, or building a personal brand

When I set out to start a business I didn’t even realize that I was, in fact, doing just that! In the Spring of 2004, I had just graduated from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Photography. Looking back I now understand my parents’ horrified facial expressions when I told them I was dropping my art education major for a major in photography. Whhhhhaaaat?

But as I journeyed out into “the real world” I took with me some basic web skillz that I had picked up in college. Like any narcissistic artist, I wanted my own website to display my sassy, feminist photography. But that single self-promoting endeavor led to my very first commercial client. I don’t remember exactly what I charged but I’m guessing it’s about 10% (if that) of what I charge today.

I remember trying to come up with a name for this little side business. I struggled with something clever for months and basically just gave up and tacked design on the end of my name. Little did I know that my giving up would ultimately prove extremely helpful in the future as I could work as a sole proprietor under my own name and social security number for years! I’m pretty sure I decided to name the business Beth Blinebury Design while drinking at a bar (not much has changed in nearly 10 years); and so BBD was born! (In 2012, Andy and I established BBD as an LLC so now we are all legit and what not.)

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Although it was unintentional at first, I have created a business and a brand around myself. It has evolved into something more that now involves my business partner and husband Andy, our neighborhood (once Fishtown & now Kensington, although we are Ftown hangers-on), our interests, our love of beer and of course our dogs. I am always surprised and delighted to hear prospective clients ask me how Buckus is doing (after seeing him on our website’s about page) or telling me that they loved my hot pink and white wedding dress (which I agree was amazing). In short, every aspect of my business and my life are intertwined – from this blog post to a meeting with a client. I can’t imagine my business functioning in any other way and I think the almost-accidental naming of the business set the tone nearly 9 years ago this month!

Another bonus of the business name? Lots of Bel Biv Devoe references in meetings.

Let ME Help YOU

Did you know that once a website is launched, we (Beth Blinebury Design, that is) provide our clients with customized video tutorials to enable them to manage and maintain their website themselves? It’s true! I wouldn’t lie to you friend.

I have tried to explain these tutorials to a few people recently and then it got me thinking… why not show off an example of what I’m talking about so potential clients can see what I’m talkin’ about? So here it is, a sample video tutorial to watch and enjoy! In this video tutorial, I give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of our awesome clients’ websites. Ellen B. Cutler’s website for her company LNB Associates (get it?) is a shining example of one of our clients utilizing available technology to share information (in Ellen’s case, it’s her writing) with the internet world!

The majority of BBD website projects are built using WordPress as the content management system (or CMS). WordPress makes it super easy to add and edit content like blog posts or website pages. The video tutorials are customized to our client’s needs like an artist needing the ability to edit a portfolio to a local business that updates their inventory on a weekly basis.

So without further reading, here it is. Disclaimer: I pronounce the word “our” like the word “are.” It’s a Philly thing and I’ve never been more aware of it than watching this video. For more on how I and other Philadelphians speak, please review this article from the City Paper.

Warning: There is some slight audio clipping… I’m loud, what can I say? 

Friends Forever

Friends and business… oh how tricky it can be! You remember what happened to Zack Morris when he got too big for his britches right? We almost lost Zack Attack!

Andy and I have some pretty talented friends and occasionally we are asked to work with or do work for a friend. This can be an incredibly precarious situation, so move forward with caution. Here are a few rules I try to follow:

1. Put it in writing

Put everything in writing, for serious. We provide each client with a scope of work that outlines what a particular project will include, how it will be created, when it will be delivered and in what fashion and last, but not least, how and when we will get paid. In addition to our scope of work, we also ask that all of our clients sign the same standard contract (that our cool lawyers drafted for us). This process should be exactly the same when working with a friend!

Recently I was asked my a good friend to do some pro-bono work. In my error, no contracts were signed and no scope of work was created. The tricky issue in this situation is that while my friend was working as the project manager, there was an overseeing partner who viewed my work as subcontractor work for his company. In his error, I was never presented with a contract from the overseeing company (which is pretty standard). I have a nice relationship with a few local firms in which I work as a subcontractor and my role in their project is very clearly outlined in a contract. As you might have guessed, this particular project did not go so smoothly. Without a clear scope of work and a contract, no one was clear on whose project it really was!

In the end, everything worked out for all parties involved and no friendships were harmed in the making of this project. And the phrase “never again” was heard throughout the Philadelphia area.

2. Get those dolla bills, son

Pricing should never be vague and an email saying that you will be paid “about $1000″ doesn’t cut it. Outlining the pricing for a project (not only what the total amount is but how you will be paid) goes hand-in-hand with the first rule. Get it in writing! So what if you’re bartering with a friend? Get that in writing too! It’s not as difficult as it sounds. If you are exchanging services, make sure that both parties’ services are outlined.

I worked with a friend once on a really fun project. I knew I wouldn’t be paid a lot but I did have an idea of what I would be paid. Now, let’s stop right here. What was I thinking? An idea of what I would be paid? That’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I knew someone who had worked with this friend on a comparable project and I knew what they had received. You know where this is going right? When I received my check I was incredibly angry… with myself. Don’t assume anything especially when it comes to payment.

Speaking of payment, are you thinking of charging your friend less than what you charge your other clients? Well, stop that immediately!  Whenever you consider working for free (or at a huge discount), simply go to a mirror and watch as you slap yourself across the face. Friend or no friend, don’t sell yourself short. You might also reference Jessica Hische’s thoroughly enjoyable Should I work for Free? chart in which she outlines the very few reasons you should ever work for free (spoiler alert: one of those reasons includes getting a free kidney in return).

3. Just don’t do it

Some friends are awesome friends and shitty clients. That’s just how it goes. Now let me state this for all of my friends/clients out there who may be reading: I’m not talking about you! However, I have heard my share of horror stories from fellow designers (and independent artists, developers, contractors, etc). In most cases, the designer was hesitant about working with a particular friend and went ahead with the project anyway. Just because you enjoy drinking beers with someone doesn’t mean that you should entangle yourself in a business relationship with them. Your friend might be a great drinking buddy but they may also be somewhat bat-shit crazy and it’s okay to say no. How do you deal with that situation without offending said friend? Hmm… I don’t really have a good idea here. Maybe just lie and tell them you’re too busy? I kid. But that’s the trickiest part – saying no to a friend. Much better to have one awkward conversation than to lose a friend by the end of a project I’d say.

So to take a cue from Zack Morris:

Through it all, hangin’ tough,
We’ll stay side by side.
We’ll be friends forever,
Til’ the end of time.