Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mobile Design!

Well it seems that the stars have aligned and have brought together two of my greatest passions: design, and mobile tech!  The good folks over at Autodesk have made a version of their popular drawing program Sketchbook for both Android and iOS (I-phone) operating systems.

Sketchbook Mobile has been the best .99 cents I've ever spent.  EVER.  I've been transformed into a middle-school geek all over again, and find myself doodling in creative ways that I haven't done since my face was covered in acne and my fingers were covered in pencil-blisters.  The thing is... I think my creativity has actually been catapulted beyond what I was capable of doodling during those awkward adolescent years, and the credit goes to the intuitive touch interface of this awesome app.

Touch, as we all know can be very stimulating.  Drawing and painting with your good 'ol pointer might seem strange at first, but you'll soon feel the instinctual spark of creativity flow from your finger-tips.  This rewarding experience is due to the fact that Autodesk has built one of the BEST touchscreen user interfaces I've seen - It allows you to get right into the drawing without hindering you with excessive menus or options.  Everything you need is here, and nothing more.  Opacity control? check.  Brush options?  check? Layer control and basic effects?  check and check.  The tutorial you are prompted to take the first time you start up the application is clear, and tells you everything you need to know to start sketching.

Check out some of the sketches my buddy and I have been messing around with, and then go download the app for your Android or I-phone ASAP.  You wont be disappointed.  The only problem is, all I can think about now is AWESOME Sketchbook Mobile would be on a shiny new tablet :)

Android Link

I-phone Link

Apps like Sketchbook Mobile could really change the workflow of designers from this point forward.  I know it has for me, and I will certainly be looking ahead to see what other benefits mobile-tech will have on the design world of tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Invite!

I recently had the pleasure of working with a very creative bride, and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding projects I've done lately.  

Doing an invite right means understanding the vision of the wedding party.  After numerous conversations  about color, texture, and the atmosphere of the wedding, we decided on a modern, graphic-heavy look to match the retro-lounge atmosphere of the event.

The Bride-to-be decided on a textured pearl paper that gave the finished product a hi-lux look and feel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Does Font Matter?

image courtesy of
To most folks, a font is a trivial thing.  It may be easy to get lost in the design-landscape that clutters our everyday life: street signs, letterheads, retail product packaging, and of course the flood of images we endure every time we log on to the world-wide-web.  Cluttered enough for any business owner to ask themselves: 'does font even matter anymore?'  An understandable question to ponder when so much of what we visually digest seems to go unnoticed, and in turn perhaps seem invisible.  Could the font that you've chosen in your logo really be doing all that much to communicate with your markets?

Recent research is pointing to 'yes.'  Although we may not seem to notice it, Fonts themselves can help to influence decisions and perceptions even when we aren't conscious they are doing so.  An article by researchers Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz, (Published by the Association for Psychological Science) suggests that processing fluency, a term that describes the ease in which we interpret and understand visual data, can be integral to how we feel about the data itself.  The general gist is that if something is easy to understand (having high processing fluency), it is easy to do, good, and more often than not, trust-worthy.  We do not, however make the correlation in our heads, and instead use past experiences and perceptions to justify why we feel the way we do about it.  It would be wise for any firm that needs to communicate trust, accessibility, or security, to stick with a sans-serif font (fonts clearly separated and defined without excessive lines).  Think insurance companies, department stores, or banks.

Although this might suggest that we all go out and change our letterheads and logo fonts to Arial and Helvetica, the converse relationship of this same principal of processing fluency is important to note as well.  Fonts that are harder to read or understand tend to make us feel that the subject at hand is more complex or difficult.  This may seem like a negative thing, but depending on what the subject is, a font that is harder to read can sometimes make us feel that the subject itself  is more valuable, complicated, and rare.  The study showed that participants believed a roller coaster was scarier, crazier, and in turn more desirable if the name of it was more complex to pronounce and was written in a script or serif  font (more curls and loops).  Script and serif fonts therefore serve well to companies who's reputations rely on feelings of adventure, excoticness, or luxury.

At the end of the day, I am tempted to say that your products and services must still ultimately speak for themselves.  Fonts can however do more than their part to help you establish a better relationship with your customers, by positioning and aligning your business' reputation with the feelings that are carried in the hearts and minds of your clients.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top Five Reasons to Redesign Your Logo

You are not the same company you used to be.

In times of economic change, businesses often find themselves going after markets outside their typical segments.  Keeping your vision and company values through these dynamic times is key, but the ability to note the differences in your markets and capitalize on them can separate the struggling small businesses from the ones who end up as industry leaders when the recession dust finally settles.  Look at what you've done differently in these past years to survive and make it a part of your company culture.  You are not the same company you started out as, and your primary branding tool should reflect that.

Your customers want to know that you and your brand are strong and relevant.
There is more to a logo than being eye-catching or trendy.  You need to communicate to clients that you keep yourself and your business in good working order.  Great service and marketing go a long way in establishing your reputation, but nothing says you are a healthy business like a subtle upgrade to your logo.  We’re not talking about a total make-over (which if done in poor taste could actually alienate your current markets), but a slight update, for a clean fresh look.  Think of it as a dapper new haircut for 2011, or the extra polish that will go a long way in the minds of your clients.

You want to be an industry leader, not a follower.
Keeping your company’s appearance current also means you are in the habit of looking beyond the horizon, and others in the industry will begin to appear dull in comparison with your firm.  Some may even follow suit and try to emulate your look, but fret not, businesses and clients alike know the difference between a 1st mover and a follower.  Allow your ambition to shine when it comes to your corporate identity, and you won't be stuck following the companies who are doing it already.

Looking fresh brings fresh business.
By refreshing your logo, you introduce yourself to new markets and stand to gain clients who may not have noticed you before.  Expanding your base of clients is sometimes as simple as shifting a hue or altering a custom font.  

You need to adapt to thrive.
Too many times, a small business's growth potential is stifled by the business owner's unwillingness to accept and embrace change.  Leave fear in the dust, and let 2011 be the year that you and your business resolve to achieve.  Allow yourself to truly thrive by adapting, leading, looking good, and bringing in new business with the New Year!

Best wishes to you all and Happy New Year!,
Bryce Watanabe

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Business Cards!

Exciting!! My business cards have arrived, and I'm very happy with them:

I used for them, and I have to say they have some great customer service, and GREAT prices.  Even though they had to ship me a second order (the 1st was printed matte and the images/text seemed hazed compared to the online proof, and were not legible enough for my taste) but they re-printed it free, and they did it fast.  I will definitely order from them again, for myself and clients who are looking to save.  The glossy finish card which online says is 80lb seems thicker than the 100 lb matte for some reason.  Although they are not as sturdy and perfect as cards (seriously the best cards I've touched) these are a 1/5 of the cost and hold their own in another category for those who are trying not to break the bank on marketing expenses.  I will probably use these as stock cards, and will use my cards for VIP clients.  When I reorder my next batch of moos, I'll post a vid for comparison's sake.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hello World! (Again)

As a longtime designer in Hawaii I am proud to have finally opened the virtual doors to my own business.  As of October 2010 I am the proud founder, owner, and sole employee of Sweet Ignition Design. I'd like to take the time to thank everyone who has encouraged me along the way to bravely travel down the path of self-empowerment, and self employment.  I am excited to serve the local companies, organizations, and individuals of Hawaii with the same high standards for quality and service that you've come to expect from me and my work.

Aloha and Mahalo for your patronage,

Bryce Watanabe