TOOLS

I highly recommend all of the tools below. I have been using them personally for years and once you take them for a test drive, you will see what I'm talking about!  I hope you find them helpful as you are researching the tools that best fit you and your company!


1. Adobe - I absolutely love the Adobe Creative Cloud and could not function without it. If you’re serious about using the best design software on the planet, then check it out here.

2. ConvertKit - This email autoresponder service is super powerful and easy to use. I tested a handful of companies and Convertkit just fit me best as a creative individual. Not to mention their stellar customer service! I highly recommend them!

ConvertKit

3. Textiful - This program is very useful when you want to obtain email addresses via text opt-in while speaking in front of a crowd.  It integrates seamlessly with ConvertKit through Zapier and it's free to start!

4. Squarespace - Hands down this is the best closed website platform out there. It’s easy to use and requires no coding (unless that’s what you would prefer). With their beautiful out-of-the-box templates, they provide you with a great place to start when building and designing your website!

5. Freshbooks - This is the accounting software that I use and I just love them! They have the best customer service in the world and will help you with anything!

6. Gusto - This is the payroll software that I use and it's pretty easy to manage once set up! They also have class (A) customer service and will help you with anything you need!

7. Asana - This is the best project management tool that I have come across so far. There are a ton out there, but not only is Asana free, it helps me to stay on track.

8. Trello - This is the best software for organizing any workflow. I guess it must be the way they designed it visually because I love it! 

9. Moo - I can sum up Moo in one word: Quality. You will definitely not be disappointed with this business card printing company.

10. PS Print -I have used PS Print for years. They have been great for certain projects when you can take advantage of their sales. Their quality is pretty good for the price.

11. Action Graphics - This is a great offset printer located in New Jersey that I highly recommend. They produce great quality and they pay attention to details.

12. Brennan Dunn - Brennan Dunn is best known for the eBook entitled, Double Your Freelancing Rate. Brennan has incredible insight for consultants and you can learn a ton from him. If you're a freelancer and want to become a consultant, I definitely recommend his FREE 9-day email course entitled, "Charge What You’re Worth". Sign up here.


TERMINOLOGY

I have compiled a list of words below that are often used in the branding and design industry for you to use as a reference.  It baffles me how people in my own industry don't even grasp some of these terms. In any case, this terminology is good to know or at least to reference when you are building your brand.



BRANDING

  1. Brand Identity - A company's brand identity is how that business wants to be perceived by consumers. The components of the brand (name, logo, tone, tagline and typeface) are created by the business to reflect the value the company is trying to bring to the market and to appeal to its customers.

  2. Brand Positioning - Positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position in the market relative to competing brands.

  3. Value Proposition - This is a clear statement that should describe who you are, who your target audience is, what you do or offer as a product or service, and what your customer's transformation will be. For example, my value proposition is: "I am a branding consultant who helps startups, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profits gain clarity, develop strategy, maintain consistency and build momentum so they can grow a healthy profitable brand.” This identifies who I am, who my target audience is, what I do, and what your transformation will be as my client.

  4. Brand Architecture - This is very important because it clarifies the hierarchy of brands within your organization. The differentiation of your brands and how they relate to each other is crucial for clarity under the umbrella of your main brand.

DESIGN

  1. Layers - Layers are just a way to separate the content on your document so you have more flexibility when designing your project. This tool is available in several different programs.

  2. Masks - A mask is an overlay that hides or reveals what you want on a specific layer. It can also be know as a digital cutout. Click here for an example.

  3. CMYK VS RGB Colors - CMYK is used specifically in the printing industry where as RGB is used on TV's, screens, and monitors.

  4. FPO - This acronym means "For Placement Only" and represents a low-resolution graphic or photo that will be replaced with one of higher resolution later on.

PRINTING

  1. Print - The term “print” represents anything that the human hand can touch and has a form of ink or paint adhered to it.

  2. Bleed - Bleed is where the design extends up to 1/4th of an inch past the trim line.

  3. Crop - The area in which a portion of the image or graphic will show. Cropping is usually done in the design process within a program that supports layers and masking.

  4. Trim Line - The trim line represents the edge of your document within the program you use and shows where your design will be cut when printed.

  5. Safe Line - This is the guideline within a file that represents where you should keep all of your legible text and graphics. This can be used in, but not limited to web design, print design, and video design.

  6. 4 Color Process - Also known as CMYK, color process is used specifically in the printing industry. Each letter represents a colored plate the printer will use: C=Cyan, M=Magenta, Y=Yellow, and K=Black. In the printing industry, you can make almost any color from these four colors.

  7. Doutone - The process where just two inks are being used on the press.

  8. Registration - Registration is when all the plates on a printing press come into alignment to make an impression on a sheet or roll of paper. When your project is in registration it should look clear as long as the original design used high-quality images or graphics.

  9. PMS Color - Instead of using inks on the press, printers sometimes use what they call PMS colors. This stands for "Pantone Matching System" and has thousands of colors to choose from. Usually, these colors have deeper and stronger pigments that create vibrancy.

VIDEO

  1. Live Action - Live Action is generally used when shooting with a video camera and produces raw footage that will then be edited on the computer.

  2. 2D Animation - 2-D Animation uses the X and Y axes within a specific program. If you’re over 30 years old, most of the cartoons you watched on Saturday morning were created using 2-D animation.

  3. 3D Animation - 3-D Animation uses the X, Y, and Z axes within a specific program. Any Pixar movie would be a great example.

  4. Motion Graphics - This is the term used when you create graphics that animate on the screen. This process can stand alone or be combined with live action and can also be recognized in 2-D or 3-D. A good mixed example of this would be your typical news channel where a live person is talking while a scene is animated behind them in the background.