Thursday, December 10, 2009

Perfect gifts for the music love in the family!

I'm happy to announce that Blue Crane Design images are now available on a variety of different products including T-shirts, Chrismas cards and mugs.

What's especially exciting is that our range of musical instrument images are available too. A beautifully printed shirt with a classic double bass image is the perfect gift for the music lover in your life and Dad's sure to get a kick out of a rockabilly guitar print shirt.

Don't worry if the holiday budget is creeping up on you, there is Free Holiday Shipping on all orders $45 or more until the 12th of December!

Just use the special code: AUWINTERSHIP

So please head over to our store on Zazzle and have a browse, hopefully you'll find something to make someone in your family very happy :)*

Monday, November 16, 2009

How I personally use social networking to develop my business

To take a break from my series of "Do's and Don'ts of Social Networking" I thought I would give you all a case study... my own business!

My partner James and I run a Graphic Design business. We specialist in design and web services for small businesses some of the things we do include:
-Logo Design
-Business Card Design
-Advertising and marketing Design
-Website design, creation and maintenance,
-Photo touch ups and restoration
-Canvas artwork and graphic art

So how do we use social networking to our advantage? Well here are the websites that we use and how they are benefiting us...

Our website:
Well this is the corner stone of our internet based marketing plan. Everything else we do is to funnel people to our website so they can place an order or find more information about us and our business.

Why do I use Twitter? Well basically it's a great way to reach a large amount of people in a small amount of time. Twitter is like sending an online text message to your client base, short, sweet and to the point. I can keep clients up to date with what I'm doing on their projects without having to bother them with constant emails, if they want to see how it's going then they can just look at the Twitter feed to see where we are. I can also keep an eye out for people looking for graphic designers through the search function and contact them that way.

This is our news and updates blog. This blog feeds into our webpage with news and updates. I write interesting articles which are featured on the blog to keep customers coming back for more.
We also have a personal blog each. James takes care of his and I take care of mine. James' blog is mostly about photography, graphic design, cars and music. These are all things he enjoys writing about and therefore is more likely to keep it up. They attract new people who have the same interests as him, these people become friends and customers.
My blog is very girly. I love pink, frills, lace and feeling like a princess, my blog reflects that. I have met hundreds of interesting people through my blog and some of them have become my most loyal customers. I'm interested in Japanese street fashion so I write about that and others who are interested in the same things read and respond. I have links to my Blue Crane Design website so if they want to find out more about my business they can. I don't shove my work life down people's throats though, they come to my site to be girly so that's what I talk about. People are clever if they want to find out more they will

Facebook is a great tool if you use it well. As I run a business I have a business page as well as my personal page. This is really key to a Facebook pages' success, don't treat it like a personal account. We gather fans through this account and they are able to get in contact and tell us what they think easily. We have some of our previous work uploaded so they can see it and discuss. We each have our own personal Facebook accounts to keep up with our close friends we keep these separate. Only every talking about work is the quickest way to lose your actual friends!

Myspace reaches more of a younger generation. We offer a lot of services like photo touch ups and manipulations which are aimed at models so we have a page here to connect with those sort of customers. We also offer a lot of design services which up and coming bands can benefit from such as cd design etc, Myspace is absolutely packed full of young bands. Of course we each have our own Myspace profiles to keep up to date with friends.

Deviant art:
Deviant art probably won't get you much work but having a presence on here is absolutely necessary if you're in the creative arts. It's a fantastic place to meet other artists and see what the industry is up to. Be warned though if you want to see the awesome work you have to wade through quite a lot of the mediocre. It's great to be able to meet other people in your industry. James and I both have personal accounts and well as a Blue Crane Design account

Redbubble is kind of like Deviantart's big sister. This is another site which keeps us up to date with current design trends and other designers. Keeping up to date with your industry through social networking can be just as usefull as actually meeting potential clients. If you are out of date in your business then you won't be able to keep up with the competition! We each have our own account as well as a business account.

Livejournal is another blogging website, it's very similar to blogger but there is much more of a community feel. Instead of following rss feed etc you can make friends and start communities. Livejournal is only suited to some types of business, many users don't want to be marketed to s we keep this journal just to keep in touch with our old Livejournal friends from years ago up to date. It is automatically updated from our other blogs so it takes no maintenance.

I love Essentially for Women, I've met so many great girls on here! When on websites like this I try to focus on making friends rather than making contacts, I find that when I take a genuine interest in people they are much more likely to take a genuine interest in me! Networking is a two way street and that's such an important thing to remember, you can't just shove your product in people's faces otherwise you won't make any genuine contacts.

This is a site similar to Essentially for Women, several of my friends on here are actually also members of this site too. I use the exact same approach there as I do here, making friends and meeting great women!

This is just a snap shot of the social networking websites I use every day. There are some forums and websites that I use for personal enjoyment and I make friends there too, all of my friends know what I do and when they need a website made or something designed they come to us.

Hope that gives some of you an idea what I've been talking about!

Nikki Matarasso
Blue Crane Design

Monday, September 7, 2009

Launch of our new website design!

Good morning everyone! This month we have re-launched our website with a completely new design and increased functionality. We hope that you'll enjoy using and exploring all of the new functions.

Here are some of the great changes we've made:
We hope you enjoy exploring the new site and if you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to email us at

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seven Essential Questions To Ask When Designing An Ad

This post was written for Women Wise Marketing blog by Nikki Matarasso of Blue Crane Design. All photos and images copyright to their respective owners.

Designing An Ad

This guest post on ad design is written by Nikki Matarasso, a graphic designer and marketing coordinator for Blue Crane Design.

Advertising is to design as a violin is to a bow. Just like it’s impossible to make good music without a bow, it’s almost impossible to have an effective advertisement without incorporating good design.

Good ad design can grab attention, focus that attention, and create action. Bad design will be overlooked entirely or create a negative impression.

So what are the most important things to think about when designing an advertisement? What should you avoid?

The Seven Questions For Good Graphic Design

To tell if your ad design is effective, ask yourself the following seven questions:

1. Does it lead your eye to the product? A good composition will bring the product front and center.

2. Do the colors fit the product and brand? Your color scheme can not only capture attention but trigger emotions. For example: red is often used for passion or anger, and blue for tranquility.

3. Is the space used effectively? Remember to leave some empty space for visual “breathing room.” No one likes a cluttered ad.

4. Is the font interesting? Does it fit with your product/image? Times New Roman may be great for Word documents, but it may not fit your product.

5. Does this advertisement fit with marketing previous campaigns? This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to look the same or have the same colors, it might just have a similar feel.

6. Does it appeal to your target demographic? If you’re marketing to middle-aged women, for example, hiring a hip-hop artist as your spokesperson probably isn’t the best choice. Similarly, your ad should be attractive and relevant to your target market.

7. Does it have a clear message? When designing your ad, you should have a clear “take away” message that will lead the viewer to a desired action: most commonly, a sale.

Remember: it’s better to have no advert than a bad advert. If you don’t feel confident in designing an ad yourself, it might be in your best interests to seek the help of a graphic design professional.

You may know good ad design when you see it. But that doesn’t make designing your own ads any easier. Here are some examples of great ad design with an explanation of how each one works, to set your creative gears in motion the next time you have to design an ad.

Focus Attention On The Product

Black And White Ad Design

One popular design technique is to make everything in your advertisement black and white, except for the product. This draws attention to the product.

(Check out the example at left: an ad for Victoria Beckham’s new fragrance, “Intimately Beckham for Her.”)

Similarly, some advertisements have everything but the product out of focus, or all the design elements pointing toward the product. These are all visual aids that direct attention to the product and reinforce the reason for the ad.

Consistency Is Key

Consistency is another key to successful ad design. Think about the advertising for Apple Computers. Each ad is different, but they all follow the same color scheme and theme. When you see one of the ads, you know it’s for an Apple product even before the logo appears.

Apple Silhouette

One advertisement doesn’t create a good brand image; that takes time and dedication. But by incorporating a few of the same elements into every ad design, you’ll build a strong foundation for a memorable brand.

Think Outside The Box

Birdseye Ad DesignOkay, the phrase has become a cliche in recent years. But unique design can really improve an ad’s success. Want proof? Check out this sign for Birdseye Fish Fillets.

Usually this sort of signage has plain posters, but the Birdseye version incorporates movement, bright colors, a clear message (their fish is so fresh, it’s practically still in the ocean!) and logo branding. As with the first two examples, the focus is on the product.

This clever design creates interest in the product and gets its message across. Its effectiveness is evident by the crowd that has gathered round to see how it worked. You can bet no other advertisement attracts this kind of crowd.

To Sum It Up

When designing any marketing material, have a clear vision of your message and the action you want customers to take. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new: it will likely make your ad more memorable.

If you need feedback, ask coworkers, friends, customers or even family members. Someone who isn’t as emotionally invested in your business will be able to provide a candid response and give you an impression of whether your ad’s message was understood, or if you need to go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Networking. Part 2.

Firstly sorry this has taken so long to get up here, I have had a lot of "real life" things going on and so I haven't has as much time for article writing.

So last time we spoke about some general etiquette rules, this time let’s take a look at which websites are out there to choose from.

First things first… where do you start?! There are hundreds of networking sites out there, which are the right ones for you? Here is a list of the most popular sites with some information and pros/cons about each, we'll speak more about how to choose what's right for you at the end of the article.

One of the most popular and original places for social networking.
-Large number of users
-Popular with a wide variety of age groups
-Focus on youth culture
-Full of fake accounts and "adult content"
-Users very jaded towards marketing as they are bombarded with it every time they log on
-Many people only there for dating or to keep up to date with favorite music artists
Good for- Small businesses marketing to youth culture, clothing, music etc
Bad for- Professionals, marketing to older generations, businesses not in arts industries

In the last few years Facebook has taken over from MySpace as being the standard social networking website. Originally it was built for college students to connect to each other but now anyone can join and businesses can create "pages" to promote themselves and gather "fans"
-Lots of people
-Ability to buy advertisements cheaply and easily
-Large variety of different demographics
-Not built for advertising, built for keeping up with friends and family
-Many people don’t want to be marketed to via Facebook and consider it spam
-Must cold contact people or you can’t see their profiles.
Good for- Businesses with a fan base, charismatic people, making friends and getting to know your customers, getting customer feedback
Bad for- People just looking for a sales tool

Social networking website actually aimed at businesses and business people
-Actually made for business networking
-Good for finding other professionals
-Connect with people you’ve already worked with easily
-Most of the people are based in America
-Not good for finding average consumers
-Harder to make contact with people you don’t know
-Setting up groups costs $
Good for- Professionals, re-connecting with old contacts, making business contacts, marketing yourself (rather than your business)
Bad for- Finding new customers unless they are business professionals

Social networking based on the idea that any idea can be conveyed in 160 characters or less.
-Short messages
-Lots of people
-Ability to look on the public feed, search for posts relevant to your industry
-Easy to make connections
-As many businesses use it as people
-Short messages can be hard to understand
-Jargon can be hard when you don’t know what it means
-Many people won't friend you if all you do is advertise
Good for- Connecting with new customers, being involved in industry discussions, keeping customers up to date with your business
Bad for- Long updates, long involved conversations

Built as a website for people keep online journals/blogs. Built for personal journals not business, lately business has gotten stronger.
-Many users
-Communities can make it easy to find like minded people or industries
-You can use html in posts to make them more attractive
-Good cross section of ages
-Many people don’t friend users unless they personally know them and many people have “friends only” journals.
-Many people do not appreciate constant advertising here
Good for- Targeting youth culture especially fan based and other subcultures, keeping a blog on
Bad for- Professionals, making contacts quickly, broad range of user demographics

Blogger/Wordpress/Typepad etc-
Various websites where you can create and customize your own blog for personal or business use.
-Customers can get more personal information about your business
-Connect with customers personally and answer questions or concerns
-Great way to keep up to date with other businesses
-To be effective must be updated regularly
-Content must add value and be interesting otherwise no one will read it
-Takes time to be effective
-Not having your own domain name can look unprofessional
Good for- Adding value for your customers, educating new customers, addressing concerns
Bad for-Making an overnight difference to your sales, people without much time to update

Website where people can set up virtual shops, they only allow handmade items. Forums and chat rooms attached.
-Easy for people to find you
-System to deal with non-paying buyers
-Good support system in forum and chat
-Very easy to set up a shop
-Everyone else is selling things too
-Not having your own domain can look less professional
-Must promote yourself outside of Etsy to make it work
Good for-People who don't know how to put a shopping cart on their website, people looking for a support community, first time sellers, small businesses who make their items (clothing, craft etc)
Bad for- Businesses who don't make their items.

Website created for users to share videos.
-Great for providing extra value to customers with complimentary videos for your industry
-Videos can be posted on blogs or anywhere else very easily
-Making good videos can be a lot of work
-Must have video equipment and editing software
Good for- Bloggers wanting to jazz up their posts with video blogging, marketing people providing free information to potential customers, adding value to websites
Bad for- Businesses without access to video equipment

Specialist/niche sites (Like Essentially for Women or industry specific forums and sites)
-Like minded people
-Support networks
-Good places for learning and information
-Some have few members
-Everyone could be in the same industry as you rather than being your customers
Good for- Meeting like-minded people, gathering information, direct marketing as everyone is there for the same thing, finding other businesses, friendships, support groups
Bad for- Marketing to a large number or people at once, anything if you don't actually belong to the corrct demographic (ie joining a women's group if you are a man etc...)

Ok so now you're completely overwhelmed! Where do you start? To begin with, you shouldn't over reach yourself. Sit down and think about how much time you have for this, how long can you spare every day to actually sit at the computer and do this? I suggest that you start with one website and built from there. As a guide I leave around 20 minutes a day per website I'm a member of. This varies depending on how active the site is, something like Twitter I will do every day where as something slower I will spend half an hour once a week to catch up.

It truly is another form of marketing and for example if you sold children's toys you wouldn't advertise in a XXX magazine! You need to think about which sites will suit your business and how often you can update them. Just like having a website, it's better not to do it at all than to do a half-arsed job.

Next post I will be going through each of these websites individually and looking at how to make them work for you and common pitfalls people fall into. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Over the last couple of months...

It's bee a busy month here at Blue Crane Design!

-We have done some massive updates to the website, including changing the gallery system to make it more user friendly! Look for more updates in future, we're going to do an overhaul!

-Our Mascot Cranezilla has decided to take a world trip, read about it on his Blog

-Nikki has been featured as a woman in business, check out the interview here.

-Nikki was also chosen as Nuffnang's Featured Blogger for April. Take a look at the interview!

-We have made a partnership with Women Wise Marketing and will be providing Graphic Design articles, you can read the first on on our blog or on the Women Wise site here.

- We were also featured on Pink Expertise with a short interview. Come and read it here.

-We were invited to speak about how websites can benefit businesses at the Mt Gravatt NEIS Class. We were welcomed warmly and did questions and answers for almost 2 hours with the class. It was a wonderful morning and we really enjoyed meeting all the new business owners. Congrats on almost being finished guys!

Now we have some other exciting news for all of you Cranezilla fans out there, he now has his own T-Shirts! You can show your support for Blue Crane Design by wearing our colours!

You can order through our shop by clicking the link below or you can contact us directly by email at It’s available in a variety of colours so pick up yours today!

Click here to pick up your Cranezilla T-Shirt and represent!

Why spec work is not good....