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29 July 2013

Freelance Branding Management Offline and Online

We have heard so much about branding. There had been so many helpful articles about this around the web. As you browse various websites, you can also notice that each one has an identity. Pick up a local newspaper or a magazine and you will also see that each one is different from the other. Examine a product in your bedroom or in your kitchen and you will notice that each of them have proper labels with product details and brand. Branding is everywhere. You can see it not just on your computer screens but in everything that you use and you see every day.
But since we won’t be tackling about products here, we will take a look at a freelancer’s branding for both online and offline aspects. For this post, we will give you a brief comparison on both types, some vital tips for branding management, how to work on your online brand and some offline branding mediums you can use.

What is Branding?

What is Branding?
Branding refers to promoting and marketing your brand. A brand includes the idea or image like a logo, name, design of the company, slogan and others. These visual elements are also part of one’s corporate identity. Branding is a way of building a good reputation online and offline. Well, for freelancers, a brand is more clearly seen on their online presence – websites, blogs, social media accounts and of course, work performance. Although some would also work on their offline branding in order to get local clients.

Offline and Online Branding- A Comparison

Before we jump into some tips about branding, let us take a moment to compare both. The obvious difference is that in online branding, you are merely using a device to build your brand while in offline branding it is more of reaching to the real world with wires unplugged by using print and other media. But as per observation, online branding is much more advantageous because it can spread around the world like wildfire if you are doing it right while in offline branding, you will be limited to a certain “narrower” area. You will also be spending less for online brands and more for offline brands. Print media, television ads and radio ads entail a large amount while promoting a brand online will only require a device like a computer and an internet connection.
Most people these days (especially freelancers and online workers) use online branding. It would allow more consistency in order to demonstrate a brand’s value effectively to a vast number of potential clients. We are aware that consistency is king when we speak of branding and it is more efficiently achieved through online branding. Yet, in order to keep up with other competitors, some would go for offline branding which can be better if we intend to give a brand experience to the clients. But we should not forget to let our brands work as one both digitally and in the physical world in order to establish a stronger brand. Now, let us take a look at some tips on how you can come up with effective branding management for both online and offline activities.

Guidelines for Effective Freelance Branding Management

You will be able to convey your brand message vividly if you can manage your brand well. When we speak of branding management, it refers to how you communicate your brand to the people. Let us take a look at some tips that will help you achieve an effective freelance branding management:

1. Define your personality.

Define your personality
When we say “personal brand” we are referring to how you will make your brand with a personal touch. This way, people could easily associate the brand to you. Online branding would need this more than offline branding because in online activities, people won’t get to see you. They will rely on your brand. We have given some tips on how to do self-branding in 10 Tips for Effective Self-branding.

2. Know your edge.

Know your edge
You’ve got to have an edge over other freelancers. Then use that to create your brand. Know where you are really good at and promote that one. Show them that you are better in that particular field. But make sure that you will not fail to include other skills and activities that you can also do aside from your field of expertise.

3. Know and consider your audience.

Know and consider your audience
This is always important. If you put your audience first, you will be able to come up with a brand where your target audience can easily relate to. That is why you have to put them first. Try to take note of points that your audience might want to see. This can be a good guide to create an effective brand.

4. Create a unique brand identity.

Create a unique brand identity
Do not be a copycat and do not create a brand that is close to other people’s brand because if you do, you might confuse the clients. So, be sure that you will create a brand that is unique from that of your competitors. You can get inspiration from them and establish one that is better than theirs but do not imitate what they have. If you do, you will not be able to succeed in your branding.

5. Focus on one field.

Focus on one field
Focus. This is one thing that had made successful brands. First, you have to focus on a niche. Second, you have to focus on the group of people you are targeting. Third, you have to focus on your personality and how you can integrate that to your brand. And then, create a brand that would show them what your focus is.

6. Always be consistent.

Always be consistent
Consistency is king for branding. A brand would be useless if you are not consistent. Use the same branding for both online and offline activities. Even if you redesign your logo or improve your brand, you still have to leave something in there that will still associate it to the brand you are known of. Consider the evolution of popular logo designs as an example. You will notice that even if the designs changed through the years, we still know that it is theirs.

7. Be simple and remarkable.

Be simple and remarkable
A brand has to be like this. You have to make sure that people will remember you and your brand. As a freelancer, you have to establish a brand that will mark in the minds of the people. It has to be memorable, recognizable, translatable, pronounceable and attractive.

8. Develop a brand strategy.

Develop a brand strategy
You have to create a brand strategy that would help you promote your brand. Because if you will not be able to manage a brand well if you couldn’t establish your own name online and offline. So, plan how you are going to go out and let people know that your brand exists.

9. Position yourself as an expert.

Position yourself as an expert
Part of your brand is how people will look at you. Let them consider you as an expert on your niche. You can only do this if you will position yourself as an expert! How? Share your thoughts on conversations. Provide opinion-based comments which can interest the readers. Same is true offline, you can speak in seminars and other public events. Share to others what you know in your niche. This way, you are creating a good brand.

10. Keep it current.

Keep it current
Realign your brand to keep it current by updating it to current trends or by changing it to keep it relevant to the niche. Examine your brand from time to time. If you think it no longer fits into the current world of the niche you are in, then change it. Doing that will make your brand look fresh to the clients.

Work on your Online Branding

The things we have stated above are general tips for both online and offline branding. But what can you do to improve your online brand? Here are some things that you can do so that you will have a better online reputation and promotion as well.
1. Fire-up social media.
Fire-up social media
With the vast number of social media accounts available, you will really be able to promote your brand well. Use social media not just to promote your brand but also to show other what you can do as a freelancer. Be sure that you are consistent with what you share in all your social media accounts and your website as well. Do not forget to be a responsible social media user so that your reputation will be good.

2. Build your reputation online.

Build your reputation online
It is important to have a good online reputation. That is why you have to be responsible on what you post and what you share. You should make sure that you will appear professional so that your audience and your clients will trust you. When you have successfully built your online reputation, the next thing you need to look into is how you can guard it. For this, you can read on How to Guard your Online Reputation so that everything you worked hard for won’t be wasted.

3. Have a balanced online media mix.

Have a balanced online media mix
When creating an online brand, you do not focus on images or texts only. You have to give it a balance. As you bring in an online brand tone with your writing, do that with the images you posts too. Let these two elements work together for your brand. Then integrate advertising into it and link building too. But make sure that you always observe balance.

4. Know what you need.

Know what you need
It will be really hard to work if you are blind of what you need to do. So as a freelancer there are some things you need to work on in preparation of your online brand. We have mentioned this in How to Get Started with your Freelance Branding.This includes:
  • Logo
  • Business cards
  • Website
  • Social media accounts
  • Online avatars
  • Email newsletters
  • Invoices
  • Contracts
  • Proposals
  • Ads

5. Interact online.

Interact online
Your brand is already there. Now it is time for you to do something in order for it to reach more people. Social media can do a good job for that but let them know you truly exist and that there is a “human” behind it by interacting with the online community. Get people talking by responding to their comments for this is one way to build relationships with people. Interacting with others is also a good way to promote and improve your personal brand.

Offline Branding Mediums

Since we have already given you some tips for branding, we would no longer give you that for offline branding because the tips we have given are already applicable to this. Hence, we will give you a list of how you can reach people offline and promote your brand. Here are branding mediums that you can use offline:

1. Personal meetings.

Personal meetings
Set dates with people. Taking to them can help you promote your corporate identity and your personal brand. This is also a good way to establish an offline network which is helpful for your freelance career. Check on Ultimate Networking Guide for Freelancers Part 3 for some offline networking tips.

2. Clubs and organizations.

Clubs and organizations
You can also develop and promote your brand by joining clubs and organizations. But be sure to select those that have good reputations because once you become part of it, it automatically becomes part of your brand.

3. Television.

Television
The television is one effective way to promote your brand especially that majority of the people are watching television. Television can give visual information that is easier to understand than printed materials or those they see online. That is why there are so many TV ads that you see. The effects of these ads to people are very high and this can even generate more clients and audiences.

4. Print media.

Print media
Print media includes magazines, brochures, business cards, posters, billboards and other printed items. Brands printed on magazines also get a lot of attention from the people especially those who love reading. Billboards and posters which are installed in conspicuous places are also effective because it can easily be seen. It will drive the eyes of passersby. Be sure that your designs can immediately convey your brand and message.

5. Radio and audio.

Radio and audio
Radios are still used these days. Even audio messages can be easily recognized by people in terms of brand. You have to make sure that you are consistent of what you have in televisions and in radios especially that both are auditory like you choose the same music or song for your ads. It is also part of your branding.

6. Word of mouth.

Word of mouth
This is one obvious way of spreading one’s branding. Feedbacks and referrals from clients are effective in gaining a good reputation and in acquiring new clients too. Once a brand is good, people will talk about it.

7. Direct mail.

Direct mail
Direct mail is like direct emails that go to your email’s inbox. But using mail directly to a client’s mailbox has a different impact. It becomes more remarkable and memorable. Also, the clients will appreciate it that you have remembered sending them one despite the use of emails these days. Going a bit classic won’t hurt you.
You might wonder if freelancers use the above things. Some still use it especially if they have created a group of freelancers. Let us say a group of photographers have worked together. They did this in order to empower themselves and to get more clients while still retaining their freelancer status. The formation of the team is equivalent to an online community. This group could advertise themselves using the above things. This way, local clients will recognize them.
It’s Your Turn Now
We have seen through the above information that both online and offline branding are important in order to bring your brand into a higher level and thus get more number of clients. You have also learned the differences of both. By now, you could have weighed things on how you can manage your branding offline and online. What are the key things that you do in order to improve your brand as a freelancer? Do you promote it offline too?

26 July 2013

25 Most Recently Released Illustrator Text Effect Tutorials

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful resource not just for graphic designers but also to everyone as it allows us to create cozy, vague, glowing, gelatinous, sleek, shimmering, vintage and groundbreaking effects. You could make scalable vector graphics such as art logos, art pieces business cards and appealing text effects. Aided by the help of Adobe Illustrator, you could achieve sort of excellent and ideal designs that mankind is going to have a significant regard for. The trend of making text effects has grown to become a common ground for many designers and enthusiasts. Actually, it has even become an art form alone. Designing a certain text effect in Illustrator is not too complicated at this point. Kudos to the accessibility of huge quantity of tutorials that assist you through every detail.
In this showcase, we have brought to you 25 Most Recently Released Illustrator Text Effect Tutorials that teach you the best step by step ways to make brilliant typographic effects in Illustrator. Why don’t we take a look at this collection?

Create a Colorful, Glass Text Effect in Illustrator

Create a Colorful, Glass Text Effect in Illustrator
In this tutorial, you will use patterns, transform effects, multiple gradient fills, and more to create a colorful, glass text effect in Illustrator.

Create a 3D Grungy Text Effect in Illustrator

Create a 3D Grungy Text Effect in Illustrator
In this tutorial, you will use the blending modes and other Illustrator tools to draw highlights and shadows on your text to give it that 3D punch.

Create an Assortment of 3D Text in Adobe Illustrator

Create an Assortment of 3D Text in Adobe Illustrator
In this tutorial, you will create a custom pattern (a flower pattern), apply beautiful color gradients, use basic shape tools to create custom objects, and much more to make an assortment of 3D text styles in Illustrator CS4.

How to Create a Glossy, Colorful Text Effect

How to Create a Glossy, Colorful Text Effect
In this Illustrator tutorial, you will use an interesting font choice, opacity masks, shape building techniques, and more to create a glossy, colorful text design.

Creating Simple Origami Style Typography in Illustrator

Creating Simple Origami Style Typography in Illustrator
In the following tutorial, you will learn how to create a simple Origami style piece of Typography.

Create a Glassy Text Effect Filled with a Green, Acidic Substance

Create a Glassy Text Effect Filled with a Green, Acidic Substance
In this tutorial, you will use shape creation tools, Opacity Masks, and filters to create a glassy text effect filled with a green, acidic substance.

Quick Tip: Create a Slick Golden Text Effect with Adobe Illustrator

Quick Tip: Create a Slick Golden Text Effect with Adobe Illustrator
Learn how to create a slick golden text effect with this step by step Illustrator tutorial.

Quick Tip: How to Create a Sparkly Text Effect

Quick Tip: How to Create a Sparkly Text Effect
Learn how to create a sparkly text effect in fifteen simple steps with this simple quick tip.

Quick Tip: How to Create a Delicious Chocolate Text Effect

Quick Tip: How to Create a Delicious Chocolate Text Effect
In this tutorial, you will use the Blend Tool, effects like Roughen and Chrome, different Blending modes and also the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect to create a delicious chocolate bar text effect.

Rusty Metal Text Effect

Rusty Metal Text Effect
In this tutorial, you will use simple techniques like the Sponge, Transform Each, Gradient, Reflect to create a vector text effect on the metal brushed background.

Create a Lace Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Create a Lace Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
In this tutorial, you will use many effects and you will define many personalized Art and Pattern Brushes to create a beautiful lace text effect.

Create a Bending 3D Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Create a Bending 3D Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
This tutorial will help you learn how to create a 3D Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator.

Quick Tip: How to Create a Fun 3D Plastic Text Effect

Quick Tip: How to Create a Fun 3D Plastic Text Effect
In this tutorial, you will use the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect to create colorful 3D plastic letters.
Create Happy Feet Font – Text Effect Illustrator Tutorial
In this tutorial, you will be using Adobe Illustrator, 3D effects & Gradients to create the Text Effect from the movie, Happy Feet.

Create a Stitched Type Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Create a Stitched Type Effect in Adobe Illustrator
In this tutorial, you will know how to create simple geometric patterns, a pattern brush and use the appearance panel to come up with a stitched type effect.

Playing with Stationery Art Brushes and the Live Paint Bucket

Playing with Stationery Art Brushes and the Live Paint Bucket
This tutorial will show you how to create some line art style stationery art brushes to develop a typography piece.

Quick Tip: How to Create Colorful Neon Text with Adobe Illustrator

Quick Tip: How to Create Colorful Neon Text with Adobe Illustrator
This tutorial will show you some quick tips on how to create a colorful neon text effect.

Quick Tip: Create an Animal Print Text Effect with Adobe Illustrator Pattern Swatches

Quick Tip: Create an Animal Print Text Effect with Adobe Illustrator Pattern Swatches
In this tutorial, you will add with multiple fills and effects to create an easy animal print text effect using Adobe Illustrator’s default jaguar and cheetah patterns.

Create Eye-Catching Text Straight From The 80s

Create eye-catching text straight from the 80s
This tutorial will teach you how to create some retro-themed text of your own in illustrator.

Illustrator Live Text Banners

Illustrator Live Text Banners
In this tutorial, you will combine multiple Fills and Strokes along with Shape Effects, Warp Effects, and Drop Shadows to create a fully-editable text based banner.

How to Create Interesting Text Effects Using Adobe Illustrator and Phantasm CS

How to Create Interesting Text Effects Using Adobe Illustrator and Phantasm CS
In this tutorial, you will use Phantasm CS to create fully managed Halftone effect.

How To Create an Abstract Geometric Mosaic Text Effect

How To Create an Abstract Geometric Mosaic Text Effect
This step by step tutorial will teach you how to create a colourful abstract text effect made up of lots of tessellating mosaic elements.

Create a Marker Text Effect in Illustrator

Create a Marker Text Effect in Illustrator
This tutorial involves intermediate vector shape building skills in Illustrator to create the markers, along with some layering and script usage to create a marker illustration.

How to Create a Neon Text Effect Using Adobe Illustrator

How to Create a Neon Text Effect Using Adobe Illustrator
This tutorial will teach you how to create a neon text effect using Gradient Mesh, 3D Modeling, Art Brushes and Transparency palette.

How to Build Letter Art From Bricks In Illustrator

How to Build Letter Art From Bricks In Illustrator
In this Illustrator tutorial, you will use 3D-rendering, Blends, and an Art Brush for creating the final brick art.
Have you put into practice any one of these tutorials? Hope that you learn some techniques to create your own effects.

24 July 2013

Create a Cool Typography Effect in Photoshop and Illustrator

In this article we’re going to create an impressive yet very easy typographic design. There’re various techniques to achieve this effect and we’ll be presenting you the easiest one. However, alternative techniques will be described briefly in some steps.
Final Result
musictypo-final

Step 1

Create a new file in Illustrator (you can use Photoshop if you prefer) and select the Pen Tool (P). Start placing anchor points to create the text path. You can use a reference font such as “Mission Script”. Add a 15pt stroke (color: C=0, M=75, Y=100, K=0).
musictypo-01
musictypo-011

Step 2

Select the created path and copy it (Ctrl+C). Switch to Photoshop, create a new file (we chose 1200x1000px, 300dpi, RGB 8bit) and paste the path (Ctrl+V) as a Smart Object. Paint the background orange (#f8941d). Add the following style to the background layer.
musictypo-02
musictypo-021

Step 3

Create a new layer and select the Brush Tool (B). Pick a soft round brush and set the size to 7px. Change your foreground color to #ffffff (white) and grab the Pen Tool (P). Using the Stroke Path technique (make sure the Simulate Pressure box is checked) “draw” the basic highlights.
musictypo-03

Step 4

Continue this process until the whole path is covered with highlights. Change the Fill (or Opacity) of this layer to 20% and clip it the path layer (the one you copied from Illustrator).
musictypo-04
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Step 5

The next step is to add some shadows. There are two (at least) ways to do it. You can use a soft round brush (color: black #000000) and start painting in the desired places. Alternatively, pick the Pen Tool (P) and start forming small paths. Once you close a path, select the “Make Selection” option (right click on canvas), set 0 for the pixels and pick the Gradient Tool (G). Select a simple Black to Transparent style and draw a line to create the gradient. It may take you some time since you have to repeat this process a lot of times, but personally I think this is the best way to add the shadows. Clip this layer to the original path layer and lower the Opacity to 70%.
musictypo-05
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musictypo-052

Step 6

Now we need to add some more highlights. Once again pick the Brush Tool (B), set the foreground color to white (#ffffff) and select a Hard Round brush from the list. Set the size to 3px and switch to the Pen Tool (P). Apply the same Stroke Path technique (Simulate Pressure: on) only this time make the paths a lot smaller. Clip this layer to your original path layer too (the reason that we keep clipping these layers is to make sure the painted highlights and shadows “stay” inside the path) and change the Opacity (or Fill) to 60%.
musictypo-06
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Step 7

Place the headphones image on a new layer and using your favorite technique (Quick Mask, Layer Mask, Eraser) “erase” the white background. Add a Color Overlay style (blend mode: color, color: 131414).
musictypo-07

Step 8

Duplicate this layer and go Filter>Artistic>Paint Daubs. Change the Blend Mode of this layer to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 60%.
musictypo-08
musictypo-081

Step 9

Create a new layer and pick the Brush Tool (B). Select a hard round brush, size: 14px and draw a small wire part. Repeat the highlights process.
musictypo-09

Step 10

Create a new layer and pick the Rectangle Tool (U). Draw a small rectangle, distort it (warp mode) and apply the following style.
musictypo-10
musictypo-101

Step 11

Add some highlights to the rectangle.
musictypo-11
Step 12
Now we’re going to create the cut wire part. So, grab the Rectangle Tool (U), draw a small rectangle (color: #131414) and add the same gradient style that you used in Step 10.
musictypo-12

Step 13

Draw some wires coming out of the rectangle (just place their layers before the black rectangle in the layers stack). Decorate the wires with a simple Bevel & Emboss style.
musictypo-13
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Step 14

Add some more wires.
musictypo-14

Step 15

Merge all these layers (Steps 12-14) and scale it down until it fits the rest of the design. Add a layer mask and “erase” some parts until you have a smooth transition.
musictypo-15

Step 16

Now that all the elements are ready, merge all the layers (except from the background). Rename this layer to “Final Design”. Duplicate this layer and change the color of the copy to black (Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation – Ctrl+U). Apply a Gaussian Blur filter (5 px) and place it before the Final Design layer. Move it a bit downwards, change the Blend Mode to Linear Burn and lower the Opacity to 20%.
musictypo-16

Step 17

Add a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase the contrast and clip it to the Final Design.
musictypo-17

Step 18

Add a Solid Color Adjustment Layer (or simply paint the canvas) and pick black (#000000) as your color. Change the Blend Mode to Color, lower the Fill to 20% and apply the following style.
musictypo-18

Step 19

Place the Metal Scratches texture and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light. Lower the Fill or the Opacity to 50%.
musictypo-19

Step 20

Add some sparks using a brush (color: #ffffff). Add these styles.
musictypo-20
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Step 21

Merge all the layers (Flatten the image) and duplicate this new layer. Desaturate it (Ctrl+Shift+U) and apply a 5px Gaussian Blur filter. Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 55%.
musictypo-21

Step 22

Create an Exposure Adjustment Layer.
musictypo-22
Conclusion
That’s the end of the tutorial. We hope you enjoyed the article and learnt something new. If you have any questions, post them in the Comments Section.

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