the design & editing process

Many of my clients tell me that the biggest benefit they see when they work with Blue Sun is that the content doesn’t have to be “final” before we get to work. I take the rough, the incomplete, the “too much”, and the “not quite there yet” and I help clean it up as I design. I work with you to figure out what’s important and should be included, as well as what can be left out.

Today, I’ll walk you through what it looks like to hand off a piece of your business to me, so you can focus on what YOU love to do… while giving tips in case you’re in DIY mode.

the starting point

The Goalie Club’s camps are impressive, and their coaching is helping build amazing athletes who compete at elite levels. Their previous brochure was jam-packed with excellent information about their programs:

The Goalie Club has a robust and comprehensive website. The printed materials don’t need to tell every detail; they need to give the basics then drive interested families to the website to register.

Here’s how we redesigned the brochures tell their story in a different, more engaging way… with powerful content and strong design.

the design process

We started with a conversation so I could understand the programs, the camps, and what was most important for the customers to know.

Then, I got to work to pare down the content.

  • Long blocks of text tend to be overwhelming, so consider reformatting paragraphs into bulleted lists.
  • Look for low-hanging fruit that is easily cut down. For example, I reduced the number of testimonials and selected new, shorter ones.
  • Consider cutting out pieces of content that an interested customer could easily find on your website.
brochure content - first draft

From there, I began to add design elements:

  • color – it’s important to stick with brand colors and use them intentionally to break up the text into sections.
  • photos – choose just a few photos but make sure they’re strong and carry the story well.
  • layout – spacing and size of text are important for engaging your audience and keeping them engaged. (Tip: If you work hard to reduce content, you’ll be able to use a larger font size and add white space.)
  • call to action – the purpose of this brochure is to turn casual browsers into customers. A large call to action tells them exactly what they need to do next.

All along the way, I reworked bits of content and considered how everything was worded; every single word was put under the microscope.

While I was working, I stayed in communication with TGC staff to ensure I was on track and sent updated versions to get feedback and changes. Together, we landed at the final product:

build from there

hockey camp poster

TGC was so thrilled with the brochure, they asked me to design a 24″ by 36″ poster as well. I changed the layout, reduced the content even further from the brochure, and kept the web information super prominent.

Once everything was final, we high-fived and I sent the brochures and posters to print for them. TGC staff got to stay focused on what they love to do – building strong and skilled goaltenders!

Have questions? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or contact kate@bluesundesigns.com.

Learn what TGC and others have to say about working with me.

designed with love

It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it!

We know that there are non-verbal aspects to our communication when we’re speaking: things like facial expression, body posture, and tone affect how our message is interpreted. This is true with written communication too! In design, font choice, colors, and images communicate the tone of the message.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I came up with this quick example:

Let’s break it down.

#1: The Default

The Default

This is done in the default font in Microsoft Word. I put in zero design effort and made no attempt to convey emotion. It’s the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Dwight Schrute’s birthday sign: it is a statement of fact.

I see this in business communications all the time. Using the default font is just fine when you just need to type up a quick agenda or simple internal communication. When you’re communicating to your customers, try a little harder. Pick a font for all of your communications and use it consistently.

#2: Cutesy Curlz

Cutesy Curlz

I’ll start out with the old adage, “Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” Using cute fonts just because you like them, adding cartoony clipart, and unnecessarily filling in white space makes the design look homegrown and unprofessional.

Again, choose a font to use for all of your communications that aligns with your brand and conveys the tone you’re shooting for. Skip the clipart and use more professional-looking illustrations, images, or icons. Also, be careful about putting images behind text; it can make the text hard to read. Finally, remember that you don’t need to fill in white space just because it’s there.

Click here for a list of low/no-cost design tools.

#3: The Stalker

The Stalker

Design elements can portray different moods. Just like music in the background of a movie or body language as a friend tells a story, design communicates the tone or mood of the message.

The details you add such as borders, backgrounds, and images shape the mood of your organization’s communications. Be sure to select photos that match your company’s personality and target market. Use colors that appeal to your customer and align with your branding.

#4: The Love Story

The Love Story

The design is clean and simple, there are no distracting extras, the fonts pair well, and the underlying tone of romance is strong. There is emotion here (unlike #1), but the cheese factor from #2 is gone. There isn’t a hint of creepy, despite using the same words and a heart as I did in #3.

Wrap it up.

Each example above sent a different message despite all containing the same words. Thinking about your “non-verbals” as you create your materials can make a world of difference as to how your message is received.

Reach out if you need help as you’re working or if you need an outside perspective to review your design once it’s done. I’m happy to help!

Cover image by user “kaboompics” on pixabay.com

creating change

I’m sitting in my office, looking out at the leaves, admiring them as they transition from green to gold. Fall is officially here, and there is so much to love! Minnesotans love the cool, crisp air, the apples, the explosion of color, but most of all, the absence of mosquitoes.

This fall is especially exciting for me, because it marks big change for Blue Sun Designs. Since January of 2018, Blue Sun has been my side-gig. My creative outlet. A way for me to learn and grow outside of a classroom.

Blue Sun Designs is changing today.

Starting today, Blue Sun has dropped the “side-” designation and has become my gig! This is a DREAM for me. To be able to use my gifts and talents to help you and have that be my sole professional purpose is beyond amazing. It is possible because of YOUR support, your encouragement, and your investment in my company. Thank you.

With this new full-time status, you will see some things changing over the coming months:

  • Most importantly, I will be able to serve you better. No more squeezing in meetings when I can; meetings will be when they’re convenient for you. I’ll be able to respond to you faster, and turnaround time on projects will be quicker. You will feel this shift immediately.
  • Focusing my energy will give me the space to be more creative and better able to solve your communication needs.
  • You’ll see an increase in visibility. I am so looking forward to attending community events, volunteering, and being more visible on social media. I will have more of myself to give to our community and you.
  • The Get Out brand of adventure tees and products will be refocused and reworked. I am BEYOND excited about what’s to come with that. Details to come.
  • There will also be so much happening behind the scenes that you won’t see, but will definitely affect how I can help you.

With all this change, there are some things that will remain constant:

  • Commitment to quality. I have built this business on my commitment to providing you with clean designs that communicate your story clearly. I remain focused on creating well-written and grammatically correct content for your projects. I will always use high quality printers, papers, and other materials in production.
  • Personal connection. You need a designer who understands your organization and your vision. I will always communicate frequently throughout the design process to ensure we’re on the same page and work to build our relationship so as we move forward, projects require less input and work from you.
  • Environmental responsibility. This one is big. Now, more than ever, our Earth needs us to commit to doing our best. I choose printers that use plant-based inks, ship with minimal packaging and eco-friendly products, and donate a portion of all revenue to reputable environmental organizations.

Just like I needed your help to get here, I need your help in launching this new chapter in Blue Sun Designs’ story.

  • Please like and share @bluesunmn on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Reach out when your company or organization has a need for a graphic designer who is passionate about helping write and edit the content so your story is told well.
  • And please be sure to tell someone about your experience working with me; your words are gold.

Big things lie ahead. Thanks for being a part of the story!

design with consistency

“Consistency is next to godliness.”

-Roland Nord, 2010 (and probably a million times before & since then)

Roland was one of my professors in grad school – my favorite, if I’m being honest. If there is one statement that stuck with me since being in his courses, it’s that one. I quote it often and in almost every aspect of my life, but here I’m talking about your marketing and a simple change you can make to increase your brand’s consistency.

Consistency in your marketing creates recognition. Using the same colors, the same fonts, and the same feeling in your advertising, social media, and documents helps your customers become familiar with your brand. Familiarity is comforting, and humans gravitate toward what is comfortable.


Consistency in your marketing creates recognition.


The visual look of your communications is as much a part of your brand as your logo. If you’re using whatever font you feel like that particular day when creating a new document or advertisement, that underlying branding message from your organization becomes choppy. If you consistently choose the same font(s) and colors, your separate pieces flow together as though they were all created at the same time.

Of course, a graphic designer can help you define a direction and create a style sheet (such as the one pictured below) with a color palette and paired fonts as a part of a brand design. That can be important as you grow, expand your reach, and create more advertising for your business, but it’s not always necessary as you’re just starting out.

design standards help with (say it with me…) CONSISTENCY

The visual look of your communications is as much a part of your brand as your logo.


If you’re just starting out or if you’re just trying to create some consistency in your day-to-day business communications, start by using the same font for your communications. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a single font for now. One that came in your word processing software is just fine; choose one that has a variety of weights (regular, bold, italic) so you can create headings, subheadings, and body text.
  • If you are looking for a resource for free fonts, Google Fonts, DaFont, and FontSquirrel are great options. Just be sure to use a font that is licensed for commercial use and you read the fine print before you put it to use.
  • Make sure the font you choose is clean and easy to read. There are a lot of fun fonts out there, and you might like a lot of them, but keep your focus on what you would want to read if you were given the document you’re creating. Stay away from cutesy or decorative fonts. They have their purpose, but it isn’t here. Here you want to stick with the basics.
  • Consider your audience – do you need to be more formal, or is more casual ok? If more formal, maybe you will want to choose a serif font (these are the fonts with the small lines at the tops and bottoms of the characters such as Times New Roman, Georgia, or Garamond). If you can be more casual, or if the communication will mostly be read on a screen, a sans serif font would be a good choice (these are the fonts with no small lines, such as Arial or Verdana).
  • Be consistent. Use it in all email communications, new documents (both internal and for your customers), and wherever else you can. Make sure your employees know to use it in their communications as well.

Bottom line: don’t stress too much about choosing a font for your organization’s communications. As you grow, you can hire a designer to really dial it in and find a font family or pairing of fonts that speak to your customers and represents your brand’s personality. For now, just make sure what you choose is easy to read and you use it consistently.

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What do you think? Will you be applying any of these tips in your business?
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cover photo credit: pixabay.com user free-photos

5 marketing ideas to make winter feel shorter

Whew! We made it through the holidays, and all that remains is the scattering of pine needles in the carpet. Can we all take a collective deep, cleansing breath together? On three: one… two… three!

In Minnesota, the months of January, February, and March are loooong. They’re typically our coldest months, our snowiest months, and our darkest months. There are no cheery holidays to pull us out of hibernation. It’s mostly grey and slushy and miserable, so we hunker down and wait for spring.

But wait! As business owners, couldn’t we find a way to bring sunshine to those dreary months? I decided to think of some ideas to build community, get people out and spending time together, and get them into your store. Of course, the details will depend on what kind of business/store you have, but here we go!

Ladies’ night

A lot of businesses do sales and events for ladies encouraging them to spend money leading up to the holidays. What about after the holidays? Try hosting some kind of make-and-take hosted at your store. Even if you don’t typically have handmade items in your store, or even if you’re not typically open in the evenings, you could hire a local person to do a wine & painting (or craft & draught for us beer people). That gets groups of ladies out of their homes and into your business with smiles on their faces.

Community over competition

Can you partner with other businesses to do a cool event? Back in November, a local car dealership hosted a “Heels and Wheels” event. Women bought inexpensive tickets (I think they were $20?), and came to the dealership first for appetizers and drinks. Then the dealership staff drove them to various boutiques and shops that had partnered with the event. There were drinks, appetizers, and light desserts at each shop, and the groups had an allotted amount of time to shop at each store. Women loved going out for an evening with their friends, and it got them into shops maybe they wouldn’t have visited without the event. Many of the shops stayed open later than normal just for the event. It was a creative way to get businesses to collaborate and think about community rather than competition!

Or try partnering with a local restaurant or brewery for an event? Is there an aspect of your business you could highlight while offering unique foods? This is great if there’s a new restaurant or bakery that is trying to build their reputation too!

Reward kindness

Dogs at the local animal shelter need to be walked, and when the weather is bad, they have a hard time getting volunteers. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens are also busy and full this time of year. How about offering a reward to people who volunteer? You could partner with the organization of your choice, have some kind of coupon* that the staff stamp or initial to verify, and the volunteer gets a reward for donating their time! Or, do a food drive for your local food pantry or backpack food program and offer a discount in exchange for a donation. (Many organizations prefer cash donations because they can stretch the dollar further, so keep in mind that customers who didn’t bring in a food item can still contribute!)

I recently wrote about a local shop that started a “Kindness Campaign”. Read about that here, then think about how you can do something like it to bring sunshine to your community during the grey months!

Celebrate the cold and snow!

Could you do some kind of promotion with the temp/inches of snow to make the weather a little less painful? Try something like, “If it stays below zero for 3 days, take 30% off…” Or give a free gift with purchase the first time it snows over 6 inches (of course, make sure that gift has your branding on it)!

Family time

What can you do to get families out and spending time together? Kids love crafts, and moms love crafts that happen outside of their house, so could you use your business to get kids doing something hands-on? Build something, create something, DO something! Make sure to put an age range in your marketing, and get some extra helpers for the day too. (Teenagers are a good option here!)

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What ideas do you have? I’d love to hear them! Let’s get through these next couple of months together!

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*I’m going to talk about coupons in an upcoming post… stay tuned!

 photo credit: pixabay.com user MabelAmber