New Name, New Blog

June 17, 2010

I have a brief announcement to make that has big implications:

D&A Design is changing its name to Brand Shepherd
(effective immediately).

We have put a lot of time, thought, and energy into renaming and rebranding our little corner of the design and branding world, and we feel that now is the right time for this change. With the name change comes an all-new web site, too. We invite you to take a look:

For those who want a detailed explanation we’ve tried to answer any and all questions here.

Probably the most practical information to share concerning this blog is that our new web site will also be home to our new blog. Please update your RSS feed and bookmark.

We do plan on keeping this blog up – it still attracts a lot of visitors for the content we’ve posted.

We are very excited about having a new name for our business that more accurately communicates what we’ve been doing all along.




Big News On The Horizon

May 30, 2010

This year is shaping up to be a year of significant changes for us. In the coming weeks we’ll have news regarding our business that we believe is going to help us better serve the businesses we work with.

I don’t mean to be cryptic here, but here’s a video that is fun and relates (conceptually) to the big news to come. 🙂   Stay tuned!

Dan Crask joins Board of Directors for Dog Rescue

May 10, 2010

As if getting to design a great web site for Frankie’s Furry Friends wasn’t enough, Dan has been asked to join the Board of Directors! He gladly accepted. The role is mainly that of a consultant as it relates to FFF’s design and marketing, but just being part of an organization that we really believe in is an honor. As we have written in previous blog posts, our resident Design Dog – Jake the border collie – is a rescue dog. After experiencing Jake’s turnaround and new lease on life we doubt we’ll ever adopt dogs from anywhere other than a rescue. There are just too many great dogs out there in need of a forever home!


We are different.

May 7, 2010

When we say we’re different than a lot of design shops it sometimes lacks context. Consider this excerpt from an AdAge story about how PepsiCo has put their $25m Tropicana account up for review context:

“After the rollout of that packaging — which scrapped the iconic image of an orange with a straw sticking out, and was the brainchild of controversial design guru Peter Arnell — sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line fell 20% in a matter of a few weeks between January and February 2009, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars.”

The scrapped packaging work was beautiful…to designers.

The buying public rejected it. Why? Because someone decided to put lofty design standards above common sense.

When D&A Design says, “We listen, think, create, and serve,” we are setting ourselves aside from design shops like the group that made such a huge blunder with Tropicana. To be blunt:  There is no such thing as objective “good design.” There are no standards that a designer can look to and know his or her design meets. We are in the business of aesthetic opinions, personal tastes, and what’s best for the brand.

We certainly wish PepsiCo and their design group success, and hope they’ve experienced a wonderful teachable moment.

As for us, D&A Design will continue to Listen, Think, Create, and Serve. It’s a process that has served us well; it’s why we ware different, and why our clients like that we’re different. 🙂


Talking about web design with the Glendale, Ohio Chamber of Commerce

March 30, 2010

A quick post this lovely spring day to say thanks to the Glendale (Ohio) Chamber of Commerce. I just returned from speaking about web design at the Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly training session (lunch & learn) about the “Basics of Web Site Design,” and had a great time.

What’s more, I was thrilled by all the engaging questions afterward! I love when a group of small business people get together and talk about design. I’ve yet to be in a group where the questions weren’t very specific, and the conversations afterward are always energized as well. I love being a small business guy.

No new dates are on the calendar just yet for a future speaking engagement, but when one comes up we’ll try and do a better job of making it known.



3 Big Picture Phases of a Web Site

March 15, 2010

I get 3 questions about web design more than any other: What is the process? How is a site maintained? and When is it time for a redesign? These questions sum up the 3 Big Picture phases of a web site’s life.

Here are my answers to the questions above about web design from a Big Picture point of view:

Phase 1. Design, Development, Deployment
The web Design phase consists of creating how it looks, Development is the code behind a good site, Deployment is when we officially launch the site.

Web design begins with fleshing out a concept for your business’ website. Through various rounds of revisions the sites user interface (UI) – the graphics that make navigating your site intuitive – become final, and once you’re satisfied with how it looks we focus more on Development, or how it operates. Development often has periods of silent time where the developer is working on code to make sure that the site is going to work perfectly once deployed. The code also plays into how the site is found by search engines. Once Design and Development are complete we sometimes launch a beta version of the site for live testing. After bugs have been worked out we encourage businesses to make a formal announcement through various media (traditional and social).

Keep in mind: Your branding partner or designer should either have a strategic partnership with development resources, or be able to do it themselves. Make sure this is covered in writing in your agreement. Know the costs for URL reservation, hosting, email, etc. before moving forward.

Phase 2. Maintenance: DIY or Tune-ups?
Free and open CMS resources like WordPress and Joomla allow business owners to update their content the DIY way. Some business owners prefer to contract their designer for regular website tune-ups such as quarterly or monthly updates to the site.

Before you head into a website design project you should talk with your designer about how the site will be built. If you want to maintain it yourself make sure your designer knows. If you want to leave maintenance to someone in-house or your designer, make sure they know that, too. There are cost-saving measures that can be taken advantage of no matter how you want to keep your site up to date. Point being, a site can no longer be deployed and left standing. It must be maintained, or it becomes stale.

Phase 3. Redesign: When Is It Time?
If your website was designed more than 3 years ago, there’s a good chance it’s due for a redesign. Aside from style changes to how sites are created, the back-end technology has changed too, and that is impacting how your site is being found via search engines.

A redesign is not starting over. There are myriad ways to refresh your site using existing branding. It’s like holding a box in your hands. You can look at it head-on for a while and after a while that perspective gets old and boring. Simply turn the box to a different angle and now your experience of the same box (your brand) is different, refreshing.

If any or all of these resonate with you, and you’d like to talk further about how any or all of these impact your specific business, we can set a time to talk.


Designed or Bought?

February 21, 2010

Just read a thought-provoking post over at LogoDesignLove about a topic that’s been a discussion among designers for years.

The question is simple:  “Are iconic logos designed, or bought?”

The answer seems to depend on what side of the table you’re on. When I talk to  fellow designers most will say that iconic logos – or any logo – are bought because a budget puts real value on what you’re designing, and a budget also gives a cap to when development time is complete. For instance, most seasoned designers have a process from creating many logos over the years, and this process has an average number of hours built in so as to realistically estimate the time needed to design a logo. Logos that are bought have a well-defined scope, a set time budget, and are most importantly a solution for business.

On the other side of the table are the business owners, the managers, the folks who are actually paying for the design work. They will often cite Nike as a good example of a simple logo that didn’t take hardly any time to develop, and is a household icon. It’s a point worth taking. Certainly genius can strike in minutes. And if there’s one thing designers whom are not also business owners tend to be vastly disconnected with, it’s the cash flow implications of their work for their clients. On the client side is also the correct expectation that a designer will work on a logo until it’s done to the client’s satisfaction – regardless of how many hours that takes.

So who is right?

I ask:  Why does it have to be “Designed or Bought”?

It must be both when we’re talking design.

Founder of the German Bauhaus school of design, an institution that changed everything, Mr. Walter Gropius said it best: “Art is self-expression; Design is problem-solving.” When we design, we are not creating pieces of art. By its very nature, Design is a creation process on behalf of someone or something else. Design is solving communication puzzles with aesthetics, not expressing how one feels about this or that.

I believe the premise of the question is wrong. Logos are not designed or bought, they are designed and bought.

If you want to express yourself, go paint. The world needs more painters anyway.

Cheers! ~ Dan