Morgan Branding
Morgan Branding

branding + graphic design + web design

Simple Answers

Purpose is Power

January 8, 2016

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles recently that have really got me thinking of my place in the world as a designer, and how my role pertains to the graphic design realm, and other graphic designers around me. There is a heavy trend in design blogs right now, that declares illustrator’s ownership over the title “graphic designer” and I can’t help but think, is this factual? Or is this just another egotistical struggle over a title?

The point I want to make (as concisely and accurately as possible,) is that there is indeed a difference between illustration and design. Illustration is merely a component, as is typography, color and messaging. I think that what this all boils down to is purpose. If it is in the best interest to communicate visually by a series of illustrations, or illustrative type or hand-drawn type or whatever, then absolutely, illustrators are designers and should be considered as much. I think what is happening here is that illustrators that are identifying solely as illustrators may be feeling trivialized by titles, but don’t forget, design isn’t about ego. 

The whole reason for design is communication, and we all know that there are way too many ways to communicate nowadays. Just make sure you do it with purpose. Stick figure, 105pt Helvetica Bold, or the cat heart eye emoji. Just do it effectively.


Simple Answer: Resumé Graphics

August 21, 2014


Design student Jeremy asked “An all-text resumé seems boring, what do you think about using charts and graphics to represent my qualifications?”

Great question Jeremy! Take comfort that resumés are a tricky, fickle tool and you’re not alone in your struggles. Your ultimate goal when applying for jobs should be to get your prospective employers eyes on your work. Anything that deters employers from getting to your portfolio should be seen as intrusive and avoided. You mentioned adding charts as a way to display your qualifications visually. While I applaud your thought process, I’m going to be blunt with you. Don’t do it.

Using a chart demeans your skill set by reducing it to in an imaginary number on an imaginary scale. It’s made up and holds no value in the real world.  You have 5/5 stars on Illustrator, but only 2.5/5 stars in InDesign? By your own logic you’re 50% less proficient in one program as you are the next. You are creating more problems than you’re solving. It also opens the door to some nepotism. Resumés that have included charts rarely give themselves less than a 60% on any single program, but primarily 80-100%. As you can see charts, while visually interesting, add unnecessary complications to what should be a quick read.

The best advice I can give you is this: Be understated with your resume. Keep it clean, minimal and an easy read. Always give contact information and a link to your portfolio, and then let it be. The speed at which employers can get to your work is crucial, and in a very full job market you don’t need any issues holding you up.

Simple Answer: 5 Tips to Get Great Client Feedback

May 22, 2014

We received an email from a designer that was having a rough go with a client. He had produced several rounds of designs for a postcard and none of them were making a great impression, and he wanted to know how we procure good feedback from clients. Certainly it’s a skill that serves any designer well, and is something that can take a little time to get the hang of.

We all come across design design cycles that prove difficult. The client may be looking for something specific, but isn’t able to communicate exactly what they want. It’s not uncommon to hear things like, “I don’t know. I just know I don’t like it.” The reality is, that’s okay. That’s why they hired you! They’re not able to formulate the visual solution to the challenge in front of them, and they need you to make that happen. Here are a few tips to help you get great feedback:

  1. Call rather than email. Pick up the phone and have a conversation. A lot of times a client will reveal a great deal more through casual conversation than they will in an email. Plus, it’s another chance to build a sincere relationship.
  2. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask as many as you need. I’ve never had a client express any concern over asking too many questions. In fact, this probably shows a level of care and concern for the project that will help build trustworthiness. A real good general question to ask is, “what things do you like; what things don’t you like?” Sometimes they’ll reveal they do like most of the design, but just hate an image.
  3. Talk about end-goals. This is something you should always talk about during the beginning of the design process. Talk about objectives and what the thing needs to achieve. But, feel free to revisit later and re-assess. I’ve found that revisiting goals can illuminate what’s really needed and/or what’s missing.
  4. Don’t get frustrated or snippy. Remain calm and collected, and speak with kindness and respect. If necessary, start the conversation with something like, “Hey, I wanted to call and discuss the last round of designs so that we can better understand what to do on the next round, and do our best for you.” Above all, don’t get defensive or nasty. All feedback is good, regardless of how it comes across.
  5. Take notes. Even if you only have one client or project, write everything down. Not only can this spark additional questions during conversation, you’ll have the necessary information to review later, ensuring you’re not forgetting something important…or some small detail that must be on there.

The 90’s called. They want their folds and pleats back.

February 21, 2014

Just got a call from the 90’s, and they want their folds and pleats back.

Pleats are a no-brainer. Those should just go away. The days of looking like a penguin with large hips have passed, and I’m confident we can move boldly into the future without these rent-a-suit relics. When it comes to the fold, however, there is still an ongoing debate about whether this needs to be considered when designing for the web. So, figured we’d drop our .02 in to the bucket.

Simply, there is no fold. The web is an interactive medium, and scrolling is ubiquitous among all users. Add to that an innumerable number of devices with different viewport sizes and the “fold” is rendered completely non-existent. Of course a good hierarchy and content strategy should still be utilized, but forget the fold people. Keep the fold where it belongs: newspapers and laundry tasks.

Some handy links


Simple Answer: Good Design is Within Reach

January 8, 2014

We received a roundabout question from a potential client the other day that we think would be good to address, and may help a lot of you feel more at ease with elevating your design standard and improving your business without feeling like you need a six-figure loan to get it done. Alice, we’ll call her, was hesitant to start anything because she felt like she couldn’t afford to do everything immediately. In other words, she wanted to do it all and was scared to start if she couldn’t. She wanted an updated logo and website, collateral, email newsletter template, brochures, adverts, Facebook graphics, etc. The list was long. And she feared that if we didn’t tackle it all at once, she may lose cohesiveness and her company would suffer.

Let the brand grow with you.

Although you sometimes see large corps roll out new branding campaigns that cover every possible consumer touchpoint and make all of us business owners quite envious, one of the benefits for a smaller, young company is that you can allow your brand to grow with you…and with the business. Although you may have a nice market carved out for yourself, you may outgrow that market, or you may move toward another market. The good news about not investing loads of cash to redo everything, is that you can tweak and adjust as you go along. Every brand evolves. Resolving to take care of just a few things that need to happen now will allow you to be flexible without going into the red. Tackle the most important stuff—the stuff that your consumers are using the most—and get to the other stuff when you can afford to do so. You may find those things you couldn’t do right away become obsolete anyway and don’t need to be redone at all. You’ll save time, cash, and a ton of headaches.

Good design is within reach

Once you’ve become comfortable with a more long-term, a la carte approach to your design needs, you’ll start on the path toward great design (and better business). That logo your college nephew designed when you were just starting out can be upgraded; your site can become a polished and accurate representation of the dream that started your venture; the cheap brochures you got produced at Kinkos can become a proper selling tool. All-in-all, just start, and begin giving your company the design standard it deserves.