July down time: Cleaning up your brand image!

brand image tips

Our guest blogger is Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design.  Summer is a great time to work on your branding and marketing gear, getting ready for the busy 4th quarter…

After what seemed like an endless winter, summertime’s here, and that means joining colleagues at a patio, leaving the office early, and honing your BBQ skills. It’s a nice fantasy-but if you’re a business owner, it means if there’s any downtime, you’ll likely be catching up on the marketing projects you had hoped to tackle much earlier in the year.

You may not have days on end to devote to marketing catch-up. But if you can organize your projects and time, here’s three things that will let you communicate a little easier in the fall and have you ready for more marketing and networking:

1) Update your business cards. I’m always going on about the importance of your business cards, and with good reason. If social media is part of your marketing mix, be sure to have your contact info on your business card. You can:

  • add the actual URL (ex. www.Facebook.com/LolaDesignLogos)
  • simply use the social media icon (blue “bird” for Twitter)
  • incorporate a QR code that when scanned takes readers to your blog.

2) Take a look at your marketing calendar and review major events coming in the fall. If you have a conference or a tradeshow you have already committed to, this is the time to do the prep work. If your tradeshow is October 1, don’t wait until September 25 to get your signage ready, or your rack cards, or sellsheets. Get ahead of the game now so you can do it right, proof properly and avoid rush charges. That way they are done, printed, and you can forget about them.

3)  Do a logo inventory. Is your logo still working hard for you? Because if it isn’t, now is the time to alter it, or completely redo it (not a week before your new ad campaign is launched). Find a designer you can work with (I will be glad to set up a consultation with you) and be sure to discuss your needs, likes, dislikes, deadlines and budget. Be realistic. Make sure your logo is created as a vector file, which will give you the most versatility over the long run (that’s an Illustrator .eps or .ai file).

These three marketing communication tips should give you plenty to fill up those pockets of “spare time” you may have this summer!

Loreto Cheyne is the principal and owner of Lola Design, an Ottawa-based graphic design studio. To book your complimentary consultation, email loreto@loladesign.ca

Website:www.loladesign.ca

Blog:www.loladesing.ca/blog

 

The Value of Black Goo

I was in denial. My driveway needed re-sealing for quite a few years and I was really hoping the night fairies would come and do it for me. Alas, no. A couple of summers ago, I thought I’d do it myself: get the bucket of black goo and the roller from the DIY store and spend time in 35C heat rolling said black goo on  my 2 cars wide and 2 cars long driveway. I never quite got around to it. I’m not a procrastinator but somehow I always managed to justify my lack of dedication to this part of home ownership.

About a month ago, a young man from 2 streets away knocked on my door and told me that he had a new business re-sealing driveways for the summer. He was studying accounting at university and thought this type of business venture would help him in school. (Great idea!)

I asked him how much to do the job and he said $195 tax in. I had to think about it – that’s quite a bit of money just to roll out a bucketful of black goo. I looked at my dismal driveway and thought woefully how long I had been putting off the task. I called him back to say that I would take him up on his offer. We scheduled the work for the following day.

My hero came over close to supper time the next day and while I was preparing the meal, I checked in on the progress by periodically going back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. The first thing I saw was him power spraying all the weeds out from between the driveway and the curb. I didn’t even think of that. The next trip to the living room I saw him power spraying the entire surface of the driveway. I would have swept the driveway; I didn’t even think of power spraying it. Then he taped off the entire perimeter of the driveway so that no black goo would get on the lawn. After that, he manually filled in all the cracks and holes (there were many). Only then did he roll out the black goo.

By the time he finished, that $195 was the best money I ever spent for value of work. Not only did he save me the labour of doing that type of work in the summer’s heat, he also provided value because he knew what he was doing. He’s done a lot of driveways and has a level of expertise that I will never have (nor wish to have). Sure, I could have done it, but outsourcing this task yielded much better quality results and freed up my time. Now I have this task off my to-do list.

There is value in everything we do, both personally and professionally; our expertise in what we do daily provides value to others.   What do you need help with in your daily life?  In my view, it’s worthwhile seeking out resources to help you get things done, things that you don’t know how to do, or have no wish to learn how to do, and free up your time on what matters most to you.  Agree? Disagree?

The Power of Time

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” – Anthony Robbins

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

These two great quotes are making the same point while coming from different directions; the authors are saying that our lives are in our own hands and that we should look at all the parts of our lives honestly and make conscious choices confidently so that we may benefit.

We have the power to change our lives by using what we already have inside ourselves: Tony Robbins knows that lack of self-confidence often holds us back; Ralph Waldo Emerson shows us that it’s what’s inside of us that counts more than the past and the future.

Even though they haven’t written books called “Time Management”, these authors teach us a lot about successful time management and successful life management.

The past 19 months have taught us that time can stand still, expand to fill how long it takes a task to be done, stretch out endlessly before us or reduce itself so small that there simply isn’t enough of it.  Yet, we all still have 24 hours in a day.

Another great quote is from David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and “Ready for Anything”. He gets right to the point when he says, “Time is just time, you can’t mismanage it. What that really means is that you mismanaged the agreement you had with yourself about what you should have accomplished.” He goes on to say that time management is really a complex issue of self-management where work needs to be captured, clarified, organized and reviewed in line with your purpose, values, vision, goals, and strategies. When these things are in line, you’ll feel good about how you’re managing time.

It’s really that simple.

Coping With Unexpected Change

It’s inevitable. Change will happen whether you are expecting it, or not, in your personal lives, in society and in the workplace. Generally speaking, when we expect a change, it is more manageable to deal with and depending on what it is, it can be a good thing. Unexpected change is the one that takes a little more effort to get through as it may require a re-adaption to processes, environments and people around us.

So, what are some things we can do to manage unexpected change? We can’t plan for it. Forbes Magazine touches on a few methods to deal with change in the workplace, such as preparation calming fears, letting go of perfection, and so on.

  • Take a look at the situation objectively, removing thoughts that these changes are directed toward you.
  • Think of the potential that can grow from this change. Think positively about the “surprise”.
  • Keep up to date those things that have not changed by continuing to take care of yourself and maintaining your routines.

When change happens, it might be wise to take a look at the entire situation from an objective standpoint. Instead of focusing on how this is affecting you as an individual, take a look at the big picture. Was it perhaps necessary from an organization standpoint for your workplace to change in order to keep up with a changing industry? Are there redundancies your employer is trying to work with? At times, we may look at changes at work and think “What did I do to deserve this?”, but in fact it may not have been something you did or didn’t do, but something that just happens in the course of running an enterprise. No, it is not pretty and sometimes human beings have to make difficult decisions.

Consider that the changes at work are an open door to something new. Although change may be scary and it may not always be easy to flip around a negative impression already established, it may be needed to help you move forward. The opportunity to grow can found by moving past fears you may have about the change to come and making a decision that this change is going to be good. Maybe there is an opportunity to learn a new skill within your job as a result of this change, or maybe the new skills can be learned in leaving this job for another one. Either way this can be an opportunity to further develop your skillset and knowledge. If you are leaving to find a new opportunity, what you have learned in this job can help you determine the things you like or may not like in going to the next job.

During a time of work change it is very important to keep up with personal care and maintaining your regular routines. You might think “Well I’m not going into work so why should I bother getting up early?” Maintaining your schedule and using the time that would have been at work doing something productive can help stave off negative feelings and allow you to keep a sense of consistency during a time that may be anything but consistent. Regardless of the situation, stay strong and forge on to a better path carved out for you by change.

The Pursuit of Balance

There is always talk about the ever-elusive ‘work-life balance’ – who has it, who doesn’t.  All the articles on the Internet and the chatter on social media make it out to be a thing that is always just out of reach; like a balloon that you’ve let go of, but as hard as you try, you can’t jump high enough to get it back.

For the past year, I think I can safely say we’ve all struggled with finding balance, whatever form we wish that to take.  Very few people on the planet today have experienced a global pandemic, so you’re not alone!  So we’ve got that on our plates as well as its compounding ‘elusiveness’. No wonder we’re often feeling out of balance! 

I’ve learned two things:

1) We perceive ourselves to be ‘out of balance’ not because we can’t do it, but because the goal is constantly shifting and changing.  Priorities change minute by minute, quite often so fast that we don’t notice it and all of a sudden, we’re feeling out of balance again.

2) In these days of remote everything, the line between ‘work’ and ‘life’ is really, really blurred.  I mean REALLY blurred. Because our work space and our living space is now the in the same place, there is no transition time between leaving work and arriving at home.  We used to use that time in the car or on the bus to de-compress, shift to our personal selves and change our environment.  Now we just try to cope with whatever is in front of us at particular moment, whether it’s a personal task or a work task, we just deal with it.   In amongst all of that chaos, we’re told we need to find time for ourselves alone.

You are the answer.  You yourself are responsible for your well-being, all day, every day. Not your job, not your spouse, not your kids.  It starts and ends with you.  It follows then that you need to make yourself the priority, say ‘no’ sometimes and stick to boundaries so that you can be your best self for everyone and everything in your life. This is the center of being in balance. Makes sense, doesn’t it?!?

Many years ago, I made health and fitness my first priority for two reasons.  The first is that I came out of corporate physically and mentally fried, and the second is that starting a business meant that I was going to be in control of everything I do. Not my boss, not my spouse, me.

That in itself brings a sense of freedom; freedom to choose what to do with my time as the days stretch out before me.  I start each and every day in three realms: physical fitness (weights, cardio), mental fitness (brain games, reading) and reflection (journaling, meditation).  It’s what works for me; odds are that what fires up your day is totally different. My regimen starts my day off right, prepares me for the day ahead and gets all my systems firing.  I started off by scheduling this commitment in my calendar several years ago and I did it daily, without fail.  Now it’s my morning ritual; I don’t schedule it, I don’t even think about it, I do it automatically.  Total game changer.

If I was able to give you two hours of time every day to put yourself first, what would you do with that time?  Why not schedule it alongside the other time slots in your calendar, make it a priority and do something just for you?

Find me on Linked In and share your thoughts.

On Golf and Empowerment

After years and years of ‘putting in time’ building a business, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day running of it, almost as if it had a life of its own (some would believe they do!), I decided some time ago that’s it’s equally as important to take time out for myself.  Indeed, famous figures in history like Charles Darwin and Winston Churchill (who made space for daily naps during WW II) regarded rest as the true key to fulfillment and creative success.

Some years ago, I gave myself permission to get out of the office once a week to play a round of golf.  This may sound like a pretty small thing, but when you’re used to giving your heart and soul to a venture all day, every day, taking a couple of hours off really is a big thing. It took a little getting used to, but toward the end of the season, not only did my game improve – I found it all very empowering! I was taking charge of my schedule and how my week would roll out while still fitting in some ‘me time’.  Of course, I reviewed the week ahead of time to make sure everything would get done that needed to get done and most of the time I stuck to my schedule and the commitment to myself of playing golf.

Hopefully very soon, this summer will see golf courses opening for regular play once again so that those inclined can get out for fresh air and exercise which will do a world of good, not to mention provide rest and a change of pace that leads to higher productivity.

My business works for me by providing for my needs and I’m living the life I want: life balance, low stress and meaningful, fulfilling days doing what I love.

Are you living a balanced life?  How do you break free and get some rest during your workweek? Find me on Linked In and share your thoughts.