A note to students: pt. 1

Diploma?You’ve heard it before.

College is not the real world.
There is no syllabus predicting the course of the next six months. And clients don’t call with assignments fully written down, with past examples and a grading metric to share.

You knew that.

What may be surprising is how much you’ll miss it.

Every intern I’ve hired, every fresh graduate, struggles with the unknown that is inherent in the “real world.” No matter how much background I provide, or how detailed my outline of the project requirements, young designers are uncomfortable with the fact that they don’t know how the thing is supposed to turn out.

Fact is, seasoned designers don’t know either. We just give ourselves the permission to figure it out. We learn to pencil out a strategy and create solutions to fit. We allow ourselves to dream and develop programs that bring a vision to life.

In other words, we make it up as we go.

The best designers (and I like to think we’re pretty good) confront a problem and with a flash of inspiration see several potential solutions. We play each out in our minds, quickly landing on the most exciting and effective options. And then we get to work on research and designs to explore our concepts.

That is thrilling—and, for young designers especially—terrifying. You’re going to wonder what you spent all those years in college learning. You’ll wish you’d spent more time learning to strategize. And you’ll miss those long project deadlines.

Most of all, you’ll miss summer break.

That’s okay. So do we.

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The Inside Scoop on Cooper Smith & Company from a Marketing Rookie

Cooper Smith & Co.By Julia Duvall

I joined the Cooper Smith & Company team at the beginning of 2014. My prior career was in Arts Ticketing, and while I worked closely with the marketing team at my previous organization, I didn’t necessarily “live in that world”.
I am now decidedly planted in the marketing world. I joined the firm ready to learn, and have quickly realized Cooper Smith & Company is a much more versatile partner for our clients than I could have imagined.

Learning Your Language
In order to successfully collaborate with your organization and craft messages with your unique voice, we need to “talk the talk”. Whether attending Saturday evening sprint car races or 5:30am yoga sessions, we’ll do what it takes to learn more about your culture.

Beyond Design
Admit it: the first thought that comes to mind when contemplating “marketing” is likely graphic design. While visual elements are certainly a crucial building block in a marketing plan, the Cooper Smith & Company team brings a broad spectrum of skill sets to each project. Business acumen, strategic thinking, social media prowess, and copy writing finesse combine to take your brand’s image to the next level.

Your Brand in the World
Need help creating a cohesive social media strategy? Check! Organizing a special event, and need guidance from conception to execution? We’ve got your back. Looking to revamp your website? You’ve come to the right place. Cooper Smith & Company offers virtually any service required that helps to develop your brand. As your marketing partner, our firm makes sure that, no matter what your project, your brand is presented in the most effective way possible.

Does your marketing partner offer such a wide range of skills? Peruse our website for more information about Cooper Smith & Company. You might be surprised by what you find!

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Fonts I have loved to hate

Comic SansThis month’s blog is a contribution from Robin Wasteney, Senior Art Director at Cooper Smith & Company.  This month is part two of the two-part series on the fonts she loves. Last month Robin shared her favorite font with us. This month…the fonts she loves to hate!

You can’t be a designer without noticing bad type. It’s everywhere. Many people don’t recognize what the style of a typeface communicates independently of the words it produces. They like how a font looks, so they use it. That’s fine for your email signature (your personal email signature—don’t even get me started!) or a party invitation. But bad type choices are everywhere. And they’re often big. Really big. Like on trucks. And on buildings. And on big, backlit signs.

Being the type geek that I am, I have a growing collection of bad found type. I have photos of signage, printed samples, t-shirts, Pinterest boards, you name it. Most, though not all, involve bad uses of Hobo. (If you’re not familiar, check out a Classic Tan location.) It’s downright addicting to look for it.

Hobo has been around forever (since 1910). It’s is a display font, meaning that it’s meant to be used in small amounts, usually large, rather than paragraphs. It’s also a ‘novelty’ font, meaning its used mostly for fun (and not generally business appropriate). It’s awkward and goofy looking (there are no descenders at all), and it’s hard to miss.

Most recently, I snagged a photo of a heating and cooling company van that had everything from the company name to the phone number set in it. Not the font you want to use if you want people to be able to read your information, let alone think you’re reliable.

I’ve snagged Iowa State (non-endorsed) apparel—for adults, not kids—with everything from the name of the school to Go Cyclones! set in Hobo, right along side the athletic logo (ISU has since put the brand smack down on things like that.

And of course, there is the aforementioned tanning logo, which I always just shake my head at—nothing about Hobo says classy, or beauty, or women, or tanning to me.

Ban Comic Sans?
Hobo ranks right up there with Comic Sans and Papyrus as one of the most wholeheartedly disliked, overused fonts out there. There are entire web sites dedicated entirely to ridding the world of Comic Sans (fortunately the designer of Hobo missed the age of internet backlash by quite a few years.)

The next time you’re bored on a family road trip, try a game of font bingo. You might become a type geek too. And keep an eye out for Hobo—it’s everywhere!

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