Design and marketing tips for growing businesses

Strategies to help businesses grow by Olsen Creative

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We start with the Message. What do you want to say to your customers? Where are your customers in terms of location (physical and on the web), buying cycle, and other relevant demographics? We’ll help craft the message according to your audience.


It’s not just the words you use. Visual presentation has a tremendous impact on how messages are received – and perceived. Fonts, colors, imagery, and layout are our building blocks. We are experts in creating appropriate visuals to emphasize a relevant message.


In the end, the delivery of the message is accomplished by Technical means. Website, email, social networking, advertising, offset printing/mailing are some of the ways to deliver. The marketing industry has changed a lot in the last quarter century, and we’ve consistently evolved to adopt new ways of publishing. The industry is always expanding, and we’ve grown along with it.

In summary, all three parts must be present. Any two aspects leave something lacking. A pretty picture delivered without a strong message is unclear. A message that's delivered but doesn't look good is unattractive. A strong visual message without delivery is unseen. All three parts - the message, the visual and the technical must be present for successful marketing communications.

Get a cool logo that looks like you

Posted by on in Graphic Design

No, we're not saying that having a face on your logo is the answer. We already did that. The "you" we're referring to is the visual expression of your brand. It's like a personality.

oc ladyLet's use the Olsen Creative Lady as an example. At Olsen Creative, we love what we do. We are helpful, approachable and do all we can to demystify the creative process. With good humor, we take your projects seriously, put your business interests first and assure you that everything is going to be OK as we walk through the project. That's our brand statement. It's who we are. And that's why the Olsen Creative Lady is so happy!

When we listen to what you want in your logo, we ask a lot of questions — questions about you, how you relate to your customers, what they say about you, and even what colors you find appealing. What we're really getting to is the bottom line: your brand statement. From that, we can create an image that projects the "personality" of what your brand already has going for it.

We don't make brands, and we don't just design logos that we think are cool. We design logos that communicate your brand value. And that's pretty cool already.

See our Logos Portfolio

Meet the artist - that's me!

Posted by on in Art

Saturday, July 25, 2009 - noon-5pm

Northwest Cellars Wine Tasting Room
11909 124th Avenue NE
Kirkland, WA 98034


Please join me at the Northwest Cellars Wine Tasting Room, home of award-winning Northwest wines, custom wine labels, and the house labels I designed. Sample the currently available wines and buy a bottle or two to take home. If you’d like, I’ll sign the label for you!

I will also have full-size (11"x14") prints of select illustrations available for purchase.

Tagged in: Creativity

I'm an artist. A graphic artist. I only build websites because that's where my industry is focused. I'm thus forced into the world of programming. (So I'm a programmer? Eeeww!) This is the main source of my career frustration - being an artist at heart but creating through the writing of code. Just a little counter-intuitive.

Here's an amusing anecdote from something that happened to me yesterday:

The challenge was to create a "BUY" link button by having a red rectangle with white type inside. Rather than delve into detail, let's just say that I found the place in the style sheet where I could write in "rectangle=red, type=white". (It was black with white type originally, so all I had to do was write in "red" where the word "black" was. EASY switch!)

Then I went back to my word "BUY" and framed it with the code that would tell it how to act. Essentially, [red button] BUY [/red button].

No go. No red button no matter what I did. It stayed the original black. VERY frustrating! Just another WTF Moment in the life of an artist-turned-programmer. I tried every kind of troubleshooting I could think of, and then went to Google to search for the problem. That takes a while when you don't know exactly where the problem is. But I'll get to the point.

I had to insert the snippet "!important" into the line of the style sheet - and BINGO, it worked.

!important ??? What are some of the alternatives? !whenever-you-have-time ?? Or !if-its-not-too-much-trouble ?? Or !you-better-or-I'll-kick-your-ass ??

This PROVES that Computers have Evolved! You can't just make a simple change and have it accept it without question. You have to let it know that the change is !important for it to take effect.

Those of you who think that computer programming is some cut and dry, boring, unimaginative, pocket-protecting head space, let me tell you - you are mistaken. It requires a certain level of tact and understanding. Like any relationship.

Perhaps next time I should try " !please " ...

Process Trumps Content

Posted by on in Potpourri

In the last few weeks, I've been focusing my attention on networking and content, while in the back of my mind, I've been wanting to add some real meat to this website infrastructure I've been assembling. When you surf the internet, do you just see a bunch of websites and content and information? I don't. I don't just have a website and a blog and some social media pages — I have a dream (OK, so it sounds corny, but it's true). I have an idea for how to realize it. All of this stuff is just part of the Process.

Today Seth Godin asks What are you good at? "Process... refers to the emotional intelligence skills you have about managing projects, visualizing success, persuading other people of your point of view, dealing with multiple priorities, etc. This stuff is insanely valuable and hard to learn. Unfortunately, it's usually overlooked by headhunters and HR folks, partly because it's hard to accredit or check off in a database.
"As the world changes ever faster, as industries shrink and others grow, process ability is priceless. Figure out which sort of process you're world-class at and get even better at it. Then, learn the domain... that's what the internet is for.
"One of the reasons that super-talented people become entrepreneurs is that they can put their process expertise to work in a world that often undervalues it."
Dang, Seth – you nailed it!
How about you? What are your unique talents? How can they help you in your Process?

One of the things I hope to accomplish with this blog is to demystify the creative process to help growing businesses get the most out of the resources available. Today's economy is squeezing businesses more than ever, forcing owners to think outside the box for cost-effective solutions on all fronts.

If you own a small business, you probably don't have a huge marketing budget. You probably didn't intend to do a lot of the marketing, advertising, promotions and even page layouts yourself, but to keep operating costs down such tasks are frequently necessary for the survival and growth of your business.

So you became an Accidental Graphic Designer.

For all of the small business owners looking for do-it-yourself solutions, I'm here to coach you on what you really need to know to creatively survive the marketing and design process.

1: Communicate Meaning
Space is a premium in the world, on the internet and on paper. In a matter of milliseconds, you have to capture the attention of a prospective customer with a message that's strong enough to compel them to come to you for your product.

A strong message does not necessarily mean big, bold and red – although sometimes it doesn't hurt. Strength is communicated in relevance. How well understood is the message? Are you speaking your target customer's language? What are they looking for at this time, and are you offering it?

Communicate meaning in each and every element you create. Your logo must be appealing and understandable to your audience. It makes little difference whether you personally like it, if it doesn't communicate clear meaning to potential customers. Your website must be logically organized to guide potential customers down the path that leads to the most important place - buying from you. Your print advertising must contain a call to action. Get people onto your website and/or into your store so you can turn them into new customers.

Communicate meaning in everything you do.

We will help guide you through the process of creating a meaningful message.

Introducing pastel illustrations by Laura Olsen

Posted by on in Art

The discovery of a new medium. Just the mention of it sends artists into seething excitement!
I discovered a new medium this summer. It's not new to the world, but rather, I had rediscovered it for myself in a really big way. Pastels. I'm talking about the chalk, not the color palette.
I experimented a little with pastels back in college, but didn't develop a preference for them as a medium. I leaned toward oil painting. When out "in the field" I would usually bring along my sketch pad and graphite pencil, rather than charcoal. I found that charcoal and pastels shared a similar "scritchiness" that bugged me - a little like fingernails on a chalkboard. I preferred the smoother feel of mediums such as graphite and oil paint.

I found that painting en plein air (French for "outside") in the natural light gave my oil paintings a lot more life and freshness than work done in the studio, but what a hassle it was to drag all of that equipment around – not to mention that a wet canvas is not the easiest thing to haul back home.

On vacation this summer, I decided to give pastels another try. I discovered advantages to using them in the field. They're portable, more colorful than graphite, drier than paint, and no extensive clean-up is involved. I was able to easily achieve the natural light look without the mess. Plus, time is a premium for me now, so I'm all for any activity that I can squeeze in quickly and easily. The scritchiness of the pastels didn't bother me, either (perhaps age has desensitized my nerve endings).

The result of settling on a medium that allows me to crank out art in short order, is that I am able to accumulate new material at a sustainable pace. What does that mean? It means that I can make enough art to be marketable. What more can an artist ask for?

Where can you find them? - "Sailboat at Sunset" and "Pacific Northwest Mountains". Also "Pastels of the Pacific Northwest" 2009 wall calendar featuring 12 drawings from 2008. - If you're into good Northwest wine, eight varieties are available featuring art by Laura Olsen on the label. For a REAL treat, ask us about personalizing a label for you. Minimum order is one case. Makes a great gift or to have on hand as your own "house" wine.

How to work with creative-types

Posted by on in Graphic Design

Everyone has a talent for something. Everyone has the ability to create. Talent and creativity are things that everyone is born with, to varying degrees. In terms of visual creativity, some people are attuned to seeing the possibilities. Some can’t draw their way out of a paper bag. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.

I cannot count the number of times that clients have approached me with a project and said, appologetically, “I’m sorry, I’m not a designer. Can you help me with this?” 
OK, that would be like me going to my doctor and saying, “I'm sorry, I tried to fix this ruptured spleen at home, but I’m not a surgeon.” Hey, I don’t know my spleen from my appendix, so who knows what I would have been taking a stab at. (Sorry for the gratutious pun!)

The thing about designers (and all creatives), is that they have a feel for what solution best supports a message, and hopefully have had some advanced education and experience so that they can make good decisions. 
Just like when you go to the doctor, you may have a feel for what the problem is, but you can be better treated if you outline the symptoms. The creative process works the same way. If you tell your designer where to “operate” you may not be treating the real problem. If you tell your designer where it hurts, then they can come up with a solution that tackles the problem directly.



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