Wear Your Number Proudly: Entrepreneurial self-gratification

7 11 2012

Wear your numbers with prideA few years ago, butterfly hordes took my innards hostage, while I stretched before my first duathlon (run/bike competition). Surrounded by fellow, shivering newbies making repeat bathroom runs in the pre-sunrise chill, I distinctly remember the moment that volunteers penned my race number on my arms and legs. They used permanent marker for easy identification. I felt so official.

I was a duathlete.

I finished in the top something-or-other, and walked away with a medal, a banana…

… and permanent marker proof that I had competed.

For a whole week after, I was very careful not to scrub off my numbers. They lingered, and I sheepishly recall spending that week in sleeveless shirts and shorts, running errands and eating out like it was going out of style. I was PROUD, and receptive to a little recognition.

If you’re smirking, I suggest you recollect back to the medals, trophies, ribbons, certificates, degrees you’ve had on display. And what about the times you’ve gone out in your soccer kit, gi, team jersey, golf get-up, exercise gear, etc., when it would have been just as easy to change first? We thrive on recognition: we’re human.

And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s one of the perks of doing something that few can or will do. It’s a motivator. It’s a reminder. It makes us a part of something cool. It’s EARNED.

Being a successful entrepreneur is remarkably special. It takes guts, brains, charisma, bravery, endurance, strategy, self-motivation…

So, where’s our trophy? Our certificate? Our badge of honor?

It’s in our branding!

Every time you wear a company shirt, mail company letterhead, conclude emails with company info, set up company voicemail, direct people to your company website, and post on your company Facebook, you are shouting your accomplishment from the rooftops,

“I own a business, and it’s the real deal!”

To keep your enthusiasm at an all-time high, get your branding out everywhere. Embroider it, attach it, print it, post it, vocalize it – this is a special situation where reaping recognition coincides directly with building success. You never know when your branding exuberance will spark a conversation with the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Why not improve the odds?

Entrepreneurs, “wear your numbers” with pride. YOU’VE EARNED IT.

DMT Artistry’s re-branding… yeah, it’s back ON. (The photo at top is just a small segment of a very impressive race number wall at Hometown Bicycles.)

Note: I dedicate this blog post to my Uncle Mark, who will be a guest blogger in the near future (right, Uncle Mark?), and inspired me to write a new post. Much obliged! 

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

Purple Revelations: The Joy of Impermanence

24 08 2012

DMT Artistry LLC officeMy husband, who reliably radiates the patience of a saint, requires Netflix and a sleeping bag any time we select paint colors. Yes, I am one of THOSE people.

Put me in a paint department with my artistic soul and perfectionist tendencies, and Mother Theresa could be forgiven for bolting for the door.

So, when it came time to choose colors for my in-progress office, I did everyone a favor, and went it alone. Interestingly enough, it took less then 15 minutes for me to leave with my liquid treasure.

Which got me thinking…

The way I see it, my office colors are the epitome of impermanence… the exact OPPOSITE of how I view DMT Artistry’s re-branding. My office colors can be changed in a few hours with a gallon of paint and elbow grease. But I’ve given myself the expectation that my new DMT brand must remain consistent across materials, locations, and time.

That’s a Mt. Everest order. Every brand evolves – even for the big guys, like Pepsi and Xerox. It has to. Stagnation means death.

It seems to me, then, that the “get-it-right-the-first-time” mindset is one of the primary sources of entrepreneurial quicksand. In an effort to make it right the first time, make it work perfectly the first time, make it a raging success the first time, we set ourselves up to be the deer in the headlights.

Impermanence is not only less intimidating; it’s more realistic. It reduces waffling over decisions. (It should NOT, however, be used as an excuse to be, think, or act in a mediocre fashion. We already talked about mediocrity in last week’s blog.)

Tell me, what decision have you been postponing for ages because the fear of “getting it wrong” is looming, piano-like, over your head? I challenge you to recognize that an incorrect decision is workable – you’re rolling your eyes, but I’m quite serious, you can always always correct your course to wind up on unexpected, opportunity-packed avenues – but going nowhere is not.

Come on, fellow entrepreneurs – let’s take this business world by storm!

Next Blog: … will be written by a guest blogger marketing guru, who’s been a DMT go-to guy for inspiration, motivation and valuable support – my dad!

“Nothing endures but change.”  ~Heraclitus

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.


Seriously… Discovering What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur

26 07 2012

Piecing together the "success" puzzleCandid moment, here…

Something interesting happened last September, when I celebrated DMT Artistry’s 2nd anniversary – something, in fact, cataclysmic:

I began to take my business seriously.

Understand that, prior to this, I certainly wasn’t operating my business halfheartedly or as a hobby. And the change had nothing to do with my work ethic, my professional possessions, or even external moral support. I had all of that in spades from the very beginning.

Nevertheless, it took two years for me to recognize my business as not just a success, but a legitimate, hard-earned, GROWING success with not-so-hidden potential. I grew aware of opportunities and, where there weren’t any, created them. Business didn’t just “happen” anymore. I MADE it happen.

At that time, the DMT re-branding concept was flickering to life, because DMT Artistry had become WORTH it.

I thought that this epiphany must be the Pinnacle of Entrepreneurial Realizations. To take my business seriously meant that I had given it the green light to be amazing, unique, enjoyable, worthwhile, impactful, noteworthy, and however successful I chose to make it.

But, this summer, I’ve trumped that realization:

I’ve begun to take MYSELF seriously.

In a role that demands the highest levels of self-esteem, entrepreneurship is, ironically, one of the most psychologically punishing. If there isn’t something strong at the core of you – something that goes beyond any vanities, excessive modesty, timidity or sheer bluffing – circumstances will knock you about, like a paper boat on the ocean, and your business will melt into nothing.

There are all kinds of statistics about our chances for business survival and success. Does the entrepreneur have what it takes to run a business? Can the entrepreneur do what is necessary to grow? Will the entrepreneur invest what is required to succeed?

In taking myself seriously, I’ve chosen to bank on the fact that I have, I do, and I will.

What about you? Have you given yourself and your business the same compliment?

Next Blog: I will post again in another 2 weeks. Thank you for your loyal readership!

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”  ~Ayn Rand

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

The Power of Words in Designing a Logo

29 06 2012

WordsI’ve had an epiphany. A design breakthrough. I’ve got my logo concept “figured out”.

And it’s all thanks to a little word power!

I’ve talked about important verbage in my previous blog, particularly in terms of determining your company’s message.

An initial stage in the DMT logo design process involves filling a page or pages with company-relevent words – descriptive, associative or otherwise. One word leads to another, which leads to another, which eventually and reliably leads to an “a-HA” moment.

Instantaneous logo perfection? Ideally, yes, but realistically, no. However, word play always brings me one enormous stride closer to “the one”.

For DMT Artistry, a few of the words that not just lit, but quadrupled the wattage on, my proverbial logo lightbulb are as follows:

Transformation   Most of my clients come to me with an idea that their marketing materials could just plain be BETTER. So, as a combination designer-marketer-artist-human, it is my goal to be a catalyst – one that transforms “old and stale” into “downright awesome”!

Above & Beyond/Transcendence   My business is successfully operating and growing on 99.9% referral business. Why? I like to think it has something to do with my winning personality. But I also suspect that it stems from a personal mission to exceed expectations. That’s not lip service, either; it’s the way I do business. Ask my clients.

Flights of Fancy   There’s a reason “Artistry” is part of my company name; it represents the creative evolution of ideas and the artistic combination of “form” and “function”. So, yes, I consider “flights of fancy” essential to providing my clients with fresh and unique designs.

Energy   My designs are not static. Why should my logo be?

Awesomeness   My ego and I love to elicit the “wow” factor just as much as the next human, so I put that desire to work for my clients, creating designs that are downright… awesome.

Have an idea of what my logo will be/contain? Let me hear your thoughts!

First person to deduce correctly before my next blog post will receive a free, 2-sided business card design for themselves or a friend. (Those few who already know, sorry! You’re out of the running.)

Your Turn
Ask yourself, do any of these words describe the essential essence of your business? I challenge you to create your own word list with at least 20 real zingers. Now hone in on the 5 most important, most relevant, and most meaningful.

In your future dealings with designers, marketers and associates alike, you’ve now got 5 powerful tools for directing the form and function of all future marketing materials. Bravo!

Next Week’s Blog: Logo sketching.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”  ~Pearl Strachan

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

Ask the Right Questions, I Do

15 06 2012

Question markTo find the right answer, first you must ask the right questions.

Sounds like something from the Matrix, doesn’t it… or maybe Yoda. And while, on my rougher rise-and-shines, I may look like Yoda, this wisdom is straight-up designer’s mantra. Asking questions is how every great design is born.

When I discuss a new project with a client, we always have a pre-design interview. During this interview, I ask them important questions that help lead me to create not only what they like, but what will be most effective.

In the case of my logo re-design, I am the client. That would make it my turn to answer the questions! A few of those are below. Use them to ask yourself the same, and see if your marketing is matching your needs:

Who is your target audience for this design?
This is an important one! Many business owners forget that the goal is to attract and retain the clients that bring/will bring them the most value. It doesn’t make any difference whether your teenage kids, office staff, or best friends think your designs are “da bomb”, if it turns your best customers away! And let me tell you right now, if you’re trying to please everyone, your marketing is already doomed to mediocrity or just straight-up failure.

As a rough overview, DMT Artistry’s target clientele is small to mid-sized business owners and leaders, male and female, across the United States. These are entrepreneurial-minded presidents and top management that have a vested interest in the growth and success of their companies. They are enthusiastic. They operate on integrity and drive. They are not looking for down-and-dirty, but rather intelligent design. They come primarily from referrals, and secondarily via online search.

What message are you trying to convey with your design?
Part of the answer to this will come from answers to the previous question. But who your business is as a culture will help fill in the blanks.

For DMT Artistry, the message includes: energy, artistry, creativity, professionalism, uniqueness and warmth. It will be my goal to turn these general descriptors into a message that’s uniquely DMT, and then that message into a visual representation – my logo.

Sounds intense? It is! But that’s half the fun!

When is your goal launch date for this design?
What’s the point in tackling this process, if you need a logo tomorrow? A realistic timeline is crucial.

Right now, because the fate of my office decor and future marketing materials rests heavily on my logo re-design, I’d love to complete it in a month’s time. However, I did say “realistic”, and as my own re-branding must tuck into the cracks of my existing project schedule, 2 months is a more reasonable estimate.

Your turn…
Have you been asking yourself these questions about your own design projects as you read? Try it, and let me know what you discover!

Note: My next blog will post two weeks from now. ‘Til then, hope business keeps you hopping!

“Do or do not… there is no try.”  ~Yoda

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

Logo Inspiration

1 06 2012

Designing a logoI’m in the midst of one of the most thrilling, frustrating, illuminating, time-consuming, tear-jerking, soul-searching, INTENSE experiences of branding (or re-branding) a company – conceptualization (read: brainstorming) of the logo design.

I cringe when I hear that a logo was born fast-food style at the clumsy hands of cousin Earl, career couch potato with a laptop. That’s like saying, “oh, yeah, I’m having my handyman wire up some braces for my kid’s teeth – he’s already got wire, glue and pliers.”

If you, like me, think of your business as your child, don’t let a non-professional within a mile radius of your logo design! This foundational branding mark is the representation of your company, your products and services, your future success, your image, your corporate culture, your staff and, yes, YOU. Treat it all like the gold mine that it is, and get it done right the first time.

Soapbox stashed safely back in the closet, I just wanted to provide you with one of my favorite sources of logo inspiration – a website entitled “Logo of the Day“. This site is updated – what else? – daily with fresh new designs and long-standing icons. The comments below each logo often provide useful insight as to why a logo design does or does not work.

So, back to the drawing board for me, but strap your camera around your neck, your fanny pack around your waist, your tourist hat on your head, and take a stroll around Logo of the Day for ideas and motivation!

Good design keeps the user happy, the manufacturer in the black and the aesthete unoffended.”  ~Raymond Loewy

Next Week: Topic to be determined

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

To a Greater Purpose: The Not-Quite-Finished Mission Statement

28 03 2012

Finding your Mission StatementHave you ever purchased a critical piece of furniture – like a couch, perhaps, or a kitchen table – that gave you goosebumps at the store but, at home, didn’t quite match your original vision? Maybe it really is perfect. Maybe it’s not. A little cohabitation is what it takes to decide whether it’s truly “the one”.

That’s where I currently stand with my Mission Statement. After months of jotting notes and pondering purpose, I certainly have the vision of what I want to impart. However, distilling the essence of DMT Artistry into a few short lines is a much trickier process.

I’ve discovered that a slightly longer time frame is just what the doctor ordered for such an essential element of my re-branding.

Learn from my over-eagerness, readers.

My most recent Mission Statement draft is below. Over the next month or two, I will be working with and testing it to see if this is, indeed, the correct blend of homing device, moral compass, guiding beacon, call to arms, inspiration and reason for existence for DMT Artistry, LLC.

Reading this, would you choose to work with my company?

DMT Artistry, LLC Mission Statement

DMT Artistry, LLC is a professional graphic design and marketing team with personality. We produce reliably exceptional, creative and intelligent design through a process that is both enjoyable and educational for our clients. We are committed to behaving in a highly moral and ethical manner with our clients and our team. DMT Artistry is known as a company that, without exception, remains on task, on time and on budget.

DMT Artistry, LLC partners with business owners who are personally committed to the growth of their company. We use marketing tools that represent their products and services with integrity. Our clients love doing business with us.

Getting There

My process for getting to this point was anything but linear. Scraps of napkin and envelope “notes” have pile up from blinding flashes of inspiration. And, over the past several months, I’ve also kept pages of ponderings regarding DMT Artistry’s purpose and vision. I also used the Q&A resource on Entrepreneur.com, “How to Write Your Mission Statement”, to delve even further into DMT’s foundations.

Next, I compiled the lot, took a highlighter, and went to town capturing the phrases and concepts that I believe best represent my business – things like: “reliably exceptional”, “integrity, creativity and fun” and “transparency and trust”.

I filtered those down further into an initial Mission Statement, made significant adjustments using the phenomenal feedback of family and associates, and ultimately formulated the above.

Your Turn

Whether it’s halfway done, barely started or completely finished, let’s hear YOUR Mission Statements!

“If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.”  ~ Buddhist saying

Next Week: “The Tagline: Let’s Give ’em Something to Talk About”

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

Ground Zero: The Perfect Mission Statement

21 03 2012

DMT Artistry, LLC - BrandingWhen the branding bug bites, it bites HARD.

I can’t wait to redesign DMT Artistry’s logo. And it will be terrific to give my website a full makeover. While I’m at it, I’m itching to design must-have DMT apparel, print portfolio cards, manage my SEO, acquire a QR code, rethink my invoice layout, re-record my phone message, start Facebooking like I mean it, address pricing, attend events, print company greeting cards…

*deep inhale*

But before I can successfully tackle any – or all – of the above, I need to have nailed down what DMT Artistry’s purpose is, how I’m going to make it happen and how I want my business to be perceived. That’s the core of any branding campaign. And that’s where a Mission Statement comes into play.

DMT Artistry, LLCWhat is a Mission Statement?
Think of your Mission Statement as your company’s soul or, better yet, its conscience. And as Jiminy Cricket so wisely warbled, “Always let your conscience be your guide.”

A Mission Statement explains to you, your staff, your customers and your industry what your business stands for. It sums up your goals, values, culture and business relationships. It is the functional figurehead of your company.

There are no one-night stands in the Mission Statement world –  it’s married to your company for the long-haul. Your Mission Statement will hopefully be as relevant in 10 years as it is in 10 days. Consistency is the hallmark of successful branding, and here’s where you set the bar.

DMT Artistry, LLCWhat Goes into a Mission Statement?
There are some phenomenal online resources out there to walk you through how to create your Mission Statement. Here’s the one I’ll be using to show you my Mission Statement thought process next week (via Entrepreneur.com):

How to Write Your Mission Statement

DMT Artistry, LLCInternal v. External Mission Statements
Reality check. Most of us are in business for profit or have, shall we say, less P.R.-friendly purposes that drive our organization. How do we include those – a very real and valid part of why our business exists – in a Mission Statement, without sounding like an ogre?

Simple – make two. One Mission is for internal company use, and one is for the public. My favorite example of this comes from Canon Photocopiers (2000):

Canon External Mission Statement: …Canon seeks to grow and prosper over the next 100, or even 200 years, and is committed to becoming a truly excellent global company who’s admired and respected by the world… (Read the full Canon Mission Statement HERE.)

Canon Internal Mission Statement:  Kill Xerox

For the purposes of this blog series, I’ll be focusing on the External Mission Statement.

DMT Artistry, LLCWho Should Write Your Mission Statement?
Listen – not everyone is Oscar Wilde, so if you need to call in the special forces to help you word your Mission Statement… no problem. However, this is THE FOUNDATION for your future success. You, your associates, your employees and perhaps even your family and close friends should be integrally involved in the process. You are the ones who know your company best.

DMT Artistry, LLCWhy Write a Mission Statement?
If all of the above hasn’t sold you completely on the importance of the Mission Statement, here are two more benefits to bear in mind:

1)  Your Mission Statement gives you a fantastic tool by which to measure your progress and successes.

2)  When you’re facing a tricky question or dilemma, use your Mission Statement as a compass. If an answer or resolution doesn’t hold with your Mission, it’s gotta go.

DMT Artistry, LLCSample Mission Statements from Top Companies
Need inspiration? Check out MissionStatements.com for Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 Mission Statements. Clearly they did something right; learn from them!

Just remember that not only does your Mission need to be entirely unique to be meaningful (and legal), it also needs to be something that you stand 200% behind.

DMT Artistry, LLCDMT Challenge of the Week
Nature of the beast – this won’t be a fast process, and you’ll likely make scores of rewrites before you strike gold. So why not start now?

I challenge you to present your Mission Statement next week, when I unveil mine!

Bonus reading: “How to Write a Mission Statement That Isn’t Dumb” – Nancy Lublin, FastCompany

Next Week: “To a Greater Purpose: The Finished Mission Statement”

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.