I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Marketing

New in the Portfolio: Web, Lettering, and Print Items

After putting it off for far too long, I’ve added several pieces — old and new — to my portfolio. As you can see, my work spans a wide range: logo development, hand-lettering and calligraphy, web design, copywriting, brochure design, ad design, and self-mailers. I love my job, and I’m so proud of the work I get to create for such a wide variety of clients and even for my own artistic drive. Hope you enjoy!

Humans Vs. Robots in the Fight for SEO

When it comes to writing content for your website, there are 2 main schools of thought seemingly at odds with one another. Many argue that you should focus on the people reading your content and forget about search engine optimization entirely. They suggest a heavy focus on loading your writing with keywords makes your content too stiff and difficult to understand, resulting in a disconnect from your visitors. But others insist the goal ought to be to focus on search engine robots crawling your site through loading your content with keywords. Their reasoning is that people can’t find your site if search engines don’t, making SEO of utmost importance. In short, the former focuses on human connection; the latter focuses on data alone.

But what if there doesn’t have to be a fight? What if content managed to be good while taking both humans androbots into consideration? What would that look like? What guidelines might inform how you write?

Read more over at Iconography!

On speaking clearly.

Many of us work in specialized industries that all have a unique vocabulary. Since we spend 8 hours of our day working in these unique environments, it’s easy to assume anyone you’re talking to understands your everyday language. But chances are your customers, vendors, clients, and users don’t have the same level of education and experience in your field that you do. Using industry-insider jargon can quickly alienate people you’re trying to reach.

If you want to positively impact your audience, speaking clearly is incredibly important. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your next interaction with someone outside your business.

“Different” isn’t enough.

Occasionally, in both my freelance and office work, I’ve gotten requests from clients to create a design that’s different. “We don’t want to do what our competitors are doing. We want to be different.” Don’t get me wrong. There’s definitely merit to this request. A design that mimics competitors — or is so bland as to be invisible — fails to have a lasting impact. A strong and unique design is always appropriate.

But just being “different” isn’t enough in and of itself.

Sometimes, it can even be disastrous.

So, when is a “different” design just not enough?

Antietam Cable’s Home of the Future Campaigns & Collateral

Antietam Cable Television approached the team at Icon Graphics to create full-page and banner-sized print ads for the local newspaper, matching the minimalistic strong tone of their new TV spots. I was tasked with creating a print strategy for this “Home of the Future” campaign. The client was thrilled with the result.

One of the struggles I had with preparing for the campaign was finding suitable images. They all needed to be easily masked from their backgrounds or have a white background, and be able to work together with other images. A decent chunk of the time spent designing these ads was in selecting and prepping the images. Typographically, I chose to go for high-contrast between Myriad Black or Bold and Myriad Light. I found that this communicated both strength and sophistication, which is exactly the feeling Antietam Cable wanted in their campaigns.

After the ad campaigns were so well-received, Antietam Cable came back to the team at Icon and asked us to redesign all of their collateral materials in the same theme as the ad campaign. This included their cable channel guide, digital phone booklet, services pricing guide, digital phone brochure, digital cable brochure, high-speed internet brochure, business-class services brochure, and business-class services stepped one-sheet inserts. Once again, these designs were successful: the client approved the design, which was created specifically for ease of use for their customers. All around, it was a win-win.

Read more to see the pieces designed for both the ad campaign and the business collateral.

PACK EXPO International / Pharma EXPO Playbook 2014

PMMI approached me to design the exhibitor handbook for their co-located PACK EXPO International Pharma EXPO in Chicago. The theme was once again that of a comprehensive playbook, so sports imagery, bold colors, and clean layout were in order to attractively and intuitively lay out the contents of the book. The copywriter, Kwame DeRoché, provided the visual concept of a locker that holds all the information exhibitors need for the show.

PACK EXPO Playbook 2013

PMMI asked me to come up with a concept & a design for the exhibitor handbook for their 2013 PACK EXPO show in Las Vegas. The theme was a playbook, so I decided to go with a clipboard that would be full of “game plans” for the exhibitors. The clipboard was die-cut and slipped into a slit on the front to keep the booklet closed. PMMI and their exhibitors alike were incredibly pleased with the result.

On positive feedback.

When I received an email from one of their staff offering assistance to me at the end of my trial, I couldn’t just delete it as I normally would. I took the time to thank their staff member for reaching out to me and to let him know that my needs were being met with the free option but I loved the service enough to pay when the time comes.

Why did I do that? I could have just let the email pass. I’m busy, they’re busy — is it even profitable to take up someone’s time when I’m not ready to close a deal?

I think so.