Graphic Design

NEA's Open Call for Logo Design Builds Awareness  Improves UnderstandingEarlier this week, National Endowment for the Arts(NEA) chairman Rocco Landesman announced the NEA’s open call for a new logo design to convey its focus (tagline?), “Art Works.”

Designers, you’ll find the RFP here, The deadline is February 26th,with the winner gets $25,000. Much better than the take from typical design crowdsourcing ops like

The announcement, made to students at Miami’s architecture and design high school, gave the NEA a wonderful chance to take center stage. That’s an opportunity usually left to the programs it funds. Landesman described the NEA’s needs here:

These two words – “art works” – pretty much sum up everything we are about at the NEA and I hope you will see them everywhere. Art, artists, and arts professionals work to change the communities they inhabit: they are placemakers and help create livable, sustainable, complete communities. I look forward to having a logo that conveys that.

You know that contests are all the rage — from America’s Giving Challenge to Chase Community Giving — but this is an interesting amalgam of contest, crowdsourcing and flat-out PR. I think it’s a brilliant communications campaign. Here’s why:

  • Most of us only have a vague idea what the NEA actually is and does. This contest is a powerful platform for Landesman and colleagues to build understanding of its value.
  • Art Works is the NEA’s thoughtfully-conceived brand. They’ve done the planning to ensure that its relevant and this contest is a wonderful way to build its network of messengers.
  • And it’s news (new, time sensitive), so will be spread by traditional and non-traditional media (like me).
  • The contest gives the NEA to talk about itself this week, while the submissions are coming in, at the deadline and when a winner is selected. That’s several points of entry into the news cycle.

I’ll be tracking the coverage and response this campaign generates for the NEA, and will share back with you. Meanwhile, what’s your take on this strategy? Does it work for you?…

NOTE: Please read the comments section. AIGA has come out strongly against this practice of soliciting graphic design work on spec

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies like this one and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications | 4 comments
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Good Things Come in Small Packages Put a Favicon to Work for Your Nonprofit Definition
A favicon (short for favorites icon) is a small graphic or icon associated with a website or blog.  It appears when you type a URL into your address bar, on the tab of your web browser and in your favorites list.

Often overlooked, this tiny graphic packs a visual punch and is a simple way to reinforce your brand (or at least your graphic identity) online.  Here are the benefits of putting a favicon to work:

  • Improved usability – Users can easily indentify your website in their favorites list or when multiple tabs are open.
  • Increases recognition – When your favicon is consistent with the look and feel of your org’s graphic identity, your website or blog will be instantly recognized as coming from your organization.
  • Professional touch – Favicons are becoming a standard of online design.

Here are a few examples of organizations with striking favicons:

rwjf Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

nothingbutnets Nothing But Nets

about  Nonprofit Charitable Orgs

How to Create a Favicon
Creating a favicon is simple.  Keep in mind that a favicon should reflect your brand.  If your logo does not scale down to a small size, you’ll need to come up with a design that complements the look and feel of your organization’s website and other communications.

Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial on favicon creation and implementation using Photoshop.  Alternatively, use this online favicon generator to create one for your site.

Flickr photo: migs212

P.S. Don’t miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today .

Amy Kehoe in Branding and Messages, Graphic Design, High-Impact Websites, Web/Tech | 0 comments
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Worth a 1,001 Words Thanks to Fast Company for highlighting this fantastic example of effective graphic communication. Take a look here to digest the entire poster, then move quickly to hide your bottle of water under your desk.

More seriously, this is graphic communication at its finest. I learned (and retain) more about the detriment that bottled water production contributes to our world (and our health, in some cases) in five minutes here than I ever would have in digesting a few paragraphs of text.

Graphics are a definite advantage in making complex and/or dense information (the kind nonprofits have lots of) more accessible and memorable. And my graphic learning experience is making me think hard about how I can help client orgs communicate more effectively via non-traditional graphics.

How are you using graphic information to complement your narrative content? Please share your experiences with the Getting Attention community in the Comments field below.

BTW, here’s an incredible resource for visual definitions of complex concepts. My six year old adores this one.

P.S. Don’t miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy | 2 comments
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Reader Favorites to Power Up Your Nonprofit Communications in 2010This year saw the explosion of social media, online video and mobile content. We’ve friended, tweeted and absorbed more content on the web in 2009 than ever before. This means there’s more content competing for your audiences’ attention, so getting the basics right is an absolute imperative.

Take a look at this list of 2009’s most popular Getting Attention articles for insight into mastering your core marketing components in 2010 and beyond.

1. This Creative Brief Template Helps Ensure Powerful Copy and Design

Taking the time and energy to craft a thorough summary of your goals, preferences and needs for a writing or design project will save time and money, and ensure you get the results you envisioned.  This article and template give you everything you need to succeed.

2.  Nonprofits’ Most Missed Marketing Tool — Email Signatures

Crafting your email signature to feature key information about your organization is a simple and inexpensive way to communicate your message to your contacts. Read this article to learn what works best.

3.  How to Design an Effective Marketing and Communications Budget (Case Study)

More than ever, it’s vital to have a plan and budget to guide and support your marketing efforts.  Dive into this article to learn how to outline a budget that will help you accomplish your goals.

4.  5 Steps to Great Graphic Design for Your Nonprofit

Finding the right graphic designer or team is challenging. But now there’s help: This article breaks the selection process down into five easy steps for developing strong relationships with the right designers. This is a proven path to design work that conveys the essence of your org while captivating your audiences.

5.  How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read

A letter to the editor is great alternative to a news story for nonprofits, giving your org the chance to state an opinion, offer an alternative viewpoint, or move someone to action, in your own words. Here are 10 proven guidelines for letter to the editor success.

P. S. Don’t miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Flickr photo: go-mel


Amy Kehoe in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Copywriting, Getting Attention, Graphic Design, Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation, Recommended Resources | 1 comment
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Earthjustice Packs a Visual Punch -- Picture Worth 2,000 Words

Take a good hard look at this stellar example of a picture worth far more than 1,000 words.

Believe me, this approach is a welcome reprieve for your network from the endless narrative they're fed from most organizations. Visuals (especially photos) tell more of a story so facilitate the learning process, and are easier to remember and associate with facts. Plus photos like this one pull heartstrings, tweaking emotions as well as reason. We want to make sure these adorable kids in grass-stained jeans stay okay.

Dare to try something different. Replace some of the content you're crafting today with a photo or other visual. Your network will appreciate it, and respond accordingly. Just ask Earthjustice.

P.S. Be first on your block to get soon-to-be-released 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report when you subscribe to the Getting Attention e-update.

Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Taglines | 0 comments
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99Designs -- Get a New Logo for a Bargain Price
Need a new logo but don’t have much of a budget? Turn to 99Designs to run a design contest sourcing your logo or other design challenge from a vast array of emerging graphic designers.All you need is a clear idea of what you want designed and how much you’re prepared to pay for it.

Here are some current design contests, and here’s how 99Designs works:

  1. Craft your creative brief — The brief articulates all the tough prep work your org needs to do — brand definition, goal, target audiences, etc. My guide to creative briefs includes an easy-to-complete template.
  2. Set your budget — How much is your org to pay the winning designer to purchase their design (aka the prize)? Prize amounts generally range from $100 to $600 depending on the type of design you require.
  3. Work with the designers — Once your design brief has been posted to, designers from around the globe will submit design concepts to compete for your prize. It’s your job to rate the designs and provide feedback to help the designers deliver what you want.
  4. Choose your favorite design — Consider asking your base to weigh in here as well. At the completion of the design contest (which is typically 7 days) you will choose a winning design and pay the designer the prize amount. The designer will send you their completed design along with copyright to the original artwork.

Of course, as with everything communications (and most else), what you get out of it is directly proportional to what you put into it. My friend Brian Reich, co-author of Media Rules, shares this guidance for running a productive 99Designs contest:

  • Comment, comment, comment: The more you comment on submitted designs, the more designs come in, and the better they get. Makes sense, you’re honing your vision so the graphic representations of it are more on target.
  • Be brutally honest.
  • Eliminate the ones you don’t like pronto: That narrows the field and focuses the designers.
  • Guarantee payment: It doesn’t necessarily matter how much (although I’d say $300 is a healthy average for logo design) but
    designers do better work if they know a winning entry gets paid.

Remember though, the more detailed and comprehensive your creative brief, the better the submitted logos will match your org’s vision and needs.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on branding, messages and more featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 13 comments
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Pow Wham Communicating in a Fresh Way Can Bash Through to ConsciousnessDC Jobs with Justice and the Institute for Policy Studies found a refreshing and attention-getting way to communicate on complicated issues in Economic Meltdown Funnies, a comic book about the recent economic crisis.

The comic is indeed comic. But far beyond that, its format is a welcoming way in to a topic that’s confusing and upsetting. It works.

Very reminiscent, actually, of Primo Dinero, my high school intro-to-economics text. Primo was the narrator of a tale of micro-economics on a small island, in comic book format. Believe me, everyone did the reading in that class.

Think about how you can put a comic, or some other non-traditional format to work to get through to your network — on complicated issues or on simple ones that people think they know everything about already so their eyes glaze over.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on branding, messages and more featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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Ask Nancy What's The Best Software for Designing Print MaterialsQ: I've been researching software to use for developing marketing collateral.  I have researched Adobe PageMaker, Illustrator, QuarkXPress and more, but just can't seem to determine the best tool for me, our organization and our marketing goals. 

We currently Microsoft Publisher to design marketing collateral (brochures, one -pagers, etc., but I want to be able to do more with photos and graphics than I am able to do in Publisher. What software, if any, you would suggest for an organization that does not want to hire a graphic artist for all of its marketing needs?
                  — Talia Piazza, Program Coordinator, Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development

NOTE: Since I'm not a graphic designer, I consulted with one of the best — Susan Edwards — on this one.

A: Sue says "Adobe's InDesign is the professional design and layout software of choice these days. It's expensive and powerful (code for 'steep learning curve')."

If you're designing for professional printing, I definitely recommend you learn to use InDesign. Professional offset or digital printers require high quality PDFs in order to create high-quality printed pieces. Publisher and Word just aren't designed to create output for professional printing.

A great way to quickly master InDesign is to dive into these modestly-priced online tutorials at You can sample a few of the Getting Started segments here, at no charge."

P.S. Please send your nonprofit marketing inquiries to Ask Nancy. I promise you that I'll respond to as many of your questions as possible, always sharing the responses with readers of the Getting Attention blog and e-news.

Nancy Schwartz in Ask Nancy, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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Alliance LogoAl Gore and team just launched the We Campaign — the centerpiece of his Alliance for Climate Protection — with a media blast featuring high-impact full-page ads in key newspapers including The New York Times. The campaign is a 5-star model of effective nonprofit marketing.

The simple ad — mostly text with a lot of white space (making it easy for readers to digest), highlighted with the green (but, of course) logo at left — introduced the Alliance’s beautifully simple construct, built on the constitution:

  • No one else can/will solve the climate crisis
  • But you can’t do it on your own
  • You & me (we) are the ones to do it
  • We (our org) will help organize and guide you to…
  • Effectively pressure our political and business leaders to make and maintain critical changes.

The Alliance does a fantastic job of:

  • Appealing to "me," the modus operandi of many of us (and especially Millennials)
  • Simply but clearly connecting multiple "mes" into "we" (they’re using the Web address ""
  • Positioning the Alliance as the critical organizing body, with subject expertise, policy knowledge and relationships, can to guide the "mes" into the vocal force of "we," and to effectively pressure leaders for change.

This last point is a great model for nonprofits who are concerned (as they should be) about displacement by self-created, issue-focused communities of interest (like those building on MySpace or other social media). No better way to engage your base.

I do believe there’s significant value in nonprofit orgs that offer subject expertise, organizing, advocacy and service provision experience, and the strategies to reach and build relationships with key influencers in making systemic, issue-focused change. The Alliance is the first org I’ve seen that’s making that value loud and clear to the climate-concerned community.

PS Take a look at Steven Heller’s insightful analysis of why the We Campaign’s logo works, in yesterday’s Times.

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Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments

How to Make Better Design Choices for Your Nonprofit -- Take this Free Webinar at Your ConvenienceTake an hour to learn all from this comprehensive webinar (training seminar available via the Web) available at no charge from The Communications Network (a professional association of foundation communicators). It’ll give you great value for your 55-minute investment.

Your Challenge–What’s the right medium, message and (especially) design? Nonprofit and foundation communicators alike are constantly working to pinpoint the right medium, the right message, the right design to make the greatest communications impact. However, when it comes to evaluating design, most of us rely on little more than our own taste.

But there is a better way…as graphic artist Charlie Hess shows you in this webinar. You’ll learn:

  • How a few basic page design techniques can make text more readable and interesting (hint, you’ll learn about hierarchy design-wise — the relative importance of each element on the page or screen and how to guide audiences accordingly)
  • Why black-and-white photography may be preferable to color
  • What different choices in typography communicate beyond what the words themselves are saying
  • And much more.

P.S. Remember that this webinar was developed for foundation communicators, to help them make better graphic design choices for their foundations and be more informed advisors to grantees. But it’s very valuable to nonprofits as well, and may give you a toe up in your quest for foundation funding.

Click here to strengthen your design skills in 55 minutes. (Note–you may wish to fast-forward about 6 minutes to the point where the presentation begins.)

While you’re at it, take 15 more minutes to power up your graphic design through these tutorials:

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit communications.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development | 1 comment

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