Inkspot Graphics Logo

When designing a piece that has alot of corporate sponsors (different logos) I find that it is best to colorize them all the same color so that no one gets more attention than any other company (black & white or grey scale is safe). The sample below illustrates my message. This is a vinyl banner that I created for my client. You see all the logos on the bottom of the poster? Which logo catches your eye first? Well, as long as you are not color blind the Salice logo is the first thing that I see. In fact, it doesn't help the readability of the sign. 

I should have made all these logos green to tie into the design but remember that there are some companies that don't allow you to edit the colors of their logo. Black & white logos would of been a safer choice. Always check first if you are going to edit someone's logo!



Here is a better sample for a local association from SE Portland, OR. They wanted to create a walking map that pointed out various businesses within the community. My suggestion was to color code the different services and then if the business supplied the logo I created them black & white (or grey scale). You will see these logos following their names below.



Published in marketing 101

Black vinyl on windows is unreadable!


This is one tip that I have to pass on that I heard from one of my vendors. He was talking about how windows are considered black and black vinyl is just unreadable on glass. I looked up to my building's sign and said, "Just like that one?" Yup. Can you imagine driving in a car by this front door and totally missing it?

I have included my version for Towne Storage. Not only is it white vinyl with a little stroke of black (that gives it more contrast) but I have the copy stacked so that it haves the impression of an actual building. WOW! Now that really makes sense.



© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101

Biscuits Cafe on Johnson Creek Road in Clackamas, OR.


I was invited to my first Molly's Fund board member interview at Biscuit's Cafe. They are a local chain in the Portland metro area. Their food is consistent and large portions (you could split a normal plate with two other people). Never had a bad meal. 

But this franchise went to the point of putting their PURPOSE right on the wall when you walk in (with the owner's signatures). That tells me that they are going stand behind their food, employees and service. I like that.

To make it one step better would be to show your customers the faces (and their stories) that provide them with the fresh food. 


© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 11:35

A business should NEVER have a busy signal!

follow up to last WOM marketing missed opportunity


I tried calling the Costco optician to schedule an eye glass appointment. The phone was busy…AMAZING! Now, most normal customers are going to call someone else, especially if it is an emergency.

The message should say, "Sorry, for the inconvenience but we would like to respond to your call immediately, please give us your name and phone number. Thank you again for calling Costco's optical department for Dr. Hammmhamma."

It just is a no brainer! Sometimes you get this opportunity only once.


© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101

Have you ever had one of those little damned screws come out from your eye glasses?


Needless to say it is very frustruating! I decided to go to the local Sears store (Optical Dept) and get it fixed before I lost the expensive lens. I was the first customer in the optical department and I don't know if you have ever been there but it usually is fairly slow – even during the Christmas holiday.

The nice woman at the counter asked if I needed any help and told her about my glasses needing to be fixed. She said, "That replacement screw will cost $5.00". I said that would be fine. "It will take me a few minutes, if you want to shop around…". I told her no problem. I wandered into the tool department, half blind. After I killed 10 minutes I walked back into the Optical Dept and the woman said, "I have your glasses fixed but noticed that the nose bridges are worn, did you want me to replace those…it would be another $5-$10? I said, "No thanks, I am going to get them replaced within the next month."

Now how am I going to pass on a good optical business recommendation to Sears? A number of things that she could of done to get my business and tell the world about this great optical business that I love to recommend:

1. The cost of screw and time that it took to fix the glasses wasn't important. They could of said, "We love to do this for you – call it our holiday gift to you…by the way we also replaced your nose bridges…at no cost! Do you have an emergency set of glasses in case it happens again?

2. So, I am half blind without my glasses. It really doesn't do any good have me wandering around the store because I am not going to buy anything. But if they gave me some temporaries I could have gone into the electronic department and watched some television and contemplated about buying a new set.

3. Get an opportunity to introduce yourself and get on a first name basis with the customer. 

4. How long has it been since you have been for your eyes checked? I could have slip you in right now to see the optomotrist and get your eyes checked for a special price of $49.99! That would be convenient since I am waiting and I need to have it done!

Hmm. Your thoughts or suggestions?


© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 11:17

QR code tips

Better have a Smart Phone!

If you are designed any marketing piece with a QR code I recommend that you test it out before you send it out to the masses.


1. Reversing QR Code

I designed a piece where I vectorized the QR code and reversed it so that it was white on a solid color. I would also check when using on colors that have the same hue/value. Result: It doesn't work!



2. Let the user know where it takes them

Like I have in the sample above, "for more info go to our website". It is better to inform and not frustrate.

Please let me know if you have any other QR tips & tricks.


Published in marketing 101
Friday, 30 September 2011 05:34

Favor for Innovative Entrepreneur

Meet Chuck from E-Zee Fence Post Repair.


I got a referral from a friend of mine. I called and I met Chuck at Starbucks. We exchanged business cards and I was trying not to let my jaw hit the ground! I looked at his business card and was frustrated because I didn't know what his logo or product was. He asked me what I thought of it…


There were a couple of problems:

1. I asked him how he picked his company's name "E-Zee Fence Post Repair"


It described the ease of using the product. Unfortunately, there is another company with the name EZ Fence and E-Z Fence products.

* This is a big branding problem if you are trying to sell a product that conflicts with competitor names. Most of the time the buyer will go with the first one that he finds.

2. His company card didn't have a logo that makes product memorable to target market. 

I took some time to explain how branding works for your business. The card that the designer created had three different icons on it. The recycle bug, the fence and the "President's Club" logo.

He explained that his background was in sales and that the designer that he hired basically created the pieces without any reasoning. And billed him $1500.00 to boot!

3. The designer didn't use any bleeds on the card (which normally has the card cut unevenly). It also tells me that he probably had it printed online to cut his costs.

4. Used all CAPS for the long business name. It is harder to read both for print & web.

5. The designer's "Before" business card didn't stick out. I told Chuck that he needed to have a sticker of his brand on the product (I will show in another post). I presented his card with a blue and red logo (which really popped). Chuck didn't want his logo to have that much attention so we compromised on a brown color.


I told Chuck that I would help him out with his branding and all his marketing. I knew that he didn't have very much more money to spend before he went broke, so I put a little time in this project. My goal is to do the right thing and give Chuck some marketing that would help his business and look professional. He has been very happy with his new campaign. Unfortunately, I met with a public relations specialist, Amber Dennis and she told me that Chuck should rethink his whole business name but he couldn't afford to spend anymore time (or money) with branding his product. I did the best with the cards I was dealt and it was a HUGE STEP for Chuck and his business!

My next post will show the brochure that I created for E-Zee Fence Post Repair.

Published in marketing 101
Friday, 01 July 2011 05:59

Marketing Promotion for Local Printer

Mastermind Brainstorm for Local Printers

We were brainstorming marketing ideas for my business during our bi-monthly Mastermind group. One of the members, Terry said that I should come up with a marketing piece for local printers that are struggling in this new economy. I told him that I had a postcard that I designed when I was at Revere Graphics (prepress company in Portland, OR).

Now the printing company could either direct mail these to their existing mailing list or even to new markets. My client, Derek (from Lasko Printing) likes to present something to his client when making sales calls. 


While at my office, I came upon another great concept that may work better than a postcard. I bought these along time ago for creative brainstorming from Roger von Oech. This would be another great option is to have an oversized trading card size that the client could keep in a package that was branded with the Lasko logo. 

I pitched both ideas to Derek and he liked the trading card idea. Now I slowly have to build up all the card/tip designs.


Lasko Trading Card Idea

This is what I came up with. They are a little bigger than playing cards or your business card 3" x 4.5" but printed on a durable 100lb card stock. They have been varnished to keep off finger prints and protect from the wet weather. I also like the die cut rounded corners, it is very subtle but adds a little extra. Very professional!


100+ Different Tips & Tricks

I started to write a list of different subjects/tips that I could write for printers. Here are just a sampling of the subjects that I covered:

prepress techniques


social media for printers

spot vs. four color printing

software tips

direct mail

marketing tips for small businesses

photography tips

creative graphic design tips

digital printing

what to look for at a press check, etc.

It seems almost endless…I could probably write 300 of these tips, if I put my mind to it.


 © 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved



Published in marketing 101
Thursday, 23 June 2011 08:06

Great Brainstorming Idea #1

Great Marketing Idea to Help City with Speeders

I just saw this video. It was amazingly brilliant. Why can't we come up with more contests to deliver great ideas like this?


The Speed Camera Lottery - from


"That’s a question Volkswagen recently posed in a public contest — and the winning entry was the Speed Camera Lottery, conceived by Kevin Richardson of San Francisco. Richardson’s idea, quite simply, is to build a better speed trap. Strategically placed traffic cameras will photograph all passing cars. Drivers exceeding the speed limit are sent tickets, while those obeying it are pooled into a lottery funded by the fines. Every now and then a randomly selected winner is sent a check."



Published in marketing 101
Friday, 17 June 2011 06:08

Web Design - Tips & Tricks #1

I have to show you a sample (on the left below) that I got from a local web developer's website. I was shocked first to see that his site had some major flaws. I know that this would have a huge reaction to his potential target market.


Tip #1 - Spell check, spell check, spell check!

For what it is worth…if you can't afford a copy writer…have two or three friends help you out. It looks very unprofessional and I certainly wouldn't want to use your services if you can't even take that extra step to look good.


Tip #2 - Don't use a complicated design or photo behind your copy!

It really makes it hard to read. Make sure to use a high contrasting color with the background. *Below is a poor choice of color combinations. Go check out some other great sites to see examples of how they use color and type combinations.


Tip #3 - Give a little extra space between lines of copy

(or leading…pronounced leding). Web copy is not like reading a newspaper or magazine, it needs more breath ability. Use a 12 or 13pt type and use 15pt leading. Here is a great article for optimizing your copy for the web.


Why did I write this article? 

This developer worked with me on a project and I knew that this is a HUGE faux pas! It reflects on you & your business. I told him that I would love to help him redesign his site as a tradeout (no cost out of pocket) just to make it look more professional. I still wish that he would of took me up on it but you really can't force people to change.

Published in marketing 101
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    This blog will provide you with examples of my experiences of marketing.  I am a professional educator and story teller.  My goal is to help your company succeed by telling your story.


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Mike is a great designer that has many years of experience in all aspects of design and printing. If you need another source for design work, I would highly recommend Mike.

Jeff F -  Senior Account Executive

(Jeff was also a student of mine at Clark College)