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A Cake for Our Little…

Yesterday, we had a few friends over for a mini-gender reveal party for our little bun in the oven. I think most gender reveal parties work with the parents-to-be not knowing the sex of the baby either, but Paul and I found out a couple days ago and I baked the cake.  I really just wanted to have people over and celebrate with food. Any excuse to have a dinner party, right? Plus, we needed the cake eating help. *Cue the drum roll* Yup! We're having a girl! Cute girly outfits and adorable nursery projects to come (I'm sure)!
May 24, 2012 - 8:42 am

Alison Lewis - Pretty! Hope you’re well!

May 24, 2012 - 5:55 pm

Melissa - Thanks Alison! I’m feeling much better these days 🙂 I hope you’re doing well too!

July 5, 2012 - 8:16 am

How We Spent the 4th » Melissa Crane | Photography, Storytelling & Branding | Atlanta + Worldwide - […] Paul and I have run the race every year since 2008, but this year I sat on the sidelines and watched. I was pretty bummed that I wouldn’t be running in my fifth straight Peachtree Road Race, but I decided to play it safe since we have a little one on board. […]

The In’s and Out’s of Photoshop | Teaching a Workshop

I taught my first Photoshop workshop yesterday at the She Learns Training Center in Duluth, GA to a great group of fellow female entrepreneurs. It's been a few years since I taught design & animation classes back in college, so it was fun to get up and teach in front of a group again. We spent most of the time going through a few exercises in Photoshop - I believe the best way to learn is to just do what you want to learn, and then practice, practice, practice. So, we cropped, rotated, changed colors of bags and created a simple web banner. I'm not sure what I was explaining here, but "the claw" made an appearance.

(Thanks Rayann of She Learns for the photo!)

From what I heard, people loved the class and got a lot out of it (whew! I was a tad nervous beforehand.) and it looks like we might be putting together another Photoshop class, as well as an Illustrator class in the next couple months. So, yay! Stay tuned.
May 28, 2013 - 4:58 pm

The In’s and Out’s of Photoshop | Teaching a Workshop | DotDot Interactive - […] Read more about the class here on my blog. […]

Marketing Your Brand

Last weekend was spent in Birmingham at FoodBlogSouth, meeting and learning from some incredible people. Old-Car-Heaven-Birmingham-Alabama-cars>Here are a few tips that I picked up during the "Marketing Your Brand" session with Lisa Ekus, Hélène Dujardin and Hanson Watkins. Brand = Value + Perception A brand is.... - a name, a term and a symbol. - what defines one seller's goods and services from another. - the personality and perception of the service. - easy to remember - something that transcends trends - what builds customer loyalty - your unique selling point - a promise. - A tagline is as much for you and your business as it is for your customers. A great tagline will help you stay focused. These are some great things to keep in mind both while developing your brand and while you are building & running your business.

Telling Stories and Buying Cars

Branding is all about telling a story. A brand is not only the products that a company sells, it includes the customer's entire experience with the brand, from the website to the television commercials to the store where the products are sold. People make judgements about brands and companies in a matter of seconds (a great read on this: Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink). We make a decision on brands, products and organizations almost instantaneously and then stick to that decision no matter what information may try to prove them wrong. And the thing is: you never know what part of your story will strike a note with someone and get their attention. A couple weeks ago, we got into a pretty bad car accident and one of our cars was totaled. So, whether we liked it or not, it was time to go car shopping. First place we stopped at was a Nissan dealership, a bit on a whim because I had been (not so) secretly eying the Nissan Xterra for a little while now. Plus, I had some great experiences when driving Nissan vehicles in the past. As soon as we parked and got out of our car, we were greeted by a car salesman who immediately struck us as overbearing and pushy. At that split moment, we decided that there was no way we would buy a car here. We had our mind made up before we even started looking at cars. Our instincts were further confirmed when the salesman continued to try and push us to look at cars and even talk to his manager when there were clearly no used cars on the lot we were interested in. So we left. Without even opening a single car door. And now, with a tainted impression of the Nissan brand. Next up was a KIA dealership. But when we drove onto the lot, we practically got stuck in a corner because of a packed and difficult to drive through parking lot, being made worse because of a woman who had her car sitting in reverse and would not move for about 10 minutes. So before we even got out of our car, we already had a bad experience. That, paired with my impressions the quality of KIA cars, had me thinking that I didn't want one of these cars. But after looking at a few of their crossovers (the interior was nice!), we even went for a test drive. However, one of their salesmen rode in the car with us. Because of that, I never felt comfortable driving the car. So away we went, sans car, again. Plus, when I think "KIA" visions of dancing hamsters come to mind. Finally, we made our way to the Hyundai dealership. Before even stepping foot on the dealer's lot, we already had good impressions of the Hyundai brand: - Our totaled car was a Hyundai - Our current rental car is a Hyundai - Our past rental cars that were Hyundai drove well, and we enjoyed them. When we got out of our car to look around we weren't immediately pounced on by a salesman. We were greeted, but then allowed to look around on our own before asking someone to open the cars so that we could look around. Our salesman had some sort of Caribbean accent, which was perfect for me and my love of the islands. He was also honest, laid-back and didn't push us at all on a sale. When we went to test drive the Hyundai, we were just given the keys and told to bring back the car in about a half hour or so. Since Paul and I were in the car by ourselves, we were relaxed and free to chat about the car without someone breathing down our necks. In the end, which car do you think we purchased?

Hello, Beautiful.

Shopping for and buying this car was a perfect example of how branding (and by that, I mean the entire customer experience) can affect what a consumer will purchase. How can you implement some of these points into your own company's branding?

A Glimpse of my Childhood Hometown

These few shots have been a long time coming. I've had the idea in the back of my mind for a while now, to photograph the buildings in my hometown of Radford, Virginia, but I always seemed to forget or the cold weather would keep the Southern belle in me snuggled up inside next to the fireplace. Luckily this year, the weather in Radford was perfect for walking around and taking some photos. As small as this little city is there are some charming buildings along Main Street, so that's where Paul and I headed with camera in hand. It's amazing looking at my hometown from a different perspective now that we live in Atlanta and only manage to visit Virginia once a year at Christmas time. The little brick building below used to be a piano/music school, where I took my first piano classes. Incredibly cool clock in downtown Radford, in front of one of a few building murals. I just absolutely love the murals of old advertisements on the sides of the buildings. Just adds that extra something to a small town. Photos of Radford would not be complete without a few shots at an old train depot. The city of Radford got its start as a railroad town back in the 1850s, when the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad came through, and it became a railroad town - due to the large number of trade and business that came to the area because of the train depot. The passenger train stopped running through the city back in 1971, but there are still many freight trains that make their way through. There's your quick glimpse at my childhood hometown of Radford, VA. Maybe next time I come visit I will try and make my way to some places where I spent most of my time: the high school, a few restaurants and the tennis courts.
December 26, 2011 - 2:12 pm

A Glimpse of my Childhood Hometown: Radford, Virginia | Dash of East - […] a few more photos of the town and a quick (I promise!) history lesson on Radford, visit my photography blog. If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my RSS feed or follow me on Facebook or Twitter: […]

October 11, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Megan Plott - I’m from Radford, too! Thanks for sharing these great pictures of our quaint hometown.

November 14, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Melissa - Thanks! I recognize your name, Carrie Plott and I were in the same graduating class. It’s fun visiting Radford every now and then 🙂

Would You Run for These Views?

After my recent five month long ordeal with plantar fasciitis, I have finally started to run again. Right now, we're in the midst of some wonderful fall weather here in Atlanta and I couldn't ask for better running temperatures... or views! I usually do run with my cellphone secured in my running belt for safety purposes, but today I decided to slow down a bit to enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves and snap a few camera phone photos during my run. Alpharetta's Greenway is just lovely this time of year and instead of focusing on how far and fast I could run today, I looked up and enjoyed the multicolored foliage. This is why I pry myself out of bed every morning: For these views. Now, what am I going to do once winter gets here? Oh well, I guess I will worry about that in a few weeks.

Photos taken on an Android phone and edited in Photoshop.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

The couple of days that we were able to spend in Rocky Mountain National Park were pretty amazing. The landscape is breathtaking - especially for this Georgian who sees mostly flat land. But, my favorite part was the wildlife, especially the elk herds. They are just such magnificent animals. As long as you keep a decent distance from them, they pretty much ignore people and just go about their business. I just wish we had more time to spend at the park observing the scenery and the animals. For more details on our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit my post at Dash of East.

Why Logo Design Should Cost more than $99

In order to understand the cost of have a logo designed, we need to talk about what is in a logo - why it is a vital part of your business. A logo is designed for immediate recognition of your business, it is meant to inspire trust, people should be able to look at your logo and understand something about your company. A logo also serves to set you apart from other businesses in the same market as yours. A few reasons why a logo is so important: 1. It is the first impression people get of your business. 2. It needs longevity and originality. 3. It is the starting point of your entire business brand. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you know how incredibly saturated the wedding photography market is. When a bride is looking through dozens of photographers' websites, don't you want another way to set yourself apart from the other guys? Sure, your photography has to be top notch, but if a bride is looking through at least 10 photography websites per day, all of the photos start to blend together, and unless your business name is very memorable, all of the business names start sounding the same. Trust me on this one. In this case, having a great logo and brand can do wonders for you. These are only a few reasons why logo design is so important and should not be taken lightly. So, why would you risk having no logo or settling with a cheap logo design? The design of something so important to the brand of your company doesn't magically happen overnight. There is a process: 1. Planning: The designer has the client fill out a questionnaire or conducts an interview with the client to get details about your company and mission. 2. Research: The designer researches the client's industry and market: its history, its competitors, the things that the client's customers value, logo designs that have been successful in the client's market, and more. 3. Design: The designer takes the information that they have gathered and develops logo design concepts. 4. Presentation: The designer presents logo design options to the client. 5. Revisions: The designer takes the feedback from the client to finalize the logo 6. Celebration: We all celebrate the birth of a new brand. Hooray! So, how much does the design of a logo cost? It is nearly impossible to answer without more details of the project. Most designers will have a starting price for logo design and then will give the client a customized logo depending on how many revisions there are and the amount of research required before designing the logo.