‘Branding’ isn’t about copying corporate rules verbatim

Many professional services companies create marketing materials to provide their clients with relevant information for their business needs. CBIZ Inc. is one of the best in their industry at doing just that and e design has had the privilege of creating the CBIZ MHM Business Tax Planning Guide for the past four years. This Tax Guide serves as a tool to help businesses with growth, investments, estate tax planning and more.

As with all the materials that e design creates for CBIZ (which is a lot!), this Guide follows a vision of branding but is always unique in it’s own right. We created other graphics to tell the story of the Tax Guide which includes an email signature graphic, an email blast announcement and a button for the CBIZ home page.

Several years ago, e design created a Corporate Standards Guide for CBIZ which included the usual branding information: a corporate palette of colors, fonts, logo usage rules, etc. Although the Standards Guide is a vital tool, it also gives us the flexibility to think outside the box and deliver the best design and ideas as possible with each piece of collateral that we produce. This is why we’ve been able to give the Business Planning Tax Guide and so many other communication pieces a unique look while staying true to the CBIZ messaging and mission.

Branding isn’t about copying corporate rules verbatim; it’s about pulling pieces together as a whole to tell a story. Consistency is key when branding many pieces for a single business, but no business should have standards so strict that every piece of communication looks identical. Sounds a little boring, eh? Not to mention the world we live in expects change, excitement and keeping up with the latest trends.

If you’re interested in creating exciting corporate branding materials (no, that’s not an oxymoron in our opinion), don’t hesitate to get in touch. We get our kicks in corporate design! You can tell by looking at our other branding projects we’ve completed over the years. And don’t forget to grab a copy of the CBIZ MHM Business Tax Planning Guide!

CBIZ, Inc. is one of the Top Ten accounting providers in the nation with an impressive 5,200 employees and over 140 offices nationwide. CBIZ provides a comprehensive range of business services that includes accounting services, employee services and much, much more.


Obsessed with Instagram

As a designer I take a LOT of photographs. I’ve downloaded and tried a lot of photos apps over the past few years. Although there are a ton of great ones out there (Hipstamatic, Diptic, ShakeItPhoto to name a few), I became obsessed with Instagram and have Facebook and tweeted my love for the app several times.

Instagram shot of Screenstagram screen saver on my MacBook Pro

Instagram makes taking photos and sharing them extremely easy on the most social platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, Posterous and even good ol’ email. Just like Twitter and Facebook, you can choose to keep your Instagram account open for the world to see or keep it locked for privacy.

I love the app so much that in April I co-curated a show in our Designbox gallery called “Greetings from Raleigh” which featured professional shots of Raleigh and tons of Instagram photos from local Raleighites.

There are a lot of cool products that are being made with Instagram’s API. Recently, I found a service called Postagram that prints (and ships!) postcards of your Instagram photos from the web or your iPhone (I am seriously considering using Postagram postcards for my Christmas cards this year). I placed an order and when my postcard arrived, it was high-quality, printed on thick, glossy paper and had perforated edges around the photo so the person that receives the postcard can pop out the 3 x 3 inch photo and have it as a keepsake.

Instagram gallery show at Designbox

Another VERY cool thing I stumbled upon this week is a screensaver called ‘Screenstagram‘ (developed by Barbarian Group). It displays your photos, your friends photos and photos from the Instagram “popular feed” (a great way to find new people to follow!).

I’ll keep posting new and exciting Instagram services when I find them. In the meantime, check out the app, the postcards and the screensaver so you can obsess about Instagram as much as I do. Please let me know if you find other Instagram products by leaving a comment. Instagram-on, friends!


WordArt Wars – April 13

Last week I tweeted about how I’m often asked to “design” in Microsoft Word. I put design in quotes because as you probably know, Word doesn’t have the greatest reputation for being a strong design program. My good friend Victoria (@veemoe) saw my tweet and created this quick piece of “art” (again, “art” in quotes).

With that, #WordArtWars was born on twitter.

I realize there are many people that are forced to use Word daily in their businesses and I feel your pain. I also realize that Word is an essential tool and mostly universal so it’s often the go-to program when creating business documents.

Hopefully, after seeing the ridiculous things that you can create with this program, it will lessen the pain and give you a few laughs.

Below are submissions I’ve been sent by twitter friends–or created myself–over the past few weeks. Feel free to submit your own “art” (be sure to “at” me @erinedesign) and enjoy!



Hellooooooo. I’m ecstatic to have the new e design website launched and have this much-needed space to talk about why design makes me so happy and how I believe it’s an essential part of our lives. I hope you enjoy my insights, random inspiration and trends. Hence the name of this blog. Happy creativity!


What does your business need?


  • What is your next brilliant product?
  • Where is your next big success?
  • Which competitive advantage can you sustain?
  • What new markets will you conquer?
  • How much profit can you predict?

  • Growth, we all have learned, is no longer automatic. The past has less to teach us than we need to know. Consumers are jaded, markets fragmented and disposable dollars scarce. Risk is everywhere, and pressure produces rigidity, making it difficult to try new things. More than ever, time is our enemy.

    This, as every visionary knows, is a rare moment of opportunity: one that rewards creativity and compensates companies that have learned to cultivate the brilliance of individuals and instill an effective process for innovation in their corporate cultures.

    Despite commonly held beliefs, real invention is rarely the terminus of a carefully developed brief. It begins before the assignment is written, and is inevitably the difference between efforts that lead to meaningful new ideas and those that produce derivative results. It is an ability to identify inchoate opportunities and see openings where others can’t. Invention never should be saved for problem solving. It should be engaged first to recognize the most rewarding problems to solve. It is not for the faint of heart or narrow-minded.

    Happily, we have a plan.
    It’s called design.

    Design is a profession based on conception: on helping to define an opportunity, then develop a solution that will fulfill it. Subsequently, design includes the identification and management of the team that will bring it to life, whether it is a product, communication, event or place.

    This information has been reprinted with permission from AIGA. AIGA encourages anyone interested to download the booklet “What Every Business Needs” and use it to increase the level of respect and understanding for design.

    The booklet includes a 12 step process by which businesses can create value and market demand through innovation. It is done in partnership with designers.

    If you would like to discus how e design can help your company, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info[at]erinedesign(.)com  (info[at]erindesign(.)com)  .


    Who says print is dead?

    8Faces is a new magazine for devotees of typography. That’s us!

    The more I post (and you read) these blog entries, the more you will realize how obsessed I am with type. This magazine feeds that obsession and I’ve studied both issues they’ve released from cover to cover. Several times.

    This is only the second issues of this beautiful magazine and I did a happy dance when it arrived. It’s printed on heavy stock with a foil-blocked cover, a small run of 2500 limited editions, and is a true collector’s item.

    The magazine has one core question at its heart — if you could only use eight typefaces for the rest of your life, which would you choose? — and poses this (and many others) to eight leading designers from the fields of web design, print design, illustration, and of course type design itself.

    8 Faces is available internationally but each issues sells out quick. Stay up to date with the latest info at I’ll keep you posted when I hear rumblings of another issue coming.

    This makes me way more happy than it probably should. Hooray for type!