Logo Design News This Week (5.22)

Welcome back for another edition of Logo Design News This Week where we round up the biggest news items from the world of logo design and branding. Here’s what we noticed this past week while we should have been working:

New Lenovo Logo DesignComputer maker, Lenovo, introduced a new logo this week. Having purchased two brands from IBM that experts say are aging (or dying), Lenovo wants to convey an image of innovation. Up to now, they haven’t been known as a hip computer manufacturer. But that may be changing. The new logo is part of that process. The new design is typographic, with no icon. And we have to say, we like it a lot. Very simple. Very strong design.

A follow up to our post last week about Tennessee’s new logo: people hate it. And not just a little. They’re complaining about the budget ($46,000). They’re complaining about the design. They’re complaining about the process of using an agency to create the design. Sometimes when every body hates something, you’ve actually created something worth keeping. If we had to guess, we think people would prefer a logo with mountains and trees. Or maybe a guitar. Or something Elvis-y? But the problem with those approaches is that they are limiting. Not all of Tennessee has mountains. Nor does Nashville represent the whole state. Or Memphis. The beauty of the tag logo is that it can be used with anything related to the state. And as we mentioned last week, the more we look at it, the more we like it. At least they’re not as dumb as the people who want voters to choose Colorado’s state logo. Logos designed to appeal to everyone are bland and will attract almost no one.

Atlanta Hawks Logo DesignThe Atlanta Hawks have a new alternate logo by the looks of it. And from what we’ve seen so far, as usual, fans are taking the opportunity to hate change more than love it. We expect that they’ll come around eventually. Most fans do. Earlier this year the team announced it would return to a modernized version of the “Pacman” logo used in the 80s. And joining the hawks in introducing a new logo this week were the St. John’s IceCaps who play in the American Hockey League. Yeah, we know… hockey. Soccer on ice. With better fights.

Indy 500 Race LogoIn still more sports logo news, the Indainapolis Motor Speedway just unveiled their new logo for the 100th running of their iconic race—the Indy 500. The 100th running of the race will take place next year and the new logo will be part of the promotion efforts. And in our last bit of sports-related logo news, Bicycling magazine has a new logo design.

Another follow up to previous posts: We’ve written several times about the City of Everett’s quest for a new logo. They created a contest that ended up with more than 800 entries, whittled it down to a winner that the town’s people voted on. Then it turned out the winning logo was too much like another logo. So they were going to revise it. But as of now, the project has been put on indefinite hold.

Ampans Logo DesignAmpans, a spanish organization that helps people with learning disabilities introduced an animated logo this week. Although it may be confusing to some who see it in that the logo changes and isn’t the same in all media. We like the charming “funness” of the new design and the hand-drawn lettering. But we suspect that the final design may be a function of not being able to pick a “real” logo that captures the spirit of the organization.

Jeremy Renner showed the world the latest logo for the upcoming movie, Captain America Civil War on his Twitter feed this week. Click through for some cool photos from the set.

Sally Ride Google LogoTo wrap up this week, we were tempted to post Google’s logo celebrating this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, but opted instead to post the logo design celebrating Sally Ride’s 64th birthday. Actually there were five of them.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

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Start a Business — When to Think About SEO

Small Business SEOWhen you start a business, there is so much to do and get right. Recently we’ve written about when you need to start thinking about design. And when you need to think about branding. Today, let’s take a quick look at when you need to start worrying about search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization is one of those things that most small business owners simply don’t think about. But they should.

SEO is the means by which customers will find you online. And there are a lot of moving parts that need your attention.

It starts with your website.

Creating a fantastic website that your customers love is the first step. If your customers have a great experience every time they visit, you’ll do okay. But it’s not the only thing you need to think about.

Ranking near the top of the search engine results is not easy. In fact, for many phrases, it will be impossible. As a small business owner, you simply won’t have the money or time to put into the effort required for this. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize your site.

Even if all you have is a single web page to advertise your business services online, you should work with an online copywriter to make sure your site includes the key words your customers use to find your business. Your copywriter can also help you write title and description tags that your web programmer will use to “optimize” your site for the search engines. They will help you determine the best words to use in your headlines (and H tags). And, if you work with a good writer, they’ll also help you craft conversion-oriented copy and calls-to-action that will encourage your customers to buy your products.

Work with your programmer to make sure that your images are optimized and your site loads as quickly as is possible. Make sure to include contact information and if you sell your product online, make sure you use a secure connection to do it. All of these things affect how Google, Bing and the other search engines find and rank your site.

Next, you’ll want to post a sitemap that will help the search engine bots crawl your site and read what’s there. And you’ll want to pay attention to the structure of your site, if you have more than a page or two. Using key words in your URLs can help the search bots understand what your site is all about. Again, a good programmer will help you with these things.

If you didn’t understand all of that stuff about tags, key words, and bots, don’t worry. A good copywriter (and programmer) will. Ask them. And if they can’t tell you more than what we’ve written here, find one who can. (We’ve barely touched on the basics, there’s a lot more to this stuff and they’ll be the best people to help you.)

If you want to learn more about SEO on your own, there are a couple of excellent guides that can teach you the basics here and here.

Next, you’ll need a few links.

The first few links to your site are easy. You can set up a Facebook page for your business, a Twitter page, and a Google business page. This last one is a must, as Google uses these listings for their local search results. All of these pages allow you to add a link back to your site, which will help the search engines find you. There are companies that specialize in link building and can help you do this. But beware: make sure who ever you hire uses “white hat” link building techniques and watch your budget. Most companies charge around $250 per link—not something most small businesses can afford.

The best way to get links to your site is to put stuff on your website that people want to link to. If you own a restaurant, you might post a few popular recipes. If you’re a plumber, you might post a guide to unclogging pipes or replacing the flush mechanism in a toilet. If you are starting a business that helps people find a job, you could post a guide to writing resumes or the top interview questions your customers might be expected to answer. Then share this information on your Facebook page, your Twitter page, and Google Plus.

At the very least, you need to do these things to give your site a chance of showing up on line when your customers search for you.

There are a lot of other things you can do to attract links to your site, but they take a lot of time and effort. Weekly blog posts (with awesome content customers can’t find anywhere else). Videos, eBooks, Beginner’s Guides and more. But creating this content can be time consuming (if you do it) and expensive (if you hire someone else).

With all the other stuff you have to worry about as your build and grow your new business, SEO probably won’t top the list. If your company is mostly offline, this may not be a problem. But if you are starting an online business, you’ll need to make time or budget for SEO to be a priority. It matters and it may determine whether your startup succeeds.

So, when do you start to worry about SEO? Now. Before you starting writing and programming your website. And if you already have a website, talk to someone who can help you optimize it going forward.

 

Photo credit: SEO Planter.

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11 Quotes for Small Business Owners (and Other Startups) from Debbi Fields

Debbi Fields Startup QuotesYou’ve almost certainly heard her name. But there’s no doubt you’ve tried one of her cookies (or brownies). Today, Mrs. Field’s Cookies are found in virtually every mall in America. But the company hasn’t always been successful. The first day after opening her startup, Debbi Fields had no idea her new business would grow so big—only two customers had walked into her store by mid-afternoon.

So she took to the streets, handing out free samples to everyone she could. She ended up selling about $75 worth of cookies that day. Not exactly a fast start. But thanks to her hustle, the company would grow to over 650 stores in 23 countries and more than $450 million in annual sales.

Debbi and her co-founder, (former husband) Randy Fields, sold the company to an investment group in the early 1990s, but she has stayed involved with her startup as a spokesperson. And she’s been a popular source for quotes about starting a successful business. Here are a few of the things she’s said that other entrepreneurs might be inspired by:

“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

“You do not have to be superhuman to do what you believe in.”

“The most important thing is for you to believe in what you are doing. Absolutely know there are people out there who want to say yes.”

“I’ve never felt like I was in the cookie business. I’ve always been in a feel-good-feeling business. My job is to sell joy. My job is to sell happiness. My job is to sell an experience.”

“Good enough never is.”

“If you’re going to be at a job environment, you should love it. You shouldn’t do it just for money. You should do it because you love it. And the money comes naturally.”

“What I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world that I did best—which I believed then and believe now is the greatest privilege there is. When I did that success found me.”

“The only thing I had was this recipe, and with that recipe was a dream. And those were the only things that I had to build my business: a recipe and a dream. And there was no way, no way, I wasn’t going to see this dream through.”

“The one thing that I think is critical in the entrepreneurial spirit is that it’s all attitude. If you think you can, then you’re half way there. If you say, ‘I can’t,’ then you’re defeated.”

“The American dream is true. It works and it’s possible for everybody. Even the word ‘impossible’ says ‘I’m possible.’”

“When you’re starting out, especially as an entrepreneur, you really don’t know what you’re doing. You go out there and you try so many things. The key in the process, to me, is that you keep trying and you never give up.”

—Debbi Fields, Founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies

 

Photo credit: Wilson County News.

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Logo Design News This Week (5.21)

A three day weekend is upon us, but before you head out the door and kick off your summer celebrations, take a minute or two to read the latest news from the world of logo design. Here’s what we noticed:

New Tennessee State Logo DesignTennessee has a new logo. And people aren’t happy about how much it cost ($46,000). Actually, many of them aren’t happy about the design either, saying it’s too simple and the trite “my 10-year old could have done better.” We’ve shown a few logos designed by 10-year olds in previous editions of Logo Design News This Week and, well, no she can’t. 10-year olds are terrible designers. Now about this logo. It’s not very design-y—a TN on an orange box that feels a bit like part of the periodic table of elements. A lot of people are going to hate it. But as a tag for advertising, it may not be too bad (I’ll withhold judgement until I see said ads). I like the simplicity. It’s not trying to do too much—no mountains, or musical instruments, or civil war icons. And the color has obvious associations with the state’s flagship university. The more I look at it, the more it grows on me. (Sorry about the quality of the logo shown here, it’s from a low-res screen grab—and it’s the wrong color).

New Bountiful City Logo DesignIf Tennessee was looking to avoid controversy, they would have been better off with a logo typical of towns and cities buying new logos. You know the type: mountains with clouds or a sunrise. Sometime with a stream flowing out of a green canyon. Something like the new logo announced for Bountiful City. This is an appealing logo and most city residents will probably like it. But it’s not original. And it won’t stand out from all of those other city logos we’ve seen over the years. It’s certainly better than Odessa’s new logo. Though not as unique as Boone County’s new look.

New Irish magazine Oh! was forced to change its name to #Oh, when the publisher of OK! said the name and masthead were too close to their own. They’re probably right.

New Pirate Bay Logo DesignSeems like we write about a new logo for Pirate Bay about every six months or so. And this week, when Sweden shut down their .se site, they popped up with several new URLs where fans can download their ill gotten goods. Channeling their inner Obi-wan Kenobi (who famously said, “if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”) the new site has a new logo featuring a hydra (and several new TLDs), which grows two new heads every time one gets cut off. The new logo is an obvious finger in the eye of the authorities who have been trying to fight Pirate Bay for years now.

New Wonga Logo DesignSpeaking of pirates… British lender, Wonga, launched a new marketing campaign complete with a new logo this week. The campaign is designed to address criticisms the company has received for predatory lending practices. The new logo is a nice evolution of the previous mark, with friendlier type—though personally I like the older font better. Not a bad update overall. Fun fact: wonga is a Gypsy term for money. Unfortunately, Newcastle United, which is sponsored by Wonga, didn’t get the memo. They unveiled a new kit (uniforms to those of us in the states) with the old logo on them. Doh!

Logo controversies: the University of Arizona has forced Jonathan Alder High School in Ohio to stop using its logo. But that’s better than the controversy at Robert Smalls High School in South Carolina. Their new logo is racist (or so some claim).
University of Northern Colorado Logo DesignBucking the trend in sports logo getting meaner in order to scare opponents, the University of Northern Colorado unveiled a nicer looking logo this week. The new mark is a big improvement, especially the typography, which is considerably more clean, though still very collegiate looking. We like this update.

Hungarian budget airline, WizzAir, has a new logo design unveiled this week. The new look accompanied the airline’s 11th anniversary.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. Then have a nice Memorial Day weekend.

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Start a Business — When to Worry about Branding

StartupA few weeks ago we wrote a bit about when you need to start thinking about design as you work on your startup. That post covers stuff like when you need to get a logo and hire a designer (if you need to do those things at all). If you go back and read that post, you’ll see that there isn’t a right answer for every situation. The importance of design depends on the kind of business you are starting.

But branding is a different story.

It doesn’t matter what kind of startup you are working on, you need to worry about your brand from day one.

First, let’s be clear about one thing: your logo design is not your brand.

Your logo is part of the visual design that supports and represents your brand. But this isn’t what we are talking about when we say you need to worry about (and work on) your brand from the beginning.

So what is a brand?

We like how David Aaker defines it in his book, Aaker on Branding:

“Far more than a name and logo, it is an organization’s promise to a customer to deliver what the brand stands for not only in terms of functional benefits but also emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits. But a brand is more than delivering on a promise. It is also a journey, an evolving relationship based on the perceptions and experiences that a customer has every time he or she connects to the brand.”

Or put another way, your brand is your business. Every interaction a customer has with your product or service impacts their experience with you. Whether it is seeing your logo or speaking with an employee on the phone. Your brand includes product features like prices and packaging—is it cheap or expensive? Does it come in bulk or is it one-of-a-kind? Is it exclusive or a commodity?.

Your brand is impacted by where people find your product and by the other people who use it—is it sold with other cheap or expensive items? Do customers want to be like the other people who use it?

Your brand includes your customer’s experiences—does the product work as promised? Does it last as long as customers expect? Does it deliver the benefit the customer is seeking?

And, yes, it includes your design—do the colors on your packaging and logo support the brand’s promise? Do they make people crave it? Or does it turn them off?

If you don’t think about this stuff (often called brand properties, brand personality, and brand attributes), it will still happen. Your brand will grow out of different, unrelated decisions that may contradict each other and create a brand that doesn’t effectively “stand” for anything in particular.

For example, let’s say your product is a pair of sunglasses. You spend a lot time with a product designer to create something unique. You choose a name and brand story that luxury customers can relate to, and even better, want to buy. The brand is aspirational and expensive.

Then, as you are figuring out how to go to market, you make a connection with a buyer for a discount chain who offers to sell your brand in their stores. They can guarantee hundreds of thousands of sales. You’ll make a lot of money.

Tiffany's BoxBut while that opportunity has a lot going for it, that single decision will impact your brand. And if you are building a luxury brand, selling it in discount outlets will contradict the luxury brand position you have worked to establish. You simply can’t sell exclusive luxury items at high prices in convenience stores and discount retailers—at least you can’t do it and maintain your luxury brand position.

It’s the reason you can’t buy a Porshe from a Honda dealer. Or cheap costume jewelry at Tiffany’s.

It doesn’t matter what kind of brand you are developing. You need to think about what attributes you should support and emphasize with everything you do as you build your company.

Ready to start a business? Start working on your brand from day one.

And if you didn’t start then, start now.

 

Photo credits: Tim Geers and Samantha Celera.

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9 Quotes for Startups and Small Business from Slideshare Co-founder, Rashmi Sinha

Rashmi Sinha Startup QuotesAfter Rashmi Sinha earned her PhD in cognitive neuropsychology, she thought she would spend her career in academics. But the pace of research was too slow, and she wanted to work on something with a bigger impact, so she switched paths and started her own user-experience consultancy. Her first startup was Uzanto where she worked on user experience for eBay, Blue Shield and other big companies. She also created MindCanvas, a software product that helped conduct customer research in a sort-of gamified way.

However, Ms. Sinha and her partners realized that while MindCanvas was a good product, and popular with their users, it wasn’t ever going to be huge. So they brainstormed ideas for a new startup and came up with SlideShare, which they built and launched in about four months. Unlike MindCanvas, Slideshare was an almost instant hit. Less than six years later, the team sold the company to LinkedIn for just under $120 million. Today SlideShare has more than 16 million registered users and nearly 60 million unique visitors a month. (You can see our SlideShare presentations here).

Ms. Sinha was named one of the World’s Top 10 Women Influencers by Fast Company in 2008. And she’s a great proponent of creating a minimal viable product, launching it to the world, seeing how customers react, then learning from it. As she said in one interview, “Half baked is a strategy.” Here are a few more things Rashmi Sinha has said that might inspire other entrepreneurs:

“Focus on what you do well, for your customers. Do that better, do it for more people. Differentiate yourself. Competition is a good thing. It makes things better for the customers. It gives them options. Stop being afraid of it, and focusing on it at the expense of focusing on your strengths.”

“…that’s one thing that I have learned, is to ‘never be afraid’. Just you know, just go ahead and do it, and if it’s incorrect, if it’s wrong, you’ll just draw from it, you’ll change it, if you move fast enough you’ll have time to change.”

“A founding vision for a startup is similar to a scientific hypothesis. It’s an articulation of a relationship between a product and a market… The first version of the product [is] a test of this hypothesis. The goal of the Minimum Viable Product should be to test the founding vision or initial hypothesis. You need to be open to different answers—the answer might be a yes, a qualified yes, or a no. By framing the founding vision like a hypothesis, you remain open to multiple answers.”

“…if somebody is paying money for the thing that you have built, it’s really the ultimate compliment for your product. People will sit and use your product for free, but if people are paying for it, that’s really saying that [you] have succeeded.”

“I did not particularly set out to be an entrepreneur or dream of it. However, I always wanted to do something that would drive myself to be independent and do things my own way.”

“At the end of the day, it [does] not matter how scrappy you are if your product is not great and if you are not growing fast. So the trick is knowing what to spend on (great developers, designers, good hardware) and what to skimp on (marketing, PR).”

“I’ve learned that it’s better to move fast. I’d rather we make a mistake, realize we did, and try something else instead of spending a lot of time thinking and not acting.”

“What worries me is not being able to execute on our own plans, not delivering on the promise to our users, not figuring out what the right strategy should be, not being nimble and agile enough to change as the field evolves, or not focusing on our customers enough. That’s what keeps me up at night.”

“I try to live my life so that there is lot of overlap between what I do for fun and profit. I did science because I enjoyed it, I did user experience design because product design is fun. And I run SlideShare, because there is nowhere else I would rather be at this moment.”

—Rashmi Sinha, Co-founder of Slideshare

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Logo Design News This Week (5.20)

Friday morning means that we’re back with another round-up of news from the world of logo design. Here’s all the stuff we noticed. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments:

New 76ers Logo DesignWe’ve seen a rash of new NBA logos over the past couple of weeks (the Wizards and the Clippers). This week the Philadelphia 76ers got a new look. And it looks an awfully lot like the Net’s logo unveiled a couple of years ago. ESPN commentator Stephen Smith hates the new design, especially the “dribbling Ben Franklin” secondary logo. He isn’t the only one. So the team is adopting the most generic icon for a basketball team: a basketball. The actual design of the logo isn’t bad, in fact, it’s quite nice. And for the record, we like dribbling Ben.

Tragedy struck the world of brit pop boy bands this week as 5 Seconds of Summer was forced to redesign a logo that was too close to another design. We disagree. These marks aren’t alike and they don’t appear to be in the same industry. But the deal is done.

Realtor.com Logo DesignIn an effort to compete more ably with Zillow (which merged with Trulia last year) Realtor.com has released a new logo. They’ve ditched the house/intersection icon and gone with a logotype. The new mark emphasizes the word real, as you can see, which is meant to stand for what’s real in real estate. We are guessing that will be lost on the majority of people who see the logo. However, they won’t miss actress Elizabeth Banks in their television commercials. We like the font, though think the old icon was pretty good. Maybe a color/font update rather than a total redesign would have been better?

Logo Design for Holy Year of MercyThis is an interesting article about a logo for the year of mercy. It might explain why so many people don’t think poorly designed logos are bad. The imagery is on brand. So is the tagline. But from a design standpoint, it’s not a great logo. It’s too complex with too many colors. The type running down one side  is a bit hard to read (we don’t read sideways and up). The back ground makes it look like Jesus is falling into a time warp or a pool of water. And it’s oddly shaped on the right side. The lines will be difficult to reproduce at small sizes (it already loses detail printed here). And that shared third eye is just weird. But someone loves it. Which is maybe something designers can learn from.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. And, we’re sure, his sponsors loved it.

And this has never seemed like a good idea. Not even if you love logos more than life itself.

Ruthin, a welsh town in the shadows of the great pyramids, has a new logoRuthin Logo Design. Okay, we’re kidding about the town being in Egypt, but look at that logo. What does it say to you? The logo is part of a campaign to make Ruthin a “must see” destination. Perhaps they were hoping for some pyramid confusion? Exactly what about that logo says the town is must-see? The problem with small town logos is that there is rarely enough budget to truly build a brand. It’s a nice icon for local townspeople to see on the town letterhead, but that’s about it. Unless you really do have a great pyramid or two. Then we’ll be stopping by soon.

 

This week, Google celebrated Mother’s DayGoogle Mother's Day Logo with an animated logo that paid tribute to all kinds of mothers, from humans to leopards, though the jury is still out as to whether the animals noticed. And that’s where we end this week’s update, wishing a Happy Mother’s Day (five days late) to the moms in our lives.

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Our Favorite Business Podcasts that You Should Listen To. And a Few Others We Like.

Startup Podcast ListA couple of years ago we wrote a post (found here) about several business podcasts that we thought were worth listening to. Since then, podcasting has had a bit of a renaissance, and is more popular than ever. Part of this is the result of the enormously popular Serial, a 12-part series about a murder with some serious questions about the evidence used to get a conviction. It’s well produced and a good listen.

But besides Serial, several other podcasts have emerged or gotten better in the past two years. So we thought we’d update the list with a few more shows that might be worth adding to your playlist if you are starting a new business or running a startup now. We know you probably don’t have time for all of them, so choose one or two to try while you’re on the treadmill. If you like them, stick with them. If not, try one of the others. There’s some pretty good variety here and lots to learn:

Startups for the Rest of Us. This topped our list last time around and still deserves the top spot today. Rob Walling and Mike Tabor consistently produce the best podcast in the business. Both are single founders or solo-preneurs with experience consulting and starting their own product businesses. And each week, they talk about the challenges of running their companies and offer advice to others doing the same thing. If you only listen to one podcast about business, this one should be it.

The Tropical MBA Podcast. We’ve listened to almost every episode of this podcast featuring location-independent entrepreneurs, Dan and Ian, as they talk about how they run their business from places like Bali, The Philippines, and Viet Nam. Dan and Ian run a product company and each week share helpful tips and advice for running a company from anywhere in the world. Because it’s not software focused like so many other startup podcasts, they often think differently about how businesses should run.  There’s plenty of fun and motivation sprinkled in the business advice which earns this podcast a regular spot on our playlist.

If you’re thinking about starting a business and want to know more about the process, a good podcast to listen to is How to Start a Startup. These are lectures from a course taught at Stanford by the Y Combinator team, so it’s focused on the types of new businesses that want venture funding and hockey-stick growth. But many single founders will find nuggets of learning here. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about starting a business, the most important thing to do isn’t listen to a podcast. It’s this.

We do a lot of writing and marketing in our daily work, so for ideas of things we can do to improve our email programs, our inbound marketing, and our conversion optimization, we turn to ConversionCast. This is a brief (usually 10-15 minutes) interview with conversion experts and always includes a few ideas worth trying out. And for the latest on SEO and PPC, we like Marketing Nirvana. If you can get past the annoying ads, Brad Geddis shares a lot of great ideas and information that will improve your online marketing.

Three other business related podcasts we listen to regularly are The New Business Podcast with Chris Ducker, The Marketing Agents Podcast with Rich Brooks, and The Foolish Adventure Show with Tim Conley. All of these typically include interviews with startup entrepreneurs or ideas for building your own startup. Some episodes are very good, but occasionally you’ll find one you can skip.

Life isn’t all business. If you’re anything like us, you need to take some time to relax and learn. And this is where we turn for non-business learning:

History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps. This long-running podcast by Peter Adamson is an attempt to cover every philosopher and major philosophical idea without leaving anything out. It’s comprehensive but fun and entertaining as well. After five years, he’s made it into the middle ages, so with another decade he ought to wrap up the series. Start at the beginning and listen forward. And if you like the podcast, you’ll probably like his books on classical philosophy and Hellenistic/Roman philosophy, based on the series.

Another philosophy related podcast we like (any ideas what we do in our free time?) is Philosophy Bites with Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds. Each episode is an interview with a different philosopher about their area of interest. Often the ideas they discuss are controversial (suicide, deception, animal rights), but always interesting. Oh, these guys have a book or two as well. Check them out.

Like history? Medieval Archives is a little dramatic, but always interesting. It’s a bit like a history lesson every few weeks—but much better than what you heard in high school.

The last two podcasts we’ll mention are The Knowledge Project and You Are Not So Smart. Both of these programs are long—sometimes more than an hour, but are always about interesting subjects. If you want to stretch your mind—really stretch it by thinking about new things—these podcasts will help you get there.

All of these podcasts are available in the iTunes store or you can find them at the linked websites. If you’re looking for something different to listen to (other than your iPod dance mix), check out any of the podcasts listed above. And if you have one that you love, tell us about it in the comments.

Photo credit: Patrick Breitenbach.

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12 Quotes for Startups and Small Business from Tory Burch

Tory Burch Startup QuotesBy all accounts, Tory Burch shouldn’t be a successful designer, let alone the owner and CEO of her own billion-dollar fashion brand. She didn’t go to design school. And she didn’t go to business school. But she is smart and ambitious. So when she noticed a hole in the market—fashionable clothing that was affordable for middle-class women—she created the solution. Since launching her business from her kitchen in 2003, her company has grown to include 140 stores, a fashion line carried in 3,000 department stores world-wide, a fragrance, a home products line, and a best-selling book. And Ms. Burch is routinely listed as one of the most powerful women in business today.

Before launching her startup, Burch worked for Harper’s Bazaar, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Loewe. And the experiences she had in each of those positions inspire how she runs her own company today. She says, “I talk to entrepreneurs a lot about how each job might not be the perfect job, but you really learn from each job [you have before you start your own business] and you take something from that.”

She’s been featured on Oprah (who called her “the next thing in fashion”), and has won numerous awards for her designs. But perhaps the accomplishment she deserves most credit for is the Tory Burch Foundation, which helps women find access to money, mentoring, networking and entrepreneurship training. And because mentoring is an important part of what she does for others, she has had a lot of advice to offer other entrepreneurs. Here are a few of our favorites:

“Being an entrepreneur isn’t just a job title, and it isn’t just about starting a company. It’s a state of mind. It’s about seeing connections others can’t, seizing opportunities others won’t, and forging new directions that others haven’t.”

“You have to be tenacious and you have to find your passion. And I think once you do that, it has this effect where it continues the momentum.”

[On starting a business;] “Definitely do it if your idea is unique and different. It has to be different. And you have to be prepared for a lot of hard work. Nothing that is successful comes without hard work.”

“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.”

“Even if you’re not yet an entrepreneur, you can be entrepreneurial in everything you do. If you view each stop as an opportunity to learn something, there is always something you will take away from that experience.”

“I’m an information gatherer, I like hearing what people feel and think, but at the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself and go with your instinct and gut.”

“Ambition is not a four-letter word and women have to embrace that.”

“We’re never patting ourselves on the back. We’re always looking forward and evolving and thinking of what we could be doing next.”

“Remember: if the most unique ideas were obvious to everyone, there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. The one thing that every entrepreneurial journey has in common is that there are many, many steps on the road to success.”

“If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.”

“We may live in an age of instant messaging, instant gratification, and Instagram, but there is no way to short circuit the path to success. It takes hard work, tenacity and patience.”

“I was told never to talk about business and social responsibility in the same sentence, and I went the opposite of that. The foundation has always been a part of the conversation and the storytelling and the idea. When we were finally able to launch the foundation, it has turned out to be so extraordinary for the company.”

—Troy Burch, Founder and CEO of Tory Burch

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Logo Design News This Week (5.19)

It’s Friday and wow, did that week go by fast. Let’s take a look at all the logo design news you may have missed the past seven days if you were as busy as we were. Check it out:

Heart of America Coference Logo DesignLet’s start with some sports logo news. The completely unheard of athletic conference, Heart of America Conference, unveiled a logo this week. The conference is made up of sports powerhouses (soon to be household names) like Grand View University and Mount Mercy University. Not to mention Benedictine College. According to news reports, the three points on the star represent education, cultivation, and autonomy. No word on what the conference is cultivating at this point but we’re excited to follow the story for you.

Tennis Hall of Fame Logo DesignThe International Tennis Hall of Fame got a new logo that features a tennis racquet (big surprise, right?) in the shape of a globe—it is international after all. The hall has been undergoing a renovation and is set to reopen later this month along with a new publicity campaign and website. All joking aside, this is a pretty good logo.

Which NBA team got the best logo upgrade this year?

Britanny Spears Logo DesignOops, looks like she’s done it again. (Sorry we couldn’t help ourselves.) Brittany Spears has a new logo that fans seem to be pleased with. Actually, we’ve only seen this on a fan site, so it may not be official.

Can you tell the difference between Skype and Sky—two businesses that don’t really provide the same service? The idiots at the General Court of the European Union can’t.

Choice Hotels Logo DesignChoice Hotels, the company that franchises several budget accommodation chains including Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn and Econolodge has a new logo this week. It accompanies a new campaign that asks, should I stay or should I go? Clever. The icon actually is almost clever, hiding an H in the C. As a corporate brand (as opposed to a consumer brand), this isn’t too bad. The new logo is supposed to work in digital formats better than the old version—a good reason for a logo update.

In Nigerian logo news, Wema Bank has a new logo. We’re guessing that’s the bank where spammers wire your money when you help them transfer millions of dollars into your account.

Edge vs Explorer Logo DesignsMicrosoft is killing off its Internet browser called Explorer and this week unveiled a new browser called Edge. The thing is, the logos look awfully similar. If the software is as similar as the logos, no one is going to use it. Can you tell which one is which?

Google British Election Logo DesignWe live on the wrong side of the pond to vote in this week’s British elections, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t stay up half the night as the returns came in. Seriously, Scotland? Google celebrated the election with a Union Jack ballot box.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

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