MINIMALISE BY
DANIEL
TREADWELL

What's in a logo? (and how Fotostat's came to be)

Posted January 25, 2013 under minimalise, fotostat, design, logo

Let me start out by saying that I am not the most graphically talented guy you will ever meet.  That is actually quite an understatement.  I'm a colourblind, stick-figure drawing, artistically lacking individual.  If not for my photography I would dub myself creatively defunct.  But you know what?  I'm ok with that because it's simply not my calling in life.  It does become a problem however when one is trying to launch a startup that does not yet have a logo.

A logo is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to brand recognition, even moreso in the online world.  It is usually the first thing a potential customer will see from your business and is the primary identifier of who you are and what you do.  That's pretty important!  With that in mind I set out on creating a small brief for myself on what I want the logo to convey.  My key points looked something like this:

- Clean, simple and minimal
- Modern
- Easily recognisable
- Show a link to photography and statistics

For quite some time I had been wanting to try out +99designs, an established startup from Australia that created the largest marketplace for crowdsourced design.  I had heard of some great work coming out of there and after looking through the completed 'competitions' I was commited.  I say competitions because that is exactly what they are.  You create your 'competition' and specify the award amount that goes to the final winner.  

Getting started on 99designs was extremely easy.  You create a 7 day competition, specify the award amount, fill in a few details about your company/product and give some guidance on the kind of logo you would like by answering a few multiple choice questions.  After submitting your brief you are all ready to go.  99designs try to give an estimate of how many designs you can expect from your pricing package but I found it to be severely underestimated.  I chose the entry level bronze package for $299 and was told to expect around 30 designs in total but ended up with 234 designs from 57 designers.  Let me say that there was no problem with low quality designs (though there were some), the problem was choosing the right design from such a large selection.

As with any kind of design work you have to be ready and willing to give constructive feedback to help guide the direction of the work, something that 99designs really tried to highlight throughout their site.  By rating each design and giving detailed responses to the submissions most of the entrants took note and by the end of the contest I was seeing more and more of the exact kind of design that I was after.  The final winner was chosen with the help of friends and family as I was having a lot of trouble settling on one, and it is always good to get some outside feedback.  Over the next day or so the handover took place and I was all set to use the new logo across the website and in the product video.

If anyone is looking at getting a logo designed I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that you at least give 99designs [99designs.com] a look before going anywhere else.

Head over to Fotostat [fotost.at] to see our new logo in action (and see if you can spot it in the video too!).

Daniel Treadwell is a Developer, Amateur Photographer and Founder of Fotostat, a central hub where photographers can easily manage their online presence.

It may come as no surprise to most that having a video on your website to describe your product or service can help increase conversion rates.  It has become quite common place these days with many leading retailers, brands and startups creating quirky, funny or just plain informative videos to help turn a visitor into a customer.  But that's not all video is capable of with statistics showing that it can also also assist in reducing customer support requests, increasing social shares and even in helping sites rank better on search engines.

With this in mind I decided early on that I wanted to create a video to help describe my startup, +Fotostat [fotost.at].  Based on our experience, describing a service in words is not all that hard, but really conveying how a service can be beneficial to a customer is much harder.  Fotostat is a central hub where photographers can manage their online presence by scheduling uploads of their photos across multiple networks.  It helps guage how well each photo performs by showing all relevant statistics available from each network and allows the photographer to engage with their audience in one easy to use location.  That's all well and good, but what does it actually DO?  The main value proposition we wanted to convey to our customers is how much time could be saved by using our product.  With that in mind, I set out to write a script for my video, first just in key points (who, what, why etc..), then expanding it into paragraphs.

Putting the script together took a little time, but the most difficult part for me was always going to be the visual side of things.  I am not typically what anyone would describe as a creative.  Apart from my photography interests, I am not artisticaly inclined whatsoever and find the idea of trying to be quite scary!  

Thankfully I came across +PowToon [powtoon.com], a service that provides you with all the tools needed to create a captivating video.  One of the great things about Powtoon is their ease of use.  If you are familiar with any kind of slide presentation software (like powerpoint), then you will be comfortable with Powtoon.  They provide a large array of clipart (some animated!) that you can simply drag and drop onto your slides to create the scenes that you are looking to create in your video.  You are able to change the time that each object is visible for (entry and exit points) as well as choose from multiple transition animations.

Powtoon really is great, but it is currently a beta service and not without some (minor) problems.  Any video worth watching needs audio, whether it be music or a voiceover or both.  Unfortunately at the time of creation it was not possible to add individual sound effects to each object, leaving it up to the user to cut in any effects with their background music which could be uploaded as a single file.  This was a bit of a pain to sync up but not a huge issue.  Another missing feature that I would have liked to see is the ability to add simple shapes, like a square or circle or even a line.  Whilst it was possible to upload your own images, it is certainly much more compelling to keep with the general theme of the existing clipart.

The audio for the Fotostat video was a combination of background music, sound effects for certain objects and a voice over.  The background music was made by a talented guy named Kevin MacLoud [incompetech.com] who has created a huge amount of royalty free music (CC Licensed).  Donations are appreciated and you can also purchase a non-attribution license which I did for the video which allows the music to be used without a visible reference to Kevin.  Sound effects were sourced from +AudioJungle [audiojungle.net] and the voiceover was provided by someone I found on +Fiverr [fiverr.com] for a tiny sum of just $15, which was simply astounding to me.

In total my costs for the video were around $50 for Powtoon, $30 for the music, $15 for the sound effects and $15 for the voiceover.  That is just $110 for something that would have cost me well over $1000 to have done professionally.   Is it of the same quality?  Probably not, but I certainly could not justify the higher price, not this early in my startup's life.  

Here at Fotostat we are extremely happy with the end result but we'd love to hear your thoughts so be sure to leave a comment!

Daniel Treadwell is a Developer, Amateur Photographer and Founder of Fotostat, a central hub where photographers can easily manage their online presence.

After several months of closed testing we are finally opening up the doors so everyone can give Fotostat a try.  Thankyou to all our early testers who helped shape the service into what it is today.  

If you would like to help us continue to make Fotostat even better, head over to www.fotost.at and sign in to give it a go.  Be sure to let us know if you come across any problems or if there is a feature you feel is missing!

What is Fotostat

Fotostat is the central hub where photographers can manage their online presence.  It allows you to:

- Save time by scheduling your uploads to multiple social photography sites, blogs and merchant facilities.  
- Discover how well each photo is performing by seeing all available statistics from each of your networks.  
- Interact with your followers by commenting across all your sites from one easy to use location.

Which networks are supported

We currently support Google+ (Publishing to albums only, no post creation as yet.), Facebook, Flickr, 500px, Smugmug, Tumblr and WordPress.  There are plans to support more networks moving forward so feel free to submit your suggestions for any that you would like to see.

If you have any questions about the service, please don't hesitate to ask.

Daniel Treadwell is a Developer, Amateur Photographer and Founder of Fotostat, a central hub where photographers can easily manage their online presence.