We used to think older people had a harder time learning, even couldn’t learn much new at all. I can remember hearing that we didn’t create new brain cells once we were adults. A lot of people get older and think, well, old dogs can’t learn new tricks, I’m too old to learn anything really new.
In recent years, though, scientist have discovered adult brains do actually change and even create new cells. It is true children have more learning centres in their brain. From the time babies are born they are constantly learning: how to walk, how to communicate, how to dress and use a spoon, how to play games. Learning is their full-time job! Babies and young children have something like five learning centres in their brain.
Most adults have one or two learning centres active in their brain, so we can turn on more brain capacity for learning new information and new skills. The best way to do this is to learn something you don’t already know.
Improving a skill you already have, like improving your golf game when you’ve been playing for 30 years, may not stimulate this shift in brain power; it needs to be something totally new. If you’ve never played a musical instrument, learning to play one, how to read music, joining a choir, is going to turn on the learning parts of your brain. Learning a new language is going to do the same thing.
The Idea that adult brains don’t change much is a thing of the past. Now researchers talk about “neuroplasticity,” that our brains have the ability to be flexible. If you learn something new, your brain can shift resources around so you have the capacity to learn more easily.
Your brain isn’t a muscle, but just as we need to exercise to stay flexible and strong, we can exercise our brains by learning new things.
So don’t be afraid to try something new! We all have the capacity to learn at any age.
Branding Made Simple!
In graphic design and online marketing, branding means creating a brand, a look or visual identity for your business or organization. We see a lot of big name brands all around us, in advertising, films, magazines and online. Our usual news program uses colours and graphics to identify which station and network you’re watching. You’ll recgnize the theme music and even sound effects, so you know instantly you’re watching the right show. These are sophisticated examples of branding that use a number of elements.
There are lots of examples of well done branding. One is the Coca-Cola logo, and all the advertising, labels on soft drinks and other products related to the Coca-Cola brand. You can recognize the Coca-Cola logo even in a foreign language! I was in Morocco in 2008 and saw flats of Coca-Cola in the market. The name was in Arabic letters, but I had no problem recognizing the logo. That’s effective branding!
Branding can also be as simple as choosing certain fonts and colours for all your business materials. You don’t even need a logo. An art group I belong to uses just the name of the group in a specific font as our “logo,” and that’s it. If you’ve been following our work for a few years, you know it’s us as soon as you see our posters or online ads.
Other examples of branding are signs on store fronts. You’ll see a business’s name on the side of their vans or their trucks, and once you’ve seen that logo or sign, you’ll recognize the business just by that visual information.
I found some amazing statistics about our brains and visual information: Ninety percent of the information our brains process is visual, and our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Eighty percent of people remember what they see, while they remember 20% of what they read and only 10% of what they hear. On Facebook, photos have an engagement rate of 87%, compared to 4% or less for other types of posts, and posts that include images of any sort get 650% more engagement than text-only posts!*
So you can see you get more impact faster by using visual elements like branding.
Branding and design in your business materials are like a silent ambassador. If you have a consistent look to your graphics and ads, people recognize your ads and Facebook posts, and your website has a coherent polished look.
You can hire a graphic designer to do some or all of this. A logo doesn’t have to be complicated, but a professional will understand things like copyright or trademarks, as well as what’s going to reproduce well in different media, but a very simple logo may be all you need. You can create a simple logo in Canva or other illustration software.
If you do your own designing using Canva or Adobe illustrator, you can create effective branding by making a few choices. Choose two or three fonts you use for everything. There are guidelines for which fonts go well together, and lots of ways to do this badly, so following guidelines in Canva or design manuals online is a good idea unless you have some design training. You can google “font pairings” and get tons of examples.
Choose 2 or 3 colours, no more than 5. I sometimes include a lighter and a darker version of one of my basic colours. If you’re creative and good at design, you might want two main colours, an accent colour, plus a dark and a light colour. Or you can stick with 2 colours plus black and white.
You can even go with only black and white. A website with only black and white photos and some modern fonts can have a clean minimalist look, or you could choose different photos and fonts, and create a Noir look or a Victorian Gothic look, all with only black and white.
On my website I’ve gone with two main colours, turquoise and orange. I’ve used a variety of shades of both. I also have a warm brown, a dark brown, ivory and sometimes an accent colour.
I used stock photos Canva provides, choosing them for the colours as well as the image. I wanted a warm sunny look, so I used a filter and some adjustments in Canva to intensify the colours, so the images now have a golden glow with blue-green accents. As a theme I used photos of archways and doorways to symbolize stepping into a new life or learning new skills.
For my logo, I used my name in a specific font I found on Canva that’s similar to my signature. It’s simple, distinctive and legible. I created two versions: dark brown to go on light backgrounds, and ivory to go on dark backgrounds.
I created Facebook posts in Canva using the same colour palette and fonts I chose for my website, or as close as I could get. Sometimes different programs don’t have the same selection of fonts as another program, but there will always be something close.
Branding doesn’t have to be complicated, yet it makes your website, ads and other materials look more polished and appealing. Using your branding consistently helps potential customers and fans recognize your posts so they can follow you and buy your products or services, or join your organization.
*Statistics posted November 17, 2018 https://movableink.com/blog/29-incredible-stats-that-prove-the-power-of-visual-marketing/
If you’re someone got a computer so you could email and share photos with your kids and grand-kids, or because everyone you stay in touch with is online, you may find it frustrating and disheartening to use your computer or your tablet. I can help with that. I’ve been using computers since 1985, so I’ve used many generations of computers, but I’m self-taught. I’ve had to figure things out for myself. I know how frustrating it can be!
I can help you figure out why your email is doing that thing so you can’t read past the first 3 words of the message, or how to change your settings on Facebook. I hear people say, ”I’m so stupid, why can’t I get this?!” or “I’m too old for this!” It's not you. It really is not you!
Using modern technology is as difficult and complex as learning a new language, and if you started doing it later in life, it’s hard to learn this much. Asking younger people who do it all the time may not help, because they learned it at a different stage in their lives, and they may actually have less experience than you do in different versions of Windows or Microsoft Word. I’ve used every version of Windows from 3.1 to Vista, and I’m currently tutoring a client who’s used Windows 7 for years, now she’s using Windows 10 for work and finding it hard to adapt. Learning how to do things on one program can make it hard to do the same things even on a newer version of the same program. When computer companies change operating systems, they often change even basic tasks. It’s not you!
I use Macs now, but for a few years, I worked in an office where we had two Apple computers and a PC so old, it ran MS-DOS! I was the only person working there who had any experience with it.
Besides helping you feel comfortable using your computer and various programs, I also teach the basics of promoting your small business or organization, from designing business cards, brochures and signs to creating a website or Facebook Page, and creating your own graphics. I can also go into branding, which can be simple, or it can be more all-encompassing.
I can teach you how to create a website using easy website creation platforms like Weebly, Wix and Squarespace. There are other website creation platforms out there, but these are the ones I know best. I use Weebly myself.
I don’t teach Wordpress, although I’ve used it, but I can explain the difference between Wordpress blogs, which are available on Wordpress.com for free, and can be made into decent websites, and Wordpress software that you download from Wordpress.org. This is the most commonly used website creation software in the world.
With Facebook, I can explain the difference between your personal profile and a Facebook Page, the difference between a Page and a group, and what each is good for. Facebook Pages have their uses, Facebook groups also have their uses, but they’re very different.
I can walk you through creating a Facebook Page and show you how to use tools behind the scenes to see how your posts perform, which helps you know what’s capturing people’s attention and what isn’t. I can show you how to create posts on Facebook, along with tricks like scheduling posts ahead of time so you don’t need to be online when the post goes out. This lets you develop a consistent rhythm of posting, so your followers stay interested.
Batching posts is a useful skill, where you create a bunch of posts in a couple of hours that go out over the next week or month, the same way people might spend Sunday afternoon batch cooking most of the food they need for the next week, so they don’t need to do much work on weeknights.
I can show you how to use Canva to create graphics. Canva is an online graphics tool you can use for free, or there’s a paid version. Knowing how to use it helps you with all the other aspects of running your business, like creating Facebook or Instagram ads, or creating banner images for your website or Facebook Page. You can use Canva to create basic promotional materials like business cards, brochures, posters, e-books, short videos, and lots more.
Branding is creating a consistent look for your business, so people recognize posts or ads from you, which can be really simple or it can get more complicated, depending on the type of business or organization you’re promoting and what you want.
My background is in the arts, with 4 years of art school and 6 years at university taking art history, so I know a lot about colour theory, composition and design, materials, different styles and eras of art. I’ve taken several courses and read lots of books on business development, promotional strategy, marketing and more.
I can make this really simple, or I can get more in-depth, depending on what you need or want.
My focus is always on making sure you feel comfortable, that you feel you understand how to do this. I want to help you develop skills so you feel confident using technology.