In downtown Vernon, it was a gray day threatening to rain. October 5th. I was lamenting to myself about trying to find work. He was about to cross the street towards me. I was in my Oldsmobile Intrigue with my ticker on, waiting to turn right. A young man, it was hard for me to tell his age. Maybe he was just over a teen. He was in jeans, wearing a red and white jacket and similar colored backpack. His hair was blond on top with dark brown roots showing through. He could have been a street kid. The thought passed my mind. He was crying. His eyes were red and puffy. He was trying to contain his tears. He did for a second. Then he started crying again.
I turned right and he disappeared from my view. I parallel parked half way down the street. He came from behind my car, turned right and walked into the hair salon. I saw him grab his cell phone. He was dialing someone as he walked. He looked distraught.
He came out of the salon seconds later and I rolled my passenger window down. “Hey kid. Are you okay? Can I help you” I said. He looked at me. He was trying to speak, but he was so choked up that the words wouldn’t come. “Do you need some money? Can I drive you somewhere?” I asked. My heart was breaking for him. I didn’t know what kind of trouble he was in, but I knew I wanted to help.
He tried to speak, but he just kept crying. Finally, he gathered the words he wanted. “I just got some really bad news about a friend of mine.” He said. “Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked. “Do you think you could give me a tissue to blow my nose?” He asked. It was such a simple request. I grabbed the only thing I had. It was a crumpled up half used tissue from the front of my car. I didn’t apologize that it was half used and he didn’t even notice. He was trying to gather his courage to tell me what was wrong.
“I just got off the phone with my friend’s dad. She is in Intensive Care at the hospital. Did you hear about the head-on on Pleasant Valley Road last night? She is in Critical Condition and hasn’t woken up. They won’t let me go see her because I’m not a family member.” He continued on about a few graphic details of her injuries. They sounded disfiguring, especially to her face.
“I’m so sorry.” I said. He kept blowing into the tissue. He was still hanging onto my passenger window. “Can I drive you to the hospital?” I asked. Tears began streaming down my eyes too. He told me some friends would be arriving soon to get him. “My name is Jesse.” He said. He put his hand into my car. I was surprised at the warmth of this young boy, not too much older than my own boys.
I extended my hand. We shook hands and I told him my name. “What is your friend’s name?” I asked. “Stephanie” he said. “How old is she?” “Twenty-four” he said.
I tried to offer hope. “She is young and strong. Maybe she will pull through. Maybe you will feel better to be with her family. You can support them and they can support you. Her dad will need support.” I said. “Dads always take it hard.” I added.
I remembered my nineteen year old friend’s dad who sobbed on the phone with me three years after his daughter Tracey died. She was my junior high school best friend.
Jesse still had tears coming while he was trying to talk. I looked off into the distance and told him I had a friend who died in a head-on collision when I was nineteen. “Sometimes it’s fate and there is nothing we can do. It’s destiny.” I said. Reflecting on it now, I’m sorry I told him about my friend’s passing. I wish I would have shared a story about survival instead.
We said some more things to each other and said good-bye. I watched him walk down the street, still blowing into the tissue I gave him. He disappeared. I sat a while to wipe my eyes and gather the courage to continue my job hunt. I looked in my rear-view mirror. My eyes were bright blue and slightly red. It didn’t matter. I felt richer.
Is it important to register your company's name? I would argue: "Only if you're taking it to the bank." (which is pretty important).
For over ten years, I have been doing business as Lava Marketing. This was never a problem until I recently wanted to start a business account under that name. The first thing my banker asked me for was proof of business registration. My GST number wasn't enough even though I've been paying GST under that business name since 1999. And, up until now, I have been running all accounts payable and receivable for my business through my own personal bank account with the cheque made out to my personal name. I'm a Sole Prorietor, so it's never been an issue.
Recently, I've been thinking that I may want to separate my personal and business accounts. So, I went on the search to see if I could register the name Lava Marketing in BC. I couldn't. There is another company with a similar name (although not the same I should clarify).
What I didn't know, is that I should have registered my business name within three months of starting the business. In fact, the BC Name Registry website states:
"If you choose to carry on a business under a name other than your own personal name and are engaged in business for trading, manufacturing or mining purposes, you must register with the Corporate Registry within three months of your business start date."
The word Co. represents the fact that my business is a Sole Proprietorship. I had to add the words The Original so it separated my company name from other similar ones with the words Lava Marketing in them.
If you want to trademark your name, check out NUANS.
Now, once I registered my business name and received a NR (name registry) number, that wasn't enough. I then had to officially register it through the One Stop Business Registry in BC and pay another $40.
So, there you go. My new "official" company name is The Original Lava Marketing Co. and I'm officially a graphic design business.
If you require business advice about starting your business, you are urged to contact a lawyer and/or an accountant. If you would like marketing or strategic advice about your business, or graphic design, please contact me.
Article marketing is fairly new to me, but it is something I'm experimenting with to generate more traffic to my main business website Lava Marketing. I am using other strategies, like search engine optimization as well, but today I'm talking strictly about article marketing as a way to build links into your main website.
The more links to your website, the better your site looks to Google and the higher your site will rank in the search engines.
Article marketing is free, other than your time. You must write an original article and post it up to one of the sites listed below, after you have signed up for your free account. Anyone can view your article and post a copy of it to their website with your by-line. It is a great way to get links into your site. If you are a professional speaker, author or coach, it's an opportunity for personal branding. There is no blatant product marketing allowed. The information you submit must be informational, not promotional. The promotion can be implied through the copy you write. There are automated programs on the market for submitting articles, but I am not familiar with their effectiveness. I prefer manual submission. Ezinearticles.com (which I mention below) doesn't allow automatic submission. It must be done by hand.
The first article marketing site I have chosen is ezinearticles.com because I've heard great things about it from colleagues in internet marketing. This is my expert author page there. It took about five days for them to approve my first article and then another five days for the next one I submitted. I carefully reviewed their editorial guidelines first so that I didn't jeopardize my submission.
Another great thing about article marketing on Ezinearticles.com is that they let you include two links within the article itself. You can use keywords within the article to link back to your blog or website. So, for example, let's say you are a winery who sells Chardonnay wine, you can link the words "Chardonnay wine" to your website page for that wine. This type of keyword linking is great for improving your Google rank.
Here is a list of article marketing sites that you can look at or sign up to. Please let me know if you find others.
Photo: My two baby boys in September 2003 in the Chariot Carrier used to evacuate them from the Okanagan Mountain Park fire on August 26, 2003.
What was your best gift ever? This question was posed on a website recently and got me thinking. So I travelled back in time...about six and a half years...to think about my family's escape from the Okanagan Mountain Park fire. Here is a submission I made to a book about the fire. My submission was based on email records that I sent to friends and family during the event. The book was published without my story, but they named a chapter after it called "Getting Out". When I introduced myself to the editors at their book signing I was invited to, they remembered they accidentally forgot to include my story. The Kelowna Museum requested the story for their archives, and in there it sits. There is a fire museum now, so I assume it is in there. I've edited it slightly for clarity. When you've read it, please let me know about the best gift you have ever received.
Okanagan Mountain Park Fire - Kelowna, B.C. Canada - August 26, 2003 11:55AM
I was at a Jaycee [Okanagan Junior Chamber International] meeting Thursday night (August 21, 2003) until around 10:00 p.m. and when driving home I saw flames above our home. Stuck in a traffic jam, I turned the radio on to hear that our area, (Drummond Court just off of Barnaby Road) which was not even on evacuation alert, was now on evacuation order. This was distressing news as my two babies (3 month old Quinn and two and a half year old Soleil), my mother visiting from Calgary, and husband were home with no reliable vehicle, waiting for me to return so they could evacuate. (Our other vehicle parked at home was nearly out of gas.)
I could see a wall of flames to the right of our home and above our home in spots we had not seen all week and we had been monitoring the fire very carefully up until that point. That day, there was so much smoke, no flames could be seen, but the fire had sneaked up on us and there it was appearing to be licking at our back doorstep. Apparently, the wind had come up and pushed the fire into our area.
Rather than be caught in fire or a traffic jam [and the fact I was going into shock], I pulled the truck over and borrowed a cell phone (that of Mike and *Sharon Shepherd, a Kelowna City Councillor) I called home and spoke to my husband and we decided that I would stay put and wait at the safety spot as traffic out of our home area was bumper to bumper. My husband packed our two babies into the Chariot (a double wide stroller we pull behind our bikes) and got my mother (61 years old and in need of a hip replacement) and himself onto our bikes. He put our two dogs on leash and put cat food and water on our porch for our Kitty (that’s our cat’s name) and put her outside. They left everything my husband had packed since 8:30 pm at our home (including 2 computer hard drives for our business, and everything else we own).
[*Side note: Sharon is now Kelowna's Mayor. Side note: Shawn told me later that while he was packing the boys up, there were hot pine tree needles falling onto his arms. Mom said she rode the bike around the cul-de-sac to remember how to ride one again. In terms of possessions, Shawn remembered the baby car seat which he packed on top of the Chariot.]
They rode their bikes down about 8 KM (to Sarsons and Lakeshore) to meet me. My husband and I stayed in contact by cellphone as they rode very slowly as our dog Julie on lead is quite out of shape and our other dog slightly lame from a tear in her pad from our mountain biking in the hills where the fire now burned the Monday before.
Boy was I happy to be reunited with them all. We were reunited around 11:30 p.m. so it was about one and a half hours between the time that I heard about the evacuation until we saw each other. This was three and a half hours after the original evacuation order came in at 8:00 p.m.
Luckily, the baby was asleep so they did not have to contend with his crying for mama's milk. (They packed him last). While waiting for them, I believe I went into shock as my mouth was dry and I began to get cold and shake. A nice man gave me a glass of water and a warm coat and that really helped.
So here we are, with basically the clothing on our backs, safe in Armstrong at Shawn's parent’s home. We know that the area around our home has been hit very hard by the fire. We will get to see aerial photos on a website called Castanet today if lucky to see if our home was burnt. Pray it wasn't.
Update: Tuesday, August 26, 2003
We got to see our home yesterday. We were turned away at one checkpoint saying we couldn't get a pass in, but went to a different checkpoint a few hours later and they let us through. There was a sprinkler on our roof that the firefighters had put there. We spoke to a search and rescue fellow monitoring our neighbourhood and he happens to be a neighbour too. He said he worked on the hose 2 hours fighting fire. He looked very very tired, but said he wasn't going without a fight. We were lucky to get in and collect our family heirlooms and the hard drives for our business. We also collected our Kitty who was doing actually very well, but smelled of smoke. We had just over one hour to collect the things most dear to us and leave again. Upon leaving we were touched when we saw "Edmonton PPCLU" written in the dust on the hood of our little red car that we left behind. It was a note from the Edmonton Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Unit that must have been fighting our fire or patrolling our area.
Update: 2:00 a.m. Saturday, August 30, 2003
We were taken off evacuation order Wednesday, August 27 and returned home Thursday, August 28. We are still on evacuation alert and have to be ready to leave within 1 hour. The gas is off. Everything is quite dusty and smoky smelling in the house. The front and back deck has ash and burnt leaves and pine needles everywhere. The grass and flowers are a little dry from not being watered for a week. Other than that, the home is in great shape. We are truly grateful to be home, but the fire is still burning only a few kilometers from our house. It is difficult to sleep at night, but we are one of the lucky ones as our home and neighborhood is still standing. I grieve for the people who lost their homes and for the forest where we used to mountain bike as it is now black and charred.
Our hearts are with everyone who has lost their home or been displaced. Even for those who did not lose their homes, this has been a terrible, terrible experience. I'm so proud to be a part of our community who cares so much. Thank you to the volunteers and firefighters and army and to everyone who has offered help or concern.
Update December 28, 2010
Two years after the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire in Kelowna, Shawn and I moved to Vernon and we've been living happily here ever since. I found the memory of the fire traumatic every time I looked up into the charred hills of the Upper Mission area of Kelowna, so it was a relief to relocate.
When I was reunited with my mom, husband, kids and dogs all safe and sound that night of August 26, 2003 it was the best gift ever. Material possessions can be replaced, life can't. 130 homes were lost in that fire. I remember seeing a friend of mine at a meeting afterwards. From across the room, I could tell he lost his home. His face looked so different. Exhausted. Stressed. Almost grey. I'll never forget it.
A lot of people lost, but many of us gained a gift. We got to see how important we are to each other in our family....how important life is. We also learned about the power of a strong, united community and the giving spirit of volunteers.
I'm truly grateful to have my loved ones close to me this holiday season.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and yours.
You need a logo for a new business you are setting up.
Your sports team needs a logo.
You are getting married and you want a logo for the invitations or seating place-holders.
Your company's logo needs to be refreshed, revamped, modernized, or recoloured.
You have a logo, but it's never been the greatest quality (it's a little fuzzy).
You have a signature event that requires a logo.
One of your printing partners is requesting your logo in a vector format.
You have a colour logo, but you need to provide it in black.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, don't worry. It's usually quite fun and interesting to have a logo created or updated. Having it put into various formats is not that hard either. You just need to know who to work with, what to look for, which questions to ask and what you can expect.
What is a logo? A logo is a mark, insignia, symbol or emblem with distinguishing characteristics. Often, it is made up of words and a picture or illustration, but sometimes the words are the picture. Some of the images that come to mind are the Playboy bunny, the Nike swoosh designed in 1971 for $35 USD, McDonald's golden arches, Audi's four inter-connected horizontal rings, Apple's partially-eaten apple, Mercedes Benz's three point star in a circle, World Wildlife Fund's black and white panda, and Starbuck's two-tailed crowned mermaid.
Logo designers usually come in the form of Graphic Designer, Print Designer, Creative Firm or Marketing Company. Prices can vary from seventy-five dollars right up to ten thousand dollars depending on who you hire, the type of clientele they work with and the size of your company, event, team or project. Before you call them to discuss pricing, take a look at their logo portfolio to see what they have developed. If you like their style, contact them. If they get back to you quickly, it's probably a good start to your relationship.
Once you contact a logo designer and agree on the price, you can expect your designer to ask you questions like:
1) What is the name of your company, team or event?
2) What is your tag line, mantra, positioning statement or objective?
3) What does your company, team, or event sell or do?
4) Who are your primary customers?
5) What kind of feeling do you want your logo to create?
6) Do you have any colour preferences?
7) Is there anything symbolic that you would like to make reference to?
8) What is your team, event or company's history?
If your logo is being designed for your wedding, the designer will want to know the colours associated with the big day, where the wedding will be held, how you met each other, the wedding theme and your names. A Western wedding logo (cowboys, horses) would warrant quite a different style than an Eastern wedding (tiger, temple, lamp, lotus) logo.
A logo for a sports team would need to take into account the team name, gender of the team, uniform colours and if there is a mascot or not. It makes sense for The Calgary Flames hockey team logo to have flames coming off the C just based on the name alone, doesn't it?
Here is a logo Lava Marketing recently developed for candy vending machine company NRG Vending Co.:
Once your designer establishes a feel and general direction for your logo, he or she will produce a number of designs for you to look at. It is important to know how many initial designs you can expect and how many rounds of revisions are included when you are negotiating the price. You can usually expect the designs to be emailed to you in a .jpg format which is easy to open. If you are in the same geographic area, some designers or illustrators will sit down to show you them and to see your reaction. If you are working with a long distance designer, email proofs work great.
Sometimes, you'll see a design that works for you right off the bat. Or maybe you like the imagery, but you can't read the wording (font-type). Maybe you like the overall design and the wording, but not the colour. Colours and font styles are quite easy to change unless you want an expensive font that hasn't been budgeted for in the project. A lot of times, logos are designed with free fonts. Sometimes this makes the logo less unique. Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with free font and it fits in nicely with the rest of the design.
If you hate all of the designs that are shown to you, your designer may have to change direction and/or ask you more questions. It's a process of getting to know what you like. Often, it works out well with several versions going back and forth. It is a good idea to have a "kill fee" laid out during the price negotiation process just in case you and the designer simply cannot agree on the design. That way, you can both walk away from the project with you having paid a little bit to learn what you don't like and them making some money for the effort they put in. It happens.
Most of the time, the design process works well and you will receive an excellent logo that portrays your team, event or company with nice visual impact.
Once a design is chosen and the colours are picked, the graphic must be turned into several colours and formats.
Usually full colour, black on white and white on black will be more than enough colour choices to fulfill most marketing requests.
In terms of format, file types including .psd (Adobe Photoshop), .eps (encapsulated post script), .ai (Adobe Illustrator), high resolution .pdf (Adobe), and .tiff or .jpg are all of the file types you will ever need to provide to any number of print or online marketing partners.
What if you have a logo and somebody asks you for a vector file? Vector files come in .cdr (Coral Draw), .ai (Adobe Illustrator) or .eps (Encapsulated post script). If your logo was not created in any of these file types, don't panic. Often, a good designer can recreate your logo into one of these formats. It may cost a couple hundred bucks to have a designer do it for you, but once you have it in that format it will save you time and money in the long run. Because of its scalable nature, vector format will definitely ensure that the integrity of your logo is maintained whether it's on a tiny pin or a large billboard.
Embroidery companies can be the exception. I have come across the occasion where an embroidery company needed a different type of file than any of the types mentioned above. There was nothing I could do to get them the file type they wanted and they charged my client a set up fee to get the logo into their specific file format made for their machines.
What if you already have a logo that you have been using for years, but it's kind of fuzzy when printed or shown on websites? An existing logo can be remade into the file formats I mentioned so that the quality of the logo will be perfect in future print materials. You just need to provide a picture of the logo to your chosen designer.
A good quality logo can make your team, business or event look like a million bucks, so don't be afraid to invest in one. Who knows....maybe someday it will be as well-recognized as McDonald's golden arches, The Calgary Flames' flaming C or Nike's Just Do It swoosh.