Phone 804.569.0527 | Fax 804.569.0528 | Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

XL4U Blog

We XL4U!

Know your design plan

header joom 600pix

When you enter the design process with your designer, specificity is key.  Oftentimes, when business owners or creative professionals meet with their designer to outline the specifics of their project, the details are not quite clear. The reality is most clients discover what they really want through the proofing process. The challenge here is that they don’t realize the demands they are making on their designer when they ask for a change here, and a change there. In their mind, the change is minor and should not require much effort on the part of the designer, but they often do not understand the process involved in making some of their change requests. That is why clients find themselves overwhelmed at increased costs for proofing and revisions when they have requested changes to the finished product.

The best way to demonstrate how this process works from the designer’s point-of-view is to share an actual example or case study of this type of scenario.


The image above is the original artwork for this project. We were asked to quote a list of line items for a children’s enrichment program that introduces preschool-age children to sports, dance, cheerleading and fitness with a focus on building confidence and team participation. After quoting the list, we received approval to begin work on their brochure.

To begin the project, the client provided a JPEG file of their last brochure. They wanted us to edit the image and build off the artwork they’d already created. Unfortunately, JPEG images are not editable.  To put things in perspective, it’s like trying to press backspace on a word that’s printed on a piece of paper; it just doesn’t work. This is something to always be mindful of as you provide files to your graphic designer.

The client’s first request was to remove the second sentence (the bold one) and replace it with “Try a Starz class and rest assured your child is in the best enrichment program on the market today!”  They also wanted to change the color of “dance, sports, cheer, and fitness.” Again, these changes seem quite simple. But, what the client did not realize was that you need to individually erase each letter and match the spots to the existing background before you can place the new desired text.




After making the initial changes, we went through several iterations of changing the “dance, cheer and fitness” content. In the first change, the color of the letters was changed a lighter color to make it stand out. The client wanted the words to ‘pop’ more which resulted in the changes you see in the above image. After reviewing this proof, the client’s reaction was we were getting close but not quite there. She wanted to see more ‘pop’ on those letters. In addition, they decided to completely remove the boy in the upper right hand corner and replace him with a cheerleader and a ballerina of different races to show diversity. This seems like a simple request, but it literally took over an hour to find images that matched their specific requests.


To create the best experience for the client and designer, map out your project in as much detail as possible in the beginning to avoid tedious, trial and error changes during the proofing stage.


For more information about the Starz Program and how it SHINES contact Sophia Wastler, founder.

Continue reading
310 Hits

The Courtship – the impact of handwritten notes



The Courtship – the impact of handwritten notes


You’ve gotten past the awkward moments of the first date and now you’re dating. This moment in the relationship can be described as bliss. Everything is so new. You’re truly in the honeymoon phase. Every little thing she does is cute. Every little habit he has is adorable. From their laugh to the way they crinkle their nose before a sneeze. This is also the phase of your relationship where your beloved will leave little love notes for you with everything from a love poem to “I miss you.” Don’t you remember passing love notes in elementary and middle school? Do you like me? Check yes or no.

The courtship between a company and employee is very much the same. When an employee starts a new job, they are in bliss. Everything is new and exciting. They enjoy coming to work every day. Each day they find out something new about the company that was better than their last job. They are in their honeymoon phase. But, as a company, what are you doing to extend these feelings of bliss past the honeymoon phase? How can you keep your employees happy and excited about working for you just as they were that first week they started? Have you ever thought about the power of a simple handwritten note?

In our electronic world of email, texts and social media, the art of a simple handwritten note has almost become lost. Even in the example of a couple courting these days, I’m not so sure that handwritten notes are even popular among couples anymore. Notes have been replaced by texts. But, a text cannot convey the sincerity of a handwritten note.

Why send a handwritten note to an employee?

Because it is rare. Handwritten notes are so uncommon these days that when someone takes the time to write one, it carries a lot of weight. The recipient feels appreciated because someone took the time to actually write a note to them. As a new employee getting acclimated into a new environment, this small act further solidifies their decision to join your company. It makes them feel more comfortable with the team they’ve chosen to align themselves with.



Token of appreciation. A handwritten note shows your employee that you appreciate them, and what better way to express that appreciation than taking the time to write a note to say so. Welcome your employees with more than just onboarding paperwork on their first day. Make them really feel welcomed. If your new employee is part of a team, write the note and have the whole team sign the note. What better way to make your new employee feel appreciated?

HanoverWelcomeCard AB Dec15


However, handwritten notes are crucial to developing and building relationships with your new employees that will lead to longer tenure with your company. But, the key is to maintain this program. Like a new relationship, don’t stop courting your new employee once they say “I do.” Continue to work on developing that relationship by communicating with them on a regular basis to show them how much you care and appreciate them.

Lori can be reached at 804-569-0527 , TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  





Continue reading
364 Hits

It's All Good

It's All Good

What lessons did we learn in the 2013 year?
The good, the bad and the ugly - It's All Good!

By now, many of us have either already set our goals for YR14 in to place, or - at least - we're considering what our goals will be.  Some of us find that putting our goals down on paper helps.  We plan to reflect on a monthly or quarterly basis with regard to what we accomplished within our goal set.  Even if only a few proactive steps were actually taken and the desired end-result has yet to be achieved, it's all good.


© image provided by; Reach For The Top Olympics 2014 Theme Song By Jeff Durand

Continue reading
809 Hits

Rusty Nails (Then & Now) - Thanks Dad!

Here in Virginia, in early June, my hydrangeas are popping out with big blue balls of flora.  As I admire them I remember strategically scattering rusty nails on top of the soil above their roots late last summer - that was one of my Dad's "tips".  Yes, Mom gave me lots of tips too, but with Father's Day around the corner, I was inspired to write this artical and share with whoever may appreciate it.


© Lori Brooks, Thanks Dad! June 12, 2013

Continue reading
934 Hits
1 Comment
SWaM-LOGO 70x30web  evalogo-70x30  socialicon-facebooksocialicon-linkedintwitter-xl4u  ASI ID bwsm  sage logo PPAI logoPSA WeAre-ppai icon c  UPIC-XL4U  VAPPA Logo70x30px  EWI-70x33