The Women's Journal

The Art of Finishing Touches

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Ara Atkinson-Skinner offers creative solutions to business owners, entrepreneurs, art directors, authors, writers and discerning clientele Make Their Mark”   with distinct unforgettable original illustrations and creative design .

By Ara Atkinson-Skinner

Ara Illustrated Studio Group

  I recently took my granddaughter shopping for some school supplies which required a trip to one of her favorite Designer stores. They were having a big sale, so she was able to purchase a beautiful quilted book bag and a few other accessories. The whole shopping experience was wonderful, from the clerk asking if she could assist us, to the great use of space and organization of products on the shelves. That’s saying something too, because even with all the bold intricate design patterns, you think that would overwhelm you, but somehow it all blended well, allowing for a relaxed calming experience. This is not an accident, every detail has been carefully and strategically thought out and executed, it is the “The Vera Bradley® Brand experience”. When we were checking out, the last thing I received was a beautiful palm- size envelope in the Vera Bradley® signature green color (matching back to the beautiful shopping bag topped with tissue paper) with my receipt tucked inside. It may seem trivial, but it made me feel special. This is a good example of those extra special finishing touches that can make all the difference in becoming a memorable BRAND!

Does every business need to go to that degree of BRAND designed receipt envelopes & packaging? The answer, “No, of course not, BUT I’m sure each business can do something memorable depending what you are selling and who you are trying to attract to your business (your “ideal” client/customer)”. More importantly, are you building your BRAND and is it congruent throughout the experience for the client/customer? Today, there are some very reasonable options to BRAND building and some are FREE. Do you have your own Brand Promise or tag line? How do you want to make your client/customer feel or experience with your products or services? Always start with, “treat people the way you want to be treated”. Do your clients/customers know you appreciate them? Then turn it around, do your clients/customers appreciate you for what you are giving them? If you answered, “I’m not sure” to either question, then it’s time to do something about that. Start small, one small step at a time and build it.

Promoting your BRAND is ongoing with multiple layers of marketing. People need to be reminded, that’s where building a strong 4 Senses BRAND Experience is so vital. It helps preventing your clients/customers from looking elsewhere. Do you have a Signature BRAND phone call response? How do you treat client/customer calls & meetings? What have you done lately to show your appreciation? Building a Power BRAND doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient, but keep building with all those little extra finishing touches that can go a long way to keep & build appreciative and loyal clients/customers!


“Ara at Ara Illustrated has been fantastic in trying to capture all that we do at Del Arts into one complete and clean logo, while incorporating elements of our old logo to help with the transition to the new!  We didn’t make it easy for her – there are 4 co-owners, so it took a lot of patience on Ara’s part to keep going back to the drawing board to create a logo we all loved!  She did it, though, and we couldn’t be more pleased! She has continued to see our rebranding through all its stages, from new signage to new advertising copy.  The stress of having her design our ads has taken a ton off of my plate, and we feel extremely lucky to have Ara in our corner!” –  Tracy Friswell-Jacobs, Delaware Arts Conservatory

“Ara’s designs really helped my business.  It gave me a more professional approach to how I market myself.  It really has taken my business to the next level.” –  Joan Gennarini, Rekindled Spirits

“Capturing our branding and essence of who we are perfectly, Ara Atkinson-Skinner, ever the artist, over delivers and wows us every single time.  Her ability to continually and excellently create supporting illustrations, allows us to keep expanding our vision verbally knowing she will match it with visually. We’re thrilled that our partnership and collaboration continues to grow and keeps us creatively on the cutting-edge. We have Ara to thank for seeing our brand through such a beautiful lens.” –  Donna Duffy, 3E Marketing Solutions

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AraIllustratedJanuary2016_Layout 1

AraIllustratedJanuary2016_Layout 1