22 Feb

Pepper Talk with Jill Nemec

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re snooping into the inner-working mind of Jill N. Just a little background before we get started: Jill is a Senior User Experience Designer and has been with Eleven Peppers for a little over 4 years… get ready for her 5 year anniversary interview in September! If you’re ever in the need of someone for a Murder Mystery party, she’s your gal! Read her Q&A below!


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Oh lots and lots – Jilly, Jill the Pill, Jilly Bean, Jillian, Jill the Thrill and what I call myself when I’m irritated or exasperated with myself… Bean.

 

 2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Look at all the texts that have rolled in throughout the night from my 19 family members (mostly nonsense, but sometime emergencies), open up the blinds for all my high maintenance plants, drink hot water, and start getting dressed.

 

 3: How would you describe your design style?
Simplicity.

 

4: How did you get started?
Started at Seattle University pursuing a degree in Social Work and after two years I reevaluated and took a hard turn transferring far away to Virginia Tech and into their Architecture program. After receiving my BS at VT I decided I still needed some more education (my parents were of course overjoyed) and headed to Savannah, GA to SCAD to get my MFA in Graphic Design.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorites: First and foremost my retired type A personality Father/My Personal Assistant aka Papa Joe (gotta keep him busy). Along with Google Calendar, Timers, ibooks and Nook, Alexa (when we aren’t in an argument), and my first love AutoCAD.

Worst: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram… sensing a trend!?!?

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Ask lots of questions, research, ask questions again, get some hot water, and then jump in.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Architecture mostly, patterns, and textures (I have to touch everything so museums can be extremely frustrating).

 

 8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Moderate Caffeine via Nespresso or fellow pepper, Albert–my favorite Barista
Sweet or Savory: Savory
Favorite Movie: Field of Dreams
Guilty Pleasure: Psycho thrillers/Murder Mysteries
Hobbies: Skiing (snow and water), paddle boarding, cleaning and organizing (seriously), screen printing, reading, rock collecting, hiking

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
The Roomba!


Thanks for meeting Jill N. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

13 Feb

PCI Logo Development Deep Dive

A logo is a key element to a successful brand identity. For most potential customers or clients, it’s the first impression they have with a company. Immediately, many judgements can be made, though they might not all be true. A company’s personality or energy, the type of experience a customer will encounter, the level of quality of advertised service or product, even what this service or product will cost, can all be reflected in a logo. For these reasons, it’s vital to ensure your company’s logo embodies your corporate personality and product or service being sold.

When embarking on a logo rebrand, like the one we created for PCI, Eleven Peppers Studios (EPS) meets with our clients to gather as much data we can to help influence or design decisions. Most times we like to know: Who is your primary demographic? What is your corporate culture? How would you like to see your business grow? How would you like your business to be perceived? How does your company differentiate from the competition? Along with many more questions…

PCI was facing a pivotal moment in their history. Not only were they about to celebrate 10 years in business but they had outgrown their name, formerly PCI Strategic Management. Their old name did not accurately encompass all of the unique services they provide and could mistakenly pigeon-hole them as “just” a strategic management company. This combined with a logo design that could be perceived as outdated, is a perfect recipe for a rebrand!

Lucky for EPS, PCI was completely open to our creative process. After doing extensive research and gathering information on PCI, like an Autumn squirrel hoarding nuts, EPS begins the mind mapping and sketching phase. It’s best to get several Peppers involved in this process since designing a logo is no easy feat. A simple solution can take months (and months) of sketching and revisions. Below is a snapshot of some of our sketching and logo development process.

 

 

PCI’s initial logo was conservative, unimaginative and most importantly did not reflect their corporate brand. The final PCI logo solution incorporates the flame symbol that was subtly visible in their previous logo but now in a modern and energetic way. The dynamic nature of the flame represents PCI’s expansive capability offerings and reach as a firm. This dynamic mark combined with the movement of the typography, represents the role PCI plays in overcoming challenges. Overall, the forward motion of the logo is a fitting metaphor for PCI’s ability to adapt to the evolving needs of their customers.

 

 

We’re so pleased with how we’ve been able to evolve this brand and look forward to expanding this style and this energy to the rest of their marketing collateral and website.


WRITTEN BY
Melissa London
Art Director at 11P, Toddler Influencer, Wine and Cheese Enthusiast, Maker of Crafty Things.

 

 

09 Feb

Celebrating Women in Tech Through the Years

In recent years, it’s been noted that we need more women in the technology field. The truth is, women have been involved in technology for decades. Unfortunately their stories haven’t made it to the forefront of our history lessons. To encourage more women to join the ranks of these pioneers, it is vital that we recognize those who have forged ahead and made advances in the tech industry. We need female role models in order to inspire young women to dive into technology at an early age.

Below is a brief history and timeline of women over the years who have shaped and impacted the tech industry. From designers to mathematicians, these women changed the world we live in with their innovative spirits and groundbreaking inventions.

Ada Lovelace – 1800’s
Recognized as the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage’s “Analytical Engine” design by translating lecture notes from French to English. During her work, Ada discovered many errors and realized the machine could be used for more than calculation. In 1843, she created the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine – thus creating the first concept of a computer operating system.

 

 

Edith Clarke – 1920’s
Known as a human computer, Edith Clarke was the first woman to earn her master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She invented the Clarke calculator which computed electrical systems equations 10 times faster than existing methods and worked on the construction of the Hoover Dam. In 2015, Clarke was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 

 

Grace Hopper – 1940-50’s
Admiral Grace Hopper was a huge believer in change and fought the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way,” her whole career. Prior to language-based computer programming, computers used binary code. Enter Grace, who took on programming in English which sparked the development of the common business-oriented language (COBOL) that is still widely used today.

 

 

Katherine Johnson – 1950-60’s
Ever since she could remember, Katherine Johnson loved math. It was this love that eventually lead her to NASA where she worked on crucial missions including the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. At NASA, Katherine calculated the trajectories, launch windows, and emergency back-up return paths for numerous missions. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and recently NASA renamed a facility after Katherine to honor her efforts.

 

 

Susan Kare – 1980-90’s
Graphic designer Susan Kare is responsible for developing some of Apple’s signature graphics. Although the graphics look simple, they are incredibly difficult to design. Think about it – she created a way to communicate different technologies via pictures, making them crystal clear to each user. These innovations are still used as icons to this day. Susan was honored for her efforts with an AIGA Medal, a prestigious award in the design world.

 

 

Megan Smith – 2010’s
First female Chief Technical Officer of the White House, Megan Smith is a huge advocate for women in STEM fields. Before working at the White House during the Obama Administration, she served as Vice President of Business Development at Google and CEO of PlanetOut, a leading LGBT online community. Megan is currently the CEO and founder of shift7, an organization that works in partnership on systemic economic, social, and environmental challenges.

 


WRITTEN BY
Cindy Madden
Contributor at 11P, Wordsmither, Lover of Foods Wrapped in Dough, Proud Cat Lady.

 

 

 

Ada Lovelace. Digital image. Scientific American. 10 October 2017, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/image.
Edith Clarke. Digital image. Wikipedia. 27 January 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Clarke.
Grace Hopper. Digital image. Vassar College. 06 July 2017, https://stories.vassar.edu/image.
Katherine Johnson. Digital image. NASA. 24 November 2015, https://www.nasa.gov/image.
Susan Kare. Digital image. PLOS. 22 November 2011, https://blogs.plos.org/neurotribes/image.
Megan Smith. Digital image. NPR. 04 November 2014, https://www.npr.org/image.

30 Jan

Pepper Talk with Katie Long

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re getting cozy with Katie L. Just a little background before we get started: Katie L is fairly new to Eleven Peppers Studio. She mostly works on projects for the government sector but occasionally contributes content for 11P blogs and social media posts. Read her Q&A below!


1: Do you have any nicknames?
KT, KTor, Cyber Mama, Buckaroo, Auntie Shark

 

 2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit the snooze button! Then I lay there either dozing until it goes off again or sleepily telling my cat I’ll feed him in a minute. I’m definitely not a morning person so I’m slow to wake up. I like to enjoy my coffee at home before I hit the road. That’s really for the safety of everyone.

 

 3: How would you describe your writing style?
When it comes to what I contribute to the 11P blogs and social media posts, I like things that come from my own personal experience and/or my heart. If I’m writing a blog post, I’m going to pull from something I’ve seen or dealt with even if it’s not directly talked about in my writing. In the work I do for the government, I’m all about creating content that is clear and concise. I write documentation for software so I have to make sure that the customers that will be using it can use what I’ve written to navigate through the software when they’re learning to use it instead of needing to call for help. I end up doing a lot of translating from developer speak to English.

 

4: How did you get started?
Wow… that’s a long story. I went to Towson University for Mass Communication with a focus in Public Relations. I really wanted to work for the Washington Capitals (back before they were the STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS) in their youth hockey outreach program, but I ended up as a front desk receptionist for the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. I moved from that Commission to an administrative position with the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves and when that wrapped up I got an administrative job at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL). This is where I really gained the experience for what I’m doing now.

 

The group I was working with developed software that was being used at military cyber exercises – think war games or capture the flag, but in cyber space. I started traveling with a large group of people (25+) from APL to logistically support the team on site. I had to fill my time somehow so I started getting familiar with the software and then I was helping run between teams to get information on issues they were having and moved on to troubleshooting issues. By the time I moved on from APL (9 years after I started there), I was going to smaller scale exercises as the only person on site from APL to help install and run the software and I was running software training for everyone at the larger exercises.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Pen and paper. I take TONS of notes in meetings. Anything that I’ll share with my team is written on the lines, but the things I’m noting for myself (something I want to research more or something I need to do) goes in the margins.

 

The team I’m on now does agile software development so we use JIRA a lot. Before joining my current team I hated it, but I have to admit it’s growing on me.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Devour as much background information as I can get my hands on and then hit the ground running.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, news articles… as previously mentioned, I like to devour as much information as possible and that Google search bar is my bff.

 

 8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz
Sweet or Savory: Sweet… I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like
Favorite Movie: Fried Green Tomatoes
Guilty Pleasure: Snarky memes, Downton Abbey (obviously the Dowager is my favorite character), true crime shows/podcasts
Hobbies: Genealogy, obstacle course racing, working out, reading (although lately it’s mostly audio books for me)


Thanks for meeting Katie L. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

23 Jan

Insider’s Guide to Social Media: Tips for 2019

Social media platforms across the board faced many controversies in 2018 including multiple privacy and data issues. Per Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report, 60% of people no longer trust social media companies. So what does this mean for you and your social media marketing plans for 2019? There are several ways you can still connect with your audience to build or regain trust in the current climate. Here are some you can try in the New Year:

Building Trust

Audiences are looking for authenticity and do not want to be fooled by advertisers. It is, therefore, extremely important to properly label paid advertising posts and not go overboard with targeted ads. All of your content needs to be authentic. What does that mean? It means the voice of your organization needs to be genuine to reflect the values of your business. Find ways and avenues to connect with your audience and have meaningful conversations. Or, allow your audience to have those conversations with each other by creating a Facebook group outside of your business page. This encourages engagement about your brand without having to include heavy-handed advertising.

Human Connection

Another way to establish a good rapport with your audience is bringing in the human element. No one wants to interact with a generic automaton – your audience wants to know that there is a real human behind your brand. To add the personal touch to your social media feed, try a blog, podcast, or webinar series from your organization’s owner or another prominent leader in the business. This will give your business a face and a voice that people can relate to on a personal level as well as provide you with an opportunity for strengthening your brand’s reputation.

Storytelling

While not new to the social media scene, stories allow organizations to present a real, immediate, and personal look into their brand. Stories are also gaining momentum in recent years. Their creation and consumption is up 842 percent since early 2016, according to consulting firm Block Party. The best way to share stories is to keep them in their raw, unedited form which will lend to their authenticity. Stories also work most effectively when multiple medias are used within them including text, images, and video.

Now that you have some tips for social media in the New Year, go forth and post on.


WRITTEN BY
Cindy Madden
Contributor at 11P, Wordsmither, Lover of Foods Wrapped in Dough, Proud Cat Lady.

01 Jan

Year in Review: 2018

Instead of a boring list of all of our accomplishments in 2018, I thought it would be more fitting to SHOW what made this year (and every year) the best one yet… OUR PEOPLE. From engagements, weddings, graduations and pregnancy/birth announcements, to promotions and celebrating our 5 year anniversary with a HUGE trip to Disney World, to being named one of the Best Places to Work by Baltimore Business Journal, and growing our pepper family by more than a third with 100% retention… the faces in these photos are what make Eleven Peppers Studios so amazing.

2018 was one for the record books and we can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!


WRITTEN BY
Kristen Parks
Business Owner, Momma, Jazzercise Lover, List Maker.

18 Dec

2018 Gift Guide: Last Minute Ideas for Creatives

Shopping for the Creatives Pros in your life can be tricky. I mean really, how many soft-brush marker pens could they possibly need? All of them… at least that’s the answer I’ve found most accurate. Well today, I am bringing you an all-inclusive Gift Guide that will cover ANY type of creative on your list! Oh, and did I mention they are all Amazon Prime eligible? So, even if you’re like me and wait until the very last minute for the “perfect” idea to magically pop into your head, you’ll be covered.

All product names and descriptions will be linked at the bottom… PS this is in no way affiliated, we just love these products and wanted to share… HERE WE GO!

1 – For the Typography Lover: The “I’m silently judging your font choice” t-shirt is perfect for your overly-enthusiastic font lovers and judgers and comes in men, women, and youth sizes.

2 – For the Visual Thinkers: This classic, cloth-covered Grids and Guides notebook provides 160 pages of varied grid designs with a handful of illustrations and graphs dispersed throughout. Just as suitable for capturing to-do lists as it is sketches.

3 – For those who Get their Best Ideas in the Shower: We’ve all had it happen, you think of something ingenious only to have it fly out of your brain before you can write it down. Never again, well, at least not while you’re in the shower. Aqua Notes, thank you for solving the age-old problem in at least one room of the house.

4 – For the Storyteller: The Storymatic Classic includes 540 unique prompt cards to help unlock your imagination. This is a wonderful gift for content creators, writers, or even those who just like to tell a good story.

5 – For Kids: Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave by Jessica Hische is a beautifully illustrated book that encourages kids to look towards tomorrow, to dream big, to promise to do new things.

6 – For 3D Artists: Here’s one for all of our 3-dimensional medium artists or really anyone, because it is just so fun! The 3Doodler Create Pen is such a unique and versatile gift, great for all ages and skill level.

7 – For the Dreamers: Know someone who needs a creativity pep-talk? Maybe you are that person, I know I am. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert delivers just that. Gilbert shows us how to push past our fears and be brave in our creative abilities.

8 – For the Graphic Designers: This Adobe Illustrator Keyboard Hot Keys Silicone Skin will have your friends spending less time remembering shortcuts and more time creating!

9 – For the Illustrators: Okay, well it wouldn’t be a Gift Guide for Creatives unless I threw in some Brush Marker Pens… and these are Metallic!

10 – For the Lover all things Retro: You know the person… saved the first edition Nancy Drew novels from her parent’s house and prefers real books over audio books. This throwback Typewriter Coaster set will please any retro home decor lover.

11 – For Anyone: Had to throw in a mug, it is getting colder after all. This Think Outside, Leave the Box At Home mug  is a wonderful, daily reminder for any creative to just break through any boundary or “box” in their way.

I hope you found this guide helpful, please tag us on social media (Instagram|Facebook) if you know someone who would love one of these gifts. Happy Prime-ing everyone!


WRITTEN BY
Katie Burns
Holiday Lover, Digital Marketing Manager at 11P, Laughs at Her Own Jokes.

11 Dec

Brand Perception: It’s Everywhere

I was recently on a Netflix binge of the show “Designated Survivor” when the word brand caught my attention. Something said by President Tom Kirkman had been taken out of context and now a senator was attempting to use it for political gain. In the scene, President Kirkman’s staff were expressing concern that this would have a significant negative effect on his brand. His staff went on to explain that Tom Kirkman’s brand is the people’s President, the average Joe and Jane President, and the out of context statement being used by the senator made it seem that President Kirkman was calling these same people suckers. Not a good thing if you want to stay in good standing with your constituents (or customers). I found it interesting that branding itself would be a topic – albeit not the main one – on a show that’s mostly about political intrigue and hunting down the enemy so I thought I’d dive into what brand means in this context and why it’s so important.

If you google branding, you’ll come up with definitions, articles, listings for local companies and YouTube videos. Digging into those top few definitions and articles will yield results that talk about logos, colors, terms, slogans and even branding cattle. If you scroll a little further down those original search results, you’ll find that Shopify defines branding as “all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes.” This is closer to the meaning of brand that the staffers on Designated Survivor were concerned about, but I think the closest I came across comes from Marty Neumeier’s book, “The Brand Gap” which defines brand as “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.” In other words, it comes down to how you or your company/product/service are perceived by your customers.

So how do you ensure that your brand is perceived the way you want it to be? Here are a couple of key things to consider:

  1. Have a clear vision. Know where you want your brand to go and what you want your brand to do. It’s often helpful if your vision includes how your brand will benefit others. You don’t just want to make a really cool product. You want to make a really cool product that positively impacts the lives of your customers.
  2. Be consistent. Your message has to be clear across the board. This goes for what you say, what your staff says and how you and your staff portray your brand. If you, your press secretary or even your intern don’t understand or can’t get behind your message, then you’re not presenting a united front and you lose credibility.
  3. Be engaged and accessible. In the age of social media, customers need to be able to reach out to the brands that they do business with. Regularly posting new content, responding to feedback and encouraging your customers to be involved with your company via social media makes them feel included. If your customers see that they can be part of your brand, they are much more likely to become and/or remain loyal customers.

As with most TV shows, the episode ended with the misunderstanding being righted and the American people back on President Kirkman’s side. If only righting misunderstandings was as easy as it is on TV. This is part of why it is so critical to ensure your brand is properly perceived by your current and potential customers. At the end of the day, the perception of your brand can determine your success whether that’s the success of a product, a service or a political career.


WRITTEN BY
Katie Long
Life-long Marylander, Content Creator at 11P, Obstacle Course Racing Enthusiast.

04 Dec

Celebrating 5 Years: Rebecca Popka

Could the end of 2018 get any better? Multiple promotion announcements, holiday get-togethers, and our SECOND 5 Year Pepper-versary!!! This time we are celebrating the wonderful Rebecca Popka.  Rebecca (or Popka as we fondly call her) also took a leap of faith as our first Commercial Team employee, working hand-in-hand with owner Kristen Parks. Rebecca worked on everything from 11p in-house marketing efforts and social media, to client branding projects and full website redesigns. Rebecca’s commercial team work even earned her an ADDY award for her 11p holiday hot chocolate kit design. Since then, Rebecca continues to wow and amaze her clients and teammates with her incredible talent and work ethic. We’re so lucky to have her in the pepper family! Check out this graphic for more info about Rebecca, and read our special interview:


 

 

1: What do you like most about working at 11P? I love everything about 11p but what I like the most is everyone’s amazing talent that makes them a unique pepper.

 

2: What is a favorite 11P memory (in words or in sketch)? The most memorable was the wonderful opportunity to visit Disney, “Where Dreams Come True,” to celebrate the company’s 5thanniversary.

 

3: What is your favorite Holiday present ever received from 11P? Hands down Walt Disney World, which was a complete surprise.

 

4: What is your favorite 11P event? I’ve always been an avid gamer so when 11p announced a game night I was ready for some table top fun. There were a lot of new games I never played before that I enjoyed like Telestrations and One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

 

5: If you were a pepper, what type of pepper would you be and why? A Pepperoncini. It’s a common pepper with a dash of spicy that’s been pickled, which is a favorite thing of mine (picked foods).

 

6: Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice: 11p is a unique company with a close-knit family of peppers who are always supportive and there for any type of advice. The pepper chat channel has always been my go-to for creative guidance.

 

7: Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you: Kate Rodman is an incredible illustrator whose passion and amazing talent is beautifully moving. Her work is always inspirational.

 

8: My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

 

Get to know Rebecca a little bit better…

1: If you could pick 2 fonts that you had to work with forever, which would they be?
Helvetica Neue and Cambo.

 

2: What design trend do you wish would just die already?
Bevel and emboss, especially when new Photoshop users discover this “effect”.

 

3: What designer/artists do you admire?
I really like the artist René Magritte, a Belgian surrealist who captured thought-provoking images that challenges a viewer’s perception of reality. He had a distinct and creative way of displaying ordinary objects out of context, giving new meanings to familiar things.

 

4: What do you love most about being a mom?
Watching my son grow and learn new things is exciting but what I really love is the sweet yet brief moments when he gives a hug, a kiss, or even wants to cuddle.

 

5: What did you do for Thanksgiving?
Cancun, fun in the sun – drinks, a spa day, and some tasty tacos al pastor.

 

6: We know you’re an avid Disney World fan, what is your favorite ride?
Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved the Pirates of the Caribbean ride even before the popularity of Jack Sparrow. Being immersed in their story while listening to the catchy music in the dark has always been a favorite of mine. One day I would love to experience Shanghai Disneyland’s ride, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, as the visual effects look incredible.

 

7: If you could dine with any Disney character, who would it be?
As a fan of Star Warsit’s got to be Han Solo and Chewbacca in Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana listening to their adventures as smugglers and joining the Rebel Alliance to Restore the Republic.

 

8: Where is the furthest you’ve traveled from home?
I’ve traveled to a lot of different places but the furthest I’ve gone is to Thailand. The plane ride alone was about 24 hours (not counting layovers)…loooongest travel day EVER but well worth it. It was great traveling to different cities, sight-seeing, and eating a ton of delicious food even the infamous durian, not a fan.

 

9: Any secret talents or hobbies?
Before having a baby I loved gaming. Anything from table top to console to PC gaming, which for each I enjoyed playing Geister Geister Schatzsuchmeister, The Legend of Zelda, and World of Warcraft. I would even host a game night every couple of months but post baby most of my time is now occupied entertaining him. When he gets older I hope to share some of the games that I’ve always enjoyed with him.