How to Use Instagram to Elevate Your Brand

A few folks have asked for the notes from my presentation from last Friday for The Baltimore Business Journal. So I've done one better—here are the take-aways from my talk.

This is my car, the one my husband found for me last October. It's a red Mini Cooper Countryman, and as I soon found out—it's the only one like it in all of Garrett County. I told the story of how I was stopped by a gentleman in a restaurant and asked about the car. He proceeded to tell me he had “seen me around.” This has now happened to me several times!

Creepy, right?!?

The reason I told this story is because, as anyone in marketing can tell you, we all have brands. We have personal brands, and we have company brands. My Mini Cooper has become part of my personal brand in Garrett County, but also is in line with my CurlyRed brand, because, duh, it’s red, but also it’s well-designed and memorable.

Instagram can be used much the same way.

When we moved, I decided, without a lot of intention, to post one picture a day to my Instagram feed. Now I’m up to day 294. Each day I find something beautiful or interesting to photograph. As you’ve seen, I even add a quote in Photoshop from time to time. Posting each day to Instagram helps to remind myself why we moved here, espeically on the days when the weather is less than ideal or I find myself face-to-face with homesickness.

Capturing new sights and adventures on my Instagram feed has led to the doubling of the size of my following. So I also occasionally feature CurlyRed work we create that I’m especially proud of—like this new website for a custom woodworking shop in Maryland.

Ok, Kendall, that’s nice and all, but what about me? How can Instagram help me?

I adore Instagram. It’s my favorite social media platform by far. I love that it’s primarily visual. I love that (for the most part) it has side-stepped much of the nonsense you find these days on Facebook. Over 600 million people are currently using Instagram, with 400 million of those users on the site daily.  55 percent of all 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States are using Instagram, but the platform has a broad age range in usage, unlike some other platforms.

BUT—I DON'T love that Instagram allows advertising. I don’t like how it messes with my user experience. Every bit of building my following has come organically from my content.

That being said, In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad. So it clearly works. If you are interested in building your brand or investing money on Instagram, let’s look at some best practices:

 This might go without saying, but your content MUST be visually compelling.
The copy should be the support, but the photo or video content must tell the story.

Tag People Involved. If this is a collaboration with other individuals or companies,
tag them to increase exposure and share the love.

Use Hashtags Often. This is the best way to get discovered by others,
and should be related to your content. A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s
unique to your business. It can be as simple as your company name, tagline,
or the name of one of your products or campaigns.

Use Geo Locations. This is another way to get discovered,
espeically if you're a small business local for local customers.
Image Carousels. If you’re going to advertise,
it’s a great way to feature multiple products. 

Instagram Stories ads. This feature changes the way Instagram
users interact with ads—allowing users to feel like they’re in the ad.

Instagram Insights (business accounts only). 
Analytics are good for tracking what's working and what's not working.

I hope these tips have been helpful! If you need additional help taking your
Instagram presence to the next level, please contact us.


Client Spotlight: W.C. Bird

In CurlyRed's ten years of business, I had a first last week:

I attended the funeral of a client. 

W.C. Bird, passed away unexpectedly on May 22nd, 2017 from heart complications. I had only known him a few short months. We were paired together after he invented and secured a patent for a baseball/softball training tool. W.C. was taking an Entrepreneur class at Garrett College and was hoping to win the business plan competition that was a part of the Power of Possibilities conference, just a few weeks before he passed away. 

Although he didn't win that competition, it was a joy and honor to work along side him. He was kind, caring, always smiling, extremely hard-working, never condescending (even though he could be my dad!), and full of integrity. 

A quick snippet from his obituary shows what an incredible human he has:

Walter Clifton WC Bird, 72, of Morgantown WV died unexpectedly May 22, 2017, from heart complications. WC was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church. A man of great compassion and personal caring, he was a trusted advisor and mentor to many. He had a particular expertise in helping people prepare to enter the workforce. His outreach went well beyond the career and employment spectrum. He touched lives in many different ways. 

Born in Morgantown, WV and a graduate of Morgantown High School he was a 1968 graduate of West Virginia University School of Journalism. While attending WVU, he was inducted in membership to Mountain, Sphinx, and the Scabbard & Blade honoraries. He was a 1965 initiate of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity which he continued to serve throughout his life. He is the immediate past President of the James Cochran House Association. He was a member of the WVU Letterman Club having earned his Varsity Letter in Tennis, a sport which he enjoyed his entire life. Upon graduation he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Signal Corp. He served a full tour in Vietnam where he earned the Bronze Star. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. 

After his service to the country, WC began a career with Scott Paper Company starting in sales and progressing through various management assignments. He retired as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Along with his wife, Madonna, his first venture after leaving the corporate world was to develop Ash Mill Farm, a bed and breakfast in Bucks County, PA which they operated for 7 years, welcoming the public into their home. He returned to Morgantown where he could enjoy a varied number of passions. 

He was an artist, architect, and inventor at heart. He was known for his carved and painted gourds. He loved designing and building a variety of things. Inspired by his grandchildren, he engineered a training device to help young baseball and softball players learn to hit and pitch for which he was awarded a patent. He took great pleasure in his affiliation with the Friends of the Art Museum. He tended his garden with the same love and care that he tended to people and his garden always flourished.

As I sat through the service, I was overwhelmed by emotion—not because we were very close, but because I wish I had known him longer. What an incredible legacy to leave behind—to be known first and foremost as someone who loves and serves others.


In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

This beautiful hymn called the “Hymn of Promise” by Natalie Sleeth, was written for her husband who had recently died. The lyrics resonated with me and seemed to be a perfect end to celebrate W.C's life. W.C., you will be very truly missed.


Upcoming Networking Event: A Lakefront Wedding Social

So exciting! CurlyRed had the awesome opportunity to create the branding and print design for this fun event (happening in one week), and here's what our client, Jessica Fike (who's helping organize this event), had to say:

“THANKS A MILLION for your participation in this event, Kendall! You’ve been wonderful to work with and I appreciate your generosity and creativity so much!”

Even better, CurlyRed is going to be a vendor! Come see us as we show off our services, particularly in the area of custom wedding stationery, like these pieces we created last year:

Come say hi and find out more! You can buy tickets here: https://squareup.com/store/garrett-county-wedding-professionals


An interview with Mark Ludwig: Vice-President and Director of Development for CurlyRed

Here's Mark, rocking a new 'do and favorite “old man sweater.”
We wanted to share a little more of Mark's story with you: his training, passions, and career moves that has led him to become CurlyRed's “web guru.” Mark has a very unique approach to online design and development, and brings his joy and silliness to the CurlyRed office. 

  1. What did you go to school for? What kind of artist did you think you would be when you graduated?
    I went to school for graphic design, and about two years into my program I met the head of the Industrial Design department (that was brand new), who convinced me to pursue Industrial Design as well. So not initially planning on that, I became a double major.
  2. How did you end up in web design and development?
    I always knew I was going to be a designer, I just didn’t know in what particular field. There was a limitation of knowledge on what options were available. I just assumed I would be working in-house somewhere.
  3. Why is the digital design space such a good fit for your personality?
    Balancing the design and the development really allows me to use both sides of my brain, in a way that strictly choosing one or the other wouldn’t have allowed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more interested in mathematics and problem-solving. Web development specifically speaks to that desire.
  4. What was the hardest thing you had to learn in regards to web design?
    Two things. 1) There are so many different technologies that each have their own nuances that make developing a challenge. 2) In web development, it’s more about the actual function in some cases, as opposed to just looking nice. Regardless of how it looks, it has to work.
  5. What class do you wish you would have taken in college? Why?
    I wish it would have been a requirement to take both marketing and computer science. For the marketing, coming out of school, you have really no preparation for the business side of design. And even a basic knowledge of marketing principles and practices would have greatly helped.

    For computer science, it would have broadened my understanding of various coding languages that could have led me down other paths.
  6. You went from being an in-house marketing/designer to running a creative wing of an ad agency. What was the biggest difference between those two work environments? What are the pros and cons of both?
    Biggest differences were variation of work from day to day was stronger in an agency and our clients were the final decision-makers. For in-house design, the only client is the owner of the company. Time was another factor that was a big difference. Time expectations were more demanding in an agency, and there was more lenience with timing at my in-house position.
  7. How long have you been working with CurlyRed?
    Back in 2011, I worked officially for CurlyRed one day a week. But even before then, I was supporting CurlyRed with client and in-house work since the beginning. Just this February, I officially came on full-time.
  8. Why did working full-time at CurlyRed make sense to you?
    I strongly believe in Kendall’s vision for the company, and her desire to expose all businesses to good design, regardless of size. And more than any other company I’ve ever worked for, I align myself with that vision.
  9. What is it about your current position that you enjoy most?
    Getting to work with my wife everyday, helping her to grow her business and passion. I also love providing elegant design solutions for our clients and the positive response we get when we’ve really nailed it.
  10. What is your current approach to a new web design/development project?
    Most importantly, understanding exactly what a client needs and providing our knowledge of current design trends and practices to not only meet their needs, but push their design in a direction that puts them on the forefront in their industry.
  11. Speaking of trends, which ones are you seeing pop up? What trends need to die already?
    Clean, flat design is something that feels like it’s here to stay. From websites to apps, design has simplified itself to put the information first and make the user experience as straight-forward as possible. With that, there’s less emphasis on making “realistic” UIs and getting away from gradients, complex photographic imagery and multiple font faces. In most cases, the best design in the world is the most clean and simple, removing all of the clutter.
  12. Why should someone choose CurlyRed for their new website?
    I think one of the many things we do well is to truly understand the tone and voice of our clients, and create design solutions that reflect them. It’s very easy and inexpensive to find off the shelf templates that can fulfill the need of a website or logo, but in most cases those do not reflect who the client is and what audience they are targeting. With that being said, that is the main reason why we choose to make everything 100% custom. This allows us to have a more intimate knowledge of our client because of the dialogue we have, and enables us to deliver exactly what they want.
    And we’re the best. Boom.

Thanks, Mark! We love that all of our clients now benefit from your skills and expertise. Do you need help with your next web, branding or print design project? Contact us today, we're ready to help.


Featured Client: Write Faye Write

Projects are always so much more fun when you’re helping friends reach their goals. This project was no exception.

Faye Rivkin is exceedingly talented and an all-around great woman. We’ve run in the same networking and creative circles for years, so it was CurlyRed's pleasure to create a fully-custom, responsive Wordpress website that was as one-of-a-kind as she is. We came to the unusual decision to create a fully-illustrated website, instead of using photography. Faye wanted something that felt vintage and handcrafted. We mirrored that desire in the color palette and typography. The result is an unforgettable online presence that effortlessly showcases Faye's extensive writing portfolio and service offerings.

Here’s what Faye had to say:

“I am thrilled with the site CurlyRed created for me. They took my thoughts and ideas, which were all over the place, and created a gorgeous site that truly represents who I am and what I do. I can’t recommend them enough.”

Congrats, Faye! 

Interested in working with CurlyRed? We’d love to work with you to bring your ideas to life. Contact us today.


Featured client: Concept Wood Design

We are pleased to show you CurlyRed's newest fully custom and responsive Wordpress website project: Concept Wood Design, a Maryland wood shop for lovers of natural wood creations. 

From CWD's website: We select wood from the best available for the project. We strive to capture the wonder and beauty of nature’s gift to us. We specialize in conception to final product. A work in design and function for every item crafted. Our specialties include installed cabinets and casings to furniture and implements.

Concept Wood Design's pledge is: From our shop to your home, we deliver our creations without reservations. You will be satisfied with the product made for you.

Concept Wood Design delivers:
• Onsite design and layout
• Handcrafted wood finishes
• Domestic and imported hardwoods
• Hand selected figured woods from regional saw mills
• Uses reclaimed lumber and hardware
• Traditional and contemporary design work

In order to showcase this beautiful work, we wanted to use full-size imagery, woodblock typography, and an earthy color palette. The end result is a website almost as eye-catching at Concept Wood Design's work! If you need an bold, one-of-a-kind website for your business or non-profit, please don't hesitate to contact us.


More chances to see Kendall speak, all over Maryland!

Happy Thursday, everyone! We’re excited that M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer, will be presenting on the following dates:

1. Friday, April 28th, 2017, 2pm. Kendall will be presenting at the Power of Possibilities Summit on “How to Create a Dynamic and Powerful Website.” This talk will explore the different options one has when creating a new website, and things every website should include. Kendall will also talk about the crucial steps in the process of creating a website that's user-friendly, responsive, easy-to-navigate, visually compelling, and drives the viewer to a call-to-action. This talk is perfect for business owners or heads of organizations that don't yet have a web presence or are considering a re-vamp of an existing website. The summit will take place at Garrett College.

2. Wednesday, May 17th, 7pm. Kendall will be presenting at “PechaKucha” at the Cornucopia Cafe in Grantsville. PechaKucha Night, now in over 900 cities, was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Kendall will show 20 slides for 20 seconds each and discuss. This event is open to the public!

3. Friday, June 16th, 8:00am –11:30am. Our friend Andrew Rose has invited Kendall to speak on Instagram on as part of Baltimore Business Journal's Social Media Seminar Series. This event will be held at the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center at 6501 N Charles St, Towson, MD 21204.

We hope you can make it out to one of these events!

good design for everyone