September 22, 2014
Posted By: MSLK

MSLK-GCI-State-of-the-Industry-Issue
GCI Beauty Magazine asked MSLK to demonstrate how creating distinct audience profiles can inspire a unique beauty brand. We’ve found that clear profiles are invaluable tools for the success of any brand. They free us from personal bias, enabling all parties to make objective decisions at every step of the brand creation process. This article appears in GCI’s September 2014 issue, “State of the Industry,” and a recap appears here:

In today’s crowded marketplace, brands have an extremely limited time to engage customers. Therefore, it’s imperative to captivate your “it” girl or guy quickly and easily.

To do this, marketers need to understand what makes their customers tick by clearly defining targeted audience profiles. The goal of this process is to gain an in-depth understanding of your customers on all levels, from their demographics and motivations, to how and where they shop. This knowledge will lay the foundation for all strategies moving forward, allowing a unique voice and visual design to emerge naturally. Your brand will be set up for success, containing all of the visual and verbal triggers to speak to your customers directly and succinctly.

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July 25, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

DSC_5248-copy2When Marc and I first started MSLK back in 1998, I was armed and ready with lots of training as graphic designer. However, like almost every other design business owner before me, I’d never received any training on how to run a business, much less a graphic design business, which has its own unique challenges.

My formal training had shown me how to translate the spoken and unspoken needs of a business into compelling visuals. I could simplify messaging, choose the right typeface, colors, and imagery, but I barely knew how to guide a client through that process. After all, I wasn’t pulling a prefabricated design off the shelf, but rather creating something unique for each client and starting from scratch each time.

So that’s how I sold creative. We are going to create something unique and custom-tailored just for you. It will never have been done before because it’s just for you. Then I’d show them all the beautiful visuals in my portfolio of lovely artifacts I had created for other clients. If I was lucky there was a solution in there that was similar to a challenge the prospective client was experiencing. Then I could talk about that similarity; but mostly what I was selling was style alone. I was also inadvertently selling risk. Take a chance with us because we are so innovative and creative we don’t have a set process.

It was around this time that some colleagues, Marc, and I started the group Spark. Spark is a group of design business owners who get together each month to talk about the issues relevant to running a design firm. Instantly, I saw a few themes emerge:
1. Every design business owner felt exactly the same as we did, and were experiencing the same challenges.
2. All of them were trained as graphic design practitioners with little to no experience running a business.
3. Each designer was inventing his or her own solutions, akin to silently working on reinventing the wheel without even knowing that a wheel exists.
4. Everyone was lonely and sought more camaraderie and support. Read more

June 23, 2014
Posted By: Marc

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MSLK’s Creative Director and Principal, Marc S Levitt was invited to speak on HuffPo Live about what inspires graphic designers to strive for greatness in what is basically an “invisible” field. Marc is featured in author David Zweig’s fantastic new book “Invisibles: The Power of Invisible Work in An Age of Relentless Self Promotion.”

June 16, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

GCI- Beauty OnlineGCI beauty magazine asked MSLK to share our perspective on online marketing. Our perspective is although technology is essential for developing a strong website, engaging content and user experience is far more valuable for beauty brands. A recap of this article is below.

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April 10, 2014
Posted By: Marc

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For Immediate Press Release:

Long Island City, NY — April 10, 2014

MSLK announced today that their website design for premiere artist representative agency Friend + Johnson has been honored for Best website in the 18th Annual Webby Awards. Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The IADAS, which nominates and selects The Webby Award Winners, is comprised of web industry experts, including media mogul Arianna Huffington, Skype CEO Tony Bates, Mozilla CEO and Chair Mitchell Baker, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, mobile-phone inventor Martin Cooper, and Creator of the Gif Steve Wilhite.

MSLK’s iconic branding and design for Friend + Johnson’s website uses the latest technology and trends — with a fluid layout which adapts to devices at all sizes, as well as lightbox and social sharing integration.

“Honorees like MSLK are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 12,000 entries we received this year.”

“We took everything we’ve learned over the past 16 years designing award-winning, user-focused portfolio sites and applied it to the Friend + Johnson website,” said Marc S Levitt, Partner and Creative Director of MSLK.  “It was a careful balancing act, combining two goals which are often in opposition: having the largest imagery possible, while also keeping the F+J brand prominent so that it is top-of-mind amongst the world’s most discerning art buyers and art directors. I believe we succeeded in doing that, as well as creating a site that is very easy to navigate. We were also very excited to partner with the development team, Lookbooks, making the most of their amazing technology platform.”

The website features a Pinterest-style home page showing a wide variety of new portfolio images and news items relating to Friend + Johnson’s exciting roster of talent. Individual artist pages feature large imagery with easy-to-navigate thumbnails available only one click away at any time. A frequently updated blog keeps an actively engaged audience informed of all agency and artists news and achievements.

 The 18th Annual Webby Awards received 12,000 entries from over 60 countries and all 50 states. Out of all the 12,000 entries submitted, fewer than 15% received this honor and were deemed an Official Honoree.

About MSLK
MSLK is an NYC-based design and marketing agency specializing in 360° solutions for clients in the creative services, fashion, and beauty industries.

About The Webby Awards:
Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Interactive Advertising & Media, Online Film & Video, Mobile & Apps, and Social. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received nearly 12,000 entries from all 50 states and over 60 countries worldwide this year. The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: Microsoft, Dell, Vitamin T, MailChimp, Engine Yard, Funny or Die, AdAge, Percolate, Mashable, Business Insider, Internet Week New York and Guardian News and Media.

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March 27, 2014
Posted By: Marc

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We are pleased to announce the June 12th release of colleague, friend, and sometime-collaborator, David Zweig’s book, Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion. (In an act of relentless self-promotion, I am even more excited to have been included in the book, too). Already named a “Top Business Book 2014” by Wharton professor Adam Grant, the book’s premise is that in nearly every profession there are always the conspicuous tops of any profession — the surgeon, the rock star, the “starchitects” and so on. Yet, in nearly every case, there are individuals whose talents are completely under the radar, yet are essential to the outcome’s successes, and in some cases, failures. The book details many cool examples such as Radiohead’s guitar tech, the engineer of the world’s tallest building, and a UN interpreter. I was interviewed to help shed light on the ways a graphic designer can make or break a project — namely the folly of the infamous consequence of “butterfly ballot” design in Broward County in the 2000 presidential election. For design nerds, there’s a whole section about wayfinding, too.

Check out the website to find out more about the work of the unsung heroes we take for granted in our daily life here: http://www.invisiblesbook.com. And please, if you know an Invisible in your life, give them hug and say “thank you.”

March 20, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

MSLK_TargetedDesignExploration

 GCI beauty magazine asked MSLK to share our unique process of establishing strategies for Target Design Directions in their March 2014 issue, “Integrating Packaging and Ingredients” These strategies guide the design exploration turning subjective creative evaluation into a more objective process. A recap of this article is below.

Where to Begin
From the outside, working with a designer or design team on a creative assignment — be it a logo, packaging, or campaign — is often seen as a daunting, mysterious process. Experience has shown that uncertainty during the design process is the cause of much frustration.

Some clients may have very clear ideas of the end result, but do not know how to translate this to their designers. Other clients may be lost in a sea of endless possibilities. Various other stakeholders on the decision-making side may have a differing sense of what a design should or could be. While these concerns are valid, they are not the only ones to be considered. It is important to look at market data, insights from salespeople and retailers, and production considerations. All of these factors may influence the direction a design should follow.

Read more

March 14, 2014
Posted By: Ryan

MSLK-Rethinking-Responsive-Web-Design
Responsive web design has become one of the most ubiquitous buzz phrases in the web world for the past three years or so. In case you aren’t familiar, the phrase refers to a set of web development techniques used to create the optimal viewing experience of a website across all devices. Perhaps you’re thinking of redoing your website, and maybe you’ve already been sold on responsive design as a “must have.” With all of the articles out there, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter.

MSLK’s philosophy has always been to respond to client needs and project objectives over industry trends. Over the past three years, we’ve created a number of responsive sites (including our own), and we’ve gleaned new insights along the way. We have found that responsive design is essential in many instances, while in others it is over-scaled for our client’s needs and/or doesn’t make sense with kind of site that is being created. Read more to determine when it’s best to invest in a responsive site.

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March 13, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

MSLKcontentFirstOnline

Businesses seem to naturally gravitate towards considering technology needs when looking to build or update an e-commerce site. However, the more valuable — and often overlooked — consideration is that of content. Without a doubt, technology is essential in helping to deliver the content, but technology without content is meaningless. I believe the best process begins with defining user desires and marrying those with   business objectives in order to create the ideal front-end user experience. Defining the user experience should then inform the selection of a technology platform, not the other way around.

When considering the type of content to be included in a user experience, we have found that it is important to consider the following key areas: Read more

March 4, 2014
Posted By: MSLK

Easton Architects is a leader in historic building preservation, helping educational, public and cultural institutions plan, restore and reuse their buildings for the future. Their new brand presence exudes the same sense of historical respect and refined simplicity that they bring to each of their projects.

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