Branding… What a Concept

What Type of Creative Eye Will See Things Your Way?

Creativity is an elusive thing. It can help you visualize a concept for…let’s say… your business branding “look”, and can convey the type of style you embrace. Style, logos and sales materials, color concepts, tone, consistency and ethical business practices are all part of your branding. Not just one of these will brand your business.

The word “branding” can be just as elusive for new businesses trying to compete with established companies as older companies with track records. But if you have an idea that will tie all your marketing plans and branding styles into one cohesive package, then you are on the way to a successful launch.

Learning the Ropes

Creativity takes center stage when conceptualizing these specific parts. If you don’t have a solid idea or don’t work with a creative person who can understand your ideas, how successful will you be? It takes a bit of time to find a creative writer and designer who sees your vision for your business. Most copywriters have those qualities — some better than others, some as green as a young sapling, but — willing to work with you to learn the ropes.

The toughest part of establishing a working partnership with a creative designer, copywriter, graphic artist, or marketing planner, is the ability for you to get him or her to “see” your vision. That takes your ability to a new level: sharing your passion for your idea to make it into the complete package that will elevate your product or company to the heights you envision.

Sound lofty?

Not so much. A good working relationship with a creative designer/writer can eliminate those awkward moments when you know he can’t “see” what you’re trying to “say.” It may take some searching to find a person of that caliber who can quickly assess your needs, swing right into the fray, and basically clone your ideas into a working concept you will both enjoy creating.

The working relationship is prime to the equation. You need to explain your detailed dreams in a manner that helps the designer/writer conceptualize it. In turn, he needs to share the ideas he believes are what you are looking for, and be willing to be wrong. Being wrong allows him to back-step and take another approach. If after the dance of two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back is finished, you can both move ahead to the framework of your designs. Being wrong can sometimes derail the whole relationship. To get on track the idea he envisions must be viewed from several different angles before you can both agree.

Concept vs. Reality

  • Is the concept workable?
  • Does the idea represent what the company is?
  • Do outside influences mask the branding idea you envisioned?
  • How about the cost?
  • Too much for a start-up idea?
  • Does your designer/writer see other elements you may have missed?
  • Can you streamline your ideas and add more later?
  • Are both of your egos to big to play together?

It happens.

At the crossroads of your creative vision, check off the different elements as you discuss the problems that are popping up. Can you see a compromise? Is the compromise going to undermine everything so for? If not, then you are on to a rich and satisfying journey of discovery with your partner and mentor in your branding development. On the other hand, can he offer ideas you missed or never really considered? And that’s what it is: branding development. It will emerge and change and eventually become that elusive thing you wanted.

These concepts also apply to any small project, let’s say, an author planning to self-publish. Your book has just as much potential to be picked up by a consumer if it has the packaging that attracts attention and branding that helps them return for more.

Rusty LaGrange

Photo credits:

Scroll to Top

Museums Hosts Train Presentation Sept 27

Evening Desert Train Presentation

“Evening Desert” series presents Train!

I’m sharing this info because history is my passion and railroad  — especially steam trains is high on the list of things my husband and I would love to cover.  Sort of our “bucket list.” If you live in the region, I welcome you and your family to an Evening Desert presentation made by Steve Roll and hosted by our Lucerne Valley Museum Association.

We’ll have light refreshments, Q and A sessions, and our admission is free. We also encourage  homeschooling families to enjoy the evening, too. This is Steve Roll’s lifelong collection of photos from throughout the nation, it’s history, and interesting facts you may not know.

Doors open at 6 pm. The program ends at 8pm but we always stay open a bit longer and chat and share with our guest speaker.

Hope you can make it.

Rusty LaGrange, president

Lucerne Valley Museum Association,

Find more High Desert events at

Writing Isn’t Easy For Most People

The Writing Life is solitary at times
The Writing Life is solitary at times

Writing isn’t easy. Not the way writers work to perfect their craft.

How many times have I heard: “I should write a book.” Or after someone read a book that didn’t satisfy them, they blurt out: “Aw, no way. I could write a better story than this.”


“It’s only when it comes to writing that eBook or blog post that it becomes apparent,” says Denise Mooney writing for Copywriters Collective, “that writing to engage, influence, or inspire a group of people is not always an easy thing to do, no matter how great your ideas are.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” she continues. “Writing can be fun, satisfying and rewarding. But easy? Not so much. Remember that the first draft is never that great. Good writing has nothing to do with flowery adjectives. Always rely on verbs to give your writing impact, not adverbs, and certainly not adjectives.”

Did I mention verbs, metaphors, and tight writing? Can’t repeat them enough. Verbs are the motivation tools in your “toolkit sentence,” while metaphors add the insight to help make a point stick — like duct tape in your toolkit. Keeping it tight means reducing the urge to buy every tool imaginable to cram into your toolkit sentence. Those sticky sweet adjectives and clumsy adverbs should only be used sparingly.

A good writer knows that writing tight makes the reader move faster through the story, gives a control of fast and slow pace for an enjoyable read, and marks the author as a name to remember in their future book list.


I’m choosing this example to prove the need for verbs, metaphors, and tight writing: “… a long dark patch of life like a mile of black ice waiting for me up ahead.” Junot Diaz, novel author.

A good writer is a researcher, creator, merciless editor, task-master, as well as the person who hands out compliments to him or herself for a job well done, and meeting a deadline. Then that good writer takes the manuscript to an editor who refines the process by suggesting changes in content, structure, spelling, and grammar.

Sitting down and working the keyboard is only part of writing. Coming up with the story’s structure, the character’s arc, subplots to strengthen the storyline’s climactic ending, and of course, memorable character’s is a long process.

Do you  often wonder why you got yourself into this all-encompassing world of word creation? Was it some early inkling or obsession to write?


Does the writing obsession start early?
Does the writing obsession start early?

You’ve survived the creative process, and now own a manuscript. Once completed, it can go off in several directions — do you self-publish to control all the revenue that may come? Do you pursue an agent who will get your book read and possibly picked up by a publisher in the traditional way? Or will it sit in your computer like the thousands of photos you have yet to print out?


You’re the writer. You have the ultimate control. And even though you thought it would be easy to write your book, in reality, it isn’t over until you hit the Send key.





Finding Time to Blog, Live Life, and Be a Parent

The High Desert is no different than any other part of the nation when it comes to parenting, feeling the guilt trip of not being a Super Mom, and wondering if your kids have enough social interaction. We try to make sure our kids celebrate cake and ice cream at birthday parties out of the home. We even volunteer for fieldtrips if our school can afford them.

Even in the urban regions, moms are being shamed into not offering enough entertainment and sports-building/team building activities for the enrichment of their children. I hear that piano lessons, band, soccer, ballet, and art appreciation isn’t enough for one child? When do the kids do their homework? When do you get some sleep? When can you blog?

This trend, as I am reading from Mom Blogs and feedback from other “Warrior Writer” Moms who are battling the same shame, says it feels it’s time to let go a bit. But how can you when the “Good Samaritans” are lurking around every corner to make sure you’re doing your job as a “good parent” — that Super Mom shame-game is everywhere.

Here is my 25 cents worth toward the topic of parenting:

That’s why I don’t I’ve in a city or suburb. I live remote in the desert by choice. My daughter was raised with bugs and cactus, dirt in her sandwich and drawers, bumps and lumps, and she’s come out just fine. In fact she’s working on the last week of her BA.

I sometimes place myself in that guilt trip too — having been a product of the Hippie Movement, we felt guilty if we weren’t bra-less, eating from our gardens, smoking the best green stuff, and “tuning in while tuning out”. So I think guilt comes with every generation. My mom came from The Depression Era where everything was used up, never wasted, and always shared. Talk about guilt. Do you know how many ways you can use stale bread?

So take a deep breath, stop being manipulated by commercialism and TV crap (I do love TV, I’m just immune to the diatribe) and find two things you love to do for yourself. Why two? Because one isn’t enough but 20 is too much. Then give yourself a day off each week where you decide what your schedule will be. I call mine: “Myfriday.”

Here is our ranch motto that we live by for over 30 years:

“On this ranch we raise common sense, cultivate independence, and wrangle adversity.”

Hopefully, your parenting skills can be tempered with a balance of good outdoor activities, some me-time, and fun time with the kids. It’s a balancing act for sure, but it can be done.

If you’d like to read the original post from Ms. Lamb just go to her link:

Parent-Shaming & Mom-Shaming—Has Our Culture of Guilt Gotten Out of CONTROL?

Have a great day and get some fresh air…

Rusty LaGrange

Plug-in Mania — Control Your Urge to Binge

Okay, so you’re reading the latest news on the plug-ins that will change your blogging experience for the best. You’ve made a good choice. You’ve searched the plug-ins by reputation or by title, thinking that they will be just what you want. At least that’s what the little blurb says. But what does that little piece of info really mean that is attached to your plug-in of choice? If you go to the web site link that is promoting the plug-in you might get lost in a chasm of propaganda. You know, publicity sales-y talk. Once you arrive at the web site, takes notes. Like cookie crumbs on a trail, you’ll need to read and move cautiously deeper into the explanations of what the plug-in actually does. And be able to find your way out of the forest of information.

She works hard for her plug-ins
She works hard for her plug-ins

A well-written plug-in has been crafted by a software person who also knows how to write and communicate well to laymen. Beware, not all plug-ins are created by people who can explain what the plug-in does. Take time and read through the descriptions, and take more notes.

Based on the type of plug-in you are exploring, find out if the creator or editor can be reached if you have a question. Find out how often they do updates, and if they will be automatically listed on the plug-ins menu for WordPress. Also check out the ratings that other users have given the plug-in. Five stars will define a good rating but will it actually mean that a layman can use it. Also find out if there is a cost to keep using after your first download.

Many plug-ins are useful for day-to-day behind the scenes situations. They just work for you. Other plug-ins are high-breds that do a specific thing to help with a certain problem, work-around, or enhance a feature.

Avoid having the binge to grab every plug-in that looks enticing. You can sample one-by-one and learn if they will actually help your web site. If not, back away. Plug-in mania will take over. It’s not a candy store, but you can become addicted if you don’t watch out.

Let me know what your favorite or best enhancement plug-in is for your blog, and maybe I’ll share some other plug-in “all stars” next time.

Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you see here, go to my pages:

Is There a Writer in You?

It’s like, everyone who wants to be an actor goes to Hollywood.

But what if you want to be a writer? Well, you can go to Hollywood, too. But that’s usually scriptwriters. There’s probably more scriptwriters hoping for the big break than there are actors.

So where does a writer go to learn the ropes and get noticed?

 Not sure.


Figure Out the Basics First

 Writing opportunities are everywhere and cyberspace is full of them. If you wish to be a writer, it’s currently easier than ever before. However, I do know that you first have to figure out if there is a writer in you.

  • · Did you start early in school being that kid who always had a pen and notebook ready? I started writing poetry at about age 9. Wrote for my high school paper.
  • · Do you visualize your story in video format while you’re sleeping or with your eyes shut? Can you rewind the scene in your mind, at will, and describe what you’re seeing?
  • · Do you have late night conversations with story characters who refuse to let you sleep until you write their tales on paper? There’s a fine line between writing and insanity.
  • · Have you talked yourself out of the idea? Knowing full well that, if you just sat down and started the book, it would all flood out?
  • · Have you “studied” the craft of writing but didn’t think there was a quality book in you? Maybe you’re setting your sights too high?
  • · Is your advancing age making you believe that you better get that book on paper before it’s too late?
  • · Or, are you a “late bloomer” and never even considered writing a book until just lately… for whatever personal reason?

If any of these markers look familiar to you, then I’m pretty sure there is a writer in you.


The hard part is making the Muse respond to you. The Muse is that mystical entity that allows you the freedom to write without restriction. It’s the unbound creativity we all have tucked away somewhere inside. The Muse wakes you up in the middle of the night and demands to be heard.

 I’ve fought the Muse at 2 a.m. and found myself sitting at the computer pounding on the keys like a madman. And creating a pretty dang good story concept. The Muse can run rampant in your brain and make you start a dozen story ideas, then leave you exhausted.

Taming Your Muse

 The hard part is taming your muse to work with you.

 That comes with using writing exercises to help focus your talent on one idea at a time. Getting that rough draft or outline on paper is a partnership with the Muse. Defining that partnership will become the temperament you’ll need to continue a long novel, write a nice piece of poetry, or create that children’s book you’ve caressed in your heart. If the Muse is tamed you’ll become the writer that produces regular, quality work. You’ll let the Muse have some fun and give you new exciting ideas. You’ll also need to be patient when the Muse abandons you in front of a blank computer screen.

Source: via Jolene on Pinterest

  All in all, there is a writer in you clawing its way to the surface. Now draw it out and start with the first four steps:

  • · Say out loud: “I am a writer.”
  • · Make a list of your story’s main characters and their traits. (You can refresh your mind later) I like to use index cards to keep my characters descriptions and goals in mind.
  • · Be consistent with your writing time or you’ll become frustrated.
  • · Begin writing down your story idea in a list of plot ideas, an outline, or just start the first scene from your mind. Don’t worry about how it looks. Don’t be a perfectionist yet.

Your Bonus Step

And, the bonus “step”: share your writing with others who you can trust to give you good feedback. Read some of your excerpts to a friend, join a writing support group like California Writers Club. I’m sure there’s a writing club near you. A writer, who keeps his work in a closet, is a consumer of paper and ink. No more, no less.

 Then when you have your first draft… the hard part begins… editing your work so it’s the best and most readable product you can offer. Only then will you have proven to yourself that you are a writer.


Rusty LaGrange

What Type of Marketing Fits Your Business?

Guest  Article: In Marketing, One Size Does Not Fit All

by C.J. Hayden, MCC

Online at

 Imagine that you went shopping for a new shirt, and the salesperson presented you with a garment three sizes too big, saying, “This is one of our most popular colors.” Or showed you a shirt in a child’s size, telling you, “This style is new this season.” You’d probably think the salesperson was crazy, right? And you certainly wouldn’t trust his or her judgment about what shirt might be right for you.                                                           

Imagine that you went shopping for a new shirt, and the salesperson presented you with a garment three sizes too big, saying, “This is one of our most popular colors.” Or showed you a shirt in a child’s size, telling you, “This style is new this season.” You’d probably think the salesperson was crazy, right? And you certainly wouldn’t trust his or her judgment about what shirt might be right for you.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing goes on with marketing all the time. Without asking you a single question about your situation, an acquaintance describes the latest marketing idea they heard about, and urges you to try it. Or a workshop leader who knows nothing about your business explains the best way to market your services and recommends you adopt it. Or a consultant advises you to use a specific marketing approach with almost no understanding of your business.

It can be tempting to follow recommendations like these. After all, these folks sound so sure of themselves, and perhaps you feel on shaky ground where marketing is concerned. Maybe you should just take the advice of people who seem to know more. Or maybe not.

Maybe marketing needs to fit you every bit as much as a shirt does. If it’s too big or too small, casual when you need something businesslike, or designed for a party when you’re planning a workout, it won’t do you any good.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing goes on with marketing all the time. Without asking you a single question about your situation, an acquaintance describes the latest marketing idea they heard about, and urges you to try it. Or a workshop leader who knows nothing about your business explains the best way to market your services and recommends you adopt it. Or a consultant advises you to use a specific marketing approach with almost no understanding of your business.

It can be tempting to follow recommendations like these. After all, these folks sound so sure of themselves, and perhaps you feel on shaky ground where marketing is concerned. Maybe you should just take the advice of people who seem to know more. Or maybe not.

Maybe marketing needs to fit you every bit as much as a shirt does. If it’s too big or too small, casual when you need something businesslike, or designed for a party when you’re planning a workout, it won’t do you any good.

Lets’ Take a Closer Look:

Here are four different types of “size” to help you measure the fit of your marketing.

  1. Marketing a professional service is not the same as marketing a product.Products are tangible; you can see them, touch them, maybe even taste them before you buy. Services are intangible. You can’t experience them until they are demonstrated. Because a service is intangible, until it is performed for you, you have no idea how it will turn out, whether you will like it, or whether it will work for your problem, situation, or opportunity.Therefore, when clients purchase a service for the first time, they must rely on their judgment about the person delivering it. They must trust you. Trust is built through positive experiences over time, by referrals and recommendations from reliable sources, and credibility-boosters like speaking, writing, or media stories.Marketing your services with any approach that doesn’t build trust (or may even harm it), is a bad fit. Examples are mile-long sales pages that offer multiple bonuses if you buy today, subscribing prospects to an email list without explicit permission, or ads offering low prices, deep discounts, or coupons. These are tactics that sell products; that’s why you see them so often. But that doesn’t mean you should copy them.
  2. Small business marketing is different than big business marketing.Big businesses have marketing departments and sales departments with different functions. They have full-time staff dedicated to marketing and sales. They have substantial marketing budgets, and they can afford to invest in name recognition.You, however, as a small business owner, must manage both marketing and sales, and that’s only part of your job. If you’re a solo business, you have to actually perform all the work of sales and marketing, too, except for those portions you might be able to contract out. Your budget doesn’t allow for marketing approaches that only result in name recognition; you need your marketing to turn into closed sales.Bad fits for a small business include promotion and advertising just to “get your name out there,” selling strategies that require making dozens of phone calls per day to pay off, and maintaining multiple websites and social networking profiles to increase your online visibility.

    To find approaches with a better fit, the key is to be realistic. What can you actually execute well with the time and money you have available? Successful small business owners often rely on low-cost, low-tech strategies like personal networking to build their contacts and referrals, public speaking, or pursuing high-value clients by researching contacts or leads and contacting them directly.

  3. One-to-one marketing doesn’t use the same tactics as one-to-many marketing.How many clients do you need to have a successful year? Three, or three hundred? The answer makes a world of difference to the sort of marketing that fits your business best.When your business consists of a handful of large, ongoing contracts, one-to-one marketing is a perfect fit. Your marketing plan might include no more than attending or presenting at professional meetings, following up consistently with a small group of prospects, and lunch with colleagues.But if your business is made up of many small sales to a large number of people, one-to-many marketing is called for. You’ll need approaches that allow you to become known to a substantial audience, such as authoring an ezine or blog, public speaking, or active social networking.
  4. B2B marketing isn’t the same as B2C marketing, and SB2SB marketing is its own category.B2B stands for business to business, B2C means business to consumer, and SB2SB is small business to small business, a lesser known classification, but a rapidly growing group.Depending on which of these three labels fits your target market best, you might focus your social media marketing efforts on LinkedIn (best for B2B) or Facebook (best for B2C or SB2SB). You might include cold calling in your marketing plan (B2B or SB2SB) or leave it alone (B2C). You might do best by giving presentations to corporate audiences (B2B or B2C), or to small business networks (SB2SB).

Clearly, knowing where you fit among these different marketing “sizes” is essential to choosing the right marketing approaches. Are you a small business marketing B2B services one-to-one? A small business marketing B2C services one-to-many? Or perhaps you need a custom size.

If you truly want your marketing to fit your business, you’d better know your measurements. And, when someone tries to tell you how to market, they’d better know your measurements, too.


Copyright © 2011, C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at

Bloggers Devote Time to Market, too

I ran into another person interested in blogging who also writes and wants to get more exposure. His name is Ron Lazenby and he creates Western short stories. He has two titles out now. Our families have lived in Lucerne Valley for over 30 years. We know a lot of people but not enough for his book to make great sales. We talked about the value of connecting to others on the Internet but beyond that he was a bit confused.

You see he wants more sales and to share his love of writing Westerns like me but he’s not sure how it all works. We talked about the growing trend in blogging. Sure, he can go to book fairs and events where he’ll get some exposure. It’s what many authors do. After I explained what blogging was, his eyes lit up. I think I have a new convert!

Here’s how it can work for you.

You have a product… let’s say a book… that you hope will sell. No one has heard of your book so it sits in a box. Printing houses, who help self-publishing authors like Ron, don’t really get excited about his book title. He’ll have to do some marketing. Marketing?  That’s all of the steps it takes before you make a sale.

Ron can pay for someone to sell his books or he can promote them on his web site. Once on his web site, he can create a blog to talk about his love of Western subjects, how he created his book, the processes of having it printed, and places he’s planning to be … more events. He loves that part, he says. He can blog anytime, anywhere, and not worry about traveling to his next book fair. Of course, book fairs and book signings are the best way to meet face-to-face buyers. Ron knows that. But they don’t happen every day.

Now he’s learning that blogging is not just writing a quick post. He’s learning that to generate more interest and exposure he needs a broader network of other bloggers who will help him get the word out. His comments and posts go out in an ever-widening circle, and those who contact him through comments and links back to his web site, help strengthen the network.

I bet Ron’s blogging on the network right now. Or, maybe, balancing a bunch of books on the way to a fair.

If you would like to learn more about designing a blog page, using blogging to generate more sale, or the best practices to keep the network growing go to then go to the top of the page and click on “High Desert Blogging Network.”

Rusty LaGrange

High Desert’s Newest Blogging Network Launches Feb. 11th

Join the newest trend in gaining more traffic for your blog with the arrival of regional blog membership.


Is a Blog Network For You?


High Desert Blogging Network is just what it sounds like. A network of bloggers in a close-knit region who love to blog and share, engage new customers for their businesses, and seek the advantage of a community to learn and grow.

Membership in the network will provide cutting-edge information from noted blogger and mentor Bill Belew while generating more readers, more interest, and ultimately more traffic. All members gain the advantage of all traffic-generating strategies.

Do you find reading and studying the latest traffic boosters just don’t make sense or are hard to manage? Do the tips and techniques leave your head in a spin? Here at High Desert Blogging Network, you’ll learn as you go. Trainers and key personnel can help you bring up your “A” Game.

  • New to blogging? We have easy training programs to help you get started with confidence.
  • Is content and topics making blogging a drudge? We have creative ideas for boosting your readability.
  • Do other membership networks demand high price tags? Our network is nominal to join with payment features sure to give your budget a reprieve.
  • Are you bound to an unbearable contract? No. We want you to enjoy the special bond of members making strides, money, and value as they grow the network. We’re all in it to win.
  • How fast will we grow? Not sure. But if the indicators are right, we have a boom on our hands! Don’t be the last one to jump in.

Any more questions or comments about the details just go to : and click on Membership Network.

Rusty LaGrange