Kristine Neil (@TheKNeil) is head of branding and design company Markon Brand Design. She purchased Markon when it was an old-fashion sign company, and has since transformed it into a small creative studio, now boasting a team of three.

In our conversation, we cover the quirks and rituals used by the team at Markon, Kristine’s personal productivity habits, and the general challenges that face all busy design teams nowadays.

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Show Notes & Links

  • Kristine describe her work as “varied”
  • Markon is a small agency focusing on branding for small- to medium-sized businesses
  • Kristine purchased Markon rather than founded it. Previously, it was a sign company.
  • The Markon team is now three strong — Kristine, Mike, and Jenna

“It's a scary thing to say 'I need some Help'.”

—Kristine Neil

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  • Kristine started by adding contractors/freelancers before bringing in full-time employees
  • Prepare to Share — an article and podcast episode about bringing additional people into your workflow
  • Kristine is a systems person, admits to being slightly ADD

“Get ideas out of your head. People aren't mind-readers.”

—Prescott Perez-Fox

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“Always organize things for how they'll work in your absense.”

—Kristine Neil

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  • Single Point of Failure — a bottleneck for decisions or skills
  • Many freelancers/solo practitioners struggle to stay organised
  • Kristine previously worked as a GM for a manufacturing company. This taught her systems and regimented behaviours.

“Have a system. It doesn't have to be fancy.”

—Kristine Neil

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  • “Meta-work” the work surrounding work such as scheduling meetings, checking email, managing your software
  • Ben Elijah, previous guest on TBCP, described “Productivity Pornography”
  • United We Brand by Mike Moser on Amazon
    United We Brand by Mike Moser

“We don't always have the time to treat ourselves as a client.”

—Kristine Neil

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“We don't just make the things. We make the ideas that make the things great.”

—Kristine Neil

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  • Space150, design firm who redesigns their identity every 150 days

“It's no longer acceptable to set a brand identity and let it ride for 20 years.”

—Kristine Neil

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Tools

Techniques

  • Divide your whiteboard by category and by day. Slot tasks accordingly.
  • Create a file-naming system that makes sense — plan ahead for others reading in the future.
  • Don’t become a Single Point of Failure
  • Pomodoro Technique
  • Only keep the immediate future on the Board, save long-term stuff elsewhere
  • Test systems to find what works best
  • Get outside opinions on your brand/company, at least annually
  • Use Slack to post videos and gifs — especially after a tough day at the desk

Habits

  • Host “Board Meetings” with your team every morning
  • Build starting documents (“templates”) when you have repetitive projects/tasks
  • Audit your own brand. Be willing to walk away from your previous website.
  • Create a routine strong enough so you don’t need an alarm clock
  • Shut down between Christmas and New Year

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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