January 4, 2022

2022 Word for the Year: Transform

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2022 word for the year_transform

I admit this year’s word took a while to appear. It’s been a long pandemic—22 months to be exact—and I just couldn’t seem to find the right word to describe how I felt going into this new year.

Last year’s word was collaboration and I was pleased with how it manifested: from growing my team at Lidia Varesco Design, to working on larger client projects, to expanding my content partnerships and speaking opportunities—all while running my business predominantly virtually. In fact, it actually felt like some connections and collaborative opportunities were easier in the virtual world.

Lidia Varesco Design has been around for 21 years, weathered a pandemic, survived remote learning for two kids, as well a personal loss (the latter three all in one year, no less). So, this year needed an inspired and forward-thinking word: transform.

This year, I’m looking forward to transforming aspects of my business life—as well as others’ lives—by doing the following (to start):

Lots of other words were in the running—reset, balance, attention—and I’m sure they will be of influence this year but transform rose to the top and has already made its way into my workday.

See all of my past words for the year:

Do you have a word for the year? Please share!

January 12, 2021

20 Years: 20 Logos

Filed under: Uncategorized — lidia @ 10:00 am

How do you sum up 20 years of logo design work? You search “logo” on your Mac and start sorting through files. Yes, that’s literally what I did, but I do also have my favorites from over the years.

As you can see, I used to do quite a bit of restaurant work. Much of my logo design work has been in this industry as the clients I worked with had multiple properties and constantly needed new logos (back during the early ’00s restaurant boom). The restaurant logos were also often the most fun to work on, as I could get inspiration from interior design palettes, textures and bright colors.

Some of the logos have since been redesigned (some redesigned by me!) but some are still being used—such as my logo. I’ve been using a variation of the sun logo since I was a design school graduate looking for work. I remember people telling me they recognized my resume because of the sun (an early lesson on the power of branding!)

The last two logos are beyond 20 years—from when I was in design school—but I just had to include them. I love the fact that in my identity designs for the Animal Welfare League (the last example) I didn’t use a logo lockup with the name, only the icon to make it stand out. I was already thinking conceptually back then!

My logo design has come a long way, but there are still aspects of those early designs that delight and inspire me. Here’s to 20 more years of logos! #LVD20

Fun Fact: Three of the logos are for family members, one for my dad, and two for my cousin’s businesses (proof that I come from a family of entrepreneurs). Can you guess which ones?


January 5, 2021

2021 Word for the Year: Collaboration

Filed under: Uncategorized — lidia @ 10:00 am

2021 Word for the Year Collaboration

This year’s word was a bit tricky to pick. I felt like I did a great job manifesting last year’s word (voice), so what to choose this year? Collaboration.

After participating in a recent webinar, the topic of creative collaborations came up and I knew I had my word.

I’ve been doing more creative collaborations this year, partly due to the pandemic but also because I’ve realized there is strength in numbers—by teaming up with creative friends, we can get bigger jobs, make a bigger impact and grow our businesses. It’s also fun to have “coworkers” when you mostly work solo.

I realized it was the perfect guiding force as we head into 2021. A few ways I hope to manifest “collaboration” this year:

  • Continue building my strategic and creative team at Lidia Varesco Design
  • Collaborating on events: participating in panels or other speaking events and  developing my own event (I’m dreaming of a summit!)
  • Blending complementary skills along with my colleagues
  • Creating and growing strategic partnerships

I’m also going back to my word for 2018 and continuing to streamline my business and financial systems (it’s been a real game changer!

See all of my past words for the year:

Do you have a word for the year? Let’s hear it!

November 18, 2020

Celebrating 20 years in business!

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20 Years Ago

Today is my 20th business anniversary! 20 years ago today, my friend was mentoring me through the overwhelming process of starting a business and she said: “Just give it a few months.” Well, the months turned into a year, then a decade and now two decades.

As much as I would have liked to write a “20 things I’ve learned in 20 years” list today, I will tell you the main thing I’ve learned: You need a support network.

Whether it’s my small business friends, working mom groups, creative accountability group, collaboration partners, or membership groups I couldn’t have made it this far without their support, inspiration and generosity, both personally and professionally. Not to mention the support of my husband, family and parents (including my self-employed dad) and two kids who you’ve probably seen “crash” a meeting or two this year.

I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to do the work I love for organizations that are making a difference.

Thank you for being with me on this journey! #LVD20

September 21, 2020

Racial Equity Organizations, Resources & Talks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:51 am
Photo from nappy.co

Photo from nappy.co

Updated 10/16/20

Below find local and national organizations who are making a change for racial equity, as well as takeaways from related talks and webinars. Some are clients and friends, while others are organizations I support or those with a mission that resonated with me.

Organizations – Chicago

All Stars Project of Chicago

Working in neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest by violence, the All Stars Project of Chicago offers the Development School for Youth where young people learn to perform as professionals by partnering with business leaders, as well as All Stars Talent Show Network and are working to establish a Center for Afterschool Development in the heart of downtown Chicago.

Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP)

Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP) is a membership organization committed to promoting dialogue, advocating for investment in African American communities, and building infrastructure for equitable leadership roles in the social sector. They are launching a database of BIPOC Philanthropy Consultants and Advisors. Add your listing here.


Equiticity is a racial equity movement that provides programming and advocacy for racial equity, increased mobility and racial justice to make lives better for Black, Brown and Indigenous people of color across the United States.

Future Ties

Future Ties provides free homework help, after school programs, teen and parent programs and summer camps on Chicago’s South Side.

I Grow Chicago

The mission of I Grow Chicago is to grow Englewood from surviving to thriving through community connection, skill building, and opportunity. They engage more than 3,000 people per year to address the root causes of trauma and violence through mentorship and supportive services, restorative justice and community building, as well as movement and health-based programs.

My Block, My Hood, My City

My Block, My Hood, My City provides underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood. They take students on explorations focused on STEM, Arts & Culture, Citizenry & Volunteerism, Health, Community Development, Culinary Arts, and Entrepreneurism. They recently launched a Small Business Relief Fund to assist small businesses affected by pandemic closures and business damage.

New Moms

New Moms is changing the future for young moms experiencing poverty and homelessness in Chicagoland by offering housing, job training, and family support. Their work focuses on the West side of Chicago.

Talks & Webinars

Learning and leading in times of trauma: How to establish an anti-racist workplace [wethos]

Presented by Susan X. Jane of Navigators Consulting

Key takeaways:

  • We’re knitting a big sweater—you only have access to one stitch, discover and pick a stitch that you can make the strongest.
  • Pick something you are passionate about focus on that (i.e. families, storytelling, gathering resources)
  • Be aware of the 4 Is of Oppression and create strategies to address them
    • Individual: Learn about race/racism and question your own assumptions
    • Interpersonal: Share what you have learned, connect with people who are similar and different
    • Institutions: Develop clear policies around race and create inclusive spaces
    • Ideology: Participate in movements, support storytelling and sharing

Watch replay

Understanding Identity, Power, & Equity in Design Leadership [99U Conference]

Presented by Antionette D. Carroll, Founder & CEO, Creative Reaction Lab

Key takeaways:

  • Instead of human-centered work, we should strive for equity-centered work.
  • As you do your equity work, as yourself: How is my mindset being shifted over time? What am I learning? How am I progressing?
  • We all play an active role in being a redesigner for justice.
  • Equity designers put people/equity first, are always tterating/making and improving, are building upon existing resources and have lived experience with inequity
  • Design allies can leverage their power and access on behalf of equity designers.

Watch replay

The Power of Allies and Inclusion in the Workplace [ASAE Conference 2020]

Presented by Bernadette Smith, Founder of Equality Institute

Key takeaways:

  • Use the ARC approach = ask, respect, connect
  • Come from curiosity: Can you tell me more? How do you feel? Can we talk about this?
  • Treat others as THEY want to be treated.
  • Be a visible ally, use your words.
  • Ask great, open ended questions.
  • Check in with team members.

Read more

The Stories & Storytellers We Need Now [Power to Fly 2020 Diversity Reboot Summit]

Presented by Dr. Sheila Robinson, Owner and Publisher of Diversity Woman Magazine,  Snigdha Sur, Founder & CEO of The Juggernaut, Carla Santiago, founder of STORi.Digital and Afrika Bell Kathuria, Founder of ABK Creates.

Key takeaways:

  • Bring more voices to the storytelling process, find ways to bring in different comments to change the narrative.
  • Open it up to more people—don’t default to same people for advice,  panels, etc.
  • Think of diversity as a whole (all aspects of it)
  • Expand your network—ask people in your network to connect you to new voices.
  • Make the current examination a long-term examination.
  • Educate at your dinner table.

Watch replay

Please spread the word about these organizations and talks—and let me know what your stitch is.

November 14, 2019

Lidia Varesco Design is WBE-certified by WBENC

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Lidia Varesco Design is WBENC Certififed

I’m pleased to announce that Lidia Varesco Design has been certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the US.

Through myself and my team, we can add supplier diversity to your organization’s branding, marketing and graphic design projects.

April 30, 2018

A to Z of Design: V is for vector

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A to Z of Design: V is for vector

You may have had a designer ask you for a vector version of your logo and wondered: “What the heck is that?”

Vector images are made up of points, lines and curves, so they can be scaled to virtually any size without losing quality or becoming pixelated or blurry; they maintain their high resolution.

Conversely, raster images are created from a grid of pixels (if you’ve ever accidentally zoomed in really close on an image, you’ve seen this). So when you enlarge a small raster image, you begin to see those pixels and hard edges. Enlarging too much will cause the image to appear low resolution.

Vector images are generally created in Adobe Illustrator and have a file extension of .eps or .ai. Raster images are generally created in a program like Photoshop and can have a file extension of .eps, .tif, .jpg or .png.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

November 27, 2017

Recap: Digital Summit Chicago 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

The Digital Summit series made its inaugural stop in Chicago this year. The 2-day digital marketing conference was filled with insights on digital, email and content marketing. Here are a few of my top takeaways.

Deep thoughts by Ann Handley…

The conference kicked off with an inspiring and entertaining keynote by content queen, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, who encouraged us to be bigger, braver and bolder with our digital content. Ann talked about the importance of data, used in conjunction with listening and instinct. Your brand should be in a place where your customers or clients will say “They get us!”

She also emphasized that your story is the start of what sets you apart. She challenged us: what is the story everyone tells in your industry and how can you tell it differently?

Lastly, she suggested that we be braver in our perspective and tone of voice. Think about how you sound vs. how you look. How can you make the ordinary (about pages, landing pages, email confirmation pages) extraordinary?

Email is still king—but keep it simple

Nora Snoddy of Emma told us that ROI of email is double of all other channels, (so yes, you should be sending out those regular email campaigns). She said that including video and GIFs can lead to higher CTRs. And she also advised not to give people too many options, stick to a single call to action (using first-person, action verbs) and tell people exactly what you want them to do.

She encouraged us to use automated email campaigns, as well as using reminder emails as a way to increase sales.

A few of her recommendations were to monitor CTR increases between campaigns, as well as subscriber growth over a year. And, split test those subject lines!

Don’t create new content—reuse what’cha got!

One of my favorite sessions was from Ginger Shimp of SAP. The visual learner in me loved the content map she presented, as well as her easy system of creating and repurposing content.

Ginger recommended starting your content creation with the end product, say a whitepaper, and then versioning it into various other content pieces: blog, cast study, podcast, video, eBook, microsite, presentation, infographic, web documentary, just to name a few.

She also brought up the idea of creating a video whitepaper (Is anyone doing this already? Please share, I would love to see!) One of her recomendatons is

Make search work for you

Shana Sullivan of Vertical Measures spoke about how to make search work in this ever-changing time. A few things to avoid are:

  • Duplicate content
  • Slow page load times
  • HTML problems such as missing metadata or title tags
  • Bad (or not enough) backlinks
  • Poorly optimized images and videos
  • Thin content (too short blog posts)
  • Not being mobile-friendly

She also told us what people are actually searching for:

  • Cost/price comparisons
  • Problems/issues
  • Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • Best of/Top posts
  • Resources

And she recommended using Google Suggests and Keyword Tool to get keyword ideas before you start writing your content.

Prepare for the skim

Lorraine Goldberg of Allrecipes.com spoke about being data-informed, not data-driven when doing email marketing. Look at and analyze trends, web analytics, news, social intelligence, SEO as well as top subject line performers.

She emphasized preparing for “the skim” and creating content that stands out. She also encouraged thinking at the little things in people’s lives—what are their day-to-day challenges and how can you help. And most of all, stand for something!

Take it from The Onion…

One of the most entertaining sessions was from Joe Fullman of The Onion. In addition to sharing classic Onion moments, he spoke about the 3 Ds of content: design, distribute, develop.

He suggested to continually measure reach of each content type by network, make sure content is format-driven, and develop content to be derivative and modular, easily targeted to each audience.

Now, time to put it all to work!

Overall, my takeaways at Digital Summit were to make a plan with concrete goals, be bold and tell a unique story, create content that can easily be repurposed—and most importantly, stand for something.

April 9, 2016

A to Z of Branding: G is for growth

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A to Z of Branding: G is for growth

G is for growth

What happens to your branding when your organization grows or changes? Your branding needs to evolve along with it.

The first step is to do a “branding audit” to see which areas have changed. Review your organization’s target market/audience, service offerings, story, personality, and client outreach or community relations. Depending on how much has changed, you may be able to tweak your branding rather than doing a complete overhaul. However, if you feel that your purpose or “reason for being” has considerably changed, then a rebrand may be a better idea.

Follow along with the A to Z of Branding daily blog series here or on twitter at #AtoZBranding

July 7, 2015

35% off Chronicle Books + free shipping? Yes, please!

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LOVE this time of year: Chronicle Books’ Semi-Annual Sale! Get 35% Off PLUS Free Shipping. Click this link and use code: FRIENDS

Happy Shopping!

Note: this is an affiliate link for Chronicle Books because I love them.

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