09/28/2014 11:56 EDT | Updated 11/28/2014 05:59 EST

What I Learned This Week: Always Sign Your Work


A friend and former business partner reached out to me last week with a very specific request:

"Do you know of a good marketing copywriter?"

I kicked it around my head for a while, but unfortunately, nobody came to mind. Then I thought of a site I had recently visited (an event planning group called The Girls) that was written sharply and concisely, making it bubble with personality.

I checked it, and frankly, to my surprise, at the site's very bottom, was the credit "Copywriter/Cara Vogl."

So to make a short story even shorter, I told my friend, who was as enamored as I was with Cara's wordsmithery, and he ended up hiring her.

That was easy.

But most time, it's not.


Because "inside" work like copywriting is usually hidden, or anonymous. It doesn't come up on search engines, and worse yet, often those who commission work of this sort do their best to "bury" the writer/designer/artist/ if the project they were hired for came together magically by itself.

So the lesson of the week is a simple, three-worded one:


No matter what it is.

I've repeated these words ad nauseam to my son Hayes since he started to create functional art/furniture a year ago: "No matter what the piece, from a massive bar installation to a dining room table to a laser-cut coaster, make sure that your name and logo are on it."

Not only does this allow those curious to learn -- and perhaps find -- who made it, it also adds value to the piece. It's a marketing tool, a reputation builder and a value-add mechanism rolled into one.

My favourite story on this goes back to 1982, when the team who designed the original Apple Macintosh actually signed the mold that was used to make the computer's casing. "Since the Macintosh team were artists, it was only appropriate that we sign our work," explained Apple's Andy Hertzfeld. (That's it atop this post.)

More than yet another a faceless machine, the signed original Mac established itself as an historic icon, a valuable work of art...which is why mine is safely stored in my building's basement.

But this advice doesn't apply only to hard goods.

I've made the same counsel to my other son Aidan, who runs a software business in Toronto. Why can't his company's "code" be signed as well?

I remember my own father driving home this consequence way back when I was a teenage journalist. He told me to fight for a byline on every article I wrote. "How else will they know who to compliment...or who to criticize?" he would say.

We live in an age where brands have taken on the utmost of importance. Whether online, brick-and-mortar, product or service, the intrinsic value of the brand is often way more valuable than the entity to which it is attached.

But there is only one way that any one of you, any one of your companies, or any piece of your work can be considered a "brand." And that's if people recognize it's you...and how you differ from others.

So whether it's a multi-million dollar logo or a barely legible cursive scrawl, the power is in your hands.

Sign your work!

P.S. --Andy Nulman ;)


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