Rainbow w spaceIt’s hard to overstate the importance of good graphic design. It is the first-impression that you make, everywhere, on everyone, all the time. It has to, without the luxury of explanation, convey your “spirit.” Are you fun and inviting, or hardass and scary? Are you playful and inclusive, or are you serious and exclusive?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that, and you have to know that before you find a good designer, but your visual messaging has to attract the kind of customers that you want, or else it’s not good. It’s really that simple.

After all, it’s job isn’t just to make YOU think ‘fuck ya’ when you see it, it’s job is to attract customers. The type of customers you actually want.

That’s hard.

Done right, it attracts customers. Done even righter, it inspires your customers to want to wear it. It thanks them and congratulates them, and they, in turn go out into the world and invite others in.

With all that in mind, I have to shout from the rooftops about our graphic designer, who is more integral in making Rocket what it is than anyone may realize. She is why our image matches our “soul” so perfectly. She is why our members complain about how many (damned) t-shirts they have, but they can’t stop buying them because they’re so good. She is why, whenever I get a hair-brained idea that I know is perfect, but I can’t execute, I jump up and down clapping my hands and giggling when she sends them to me, as perfect as I imagined them.

Jonita Bernstein of Blueline Design is, simply, the best. She’s also been working out with us pretty much since we opened our doors more than 5 years ago. She’s a great (and really cheerful) communicator, efficient, and just brilliantly talented. Which is why I can’t resist putting together a page that does nothing but celebrate the work she did.

First, logos. Clean, simple, fun, clear:

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These are very happily walking all over town on all manner of apparel. And stuck to the back of cars. And on computers, water bottles…… Definitely a reflection of our personality.

But then, as politically inclined as we are, we needed something that expressed both our inclusiveness, and our willingness to stand up and fight for the people and causes we believe in.   I described what I was thinking, and in one take, she sent back this:

PowerPostcard

Almost a thousand of these postcards have been sent to politicians around the country, stickers are all over the place, and someday we’ll find a t-shirt maker that can print that many colors. Because, NO, fewer colors is not an option. That’s the point.

Most frequently, however, Jonita has been called on to design t-shirts for our “nutritional challenges.” 3 times a year, we lead members through a challenge to help them evaluate how the eat, sleep, exercise, hydrate and recover. We ask a lot of them, and fun t-shirts seem to make it a lot easier. We design – which is to say, we babble and conceptualize, and somehow Jonita makes it awesome – shirts and they serve as both incentive and trophy for embarking on this challenge with us. Look at the amazing shirts she’s made, to capture the essence of what we do with these challenges: 

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RealFood
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Paleo Pie
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And then, of course, there are just random things, that I feel like I need. Like, a t-shirt that states my most commonly used phrase, so that I don’t have to say it as often:

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And when we were trying to find a way to make the transition from “Blast Off” classes to “Full On” classes easier, and our members devised a brilliant mentor program, we needed some way to identify the mentors in a class, so that the newbies would know where the extra-safe people were. And Jonita gave us this bit of brilliance that we can press onto any shirt:

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Then, of course, there are event shirts. Like many, if not most, CrossFit gyms in the world, we participate in The CrossFit Games Open each year. We know we’re not sending anyone to “The Big Games,” but we do intramural in house every year, and love the friendly competition and camaraderie. We like to acknowledge that we’re part of it, but put our own spin on it, that it’s all about FUN.

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Lastly, there’s just pure reward. Every 100 workouts you do with us, you earn a trophy. Well, a trophy shirt. We asked Jonita to design a simple way for us to acknowledge people’s efforts, and she delivered. Our concept was something that we could apply to a black shirt using our commercial heat-press (one of the best investments we ever made.) And they are awesome. As soon as someone hits a milestone, we can press them a shirt:

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Basically, our entire marketing budget is spent on quality graphic design. Design that then goes out into the world and says everything we need said, without us having to say a word.

And, since people always ask, all of our printing (except the one-offs that we do in house) is done at Choke, in South Seattle. As far as print shops go, they are the equivalent of Jonita. They are quick, efficient, clear, responsive, responsible and have never ever disappointed us. We love them, and are about to send them the shirts for this year’s CrossFit Open.

Someone asked me the other day, as they are thinking of opening a business, who are the people I couldn’t live without in running my business. Here’s your answer.