Promote Thyself

I’ve worked for HOW for nearly seven years and have found myself being not only a curator of content on topics — like self-promotion — but also a student as I edit every piece written on the topic by pros and write about interviews I’ve conducted with designers who are shining examples, including past winners in HOW’s Promotion & Marketing Awards. I find myself hanging on to the wisdom found in their words.

If there’s a single truth that I could pluck out from every bit of advice and anecdote, it’s this: There is no magic formula to “nailing it” when it comes to self-promotion. In fact, maybe the best thing I could tell you from reviewing thousands of design projects over the years is to forget anything anyone has ever told you about how to do it right. The best self-promotion projects are the ones that are truly unique in every sense of the word; they speak to the essence of the person, design firm or company that they represent. If you tried to replicate the success of it for another brand or persona, it simply wouldn’t work. They follow no pattern.

So as you start seeing the ads in HOW magazine and email blasts hit your inbox to “Enter HOW’s Promotion & Marketing Awards,” let these prompts remind you that self-promotion isn’t just about creating noise. It’s about taking control of your destiny, so promote yourself in the way that feels representative of your creative voice.

One designer in particular has caught my eye several times this past year for his self-promotional efforts, as he really has taken the age-old tools, such as a business card and signage, and used them as opportunities to show why he is, well, a badass.

Designer Chad Michael, sole proprietor of Chad Michael Studio, released this business card and identity last year, which gained serious praise throughout the design community and raked in accolades in HOW’s upcoming International Design Awards. Not a centimeter is left unattended to in this glorious keepsake the begs to be displayed (mine hangs in my office). That’s pretty good for a business card—an often overlooked vehicle of self-promotion—that can easily disappear into the ether after exchanging hands. For Michael, he took the opportunity to create something that any recipient would cherish, as it’s his creative soul poured out for all to see.

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And if that wasn’t awesome enough, he gave it new life as signage and had it engraved on cherry wood and painted it “painstakingly” by hand.


I like this as an example of a successful self-promotion design because it could have been just another business card—but it’s not. The production costs are likely more than the average business card, but due to this card extending its shelf-life in this space called the internet, the exposure was likely well worth it.

How have you been promoting yourself and your clients? What are you most proud of? Now is the time to tell us as we are accepting entries for the upcoming Self-Promotion & Marketing Design Awards