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Maxvoltar - Stick to your brand

Maxvoltar is the personal weblog of Tim Van Damme, a freelance interface designer at Made by Elephant.

50° 54' 47" N, 4° 25' 50" E

Stick to your brand

Made by Elephant logo

“Are you a supporter of the Republicans in the US?” is a question a lot of people ask me concerning my choice of an elephant as my logo/branding for Made by Elephant. “No” is my default answer, as I know close to nothing about politics. This has actually made me think of changing the name and logo.

But I won’t. Why? Because people know me for my elephant, and I don’t care being associated with a group of politicians, or a brand of toys, or even shoes. I love my elephant! Brands take a while to establish, and in the enormous world of the web, having people recognize your logo or name has more value than being on the first page of Google results for “webdesign”.

Which brings me to this…

Web Standardistas

Book: HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions

A while ago, Christopher Murphy and Nicklas Persson from Web Standardistas sent me a free copy of “HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions: A Web Standardistas’ Approach” [associates links: or] and kindly asked me if I could write a review of it. I agreed, but as usual, time didn’t allow me to keep my promise, and although I was thoroughly impressed with the book, paying projects took over and I didn’t have time to write the review.

If you want proof of how good the book is, check out this review by Jon Tan, a review by Lee Munroe or the 5-star ratings on Amazon.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from these reviews. Jon Tan states:

HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions is the missing primer of web design.

Every design school on the planet should make HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions a required textbook. As well as a perfect primer for students, there’s many a formally-trained graphic designer, or self-taught web designer, who might find it useful. I recommend it to you.

Lee Munroe, one of Christopher and Nicklas’s graduates, writes:

There are two approaches you can take to learning how to build websites.

  1. Learn how to build websites
  2. Learn how to build websites the right way, aka the Web Standardistas’ way

Amongst the book’s many five star reviews at Amazon, there are recurring themes:

I reckon this will quickly become a university standard introduction to web design and the first port of call for any aspiring designer.

Clearly written and with an almost zealous approach to best practice, this book is equally at home on the bookshelf of the student, beginner or seasoned pro wanting a sanity check every now and again.


We exchanged a few emails last week and they mentioned that they’ve been invited to write another book for friends of ED on ‘Beginning HTML5 and CSS3’.

Christopher and Nicklas are keen to brand the book as another Web Standardistas’ venture, building on the success of their first book, their recent appearance on Carsonified’s FOWD Tour and forthcoming workshop at Build Conference (all under the banner of “The Web Standardistas”). However, the publishers weren’t sure about branding the follow up as “A Web Standardistas’ book”.

That’s the reason I’m writing this article: People know “The Web Standardistas”; people talk about “The Web Standardistas”, people refer to Christopher and Nicklas as “The Web Standardistas”. As a publishing company, why wouldn’t you want to release a follow-up book under a well-established brand name?

Building up a brand is a process of blood, sweat and tears. You’d be an idiot for throwing it out the window. Stick with it.

I promise this was the first and last time I talked about branding. Before you know, I might be talking buzzwords non-stop.


  • Wez Maynard

    4907 days ago

    I’ll be ordering myself a copy of this now, i have heard top things about the book previously – but you’ve tipped the scale now, so muchos thankos for that Tim! :)

    I have a question though…

    Re: Branding – some people would argue, that you Tim, may have diluted your own brand by spreading your web output over three domains/brands. I understand the way in which you have seperated the three – personal/Vcard/Work – but did you have any business/brand reasons for not bringing it all together under one, (buzz word alert), umbrella?

    Cheers chief,
    Keep up the great work / writings.

  • RellyAB

    4907 days ago

    No! I demand moar branding talk from you! ;-)

    There are so many lamely-cultivated brands it amazes me that, when handed one their marketing team don’t have to plug away at, they wouldn’t leap at it. BUT, with my copy writing hat on, it is a bit of a naff name so I can see why they might have reservations. Still, slightly cheesy never stopped anyone (Poppycopy, anyone ?! :)

  • Andy Marshall

    4907 days ago


    I’ve thought several times over the past year and a bit if our logo is too similar to the whole Twitter thang. Whilst I wasn’t so aware of Twitter, and certainly not a user of it back when we developed our branding (, there is a slight uneasiness that it could be conceived to be riding on its popularity, and not taken in its own right.

    With our new (and vastly improved!) website fast approaching, it seemed like the obvious time to change it, but we decided not to, and will develop (and build on) the bird themes as we grow as a company. We very much feel as if it’s becoming a bigger part of who we are, and are owning that.

    While we don’t have the same visibility as our host here, or the Standardistas, it is another lesson in sticking to your brand, and one we’re glad we’ve learnt.

  • Paddy

    4907 days ago

    I’ve got the book and it truly is great. Being around the guys when they were writing and pimping it, I know they put an insane amount of work promoting their successful brand.

    There’s a certain style that Chris and Nik have when writing and teaching and I know the guys will put bucketloads of the famous Standardistas ‘je ne said quoi’ into the next book, but it will be a shame for Friends of Ed if they don’t include the seal of approval.

  • Tim Van Damme

    4907 days ago

    • @Wez Maynard: I actually started by having my blog, portfolio and about information all together at, but felt that my style of writing might give the wrong impression to potential clients. So I re-launched my old blog (the one I had before I went freelance), and moved my articles and about information there. A couple of months later, I discovered that was still available, and I didn’t want it to go to some domain squatter (like some idiot did with the Twitter account), so I registered it. I was doubting between forwarding it to my portfolio or my blog, so instead decided to make it a big linkpage to both + all the networks I’m on.
    • @RellyAB: In a time where Web 2.0 names rule, I think “The Web Standardistas” sounds pretty solid. Also: Poppycopy must be one of the most awesome names I ever saw!
    • @Andy Marshall: I love the Moogaloo branding and design. Yes, it has birds, but you shouldn’t be intimidated by Twitter. Stick with it ;)
    • @Paddy: Amen!
  • Kyle Boyd

    4907 days ago

    As a past student, and being around when ‘The Web Standardistas’ where creating their masterpiece I can vouch for the long hours and thought that went into this book.

    Not only is the Web Standardistas approach the right way too build a website, its the only way.

    I hope that the ‘Friends of Ed’ let them keep the style and brand that they have created as they really know the shizzle majizzle, it not only makes it easy to understand but dare I say it fun ;)


  • Lee Munroe

    4907 days ago

    These guys certainly know their stuff and worth a follow on Twitter too. As Paddy said, it will be a shame if it isn’t branded as a Web Standardistas’ book – I might not buy it now ;-)

    Thanks for the mention Tim.

  • Jonny Campbell

    4906 days ago

    After spending so much time crafting and building a brand I think it would be a shame if friends of ED didn’t allow for the next book to be branded as a book by the Web Standardistas’.

    That being said, I’m really looking forward to the Standardistas’ HTML5 and CSS3 workshop lined up for Build! :)

  • Brad Pyne

    4900 days ago

    I would be very dissapointed if it weren’t branded as a web standardistas.

  • Trent Walton

    4898 days ago

    For what it’s worth, I live in a red state and have never looked at the Made By Elephant brand and thought of the republican party.

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