Mayra Ruiz McPherson / Ruiz McPherson Media

Mayra Ruiz McPherson / Ruiz McPherson Media Media Psychologist, Creative Strategist & Self Publisher. Working with select clients in need of strong differentiation & communications design support.

Social media technology, web development, mobile application + web design, digital marketing and more! For more info, visit or tweet with us

VISUAL STORYTELLING + BRAND EXTENSION USING ILLUSTRATION - I found these sponsored pins on Pinterest and had to screensh...

VISUAL STORYTELLING + BRAND EXTENSION USING ILLUSTRATION - I found these sponsored pins on Pinterest and had to screenshot them because they are a great example of how to use the combination of (a) illustration and (b) defined brand styles to E-X-T-E-N-D a brand message! IN THIS CASE, highlighting OTHER additional aspects of the dish soap's utility.

VISUAL MEASUREMENT doesn't yet "exist" --> And this is a *** huge challenge *** as CONTENT TODAY is INTENSELY VISUAL, an...
Social Media Analytics Is Failing As Social Media Becomes More Visual

VISUAL MEASUREMENT doesn't yet "exist" --> And this is a *** huge challenge *** as CONTENT TODAY is INTENSELY VISUAL, and keeps getting more and more visual with each passing year!

As the web evolves from its textual roots towards a visual-first world, it is increasingly becoming inaccessible to the deep learning and data mining algorithms we rely upon to make sense of its deluge, meaning social analytics are less and less representative of what we’re really talking about.

THOUGHTS ON "BEING DIFFERENT" (aka "differentiation") - Did you know famous French painter Henri Matisse was broke with ...

THOUGHTS ON "BEING DIFFERENT" (aka "differentiation") - Did you know famous French painter Henri Matisse was broke with three kids to feed before he dramatically began to alter his art style, a change which was considered a HUGE risk as it would deviate from proven painting methods of the time.

Matisse had been painting for close to 15 years, following all the traditional painting rules of details, perspective, lighting and such, before he said F it and began to DRAMATICALLY change his painting style, which BUCKED ALL THE ESTABLISHED RULES for color and composition.

And once his new painting and drawing style of brightly colored objects, dramatically simplified figures, and purposefully unrealistic forms hit the art scene, Matisse's paintings were loathed and dubbed as deviant and completely unrefined.

Even Matisse himself was ridiculed and singled out as mad, and his artworks were initially considered uncultured and unworthy of being taken seriously.

Of course, now many of us know that Matisse is often regarded as a master painter with paintings worth millions. He is also considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of modern design today as we know it.

EVEN IF YOU AREN'T INTO ART HISTORY STUFF, how often has the theme of this tale been told ior played out n your personal life or business circles? Where something that is completely new and revolutionary different is shunned for being "way too different" or "not mainstream enough?" Where your deviation of a standard approach (in creative or writing work as well as many other aspects of business, advertising, and marketing) is seen as too risky and unwise?

I can't begin to share with you how often some of my past clients became very nervous about new ideas. Some of them were steadfast in their rejections of any creative novelty I brought to their brand and marketing table, outright refusing (sometimes even angrily) to pursue anything that was too different OR that their competitors weren't also doing.

This type of mindset is COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE to the very vibe differentiation intends to bring. Differentiation, after all, is one of the KEY aspects of marketing and branding. The very word (differentiation) means "the action or process of differentiating" ... and "to differentiate" means "make or become different."

In my experience, many business owners and brands SAY they want something different, and that they want (their marketing, their advertising, their content, their branding, etc.) to stand out from the pack or be seen uniquely.

Yet when presented with novel ideas that are (a) outside what their competitors or market vertical are actively doing or (b) beyond their own comfort levels (for whatever reasons which seem to have more to do with personal preferences rather than not), people kind of just panic, downplay their original requests for "being different," and/or retract their original desire for "doing different" entirely.

It's one thing to talk about having a strongly differentiated brand, but it's a whole other thing to actually fully understand what "being different" really means to one's brand or business. And from there, to actually brave and embrace with welcoming branding arms (rather than detract from) what "different" will or can feel and look like is also a vital piece.

In the end, if you find yourself on either side of "different" .... if you're the one asking for something different ** OR ** you're the one attempting to pitch or create something that stretches the mind beyond the norm, it's important to understand there are various levels of different and that "being different" -- no matter how fresh or cool it may initially seem, will always have its detractors and/or may cause some to reconsider and backpeddle once "being different" starts to become an aesthetic and tangible reality.

Still, if your goal is to authentically be DISTINCT, then the differentiation process requires you to have an open mind and a willingness to accept the off-the-beaten-path ideas and creative works.

The goal, I believe, is to strike a comfortable design and messaging balance between the old and the new. How far should that gap be, or not be? These are the kinds of important discussions that need to be had when the phrase "we want something different" lands on your marketing design and project lap.


~ Mayra

Hi everyone, I hope this post finds you all doing super. This (long) status update is well overdue, and I figure now is ...

Hi everyone, I hope this post finds you all doing super.

This (long) status update is well overdue, and I figure now is as good of a time as any to dive back into Facebook and share with you some important changes underway in my digital marketing practice as 2019 keeps unfolding along.

Much has changed for me, both personally and professionally, since I first opened my digital marketing consulting doors back in 2005. In fact, my 2005 debut was my *second* stab at consulting. My first time independently consulting goes even further back to the late 90s but detoured for a number of full-time employment roles in between.

It truly has been an amazing run for me -- one I'm STILL running, although now with some new twists.

You see ... as much as I have enjoyed digital marketing over the past 20 years, I've been reflecting on my career as a whole for some time now and, inevitably, began to wonder about what would be next for me. Would I continue to further immerse into the digital marketing space? Did I even want to?

That type of career wondering first began for me around 2010'ish but didn't really start to thicken its pondering plot until 2012. Even then, while such thoughts would come to me, I had no definitive answers.

To be frank, there’s a WHOLE, THICK STORY and TRANSFORMATIVE EVOLUTION that took place between the lack of definitive answers from 2012 and this very moment in 2019 as I type this sentence here and now. Much of what occurred between 2012 and 2019 -- while relevant and important to this tale -- is better suited for another sharing time (trust me, stay tuned).

To keep things simple, the main point I prefer to emphasize at this time is that my professional direction began carefully changing over the course of the several years.

** My “new” direction, which has been informally underway since 2017, is now focused on creative communications. **

Now, if you’ve worked with me in the past, you may be wondering how is this exactly “new” because you already know I’ve always offered design-themed services.

The main difference between then and now, however, is that the creative communication aspects of my services are truly the primary core of my freelancing practice as I forge ahead in 2019. This includes a complete immersion into visual storytelling, pictorialized expression, data visualization, creative content development, and original art and illustration -- all in support of advertising and marketing-driven endeavors.

Another “new” realm of my practice this year is indie or self-publishing. For years, I’ve been talking about writing a book (I have more than one up my sleeve) and this is now THE year. No more stalling :) or fear. It’s just time.

What this all means, then, is that the digital marketing support and expertise aspects of my offerings will, as a result, take more of a purposeful back seat.

As a result, when I do post on this page moving forward, you may notice the content shift from digital marketing (email, social media, etc.) themes to more design-centric subjects covering the span of creative communications, content development, self-publishing, and much more.

This is an EXCITING time for me and my business. I’m so glad you’re here to share it with and hope you’ll tag along as I move forward and onward!

Please share YOUR transitions and direction for 2019 with me, too! I welcome learning about any updates to your professional direction.

In flux :) & best regards,
~ Mayra

Transformation of my business, my professional direction, and my personal brand are underway in prep for 2019. More abou...

Transformation of my business, my professional direction, and my personal brand are underway in prep for 2019. More about these changes to come, stay tuned ...

Just changing things up a bit around here as there have been a number of personal and professional changes in my world s...

Just changing things up a bit around here as there have been a number of personal and professional changes in my world since I last posted here. I'll share deets and updates on latest happenings soon enough, but for now just updating here and saying hello!

~ Mayra

PERSONALIZED REFELECTIONS W/IRONIC TWISTWhile I've written about my Managua trip on my personal Facebook account, this l...
The *Extremely Eye-Opening* International Social Media Experience of My Lifetime (So Far)

While I've written about my Managua trip on my personal Facebook account, this link to my LinkedIn article summarizes the more specific tech and #socialmedia aspects of the harrowing trip and concludes with an unexpected discovery at the end of the piece.

Enjoy + TGIF to you all! 🙏🇺🇸️

~ Mayra

About a month ago, I had the honor of being invited by the U.S. State Department to speak and present at multiple universities and

SOCIAL STYLIN'!The local hair artist who recently did my hair surprised me when she and her peer brought in a ring light...

The local hair artist who recently did my hair surprised me when she and her peer brought in a ring light at the end of my appointment. They explained that they use a ring light to help them take photos of hair styles they've worked on to pin the pics on Pinterest ✊

Wow, I had no idea these pros were all set up for social but they sure were. They explained that unlike natural light photos, the ring light helps aesthetically showcase practically every single hair strand in dramatic fashion. The goal is to show off very specific hair details such as curls, color, or cuts because these are the types of details that most women generally search for when they are looking for hair style examples on Pinterest to share with their stylists.

THE IRONIC part of this whole process is that if someone searching for hair styles on Pinterest finds a style that they love, and then they share that pin with a stylist, that stylist (as part of their consultation) has to DECIPHER if the pin uses a ring light or not.

If a ring light is used, then the stylist has to "deconstruct" the image with his or her client because the color and highlights often showed in such ring-lit pics can distort the hues or texture of a given hair color. This makes sense because a ring light is used exaggerate to some degree the outcome of a cut or color in a beautiful fashion.

Ohhhhhh the things I learn about how social media is being not only used by small businesses BUT ALSO how its being thought about in a highly hyper-local way!

~ Happy Wednesdayyyy :)



REMEMBER: You can't have SEO without content; and you can't have content without SEO.

REMEMBER: You can't have SEO without content; and you can't have content without SEO.

MORTON'S "GETS SALTY" ABOUT FOOD WASTE (**plus** enjoy FREE vegetable font!)How on earth did Morton's table salt create ...
Watch Morton Salt Go Dumpster Diving to Create a Font From Discarded Vegetables

MORTON'S "GETS SALTY" ABOUT FOOD WASTE (**plus** enjoy FREE vegetable font!)

How on earth did Morton's table salt create a tie or connection to matters of food waste??

Seems like an odd pairing BUT Morton's explains it identified this cause because of the "natural outgrowth of the brand’s place on the American dinner table."

Aha. Ok that makes some (indirect) sense.

CMO Denise Lauer creates more alignment by stating, “Our job is to enhance the flavors in food and help consumers make the most out of every meal. So we believe good food should be treasured, not trashed.”

And so there's the more direct connection.

Can you and your brand make such a indirect-to-direct tie in to a cause or initiative? Sometimes, the connection isn't as direct and more fringe at first, but as long as you can connect your brand (to a cause) in a meaningful and relevant way, you can make it work!

~ M

PS - Morton's has debuted a new, free, vegetable-themed font to bring awareness to the food waste cause.



(personalized, long form content)

Bet you all didn't know my marketing career first began wearing the hat of a graphic designer? That was like 1995'ish ... I never knew I'd be "a marketer" or "a strategist" or "a digital marketer" or "an interactive designer."


I was just shy of 22 or so and happened to have a knack for design. I was untrained and had kind of a thing for drawing but it was a raw talent. A diamondi'ish kind of rough'ish thang I had going on lol

But back then, "drawing" couldn't pay the bills. However, desktop publishing could and I kind of got my foot in the marketing door starting out as a desktop publisher of sorts, improving the look of slides, newsletters, annual reports, and presentations at first but moving on up to more sophisticated branding projects, working directly with PR agencies, and then leading client projects pertaining to web design, and eventually mobile apps, and more.

Over time, I learned that the people who had the most control of my design work or output were those pesky marketers :) and so by the late 90s, I joined a marketing team and by association became "a marketer" ...

It just so happened that in addition to possessing unvarnished design skills, I also had a knack for writing, too. And so over time, I was hired or sought after for writing projects including copywriting, website content, press releases, email marketing messaging, white papers, speeches, and later social media status updates, and more.

Through it all, there was technology. Technology underpinnings support design work for interactive projects as well as content to be published and distributed across channels.

Over the course of the past two decades, I've gotten to wear many, many hats. Sometimes I've been hired to design and inevitably end up writing or working on aspects of technology. Other times, I've been hired for content talent but end up also designing or doing optimization work. There's even been times where I've been hired for consulting and strategy without implementation, but inevitably I'm asked to help implement and deploy, which often includes some sub-set of writing, technology, and designing tasks. It's all interconnected and very seldom have I found a marketing task that is unrelated to another.

Fast forward to 2015. That was a personally turbulent year for me. I was unsure of where I was going not just in my work but in life as a whole. I had been doing the marketing thing for so long. By 2015, that was 20 years of marketing, marketing, and more marketing. I felt I had conquered most marketing mountains at that point and was searching, hungry for something "new" ... something that would complement my skills but stretch me in fresh and different ways. As much as I love and had loved marketing, I realized I was tiring of it as well.

But if I wasn't a marketer, what would or could I be? Marketing had become part of my identity, both professionally and personally. It's what I knew and it's what I was, even when I didn't know that's what I'd be or pursue as a profession in life. And it's how I paid the bills so it wasn't like I could just suddenly stop doing and being something that served as the crux of my family's livelihood.

By 2016, I had begun on a personal project that required some cartooning and illustration work. I tried to outsource the design work but the designer was unresponsive and disinterested even though she had been very convincing she had wanted the project work. As I was commiserating over this outsourcing debacle to a dear friend, it was she who suggested I could perhaps draw those illustrations myself.



"Yes, YOU!" she was steadfast in her response. "Mayra, you can probably do up those cartoons and drawings way better than that darned lady you hired."

Ok, so she didn't exactly say "darned" lol ... but you get the point. My friend was encouraging me to do something I had not ever considered: for me to do the illustration work for a project myself!

Well but could I draw?
Kind of.
I mean, I could doodle.
I could rough sketch.
I could storyboard.
I could design layouts.
I had experience designing print pieces.
Websites and mobile apps, too.
I loved working with typography.
And I had been already designing for delighted clients for years. And years.

So why was the idea of me doing illustration work such a stretch for me? Possibly because I had never officially done any kind of formal illustration work beyond simple doodles and silly, random sketches. And because I had never had any kind of formal art training. And because there are incredibly talented illustrators out there; who was I to think I could aspire to such artistic heights?!

Still, I began to flirt with the idea of illustration and the more I thought about that type of designing and form of art, the more intrigued by it I became.

Separately but in parallel to this tale, I had grown quite tired of using stock photos for client work and had already been asking my clients to push their aesthetic envelopes further beyond what everyone else was visually doing. Otherwise, how could they truly differentiate their brand(s) if they look like countless other brands on the market?

I started to realize that with illustration, one could create truly unique visual storytelling opportunities for brands, in support of content and other marketing messaging. And because illustration is unique, the artwork or design becomes exclusive: no one else will have that look or style. *This* -- I became convinced -- was the way to go; to help my clients better differentiate their market positions using illustration (and digital paintings) wherever possible and relevant.

Additionally, I had various self-publishing projects underway and all needed some form of illustration. And as shared earlier, I had already been looking for a new mountain to conquer ... I was already in the market to do something different than what I was or had been doing year after year.

In 2017, this all came to a hilt when I made the decision to add illustration to my marketing repertoire. The combination of everything shared above plus the culmination of many years of build up propelled me to seek out a graduate program in Illustration.

Now, I'll admit that signing up for umpteen thousand dollars of grad school student loans absolutely does suck. But the learning, the skills, and the knowledge I am amassing all the while is exciting! I am, at least I think I am, in my element. And I feel refreshed, challenged, and inspired. I'm discovering that my creative ideas are just pouring out of me. Perhaps they had been there all along, waiting to be unleashed.

At any rate, I am still writing.
I am still designing.
I am still developing integrated strategies.
I am still building sites and apps.
I am still optimizing, analyzing, and measuring.
I am still a multichannel marketer.

Yet now, I can also add "I am an illustrator" to that list of "I ams" and it just feels so great. I long to visually storytell for brands as well as for myself. I aspire to combine all I've learned over the past 22 years with my new illustration habits to tightly align narratives with compelling visuals to create more meaning and more impact. This is my new journey.

Thanks for listening ... or reading 🙏

You can see some of my illustration and visual storytelling work via my new Instagram account:

Studio Designare is now the new visual storytelling arm of my digital strategy practice. A new website will launch at some point this year.

Stay tuned, and happy Saturday!



21781 Tottenham Hale Court
Sterling, VA

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 18:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 18:00
Thursday 09:00 - 18:00
Friday 09:00 - 18:00
Saturday 10:00 - 13:00


(703) 798-2619


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