Book Review: Stand Out

Book Review: Stand Out

Are you a struggling designer wondering what your next move should be? Are you just starting out? Maybe you’ve been at this for a while but not seeing the results that you want?

Wherever you are in your design process, you’ll want to check out Denise Anderson’s Stand Out.

Despite Anderson’s bright colors, Stand Out makes its own statement with helpful information and illustrations for its readers.


Stand Out takes you step by step and offers you a guiding hand to assemble an employable portfolio, an appealing personal brand, and, most importantly, how to procure a potential job offer.

While on my first read, I thought Stand Out was a bit wordy. However, not all of Anderson’s text is related to her own commentary. A lot revolves around case studies and exercises to interact with the reader. Each are depicted with brightly colored, but not overpowering, headers and illustrations to promote their purpose.

This is a great book to go through if you’re just entering the workforce or are about to enter it. I know, if you were anything like me, you might be nervous about getting employment after college or once you have some work samples under your belt. It can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you plan accordingly, you can easily make strides to being more confident in your selections and your professional prospects with this book.

Anderson takes you through the three aspects as a designer that are important when approaching the job market.

  1. Creating a personal brand.

    In this section, she’s very clear on giving you many things to focus on. Some topics are target audience for your clients, discovering your personality, and determining your style. She offers both exercises and examples for this process so you know you are on the right track.

  2. Developing your portfolio.

    Anderson knows the importance of your work in this section. She knows what to look for in an engaging portfolio. She suggests an array of work but to be selective in all the work that you have. It should be enticing to your audience and provocative to your employer. Again, Anderson includes a wide variety of exercises and case studies to back up her findings.

  3. Landing the job!

    This section in Stand Out is similar to Craig Oldham’s Oh Sh*t… What Now? Anderson provides you many avenues to pursue when looking for a job in the design sector. She doesn’t tell you just what you can do in design, but also tells you more about how you can land the interview and the offer.

Read more about Craig’s book Oh Sh*t… What Now? here.

If these three steps seem daunting to you, do not worry too much.

In each section, Anderson goes even further by creating her own numbered projects for her audience. Some might be a few sentences, sharing the page with 2 other subsections, but others are lengthy and need their own exercise or example to move forward.

Better yet, each section provides a few examples of each task at the end. So if you’re nervous about doing anything correctly, finish each section and take a look at the end result to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Anderson makes sure to focus on the individual’s professional aspirations in Stand Out, yet I still find many ways it could transfer over for small or start-up businesses.

I’d suggest this book, even if you’re not a designer or starting a creative business. If you’re struggling to put together a portfolio for your employer to show you know what to do for the position or are not providing a good presentation during your job search, look into some of the information that Anderson provides in her book.

Read more about 6 Tips to Build a Creative Portfolio


If you’re not a designer, you’re probably wondering what this book has to do with you?

Note: There are probably more reasons than these to recommend this book for you or your business.

  1. If you are starting a business, this is a great way to sift through packages, ideal clients and branding. Even if this is catered to designers, you might have to put on your design cap or understand what a designer is talking to you about in regards to your business.

  2. Creating a portfolio is great for everyone. If you’re a project manager, you’ll want to remember some of your better accomplished projects and your role within them. If you’re an accountant, maybe you’ve managed or assisted in some big name accounts that you’re proud of. While you might not have the physical documents, you can learn a lot from developing and maintaining a portfolio of work in some shape or fashion.

  3. At the end of this book, Anderson talks about resumes and presentations when talking with potential employers. Resumes can always use a personal touch and Anderson does a great job in talking more in detail about this topic.

  4. If you deal with anything that might be presented, I’d recommend this book. Anderson makes a great point about putting everything through a round of design. While it might not seem essential to put your memo out in branded letterhead, it probably would make it more eye-catching to make people follow the office rule or the changes in management.

Most of Anderson’s exercises are great practice for your potential clients as well. Most of her design briefs that she has her audience participate in are good examples for what you should be asking clients or collaborators. No matter if you are looking into doing work on your own, with an agency, or any other company, these are great ways to start question people that are working with a designer to develop a project for them.

Read more on 5 Key Elements to Question when Building your Personal Brand

I wouldn’t try getting through this book quickly however. Most of her exercises are meant to be thought-provoking and make you deliberate about the choices you are making. The exercise you’re doing might take an hour at the most, if you know yourself or your work well enough to answer each survey. That being said, the exercises should allow you to question your prospective professional outlook.

If you’re going through Stand Out from front to back, I’d probably give yourself at least a month to really develop everything, and that’s if you have thought about each of these topics a bit. I’d probably give yourself a bit more time if you are starting from ground zero.


No matter how you use it, Stand Out is a must have for establishing a brand, building a portfolio of great assets for your career, and giving you valuable professional advice.

Do you have any other advice for aspiring designers? Or, better yet, have you read Stand Out by Denise Anderson? Give a piece of your own advice in the comments section below!

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