Branding + Marketing + Design // Victoria, BC

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What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

You’ve got your business “Big Idea”!

Excellent, now where do you go? Creating a new product, real estate development, or commercial business is an exciting, intense project. There are many moving parts that require scrutiny and attention to detail. One of these is determining branding and market strategy.

One of the first steps is determining what you are called and how you want to be perceived as a brand.

Where are you looking to fit in with your competition, and your market? Research your key consumer target and ensure that you are speaking the same language. What emotions does your name evoke? Does it align with your business proposition?

Using your name is also an option. You are your brand, so it is a natural progression. How does it fit with your business model? Are your goals for your company to stay relatively small, or to become a global powerhouse?

Go through the exercise to ensure that what you are selling matches with your brand. You are going to spend more time adjusting misconceptions rather than doing your sales pitch.

Good enough isn’t good enough.

Good enough isn’t good enough.

The marketing industry is knee-deep in continuous cycles of innovation.

A recent cycle was the introduction of websites. Companies were slapping up something, anything to create a presence (animated GIFs anyone?), and then they caught their breath, and a second wave came through to clean things up and optimize sites.

Social Media was then introduced and the cycle began anew. Facebook and Twitter accounts spewed forth in order to claim their spot. We are now at the secondary stage, where companies realize the value in creative strategy and design, and accounts are monitored, designed, and integrated properly. How much could have been saved in cost, brain-matter, and time if companies did it right the first time around? Companies that incorporate design and strategy in their initial start ups end up being the trendsetters and leaders in their markets. How many customers were missed due to half-assing it?

Prophesied as the killer of paid advertising, SM has lost a bit of its blood thirst for advertising. The revelation is that SM is only another branch of advertising. No longer can it be expected to be the be-all-end-all to a marketing plan.
So now the wheels are getting bigger too. Marketing options today are numerous, targeted, and trackable. Everything from TV, radio, websites, online advertising, print ads, print collateral, direct mailings, out-of-home signage, guerrilla marketing, social media sites, customer relationship management, etc., and there will be more. The cycle will come around again and the wheel will expand again.

There are a range of marketing opportunities that companies can benefit from using. Be smart with your corporate image. Be aware that while these are daunting projects, they are attainable. Need a professional to help you implement them? I happen to know just the guy who can help.

Which way are you heading? To the top or the bottom??

Which way are you heading? To the top or the bottom??

I was watching George Strombolopolous a few nights ago and Seth Godin was a guest. Seth had some great opinions and projections, and he said it best with “either you are in a race to the bottom, or a race to the top.”

Business these days is unwielding, cut-throat, and yet ripe for the picking. It seems that people’s instinct is to cut their own profits in order to be the lowest price point to acquire new business. The problem with this slippery slope is that there is always someone out there that can do it for less. Then where does that leave you?

The middle-road is seeing the largest attack. Mediocrity is no longer good enough. This is the market that is having massive layoffs and closures due to having both ends of their carrot being nibbled on by the bottom/top race.

So what is left? Head for the top. Positioning yourself as a high-value, high-quality business will have people seeking your services, and be willing to pay for it. Be diligent in the quality of your work and do not second-guess your positioning.

Being ahead of the curve is an asset, but it is not necessary to be cutting-edge to be successful. All it takes is finding a untapped niche and creating it as your own. Research your industry, your location, your competitors’ offerings. Pay attention to what is being offered, and especially note what is not. Mining the findings will unearth some hidden gems.

Don’t pigeon-hole your branding.

Don’t pigeon-hole your branding.

It seems that brand identities have tipped the scales towards what is termed as 2.0 design.

Perhaps I am aging myself again, but “back in my day” certain restrictions and processes had to be factored in when creating logos. How does it look on 2 colour printing? How does it work in reverse applications? Can it Fax? – remember that technology??

With the surge of affordable digital printing, and online web content, it seems that the rules have changed. Now, the inclusion of gradient, rainbow fills, drop shadows and subtle bevels are running rampant in the branding world.

Even Xerox – the inventors of xerographic copiers (black or white only) has made the leap.

While these design additions can certainly benefit brands, be fearful of a new flood of “I have Photoshop, so I can build a logo” designers. Just because you have a copious amount of filter/drop shadow/texture options at your fingertips does not mean they all need to be tossed into the logo. Consideration of where the brand lives, scalability, and application are now more important than ever. If you are building a 2.0 logo, take the time to ensure that it can be replicated into some of the traditional restrictions. Stick with the tried-and-true approach to branding: Build in Black & White first. If it works there, it can work with any filters or rainbows you throw at it.

While their new designs are built 2.0, the following examples below, have factored in, and broken down to work with flat, single colour applications. Ideal for t-shirts, SWAG and low-cost printing materials.

Huffington Post crowdsourcing leaving bitter taste.

Huffington Post crowdsourcing leaving bitter taste.

Recently, The Huffington Post  – an online news site  recently purchased by AOL – has joined the latest trend of crowdsourcing creative work with their “Huffington Post Politics Icon Competition.”

It seems that the final straw has been drawn on large corporations seeking free work. When a company like AOL spends $315 Million to buy your company, one would expect they could afford to hire a designer for creative work….

The backlash from designers is getting widespread via Twitter and Facebook. And there are already 5 pages of negative comments on the Huffington Post page already.

Oh look, another page of comments added since I started this post. Tick, Tick, Tick.

Nothing gets my blood boiling more than crowdsourcing creative. Trying to justify an expectation of free work from multiple contributors is outrageous. Imagine crowdsourcing for other professions. Would you request having 100 dentists / doctors / plumbers / etc. to do work for you and then only pay one? Bah! How many HP / AOL managers are receiving high fives and firm handshakes for a job well done in lieu of their salaries?

The sad reality is that people will contribute to this competition, and someone will win. But at what cost to the designers.

Here is the contest link, along with the long list of comments.

What is your take on crowdsourcing? I would love to hear people try to justify it.

 

Is Google+ third time a charm?

Is Google+ third time a charm?

Google is taking on Facebook once again.

After failed attempts to break into the social networking juggernaut with Google Buzz and Google Wave (2009 & 2010 respectively), Google+ is focusing in on social relationships again with “real-life” sharing services. It looks like they take the Facebook Groups feature and kick it up a notch with Circles, Huddle and Hangout, allowing you to choose what you wish to share with whom.

The interface and maintenance looks pretty sharp from the video snippets. With all these new features, simplicity is key. People have spent a long time setting up the FB pages –  (uploading massive amounts of photos, adding/purging friends and playing plug-in games) – will users concede all those man hours to set up another network identity?

Is it just a “me too” contribution? Or will some of the new features be enough to create converters from Facebook? They will certainly be a bandwagon effect in the initial product push, but will users stay or wander back to Facebook. Perhaps it’s best to let Google enjoy the glow of the spotlight and see what the numbers say next year.

Here is a link to the Google Blog with videos of the new features and more concise descriptions of the latest features.

Will you be signing up?

Can you beat your best?

Can you beat your best?

When the Sussex Safer Partnership ad “Embrace Life” won YouTube’s 2010 Ad of the Year, you knew they would have their hands full with following up with something as equally emotional and as beautifully constructed for the next campaign.

With a new year comes a new spot. This time it follows a boy constructing a make-believe motorcycle out of his bicycle to be just like his Pa who ends up returning home safely on his bike. Besides being another visual masterpiece, it continues with the previous spot’s positioning of using emotion and imagination instead of scenes of gore and mayhem (staples of seemingly all road safety spots.)

Is it a spot that can top its predecessor (currently at 13.5M+ views, and award fame)?

Can it, or should it, be compared to the original at all?

Here are the spots:

Stay a Hero (2011) – View here.

Embrace Life (2010) – View here.

Taking it to the streets

Taking it to the streets

With the success of Google’s latest endeavor to catalog famous indoor art from museums around the world, RedBull and agency Loducca kicked up the cool factor. “Street Art View” allows users to use Google Maps to catalog and share street art. It has a random art feature, latest additions, and choose an artist options. Toss in a Flickr plugin, and you get a pretty polished package.

There will be folks that see street art as vandalism and poorly done. And while there are a lot of senseless tags tagged, most are large, extravagant murals. I hope that people can appreciate the craftsmanship of most of these.

Take a trip around the world and see some great pieces, in some obscure locations. Who would think that Norway is represented with almost 20 pieces already?

Try it out: STREET ART VIEW

Coming to a shelf near you.

Coming to a shelf near you.

Picture this: a quick trip to the local grocery market. Grabbing a few bananas here, a carton of milk there, you make a bee-line to the checkout by cutting down the cereal aisle. What ensues is a sensory overload. Colourful, cartoon-character toting boxes of sugar cranked cereals vie for your attention as you battle through. Now. Throw in this latest weapon of packaging design. Wireless electronic induction. Sounds great! What is it? It is a great technology advancement that transfers power from one device to another without wires. Fantastic.

So why are they choosing cereal as a starting point? Soon we will have annoying, flashing-billboard-esque boxes of sugary cereals hounding us as we trudge down the aisle. Picture an entire aisle of this effect. I foresee epileptic seizures everywhere! I appears to me that this is counter productive from a green-footprint point of view. The packaging must be significantly more wasteful then how they currently are.

Just wait until the other food products catch on. From dog food to cake mix, this can quickly get ugly and overloaded. Let’s hope that this is one of those techs that realize there are better avenues to expand in…

 

 

OK Go is going places

OK Go is going places

Continuing on my theme of not requiring big money for big ideas, I want to draw your attention to a successful band that is as popular for their music videos as for their music. OK Go. If you have seen any of their music videos, you can appreciate the creativity and planning gone into each one. Most are done in a single take (with many attempts to get it just right), and lots of synchronicity involved, each one is a unique masterpiece. Their latest video (Dec 12 2010) Back from Kathmandu, continues the creativity by having a small parade throughout LA and mapping their logo out using GPS tracking. Brilliant.

It goes to show that big ideas don’t need big money to be successful. Case in point: Michael and Janet Jackson’s duet (Scream – 1995) cost $7 million. What in the world is going on here anyways? The only big thing invested in OK Go videos is a significant amount of patience and man-hours. For the record OK Go’s “This too shall pass” has 21 Million+ YouTube views vs. MJ’s 18 Million…

Here are a few links to some of the greats. Time to feel inspired…

This Too Shall Pass: Video Here

White Knuckles: Video Here

Here it Goes Again: Video Here

End Love: Video Here