Branding + Marketing + Design // Victoria, BC

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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.

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.

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…

 

 

SunChips making noise for the environment.

SunChips making noise for the environment.

I heard some comforting news this week. SunChips Canada has decided to keep their eco-friendly, biodegradable bags in circulation. Even after much heated debate about the bags being too noisy which has caused the US brand to  ditch the green bags.

Instead of returning to the original, land-filling packaging, SunChips has decided stand up to the naysayers with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek retort. See video here. On their Facebook page, SunChips is offering to mail out earplugs to whomever asks. Love it. They understand what is at stake here.

What is more surprising: That consumers find noise control is more important than reducing packaging waste? Or that a company has not bent to some noisy, public resistance and done an about-face. Choosing instead to stick to their guns and their environmental initiative?

Hopefully this sassy stance gets some justified PR and gives the “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag” Facebook group a revelation that this is bigger than their self-indulgence.

Zombies lumber into Sears

Zombies lumber into Sears

It seems that nowadays it is difficult to get away from lumbering zombies. After years of being in the shadow of the vampire (pun intended) it appears that the undead have found themselves in a social revival. There have been a surge of zombie sightings recently. From Hollywood flicks to video game to TV commercials, you can’t escape the fact they have become the latest “it” monster.

Just in time for Halloween, Sears has created their own take on zombie fun. They have created an extensive shopping site. While it is only a micro site that links to their real online store, nothing has been missed. Complete with English/Zombian translation capabilities, to a Zombie Gift Guide, and some great writing such as “tone while you lumber” and “brain stains be gone”, they have done a great job. And be sure to try the Zombie Friend Maker.

What fun they must have had. I can only imagine unleashing fellow zombie-loving Copelanders to design this. I can see the  gore on the walls already.

Check it out: Sears Zombie Site

Corporate Kindness

Corporate Kindness

Pepsi’s current initiate: Pepsi Refresh Project, is ramping up speed. The idea is visitors post suggestions for possible projects that require funding. Covering areas such as health, culture, education and the planet, they are all admirable groups. With average donations of under $25,000, and 1 million + to go around, there will be lots of winners. You can post suggestions as well as vote for top 10 favorites. http://www.refresheverything.com/

It is another successful marketing initiative to use consumer involvement to create the content. What takes it to the next level is that they are not asking for submissions for homemade TV spots (å la the Doritos Super Bowl ads) but instead using the opportunity to spread goodwill across facets completely unrelated to selling pop. Rather than hitting you over the head with a refreshing, icy glass as a sales tool, they are relating to consumers on an ethical and ideals level. Isn’t that the reason most people stick with a brand?

Sure, it is still about selling cans of sugar water, but at least they are giving something back. While a million bucks is chump change for a global giant, it is a start. They are obviously not the first to offer funding to projects, they are taking full advantage of the current SM networks. YouTube channels, Facebook, and Twitter are all being covered.

It will be interesting to watch how this continues to steamroll and how successful it truly becomes. Is it enough to switch consumers to their products? Or are people going to gladly accept a donation check and then go by a Coke??

Is your brain broken?

At the office, we are currently coming off a few very busy months that have kept us all running and working hard. It’s when you get a chance to catch your breath that you realize just how frantic things were, how loopy you had become and how much of your life it consumes.

Here are a few symptoms for Brain Burnout:

  1. You are convinced that Comic Sans is cool to use. Trust me, it’s not.
  2. You begin to mix RedBull into your coffee in order to keep going.
  3. You complain about poor text kerning in your dreams at night.
  4. It’s been FOREVER since you last had a chance to search YouTube for classic Kick-in-the-groin clips.
  5. You haven’t had an opportunity to go blow your pay cheque on frivolous things.
  6. You can recite PMS – CMYK colour conversions like gospel.
  7. You keep trying to sell this photo in a campaign, any campaign. What is this thing?

Down time is a great opportunity to recharge the batteries, organize your files properly, catch up on client relationships and new business oppportunities and to get rid of the tower of coffee cups at your desk.

Did I miss any?

Super Bowl too Super Pricy for some.

Super Bowl XLIV is coming up February 7, 2010, and while it is still going to be a advertising gong show, it seems that the rising costs for TV spots has almost reached its limits. At an average cost of $2.5 – $3 million, some recession hit companies are pulling in the reins. Such notable names as FedEx, GM, and Pepsi are sitting on the sidelines this year. Pepsi has decided to move its’ spend to a social responsibility grant worth $20 million. GM has been smart enough to use the money internally rather than blow it all (especially after the handout). FedEx is withholding due to “cost-containment actions”.  With companies transferring big ticket TV spots in order to help keep operating costs down, or by introducing social programs, it will be interesting to see whether this is a start of a new trend. Or is the Ad Bowl just too alluring for companies to jump ship in the masses and bank that a Bowl ad will bring the purchasers flowing in? With roughly 99 million viewers last year, it is a tough call to make. What would you do with $3 million + play money??

But fret not, 95% of TV spots have already been purchased. With biggies like Disney, Frito Lays, Coke, and Anheuser-Busch, there will still be a lot of quality ads for the big game to be worth it. Oh yeah, and there should be good football game going on too.

Where is my martini and lines of coke?

Perception vs. Reality. For years Hollywood has done a great job of portraying ad agencies as glorified frat parties, filled with designers lounging on couches with glamorous women, or playing foosball while mixing their micro-brewery beers with bowls of uppers/downers that can be found at the reception desk.

Gone are the days of 3 martini lunches and HR violation conversations of the Mad Men era. Say goodbye to the 70’s-80’s era of strippers and coke, black turtlenecks, and “I don’t do that, I am a designer” attitude. Oh the good ol’ days…

We now have Agency 3.0. Nowadays the lines have become blurred with what each employee offers. Our Account Reps know about composition, branding, and photography. The Creative department is engrained in strategy and client management. Employees are more diverse in their offerings. Strategy, Creative, Social Media, these are areas that they need to be strong in. ALL of them.

Sure we still have fun, it still gets the creative juices flowing, but the reality is that this is a business with a lot on the line. It is a result-based industry that no longer has room for frivolous partying on the client’s bill. Budgets are getting smaller, and expectations higher. It is hard to keep that in mind after a few stiff drinks.

Enough with the clichés. Now, has anybody seen my RedBull?