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.

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.

 

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

Ethonomics

The latest buzzword. Wikipedia’s definition: the study of ethics in the marketplace. For years now, companies have been working hard to “Go Green” (it’s almost business suicide not to). What started out as company one-upper, has quickly become an expectation from consumable-conscious consumers. Purchase decisions are no longer just based on price comparison, or calorie intake numbers. The newest differentiator is how much wastage is saved through product creation, packaging and distribution. Not only does it benefit the companies bottom line, but it is also great for market positioning.

The numbers are staggering when auditing behemoth companies*:

  • General Mills has reduced yogurt packaging enough to save 1,200 tons of plastic annually.
  • Unilever has reduced water consumption by 63%, and CO2 emissions by 39%.
  • Frito-Lay have one-third of their factories at “zero landfill” status.

Small tweaks on their end make significant differences. Sure, they are saving the planet (as much as possible), but they are also attracting green consumers willing to buy efficient products. It’s a win-win. Now that’s good business.

While you might not have the distribution levels as Coke, Walmart, or Unilever, every bit helps. Our own office consumables have been dramatically reduced to do our part. What changes in your company can be made?

* sourced via fastcompany.com

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?

Social Media is not the new Holy Grail

vegemite-isnack092909Some things should never be changed. Kraft Foods has made some changes to the Australian icon, Vegemite. Sacrilegious! Besides an attempt to try to modernize something that I recognize to be as Aussie as kangaroos and boomerangs, Kraft opened up the naming of the new Vegemite to consumers via social media.

Social Media has pounced on the world with gusto and fervor, creating successful collective brainstorming products. But not all exercises in Social Media are successes. This is one of those instances. With more than 48,000 entries, you would think that SOMEBODY could create a name better than iSnack 2.0.

Apparently not. What does it mean? Keep in mind that this is a Kraft product. Not the latest product in the Apple i-product line. Nor is it some sort of software upgrade. And if you are creating a new name for a product, wouldn’t that not make it version 1.0? Vegemite 2.0 makes more sense.

There is something to be said to having a professional brand-builder create your product (like us.) Social collaboration is a great thing, but you have to be able to say thanks for the help, but there is nothing we like here, and call the pros.

The full article can be found here at AdAge.

Luckily there has been a Hitler rant video created for this. Check it out too.

Remember the Good Ol’ Days?

I did a bit of dabbling on YouTube and found some fantastic old commercials. Most of them are from the age of innocence and naiveté. Back when smoking was sexy and endorsed by everybody. Who would have thought that having a creepy Ronald McDonald, waterskiing while smoking, or having Barney Rubble smoking would be a logical commercial?!  Check out the Windows 1.0 Steve Ballmer ad. It makes them seem like a start-up doomed to fail.I wonder if those guys in MadMen came up with these? Boy has society come a long way. Now it seems weird to see an ad or commercial for cigarettes. How the times have changed. Thankfully for the better.