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.

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.