Category Archives: Branding
Everyone is trying to reach someone, to influence someone these days, right? Thanks to a far wider range of channels and media than ever before, the noise can be pretty deafening. Sometimes going a little old school can help, can result in something a little unexpected, something that gets someone to stop and pay attention. But we’re not talking just temptation here. As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi puts it:
Temptation isn’t enough. It’s not about how we tempt customers to open a letter or email or anything else. It’s about how we as marketers can deliver ongoing information to our customers that make them more intelligent… The future of marketing is not about tempting them or conning them into buying more; it’s about communicating a message that says, “Regardless of whether you buy from me or not, you need this information. Enjoy!”
That’s right. How about that paper mailer campaign of yore? That physical artifact you unleash upon a carefully compiled list via the U.S. Postal Service. We still do those for some of our clients, and just not out of habit either. The best marketing strategy is one that utilizes as many channels as make sense, and sometimes a physical artifact can convey something an email or a tweet just can’t. And that’s where our story begins.
A Holiday Mailer when you least expect it.
Top-of-mind awareness is critical in business, and certainly for those competing to bring commerce to their communities. In the Economic Development Field, location short lists are almost always established long before any organizations are ever even contacted. In order to make those lists, you have to be part of their go-to toolbox. Long-time client, the Savannah Economic Development Authority helps businesses move to, and succeed in Savannah. The organization, twice ranked as one of the best development groups in the country, has a solid track record. And, while the marketing efforts vary, SEDA’s goal is always to make the Savannah region stand out.
We’ve worked on many mailing projects with them and we always get to pull out all the stops we do. But it’s not just show. We take a strategic communications approach, or as Karen Green manager of communication and outreach at the Renaissance Computing Institute at UNC puts it:
“…framing a discussion on topics and issues that are important to my organization in a way that gets the organization’s name out there. This in turn builds the organization’s reputation and street credibility.”
No Christmas cards here. Rather, since 2007, SEDA has been sending out St Patrick’s Day (it’s a Savannah thing – the math is a little fuzzy, but we host a top-three party by most reckoning) and Thanksgiving holiday greetings.
Couple of reasons:
- No torrent of holiday mail to compete with
- We can use a local product to give insight into the region – which is pretty critical to SEDA’s line of work
Now for a little show and tell.
Recipe of the Month
This was an ambitious one! And sometimes (because we’re human too) some months mailed a hair later than others. And you know what? Folks were checking in to make sure they hadn’t fallen off the mailing list accidentally. That’s a great level of engagement! (And no expectations were dashed in the end, everyone got their full set!)
And now for some Thanksgiving Mailers together, because, well is, well, quite simply a great opportunity to say a genuine thanks to those you have worked with, or who have even considered working with you in the past. Because who doesn’t like a thank you? Right – that’s what we thought.
One year SEDA decided to narrow the mailing list. Past recipients who had been cut called in wondering where their mailer was. Another year, when a fulfillment company handled the mailing, some companies received multiples, and called anxiously wondering if someone else had missed out since they had received more than one.
Over the years it has become clear that folks have come, not only to expect these, but that they actively look forward to seeing what SEDA is sending out this year. That’s a pretty valuable place to be with the people you’re talking to.
“Paragon has worked with the Savannah Economic Development Authority on a wide range of projects from developing, producing and packaging concepts for targeted specialty gift mailings to the design of our latest annual report. Their creative is always fresh and polished. You could not find higher quality design work, or higher quality people.”
Brynn Grant, COO, SEDA
This was brought to our attention by the Consumerist last year, but it seems Accenture still has these BiLion ads up in certain airports. I caught this one in Toronto’s Pearson Airport and it made me do a double take since at first I thought this actually was about bisexual wildlife. The Consumerist’s article about this peculiar use of misspelling posited that this might’ve been due to an insistent exec but my theory is that this is a good case of brand overconfidence*. The agency or client probably figured that the strength of the Accenture brand would have people questioning their spelling ability before they conclude that this was a typo. I have to admit that’s what happened to me. I thought “Surely , the great and mighty Accenture didn’t misspell Billions, so this must be a thing, then… I guess.”
*not a real thing, I just made it up.
We have one around here we call the Holiday Mailer. It’s our annual flexing of the collective brain for our brand. And while everything we do is really an exercise in branding, this end of the year project is one we look forward to. It’s a combination of highly enjoyable and maddeningly stressful, but the results are always worth it, we think.
It all begins, usually some time in October when Halloween still seems a way off, never mind the cluster of holidays in December. This year, it all started with a box. Several boxes, actually. Susan built one. So did Drew. And I’d totally show you one except you’d be deafened by the howls of these creatives wailing in agony that I posted something quite so… Rough.
Anyway – we all tested them thoughtfully and though we had been sure it was where we would begin, we ended up launching in another direction and in the end we decided to combine some rather old technology with something much, much newer.
A book, with a hidden tale behind the familiar Holiday story which would be revealed in a series of animated shorts. And in order to watch those, you’d have to whip out your phone and scan the QR code on each of the spreads in the book.
Speaking of… Ta-dah! Books.
(And speaking of process, three sets of parents were polled on exactly what the BEST shape for the book might be. Baby head circumference and parental arm length turned out to be the critical axes in the geometry calculations. I think that would make a valuable infographic, you know.)
And there were a bunch of other steps and decisions and discussions in between. Of course.
Like – we needed a hero for our hidden tale, a sort of a regular guy, but with some additional qualities…Like his own Twitter Account.
And we needed a villain, but not too much of a bad guy. Here are a few iterations for the coveted cameo.
See what we did there? Who could risk an homage to that internet super-celeb? Not us. Oh-my-goodness-no. (And she was thrilled!)
And because we can’t resist an Easter Egg, or three we hid some familiar (well, familiar to us artifacts in a couple of the spreads.) Which is a nice segue into, well, some of the spreads.
On the bedroom wall is our 2010 Holiday Mailer, the Jingle Bells Letterpress Poster .
Parents everywhere agree, you can try but you can’t keep the kid’s toys from taking over. On the side table is a View-Master, aka the 2011 Holiday Movie View-O-Rama.
Is that a set of Matryoshka dolls there on the mantle? No! Close. It’s just us reaching back in time to the 2008 Holiday Mailer.
Final spread just for fun.
And if you’d like to watch the tale within the tale – here you go!
Of course, just getting the animations completed and a website built and a book published were not the full list of steps from concept to completion. Oh no.
The final step of the Holiday Mailer Decathalon is… The assembly and mailing!
Always a mad dash to the finish. We started out with an accompaniment of Christmas Carols, but around the half-way mark we needed Bob crooning “Everything’s gonna be all right” to help us hold it together.
And we made kids everywhere proud with our level of commitment to the packaging process, neatness be damned.
Stop in the name of love? Sorry – there’s no time.
So. Many. Glue. Dots. Did I really cut those out individually when a strip of three would have been more humane? I did. It’s a long story. Not quite as long as the amount of time it took to peel off all those little squares of paper though. It was a mistake. I apologized. A lot.
And one final Easter Egg for you for making it the whole way through this long blog post – and it comes with a warning – Brace! Your! Ears! And test your reflexes!
Someone at the office has the high score – but it sure as heck isn’t me.
Our work for HunterMaclean, a large law firm headquartered in Savannah, has recently been recognized with a Silver Addy, a Communicator Award AND it was a Webby Honoree too. Needless to say, we’re thrilled.
It’s really gratifying, not the statue part (although no-one around here is going to knock shiny), but the part where the work is recognized for achieving what we set out to do for our client – take a complicated message with a large number of moving parts and deliver it in a clear, user-friendly format.
We began the process with HunterMaclean in 2011 when they chose to work with us to refresh their brand and re-imagine their online presence. We got down to the basics with them in order to really understand the story they needed to tell, and then focused on delivering that message as clearly and engagingly as possible. Usability from the client’s perspective was the bottom line.
The website, which launched in Spring last year, speaks both to the diverse experience of the firm’s attorneys and their clients’ successes while also highlighting their long history of community involvement.
This site is deep. Content matters, and it really mattered here.
There is a tremendous amount of valuable and relevant information to be shared with clients, and it is constantly being updated. We needed to develop a way to access existing and updated information and present it in a way that made sense to visitors to the site.
The attorney bios were the most complex component of the build, and are dynamically generated using a significant amount of content parsed from various sections of the site. Additionally, there is a high-level of site-wide interlinked content highlighting the accomplishments of the firm and its attorneys.
As always, thanks for working with us, this is one we’re really proud of. Even though we love ALL our children JUST the same.
St. Patrick’s Day was smelling particularly good around here a few days ago – SEDA’s 2013 St. Paddy’s Day mailer featured close to 200 bags of freshly roasted and ground coffee from local craft roaster PERC Coffee.
What better Post-Celebratory pick up could there be than a hand-roasted brew fresh from the hostess city? Exactly – that’s what we thought. And this year’s little extra something something was that the coffee would be mailed in a pop top can. Nice.
So, some background. Every year SEDA sends a St Patrick’s gift out to clients and prospects. Savannah hosts the second biggest celebration of this March happening, you know. And every year, we find a locally made product to feature. This year we worked with local coffee brewer Perc and they were great! So knowledgable. So delicious (the coffee). Did you know freshly roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide? No. Neither did we, but Roast Master Philip Brown did, and it was good to know, because if we’d canned them too soon we would have had exploding coffee cans. Which would surely have displeased the postal service.
The can label promoted Savannah while the coffee bag label was specific to SEDA and the programs and resources they offer.
Text you’d traditionally find on coffee cans was reworked – wait – I’ll show you:
And now the bags:
Never one to shy away from a challenge, we bought ourselves a canner (and a lot of cans in order to fully master our craft). The model that arrived was surely the very one used by canning enthusiasts at the turn of the century, and I mean 20th, people. And we have the instructions to prove it.
We’re seriously considering whether or not a future project should involve translating the instructions into something a lay person could understand. You know, sort of like a service to the community.
Once this antique torture device (Truth! It has thumb screws. Two. I’ll wait. Go read the instructions again, part # 13169) was assembled (no mean feat alone and we know about working in 3-D) we spent an unfortunate amount of time mangling can after can. It was grim. Then a mechanically-minded staffer (and heck no, I ain’t naming no names…ok, it was Phil) came to the rescue of those containers manufactured from earth’s third most abundant element (so it’s OK, plus we recycled the casualties anyway).
Canning debacle aside the final outcome was exactly as we envisioned! And more importantly SEDA was thrilled as were the lucky recipients.
Can’t wait to see what happens next year, and in the mean time, if you need any canning done, you know who’s got you covered. Call our amazing SCAD student helper Nikki (thank you Nikki! So much!!) She did a bang-up job.
Oh! And happy St Paddy’s!
You’re probably already familiar with the practice of building a creative 404 page (no? well check some of these out, and if you’re adventurous try finding ours). That same philosophy of caring about every detail should transfer to other aspects of your business as well. We get so busy refining the big things about our core service offerings that we forget the little overlooked interactions. These seemingly insignificant encounters often get taken for granted, but provide great opportunities to surprise and delight your clients.
Through one of our partners CommerceV3, we get the chance to help store owners with the more obvious parts of the UX equation; Product pages, checkout sequences, etc. But I’ve recently noticed some savvy e-tailers making use of those less obvious communication points; the confirmation email, shipping status message etc.
Bargain site 6pm.com also gets personable with their confirmation email
even their shipping status emails are written as if by humans…
But maybe cheeky isn’t necessarily in line with your brand, there’s always the informative route. Here New Egg again, shows us how it’s done with a little infographic to help explain their shipping process.
Just something to think about the next time you’re about to use the default setting on anything your client will see. Every interaction counts and sometimes all it takes is a little unexpected humor to leave a smile on your client’s face.
I have previously commented on what some businesses were doing to use social media to their advantage, but I just came across an article about the science of tracking people’s mentions of your brand and coming up with your approval rating (yes people… approval ratings are not just for the president anymore).
Online reputation management is not new. I’m sure all of you know there are ways one can track mentions of a name, company name, word, etc. online. Some of these options are free, and this works perfectly for an individual or small business, but when you have millions of people talking about you and you want to know what they feel, there needs to be a system in place to interpret all of that data.
What WiseWindow is doing that is new and amazing, is that they have created a new way of doing market research that takes advantage of all the unsolicited, unbiased and spontaneous information that populates the internet. Their platform MOBI (Mass Opinion Business Intelligence) combines proprietary deep website crawling, relevance recognition and statistical natural language analysis to produce real-time data that can help businesses evaluate people’s opinions of their brand.
They can monitor responses to ads, news, product launches, events and can also monitor people’s responses to competitor’s actions as well, so they can track how they are doing in comparison.
Forget focus groups and polls that take a long time to produce usable data and only reflect the opinions of a few. Why wait when you can know what millions are thinking whenever you want. By the way, learning about these ancient market research tools in school is also a thing of the past, since WiseWindow has provided Harvard Business School students with a version of their platform so they can apply this new technology to their school projects! talk about state of the art!
Downtown natives have probably already noticed the newest addition to our restaurant selections, Leoci’s just around the corner from us on Abercorn Street. We’re always glad to see existing buildings being rennovated and reused, especially when they serve up sumptuous Italian food. But what really excited me (after I got over the smell of basil in the air) was their logo. Anyone know who’s responsible?
This past Wednesday SCAD presented a lecture by expert brand strategist Lee Hunt. The event was well attended, and even though his talk focused on media brands, his insights were relevant for anyone dealing with the creation or maintenance of brands for any consumer product.
First the Basics
He did a great job of covering the basics of what a brand is and what it needs to do. Anyone unfamiliar with the idea of a brand being more than just a logo would’ve gotten a lot out of this part. In short, a brand is:
- the perception that exists in people’s mind
- a set of expectations – promises the product makes to the consumer
- a shortcut – an easy way to understand why the product you’ve chosen is superior to its competitors
But most importantly your brand isn’t what you say it is,
it’s what they say it is.
With that in mind, any successful brand needs to do 3 things:
- Define the asset – this is the easy part, basically just communicate what it is you’re selling.
- Differentiate – now it gets a bit trickier, you need to set yourself apart from the competition.
- Establish relevance to the consumer – even more difficult, this means finding a way of convincing your target audience why you belong in their already media and product saturated lives.