Posts Tagged ‘ Research ’

Is “Re-branding” the New Buzz Word?

We hear the term “re-branding” thrown around a lot lately. It seems if everyone is trying desperately, in a fast-moving society, to stay fresh and yet stay true to their history at the same time. Most recently – YMCA to Y; Tropicana logo change; and let’s not forget about the Gap logo debacle.

The Gap change came in early October of this year. The president of Gap Brand North America for the last three years stated, “We chose this (new) design as it’s more contemporary and current. It honors our heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward.” – Sound familiar?

Gap did a soft launch of their new logo and wanted feedback from their loyal customers, so they introduced it through social media. And, did they get feedback! Received so negatively and with such a backslash, it resulted in 1,094 comments from one of their Facebook postings alone.

Creatively, many felt it took a couple steps back and, well…fell flat on its face. The “generic” look that so many companies are trying to achieve didn’t work for Gap. For many, their goal is to make their brand modern and clean, but when executed incorrectly, the result is a generic and drab look. Modern should not equal generic. Gap has now gone back to their old logo.

This got us thinking…when exactly is the right time to re-brand and why? In Gap’s case, they wanted a new logo to reflect the evolution of their clothing line and multiple modern stores. However, what other reasons are there to re-brand? Take our company, evok advertising, for example. We are actually in the process of a re-brand ourselves. So, why the change for us?

Scott Disbennett, creative director and agency partner, said, “Opposed to a national brand that has spent millions focusing on consumer perception, we don’t carry the same iconic weight. We are a mid-size agency that prides ourselves on staying abreast of new technology and new brands, while staying cutting edge, so being current is actually part of the brand. Also, we focus most, if not all, of our marketing efforts B2B so to many, this new logo will be their first experience with our brand. We aren’t facing the challenges that a national consumer brand might face.”

Larry Meador, our agency’s managing partner, addressed evok’s re-brand by stating, “While the old ‘EVOK’ worked well when we were trying to shout our name out there, we have always had a core belief that we should be behind the scenes, behind our clients’ victories, and although just a minor change, going from upper case to lower case with our logo reinforces that belief.”

So, if wondering whether you should re-brand your company, you may want to consider the following criteria. If you can answer yes to most of the items below, maybe it’s time?

Re-brand IF:

  1. New ownership, new partner
  2. A new highly regarded business practice (such as being green, etc.)
  3. Offering new products or services that will move you to a different segment of your market
  4. If your branding was poorly designed when your company was young
  5. New location, if that greatly impacts your business

So, the question remains to re-brand or not re-brand?  Well, the simple answer is, consider the brand! For our agency, yes it made sense. For KFC and the Y (formerly YMCA), yes, maybe? But, maybe not so much for Tropicana and The Gap. If you are responding to consumer input, yes! Remember, the purpose of re-branding is to keep your current clients and customers, but also attract new ones.

Long live the Coppertone baby!

How to Get the Creative Juices Flowing…from the mind of a seasoned art director

WHERE’S THE JUICE?

If you’re a designer, there are going to be some days when you don’t feel like you can get the creative juices to flow. So, what do you do if something that you used to enjoy has become inundated with crazy deadlines, design criteria and the ever-popular “design block”? Here are my suggestions on how to get the juice to flow.

Sleep On It

A good night’s sleep can have great impact on your ability to problem-solve your creative block. In addition, many creative people say that they will ponder a problem or creative roadblock as they drift off to sleep and then turn it over to their subconscious mind to review as they snooze.

Mother Nature Might Hold The Key

When you allow yourself to step away from the workspace that you occupy each day, you should remind yourself of what Mother Nature has of offer. Among this amazing diversity in nature, you can explore new colors, textures, sounds, sizes, shapes and composition. Allowing your mind to explore, creative juices will (in theory) become more focused, your mind will be cleared and solutions and inspiration will begin to flow far more freely.

FUN FACT: Velcro was inspired by nature. The Swiss Georges de Mestral, inventor of Velcro, noticed how the sticky seed heads of burdock plants attached themselves to his pants and to his dog after walks in the woods. This observation led him to invent the product now called Velcro in 1948.

Just Do It

I have uttered these three, short words to myself many times in order to draw inspiration from somewhere to get something done. More often than not, it’s not that you’ve run out of ideas, it’s just that you’ve forgotten what it feels like to create designs based on how you’re feeling at the time. Give yourself the time to enjoy your craft.

Remind yourself why you love to design so much. Think of this as revving up your engine and giving it time to warm up. Somewhere down the line, you will have the momentum to get started and get things rolling.

Work It Out With A Workout

In addition to keeping your backside from spreading, a good workout is one of the best ways to gain inspiration. Think of it as “inspiration through perspiration”. An exercise session can take your mind off the issue at hand and allow that subconscious problem-solving to kick in. It also increases oxygen flow to the brain, upping your ability to think and problem-solve more effectively. You feel better and your creative blocks don’t seem so difficult to overcome.

Hopefully these juicy ideas will shake off that sluggish design state of mind and get you back on the creative track.

BONUS: Illustrator: Design Tip

Ever want to add a gradient to text in Illustrator without converting the text to outline? Here is how.

Step One

Using the Type tool, type out some text.

Step Two

Using the Selection Tool, click on your text to select it. Now go to your Appearance palette. If you don’t see it, go to Window > Appearance. Click the little arrow in the top right of the palette and choose the following> add new fill.

In the Appearance palette you’ll see a new layer for a Fill.

Step Three

Now You Can Apply Your Gradient! Click On A Gradient Swatch Or Create Your Own. If You Don’t See Your Gradient palette, go to Window > Gradient.

The best thing about it is that you can still edit the text!

The Appearance palette also has the option to add additional strokes. That’s how you can create text with multiple strokes. The cool thing is you can move the strokes and fills around in the Appearance palette just like layers in Photoshop. Use some Illustrator filters on top of that and you can do some pretty fun stuff.

How to Be Worth a Journalist’s Time

Public Relations (PR), at its core, is a special type of communication used to gain earned media in broadcast, print and online channels. When proven professionals are leading the charge, PR is an invaluable component of any full-service agency and a crucial element to an organization’s professional engagement. At times, it can make or break campaigns and is often the best resource in times of crisis, lending itself to third-party credibility.

Many companies develop their own PR in house, some by typing up random contact lists for journalists at publications they’ve never read and sending out press releases through email blasts. Remember, it takes grit to harness the power of persuasion and finesse to win someone over.

To get your news published, you must be worth a journalist’s time. Here are a few pointers when considering taking on the public relations role internally.

  • It’s more time consuming and costly than you’d think. Even a mid-sized company with a 60 +/- employees and a marketing department of less than five, could spend $75,000 +/- per year in salary, benefits and overhead in a mid-sized market, plus approximately $1,000/mo. in management software such as Cision or Vocus, if done right.
  • Personalize – That means no more email blasts. Each email, letter or fax  sent needs to be personalized to the receiving journalist. Get to know their position, what they write about, and take the time to read some of their recent articles to get to know their writing style. Become a resource to the journalists, not a spammer.
  • Be worthy – If you don’t read their publication, your company probably doesn’t deserve to be in it. When corresponding with journalists, show that you know their publication and understand its value.
  • Know their and your audience – Even though many companies can’t accurately pinpoint their audience’s ethnography, the extra effort will need to be made if you want to do your own PR. Does your audience align with viewers of a particular news program or readers of a particular magazine? How do they consumer it? When? Where? Know where your audience is and take the steps to reach them “where they live.”
  • Foster a good relationship – Ruining a relationship can be easier than you may believe. In some cases, all you have to do is refer to your journalist contact by the wrong name, send them something of non-interest to their audience, fax a news release to the wrong department, misspell a word or pester to see if your release was published – and presto, you may have just lost a contact. Their time is very limited, and they look to seasoned professionals to focus the message, especially since the inundation of social media.

Although the pointers above are not inclusive of all that you’ll encounter, it’s time to move on to “your” story. Even if you have the perfect journalist at the perfect publication, do you have the perfect story? Don’t miss the mark.

  • Impact – The facts and events that have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people are, simply, the most noteworthy. Include numbers, indisputable facts and figures in your release. Without a tangible frame of reference for the media’s readership, the context may not be fully recognized by the journalist gatekeeper. They want to write about what their readers want to read. Demand is supply.
  • Timeliness – Events that happen recently are more noteworthy. Newspapers are already competing for readership with electronic media, so know when their deadlines are and work to be in front of them with a timely story, not last week’s news.
  • Proximity – Events that happen near the readers or viewers are generally more interesting. Again, context. The reader or viewer has to see or feel the impact of the release, or it may not be newsworthy.
  • Relevancy –Attempt to find a common thread between your company’s news and a current issue. A little hint is to look in the national publications and find a local angle for your company.
  • Human Interest – Stories that play to human emotions may be noteworthy. Remember to target only those writers who have written human interest stories in the past and follow their style.

Public relations is an investment that can yield significant results, yet is often the first to be cut from a marketing budget and taken “in house”–unhealthy for the organization. “Hey doctor, … cut right here?”

Direct Marketing – and why you shouldn’t discount it.

For many companies it’s a real challenge to decide which advertising medium to use, especially in today’s tech-driven environment. One bad decision could cost a company their entire marketing budget, so how do they decide which medium is right? There’s the Internet, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media and more. But for some reason, the channel that most seem to discount these days is direct marketing – and well, that’s just crazy.

With social media on the rise, and being significantly cheaper than other mediums, many companies are going for it. Great if you are opening the hottest new club in town, but what about if you’re trying to sell hearing aids? Twitter may not be your best bet! So, when deciding what channel to use, the first step is to identify your target market and the best way to reach them.

Let’s stick with the hearing aid example. Although an increasing number of seniors own computers and are savvy about navigating them, studies show there are better ways to reach them in a more targeted fashion, like by direct mail.

While Internet spending has increased dramatically over the last several years and newspaper advertising has decreased dramatically, direct mail spending has remained virtually flat. Flat doesn’t sound good, does it? But really, this means that it’s a tried and true marketing medium that has stayed consistent throughout the years.

Direct marketing, as defined by Wikipedia, is a form of advertising that reaches its audience without using traditional, formal channels of advertising, such as TV, newspapers or radio. The goal of direct marketing is to allow businesses to communicate directly to the consumer through the use of advertising techniques such as flier and catalogue distribution, mailing of promotional letters, and street advertising.

There are several advantages to direct marketing. Here are a few:

1. It enables you to send your message directly to the consumer, without interference.  For instance, when it comes to TV spots, how many people now Tivo and DVR their favorite TV shows, and skip right through the commercials, blasphemous to an advertiser, but it happens nonetheless!

2. It also allows you to personalize your message to each consumer. “Dear Mr. Jones, we would like to offer you a special discount…”

3. Direct mail also can include a call to action, which allows for tracking. For example, if you ask consumers to “bring this coupon into the store to receive your discount,” you can actually tally up the amount of coupons the store receives to see the success of your campaign. Other calls to action include, “call this number” or “logon to this website.”

4. Although there are many forms of direct marketing – telemarketing, e-mail marketing, door-to-door leaflet marketing, broadcast marketing – direct mail remains the most popular.

5. In a study conducted by The Direct Marketing Association, it was found that 57% of the campaigns studied employed integrated strategies.  Of those, almost half (47%) launched their campaigns with a direct mail piece.

6. Additionally, although we were using the hearing aid company as an analogy marketing to seniors, direct mail can also be used successfully to market to all age and ethnic groups.

Direct Mail and Coupons

For the first time since the Depression, the Gen Y group and their followers, the Gen Z group, are saving more money than any of their predecessors. Although not a definite, this could be attributed to the rise of coupon usage. Where it used to be taboo to use a coupon (think standing in line behind the blue-haired lady in the grocery store, with her handful of coupons), it is now the norm and almost expected. Don’t want to spend the money for your morning latte? Probably will if you have a 50% off coupon. And what better way to receive a coupon that by having it mailed directly to your house?

So when determining how best to spend your precious marketing dollars, first and foremost consider your market and how to reach them, then make sure your messaging is clear and if using direct marketing – consider making your consumers an offer. And don’t discount direct marketing – it’s how many consumers get discounts and they love that, so you should too.

Listen Up Pitches!…The Pitch Process from a Creative’s Mind

Before I begin, this behind-the-scenes look through a creative’s mind can be a little scary. I promise to stay on track and stick to the subject matter of what a pitch entails…or at least mention what it should entail. Let’s start with the obvious – before you begin a pitch, learn about your client, their business and their customer. Each client will expect you to be sensitive to their business and industry, so let the homework begin. Embark with research into the industry trends, lingo and competitors, but get the entire team working on this – different perspectives and research avenues will prove invaluable in the kick-off meeting. Also, dig into the client’s personal tastes, from who they associate with to their personal interests, such as what they watch, read, like and are involved in. This helps in choosing your “voice” of the presentation. However, the most important study is finding their target audience—and digging deeper. Are there other demos we could hit? Can we expand sales to existing customers and what will engage all of them to act? More often than not, you can change a client’s weariness of a new idea when you back it with this kind of research.

Now let’s talk about that new creative idea. Our biggest hurdle with new ideas is just that – that they’re new ideas. This means change to a client and many people do not like change. Before your pitch, make sure you are speaking to someone that’s interested in change, and if they’re not, find out why they think an agency is needed in the first place.

Moving forward, what happens when you find that idea, but it just isn’t working? Sometimes, even if the passion is there, that big idea isn’t always the right fit.  Ask yourself and your peers: Does this solve a specific problem or need? Is this problem worth solving? And will it translate into profits? Can it be implemented realistically? If these can be answered and backed up with research, creative thinking and real passion – then you have the big idea!

The thing we must always ask ourselves – how do we communicate the idea to the client effectively? First, you need to develop the elevator pitch – one short sentence that describes the idea at its highest level. Refine and simplify until it’s interesting, intelligent and to the point. The rest of your presentation should be based on this simplified explanation of the big idea and flow out like an open fire hydrant.

So there you have it, pitches. We research, we learn, we create, we execute, but we do it all while something’s missing – The Client. This is how the majority of agencies have to operate – without their major puzzle piece intact. It’s a sad way to do business, at least in my opinion.

What happened to learning directly from the client before the pitch? It’s very doubtful that any creative director or copywriter will ever know as much about the client’s business as the client does. This may not sound promising to clients, but the truth is – most of their customers do not either, nor do they want to. As a Creative Director, I want to hear the business successes and failures directly from the president or founder. A walk down the company memory lane is usually the spark that ignites the passion and reason for being of that particular business. This experience is invaluable to a creative and helps the idea bloom. Then that idea (and a good agency plan) becomes the integral link between Client and Customer. We develop the idea in the language of the consumer and place the right message in areas that they frequent. This model, when all of the above is developed properly, usually results in sales.

So I ask you, Client – Pitch me! Please.

Focus on Focus Groups

In a marketplace that’s growing increasingly competitive, doing all you can to ensure the success of a new product or product line your company plans to introduce is more important than ever. Conducting a focus group is an effective means of getting valuable feedback from consumers in your target demographic.

Follow these guidelines to gather information that is accurate and useful:

• Identify the objective of the group – the more specific, the better.
• Bring all interested parties together in the planning process. Their input will create a total picture of the information you need the group to provide.
• Determine what issue or need the information you gather will address, and develop questions upon that basis.
• Keep questions to eight or fewer (preferably) to obtain the most information-rich responses.
• Select group participants carefully to provide a good cross-section of your target demographic. Avoid using employees, even if they fit the profile.
• Keep the size of the group at about eight. Contrary to common belief, more participants will dilute the results rather than represent a better sample of target market demographics.
• Don’t try to do everything in one group – the results will be too general to provide beneficial insight. Addressing one to three main issues per session is much more effective.
• Conduct more than one group session if possible. Studies reveal that when two sessions are held, 80 percent of the value of the focus group’s data comes from the second session.
• Hire an outside, professional moderator. A professional knows how to guide group dynamics and has the skill to interpret participant behavior. A group conducted by an in-house moderator risks having the results skewed toward what the moderator believes top management “wants” to hear. In keeping your competitive edge, objective is better – even if the truth hurts. Bruised egos are preferable to bruised profits. We recommend Lynette Leathers @ Mindspot, for example.

Once the data is gathered and interpreted, your company will experience real benefits from knowing more about its target market – whether the project needs some tweaking or is ready for introduction to eager consumers.