Category Archives: marketing and promotion

“Workplace” – A Look at Office Design Before Covid

R/GA founder Bob Greenberg

R/GA founder Bob Greenberg had no idea that four years later COVID would become the pandemic he didn’t mention.

R/GA Documentary Ambushed by COVID

Documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit’s examination of global agency R/GA’s decision to consolidate their New York City headquarters in Workplace couldn’t have been more prescient. Released in 2016, the movie explores the creative push that resulted in the open concept, two-floored new home to hundreds, in the world before Covid.

Hustwit’s reputation for delivering award-winning quality insight into the intersections of design and type with culture and society is unique. Workplace joins Objectified, Rams, Urbanized, and Helvetica in shedding considerable light on how our immediate environment influences our shared experiences.

Until there’s a real social or political revolution, the office will be a feature of global capitalism for a long time to come.

Is #WFH a Permanent Address?

In Workplace, Hustwit examines the thinking behind R/GA founder Bob Greenberg’s ideas for a unified office atmosphere that can physically drive creative inspiration, the agency’s lifeblood. The architectural firm Foster + Partners is tasked with delivering a functional concept that solves both the physical and psychological needs of one of the world’s top digital agencies that showcases technology and fosters collaboration.

Along the way, you’re introduced to euphemisms like huddle rooms and floor plate, as Hustwit covers the journey from existing quarters to imagined outcome through move-in day. Continue reading

Logos to Trademarks

Chermayeff Geismar & Haviv Set The Bar

60 Years of Logos: Chermayeff & Geismar from Dress Code on Vimeo.

Two Legendary Designers On Memorable Careers

In one short (~3′) video, design legends Ivan Chermayeff* and Tom Geismar discuss their founding, the early days, what makes a mark memorable, and how they’ve planned for their iconic firm’s future.

If you watch television, use the post office, have a checking account, buy gasoline, or enjoy modern art, you’ve seen their work. Driven by research and pure instinct, the duo is responsible for a library’s worth of abstract marks and recognizable logotypes that continue to withstand the test of time.

In this video the unassuming pair go on record about the formative years, their staying power, and what they bring to the highly competitive table of corporate communications and graphic design.

Born in London in 1932, *Ivan Chermayeff died in December, 2017, at age 85.

amazon’s split personality

For Brands, Cure May Be Worse Than Disease

Cycle-World-Amazon-2016-11-30-at-11.31.28-AM.png

Read It Free Helps Subscription Rates How?

As I grow increasingly comfortable with online shopping as an alternative to chasing hard to find items in brick and mortar storefronts, rationalizing clik to add to shopping cart becomes easier and easier as the cost of shipping tumbles. Then came Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is by all indications a very effective loss leader in the effort to tether consumers to mega-site Amazon for all their internet purchases. Patterned after the big box membership warehouse experience, Prime, for a modest annual fee, delivers not only free 2-day shipping on most items, but includes a bunch of other perks as well.

The price is right – for as long as it can last.

The included music feed is perfectly acceptable, eliminating having to subscribe to Pandora, Spotify, or Radio for a premium listening experience. Ditto access to online t.v. content, books, and a number of other features that save time and/or money.

I just discovered that a number of familiar, favorite, and free periodicals are available as well, viewable online or as downloaded Kindle content. Which is how I came across Cycle World, Bonnier’s flagship pub in their motorcycle group stable of powersports publications, as a free read on Amazon.

I’m not sure how the business model for offering up your vanguard bike magazine for free reading moves the bottom line needle. It’s not an option you’d expect to find in a typical subscription pitch; “12 Whole Issues For One Year’s Worth of Reading Only Zero Dollars and Zero Cents!”

Since consolidating the spectrum of motorcycle pubs several years ago by purchasing those niche assets from Hearst first, then Source Interlink, the overall health of print continues to circle the drain, excepting a few standouts like Garden & Gun. The price is right – for as long as it can last.

defining the retail user experience

calling customer service

The Retail Chain’s Weakest Link

When I want to enjoy a retail shopping experience, Tampa’s International Mall is a perfect destination that’s just 30-minutes away. There’s an Apple store, a Williams-Sonoma, designer label signature storefronts galore, and the pedestrian traffic is an instant education in current style trends.

Parking outside Nordstrom’s, where both the professional display techniques and downright good food of their in-store restaurant are hard to resist, is convenient.

Holiday shopping always includes a visit to Neiman Marcus for their distinctive American Classic box set dessert sampler featuring a variety of six liquor infused cakes.

This year I noticed a big gap in how I, Shopper A, was interpreted. Nordstrom’s personnel were ready to offer immediate help, but not to the point of smothering. If I’d been looking for something in particular, catching the eye of a sales person would have only needed a glance.

First, be able to answer every question about what you’re selling.

Neiman’s, on the other hand, presented a challenge. Because of a change in packaging I did have questions; the ensuing search for help made me wonder if a set of railroad crossing bells would have been useful, and checkout, achieved only after some few minutes of confusion, caused further annoyance at a process that should be anything but.

Two top-tier stores. Two totally different outcomes. Know your products. Recognize your customers. Create an experience that doesn’t lead to a comparative blog post.

how logo design affects brand

Aligning Your Look With Your Mission

When it comihop logoes to promoting a business, particularly a restaurant, nothing is more critical than the brand logotype. Getting it right goes a long, long way towards making an impression on a distracted public that sees thousands of visuals on a daily basis.

To be successful, a corporate mark requires design integrity, repetition in the marketplace, and a connection to the goods or services it represents. Whether abstract or literal, the Nikes, Apples, and Coca-Colas of the business world rely on a recognizable visual that connotes quality and trust.

Emoticon, Meet Emoji

Looking at the before and after (above left) of IHOP’s haircut and a shave, it’s difficult to imagine how the approval process resulted in what struck one reviewer as a “sinister” smile beneath the word mark.

It’s arguably more legible, but only slightly, and that’s about where it starts and ends.

The IHOP acronym, in case some may have forgotten, stands for International House of Pancakes. But that’s not what I see when I try to decipher the new and improved visual. Emoticon, meet emoji.

HOW Design recently interviewed Siegel+Gale, a New York based branding agency known for their standout work, on the recent spate of chain restaurant logo overhauls. For anyone who follows corporate design, the candid remarks by the agency’s designers are for the most part an indictment of the perils of lackluster graphics.

A couple of things stand out in this collection of shareholder dependent corporate eateries. First, it’s more than okay to overhaul the corporate brand on an as needed basis. Nothing says stay away like an aged, dated, and most importantly irrelevant logotype. Second, once having decided on a freshening, make sure you’re just not slipping sideways.

Design updates should – probably – include references to historical looks that over time successfully represented a company to its public. But don’t let fear of letting go put up unnecessary barriers to a truly fresh, inspired interpretation that acknowledges the past while extending the future. Bon appétit!

when it snows it pours

pinellas-cty-tourism.png

Selfie Marketing Pitch Popular

Florida’s Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in the state. It’s also the smallest, but that has never affected its ability to draw tourists from around the globe, intent on visiting world-class beaches from Caladisi Island State Park on the northern end to Fort Desoto County Park guarding the entrance to Tampa Bay.

With gas prices at their lowest level in years, an economy that’s on the rebound for the first time in years, and a brutal winter that continues to lash the northeast, convincing northerners to turn their wanderlust into momentum and head south isn’t a heavy lift.

Will Winter Ever End?

Nonetheless, Pinellas County’s marketing arm, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, came up with a rock solid bit of creative when they launched a campaign centered around a family of nomadic snowmen who began showing up in slush and dirty snow blanketed New York and Chicago.

The edgy “WinterBlows” campaign plants irresistible (and guaranteed to have lines forming for selfies) faux snowmen on the sidewalks displaying sandwich boards headlined “Sunshine or bust!” and the WinterBlows.com URL.

Is it working? I’d have to say yes, considering how congested the main two-lane north-south beach artery, Gulf Boulevard, has become in recent days. There’s nothing that can match a smart, well executed, marketing solution.

b-to-b needs softer approach

Improve B-to-B With Creative Storytelling

b-to-b gets a creative makeover

The January issue of Advertising Age takes a look at B-to-B marketing as brands continue to sort out what works and what doesn’t for industrial communications in the digitized age.

The conclusion is that brands can’t rely any longer on a business marketing process that doesn’t address the issue of  “wonderful storytelling,” according to GE global creative director Andy Goldberg. In other words, the old way of sexing up a page from a parts catalog and hoping it flies are long gone.

Like every other area of corporate communications, from PR to advertising, the social in social media is the leading influencer effecting the creative upgrade.

finding new media outlets

For GE, that means taking advantage of previously untapped platforms like late night talk, boosting “Fallonventions” on the Jimmy Fallon Show to demonstrate the brand’s human side.

Others describe the new approach as moving from data to gut, and doing what connects emotionally. United States Gypsum (USG), hardly a warm and fuzzy candidate for storytelling, did just that in their “It’s Your World” ad series.

With user experience driving this new approach, the goal is to connect potential buyers using content that explains a brand’s product in an engaging and educational manner. How well that will work with traditional buyers used to making dollars and cents decisions based on bottom line performance will determine B-to-B creative in a way that could be hugely transformative.

And if its proven effective in the long run over traditional methods, the need for involving creative direction that’s familiar with social media will be paramount.

facebook says party’s over

Brand reach plummeted after Facebook hit the brakes on organic.

Ogilvy Social describes how brand reach plummeted after Facebook hit the brakes on organic.

Brands, Markets, Budgets Strategy

Once not so very long ago, retail business had a narrow choice of media for advertising and marketing; the Yellow Pages, newspapers, and broadcast. Depending on the size of the market, a newspaper or two may have offered competitive rates, along with radio and t.v. But unless your business was cars, clothes, furniture or groceries, it was pretty much hit or miss.

As broadband began rolling out there was a brief moment when print was cruising laid back at altitude while digital media was taxiing for takeoff. Didn’t last long. Overnight, print and the public airwaves found themselves powerless to head off the rush to the exits by marketers chasing the promise of free forever online homesteads. Woot. Continue reading

facebook and google get aired out

Facebook and Google battle for the same audience. Do you need both?

Facebook and Google battle for the same audience. Do you need both?

Facebook Caught Padding Paid Likes

A video critique posted by web site skeptic Veratasium on how Facebook is at the very least midleading business pages seeking to increase their page likes struck a nerve.

Facebook responded to Derek Muller’s claims by dismissing them. Here’s his Facebook page response to their dissembling: My response to Facebook’s response to me – fixed so you don’t have to solve a captcha to share.

Veratasium’s claims go into the hopper of debate over which is best for business, Facebook or Google+, neither or both. It’s a complex decision made more difficult for small businesses with neither the budget nor talent to support a dedicated online social effort.

It isn’t just an either or decision. Despite their respective shortcomings, read more on how both channels can be effective legs in a social marketing strategy in this comparison.

social media for business

Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.

Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.

Your Business On Social – It’s Really Not Personal

A six-month social media marketing consultation for a multi-line powersports dealership that reps several metric makes, a domestic brand, and PWC and OHV inventory was the inspiration for this post. Located in a large Southeastern market, a neglected social media program wasn’t producing the growth one might expect given their footprint.

Management depended on traditional automotive push marketing techniques based largely on motivational training and consisting largely of clichéd slogans and a steady diet of overwrought memes. Making matters worse was content posted by employees, one in particular, who didn’t understand that the approach required for a business page had nothing to do with their personal life online.

A Waste of Their Money and My Time

When I got involved the CMS vendor hired for site design and management had set up an incomplete Google+ page and a lamentable blog that immediately failed. These “assets” joined a struggling Facebook timeline and an abandoned Twitter feed that, together with a local weekly bike night, made up a dysfunctional marketing strategy that defied the concept of content coordination.

The social goal was easily defined: increase organic growth, reach, and engagement using proven social media business techniques. In the end it was a waste of their money and my time. Based on my direct experience with this dealer, I emerged with a Five-Step Program for improving your social media marketing assets.

Here are my Top Five Social Marketing Essentials: the minimum elements a social media marketing program needs in order to have any chance of success.

5) Management Engagement

Christmas in july 2

This ad for snowmobiles in Florida stayed up for months.

When management is “too busy” to monitor their own content, they deserve the worst result from a dysfunctional effort. Would you expect to see snowmobiles sold in Florida? In July? This embarrassing post by the client’s CMS vendor and web site IT, a well known powersports service provider, stayed up for weeks because management refused to look at their own channels. I won’t comment on the use of transparent background PNGs against a lime green <IMG> tag background color.

Lesson? Stay engaged or risk the consequences.

4) Coordinate Activities

Social didn’t have a seat at the table when sales, promos, or events were planned by the sales manager. OEM marketing opportunities came and went without generating earned publicity. Result: a failure to connect using basic tools like page event apps to promote engagement and activity.

Further muddying the waters — multiple managers had independent control of multiple channels. Result? A total lack of content direction and coordination.

Lesson? Assign one manager as point-of-contact, with authority for all content and the option to grant multiple contributors access to team functions.

3) Understand Social Stats

Facebook personal page used to drive likes

Personal friends list used by greeter to prop up skewed reach.

Stats can inform or mislead. When they’re manipulated, the result can be deceptive and misleading.

Despite a favorable (chart at top) 68% male-31% female fan mix, the reach skewed heavily towards women, not men. This disconnect is traceable to flawed post content by the lobby greeter’s attempt to pad metrics by polling her personal Facebook male friends for likes. This shifted the ratio alright, but only by creating a false positive that distorts the desired organic results and won’t fool Facebook.

Lesson? Manipulated stats disguise reality, lead to bad decisions based on false facts.

2) Understand How Social Media Works

Social marketing is about pull, not push. Understanding the general strengths and weaknesses is essential.

It’s a unique medium that requires regular care and feeding in the form of professional attention. Audience engagement can’t be forced; only quality content of interest will attract interaction. Google knows this, and you should also.

Lesson? Quality content continues to be the prime ingredient in a successful social campaign.

1) Speak With One Voice

The number one requirement for a successful social marketing program? Speak professionally, using one knowledgeable voice.

The dealership’s in-house voice, a former barista turned lobby greeter with zero motorcycle knowledge and a dysfunctional writing “style”, was allowed to post disconnected content online, without review, like the incoherent example below.

“Off-roading enthusiasts love the adventures and the risks and adrenaline associated with it. Speaking with the novice portion of this crowd, one of the most commonly inquiries is, “Do you know where I can ride these?” It’s a very just question. Now a great place to cross off your bucket list is the Apalachicola National Forest. Located in the panhandle, there is 195,000 acres worth of lush, loamy nature. They conveniently have about 80% of their trails marked very well. However, it is also rumored to have many undiscovered trails with very little traffic. Yeah it’s a bit of a trip, but do ya really plan on staying at home for the rest of your life?”

This sad word salad, intended to boost OHV sales, was posted to the dealer’s Facebook brand page. It clearly demonstrates why writing pros should be responsible for social media messaging. (Subtitle: Don’t write stoned.)

I rest my case. Lesson? Social programs too often see Nike’s success selling shoes as an easily copied meme. Reality? Without professional creative talent efforts aren’t just wasted, they’re counterproductive.

Growing Your Social Channel – A Job for Professionals

Don’t be this dealer. Commit to using the power and prestige of social media. Make it count. Engage your qualified market, enjoy the benefits of a comfortable public relationship.