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Retail Branding: Treasure Island Cigar Lounge

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The vast majority of Pinstripe’s clients are professional services firms – law, healthcare, architecture, technology, consulting, etc. Over the years, we’ve become pretty good at developing brands and crafting messages that work in those industries, but every once in a while we get a project that falls outside the norm which gives everyone a little shot of adrenaline and inspiration. The latest example is the rebranding of Ginger’s husband’s “retirement hobby” – a cigar bar on the beach.

When he purchased the bar, it had nine years under another name that we thought had a more retail connotation instead of a lounge to enjoy a fine cigar and cold glass of local craft beer. For a fresh start, and to highlight the lounge and to make it more ‘on the nose’ about the location (particularly for tourists checking Google), it became the Treasure Island Cigar Lounge.

Treasure Island Cigar Lounge

The logo was the fun part. Taking inspiration from local pirates, tattoos, Ginger’s fondness for octopuses, a slight reference to his epic goatee, we developed a final, iconic brand for the lounge.

We don’t have many opportunities to work on consumer-facing, retail brands, so we enjoyed the creativity that comes with a fun project like this. So far, the logo appears on the web site, social media, menus, signage, stickers, coasters and t-shirts, but we’ll soon be producing ads, event materials and more. We’d love to see it as a mural!

Let us know if we can help you with a fun branding project!

Pinstripe Bookshelf: Creative Quest

I have never considered myself a creative person – at least in the traditional sense. I’m not a writer, designer, photographer, painter, songwriter or chef. In my career, I rely on my creative problem-solving abilities, and the “I know it when I see it” side of creativity when directing marketing projects, but I’ve always admired truly creative people. Those who create.

In my efforts to cultivate creativity, I often listen to podcasts and pick up the latest books on the subject like The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Cutmull.

I’ve found my new favorite. Questlove’s Creative Quest.

I have been a fan of Questlove for a long time. Most people know him as the leader and drummer of the hip hop band, The Roots. In addition to their role on The Tonight Show, he has written several books including a memoir, has the most encyclopedic knowledge of music, has designed products, teaches, and is apparently quite the foodie. He’s one of the people I’d invite to my celebrity dinner party.

Creative Quest is an insightful journey through the creative process and the work of being a creator. Through personal stories and those of his famous creative friends, Quest covers finding inspiration, overcoming blocks, and honing the tools to not only be more creative, but to create better work. He thoughtfully explains the value of finding great mentors and building a creative network, and perhaps most importantly for artists, how to deal with criticism which can be “destructive to the creative ego.”

The first step in creating is re-creating – making a version of something that already exists. The first time I saw The Roots play a popular song with classroom instruments on The Tonight Show (I think it was Call Me Maybe back in 2013), I thought “how fun! how creative!” and with the millions of views these videos get on YouTube, I’m sure they’ve introduced new music to a lot of new listeners by making the songs fun and approachable. My favorite is the Sesame Street theme song.

One of the book’s insights that really hit me is the notion that we don’t know how to be bored anymore. We have access to entertainment in the palm of our hands 24/7. We’ve lost the ability to be quiet with ourselves and embrace boredom, which “represents pure, undiluted time in all of its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.” Wow. What a concept.

I was also struck by a study he references that indicated that the more rested and alert a person was, the LESS creative they were at their task. When the mind is sharp, it is less likely to be creative. Huh. And all this time I’ve been defending my eight hours a night!

I am so glad I decided to get the audio version of this book as Questlove provides thoroughly entertaining narration that had me laughing out loud in my car. I can’t remember the last audio book that I ‘highlighted’ the pages of (pausing and making notes on my phone so I could go back to those sections). One of my favorite lines was when he told a story about D’Angleo and his songwriting, saying, “If you x-rayed his creativity you would find those songs in there glowing from his bones.” What a visual!

Everyone who will listen to me has heard my recommendation of this book. If you are traditionally creative or, like me, wish you could sharpen that skill, I encourage you to download the audio and treat yourself to some tools and inspiration. With a few chuckles on the side.

After you’ve listened, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy!
Ginger

 

Good Customer Service Isn’t That Hard

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Remember when getting something from an online store was a bit of a guessing game? Online shopping has changed quite a lot. And, I can appreciate it even more after a recent experience in a store that went sour.

The Customer Experience

I would say that buying something online has become a good experience, almost to the point where it resembles the in-store experience. Most retail websites provide multiple photos, sizes, dimensions, and weight. Checkout is quick and so is delivery. Plus, they have online reps that can answer quick questions, such as return policies and shipping. I consider this a good experience.

I have more expectations when I go to a store than simply finding what I need. A good sales associate can make a good experience great, simply by being nice (smiles are contagious) and offering suggestions when asked (knowledgeable staff). Going to the store also connects us with the brands we buy.

I think that’s still the difference between the two. The online experience always feel good, while the in-store one can feel great. Except when it’s not great—or even good. In fact, a bad experience makes me wish I had just gone online. A bad in-store experience feels like a bad investment, because my time could have been spent better. No one wants that feeling. This is why good customer service is more important now than ever before.

Good Customer Service

There’s not much to it. We just need to focus on only a few key points to have good service:

  • Friendly service is a must. I don’t want to be ignored and I certainly don’t need any attitude. And, research shows how 70% of all purchases are based on how we feel like we are being treated. Everyone has bad days, but they shouldn’t be taken out on others.
  • Knowledgeable staff that is available to answer questions. Odds are, if I’m asking a question about a product or service, it means I’m not 100% sure of it. So, when I need help, I want someone to be available.
  • Convenient and quick ways to pay. I don’t mind standing in line, but not for too long.

My most recent bad experience while shopping was because of an unfriendly service representative. There’s too much competition out there. Too many choices for me to take my business elsewhere. Their mistake cost them my business and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Be Polite, Be Honest

My bad experience only strengthens my belief in the value of good customer service. We can’t please everyone all of the time, but we can try our best to be nice and helpful. This also extends to managing some common marketing activities, like social media and customer feedback. When replying to customers, be polite, never rude, or misconstrued as rude. The best way to do this is to be honest. Admit mistakes. Provide alternatives. Give the right answer. Resolve problems in a calm manner. Your customers and clients will love you for it. That’s why good customer service goes a long way.

Corporate Photography Style – Sorting Through the Many Options

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Choosing a style for your company’s headshots is more than just planning a photo shoot. These photos should represent your brand as much as your logo, your website, and your marketing collateral do. The style of the photos should be consistent with the style and personality of your website and the rest of your design pieces. If you’re not sure what type of photography you need for your brand, consult with your marketing agency.

Indoor / Studio

This type of photography is polished, clean, and uber professional. Many law firms, construction companies and engineering firms will choose this style of photography. It works especially well with the simple yet classic website design of these type of firms.

Outside

Outdoor, on location shoots bring an element of nature or urban environment into your portraiture. These are often shot with natural light so they have a more natural, free feel. Restaurants, real estate agencies, and young startups may choose this style of photography to go with their company culture and branding. The options with outdoor shoots are endless – if you live in a city like St. Petersburg or Tampa, you have a variety of public parks and green spaces to choose from, in addition to the many beautiful murals, skyscrapers, and waterfront views! There are many options – consult with your agency to determine what will look best on your site and other marketing materials.

environmental portraits

Black & White

Black & white portraits are not as commonplace as studio portraiture or outdoor headshots, but we’ve seen some really cool websites that showcase a black & white portrait as the main headshot, and when you scroll over the photo, a funky, fun color portrait appears. This is a great way to show off the creative personality of your company and the individuals that make up your team.

Fun

Like the example above, “fun” photos can be anything from teams collaborating, portraits of each team member working on their hobby, or even colorful studio photos of each team member with a different facial expression. These would obviously not be appropriate for a law firm or doctor’s office, but many creative companies use this style of photography to showcase their creativity and unique personality.

fun photo shoot

Environmental

Environmental portraiture is similar to editorial photography. The person in the photo is a small part of a larger image that tells a story. Environmental portraiture could showcase a construction project manager on a job site – the construction manager is the focal point of the photo, but the job site and activities on the site would be in clear view rather than fading into the background. Another type of environmental photo could showcase a painter sitting in her studio surrounded by finished and current paintings, brushes, paints and her palette. The viewer’s eye moves around this photo and is delighted by all the details and this “backstage” view of the painter or construction project manager at work. Environmental portraits are beautiful and dynamic, and should create a sense of atmosphere and place. These are photos that really showcase the personality of the person and the story of their activity.

environmental portraits

When it comes to photography for your brand and marketing collateral, there are a lot of decisions to make. If you need help planning your brand’s photo shoot, send us an email and we can help you plan and execute the perfect shoot.

Preparing for Vacation: A Checklist for When You’re Away

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This is our favorite time of year. You can feel it in the air every morning when you walk outside. Pretty soon, school bus traffic will slow to a trickle after the kids are let out for summer vacation. Summertime is upon us. It’s time for a much needed vacation. Maybe a trip to the mountains this year or a cruise. You’re ready for one.

Planning for Your Absence

It’s been months since an official day off and nearly half a year since the holidays. You’ve made your reservations, coordinated pet care, shopped for the essentials. Now, it’s time to plan for your absence at work.

One of the best ways to have a great vacation is to feel reassured that everything back at the office has been taken care of, because you don’t want to be thinking about work while on vacation. You need some well-deserved rest and relaxation. That’s why we have compiled a checklist for you to follow, just to help you stay organized and ready for adventure.

Vacation Checklist

☐ Prioritize your workload. This may seem like a no brainer, but low priority projects have a way of creeping in and taking too much of your time. Plus, make sure to write it all down.

☐ Take a look ahead. Planning your return is as important as stepping away. Adjust your calendar and be strategic with your scheduling.

☐ Schedule a buffer. Try to leave a couple hours open before you leave and keep a couple open when you return.

☐ Let your colleagues know. If you give everyone notice far enough in advance, then they can adjust their calendar, too. This is even more helpful when working on teams or in committees.

☐ Contact high-priority clients a week before you leave. Reach out and let them know where you’ll be and who they can get in touch with if they need anything.

☐ Prepare a return agenda. Your head will be fuzzy, but in a good way. You’ll have vacation on your brain. We’ve all been there. Plan ahead and be ready or else you’ll get overwhelmed.

☐ Let everyone know your availability. Work continues even while you’re on vacation. Taking a work-related call can be a necessary, minor disruption. Make sure your colleagues have a number to reach you and let them know days and times when you’ll be available. Also, let them know when you’ll be disconnected.

☐ Set up your Backup. Who’s covering for you while you’re gone? Make sure they are aware of your projects, how to handle emergencies, and when they should contact you.

☐ A list of tips. Providing your backup with a list of tips can save them time and reduce frustration.

☐ Put in a little extra time. Adding an hour or two a day can tie up loose ends and save you a lot of headaches after your return.

☐ Clean up. A cluttered desk will make it harder for your backup to help you. Organize your files and tidy up around your office. Don’t forget to water the plants.

☐ Archive and back up files. Make sure all of your files and emails are backed up and available.

☐ Out of office. Set up your out of office messages. Customize your auto-reply and voicemail to reflect the dates you’ll be away and your backup’s name and contact information.

☐ Brain dump. You may want to quickly type out a list of notes before you leave. This will help you get back into the swing of things when you return.

☐ Say good-bye to everyone!

Planning to Have Fun

It’s always important to work with your colleagues prior to leaving the office. You may need to delegate tasks while you’re away. Also, having an emergency plan in place is needed most when you’re out of the country, sippin’ cocktails on that cruise of a lifetime, where there’s no internet or phone service. We hope you have a great vacation!

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