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Zodiac Marketer: Gemini

zodiac marketer gemini_featured

Our next zodiac sign is Gemini: birthdays between May 21 – June 20.

Gemini is an air sign with the following strengths: gentle, affectionate, curious, adaptable, quick learner, loves to exchange ideas. Some of these are traits that creatives, especially in the marketing world, possess in plenty. On the other hand, Gemini’s weaknesses of being nervous, inconsistent, and indecisive—things many of us face occasionally. We’ll tell you how and why to avoid these in your professional and maybe even personal life.

Curiosity in Marketing

Curiosity is a natural part of creativity. Some might say that it is the very foundation of creative endeavors. Artists and designers explore their medium, their world, and their own minds in order to create their work. Experimentation is curiosity. Artists use experimentation to create new techniques, new colors, and new themes every day. This curiosity that drives innovation in both process and outcome are essential to marketing. Without curiosity, marketing and advertising campaigns would be limp and lifeless, and designs would fail to attract, define and guide.

Adaptability in Marketing

Adaptability is a powerful trait in every aspect of life. In fact, it’s what helps species survive. Animals and plants adapt over time to environmental conditions, and humans have created such a technical world that we have to adapt to new technologies seemingly on a daily basis. One signature of adaptability is

Free Flow/Exchange of Ideas in Marketing

How many marketing campaigns have started with a brain storming session? SO MANY. This is part of what makes marketing enjoyable, creative, and innovative. A brainstorming session may have one goal, like renaming a company, but sometimes these sessions, if everyone feels comfortable with letting their ideas flow freely, can yield answers to so many other questions, or ideas for other projects! Free flow of ideas is a cornerstone of marketing and advertising.

Avoid Inconsistency in Marketing

Inconsistency may be one of the most fatal acts for any brand. In fact, part of the definition of the word brand from a marketing perspective is CONSISTENCY. This is what we strive for when we create brand style guides, some of them so extensive and specific that they read more like design books than guides. Designers put countless hours into creating these guides to avoid inconsistency as if it were the devil! And we all should, in all areas of marketing. In fact, a well-rounded marketing strategy will carry a consistent message across all channels and activities, from PR to sales calls to social media posting. We are always telling the brand’s complete story.

Avoid Indecision in Marketing

Indecision can kill any project, particularly creative projects. This happens when you can’t choose between one logo design and the other. Or you are so torn that you make tweaks, trying to combine designs, again and again. You simply continue to suffer the inability to decide what you want. If this happens, you will end up extending your timeline and paying way more than you originally bargained.

If you need a logo, make sure that you give examples of what you want and lots of detail about your company, your mission, and a whole slew of other information about your company that a design firm should be using to sketch a series of initial designs. A good agency will take this time up front to get a solid sense of your company, rather than spend the time on the backend trying to tweak a design that did not hit the mark.

At Pinstripe Marketing, we sit down with our clients and complete a creative brief, plus we listen to your stories and review samples to start building your design story.

We love you Gemini! You have so many special traits that make our marketing lives interesting.

Our Thoughts on Creative Design for Corporate Identity

The history of design is extensive and can be traced back hundreds of years. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on the elements of creative design, because businesses need to understand the process and how it affects their corporate identity.

Logo Design and Corporate Identity

In the past, the designer who created a logo, tagline or slogan for their company knew how the logo would be used on all of the promotional materials. However, it soon became clear that it would be necessary to communicate the proper usage to other people both inside and outside the company. After all, the designer couldn’t work at the company forever, and graphic designers also began to work outside companies as consultants. Thus, the corporate identity manual was born.

The practice of creating the corporate identity manual developed after WWII. The corporate identity manual is often a work of art in and of itself, as the designers showcase the many uses of a company’s logo, its color palette, typography, and proper orientations of the logo and other text. The purpose is to communicate to other designers how to apply the corporate identity, including logo, slogan and tagline, in a variety of formats and also how not to use the pieces in a design. Today, a corporate identity manual will describe both digital and print applications to maintain consistent design across all platforms.

A well-known graphic designer, Lester Beall, can be credited with some of the earliest corporate identity manuals. He designed these manuals with care, and the books themselves are a thing of beauty. A spread from his work for Connecticut General, an insurance company, are seen below. The pieces are so appealing that they could be framed and hung on a wall rather than simply be used for their purpose.

corporate identity manual_article

Corporate identity manuals can be quite fascinating and beautiful, existing in the unique space of being both practical guides for other designs, as well as works of design artistry themselves. Check out this list of 50 stunning corporate identity manuals for ideas.

 

What Makes a Good Logo

When you hear the word ‘brand’ there’s a good chance you may have mentally pictured one or more classic logos from well-known companies. Perhaps the Nike swoosh? Or the cursively written Coca Cola? A logo is nothing more nor less than the graphic embodiment of the whole brand. This is why—when you have a logo created for your company—you will want to put a lot of thought and care into the process.

You see, good logos don’t just happen. Yes, if you managed to create an amazing invention, or come up with a fantastic new taste sensation, one of the doodles you penned along the way might make for a memorable logo. But don’t count on it. Nor is this a job for that nephew in high school who has a ‘knack for art-stuff.’ While it’s true that a young design intern came up with the Nike swoosh (and received a whopping $35 for her effort), the company’s own graphics team still spent a lot of time refining the concept.

So, let’s consider what makes for a good logo. There are basically five criteria to be met: eye-catching, unique, enduring, functional and meaningful.

Eye-catching – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? That’s true to a certain extent, but there are certain principles of design that hold up fairly well across all cultures and demographics. For example, balance is always important. We like things to feel even, symmetrical, and in balance. Color choices are also critical for a whole host of reasons for which entire books have been dedicated. Color is very symbolic and can have a subconscious effect on people. Over all, a good logo will have elements composed with clear, distinct lines that imply complexity, yet are quite simple if considered separately, and color will be chosen carefully.

Unique – Distinctiveness is the key objective of any successful logo design. It will go a long way toward making the image—and by extension, the brand—especially memorable. One good way to achieve this is by incorporating the company’s name (or some element of the name) into the design. On the other hand, a visual representation of the company name might prove to be perfect.

Enduring – Imagine how much trouble people would have recognizing you, if every time you left home you had a different face? That’s the problem companies experience if they frequently change their logos. When you select a logo design, think of it as something that’s going to be around a long, long time (though a “facelift” or two over the years may be okay). Stay away from elements that are likely to become dated or obsolete, choosing instead those that can be modified with ease while remaining thoroughly identifiable. Our campaign for Landis Evans + Partners did just that – the company changed its name, but wanted to maintain some aspects of the original brand that made it identifiable like the color palette and some of the shapes. Below is the before and after.

logo before after designs

 

Functional – Just think of all the places that a logo can appear, from business cards to billboards and websites to weekly flyers. Your logo is going to have to step in and say, “This is who we are!” It will also need to be scalable, ready to be plugged-in anywhere, and flexible enough to easily go from being the dominant image to barely noticeable—depending on the circumstances and the communications in which it appears.

Meaningful  A good logo doesn’t have to spell out what a company does, but it should at least hint in that direction. A great logo not only does that, but it also manages to elicit feelings with members of the target audience. A great logo describes an implied value proposition to set the company apart from their competition.

 

Types of Design: Utilizing Nostalgia and Vernacular

Graphic design as a promotional tool dates back to the 19th century, when the earliest form of graphic design relied solely on typography to make a point. During these early days, text, font style, and font size were the main emphasis. In looking back, you can see how designers started playing with different typefaces and boldness to draw attention to certain information. Coca-Cola’s logo is a great example of this.

During this time, the transition from hand-made goods to industrialized society’s machine-made, mass-produced items was alarming for most people. Consumers’ trust had to be won in order for these products to be viable. An interesting method of building trust and imbuing familiarity in a product or advertisement was the use of the vernacular. This was language used in everyday life. Words that everyone in a specific region or part of the country could understand.

Over the years, as graphic design became more prominent, the methods and styles evolved with new technology. People in the advertising industry began to experiment with different techniques to attract attention to products, as well as instill confidence in them and the companies that sold them. By appealing to consumers’ comfort with familiar objects, companies were able to sell more products and build market share. Examples of nostalgia in graphic design still permeate today’s brands. Vintage fonts and sketches are used in logos and slogans on a regular basis to establish an old-world, “good old days” feel for a brands’ fundamental message. A couple good examples of this in our own community are the logo for The Pearl on First Apartments and Green Bench Brewing Co.

The Pearl on First’s logo uses the Broadway font to bring us back to the classy, elaborate Art Deco era that exudes luxury and high style. The apartments themselves are designed with an Art Deco flair – the materials and colors are classic and sophisticated.

 

The Green Bench logo uses fonts in both their logo and their wall mural that are reminiscent of old postcards. This nostalgic reference brings to mind family vacations and good times – perfect for Green Bench’s family atmosphere, games, and outdoor space that encourages family time with dogs and kids.

Even in our own logo—the “circle P”—there is a reference to old typewriters with the circle itself representing the circular keys from early typewriters. Our brand promises intelligent, effective communications for all of our clients. In this era of fun, cool, and edgy marketing, Pinstripe stands out as something a little more polished, yet still highly creative. The typewriter font is austere enough to resound with professionals, but the vintage edge of the font indicates a sophisticated creativity that is still hip and artistic.

 

We see examples of historical reference and vernacular design every day – can you think of any other local businesses that use this technique for their brand? Check out these actual vintage logos for design ideas: http://www.vandelaydesign.com/vintage-logos/

 

Other Examples: Logo Design and Stationary

Kokolakis Contracting is one of those clients whose logo we just couldn’t wait to see in action. We re-envisioned their logo, created new stationery, completed head shots and produced a video for their new website.

First we tackled the logo. They wanted to keep the original idea behind their logo, but give it an update and modernize it. So, the main thing that we really wanted everyone to buy into was a new, more modern color palette. This was a major departure from their old logo and the industry in general, but we thought it looked great. They did, too! They loved the bold color palette over the traditional blues and grays. They are really proud of it because they are putting it on everything they can!

jkokolakis logo redesign rebrand

Once we completed the logo, stationery was next. They chose a fairly classic look, and used Moo.com to print some of their business cards. These cards are super thick and have a beautiful orange-red layer in the center that you can see from the side of the card – the perfect complement to their bold card design. We printed the stationery in spot color with local printer, Lightning, because that orange-red just needed to be “spot” on. It was a tough color to match digitally and we wanted it to really pop and be true to their brand.

kokolakis contracting print materials_featured

This was a really great project to work on and we are proud of the results, plus we added a cool group of people to our list of friends. Many thanks to J. Kokolakis for a great experience.

Heartwood Preserve is a nature preserve and conservation cemetery—only the second in the state to provide ‘green’ burial options. Natural, or ‘green,’ burial is a safe and environmentally friendly practice that allows the body to return to the soil naturally by using biodegradable materials, and avoiding vaults and toxic embalming fluids. Conservation burial takes this practice a step further by burying in a nature preserve rather than a conventional cemetery, and utilizing a portion of the burial fee to help permanently protect the natural environment.

The brand is, of course, inspired by nature. A hand-drawn pine cone referencing the thousands that drop from the long-leaf pines throughout the preserve serves as the iconic mark. The stationery package was printed on natural, FSC Certified, Green Seal certified, 30% recycled paper (minimum). The colors and texture throughout all marketing pieces are earthy and exude the beauty of Heartwood Preserve.

stationery suite design branding

brochure design printing

Pinstripe Marketing’s logo design and corporate identity services are built around helping companies discover their personal traits, their corporate character. We can help you create a logo that fits your corporate identity, then create a manual that will set the tone for your company’s marketing success. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. Contact us to tell us more about your company and the logo you envision.

Re-Branding To-Do’s and Pitfalls

“A brand should strive to own a word in the minds of the consumer.”  It’s one of the key messages in Al and Laura Ries’ book, 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.  I use this gem in every marketing and branding presentation I give, using national examples (Volvo, FedEx, Nordstrom) and a few locals (Beef O’Brady’s, Beltz & Ruth, and Dr. Monticciolo). The idea of owning a word can be applied to personal branding, as well as large corporate branding. Small-to-midsize business owners may also get the opportunity to name a new product or service. It could be a resalable white-label offering from a vendor or something developed entirely in-house. Regardless of its origins, businesses and individuals should invest considerable care in coming up with a worthy moniker, otherwise the new offering may never get a fair reception from potential consumers.

Walter Cronkite owns the word trust.

Walter Cronkite became an American icon when he took over the CBS Evening News in 1962.  Known for his slow, steady, authoritative delivery and his unerring standards of responsible and ethical journalism, Walter’s voice is associated with the country’s most significant events of two decades. He ended each broadcast with his trademark, “And that’s the way it is,” except when it followed an opinion.

These days, it’s hard to imagine opinion or commentary that isn’t delivered as news.

Uncle Walter died in 2009 at the age of 92, an owner of the word trust.  And I don’t think anyone will ever take it from him.

The important part of owning a word is that it has to be true. You can’t just say your product is safe. You can’t just say it will be there overnight. You can’t just say you’re fair and balanced. It has to be true.

Mistakes Were Made.

From a strictly business perspective, there are a number of errors marketers sometimes make when naming the things they want to sell. Below are five whoppers to avoid, as demonstrated by companies that were big enough to know better.

Enamored of a concept. Consider a couple of naming failures from the haircare product manufacturer, Clairol, in the early 80s. First came, ‘Look of Buttermilk’ shampoo. Quite understandably, consumers didn’t know what buttermilk hair should look like, and weren’t willing to find out. Not to be deterred, three years later Clairol gave us ‘Touch of Yogurt’ shampoo with equally disastrous results. Fortunately, the company abandoned the sensory-appeal concept before potentially presenting the buying public with the ‘Smell of Cheese.’

Key takeaway – We’ve all been guilty of coming up with creative ideas that we love like children—expecting others to love them as well. Unfortunately, sometimes the baby is ugly, and when it comes to our creative concepts we may have to listen and accept the bitter truth.

 

Poorly represents the product. If you had told someone, “I just ordered Qwikster,” would he or she have clue what you meant? Probably not. Nor would it have helped had you said, “Netflix Qwikster,” especially since that name referred to the much, much slower DVD-by-mail movie-rental service rather than the company’s streaming video.

Key takeaway – While people expect a little exaggeration in marketing, they won’t tolerate outright lying, so be sure to avoid misleading or misrepresentative names.

 

rebranding marketing

Ginger’s favorite joke

Tiresomely “clever.” Have you ever known someone who has a favorite joke, quip or pun… and they never miss an opportunity to throw it into a conversation? In reality, the half-life on “being clever” is pretty short. Consider, for example, Ralston-Purina’s Freakies cereal (1972 – 76). The commercials were chuckle-worthy (once), but would you want to admit actually eating the cereal? And how many times could you have stood hearing your kid sing the theme song at breakfast?

Key takeaway – You want to give your offerings a name that will last a lifetime. So unless silliness is part of your brand identity, don’t sacrifice a descriptive or allusive title in favor of a novelty name that your customers can’t take seriously.

Ego-driven. A brand is about the company, but a product or service should be about promising to satisfy the consumer. Therefore, it’s generally best not to name it after the business owner or family member, as that comes across as a bit egotistical and provides no clue as to the product’s value proposition. For our example, look at (probably) the most famous product failure of all time: The Edsel. Named after Henry Ford’s son, this automobile had a lot of problems—starting with a high price and not particularly well-made—but such shortcomings have never been a problem for Italian sports cars. So instead, ask yourself, who would want to drive an Edsel?

Key takeaway – Names that are meaningful to you may carry no significance at all to your customers, and they may even be a bit put off ordering the ‘Bobby Jr. Special’ when they are with their own little Michael.

 

Clueless (What were they thinking!?!). Back around 2001, Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete, a subsidiary of global conglomerate Siemens AG, filed applications with the US Patent & Trademark Office to use the name, Zyklon, across a range of home products, including gas ovens. If that name rings a bell, perhaps you recognize Zyklon B as the poison gas used on Holocaust victims in Nazi concentration camps. Making matters worse, Siemens is widely alleged to have taken advantage of slave labor supplied by the evil German regime during WWII. Siemens said they wanted the name in conjunction with their line of vacuum cleaners which uses cyclonic technology. (Zyklon is German for cyclone.) Honest mistake or not, the company wisely gave up the idea.

Key takeaway – Step outside your inner circle—whether that’s the people you work with or friends and family—and consult thoughtful, knowledgeable people at large about your potential naming ideas. Or at least do a Google search! Note that in terms of product quality, the aforementioned products weren’t especially terrible. And if the product is good enough, it may even survive a bad name. (For example, Nad’s for Men—a hair removal cream—has been around quite a while.) But why bring your new product or service into this world saddled with an inherent disadvantage? Remember, a rose by any other name may indeed smell as sweet. But if it’s called a Farkenglart, chances are that no one will go near it to find out.

If you want to own a name and brand the way Walter Cronkite did, honesty is your greatest tool. If you’ve recently gone through a rebrand, we’d love to hear more about your experience, and if you’re thinking about rebranding, get in touch with us. We’ve ushered Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike through the process with great success.

 

You Can Build a Narrative for Your Company

company narrative content marketing_news

For businesses big and small, it’s not enough to say, “This is what we make” or “This is what we do.” It’s generic and outdated. People are looking for authenticity and value—a brand they can trust. And the best way to show them is through a corporate narrative.

Building a narrative comes from a shift in thinking away from the what the competition is doing, what the customer focus groups are saying, and what the industry landscape looks like. A narrative is a strategic positioning of the company, using its history, its employees, the location and its future. Combined, these explain why the company exists and why it’s unique.

Strategic Positioning

Without getting political, the current controversy surrounding Nike is more than a PR stunt. Sure, Nike’s online sales jumped 31% after the Kaepernick ads appeared, but they have also returned to pre-campaign levels after the buzz had faded. These ads are a continuation of their narrative, “Just do it.”

Nike’s narrative started in 1988 and it goes beyond, “We make great shoes.” It focuses on athletes and their need to believe in themselves: “We’ll make the best sporting equipment and all you have to do is believe in yourself.” By using Kaepernick, they pay homage to other high caliber athletes who made their own protests, the most famous of which was Muhamad Ali, and were punished for it. It’s about inspiration, not about product.

Okay, enough about the controversy, let’s look deeper into building a corporate narrative.

Value over Features and Benefits

The features and benefits of a product or service are no longer enticing to potential customers or clients. They’re all the same. It’s the value that’s the differentiator. Value motivates consumers to look deeper and see who the company truly is.

A company’s value begins with its mission and vision:

  • Who they are.
  • What they believe in.
  • What they believe is possible.

This is about having a purpose and sharing that purpose with others, or having others share it with them.

IBM’s “Smarter Planet”campaign began in 2008 and is a great example of a modern corporate narrative. It came from IBM’s mission and core set of values. It shares their sense of purpose and how that purpose can be achieved. It’s also inclusive – very inclusive – and describes a sense of shared responsibility.

Corporate Narrative for a Small Company

Small companies don’t work on the world stage or have enormous marketing budgets, but they can build their own narrative. Even start-ups and relatively young companies can do this. All they need to do is take a look at their mission and what they believe in. What’s their purpose? Their purpose is what they can share with customers.

Slogans and logos help visually expand the chosen narrative, like giving it wings. Content marketing strategies help reinforce the message. To customers experiencing these , the value of the company becomes remarkable, something exciting to talk about. The brand is no longer generic—it’s authentic. Best of all, the story continues to grow with each connection made.