DESIGN@WORK

New Work: Green Teen Bus

Last year, we were thrilled to be asked by a well-known local after school teen program to “decorate” the new school bus that had just been donated to their organization. The bus carries the students to various activities, including two gardens that they manage as well as local farmers’ markets that supply vegetables to underserved local communities. Of course we said “Yes!”

We were initially inspired by the doodles the client showed us on the students notebooks. That gave us the direction to have an iconic “doodly” feel, and originally there was more artwork filling the sides of the bus. However, our vision doesn’t always align with what’s possible, and after speaking with the vendor who did a great job die cutting and installing the decals, we scaled the amount of artwork way down to accommodate our tight budget. The result still maintains the feeling of vibrancy and activity we were going for, and shows all the elements that make Green Teen a great program!

Green Teen Bus

Green Teen Bus

Green Teen Bus

Green Teen Bus

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New Web Work: rbabyfoundation.org

New R Baby Foundation Website

Every now and then, a project comes along that we get really excited about. Last Spring, we suggested a website overhaul for this wonderful nonprofit, R Baby Foundation, which works to make emergency rooms better prepared for infants and children. We had been working with R Baby since their inception in 2005, helping them to evolve their brand. The nonprofit grew and thrived, but despite incremental improvements over time, their website did not keep up. By 2015, they had a home page that was choking with content and an outdated navigation that gave them 0 flexibility to showcase the growing work of the organization.

BEFORE

rbabyfoundation.org BEFORE

AFTER

rbabyfoundation.org Redesign

Aside from the outdated look of the website and lack of storytelling, it felt static and heavy. The client was also unable to make any edits to the website content and relied on us for all updates. So, spurred along by Google’s incentive to build mobile-responsive websites, the time came for the client to take the leap. We reorganized the website architecture, designed simple but elegant pages, and built an easy-to-use mobile-responsive WordPress website with a custom theme. It was important to the client that the heart of the issue is front and center, and that we show hard data that relates the scope of their work.

You can visit the new website here: www.rbabyfoundation.org.

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New Work: LiquidX

LiquidX Business Cards

LiquidX Business Cards

Our new fintech client, LiquidX, Inc., kept us very busy through December and January. Before the holidays hit, we switched to high gear in order to pull together a logo and corporate identity — delivering business cards to the client in two weeks. While this is never our favorite way to work, they were great decision-makers, and the process went very smoothly. I’m tickled by how the logo turned out.

LiquidX Website

LiquidX Website

We moved on to designing their website in January, completing the launch on February 8. Many thanks to our wonderful web development partners at Shero Designs on their professionalism in our tight turnaround. They were able to figure out a tricky home page slider that utilizes video with layered text and still images.

Check it out at www.lqxinc.com.

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5 Big Brand Truths

Over the years, there are some basic things I have come to believe about branding:

  1. A brand is an authentic reflection of the company or product it’s representing. A good brand positions your best qualities. It shows the true beauty inside, it’s not just makeup on top.
  2. A strong brand is built by consistent execution of a strategy over time. This doesn’t necessarily require additional effort, it just requires focused effort.
  3. It doesn’t cost more to strengthen your brand. In fact, it costs less. A consistently executed brand creates efficiency, it makes decisions easier for your organization because they are all coming from a central strategy. It’s your marketing effort that will direct your dollars.
  4. Every company or organization needs a brand. I’m not just saying this to get more biz. A company or nonprofit doesn’t have to be a certain size in order to have a brand. My little company of two has a well-defined brand that we follow. However…
  5. A company needs to know itself before a strong brand can be expressed. CEOs, if you haven’t done some soul-searching on your mission, vision, audiences, corporate culture, and goals for the future — that is, if you don’t really know what your company is all about — you are probably not ready for a brand. That said, a branding workshop can help you get there more quickly by raising all the questions you can’t answer.

Those are the basics. Check out this infographic: The 6 Key Elements of Successful Brand Deployment. We’ll dive deeper into breaking a brand apart.

This is excerpted from my Brand Series »

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B2B Brands: How to Build Brand Advantage

I don’t usually do a straight reprint of another blog article, but this one is too important not to share with my clients — most of whom are B2B (business to business). My perception is that frequently technology and financial marketers think their brand needs to feel uber-professional, so not much personality is revealed. But after all, it’s still speaking to people, albeit people representing a company. According to Marc Di Somma of Brand Strategy Insider, this is just one mistake. Here’s the reprint:

1. Build your authority – the fastest way to de-risk the decision to go with you is to show that you are a wise choice. Do that through story and demonstration not hype and hope. Shape what you say about yourselves so that you make sense as the choice to everyone who will make the decision about whether to use you. Much of the perceived value of powerful B2B brands like GE is predicated on the market’s understanding of the worth of their vast knowledge across all the markets they choose to do business in.

2. Be uplifting – genuine energy is hugely infectious. People want to do business with brands that are passionate about what they do and the difference they can make. Present problems internally in ways that inspire people to solve them, and present your findings and answers with gusto but humility. There’s huge power in suggestion. In areas like consulting, for example, the most powerful B2B brands are those that people want to be in the room with because they’re excited about what they’ll hear.

3. Problem solve – it’s not about what you offer, it’s all about what they need. Yes, everyone says they know that, but precious few act on it. Instead, they focus on displaying their own expertise rather than discussing how that expertise could be applied. Market yourselves as a brand that understands and is working to positively address the issues that come between your clients and their objectives. Put what you know in the context of what your client or prospect needs to address. Ideo is a great example of this approach in action.

4. Have real personality – so many B2B brands are afraid of being anything other than beige. They worry that it compromises their “professionalism”, whatever that is. Not true. Stand apart by presenting yourselves in a colorful and savvy way – in your actions and in your marketing. Mailchimp are a prime example of an email marketer with a strong and instantly recognizable voice. Remember, your brand puts a face to the resources you have available. It brings your experience and knowledge alive. It telegraphs powerful messages quickly and decisively. Work with that. In today’s aesthetically aware world, beauty inspires confidence because it signals attention to detail.

5. Listen carefully – monitor the market, provide input, shape debate, engage with others and take onboard what you get back. Then share the insights you’ve gathered generously. A brand that listens and reports is a brand that others also come to look to for cues. Take up a cause. Speaking for the industry to consumers or on behalf of consumers to the industry bestows authority and authenticity and makes you a critical pivot in the journey to resolution. IBM with its Global CEO Study and Edelman PR with its Trust Barometer are great examples of B2B brands that have put themselves at the center of valuable and dynamic conversations this way.

6. Start relationships early – expressing an interest in doing business with another brand and then exhibiting the patience to wait till a slot becomes available shows planning and discipline. Look for ways to involve your executives as an unofficial sounding board for difficult decisions that the target company is facing. Show them you want to see them prosper before you ask them to help your bottom line. Pitch doctor Neil Flett has said that a high stakes pitch is often won or lost long before the presentation takes place.

7. Open doors – making introductions that display no self interest reinforces trust and helps businesses perceive your brand as connected and enabling. You are part of the solution, despite the fact that you didn’t actually contribute directly in addressing the issue. Those introductions don’t have to be to other people or firms – they can be to thinkers, books, presentations or alternative viewpoints. LinkedIn has of course literally built a business out of being that global introducer.

Amen! Read the full article here »

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