Five Star Bank recently rolled out its TotalValue Checking product. As agency of record, we promoted the launch by creating an integrated promotional campaign, leveraging both traditional and digital media.
One of the hallmarks of TotalValue is the level of choice it offers, with a range of checking account types and features that serve myriad customer needs and preferences. Along with the TotalValue Checking, our client is launching its AirTeller Mobile App, which brings to customers the advantages and flexibilities of banking from their smartphones.
While a series of print ads and billboard advertisements work to promote awareness, pay-per-click advertising and in-branch posters with QR codes deliver prospects to web landing pages and promotional videos to drive consideration. In-branch brochures help drive preference as prospects engage with Five Star Bank associates. The Bob Wright team was hands-on with all aspects of the campaign: advertising design and media buying; collateral design and print supervision; web design/programming and video production.
Mike Gastin shared his excitement about the launch. "We're very happy for Five Star Bank, and thankful for the opportunity to partner with our client in delivering this cross-media program. TotalValue Checking and AirTeller both provide examples of Five Star's commitment to personalized banking, which is focussed on customer preferences and relationships. We're looking forward to following the growth of Five Star's new offerings."
Recognizing Five Star's history, Creative Director Phil Daggar is equally enthusiastic about the rollout. "In addition to the launch of these new initiatives, It's gratifying to see Five Star Bank promoting its brand to our region. With a heritage of over 150 years in local community banking, Five Star offers banking that truly is made for our area."
Congratulations to Five Star Bank on the launch of TotalValue Checking and AirTeller!
Congratulations to Monroe County Water Authority for winning the Government / Community category of the 2013 RBJ Best of the Web competition. Working for the Authority's communications firm Metrix Marketing, we provided user interface design while ITX handled the programming. Our creative team led by Senior Designer Jim Mattiucci enjoyed tackling the website design challenge.
The site is content-rich, notably in the area of customer education. Featured content also includes the "Kids Water Fun" section.
Our thanks go out to John Riley, Metrix Marketing's CEO and Creative Director, for including us on the team. Congratulations!
Print Enters the World of Augmented Reality
We've heard and talked about the convergence of traditional and digital media. Augmented reality experiences bring us one step closer to true convergence. And with technology developers such as Aurasma, there are increased opportunities for communicators to explore.
(HT @prnewswire - check out their story)
Those Classic Lines
As you can see from previous entries, I'm a fan of minimalists re-interpretations. Here's a set of minimalist movie posters on mymodernmet.com that pairs clever illustration with iconic quotes. My favorite: Walter's quote in the The Big Lebowski.
Moodstream Moodstream by Getty Images seems a curious animal. What is it? A better way to research stock media assets? The centerpiece for a brainstorming session? Or just something fun to tinker with at lunch? Streams can be saved as "Moodboards" (think lightbox with additional features), and assets can be saved as a handy list for later reference.
Camera Geekery for Snowy Days
What looks cooler, the extreme closeup of the snowflake (no pun intended), or the Frankenstein'd camera rig used to capture it? Seriously though, I admire Mr. Kljatov's cleverness and tenacity in fulfilling his creative vision.
Are you making plans to add video content to your website? If so, your timing could not be better. More and more business communicators are leveraging the power of video to engage, inform and entertain their audiences in a variety of settings including content marketing, corporate, human resources/internal communications, training, and more.
As our clients plan for video production and distribution, we're noticing a common set of questions that come up. We’d like to share our thoughts on these topics, and hope you find them useful as you consider your own first steps into offering video on your website.
(Note: There are myriad variables when working with video, for which there exist volumes of technical information. This article focuses on providing just a quick overview to get you started with your planning.)
Question: In what format is web video?
Answer: The word “format” when referring to video can mean different things to different people. When people say “format” they may be referring to video standards like NTSC or PAL, standard definition or high definition, 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, .MOV or .MP4 file format, or something else. There are typically a collection of specifications to keep in mind for web video, where format is just one of those specs. The following specs have produced good results for projects in which we’ve been involved.
Format (there’s that word):
Here are four common web video formats: Standard definition (SD), 4:3 aspect ratio
Standard definition (SD), 16:9 aspect ratio 720p high definition (HD), 16:9 aspect ratio 1080p high definition (HD), 16:9 aspect ratio
There are several common frame rates, but for web video 30 frames per second (fps) is one of the more widely used. 24 fps and 25 fps are slower frame rates usually associated with a more film-like or cinematic look, which of course is found on the web as well.
One of the main ingredients in determing video compression, "codec" refers to the software algorithm with which the finished web video is encoded for playback. H.264 for the video data along with AAC for the audio data provides a favorable balance of quality and file size. And speaking of audio (oh yes, sound!), it’s common to target a sample rate of 48 kHz.
Sometimes referred to as Data Rate, which influences the finished web video's visual quality and file size. We've had good luck starting with Vimeo's suggested bit rate ranges (below), and then tweak from there.
2,000 – 5,000 kbps
2,000 – 5,000 kbps
5,000 – 10,000 kbps
10,000 – 20,000 kbps
(** In kilobits per second)
One can certainly go lower than these suggested ranges in order to achieve smaller file sizes, but visual quality will degrade as the bit rate goes down.
The file type that contains both video and audio data. We’ve found .MP4 to deliver the greatest compatibility, both when reviewing video edits with our clients and for final distribution/playback.
Question: What format, resolution and frame rate should we target when making our web video?
Answer: It depends on a number of factors, but the specs of existing assets that are to be used within the video – especially existing video footage – are often an important factor. Older footage is typically in standard definition, with a 4:3 aspect ratio. If your video is to be made largely out of older footage, you may end up going the SD 4:3 route. However, there are many creative ways to incorporate older assets into a more modern-looking 16:9 presentation – potentially even in high definition. Generally speaking, because we live in an increasingly hi-def world, we look for ways to target HD specs when planning web video projects. HD projects can always be re-exported for SD.
Question: How long should the web video run?
Answer: That depends on the intent of the content and the makeup of your audience. But generally speaking, shorter is better. Even if the video is meant to be a longer piece (say for educational purposes), don’t make it any longer than it needs to be. If the video is running longer than you think is appropriate for your audience, splitting the video into shorter segments or chapters is always an option.
Question: Should I stream my videos from my own web server, or should I upload them to a web video service like YouTube?
Answer: Let’s look at this topic with respect to two potential scenarios: self-hosted streaming and video-sharing streaming.
In this scenario, your videos are uploaded to your own web server and played back from pages on your website. Although the level of technical detail that this topic can cover is beyond the scope of this article and the services we offer, we can give you two important things to consider: user load and compatibility.
User Load: how many people will view your video via your website? And more importantly, how many people will view the video at the same time? If you have just a few videos on your website that receive infrequent traffic, then streaming from your current web server may work (always check with your web hosting company first). However, under certain conditions, your requirements may point to the need for specialized video hosting. Also know, like with most things, the more robust your hosting requirements, the higher the cost for the service.
Compatibility: Is your audience mainly tied to their desktop/laptop computers? Or will they view your videos from a mobile device? We can probably all agree that mobile computing is playing an increasingly important role when building one’s web presence. If capturing an audience on the go is important to your business, then it’s important to keep mobile compatibility in your plans. Without going into all the technical details behind video compatibility on the mobile web (intrepid readers can Google “Flash vs HTML5”), self-hosted video will require video playback objects programmed into your pages that are compatible with both standard web browsers and mobile web browsers.
Yes, self-hosting can be complicated. But, if complete control over user experience and your website’s hosting environment are objectives when planning for video, then self-hosting may be the way to go.
This scenario has plenty of service options. Two common ones of course are YouTube and Vimeo. As most are probably familiar, this involves uploading your video to your chosen sharing service, copying the embed code generated by the service, and then pasting the embed code into the appropriate web page(s) on your site. Another approach is to simply link from one’s website to the video (i.e., instead of embedding the video), which will take the viewer over to the video-sharing website.
Just like the self-hosted option, there are numerous advantages to going the video-sharing route. Two commonly noted advantages are:
Offloading the management of video hosting and requisite technology to an established third-party service provider.
In the case of YouTube especially, realizing the benefits of social interaction with your content. Social interaction is certainly possible with self-hosted video, but YouTube exists specifically for this type of engagement.
That's a Wrap
We hope this helps you better understand some of the common topics around the production and distribution of web video. We encourage your feedback – what things do you commonly run into when working on web video projects? Are there other questions you have about web video? Feel free to comment below.
As business people and marketers, all our endeavors present an opportunity to communicate in a purposeful way. Regardless of media or physical manifestation, all our work provides a chance to reinforce our brands and solidify the relationships we maintain with our audiences. The products we build, the hours we’re open, the questions our websites answer, the conveniences we offer. These are all brand touch points.
I was reminded of this recently as I watched the installation of street entry signage for our client Maplewood Nursing & Rehabilitation. As part of its brand, The Maplewood takes very seriously its commitment to the Village of Webster, the home of the Rochester-area skilled nursing facility for more than 30 years. This commitment led The Maplewood to build a more direct connection between it and the Village. This connection is in the form of an entrance and parking area off Main Street, which now augments The Maplewood’s existing Daniel Drive entrance.
Dubbed the “Webster Gateway”, this project communicates in a physical way the Maplewood’s commitment to Webster, thereby reinforcing the family- and community-related elements of its brand. With extra parking created by the new entrance, village patrons now have enhanced access to The Maplewood and neighboring businesses that share this improved convenience. With the entrance and parking area’s carefully designed walkways, landings and crossovers, Maplewood residents and family members now have easier access to the Village, which opens up new options for warm weather activities.
The Maplewood’s project exemplifies the commitment between an exceptional business neighbor and the village it calls home. Yes, The Maplewood can expect a boost in visibility through its new entrance and signage. But that boost will only come as a result of the careful planning, design and construction of this new gateway, which is as much a brand-building endeavor as anything it communicates via “typical” marketing media.
What are some of the ways you communicate your brand outside of typical media? What additional opportunities exist to be leveraged?
Building a Better Axe Best Made Co., via Mike Gastin: "I'm impressed by the design aesthetic and the way they go deeper into a more philosophical approach to their offerings." The collection of web videos does a great job of telling Best Made's story.
Typography Archaeology Typomapp is a typography knowledge map. It's a unique approach in learning typography, correlating history and geography. I enjoyed researching typographers and foundries in the nations of my ancestry. Via Mike Gastin
Product, People, Planet, Profit. Plus Great Design. Blackstar Bamboo Bikes, via Mike Gastin: "Love that these use natural, regional and renewable resources and that this is a company that makes jobs for developing nations. And, the design aesthetic is right proper."
Hello internet. Jon Daggar here, web developer and part-time blog usurper, posting from a mostly empty office. You see, a sizeable snowstorm hit Rochester and its surrounds. It started last night and hasn't let up yet. The snowplows are struggling to keep up; the sidestreets look untouched and even the main streets are in rough condition.
The fury of the storm has left most of the Bob Wright crew working dilligently from igloos, dugouts and other snow shelters scattered around the bone-chilling wonderland that is Rochester in winter. Driveways are beyond the help of snowblowers; residential streets are indistinguishable from front lawns. I alone have managed to make it in to BW Central and sneak onto this unattended blog. How, you ask? By virtue of superior winter transportation.
Naming, branding and identity creation are all rewarding aspects of communications design. And yes, most times fun. In this line of work we’re exposed to all manner of specialty products and services that provide solutions to very specific needs. Indeed, there’s a niche for everything.
Enter Lava Shield. A new product offering from client Dyna-Purge (a division of Shuman Plastics), Lava Shield answers an important need of plastics workers. Lava Shield addresses the safety and environmental risks of cleaning (purging) molten excess plastic material from molding machinery by providing a catch surface that is safe and efficient to utilize, and has properties that allow recycling of the purged plastic material after it's captured.
Defining the Audience
We were asked by Dyna-Purge to help brand the product by developing its name and visual identity. The naming process began by working with our client to understand the buyer persona of the product. As it turned out, we needed to consider two personae: the-end user of the product, and the person with buying authority for the product.
Interests in motorsports, American motorcycles and “rough” outdoor activities characterize the end-user persona. The persona that has buying authority is typically in management and will have additional corporate responsibilities.
A Name is Born
Initial naming ideas spoke mainly to the functionality of the product, but the team realized that more personality needed to be brought to the name – it needed to be evocative and contain a certain amount of symbolism. After all, the end-user is dealing with hot, dangerous molten plastic that needs to be controlled and directed as it comes out of the machine so it doesn’t do any damage to equipment or operator. The product name needed to capture the imagination. As part of naming the product, we ended up naming the danger to be addressed: “lava”. Lava was then married up to the solution: “shield” – the surface that protects against the danger. Lava Shield was born as the product name.
Conveying the Name in Visual Form
With the name approved, we developed a visual identity that captured the essence of the name and that would appeal to both the end-user and purchaser of the product. The identity’s visual treatment strikes that balance, while maintaining a clear visual unity and hierarchy between Shuman Plastics, Dyna-Purge and Lava Shield.
We’re currently in the process of designing product graphics. We’ll then move on to website design and programming.
Contributing to Safety
A rewarding aspect of branding a new offering is the learning opportunity that exists. It was a pleasure learning more about the safety and environmental needs of the plastics processing business, and to contribute to the launch of an important product to address those needs.
For 2012, the Sharps Compliance Corporation’s annual report design reflects the Texas-based company’s mission that is rooted in preservation of the environment.
Headquartered in Houston, Sharps Compliance provides environmentally-sensitive solutions for the proper management of medical waste and used healthcare products. Sharps Compliance also develops solutions that deal with unused and expired patient-dispensed pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications.
Previous years’ annual report designs focused on the product development side of the business. For this year, Sharps Compliance chose an option featuring graphic design, illustration and print production elements that reinforce its commitment to the environment. This can be seen in such attributes as color palette, minimalist style for illustration and infographics, and the utilization of eco-friendly printing stock.
Communication Starts with Listening StoryCorps and its upcoming National Day of Listening on November 23 remind me of two very important things: 1) Be thankful for all the priceless stories that surround us in family, friends and strangers. 2) Good communication starts with listening.
Certain musical artists provide the soundtrack for our lives. This creative Portuguese outfit provides the soundtrack for our lunch. Along with the creative product idea, I was taken by the packaging design. The tin with craft sleeve and understated one-color graphic treatment is quite tasty (no pun intended. well, maybe a little…)