Ive on Innovation
Apple's Jonathan Ive keeps a low profile. But when he opens up, people listen. Here's what the Head Designer has to say about innovation.
Good News for Web Content Creators Google's next algorithm update continues to favor great content that keeps the reader in mind first, and search engines second.
Technology Advances for Event Marketers
Live events are a form of content. And just like with other forms of content, live event promotion has gone high-tech. But more importantly, it's also highly measurable.
Graphic. Realistic. Painterly. Cartoon-like. These are examples of stylistic characteristics that play a crucial role in the effectiveness of point-of-purchase (POP) displays. In many instances, it’s the use of illustration that delivers these attributes in the most powerful way.
For many years, Bob Wright Creative has delivered illustration for myriad POP projects in such diverse markets as toys, wine & spirits, banking, and more. To Ken Townsend, Senior Illustrator, “The initial creative challenge is always fun. Knowing what needs to be produced, along with the requirements of the physical product, creates a unique creative challenge that’s enjoyable to solve.” Ken continues, “It’s a valuable process to collaborate with our clients from the concepting stage through delivery of final production files. We enjoy sharing our ideas from the earliest stages, and then seeing the project through to production.”
As product marketers apply an ever-increasing degree of focus to their messaging, the requirements placed on POP creation have evolved. Ken offers an example: “The trend is to get the product out there. For example, with Fisher-Price Toys, the POPs are many times functional, interactive environments where the product can be touched, moved and tried out. Our illustration directly supports the product by providing the environment in which the toy lives. And more often than not, the retailer will have specific requirements for the POP. So there again, it’s that creative challenge of figuring out what’s going to be the most effective, both in terms of style and mechanics.”
POP illustration is executed in a number of styles, which are of course dependent on the product and the main message. “For example, certain wine brands will want to evoke a hand-crafted feel,” reveals Ken. “So, the look of the POP needs to follow suit with perhaps an engraved or hand-cut look, with a high degree of realism in many cases. With toys it’s more graphical with bright vibrant colors, with a more stylized or re-imagined look. There’s plenty of flexibility in illustration to convey a very focused message.”
With so many years of producing illustration for myriad POPs there are certainly standouts. Ken reflects, “Well, the 10-foot dragon that we just finished for Fisher-Price is pretty memorable. There were lots of mechanical aspects to figure out, and of course the scale of it made for a fun and memorable project. I can’t wait to see it on the retail floor.”
Illustration can be applied to any number of applications in the realm of communications design. POP illustration requires stylistic depth and breadth, and brings with it the opportunity for innovation. Visit our illustration portfolio for more POP application samples.
Cloud computing, metrics, the evolution of print, and more popped up as items of interest this week.
The Cloud's not Just for Docs, Pics and Tunes
Imagine running a full version of your favorite application like Photoshop or Modern Warfare 3 (during your lunch break of course) without having to install any software. This innovative company makes it possible.
Track Your Take Rate Too Tracking your offer's "take" rate is just as important as tracking its conversion rate. If not, you won't know what’s working and what needs to be fixed.
A World of Digital Marketing Info, in One Place CMO.com is Adobe's clearing house of marketing-related content. Lots of useful content for marketing leaders here. In fact, a few of this week's Inspiration items got on my radar screen via CMO.com.
Personalized Print Continues to Evolve
Long after the advent of digital printing presses, brands continue to leverage personalized printing technology. As one might expect, this is fueled by expectations set through consumption of personalized online content. But perhaps more interesting is that changes in postal regulations have driven this evolution as well.
The Happiness Advantage
"Happiness inspires productivity." This statement from Good Think Inc.'s CEO Shawn Achor is not specific to the world of communications design. But, his TED Talk offers plenty for us to think (and laugh) about, regardless of company role or place in life.
Well, turns out we didn’t win the prize this year. But it was enjoyable to view many other award-level websites that are aesthetically beautiful and, more importantly, clearly operating as valuable business assets.
During each category’s build-up, it was interesting to hear about the enhancements the finalists have planned for their websites in 2012. The three things I noticed most are:
Introduction of video (or creation of more video)
Addition of a mobile version
Lead management, order processing and other forms of user input
The first two speak to how audiences are using the web. The third speaks to what website owners want to achieve with their web properties. This is exciting to me because it’s a reminder that we’re truly in a new era of web publishing where user needs and organizational expectations for tangible business-relevant return are both paramount.
What are some of the enhancements you have planned for your web presence in 2012 and beyond? Is it a focus on your content strategy and ongoing content creation? Perhaps it's the establishment or formalization of web lead management? Some combination? Something completely different? I’d love read your thoughts.
Well done, Best of the Web finalists in and around Rochester. We have every reason to be proud of the websites, applications and content that represent our corner of the online universe.
Howdy folks! Extra-busy at HQ lately, so it's been a few weeks since our last Inspirations post. Let's get caught up.
The "virtual pinboard where you can curate and share things you love", has gotten a lot of play over the past week or so. Including this Inc. article. What does Pinterest mean to your content marketing strategy?
More Exciting Opportunities for Digital Publishers
It seems the future of publishing is revealing itself with every technology blog post. This week, Adobe has unveiled Primetime Highlights as part of its Digital Publishing Suite. Interesting stats at the end of the article. We'll continue to follow the story. (Hat tip to @ThomasJArmitage)
When the time came for CGR to produce web-based Community Indicator Projects, the long-established research organization partnered with Bob Wright Creative to help develop and continuously enhance these powerful web-based tools.
Some Background on CGR
The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) is a municipal research organization founded by George Eastman in 1915 to serve as an independent, non-partisan agency for keeping citizens informed. CGR serves government, nonprofits and business leaders by providing data-driven research and analysis that affects the quality of life in communities both inside and outside New York State.
What is a Community Profile?
A Community Indicator Project, or Community Profile, assesses a range of community issues over time. Comparative performance data is generated on a number of topics, such as economics, education, and health. This data empowers leaders and residents to assess indicators in comparison to other communities, as well as the state and the nation.
Web-based community profiles (link takes you to CGR website) have become essential tools for starting strategic discussion about strengths, challenges and opportunities that affect an entire population. CGR has been in partnership with Bob Wright Creative since 2009 to help develop web-based Community Profiles, and to also help enhance the product at each iteration.
A Web-Based Community Profile for Cayuga and Seneca Counties
To produce the second-generation Cayuga and Seneca Counties Community Profile (click link to open site in new window), CGR specified a website to provide analysis, data and interactive charting capabilities for 70 indicators of community vitality. Comparative data for 4 similar counties, along with the state and the nation, cover topics such as demographics, economy and education.
The website, along with its lead sponsors the United Ways of Cayuga and Seneca Counties, provides leaders with a powerful means for assessing and understanding their communities.
A Solution that Benefits Users of Information and Providers of Information Alike
Bob Wright Creative was again brought in to support the creation of this resource. User interface design and website programming enhancements were provided to maintain alignment with the evolving nature of the data, as well as the evolving needs of the user.
The website’s user interface design delivers improvements to usability and searchability based on user feedback. As for the back-end, developing a Drupal-based content management system delivered a number of benefits to CGR and its sponsors. These benefits include:
Enhanced content management capability, administrative control and site security
Greater flexibility of data presentation through the design and development of dynamic charting capabilities
Easier inclusion of social media functionality
Modular code resulting in cost-effective same-site scalability, as well as cost-effective replication for future Community Profile websites
More efficient and cost-effective enhancements of product features and functionality going forward
With essential information that is always up to date and easily accessed from one central location, service organizations can more easily decide which areas need the most attention. These decisions become actionable by developing approaches to solving issues in a data-driven, quantitative way.
A Platform for Growth
CGR and its sponsors provide community profiles to the benefit of the organizations and populations they serve. Bob Wright Creative’s ongoing role involves user experience enhancement and provision of technology platforms that deliver efficient scalability, ongoing improvement and cost-effective replication. We’re happy to be part of an ongoing website initiative that is helping many, and that is a viable platform for future growth.
We're very excited for our client, The Maplewood, for being selected as a finalist in this year's "Best of the Web" competition, held by the Rochester Business Journal. VisitMaplewood.com is in the Health Care category. Winners will be chosen during a ceremony on March 13.
The Bob Wright Creative team worked with Maplewood administrator Greg Chambery and his team to complete a marketing strategy and re-branding initiative, out of which the new Maplewood website was born.
In creating the website, we knew the importance of producing a centralized information hub to live at the heart of a purposeful inbound marketing effort. The site has a number of features including a virtual tour, multiple blogs, videos, and audio podcasts. The result is a deep, valuable resource for current and prospective residents and their loved ones, advisors, and members of the medical community.
Many thanks to Greg Chambery and The Maplewood for the vision which has driven the site's creation, and congratulations to all of the finalists. We look forward to March 13!
Can anything good come from marketing? Musing on the potential it has to be virtuous.
Marketing often gets a bad rep and for good reason.
To non-practitioners the term marketing evokes any number of negative thoughts and feelings. Images of frivolous time and money spent on a new corporate identity worry the finance department while misgivings of manipulation and deceit caution the consumer whenever marketing is mentioned.
In some ways this mistrust of motives is deserved. Often, the consumer is left to fend for themselves like a fish surrounded by a sea full of nets, hooks and traps. Like the fish we're immersed in a world of the marketer's creation; advertisements, sponsorships, product placements, branding, displays, viral content and signage everywhere we turn.
Within corporations marketing can often seem like the undisciplined rogue department, wound-up on the latest internet fad, focusing on what seem like surface issues like colors or type or shapes when what really matters is the quality of the product or service. Marketing sticks its nose into other departments; business, too, telling engineering how to make the product better or asking manufacturing to speed up its production rate and pushing finance to change pricing.
So, it's not surprising that inside the company or out in the world, marketing is often viewed as a problem that no one knows how to rid themselves of.
I propose marketing can be virtuous. And by virtuous I mean beyond helping its company sell more widgets and thus increase the company's ability to be profitable. Of course, that's a virtue of a sort and no small thing when one considers the number of jobs that marketing either protects or helps to create, along with the general health of the company and so on.
But, marketing can be virtuous beyond what it does for the good of its own organization.
When done right and when done with integrity, marketing connects two parties; one with a problem, need or want and the other with a solution, product or service. Marketing helps these two parties find each other in a vast and oft confusing world. By doing so, it is facilitating the creation and realization of value for both parties. Marketing helps two parties that need each other get connected so that both can walk away better off than before they engaged.
According to our friend Adam Smith, that's a good thing—some would even call it virtuous.
We do a lot of branding work for clients. It's not uncommon to be in the midst of market research, branding workshops and corporate identity work at any given time.
But, like anything one does regularly, it's easy to get so familiar with it that you take some aspect or another for granted.
I was reminded just last week that I've fallen prey to this by taking a product's form for granted. We don't get involved in package engineering for products, but I was so moved by this recent experience that I thought I should share it with you.
I'm currently on an extended holiday in the Western Cape region of South Africa with my family. We're busy visiting old friends, reuniting with my wife's family and spending time together with our kids and catching our breath in the southern hemisphere's sun. My wife and I popped into a local grocer to get supplies for our temporary home and I was struck with a feeling of wholesomeness and comfort.
What evoked this feeling? The milk containers in the cooler. We grabbed a couple and I snapped a picture of them when we got home.
Why did simple milk jugs evoke a feeling of happiness and comfort for me?
A few reasons stand out.
1. The form is both intuitive and unexpected at the same time. The milk jugs are reminiscent of glass jugs left at the door in the early morning by the village milkman. And yet, one never sees this form anymore, due to the more functional shapes that inhabit our shelves.
2. The form draws on cultural history. As I've stated above the form reminds of of our past. Even though I'm in a foreign country, its history is based on European agriculture, as is the Untied States. So, the idea of fresh cold milk in a glass container, similar to those pictured above, is powerful.
3. The form is simple. There is something quite elegant about the simplicity and lines of these containers and that's pleasing.
4. The form is human. It's not high tech, and it does not look like it came from a factory, even though these containers most surely do.
Of course, there are whole books written about the power of form in branding. I just wanted to share my experience and challenge you. Take a purposeful look at the products you interact with this week and think about how their form impacts their brand. You may be surprised by what you see.
Hey there, everybody. Here's another collection of coolness from the world of creativity.
Re-Imagining the Classics: Star Wars and Harry Potter
The power of illustration. Two artists take their turns bringing a whole new style to two epic fantasies known for their iconic artwork. In both cases I'm struck by the economy of aesthetic that yields something so evocative.
Handwriting Your Email
Very cool product idea from Pilot Pens. Now, if only I had nice handwriting, worthy of digital reproduction…