Too many cooks spoil the (marketing) message

Some of my recent projects have run into what I call the “too many cooks” problem. Different parts of the client’s branding or collateral were done by different people at different times. The result is that none of the parts — website, identity items like logo and business cards, marketing emails, brochures — look like they belong together. And the result of that is a disjointed and confusing marketing message that doesn’t sell. Here’s the thing: when a startup has to … Continue reading

The Value of Humor in Marketing

We’ve all seen great ads that stuck in our minds because they had a touch (or a bagful) of humor in them. Who can forget the kid in the Darth Vader costume who “starts” his dad’s Passat using The Force? Or (if you’re old enough) VW’s fantastic “Think Small” campaign, arguably one of the most successful print advertising campaigns of all time. Betty White as the Little Footballer Who Couldn’t still makes me chuckle, and if I were into candy … Continue reading

Great Positioning? — Just Do It!

Nike’s ad agency in Turkey came out with one of the most original and playful example of correct positioning I’ve seen lately. You know Nike — athletics, “Just Do It” and that iconic swoosh — even if you’ve never owned a pair of their athletic shoes. In this video, the agency combines a strong message about the importance of working together with a cast of nationally famous athletes who drive and are each part of an assembly line. Cyclists pedal, … Continue reading

What Do You Mean by “Best”?

A client commented to me the other day, “I think I get some of your best work from you,” right after he’d commented that my “best” work was at the back of my portfolio. I was a bit taken aback; a design professional tends not to think in those terms. It got me thinking. What he actually meant was, “I like these best.” But what someone likes is subjective. Design, done well, is far less subjective than it is practical. … Continue reading

Anatomy of a Brand Identity

I’ve mentioned Ultra Essence before. They were the subject of an earlier post because they provided a great example of how a correctly designed advertising display increases sales. The company has a new skin-care product for men, “Ulltra Handy Man” or simply “Handy Man,” that gives me the chance to write about a simple case of creating a logo and a brand identity, and nicely illustrates the difference. The rest of their products primarily target women, so this is a … Continue reading

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? That is the Question.

I had a fascinating conversation recently with the renowned Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard. Thorsten shoots almost exclusively with a Leica, the camera that arguably has more claim to the word “classic” than any other, and is one of the most brilliant documentary photographers in the world. Like many in the profession, he uses Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to “develop” his digital images into their final form. Also, like any professional, he knows his tools thoroughly, knows how they work and knows … Continue reading

Rags to Riches — The Story of a Book Design

This is the story of a book. It starts in a waiting room, where the lady sitting next to me had a spiral bound book on her knee. It looked — it screamed – “home made.” It wasn’t something you’d want to try to read. I couldn’t let it go by without doing something to help, if I could. Here’s what the cover looked like: In the last post I talked about pictures that are too small to be useful in … Continue reading

Why Did My Designer Say My Picture Is Too Small?

Here’s a common scene that plays out between a designer and a client: Designer: “We can’t use that image in your [brochure/flier/magazine cover] because it’s too small.” Client: “But I got it from our website. It looks fine there, and it’s almost three inches square!” Designer: “Well, do you have the original photograph? I can work from that.” Client: “We gave it to the guy who did our website two years ago. I don’t think we have it anymore. Can’t … Continue reading

The Right Design is a Good Investment

Ultra Essence is a national distributor of popular skin care products, sold primarily at shows, state fairs and similar venues, where people are looking for things they don’t normally find in stores. Their sales booth advertising was in need of a face lift, though, being just a bit too “down home” and not a good match for the quality of their main product, Ultra Balm. It’s a great example of how the design process works, and what it can do … Continue reading

Where should your marketing and promotion efforts go?

Constant Contact, by far the leading email marketing service for small businesses and nonprofits, held a webinar yesterday for Constant Contact partners — people like me who provide email marketing services to their own clients, using Constant Contact. Gail Goodman, the CEO, knows more small business people and more about how things go for them than almost anyone else in the country. She should; she built an Inc. 500 company on catering to their needs. She brought up one statistic … Continue reading