posted by Kelly Davis May 19,2016 @ 10:49AM

Embracing Purpose and Mission in a Rebranding Assignment

One of the most challenging assignments for brand strategists is the rebranding and renaming of an organization – particularly one that has a 20-year history and a well-defined mission among a devoted audience.

During last fall’s CreateAthon, one of our clients specifically requested a name change and new brand identity. We knew that the responsibility was a rather auspicious one, as the client was known (at the time) as the Death Penalty Resource & Defense Center.

The mission of the organization is to promote fairness, reliability and transparency in the criminal justice system for people facing the death penalty in South Carolina. They accomplish this by offering resources and support for lawyers tasked with representing a capital client; representing individual clients, including approximately one-third of the current death row inmates in our state; advocating for policy reforms; and educating the public.

What really struck us as we dove into the creative brief was the full-circle aspect of the work they do. They offer holistic representation not just to individuals facing a death sentence appeal, but also to their families. The client emphasized that the death penalty is not just an issue of criminal justice – it is one of race, ethnicity, education, mental illness, poverty and more – and that the work they do must encompass a broad continuum of societal issues while acknowledging and preserving the humanity of all involved in capital cases.

We needed to develop a name that would be memorable, easy to say and positive while providing descriptors that lend clarity and context to the organization’s work. After 24 intense hours of research, introspection and debate, we landed on:


In addition to the new name and identity, we developed a brochure to capture their work and position the key issues for which they advocate; developed social media graphics; and provided advice on redeveloping their website.


In the months since CreateAthon, it’s been really rewarding for us to see how deeply, passionately and enthusiastically the team at Justice 360 has embraced their new name and identity. They officially launched the new name during their annual holiday party, sharing the creative work and new focus with their closest friends and associates. That was followed by a mailing to key constituents that included a letter from their Executive Director and a copy of the new brochure. They updated their website and revamped their social media presence, demonstrating the use of purposeful content that reinforces their mission. It was particularly exciting during the current legislative session to see how the organization’s new name helped give them a stronger identity and presence in their public policy work.

This client has reminded us in many ways that it’s not only the work they do as an organization that is full circle, but the very act of rebranding is full circle as well. It’s not enough to simply change a name or put a new logo on a business card. It’s about taking that deep dive into your purpose and enabling your identity to be evident in the work you do, how you interact with others and the position that you stake out in the world.

Visit and to learn more.

posted by Will Weatherly May 11,2016 @ 04:28PM

A CliffsNotes on CX

In case you haven’t heard, it’s all the rage in the marketing world right now. In fact, just last night our local AMA Columbia chapter hosted an event dedicated to the topic. 

Palmetto Health's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Todd Miller discussing experiential marketing at the AMA Columbia meeting on May 10.

CX = Customer Experience

I suppose the abbreviation originated to play off its fancier-sounding cousin slash mentor-discipline in the tech world, UX (user experience), while cleverly facilitating a natural extension of the company C-Suite… the CEO, the CMO, and now the CXO.

CX began building noticeable buzz around 2011, the same year the CXPA was founded and the same year the world lost a man who had become synonymous with customer-centricity. In fact, it’s the very mantra of Jobs himself, and variations by other big business mavens like Musk and Bezos, that seem to have fueled the movement.

“Start with the customer.”

Over the past few years, CX has manifested through the formalizing and operationalizing of that creed by thought leaders whose backgrounds are often in customer service or the aforementiond design field of user experience or human-computer interaction -- both of course dealing with the needs of humans. 

Now, what’s all this got to do with marketing? Well, everything obviously.

A Tale of Three Paradigms

Marketing has changed. It’s not what it once was. It used to be a rehearsed monologue brands delivered from a stage loudly and clearly to target audiences with attention to spare. 

#1 - Always On 

But today, the marketing conversation is multi-channel and multi-directional. Social media, customer reviews, online influencers -- these force brands to keep on their toes every minute of every day. 

#2 - Smartketing

Data mining, lead scoring, and automation have fused sales and marketing, making mass-personalization and "funnels-of-one" the growing expectation of consumers as their relationships with brands become increasingly digital.

#3 - Template-ification

With brands and media channels now crowding the marketplace, it's harder than ever to get audience attention, and it's easier than ever to look and sound like every other brand out there. 

All About Intentionality

In my 2014 post, I mentioned that every touchpoint is an opportunity. CX is rooted in this idea, recognizing that in a crowded market and media landscape, some of the best differentiation with the greatest ROI happens during and immediately after the sale. Great customer experiences do not only drive loyalty, they also drive the kind of marketing long-known for being the most trusted in the marketplace -- word of mouth.

Using data, collaboration, and communication, the CX field is unifying traditionally siloed business sectors like sales, marketing, customer service, and operations to hone all possible consumer interactions into effortless, delightful, branded experiences. 

Baby Stepping Your Way To Great CX 

Baby Step #1 - Read The Effortless Experience or Outside In

Baby Step #2 - Consider whether your company is really, truly standing on a strong enough brand promise or distinctive point of difference.

Baby Step #3 - Get to know your customers' perceptions of and interactions with you -- persona interviews, surveys, and journey maps are the appropriate tools here.

Baby Step #4 - Identify the most critical touchpoints you have with your consumer.

Baby Step #5 - Carefully, conscientiously craft these touchpoints into memorable moments that accentuate your brand.  

posted by Courtney Melendez May 06,2016 @ 08:00AM

CreateAthon Magic & Miracle Workers

CreateAthon 2015 marked the eighteenth pro-bono allnighter, and my third since joining Riggs Partners. We make extra pots of coffee, round up some friends, don matching t-shirts and stay up for 24 hours cranking out as much pro-bono work as possible for a handful of nonprofits. Each year brings new challenges, rewards and memories, but this year was extra special.

I found out about HALTER and the work they do from my best friend who lives in the upstate. Their neighbor has a young daughter enrolled in HALTER’s therapeutic riding program, and my friend had been to several of their events over the years and raved about the work they do. Growing up, horses were a huge part of my life, and my youngest sister who is special needs has also benefitted from therapeutic riding in the past. So HALTER’s mission really resonates with me. That’s why, when CreateAthon applications opened, I called HALTER myself to to invite them to apply.

They asked us for help with marketing collateral for an upcoming capital campaign. Their plan was to enclose their covered arena so they could offer year-round classes and serve more riders. The campaign also hoped to add stables to house their equine therapists, or “miracle workers” as they’re affectionately called. Of the things HALTER asked our team to produce, more than anything they wanted a video. They needed help telling their story to donors capable of making a major gift; people who most likely had never experienced HALTER’s work first hand.

Producing a video on the CreateAthon timeline is a tall order. I still look back and think we were crazy for even trying, but thankfully our friends at Mad Monkey and the rest of our CreateAthon team were miracle workers of the two-legged variety. In addition to the video, we delivered a stunning new logo, identity package, case for support, t-shirts and stickers.




We presented all that work — produced in 24 hours — in a client presentation that has gone down in CreateAthon history. Partly because my colleagues will never let me forget that I got a little choked up (okay, ugly cried) 30 seconds in.

The bigger storyline was the CreateAthon magic that was in the room that morning. We’d produced the video and it was so pure, powerful that it took our breath away. Before long, everyone was crying. To be able to give so much to a group that transforms the lives of children was an amazing gift for our creative team and one that’s really stuck with us. After we wrapped up, I didn’t stop sniffling for at least another hour or two (okay, days.)

Here’s to the wonderful team I had the pleasure of working with on this project, HALTER and the amazing work they do each day, and to the moments in life that make you ugly cry. I hope you love this video as much as we do. Before you hit play, I have a tip for you. Grab a tissue.





posted by Jillian Owens Apr 27,2016 @ 08:30AM

Don't Underestimate Your Audience

My first foray into digital marketing began the day I started a little blog called ReFashionista. My blog features before-and-after images of different oddball/ugly thrift store duds I cut apart and re-stitch into fashionable frocks. It took off, and now I’m at the exact level of internet fame that makes my life weird sometimes.

I consider myself a mediocre sewist. My mad sartorial skills aren’t what make my blog popular. It was my blogging. I created content on a regular basis that was authentic and thoughtful, and each post was written with the assumption that my audience was smarter than me.

An insecurity complex can actually be a great asset for content marketers. I never tried to make my audience think I was more skilled than I was. I’m incredibly prone to self-deprecation. Blogging for your business shouldn’t be any different in that you should never underestimate the intelligence of your audience.


Hopefully your business has a blog. It definitely should. If well executed, it’ll help you business page’s SEO and establish you as a thought leader in your industry. But this only works if the content you’re putting out there is sincerely making the reader’s life better. And you need to be honest with yourself about that.

The problem I see with the prolific nature of the blogosphere is that sometimes we fall into the trap of pushing out whatever content we can, even when we know it’s lousy. We assume our audience will flock to our content simply because we’re putting it out there. We believe our audience isn’t as clever as us and can’t tell the difference between content that’s authentic vs. canned or original vs. repurposed.

Guess what? If you can tell the difference, so can they.

How many redundant, boring, over-simplified and borderline plagiarized blog posts have you read the first two sentences of, only to immediately bounce off the page to find an article that actually helped you in some way?

That’s the rub. How do you straddle the line between prolific and brilliant? Between frequent and worthwhile? When planning your blog calendar, make sure you’re giving yourself reasonably frequent deadlines. How many high quality blog posts can you or your team author per month? If the answer to this is four per month, don’t try for ten.

Always be looking for trends in the type of content your readers are engaging with, as well as the content they’re bouncing away from. This analysis will help you discover what they find valuable and can will guide your overall digital marketing strategy.

If you find your content useless, so will your audience. After all, they’re pretty smart.

posted by Julie Turner Apr 18,2016 @ 02:04PM

NEW WORK: Crafting a Digital Toolbox For a Construction Leader

Who knew construction and creative strategy had so much in common?

In the building trades, surprises are often expensive and time consuming for clients. When you’re sweating bullets over a multi-million dollar project on a tight deadline neither variable is particularly welcome.

Our client McCrory Construction is one of the most respected builders in the Southeast. One reason more than 90 percent of clients choose to work with them again is the ability to prevent those unexpected surprises and hurdles. Quite simply, the work they do before the build has built them an uncommon reputation. Fortunately, we can relate.

As communicators, we’re big believers in the value of the "before-you-build" focus. The magic of the creative process isn’t just the ideas generated by it, but what’s used to power creative engines, too. Discovery isn’t just a line item on an invoice; it’s the necessary investment in making a relevant, sales generating impact on your target audience.


mc_before_after_web.gifClick to view the new 

developed with Mad Monkey


So rather than simply create a new, responsive web presence to refresh their longstanding brand, we took the deeper dive and strengthened their market position in the process. Enter McCrory Construction; Nobody's Better Before You Build.



Click to visit @McCroryConst














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