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posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 22,2015 @ 08:30AM

Is Your Post Worthy of A Click?

I am a television binge watcher.

There, I’ve said it.

My current obsession is Damages, a crime drama that features the magnificent (and stylistically perfect) Glenn Close. It’s an indulgence I share with my 22-year-old daughter, something we both look forward to at the end of long, productive workdays that deserve a good wind-down reward. Eliza queues up the next episode via Netflix, then we both pile on the sofa, the dog between us, and commence to watching one, two, sometimes three shows a night. (Binge-watching is so addictive.)

There’s something else we do, another obsession we share even if neither of us ever acknowledges it. When we are settled in front of the TV she pulls out her iPhone to scroll through Instagram, Facebook, or to click on late-breaking Snapchat photos and videos. I pop open my laptop and respond to email, check my blog roll, click to Facebook, pop over to Twitter to see what’s been going on. Then I check my email again.

It’s embarrassing, this admission. Because very often we both spend the next Damages hour(s) with these electronic devices active and in front of us. (Very, very often one of us will ask, “What’d he say? What just happened? Rewind, please.”)

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It’s an addiction, of course. That I know, because the thought of putting away my phone and laptop for the entire evening makes me very uncomfortable. How can that be, I wonder, with my daughter—my typical excuse for keeping communication at my fingertips—right there beside me?

The answer may lie in this commentary offered on NPR by Matt Riechtel, technology journalist for The New York Times: "When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring — you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get a little rush of adrenaline. Well, guess what happens in its absence? You feel bored. You're conditioned by a neurological response: 'Check me check me check me check me.’" 

So. Without the promise of my own little time-to-time dopamine squirt, simply watching an intense, high adrenaline television drama is not enough to keep me from feeling bored. So sad.

So true.

(Hang on for a minute. Got to check Facebook.)

All this hand-wringing got me to thinking about the steady stream of communications I’m addicted to and how often the payoff is worthy of the attention the monitoring requires. And as a marketing professional, that got me to thinking about the responsibility for producing content that has real value. 

Let’s start by acknowledging there’s a lot of work to be done up front. You must first articulate your business objectives and determine how content marketing can help achieve them. Then you need to identify your target audience and know how your product/service fits into their lives. What needs do they have that your brand meets? In what ways does it do this that are unique? Where is the powerful connection? Find this space and base your content strategy on it.

Once you have this outlined, here’s a good, simple gut-check for brands committed to providing well considered content that’s worthy of the click:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Speak only if it improves the silence.” Consider this to be the Golden Rule of digital communications, as well.
  2. Think of the “target audience” receiving the information as actual human beings. Better yet, develop your messaging as if you are speaking to an individual, someone you see in your imagination as you create it. It should be someone you like. More importantly, it should be someone you respect.
  3. Will he/she be pleased when they see your offering? Is the information meaningful? Is the content helpful? Is the commentary insightful?
  4. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Resist the urge to load up a social media feed just to get your brand out there.
  5. Remember the great gift of the digital world is the ability to form community without the constraint of geography. Be a valued member of that community. Be generous. Be kind. Be interesting. And always, always, be a good neighbor.

It’s not difficult to be mindful in creating your brand’s digital communications. In fact, it’s a great relief in a world that seems to feed on the command Do More Faster. You simply need to take a moment to be sure the content you are creating and sharing is actually worthy of someone’s valuable click.

posted by Apprentices Dec 16,2015 @ 04:26PM

Best of...

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As a graphic designer, I love reading "Best of…" lists at the end of the year. From book covers to logo design, these lists are a great way to review what's been done over the past year and keep up to date with design trends. Since we work with brands so often here at Riggs, it seems fitting to list my favorite re-brands of the year. A successful brand is more than just a good-looking logo. All the parts and pieces have to work together for a brand to have success. With the help of Brand New, a blog dedicated to showcasing logo redesigns and company re-brands,  here are my Top Three Favorite Re-Brands of 2015.


1. Verizon Wireless

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Verizon Wireless' re-brand had some public backlash because of it's new logo. They replaced the big check mark and the red "z" with a small check and a more generic typeface. While this could seem like a step backward, I think it's a positive move overall considering its application in print collateral, web and tv commercials. With this new logo, Pentagram has delivered a solid and sustaining re-brand for Verizon that will last a long time because of its simplicity and straightforwardness. 

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2. Spotify

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Spotify also received a bit of a brand refresh this year. While the logo didn't really change much, the overall application of new colors, shapes, and duotone photo treatments are what make this re-brand a success. Some might say they could have done more, but I think Collins did a beautiful job of creating a unique look for Spotify that connects well with its growing audience.

 

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3. Project Juice

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Project Juice is a micro-juicery in San Francisco. While their previous brand wasn't bad, I think Chen Design Associates created a stunning new look with much more character and freshness. From the custom typeface to the carrot that also serves as the acronym "PJ," it's definitely a step up. The real strength of the brand lies in its application—product packaging, interior and exterior signage, and even their website all use iconography and white space to their advantage. With this re-brand, Project Juice is certainly on to something good.

 

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What are your favorite re-brands from the year? Check some out at Brand New and let us know.

 

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 09,2015 @ 09:00AM

Thoughtful communications essential in M&A environment

The ever-widening world of today’s business is driven by a quickening and erratic heartbeat. Markets call for warp-speed ROI. Technology dares us to master it. Customers expect us to solve tomorrow’s problems, yesterday. It’s an environment that often causes companies to consider a merger or acquisition as a means of building the scale needed to move forward at this pace.

Whether it’s a marriage between global corporations or local companies, thoughtful communications are essential in a successful merger or acquisition. I’ve yet to meet anyone who does not agree with this truth. The trick is in understanding that external brand communication is but a part of effective communications in this scenario.

 

Now before you put a wet washcloth on this brand marketer’s head, let me assure you I stake this claim from a very real place. It’s based on first-hand experiences I’ve had helping clients navigate the murky waters of merging organizations, cultures and brands.

With that, I’d like to offer six steps in support of successful M&A communications.

MA_Environment_Linkedin_Pulse.pngStep 1: Align with your vision

Sad, but true: All too often leaders fail to articulate why the M&A activity is important to their organization’s vision. If staff is engaged in the company’s vision and can understand exactly how the merger or acquisition impacts their role in that vision, good things are bound to happen. If employees can’t make this connection, the door to uncertainty is wide open.

Step 2: Align with your strategic plan

Leaders must effectively express how the M&A activity is tied to the company’s existing or evolving strategic plan. Allowing the plan to serve as a part of the communications framework lends context to the decisions that are being made around the merger or acquisition. For example, leaders must be very clear about setting new performance expectations for the combined organization, as per the strategic plan.

Step 3: Align with your culture

This is perhaps the most important consideration. Understanding the culture of both organizations and ensuring they have similar values is critical. That doesn't mean comparing the language on your mission, vision and values posters. It means taking very deliberate steps to study the psychological behaviors that drive each company, articulate real common ground and develop communications and engagement strategies that bring people together.

Step 4: Align your operational systems

Too often, companies focus on announcing the merger as quickly as possible, before taking the time to have internal conversations about how the evolved organization will operate. While it will never be possible to have all functional decisions in place before the announcement, it’s important that there be a baseline understanding of how and where operational shifts are going to take place. Chief among these concerns are the human systems that define the workplace, from reporting structures and compensation to changing job descriptions and performance expectations.

Step 5: Align your sales forces

This may be No. 2 behind culture if yours is a sales-driven organization. Bringing together different sales teams with different sales styles and philosophies is hard enough; motivating them to meet newly formed sales goals in a new environment is another thing altogether. Leadership must engage with the sales force in open, honest and consistent communications, reinforcing any newly formed corporate expectations and providing the resources needed for the combined sales force to succeed.

Step 6: Align your brand

When the impact of the merger or acquisition has been clearly shared throughout the organization — and a new sense of direction is in place — it is then time to look at refining the brand externally. The due diligence undertaken in steps 1–5 will directly inform that evolution, creating a surefooted path for a brand that is better positioned to connect customers and constituents to actions that support the organization’s strategic objectives.

The moral of this M&A story? Take the time to focus on communications that align internal systems between merging organizations before attempting to rebrand them externally. Your staff, customers and shareholders will thank you.

posted by Courtney Fleming Dec 02,2015 @ 02:20PM

If you wouldn't put it on a billboard, keep it out of your feeds

According to a recent Adweek article, “There is a glass door between social media and your company's culture. In this always-on, hyper-connected world, anyone can quickly see through a phony. But, by the same token, authentic actions are equally accessible. If it's real, people will feel it, and quickly.”

As digital marketers, it’s imperative that we truly understand a brand’s voice. Often times, businesses turn to social media to concoct a distinctive online personality—neglecting to realize that social media should amplify the brand they already have.

Your brand's voice isn’t something that can be forced or too carefully formulated to attract likes and shares—after all, human conversation isn't an exact science. Instead, your voice should reflect who you are, no matter the platform by which it's presented. Consumers want transparency. They want to feel like they know you, so let them.  

Brands and their employees should be telling the same story, living by the same motto. There’s nothing worse than seeing a brand grasping too hard to be relevant. Take one look at the Twitter account @brandssayingbae, and it's evident that trying too hard to be cool can backfire. I can assure you that millennials do not want your brand to use the current lingo. When an audience senses lack of authenticity, they take notice. And the last thing you want is for your brand to become a punchline.

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So how do you make sure your brand is being authentic and staying true to its core values? Go back to where your business started. Adweek says, “Getting back to the purity of that founding idea is where the magic lies; it should be what gives the business its purpose. Drag it out of history back into the present. Make it the focus of your culture. Share it and celebrate it with everyone.”

So, here’s a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t put your social media message on a billboard, then it’s probably the wrong message.

 

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By the numbers

youtube is 2nd largest search engine