Despite the convenience of cell phones and GPS location devices, there’s nothing better than that old fashioned signaling device called “a sign” to point us to the front door. It identifies. It beckons. It builds anticipation about what’s behind the door long before you step onto the premises.
Collection at the Falls. A retail store & art gallery.
When Interior Designer Shanna Robinson Neims embarked on opening her new retail store – Collection at the Falls – situated right along I-5, the busiest road in the State of Washington, she knew immediately the important role a sign would play in attracting customers. Everyday thousands of people (approximately 240,000) would be zooming 60 miles per hour right by her store. Knowing that they probably would not have time to read the small print on a sign she wanted to convey the unique, eclectic mix of items she was selling in an overall impression — An impression that begged for further investigation.
Because Shanna is a designer she was able to articulate in broad strokes the impression she wanted the sign to make, and she came to our meeting with loose sketches in hand. We needed to build customer anticipation about the experience of shopping at her lifestyle oriented store / art gallery. To do this the sign might include a mix of new, old, handcrafted, unique, formal, Parisian, European, artful clothing, furnishing, jewelry, organic glamor, plants and perhaps a touch of whimsey. Antlers, or something that looked like them would figure prominently, and maybe a crown would be cool too, or perhaps a nest and a bird. Yes, all of that in one sign!
We put our heads together and came up with a sign design that we feel creatively meets the challenging objectives she set.
Collection at the Falls is located at 4800 Capitol Blvd SE suite D, Tumwater, Washington 98512 – Bing Map
Below are Shanna’s loose conceptual sketches, a font she initially favored, and the before and after pictures of her store. Note how much more the store stands out than the previous tenant’s business, due to the sign and the way she furbished the exterior.
According to Rand MacIvor selling, promoting and communicating are the work of three different disciplines. We concur.
[The following is excerpted from Rand MacIvor’s blog post on the topic.]
Marketing is the act of selling a product or service and all the business activities that are entailed…
Advertising is the art of creatively promoting a product or service. People in this occupation formulate a compelling message in a non-personal manner; strategically outlining unique benefits using a combination of various traditional and new media…
Public relations professionals are those who are involved in communicating the activities and values of an organization, providing information on a day-to-day basis about a business, product or service and updates that help clientele and stakeholders stay informed…
“Marketing, advertising and public relations are three different, valuable disciplines and come from different focuses and perspectives. Working together, they can help build a successful business effort. But clients should not be fooled into thinking that one skill set can do the job of the other.” – Rand MacIvor
We encourage you to read the full article at Rand’s Place – Selling, Promoting, and Communicating – Where in typical Rand humor he explains the difference between the work of the pros versus flakes.
Have you ever wondered how those emails you get from some of the big retail chains know exactly what you want to buy (Really, how did they know I’ve had my eye on that pair of boots!)? That’s a million dollar question with an answer that retailers are successfully banking on. By now you’ve probably heard of the ability to gather a website visitor’s statistics using Google Analytics ¹. Collecting this information and knowing how to use it is a big money game. But that’s not the only way to hone in on what attracts customers. For years advertisers have employed a method called A/B testing – aka Split Testing – as a way of testing the market before fully committing to a campaign. In an overview of this method Nick Markman suggests that “A/B testing is so effective because it helps marketer’s look past what they think will be most effective and reveals what is actually the most effective.” Now the same capability is available for small businesses with smaller advertising budgets.
A/B Testing for Email
Ewing Creative’s custom email service ECMail has an automatic A/B testing feature that makes it easy to test different subject lines, sender details and even totally different email designs. This provides a straightforward method of improving the “open rate” of your newsletters, advertising and other mass email correspondence.
A/B Testing for Online Advertising
In the past several years we have witnessed small businesses flee the once-tried-and-true standard of “yellow page” advertising in favor of attracting new business online. Building an online presence is a viable alternative to phone book advertising but it should be done very strategically to attract and maintain customers. Engaging a company that can not only build a website, but also has a solid understanding of online advertising methodology is critical in doing this successfully.
Kristy Ewing is a trained and authorized Google Partner.
1. [Excerpt from Wikipedia] Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. The product is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew. It is the most widely used website statistics service. read more.
Just funnin’ around. Don’t you think that people who forget to wear green are just asking to be pinched?
As a business owner you are ultimately the person responsible for how your company is perceived. At the same time you are ever mindful of finances. The market is flooded with quickie design solutions that can be bought for a dime. But will they communicate to your buying public effectively? Big decision.
To help navigate the waters it helps to understand the makeup of creative professionals and the range of their ability. Being informed will help you to make wise decisions, and know when to settle for solutions that are okay (inexpensive), and when to invest in creative genius.
“What is professional work these days? In fact, it’s quite easy to tell by the work itself.” – Rand MacIvor
On his blog Rand MacIvor states that the three factors behind creative work are Play, Skill and Passion. He says, “It used to be easy to distinguish between professional and amateur work. I’m talking design, writing, art, photography, film – heck, anything that you sell that you create for clients. The advent of digital cameras, fairly intuitive design programs and online publishing sites means the line between pros and wannabees has become blurred, especially for clients. Technologies allow for many more smaller at-home businesses and entrepreneurs, some of whom are truly excellent. But where everyone appears to be a Creative Director or worse, a Creative Guru, it becomes très confusing.”Read more of this very insightful and revealing article written by our friend Rand MacIvor.
Be wary of the unseen risk of poorly conceptualized solutions, the unintended perception of what it is your company does. Work with an ad or design agency that demonstrates the just-right mixture of Play, Skill and Passion, and takes time to flesh out a rockin’ strategy with you. It’s better to invest more capital upfront in great creative work to ensure that your brand is received the way you want it to be.
Often when clients come to us they have already determined what they do and don’t like about their existing logo. As a photographer Sue Burnett of Memories Forever Photography had determined that she needed her logo to function as a subtle watermark on photos, and that it needed to be simpler than what she was currently using. She liked the flowing descender and ascender of the initial f, so we gave her new logo more panache. Since camera lenses are round we chose to integrate the initials into a circle rather than a rectangle. The resulting mark can stand alone or be paired with the full company name depending on the application.
“Look at the design of a lot of consumer products — they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried to make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.” – Steve Jobs