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How to make a grand entrance.

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.

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Shanna’s loose sketch indicating layout and lettering style.

 

Trinigan_FG_Font_·_1001_Fonts

Shanna initially preferred this font, but through much research we landed on the beautiful font that was ultimately used.

 

stag-and-crown

Shanna’s antler-like concept for weighting the text with flourishes.

Ewing Creative work in progress - screen capture 1.

Ewing Creative work in progress – screen capture 1.

 

Ewing Creative work in progress - screen capture 2.

Ewing Creative work in progress – screen capture 2.

 

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Retail location signage BEFORE

 

Collection at the Falls signage AFTER

Collection at the Falls signage AFTER

 

Graphic element for Collection at the Falls

Graphic element for additional branding purposes.

 

17 Apr 2014

The difference between marketing, advertising and public relations.

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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

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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.

24 Oct 2013

Improve your odds of hitting the bullseye with A/B testing.

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.

 

23 Oct 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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Just funnin’ around. Don’t you think that people who forget to wear green are just asking to be pinched?

17 Mar 2013

ING Canada pulls controversial “ARE YOU SUFFERING?” tv commercials.

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No one is immune from being misunderstood, most everyone is guilty at one time or another of misspeaking or of making an off comment. Yes, people are human and we all make mistakes, but how do you account for a large company like ING Direct launching the “Are You Suffering?” campaign that was viewed by many people as insulting or insensitive? The ad concept centers on an attempt at humor, comparing the anxiety and tension of retirement savings at tax time to a fictional disease called “RSP” (‘retirement savings plan”; a Canadian version of our “IRA”) for which, in the commercial, ING Direct Canada provides the ‘cure’.

In defense of the campaign that rolled out just over a week ago, ING Direct says that they never meant to insult. Unfortunately for them not only did they offend some of their viewing audience, they managed to rile the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). What were the creatives thinking, or were they? After all, unlike a thoughtless or misunderstood quip in facebook, advertising campaigns are (should be) the result of much research, reflection, creativity, critique, and audience testing. The Toronto based advertising agency of record says the ads were tested. But as fellow creative professional Rand says, “There’s testing and then there’s common sense and gut feelings.” Maybe some people are overly sensitive, or perhaps the creatives in charge did not have their own sensitivity meters turned up high enough.

Colleague Rand MacIvor brought the campaign to our attention via a closed group of creatives on LinkedIn. He also posted comments on facebook. Having health challenges of his own Rand felt insulted by the nature of the ads. As it turns out he was one of many. A few of us weighed in with our opinions and by and large there was a consensus, the ads were not funny, nor would they evoke the response that was intended. Being the kind of guy Rand is he wasn’t about to allow the spots to go unaccounted for. He launched a campaign of his own to draw attention to the offending ads. He wrote to ING Direct’s customer service and PR department and tweeted their CEO. He also wrote to the president of the ad agency. Rand says that, “all replied that they hadn’t intended to belittle anyone’s health issues. The fact is, they did.” Rand tweeted a reply to the CEO of ING Direct Canada saying, “No one wants to be known as the bank that makes fun of the chronically ill…” The days that followed saw the company attempt damage control over the many comments posted by others on it’s Facebook page. On Tuesday, a bit more than a week since the ads began running, and following several comments from health associations, the company announced it was pulling the ads, apologizing for any ill feelings they had caused.

Ewing Creative applauds both Rand MacIvor for taking issue with the ads publicly, and ING Direct for appropriately deciding to pull them from the air. We also applaud the citizens of Canada for making their voices known through social media.

The campaign was aimed at a Canadian audience and the tv ads were not aired in the U.S., but could be viewed worldwide on YouTube (of course). View tv spot and read Marketing Magazine article here.  Also see Marketing Magazine’s article announcing that the ad was pulled.

ING Direct Canada is a separate entity from its parent company and has been bought by the Bank of Nova Scotia in Canada, thus has no relation to the international ING anymore.

22 Jan 2013

Two Essential Ingredients for a Successful Website

The overall success of a website can be measured by two basic factors: Effective branding and search-ability. To do these two things well requires a balanced mixture of art and science. One needs to have a better-than-rudimentary understanding of branding and what it takes to achieve great search engine optimization (SEO).

The Art. Effective Branding.

Branding 101 versus “Content is King.” For many years “experts” have declared that content is the most important factor of a website. Content drives SEO, but it does not persuade people at first glance. How many times have you landed on a site only to be turned-off by chaos and clutter, pop-up ads, slow load times, unreadable text, and confusing messages? In a matter of seconds a new website visitor will make a snap judgment about you, your product, or service. They will determine if they like and trust you. They will decide if they want what you’re selling. That is the brutal truth, and that is why branding ought to be your first consideration. Only after a brand is effectively conveyed via key messaging — text and images — should one delve into the details of content.

The Science. Search-ability.

Beyond initial messaging, the purpose of content is to attract real people and robots.

Content builds loyalty. It establishes credibility. Assume that people have come to your site to “learn more”. Give them more. Sell them even more. But by all means make certain your content is accessible via a sensible, organized navigation scheme.

Content is candy to search engines. The more relevant the text is to your product and audience the better your website will rank, and the easier it will be for both people and search bots to find you.

Art meets Science — A winning combination. Unlike books, websites are malleable. Take advantage of the fluidity of the platform to change your content at will. Deliver it compellingly. Deliver it with motion. Search engines sit up and take notice when you make changes or add new content. Spread the word about what you have to offer the world via RSS, social media, videos, maps and workshops. Advertise. Interact. Like a spider spins her web, create many paths that all link back to your site. Ensure that you can be found. Make it easy for your audience to communicate with you.

 

© 2012 Kristy Ewing – Ewing Creative Inc.

2 Jun 2012

The Three Factors Behind Great Creative Work

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.

29 Mar 2012

Memories Forever Photography logo / watermark

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.

See other examples of Before & After logos in our portfolio.

9 Nov 2011

Steve Jobs, a designer at heart, liked peeling onions

“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

6 Oct 2011

Facebook Timeline – revamped for show offs

Opportunity for creativity abounds via Facebook’s anticipated release of Timeline. One striking new change in the profile page layout will be the “cover photo”. Like a huge blank canvas we can foresee this space being filled imaginatively by everyone hoping to get our attention. Especially everyone with something to sell. As of this writing it’s unclear just how similar the new Brand Pages will be to the new personal profile pages of Timeline. But you can bet that if the change is as radical as anticipated the Big Brands are already positioning themselves to use the cover photo compellingly.

Mashable Social Media asked some advertising and design pros to imagine the ways in which the new layout might be used by big brand companies. Check out this gallery of ideas.

Mashable Social Media also asked the question of its readers, “what would you do with the space?” See that article and gallery here.

5 Oct 2011