Like the Sans of Time: The Importance of Font Selection
To most people, fonts are just another useless choice in their Word document, 'gimme a default typeface and let me type'. To designers however, fonts are an integral element in communicating ideas and emotions.
There are thousands of fonts, thousands of beautifully created fonts, each designed with a feeling or purpose in mind - some are very versatile and some are very pointed as to their use.
When a typeface is used in design, an association is made by the consumer on the look of the product or brand and how it makes them feel about it. Consumers when presented with a consistent looking visual that is associated with a brand will come to remember it and the feelings they have of that brand will be rekindled, in some small way.
The image above contains 9 words all with different word marks. Most of these word marks have been derived from actual fonts and then modified by a graphic designer to better suit the brand and what it represents. What's cool about this, is that without even saying the brand (or band) names on this document, most people could tell you the names of all 9 brands represented here.
If this does not demonstrate the importance of proper font selection and graphic design as part of brand building, I don't know what does.
A good graphic designer should take great care and spend a good amount of time in learning about your brand and what it represents in order to craft a word mark or logo.
One of the first things that a designer will do is select the fonts to be used on the project (for use in logo, stationery, packaging etc.) this can take several hours to select the right fonts for each of these. The result of this meticulous time in font selection, is an effective part of your communications strategy - putting across information is important, but good design and proper font selection can associate emotions to that information.
Graphic designers are trained to communicate ideas and information in a visual way, utilizing fonts is part of this process.
So, please remember this the next time a designer presents you with a design or word mark for review; ask them to explain why they chose the one they did - you may be surprised what went into their descision. As a client, you should challenge the rationale behind the design to ensure the designer really understands what he/she is communicating - with a professional creative team and good creative direction, a design is rarely wrong unless the rationale and understanding of what needs to be communicated behind it is wrong.
Bottomline: A well crafted brand comes from understanding the customer then taking the time to ensure all visual elements align with what needs to be communicated.
Please note that I found the image above online and it appears to be credited to Headlineshirts.net, however, I left the file name intact so that whoever put it together can find it on my blog and request proper credit.
Labels: creative, creative team, font, graphic design
There's No Eye Without Team
Communicating your company image effectively and professionally is not only important, it is crucial to the success of your brand and your company. We all know this. So, why do so many companies try to cut corners when approaching design and creative for their marketing campaigns?
I believe this can be broken down to one key element, they don't understand the value a creative team brings to the table.
Value comes in many ways, and most creative firms have trouble explaining this value to their clients. Clients assume that a designer can 'whip up' something quick and it will be effective. Good design takes time, it takes research and it takes an understanding of what the goals of any project are. Couple this with how the interaction between the 'target' and the 'message' is formulated and you could have a well thought out campaign.
Creative teams work together to look at all angles of a campaign - each member of the team bringing expertise and years of experience. This 'collective eye' on a campaign is what ensures it is resilient and effective. This is how you get results. You'll find that most creative teams are composed of a number of disciplines; creative director, copywriter, illustrator, designer and a project coordinator... each working closely with the client.
What confuses some clients is design creative, they believe that the design is what they are paying for, when it's only a portion of what they get when hiring a creative team.
Generating design creative the last part of the equation and is quite often the easy part of coming up with a proper campaign. Of course, that is if the discovery, ideation, brainstorming, research and analysis is done properly. When a creative team is involved in this process, a creative brief can be generated and given to any designer to complete the design process. This provides clarity and focus on the deliverable. This is how you create a campaign that generates results.
Creative teams need to be better at communicating their 'collective eye' - they can't assume that clients understand the difference between hiring a creative team and hiring a designer. Design is important and designers have a role in the creative process, but don't mistake the plate for the food - design is the by-product of a creative process, not the process itself.
The real value for your marketing dollar is in the creative process, the thought, the ideas, the expertise, the execution... that is what you are buying when you hire a creative team.
Labels: creative, creative team, Francomedia, graphic design
Who Has the Keys to Your Domain?
Way too often businesses have no clue who is the rightful owner of their domain name. When I say domain name I’m talking about a website address or URL, such as “francomedia.com”. We have seen too many times that business owners are not the owners of their domain. Sometimes it’s an ex-employee, long lost partner, or that computer whiz down the street. And when it comes time for a renewal or DNS change, you find out the hard way how difficult it can be for a business to obtain ownership of the domain they use for their website.
So who is the owner of a domain name anyways? Well it’s the person who registers and pays for the domain. When you purchase a domain you have to fill out your name, address, phone number, etc. to register ownership. So if you’re running a business and ask someone to register a domain for you it’s probably best to have them at least use your contact and billing information or go through a reputable service provider.
Let’s say you didn’t know this before hand and an ex-employee has your domain registered in their name. If you’re lucky, a business can get through this conundrum after a quick call to the now-gone employee. But things don’t always go the easy way. We have seen clients spend weeks trying to contact the owners of their domain, meanwhile their site is either down or nothing is getting done on it. Calls to the registrar (eg. Go Daddy) won’t do you any good, because they’re only interested in speaking with the registered owner of the domain.
So, what can you do about your domains right now? The only thing you can do is to make sure you know who owns the domain before it becomes a problem. If the owner of the business owns the domain, it’s probably in good hands. Or you can leave it to be managed by a trust-worthy company. Some businesses leave all that stuff with their IT service providers, or host providers. That’s usually a good idea since they handle the other aspects of your website needs. If you need to check who owns your domain you can use a free WHOIS lookup tool such as http://whois.domaintools.com/
Locked In and Locked Down
When you finally make the decision to start a web site, there is so much to consider, choices to make, paths to take. Usually people rely on experts and companies that specialize in web development hoping to limit their frustrations, gain better insights and save time. Options exist for making a site yourself and for some that's a task they're willing to take on and tackle, but most business owners are busy. Not only busy, but skilled in something other than programming, even marketing, and probably something other than graphic design. That's where the experts come in.
Now I'm a big fan of working with experts, gaining insight, utilizing skill sets of others that I may not have, but I have a big problem with companies, and people that claim to be experts and are not.
So many people know and understand the value of a website, however they have no idea how to build one.
My car just had to be serviced, which is fine, but something struck me. I made the decision to buy this car understanding a few basic facts: it is not North American, it has a good reputation for reliability, many dealerships can service it, it's economical on gas, and it was in good shape when I bought it.
So based on my knowledge, I can make a few assumptions:
- Fuel - won't cost me as much as a big tank to run since I commute
- Service - most repair shops will be able to service my vehicle, so I can shop around if needed
- Parts - although not North American, it's not a terribly unique brand or model, so parts may be a little more, but no extreme difference
In other words it's not a DeLorean...
A website is not much different. You need to know how you are going to use it, who can service it, and what any parts and repairs might cost.
I can't count on my fingers and toes how many business owners and companies have to come to me in a bad situation. They unknowingly bought a DeLorean. A customized full-featured high end expensive website, that only certain people (those who built it) can work on.
So a few tips, as you embark on a new website:
- If you decide not continue the relationship with your current developer, can someone come in and work on the site?
- Is it a platform you've heard about?
- Can you call your hosting company and speak to a person, or get a response within an hour?
- Is your hosting costing more than a few starbucks coffees a month?
- Are you able to update and add content to your site (without purchasing a new computer)?
Have a good look at the solutions being presented to you and ensure that you ask around, not just to friends who only surf on Facebook, but other business owners who may have been in the same situation. Go to sites you think are great, see who did them (usually in the bottom lines) and contact them directly - chances are if they can do it really well for someone, they should be able to do it well for you too.
Labels: delorean, developer best practices, web application development, web sites, website development
Enchantment, the Book
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Guy Kawasaki
to review his latest book, Enchantment. Now, I'm not a book reviewer, I'll get that out of the way right now as to lower your expectations on the posting you are about to (are) read(ing), so I was a bit confused about why my opinion on his book would be important or even necessary. Keep in mind, that Guy is not a friend, colleague nor family member, so to ask me to review the book was really a bit of a surprise. I'm a nobody.
As it turns out, this blog you're reading was listed on Alltop, Mr. Kawasaki's web site that lists top blogs in various fields - Tales from the Expedition is a marketing blog and fit the bill to review a book on marketing.
But, to simply call Enchantment a marketing book would be foolish and unedu-macated. Enchantment is a book about being better, about being enchanting, about so much more than just marketing... having said that, it can
all be applied to marketing. The fact that it's not just about marketing is why I believe this book will do very well - it's a book about business, relationships, marketing, leadership, sales and about being someone people will like and trust. It's about being enchanting.
I learned while reading Enchantment that approaching nobodies like myself (a lot of us actually), that the message of this book can be spread. Well, we'll see about that... I'm sure if Guy had access to our Google Analytics, he wouldn't have approached us to begin with (LOL). Also, after learning of Guy's passion for hockey, I had an obligation to review this - it's the dressing room code. With his passion in mind, I took my review copy to the site of the NHL's Heritage Classic, where my team was fortunate enough to play one afternoon following the big NHL game, for a quick photo (above) - hockey is also a passion of mine.
OK, so, here it goes, my first book review:At first I was afraid I was petrified...
While reading the book I was overcome with the thought that the secret is out - thanks Guy for telling everyone, thanks for ruining what we had. Not to say I am enchanting myself, but Guy goes on to tell people, in point form and with some very good examples on how to be enchanting - some of these techniques I use myself (although, admittedly, I didn't know they were techniques until after I read the book). I was mortified that this information could get into the wrong hands and only calmed down after convincing myself that not all horses drink when lead to water. Even when the water is so easily presented, with the fences removed.
Also, when you consider that everyone has access to the secret eleven herbs and spices used by the colonel (thanks to the interweb) and nobody is making it, that tells me that the secret is still mostly safe. Mostly. You must consider that the internet doesn't give you point form, step by step instructions on how to perfect the recipe, not like this book does.
The tag line on the book says, "The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions" and holds true to this throughout. There are lessons learned, great examples, stories and illustrated points - explaining how to be enchanting. The onus is on the reader however, to implement the content from this book and become an enchanting person. Now, really, it can't be hard, it's practically an instruction manual - and I don't mean that in a negative way, I just mean that you can't mistake or misconstrue the information in this book - it's clear and well written. It just requires action on the readers part after reading it. Quite simple, really.
Advice like, 'apologizing is a sign of weakness', you know, the kind of advice that a father may bestow on his son while driving him to the monster truck rally, is not
what you'll find in this book. The advice is real, it's genuine and Guy does an amazing job of tying it all together with some real world examples and sound rationale. You begin to see exactly why enchanting people are enchanting.
Now, I have read many business books, many stinkers, ...too many. In fact, I've read so many bad ones that I've pretty much narrowed down the field of who I listen to and take seriously to include just a handful of people who's opinions I respect and believe. I'm happy to say that Guy Kawasaki was on my shortlist, even before he approached me to review this book. I've read his other books - they're good, really good. This one is great. Enchantment is packed full of what seems to be Guy's secrets to success, it's like listening to your mentor impart their wisdom upon you. I actually felt better for reading it, like I had learned something useful. I had.
Unlike a Christopher Hitchen's book where it takes 200 pages to make a single point (no offense to Hitchen fans, but business books need to be succinct IMHO), Enchantment makes several points and explains an entire way of conducting oneself while coming in at just under 200 pages. It's light and easy-going in nature, but don't let that fool you - it packs a serious punch if you let it. I know that this is one book that will be read repeatedly by myself and recommended to trusted colleagues.
However, the icing on the cake was the last chapter, "How to Resist Enchantment" - this for me, was the clincher,... reading chapter after chapter on how to be enchanting, one begins to wonder what would happen if this information got into the wrong hands. Well, luckily, Mr. Kawasaki takes care of this with useful advice on how to be aware of and resist enchantment, or pseudo enchantment. This made me feel so much better. Thanks Guy.
OK, I guess this is the part where I sum it up and tell you to go buy the book. If you deal with people in any way shape or form, this is a must read book - buy it now
. It's available nearly everywhere.
Although I reviewed the hardcover of this book, I highly recommend the digital version. Why? Read the book you'll understand, and besides, you want to be enchanting, don't you?
Labels: Enchantment, evangelist marketing, Guy Kawasaki, marketing, new book
"The Social Network" - My Thoughts
Mispronouncing the almighty Facebook by adding a 'The' at the beginning when I announced I was going to see 'The Social Network' garnered a few chuckles around the office - little did I know that it actually started off being called 'The Facebook
' and thanks to a contribution by Sean Parker
, Napster Creator, decided to drop the 'The'. I had a few reasons for going to this movie, and being in the line of work I'm in (Social Media/Online Marketing) I did feel especially compelled to see this one as soon as I could. It really holds more of a business interest and curiosity, than a need to see an entertaining movie, but that always helps.
Overall, I must say it was a solid movie from an entertaining standpoint. Even though it was obviously about Facebook, it could have been about another company and it's inception just as easily. Meaning that you weren't overwhelmed with the content just being about Facebook, and could appreciate the struggles of a start-up as well as the adversities of the legal battles that ensued, while being entertained by a talented cast and director.
The real interest for me was to see how the creation, the idea, the inception, of how the company itself formed and came to be the power house it is today.Facebook is a world changing platform.
It's a bold statement, but I say it with certainty. I've seen the progression through the early days to where it is now and watched peoples discussions, interactions, issues change in the process.
Before Facebook, a majority of people and businesses I spoke with could not understand the industry I was in, why I was in it, and what, if any value it actually I had. I was an 'Internet Marketer', or at least I supported those that had the foresight to actually call themselves one and worked to market online. People would ask "So you do what online?" with a smirk on their face, while awkwardly winking - thinking I was more aligned with the seedy industries, instead of actually working legitimet companies and business owners.Facebook changed that.
What people didn't understand was that there were ways you could get your message out, market directly to people, and sell your products through the internet. When the social network came along that masses started using, there was a glimpse of understanding on how this new thing we call 'the internet' might actually be an effective marketing platform and way to communicate with an audience, even, and more importantly, your specific targeted audience.So many things have changed.
In the progression and development of Facebook and other social networks, you saw a huge increase in the number of CMS platforms (Wordpress, Joomla) developed to a point where they too were accessible and able to be updated online. Meaning that you could update pages on your website or online without a vast amount of programming language, if any, really I accredit My Space and Facebook to paving the way to make that thought plausible and mainstream, and leading the way for other developers.People 'talk' different.
One thing I noticed in the movie, which really carries forward into my life, and probably yours is the words people used and way people talked to each other. "Facebook Me" - a common term you still might hear to this day. Why? Well it's like a phone number, or address - it's a platform that allows us to connect and communicate with each other in a large scale, with no associated costs involved (who needs a long distance plan when you can just chat).
Here's the excerpt directly from the Facebook
site, describing the platform:
Founded in February 2004, Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people's real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.
The way that people interact and connect has changed. The fact that one of the first things I did before I watched the movie was to update my status, and then after to check it out for any comments, is a tribute to how this phenomenon has impacted and changed the way I communicate with those around me.It's a connection point.
The platform may change, in 5 years Facebook may not exist, Google may not exist, Twitter may not exist, there may be a new game player - but the fact remains that they way we are connecting with each other has now changed.
Look at it from an internet marketing perspective. Before 'the social stream' you relied primarily on email marketing, and a brochure website, there was no interactive element to it, videos weren't even really in the picture yet.
Email marketing was the primary way to communicate to people, now that email is so riddled with spam, we look to the stream. Now the stream is where people (marketers) want to be.
The problem is that there is just so much information to leverage, the question now becomes how do we leverage that.
The tools we use now are different. The way we connect has changed. Facebook is a primary player in how and why this huge change has taken effect.And it all started in a dorm room.
Initially targeted for students in select school, quickly expanding to other schools, by the end of the first year, Facebook already had 1 million users signed up. Here is a time-line from their website
- February - Mark Zuckerberg and co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin launch Facebook from their Harvard dorm room
- March - Facebook expands from Harvard to Stanford, Columbia and Yale
- June - Facebook moves its base of operations to Palo Alto, Calif.
- September - Groups application is added; the Wall is added as a Profile feature
- December - Facebook reaches nearly 1 million active users
How it spread, really is one of the most fascinating things for me, as we're all trying to achieve this very viral effect in our marketing efforts.
Theirs was relatively simple. They started off with a product that their audience was ready for, and enhanced something they were already doing, combined some nifty technology, give people a reason to come back and limit who can access it. The idea of exclusivity was very interesting, as it makes those that are not a part of this, want in "the cool crowd". The elitists of Harvard, expanding into the majority of Ivy League schools, then opening up overseas, and eventually mainstream, gave them a chance to build an audience at each new frontier, so when they did expand more people were eagerly awaiting to be included.The business, it all goes back to business.
My last comment is about the business itself and how that took shape. It certainly made me appreciate the fact that these guys, as young as they were, understood the roles and functions needed to get this start-up up and running. Designating titles, assigning tasks and shares - is that something the average person is taught in school or has an appreciation of? I noticed a gap in my own education and understanding, only recently filled in by years of running my own company and now working with other large and small corporations - this was not something I would have had the slightest inclination of after leaving high school - is there an opportunity there for more education given the movement of young people to pursue entrepreneurship? Absolutely!Whatever it is, it's certainly impressive.
Whatever your thoughts are on the platform, you have to admit that their accomplishments
are pretty darn impressive. From the first round of funding in 2004 of $500,000 from Peter Thiel, to breaking the 5 million user mark the following December (2005), to know where we sit at 500 million active users, the company employees over 1700 staff, and everything, including it's value, continues to grow.
Whether you use the platform of not, it's certainly impacted your life in one way or another, understanding what changed and why in my mind is vitally important. Thanks to this movie, 'The Social Network', I think more people will have the chance to understand the roots and if not anything else, inspire them to pursue their next big idea - who knows it could be the next game changer.
Labels: facebook, the social network
Creating the Ultimate in Immersive Experiences
It's been a while since we posted some marketing nuggets on these here pages. For a marketing company, there's no excuse for not telling the masses what you've been up to... heck, we preach that very thing.
So, why haven't we?
I'm glad you asked. You see, we've been neck deep in creating an immersive experience that we couldn't talk much about before last week... and since last week, haven't had the time to talk about it. The project we've been working on is probably the coolest project we've ever worked on.
Really? Cooler than VoodooPC's Out Of Box Experience (OOBE) packaging project? Cooler than Hewlett-Packard's Blackbird (OOBE) packaging project? Cooler than the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) we created for the Node Gaming Centre? Cooler than any of the work you've done for professional sports teams?
Yes. It is indeed the coolest thing that Francomedia has ever done, without question. It's groundbreaking, it's bleeding edge, it's never been done before and we're leading the charge.
OK, so what is it?
Again, we're glad you asked. The project is tied to a new publishing company called Enthrill. Enthrill Entertainment Inc. publishes thrillers, but through new methods and means. Their goal is to Enlighten, Engage and Entertain through immersive experiences... who better than to do this work that than the crew that wrote the book (almost complete) on immersive experiences, Francomedia.
Enthrill's first thriller is called One Child, by best-selling author Jeff Buick. We were charged with putting together a marketing plan together that would fit the goals of the organization as well as create hype for this new novel. What we ended up doing was much more; building the actual product, the customer experience and the marketing plan (which is very, very unique).
The marketing plan included creating 8 web sites, 28 social media profiles, an online ordering system and a radio station with daily audio updates.
Essentially, we have created an alternate reality online for readers of the book, as they read the digital version, they can visit the Facebook profile of a character and interact with them. Readers can visit the characters' company web site, read their tweets, link in with them on Linkedin, and more. Through this interaction, readers can get to know the characters more intimately giving the characters and the story more depth.
Readers that registered with full contact information, received post cards from characters in New York, readers can e-mail some characters, phone some of the corporations and enter contests on our faux radio station
It's no longer a book, it's an experience.
Taking things to a whole new level, we have taken this 30 day story, starting July 27th and ending August 25th and released is in real time; realeasing it day by day as the story unfolds. This has never been done in the publishing industry and we are making waves.
Adding audio and video content to the story also enhances the reading experience, as you read the book, you can click to hear the soundtrack to the book. There are also 4 video sequences of the story that were filmed.
The four video sequences, included a cast and crew of about 30 people - this was no small production - and will absolutely thrill the readers when they arrive at these chapters later in the book.
We were fortunate to have the experienced help of the whole Francomedia team, as well as enlist the services of some of the top names in producing this experience for readers:
Video - writer/producer/director Grant Nolin (The Downholers, Half Mile of Hell & Gemini Award Nominee), and the whole crew at Zoom Web Video.
Audio - guitar legend Rick Plester (Scorpions, MSG, Black Symphony), voice talent Al Murdoch (EA Sports, CityTV, Midway Games), Voice actor Murray Vair (CKRY, 1000+ Commericals) and Roberto Dorazio (Corus Radio, Little Steven's Underground Garage).
Social Media - our own Christina Greenway (Social Spawner) and Kristin Reilly (Professional Gamer, Social Community Builder, CBS Interactive).
We have created an alternate reality, bringing characters from the book to life, bringing faux corporations to life and providing a reading experience that incorporates audio and video, like never before. The feedback we have gotten so far has been incredible - people are genuinely blown away by the concept and by taking part in the experience.
You can check it out, by registering for the free 9 day trial, here.
I'm certain that this will be done by many others to come, they will likely have bigger budgets, they may do a better job and may even take it to whole new levels. You can count on it.
That's just how it is when you've done something first - it's always easier to copy and improve than it is to innovate. Our team at Francomedia is a team of creative professionals, bent on innovation and immersive experiences.
Labels: Alternate Reality Game, ARG, book marketing, customer experience, experience, experiencial marketing, immersive marketing, internet marketing, new book, publishing
Checkity Check Yourself - Make Sure You Protect Yourself
10 Tips to Keeping your Password Safe
So many of the things we have today (internet, wi-fi, hot spots) to help us be more connected are actually helping us to break free of being connected in the traditional sense of cables and limited to buildings and structures.
No longer do we need programs installed on our local hard drives, or home to access the internet - anything from updating your Facebook page, to sending out your newsletter, updating your website, even doing your banking (although we wouldn't recommend it) can be done from the comfort of a Starbucks chair while drinking your favorite beverage.
This new freedom and accessibility, can leave us vulnerable in ways that the average person might not be able to comprehend. The bad news is that if someone wants access to your files, they can and will find a way. Even the Department of Defense understands this and although they may have a lot more firewalls than you or I have - they also have a team ready to be sent to the house of the attacker to be arrested. Most people probably don't have that luxury, so I wanted to find out a few ways that people, businesses, and staff can better protect themselves from being victim to a hacker or digital thief.
I interviewed Mike Hogan, Security Specialist at MSI Systems Integration Ltd. ("The ITeam") to get some good tips on how to protect yourself from being susceptible.
"One of the biggest issues is that people don't change their passwords frequently enough" says Mike, "they also use the same simple password, that's not very complex for all of their accounts making it easy for someone to gain access to a lot of their information even if they only had one password."
I asked Mike to share some guidelines for personal and professional passwords, here is a list of 10 things that you can do to protect your passwords:
1) Use the same email account for all of your passwords
This way if you forget your password it's easily accessed by clicking on 'forget password' and you just have to remember one email account. Instead of having the same password for everything, rest assured that if you happen to forget the account information, you can always have the password reset using your email.
2) Never use a 'dictionary' word
If it can be found in a dictionary - don't use it! Instead pick a phrase that means something to you, here's an example:
-say you like the movie "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" then maybe your password would be tGtb&tU!
3) Always use 8 characters or longer (where possible).
The longer the password the harder to guess or crack.
Ensure you use a combination of upper and lower case, numeric and special characters (when possible)
4) Capitalize in an odd spot
Try not to use the capital letter at the beginning, instead use it within the password, example: tGtb&tU!
5) Replace vowels and other characters
Replacing these with special characters or numbers will help you remember
Some common replacements are:
a = @
e = 3
i = 1
l = 1
o = 0
6) Don't use region specific phrases
For example, if you're living in Calgary and are a fan of the Calgary Flames, then you probably don't want to have 'Flames1' as your password, instead you might consider 'fl@me$RU13!!' to make it a little harder for someone in your area to crack. Same goes for other fans in other regions.
7) Ensure your banking and social networks passwords are DIFFERENT
Don't use the same password for everything - if someone can figure out that one password, then it opens other sensitive information up to all of your networks, including banking and other personal data.
8) NEVER click on the 'Remember my Password'
It seems convenient, but I can tell you from personal experience, it's not the way to go. Bots and spiders can creep through your internet browser to find and crack these files. Even though it's tempting, NEVER let anyone else remember your password for you, especially your internet browser.
9) Do NOT store all of your passwords in a 'passwords.txt' or 'secret.xls' file
If you do malware on your computer, they are programmed to look for files that might be named 'secret' or 'passwords', find them and then report them. These files usually have everything an attacker would need to know, including user, login, password, URL to login to....If you're going to keep a list, just keep a list of where you currently are signing up and not the passwords associated.
10) Change Frequently
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to change your passwords frequently. Once a month quarter is a good start but for more sensitive data like banking once a month is better. You may want to have several (more than 3) one phrases a month that you cycle through or something to help you remember, whatever that is, changing it frequently is key.
If you're worried about forgetting your password, then Mike does suggest you look into an Encryption program that can safely store all of your passwords. You will want to research programs that suit your needs and your system, however it's a worthwhile investment, when you consider the alternative of being open to an attack.
The bottom line is using these tips and some common sense you can protect yourself and your files from being vulnerable. This is something I personally need to be more diligent in monitoring and maintaining. And in this digital age we live in it's something we all need to be more mindful of.
To find out more about The ITeam and their services visit their website www.theiteam.ca
Labels: hacking web sites, password security, security, security tips, web security, web tips
Our clients come to us in a variety of ways and with varying requests. Rangerland
came to us with an older site looking for something fresh to portray the company more effectively - essentially a new fresh look.
The end result was a very simple and clean layout with seasonal imagery used for a backdrop - it's really quite nice.
Working with clients we try to get a sense of their own style preferences, a feel for the company, their clients, their services - it's a lot to take in, but that's where our team shines.
Through round table discussions and creative planning, we're able to deliver sites to clients that are beautiful and functional. We've been using the Joomla! framework, which means that clients have the ability and option to update their own sites once we've put the finishing touches on them. This is great news for clients, as we've seen the pains (in fact a lot of new customers come to us with those pains) of not being able to update your own site.
Customers usually want to make relatively minor changes - it's hard to justify paying someone for simple text edits and waiting for a web company that doesn't see your business as their priority can end up taking days, sometimes weeks to get done.
Don't get me wrong, we're happy to help clients update their sites and generally can provide a quick turn-around for minor changes, but we do all get busy and having the ability to access and update yourself is golden. Especially when Joomla! makes it so easy.
Labels: Joomla, web development, web site design, web site launch
Award Winning Blog
Is what you're reading right now. That's right, folks. Tales from the Expedition, the Francomedia blog has won a Gold Hermes Creative Award!
The unique design of the blog surely swayed the judges as it really is a compelling design (thanks Francomedia design team!) - it was not an easy design to work with, but we have the technology (thanks Francomedia development team!).
Through weekly(ish) updates, we try to keep our customers and the viewing public aware of what's new in advertising, marketing, design and of course, Francomedia.
Updating a blog does take significant effort and many of our staff contribute to Tales from the Expedition. So, thank you for reading our blog and don't be shy, hopefully there are posts you feel worthy of sharing, go ahead - we're down with that.
Over the last couple of years Francomedia has been on the receiving end of many awards for their creativity, design and marketing - this is thanks to a great team of creative thinkers and doers - and I thank you for that, Francomedia team.
Labels: advertising awards, blog, creative awards, Creative Talent, creative team
Keeping Busy in Cowtown
How fortunate are we to be working on some of the coolest projects in Calgary?
Some may say, that we are really making a name for ourselves as a go-to-shop for creative goods... and this is resulting in us being very, very busy. Winning a gaggle of awards over the past 12 months may have been a contributing factor, but I like to think it was more about our reputation than anything else. Busy nonetheless.
But, busy is good - and being busy on creative projects is really good, so, life is really, really good at Francomedia.
So far this year, we have done some great branding projects, some cool web projects and some great print projects. To new clients we are super heroes, to existing clients we are consistent and always
ready to take on whatever they throw us. Our challenge these days is all about scheduling - getting new work into the mix is harder than ever, but we manage and manage well.
We are breaking new ground with a very cool project that will be released sometime before summer - we believe it will set the future standard for marketing in the publishing industry, all while showcasing the true power of Apple's new iPad.
Another project that we are passionate about is TEDxCalgary - which is happening on April 29th and we are playing a part in helping them market the event online and on-site.
You can watch it live from 9:00am - 6:00pm (MST) at live.tedxcalgary.ca.
We've worked on some really high profile web sites over the past year, Cabinets by Hayley
, Ronmor Developers
, United Nations
, Calgary Council for Advanced Technology
... just to name a few - there are a few others that we can't name yet, at least not publicly or prior to launch.
Since December we've branded a custom fly rod maker, an engineering firm, a home builder, a realtor, an oil service company and a publishing corporation.
Most of our blog posts are helpful and offer advice in marketing... this will continue, believe me - we like to share. I guess, we just needed a forum to say that we're happy to be working with some great customers on some great projects. Thanks for reading.
Labels: creative, Creative Talent, creative team
Developing a New Kind of Customer Continuity
The face of the customer continuity game has changed. No longer do you need to be associated with large loyalty programs to get a great result, like a lift in sales or attract new customers. For most small business owners, they are operating on a tight budget, they are often the ones running the show, there's usually not a lot left at the end of the day to even think about the additional time and expense of a continuity program. The good news for these business owners is that there are now viable alternatives to create your own version of a customer continuity program, even on a tight budget.
Think of the millions, if not billions, that has gone into creating the loyalty programs we all belong to. What if I told you, that you can have this too, but at a fraction of the cost? Sound like a 'too good to be true' sales pitch? Don't get me wrong, there are costs involved, especially if you want to 'do it right', but these are minimal compared to the big bucks you could be spending.
When I worked for a retailer, one of our focuses, if not our main one, was to retain existing customers and increase their sales and visits. Time and again, studies prove that gaining a new customer, although can prove valuable in the long run, does not compare to what you can accomplish by increasing order sizes and frequency of your loyal customer base, creating the golden customer continuity. Loyal customers tend to be just that, loyal. They keep coming back. They keep buying your products. They keep telling their friends. They keep you in business.
Don't get me wrong, businesses can change, their customer base can change, but ultimately isn't it about increasing sales? And what better way to do that than to create a loyal community, offer that community value, and then keep them coming back. Social media makes this possible, and tools like Google
, and Ning
make it easy (and affordable).
The power that now exists for marketers and business owners through social media avenues, like Twitter
is immense. Now, more than ever before little businesses have the same tools available that the big brands have. Yes, the big guys might be able to create their own fancy network, take Air MilesTM for example: http://community.airmiles.ca/en
, but with powerful networks like Ning, or even utilizing features in Facebook, you can create a very similar community building experience, at a much lower price tag.
Keeping your customers coming back is key - loyalty programs aren't going to be a magic fix if your business has other issues, but if you're looking to build on your success, then consider adding an online community to the mix and see how fast your reputation spreads.
Labels: business, customer, customer experience, rewarding customers, social media, social networking, twitter
Speaking at the IMC
On Tuesday next week, I will be speaking at the Internet Marketing Conference in Calgary.
You can find out more about it here.
My presentation is on Alternate Reality Games (ARG) and Immersive Marketing... I've got 30 minutes to provide some examples and explain how to make a successful ARG... if you're at all familiar with ARG's, you'll know that we will be moving fast to cover it all. There will be time for questions after the other two speakers, as we form a discussion panel.
This international conference is in it's 10th year of production and is the largest in dealing with internet marketing... this is the first time it's come through Calgary.
It seems more and more companies are beginning to jump on the social marketing bandwagon and everyone and their dog are calling themselves internet marketers. I wrote a blog a while back that explains that social media is simply a tool, and like any tool it needs to be in the right hands. We recently had Christina Greenway join our team, as our social marketing manager - she has a background in marketing and knows the tools - this is a great mix.
It never ceases to amaze me how even today, large companies put inexperienced people in charge of the very thing that will drive their business, their marketing on the web. Having a
teenager run your social media or a technical person run your web site is a recipe for failure online. Nothing against teens, there's no question they understand the tools, probably better than most people out there - but they are not brand or marketing experts. And, nothing against technical people, but just because you are the only person in the office that knows what a browser is, does not qualify you to drive the marketing speak of your company on the internet.
So, as a business owner, you should take time out to check out this conference, you need to understand the tools that will drive your marketing over the next few years. But, please bring along your marketing person(s) - for they are the ones who can make these tools work for you in presenting your brand online.
It's important to learn how these tools work, but ensure that the right person is using them - this conference is a great place to start taking your online marketing to the next level.
Labels: experiencial marketing, internet marketing, internet marketing conference, online marketing, public speaking, social media
What's Going On?
Regular readers of our blog have become despondent and bored. We apologize to both of you, we've just been too busy to update the blog regularly this year... but, this is good news - for us anyways.
The first two months of this year has provided us with the busiest start to a new year that we've ever experienced. And, as you know, our clients come first - publishing free marketing advice through this blog to a bunch of freeloaders, er, I mean captive blog readers comes second, sorry. That's not to say we won't continue this practice of giving away our IP to the no-est bidder - we've just been consumed with paying projects.
Currently, we are working on the re-brand of no fewer than 5 companies - each unique in it's own way and with very different audiences. They range from downstream oil and gas services to custom fly rods (maybe they're downstream too!). In addition, we have dockets open for more than 15 web projects - all in various stages of development. Put that into the mix of all the regular and irregular jobs we do every day and it's a recipe for a very busy little office.
On top of that, I will be speaking at the Internet Marketing Conference in Calgary
on March 16th. My topic will be Alternate Reality Games, a genre in on-line marketing that few marketing agencies have ventured into - possibly because of the time and monetary commitment that is required to pull it off. This will pretty much kill my time from now until the curtain closes on my talk. We're planning on making it an interactive experience for the audience... hope it's more than just the two of you reading this.
Some good news fell our way in February - we won the 2010 Marketing Award at the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction, a gala event put on by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. This was a great honor and validation for the work we did in marketing our own company. Everyone on the Francomedia team went up to the gala dinner in Edmonton and celebrated into the wee hours afterwards - a very much deserved break from the hard work put in the past year.
So, what's in store for the spring... well, we've actually got a few things going into stores for the spring, a national and regional campaign for large food manufacturer as well as a couple of projects that touch on the Alternate Reality Game genre. Stay tuned... they will be good.
Labels: Alternate Reality Game, ARG, internet marketing conference, marketing, marketing conference
Walk the Talk
"When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck." James Whitcomb Riley
Most everyone has heard that quote before, maybe in it's shortened form, "...if it walks like a duck..." but what does it have to do with marketing and branding?
Well, it's quite simple - all the elements of your marketing speak to your brand, if they are all saying the same thing, then you are walking the walk and talking the talk.
If you're a duck, there's things you don't have such as scaly skin, hoofs for feet, lips for a mouth and whistle or bark. That's because those attributes are not duck-like. If it quacks like a duck... it must be a duck. Your quack needs to be specific to your brand.
In branding, you have to talk the talk, meaning you need to communicate your brand essence in everything you do and then you must walk the talk, meaning you need to follow through on the promises made by your communications. The duck does this quite well, by being consistent in it's quack.
Now, don't get what we're saying wrong, we don't advocate conformity and being the same as everyone else - quite the opposite, you need to be different or better to succeed in branding. But whatever you are, you need to communicate it consistently and accurately, reinforcing your quack... whatever it is.
Labels: brand building, brand essence, branding, marketing, marketing first impressions
Everything is Marketing
The sooner business owners understand that everything they do is marketing, the sooner they will see their brand on the road to success.
We have the opportunity of working with many successful entrepreneurs at Francomedia. The ones that seem to stand out and grow faster, gain the lion's share of their market more so than the others in their field are the ones that really understand how important marketing is and that marketing is much more than just the logo.
Marketing is everything, including the kitchen sink (figure 1.1)
When I get a request for everything - from logo to cheques and from vehicles to office walls, I smile a great big grin. Not just because it means a lot of work for my team, but because it means that we have a customer that is serious about their branding and that our efforts will not only be noticed and felt, but appreciated. This is where the Francomedia team shines.
What does it mean, 'Everything is Marketing' though?
A lot of people believe their logo, business cards and a magazine ad is marketing. It's only a small portion of marketing, you see - everything is marketing; from how your phone is answered to how clean your company fleet is to the mundane forms that your staff fill out each day. Everything you do embodies the spirit and essence of the brand - this influences how your staff feel about your brand and how they reinforce the brand motto
in what they do. This is reflected in how they deal with the customer and your brand shows through.
The best example of this type of integrated branding is best found at retail - typically where you find the biggest blunders of this type of execution as well.
As a consumer, you are often times made aware of a retail store by their flyer or their advertising - their logo and the design of these materials should be congruent and appealing - leaving you with an impression of what they are about - when you arrive at their store, what they have promised in their advertising should be visible in signage, store decor and staff demeanor - their service and policy should also reflect their brand proposition - and everything from register tape, bags, carts, and exterior signage all have to be in complete brand synchronicity. You should leave the store feeling as though you got exactly what you came for... and more, if they did it right.
Retailers have lived and breathed this type of integrated brand marketing for decades - so how come it takes other businesses so long to figure this out? It's not rocket surgery.
Many service company's are beginning to adopt this approach, and some are becoming household names. While other company's are struggling trying to get their advertising down pat, I suggest you look at your marketing (your everything) - this is where you can make some inroads and take the rug from under your competitors. So, the question becomes, how do I do this?
One way is to approach your everyday decisions on behalf of the brand - be the brand. For instance, if the brand was going to order pens for the office, what pens would the brand buy? Never mind what the price is - what's right for the brand? If the brand was going to lease a fleet of vehicles, which ones would reflect the brands personality best? If the brand was ordering a new floor mat for the front door... If the brand was ordering business cards... If the brand was ordering envelopes... you see, if you look at things from the brands perspective, you will likely choose things that reflect the brand, not what suits your individual taste or appetite to spend the least.
Here's an example: Just this week I was following behind a truck that was clearly marked as the leader in high quality automotive parts - great branding, right? It was... probably for the first 5 years this vehicle was on the road. Now it's dirty, out of date and what's worse is that it had rust stains pouring down the back door, right over the words "quality auto parts" - not quite the impression they were going for with their brand, I'm sure. For little investment, this could be easily fixed or cleaned up and the brand would be reinforced positively. But, I'm certain that this particular business owner believes their work is done, because the name's on the truck - what more is needed? This attitude is common and why there is such huge opportunities for entrepreneurs that are serious about growing their business.
I'm not saying you need to spend a lot of money. Making all your decisions so that they accurately reflect your brand is what is important - because your brand is everything. If you're selling a luxury brand or anything of quality, you can't be shopping for supplies in the dollar store - cheap begets cheap. Because your brand essence is so much more than just your logo, you need to look at all the ways that your customer experiences your brand and make sure they are in sync with your brand motto.
Your brand has to walk the walk and talk the talk. To do this, you have to understand that everything you do is marketing because marketing is everything.
Labels: brand building, brand motto, branding, marketing, marketing first impressions
Why Creative Is Important
In the advertising and marketing field, the word creative
is used to describe the work produced by the creative team at an agency, typically in the form of concept, copy writing and graphic design.
For example, if we were to design a poster for you, the artwork would be called the 'creative'. You would say, "Let's see the creative...", and we would show you a proof of your poster.
This is advertising jargon.
At Francomedia, we describe ourselves as a boutique creative agency, meaning a relatively small group of very talented people that produce creative for various purposes. We are not an advertising agency, although that's the best way to describe us to people that don't understand our vernacular for the word 'creative'.
Many people have trouble understanding when or why they need creative supplied by an agency. A good example of this is the good old-fashioned power point presentation. Nearly every working stiff with a mouse can create a power point presentation, which is why so many companies don't see the need to hire a creative agency to supply creative for such a common item. Especially, since they can have their most junior person do it.
So, why hire a creative design agency to do your power point?Everything is marketing.
It doesn't matter if you are presenting something internally or to a crowd of investors, your power point is your marketing. And, when it looks like a grade school kid made it for you, how does that reflect on you? I have seen many corporate power points, and honestly, my kids make better looking/working ones than I've seen by some big companies, and they're in grade 3.
Great creative can do a lot of things for your power point (or anything else for that matter), and, it doesn't have to be expensive. Here's what professional creative will do for you:
- Make you look credible. If you are looking to the audience for investment on an idea or a company and you can't even get your headings to line up page after page, how are they supposed to feel about investing with you?
- Make you look professional. If you are presenting a recommendation to upper management or a board of directors and you have clip art images strewn throughout, are they supposed to take you seriously or try figure out where on their fridge to post your 'art'?
- Make you look capable. If you try to communicate a concept by embedding a certain graphic, sound or video into your presentation but it never seems to work smoothly (or at all), how is your audience supposed to feel about your ability to see things through without error?
- Make you compelling. If you have a clean, well designed presentation, that runs smoothly, you will hold the audiences attention - at which point your presentation will come down to your content... which is what it's supposed to be about, right?
- Make you effective. If your presentation is properly designed and crafted, a good creative person will know what information to highlight and how to make those points ring true with the intended audience. That's important, right?
With all these benefits, you would think that hiring a creative team to build this for you would be a no brainer... but, often is the case where someone feels that they can do it internally and save the couple of bucks. What is the cost of lost credibility or a lost sale, or a lost investment?
Doing your own presentation is a great way to have your audience set very low expectations for you and what you are presenting. And, it doesn't take much effort for a creative professional to polish a presentation up, if even just to get some consistency throughout.
Even though, we used power point presentations as an example, hiring the right person for the job applies to just about anything in business. But when it comes to marketing your company, internally or eternally, you need to put your best foot forward and do everything you can to ensure your brand is exemplified and that people trust and believe what you present, on a screen or in an ad.
So, the next time you are planning to make a presentation, ask yourself if it's important that people hear your message and believe it. Then give a creative agency a call.
Labels: creative, Creative Talent, graphic design, power point design, presentation design, presentations
A Year in Review
As 2009 comes to an end, let's take a few moments to look at some of the accomplishments we've made over the past year...1. Mastered Joomla!
- Francomedia can just about do anything with this Content Management System (CMS), it was a big learning curve, but we dedicated hundreds of hours into learning it inside and out. The result now, is we can offer great web sites with endless functionality, endless SEO options and the customers can drive the content themselves. Well done Sandor and Nicholas.2. Created Brands
- Our design team has unveiled some great looking wordmarks and logos this year which I believe can be the start of some great brands. These designs have made it onto business cards, web sites, letterhead, billboards, the sides of vehicles, baby food packaging, pharmaceutical capsules, mobile web sites, point of sale materials, cleaning products, oil well sites, hats, presentation screens and onto coffee mugs. Well done Dave, Colin and Ryan.3. Won Awards
- The Francomedia team earned some street cred this year with 5 international awards. Spring arrived with a Platinum Hermes and Gold Hermes for the design of our own business card and the design of our own envelope with custom postage stamp. In the fall we learned that we won Platinum MarCom and Gold MarCom for the design of the Alternate Reality Game (ARG), Experience the Node and for the design of our own business cards. Then towards the end of the year we learned that we won the top honor, a Platinum Ava Award for the ARG we developed for our client, The Node. In December, it was announced that Francomedia is a finalist for the Marketing Award of Distinction and the Premiere's Award - handed out by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. Well done team!4. Continued to Grow
- Despite the economic conditions, Francomedia was fortunate enough to grow over the past year, increasing sales and headcount. We have a great group of dedicated, talented and creative staff. I can attribute this past years' success to our team - no doubt their hard work and perseverance has solidified Francomedia's reputation in the market place as a reputable creative boutique. We were on the receiving end of many new customers who made the switch to our little shop of honors. We made many friends this year.5. "Got Involved"
- This year we did quite a bit of work for non-profit organizations, putting in many extra hours on projects for Volunteer Calgary, Servants Annonymous, The United Nations Association of Canada, The Santa Cause, Science Alberta and even became a platinum sponsor of a non-profit organization - the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology. In addition to that, we got involved with a for profit organization because we believed in what they were doing, we sponsored the "Access to Capital Conference", a platform to help businesses learn about and find alternate financing at time when businesses needed it most. We are proud of all these associations.6. Got Famous
- Well, we didn't, our business cards did. In addition to our business card designs picking up some international awards, they got featured in several blogs from around the world which resulted in us being interviewed for books, blogs and magazines. If you do a google image search of us and images of our business cards will fill your screen, well... almost. Every week or so we discover a new web site that is featuring our cards. We've had a lot of customers ask us about doing similar cards for them, but when they learn how much they are, they tend to drop the issue. Fame has a price and it's five bucks per.7. Developed a Game
- Every year as a holiday gift we like to do something creative. This year, we opted out on doing a physical printed card (sorry to our fine print suppliers) and decided to do something digital. A simple e-mail greeting wouldn't suffice, so we developed an arcade style video game and sent it to customers - it's called, "Mistletoe Command
" and garnered much attention and adoration from our clients, friends and some new acquaintances. In addition to the game, we purchased 125 Colorado Spruce tree grow kits to promote the game as well as to award to winners of the game (the contest ends in 5 minutes).
I'm sure I've missed a few things, but those were a few of the highlights of the year, a few of many. So, with that said, I have just a few minutes before the clock strikes 12... from everyone at Francomedia to everyone... OK, both of you reading this, All the best in 2010 and have a prosperous New Year.
Labels: advertising agency, cms, content management, Francomedia, marketing, marketing award, year in review
Holiday Game of the Year!
OK, maybe that's overselling it, but we did develop a really fun holiday game for clients and friends this year.
You see, every year at this time, we do something really creative by way of a fun gift and greeting card - and these have become very popular with our clients.
This year, we decided to do something digital and save some trees... by getting our customers to burn some down!
We developed an online video game called Mistletoe Command
, yeah it's a nod to the 80's arcade game Missle Command. We had a creative meeting and determined that presenting it in retro-styled 8-bit graphics would be best - presenting our customers with a real arcade experience that reminded them of a time long ago when the only real currency was quarters not text messages and status updates.
The game concept was quite simple, you play the part of the Grunch and hate xmas, you try to burn down O Tannenbaum before the Mistletoe can take you out. The mechanics of the video game were not as simple as the concept - which is usually the recipe for a good game. We put some smarts into the backend of the game by way of high score tabulations and even keep track of who finds the easter egg - that's right folks, you need to find that too!
To add to the game, we ordered over 100 Colorado Spruce Tree grow kits and will award a number of them to the players that have entered their contact information along with their high-scores. So far, we've had over 600 players play the game and have had entries from as far away as New Jersey. Not bad considering we only sent it out to about 150 clients.
To complete the game, we did nearly everything in house, with the exception of some of the illustrations, in which we hired Jennifer Llewellyn
, a famous character illustrator. Our very talented Francomedia team contributed the designs, the copy and the development of the game - the result was a very playable and enjoyable online video game, in time for xmas.
In total, we spent over 170 hours in the development of this game - so, you'd better play it and enjoy it! A big thank you to the Francomedia team for their efforts in 2009 - 5 international creative awards and a very cool xmas gift for clients with Mistletoe Command.
So, to friends and clients of Francomedia, we thank you for your support in 2009. We truly appreciate your business and friendships and look forward to what 2010 brings - all the best this holiday season!
PS - go play the game now!
Labels: corporate gift, game development, gaming, interactive game, video game, xmas gift, xmas greeting
Another International Award!
The Francomedia mailbag arrived yesterday with some great news; an announcement from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals... we won a Platinum Ava Award!
The international Ava Awards recognizes outstanding work by creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, direction, shooting, and editing of video production, tv commercials, news, and programs, as well as new media.
In our case, we won in the new media category of "Web Development and Interactive Contests" for our work on the "Ex
perience the Node, Alternate Reality Game (ARG)". The platinum award is the top honor.
The ARG that we developed along with our client, The Node Gaming Centre
, has won top honors in the MarCom awards as well, so we can now say that it was a multiple award winning promotion!
Developing an ARG is an arduous task, it takes many hours of planning and many more in execution, in all nearly 500 hours were put into making the game a success internationally. The team working on this project, which included members of The Node as well as Francomedia, developed 4 videos that were placed on YouTube as part of the game, as well as 6 web sites, a
forum, a database and used multiple social medias, forums and communication methods to both tell the story and execute the game (YouTube, Flicker, Facebook, Craigslist, UnFiction, IRC,
The ARG was developed to launch a new LAN Gaming Centre in Calgary last summer, the ARG created a buzz, garnered some traditional media attention and gave The Node a very cool story to tell as their brand grows and expands.
Just for the record, here are the hero's that worked on this project (alphabetically):
Sandor FeketeSo, to everyone who worked on this project, a great big thank you - it took a lot of creativity and a lot of hard work.
Labels: advertising awards, Alternate Reality Game, ARG, award entry, creative awards, design award, marketing award
Francomedia Celebrates Birthday!
It was 6 years ago that we began our creative journey at Francomedia.
Our business plan is simple and has been right from the beginning: low overhead = less cost for customers.
It was our mandate to provide top notch creative services for small to mid-sized companies for less money than traditional advertising agencies.
When we planned the business, we saw a huge market to serve, if done right. There are a large number of companies that can't afford the rates of traditional advertising agencies, but need more expertise and support than a stay-at-home graphic designer can offer. This is the space we intended to fill. And, because most of these companies don't have the budgets for big ticket agencies, we wouldn't have to worry about competing head to head with them, we could operate under the radar.
It seemed quite simple, offer creative design and marketing support at a fraction of the cost. We set up shop in an industrial park, opted for no middle-men and don't surround ourselves with unnecessary luxuries (3-ply toilet paper aside). A lower cost structure would enable us to operate efficiently and helps take the pretentiousness out of the daily grind.
We've done everything according to plan, so things should be on target, right? Not exactly. What we didn't account for was the amount of large sized companies wanting to do business with us. Our target audience went from start-ups and family owned businesses to billion dollar enterprises.
So much for staying under the radar.
Our reputation has grown considerably as an inventive marketing shop with highly talented staff and a penchant for creative thinking. This has resulted in the acquisition of some pretty high level projects with some fortune 500 companies.
So, what do we attribute this success and profile to?
First of all, we have taken our time in hiring the right people, each one hand picked and based on potential, not on previous experience, academic achievement or even their portfolio. Creative thinking, rationale and understanding our clients is what is needed and what each of our staff brings to the table. Our staff are some of the most creative individuals available and always bring their 'A' game. Secondly, we have always been selective with who we work for and what projects we do - we like challenges and we need diversity. Each new project leads to another. Thirdly, is our reputation, which we couldn't have built without the first getting the right people and then completing the right projects.
It truly is amazing what hard work mixed with talent can accomplish in just 6 short years. We still enjoy working with start-ups and small sized companies - sometimes, these clients can be the most fun.
I predict a great year ahead for Francomedia and would like to thank each and everyone of my staff for their contributions, hard work, ideas and attitude. I would also like to thank our clients (large and small) for the opportunity to work on some great projects!
Labels: advertising agency, Francomedia
Francomedia Wins International Awards
Francomedia received notice today that it won 2 international marketing and communications awards - MarCom Awards. This, of course, was met with some excitement and a feeling of validation for all the hard work that the entire Francomedia team put into these projects.Here's what we won:
Platinum Award, the top honor, for the development of the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) called, 'Experience the Node', an interactive game we created to launch a new LAN Gaming Centre in Calgary called, The Node. Players registered as agents and were given clues to solve 8 missions in total - clues were distributed or planted througout the internet in various places like Facebook, Youtube, Craigslist and in blogs - the mission: to find the location of The Node and win a invitation to the opening. This turned out to be a rather international hunt, players chatted on numerous bulletin boards, IRC chatrooms and through forums to help each other with each series of clues. It got increasingly hard until the last challenge which was a ge0-caching exercise to find the rogue agent in a parking lot in Calgary - he awaited the players arrival in a stretch limosine. Overall the ARG was a success and many of the players from around the world provided us with positive reviews. It was a hell of a lot of work, but well worth it.
A Gold Award was bestowed upon the design of our business cards - they have been featured all over the world in various blogs and design forums and will be part of an upcoming book on business card design. The Gold MarCom Award is a nice addition to the Platinum Hermes Award we won earlier this year for the same project.
The MarCom Awards
are administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals
. AMCP is an international organization consisting of several thousand marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, media production and free-lance professionals.
As a rule, we typically don't enter client work into advertising design competitions, because the basis for the awards is so subjective and it takes away from the purpose of the work - to drive sales, not win awards. However, in the case of Experience the Node, the project was so complex and the work so compelling and high profile, we really did need to enter it, for validation and to further promote the success of the campaign.
We can't wait for the hardware to arrive - we will definitely need a large trophy case now!
Labels: Alternate Reality Game, ARG, experiencial marketing, gaming, interactive game, marketing, marketing award, marketing experience
Francomedia Becomes Platinum Sponsor of CCAT
Francomedia signed a deal with the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology (CCAT) to become a Platinum Sponsor, the highest level of sponsorship at CCAT.
CCAT was Founded in 1983 to provide networking events to enhance and promote technology awareness and business development for the advanced technology community in Calgary. CCAT hosts a number of events each year with guest speakers from a variety of industries and technology companies.
Francomedia is proud to be a sponsor, it's a good fit with the creative work we do - pushing the boudaries of what's possible is a big part of what we like to do for clients. Having access to such a talented and highly skilled technology group should open the doors to some very creative projects.
Labels: business, Calgary, Calgary Council for Advanced Technology, CCAT, marketing, sponsorship
What are we gonna do with Windows 7?
Tonight, we took part in the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology's event featuring Dell's very own, Jeff Hamlin, Director of Marketing for Medium Business in the United States
We got to hear Jeff’s presentation entitled, Dell’s New DNA: Intertwining Technology Trends and Marketing to Better Address Customer Pain Points.
Mr. Hamlin shared some of the new technology trends (that they can speak publicly about) that they are keeping their eye on, participating in and/or pushing forward.
Notably, there were two topics that I was keenly interested in personally; cloud computing and virtualization.
From a web development standpoint there is so much by way of possibilities with online application development and operating from the cloud that it boggles the mind for anyone that understands it. It's hard to explain to some users and even harder for older users to wrap their heads around the security of it all. But, the change is gonna come. And, it's gonna be awesome... as long as the internets don't get full.
So...To the client: We call them smart sites, they do smart things and save you time and money.To the developers: Ok, we're gonna add some fun to the back end....
Virtualization is just simply cool. One of our customers in particular is beginning to promote this with some vigor, they are called the Iteam
and they service mid-sized companies with IT support services. Moving to this model can greatly decrease costs on hardware and makes updating software super easy and fast... how many big companies are still running Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 just because it's a pain to install the new, free browser on 1500 desktops and laptops? This fixes that.
Virtualization doesn't really impact my business the way that cloud computing does, but it's still really cool and it makes so much sense... I just wonder what a huge decrease in the amount of hard drives, RAM and other components will do to the supply chain as far as further innovation on those product lines is concerned, time will tell.
So, to Mr. Hamlin from Dell. Thank you for your words tonight, and more importantly, thank you for the copy of Windows 7 that I won - our developers are looking forward to putting it through the paces in testing the apps we've put onto the cloud.
Labels: cloud computing, Dell, marketing, virtualization, web application development
Brand Experience - Second Contact
Before we go too far and you start wondering if every customer experience follows this first contact, second contact philosophy.... they don't. Not all experiences are the same, some sales happen on first contact, second contact, third, forth, fifth etc., for the purpose of this series, I am prolonging the customer experience to table as many ideas as possible. Besides, you really should be looking at brand experiences as an on-going process anyways. Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to reinforce your brand and keep it top of mind for your happy customer to introduce your brand to another person. The brand experience then becomes the customer experience and vice versa.
A memorable or successful brand or customer experience is the result of many conscious actions and is deliberate and planned in every way. My hope is that staging the ideas at different contacts shows some method to how various elements combined heighten the experience rather than just providing you with a list of things that can be done with no rationale, explanation or examples.Second Contact
A consumers second contact with a brand verifies or confirms their assumptions or changes their perception of the brand. Either way, at this stage (and every stage) you win them or lose them - remember, often times, they are still not a customer, they are still evaluating your brand. They are interested, but not sold... yet.
So, a consumer experienced you for the first time by seeing your brand on the side of a bus, or maybe online in a Facebook posting and was intrigued enough to search out more information. The second contact can be physical, like in the visit to your store's retail location or it can be online - second contacts can be as varied as first contacts. Some of the things that are important at this stage is building relevancy with the consumer, earning their trust and meeting their expectations on a brand essence level.Make sure your brand is relevant.
Relevancy to the consumer involves strategy and an in-depth understanding of the market you serve. Not all brands are relevant to all consumers. Obviously, if you are a grocery store you want to be relevant and appeal to numerous demographics as everyone needs to eat. But, if you are a specialized running shoe manufacturer, you may only want to appeal to a certain segment of the market. A brand that is highly specialized that tries to appeal to broadly runs the risk of losing the very core audience that sustains the brand. Positioning your brand to the right audience and staying true to your brand and the expectations of that audience is what makes your brand relevant.Earning brand trust.
Legitimate, professional, credible and established are words that come forward when describing a powerful brand image. The brand image is more than just a logo or word mark, it's the overall look and feel of how those elements are used along with other graphic elements in a brochure, a vehicle graphic, a billboard, a magazine ad, a retail display, POS, retail location or a web site. Photography, design, colour, space and verbiage all work in concert to deliver the core message, values and essence of a brand. Think about a retail chain like The Gap - their logo is simple, their signage in-store is simple, their store layout is roomy and simple - they reek of simplicity. The Gap was founded on a simple idea, 'to make it easier to find a pair of jeans'. This simple idea was the basis for their entire brand essence and being true to this idea has fueled their growth to an international level. Simplicity is not a new concept, but few pull it off with great success the way The Gap has (Apple has also been wildly successful in taking their 'simple' brand into a retail environment) . The brand essence of the Gap was not created by happenstance, great effort was made to ensure that everything they did outwardly and with the consumer is simple, efficient and uncomplicated - this is through policy, design and awareness of their brand expectations.Ensure your brand meets the expectations.
The best way to meet expectations is to walk the walk and talk the talk. Be true to your brand; your outgoing messaging should be fluent and consistent throughout everything you do - if you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, consumers better hear you quack (never mind your purple cow theory for now, the fact that your a duck got people interested for this exercise, OK). Expectations are everything, as they are the basis of judgement on your brand and for the most part you get to set them. Your outward promotions and advertising should be setting the expectations of what customers will experience.
While you as a brand owner set the expectations in most cases, there are instances where expectations are the result of outside influences. In the case of Nordstrom, which we mentioned in the first part of this series
, urban legends about their service grew on a grassroots level and while some of these legends may be based in fact, they can be skewed out of proportion slightly by each person as the story gets told, like playing telephone as a kid - the last one hearing the message gets a different version of the original tale. Exaggerated expectations can be hard to meet, but keeping tabs on your brand online will help to identify these trends and allow you to deal with them as they come up.
If you are true to your brand, earn consumer trust and meet the expectations of the consumer, you may be ready for a transaction with them - time for them to become a customer, not just a consumer.
If this second contact is happening on your web site, a sale could be made instantly if you are set up to do so. If not, the second contact could have given the consumer enough confidence in your brand to visit your retail location or to go to your web site and investigate further, thus initiating the third contact.Bottomline: Remember Caddyshack? ... be the ball? Well the same goes for your brand. Be the brand. This applies to it's look, feel and overall essence. If you are true to the brand in every decision you make, you will ensure the consistency that makes a brand trust-worthy and relevant your desired audience. The third contact we will talk about service... I promise.
Labels: customer, customer experience, experience, experiencial marketing, first impressions, marketing, marketing experience, marketing first impressions