Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your Brand Motto

Every brand can be summed up in three defining words. Here at Francomedia, we call these three words that define your brand the Brand Motto.

Can you imagine all that your company does, what it stands for and it’s core personality and values boiled down to 3 words? Sounds overly simple, it really does.... until you actually try to do it. Finding the right 3 words that truly define your brand motto is a process in itself. It is a sometimes lengthy process that takes a lot of time and debate.

But, when you do finally arrive at the right 3 words that truly define your brand it is liberating and helps to communicate what you are about, both externally and internally.

Here is the brand motto for Francomedia: Inventive, Accessible, Dynamic

Some of you may be wondering why a creative agency doesn’t have the word 'creative' in it’s brand motto. I can explain it like this; you have to be creative to be inventive, but you don’t have to be inventive to be creative. And, it’s that type of analysis that makes this process not so simple. Words and concepts need to be broken down to their root meaning to ensure relevance.

Determining your brand motto helps you to fine tune your brand message, helps you to clarify what you are about and saves you from making mistakes - in other words, it will save you time and money. Really.

Now, our brand motto isn’t something we advertise, (except for now, I guess) it’s not what we do or sell, it’s what we are. Everything we do fits into the Brand Motto and it permeates every decision that we make about ourselves.

For example, we decide we want to do some self promotion, every idea we come up with must be held up to our Brand Motto. For instance if we want to print t-shirts with our logo on it we would ask if the t-shirt or the message on it is Inventive... Accessible or Dynamic... if it isn’t at least one of the words in our Motto, then the t-shirts are a no-go.

The Brand Motto helps guide the brand and keep it true to itself. It keeps what we do for our brand, 'on brand' - if we are consistent in this brand offering - being Inventive, Accessible and Dynamic in everything we do, our brand will be known for these traits.

Consistency is key.

I'm sure, you have heard a lot of marketing speak about authenticity and brand experiences. To offer a true brand experience you must follow your brand motto, be authentic and not stray from it. Consistency and continuity is what makes good brands great.

It’s no surprise that those who understand the importance of marketing and branding in the long term, see and experience success. Clients that understand that everything they do influences consumers and eventually becomes part of their brand story are the ones that do it right. We just help out a bit with some creativity, some design work and some ideas.

For you to have a successful brand, you need to understand who you are, be consistent in your brand message and offer a great experience. You can change graphics and you can change offers, but you need to be consistent in why people come to you in the first place.

And, this comes back to following your Brand Motto.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Famous Business Cards

Chances are, that if you've met with any of our staff, you have one of our famous business cards. Maybe famous is stretching it, but they are certainly unique and on their way to being famous... or to some level of celebrity or cult status.

In April of this year, we won the Platinum Hermes Creative Award for the design and concept for these very creative business cards and ever since, we have been getting more notice and plenty of buzz about our cards.

The cards themselves are pretty clean and simple, save but a few creative features to each card that speaks to each employees individuality/ specialty. What really makes them remarkable is the complex process to create them - it's the final result and effect that makes them truly sui generis.

Earlier this week, our cards were featured on Card Observer, a site dedicated to creative and unique business cards. Shortly after our posting on that site, we received word that a blogger named Yanda out of Singapore wanted to cover the cards and feature them on their site as well.

It didn't take long for other web sites to pick up the information and start sharing the news about our cards. We have found a few different sites that are showing our cards such as this one and this one and this one and this one and this one and this one and this one and this one.

Needless to say, this has increased traffic to our site in a huge way.

When we look at the cost to produce our cards, compared to other business cards, some would say we're crazy for doing it, as each card comes close to $5. However, if you look at the fact that these cards have resulted in us getting international attention online and local press in two magazine articles, I would have to say that it was well worth the expense.

Everyone we hand these cards out to, comments on them and reacts positively. Well, except for one lady who asked about their longevity in a landfill to which I replied, "You're not supposed to throw them out!"

Doing something truly unique and creative will get you noticed... and that's what it's all about, right?

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Joomla Security


According to Google Trends (1), Joomla is the most widely used CMS on the market today. With its ease of use, developer community, and immense library of third party add-ons, it’s no surprise why Joomla is so popular. Popularity, though comes with a price - the issue of security.

It’s comforting to know that, out of the box, Joomla 1.5.10 is a very secure CMS (2); and when maintained properly, keeps your site nearly hack- free. But do keep in mind that nothing is 100% hack-free.

The key here is maintenance. Aside from typical security measures, the owner must be vigilant in keeping up to date with security patches, regular backups, and monitoring unauthorized access.

There is official Joomla documentation on a security checklist (3), that if not taken for granted, can reduce any downtime in having to re-implement a compromised site.

What can the Developer Do?

The developer can do a lot to ensure that the client’s new Joomla site is safe and secure. Here is a list of some of the most important things:

- use a secure host (www.siteground.com is popular)
- install recent Joomla version (ensures latest security update)
- ensure sensitive directories are write-protected (prevents unauthorized access)
- enable .htaccess (this prevents unauthorized scripting)
- enable SEF urls (this hides URLs)
- turn Magic Quotes off (prevents SQL injections)
- turn Register Globals off (prevents access to global variables)
- delete unused templates (prevents unwanted display of pages)

What can the Client Do?

The client needs to acknowledge the fact that all websites are vulnerable to attack, even those found on Secure Server Layers (SSL) like Bank websites for example. Certain precautions need to be taken to avoid potential disaster:

- secure usernames and passwords (combinations of numbers/letters/uppercase)
- an offsite backup system (don’t rely on the host to do this)
- secure third party Joomla extensions/plugins (buyer beware)
- tracking and monitoring (be aware of unauthorized traffic)


In summary Joomla is the number one open-source CMS on the web. This popularity has led to more than its fair share of hacking attempts, but this is normal. It’s the PC vs MAC analogy. Apple boasts that MACs have zero viruses, but this is simply due to the fact that it has less market share, thus less interest from hackers. To be sure, the underlying UNIX-based system behind a MAC is very secure to begin with, but that does not mean it cannot get hacked.

Joomla is very similar in this regard. With the release of Joomla 1.5, significant security measures have been integrated into its core. Things like SEF urls, and .htaccess do a lot to ensure your Joomla site is safe from exploits. However it is up to the developer to make sure everything is setup correctly. Thereafter, it is the client’s responsibility to change passwords, monitor third party access, and perform regular backups.

In the end, Joomla is what you make it.


(1) Google Trends

(2) ”Is Joomla A Secure Platform for a Business?”

(3) Joomla Security Checklist

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

International Award Winners!

We did it!

Francomedia picked up 3 awards at the Hermes Creative Awards, an international advertising design competition put on by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.

Here are the details:

2009 Platinum Hermes Award for Design and Concept of Business Cards
2009 Gold Hermes Award for Design and Concept of Envelopes and Custom Stamp
2009 Honorable Mention for Production of "Our Method" Streaming Video

It was great to be acknowledged in an international competition, especially taking top honours for the design of our very unique business cards. What makes this especially gratifying is that every all of our employees were involved in the process, with each staff member designing their own card - this truly was a team effort.

We posted our stance on Advertising Awards a while back... in that article, we mentioned that we would not enter client material into these types of awards as they are not measured on results. However, winning advertising awards on our own materials shows clients that we are capable of award winning creative and doesn't take our focus off their projects.

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