Birth of a Brand Identity

29 01 2014

No, it’s not exactly high art.

It is, however, art with a somewhat higher exposure than the fine paintings ensconced in a museum or gallery. A bad logo won’t stop your business from growing – but a good one can catapult you into the cortex of your consumer.

Creating logo ideas, pitching them to the client, gathering feedback, refining ideas and possibly combining elements from multiple options, pitching them again, gathering more feedback…it would be nice to brag that we hit it out of the park every time, but sometimes the process takes some time.

Alchemy recently created a brand identity for a historic building that a developer is turning into luxury loft apartments. We developed a name and tagline for the property, then needed to create a visual identity. Long story short, the building has a major tie to Alexander Graham Bell.

While they considered dozens of name ideas (all of which have to be reasearched to be sure there is not a competing property in the same market with a similar name, or in any of the markets the developer builds from South Florida to updstate New York), the one the client ultimately chose is Alexander Lofts.

What follows are the logo concepts we showed at the first brand presentation:

From that, the consensus was that we should take two of the logos they liked best, and apply a color palette the interior designer was working with. These are the refinements:

Then, it was decided that since the color scheme was still up in the air while we needed to start producing building graphics, outdoor marketing, and a landing site, we should find colors that were IN BETWEEN the two possible shade palettes.AL logo fence

We can’t make this stuff up.

Et voila, to the right you see the final logo applied to fence wraps. You can see the landing site we designed here: www.alexanderloftswpb.com. Up next is a full website, leasing collateral, coordination of a public art project (mural on one side of the building), and other elements.





Looking Like A Big Deal…Before You Are

27 11 2013

Transformed: Homecoming Queen, Drig Addict, Spiritual WarriorThe proliferation of ways to publish your magnum opus (or, you know, an exhaustive detailing of your whole two and a half decades of life experience) has been both a blessing and a curse. It allows talented voices an outlet directly to the audience; we’ll skip the fact that it allows the spectacularly untalented a way into print. Vanity publishing used to keep all but the well-heeled hack out of that sandbox.

But we digress. This blog post is about finding clever ways to bring attention to a self-published author, with the end goal of interesting a mainstream publisher in either picking up the work or future works. Then again, if the campaign is successful, perhaps that mainstream publisher becomes much less enticing or even necessary.

We worked recently with the anonymous author of a book about her experiences as a drug addict. It is a sobering book with a message of hope, forgiveness, and redemption. She financed the publishing of her book in paperback and e-book herself, and was savvy enough to know that if she could put some of her savings into professionally designed marketing materials, she would look like the product of a mainstream publisher, which translates into instant credibility with many consumers.

Complicating matters was that the book is anonymous, which means no lovely dust jacket photo — and a somewhat vague bio. We decided together that we would do the following things to help promote her book: an attention-getting book cover, a website, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a media kit, and a series of testimonial videos.

Remember that anonymous thing? It somewhat complicates the production of book trailers and testimonials. But through lighting, lenses, and post-production tinkering with their voices and appearances, we were able to preserve the identities of six people, who could then speak 100% candidly about how they feel about the book, how they feel about the author, and what it was like to deal with the author at the height of her addiction and as she struggled to recover. It allowed the author to speak about her experience dredging up painful episodes from her past, and about those episodes themselves, without endangering her high-paying, high-profile career. Here’s a sample:

The sum total of those marketing tools resulted in one of the largest and most nationally recognized non-profit providers of alcohol and drug addiction treatment lending the author its support of her book through promotion in its newsletters and e-communications, and sales in its treatment centers, bookstores, and at its engagements. And that’s a big deal.





Ad Creep(y)

29 07 2013

First there was bodvertising, then thighvertising, now it’s beardvertising. Talk about taking “ad creep” to new highs…er, lows…oh, forget it.

Thighvertising

This, my friends, is “thighvertising.”

Ad creep is defined in our industry as the spread of media placement into every possible aspect of our daily lives. Thighvertising (according to the U.K.’s Telegraph, or maybe it was the Daily Mail – it was earlier this year) originated in Japan, and is pretty much just what the name implies: advertising on the quadriceps. But not just any quads, mind you – on the taut legs of young, attractive women. Everything I read about this trend – which seemed to hit critical media mass in the last few weeks — noted its potential for objectification of women. Then, of course, came the opinions that it’s EMPOWERING when women turn the tables and take control of their bodies and their image. As someone of the female persuasion, I’m going to stop right here before I let loose with an opinion of that sentiment, which isn’t really relevant to the topic at hand. However, I will tell you that this is my test for whether something is exploitative (borrowed from another writer, so no claims to originality here): Are guys doing it, too?

More thighvertising

Are we the only ones who found this invasive?

The PR firm credited with the thighvertising reports that as of sometime around Q3 2012, over 1,300 women signed up to be mini-skirted billboards, although I read other reports that put the number as high as 13,000. The name of this Japanese PR outfit is Absolute Territory, which also happens to be a colloquial term for the area exposed between a woman’s hemline and the top of her stockings. No doubt many more business-minded female entrepreneurs (yep, that would be sarcasm) have since applied. After all, they’re paid from $13 to $128 for co-opting a leg and walking around Tokyo like that for eight hours (and posting it all over social media for additional exposure).

From the guys at Beardvertising.com

From the guys at Beardvertising.com

But at least it’s better than what a New Zealand ad agency did back in 2011 – they created raised plates and installed them on bus benches. What did the raised plate do? It imprinted an ad on the backs of your thighs for a client’s sale that read, “SHORT SHORTS ON SALE AT SUPERETTE.” Don’t believe me? There’s proof.

beardvertising

Beardvertising by @WrestlingAndy

So, I’m feeling like beardvertising does not quite level that particular playing field. If you are thinking, “Why the heck not? What are you, some kind of feminist?” feel free to check out some of these samples of beardvertising and tell me this is the same as “absolute territory” messaging (you can see way more on Instagram here).

Beardvertising by @brentonrocks

On the plus side, I truly love that Dollar Shave Club (which produced one of the best viral marketing videos EVER), purveyors of beard-eliminating technology, have co-opted some of the mankiest beards I have ever seen. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe there are lots of people out there who find the absolute territory between the eye and the top of the beard really hot.

Beardvertising:
http://beardvertising.com/

Thighvertising at International Business Times:
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/437617/20130221/advertising-japan-women-s-sexy-legs-rent.htm





Don’t Harsh My Thongs

19 07 2013

What’s with all the thong hate? No, not THOSE thongs. “Thongs” are what we used to call flip-flops down here when I was a kid.

Not our feet, not our beach. Image courtesy of KSL Broadcasting, Salt Lake City UT (ksl.com)

Not our feet, not our beach. Image courtesy of KSL Broadcasting, Salt Lake City UT (ksl.com)

Whatever you call them, I read six articles published in the last week referencing the horror of people wearing flip-flops (Slate,  Huffington Post, MSN, CBS, Fox, and Jezebel), and saw on my way out the door this morning that the Today Show  was, as usual, coming late to the party. At least Jezebel took the contrarian (shocking, I know) position that there is no shame in sporting ugly, exposed feet.

Apparently, feet need a good PR push. They’re variously described in these articles as “gross,” “disgusting,” “nasty,” “super gross,” “smelly,” “filthy,” “unsightly,” “skeevy,”  and “unappealing.”  Place them in a flip-flop, put them in an urban environment, and you get a violent reaction. Mix in podiatrists and lack of arch support, and you have shoe heresy.

After my initial knee-jerk reaction to people dissing my favorite form of footwear — after all, I live in South Florida and we have raised thong-wearing to an art form — I found I had to agree with at least SOME of the argument. Thongs + urban dirt = skanky feet. I lived in New York City for six years and never once even considered wearing flip-flops on the street. I wore Doc Martins, a form of urban combat wear for your feet. It was simply self-defense; I have this thing about people stepping on my naked toes. It hurts.

And let’s not forget the general filthiness of large collections of humans living in very close proximity to one another. Big city streets are big time nasty.

What’s actually interesting in all of this is not that there are something like 18,000 bacteria on your flip-flops (including Staphylococcus aureus, according to the 2009 study referenced in all of these articles). It’s that thing I referred to in the last post: the social media hive mind.

It used to be that print and broadcast tended to move in story cycles, so that if one pub covered a topic and the article/segment was interesting and well-received (or at least received a lot of attention), you could count on similar stories from the competition. Now that everyone’s wired (a gloriously inaccurate term), the cycle is practically instantaneous. And when enough news outlets (i.e. mainstream media), news purveyors (i.e. bloggers, gossip sites, opinion sites), and social consumers come together on a topic, it becomes a cultural phenomenon (albeit an often brief one). Because the timeframe is so compressed, and sharing anything even remotely interesting is basically built into whatever you’re reading/watching, we get topics that spread like viruses. Hence that “viral” thing.

What used to seem like these big cosmic coincidences now happen so frequently they’ve lost much of their luster — and therefore any truly lasting impact. In a moment too meta to contemplate here, an author whose book I recently edited told me I need to read Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious, and the next day Mr. Berger was on CBS talking about how stuff catches on — or doesn’t.

So, I wonder what the next Sharknado will be? Of course, if we knew that, we’d stop trying to do this marketing thing, become consultants, and wear our flip-flops on the beach in Bora Bora.





Late to the Sharknado…

12 07 2013

I had a whole bunch of ideas for a blog post – you have beardvertising to look forward to, people – but abandoned them after #sharknado took over Twitter and garnered the SyFy Channel’s latest cheesefest so much second-screen publicity that it was a featured story everywhere from the Today Show to Variety to the Wall Street Journal.

Too mature to know about the guilty pleasures of SyFy’s made-for-TV schlockfests? Sharknado, which premiered last night, stars D-list (and really, we’re being generous here) celebs Ian Zeiring (Beverly Hills 90210) and Tara Reid (American Pie). A hurricane off the coast of California sucks up man-eating sharks and transports them, via tornado, to Los Angeles. Said sharks proceed to fly out of funnel clouds and eat everyone.

Sweet.

The social media hive-mind created a TwitterStorm during the run, with such beauties as this:

Danny Zucker (@dannyzucker)
Can’t watch #Sharknado because I’m on the set of my new film Tsunamwolf.
(Writer/Exec Producer on ABC’s Modern Family)

Glenn Mazzara (@glennmazzara)
@Ebradley127: “@brayingdixon: “#SHARKNADO is coming! http://www.syfy.com/movies ” I can only hope the sequel is SQUIDQUAKE.
(Writer, Producer — The Shield, The Walking Dead, Life, Crash)

Horatio Sanz (@mrhoratiosanz)
I wish I could join in on the shenanigans, but I had a cousin that was killed by a #Sharknado back in ’93. #RamonRIP
(Former SNL cast member, actor, comedian)

Shawn Ryan
Commercials giving me a chance to reflect on secondary, even tertiary levels of #Sharknado.
(Writer – The Shield/The Unit/Terriers/The Chicago Code/Last Resort/Lie To Me/Angel/Nash Bridges)

The Dowager Countess (@ladygrantham)
America: The Empire gave you tea, civilisation and the English language – and you responded with .

The Sharknado forecast

The Sharknado forecast

Other tweeted hashtags/suggested movie titles: Orcalanche, Hurricanine, Tarantulavalanche, Whalecano, Moosnami, Rabbitavalanche, Catsoon.

Actual SyFy Channel movie titles already produced and aired: Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, Megapython vs. Gateroid. I don’t make this stuff up. Really.

A confession: I watch these SyFy Channel cheese bombs. One of my favorites (and beloved by my then 9-year-old son) was Frankenfish. Another ultra-bad bonding moment for us was Anonymous Rex, a mash-up of Jurassic Park and every film noir trope EVER. It stars Sam Tramell, who now plays Sam Merlotte on True Blood, and that other Baldwin brother, Daniel. The premise? Dinosaurs faked their extinction and live among us disguised as humans. A velociraptor (Tramell) and a triceratops (Baldwin) are private investigators looking into a murder. Bonus: special appearances by Faye Dunaway (hysterical) and Isaac Hayes (smooooth).

Twitter is still blowing up about #sharknado, but now it’s the media discussions of last night’s frenzy. You just can’t pay – or plan – for publicity like this.

Word is that SyFy Channel intends to re-air Sharknado next Thursday at 7:00 PM EST. I know I’m setting the DVR. Twitter better look at the bandwidth/server situation, pronto.





We Have Some Reservations…

6 06 2013

swede fest 2 palm beachIt’s time for SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH. If you’re a fan of MST3K (and you won’t know what that means if you’re not), a swede fest™ is a similar animal. But instead of making snarky comments to two robots about a cheesy science fiction flick, you make your own cheesy three-minute “homage” to a scene from a favorite film, which is known in certain circles as a “swede.”

Why are they called swedes? We’re so glad you asked.

Sf2013_FB_Square1 dateYou probably know indie film festivals have a rich history of showcasing amazing undiscovered talent, where Hollywood insiders troll for the next big thing, where A-list stars promote the small labor-of-love projects they do between blockbusters. A swede fest is an indie film festival with NONE of that going for it.

The key to understanding why is in the “swede” part. A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 comedy, “Be Kind Rewind,” and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – “swedes” because it sounded really sophisticated.  This film, starring Jack Black and Mos Def, is not exactly a classic — but neither is it comedy kryptonite.

A still from the swede for "Point Break"

A still from the swede for “Point Break” already submitted by some over-achievers.

And bada bing! Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them in another homage: to the indie film festival – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars. And that, my friends, is how we ultimately come to SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH.

We’re sweding a sci-fi/horror classic. Nope, not telling. And we have friends sweding “gems” (yes, in quotes, because the following movies are neither precious nor squeal-worthy)  like Ghost, Point Break, Titanic, and The Shining. A full list of the movies reserved for sweding is at www.swedefestpalmbeach.com. You can also buy tickets there to the July 27th festival for the outrageous sum of $5 per person.

And if you are interested in playing director (and star, and editor, and production assistant, etc.), you should call dibs on your movie today. SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH allows one entry per film, so if someone else loves Mannequin as much as you do, you could be SOL. The deadline to submit is July 9th at 11:59 PM. Instructions for submission are on the same website.

Guess we should mention that, again this year, we designed all the stuff (logos, collateral, ads, swag, you know the drill), including that groovy low-tech website. Do we love WordPress or what?





BDB Wins First-Place Awards from The Florida Economic Development Council for Alchemy’s Creative

19 08 2012
Just some of the components of the "Right Here. Right Now." multimedia campaign developed for the BDB.

Just some of the components of the “Right Here. Right Now.” multimedia campaign.

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County was honored at The Florida Economic Development Council’s (FEDC) 2012 Annual Meeting with three first-place awards in promotional and marketing innovation — and two of those were for creative work done in collaboration with Alchemy.

The BDB received the first-place award in the following categories: Ad Campaign for its “Right Here.Right Now.” multimedia effort targeting out-of-state corporate headquarters via a direct appeal to those companies’ CEOs (produced with Alchemy); External Publication for its annual business magazine and investor/member directory, Profile Magazine (primarily an in-house effort with the help of an outside publisher specializing in this sort of hybrid product); and E-Media for its micro-site at www.HQpbc.com, the web-based component of the “Right Here. Right Now.” campaign (again, with Alchemy).

As part of the campaign, the hqPBC.com microsite was accessed via QR code with a smart phone or tablet

As part of the campaign, the hqPBC.com micro-site was accessed via QR code with a smart phone or tablet.

FEDC’s annual awards both emphasize outstanding marketing strategies and encourage the development of more effective marketing tools through example. Judging criteria included creativity, impact, quality, originality, and substance. In a press release announcing the wins, the BDB’s President and CEO, Kelly Smallridge, said, ““We are extremely proud to be recognized for the way we market Palm Beach County to businesses. The BDB was able to compete statewide and win three awards due to the commitment of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and the private sector.”

Ms. Smallridge went on to make direct reference to the ongoing work Alchemy has been doing with the BDB over the past two years in rebranding all of its collateral and revamping the look of its various media, from print collateral and ads, to web and social. “We updated our brand through the design and implementation of new print materials and a new website to better market the attractive business climate in Palm Beach County to potential corporate headquarters. It’s very rewarding to be recognized by our peers throughout the state as having programs which are innovative and designed to showcase the assets of our corporate environment.”

It has been rewarding for Alchemy as well to work with a client so open-minded to change and willing to step away from the tried-and-true look developed by so many economic development organizations around the country with which Palm Beach County competes.

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County is the official public/private economic development organization for Palm Beach County and Enterprise Florida. Founded in 1982 — and celebrating its 30th Anniversary, for which Alchemy designed a special logo that will be unveiled at its annual Gala in September — as a not-for-profit corporation, the BDB’s primary purpose is to attract and retain new industry, business investment, high-quality jobs, and workforce development through corporate relocations, expansions, and international trade. During the past five years, the BDB has assisted companies that have created more than 7,900 direct jobs with average salaries greater than $55,400, resulting in more than $400 million in capital investment to Palm Beach County and an economic impact that exceeds $1.8 billion. And that benefits us all.








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