We did say we’re growing! We’re happy to welcome Laura Lin as our newest Interactive Designer. A designer and illustrator, Laura is passionate about design that effects social change having worked on projects such as Feed the Future and at places including USAID and The QED Group. At Grafik, she’s already started work with clients Anybill and Lockheed Martin. In true Grafite form, Laura is well-hobbied from experimental cooking to thunderstorm watching—and maintains more than 10 blogs to document them. Impressed yet? Wait till you see her lunch salads! Welcome Laura!
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Our shop is growing and the latest addition to the family is Efrat Levush as Art Director. Efrat joins us with more than ten years of experience in design, art directing, and various creative positions, having worked at places such as Opower, Door Number 3, and House & Garden magazine. As a Grafite, she will be on a number of client accounts including Neighborhoods of EYA and JK Moving Services. She has a passion for typography and hand lettering, and is a self-professed foodie—she’s currently working her way through 500-page Lebanese cook book. A certified gourmand? She’ll fit right in. Welcome to the team!
Check out Efrat’s portfolio of work here.
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Chances are, you’ll catch a radio spot for JK Moving on your morning drive. Grafik just launched the “Worry Free” campaign, a 10-week integrated effort geared towards both residential and commercial prospects. An extension of last year’s successful “Worry-Free” theme, the campaign includes two new spots, and two of the successful spots that originally ran last Fall. Interested listeners ready to make a move will find all they need to know on the “Worry Free” landing page, www.jkmoving.com/worryfree. Also complementing the audio are display ads across targeted media, print, and direct mail.
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Grafik has launched phase one of a staged website revamp for Global Automakers. In February, a sleek, responsive look for the homepage was launched, an approach which mirrors the clean lines and green design of Global Automakers’ K Street office.
Built on Drupal 7 with additional custom code, the page features an elegantly-scaling slider which showcases large photography and a new video lightbox. The look and functionality of the navigation strip were enhanced with color, text, and drop-downs to improve impact and ease of use.
Big plans are afoot for the sequence of Economic Impact blocks. These will ultimately click through to a highly-interactive Economic Impact experience, drawing on national and state-level economic statistics.
To provide a richer experience in the interim, the previous Economic Impact page (which consisted of simple text and bullet points) was also improved by way of an embedded video and some more graphics and downloadable information.
Stay tuned for more news as the rest of the updates go live!
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Here at Grafik, we always try to stay on top of the latest trends in business and technology. But lately our office has been buzzing with one particular phrase that I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around: agile methodology. I decided to sit down with Certified ScrumMaster and resident agile guru Laura Peterson to get the skinny on this game-changing trend and just how it’s affecting the industry.
Lindsay Smith: In 10 words or less, agile is…
Laura Peterson: Continuous improvement, reasonable priorities, rapid proof-of-concepts, team empowerment.
LS: How does agile compare to other project management methodologies?
LP: Typical “waterfall” or “software development lifecycle” (SDLC) methodologies look at projects as a one large sequence of linear activities, which flow from one to the next with little overlap (hence, “waterfall”). In “waterfall,” you have fixed scope and an accompanying schedule that may change. The scope is captured in a statement of work or product requirements document, and your schedule and estimates are based on anyone’s best guess as to how long it will take to do that work. In agile, scope and schedule are flipped: your timescales are fixed, and the scope is fluid. You have fixed increments of time during which you try to get as much done from the defined “backlog” of prioritized work.
LS: Why is it used/what are the benefits of this method?
LP: Agile embraces the flux and change that comes from seeing design and actual working software or output. Rather than trying to dream up every possible feature and plan out how and when it will be implemented, broad goals, guidelines, and features are defined and prioritized up front on the assumption that better information will be made available as artists or developers grapple with a particular feature.
The team attempts to produce working, consumer-quality output as quickly as possible. This way, the team, business owners or execs, and customers can review and react to the emerging product quickly and provide feedback, which can be addressed more or less immediately. The team will also learn from what they built and apply those lessons to future features (hence, “continuous improvement”).
The requirements live in a fluid and prioritized backlog of requirements, which often lives under and is influenced by a broader strategic roadmap view of product goals, market influences, and target releases. The team has a say in which requirements they feel they should tackle first and next, and split their work up into increments of time called “sprints,” during which they attempt to produce consumer-quality (also called “shippable”) output or add to a work-in-progress.
The team meets every day to discuss their progress and issues in quick, focused, informal “stand-up” meetings. At the end of each sprint, the team demos their work internally as well as to the customers and business executives, capturing all feedback and applying course corrections to the next sprint by inserting new requirements into the backlog.
LS: How do you see agile benefiting Grafik?
LP: Agile succeeds by providing frequent opportunities for highly focused and honest exchanges of information and problem-solving among all staff in an organization. It allows them to discuss the known, well-defined, flexible, and reasonably-sized priorities and goals as well as the state of tangible software or prototype materials and how they’re being received by the user or customer.
Energy that would otherwise go towards setting up a two-hour weekly status meeting, remembering the events of the past week, and capturing everyone’s feedback in copious notes (not that documentation or record-keeping ever goes away) is repurposed into a daily and shared mindfulness of what we did yesterday, what we need to do tomorrow, and what’s holding us back. I think this exposure and sharing of intention, awareness, and smart use of energy and time can benefit any company, especially one as creative and industrious as Grafik, and we’ve had some good feedback with the techniques I’ve suggested so far, such as a Kanban board.
Here’s a great article from the Wall Street Journal summarizing how other companies are incorporating the simple stand-up into their daily routine and successfully ousting the long pontification sessions that suck up so much time and creative thought.
LS: How do you think agile practices will evolve in the future?
LP: Some falsely assume that agile only works with small web projects and start-ups, which may organically be predisposed to frequently meeting and discussing iterative output anyway. But there’s no reason why it can’t scale to the largest company, stacking up Team, Program, and Portfolio views with a continuous but manageable two-way flow of information, strategy, and priority calls from business to team and back, allowing everyone to act upon the most accurate information with a minimum of overhead and bottlenecks.
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Our very own Hal Swetnam joined other industry pros in discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2013 Superbowl ads this past Tuesday. The panel also included Kipp Monroe Partner/Chief Creative Officer of White+Partners, Karen Riordan President of SmithGifford, Jim Lansbury Principal/Creative Director of RP3 Agency; and was moderated by Mason Harris of Hutzpah Media. The event was held by the DC Ad Club at Ogilvy Public Relations.
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Yesterday we switched internet registration providers. We basically said, “Hit the road Jack” to Go Daddy. One gross commercial too many.
There’s been lots of debate in the advertising circles whether the Go Daddy commercial of the supermodel and geek kissing was successful or not. Obviously it was successful—it has gone viral, has been the subject of numerous advertising columns, blogs, and speaker panels. It has been remembered. From their inception, their marketing strategy has been brilliant—outrageous commercials, low-entry price point, milking controversy. And whether you like them or not, they have put “domain registration” on the map.
Whether it has been successful or not, does not interest me. I question the impact an offensive (even if memorable) ad has on brand. Go Daddy claims they added 10,000 customers as a result of the spot, but of course they are not reporting the number of people that have left due to their sophomoric branding. I am one of them. And they rated drop dead last on the USA Today admeter. (For more statistics and a different perspective, check out my colleague’s blog post. Note: She likes the commercial.)
I confess. I am a skeptic. I wonder if the reason the company saw an uptick in business is not because people like or approve of the ad, but rather many people have no idea where else to register domain names and feel like they have only one choice. I know I felt that way. Go Daddy has done a masterful job of becoming the one domain registry provider known outside technology circles. And as more and more average consumers are starting their own websites or blogs without technical assistance, Go Daddy understood the wisdom of reaching broader audiences—and so the Super Bowl commercials featuring scantily clad females were born.
There are alternatives and the process of switching registration is pretty straightforward. A casual unscientific survey conducted with a dozen members of my tech team and creatives, as well as 10 people outside of the business netted the fact that almost no one could provide more than one name of an alternative provider (Network Solutions), and no one knew the process of how to switch. That is precisely because none of the other providers have understood the importance of marketing to the masses. Network Solutions, NameCheap , 1&1, and Name Silo all are good alternatives and according to some of the tech blogs, they provide superior service and comparable pricing. But precious few consumers know their names. By the way, if you want a good laugh check out the spoof of the Go Daddy girlie ads at the Network Solutions site.
Once you choose a different provider it is relatively easy and inexpensive to switch. Go Daddy is similar to telephone companies that make it easy for customers to reup every year, and make it almost impossible to figure out how to terminate a service. A good step by step guide is found here.
So, why did I switch? As a marketer, I can appreciate the brilliance of their campaign, but as a consumer I have a personal choice on which brands I decide to support. Every decision you make is a part of your own personal brand, and mine does not support exploitation of women, trophy-elephant killing, and just plain poor-taste advertising designed to shock.
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Go Daddy’s “Perfect Match” spot may have come in last on USA Today’s Ad Meter, but it has won first place with me, and apparently has a whole host of people talking about it.
Mothers felt the need to explain “what was going on” to their children. It was the subject of lively debate at many post-game Super Bowl best/worst commercial events in the advertising community. During the game, it was the most talked about ad on Twitter. The PR was off the hook— from the Today Show to AdWeek to the Huffington Post—Go Daddy’s “Perfect Match” was everywhere.
And just why was everyone talking about it? Well, the ad features supermodel Bar Rafaeli in a deeply extended, sexy, kiss (with extremely clear sound and no music to tell you how to feel about it, just the sound of kissing) with an uber-nerdy, frizzy-haired, unattractive “smart” guy. The makeout session is intended to illustrate the union of smart meeting sexy.
I am just not exactly sure what people are finding so offensive. Is it the notion that supermodels shouldn’t kiss unattractive guys? Is it that we shouldn’t actually focus in on the mechanics of a kiss without a song to tell us how to feel and to hide the sloppy soundtrack? Is it that the diametrically opposed paramours disturb our notions of what is appropriate—only the prom king should get to kiss the prom queen? And what message does the controversy send to the children of all shapes and sizes that some folks say they need to “explain” the spot to? That only gorgeous people deserve gorgeous people? That they should lower their expectations of who they may or may not be able to kiss?
I’d say that not only was this a wildly successful ad for GoDaddy: According to Mashable, Hosting sales jumped 45%, dot-com domain sales rose 40%, new mobile customers increased by 35%. and the company added 10,000 customers in total. But it also helped to build the brand among its core audience of tech-savvy, under-represented, (maybe not-so-gorgeous), brainy, nerds who now have a champion in Walter, the star of the commercial. And clearly, they came out in droves to sign up for hosting, mobile, and domain registrations. According to Michael Goldberg, Partner, Chief Marketing Officer of Deutsch, the agency responsible for creating the spot, “Go Daddy had the best day in their history.”
But more importantly for me, it challenged my notion of what is typical and normal and caused conversation and debate over what is socially acceptable and palatable. I hope that people take the next step to actually ask themselves what about this ad they really found they found so disgusting. I would suggest that there are many things other than a long, loud, tongue kiss during the Super Bowl that would classify as reprehensible.
And even Network Solutions got to capitalize on it. Seems like it was a win for everyone involved.
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I was reading the New York Times article and a full page ad from Adobe grabbed my attention. Initially, I just read the headline and was pretty upset—but upon reading the entire ad and delving into this further, I was pleased to see how Adobe is supporting and validating the marketing community. Their “Metrics not myths campaign” is a smart, well integrated campaign designed to sell their new Adobe Analytics product. It includes very funny videos, a robust Facebook page, and a well-written blog.
I believe the campaign taps into the frustration that the marketing community feels when their contributions are belittled or viewed as worthless. One very interesting survey that Adobe commissioned showed that consumers rate advertising and marketing among the least valuable professions. This is actually nothing news—the advertising profession has consistently rated among the lowest ranked. But, the campaign also taps into the frustrations of those in a organization that have to see measurable ROI and want to see data—not hear platitudes.
What the campaign does do effectively is show that it is now possible to actually measure the effectiveness of the marketing department’s efforts—in my humble opinion, a boon to our profession. Whether you use the new Adobe Marketing Cloud or you use Google Analytics or some of the other analytics tools, it is now easier to substantiate the effectiveness of a campaign.
One of the most effective aspects of this campaign is that Adobe “ate their own dogfood” and ran analytics on the Metrics not Myth campaign. It is worth checking out this site as it shows exactly how effective their campaign was.
I spent a considerable amount of time looking at this page, and quickly understood the power of the information they have collected. Next step—put the price of the Adobe Marketing Cloud into my annual budget.
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You’ve probably seen the logomarks—the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, the fleur de lys from Relais & Chateau, or the JD Powers emblem. And you probably have certain emotions—even if subconsciously—attached to them. But, not much thought is given to the heavy lifting that these tiny logos have to do in the marketing space.
Like the famed Michelin stars, these logomarks often indicate that a person or business has met a specified standard, or, may signal that an organization is approved by a larger association (see the American Institute of Architects mark below). Whether it is the Heart Healthy mark that appears next to menu items that are low in fat or the Better Business Bureau’s blue B’s that give buyers confidence in purchasing a service, all of these logos have several things in common—they all have to co-exist with other brands.
This presents the designers of these marks with a lot of design challenges; they have to be recognizable, but they can’t pull rank over the major brand. Legibility is also a critical factor, as they often have to appear very small (like a union bug). And there must be an educational campaign to let consumers know what the marks stand for.
Recently the NY Times ran an interesting article on Sanitas Per Escam (SPE), which is a fancy Latin way of saying “health through food.” Founded by the lead chef Emmanuel Verstraeten of Rouge Tomate, he believes that SPE is a “promise for a unique third-party certification and consulting program designed to enhance the nutritional quality of meals, without compromising taste.” This group is trying to certify that the food that is served to you in restaurants is healthy for you as well as the environment. The meal portion is correct, it is low in fat and sodium and it is properly sourced. As the Times article says: “Their stamp will let you know that each dish is dense with nutrients—vitamins, minerals, antioxidants—and low in salt and ‘bad fats.‘” In appetizers and main courses, you won’t find any cream or butter. As one promotional document puts it, “SPE dishes contain more of what you need and less of what you don’t.”
This is a challenging endeavor from lots of standpoints—including getting chefs to let other people into their kitchens to monitor the fat count and ingredients of their creations. But it is also hard to try to get the SPE mark to stand for something. SPE would like it to mean that the food associated with this mark is not only tasty but also good for you. But this is a tall order for sure.
First of all, most people will have no idea what SPE means—and referring back to a the Latin phrase Sanitas Per Escam will not achieve the desired results since we are not a nation of Latin speakers. (In fact, there are 237 acronyms listed for SPE, and the Society of Petroleum engineers is at the top of the list. Oddly enough, Sanitas Per Escam is not even on the list.) So it forces the diner to try to figure out what the mark stands for. Secondly the mark itself is difficult to read and the letters S,P,and E are configured to look more like a brain. It is even more problematic when you reduce the mark down to a very small size. Add to that to the fact that restaurants are reluctant to add logos to their menus, and, while some have embraced the Heart Healthy logo or the Slow Food snail, how many will be willing to add yet a third mark? Already some famous chefs like Eric Ripert are dismissing the initiative and saying that putting the SPE logo next to some dishes on the menu seems to indicate that the balance of the items are not healthy, and he feels that it demonizes certain ingredients like butter, oil, or salt.
It takes a lot of time and effort to imprint a certification logo on consumers’ minds. So creators have to make it as easy as possible for the consumers. While SPE may be healthy for diners, one wonders if the mark might just be too complex to digest.
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