Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

A is for Awesome, Google.

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

cookie

Google always has creative ways of celebrating every little holiday and milestone in history. Today is the 40th Anniversary of Sesame Street. Check out Cookie Monster on Google!!! C is for Cookie, buddy! As a creative agency, we had to add our two cents by suggesting that the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button be changed to “I’m Feeling Cookie”…at least for today…Just saying…

Top 10 Business Website Mistakes to Avoid

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

confused

#10) Long, clunky websites URLs
“There are more than 108 million websites.” That sentence was posted in 2007. It should be obvious that a Web address must be easy to remember as to not get lost in the haystack of URLs on the web today. Your website should be short, unique, easy to spell, and easy to remember. If your website is www.greatdealsatthebestpricescurrentlyavailable.com, it’s time to head back to the drawing board. Try no more than 3 syllables as a rule of thumb.

#9) Using wordy, industry-related jargon
Nobody likes a vocabulosaurus. If users want to be impressed by big, unfamiliar words, they’ll visit Dictionary.com, not your company’s website. In today’s cluttered market, the best way to stand out is to clear the clutter around you. Lose the fancy sales pitches and buzz words. Today’s consumer is no longer inspired by being told that your product or service is “the best” or “in high demand.” Instead, you will find more response to telling it like it is. Be honest, sincere, and candid. It’s a more trustworthy approach.


#8) Overuse/Unnecessary use of animation.

Animation is best used in small doses. Used improperly, it can be distracting, unprofessional, and counterproductive to the overall goal of your business. Animation (Flash, Gifs etc.) is best used in small advertising spaces where more than one message is required. If it isn’t absolutely necessary, think twice before adding it to the equation. For new visitors to your site, you have a limited times to get your message across. Users do not want to be forced to watch your bells and whistles unfold for 2 minutes just to read a few sentences that could have been read in 10 seconds. You may favor the excitement of moving images on the web, but this doesn’t mean your audience will. In fact, it may turn them away and hurt your company’s credibility. (Unless of course, you sell bells and whistles)

#7) Making the logo bigger.

We know you paid a pretty penny for you logo. This doesn’t mean it should be 1/4 the size of the page. If users are visiting your site, odds are they know the name of your company. After-all, it should be in the URL. Big logos are like black holes on a webpage. They are distracting, hypnotizing and take attention away from necessary information on the site. Website logos should be like a tag on clothing, not a mustache on a billboard.

#6) Confusing links and navigation
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Users are familiar with “Home”, “About”, and “Contact”. Rewriting traditional language is confusing for your audience, no matter how “creative” you want to be.

#5) Bombarding the user with cavernous, catacombs of information
People like to breath. In fact they have to in order to stay alive. Don’t kill your visitors by stuffing your website full of content, leaving no room for air. It’s a common misconception that this gives off the appearance of “big business.” All it really gives off is the sour stench of “big clutter.” You don’t have to be Macintosh to keep it simple. Just minimalize your content to 100% perservative-free fact. The more breathing room the easier your site will communicate.

#4) Making everything “prominent”

We know you want to really push your Spring Sale, the phone number, your contact link, the daily special, your recommended items, and gift cards. Pick one, not 78! In order for your site to provide a user-friendly experience, there needs to be a sense of informational hierarchy. Everything can’t be #1. It’s important to prioritize.

#3) Copying another company’s website.

Not only is this a shameless move in the world of branding, it’s border-line suicidal in the world of business. It can be illegal and users will raise an eyebrow to your lack of creativity and nerves of steel. Be unique and stand out for your originality, rather than your lack of it. Most likely, the business whose website you want to copy, stands out because they refrained from the same temptation.

#2) Being average
If everyone is using pink, use blue. Don’t be average. In real life, blending into the crowd is a matter of comfort and personal choice. Online, blending into the crowd means getting lost and losing business. Don’t be afraid to stand out and be different. It’s what will separate you from…well…everyone else.

#1) Playing the role of Project Director
When making the decision to hire an agency to design and develop your online brand, it is important to choose an agency that you can trust. You should work with the agency to reach the goals of the project and allow them to do what they do best. It can be stifling to a creative team if there are constant interruptions to the process due to changes in design elements and aesthetics based on personal opinion. You will find that the end result will be more successful if each player in the project is allowed to play their position.

Skittles: Twirlling the baton

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

It’s easy to see why Skittles would want to divert the attention from Twitter, because it is, as you can see, heavily abused by spammers, and a lot of the jokes are simply to tasteless for…well, anyone. That’s the ugly side of social media: a lot of it is completely uncensored and some users see this as an opportunity to get nasty or even vile.

“Skittles Swaps Homepage from Twitter Search to Facebook Page” by Stan Schroeder

skittles“Ugly side” of Social Media? Is there really such a thing, or are some folks too sensitive for the reality that people with varying opinions and social backgrounds are what makes up our country’s mainstream today? Walk down the street or catch a bus in any major U.S. city in 2009 and try to avoid opinionated banter with a little choice language. Do we take any of this to heart or base our buying decisions on the specifics of what these people say? It would be pretty sad to discover if we were this easily influenced. Instead, perhaps we should focus on why so many people feel it is their responsibility to voice their social and political opinions loud enough for others to hear.

As some of you may know (or not know) Skittles has changed its entire website at Skittles.com to a “social Media Hub” where web-savy surfers can access social outlets such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook. Here, they can sound off about their love (or hate) for Skittles. Now, all of us can see where this might cause some controversy, but is controversy really a bad thing? At the very least the stench surrounding the topic (including the stink that we are about to raise) is enough to genereate audience buzz alone!

Something that much of corporate America is still having trouble facing is the intelligence of today’s online audience. Smoke and mirrors no longer work like they used to in marketing and are easier for web savvy consumers to pick up on. Younger generations (like the demographic targeted by Skittles) don’t base their purchasing decisions on negative or positive comments and reviews of a product. They base it on how many people are talking about it. Popularity isn’t always defined by support.

Many of the posts on twitter regarding Skittles aren’t really about the user’s desire to get others to try or avoid the product; They’re about being part of the conversation. That’s the beauty of social media! Raw, uncensored, reality. This is what today’s young consumer responds to, not gobbledygook from the mouths of out-of-touch internal corporate marketing departments. In fact, they laugh at the old-fashioned, being “marketed at” approach. It undermines and insults their intelligence.

Skittles is allowing itself to be associated with its audience. Some people like Skittles, some do not, and some just want to be heard. It’s reality, and young consumers (Skittles’ target audience) understand, respect, and excuse that. While it may be controversial now, it’s the wave of the future in terms of Brand interaction for for the “internet generation”. What’s more powerful than allowing your consumers to represent your brand for you?

Ask yourself this question: Are my brand, products, and services unique and strong enough to stand up to the reality of a market flooded with old-fashioned teqhniques?

If the answer is anything but “100% positively”, consider Skittles the leader of the parade and get in line. A bold move? Yes, but as Apple’s mantra for the 21st century goes, if you want to have a successful brand you’ve got to “Think Different.”

You go, Skittles. Keylex approved!

What’s Digg, and how can you benefit?

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

digg_logo11What is Digg? “Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by its users.” Digg isn’t run by editors. People visiting the site collectively determine the value of content. They’re changing the way people consume information online.

Everything on Digg — from news to videos to images — is submitted by people who visit the site. Once something is submitted, other people see it and “Digg” (or vote on) what they like best. If your submission is good and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of visitors to see.

It doesn’t stop there. Because Digg is all about sharing and discovery, there’s conversation that happens around the content. This allows visitors to discuss the topics that they’re passionate about. By looking at information on Digg, people always find something interesting and unique. They’re committed to giving every piece of content on the web an equal shot at being the next “big idea.”

How You Can Benefit:

Just think of what this can do for your online business. All you have to do is submit information about your business online, strike up some conversation and leave the rest up to the power of Digg! You can even link to Digg directly from your website to allow visitors to comment on your products and services. As a result, this will drive new traffic back to your site, and the cycle will continue. Consider it one big online traffic rotary with only one exit – your website. Digg is an excellent ( and FREE) way to determine how your target audience is responding to your business online. It’s the most honest information you will find on what people really think about what you do. It’s basically a FREE portal for market research and the entire online community is your focus group. By search Digg for topics which are relative to your industry, you can discover a wealth of information based on user reviews, conversation, and of course, diggs.

Digg it? Visit Digg.com and get started!

Excerpt from “Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Bands” by Marty Neumeier

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

zagbook“Remember the dot-com disasters of the nineties? There was plenty of passion for stock options, but little passion for building a real company to serve the long-term good of a cimmunity. As a result, we saw the proliferation of “junk brands”—brands with beguiling fonts, but nothing real to back them up. The economy soon collapsed taking junk brands with it. The words of ivestor-philosopher Warren Buffet suddenly rang true. “when the tide goes out, you can see who’s wearing bathing suits.”

A Highly Recommended Read: ZAG

Friday, February 27th, 2009

zagbookIn an age of me-too products and instant comminications, keeping up with the competition is no longer a winning strategy. Today you have to out-position, out maneuver, and out-design the competition. Author Marty Neumeier illustrates the number one strategy of high-performance brands—radical differentiation.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.com (click here) or check out the official ZAG website by clicking (here)

zag2

Must Read: Twitter Search – The New Kid on the Block

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

If you use Google exclusively for all your Internet searches, you must take a look at a new phenomenon that is the fastest growing search among teens and tech savvy adults. Whether or not you understand how twitter works, the fact is that millions of people are sending sms-type messages to groups of friends about their seemingly unimportant events throughout the day. Everything from letting their “friends” know that “I just boarded the  Q train at times square to brooklyn,” to “I’m eating cabbage soup at Mike’s Diner”  or “Delta Air Lines 1212 from lax to atl is delayed.” These seemingly useless conversations (or “tweets”) between thousands of groups of friends are all saved by Twitter and avilable through search to the genral public.

What does this mean to you? While you may not be intersted in cabbage soup, what if you wanted to know the weather in Chicago right now? While the weather service will give you tempatures and general conditons, there is a way to see exactly what people in Chicago are saying about the weather this moment (see screenshot below). To take this a step further, when a new flash happens anywhere in the world, a twitter search is the quickest way to get first-hand reports from people on the scene as it happens. When a plane landed in the Hudson river, twitter had it first. The same goes for the Mumbai attack and every recent newsworthy event. Many businesses are even monitoring Twitter to see what customers are saying about their products as well as contributing their own buzz about promotions they are running and more.

I encourage you to bookmark http://search.twitter.com to try it for yourself. While Google is great for many daily searches, Twitter is the best way to get a pulse right now on things that are importnant to you.

(Click here for a quick video overview of twitter)

twitter_search_results

What is Guerilla Marketing?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Guerrilla marketing is an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing tactics are unexpected and unconventional; consumers are targeted in unexpected places, which can make the idea that’s being marketed memorable, generate buzz, and even spread virally.” -Wikipedia

Here are two quick slide shows with some fantastic examples of how these tactics are applied:

Online Marketing: Run and never look back

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Consistency is the key to online marketing. One of the biggest mistakes  companies make is trying out a few new ideas and then sitting back to wait for results. Online marketing is time consuming, but  every company should be committed to have someone spend time daily blogging, tweeting,  researching and spreading the services of the company. No matter what you promote or sell, online marketing can be extremely rewarding – but not necessarily overnight. Consider that the average brick and mortar business takes four years on average to turn a profit and most new businesses fail within the first two years. If you view online marketing as a long-term investment, you will outpace your competitors that have not embraced this medium in no time.

So where do you start? Start your own blog, create a twitter account, join LinkedIn, get involved in industry conversations, comment on other blogs, submit press releases to free and paid sources and create an endless stream of information. Forget about instant results and focus on the long term. Just run and never look back.

Understanding Blogs

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


Video Credits: Commoncraft