The Latest From Echo-Factory

Our Doors Are Open!

10/28/2014

Echo-Factory Open Office


Echo-Factory welcomes Pasadena startups

Beginning November 7, we’ll be opening our doors to startups looking for some advice and resources, every Friday in November from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sitting down with laptop

We’re happy to offer these services for free to startups in the community. We’ve traveled down the same road as many of you and would like to help you overcome the challenges. We know we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today without significant people who were generous with their time and support. This is our way of giving back, and in general, we like to see other businesses grow and thrive. That’s a big part of our commitment to the work we do for our clients.

So if you’d like to share your story, bounce ideas off of us, or bring us your problems, we’ll be waiting here every Friday.

Coffee, donuts, and laptop

Let us know you’re coming by checking our Eventbrite page. We’ll get the French press ready.

Join us at Connect Week 2014

10/15/2014

connect week, innovate pasadena

Innovate Pasadena hosts a series of independently organized events on emerging tech and design trends across the city

Ever since we moved to Pasadena, we’ve been taking in all the city has to offer. One of the many reasons we chose Pasadena for our new company headquarters was to connect with the innovation and startup community. Our very own president, Mike Schaffer, has been involved with Innovate Pasadena for many projects in the past year, including co-organizing Friday Morning Coffee Meetups.

In the tradition of Los Angeles Innovation Week, Innovate Pasadena is hosting Connect Week 2014, October 20-26, with 30 events over 7 days. Join seminars, workshops and social events hosted by businesses and institutions in Pasadena. It’s a chance to learn more about design trends, open data efforts, crowd funding, emerging biotech, 3D printing, successful entrepreneurship and innovation in the City of Roses. Whether you’re the founder of a startup, an entrepreneur, an investor or an average, curious John or Jane Doe, there’s something for everyone at Connect Week.

Get an inside tour of a gaming company at the Business Technology Center. Learn practical tips for early-stage startups at Pasadena City College. Come along for a tech crawl in Old Town Pasadena and network at Barney’s Beanery. Ask questions of a panel of entrepreneurs about crowdfunding sources at Caltech. Attend a job fair (no suits, no ties) and mingle with some of the top tech companies looking for top talent. Immerse yourself in a CSI experience at Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative.

Join the Envision Summit, the first of its kind in Pasadena, where experts and innovators will convene to share their insights on the future drivers of innovation for the next 20 years.

There’s much more, and you can bet we’ll be there. This is a not-to-miss opportunity, and it’s happening right in our neighborhood!

For more information, visit connectpasadena.com. We’ll see you there!

Five Reasons Why Your Custom Photography Should Come From a Studio That Knows Advertising

10/02/2014

Custom Photography featured image

Whether You Need Product or Lifestyle Custom Photography, Working with an Experienced Agency Makes the Imaging Process Easier.

By Hayley Raynes

You’ve got a game-changing product. It’s beautiful, perfectly engineered and far superior to that of your competition. It’s time to show the world, and you’ve got a plan: one of your employees dabbles in photography and has developed a pretty decent following for your business on Instagram, and thanks to all of those amazing filters, your stuff is looking pretty good. This same guy knows his way around Photoshop, and now you’re set up to do all the photography in-house. It’s going to save money and you’ll have complete creative control.

You’re golden, right?

Not so fast.

When you transfer those photos to your website, they just don’t look right. When you try to design your own product catalog, again, they seem off somehow. And now you’ve bought an ad in your industry’s top magazine, and compared to the rest of the ads surrounding yours, the quality of that lifestyle shot you sent over looks inferior. You can’t put your finger on it, but there’s definitely something wrong—and everyone knows it.

Issues like these can kill a brand. They make you look like an amateur—and unless you’re a dimple-faced 8-year-old hawkin’ lemonade at a garage sale, amateur just don’t sell. That’s why working with an experienced agency photographer can be such a benefit to your business.

Here’s a list of our top five reasons why you’ll save in the end by doing it right from the beginning as illustrated by one of our most photogenic clients, Troy Lee Designs:

5. Lighting

Custom Photography Lighting Example

 

Mariah Carey is known for bringing a professional lighting team to her publicity events. Why? Because she knows that when cameras snap, lighting is everything. Lighting is a subtle art, and it takes experience to get it right. Throw in variables like inconsistent background quality, odd-shaped products and lack of experience in highlighting and shading and there’s just too much that can go wrong without the aid of a professional. An agency photographer has taken, literally, thousands of photographs. Positioning, camera angle and light placement are second nature.

 

4. Composition

Custom Photography agencies understand composition for ads

 

There are photographers, and then there are agency photographers. What’s the difference? Agency photographers have an implicit understanding regarding the purpose of their photos. They know that the photo is just the first step. Product shots will end up Photoshopped onto new backgrounds, while lifestyle shots will serve as an anchor for headlines, copy and logos. A general purpose or amateur photographer may not consider these factors while arranging the composition of a photo, making the eventual ad design look jumbled and disorganized.

 

3. Models

Custom photography working with models

 

Finding that perfect look to serve as a complementary backdrop for your product or message can be easier for agency photographers, because they routinely work with professional models trained in how to walk, position their bodies and look at the camera in the most compelling way. Agency photographers are connected with talent bureaus, and they can quickly find the professionals you are looking for, in addition to providing professional hair and makeup artists.

 

2. Deadlines

Custom photography working with deadlines

 

Producing quality work under pressure is just another day at the office for a seasoned agency photographer, while an amateur or non-agency photographer can become flustered and make poor choices under riding deadlines. If it needs to get done yesterday, an agency photographer is the best bet.

 

1. Creativity

Custom photography agency creativity

 

When a photographer has the backing of a quality advertising agency, he or she has access to creative directors, designers and conceptualists who can not only make product and lifestyle photos look great but can infuse them with the power of persuasion. Agency creatives are trained in color theory and design; they are trained to know what makes a product sell and what doesn’t; and their years of experience simply cannot be bought or faked. Plus, if you need them to, agency creatives can develop campaigns, provide compelling copy, design the ad and work with the publication to be sure the ad complies with its specifications. This saves time and money and results in a higher quality and more cohesive product.

 

Conclusion

The marketplace is tough enough without adding the Achilles heel of poor image quality. In this digital and social age of photo-sharing, there is certainly room for experimentation in your media plan, but at the end of the day, consumers have certain standards and they likely always will. Agency custom photography is one surefire way to meet those standards.

Want to see some more great images? Visit our portfolio.

We’re Moving to Pasadena!

09/10/2014

So Cal Ad Agency is Moving to Pasadena

Echo-Factory’s New Home is in the Heart of Old Town

Read the official PRESS RELEASE.

In the 19th century, the Old Spanish Trail carried migrants from Santa Fe, New Mexico to what would one day be Los Angeles, California. The Oregon Trail (the real one, not the computer game) carried pioneers west from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific Northwest.

In keeping with the venerable tradition of American westward migration, Echo-Factory is pulling up stakes and heading west on that old 210 freeway in search of greener pastures (metaphorically speaking, we know California is in a serious drought – do your part, conserve water!). We are headed to a new land of opportunity called Pasadena, and we can’t wait for the adventure to begin.

The office is just about finished and we’re packing up. We’ve bought out the bubble wrap sections of every office supply store within a four-mile radius (exaggeration), and we’ve wrapped everything from the staplers to Mike, our fearless co-leader (no exaggeration). We’re boxing up most of the charm, the personality, the creativity and the fun, and we’re shipping it first class, insured and certified to our new location in the heart of Old Town. (Some of that go-get-em positivity is staying back in the Rancho Cucamonga office, which we are keeping open to best serve our Inland Empire clientele.)

Pasadena is a veritable hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, and that’s our kind of town. Over the past year, organizations like Innovate Pasadena and the companies they represent have sent over the welcome wagon. We’re looking forward to being a positive contribution to this business community that is creative, artistic, scientific and enthusiastic. And while we’ll miss our Rancho Cucamonga home, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We plan to be up and running at the new location by the end of September. Our new office address is: 36 West Colorado Blvd., Suite 200. We’re on the second level just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Apple Store.

Until then, catch us at Innovate Pasadena’s What’s Up Social next Wednesday, September 17, from 6-9 p.m.

Want to see the new office? Check out our mood boards on Pinterest. Want to watch the moving process in all of its photo-documented glory? Hit up our Instagram. And stay current on company and industry news and trends by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

And, of course, don’t forget to peruse the portfolio before you leave.

MagLite: Rebranding an American Classic

08/07/2014

Maglite_Weather_Banner

MagLite on The Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel is a cable and satellite TV station that has been broadcasting weather forecasts, analyses and news since the early 1980s. The channel is received by nearly a billion American households and has a viewership of about 210,000. When we had the opportunity to produce two commercials for MagLite on The Weather Channel, we knew the spots would bring vital exposure to the MagLite brand and feature the flashlights at their best. We wrote scripts for both a :15 and a :20 commercial that met the challenge of making an impact in a short timeframe.

“Lights Out”

In this :15 spot, titled, “Lights Out,” we created a desperate scenario that was resolved with the comforting and familiar click of a flashlight. To make an impact, we relied on a strong visual and heart-pounding audio. We wanted viewers to have the sense that, when conditions are bleak, they can count on their MagLite. In order to direct the viewer toward a specific purchase, we created two versions of this commercial, each ending with two featured MagLite models.

The tagline reinforces a sense of security as well as national pride:

“Turn Your Light On, America.”

“There When You Need Us”

In this :20 spot, titled, “There When You Need Us,” we feature a man depending on his MagLite in several extreme situations. Since our deadlines made live action prohibitive, we used custom photography and CG effects to illustrate the message that MagLite can see a person through nearly any unpredictable circumstance. As with the :15 spot, we left the viewer with a CTA image of various MagLite models.

We’re loving working with MagLite, and we think these commercials turned out great. For more insight into this project, check out our most recent press release.

In our next MagLite update, we’ll introduce their new website, still under construction, and discuss the process and logic behind their reorganized and redesigned online home.

Like what you see? Check out our work page to view more Echo-Factory projects and clients.

R.W. Lyall & Company: An Established Industry Leader Expands into New Markets

08/05/2014

It’s been a busy summer here at Echo-Factory, and we’re excited to share one of our recently completed projects: the R.W. Lyall & Company rebrand.

Headquartered in Corona, California, with a factory in New Berlin, Wisconsin, Lyall is a family-owned-and-operated business manufacturing pipeline component products for the North American oil and gas industry.

With sales territory stretching across the continental United States, a new and bigger Wisconsin facility, and a push to enter new markets, Lyall needed to update its brand image to better reflect its position as a market leader. Their outdated promotional materials did not accurately reflect their capabilities, and their website needed to be redesigned and reorganized to offer a more expansive view of their technological expertise. The site also needed to be refined to better serve as a sales tool and lead funnel.

 

EF_EB_Lyall_2

New Logo

The Echo-Factory team started by updating the Lyall logo with a new typeface and font, adjusting the placement of the flame to work in new digital formats. We also rebranded Lyall’s marketing communications, presentations and product brochures, refreshing the copy and giving them a clean, sophisticated look.

New Tagline

Next we crafted a new tagline that speaks to the company’s experience and longstanding commitment to excellence:

 “Keeping the Oil and Gas Industry Moving Since 1970.”

New Website

And finally, we completely redesigned and rebuilt the Lyall website. The new site features custom photography of products and manufacturing processes and expanded overviews of all the markets that Lyall serves. Downloadable product brochures, detailed illustrations of product applications, and installation instruction videos enhance the user experience. The site is more easily navigable and is designed to take advantage of all current SEO and SEM opportunities.

Lyall now has promotional materials that reflect who they are—an industry leader poised for growth and expansion. We are proud of the work we have done thus far and are grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great business.

“It was a dedicated effort and true collaboration between our employees and their team to build a website and materials that precisely reflect our company’s expanded capabilities and longstanding commitment to excellence.”

Jeff Lyall, President & CEO

We encourage you to visit the new website:

rwlyall.com

Stay tuned for more updates on the latest projects from our growing portfolio.

 

 

 

 

Early Stage Branding – Ignore At Your Own Peril Part 2

08/01/2014

Early Stage BrandingIn part two of our series on the importance of early stage branding, we take a look at strategy, promotion and expertise.

by Hayley Raynes

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

            Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Okay, so in part one we convinced you that you need to brand and brand early, but that’s just part of the deal. You also need strategy. Branding does not mean throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. You need an in-depth, long-term promotion plan built upon a solid knowledge of your business, your industry, your competition, the marketplace and selling mediums, and, of course, your customers. You need to craft a targeted message that speaks to your potential customers in a voice that they will welcome, understand, trust and hopefully become loyal to. Oh, and you have to strategically position this message so that these individuals—your future customers and champions—will see it at their most receptive moments, embrace it and take it upon themselves to share your awesomeness with the world via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, personal blog, text, and…drumroll please…face-to-face interaction with other like-minded human beings!

Then you need to track the success and failure of your promotion strategy and revise, revise, revise.

No small task, this is, young Padawan.

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

            Mark Twain

Branding, strategy and promotion are the secrets to success, not only because they whack a path through that crazy overgrown jungle we refer to as the open market, but because this kind of deep business analysis helps you to truly know your company’s strengths and weaknesses in addition to knowing your audience. It allows you to create measurable goals, and when started early, it maximizes what is likely to be a pretty puny budget—which is crucial, because competition is fierce, and you can count on the big boys and girls in your industry to be throwing the kind of money into their branding and marketing campaigns that would make God cry.

Good promotion also helps you to attract the best talent in your industry, positioning you for future growth and continued relevance. It establishes credibility both inside and outside of your industry and creates opportunities for partnerships that can provide the capital and influence you need to develop the next phase of your business. But if you promote incorrectly, you simply won’t get anywhere at all.

And don’t think that just because you are still in the funding stages you can put this stuff off. VC’s want to know that you have a clear “go to market” strategy, because, let’s be realistic, investors might look upward on Sundays, but Monday through Saturday, they bow to mammon. If you can’t prove to them that you can make them money, the risk goes up—and in the world of post-2008 finance, risk is no bueno. A clear promotion strategy goes a long way in calming the skittish investor—a most dangerous creature.

With a startup’s limited resources, knowing where and how to promote is key to stretching those ad dollars, and there is no boilerplate method—every industry has its own pathways to success. What works for retail may not work for B2B, while marketing an app is different from marketing a restaurant. You have to seriously consider your audience. This includes age demos, regional marketing trends, political leanings, religious affiliations, shopping habits, extracurricular activities, tastes in art, music and culture, historical influences, Internet surfing habits, etc., etc., and then this compilation must be used to sculpt a single human persona—a detailed, insightful representation of an honest-to-goodness individual—someone who is unique and special—but also representative of an entire group. And you have to do it with the least amount of bias possible.

 “Excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude.”

            Ralph Marston

If you dig geeking out on research, then have at it, but let’s be honest, don’t you have better things to do—like, um, I don’t know, perfecting your product? Why would you want to get caught up in this seriously time-consuming business, when you could simply surround yourself with experts to do it for you?

We work with a lot of startups and are confronted again and again with the same situation—they know their technology and they know their financial goals, and because of this, they think they know the best path to market. But unpack this attitude and the logic just isn’t there. Knowing one aspect of business development is not knowing all. Think about it, Peyton Manning is debatably one of the greatest football players on the field today, but just because he can throw a football, and be the successful face of a football company’s branding campaign, does that also mean he could make a football without sewing his fingers together in one of the big industrial machines? Of course, he could learn, and one day even excel as a maker of footballs, but why would he? That would take time, money and effort—resources he’d probably rather use to get better at football. Because his is an attitude of excellence.

Peyton Manning knows that to be truly great at playing football, he needs to focus on playing football. The same goes for any enterprise. If you are a tech developer, you need to work on your tech—there’s always room for improvement. If your aim is to offer the best service or product available, then that’s where your focus needs to be. Marketers and brand strategists, if they’re worth their salt, are experts, too. They’ve spent years researching, hypothesizing, experimenting and theorizing. They’ve stood at many positions on the field and have had plenty of successes and an equal amount of failures, and this cumulative experience has helped them to develop the kind of hard-won insight and know-how that you—as a fledgling business developer—simply don’t have time for.

The point here? If you’re serious about being a brand worth talking about, you need to surround yourself with excellence, hire experts to do the things you don’t know how to do, and then listen to their advice and resist the compulsion to stick your finger in every pot. There’s a crush of competition at every stage of the game. Strategic thinking, planning and promoting is how you get to the end zone.

 

 

 

 

Early Stage Branding – Ignore at Your Own Peril Part 1

07/25/2014

Early Stage Branding

In this two-part series, we examine the importance of early stage branding, strategy and promotion for startups.

by Hayley Raynes

Recently we pitched branding, marketing strategy and promotion to the founder of a tech startup who had achieved some initial success in his industry. The man was skeptical. While he conceded that branding is important, he didn’t think it was necessary at such an early stage in his business’s development.

Of course we jumped at the chance to convince him otherwise, because we know that early stage branding is the best and most important kind and that, without strategy and promotion, the risk of failure goes up exponentially. Thankfully, after stating our case, we convinced him to move forward with a strategic branding effort as soon as possible. But it made us realize that his is probably not the only startup out there holding off on this critical aspect of business development. That’s why we decided to put this article together to explain:

-Why it’s of vital importance to begin branding efforts as early as possible.

-Why it’s important to have a strategic plan that fits seamlessly into a business’s overall goals.

-Why hiring a team of experts will save time, money and potential disaster.

“Know Thyself”

            Inscription in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi

In order to effectively communicate who you are to your target market, you have to actually know who you are. And while most businesses think they know, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve started asking fundamental questions regarding operations, budgets, forward strategy, key markets and company goals only to get the following answer: “Let me get back to you on that one.”

Developing and positioning a brand to reflect a company’s identity, speak to the right people at the right time and send the right message communicated in the right tone requires that business operators know their company and know their audience inside and out. This means being able to articulate—on demand—the business’s mission, culture and values. The earlier a company tackles this hurdle, the better. Because it’s one thing to have the next game-changing technology—it’s another thing altogether to actually position that technology to change the game.

“You may delay, but time will not.”

            Benjamin Franklin

You have the product; you have your key people; you have an opportunity to present your product to an investor that could catapult your business into the stratosphere.

But wait. You don’t have any marketing materials. Crap!

Quick. You need a logo—one that can see you through at least the next three to five years. You need a tagline, too—something that sums up who you are in 10 words or less. Oh no, they’re asking for a website? You can’t show them that mess your niece threw together after securing your domain. What about a brochure? A business card? Heck, you’re going to need something—anything that makes you look like you’re actually working out of an office, rather than the garage.

More than 33 billion dollars was handed out by venture capitalists in 2013 in the U.S. alone. But getting a piece of that capital is not just a matter of standing in line with your hand out. You’ve got to wow the crowd. Have you been on Kickstarter lately? If so, you may have noticed these wooden map guys. They run a simple business—selling wall art in the form of machine-cut wooden maps. They had a modest financial goal—$7,500 for equipment that will help them expand their product line. As of this writing, they have raised $15,697 and earned a feature on the Kickstarter discovery page. Small potatoes, sure, but relatively speaking, they are killing it. And here’s why: They look legit. They’ve got a website, a YouTube video, professional photography, a blog (though they could post more often)—the works. The result? The world of (Kickstarter) finance takes them seriously.

And think about it, if this kind of complete marketing package was necessary to convince the average Kickstarter funder to throw them five bucks, imagine what kind of game you’re gonna need to get in with the big VC firms, angel investors and private equity seed financiers.

Still not convinced? Don’t take it from us; check out point three in Paul Jackson’s Entrepreneur article about how to secure funding from a VC firm.

Because here’s the deal, branding is campaigning. Branding is shaking hands and kissing babies (metaphorically speaking). Branding is persuasion. It’s convincing people to like you, to support you, to promote you, to be loyal to you. There are other choices out there—good, dare we say great, choices. It’s your brand’s job to convince customers—whether they are investors or end users—that you are the best choice, now and in the future. And everyone knows the first rule of politics is: “Control the message.”

You see, in the absence of a brand, your audience—whether they are investors or customers—will create one, because not caring about the brand is branding. Appearing not to have a budget for branding, is branding. Cheesy, thrown-together-at-the-last-minute branding materials is branding. Would you go to a job interview (outside of Silicon Valley)with your tie askance, shirt untucked, bed-headed and furry-toothed? If so, that’s probably why you’re reading this in your PJ’s at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday, instead of working. Image matters.

And from our side, branding early just makes the whole process a heck of a lot easier. Because if we are involved from the beginning, we won’t have to spend a ton of our time (and your money) undoing the damage of your “non-branding” efforts. Scrubbing an image from the hearts and minds of investors and consumers can take a long time—time you just don’t have in today’s competitive marketplace.

Like what we’re saying? Stay tuned for part two in our series on early stage branding, strategy and promotion…

 

 

You’re Not Reaching Your Customers Because You Don’t Know Who They Are.

05/30/2014

Persona Development

Building Personas As The Foundation of a Successful Marketing Campaign

According to a 2013 Forbes magazine article titled, “Five Reasons 8 out of 10 Businesses Fail,” the number one impediment to success is that businesses are “[n]ot really in touch with customers through deep dialogue.”

Here at Echo-Factory, we agree that dialogue is important, but we’d take the analysis a step further and contend that most businesses fail because they never even knew who their customers were, let alone engaged them in deep dialogue. Sure they might have a vague idea—gender, 10-year age range, region, that sort of thing—but have you ever tried to have a deep dialogue with a 28- to 35-year-old female who is ethnically neutral, is of average income, enjoys the outdoors and lives in the Southwest? By its very nature, this type of broad stroke consumer identification is impossible to engage with any kind of depth. Because this is not a person—it’s a range.

getting setup for the workshop

getting ready for persona development

 

That’s why one of the first things we do whenever we take on a new client is research the heck out of them—their industry, their history and their pain points, their goals, wants and needs. Then, after we’ve developed a thorough understanding of our client, we dive into understanding their customers. And not in general terms—we get out the fine-tipped brushes and fill in the lines. Does this woman enjoy base-jumping or bird-watching—or both? It matters. Is this woman 28 or 35? It matters. Is she a resident of Ocean Beach or Newport Beach? It matters. It matters because when you’ve got the details, you’ve got an actual person capable of participating in a deep dialogue. It matters because you now know where to reach her and what she cares about. You can speak to her in her language in a way that will engage her rather than alienate her. We call this process persona building, and it’s basic procedure for us. If you want your business to succeed, it should be basic procedure for you, too.

Knowing your customers and communicating with them effectively is crucial, but all too often this vital strategic element is either totally ignored or relegated to the bottom of the list. And it’s a shame whenever this happens, but this misstep becomes truly unfortunate when the businesses involved are innovative, ethically minded, socially responsible, environmentally conscious and human rights driven.

We don’t like to play favorites, but the truth is that we love brilliant people who want to do good in the world, and more than anything, we want to see them succeed. That’s why if we ever have an opportunity to share our expertise with a socially progressive company, we don’t hesitate. So when the LA Cleantech Incubator invited Echo-Factory principal, Mike Schaffer, to speak on the topic of persona building for their LACI Design Thinking Series, he jumped at the chance.

design thinking workshop

design thinking workshop

The incubator is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to building LA’s green economy through providing affordable office space, mentoring and CEO coaching, and access to extensive investor and customer networks for the area’s most promising cleantech start-ups. The Design Thinking Series features four seminars at which various industry experts lead talks and practice groups on various business-building topics to help young entrepreneurs identify, understand and design products and services that will best serve the needs of their customers. Other companies involved include industrial design firm Pull Creative and creative engineering company Motivo. The series’ working subject was to develop a product that would address the issue of asthma in children who live within a quarter of a mile of a freeway.

As persona building is a foundational element to any successful business, Mike’s seminar, titled, “Identifying Personas and Crafting the Ideal User Experience,” kicked off the series. Attendees learned about the importance of developing personas in order to meet their customers’ need, and then they put that theory into practice by conducting market research and developing three preliminary personas to be built upon throughout the remaining seminars.

“The three foundational elements we drive with each of our portfolio companies are intellectual property strategies, investment prep and design thinking. The first two are very common in the start-up world but the design thinking side has been undervalued for far too long,” said Erik Steeb, VP of Programs at LACI. “Design is a critical element of any business, and it starts with really understanding your customer. To get the best result, we partnered with the best. The combination of Pull Creative, Echo-Factory and Motivo Engineering has been a great asset to our companies.”

We love being involved in projects like these, because we want these socially responsible entrepreneurs to succeed and we know they can’t without the proper tools and knowledge. We want to see eight out of 10 businesses succeed, not fail, and developing accurate personas is one of the first steps to making that happen.

“Onboarding” and Other Awful Buzzwords

02/22/2014

Onboarding/onboard

To get up to speed; a bastardization of the phrase “to get someone on board” and making it into a verb.

As in…
“Make sure the new guy onboards with the tracking software. We’ll need him up to speed by next week.”

The other day I was on a conference call, being trained in a piece of online lead tracking software, and the presenter said, “The next step in the onboarding process is…”

I just about choked on my microphone.   Really?  Onboarding?

Buzzwords are, in my opinion, mostly lazy attempts at sounding clever.  They’re jargon.  Designed to make the speaker seem smart, and the spoken-to seem out of touch.

Perhaps worst of all, they get in the way of perfectly decent words that carry much more useful meaning.

“Onboarding process” sounds ridiculous, and has no shared meaning outside of tech companies trying to sound trendy.  Swap out “onboarding” for “training” and you’ve got a sentence that means something.  And doesn’t sound silly.

So long as I’m having a curmudgeonly rant, let me share three more of my current least-favorite buzzwords:

  • Cloud Based — When it was first coined, this term meant something.  A distributed online computing architecture. That’s a real thing.  But it’s been so horribly abused that it’s lost all meaning.  Most often, it’s used interchangeably with “online.” In which case, “online” would be a much better word to use.
  • Gamification — Please stop it.  I’m not going to sell out my entire address book to your online service just to earn another badge.  Check out Phillip Trippenbach’s excellent article on the topic: Kill it With Fire: why Gamification sucks and Game Dynamics rule.
  • Disruptive — Sure.  You’ve got a great idea.  Your startup is awesome.  And you’re totally going to upend Facebook/Amazon/The Goat Industry.  I’m thrilled.  But please figure out a way to stop using Silicon Valley’s most pernicious cliché.

I could go on whinging all day.  But I’ll end by linking you to a great infographic with 30 buzzwords.  At least it’s self-aware enough to list “infographic” as one of those buzzwords.