Last Wednesday, as a featured business on this year’s Techsparks Cross Campus Tech Crawl, Echo Factory opened its doors to the Pasadena innovation community, welcoming more than 100 of the area’s brightest entrepreneurs for a tour, some socializing, a drink or two and some great discussion.
As one of five tech-affiliated businesses on the crawl, we hosted four groups averaging around thirty people each. Making the rounds between Cross Campus, Ayzenberg, Central Desktop and Ableton, visitors toured the Echo Factory office and studio, had their photo taken on our EF step-and-repeat, learned about our business and viewed some of our work.
Did we mention the drinks? And the robot cake pops? Delicious.
Throughout the office, we set up a number of stations where visitors could learn about our tech clients, and the work we do on their behalf. Featured clients included:
We at Echo Factory had a lot of fun and really enjoyed meeting and interacting with members of the Innovate Pasadena community. Being new in town, the crawl was a great way to make some new friends and learn more about the innovation going on each day all around us.
And, let’s be real, who doesn’t value a solid excuse to drink it up with a bunch of smart, well-spoken, good-looking people?
Thanks to Innovate Pasadena and Tech Sparks for hooking us up with this opportunity, and thanks to all who turned out, had a shot and talked some shop. We hope to see you again soon. In the meantime, check out our portfolio, we’re updating all the time.
As announced recently by Entertainment Tech Company Spiral Toys. We’ve been selected to lead their branding and marketing effort which began with the transition of the name and Stock Ticker Symbol to Spiral Toys (STOY)
Kids today are growing up in a digital age like nothing anyone more than 30 years of age probably ever could have imagined. The world has become so digital and connected with computers, tablets, game consoles, smartphones and the like and is an integral part of many young children’s lives to the extent that some five-year-olds know more about getting online and doing things via the web than their grandparents or even their parents.
Where many adults a few years ago were trying to wrap their brains around connecting to the web without an Ethernet cord and what the “cloud” even is, youngsters today don’t even know any different.
Technology has even re-shaped interaction with toys, much like the way Spiral Toys, Inc. (OTCQB:STOY) has done with its CloudPets™.
Looking like a typical teddy bear, CloudPets are connected (here’s a surprise) through the cloud to a mobile device application, allowing messages to be sent back and forth between the bear and the app. Spiral Toys, sells its CloudPets for $29.99 (+$8.99 processing & handling), however a quick check of the CloudPets website shows them to currently be out of stock and asks for an email address to be notified when they are available again.
Spiral Toys, a developer of innovative products in the mobile connected entertainment space that launched its Toy-Fi line last June, was acquired by Rocap, Inc. (formerly OTCQB:ROCP) last July. On Wednesday, the company announced the completion of the name and ticker change to Spiral Toys and “STOY.” The company also said that as part of the re-branding effort, it has partnered with Echo-Factory, a full-service advertising and design firm. Echo-Factory has a pretty impressive portfolio, working with household brands, such as Mag-Lite and General Electric (NYSE:GE), and superstars like Taylor Swift as part of a promotion with Altura Credit Union.
“Echo-Factory understands the space we’re in, and they have the vision and talent to help us continue to build our brand so we can eventually own that space,” commented Spiral Toys CEO Mark Meyers in a press release today.
“We’re excited about Mark’s vision… and to be honest, the technology is just so cool, and that makes Spiral Toys a dream client for us,” added Mike Schaffer, principal at Echo-Factory.
Further, Spiral Toys said today that it has partnered with international toy distributor Jay@Play and On Demand Global to launch CloudPets on Direct Response Television on March 1, 2015. Jay@Play, a division of Jay Franco and Sons, is the distributor behind the popular plush animal brands “CuddleUpPets,” “Hideaway Pets,” “Seat Pets” and more, so the Spiral Toys look to be a natural fit for their distribution channels. Spiral Toys also says it plans to release CloudPets into mass retail stores across the U.S. this August. In a bid to gain exposure, CloudPets commercials will be airing on major kids television networks such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Junior.
Spiral Pets has management with top-level experience in the business and has aligned itself with some marketers that can get the job done. Shares are moving the right direction in the past three months, from a low of 30 cents to 45 cents per share in Wednesday trading (up a penny on 14,000 in volume), equating to a market capitalization of only $18.6 million. Now, the company had better get some product in the warehouse.
All of these were sentimental and sweet, but I don’t know if any of them will make sales rise, or actually make the world a better place.
The Always (which honestly until this moment I thought was by Dove) #LikeAGirl campaign was far and away the best of the bunch, for effectively championing change and showing most viewers something I expect they’ll take to heart. However, it’s disqualified from being the best of the SuperBowl by virtue of being released in June of 2014.
My nominees for best ads go for ads that were very effective and making me think twice about things I would have otherwise dismissed.
Cruising is, in my mind, the worst kind of vacation. You’re stuck on a boat with 1000’s of other boring lazy people, gorging yourself for a week while doing precisely nothing, and forgoing all of the challenges and experiences that make travel worthwhile.
If Carnival had done anything like the typical “shots of families going down waterslides and snorkeling” cruse ad, I would have given them a pass. But they didn’t. They used voiceover of JFK introducing the America’s cup, and made cruising about much more than endless buffets. A very good, very effective ad that I expect will help them reach a new demographic.
The second honorable mention in this category goes to Fiat’s blue pill ad by the Richards Group (who makes great commercials but hasn’t apparently updated their website in the past 5-years). I think the 500 is a great little car, but feel that all the oversized Fiat’s are ugly.
In this spot, Fiat managed to be funny, tie their brand back in with their Italian heritage and make a positive association with the 500 as a 500x.
As the owner of an ad agency, you have a choice between 4 makes of cars. Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi. Dea’s somewhere out in left field with a Volvo, but Mike decided on a Lexus. After watching their great the remote control drifting spot, I can’t blame him. It says, “buy a Lexus and you’ll have fun,” which is really what we all want from our cars.
“…without ever having to talk to a human being” would sell me just about any product. Finally, someone gets me.
Mustafa fell for the delight of Mountain Dew’s kickstart promo, saying, “something about showing a dog doing the booty dance will always make me laugh.” How can you disagree?
Mike was a fan of “whatever car company tricked me to think my tv went out“, but the fact that he can’t remember which car company paid for the spot means something. I do have to say I’m a big fan of the copy on that one. There’s something simple, straightforward and true about, “You know you want a truck.”
I don’t need one, but yeah, I do kind of want a truck.
No question, but this award goes to GoDaddy. Since time immemorial and the dawn o the internet, GoDaddy Super Bowl ads have been crass, immature, sexist and fully cringeworthy. They did nothing but build controversy and name-recognition, and we’ve discussed their awfulness in the past.
But this year, they went in an entirely different direction. GoDaddy’s core demographic is small business owners. People who have a DIY ethic, who work hard and for whom building a good online brand is a key consideration. For once, GoDaddy hit the nail on the head.
It pains me to do it, but I have to give credit where it’s due. This was a great spot, and spot-on. It’s almost reassuring to learn that their tasteful and quite good commercial that actually ran was a replacement for a somewhat-awful original, pulled after complaints from animal rights group.
A Personal Favorite
I’m not sure it’ll be very effective combating Gorilla Glue’s ownership of the market, but Loctite’s spot was fantastic and hilarious. Mike loved it too.
Sadly, I just went to the store this morning and bought Gorilla Glue, despite the undeniable appeal of fanny packs. Sales might have been boosted more by showing how strong the stuff is, but I have to take a moment to thank Loctite and Fallon for 30 seconds of pure entertainment.
While it didn’t do much to convince me to try Clash of the Clans, I do like watching Liam Neeson threaten his phone.
Stephanie panned Weight Watcher’s food-porn ad, commenting that neither she nor “anyone who watched that commercial will be going to Weight Watchers anytime soon.” I thought it was awesome, and the “me vs. the world that’s trying to make me fat” attitude was on target. Also, great job finding the George Clooney voice-alike who was doubtless cheaper than the real thing, and nearly as effective.
Mustafa picked Nissan’s dad-racer spot as one of his favorites. I thought it was good, but there’s no way a Nissan factory racer is picking up his kid from school in an Altima. It’s no accident that Nissan seems to have dubbed the exhaust note of a GT-R over the Altima, because there’s no freaking way the real world version of that dad is driving anything but a GT-R.
It starts on all the right notes, blue-collar, made-in-america, then gets simultaneously too generic and technical. “Quality automotive accessories” doesn’t mean anything because it’s too generic, and and “laser-measured custom-fit” doesn’t mean anything because nobody knows how it benefits them.
My guess is it’s a classic case of a client wanting to fit too many messages in a single ad, and the agency not having the ahem gumption to stand up and tell them no.
Dove’s #RealStrength dad-ad is an even better example of near greatness.
A beautiful, moving montage of children saying “dad”, ruined by an ending featuring “the most generic and cheesy radio announcer guy ever.” It’s obvious the original spot ended with a much softer branding/logo fadeout, and the awful CTA was added at the last minute by, to put it gently, a fool who has no business in advertising.
Without the ending it’s my personal favorite, with it it’s a case study in what not to do for advertisers everywhere.
Far and away the worst of this year’s crop is Budweiser’s “Beer for people who don’t care what their beer tastes like and just want to get drunk” ad. (Alternate title: “Craft Beer is for Sissies.”)
I didn’t take pride in the fact that I’d never actually drunk a Budweiser until that spot came on the air. Now it’s gone from a strange fact to a personal goal. I think anyone who’s ever actually tasted good beer would rather be at the table of guys “dissecting” craft brews than knocking back a cold one.
What You Think?
I know it’s hard to imagine, but sometimes people disagree with us. If you’re one of them, let us know in the comments.
The apparent causes of its demise are many. Some attribute branding’s passing to a prolonged bout with transparency, often brought on by unprotected contact with social media. Others point to the more vague “digital age” as branding’s ultimate undoing, or SEO, or packaging (as though packaging were somehow totally separate from branding), or even the supposed education of the consumer class.
It’s that last one that I find particularly hard to stomach. You only need to spend two minutes reading YouTube comments to realize we consumers haven’t come too far.
But every consumer, even those commenting on YouTube, can recognize that branding is alive and well.
When you look behind the “branding is dead” headlines, you usually find that what the author actually means is that the definition of branding has, or should be, expanded. But you and I both know we’re more likely to read an article titled “Branding Is Dead” than one titled “The Definition of Branding Has or Should Be Expanded Slightly.”
We’re all suckers for a punchy headline.
Branding Is Bigger Than Ever
Branding has grown not just in definition, but in value. Interbrand, a branding agency that manages to maintain 33 offices in 27 countries despite the supposed death of its core offering, recently published its 2014 Best Global Brands report. This report lists the “contribution of the brand to business results.”
It’s the closest we can come to quantifying the value in dollars of a brand, and those values are staggering.
Perennial branding favorite Apple’s brand is valued at $118 billion. Another textbook branding case study, Nike, comes in at a $19.9 billion brand valuation.
If you mention the word “branding” in a classroom at ad school, Apple and Nike are the first two words likely to be shouted back at you, so nobody’s surprised that their brands are thought valuable. But there are also plenty of less recognized branding powers that made Interbrand’s list.
Ever thought about the power of a brand to absorb bodily fluids? Pampers gets swaddled with a $14.1 billion brand value, while Kleenex comes in at $4.6 billion.
Brands are also plenty capable of planting stuff in the ground and moving dirt around, as evidenced by John Deere’s $5.1 billion and Caterpillar’s $6.8 billion brand valuations.
All told, Interbrand’s top 100 global brands this year account for more than 1.4 trillion dollars, which is a lot of money. So much that it starts to lose its meaning. So let’s look at it another way.
As the most valuable company in history, Apple currently has a $483 billion market cap. Interbrand estimates that its brand alone accounts for $118 billion. In essence, Apple’s brand accounts for about a quarter of the company’s value.
Sound Investment Advice
No one has ever accused me of being a financial wizard, but here’s some investment advice I’m confident standing behind: You’re probably not investing enough in your brand. Unless your name’s Tim Cook, you’re not at the helm of Apple, but your brand is probably worth more than you think. Or at least it could be.
Branding is much more than just a logo and a tagline. Branding is anything that influences a customer’s perception of your company. And that’s a lot of things.
When a customer emails your company, how long does it take to get a response? Is that response helpful? What does the response look like? What tone does it take?
When a customer visits your website, how easy is it to find the information they’re looking for? Is your site pleasant to use? Does it look as good on their computer screen? Does it look good on their smartphone?
When a customer reaches out to you on social media, do you respond? Do you have an active presence? Do you have something interesting to say on social media, or is it obvious you just have a profile because someone told you that you should?
Branding isn’t magic. It’s just making sure that when your customers come in contact with your company, they like what they find. And chances are, you’re probably not investing enough in branding.
If you do make that investment, I’ll bet that you’ll not only make your customers happier but also increase your company’s value.
Not bad results from something that’s been the subject of more obituaries than I can count.
We’re Hiring a Web Designer
We’re looking for a talented designer to develop online user interfaces that attract, and retain visitors. Our ideal candidate will have experience planning, designing and implementing websites and apps, and have flexibility to lend a hand with print projects when necessary.
Website Planning, Wireframing & UI Development
Working Closely with Developers, Project Managers & Other Creatives
Tens-of-thousands of socks are nailed above fireplaces, our landscape is covered with millions of electric bulbs and our living rooms are filled with cut and quickly drying conifers wrapped in still more electric lights and placed next to the fire place.
But we’re not here to share our theory about holiday traditions being a conspiracy by the fire-hose manufacturing industry (spoiler alert: they are).
We’re here to let you know that Echo-Factory will be closing at noon on December 24th to let our workers spend some time with their families, and maybe even find a bit of snow to frolic in. We’ll be back on January 5th to swap stories of holiday survival.
Have a very happy, and safe, holiday. We’ll see you on the other side.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Election Day is almost here! For several months, candidates for public office have engaged in high-profile campaigns, speaking at colleges, chambers of commerce, town hall meetings and fundraisers, telling people the reasons to vote for them. Their words and actions have been scrutinized, dissected and analyzed. Having a solid platform may not be enough to win votes – candidates must consider their public image and the way they present themselves as well. How would it look if a candidate came to give a speech or engage in a debate with his tie askew, a mustard stain on his shirt, and mismatched socks? No one would take him seriously, to say the least. He might have spent hours preparing his remarks and studying the issues at hand, but his appearance may distract his audience and detract from the importance of his message.
In a similar way, any final product you send into the world must also be carefully reviewed and polished. If you’re in business, how you market yourself impacts your relationship with customers, potential customers and partners. In short, you want to do your best to look your best.
A marketing agency can help you craft your message and your image. Copywriters help you say what you mean in an engaging way. Designers give you a look and feel that reinforces your brand message. Creative directors make sure that all the work is on target to meet your business objectives as well as help you stand out from the competition. Last, but not least, proofreaders are your quality assurance experts. They make sure every t is crossed and every i is dotted so that your message is communicated effectively.
She works with graphic designers to make sure the copy and design are well-integrated. It’s best to bring in the proofreader at every stage of the revision process, so that by the time you are ready to go to press, everything is nearly perfect. The last thing anyone wants is to make major changes right before an approved project is going to print or going to go live.
The proofreader is not there to be critical, although she must look at things critically. It’s her job to make sure the agency and/or client presents the best work possible. She ties up all loose ends. She polishes and tidies up. She makes sure that the first impression, and the lasting impression, is a good one. She is, in other words, the champion of the work.
Don’t be afraid to ask her questions. Trust in her vast knowledge and experience. Maybe you got all A’s in English, but it may have been a while since you had to determine whether to use “which” or “that”. These things you may not notice, but she does. And she bets that someone, somewhere out there, may notice, too. An error-free presentation may be a pivotal point of doing business.
Details matter, whether you’re on the campaign trail or presenting to potential investors or customers. That’s why having a proofreader in your corner is indispensable. Once a creative agency puts together all the components of your marketing strategy and materials, the proofreader comes in to make it all shine. Just make sure to get your suit pressed and you’ll be ready to go!
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.
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.
Let us know you’re coming by checking our Eventbrite page. We’ll get the French press ready.
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!