Category: Branding

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…    

The Persona – Do You Know Your Customers?

05/30/2014
Persona Development

You're Not Reaching Your Customers Because You Don't Know Who They Are - The Persona Is Foundational To Successful Marketing

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.

Echo-Factory is Part of Fashion History (Again!)

12/06/2013

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A look through our site indicates pretty quickly that we’re no stranger to fashion. From the early days of Matisse shoes to lunch bags and protective gear, if you can wear it, we’ve worked with it.

We’re also pretty pro when it comes to startups and small companies working to figure things out. We love strategy and helping brands grow into something they can be proud of, and usually, we’re pretty proud too. (more…)

Where Yahoo Got it Wrong

09/06/2013
Yahoo_New_Logo   Oliver Reichenstein, the founder and director of design agency Information Architects, has written a very good piece that not only skewers the new Yahoo logo, but provides a good bit of insight into the importance of careful, intentional branding and design. I expect it will be my go-to piece the next time I'm asked any variation of, "why does it take-so-long/cost-so-much/is-it-important to design a logo?" My personal favorite quote from the article, (and it's hard to pick just one), is:
"Brands create orientation. The most beautiful toilet sign is useless if men constantly walk into the ladies’ room."
Take 15 minutes out of your day to enjoy, "Logo, Bullshit & Co., Inc." --- UPDATE: Over in the HackerNews discussion thread Pxtl proposes a theory that basically, Marissa Mayer has outsmarted us all: "Personally, I think you're missing the forest for the trees. I think the unprofessionalism, the BS, the Mayer-hands-on thing... that is part of Yahoo's new branding strategy. It's all about making Yahoo feel more personal. More like your friend. Mayer is trying to personally invite you out for coffee to and talk about the fun she had bashing out their logo. I'm sure there are refinements that are happening behind-the-scenes after Mayer's "weekend". Hopefully resized forms of the logo will still get some TLC - the public doesn't generally notice when those things happen. Remember the demographic that Yahoo survived upon - women. Non-geeky grown-up middle-class women. That's why the new logo reminds you of a department store like Macy's, or the makeup counter at Shoppers Drug Mart. That's who Mayer is targeting with this ad, even this blog. It's a huge number of people that most of the technorati ignore - Facebook captured that market practically by accident, and Pinterest is exploding because somebody finally thought to actually aim in that direction on purpose. And what's pinterest about? Craftsmanship. Craftswomanship. Getting your hands dirty on a fun little artistic project. Like making a logo. Latter-day Yahoo has always found strength in ignoring the geek elite. They lost the geek elite a long time ago. This includes you, design geeks."