Category: Uncategorized

Harness Fast-Moving Opportunities with a ‘Trigger System’

02/05/2017
marketing trigger system

Why A Trigger System?

Electronic information circles the globe constantly, moving almost at the speed of light. With the endless information comes a steady flow of marketing opportunities. The problem is that, because these opportunities arrive in a real-time, 24-hour cycle, the pace is so overwhelming that we miss most of our chances. To capitalize on these opportunities, it’s important to be prepared ahead of time, so you can respond in real time. (more…)

Want to Control the Conversation? Make It Easy for the Media

07/10/2015
(article written for CSQ Magazine)

How to capitalize on the overworked, understaffed world of journalists and bloggers

    When Lumber Liquidators stock (NYSE:LL) plunged 60 percent in late February of this year, it wasn’t because of aBloomberg or Wall Street Journal investigation. It was because 25-year-old UCLA dropout-turned-investor Xuhua Zhou had a suspicion that the company’s CARB compliant products weren’t actually CARB compliant. He paid for an independent lab to confirm that suspicion, and published his findings on a blog, Seeking Alpha. (more…)

Building A New ‘Oz’ For Advertising Photography

04/10/2015

Unlimited Usage Rights Are Forging A Golden Road To Better Client Relations In Advertising Photography

Photo, we're not in Kansas anymore — the yellow brick road of the digital age now leads us all to a land overflowing with digital visual delights. And it’s time the advertising photography industry got the picture. So listen up, Scarecrow. (more…)

The Faux Resurrection of Branding

01/26/2015
(Article written for CSQ Magazine)

Invest In Helping Your Customers Like You 

It has been announced that branding is dead, and perhaps has been for some time. Wired claimed it in 2004. Fast Company agreed to it in 2008. A bearded creative director confirmed it just this year. Consultants preach it. Commentators bemoan its loss. One book even goes so far as to suggest that branding is not only dead, but also an art only fit for cows. 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.

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

12/02/2014

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.

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!

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.