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Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

The Importance of Brand Identification: Logo Development

Monday, August 31st, 2015

The use of logos to identify corporate brands is an effort that is not given the attention necessary to drive the success all companies are searching for. It is the process of identifying the best way to present a company to their consumer base by visual recognition. Everyone is familiar with the golden arches of McDonald’s and the swoosh of Nike Corp., but when these companies were first introduced, not everyone understood the message they were trying to convey to consumers.

McDonald’s, for instance, was a single restaurant opened by brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald. It was former employee, Ray Kroc, who purchased the rights to franchise the burger joint, came up with the golden arches as the logo and went on to make millions. There is no “M” in Kroc, yet he still realized the visual appeal that it presented to the food purchasing public and stuck with it. The golden arches will long be the signature logo of the iconic fast food chain.

In the 1960s, Bill Bowman was a track coach working on developing running shoes for his track athletes at the University of Oregon. He teamed up with his friend, Phil Knight, in an effort to make sneakers not only more efficient, but also more of a fashion statement. The name Nike was taken from the Greek goddess of winged victory. They then set out to pick a logo that would portray exactly what they wanted their shoes to personify. Together, they came up with the iconic swoosh representing a wing at lift-off and introduced it on a sneaker for the first time at the 1972 Olympic games. It wasn’t until then that the logo came to represent all that they had hoped for. The company exploded onto the scene and has been growing strong ever since.

What your logo should represent is something we at SSMCreative consider seriously with every design that we do. We ask a lot of questions including:

  • What consumer base are you trying to reach?
  • What is the product you are looking to sell?
  • What does your company stand for and what are the beliefs that it was built on?

These questions afford us the opportunity to focus on exactly which direction our clients are trying to head in order to continue to grow and succeed in an ever evolving business environment.

We recently partnered with a commercial and residential construction company that was looking to set itself apart from its competition in a variety of ways. Along with developing a new website, our client was exploring the idea of changing the name and logo that had long been used to represent their company. Our client was about to make a major change to the manufacturing capabilities that they offered and weren’t sure exactly what process should be used to determine the direction they would follow moving towards the future.

SSMCreative conducted several interviews with key members of the client team. In addition, we discussed a number of things with the principals involved in the restructuring of the company to understand exactly what they were trying to achieve as a result of the possible name change and logo update. It was determined that new technologies would be implemented that would allow the company to change its target audience to include a wider variety of industries that they would be able to work with. However, the longstanding values and core principals that the business was built on would not be changing. As a result, it was decided that a name change would not be necessary, but that a logo change would be needed to bring better focus to the direction the company was moving towards while retaining those things that have already made it successful.

Our client was looking for a logo that portrayed stability and strength, yet wanted to reflect its desire to be the industry leader as they prepared for the future. After numerous discussions and reflections, this logo was selected to be used universally by our client:

Klover Logo

This logo reflects the core values while adding an updated look and feel to the design. We were able to incorporate the original color scheme in the sideways play button and in turn project a “K” in the negative space caused by the separation.

Klover saw the logo and instantly fell in love with the design. They thought the overall look of the logo clearly represented the construction aspect of the company while showing the forward thinking the company is currently striving to maintain. Klover is a clear leader in their industry and the logo is being used on all of their marketing items including the website, hats, shirts, sweatshirts, work items and printed materials.

The process can be long and tedious, but when the outcome achieves the goal our clients are trying to reach, it is definitely worth it. Our focus is to help satisfy all of the needs our clients present to us for their long-term success. Feel free to contact us at any time to assist you with all of your creative needs.

Marketing Agency or In-House Marketing?

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

It’s a dilemma that many businesses and organizations find themselves trying to answer quite often.

Let’s get the easiest comparison out of the way… cost! Hiring an outside marketing agency is definitely going to be more cost effective for you. Why? An in-house employee not only brings with him or her a salary, but then you’ve got to consider benefits and vacation days (and any other benefits they may be entitled to). You pay a marketing agency for their time spent on your project. With an employee, you pay for their time spent in your building, which is not necessarily the same amount of time spent on your marketing endeavors.

Another fun one… expertise! An outside marketing agency has a collection of people that each have their own knowledge niches and your organization gets to capitalize on that. That collective comes together to give you the best product that’s hitting all the right channels at the end of the day. To get that same collaborative vibe with in-house personnel, you’d have to hire multiple persons with knowledge specific for each niche or hire someone that has adequate knowledge of each that will be able to just get you through. Do you really want to spend your money on someone that is going to just get you through? I’m guessing the answer is no.

Now, the most important… creative direction! Yes, your employees have the most knowledge of your products or services, but that doesn’t mean that they are the best fit for your marketing plan. In order to develop an effective marketing plan, it’s important to understand how those on the outside see your business and the last people that will be able to do that are the people that work in your business. Why is it important to understand how people view your business? Because those are the people you are marketing to. Those are the people you are trying to reach. A marketing agency will give you that outside vision of your company that can help to better identify how to reach your target and meet your goals.

Pay-Per-Click or Facebook Ads… Which is the best fit for you?

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

In today’s business environment, most marketers and business owners are considering Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising or Facebook advertising as a way to help increase brand recognition and grow their business. One problem they face is that a lot of misinformation and confusion exists as to which marketing channel is most beneficial to helping achieve the corporate goals.

Some companies use PPC along with Facebook ads to market to their audience, however, not all companies have the budget to utilize both. Since they are very different advertising mediums, here are some points to consider when choosing Facebook ads or PPC advertising.

Effectiveness at Driving Conversions Through Online Advertising

A successful online advertising campaign is the key to driving conversions for your business. Understanding how to best convert users on a particular advertising channel is how your organization can make more informed decisions on which channels would be the most effective at helping your business achieve its goals.

A PPC conversion occurs when a person takes an action with your organization’s PPC ad after using a search engine like Bing or Google. A person will use the search engine in order to do initial research or for locating follow-up information prior to making a purchase of a product or service. Once your ad is clicked, your products and/or services can be chosen and the conversion occurs.

To convert a user using PPC ads, understand the mindset of your customer in the stage of the sales process where they’re looking for your particular product or service in the search engines. Place a competitive bid on the keywords that best match the phrases that your customer base is looking for by providing a targeted ad to your audience. This ad should include a specific call-to-action for a potential customer to make. Be sure that the content of the landing page is the same found on the ad in order to create a cohesive experience for the user and to encourage a successful conversion.

A conversion from a Facebook ad occurs when someone performs an action after clicking on an ad from your Facebook ad campaign. Facebook ads help drive awareness, a purchase or the download of a resource or app from the variety of ad unit options the platform offers.

To convert a user using Facebook, you need to understand who you’re trying to reach, what their interests are, what action you’d like them to take and cater the messaging, ad unit and visuals used to the user’s preferences and typical actions on the social network. You need to remember that a person is not using Facebook as a means to do research about a product or service. They are most likely using Facebook to look at photos of their family, chat with their friends and see what their personal network is up to. By targeting the audience properly, the ad will have the impact you desire and the conversion will occur when they visit your page and then your website.

Which advertising platform will assist you in reaching your goals?

When it comes to choosing the right advertising platform for your business, match your goals with the unique feature sets of each platform.

Facebook advertising offers:

  • Deeper demographic targeting to best match ads to the interests and desires of different audiences across the sales funnel.
  • Better branding opportunities with creativity on the Facebook platform to help drive awareness for your business in the long-term.
  • A platform to run your campaigns when looking for long-term conversions and the opportunity to build a relationship with your customers since you’re interacting with them as they perform other actions on the network.
  • The ability to retarget an existing customer using messaging that directly matches their interests and shopping habits.

PPC advertising offers:

  • Contextual targeting to reach your customers more closely to the end of the sales funnel when they are actively looking for your products or services.
  • A faster return on investment since many people will convert with their first interaction with a PPC ad due to having a stronger intent to purchase.
  • Better coordination with your search engine optimization efforts to drive increased visibility for your organization and its offerings.


In the end, we feel that experimenting with a few campaigns on both platforms is the best way to determine which method works best for each customer. We have had a great deal of success with our clients using both Facebook ads and PPC advertising. Contact us today so we can set up a meeting to review your needs and end goals. Let our social media expertise grow your brand recognition and help you to meet your sales goals!

Creative Marketing Strategies to Grow Brand Recognition

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Weyerbacher built its following based on its reputation to brew big, complex, high ABV beers for the craft beer market. When they decided to offer a lower ABV IPA (India Pale Ale) to the market, we knew they needed to do something special to separate their offering from the pack.

The founders and employees of Weyerbacher are a compassionate crew that love to give back to their community and they also love their companion animals! Once we decided that donating a portion of the proceeds to animal welfare organizations was the direction, we selected the name and began the campaign. The beer was labeled Last Chance IPA since these organizations many times are a companion animal’s last chance to find their forever homes.

We found that the largest portion of Weyerbacher’s target market not only likes to drink well crafted beer, but they also like to feel as though they’re making a difference in their community. Because of this, we developed the “Great cause. Great beer.” campaign in conjunction with Weyerbacher.

Each month, a 501(c)3 nonprofit animal welfare organization is selected to receive a percentage of the sale of every drop of Last Chance IPA sold during the month. Also included, are any sales of Last Chance IPA branded merchandise. These organizations work diligently to save companion animal lives, educate their communities, and provide resources and services to assist owners of companion animals.

Since the campaign began in 2012, Weyerbacher has donated over $75,000 to 26 organizations. With some tweaks to the way organizations are selected and the addition of mutually beneficial cross-marketing in 2015, we are looking forward to helping Weyerbacher extend their outreach.

Is getting what you pay for really what you want?

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The adage “you get what you pay for” has been around for years. Unfortunately in today’s world, that is becoming a deceiving phrase. As we try to figure out which house to buy, car to drive or smart phone to use, the deals are everywhere. New home as low as $99,000, brand new car starting at $8,999, new iPhone for free*** 2 year contract required – some marketing and advertising efforts have become merely smoke and mirrors in an effort to grow business. That new home is bare minimum…. all you need to do is spend another $50K on upgrades and you will have a home worth living in. The great price on the car gets you no power windows, no a/c, no bells and whistles, but… if you will spend another $6K, you will have something worth driving comfortably. And the free phone? That deal is only for people who aren’t currently under contract with the provider, but you can have the same phone for only $399. What a deal for the years of loyalty you’ve provided as a customer!

In the business world today, it is necessary to continue to grow or you risk stagnation, which sadly leads to failure. It is important to stay as current with the newest marketing and advertising opportunities that exist. Most companies have websites to let the public know what they offer to current and potential clients. What most companies fail to realize is that both web design and online marketing have improved greatly in a short period of time and now is the time to take advantage of what this current technology has to offer. We live in a world of social media unlike anything we have ever seen before. Constant contact is a given and the ability to be seen by so many people provides the kind of exposure that has not been achievable before. In order to get the most out of this exposure, the initial investment will be worth it as long as you make the right choice in partnering with a company who makes your success as important as their own.

Still many people think that the lowest price is the best option when in actuality that is definitely not the case. We all have family and friends in every part of the working world. Mechanics, contractors, doctors, lawyers, business executives and all other facets of blue-collar and white-collar industries. At one point or another, we have turned to them for assistance. For the most part they are willing to help, but at their convenience and, more often than not, they are not in a hurry. We are all used to being paid for the jobs we do, so when we are helping out a buddy, that assistance becomes the last thing that concerns them because quite frankly, they are not getting the monetary reward that a paying customer provides. It is that simple, you do get what you pay for.

With that in mind, too often decision makers’ eyes fall to the bottom line. It has been proven over and again that in an effort to save money up front, it costs more on the back end. Pay for the less expensive washer, it doesn’t last nearly as long as the costlier model. The same goes for most consumer goods, it is always better to pay slightly more initially in an effort to get the best payoff in the long run.

Which brings me to this, when searching for the right company to grow your brand and develop your business, don’t look at the bottom line, but at the best way to partner with a company who will keep your bottom line their priority while bringing you the desired results. Look for the one who has a proven track record, not your neighbor’s buddy or your cousin’s “good friend”. Lots of people will offer you assistance, at SSMCreative we make you the priority because we absolutely understand that it really does come down to “YOU getting what you pay for”!

A tale of two commercials

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Let’s take a look at the new Maker’s Mark campaign. Some of the commercials are OK and I can appreciate them. However, they seem to miss the mark. I’m guessing that they’re trying to target a younger demographic. That’s fine, but it just feels like someone listened to bad advice.

“It is what it isn’t”

That’s the tagline and that’s the main thing that makes me feel like they’re going for a younger demographic. Here’s my problem – if you have a great bourbon, your brand is that great bourbon. It’s handcrafted, delicious and more expensive than a lot of the regular bourbons (although not as expensive as some others). That tagline makes it feel cheap and discardable, which it’s not.


The brand is so distinctive and always has been. You know that Maker’s Mark signifies high quality. Why would you dilute that by associating it with all of the things that it isn’t? Take a look at the video below. It’s like you’re taking your favorite uncle and putting him in a lot of uncomfortable situations that don’t come off as funny, they just come off as forced.