The Digital Acceleration of Design

By:  |  February 21, 2018  | 

Marketers are intimately aware that their audience is increasingly of a visual, on-demand nature. Video, mobile, and experiential marketing are all on the rise, for many of the same reasons – the emergence of social media, personal live broadcast platforms, video streaming, and mobile games mean that entertainment is more accessible and available than ever before. As companies compete to increase their audience and create lucrative side ventures, so have the ad platforms that monetize them become more aggressive.

The end result is that the average person is saturated in all sorts of visual noise throughout their day, and as a consumer, trained to digest, filter, and discard visual information quickly. This has placed a premium on distinct brand and visual identity. The more coherent and creative an identity is, the more a company will stand out. But post-Instagram, post-web, everyone is a designer. A host of filters, apps, and web-to-code applications make it easy for anyone to show off well-balanced photos, polished typography, and simple but appealing websites.

For designers, the pressure is on. The prominence of visuals in the ever-accelerating web and mobile landscapes mean that designers must do more to stand out, and make a name for themselves. It means that as their work becomes industry necessity, it is more easily taken for granted, more easily re-posted and ripped off, and in the true nature of social media, becomes more susceptible to the disproportional promotion of influencers or celebrities. The deluge of start-ups and tech companies have also changed design as an industry, placing an increasing demand on designers for hybridity in both design and development. The rise of mobile, responsive design has feted simpler, minimally colored logomarks and wordmarks that display well on screens.

But in contrast – print has become even more coveted and prized, with almost a luxe reputation, and designers delight in playing between the perceived tensions between their web presences, the interactivity of video or motion graphics, and their analog, real life experiences in their day-to-day. Social media means that designers can reach a larger audience and fuel their own work opportunities, and also have free network of peers and mentors available to them, right at their fingertips. And now, the audience can talk back: designers can hear feedback about their work and campaigns directly from the people it was intended for.

The influx of digital experiences and new emphasis on visuals highlights the practical tensions and contradictions in design, and make it clear that design is ubiquitous. Designers commanding a large virtual audience will are asked for merch or to speaking engagements, and typography giants are featured in published tomes produced by the likes of Gestalten and Phaidon, anchoring otherwise digital productions in physical form. Seamless brand systems require that the sensationalism of their visuals not supersede or be mutually exclusive from their core concepts and messaging, so that customers can engage and interact with the brand. The tech industry’s need for convenience and simplification produces branding that lies on two ends of the spectrum: sophisticated, with hypercondensed symbolism, or completely staid, using the color scheme, font, and iconography of ten other start-up brands before it.

The digital and the analog are interdependent, and visuals lose potency when created devoid of meaning and symbolism. Design styles and aesthetic rely upon a chain of associations between perceived value, presentation, color, and texture, to evoke a specific reaction based upon the cultural and social context of the intended audience. In that sense, even as the potential of 3D, motion, and interactive design is explored, at its core design remains tied to the visceral, individual experience.


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Getting the Most From Your Agency Inquiries

By:  |  January 18, 2018  | 

Not all agencies are created equal, just as all clients have different needs, and the best fit comes about when an agency and their culture fits the need of their client. But how does a client know what they need, and by extension, how an agency can help them? Oftentimes, considering a couple questions before contacting agencies can be a big help in streamlining goals, and narrowing down on the scope of services truly needed.

1) What are my end goals in seeking a marketing agency?

The nuances and distinctions between different types of agencies present in the marketing and advertising landscape may not be immediately clear, but can be critical in setting up a fruitful agency search. If strong branding and a cohesive company look & feel are essential parts of the planned marketing strategy, agencies that have strong creative departments and branding portfolios should be considered, alongside creative agencies that specialize exclusively on branding work. If an extensive advertising sweep is being considered, including online display ads, extensive out-of-home space, and full-page print ads, rather than a marketing agency, a media buying agency may be a better target. For an all-rounder strategy that includes marketing, PR, creative work, and digital marketing, integrated marketing agencies like Spritz can’t be beat in the range of services offered under a single roof. Each agency type has its own advantages.

2) Who do I want to be working with?

It is not uncommon for a potential client to be concerned about their eventual point of contact. Clients want to know that the work being done for them is considered important and that they are getting their money’s worth. In many ways, these considerations are addressed by a question of agency size. Larger agencies may have years’ and decades’ worth of relationships behind them, be able to handle larger-scale campaigns and rollouts, and have larger budgets, but smaller, boutique agencies have less bureaucracy and red tape, have close relationships with local communities, and are much more nimble and quick to react to sudden, unexpected crises.

3) What is my budget, and how does that compare to standard market pricing?

Many agencies, especially those that offer a wide variety of services, will tailor and match their pricing to their clients’ scope of services. That said, agencies still need to be paid a fair price for their work, and due to their custom approach, may not offer pricing structures that can be easily estimated. Marketing also often involves costs that may have not been fully considered – print or digital advertising costs, printing costs, sponsorship and activation costs, etc. When considering cost as part of the equation in an agency search, it is often easier and faster for clients to do a little research to discover what typical pricing might look like, assess what their budget might be, and prioritize the marketing services they need most if a little penny pinching is needed.

Finding the right agency can make or break a client’s marketing strategy. Reviewing an agency’s case studies, seeking third-party rating sites, or examining awards and accolades are all additional ways to gauge an agency’s efficacy, culture, and approach. Research and prepare prior to an agency search to get the most, and the best out of inquiries and eventual RFPs.

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Marketing for Holidays

By:  |  December 4, 2017  | 

The last quarter of the calendar year is a hectic, yet very profitable time for businesses. Marketing efforts are amplified to align with the holiday season. And while this is a very exciting time, it can also be difficult to create a campaign that cuts through the noise. Here’s a quick guide for beginning marketers on creating a holiday campaign that’s cause for celebration!

  1. Get in the spirit!

    Brands benefit from aligning their messaging and visual identity with the holiday and connecting with their audience. The holidays present a great opportunity to communicate brand values with a custom hashtag. Trouble coming up with a hashtag? Companies can repurpose popular holiday sayings and integrate into their company name or tagline. And if nothing meshes, make the hashtag an earnest, personal message to your  target audience. Spritz Tip: Update your logo with holiday colors (orange & black for Halloween, red & green for Christmas, red, white, and blue for 4th of July, etc). This can be in turn used in all digital & print marketing materials.

  2. Check your calendars – check them twice.

    Brands should plan out all holiday efforts at least 2-3 months in advance. This provides ample time to order any promotional items, make reservations, and, most importantly, avoid the headache of congested & over-priced holiday deliveries.Holiday gifting campaigns & loyalty rewards programs are great ways to incentivize consumers and acknowledge affiliate partners. Time is needed to successfully execute these initiatives during a stressful holiday period. Your customers are frantically looking for last-minute purchases to make their holiday festivities complete, and it’s a good time to step in and offer a solution. Spritz Tip: Boost product promotions and giveaways 2 weeks in advance of the holiday via boosted Facebook posts.

  3. Guide your customers.

    An easy way to reach your audience during this time is to give them a written guide on how to “survive” a certain holiday. Everyone looks for tips to make holidays and events run smoothly, so it’s great to give your brand’s personal insight on how to make it an unforgettable occasion.By packaging holiday tips with a product or service, brands subtly integrate their services with holiday customs and practices. For example, to celebrate Halloween, a Spritz restaurant client coordinated a holiday campaign through e-blasts and social media inviting customers to wear a costume to their establishment in exchange for a free item. Spritz Tip: Share all your tips through a social media series with your hashtag. Another option is compiling a blog (like this one!)

Holidays are stressful, but are great opportunities to make memorable experiences for many customers. Brands can cut through the holiday clutter with the proper alignment & planning.

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Making the Case for (Re)Branding

By:  |  August 22, 2017  | 

Brand strategy is one of the cornerstones for successful marketing as it clearly defines a business’ voice, personality, and visual identity. Branding, particularly the logo, is a visual shorthand for the what the company represents and does for its customers. It is primarily a communication tool that sets the tone and feel for future communication. Some companies are formed without proper branding in place and often miss the benefits that come with a clear brand identity. Marketing without a brand strategy is similar to driving without a map: you can go the distance, but you may not be traveling in the direction you intended. Many successful companies, like Uber, Subway, and Instagram, have recently rebranded to a variety of reactions.

When is the appropriate time for a rebrand? A rebrand may be necessary when the company’s value proposition isn’t easily communicated and essential characteristics are overlooked. New logos, colors, taglines, and especially renames can confuse, but a well-planned rebrand can reinforce your company’s mission with revitalized visual elements and a stronger voice. More than anything else, rebrands draw publicity to a company and brings new life that can attract younger potential users.

The Sonoma International Film Festival rebranded in 2013 by updating their logo, messaging and positioning. Prior to the rebrand, SIFF didn’t have a concrete visual identity except for Tipsy, a de facto mascot who received mixed reviews from the community. A brand color scheme was also introduced- green for the beautiful Sonoma countryside and purple for the rich wine & local vineyards. A new tagline was also introduced: Welcoming. Entertaining. Inspiring. The new graphic elements provided a public face for the festival and further solidified their brand identity for future festivals, marking SIFF as a welcoming destination for world class cinema, intimate hospitality and local wine.

Keep in mind that rebrands don’t always hit the target. Unsuccessful rebrands, like Gap’s, can dismay loyal fans. In their minds, random or forced rebrands associate the company with inauthenticity and unoriginality. In the Gap case, many criticized how Gap’s minimalistic rebranding was a cheap take off other tech giants, like Facebook or Google. A half-baked logo redesign does not constitute a complete rebrand. This frustrates users because it sets conflicting tones for future communication.

Regardless of the initial shock to regular customers, rebranding is a big step to furthering your corporate culture and public persona. These changes are necessary for the growth and development of a business.

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Four Ways to Create More Clickworthy Ads

By:  |  August 1, 2017  | 


In this digital day and age, it’s nearly impossible to open up any webpage without seeing a banner ad. Simply put, they are ads, typically rectangular, on a web page. With such a proliferation of web advertisements nowadays, it is especially important to keep these 4 simple, yet effective design practices in mind to create click-worthy ads.

1) Keep The Copy Simple

Be honest, how much attention do you really give to an ad while you’re scrolling through Facebook or any web page? Users typically spend only about 1 to 2 seconds on an ad, so the key is to keep your copy short, catchy, and most importantly, offer something of value to the user. It is best to keep the copy between 2 to 10 words max. Fun fact: human brains can only process about 5 words per second, so get to the point quick and get the click!

2) A Compelling Call To Action (CTA)

Messaging and visibility are key to an effective call to action. With limited spacing comes great responsibility in choosing the right words to use. A compelling call to action conveys a sense of urgency and addresses two important questions: what you want the user to do and why they should do it. Another equally important aspect is visibility – you want your CTA to stand out and you only have 2 seconds to do it! The easiest way is to present your CTA as a button. Even though the whole ad is clickable, users will instinctually want to click on a button. Lastly, avoid surrounding imagery or elements that will compete with your call to action button. Ensure your CTA is identifiable from the background and the other elements are not distracting the user from clicking.

3) Simple Animations

This tip really needs be executed with finesse. GIF animations are a great way to catch the users’ attention because human instinct is to look at what’s moving. As we just discussed, any in-ad animation should further promote the user to click your CTA and not become a competing or distracting element. A clever way to do both is to create an animated call to action button. The animation should have just enough movement to compel the user to click, but not so aggressive that it is off-putting. Trying to do too much on an ad renders it ineffective, and you run the risk of looking like ‘click-bait’ and damaging the reputation of your brand.

4) Size(s) Matter

Banner ads come in a variety of sizes, but a select few perform better than others for a few reasons. Firstly, wider horizontal banners outperform tall banners because people like to read from left to right and tall banners often mean the text needs to be stacked. Secondly, more ad space is available for particular sizes. Lastly, most people are glued to their phones more than ever, so designing a mobile banner ad increases your chances of an impression and a click through!

Here are the top performing ad sizes according to Google AdSense themselves:

• 728 x 90 (horizontal leaderboard banner)
• 300 x 250 (medium rectangle)
• 336 x 280 (large rectangle)
• 300 x 600 (half page)
• 320 x 100 (large mobile banner)

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