Eric Bach

The light bulb. It’s synonymous with creativity, ideas and innovation. If you haven’t noticed, we are infatuated with these inspirational glass orbs of light. Each employee has an original, personalized light bulb icon. In fact, when a new “light” joins the team their first assignment is to determine what their light bulb will represent about them. It’s a process that demonstrates our approach at A. Bright Idea — a true, first collaboration with other members of the team.

When creating these icons, the challenge is figuring out how to communicate someone’s interest or expertise within the limitations of a light bulb.  As with any logo or icon project, the goal is to create a clear, simple and recognizable graphic reproducible at any size.

The process starts with concept sketching. Whether it is on a Wacom tablet or hand drawn in a notebook, sketching allows us to toss around a lot of ideas to see what sticks. Oftentimes eliminating what doesn’t work, ends up contributing to the discovery of a successful concept. After the team has discussed and decided on an option, it’s time to take the concept digital.

Sketch book

We begin by importing the sketched image into Adobe Illustrator; this serves as reference for the final icon. Next we roughly trace the hand drawn image with the pen tool, allowing us to have a rough editable form to refine. Once the rough form is captured, we refine the illustration by creating/manipulating editable line paths, followed by applying separate layers of color for shading and highlights. Keeping the lines editable and layers labeled, keeps us organized and makes changes efficient. Since all of A. Bright Idea’s icons are one color, we must rely on applying tints in order to create a sense of dimension.  After the working vector icons are reviewed and approved, it’s time to prep and export the files for use in print and multimedia applications.

We hope you enjoyed this spotlight on our team light bulb icons! Take a look at these lightbulbs and try to guess who’s is who’s.

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BEHIND THE SCENES: The Light Bulb Icon

Staying trendy in social media

abimaster | November 12, 2014

At A. Bright Idea, social media trends, statistics, best practices and innovative ideas are part of our daily operations, and staying on top of these industry changes prove crucial for our clients’ impact across multiple social media platforms. Social media serves as a free networking and outreach tool to build awareness and rapport with an audience. Businesses can build interest in their brands by posting relevant industry articles, news, events, photos, products and more – but how do you stay relevant and compete in this growing competitive environment? Social media offers the ability for businesses to segment and specifically target audiences with offers or messaging based on user profiles. If used strategically, social media provides the opportunity to elevate awareness, generate and sustain loyalty and reach new audiences.

Here are some quick, recent facts about social media:

  • 72% of all internet users are now active on social media
  • 89% of 18-29 year olds use social media
  • On average, Americans spend 16 minutes per hour on social media
  • 71% of users access social media from a mobile device
  • One million websites are accessed using the “Login with Facebook”
  • 23% of Facebook users login at least 5 times per day
  • 47% of Americans say Facebook is their #1 influencer of purchases

StayingTrendyInSM

With not only more social media platforms than ever, each social media outlet is changing every day, from the way you can advertise, to the layout of your brand’s page, to the best tips for engaging your audience. Keeping your social media active and fresh requires your due diligence, so here are some tips to engage your audience across many social platforms:

  • Photos, photos, photos.
    • Studies show posts get 85% higher engagement on Facebook and 35% more retweets.
  • Utilize Facebook advertising, but target your audience, even just a little goes a long way
  • Engage with other profiles and users, comment/reply to posts
  • Ask questions, offer facts/tips and utilize contests or giveaways
  • Repurpose content across platforms and website
  • Show a brand personality
  • Utilize your analytics data to capture audiences, posting times and more

A. Bright Idea’s expertise in social media continues to engage audiences for our clients, either through social media strategies implemented by our clients, or allowing A. Bright Idea to implement a strategy for you.
Email info@abrightideaonline.com or call 410-836-7180 | 707-935-1377 for questions.

 

Building Brand Loyalty Through Visual Media

abimaster | August 5, 2014

Marketing businesses using Facebook and Twitter has become a growing tactic in marketing plans across all industries. Social media platforms serve as an effective tool for circulating branded messaging, but Internet usage and trends continue to change every day.

In a recent article, Bulldog Reporter found that 90% of all Internet traffic and 50% of mobile traffic is now made up of photos and video. For growing visual media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, this means an opportunity for continued expansion. Instagram’s more than 200 million users make up an attractive market of young people for PR and marketers. Digital media reporting site Mashable has also found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults are now using Pinterest. These large groups of users of both platforms are at the ready to receive visual content that could ultimately lead to better connecting and capitalizing on consumer and brand relationships.

With the expanding use of visual media, it is more important than ever to control your brand’s messaging. People make decisions based on trust and brand promise. Using photos and visuals helps create another tangible connection to brands. As we can see from these recent statistics, it is becoming a greater means of communication – that old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Having a strategic presence in visual media can serve as a key tool to further brand development as part of an integrated marketing approach. Everything you do or say influences what people think about your brand, so providing them with a visual example of what your brand promises also helps demonstrate that your brand delivers on this promise.

No matter the medium, the ability to connect users with your brand is crucial to developing brand loyalty, and will ultimately lead to a better consumer experience. It’s important to assess your own brand strategy as it compares to trends, as not all trends serve brands equally. With the expanding use of visual media, now is an opportune time to analyze your own brand and consider the most strategic uses of visual media and how it can potentially become part of your integrated marketing approach.

Client News – Summer 2013

abimaster | September 24, 2013
  • This fall, look for A. Bright Idea’s new creative and production for Stella Maris’ Anniversary Campaign. Highlighting the remarkable service of a leader in elder care, A. Bright Idea offers strategic marketing support in celebration of Stella Maris’ 60 years of long term care and 30 years of hospice care in Maryland. The anniversary campaign includes a custom anniversary logo, strategic marketing and communications plan, media campaign and video production, as well as marketing collateral and event support.
  • The John Carroll School launches its 50th anniversary year with a custom logo and timeline-style brochure, including vintage photos and milestone dates, designed by A. Bright Idea.
  • Grapevine Catering is moving into a new space in Santa Rosa, CA where both the catering company will operate and their Earth’s Bounty Fine Foods products will be sold. The new storefront, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Wine Bar will have a take away menu and artisan produced products along with a full-service café and wine bar. A. Bright Idea supports the businesses with branding, signage, marketing, website, collateral design, email marketing and more.
  • Flavor Cupcakery supports wounded veterans and boasts community spirit with “It’s a Flavorful Life” – a week of promotions and special offers from the cupcakery and fellow small businesses in Bel Air and Cockeysville, MD. A. Bright Idea provided a custom event mark, collateral and PR support for the campaign.
  • A. Bright Idea designed the collateral and promotional materials for the Sonoma Valley Teen Services annual fundraising event, Cowboy Cab. Held at Larson Family Winery, the event sold out this year with over 200 guests in attendance. Check out a photo from the event here.
  • A. Bright Idea positions Synergy Integration Advisors for growth with a brand refresh, custom information graphic and icons, capabilities statement, brochure, document templates and stationery.
  • Celebrating 40 years in business, A. Bright Idea develops the Kenwood Kitchens Dream Kitchen contest, including advertising creative, print collateral and web page design, where one lucky winner will receive a $40,000 dream kitchen! Have you entered?

A. Bright Idea was selected among 20 other agencies to work with the Yountville Chamber of Commerce on destination marketing initiatives, providing marketing execution strategies with the goal of enhancing the current branding, programs and promotions for the organization. Known as the “Culinary Capital,” Yountville is nestled in Napa Valley, California and invites visitors to “Taste Life Here!”

Yountville was named after George Calvert Yount, a settler who came to the region in Napa Valley in 1831. Two years after Yount’s death, the town was renamed Yountville in honor of its founder and his contributions. George Yount was the first person to plant grape vines in the valley, forever putting Yountville on the map.

Today, Yountville is a small eclectic town with less than 3,000 residents and a premier destination in Wine Country. Known as a “one-stop-destination,” the town’s busiest tourist months fall in September and October, however on average Yountville has 6,111 visitors per day! The city is home to many award-winning wineries, authentic small town markets and world-renowned restaurants. Visitors and residents enjoy a variety of activities from hot air balloon rides and golfing, to art galleries and shopping, to wine tours and exciting events. Yountville is a remarkable town, rich in history and flavor – a true delight certain to satisfy any palette.

yountville logo

Meg O'Hara

By: Meg O’Hara, A. Bright Idea Marketing Intern

As a rising college senior and current A. Bright Idea intern studying communications and public relations, I have the opportunity to compare the information I have learned as a student with the firsthand experience I have gathered at A. Bright Idea. One interesting recent event had me comparing just that– the academic perspective of what I’ve learned about branding and the real-life importance of protecting a brand.

In the past several weeks, America has tuned into the Paula Deen controversy, a well-recognized and seemingly friendly TV personality, under fire for making derogatory comments in the past. Such events have put Deen’s brand at risk, causing many of her supporters, fans and sponsors to cut ties with Deen and her organization. While she certainly isn’t the first to face a brand crisis, as many athletes and political figures also endure such struggles, it is an important lesson to learn from and topic to address – what measures can be taken to prevent a brand crisis and protect a brands reputation? For certain, strong public relations tactics are necessary to maintain the image of the individual or company including developing a crisis management plan prior to incidents, enabling a proactive response and controlling an organizations message.

Here is a quick list of general do’s and don’ts:

1. Speak early and often. This does not necessarily mean that you have to take the blame for something you didn’t do just to settle the storm, but if you’re in the middle of a PR crisis it is important to remember there is a reason why the situation came about in the first place.  For example, if a brand is being threatened because of an offensive comment that a representative may have made and it wasn’t intended to be construed in that way, apologize for the way it was interpreted and for being unclear.

2. Be clear. Nothing is more important than strong communication. If a statement was misunderstood the first time, reword and explain the points. Preparing a statement prior to notifying the public is critical.

3. Control your message. While it is important to be sincerely apologetic, it is also crucial that a representative be poised, well spoken and have key messages rehearsed and ready. When an image is being repaired, consider that the public needs a reason to rebuild the trust that was lost. If the owner of a company or brand cannot keep their emotions intact on camera, viewers might wonder if they are truly professional and fit for representing a company.

4. Stay consistent. Along with sincerity, the public seeks honesty. When a representative changes a story to repair the image of the brand, it can generate more harm than good. Flip-flopping creates doubt and distrust, further tarnishing the relationship between the company and the public.

5. Keep points concise. Dragging an issue on longer than needed is detrimental to the brand. Every issue settles with time and continuing to harp on the mistake simply prolongs the matter.

Though many companies have faced extreme PR challenges, countless come out successfully. New stories arise diverting the media attention away from the issue, and by taking control of the situation wisely with a plan in place, it is more likely a brand or image can be repaired and rebuilt.

Creative ‘cross America

abimaster | February 26, 2013

By: David Wells

A few things immediately evident as I travel across the U.S., hoping to take advantage of the best dining our country has to offer:

1. Smart phones and Google are the best invention ever
2. Not everything you read on the internet is true
3. Nothing beats the eye 

Making my way from one coast to the other in a good, old-fashioned road trip, I can’t help but notice the branding and signage along the route. Before I hit the road, I made a rule of no ‘chain’ restaurants – I wanted local, unique and creative. I’m not sure if I’ve been blessed with good luck at picking out great places to stop, or if I simply know how to use the information available to me, but every stop fulfills my need for not only good food, but a great and memorable brand experience.

Queen City CreameryThe first stop, although not too far from A. Bright Idea headquarters in Bel Air, was in Cumberland Md., at the Queen City Creamery. A simple Google search on my smart phone for “best places to eat in Cumberland” provided me with a plethora of rating websites, Yelp reviews, locations and more. After seeing the Creamery appear on several sites, I decided to check out their website. You notice a historical feel to the logo, which matches their historical building on the main street. When we pulled off the highway and onto the street, the building, signage and quaint nature of the place caught my eye, and I know it would be what I expected and wanted. The creamery is known for its homemade ice cream, but the deli sandwiches were a treat. You can tell it’s a local favorite by the number of groups of people laughing at the diner-style tables and talking with the staff like they were friends. I indulged in one of their well-known milkshakes as headed West. For me, a restaurant brand is not just about the outside looks and website, but from the moment I visited their website, I formed an expectation and the physical restaurant, atmosphere, service and fare didn’t disappoint!

Another stop along the way, thanks to another Google search and Trip Advisor recommendation landed me at Wild Eggs in Louisville, Kentucky. From the reviews, to the social media, to the website, I knew we were Wild Eggsin for something special when I decided to stop at this breakfast spot. Like some of the reviews proclaimed, we got to the restaurant and had to wait almost an hour for a table. However, from the time you walk in until the time you walk out, guests wait in the lobby and even outside in the cold to eat at this restaurant, so you know they must be doing something right. This family-owned restaurant has a great history and photographs of their delicious food on the walls, and a somewhat ‘wild’ appearance from the outside with bright colors. The Wild Eggs ‘story’ hangs on a poster in the lobby, providing something to read and learn. The Wild Eggs brand is all about tradition, history and comfort. With signature dishes and favorites, the waiter had no problem steering us in a direction he thought would please our palette. Their specialty strawberry tall stack, Eggs Bennie, grits and cinnamon roll did not disappoint, and looked just like the photographs on the website, foursquare photos and on the restaurant walls. For locals and tourists alike, the Wild Eggs brand is set for success.

For great views of downtown St. Louis, those who are 21 and over should stop here to view the city from St. Louisabove at 360 Rooftop Bar. With some of the best views of City Hall, the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium, the 360 Bar is an upscale tapas restaurant and bar with modern amenities. Cool fireplace features on the outdoor patio and outdoor TVs to watch sporting events, the 360 degree glass walls allow you to see any feature of St. Louis, even a Cardinals game from above. The 360 brand is modern and speaks to a certain crowd, and features DJs at night for this crowd. The modern website and logo pair with the created brand and atmosphere of the business. The tagline, Sip See Savor, captured my attention – I’m a sucker for three word taglines – and spoke true to the 360 mission and brand.

A final brand on the road trip thus far included Andolini’s Pizza in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Deciding where to stop and eat on the way to Oklahoma City was a challenge, but my smart phone and Google helped out yet again. Two local places sat next to each other and had favorable reviews, so we decided to check them out from the outside before making the final selection. One review for Andolini’s said, “If you’re looking for something with an ambiance, Ando’s is not your place, but if you want fresh ingredients and great food, this is your stop.” Well, as soon as we saw the place, it screamed ambiance. The outdoor fireplaces and brick walls welcome visitors. The chefs tossing pizza in the air in the windows was the final seller. The menu was designed well and included a great selection of signature pizzas, local craft beers and more. I’m not sure what the reviewer meant when he said the place had no ‘ambiance,’ but I’m glad we chose Ando’s, and the waitress even provided me with my very own Ando’s glass as a souvenir.

From experience, I know many local joints depend on their loyal customer base and word-of-mouth, but an investment in a solid brand is never wasted. For those businesses looking to grab the attention of a traveler, hope you have good reviews, have a website and be true to your brand in all aspects of your business, and you’re bound to earn a stop from this guy.

Quotes and common sayings seem to weave their way into our every day dialogue, but have you ever considered where the sayings actually come from? We’ve compiled a list of brand taglines used in advertising, marketing materials and websites that are also popular cultural sayings. Do you find yourself saying any of these?

 

  • “That was easy”
  • “Never let ‘em see you sweat”
  • “We’re cooking now”
  • “…like a rock”
  • “Where’s the beef?”
  • “Sorry Charlie”
  • “Think outside the box”
  • “When you’ve got it, flaunt it”
  • “Wassup”
  • “Have it your way”
  • “Be all that you can be”
  • “Give me a break”
  • “Just for the fun of it”
  • “That’s the cold truth”

 

Now for the true test! Can you tell us from the list above, which ones were taglines first versus which were popular sayings that turned into brand taglines?

 

Now let’s take it a step further, can you match each with the brand they represent? Below is a list of all the brand names associated with the above taglines and popular sayings. How many can you match? No cheating!

 

Brand Names:

  • Denny’s
  • Chevy
  • U.S. Army
  • Apple
  • Gillette
  • Diet Coke
  • Braniff Airlines
  • Budweiser
  • Kit-Kat Bar
  • Burger King
  • Staples
  • StarKist Tuna
  • Alka Seltzer
  • Wendy’s

Send an email to Katie@abrightideaonline.com to see if your answers are correct!

Get inspired by 2013

abimaster | January 21, 2013

I recently saw a video entitled, “What if money was no object,” narrated by Alan Watts. The imagery was compelling, and coupled with the catchy accent of the narrator, helped resonate it’s important key message and takeaway – life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy.

It’s the start of a new year. With 2012 our past, and 2013 our future, it’s the perfect moment to take advantage and get inspired to think about change. Some people are change-averse, while others welcome it with open arms. As we begin this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the past year or two (or ten) and analyze if you are heading in the direction you had hoped – whether it pertains to yourself, your business, your brand, and/or how you want to be perceived.

Could this be the year that you push the envelope and modernize? Maybe tackle a new market or expand your service or product offerings? Refresh or update the brand you’ve kept since your company’s inception? As time, trends and your customers change, your business strategy needs to account for these changes.

Refining your business strategy, key messages or brand does not have to mean a complete overhaul of everything you’ve established. Rather, it can be more of a refinement of how you identify and present your business to your target audience, and among the competition. What makes you unique, different, a benefit? Why are you trusted, savvy or the expert in your field? In order to stay in competition you have to be the competition. Keeping your business strategy on target and staying tapped in to your position in the market is essential in understanding your marketing and branding strategy, and analyzing your success in accomplishing the goals of your business.

Below are items to consider as you evaluate your branding position and business strategy, as well as your plans on what you intend to accomplish in 2013 and beyond.

Relevancy – Consider the relevancy of your brand or business – externally and internally. Does your brand encompass the business strategy now and how you intend to be perceived now and in the future?

Growth – Does your business have multiple entities or pieces? Consider uniting them under a single brand mark or name. Sometimes, growth warrants change. If your business has expanded over the years, it may be time to refine a stronger brand representing your success. Key messaging may need tweaking with your growth.

Audience – Consider the audience of your business. Does your company want to tap into a new market? Is the current brand suitable for that audience? Changing the business location or new product offerings or services warrants a look into your overall business strategy and goals.

Handling your business goals and branding strategically is a necessity. Making a change can be difficult, but if made with trust and a thorough plan can mean a world of difference.

Take a moment and enjoy the video. Catch a little inspiration and consider what change could mean to you. It might be time for a refinement of your strategy – look back at your one year, five year or ten year plan. Where are you in your plan and how have you performed? Maybe it’s time to breathe some new life into your business or brand. Get inspired by 2013 and make an impact for the years to come!

As a full-service creative agency we wear many different hats.  We design, write, consult—and that’s just before our morning Starbucks! Keeping our creative minds challenged and inspired requires a motivated focus. Fortunately, we are able to draw inspiration from just about anywhere! Take a look into our creative process with some of our favorite methods of motivation:

 

1.  Get online. With so much content online, we never know when we’ll find something that triggers our creative minds. We love to pin and post!

2.  Collaborate. We make team brainstorming, discussions and creative kickoff meetings a large part of our process. Our staff offers unique perspectives, and since we hold team meetings in relaxed environments, the creative juices can just flow!

3.  Word association. Even if the project elicits a visual element, sometimes beginning with words and working up to their visual counterparts makes for a better end result. Organizing ideas into lists helps us to think more clearly and determine what direction we take.

4.  Back to the books. Thinking about synonyms of a word can really help get an idea going. While one word may not quite have the effect we’re looking for, another word that holds a similar significance may just be the portal to all of those wonderfully bright ideas to come.

5.  Clip and save. We like to save everyday items we come across such as mail pieces, restaurant menus, coasters, magazine ads, labels, and business cards. Whether it’s the organization, type treatment or look of the material that appeals to us, the possibilities of what this little piece could play in a future design seem almost endless. Some call it hoarding; we call it inspiration collecting!

6.  Party hearty. Whether we’re attending a business event, awards ceremony, or personal celebration, we love being inspired by different atmospheres, themes and sceneries.

7.  Explore the outdoors. We often develop color palettes, textures and patterns from what we see in our everyday surroundings. Natural elements, as well as manmade, inspire us to another degree. The line pattern of a leaf or the texture of a tree trunk can play into many different designs.

8.  Photography. A good photo can inspire a concept, a new perspective, a focal point, a color palette, a theme or mood, and much more. Browsing through beautiful imagery like National Geographic can really help.

9.  Channel surf. Sometimes we just need to sit back and observe. Television is a virtual idea wonderland – bringing together a large variety of people, places and scenarios from diverse backgrounds and places.

10.  Go back in time. Looking back at what we’ve created in the past, as well as what creative treasures history holds, brings about new challenges. We always look for ways to carry design to the next level. Sometimes a look back is the best place to start looking forward.

 

We focus on nurturing inspiration and building creativity as part of our daily activities—whether visually or verbally—and we hope these tips help to inspire you!