Shawn Nesaw

Keeping up with all the updates to each social media platform is a daunting task. With no set schedule for updates, some channels have multiple updates in one month and zero updates in another. Similarly, some channels have numerous new additions in one update, while others don’t.

With social media constantly evolving, it’s imperative for social media pros to stay up to date with the latest from each platform so they can stay ahead of the curve and use new features to address communication goals as soon as possible. Let’s get right into it – here is the June social media update round-up.

Facebook 
June saw a big improvement to Facebook Live video with the implementation of closed captioning. This update provides more access to Facebook Live video for people with hearing impairments. For this feature to work, turn on captioning settings and the captions will automatically appear in your live video.
Safety Check was updated with four new features:

    • Fundraising
    • Expanding community help
    • Sharing a personal note when completing a safety check-in is completed
    • Introducing crisis descriptions

Facebook Messenger’s video chat in feature also received an update to now include animated reactions, filters, masks, effects and the ability to take screenshots of your video chat.

Instagram 
We all grow and change and so do our Instagram feeds. The new Archive feature, introduced in June, allows users to move photos previously shared on your feed into Archive where only you can see them.
If you change your mind, select “show on profile ” and the image will reappear in its original spot. Just click the circle arrow in the top right corner of the app to start archiving.
Also rolled out in June, after you go live on Instagram,  you are prompted to share a replay on your Instagram Story to let more people catch up on what they missed.

Twitter
In June, Twitter rolled out new features for businesses allowing them to add buttons to drive actions in Direct Messages (DM).

Probably the biggest change in June across all platforms was the Twitter facelift. This generous and well-deserved update to the Twitter user interface (UI) this month showed users that Twitter is still a viable social media player and that it listens to its users. Without getting too technical, here are the new changes to Twitter.

Click to watch

  • Slide right to access your profile, additional accounts, settings and more.
  • Refined the typography throughout the app so headlines are bolder and distinct from the rest of the text in your feed.
  • Round profile pics
  • The icons and the reply button changed from an arrow to a speech bubble and all the icons were slimmed down.

Snapchat
Snapchat unveiled Snap Map, which allows users to see what people are up to around the world by using the new maps feature. Pinch on the screen to zoom out and view the map. This feature allows you to also select your location settings so you can decide who can see your location while you are on the app.
Additionally, Snapchat introduced the ability to design custom Geofilters right in the app for any special occasion – birthdays, anniversary parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. Until now, this ability was reserved for desktop and designers. To get started, tap “On-Demand Geofilters” in Settings. Pricing for Geofilters starts at $5.99 in the app.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn received a few updates at once to improve the mobile experience. Now, you can see your connection history. Use this new feature to add some personal detail when you reach out.

Another new feature, Search Appearances, allows you to see how many people found you in search and the companies and job titles of the people searching for you.
Three other minor changes to the platform include:

  • Implementation of a new drag and drop feature allowing you to easily reorganize volunteer and education sections of your profile
  • Ability to add an image to any comment across the LinkedIn platform, when words just won’t do
  • Provide quick reply messages for when you want to reply, but don’t have the time

If you do not see these updates on your phone, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and update the apps to receive the latest features and check back next month for another roundup of social media updates.

Shawn Nesaw

Today, social media is a critical component of the marketing strategy for most businesses. This phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising, as more than 50 million active small business pages exist (Brandwatch.com) on Facebook alone. While there is nothing our social media experts love more than to see businesses grasp the powerful nature of a social media presence, balance is key. When overindulging, it’s easy to spread your content thin across several channels.

The saying “jack of all trades, master of none,” accurately describes this craze. Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) create four to five social media accounts with the thought, “If I’m on these social media platforms, I’ll have more opportunity to communicate to our audience.” While a presence on more social channels does provide SMBs increased audience exposure opportunities, maintaining a legitimate presence on each platform is a two-way street. If SMBs publish content frequently but fall short when it comes time to respond and engage audiences past the initial post, audiences will look elsewhere for content.

All too often when a new social media platform hits the market, the first thought is to immediately engage. It’s the “shiny new toy” effect of which Snapchat illustrates best. Many SMB’s who target younger audiences thought Snapchat would be the right channel and for some it was, but for most, it wasn’t. Snapchat takes time to learn, produce content and grow an audience. Yes, Snapchat is great for targeting a younger demographic, but if the SMB doesn’t have a Snapchat strategic plan in place, Snapchat isn’t going to necessarily work.

Whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram or even Facebook, SMBs should look at their goals and think strategically. Consider the following criteria when selecting the appropriate channel:

  • Does the channel help meet communication goals?
  • Does your business have the capacity to produce the necessary content to effectively reach the audience?
  • Will you be able to reach and engage your audience on this channel?
  • Do you have a real reason for being part of that social community?

If you answered “yes” to the above criteria, then the social channel in question might be a good fit for your business.
The last thing you want to do is make a semi-enthusiastic commitment to a channel, which ultimately becomes just a waste of time and resources, two things no business can afford. The truth of the matter is, it’s not necessary to be on every social channel.
Before diving in, here’s what you need to know about each social channel.

After considering those two channels, we recommend the following social channels after careful consideration of the target audience, brand goals and ability to maintain the channel. Use the descriptions below to help guide you towards the social channels that work best.

Social media shouldn’t be a struggle; it should be fun. It’s where you get an opportunity to talk about your brand, show people who you are and engage audiences you may have otherwise missed. Building your brand on social media is crucial for success in today’s marketplace so choose the social channels that meet your business goals.

Tell us how you engage your audiences through social media by commenting below or engage with us on social media. Let’s start the conversation.

Sources: Social Media Today and Hootsuite

Teri O'Neal

No one likes to think about the worst. Crisis communication planning remains a topic that many businesses and organizations would rather not think about when it is not needed. At its core, the perception of crisis communications screams negativity and causes people to think about catastrophic disasters. The response for most, albeit the wrong answer, typically is to bury one’s head in the sand.

However, crisis communications boils down to two basic principles: adequate planning and building relationships. Three mantras in a crisis all surround the plan and the people: prepare for the worst, hope for the best and expect the unexpected.

Prepare for the worst

  1. Know and understand your business and any possible threats against it.
  2. Develop relationships with those media and organizational allies, which could assist you in an emergency.
  3. Identify the spokespeople, who will control the message during a crisis.
  4. Prepare your virtual “go bag.” Gather all social media and website password and logins, as well as any standard operating procedures for efficiency in a crisis.

Hope for the best

  1. Develop the key messaging necessary to allow spokespeople and staff to speak with one voice about the company, accentuating the positive and allowing potentially negative questions to circle back to a key message.
  2. Train your staff on delivering exceptional interviews and teaching the concept of bridging and redirection. This can benefit your organization in good times and bad.
  3. Build trust by ensuring you circle the wagons immediately during a crisis to allow your internal audience, the staff, know they remain the priority.

Expect the unexpected

  1. Remain flexible in your plan to allow for quick-turn changes. A crisis rarely looks the same twice, so leave room in your plan to adjust, when needed.
  2. Anticipate a fluid situation, which often lasts longer than expected. Back up your plans to allow for a longer situation. Avoid burnout, if possible!
  3. During a crisis, communicate early and often. If you leave a void, expect your adversaries to fill it.

Post-event evaluation remains an essential main component of a solid crisis communications plan, though often is the component left undone. The evaluation plan is usually placed boldly at the end of the plan awaiting execution. Most practitioners and business owners, ready to put the negative event behind them, avoid it like the plague.

Ideally, conducting a hot wash of the event and the application of the plan immediately following the event leads to key adjustments to improve the execution. Take the time to assemble the team, even the external partners, if possible, to discuss the execution and brainstorm ideas to make it better for the future.

Our work with clients allows us to assist in planning for the unknown and developing key relationships with people and organizations, which ultimately leads to better responses during a negative event while managing crisis PR effectively.
What tools do you have in your crisis communications toolbox? Share with us by commenting below.

Kristie Sheppard

Marketing your small winery can seem overwhelming and challenging, especially for those small shops with just one, or maybe a few employees. During harvest, there is never enough time to even think about marketing, and by the time you get everything else done from, bottling to distribution, it’s almost harvest again! However, you know creative and customer-focused marketing is critical to the success of your winery.

Adding a few simple tools to your marketing toolbox can assist in strategically and successfully promoting your wine brand. Even a minimal time investment pays huge dividends with the following tips.

  1. Know your audience. Defining your target audience is the first step in effective marketing. Keep in mind your audience is much larger than just wine drinkers. Analyze and organize your current customer base by categories, such as millennials, baby boomers, women or wine drinkers who are new to enjoying wine.
  2. Define your message. Determine a key message to connect your brand with each group of ideal customers. The message should be clear, direct and consistently used so it resonates with potential customers. For example, if your millennial audience group is interested in scores from Parker, make sure your messaging includes your recent ratings. Key messages help tell your story to compel your audience to take action.
  3. Get to know the media. Sending a press release about your upcoming winemaker dinner to the local food and wine critic without building a relationship with him/her will appear self-serving and may get pushed aside. Build a relationship with wine writers and influencers. Read their stories, engage with them on social media platforms and share their stories. Are you getting ready to promote a new wine and want some press? Invite the writer to a private tasting before the release to allow for personalized face time. Prepare materials in advance to make packaging the story easy for the reporter; include photos, content and potential alternate interview contacts.
  4. Engage on social media. Social media used to be about likes and followers. Now, engagement determines success- how many people, when they see your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram post, actually like, share, or comment on that post. Engagement is a two-way conversation. The best way to get engagement is to give some as well. Scrolling through your social media feeds for 10 -15 minutes per day looking for like-minded brands, wine influencers and your customers so you can comment, like and share their posts, will show your investment in the industry. Social interaction creates an awareness of your brand with audiences, who may become followers or customers. Social engagement will keep you in the minds of your customers and strengthen your consumer-producer relationship. Wineries can be hesitant to post on social media because of the Federal Trade Commission laws on advertising to minors, but with advances in data collection on most of the major platforms, you can confidently and legally promote your brand.
  5. Kieran Robinson Wines’ Sparkling Brigade is eye catching and meaningful.

    Let the label tell the brand’s story. If your wine is in retail shops or on display at a restaurant, the packaging is your most valuable asset. You need a label that stands out from the crowd, but also represents your brand and identity. Make sure your key message is translated into the label through visuals or text.
  6. Utilize influencers. Invite top wine influencers to a tasting. Engage with them on social media. Meg Maker, Amy Lieberfarb, Jancis Robinson, Jon Thorson and Antonio Galloni are just a few, but like we mention in Tip #1, do your research to make sure chosen influencers are appropriate for your brand.
  7. Participate in tasting events. For most small producers, providing complimentary cases and cases of wine to a special event may put a big dent in your potential sales, but don’t underestimate the value of attending these events. Yes, you will definitely get quite a few people who are attending the event just to get intoxicated. You will also get serious wine drinkers and media. Many tasting events host a trade/media hour prior to the general public. This is your opportunity to meet media face-to-face and make a lasting impression. Do your research about tasting opportunities. Find out what reporters and influencers have attended in the past. Ask fellow wineries if they have participated and what their thoughts are.

These cost-effective and simple tips will be the start to successfully marketing your winery. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about wine marketing. Comment or share on social media and tag A. Bright Idea so we can reply!

Shawn Nesaw

Like others, we’re ready to pack up for the beach, fire up the grill and break out the Frisbee for this Memorial Day weekend.
For most Americans, the holiday unofficially kicks off our summer season. To many of us, summer means adventure. In our rush to fun and adventure, however, we also intend to take a moment to remember the reason for the holiday.

Often confused with Veterans Day, Memorial Day honors those who died in the nation’s defense, who gave, as President Lincoln so eloquently described, “the last full measure of devotion.” Lincoln spoke those words, part of the Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery in Pennsylvania. In 1868, the tradition then known as Decoration Day began with Union veterans and the families of the honored dead paying their respects at cemeteries.

No one understands Memorial Day better than our active military. Our clients at Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground will hold their Memorial Day ceremonies with an understanding of the long line of sacrifices that stretches back throughout our nation’s history.

Aberdeen Proving Ground will dedicate a new memorial monument on May 31 at Festival Park in Aberdeen. The monument’s dedication reads, “This monument stands as a tribute to the Department of Defense civilians, military service members and support contractors of Aberdeen Proving Ground and the former Edgewood Arsenal … we honor their lives and their contributions to our national defense. Each gave the last full measure of devotion while performing their duties.”

At Memorial Day ceremonies, it is traditional for a moment of silence to remember the dead. That silence speaks volumes.

During World War II, newspaper columnist Ernie Pyle painted pictures with his words of life on the ground with the infantry. His most famous column, however, chronicled the death of Captain Waskow and the heartbreak soldiers experienced when faced with the deaths of their comrades and the power of silent tributes.

Pyle described how during a hard stretch of fighting in the Italian mountains the Army hired Italian muleskinners to carry the bodies of fallen Americans down the mountainside to a collection point at the bottom where Pyle waited with other soldiers.
Friends of the deceased took an opportunity during a break in the fighting to see their fallen comrades.

“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand [of Captain Waskow], and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.”
We live in peace, free of fascism because soldiers like Captain Waskow went to war and did their duty. They fought knowing they faced death, and they carried out their job. Imagine going to work at your office and the person in the cubicle next to you was killed, and you must carry on. Then the next day, you lose three more friends down the hall from you, and the replacement in the cubicle next to you who you just met. And you must still carry on.

We cannot truly honor those soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country because their actions honored them far beyond what we are capable. We can only pay our respects for what they gave to our nation.
We can and should enjoy our Memorial Day weekend. We should live our lives happily and fully because Captain Waskow and many others died to assure us our freedom to do so. We should also give pause to remember and thank them for that sacrifice.

Eric Bach

Light speaks to us. Using a language of its own, it elicits emotions, creates atmospheres and affects the way we perceive the world. Having an understanding of how light mingles with form can significantly aid storytelling in most types of art. Artists like French Impressionist painter Claude Monet and legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams understood the importance of light and used it to great effect.

Below, I describe three key components of lighting that photographers, cinematographers and artists utilize to help tell their stories and elicit emotion — much like Monet and Adams did.

  1. Colors of Light


In addition to illuminating a space, light transforms the way we perceive the colors around us. Natural light, influenced by the weather, season and position of the sun (and moon), affect the intensity and hues of the subject. Artificial light also alters how we discern color. For instance, a standard incandescent bulb will make everything in its vicinity look “warm,” similar to a sunrise or sunset, while modern LED bulbs can emit a much cooler light, close to that of an afternoon outdoors.
Now, how do these differences help tell a story and manipulate our emotions? Many times, artists mimic nature to elicit emotion. For example, to create tension or emphasize the vibrancy of a scenario, artists tend to use warm lighting. Warm colors are typically associated with hot summer days, or fire, so subconsciously we often correlate this light with intense or lively situations. To evoke a sense of angst or depression, or to simply represent a cold atmosphere, artists intuitively use a cool color temperature.

lighting colors
Image 1: Cool light | Image 2: Warm light | Image 3: Colored light

 Quick Tip: Many photographers and cinematographers prefer to shoot during the “Golden Hour,” a short time after sunrise or before sunset. The light is warm, soft and often has a magical quality.


  1. Positioning of Light

Moving a light source just a few feet in any direction can dramatically alter an image. For example, positioning a light from above, pointing down at the subject versus from below, pointing up at the subject will take a standard sitcom scene and turn it into the makings of a thriller film. The positioning of the light determines the shadow placement, which is the element that adds or reduces the drama in an image. Having an understanding of how the positioning of light casts shadows and interacts with form allows artists to control highlight and shadow placement, often setting the tone for the image.

Lighting positioning
Image 1: Light positioned above, pointing down | Image 2: Light positioned below, pointing up

 Quick Tip: Soft light from above, pointed down is most often used for portraits, as it is the most flattering to facial features.


  1. Intensity of Light

Light exaggerates or softens the angles of a subject according to its intensity. Direct light often creates dark, crisp shadows, which artists can use to add power, mystery and drama to an image. To create a softer vibe, the light must often be diffused. Photographers can diffuse light by bouncing it off of a surface at the subject, or shining through a white, sheer fabric before the light hits the subject. In the natural world, clouds and a rising or setting sun create diffusion.

Lighting intensity
Three different light intensity levels

Quick Tip: Lighting one side of the face considerably more than the other side will add drama to most portraits.

No matter which art form you choose to express your creativity, you probably use light in some way — perhaps without even really thinking about it. The next time you pick up your camera or start drawing, consider how you can use light to create the perfect atmosphere to help tell your story. Or, leave it to us — obviously we love our light at A. Bright Idea!

Shawn Nesaw

We walk through the gates of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, ride up the escalators and elevator to the Club Level and walk along the perimeter of the stadium through the long bending hall.

Fans of all ages and types decorate our journey to the suite that holds the best afternoon we’ll have since the fall, the last time we breathed in the Old Bay-infused air of downtown Baltimore.

Opening Day – a symbol of rebirth in many ways – calls us all out of hibernation and greets us with outstretched arms clad in black and orange as we emerge under the bright spring light.

For the baseball fan, Opening Day holds the promise of opportunity with a new season and a fresh start.

For the Bright Light, it delivers the social outlet we all crave since our last company-wide gathering at the Brightmans’ home where we celebrated the holidays.

This longstanding A. Bright Idea tradition invites our families and friends to celebrate their role in our work for a family-owned small business, recognizing how their support enables us to shine in the service we provide our clients.

Enjoying the game with our personal families and A. Bright Idea family all in one inclusive venue affords us a posture of appreciation. We thank our families and friends, and we thank each other with a spirited high-five over a homerun or a warm chicken tender. We also express immense gratitude for the “manager” and “head coach” of our award-winning team as they share their guidance all year long and provide this opportunity to fuel our collective souls.

Just like the collaboration of a winning baseball team, a supportive family and a collaborative creative team lead to the success we experience in supporting our clients’ goals.

Company traditions and all-hands outings like Opening Day help build the culture over revelations of shared interests and commonalities. When we step away from our desks for the afternoon and see past the professional to interact with the human, we learn things about each other.

You step out for five minutes during the seventh inning stretch while the pizza arrives, and a colleague saves you a slice before the stampede of children demolishes it all. You are forever grateful, and you now share a bond with that fellow human that translates back to the office when you reassume your professional roles.

Recognizing the power of bread and melted cheese, there’s no telling what an array of dessert can do. With our Verbal team’s typical vice of coffee and the Visual team’s of Mountain Dew, we’re a little obsessed with sugar. So, naturally, the dessert cart brings us to new heights, both in sugar highs and team spirit.

Whether it’s for the sport, the camaraderie, the food or the relief of trousers and pencil skirts for Orioles gear, we look forward to this exciting event every year.

Perhaps it’s the solar energy powering our bulbs, but our lights do seem to shine a little brighter once exposed to the aura of Opening Day.
We’ll see you all at the Yard!

Alison Tagliaferri

Your NCAA basketball bracket may be busted, but your favorite college may still win with its branding.

As one of the most watched sporting events, the annual March Madness tournament showcases 68 teams for basketball talent. But it also gives universities and colleges one of their biggest marketing opportunities nationally. An estimated 82.5 million Americans fill out their predictions for winners on the tournament brackets, a bonding ritual known as “bracketology.” Many of those faithful bracketologists also work full-time jobs, resulting in an estimated loss of $2.1 billion in productivity during the tourney. The popular pastime also provides the opportunity for many people to learn about some colleges for the first time.

As the NCAA Final Four championship approaches, with many brackets already busted (thanks, Maryland), our Idea Dream Team decided to take the tournament’s Sweet 16 to create our bracket based on branding. We named our process “brandetology.”

Brandetology (n.): A 100% made up word referring to the thorough study of #branding in NCAA basketball to build a #MarchMadness bracket.

We picked our Final Four Brand Champions based on the industry’s top brand strategies (no wagering, please). Our team reviewed the school’s logo, design and color palette, to include the uniforms and court graphics, as well as the team’s social media and website for content and ease of navigation — all tools of a comprehensive brand strategy.

To pick the final four of brandetology, we considered:

Visual Branding (Uniforms, logos and courts)

  • Color and pattern schemes
  • Distinct branding elements that differentiate the school
  • Design integration and consistency across all mediums

Social media (Instagram accounts reviewed as a sample)

  • Dynamic and captivating visuals
  • Balance of video content versus photo usage
  • Shareable and engaging content
  • Diversity of photo topics (court, uniforms, players, students cheering, user-developed content)

Websites

  • Ease of navigation
  • Social media integration
  • Page hierarchy and placement of compelling content
  • Use of impactful graphics
  • Interactive and multimedia content

The Final Four of Branding

Oregon Ducks

With Nike co-founder Phil Knight, an alumnus and strong supporter, Nike’s influence and monetary backing show throughout Oregon’s branding from the uniforms all the way to their top-of-the-line facilities. Oregon scores high marks across the board from a branding perspective, including its court design. When you think of Oregon, you think of forests, and the court features silhouettes of pine trees. The variations in color and layering of trees create depth on a typically flat and one-dimensional court. The muted colors also contrast well with the neon uniforms, so they command even more of a presence.

Photo credit @oregonmbb

With bright and bold colors using neon yellow and green, like the basketball uniforms, most of Oregon’s football and basketball uniforms also incorporate subtle feather design elements. With Knight’s influence, the colors and variations of uniforms push the envelope in uniform design innovation. The bold, bright, reflex colors prompt an immediate reaction, and coupled with the design, make the uniforms memorable. While the logo’s typographic execution uses shallow cap height and letter-width pitch, the unique feel makes it recognizable and works well in the world of sports.

Oregon’s social media presents compelling and consistent content, never forgetting brand identity. The Instagram account uses bold, high-contrast and professional imagery that appeals to viewers and athletics alike.

The website integrates social media content well and has a clean, contemporary aesthetic. The bold imagery and headlines engage the site visitor immediately. The website uses the logo in an interesting way without any type but remains instantly recognizable.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan played for the school, and now his Jordan brand serves as the official apparel of the team. The uniforms feature traditional Carolina blue and argyle patterns down the sides. In color theory, blue often symbolizes stability and confidence. The strength of the Tar Heels branding comes through, with the color dubbed by many as “Carolina blue,” and the iconic logo remains one of the most well known from the team’s consistency at the top and enthusiastic fan base.
The court’s color scheme also highlights the Carolina blue along the sidelines but shines at the mid-court logo with an outline of the state. Even so, the court wasn’t the most compelling of the finalists.

Photo courtesy of @unc_basektball

The basketball team’s social media (particularly its Instagram account, @UNC_basketball) includes a good mix of custom imagery from players celebrating victories on the court to behind-the-scene photos in the locker rooms, giving fans a complete and behind-the-scenes look. The school’s colors appear in nearly every image, maintaining brand consistency. The site features custom graphics and motion graphics.
The minimalist, clutter-free design of GoHeels.com allows for simple navigation. While the design remains static, readers have numerous headline options and access to audio and video footage. Overall, the design falls short of the style of the Instagram account and requires some updates to support the university’s brand elements throughout the site.

 Xavier Musketeers

The Musketeers’ playing surface at the Cintas Center underwent a major facelift in the fall of 2014. The university went straight to its fans for creative inspiration.

In the spirit of true engagement, the university incorporated elements of the fans’ ideas into the aesthetics. The school’s final product, which features the Cincinnati skyline, includes two-toned wood staining and the primary X logo at center court in bold, dark blue lettering.
The basketball team’s Instagram account consistently uses a photo filter to wash the images in a bluish tint to support the brand’s color palette and a type treatment that appears hand drawn with a youthful energy.

Photo from goxavier.com

With an enticing, contemporary color palette and frequent use of iconography to simplify navigation, the university’s website has a very youthful design. During the Musketeers’ tournament run, the school’s athletics website kept the strong graphic content at its forefront, creating numerous splash pages for the school’s game day coverage, even including a countdown ticker to tipoff. These elements create fan engagement and drive traffic to the site.

Baylor Bears

Photo courtesy of @baylormbb

The Baylor athletics logo includes the classic “BU” with gold lettering and green trim with a very conservative, traditional typography. But you wouldn’t feel as if the school’s branding was traditional in its approach with a sharp juxtaposition in its use of glow in the dark colors. To say you can’t miss seeing their uniforms is an understatement. The neon-yellow and green color combination creates a glow-in-the-dark effect unlike any in the school’s athletic department.

Supporting the connection to the team’s lineage, the basketball players wore on their jerseys the names of the “Immortal Ten,” a group of players who passed away in a bus crash in January 1927 while traveling to a game. By paying tribute to the tragedy, it ties together the present and the past, it shows the university cares about the school’s student-athletes of all eras and ties the generations together, an important role for a university to help build pride and support.

The team’s social media accounts thrive on glowing green visuals that reinforce the brand. A social media industry best practice and a mainstay for Baylor, shorter posts drive impressions. The school also employs a strong social media campaign promoting the noted phrase, #SicEm, a phrase used by supporters of the university on game days meaning to attack, or “get them.” With over 185,000 #SicEm usages on Instagram, even the official Baylor University website tells fans how to enjoy the phrase properly.
Upon entering the website during the team’s tournament run, the audience first encounters a splash page honoring the team’s accomplishment and providing details for fans about when, how and where to watch all the action. The site’s main pages integrate the infamous #Sicem phrase and provides easy navigation for fans to find the information they want without getting bogged down in content.


Brandetology Honorable Mentions

(*NCAA tournament participation not required for this category)
With more than 340 schools in NCAA Division I, many schools deserving recognition for branding didn’t make it into the NCAA basketball tournament, but we deemed them worthy as part of our branding honorable mention section.

Court: Florida International Panthers

Photo credit of @fiuhoops

With a design almost guaranteed to appeal to recruits and students in the North watching basketball games on cold, wintry nights, the school’s basketball court has a beach theme with palm tree fronds and waves crashing on a shore in its design. There’s a Panther at center court, but give us sand and surf imagery any day. The court definitely has a strong concept.

Uniform: Maryland Terrapins

Photo credit of @terrapinhoops

As a Maryland alum, I can’t go without mentioning my beloved Terps. The Terrapins continue upping the ante in the branding game, especially since moving to the Big Ten. Much like Phil Knight’s influence at Oregon, Maryland benefits from Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank’s influence as an alumnus of the school and a strong supporter of the athletic program. A former player on the school’s football team, Plank and Under Armour provide Maryland many different uniform combinations. Many of the uniforms incorporate elements of Maryland’s flag design, which sets them apart from other universities giving just enough of an indication without being too assertive, along with full-color Maryland flag trim and seams.

Logo: Georgetown Hoyas

Photo credit of @georgetownathletics

Georgetown’s Hoyas nickname remains shrouded in mystery, with the precise origin of the term dating back to the 1890s remaining unknown. Eventually, the mascot became Jack the Bulldog. The bulldog logo has evolved over the years for the better, without losing its original spirit and character. The newest version of the logo includes a little more personality with expressive eyes, as well as shading for increased dimension and drama. The line quality is very bold and graphic, which helps with scalability and increases the perception of strength.

Website: Florida Gators

Photo of floridagators.com

FloridaGators.com demonstrates a good site that shows off their brand. Several design factors makes this a great online presence. The site features impactful imagery using bold school colors of blue and orange. The simple navigation has large callouts to important information. The callouts themselves include easy access to tickets, scoreboard and the schedule of upcoming games. The site also has large, easy-to-read news articles that grab the reader’s attention.

Instagram Account: Miami Hurricanes

Photo courtesy of @caneshoops

@Caneshoops carries a bit of everything from action shots to pre-game close-ups and team huddles to exclusive locker-room footage. Miami makes you feel ready to lace up your sneakers with a focus on action and intensity. The photo quality is consistent throughout the feed, offering a cohesive look, an important factor to acquire and maintain followers. People follow visually appealing accounts regardless of the subject. Miami takes their followers through a journey with the team, an impactful strategy for those who live and breathe basketball. That kind of slice-of-life content also can appeal even to non-basketball fans. With a minimalist mentality regarding written content, the visuals do the talking for them eloquently. Instagram accounts that invest in producing quality content gain the most and reward their followers with the experience.
 

Shawn Nesaw

Each year on March 14 (3.14), people all over the world celebrate Pi Day. The most popular of all trending holidays celebrates the mathematical constant π, 3.14159, which, if you don’t recall from sixth-grade math class, is used to calculate the circumference of a circle, among other things.

http://archimedes2.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/archimedes_templates/popup.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=146592
Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BC) – By Domenico Fetti

You’re probably thinking, “This made up holiday can’t really be legit.” Well, think again, friend.

The date March 14 (that is, 3.14) was designated Pi Day by House Resolution 224 of the first session of the 111th Congress of the United States in 2009.

What gave us pause about this rather abstract holiday was what makes Pi Day so popular around the world? What started out as a holiday for high school math teachers, branched out into a world-wide, social media trending, pie eating fun day, with no age limit or industry focus. Anyone can celebrate Pi Day because, even if you don’t like math or have any interest in circumference exploration, most people like pie!
And that’s where the secret lies – with pie, a close favorite to Pi. Apple, peach, pumpkin, chicken pot, meat or even pizza, all these pies make Pi Day a little more fun. See, for the Pi Day newbies, pie is a key ingredient for making Pi Day awesome for two reasons. First, it gives folks an excuse to eat pie at work. And second, π is used to find the circumference of a circle and pies just also happen to be circular! Mind blown, I know.

For Pi Day this year, we figured we’d have some fun and have a little pie bake-off. The recipes are listed below, if you want to try any of these for yourself.

Bonus: Test your math skills – The earth has a diameter of 7926.41 miles. What is the circumference of the earth? Use C=2πr. Place your answer in the comments below. Also, let us know which type of pie is your favorite. Happy Pi Day!

Pi Day Recipes

Peach Pies with Vanilla Wafers
Submitted by Lisa Morris
Servings: 4 individual pies.
INGREDIENTS
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, divided into 4 equal pieces
1¾ cups chopped frozen peaches (keep frozen until ready to use)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 vanilla wafer cookies

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press the pie crust pieces into 4 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peaches, sugar and cornstarch. Toss to combine. Spoon the peach mixture into the muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the crust is golden. Top each pie with a vanilla wafer cookie and serve warm or at room temperature.

(She will be doubling ingredients to make a large pie rather than 4 individual)
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Coconut Dream Pie (Kraft)
Submitted by Teri O’Neal
Prep: 15 mins – Ready in: 4 hr 15 mins
INGREDIENTS
2 envelopes DREAM WHIP Whipped Topping Mix
2-3/4 cups cold milk, divided
2 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
1 cup coconut, toasted
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 (9-inch) baked pastry shell, cooled

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat whipped topping mix and 1 cup of the milk in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed 6 minutes or until topping thickens and forms peaks.
  2. Add remaining 1-3/4 cups milk and pudding mixes; blend on low speed.
  3. Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
  4. Stir in coconut and pecans. Spoon into pastry shell.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until set. Garnish with additional toasted coconut, if desired.
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Baked Spaghetti Pie Recipe
Submitted by Katie MacNichol
YIELD: 1 large pie, 8-12 pieces
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 40 minutes
INGREDIENTS
16 ounces dried spaghetti
16 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground Italian sausage
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
Pre-made pizza dough

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10 inch springform pan, or a 9 inch deep-dish pie pan. If using a springform pan, wrap the outside in foil to avoid leakage.
  2. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil. In a separate saucepot, add the ground beef, sausage, onions, and garlic. Brown the meat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the meat is cooked and the onions have softened, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and 1teaspoon salt. Stir and simmer on low.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, usually 6-9 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta.
  4. Separate out 2 cups of meat sauce and set aside. Add the cooked pasta to the remaining pot of meat sauce. Stir well to coat the pasta. Beat the eggs, then stir them into the spaghetti. Stir in the parmesan cheese
  5. Roll out ¾ of the pizza dough and lay on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 5-9 minutes (until it starts to brown). Remove from oven.
  6. Pour the spaghetti into the prepared pan on top of the crust. Press down to pack the pasta in the pan.
  7. Pour the remaining meat sauce over the top of the pie. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Cut the remaining pizza dough into 1” strips and make a lattice pattern on top of the cheese. Brush lightly with melted butter (optional).
  8. Bake for 15-25 minutes until the edges are crispy. Cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Chicken Pot Pie
Submitted by Shawn Nesaw
INGREDIENTS
1 box of two refrigerated pie crusts
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup whole grain flour
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 diced chicken breast (cooked)
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (thawed)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box for two-crust pie using a 9-inch glass pie pan.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour until well blended.  Add broth and milk gradually while continuously stirring. Cook until bubbly and thickened.
  3. Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut 4 slits in top crust.
  4. Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tips: Let pie crusts warm up to room temperature before using.  This recipe makes a thick gravy.  For a thinner gravy add an additional 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  Cook chicken in the same pan prior to making the gravy for additional flavor and less dishes to wash.  Leftover chicken broth can be frozen for later use.
 

 

Shawn Nesaw

I sat down at my desk in my ergonomically correct desk chair with my laptop perched on top of its stand to begin writing this post. My fingers positioned on the keys, I stared at my computer screen. The words just weren’t coming.

My setting felt too formal for this particular task. So, I picked up my laptop and ran over to our beanbag room, repositioning myself in a comfy Dalmatian-print blob. The ideas started circulating as my mind entered a more relaxed domain. After some time, I landed on “the one” and began feverishly hashing it out.

But instead of hashing, I decided I needed to dribble. I stepped into the hallway and picked up our purple basketball, my idea transitioning from concept to concrete with every shot I took at the net hanging on the wall.

Our offices include various spots where team members can temporarily relocate, including our chill area with leather couches and punctuation mark pillows, our outdoor bar stool picnic table and our purple Adirondack chairs on the porch. Our MacBooks, Wi-Fi and Tervis Tumblers of coffee create the basis of the magic “Bright Light” solution for success, allowing us to create anywhere.

@MariaD_ABI enjoying a beautiful spring day on the ABI front porch.

Flexibility in our physical settings offers creative workspaces, which translate to the work we produce at A. Bright Idea. When we can physically change scenery, we’re much more likely to mentally readjust.

As a full-service agency, we support many different types of clients and varying projects. Sometimes we develop technical content, like descriptions of how a piece of technology works to destroy chemical weapons. Other times, we emulate Stephen King and make up a horror story for a haunted trail hosted by a nonprofit organization.

Based on the vibe or mood of the project, we prepare our minds to generate the appropriate ideas. Adapting our work space to the task at hand supports this preparation and acts as a green flag waving at the front of our brains, as if indicating approval for the ideas at the gate to set off.

We’re fortunate to have access to several buildings in our creative campus at our home base in Bel Air, while a second location sits on the edge of the tranquil Sonoma Valley Regional Park in Glen Ellen, California. Our surroundings set us up for success with inspiration galore!
Now that we’ve shared some of our flexible secrets, let us in on yours! What kinds of spaces do you find inspiration for your work?