Shawn Nesaw

A blank canvas, a blank screen, a blank page. Every creative pursuit starts essentially with nothing and requires the creative genius of the person to paint a picture, design a graphic or tell a story. For a business, your origin story, your endeavors, your challenges and solutions, all mean something to everyone involved.

But how do you share all of this with people who don’t know you or haven’t worked with you? How do you evoke emotion and get them to care? That is what branding does. What’s more, the large blank canvases all around you at your office or place of business, are often the underutilized mediums that can help you tell your story.

“Wall projects are a cross between interior design and graphic design,” Lisa Condon, Senior Director of Graphic Services says. “Wall graphics help grab attention, add elements of color and beauty to offices and most importantly of all, tell a brand’s stories.”

Stories are meant to be shared, and what better way to share your story than through big, bold, beautiful images, artifacts and text.

Wall projects come in many shapes and sizes – as you’ll see in the examples below – and with options galore, it can be overwhelming to visualize how to best use space for physical branding.

When considering if a wall project is the right way to tell your story, think about the following:

  • Wall space – Do you have space that is either blank, not used effectively or could be updated? Are there areas where people gather, where you hold meetings or events, or where people are waiting?
  • Longevity – Do you want something with permanence or something that can be flexible and needs to be updated or mobile?
  • Budget – Are you looking for something full or small-scale? (This helps determine materials, fixtures and fabrication plans.)
  • Availability of assets – Do you have high-resolution photos and videos that you’d like to share in new ways?
  • Permission – Can you modify the space? Do you have or can you get the permission to embark on a project of this scale?

Fortunately, we don’t expect you to have the answers. These types of considerations help frame the ideas – showing you all that can be done and in keeping within parameters.

We’re fortunate to have worked on a variety of environmental design and wall graphic projects, including large scale printing, fabrication and installation. Take a peek at some of the projects we’ve developed. Maybe they’ll inspire you to consider telling your story in a unique and immersive way.

Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Chemical Biological Center Visitors Center

Imaginative design transformed this visitors center into a dual-use space for VIP tours, meetings and events showcasing the organizations mission, presence, culture, research and products. Understanding the need for flexibility, we designed 16 inner building walls, 14 banner displays, 10 portable walls and two double-sided outdoor displays.

Defense Logistics Agency

This auditorium oasis consisted of 40,000 feet of wall and floor space telling the stories of the agency’s role in supporting the Warfighter. It created an immersive brand experience for visitors and reached hundreds of personnel daily with important messaging and visual reminders of the mission of the agency. A wall of fame, massive hand painted mural and glass-encased artifacts helped take this project to the next level.

https://www.abrightideaonline.com/work/defense-logistics-agency

U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity

This project consisted of a 10-foot nomadic exhibit, a touch-screen kiosk and retractable banners for use at future environmental and technical conferences. To ensure our client was able to fully grasp the scale, feel and placement of assets within the spaces, we created virtual spaces and elevations. This ensured when the final space was complete, there were no surprises. For the touchscreen and video kiosks, we produced interactive presentations using Adobe Flash and Microsoft PowerPoint, integrating animated, video and audio content.

We also converted a 35-foot-long Airstream trailer into a Mobile Information Center (MIC) to engage students in future recruitment efforts and inform the community of the site’s mission. We developed museum quality display panels, models and hands-on products for an enriched engagement experience. Specific graphics produced and fabricated include munition models in wood frames in a mock igloo as well as a representation of an emergency alert siren. When a button is pressed the actual warning tones and messages play, which audibly stresses the importance of the work being safely performed at the site.

Your story matters so why not tell it and display it in a big way. Ready to talk more about how to brand your space? Do you have questions about wall projects? Email us at info@abrightideaonline.com, message us on social media and look out for our Wall Project Q&A with Lisa Condon, Senior Director of Graphic Services.

Shawn Nesaw

LinkedIn — the most professional of all social media platforms. You know its importance, you recognize its value, but you may not fully understand how to leverage its features for your professional benefit.

Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, many people check in on their LinkedIn profiles on a less frequent basis. Sometimes seen as the “black sheep” of social media, you might find daily touchpoints unnecessary, but it doesn’t make the platform any less of an essential tool to utilize in your professional life. LinkedIn provides a space for businesses, employees and jobseekers to digitally network with other professionals in any given industry.

So, if you find yourself at a loss for ramping up your LinkedIn profile and making the most of its capabilities, follow A. Bright Idea’s five Cs of LinkedIn to make your profile stand out while adding some weight to your online presence.

CREATE your personal brand
According to Business Insider, many hiring managers make up their mind about a prospective employee within the first seven seconds of meeting them. Meaning, first impressions carry a tremendous amount of weight. Treat your LinkedIn profile the same way. To demonstrate your professionalism in the online world, make sure to upload a recent, high-resolution headshot as your profile image. Paying close attention to these details helps build your personal brand and invites others into the essence of what you offer through your experience and professionalism.
CONNECT with other industry leaders
Expand your network and increase the opportunities available to you by connecting with colleagues, industry experts, high-level CEOs, clients or key community leaders. Doing so can serve as an especially fruitful tool when looking to reach members of a different industry, or one in which you have a specific interest. LinkedIn connections can also garner new skill endorsements, thus building your credibility and profile views.
CAPTURE attention with your experience
Develop a brief but engaging summary of your experience to give profile viewers a glimpse into your professional background. Don’t shy away from including interests, passions and professional development experiences in which you participate. All of these assets build a well-rounded professional background and provide industry experts a clear picture of everything you bring to the table.
CULTIVATE relationships through engagement
We see no exception to the notion of “you get what you give” on LinkedIn. Build relationships with your connections by endorsing their skills a minimum of one to two times per week and engaging with their posted content through likes, comments and shares. Not only will this demonstrate the value you place in the individual you promote, it will encourage them to do the same for you.
CAPTIVATE your audience through content
Use your expertise to write compelling content specific to your industry or profession. Developing useful, sharable content showcases your background and experience for your current and potential connections. Garner their attention by also sharing industry-related articles, further positioning yourself as an expert in your field and staying up-to-date with the latest trends.

By implementing the five Cs of LinkedIn, you will quickly grow your network, business opportunities and partners online – all with a minimal investment of time. Enhancing your personal brand will benefit you and your business. Watch your connections increase and your profile expand in just a few weeks and enjoy the professional benefits that follow as a result!

Shawn Nesaw

When it comes to social platforms, the size of Facebook’s community continues to lead the pack. Facebook boasts 1.37 billion daily active users worldwide, with the number of Facebook users in the United States expected to reach 207.36 million.

That’s a lot of eyeballs, and if your business doesn’t have a presence on the platform, you’ll unequivocally miss out on countless opportunities to grow brand awareness, and ultimately, increase revenue.

By now, most businesses have at least developed a business-specific page on Facebook that says to users, “Hey, I’m here!” But, consider how you can stand out and wow your existing and potential customers with thoughtful posts and engaging content.
We’ve developed a list of Facebook facts to help take your business to the next level in 2018.

Back to basics
Considering all the flashy features Facebook has to offer, it’s easy to overlook the simple building blocks of effective communication with your customers. Make sure the “About” section on your page reflects your business’ correct hours of operation, contact information, including a telephone number, email and address, and a quick, descriptive line or two about your products or services. If customers can’t get a hold of you, or if they’re unsure of your purpose, you risk losing their interest and trust.
It takes two
If you want your customers to engage with your content, your page and ultimately your brand, make sure you also spend time engaging with your customers and acknowledging interactions. Respond to reviews, both negative and positive. Take the time to “Like” or reply to comments and photos visitors leave on your page’s wall. Highlight positive customer and vendor interactions by tagging them, with permission, in posts. Don’t forget to venture outside of your page and engage on other pages to expand the reach of the conversation.
Video, video, video
Video posts dominate today’s social media landscape and continue to garner more attention from users over other forms of media. Don’t let fear get in the way of taking part in the trend — you don’t need a professional videographer to shoot videos for posting on your Facebook page. In fact, people forgive less-than-stellar production quality video as long as the story keeps them engaged. Do a little research on how to shoot quality videos using just your smartphone. Pro tip: before you post your video, add captioning manually or using Facebook’s automated tool, as more and more users watch videos, but in many cases with the sound off for part or all of the video.
Do it live
Authentically promote your brand by enlisting the help of Facebook Live. This feature provides users a unique, inside look into your business through the power of immediacy. Plus, anyone can do it — simply determine an interesting facet of your business, aim and shoot! Develop your talking points or a full script, whatever makes you more comfortable in front of the camera. The purpose is to increase engagement on your page while delivering content your audience will like. You can also continue the two-way conversation by responding to comments during the live event. And, if Facebook gives live videos a boost using its algorithm — meaning the platform puts your live videos in front of more people — you should take advantage.
Keep it consistent
A successful Facebook page relies on consistency in a variety of ways. Always make sure the tone and imagery of your Facebook remain true to your overall branding. However, you can let your brand’s guard down and use a more casual attitude across the platform, even if your brand typically employs a more formal approach. Remember, the goal remains engaging with your audience, so take note of how they speak and incorporate that into your posting strategy. Most importantly, make sure you post regularly. A Facebook page with stale and outdated content can cause distrust and force your audience to go elsewhere.
Rules of engagement
For those businesses unwilling or afraid to step onto the Facebook scene, rules of engagement provide clear parameters to help guide the conversation on your page. Set guidelines in your “About” section including the prohibition of profanity on your page, the ability to delete comments not related to the post and intolerance of personal attacks. You may need to decide whether or not addressing negative feedback or aggression on your page publically can provide a better customer experience overall. By responding to negative content publically, you can offer a professional and friendly solution that upholds your reputation among other audience members.

At the end of the day, engaging with your audience regularly and authentically through quality content, engaging conversations and meaningful interactions will put your business ahead of the rest.

Facebook’s latest algorithm update penalizes “engagement-bait” material — posts that overtly encourage comments, likes and shares — and prioritizes personal pages and posts over public and business pages’ content. This means Facebook ad space will diminish making inventory more valuable and potentially more expensive. Businesses that proactively engage audiences in organic ways, however, can improve the likelihood of appearing higher and more often across user feeds.

While this blog provided a few tips to jumpstart your focus in 2018, Facebook boasts many additional features to utilize and incorporate into your strategy. Let us know what Facebook features you’d like to hear about or questions you have in the comments section. Or, even better, tag us on Facebook at @abrightidea and let’s start a conversation.

Eric Bach

Advertisers have successfully employed the use of voiceovers to command audiences for decades but getting it right takes research, planning and creativity. In producing a commercial or video collateral for your business, give the voiceover some serious thought before moving forward with the creative execution of your marketing.

Voiceovers provide the perfect opportunity to share messaging while controlling tone and guiding the emotional reception of your campaign. In fact, actual science exists behind why you might want to take your voiceover in a certain direction. For example, Phil McAleer, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, uncovered that we begin forming our impression of a person’s personality from their very first spoken word and that we deem higher pitched voices more trustworthy[1]. This research, along with similar findings, can shape the effectiveness of a voiceover and take your marketing from notable to unforgettable.

To help navigate the voiceover process, we’ve gathered a few tips to keep in mind as you craft the perfect campaign.


1. Consider your audience and test, test, test!
As with all marketing and advertising, put your audience first. Consider what type of voice would resonate most with your target market and compile a list of appropriate voice artists. Have your talent provide audition reels and test the different assets against one another in a controlled environment. Reflect on what has worked for your competitors and improve on that model. This could mean going in a completely different direction, but testing will ensure your audience relates to whichever voice you decide on.

2. Keep voice quality in mind and pick a clear emotional direction.

Waveforms show voice amplitude and moments of silence.

Once you’ve picked a voice artist that appeals to your audience, consider the cadence, tone and diction necessary to effectively share your message. A skilled voice artist exhibits control over his or her voice, altering the delivery of copy based on the emotion you want to elicit from your audience. Make sure you’ve chosen a voice artist who not only has a great, natural quality to his or her voice, but that he or she can also convey a message convincingly and authentically to your audience.

3. Be consistent and think long-term.
A successful advertising campaign relies, in part, on the frequency at which your message reaches your target audience. Establishing retention within a market depends on the repetition of messaging. This applies to voiceovers, too. When picking a voiceover artist, decide on someone who can deliver a variety of messages for the brand. Staying consistent with a voice artist throughout the life of a campaign builds trust and triggers auditory recognition that recalls unique brand characteristics without having to explicitly remind audiences.

4. Make sure you’ve got a great script.
Even the best voice actors can’t make a weak script deliver results. An effective voiceover depends upon a well-developed script. So, after you’ve written your voiceover copy, read it aloud, paying attention to the rhythm and flow of the delivery. A word or phrase might look great on paper but sound terrible to the ear. Keep your script clear and creative, and whatever your campaign goal may be, make sure your copy speaks to the action or feeling you want to encourage.


Developing effective and interesting voiceover to complement your campaign visuals often proves daunting, but with proper planning and testing, you can root your marketing efforts in strategy. Monitor the success of your campaign and evaluate how your creative assets resonate with larger audiences. There’s always room for further perfecting efforts, so stay open to switching directions.

Tell us about an effective voiceover experience you’ve executed, or better yet send us a link and let us hear it!
[1] http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/05/05/308349318/you-had-me-at-hello-the-science-behind-first-impressions

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!

Nate Keezer

We’re constantly curating the soundtrack of our lives, handpicking melodies that speak to us on any number of levels, conscious or subconscious. Going through a break-up? Cue the heartbreak ballads. Working out? Turn-up the techno beats. We’re used to tuning into the songs that best correlate with what we’re feeling or doing, but did you know that the reverse is also true?

That is, that music can elicit a particular feeling when you’re in an otherwise neutral state. You’ve probably implicitly noticed this, even if you haven’t given it too much thought, but the power of music has swayed audiences for centuries. Take a movie, for example: the soundtrack or score supports what’s happening onscreen and guides spectators into feeling a certain way about situations and even specific characters.

Using the same logic, businesses can harness this tactic to build brand recognition and positive perception.

Take this study published in the Journal of Applied Business Research. A sample audience of 210 undergraduate students was asked to record all the thoughts that came to mind after watching a suite of ads. What the audience didn’t know was that prior to constructing these test ads, 16 melodies were pretested based on music that would elicit negative, neutral or positive emotions. Those findings were used to develop three music beds (one negative, one neutral and one positive) that were added to a single commercial. The results supported the hypothesis that negative, neutral and positive musical emotive cues exerted a progressively enhanced influence on brand attitudes, meaning the “negative music has a less favorable influence on brand attitude than neutral music, and neutral music has a less favorable influence on brand attitudes than positively valenced music.”

So how do you use this to your brand’s advantage? It certainly takes trial and error to get right, but finding the perfect music bed can take your audience on a journey that a voiceover or just an image simply can’t. Brands can use a song’s message to reinforce their own and in doing so, seamlessly strengthen a visual with an accompanying aural cue. But lyrics aren’t the only way to spread a message, as even an instrumental song can elicit happy or sad emotions, transcending language barriers and broadening audiences through music.

Most importantly, in an age where brands must stand out among all the clutter, music in advertising helps content break through by connecting with audiences on an emotional level.

In advertising, humanizing a product or service is the first step in gaining the trust that leads to conversions. Music tells the story of the human condition, and it can be a powerful tool in your next campaign.

This bee was busy working. See how we used music to set the tone:

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.
ABIicons2016x
BEHIND THE SCENES: The Light Bulb Icon

Shawn Nesaw

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.