Meg O'Hara

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!

Tell us about a personal success story or strategy using LinkedIn to create connections in the comments below.

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.

Shawn Nesaw

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

Alison Tagliaferri

Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year, Ultra Violet, marks the fourth time Pantone has selected a purple, or a variety of purple, as the Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid, a solid purple, in 2014; Blue Iris, a blue purple, in 2008; and Fuchsia Rose, described by Pantone as a “bright pink and purple” but looks like pink to most of us, in 2001.

When Pantone named Ultra Violet, a deep royal purple, the latest Color of the Year, the news thrilled our Bright Lights because we’re passionate lovers of purple.

It’s not because of our hometown pride in the purple-clad Baltimore Ravens, a team that, like A. Bright Idea, began in 1996. Beyond visually representing A. Bright Idea, purple is our brand.

Pantone sets the standard for colors used by the print and design industry. As a graphic designer, when I sit down to begin a logo or design, I sit down with a Pantone book. Like every designer, I turn to a Pantone book when it comes time to pick a color palette for a project. That helps me find colors that work together well in the Pantone swatch book. I also bring a Pantone color book to every press check to make sure the print color matches.

The Pantone Color Institute staff has selected a Color of the Year since 2000 and bases the selection on their analysis of pop culture, fashion, design and current events. Last year’s pick of Greenery as the 2017 Color of the Year represented a new beginning. Pantone describes Ultra Violet as the color that “lights the way” for what is to come. That phrase also resonates with us as Bright Lights who help light the way for our clients.

“Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now,” Pantone wrote in the announcement. “The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”

Courtesy of Pantone

Purple inspires creativity. A mindful color that energizes, yet calms, purple can represent sophistication, happiness, brightness and so much more. Purple’s not feminine or masculine. It’s gender neutral, allowing for a wide range of uses.

Pantone’s Color of the Year influences design trends across industries. In addition to A. Bright Idea, the designer handbag company where I started my career always incorporated the Pantone Color of the Year into the new line.

While it’s complementary to yellow, purple works well with a wide range of colors. Its popularity with designers may be one reason Pantone has picked a shade of purple four times for Color of the Year since 2000. Unlike a red or orange that tries to grab your attention, purple conveys tranquility and contemplation. A designer also can use it in larger color blocks.

For those of us at A. Bright Idea, purple always remains in style, providing our graphic designers with versatility. Tell us how you plan to incorporate Ultra Violet in the new year 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

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:

Jessy Weiss

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.

 

Katie MacNichol

While reminiscing on the Super Bowl (or maybe just longing for the weekend), I thought about the creative choices brands make in commercials to connect with their audience. The brands score when they make you act – buy their product, schedule a service, call or email for more information or log in to register for a service. Whatever the action, successful ads make you want to do it immediately. Brands do this through creative choices that tell a story to connect with you on an emotional level.

Think about these examples:

  • What if Audi placed a middle-aged woman in the cart race to replace the little girl to make a stand for raising strong, valued women?
  • What if 84 Lumber chose a group of men versus a woman and child for their “Journey 84” spot?
  • What if Hyundai used a group of sorority sisters partying at the beach instead of the nation’s Warfighters stationed overseas connecting with their families?

The creative choices in an ad shape the story and tell you how to feel, making the message more impactful. In these instances in particular, the theme of people (those actually used in the commercial; the actors) made a direct correlation and emotional connection back to the audience.

For example, Hyundai’s ad used a theme central to making life better – showing soldiers being led into tents to put them “with” their family watching the game while their families were set up in the stadium with 360 degree cameras. It brought families together – making life better – by using actual families in the creative.

While the touching scenes do not sell cars directly, the commercial pushes the theme and Hyundai as a brand shows its focus on making life better too. They say “Hi, audience, come buy our brand” by connecting on an emotional level and weaving storytelling through advertising.

In an age of media oversaturation, it’s good to get to the point. But what makes you more apt to buy? A message that literally says “Go online and buy XYZ now!” or a more tactful ad that cries out to your needs – all the things you’re feeling inside that you want to trust a brand you’re going to invest in understands and feels too.

quote

The Super Bowl was a great time to see the impact of creative choices coming to life, especially how storytelling through advertising makes a difference to the audience. But, storytelling also matters in any form, whether print ads, brochures, websites, logos, etc. Brands are thinking more strategically about how they communicate to their audience, shaping creative decisions and call-to-action around reaching them at an emotional level.

We hope to see this trend continue, too, because it means brands pay attention to their consumer and care about them on a more personal level than just sales and profits.

And before I say “bye,” check out one of my other favorite Super Bowl ads – #BaiBaiBai. To be honest, I’m not completely sure who serves as Bai’s target audience but the creative choices in talent used here make me want to be their audience. Who’s thirsty?

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

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.