Posted 2009 at by & in category Design That Sells.

A few weeks ago, my Father, a 56 year old entrepreneur, asked if I could throw together a brand identity and some marketing materials for his most recent endeavor: a small sandwich/concession/ice cream shop. After due conceptualization, research, and a few hours tinkering around in InDesign (I am not exactly “trained” as a graphic designer), I developed three logo concepts for him to review and incorporated each into a complementary, basic tri-fold menu. When I presented him the fruits of my labor, the only thing he said in response was “I hate those menus and I don’t know why.”

Great. Not only was this project pro-bono; I had to play the ever-so-familiar guessing game of “what do I do now?” You know; you’ve been there. So, I changed my focus and asked myself “what would he be looking for as a consumer?” I wanted to know why he made that face before even reading the copy of the menu. While doing a little research, I came accross a very interesting empirical study regarding the instantaneous impact of typeface aesthetics on a consumer’s perception and emotional response which can be found HERE. Within the results of this study, I discovered the answer I was looking for. The participants of the study consisted of mainly hospital employees or students between the ages of 21 to 40 years (all within my age bracket and below my fathers). After exposing these participants to a number of typefaces, they found that “Georgia” font (the font I used in the menu) is congruent with the trait words practical, formal, and assertive, while Arial (my dad’s prefernce) is congruent with the trait words stable, conformist, and unimaginative.

Hmm. Does this make baby boomers more conformists or unimaginative when it comes to typeface? I won’t go that far but I will say this: there is definitely an underlying, distinct difference between generations and typeface/graphic design.

Posted 2009 at by & in category Marketing Musings.

A while back, I read about Philly-based agency Gyro Worldwide changing their name to Quaker City Mercantile due to the fact they believe they “are a hybrid of 19th century mercantilism and 21st century brand artistry.” Wow. But today I read these “artists” are crafting something else – BEER and RUM!

We all know the ad industry as a whole is suffering from spending cuts, general client malaise about the economy and the unwritten rule that marketing is always the first thing to go. But I think these guys are onto something.

They have a series of books, they’re producing films, they have their own brand of rum – Sailor Jerry – and now they’re making beer. The agency took a major stake in New England’s Narragansett Brewery. Of course being an ad agency, they have produced their own campaign including print collateral, surfboard and airplane banners, radio, TV and a line of apparel.

My first thought was “BRILLIANT! Our creative sessions could quadruple in fun and we can pay the vendors in beer!” Then, my thoughts shifted to who would actually want to work on the agency side versus playing with hops and sugarcane. Although it is summer and this sounds like a great way to diversify, I think we’ll just stick to reinventing the agency with shifting client needs. I’d be happy to discuss this over a cold one with you.

Posted 2009 at by & in category Internet Marketing.

This is my first shot at a blog entry for our Agency…hope you enjoy!

In today’s business climate, it is well known that you cannot go far in the online community without utilizing the appropriate tools for your marketing strategy. That being said, Google has emerged as the king of the tool shed, with programs like AdWords and Analytics geared towards optimizing your brand’s presence online.

As a marketer, these programs are absolutely fantastic. The information available to me is unbelievable. To give a simple example, I can see how many people from Grand Rapids have accessed our website (www.sharpmkt.com), which browser they were using, how long they spent on the site, which pages they viewed, which site they came from, if it was their first time visiting the site or not, as well as pull all of the usual demographic suspects (age, sex, income) etc. It is truly, any marketer’s dream. However while I was coming up with this example, I stopped for a second and shifted gears into consumer mode asking myself, ”how much information does Google give out about me?”

So I developed a little experiment. I wanted to see how well I could profile myself as a consumer using both Google Analytics and Quantcast (another awesome website analytics software). First step: access our website from home. I logged on five times to the site, each time erasing my entire browser history. Then, I began to dig. I created a Custom Report in Analytics for the day I had accessed the site. My reporting tree was as follows: All visits, broken down by the hour of the day, then by city, medium (how visitors found the website), operating system (I use a MAC at home), and browser (I used Firefox to access the site).

Total visits: 6.

I also ran a Quantcast report for the same day, singling out males between the ages of 18 and 24, Caucasian, with no kids, an income of $25,000 or less (no comments please), and a Bachelors degree.

Total visits: 6.

There I was, naked as the day I was born. All five visits showed up along with one other person…most likely our graphic designer. Scary how I can tell, isn’t it?