May 15th, 2013 by Amanda Paull
Join Thomas Phinney, our in-house typography guru, for part 3 of the Web Safe Fonts Are Dead Webcast series.
It’s the Wild West with web fonts online, but we’ll help you navigate a safe journey. You do not need to have attended the first 2 to get everything out of part 3!
Tuesday, May 21, 11:00 a.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. Eastern
We will be storming Austin in March. Why not join us?
Enter to win your SXSW Interactive Platinum Badge. It’s simple.
- Create a FREE account on WebINK
- Follow @webink on Twitter
- You’re entered to win!
- 2 Winners will be selected on February 19, 2013.
So many activities, so little time to sleep!
- Font Detective Extra Bold Talk with Thomas Phinney
- Passion for Typography Meet-up with Jim Kidwell
- Digital Hoarders Roundtable with Edward Smith and Jim Kidwell
- Hack-a-thon for Social Good in conjunction with our buds at WebVisions
Get all the deets right here on the WebINK Blog
May 24th, 2012 by Amanda Paull
Ed Smith, our in-house DAM dude, is channeling Jeff Foxworthy in his new CMS Wire Article. It should be titled “You know you’re a Rich Media Hoarder if…” Check it out.
And in you are in the NY area, Check out the upcoming ‘Hoarders Unite’ event on June 19th. Learn How Viacom Saves Time and Money with DAM.
That’s one word for it. Changing a brand that people have lived with so long. You can’t please everyone. You hope to get 2 out of 3.
It’s so easy to overlook that the group most invested in the current brand are those in your own backyard. Employees will prove the most skeptical, which is a good benchmark for “does this pass the sniff test?” After all, if your brand messengers can’t get on board, then you’re not accomplishing much, are you?
Skepticism is natural since we’ve all lived with this current brand for so long. It’s like an old friend (or at least your favorite, albeit ripped to shreds, T-shirt) Familiarity breeds comfort. ‘New’ does not.
My thinking was that the best way to get people on board was to bring them along for the ride. In my previous post I talked about the research process and how involved our employees and partners were at the early stages. Since not everyone was involved in each phase, I started there.
Keeping in mind that those who ‘know’ a brand don’t necessarily understand consciously all the ways in which it touches them, we wanted to weave that in as well: What is a brand? Why does it matter? Research results? How does this alter how we talk about ourselves? What visual directives come out of this?
I modified this presentation so you could get the gist of where I was going.
Aside: You can see that I used Prezi as the medium- it is an awesome tool for presenters who are global thinkers (as opposed to linear). Complex concepts are rarely linear in nature. That’s what makes Prezi so spectacular for communicating (it is also so visually engaging that you can lull your audience into a trance, which can come in handy). If you haven’t used it, you should definitely check them out: http://prezi.com
I presented the research information first. Some weeks later we then did a recap of this and presented the visual elements that key off of it. The visuals were in a state of ‘partial’ completion, but enough to give a real taste. For fun, at that time we passed out a backpack to everyone with the new logo and made some fresh, new-branded desktop art available for people to use on their internal machines. While not ready for prime time, it was just a simple way for the team here to test-drive the new brand. You know, try it on for size.
Following the ‘reveal’, I received a little bit of feedback immediately following. It was all positive, but vague. Then people here started living with it and talking about it and about a week or 2 later, I started to receive regular comments from people about how it made them feel, how others responded to it, etc.
Not that this is the definitive word. It’s a small thing. But my point remains the same: you have to win over the neighbors before you can run for Town Mayor (ok, admittedly, that metaphor is weak, but I think you get the point.)
Is everyone elated? Surely not. But at least we were able to bring them along for the ride so they could see the method behind the madness. At least then, like it or not, they know why we chose the path we did.
So far so good. But next up is our most critical audience yet: YOU.
February 14th, 2012 by Amanda Paull
Shh. It’s the best un-kept secret we’ve had in a while. Mosey on over to the WebINK blog if you’re interested in a chance to win a Platinum Pass to that L’il old event in Austin, TX next month.
February 2nd, 2012 by Amanda Paull
In the last installment I talked about how you know it’s time for a brand refresh.
So by now you know we decided to go for it. For me, there were 2 driving reasons to tackle a brand refresh now:
1- Evolution: This company is vastly different than it was 10 years ago. We are not 17 years old; we are 17 years strong (yes I’m a marketer, that’s how we talk…). We are ever-evolving and our brand should reflect the caliber of technologies we are building today.
2- The Human Element: There are truly wonderful aspects of our company that are not readily visible externally. This group is so customer-focused that we will obsess over a single frustrating customer experience. But, unless you have had direct interaction with our sales or support teams, you would not know the depth of our commitment to making users happy. Yet this is one of the core brand qualities that keeps people coming back.
“The friendly skies” of United
Getting Started: the Brand Audit
Oy. Like your first step into the cold pool, getting started is the hardest part.
We started with a brand audit to tell us who we are. (OK, yes, we are Extensis. I got that part. But who are we from the outside-in?) Too many companies try to build their brand on top of who they WISH they were. Consider: any healthcare company—or US-based airline—that you can think of and you’ll see what I mean.
Ever hear the expression “you can’t fight genetics”? Well, perhaps that also applies to branding. You just have to be who you really are and focus on showcasing that, otherwise there is a high probability of looking like a phony.
“Love to fly?” Really? Because the rest of us hate it!
Yes, lost luggage IS special.
What (and who) we asked
First we had to get some probing questions answered:
- Do we deliver what we promise?
- What is our greatest opportunity?
- Why do people choose to work for/work with us?
- What have we never been good at?
Well, you get the idea. You simply can’t be afraid to get the answers you need to hear. It’s important stuff.
Yes, market research is invaluable. But at a certain point you hit serious diminishing returns (think: looking down the ramp of a ski jump.) There is a point at which you have enough evidence to move forward. Tom Fishburne recently created a timely Brand Cartoon on this very topic.
In light of this, we chose to spend our time talking to our brand messengers: customers, employees, industry partners and sales partners. We had a 3rd party team send out a survey to our employees and then conduct a series of in-depth interviews with customers and partners from across the globe (from customers like Publicis, to partners like Adobe and Microsoft). These guys know us, our product offering and how we fit into the bigger context of the industry. And, as we learned, they are happy to be brutally honest!
What We Learned
A few ‘pull quotes’ from the research:
- “If they want something that’s solid and works they’re going to purchase our product.” (Employee)
- “We really strive for quality: the fonts on WebINK are just one example.” (Employee)
- “Solid products. Extensis really cares about the functionality.” (Sales partner)
- “The most valuable piece is the internal talent.” (Industry partner)
- “The best thing about the product is the depth of engineers that can work on the product.” (Customer)
Clearly, the employees here are the nerve center of this place. But we have done a poor job of allowing this character to show through. For me, this was the biggest take-away: “They like us but they don’t really know us.”
We are not some monolith technology company that is slick but impersonal. We engage our customers and value their opinions, we share that feedback across the organization, we act on it whenever possible, we work very hard to satisfy. We really do lose sleep over doing the right thing. We really do groove-out on making customers’ jobs easier. In short: There is a face, a heart and person who cares behind every box. That’s exactly the Extensis we need people to see. OK. we can do that!
So it turns out those icy cold waters were rather refreshing, after all.
Out of this mass of data we were able to distill some basic visual guidelines to pursue. We need to communicate we are a company that:
- Loves type
- Is open and approachable
- Respects design tradition while progressing forward
- Takes our work and our customers, but not ourselves, seriously
So taking these and articulating them into a visual architecture is easy, right? (gulp) This is where my ‘be brave’ advice comes in to play. And this is the point at which I’m preaching it to myself.
Next up: The Visual Brand: It’s Decision Time
Finally, 2012 is the year of CHANGE!
Of course, we know we are guilty of some of these (I’ll let you be the judge) so, we’ve decided that it’s time to embark on a makeover. Truth is, we’ve been working on the research piece of this in the background for a while. So why not learn from our trial and error? Swallowing our pride, we are going to share throughout the process to help those of you who may also be considering taking the plunge.
And now, a reality check.
A Pep Talk
There is never a good time for a brand refresh. It’s a universal truth you just have to suck up. Sorry.
For us, we are always on the cusp of some new product launch or initiative that will hamper the process. That’s how it works. I suppose if you don’t have competing priorities that complicate it, then you’re likely missing something.
But, don’t let timing deter you from the big decision. There are obvious and compelling catalysts for a company rebrand: acquisition, technology shift, etc. And then there are less obvious, organic catalysts. (See list above)
The bottom line is this: Companies Evolve. You find yourself introducing products or services in response to market opportunities and one day you wake up and realize that the overarching brand in your head is not the one the outside world is experiencing. At least that’s our situation. Lets face it, if you are moving your business forward, you create the opportunity to ‘outgrow’ your current brand—and a refresh is in order.
What’s the desired outcome?
Smarty-pants marketers (and academics) will cite things like “increase shareholder value”, “capitalize on market trends”, “create buzz”, yada. I can’t subscribe to this. You increase shareholder value by fostering happy customers. If your effort doesn’t, in some direct way, touch your customers, then what value is it?
In my mind, brand is about connecting with your audience. It’s about how you, as an organization (of people), interact with the audience (people) and how they (people) feel about it. That’s it. Granted, there may be a hundred ways to impact this, but it really is that simple. And when you bring in new audiences, or narrow in on one market, you may need to noodle on how your company communicates. If you keep it simple, probability of success skyrockets.
Why agencies LOVE brand redesigns and marketing teams LOATHE them:
As an agency, a rebrand is a huge challenge that gets the juices flowing (it is also a large task which is good for your bottom line). It is quite exciting. No matter how invested you are however, you are never going to forever ’live’ within the brand you help define.* It doesn’t work that way. Some may regret this disconnect, others may relish it.
This is why marketing teams hate rebrands (no, you are not alone). They are thrilling, in a ‘stick-your-neck-out-and-subject-yourself-to-endless-lashings’ sort of way. Have a vision—on any given day you will need to defend your decisions. You have to commit (because you DO need to live within this brand). And above all, you have to be fiercely brave. Easy, right?
Well, I’ll let you know. We won’t be rolling out new materials for a while yet. They are coming soon, so until then, you can go through the process with us.
Next up: Why Extensis dove into the icy cold waters of a brand refresh
* If you do bring in a partner to assist in the process, choose wisely. Make sure they are as invested as is humanly possible. Fortunately, we’ve done just that. Shout-out to Blue Collar Agency and Owen Jones Partners.
Museums have artifacts, important historical assets, and all the material that go along with those for exhibition (images, background information, etc.). How do they store, sort & search it all? Portfolio Server, integrated with their Collections Management System (CMS), has proven to be an effective way of managing this daunting task.
“Collection management systems are great at managing object information and metadata, but only go so far when it comes to managing the corresponding digital images,” says Edward Smith, our Product Marketing Manager. “The National Museum of Ireland and the Portland Art Museum are great examples of how DAM works with CMS to provide a comprehensive collection information solution.”
“Search results are only as accurate as the data being searched,” said Richard Weinacht, Digital Image Technician at the National Museum of Ireland. “Portfolio Server ensures efficient image retrieval by importing data from accurate sources including file metadata and collection management system exports.”
“Portfolio Server also enables us to embed and display rights metadata, which informs staff of appropriate usage for each image,” says Maggie Hansen, Collections Information Manager at the Portland Art Museum.
Each Museum’s DAM implementation will be highlighted at an upcoming event:
DAM in Heritage and Culture 2011
- Free Seminar hosted by Extensis
- Customer Highlighted: National Museum of Ireland
- Wednesday, March 23, 2011
- 10a.m.- 6p.m.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew London
- REGISTER HERE
Museums and the Web Conference
- Digital Asset Management Workshop, presented by Extensis and Portland Art Museum
- Saturday April 9, 2011
- 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
- Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Congress Room
- REGISTER HERE
And if you have not already checked it out, but are looking for DAM information, check out the DAM Learning Center for helpful tips and tools.
*Image courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland Collections.
Whoever thinks print is dead has not seen the poster mania that has descended upon Austin, TX this week…This and more on the WebINK blog.