5 Brands That Keep It Fresh While Staying On Brand

Keeping a company “on brand” and “on season” can be deceptively hard. A well-functioning brand relies heavily on consistency in its design choices to create cohesion and establish a sense of trust and familiarity with the consumer.  The customer however, carries a certain expectation that a brand keep up with trends and the changing times.  Here are 5 brands that creatively solve the problem “How to keep it fresh while staying the same.”

1. Copic Marker

Copic Marker is a brand that really knows who it is and more importantly, who their customer is.They have created the perfect solution to this challenge by utilizing their social media audience and consumer base into their seasonal marketing strategy. Every month, Copic employees put together the campaign: #ColorsoftheMonth. Which is a three-color set of markers that embody the seasonal mood of the upcoming month. They release the colors via a short gif on their Instagram, along with the HEX codes for digital designers under the hashtag #ColorsoftheMonth. The selected markers are always offered at a discounted rate for the month, along with additional bundle items to encourage additional purchasing. They then ask artists to post and tag their #ColorsoftheMonth creations for a chance to have their piece shared on the official Copic social feeds. The result is a beautiful, color coordinated grid that engages users, encourages buying, and expertly plays to both the strength and creativity of their brand.

2. Oreo

“Milk’s Favorite Cookie” takes the cake (or cookie in this case) as far as adapting to each season while staying on brand. Everything about their branding design is simple, clear and consistent throughout the year. From the classic Oreo Blue and Black to the playful Sans Serif fonts, they’ve expertly created a social media presence that’s instantly recognizable, before you ever see a cookie. The one area in which the brand provides change is with their animations.  By adapting a vectorized cookie into a seasonally specific animation, Oreo creates the idea of fresh and fun design while keeping their core aesthetic consistent. 

3. Swatch

Swatch is no stranger to using creative design to sell a product. In fact, that’s kind of Swatch’s thing.Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Swiss watch and accessory brand is an expert at melding recognizability with new ideas to ensure their feeds are eye-catching all year round. Swatch understands that the most recognizable aspect of their brand is the shape of the watch itself. As far as creative content, they capitalize on the fact that they aren’t afraid to switch it up and make bold design choices. When you think of Swatch, you think of bright colors, bold patterns, but most importantly, you think of change. By keeping only the image of a watch consistent and pulling from their ever-evolving designs, they have put together a branding style that seamlessly provides their consumer with freshness and familiarity from season to season.

4. Lush Cosmetics

Just like their ingredients, Lush keeps it simple and clean when it comes to their social media. The all-natural health and beauty brand applies the same philosophy that makes their products so appealing to their seasonal social media design. Lush customers feel a sense of pride in buying from them and the company has built a loyal empire based on transparency and celebrating ingredients in their truest, raw form. This same celebration of natural beauty is expertly on display as you scroll through the company’s Instagram. Season to season, they choose a color story that reflects both the time of year and the products that are currently “in season”. From face masks to soaps to photos of flowers, Lush has designed a beautifully curated color story that lets their ingredients shine.

5. OPI

OPI is masterful when it comes to using color to design new and playful ways to engage with consumers. Each week they highlight different nail polishes by showcasing a color family worn in a variety of ways and designs. They then use those colors as a common thread throughout the posts for that week. Sometimes it’s as a simple background, other times they’ll stage a whimsical flat lay or photo. The end result is a cheeky and enticing social media presence that perfectly highlights the products and the season. 

Source: https://www.elysiummg.com/blog/5-brands-th...

The Ultimate Guide to a Holiday Marketing Campaign

Doesn’t every year seem to go by faster and faster? Suddenly, you look at the calendar and summer is behind you and the month of December is breathing down your neck. The holidays can be stressful for everyone, but for businesses that time of year requires EVEN MORE time and planning. Well luckily, we’re here to give you the ultimate marketing guide to the holiday season:

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Here’s a friendly reminder - the holiday season is long (and seemingly getting longer every year). Therefore, you need to plan for not one post or email, but an entire campaign of different, but cohesive posts to constantly stay top-of-mind to your consumers during the busy and crowded holiday season. Remember, last year on Black Friday when you received approximately 2590385034 emails? This is a perfect example why you need to plan for much more than one email or social post.

It’s the Giving Season

Most brands have a natural fit for the giving season. This is the time of year to hone in on what you want your brand to be known for. It’s almost a given in this day and age for brands to have some tie-in to a charity, especially during the holiday season. However, it’s important that the charity chosen is an organic fit to the mission of your business. If you’re doing it “just for charity” your customers will realize and the buy-in will not be as beneficial to anyone involved. For example, if you’re in the restaurant industry it might be the perfect fit to form a partnership with a food back. Whereas, if you own a retail shop it could be the perfect tie-in to donate to a shelter that provides clothing to the less fortunate.

Back to the Basics  

The tides have turned and people LOVE getting mail again. Rather than being one of the hundreds of emails received on any given day, wouldn’t you love being one of the few things (not bill related) that an individual is getting in their mailbox? Although the amount of mail that is delivered during the holiday season does increase. If you create an amazing, on-brand holiday card it’s not only an additional way to ensure that your brand is top of mind but also a way to showcase your brand and wish your consumers a happy holiday season.

Where Your Campaign Should Live

Your business is firing on all different cylinders, so your holiday campaign should as well. Email, social, direct mail, digital, print, text, etc. Your holiday campaign should be carried out throughout these different mediums as well. Start by establishing what you want to accomplish (maybe this is a percentage off, a gift card promotion or a buy one, get one offer) and the look of the campaign and then bring that look to life so your consumers will see it over and over and be reminded of what you are trying to accomplish and what action you want them to take.

Including Movement  

Here’s a trick we’ve learned, people love gifs and animated social. It’s eye-catching and stands out among the millions of pictures and graphics that exist on timelines. Plus, it differentiates your creative. The holiday season is the perfect time to add some animation into your marketing strategy. If you don’t have the capabilities to bring your dreams to life, don’t worry – we do. Here’s one of our favorites:

TR Holiday Social.gif

Because People Love Presents, Right?

Who doesn’t love to get a present? The holiday season is the perfect time of year to give your clients, prospective clients, friends and family a branded gift that they’ll want to keep, use and hopefully carry with them wherever they go, and can we say free advertising? Sometimes it takes a little time to find the perfect gift to give from your company, but if you nail it – everyone will be talking about it and your brand.

Elysium Wine Gift.jpg

Don’t Forget to Wish Them a Happy Holiday

This seems like a no-brainer but boy oh boy you’d be surprised how many people miss out on this final step of a holiday campaign. People like to feel special and a simple “Happy Holiday” from your business is another element of making your customers feel like you truly care about them and value them – this can even be through something as simple as a video on social media featuring your team wishing everyone a happy holiday season!

We understand just how valuable a holiday campaign can be for a business, but we also understand how much work and time goes into making a holiday campaign a success. There’s still time (barely) to execute a kickass campaign and we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started on your holiday marketing strategy.

Why Your Business Needs Brand Guidelines

So what exactly are brand guidelines? Essentially, they are a set of rules that explain how your brand looks and feels at every touch point. They are a roadmap of information surrounding the personality and values of the brand. Brand guidelines incorporate the colors & fonts, logos, and other brand essentials that help define the brand’s identity. Now let’s dive into the importance of these bad boys!

Differentiation

To be successful, your brand needs to build awareness and develop trust and loyalty with customers. The best way to do this is to ensure that all creative pieces are cohesive. Nowadays, consumers are constantly being exposed to competing brands so now more than ever, these guidelines are crucial to help your business stand out amongst all of the noise.

The two best ways to differentiate your brand from competitors are by: 1) maintaining consistency within your own brand identity and 2) using a unique voice and look. The process of creating brand guidelines helps to bring up pivotal questions about the essence of your business.

Consistency

Consistency is key with anything, but especially with your brand identity - it should never be left up to interpretation. If something you put out doesn’t look like the rest of your brand, people WILL notice. These guidelines aren’t set up to stifle creativity and make everything look starkly similar, but to ensure that all creative is sending the proper messaging and is effective in achieving the goals that are set in place for the business.

Standards & Rules

Brand guidelines establish rules that ensure all elements of the brand are used consistently throughout all creative pieces. They support marketing strategies by ensuring that all messaging is relevant and related to brand goals. This creates a strong brand identity that resonates with consumers, which helps increase overall awareness. Take Coca-Cola for example - they’re a brand that focuses on building happiness. Everything about their brand evokes positive emotion  from their bright red cans to their classic font and personalized products. Consumers know who Coke is can clearly differentiate a marketing campaign for their brand versus another soft drink brand. This kind of consistency and recognition is exactly what brand guidelines are for.

Brand guidelines are also extremely helpful for designers. They allow them to understand what and how to use specific elements such as logos, colors & fonts, spacing, and imagery. Setting these rules also help new employees who don’t yet know the true identity of your brand and what all it encompasses. Obviously it’s helpful for them to look through previous pieces, but giving them a guide that explains how to properly use the elements of your brand will help stave off any issues and set them (and your brand) up for success!

Voice

Brand guidelines give your brand a voice and point of view. A great way to help distinguish this is to play a game we like to call “This or That.” We’ll suggest different describing words and our clients will tell us where on the spectrum they believe their brand lies.

Is your brand funny or serious?

Is your brand soft or bold?

Is your brand modern or classic?

Is your brand demure or edgy?

Now think about this: if you think your brand is funny, what kind of funny is it? Do you want a corny joke or pun involved in every creative piece or do you want your brand to focus on more intelligent humor? This might sound funny, but it really helps to distinguish the heart and soul of a brand. You’d be surprised how often we ask clients to name 5 adjectives about their brand and they can’t! Even when they can, the question is would your employees and customers name the same adjectives? This is a crucial step, so make sure to really think about the true essence of your brand!

Creating Brand Guidelines

Creating brand guidelines can be a massive undertaking. Besides establishing a voice for your business you need to consider a color palette, fonts, imagery, logo, and several other elements to create a truly useful set of guidelines for an impactful brand. It’s not impossible, but it is time consuming. Elysium Marketing Group has created several brand guidelines for various clients in very different fields, and each time it’s a journey deep into the heart of the brand to ensure the final product clearly defines the voice, essence, and identity of each brand. Whether you’re creating a new brand or re-branding an already established brand, we’ll ensure you have the tools you need for a strong brand that meets its business goals.

Contact us to see how we can help move the process along!

The ROI of a Laugh: How to Use Humor in Marketing

A joke is never as funny if you have to spell it out, but in this case we're dissecting a couple of well thought out marketing campaigns that do a great job of using humor.

Purple Mattress

I know it sounds a little funny to use a mattress company as an example of humor in marketing, but it's seriously one of the first brands that comes to mind when this topic is presented. If you've never seen any of their commercials, I highly suggest doing so. They're clever and present some really interesting characterizations. They create a storyline within a short time frame while also providing all of the information needed regarding their products.

One of their more popular commercials is centered around Goldilocks, their expert bed tester. In three minutes she easily explains how the raw egg test simulates where pressure is distributed throughout the body during sleep all while providing hilarious commentary. The information sticks because her characterization is perfect for this skit and the information provided isn't too detailed. Another example of this is their commercial featuring a Sasquatch mother who is fed up with lower-quality mattress toppers. The entire commercial is one continuous joke that sprinkles an appropriate amount of information throughout. One of my favorite lines, which I'm sure others will love is "Other toppers turn your bed crinkly or stiff and they make your mattress noisy, hot, and uncomfortable. Like a Nickelback concert." One-liners like these are abundant and absolutely get the point across that Purple Mattress is unlike the competition. The company truly knows what will hit home for their consumers and uses that to their advantage. 

Denny's

Sometimes it can be difficult to produce content for platforms like Twitter. You only get so many characters and therefore you really need to hit home with the content quickly. Denny's is a fantastic example of a company that is using humor in social media effectively. If you've not read their Twitter feed then I implore you to do so. You will NOT be disappointed!

The majority of their content is quippy and entertaining with useful information divvied throughout. This brand is so successful because their tweets are so incredibly relatable. How many times have you thought about something - THOUGHT, not searched for or even talked about - and seen a targeted ad for it relatively soon thereafter? I can tell you it's happened to me on several occasions. Denny's caught on to this and replied with: "the reason you see our ads so often in because we can read your mind. You think about your ex and pancakes a lot." This is too funny, and way too real. It makes followers interested in their content, so as they follow along with the hilarity they wind up seeing deals being promoted. It seems so casual, but it works into consumers' feed perfectly. Bravo, Denny's!

Anheuser-Busch

Philly, Philly! Need I say more? This was one of the most prevalent marketing campaigns of the year - and for good reason. Anheuser-Busch listened to their consumers and played off of their interests. With Game of Thrones being one of the most popular shows on television right now, Bud Light created a campaign with a series of commercials that mimic the medieval setting found on the show and gave it a humorous undertone.

One example focuses on a man who escapes a treacherous dungeon to come back carrying a case of Bud Light. When another prisoner questions his decision to return, everyone else cries out in protest because they all want their favorite brew. The brand took it a step further when the Eagles not only made it into the Super Bowl, but won. The series continued with the king announcing that "The injury gods threw mud at you, but the perseverance gods wiped you off and patted your behind. So for you, I'll say it only once: Philly Philly." Playing off of the pride of Philadelphia fans shows that Anheuser-Busch understands their demographic and gives us another reason to love this fan favorite.

It can be difficult to use humor in marketing. Sometimes campaigns focus too much on trying to be funny and lose sight of the fact that they're still trying to sell something. It's a fine line, but the call to action and supporting information need to be present and highlighted. Take the lead of these brands and listen to your audience, be relatable, and do what's right for your brand.

What I've Learned In My Three Years As a Marketing Consultant and Business Owner

As Elysium celebrates its third birthday and we enter our fourth year, I’m reflecting on my time as both a business owner and a marketing consultant. Much like how I feel when it’s one of my kid’s birthdays, in some ways it seems that Elysium should be much older, and in other ways I can’t believe it’s already been three years. 

If I had to narrow it down to only three takeaways, these are the ones that stand out: 

1.     There are opportunities everywhere.

As a marketing consultant, you can’t help but judge - err - look at everyone’s marketing creative, messaging, and more with a sharp lens. And truthfully, sometimes you wish you could shut off that lens. We create menus, so you bet that every single time I’m in a restaurant I check out the layout, art direction, and more. I know my husband just loves this when we’re supposed to be out for date night (love you Phil!). But the same is true for logos, sales brochures, and any other piece of tangible or digital marketing. I find myself scrutinizing emails during the holidays and wondering why that subject line was chosen or who decided to use those two colors together. A lot of this judging is helpful when we work with our designers. We share the pieces we love for inspiration, and we share the pieces we don’t love as very clear “dont's.” 

Another opportunity is when we talk about what we do and our love for Elysium with our friends and family. They tend to share that love, and it’s a pretty awesome thing.  I’m already super excited for what 2018 is going to bring because I already have a new phenomenal client joining the Elysium team, a lead that came directly from an old boss, a meeting scheduled with a potential partner from a connection of my Dad’s, and a prospective client meeting from a Mom of one of my son’s friends. Elysium’s third year wouldn’t have been half as successful without the love, support, and encouragement from friends and family.

2.     You will find yourself doing things and in situations you never imagined (and loving every second of it.)

No, this isn’t like an - all of a sudden I was on Broadway situation - but when you and your team whole-heartedly invest yourselves into a client’s success, and see yourselves as a true part of the client team, you jump in to do anything possible to move the business forward. A couple of quick examples:

  • An investor meeting that we orchestrated for an organic skincare client
  • A focus group analyzing tampon use
  • A farm visit and a menu tasting for every.single.item
  • A construction site of the largest observation wheel on the east coast

3.      No two days are ever the same.

I often get asked “What is your favorite part of your job?” and more times than not my answer is that no two days are ever exactly the same. One day we will be launching a gorgeous website, another day we'll be onsite at a video shoot, and a third day we will be in an all-day strategy planning meeting. It's not all sunshine and roses everyday, but most days we're working together as a team to come up with strategic ideas and campaigns to better our client's sales. As Elysium continues to grow I’m trying to celebrate our successes more and truly learn from the challenges.

I know how lucky I am to be doing what I love everyday. And I know that these three years have flown by with a higher amount of good than bad days. I’m ready to continue learning, meeting amazing people, and celebrating the good stuff. Happy 3rd Birthday Elysium Marketing Group!   

 

5 Direct Mail Necessities to Remember

1.     Make it Stand Out!

In the Tony Roni mailer we created and sent (pictured below), we have two very eye catching components: 1. The headline: We Like Big Crusts and We Can Not Lie. And now you have the song “I Like Big Butts and I Can Not Lie” in your head. Since the Tony Roni brand lends itself to it, we had some fun with the headline so people not only get a chuckle, but more importantly, remember the piece.

The other thing is that we decided to send an oversized postcard that is 9.5 X 13, which is significantly bigger than your average piece of paper. This way no one will miss it! Smaller postcards can get lost with the rest of the mail and thrown away without a second thought. This big honking postcard will get noticed, if nothing else. The other side of the postcard had compelling coupons so recipients could take an action based off of the card. 

Tony Roni Oversized Mailer

2.     Use a Code to Track it!

In the mailer (pictured below) for Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, we used an affixed card with a code on it. Customers who redeemed the card would receive half off a second entrée. This card was collected by servers to track the outcome.  The code on the card can be used in the ordering system to track the meals that use the code. This part of the equation is crucial, so we know what the return on the mailer is. If we don’t have this, it would be difficult to know whether the campaign was successful, and whether we should keep using it in the marketing strategy.  

Harvest Mailer and Card

3.     Let Visuals Tell the Story!

Although the Eventions Productions piece we’re showing here was not used as direct mail, it still does a good job of showcasing that you don’t need a lot of copy to get your message across, especially if you have a very visual business. Since Eventions does high-end event lighting and sound, they can let their stunning work speak for itself, and use some supporting copy to drive home the message. Here you can see the inside of the tri-fold we created. 

Eventions Productions Sales Piece

4.     Have a time limit!

You might think keeping the code/coupon/card valid for a longer period of time would give you a better response, but the truth is that consumers get lazy, lose the card, and/or forget about it. An expiration date will give recipients the jump they need to use the deal now or lose it.

 

5.     Use a good printer!

This one may seem obvious, but there really is a difference when you’re selecting your direct mail partner. Make sure they are super knowledgeable about postage rates, how to properly print your creative, what paper works best, and what postage areas you’re mailing to. We’ve had amazing experience with companies (thank you FMI Direct) and we’ve had terrible experiences. Pick your partner wisely. 

6 Reasons the Creative Brief is Essential

Who doesn’t love filling out forms and answering questions??!? Ok, a lot of people. But in the case of new creative for your brand, answering questions in a creative brief is an absolute necessity to ensure you get the finished product you’re envisioning in the timeframe that you desire.

Why? Well, as marketers, working with clients on creative projects is exciting and rewarding, but without a creative brief and discussion around brand goals and target audience BEFORE the work commences, the project could be off track before it even begins.

Below are 6 reasons the creative brief is essential:

 

1.     Direction – You could tell us you want a new logo, but without a creative brief to tell us more about what your company’s values are, what your brand represents, and what your vision is, we could literally make 2,678 logos and still not nail the one you want. The creative brief allows you to point us in the right direction and ensure we start off on the right foot.

2.     Thoughtfulness – Many companies know they need a new logo, ad, website, etc., but they don’t want to take the time to really think about the best way to make it happen. The creative brief asks thoughtful, pointed questions to assure you’re really thinking about what you want, why you want it, and how the upgrade will affect the company, the brand, and the bottom line. We put a lot of time into thinking through good creative, but we want to make sure that our thoughts are aligned with yours. 

3.     Timing – Many times, companies need their creative ASAP! Ok, let’s be serious, MOST times they do. Nonetheless, sometimes having more time to play with the creative can be an advantage to explore options and enhance creativity. Once the creative brief is filled out and we learn when final creative is needed, we can create a timeline, and set expectations for rounds of reviews and a final due date.  The more complete the brief responses, the faster and closer we’ll get to your final creative by the deadlines.  

4.     Expectations – As mentioned before, the brief sets expectations for the due date of your final creative, but it also sets the expectations for the creative piece itself. The brief clearly states a roadmap for things like tone to include in the copy and imagery to include in the creative. When you tell us that you want your ad to be whimsical, funny, and bright, we know that creating a very serious black and white ad is not even close to what you’re looking for. Show us your inspiration, give us your ideas, no matter how unfinished they may be.

5.     Accountability – Since the creative brief helps with timelines and design expectations, it also serves as a document that keeps both parties accountable. We are accountable to meet deadlines, and create stunning creative that wows by following your initial ask. You are accountable for following the timeline, and for telling us what you’re looking for to get us started.

6.     Cost – The creative brief ensures both parties know exactly what they’re getting and when. Without the brief, there is a ton of guesswork into what the brand’s identity and goals are. If we guess wrong, it could cost you more money for us to re-do the creative. It makes sense to look at the creative brief as a cost-saving, strong creative producing document. A good brief aims to cut costs and promote efficiency. Get the best bang for your buck!

If you need help putting a creative brief or any other aspect of design together, then check out our services page to see how we can assist! 

Best of luck, and happy briefing!