Archive for the ‘marketing strategy’ Category

Loving Literal Logos

February 3, 2011 - 11:56 am 40 Comments

Logos: always the first step to branding and the one that takes the most thought to develop. And with good reason, since the logo acts as a company’s representative, expressing everything from its mission to its culture. This week, I’ve focused my thoughts on logo designs that are visually literal. In other words, they look like what they are. Here are a few of my favorites . . .

Simply There

The Spiced Pear, a restaurant located in The Chanler Hotel in Newport, RI, caters to a high-end crowd and offers an elegant take on New England dishes. The logo itself, a modern etching of a pear, is highlighted with colors pulled from the most vibrant and aromatic spices. It is visually simple to fit the modern elements of the chic restaurant and displays the company’s message right there in front of you – food that plays to your eyes and nose as well as your taste buds.

The Spiced Pear

As Literal As It Gets

Target (or Tar-gée as we devoted shoppers call it) is yet another owner of the literal logo. Not only is this THE place to get any and all needs a household can muster up, but as everyone knows, you’re bound to walk out with some things you don’t need at all. With that being said, the red rings not only match the company name, but reinforce Target’s message better than Walmart, Kmart, or any of their fiercest competitors. This is the one stop you need to hit a bullseye and meet all your needs!


Quirky and Creative

In the Event Planning industry, creativity and extravagance are important capabilities to portray. A Boston firm, whose events for Expect Miracles (formerly known as Mutual Funds Against Cancer) I’ve attended, was not afraid to identify themselves with a name and logo that screams quirky, creative, and capable: Fancy Pants Event Planning. The logo, a funky pair of pants against a harlequin background pattern, speaks for itself and the patterns remind me of linens and drapes which are commonly used in most upscale events.

Fancy Pants _ Logo

Judging A Book By Its Cover

January 27, 2011 - 12:58 pm 4 Comments

In today’s age, there are certain associations with classic literature. Some people presume that because the classics were written long ago, the storylines are so far removed from modernity as to be irrelevant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are some things (ahem, human nature) that simply do not change over the years. So how do we get past these roadblocks that are predetermined misapprehensions?

Penguin has the answer. Eye candy! The influx of striking cover designs from Penguin Classics serve to bridge the gap between the past and present while supplying readers with new associations. Instead of assuming antiquated, mundane, and dense, readers can get right to the good stuff – passion, scandal, revenge, and vanity – with the help of a visual aid. Due to these eye-catching covers, the classics have heart (and heat) from the very beginning for everyone to see.

Approach #1: Charm Goes A Long Way

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Coralie Bickford-Smith, the senior cover designer at Penguin, created absolutely stunning covers for renowned titles, such as Little Women, Great Expectations, and Wuthering Heights. Bickford-Smith went for a whimsical but timeless look. She incorporated a personalized element from each story into a pattern of repetition on the cover. Each novel is unique but cohesive with others in the series, establishing them firmly as a set. As you can see from the images, they would make a beautiful library.

Approach #2: Great Cause, Gorgeous Books!

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(Product) RED partnered with Penguin to release a series of classics that are distinctive and completely attention-grabbing. Each book displays a fused Penguin/(Product) RED logo, a cherry red stripe, and a quote from the book in daring, cutting edge graphics. Also 50% of the book sales help eliminate AIDS in Africa. As if the covers weren’t enough of an incentive! Titles include Vanity Fair, Anna Karenina, and The House of Mirth, among others.

Approach #3: Walk, Walk, Fashion Baby

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What do you get when you combine couture with literature? Ruben Toledo, renowned fashion illustrator, designed covers in mediums, such as oil, watercolor, and pencil, to deliver innovative and dexterous interpretations of famous novels. They almost look dreamlike in representation, yet torrid with passion. My favorites are Jane Eyre and The Picture of Dorian Gray, but Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, and The Scarlet Letter are other notable works included in the series.

Reconsidering the classics now, are you? Oh, the cleverness of packaging.

What Do Jennifer Aniston and “The Situation” Have In Common?

January 11, 2011 - 9:38 am 59 Comments

In advertising, you can be whoever you want to be so long as it sells. And nothing reinforces brands’ images more than the celebrities that represent them. Take Glacéau products, for example. Smartwater and Vitaminwater work side-by-side to provide healthy beverages infused with electrolytes, vitamins, and supplements. However, their marketing strategies are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of the people they hope to attract with their endorsement selections.

Smart like Smartwater

Jennifer Aniston / Smartwater

My first impression of Smartwater’s oblong bottle with a china blue teardrop was a clean, minimalist look. Combined with the brand’s motto, “Purity you can taste, hydration you can feel,” a picture formed in my mind of the kind of cleansing lifestyle Smartwater could give me. In my opinion, no one is more synonymous with this fantasy then Jennifer Aniston, Smartwater’s official spokesperson and the epitome of health. Glowing, toned Aniston is dedicated to yoga and paddle boarding, active pursuits of a slow and steady nature. On Smartwater’s Facebook page, she is even shown in their new ad wearing clothes made by yoga garb manufacturer, Polyvore. All of their marketing elements – with Jen at the forefront – operate in a beautiful harmony to promote healthy living. Looks like the brand image is doing its job.

B Consistent, Vitaminwater!


Time to switch gears because Vitaminwater’s brand is all about boundless, vibrant energy. Their palette of fruity flavors, bright colors, and pithy text on eye-catching bottles positively scream, “Youth!” Add Vitaminwater’s self-proclaimed “shiny new look” and latest flavors “Stur-D,” “Dwnld,” and “Spark”? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to interpret their goal to attract a young demographic. (Not like 2,104,424 friends on Facebook is that strong of an indicator that it’s working…) I really liked where the brand was going until Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino entered the picture. First of all, with other spokes-legends, such as David Ortiz and 50 Cent, how could Vitaminwater even consider putting “The Situation” on the same level? And second, as hysterical as the ad may be, I’m afraid that trendy aspirations are overriding the entire point of Vitaminwater. The male personality of The Jersey Shore, with his seemingly steroid-enhanced body, GTL regimen, and questionable drinking habits, contradicts the brand’s healthy image. Vitaminwater, please figure out what your message is and stick to it.

Spokes-Characters, Speak to Me!

January 6, 2011 - 12:43 pm 20 Comments

Jingles used to be the trend keeping a brand obnoxiously stuck in your head.  “We want meow mix, we want meow mix, meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.” And while that still holds true today (see any commercial for an annoying example), it seems that Spokes-Characters are a new trend that’s sticking.  From Six Flag’s suspender wearing, old man Mr. Six to Orbit’s clean lady, they’re popping up everywhere.

Orbit's Clean Lady, Progressive's Flo, and Old Spice's "The Man"

And what’s most interesting isn’t that marketing agencies are targeting humorous and unique characters, but that the characters are gaining more awareness than the brands themselves.  Flo, the Progressive girl, has nearly 2.5 million friends on Facebook while Progressive the service barely scrapes past 20,000.  The Geico Gecko has nearly 150,000 fans while Geico the service has only about 93,000.  How’s that for outshining your boss?

And Facebook isn’t the only measure of greatness for our beloved characters.  Old Spice’s “The Man,” Isaiah Mustafa, went from being a behind the scenes NFL bencher to a 2010 star.  After premiering his commercial during the Superbowl last year, Isaiah made appearances on Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, and a ton of other shows.  And, to round the year off, he was also cast in a Jennifer Aniston flick.  A similar success came to the Geico Cavemen who struck so well with comedic viewers that ABC gave them their own series Cavemen.

These characters, when created with the right mix of humor, irony, and uniqueness, are a company’s pipe dream.  Never mind having the characters take on a life of their own, like our friend “The Man,” but what better way to bring on a lifetime of free publicity than to say that your company discovered a star?  It’s like Calvin Klein being able to claim they launched Brooke Shields.

Maybe Spada’s next move should be a talent department…

Let’s Talk Comfort Food

December 28, 2010 - 11:53 am 4 Comments

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We often say around the Spada office that there’s no such thing as an original idea. These yummy examples illustrate that being a genius is not necessarily about creating something new, but revamping ordinary ideas. Take comfort food, for example. Sometimes you’re just in the mood for something cheesy, warm, and delicious – no frills. The only prudent course of action? Indulging in that insanely good meal that warms your insides like nothing else can. Even if it means dealing with a skeptical waitress when ordering a grilled cheese off the kid’s menu. However, these options are often written off as “boring” or “dependable;” meals you eat when you don’t have time to make anything else. I think you’ll find that the following culinary masterminds counteract this widely believed claim by taking basic recipes and completely reinventing them.

For Cheese Cravings: Annie’s, Kraft, be gone! This girl is moving up in the world, replacing meals out of the box with more delectable varieties. When I was in NYC last summer, a friend exposed me to MacBar, a restaurant serving only Mac and Cheese. Apparently there’s another hot spot – S’Mac – that does the same thing. Imagine: Cheeseburger Mac…Primavera Mac…Mac with brie, figs and shrooms… The possibilities are endless, creating a wide range for all palettes seeking comfort food. I’d selected the Lobsta Mac: two of my favorite ingredients mixed together and served steaming hot in a quirky yellow macaroni-shaped bowl. The taste was unparalleled. The experience, borderline magical. Next up for me: shamelessly checking out the grilled cheese menu at Cheeseboy in Boston.

For Dessert Cravings: Spada’s Account Coordinator Denise just came back from a fun-filled weekend in NYC. The highlight of her trip was a 2am excursion to Rice to Riches, a restaurant that creates variations of rice pudding in any flavor you could possibly imagine. Denise had a hard time choosing (especially since pumpkin – her all time favorite flavor – was on the menu), but finally ended up savoring a gingerbread concoction that also contained hunks of pound cake. Rice pudding is one of the most run of the mill desserts I can think of, yet here it is, all spiced up with flavors and toppings. Who knew it could get this exciting?

From a marketing standpoint, comfort food providers are focused and downright brilliant for it. They do one thing only and do it better than anyone else. They are also unique in their simplicity, getting to the heart of the most overlooked recipes and making them special. Suddenly, these stereotypical “kids friendly” go-tos are transformed into à la mode dishes. When I was at MacBar last summer, there were more professionals in suits than anyone else. And you know what? They absolutely loved it.

Holiday Heaven for Advertisers and Consumers

December 21, 2010 - 7:30 am 2 Comments

Christmas: a holiday so full of joy it turns reluctant Scrooges into happy elves.  No one understands this better than the companies who have, gracefully and with much success, exploited the holiday for all its worth.

Starbucks Advertisement

Exhibit A – Coca Cola. An adorable Mama Polar Bear and her playful cubs, fighting the harsh winter winds as they push a large pine tree up a snow-covered hill.  Upon arriving at the warmly lit cave they call home, they award their hard work by cracking open an old-fashioned glass bottle of Coca Cola.  What a loving and warm holiday vision to associate with a brand during the holiday season.  The original commercial, “Northern Lights,” aired in 1993 and since then the polar bears have reemerged year after year with fun-filled story lines and playful characters (such as dancing penguins and skiing bears).

Exhibit B – Starbucks. Oh, the endless tirades I could dive into about Starbucks and their experience-focused branding.  But, for the sake of focusing, let’s discuss those holiday-flavored, somewhat-coffee-resembling drinks offered seasonally.  I first tried their Pumpkin Spice Latte three or four years ago and, being a year-round pumpkin fanatic, fell hard for the addiction.  Since then, I have added the Peppermint Mocha, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread Latte, and Eggnog Latte to my seasonal favorites.  Setting aside intoxicating scents of baked goods, warm fires, holiday music – basically all the essential ingredients of the Christmas season – boy, does Starbucks seriously know how to brew up a holiday drink.

Exhibit C – Jordan’s Furniture. Now this one is more regionally known but Jordan’s Furniture owns the “Enchanted Village of St. Nicholas.”  The Village, a vintage collection of 28 holiday scenes with hundreds of animated characters, has been a New England tradition since 1958.  Starting with villagers buying gifts at a “General Store” and progressing to a group of carolers singing in the town square, the walk-through experience is entirely free.  Over the years it has become a seasonal event for New Englanders who have made the visit an annual tradition, or, after seeing it as kids, are now sharing the experience with their little tykes.

Moral of the story – why struggle to develop messages from scratch when the holidays give you plenty of material to work with?  Not only is there the Winterland theme, but you also have renowned associations of family, love, and happiness.  Jumping on the holiday wagon has proven to be a smart move for these companies – one that consumers look forward to every Christmas season.

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