Archive for the ‘creative’ Category

Meeting Nicole Milici

April 30, 2011 - 1:28 pm 2 Comments

I absolutely love being around creative people – definitely a perk of working at a marketing agency where great ideas and talent are readily accessible. It’s the whole notion of a creative journey that starts with a figment of an idea and leads to something both new and tangible, a manifestation of hard work and imagination. Gets me every time. After coming across a valuable article on how to ignite your creative spark, I started musing about how personal the entire design process is. Everyone works differently – and it’s downright fascinating to see the diverse ways in which designers go about creating their pieces.

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 4.16.06 PMLuckily Nicole Milici, the mastermind behind Spada Media’s creative flair, permitted me a glimpse into her realm of innovation. Known for her eye-catching designs, Nicole incorporates the true spirit of her clients into every piece she makes, valuing the winning combination of aesthetics and corporate messages. Let’s see how she does it!

How would you sum up your creative process?
Listen, research, brainstorm, and create.

What are the things that inspire you to create?
Other amazing artists, musicians, dancers, and creative people…even one of my 5-year-old twin boys, who won an art award for his incredible rendering titled “Ladybug” in his Kindergarten class. He inspires me every day!

What time of day do you feel most inspired?
Middle of the night or in a car. Always when I don’t have a pen!

What kind of music do you like to listen to when working?
Opera…weird, I know. I think Andrea Bocelli is a hottie.

How do you get your creative juices flowing when you’re feeling stuck?
When I’m stuck, I play hooky and leave whatever I am trying to do or wherever I am. I just vanish. I’ve felt prolific again in an aisle at Stop & Shop or in a shoe department. Amazing how a sweet pair of stilettos can get you out of a rut.

Any specific trends you’re noticing in design work?
All design work is turning Mobile. If you are a graphic designer, figure out how to make a good design in a digital 3×4 inch area for a phone. It’s the wave of the future!

What’s your favorite part of designing a piece?
Each one is unique and contains the essence of the organization, product, or person, reflecting it visually. That’s powerful.

Check out some of Nicole’s most recent designs!

C&F Annual Report

Child & Family’s 2010 Annual Report.

VNS ChocBrunch

Program book for the 2010 Chocolate Brunch hosted by the Visiting Nurse Services.

C & F Too Marvelous

Child & Family’s 2010 “Too Marvelous For Words” event invitation.

Best In Show – Home Show Booths, That Is!

April 3, 2011 - 1:09 pm 1 Comment

This past weekend, the Spada Media team worked the RIBA Home Show at the RI Convention Center in Providence. We were constantly busy setting up, assisting cooking demonstrations, and making sure everything was running smoothly, yet our marketing minds were more engaged than ever. Due to the volume of local vendors present at the event, booths were everywhere. And as a vendor in a tightly packed setting, such as the Home Show, it is absolutely crucial to stand out and attract people to your booth, or you could be forgotten in the crowd.



As I was perusing the vast array of booths on a raw and gray afternoon, I came across a lovely booth that instantly made me forget that a) I was in Providence and b) it was cold outside. Set up like a rustic farm stand, the Sure to Grow Strawberries booth successfully embraced its theme of fresh produce and was like a breath of fresh air in the large and crowded Convention Center. They also distributed packages of dormant strawberry seeds that become fertile when you plant them, allowing my mind to fast-forward to summer and the heaven of fresh, garden-grown strawberries.

Tip: When envisioning your booth, use aesthetics to create an atmosphere and your product will stand out. Also, free is good!

just grill it

While walking down an especially crowded aisle, I caught a delectable whiff of what could only be grilled fare. That perked me up straight away and I quickly bypassed the remaining booths to see what was cooking. Located in a coveted corner booth, Just Grill It was surrounded by people enjoying the fantastic aroma and the mouth-watering sight of sizzling veggies, meat, and fruit “on the barby.” The on-going grilling action kept the audience’s interest piqued and the promise of delicious samples kept them coming back for more.

Tip: The way to most hearts is through the stomach. With food, keep it simple – just cook! People enjoy watching the action and the promise of a treat at the end.

hometowne prints

People from all over Rhode Island come to the Home Show every year to enjoy the best of our state’s vendors. One exhibitor, however, brought Rhode Island to life with hand-drawn pictures of our 39 towns and cities. Her images depicted the features that make each town unique, which appealed to many people. Hometowne Prints from Donna Ide had a booth that was beautiful in its simplicity, mirroring the charm of her art.

Tip: When you’re displaying something so visual as artwork, your booth needs to be understated while also complementing your pieces.

embrace home loans

Walking down the aisles of the Home Show, it can be hard to differentiate one vendor from another. Somewhere down aisle 400, this was not the case. My eyes latched on to some guys wearing vibrant orange polos over by the Embrace Home Loans booth. Though mortgages aren’t the most fascinating subject, the loud shirts combined with the display of bright oranges and pineapples made it impossible to walk by them. Embrace Home Loans was shooting for a “fresh approach to mortgages” and they definitely hit the nail on the head.

Tip: With something mundane and a bit scary like mortgages, incorporate an inviting visual display that will draw people over to your booth.

mike bryce

While I was checking out the art aisle, I noticed that most artists were all doing the same thing – showcasing their masterpieces. One painter, however, dared to be different. Surrounded by his bright, detailed artwork, Mike Bryce spent most of his time behind an easel, creating new paintings. He was very friendly and loved explaining to Home Show guests how his pieces evolve from start to finish. People were drawn to his booth because they enjoyed watching him at work and got to see firsthand the sheer effort that goes into each painting.

Tip: As an artist, it is so important to give people a reason to connect specifically with your art over anyone else’s. Demonstrating your talent does this like nothing else can.

The Ups and Downs of Monogrammed Logos

March 10, 2011 - 12:58 pm 4 Comments

You see them on the street. You see them in restaurants. You see them in the coffee line. Bags are everywhere. They are the quintessential, number one tool a woman uses to hold all of her belongings. A woman’s best friend. And in return, their carriers like to keep in good company. Louis Vuitton. Gucci. Chanel. Coach. If you don’t got ‘em, you want ‘em. Which means getting excited over a designer bag street sighting while sizing up the lucky woman carrying the purse you covet.

The biggest enabler of purse envy is the monogrammed logo.

Screen shot 2011-03-10 at 2.54.30 PM

Take a luxurious bag and slap on the designer’s initials? Before you know it, you’re the woman with the Louis Vuitton. The popular girl with the Coach bag. Without even opening your mouth, the bag says something about you. It says you can afford to spend money on luxury items and you aren’t afraid to flaunt it. The whole point of monogrammed logos is to establish an elite following. Those who spend a ridiculous amount on a purse are rewarded with the prestige that accompanies designer items. Meanwhile the rest of us, wishing we were as fortunate, put these handbags on a pedestal, worshipping them for all they’re worth.

For the vast majority (myself included), the only way we can tell if a bag is designer is by the logos. Getting overly obsessed with the brand name, we’d prefer that feeling of status over the actual quality of the products, themselves. Enter in knockoffs. On the streets of New York City, Rome, and other cities, women purchase knockoff designer bags every day for virtually nothing so that they look like they can afford luxury items. While this is great for those of us who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on purses, it also means the designers are losing their exclusivity. Now anyone and everyone can look like they’re carrying a Chanel bag and only the truly perceptive can tell the real from the fake.

True Story: A friend of Spada Media’s found a pretty white bag with multi-colored Louis Vuitton monograms all over it. She thought it would be perfect for summer so she bought it.

Screen shot 2011-03-10 at 2.46.34 PM

A few days later, she was grocery shopping with an overflowing carriage and two tired, complaining children. Clearly in need of a pick-me-up, she stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the store to get the kids something to eat and a coffee to deal with all of it. When she took out her new pocketbook to pay, the cashier completely freaked out. She started gasping and pointing at the bag. “That’s a Louis Vuitton! Where did you get one? Paris Hilton has that same exact bag! Oh my god, did you pay $10,000 for it like Paris did?” Our friend burst out laughing and said, “If I could afford $10,000 pocketbooks do you really think I’d be at a Stop&Shop on a rainy day with two kids in tow?” The cashier was completely shocked that the bag wasn’t real, but our friend cheered up!

So what are these monogrammed logos doing for designers? The recognizable aesthetics make the bags universally appealing; however, the brand is undoubtedly cheapened due to knockoff sales. It’s a Catch 22, forcing the designers to decide what’s more important to them: exclusivity or popularity.

Starbucks’ Siren Makeover – Hot or Not?

March 1, 2011 - 7:57 am 19 Comments

Screen shot 2011-02-28 at 11.18.41 AM

In the debate between Starbucks’ old logo and new logo, I pursued a different course of action this week by taking an office poll to determine which logo wins out. As far as the marketing professionals were concerned, the decision was unanimous. Starbucks should not stray from its highly recognizable logo into new territory. Because that’s exactly what this updated logo is. Brand new territory.

“Personally, I never paid any attention to the center of the logo,” Spada’s director of marketing admitted, referring to the wavy-haired mermaid holding her fins beside her. “The center alone is not recognizable enough to stand on its own. Starbucks needs the whole package.” Our account coordinator wholly agreed. “The surrounding brand name gives your eye a place to focus and the siren only completes the logo,” she says. “I’m lost when looking at the new logo. This mermaid means nothing to me without the brand name.”

For the benefit of those who have been hiding under a rock, Starbucks is rebranding its image from a coffee provider to a company without limits. While remaining true to their heritage, which, for reasons unknown to this author, includes a siren, Starbucks has experienced a total of four logo changes in forty years. The logo we all know and love was created in 1992 and features a twin-tailed siren in black and white with encircling text reading “Starbucks Coffee.” Soon, this will be a relic of the past, especially as the new look, coinciding with the company’s 40th anniversary, is so drastically different. Gone is Starbucks’ brand name. Gone is the black and green color contrast. Enter a green mermaid, smiling at you on a Styrofoam cup.

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 9.52.32 AM

According to a client who was milling around our office today, the brand name is crucial. Starbucks may be on every street corner in New York City and other such metropolises, but popularity does not eliminate the need for a brand name. “The former logo says, Come visit us, we are Starbucks, and we will serve you a cup of coffee. I’m a simple guy. I want the brand to say what it is,” he explains.

Spada’s CEO and creative extraordinaire understands Starbucks’ ambition in the logo’s alterations, yet thinks they could have taken a different route. “As Starbucks is attempting to market non-coffee products, it is clear why they chose to move forward with the rebranding,” she elaborates. “However, they strayed too far from the brand when, really, they should have worked with what they had but changed the surrounding text.”

As far as I’m concerned? There’s certainly something appealing about the new design’s minimalist and streamlined feel. I can see how Starbucks would find it more “modern.” Yet the green and white design fades into the white background of the coffee cup, creating the impression that it’s missing something. The previous eye-catching logo pops so much in comparison, it’s hard to feel like this is an upgrade.

A Kiss To Build A Dream On

February 15, 2011 - 12:34 pm 10 Comments

Mad Men, a TV drama that revolves around the culture of a 1960’s advertising agency, explores the intellectual process of devising an ingenious ad. Last week when I was watching an early episode, one moment caught my eye and inspired today’s post. During a brainstorm for Belle Jolie lipstick, all the secretaries are testing different colors. At one point Peggy Olson gestures to the trashcan full of blotted tissues and calls it “a basket of kisses.” What a romantic notion to think of lipstick as not just a color enhancer, but also a kissing enabler!

With Peggy Olson’s copy in mind, I set about comparing the recent advertising campaigns of three notable lipstick brands – what their products promise you and the avenue they take to deliver that promise.


Screen shot 2011-02-15 at 1.49.28 PM

CoverGirl, a brand associated with the likes of Queen Latifah, Drew Barrymore, and America’s Next Top Model, celebrates both inner and outer beauty. Their new Lip Perfection Lipstick, as modeled by Taylor Swift, claims to create smooth and soft lips in just one week. The ad focuses solely on Taylor, her red lips, and her spirited personality. Because she seems both confident and relatable, you get the impression she’s being completely herself. And really, that’s what CoverGirl is all about – wearing a product that makes you feel good and enhances the qualities that make you, well, you.


Screen shot 2011-02-15 at 2.26.08 PM

The face of Rouge Coco by Chanel is Vanessa Paradis, a siren for the sophisticated. Like CoverGirl’s product, Rouge Coco softens and soothes lips with moisture to give you the ultimate pucker power. Vanessa supplies Rouge Coco with a wistful, romantic feel of 1940’s antique Paris. While gazing at her, you begin to imagine that once applying the lipstick, you’ll emanate a certain je ne sais quoi, an aura of mystery. Chanel creates the illusion of sensual, everlasting elegance, hard to resist if your role models are Leslie Caron and Catherine Deneuve.


Screen shot 2011-02-15 at 2.28.08 PM

Whether you associate Revlon’s lip stain with a passionate lover’s embrace or vampire frenzy, Just Bitten displays a highly physical connection – the kiss, itself. In the ad featuring Jessica Biel, the lip stain provides a moisturizing “kiss of softness” and its luscious hues hint at the flush of anticipation, the appeal of the forbidden. Revlon’s constructed fantasy refuses to disappoint, making you not only desirable, but very kissable.

CoverGirl, Chanel, and Revlon all boast of conditioning lips to that perfect, kissable state. Referring back to Peggy Olson and her “basket of kisses,” however, each product markets the act in a unique way. With girl next door, bright-eyed CoverGirl, the kiss would be serendipitous, an unexpected surprise in the rain. Chanel is more coy than that, suggesting a possibility of a kiss…a dare, even. You know you want to and I might just let you. But Revlon’s kiss is inescapable, a little bit dangerous, and all the more desired for it.

You, the consumer, make your decision based not only on the person you are, but also the person you could be. Such is the beauty of advertising.

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

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 2.53.01 PM

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!

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 2.42.27 PM

(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

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 2.47.49 PM

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.

Ambients: Bringing Advertising To A Whole ‘Nother Level

December 15, 2010 - 7:29 am 3 Comments
Reaching New Heights in Advertising

Reaching New Heights in Advertising

After scrolling through my morning tweets, I came across a link to Inc. Magazine’s favorite ambient ads. I can’t help being drawn to the bizarre so I checked out all the images. Instant reaction? Woahhh. Secondary reaction? Googling “ambient advertising” to find more creative-borderline-psychotic stuff to look at. I hit the jackpot.

The ambient ads catcall you and you have no choice but to look. That’s how they work. Once you get past the undeniable cool factor, however, the fact remains that these out-of-the-box, “more is more” gimmicks are meant to serve a fairly straightforward purpose: bringing awareness to a brand. After I finally managed to stop gawking, which – let’s face it – took a while, I began to wonder if these ads were effective in all their wacky glory.

Example that incites consumerism: From Rimmel Quick Dry Nail Polish, a bottle of nail polish sculpture seemingly pouring liquid onto the sidewalk. Height of a college freshman. Dangerously magenta in color. Effective? Indisputably. This ambient is not only displaying the product in a fun way, it’s also boldly strengthening its “quick dry” message.

Example that spreads a message: From Unicef, a dirty water vending machine selling over 8 lethal concoctions for only $1. Typhoid Dirty Water or Malaria Dirty Water? No thanks, but compelling to say the least. Unicef’s message is right there in your face: this is the only option developing countries have to stay hydrated. In this case, repulsion actually operates as an incentive to donate to a cause saving millions of lives.

Example that doesn’t cut it: From Gillette, a hairy elevator. All I can say is, eww, gross. The message there is loud and clear – hair today, please oh please be gone tomorrow! The problem? Whenever I hear or read the word “Gillette,” instead of imagining a clean-shaven, ridiculously good-looking man, I’ll think of…this. It’s a negative association.

So all in all? Love the brazen panache and call-to-consumerist action qualities of ambient ads. However, sending a clear message is key otherwise people will marvel but, being unable to understand what’s in front of them, not follow through. Also, be careful of how you use repulsion in ads – you might not get the response you were looking for.

© 2011 Spada Media · Theme based on Lost Island