Archive for ‘Content’

September 17, 2013

Case study: Randall’s Décor

Renovating a brand with “distinction” 

randalls_magazine_small (3)

Randall’s is an established paint and home décor retail chain with a long history and an excellent reputable history in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario regions. However, for the stores to remain viable and able to compete with the many big box home improvement chains now in the area, there was a need to reach a new generation of homeowners, including those who had no renovation skills or lacked confidence to try DIY projects. A brand audit demonstrated that Randall’s most valuable brand attributes were their knowledge, experience and credibility, qualities beginners value most.

randalls_magazine intro

Armed with the need to demonstrate that Randall’s was “not your father’s paint and décor store”—and influenced by the popularity of shelter magazines and various DIY and home improvement TV channels and websites, seed president Joy Parks was tasked by greennmelon design inc, Randall’s communications firm, to build on their valuable knowledge and product authority with a branded content publication. This “magalogue” that would announce the new style and voice of their brand—a breezy, easy voice that invited readers to try their hand at home improvement—knowing they’d have the support of Randall’s experience and know-how behind them.

randalls_magazine_paints

The content asked readers to trust in Randall’s traditions and knowledge, but use that information to express their personality using their home as a canvas.  The goal was to deliver in the distinctions publication, a series of branded content articles that would be comparable to newsstand shelter publications—but based on Randall’s products, knowledge and overall offering.

According to greenmelon creative director Robert Smith, “When our client Randall’s, a local home décor chain, approached us to do a magazine, I immediately spoke to Joy. There was no one else that I would trust with such an important branding vehicle. Her talent for understanding an audience, and delivering compelling and pertinent content shone in this piece. The final product is something that I display proudly in the portfolio.”

randalls_magazine_whey

randalls_magazine_blinds

The client was extremely happy with the inaugural issue, and threw a launch party that included the mayor of the city of Ottawa as a guest. The publication continues to be available in stores and as an e-publication on the retailer’s website.

randalls_magazine_toos

Download the full issue of randalls_webmagazine

Download this case study as a pdf  Randalls Case Study

See more seed case studies.

Advertisements
September 5, 2013

Case study: greenmelon inc. product site

Fictional storytelling: A “novel” approach to branded content

greenweb_product

 

When greenmelon inc. was first established, its primary focus was on product design, mainly lighting fixtures, furniture and household hard goods. Thing is, when small firms design products, they seldom have the financial support to actually produce the product—it’s generally easier, less risky and more lucrative to simply sell the design to a manufacturer or large chain, and let them take over the production and distribution.

Greenmelon creative director Robert Smith’s background lay in graphic design—and he had won many packaging gigs—so the company offered a holistic approach to product design—not just the product itself, but also the positioning, communications and packaging that went along with it.

Since the product didn’t exist beyond Robert’s imagination, the wonder of Photoshop and some technical drawings—there was only one way to get the product ideas across. Tell a good story. That’s exactly what Joy Parks, owner, senior writer and creative director of seed, did.

There was a simplicity and great deal of wit to the products developed by greenmelon—and that tone was central to the content on the website. Beginning with the understated “we’re greenmelon and we design things” tagline (which continues to appear on www.greenmeloninc.com, also written in large part by seed president Joy Parks), the site not only featured brief descriptions of the products—but also fictional stories of end-user customers who had bought the product. The short stories explained who the potential customer was, why they bought the product and how they were using it. These fictions not only outlined details about the product but also allowed potential licensees to glimpse their potential market. And they did so with wit, humour and down-to-earth simplicity.

According to President and Creative Director of greenmelon Inc., “I always infuse an element of wit and whimsy into my product design so it was imperative that the website articulate that. I chose to work with Joy from the very beginning of the project because the site required more than just words. It needed personality. It needed to tell a story. There was no one else that I would trust with a project of this scope. The results were simply, poetic. Joy was much more than a writer, she was a collaborator and the site would not have been the overwhelming success it was without her involvement.”

greenweb_product (1)

greenweb_product (2)

The site got rave reviews from just about everyone who visited it and was, quite frankly, like catnip for young designers looking for a place to work. While greenmelon later shifted its focus to graphic design, this initial website showcased both the company’s innovative designs and creative approach to marketing them, established their “fresh” brand and proved the power of storytelling.

For more examples of greenmelon’s website, please go to:

http://seedcreativecontent.com/entries/retail/greenmelon-product-website

http://seedcreativecontent.com/entries/corporate-non-profit/greenmelon-inc-website

Download a PDF of this case study Greenmelon Inc

 
July 21, 2013

This is why

a trip to Walt Disney World should be a legit biz expense for creative communications/content types…because they do what everyone wants to do better than anyone does. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-feinberg/content-marketing-disney_b_3563404.html

April 28, 2013

And you are?

How much does your title define you?

I was thinking about that while reading the Content Marketing Institute’s CCO magazine — for Chief Content Officers. Great publication–but it made me ponder if a one-woman creative content company with a tiny, but solid and growing client list, really needs C-suite titles. I’m thinking no. I’ve worked for design firms and agencies so small we didn’t put titles on our biz cards; that way we could assume any role in a meeting or proposal that was required. Recently in a meeting, I heard a fairly senior executive refer to the very visible and highly placed head of his corporation as “Grand Poobah.”  I’m betting he doesn’t call him that to his face.

During the heady new days of the dot coms, all sorts of strange and quite wonderful titles began appearing–Chief Humour Officer, Director of Originality, Brainy Guy (that was my title at a hip agency I wrote for because I was the only one who could decipher what the new tech clients were actually trying to sell), Corporate Jester–but when the VC money dried up, so did the cute monikers. I guess I could call myself Chief Content Diva or The Goddess of Words, but those titles aren’t really on brand — and just a tad too fey for me. Word Grower? Brand Story Gardener? Copy Pruner (that would be for editing, I guess). Nope, too cute and they’d all require additional explanations–clients are busy people, no need to burden them with something else to figure out. The bank likes me to be “president” so I can be responsible for the money, but I prefer “senior writer” (and the “senior” part comes from doing this job for more than a quarter century, not because I have a few “juniors” on staff).

So what’s your title? Does it bear any relationship to what you actually do? Like it or not, we are what we are called. That’s why it’s always better to name yourself. If you could make up your own title, what would it be?

April 20, 2013

If only…

12 Roles Essential to the Future of Content Marketing

If this much focus is ever put on content marketing and communicating with clients — just imagine the job market for writers and other creative talents. It boogles the mind!

April 2, 2013

I want the poster-sized version

Love this infographic from Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute depicting that content marketing isn’t new at all. But we do seem to be in the Golden Age.

CMI_CM_History_Large2

March 31, 2013

Talk about a compelling headline!

The promise of writing content for internal audiences that will actually get read.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3007591/how-write-content-your-company-people-actually-want-read

March 30, 2013

Phasebook?

Been on Facebook lately?

If my own “friends” can be used as an averaging sample, I’d say the answer is no.

I’m not dissing social media—Facebook in particular, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any of the others—and I won’t because it’s already become an interesting part of my work as a professional communicator. I don’t think we’ve even come close to realizing the business and branding potential of social media. When else in time—aside from when we were still selling bottles of tonic off a horse and buggy to a crowd of settlers—has business had a chance to have a real conversation with the individuals they too often see as a lump of target market? And if they’re being honest, most companies will admit that they’re still sliding around the surface of what is possible, trying to figure out what works for them. They’ll get there. Watch a few early TV commercials and try not to squirm.

Small businesses in particular have so much to gain—social media is relatively cheap compared to other media, it’s doesn’t require a gargantuan effort and fulfils one of the commandments of content marketing—that every company can be a broadcaster or publisher. I don’t understand why every artist, photographer, interior, graphic or fashion designer—anyone who works in a visual medium—doesn’t have a portfolio on Pinterest. And I can’t figure out why businesses are staying away in groves from Google+.

But business uses aside, if my group of friends is typical, then personal use of Facebook is in decline. Sure there are still some diehards on there frequently, but even they’re posting fewer and fewer bits of information about their own experience, and are sharing or liking or otherwise passing on the often colorful postings of others. Outside of new houses, new puppies (ok, guilty), the odd political opinion and a random complaint or announcement of celebration—people just don’t seem to be saying much on Facebook anymore. As a personal branding platform, LinkedIn has it beat in the shade…in fact, as Facebook gets less personal, LinkedIn seems to be getting more so, with colleagues and contacts sharing more about their working lives.

Perhaps the early critics of the “ubiquitous-ization” of Facebook, the ones whose argument usually questioned why they’re want to know what someone on the other side of the country had for lunch, were right. Personal lives just aren’t that interesting—unless you happen to be the person to which that life is happening. Let’s face it, we’ve all at least hid or in a more drastic frame of mind, “unfriended” the constant braggart or bore. Too, some days it’s hard enough to come up with something worthwhile to say to those with whom we share a bed and mortgage—it’s not humanly possibly to constantly communicate your cleverness to your hairdresser’s sister and that guy who sat behind you in grade 10 math.

Or could it be that the novelty has just simply worn off?

It’s not that I regret having a personal Facebook page. Where else would I have put Zoey’s puppy pictures or the video of my renovation or announced my marriage to a captive audience. At least it was captive at the time. What I learned in using the platform has been invaluable in my work life. It was interesting to see how people I knew in my teens turned out. I felt confident and powerful in ignoring the friend requests from those in my past who don’t belong in my real or virtual present. And I was “found” by someone I used to be close to—I’m glad we’re friends again.

I think that social media in one form or another is going to be with us for a very long time—and I’m willing to bet that whatever will captivate our attention after it hasn’t been developed yet. But it will be. So to some extent, Facebook will be a phase for us all.

And while I may check in on my personal page from time to time for old-time sake, it’s time I started seeing other platforms.

I need my space Facebook.

It’s not you, it’s me.

March 21, 2013

Read all about it!

If you have even a passing interesting in content marketing, you’ll gain a great deal from Chief Content Officer. The latest issue is out. It’s info to make you a better content creator. Or a better content client.http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/chief-content-officer/

March 16, 2013

Who are your heroes?

According to my mother, when I was quite young, I would cut photos of detergent or face powder or toys out of magazines and catalogues, paste them to a piece of paper, write a story about why they were good things to have and make a presentation to the dolls and stuffed toys I had assembled around my kiddy table. When I watched “Bewitched,” it wasn’t Samantha and her magic family that interested me, it was Darren’s work at McMann and Tate that held my attention.

These were obviously signs of things to come.

Despite what the writers of Mad Men would have you believe, little girls who wanted to be advertising creatives (and when I look around at agency biz events, I’m thinking there were more of us than one would have expected) had our role models. There was Shirley Polykoff, creator of the famous “Does she…or doesn’t she?” campaign. There was Mary Lawrence Wells, who took the idea of branded content to new levels when her agency not only did a campaign for Braniff Airlines, but also decided on the décor of the planes and the outfits for the flight attendants. And there was my personal fav, Jane Trahey, who set a new standard for fashion content in the years when she was a force in Neiman-Marcus’ advertising and later opened her own New York shop where she won clients like Elizabeth Arden and created the famous Blackglama Furs campaign.  In addition, she wrote plays and a handful of books, one being On Women & Power, that was pretty much an early roadmap on how women could get and keep high-powered jobs. I’ve given a half dozen copies away to women I thought could use the moral support—and I continue to seek out copies in used bookstores.

These days I’m reading people like George Lois, Lee Clow and others—plus the content “specialists” like Joe Pulizzi or David Meerman Scott (whom I liked even more when I found his book World Wide Rave free on Kobo. How generous.)

Perhaps some of you didn’t start planning your career while preparing for first grade, but I’m thinking if they would have made a line of collectible cards featuring advertising executives (the kind that used to come with that stick of pink powdery gum with the consistency of Bristol board), I would have collected the whole set.

Hummm…there’s a product idea.

Everyone needs a hero. And whether you get ideas or the courage or the strength to stay focused from someone writing about the industry or elsewhere, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make an effort to find the motivation that keeps you raising your personal bar and going after what you want.