5 Tips for Kindling Your Creativity

work desk

Whatever your industry there’s usually a need to be creative – whether positioning yourself to attract new business, identifying a new client solution or solving a management problem. Add in the everyday challenges of running a business, and creativity can be hard to find. Next time you’re feeling stuck, try these five ways to get the ideas flowing again.

  1. Get back to the consumer point of view. If you were the customer what would you want to see? What would get you excited and build confidence? Empathy for your target audience can tap back into new ideas.
  1. Change your soundtrack. Try listening to something new and see what happens. If you usually work in silence, background music can engage part of your brain allowing the rest of it free reign. Lyrics, instrumentals, or the sounds of nature may shake things up. Or try noise canceling headphones with no music at all and see what’s hiding in the silence.
  1. Change your scenery. It can be as simple as sitting on the other side of your desk or out on the sofa in reception. Or maybe going to a coffeehouse or park. Take a walk or go to the gym. Sometimes not actively working allows the work to happen.
  1. Ask for advice. Talking things over with someone different can change your whole perspective. Everyone has an opinion and most are more than willing to share it. Ask your kids what they think – you’re likely to get honest (and sometimes harsh) insight.
  1. Keep it simple. It’s easy to get stuck if you’re looking for a lofty solution. The direct route is often the best way to let creativity happen. Just say what you want to say and leave space for the ideas to stand out.

Bottom line – when creativity seems out of reach, go back to the basics, try something different, and then be patient. The answer is out there. It may not look like what you expect, but it’s there nonetheless.

person walking in the woods

It’s Intern Season: 7 Tips for Students

office work space

Internships are an important opportunity to gain valuable experience and learn skills not taught in the classroom. Even high school students can benefit from shadowing professionals. Here are 7 tips for making the most of your internship experience.

  1. Start early. Exploring possibilities within your field of interest is much easier and more affordable when you are in school. Real world experience from internships sets you apart when applying for a job.
  1. Stand out. Your letter or email should be personally written and honest. Clearly state what you are looking to get from an internship. Mention anything specific or relevant from the firm’s website, body of work, employees that you know, or any other positive connection.
  1. Choose an internship with a variety of opportunities. In advertising, some agencies place interns in just one department. At Triad, our interns work with every department in each of our companies.
  1. Look for flexibility. Whether during the school year or in the summer, flexible hours will allow you to continue your education or even work another job.
  1. Step outside your comfort zone. Our interns have come from a variety of majors including sociology and psychology.
  1. Take advantage of networking opportunities. Get to know people in the office. Ask questions and learn as much as you can. Take initiative and demonstrate what you bring to the team. Your internship can yield important connections that help you get a job and move your career forward.
  1. Be professional, but have fun. References matter, so dress the part and behave appropriately. But also take time to enjoy yourself. This is a rare opportunity to explore your interests, learn real world skills and discover what truly interests you.

The Case for Print: Why Print is Very Much Alive

open book

Adaptation is critical for survival, and we’re always paying attention to the pulse of the industry. Our digital advertising agency’s rapid growth is proof that online and mobile are an essential piece of any modern marketing strategy. At the same time, we firmly believe that print is just as important as ever.

Strategic targeting

Advertising in any one space is likely to overlook a segment of the intended audience. Many of our senior living clients are testing the waters through online advertising and retargeting, but print and direct mail remain an important part of the mix. Our efforts are aimed at adult children and their parents, and while even the older generation is becoming more tech savvy, there is still a real value in print pieces. Print has permanence, and if posted on a refrigerator or bulletin board remains closer to top of mind. Even as we move more deeply into a digital world, we must not assume that everyone has an email address or surfs the web. Or, more dangerous still, conclude that if one isn’t active on the internet, one isn’t part of the intended target audience. It’s worth remembering that not everyone is playing in the same space we are, and print allows us to extend our reach far beyond the keyboard. 

Triggers for behavior

The connection between print and online behavior has even spurred former catalog giant J.C. Penney to rejoin the game. After nearly five years, the retailer is bringing back a print catalog specifically to generate online sales. While the 120 page version is a far cry from the 1000+ page Big Book sent to homes for more than 40 years, it underscores the reality of shopping behavior. Decades ago, shoppers browsed at home and ordered by phone. The revived catalog delivers the same basic experience. Only the checkout method has changed.

As the parent of a high school junior, my home mailbox (the physical one, next to the house) has been filling up with college catalogs and mailings. We’ve also brought home pieces from college visits (pieces I wish we’d created). Our recycling bin has certainly received its fair share, but many of these printed items have real staying power. Whether it’s the message, the copy or the strong imagery, they connect us to the institution in a different way. My high school student’s email account is probably filling up with digital mail, but it’s the physical pieces that stand as a reminder of the decisions to be made in the year ahead.

Permanent residency

Not so long ago, the digital photo frame was the next best thing – easily updated, always changing, filled with hundreds of images. What’s on my desk today? A few carefully selected snapshots of memorable times. Static. In picture frames.

Print pieces can be physically shared, pinned to a cork board, taken with you. They provide a physical reminder of an errand, sale, appointment, event. The fact that they’re not constantly changing and moving is why they’re so effective.

Watch what’s happening

There’s been a lot of noise lately about Apple running 12 pages of print ads for their newest tech item. Why would high-tech go so incredibly old school? Obviously we’d argue that’s exactly the reason – the enduring nature of print. The tactile experience of turning pages to see what’s next. The permanence of the image on the physical page. In an era where everything is temporary and disposable, print still has a place, an important role in the advertising mix.

And, again, Apple is controlling the message. Their announcement of the Apple Watch came months ago, and videos are easily found on the internet. But this massive print spread grabbed headlines and focused attention right before announcement of the actual availability. Twelve pages in Vogue position their tech gear as high fashion, as wearable art, as something exclusive and aspirational. And has given media outlets something to talk about to keep the story top of mind and their product a must-have.

Sticking with tradition

Today, as we embrace online advertising and social marketing, we cling just as tightly to the traditions of print. The written word is as powerful as ever. Even as I type this on a computer and review it on a tablet and submit it to the web, nothing can replace the bulletin board of treasured memories or the smell of an old book or the satisfying feel of a crisply turned page. Print is still kicking and will outlive us all.

7 Tips for Successful Rebranding

notebook with brand concept“We need a fresh look” is often the rallying cry that leads the charge.

When it comes to rebranding, though, a shiny new look is but one part of the process. Over the years, we’ve helped many clients define their brand, review branding efforts for consistency, and completely rebrand, start to finish. Through it all, we’ve learned a few key lessons that can help when you start thinking about rebranding.

  1. Think Beyond the Logo – A rebrand can elevate a brand, introduce it to a new audience, and most importantly, define what sets the brand apart and why customers should choose you. It’s critical to think beyond the logo to every touch point—every single customer interaction, marketing piece, and employee action. From signage to apparel, to elevator speeches, business cards, websites, and even email signatures, your brand needs to reflect who your company is and how you want the world to see you.
  1. Know Who You Are – You may think you know who you are, but really, it’s your customers who know best. (New Coke®, anyone?) From surveys, to focus groups, it’s important to start with research to gather current brand perceptions. Add that knowledge to your goals of where you want your company to go, and you’ve got the start of your rebrand. Doing your homework, asking the tough questions, and focusing on clearly defined goals will guide your path to success.

branding notes on whiteboard

  1. All Brains on Deck – Everyone who works on your brand day in and day out – all of your marketing, advertising, branding, and public relations partners – should be involved from the start. Even if only one partner is working on the rebrand, everyone needs to know about it, to avoid that fateful day when someone gets the “We have a new logo!” phone call. Once complete, everything from company letterhead to your website will be updated, and employees will need education around brand standards and messaging too. All too often, a new brand is developed without the reasoning and messaging to back it up.
  1. Don’t Rush to Publish – Your Brand Book, including your brand story, brand values, brand standards, colors, fonts, and examples of your brand voice, looks, and positioning statements, needs to be complete before you print, tweet, embroider, or announce anything to anyone, even your employees. (Except those gathered around the table, hopefully filled with pizza, candy, and other “brain food,” working on your new brand.) It’s natural to be excited, but sharing a piece of the new brand before the rebrand is finished will dilute your brand integrity.

swatches of color

  1. Get Graphic – Use an experienced, professional graphic design team to ensure a logo that will translate across media and appeal visually to your target audience. Color choices should accurately represent your brand, and a graphic designer expert in color theory can help. A beautiful logo that is expensive to print or embroider or that looks busy online will be too costly to maintain and detract from your message. Choose a partner willing to play nicely in the sandbox with your own creative team, too, if you have designers on staff. Which brings us to Point 6.
  1. Expect Strong Opinions – Your brand is the most personal aspect of your company. It’s the heart of who you are and you need to be prepared for strong opinions from both inside and outside of your company. This is good news. It demonstrates the passion of your team and your brand partners. Your employees should absolutely feel a deep connection with your brand, and all should take ownership of it. If your branding efforts are successful, this constructive conversation will contribute to positive brand awareness.

heart-shaped collage of logos

  1. Be Different to Be Better – It’s of course important to conduct a SWOT analysis of your company and to also know your competition inside and out. However, it’s common to fall into the trap of “wanting to be like them.” Following the pack won’t distinguish you from brands in the same industry, and you’ll be back to square one. All of your rebranding choices should reflect why your business should be chosen over everyone else. You need to shout what makes you different from the rooftops.

Remember, brand is everything, and everything is brand. Every conversation with a customer. Your company attire. The way you work. The values that guide you. And of course, your marketing and the image you share with the world.

Questions for us? We’re always here to help—we’ll even bring the pizza.

pizza sign

The Case for Insourcing in an Outsourcing World

team working for success
At Triad Advertising (now a division of the Triad Companies) we’ve always bucked the system, seeing ourselves as partners rather than contractors and billing only for creative and deliverables rather than nickeling and diming over phone calls and meetings. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that as agencies are becoming more specialized and relying increasingly on freelancers and subcontractors, we’re bringing (and keeping) it all in-house.

With insourcing we have closer control over the process and it’s easier to manage personalities and work habits for a more productive environment. All divisions follow our philosophy, with a shared work ethic and approach to customer service. The end product is more cohesive because we truly are a team. Bottom line, however, is that it’s easier for clients to work with one group and customer satisfaction drives everything we do.

Meeting Client Needs

This insourcing approach goes back more than two decades to our roots as a recruitment agency when Triad was born in response to clients’ needs for quality ads. In the beginning we worked with freelancers, but the goal has always been to have talent in-house. Frankly, it’s easier to control turnaround, budget and quality when you’re working directly with your own staff. And we adopted this approach with all aspects of our company, from account services to accounting to HR, to give us more control and oversight.

Investing for Customer Service

Our decisions are all fueled by client benefit and our goal of long-term customer satisfaction. For example, we saw early on the advantages of investing in a large scale color printer to reduce costs and turnaround for some of our print jobs. While we still use outside printers for specific projects, by having our own high quality machine in our office we can cut out the markup, increase responsiveness and, again, have better control over quality. Plus, we can produce high quality color mockups, proofs and presentations, which in turn improves our customer service.

This same awareness of quality control and an unsatisfied need led to the creation of Red Ball Promotions. Imprinted items created by other vendors weren’t meeting the standards our clients deserved and demanded. By creating our own promotional products division backed by a full creative department, we were able to establish relationships with preferred vendors, craft campaigns from concept to fulfillment, and deliver high quality branded items. With Red Ball Promotions, our clients get more than just an order taker, they get the support of an entire creative team for full-service campaigns.

Growing Through Change

Launching a new division isn’t easy. Establishing Red Ball involved stepping out of our comfort zone, learning the industry, and building business. At one point we were even told that advertising agencies had no business being in the promotional products arena. We begged to differ, putting our creative minds and resources behind everything we do. And today, our long list of satisfied clients agree that dealing with one point of contact for consistent high quality work is a major benefit of working with us.

We started our in-house digital agency, 5HD for the same reason – to better serve our clients. We were partnering with outside developers and service providers but felt we could provide better results and service in-house. This time, our employees took the initiative over several years to master the industry and suggested we create a new company with additional talent to satisfy the growing demand for quality digital marketing strategies. Again our creative and strategic expertise supports the expansion into an adjacent marketing space.

Looking to the Future

With a name like Triad, it’s easy to think that three divisions is the magic number. But we’re always looking for new white space to fill, and we’re already looking ahead to a branding division. It’s something we already do, we do it well, and we see a real need in the marketplace. At this point, it’s a matter of timing, personnel and resource allocation.

So in a time when others are cutting back and limiting themselves to a specialty niche, we’re moving forward and promoting our team’s talents and expertise. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about giving our clients a solution for success.Triad Advertising Companies