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VIA Idea #37

7 Jan

Rebrand For a New You!

Southwest, Gordon Food Service Store and Pizza Hut all rebranded in 2014, each for their own reasons. Let’s take a look at what makes a good reason for change.


Southwest®’s new brand has a clever three-colored heart and bolder colors. Rebranding came about because of their new international flights, their purchase of AirTran and the fact that Dallas’ travel restrictions are being lifted, giving them more opportunities. Forbes criticized the move saying it’s too soon, and Southwest should have waiting until their performance matches their new excitement. “Southwest became a great brand by adopting a fun, low-cost, friendly brand position. These days it doesn’t seem to be any of these.” Forbes 9/17/2014


Gordon® Food Service introduced a new logo, tagline and name, saying in a press release this is “part of the evolution of our corporate brand.” They took away the GFS acronym, and are leading with the name Gordon as a way to emphasize they are a family business. We like their new tagline: Always at Your Table. They sent a postcard to customers and created a landing page to fully explain the story.


The new Pizza Hut® features ten new crust flavors, six new sauces, five new toppings, and four new flavor-pack drizzles. You can choose from “over 2 billion combinations of pizza.” All of those changes demanded a new look!

January is a time for reassessments, and the New Year turns our attention to what we can do better. Has your company gone through changes that would make it a good candidate for rebranding?

A brand is so much more than a logo.
Your logo expresses the essence of your brand, and it should be meaningful and powerful. Most of the time companies rebrand to build lost market share. You should rebrand when:

  1. You are not telling your full brand story. You’ve grown and evolved since the original identity was created, and you need to communicate the new direction.
  2. Your audience has changed, and their needs have changed. Some brands need to change in order to stay relevant to new generations.
  3. Competition forces you to set yourself apart in a more meaningful way. Companies use rebranding as a way to make people take a fresh look at themselves.
  4. Your current identity has been damaged. Your reputation may have been hurt by bankruptcy or some other kind of crisis. Some use rebranding to hide malpractices of the past.

RadioShack®’s and Hershey’s Rebrand Were Total Failures.


Radio Shack switched its name to The Shack, but didn’t change the product or philosophy along with it. The lesson is to make sure you have a good reason to rebrand.


Hershey wanted to create a “fresh and modern interpretation of the beloved Kisses icon.” The company replaced a photograph of a silver Hershey’s Kiss with an animated, solid brown version. Sadly, the new Kisses looks just a bit too similar to a certain online emoticon, often used on social media to depict feces.

Why does rebranding fail?

  1. There is a lack of true change. Just changing the name will disappointcustomers who will be looking for a good reason to give you a try.
  2. If you rebrand based on an aspiration, you may be biting off more than you can manage. Keep the change reasonable and attainable.
  3. Your brand statement is not plainly stated. Vague brand positioning or one that is hard for customers to understand will cause problems. State your claim clearly and deliver on that promise.
  4. The entire staff must all be on the same page and know what is expected at every touch point. A brand is something you do. The CEO must lead and be an example. If the charge doesn’t start at the top, the effort will fail.

Final tips
It’s vital to estimate the cost of rebranding before you get started. Larger companies will have a large list including a multitude of signage. Smaller companies are more flexible and will use rebranding as a growth maneuver. Both will need to change mission statements and create a marketing plan for the roll out. A name change will require papers submitted to the secretary of state. This great infographic from Entrepreneur Magazine has more examples.

VIA Case Studies


Simple and clean, inspiring and inviting, the new logo represents the IBT’s merge to the Classical Arts Centre.


By using strong graphics and a bold typeface the updated Smith Animal logo will stay relevant for generations.


Capstone’s updated logo and name combines the original typeface with a vivid color scheme and more. Adding “Design and Renovation” expresses more clearly who they are.


Buzz Packaging needed an identity. They relied on an inconsistent typeface. The new look is bold, defining, and impactful.

Contact VIA if you’d like a free consultation about rebranding your company.

VIA Idea #36

11 Nov

E-Newsletter Best Practices


Reach out to your customers and contacts so they don’t forget about you. A sales coach once told me “Activity produces activity.” When you stay in contact, new orders usually come in.

E-Newsletter goals range from brand awareness to generating leads and selling, to driving traffic to the website. A common mistake is to use your newsletter as a sales flyer. You should first write about something that offers real value, like solving a problem, and later, transition to your product or service and how it helps.

How relevant and compelling your content is proves to be the most important elements when gauging email effectiveness. Another element is the quality of your subscriber list. Invite people to join from a sign-up area on your website. It’s a good idea to segment your list so you can target your messages.

Our top tips and best practices:

  1. Clearly display your brand and put contact information above the fold. Keep the layout the same with each issue. People are comfortable when the email is in order and they know where to click.
  2. Make sure it is mobile ready. So many people read their email when they are on the move.
  3. Your content should be easy to scan. Use short paragraphs, links, and “read more” to allow the reader the choice to dig deeper. Avoid too many articles. Keep it simple and easy.
  4. Gorgeous images will make the content jump off the screen and draw readers in. People love interesting pictures.
  5. Add social media buttons to encourage sharing, and add a sign-up area in hopes of engaging a new reader.
  6. It’s okay to call it a newsletter in the subject line, but add more words to entice us with an expectation of what’s inside.
  7. According to research by GetResponse, the best days to send out emails are on work days, with Thursday early afternoon being the best, and Monday morning the worst.
  8. When in doubt, test.

Don’t stress if your newsletter is a mess.

We can help your newsletter shine its brightest. Contact VIA to discuss the effectiveness of your newsletter and how to make improvements.

VIA Idea #35

15 Oct

Art & Copy: May We Introduce You to Code

The first creative revolution began in the 1960s when art partnered with copy for the first time. Creative director Bill Bernbach (the B in DDB Doyle Dane and Bernbach) recognized that pairing the wordsmith & artist could spark genius. “The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is artistry” was how Bernbach put it. Tony Mikes of Second Wind says the first creative revolution introduced “white space,” “irony” & “focus groups.”  It was the dawn of design and shameless self-promotion. The preferred method in the ’40s and ’50s was the boring repetitiveness of the “universal selling proposition” propounded by Ted Bates CEO Rosser Reeves. Art, when used, was expected only to support the drumbeat of the copy—“Melts in your mouth, not in your hand” was a Bates line.

Second Creative Revolution
Today, we are in the middle of the second creative revolution because of technology and the audience. As Tony continues, “Don’t sell me; engage me, inform me, entertain me.”  The key trend of this new revolution is that people don’t want to just “buy,” they want to “buy in to” the essence of a brand. This is a call to brands to be authentic.

“Code” is now being added to the core of good creative process. Code facilitates new kinds of experiences, but it doesn’t replace the storytelling skills the advertising industry has honed over the past fifty years. We bring brands to life by expressing their personalities. Now we do that through interactive digital messaging.

It used to be that there was the ‘real’ world and the ‘digital’ world and the two rarely met. Not anymore. Thanks to mobile devices, these two worlds are both part of a daily experience. Physical events are triggering actions online, and vice-versa, creating new opportunities for marketers to invite people to interact with their products through the web.

Audiences of One: Crafted Just for You
People can now decide if, when and how they interact with brands. Consequently, our definition of great creative work is changing. Notice I didn’t say “ads!” It’s so much bigger than that. This is an exciting time for fresh thinking about how to deliver brand messages over multiple channels that people will respond to.

The best storytellers have always been able to make us feel as if they are speaking to each one of us individually. Using real-time data and cues like time of day, location and interests, we can tailor and personalize messages in ways that make them more valuable and meaningful. Content is being delivered as posts, ads, videos, websites, etc.

Advertising was needed in order to inform the readers about your products or services. But now, because of the Internet, when you are ready to buy, you may know just as much as the salesperson.

Creating Tools, Not Just Ads
Marketing has become less about talking and more about doing. Creating tools that make people’s lives easier, more productive and more fun can bring a brand’s promise to life in tangible ways. Brands are leveraging data to help us exercise moretrack a pizza delivery, or make driving a social experience. The brands of the future will create real value and connect with their audiences through marketing.

Right now you can collect customer data from forms on your website and use it for a myriad of marketing methods. Strategizing and synchronizing the campaign is still in the hands of agencies.

Benefits of online marketing include measurability, targeting, budget setting, accessibility to small business, and speed to market. Some of the tactics are:
Pay Per Click • Social Media • Email Marketing
Organic Search Engine Optimization • SMS (short message service)

VIA Staff Weighs In

The story has changed
For many years Art and Copy were the life of the storytelling party, they would show up in our magazines, mailboxes and newspaper whether they were welcome or not and talk to us about whatever they wished. Oh man, Art and Copy were fun back then, we couldn’t get enough of them and their seemingly endless amounts of entertainment and excitement! Over time though, Art and Copy’s brashness became a little annoying. “Please just be quiet Art and Copy,” we would say. “We’re not interested in the things you’re telling us about. They don’t matter to me!” Sadly, we began to avoid Art and Copy because we didn’t like who they had become.

Then, one day Art and Copy met Code. Now Code was not pretty like Art and Copy. No; Code was a different type, a behind-the-scenes type, who understood timing and placement and who liked to keep detailed records. Code realized that by adding his skills to Art and Copy’s storytelling ability, we would once again enjoy brand stories. Why? Because we are given the choice to read and enjoy only the brand messages that we want, when we want.
– Ryan Thiele, VIA Creative Director

Still creating a unique personality
No longer is creative one-dimensional. Today’s creative is multi-faced and reaches more audiences faster than ever before. As a result, today’s designers have a broad range of skills to keep target audiences connected and attentions grabbed. Keeping up with technology is what separates a good designer from a successful designer. Messages are delivered multiple times in multiple ways. It’s easy to get the message out, but capturing interest and creating a need is most important. What designer doesn’t want their client to be successful?
– Carlo Labriola, VIA Sr. Graphic Artist

Advertising is no longer about persuasion but engagement
User experience (UX) is a term you will frequently hear when it comes to advertising and marketing. It simply means a company must combine different tools like art, copy and code that will speak to the end-user in a meaningful way. This can mean the user will visit your website, download an app, and use social media to help spread your message.
– Leslie Lopez, VIA Digital Artist

Copywriting has expanded
Writing great headlines, scripts and body copy is nice, but now we need to sustain a conversation. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, poetic or literary, but it must always be relevant and real. Writing for a website incorporates keywords. We balance writing for people with writing for search engines. It’s an art in itself.
– Libby Pals, VIA SEO Specialist

Code has opened up so many new channels
There is more power in the hands of the consumers than ever before. Information about topics, products or services is just a Google search away. As more people reach out for information, the bigger the demand grows for web developers. We use our skills to put Art and Copy into the digital world and make sure they perform well. Collaborating as a team allows us to brainstorm for exciting new solutions to use data as a marketing tool. There are new technologies being launched every day, and it’s important to keep up-to-date with all the trends.
– Przemek Wiejak, VIA Front End Developer

Forbes Top 7 Online Marketing Trends of 2014
1. Content Marketing Will be Bigger Than Ever
2. Social Media Marketing Will Require More Diversity
3. Image-Centric Content Will Rule
4.  Less Will be More
5. Mobile-Friendly Content Will Be Necessary
6.  Ad Retargeting Will Grow in Effectiveness
7. SEO and Social Signals Will Become Even More Intertwined

Contact Julie to discuss assessing the effectiveness of your website’s user experience and in thinking through how to make improvements.

VIA Idea #34

8 Sep

Choose passwords wisely and consider password software

Many (most?) of us select the same password on all our accounts because it’s easier to remember, but that’s not wise, especially if you’re also guilty of using one that’s easily guessed by third-graders and Russian hackers. According to Splashdata, the five worst passwords in 2013 were:

• 123456

• password

• 12345678

• qwerty

• abc123

A simple way to make your passwords more secure is to make them longer. Most sites require passwords that are at least eight characters long; some require a combination of letters, numbers and printable characters. By using all the printable characters and increasing the password length, possible combinations increase exponentially:

8 characters = more than 645 trillion (645,753,531,245,761)
9 characters = more than 45 quadrillion (45,848,500,718,449,031)
10 characters = more than 3 quintillion (3,255,243,551,009,881,201)


While doing the research to write this article, I found all kinds of advice on how to make your passwords difficult to hack. Those lists include:

• Choosing a combination of two unrelated words (rootcandy)

• Creating an acronym of an easy to remember phrase (I want it all and I want it now= iwiaaiwin)

• Mixing the letter case (IwiaaIwin)

• Replacing a letter of a word or phrase with a different letter, number or symbol (Iwantitall+Iwantitnow)

• Adding one or more special symbols (iwitaaiwin!!!)

While these tricks might work if you have only one or two passwords to manage, how can you possibly remember which clever password goes with each credit card, bank account, online magazine subscription, LinkedIn, email, and dozens of other accounts? If you only access those accounts from your home computer, you aren’t as vulnerable as if you use your work computer, home computer, smart phone, and tablet.

Subscribing to password management software is a solution that’s been around for a while but is becoming more popular as major security breaches are made public. A friend of mine swears by RoboForm; it also got high marks in a recent article on the website Top Ten Reviews. This article rates features, security, supported accounts and help and support. Prices for annual subscriptions range from $9.99 to $29.99.

My advice, in a nutshell, is to do your homework and choose the password management software that best fits your needs. Then email to let me know which option you chose and how it’s working for you.

Contact Julie to discuss assessing the effectiveness of your website’s user experience and in thinking through how to make improvements.

VIA Idea #33

8 Sep

Tips for Designing Better Websites from the User Experience Point of View

However it’s delivered (print or electronic), every strong marketing piece presents information from a “what’s in it for me” point of view. A website presents you with the opportunity to personalize the experience by allowing your customers and potential customers to learn as much (or little) about your company and products as they desire.

Your website’s design needs to function well for many people. Each of us comes to a particular website with our own expectations and with individual goals. The more you know your target audience, the better you can predict their expectations and guide them into the sales funnel.


Tips to improve user experience include:

    1. Placing your phone number at the top and make it a “click to call”.


    1. Including a form that will make it simple to contact you without asking for too much information.


    1. Utilizing caching (see the sidebar article for details).


    1. Making sure that Responsive Web Design (RWD*) has simple layouts and fluid grids. Avoid complicated navigation.


  1. Examining Analytics data and tweaking the layout over time. For example, by moving a navigation tab on a client’s site, the hits to that page immediately increased.

Contact Julie to discuss assessing the effectiveness of your website’s user experience and in thinking through how to make improvements.

*RWD is a website design that resizes itself in order to work well across various screen sizes from mobile to desktop and everything in between.

VIa Idea #32

8 Sep

What’s the difference between CMYK and RGB colors and which one is better?

A client recently asked this question during a discussion about updating her company’s marketing pieces. But it’s not a question of better; it’s a question of when to use which. Let me clarify—if the finished product will be printed, then CMYK colors will be specified. But if the finished product will be electronic, then RGB is the color mix.

CMYK refers to cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black inks. A printing press applies each color to paper separately to build up the image into the full-color photo or graphic image that you see in a newspaper, magazine, or brochure.

RGB, as you might guess, refers to red, green and blue, the primary colors of light that your computer monitor and iPhone use to display screen images. Software allows you to view the images by mixing these three colors. The color capability of your device determines how well the colors will display. SuperVGA (SVGA) mode can display up to 16,777,216 (16.8 million) colors; a 16-bit display is only capable of producing 65,536 colors. Although you would think that more than 65,000 colors would be more than enough, we need as many colors as we can get to display that logo just right.

Graphic designers work first in RGB mode, as that’s what they’re seeing on their monitors as they work. If the finished piece will be printed, they’ll convert the files before sending them to the printer. We often send a client a work in progress via email in pdf or jpg format. When getting the color just right is critical, we’ll sometimes suggest a press proof.

I’ve way oversimplified the printing process, and haven’t even yet addressed when to use a vector file and when a raster format is needed. Take a look at the sidebar and see the infographic for a quick lesson. Want more information? Contact me and I’ll share more technical explanations.

What NOT to do With Social Media

12 Dec

Small business owners and their employees have always been busy—busy getting the job done, busy following up on leads, busy managing employees, busy figuring out how to fit time with their families into already crowded calendars. Added to everything else, you’re increasingly feeling the pressure to create and maintain an online social presence. Social media is important for businesses; however, we want you to know how not to proceed. Here’s our list of often-heard statements and logic in refuting them:

    1. You need to be on every social network.
      There’s not enough time in the day to be on each social network! As with any media, knowing your target audience will drive the decision on whether to engage on (#1) Facebook with 750 million; (#3) LinkedIn with 110 million; (#11) CafeMom with 12.5 million; (#13) Meetup with 7.5 million unique monthly visitors* or any of dozens of other sites. 

    1. Social media is completely free.
      Although creating an account and uploading your business information doesn’t cost anything, you’ll want to pay a professional to design a custom page. And posting messages isn’t free unless your time is worth nothing. Social media is like a friendship; the more effort you put into it, the more rewarding it becomes.

    1. All you need is social media.
      I’ve had potential clients ask why they should invest in a website when they can be on Facebook for free. If you wouldn’t build your home on property that you don’t own, why would you build your online business presence on a site you have no real control over?

    1. You can outsource your social media or let an intern manage it.
      Whether you’re General Motors or the pizza guy down the street, social media is your opportunity to connect with followers in a personal way. Include photos, speak in your own voice—and inject some humor and insights. It’s difficult for someone not intimately involved with your business to sound knowledgeable and authentic.

    1. You should only post messages about your company.
      Like the loud woman at a party who talks incessantly about herself, posting only messages that are company-related quickly gets boring! A good rule to follow is that 20 percent of your posts can be company/sales-related and the other 80 percent should inform and entertain your followers.

    1. Don’t let your employees use social media.
      You can also ask the wind not to blow; you can’t keep your employees off of social media. Instead, ask them to “use good judgment” as they connect with their families, friends and associates.

    1. You shouldn’t ask people to comment, follow, or retweet you.
      Of course you should. Just not for everything you post.

    1. Don’t respond to negative comments/Disable comments to avoid negative comments/Delete negative comments.
      Immediately address a negative comment with an explanation and, if needed, an apology. By being upfront and transparent you can sometimes turn a disgruntled customer into an appreciative one. If you disable comments, you’re taking away the interactive qualities that make social media attractive to so many. And, because of screen shots and smart phones, you can’t assume a negative comment will go away by hitting delete.

    1. Respond to every negative comment.
      Unlike a legitimate negative comment or complaint, you may someday be harassed by a “troll” whose intent is to stir up trouble. If this is the case, don’t try to win.

  1. You don’t need a strategy for social media.
    Social media is another tool in your marketing kit. Thinking through what you want to accomplish with it requires a plan.Contact Julie to discuss ways that social media can work for your business.

*Numbers are from