Sparks January 2008 -

Sparks January 2008

In the News

Say “Thank You” to build brand loyalty
The most overlooked aspect of any marketing campaign is follow-through. For many small and medium size businesses, follow-through is as simple as saying “Thank you.”

More companies are turning to Web-based video as a way to make an emotional impact. When combined with a heartfelt story about how your support makes a difference, this is a home run.

Heifer International gives animals to families in need around the world rather than short-term and soon-gone relief. Families are taught to care for the animal and to share and sell its products and offspring. A single flock of chicks can lead to economic self-sufficiency for an entire village, as the chicks mature and provide eggs and chicken for food or produce additional chicks that can be given to neighbors (restarting the cycle).

It’s a compelling model with compelling stories, and Heifer capitalized on that by creating a thank-you video where recipients briefly tell how Heifer gifts changed their lives. The video allows donors to feel directly connected to human beings around the globe and feel that their gift was deeply meaningful.

This is a very effective way to build brand loyalty—it “proves” that Heifer’s approach works and it creates a power emotional response in donors, making them more likely to donate again and donate more. It might even motivate a donor to feature the video in Sparks!

How can your organization connect with your customers’ hearts by saying thank you? Contact us to learn more!

Facebook privacy scandal hurts brand, hints at future
The popular social networking site Facebook has been in the news in the last few months with the kind of publicity nobody wants.

Private purchases made by Facebook users on other sites were posted on Facebook for people’s co-workers, family, and random acquaintances to see. Why? To gain advertising dollars. As one writer put it, Facebook turned users into “living ads.”

Holiday gifts purchased on unrelated sites such as and were posted on Facebook. Users’ outrage was summed up as “Facebook ruined Christmas!”

A YouTube video examining Facebook’s privacy policies notes that the site allows users to post their address and phone numbers, jobs and education, sexual orientation and political affiliation, relations to friends, and even their daily schedules.

It goes on to note that Facebook’s privacy policy allows it to treat all data entered as its own, allowing it to sell it to third parties. The video also infers ties between Facebook funders and the Department of Defense, the CIA, and John Poindexter’s infamous Information Awareness Office.

The intensity of the backlash, which included a highly publicized campaign by, made Facebook do an about-face within weeks. Rather than being an automatic “opt-in” feature, the default is “opt-out.”

Lessons to be learned? From a personal standpoint, be very mindful of what information you post online. “Online is forever” in the ever-growing world of social networking and powerful data mining companies. Look for social networking sites which protect privacy, such as 2Pad. The incident with Facebook will not be the last collision of privacy vs profit.

From a business standpoint, we can all take a great lesson from Facebook: Don’t betray your customers’ trust. Their pursuit of maximizing revenue severely damaged their brand, leading to…less revenue. Strong brands are rooted in customer loyalty; customer loyalty is your most important business asset. Don’t squander it in pursuit of short-term gain.



This month’s winner: Karen Luerssen!
Karen wins a digital print featuring this one-of-a-kind design. Have a favorite quote or saying? Send it in! If your quote is chosen, you’ll receive a print of your custom design suitable for framing! Check out your competition here.

Client Spotlight

Indiana University Marketing
As many Bloomingtonians know, Indiana University has been going through a brand clarification process for some time, beginning with the refinement of the IU logo several years ago. The IU marketing department has the sometimes unenviable task of ensuring that the brand identity elements (logo, typefaces, placement, etc) are used correctly by thousands of university staff and faculty. This is known internally as the Integrated Image Program (IIP).

We were approached by creative director Ned Shaw to create artwork, an icon, and two postcards for “Heads Up!” This campaign is aimed at faculty and staff, helping them stay informed of developments in the IIP. Senior Associate Director Angela Tharp had the concept of a turtle with its head above water as the main image for the Heads Up! campaign. Our job was to create compelling pieces that would resonate with the target market.

Our first postcard does just that, with a friendly turtle swimming confidently toward shore (illustrated by the talented Mike Cagle). We included copy on the postcard front to reinforce the message that implementing the IIP doesn’t have to be daunting.

The reverse of the first postcard and the remaining materials pick up on the same messages and include the turtle icon. The icon is used throughout the Heads Up! campaign as a friendly and recognizable identifying mark. We organized and edited all copy for consistency and readability, and made sure designs met all requirements for campus mail.

The icon is designed to be used with or without a ring of words around it. It also translates well to the web, where it’s used to identify the Heads Up! campaign.


Our clients were thrilled with the results and with our ability to turn around effective materials quickly. We, in turn, were thrilled to work with them! As “The Turtle” becomes more widely recognized, faculty and staff will see a friendly face to turn to as they implement IU’s refined visual identity.