Sparks July 2006 -

Sparks July 2006

In the News

Brilliant logo = great brand, right? Wrong!
A common misconception about brand-building is that it must include a stunning logo, beautiful packaging, and knockout advertising. While design is an extremely powerful differentiator (it’s not just for Target and Apple anymore!), no design or marketing can compensate for a weak brand. How do we know? Just look at Starbucks.

Starbucks is one of the world’s most powerful brands, with 25 million customers/week willing to pay higher prices and wait in longer lines in order to purchase their java. Yet what is Starbucks’ slogan? When was the last time you saw a Starbucks ad?

The truth is that Starbucks built its brand first by creating a powerful customer experience. That experience centers around sophistication and community. Coffee cups are grande and venti instead of medium and large. A barista makes your coffee for you in plain sight. Comfy, upscale furniture dots an open floor plan in each store, with comfortable nooks to encourage long-term stays. It’s a powerful, emotional combination that led to sales of over $3.3 bil last year.

To build a powerful brand, focus your efforts first on defining and delivering a consistent customer experience. Your visual identity, tagline, and marketing materials must then support that experience; they can never replace it.

Use Google Alerts to help your biz
Want an easy way to keep an eye on competitors, know what people are saying about you, or get up-to-date business news? It takes only a few minutes to set up Google Alerts, a free service that sends you an email each time a new page for your chosen term makes it in the top twenty results on Google’s web results.

Customize your Alerts to focus on news, Google Groups (online listservs and communities), or Google’s database of over 8 billion web pages. Emails can be sent in real-time, daily, or weekly.

Choose keywords to monitor news about your own company or your competitors’. Keep up to date on what people are saying about your industry so you’ll be poised to respond. Set up Alerts to track mentions of your company’s name or the name of chief executives. This allows you to monitor possible negative buzz as well as positive comments that you can then incorporate into your PR.

In the increasingly competitive marketplace where time is of the essence, Google Alerts can help deliver the information you want as soon as it appears, saving you valuable time and giving you a leg up on the competition.



This month’s winner: Kay Daniels!
Kay wins a digital print featuring this one-of-a-kind design (based on an old print shop sign but given new meaning when paired with Mr Charm!). 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

Collins Living-Learning Center at Indiana University
The Ralph L. Collins Living-Learning Center is an innovative residence center on the Indiana University campus which has shaped the lives of thousands of students, including Ms Dot Com herself. Collins focuses on the whole student, offering custom academic courses, a wide variety of arts activities, and an emphasis on community service for all residents. It also happens to have the most beautiful architecture and grounds of any residence hall on campus!

We were thrilled to be contacted by Collins’ leadership team of Ellen Dwyer, Catherine Hawkes, and Yara Cluver. Their goal was to raise Collins’ profile with its many constituencies through a new visual identity and marketing brochure.

Collins’ constituencies are indeed varied; they include high school
guidance counselors, high school students, those students’ parents, various Indiana University departments and leaders, and existing and past residents!

Undaunted, we dove into the logo design, striking a balance between an innovative, eye-catching look; geometric forms to add stability; and a friendly typeface to add some warmth. In order to stand out from the sea of cream and crimson that defines the IU brand, we and the clients selected a forest green for the Collins color. The placement of letterforms is reminiscent of the rooftops of the main Collins buildings, and placing the O within the C of “Collins” communicates the feeling of belonging, care, and community that are so much a part of the Collins experience.

We developed the marketing brochure (currently in production) to emphasize all these aspects and more. The Collins logo, however, will be adopted for all official Collins brand materials. It will certainly be appropriated by Collins residents (a creative bunch) and turned into something unexpected! We’re very excited to help our alma mater distinguish itself to attract more students who’ll benefit from the wonderful community that is Collins.

The Collins logo designed by