Sparks September 2005 -

Sparks September 2005

In the News

Who’s your target market?
Small businesses often have a hard time defining their target market. When asked who they want to buy their product or service, they often reply in very broad terms, such as “Rich people” or “moms” or “people who like [what I sell].”

This is often due to the fear that if we narrow our focus we will miss out on potential business. But the opposite is true: the more clearly specialized (differentiated) you are, the easier it is for you to connect with exactly the people you want to serve.

Why? Because people buy based on differences, not similarities. Once they’ve decided on a general category (sunblock with SPF 100), they zero in on a differentiator to make that final selection. Some people will be motivated by price (lowest or highest). Others will be motivated by brand name recognition, habit, ingredients, size or shape of the container, product guarantees (“guaranteed to last 12 hours even after swimming!”).

So turn that around and you’ve got a much clearer sense of your target market and how to reach them. If your differentiating factor is “all-natural ingredients,” there’s no need to try to have the lowest price. Why? Most people who buy organic, cruelty-free, and all-natural products are used to paying a price premium. They tend to have higher education levels, are willing to pay more for perceived quality, and shop more frequently in boutique or specialty shops.

With a little more research, observation, asking your customers, and common sense, you can develop a much clearer picture of who your target market is. So when a marketing consultant asks, now you can answer, “Primarily women in the Bloomington area, aged 30-55, highly educated, tend to be affluent (though some have lower income but simpler needs), interested in an organic lifestyle, shopping at places like Bloomingfoods and Farmers’ Market in addition to big box stores.”

With this information, a marketing consultant can extrapolate even more data to know what kind of design, messages, packaging, and marketing channels will be most effective at connecting with your market. The result? Clearer differentiation, making it easier for your customers to buy, which makes your business more profitable! wins two national design awards
We are pleased to announce we’ve won two awards in the recent American Graphic Design Awards national design competition. The first award was for a trio of brochures created for SEED Corp., a Bloomington-based non-profit that provides business planning courses, microloans, and counseling to entrepreneurs in a 10-county area.

The second award was for “Must be Present to Win,” a VisoVerbo design based on an entry from client Jack Brubaker.

American Graphic Design Awards recognize excellence in design as part of a national competition sponsored by Graphic Design USA magazine. The winning work was selected from among 10,000 submissions. We have received a total of five AGDAs over the last three years.
Read full press release celebrates fourth anniversary
On 20 September we turn four! It’s been a wonderful four years of great clients, great work, and great fun. We are blessed to have found success in the company of so many good clients and friends. Thank you for your support!




This month’s winner: Andrea Dine!
In addition to the satisfaction of victory, Marcela 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 T-shirt with a custom design! Check out your competition here.

Client Spotlight

Canine Companions
Canine Companions began primarily as a dog training business, but has grown over the years to provide comprehensive dog care services, including boarding, grooming, daycare, and on-site veterinary care. Owner Bryan Bailey wanted a re-branding process to clearly communicate the unique position Canine Companions holds in the marketplace and its high level of professional, dog-loving care.

Partnering with Canine Companion’s marketing maven Kate Burgun, we’ve begun the re-branding process to position Canine Companions more effectively. Our first design project has been redesigning the logo.

Dog care is a huge industry in the US, but extensive research found virtually no evidence of professional design or brand awareness being employed by providers. Logos are primarily amateur and cartoonish, emphasizing cute dog faces but not much else. There is very little to distinguish one provider from another.

Inspired by the sight of dogs’ “communal play time” at Canine Companions, our approach was to capture the feeling of exuberant play we get only from playing with dogs. Working with illustrators Peg Eiya and Jim Johnson, we developed an instantly recognizable, dynamic image that is not so much an illustration of an activity but of an emotion. Leaping, playing figures show the dog-human connection as well as the joy we feel when we play with our companion animals.

The solid, stylized type anchors the composition while echoing the energy of the jumping figures above. In order to keep the logo from being too dynamic, our color palette combines warmth and stability with a slight retro feel. These design elements help communicate professionalism and trust. Many of us consider our companion animals as members of the family, and choosing a daycare provider for our dogs can be almost as emotionally fraught as choosing one for our children! The exuberant, playful dogs in our logo are clearly in good hands!

This striking and fun new look evokes a smile from everyone who sees it, creating positive brand association with Canine Companions. We’re looking forward to extending the new look to signage, collateral materials, and a redesigned website.