Environmental Graphics

Download your copy of The Relish Guide to Environmental Graphics

With as much time as you probably spend on your company’s online presence, don’t forget about your real-world presence. That’s where strategic environmental graphics can make a big difference in identification and wayfinding of course, but also to customer and prospect perceptions and behaviors, and even employee engagement. Our guide spells it all out, and includes:

  • What environmental graphics are
  • How environmental graphics can help your business
    • Provide identification
    • Promote wayfinding
    • Enhance architectural elements
    • Inspire behaviors
    • Engage people and their emotions
  • Real-world environmental graphics trends and their applications
  • How to get the best results from your environmental graphics

Especially if you (or some of your execs) think environmental graphics begin and end with the signage on your building and front door, this could be the advantage you’ve been looking for.

 

Relish Marketing brings strategy and creative together in a powerful fusion that generates results. Our insistence on integrity and responsiveness ensures that work is done on time, on budget, as expected in an experience that’s engaging, productive, supportive — and enjoyable.

Download your copy of The Relish Guide to Environmental Graphics

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Brand Photography

Let’s Talk Pictures: The Importance of Brand Photography

If you’re like most people, you don’t know why you can recognize any given brand. You simply know that you do. In fact, you probably don’t even need to see the company’s name or logo to recognize a given brand’s ads, website, social media, packaging and products. There’s just something about the look and feel. Of course, in the world of marketing and branding, it’s our job to know how a well-crafted brand brings together multiple visual, verbal and tonal components to establish and reinforce a consistent experience at every point of contact. And one essential component of that identity and experience is brand photography.

Every picture tells a story (make sure it’s the one you want to tell)

We’ve all seen companies whose corporate photography consists of formal portraits of leaders, snapshots of products, and stock imagery. But those companies are hard to remember because a generic approach generates generic results.

By contrast, compelling, carefully curated brand photography communicates a specific look and feel. It will tell the story that the company wants you to know. And it will establish and reinforce a specific, visceral, emotional experience. In short, the right photography can and should be a critical component of any successful branding effort.

Here’s a snapshot of how it works

As part of our support for the Columbia Theological Seminary brand, we refreshed the institution’s photographic assets. The goal was to create a collection of brand imagery for a wide range of communications material across multiple electronic and print media — from websites and social media to university signage, course catalogs and fundraising campaigns.

Most importantly, the new photos would have to represent the feelings of warmth, spirituality, inspiration, and beauty that students, faculty and alums have long associated with Columbia. At the same time, the new imagery would also need to reflect the seminary’s diversity, dynamic of exploration, and connection to the future as its leaders embarked on a third century of spiritual and educational leadership.

Together with Columbia’s marketing leadership, we selected a photographer whose work demonstrated artistry and photojournalistic storytelling style. We sought to capture scenes of active engagement as well as images of quiet reflection. And we arranged two separate photo shoots — one in the spring and one in the fall — to show the seminary, its faculty, administrators, students and alums during two times of the year when the campus is most dramatically beautiful.

The first place where most people could see the new photos was in a fresh update to the Columbia Theological Seminary’s website. Jennifer Cuthbertson, Director of Marketing Communications at Columbia Theological Seminary, remarks, “The photos are the perfect highlight of the new website. Students and faculty have told us, ‘The site looks like us.’ And ‘It honors Columbia.’ I have to believe that is in no small part due to our fantastic photos.”

How to choose the right photographer for your brand

It would seem that the first step in selecting a brand photographer would be to review portfolios. There is undoubtedly a time and place for that step. But the first step is to define your brand identity, asking and answering a variety of key questions, which include (but are not limited to):

  • How should any point of engagement with your brand make people feel?
  • What story does your brand tell? What story should your brand tell?
  • Who needs to connect with your brand? What do you know about that/those audience(s)?
  • What do they want and need? What do they reject?
  • Which other brands is your audience likely to seek — and which brands are likely to seek your audience?
  • When are they likely to engage with your brand?
  • How and where are they likely to engage with your brand?

Once you’re armed with the answers to these questions, you can start exploring portfolios. Keep in mind that while it’s great to find imagery that could be part of your photo library, you’re also looking for a photographer who knows brand storytelling. Look for a portfolio whose images don’t all look the same. Seek a photographer willing to take creative risks to capture the right images. Talk to photographers about your brand — and listen not only for how well they repeat what you tell them but how well they extend the conversation and share ideas that demonstrate true understanding.

It’s a hefty effort, we know. This is why — full disclosure — we provide this kind of brand photography support for our clients all the time. It’s true that we have a few “favorite” photographers whose creativity, productivity, reliability and responsiveness consistently deliver results. But it’s part of our process to continually look for new talent who can elevate our work — and help our clients’ brands to shine.


Bring Your Brand to Life

One of our favorite things at Relish is conducting brand strategy workshops. In these sessions, we guide clients through our 360° Brand Framework, a series of exercises designed to help them better understand and define their brands. After these sessions, we pore through content generated during the session, looking for unique brand attributes and connecting them to strategic opportunities. Then we brainstorm and develop creative ways to bring the brand to life.

That follow-up work is where we discover inspiration as well as information, turning our findings into compelling brand communication. It’s where our fusion of strategy and creative – the Relish “secret sauce” – happens.

Even so, clients often tell us that the workshop exercises themselves deliver tremendous value. They say that the process of exploring their brand through the lenses of purpose, identity, competitive positioning, culture, and capabilities reveals essential insights about the company, its people, challenges and opportunities.

Which is why we’ve gathered our Brandfluence 360°Brand Framework exercises into a workbook. And we’re offering it to you for free.

Full disclosure: we hope that after using the workbook, you’ll want to keep going and work with us to infuse your brand with fresh energy that helps you raise your business to new levels of success. But for now, let’s think of the free workbook as a way of introducing Relish Marketing to you and your company.

Get the Brandfluence Workbook


brandfluence

What is Brandfluence?

At Relish we define strategic branding as the process of closing the gap between who your organization is and how it’s perceived through the eyes of your stakeholders.

Let’s take it a step further. How do you close the gap? We’ve developed a tried-and-true process of developing an organization’s brand, and we call it Brandfluence™. It’s a five-phase process that takes you from the situation analysis to the implementation of your brand plan and its ongoing evolution. While the process comprises a set of methodologies and tools, we customize the components as needed for each of our clients and their specific audiences.

Here’s a brief look at each phase.

The Situation Analysis begins with an intake session with your marketing team. We want to know what you’re doing, who your target audiences are, what’s been working for you, and more. We’ll also want to take a deep dive into your marketing materials, including your website. The phase is complete when we provide you with our progress notes.

Next comes Focused Conversations, a series of one-on-one interviews with your executive team, selected employees and stakeholders. It’s qualitative research aimed at learning what people inside and outside the organization believe about you and your competitors, what matters to them as your executives, employees and target audiences, and what they believe makes your organization special. We summarize our findings in a report.

Phase 3 is the Brandfluence™ Session. Based on what we’ve learned in the first two phases, we come to the session having prepared an analysis of your primary competitors’ brands, a positioning map so that you can see where your brand fits vis-à-vis those of your competitors, and a brand SWOT analysis.

During the Brandfluence session, we present our findings and take you through a series of exercises designed to help you determine:

1) the attributes that describe your brand

2) your dream customer; the audience most critical to your long-term success

3) your brand promise, i.e. the story you want to communicate internally and externally

Our takeaway from the Brandfluence™ session enables us to begin Phase 4,  Brandfluence™ Plan development. The plan includes our strategic recommendations for your name, tagline, identity, and key messages along with internal and external campaigns and launch timelines for each. The plan is accompanied by identity guidelines for message consistency.

Finally, it’s time for the Engagement Phase, when we implement the marketing and advertising plan. Along the way, we look at how it’s going and how we’re doing. This phase also includes campaign evaluation. The below graphic summarizes our five-step process

Relish brandfluence

 


10 Ways to Get Unblocked and Restart Your Creativity

Here’s a scary story, just in time for Halloween: It’s 2:00 in the afternoon – a time you’ve set aside to write, design or otherwise create something. You stare at the screen or page and… you’ve got nothing. Call it writer's block or just being creatively stuck. The spark isn’t there. The ideas don’t flow. Inspiration is nowhere to be found. And the deadline looms, getting closer and closer…

Blocked creativity is enough to scare even the most experienced professional. Here at Relish, however, we can’t afford to wait for the creative spirit to strike at just the right moment. We have to ignite our creativity on demand to deliver the fresh results our clients need, when they need them. And we do it with these ten approaches:

Change your soundtrack. Creative Director Michael Palermo says that changing the music he’s listening to helps him refocus and shift his thinking. Art Director Paul Marquardt says that REM’s Document and Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey and the GruGrux King are go-to albums that energize his creativity (although he sticks to instrumental music when he doesn’t want to be distracted by the words). And Account Executive Noah Chen makes playlists that match the tone of the project at hand.

Change your scenery. I find that taking my work outside – or just into another room – can be just the shake-up my brain needs to get going. Account Director Mia Johnson also finds that walking away from whatever she’s grappling with can make a difference for her. Marketing Project Manager Leigh Flemistertells us that being surrounded by nature keeps her focused on the big picture. Michael says that sometimes, simply shifting from his chair to a standing desk is enough to help him reset.

Shift your attention. Many of us overcome writer’s block by working on something different shifts us into a different mindset. For some, this means tending to an unrelated creative project. For others, it’s doing something that isn’t creative at all – raking leaves off the front porch or folding laundry. Whatever the alternate activity, when we return to the original project at hand, we often find that whatever was in our way before is gone.

Get moving. Countless studies affirm that physical activity can wake up inactive brain areas while improving mental health and feelings of well-being. No wonder lots of us turn to this approach when we're creatively stuck. Leigh treats her dog to an extra walk while getting some exercise for herself. President and Founder Pam Willoughby feels like taking a brisk walk activates her brain. Digital Media Director Jacob Campbell says that a kettlebell workout and run energize his brain for the day ahead. Senior Account Executive Andrea Williams likes to clear her mind with a run, yoga workout or bike ride. She even has a portable treadmill under her standing desk so she can walk between meetings.

Grab some food for thought. Whether your snack of choice involves a healthy handful of blueberries and nuts, quality dark chocolate, or a fresh cup of coffee, most of us have found that a quick bite can provide a fresh jolt of energy that gets us past creative barriers. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, however, you may want to skip the espresso late in the afternoon.

Play a game. Michael tells us that a quick game like Wordle or Quordle can get his brain unstuck. I have a children’s game called OuiSi, a set of cards containing a variety of interesting photographic details. I spread them out and arrange them according to anything from similar shapes and colors to contrasting patterns. Then, I look at them again. Invariably, the idea I've been missing is right there.

Put pen to paper (literally). A pen in your hand will express things in ways that are different from your fingers on a keyboard. Those processes affect the brain differently, too. If you usually start projects on a computer, try starting with pen and paper. You may agree with Mia, who says that mapping out her thoughts on paper helps reset her thought patterns and get a stalled process back on track.

Give yourself 20 minutes. Sometimes, when I feel creatively stuck, what I'm really feeling is the enormity of a big project. So, I set a timer for 20 minutes and write anything I can about the project at hand without stopping. Some of what comes out is my own frustration – "I have no idea what to do here." But almost always, some gems show up, too. When the timer stops, nine times out of ten, I’m on enough of a roll to take the project forward.

Sleep on it. When Pam faces significant creative challenges, she engages her mind on the topic right before going to sleep at night, noting any great options that arise. “Something about this time right before sleep opens up my thought patterns to new areas,” she says. I do something similar as I'm waking up, when my brain still has lots of dreamy elasticity.

Phone a friend (especially here at Relish). Several of us find that talking with a friend or colleague opens our minds to fresh ideas. After all, one person’s challenge is another’s inspiration. We all enjoy helping other people through creative issues – and that includes you, too! If you’re stuck on a creative problem, tell us about it! We’ll be happy to hear from you – and might have the fresh perspective you need to get back on track.

Writer's block and creativity barriers happen to everyone. But these ten approaches keep them from being truly scary for us. We hope they’ll work for you, too. Consider them our little treats this Halloween season.


Our Brand Promise

When we work with clients, we talk about the importance of their brand promise – but what does that mean? It’s not necessarily a tagline or headline (although it can be). Nor is it a description of features and benefits (although that can inform it). Your brand promise is what customers can expect to get – both functionally and emotionally – whenever they engage with the brand. And it’s important because that’s the metric against which your customers will measure their experiences. So, it not only has to sound attractive and compelling; it also has to reflect reality.

When we celebrated Relish Marketing’s 10thanniversary, we took on ourselves as a client, working through the same brand development exercises we do with our clients. It was fun to consider “the Relish Experience” and how we create it with our clients, exploring our own brand promise. We spoke with many of our clients, representing large enterprises and growing businesses in sectors ranging from manufacturing and consumer package goods to professional services, healthcare and non-profits. And we learned that the Relish brand promise is driven in equal parts by three key components:

  • Strategy + Creative
    "For us, the combination of strategy and creative is so important …. Relish is excellent in both areas – and that’s so much of what makes great work." – Carol Galbreath, Senior Director of PR and Communications, Georgia Dental Association
    "[At] some agencies, they start with a creative idea they try to retrofit strategy around… Relish understood what we were looking for… and integrated the creative into that approach." –Chris McCarthy, Marketing Director, Sargento Foods
  • Integrity + Attention
    "The work has always been high integrity. You do what you say when you say you will do it."– David Asbury, Chief Executive Officer, Northwestern Benefit

    "I have big asks – that’s just the world I live in. But Relish does more than tell me what can’t be done. You come up with solutions for what CAN be done. So, when I go to the firm with what is and isn’t possible, I can do it with absolute confidence." – Karen Wilcox, Interim Marketing Director, Taylor English Duma LLP
  • Trusted Relationships
    "You take the time to learn our company and come up with your best work. Over time a strong mutual trust develops that delivers better, honest feedback and improves the work on both sides." – Frans Mahieu, Global Director of Marketing HR, Kimberly-Clark
    "It seems to me that Relish has thrived because of repeat business. That’s relationships." – Gareth Clarke, CEO (retired), Irrimax Corporation
    "With Relish, I don’t feel like I’m calling on a vendor. I’m calling my team who’s in it with me and knows what we need to do. It’s not transactional, it’s relational."  – Rochelle Valsaint, Manager, Brand and Communications, Lenbrook Senior Living

Most importantly, even three years after our most recent brand development exercises, our clients continue to tell us that while each of these components is valuable, the Relish experience happens in the dynamic created by all three pillars together. And that’s our brand promise: The fusion of strategy and creative, driven by a commitment to integrity and attention, sustained by trusted relationships.

Our founder and President, Pam Willoughby, says that these very components are what inspired her to start Relish Marketing in the first place. “I’d seen too many marketing efforts executed in spite of creative that wasn’t strategic, a lack of integrity, and a distance between the agency and its clients. I knew there had to be a better way. And I wondered – if we focused on that fusion of strategy and creative, integrity and trusted relationships, how much better could it be?”

According to our clients, it can be “Powerful,” “Professional,” “Genuine,” and “A lot of fun.” If that’s something you’ve been wanting more of in your marketing, we’d love to start a conversation about how we can help you get it. Meanwhile, we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about what’s ahead.


Rebranding strategy

When is the Right Time for Rebranding? Don’t start that brand update before you read this.

One of the biggest questions clients ask us at Relish is whether and when it's time to do a brand refresh. However, knowing that branding is one of our core offerings, you might be surprised to discover that sometimes, our most strategic answer is, “Not yet.” Which is why we’re sharing some best practices and lessons learned about the right time for rebranding.

Are you rebranding too soon?

Don’t get us wrong – a strategic, creative rebranding effort can address issues and jumpstart ambitious plans for growth and development. But the effort is probably premature if it’s driven by either of these common circumstances:

  • Your executives are bored.
    Yes, that sounds a bit crazy – who would rebrand in response to boredom? But here's how we've seen it happen: A company launches a fresh brand identity, and everyone embraces it in a flurry of excitement and energy. Then, living and breathing the brand every day, it becomes ordinary. And, missing the thrill of the brand launch, some executives lament that the "new" identity feels stale and needs updating. This would be a serious error. Our experience and research have shown that it takes about a year (sometimes longer) for a new brand identity to become firmly established in the minds of customers, investors, the media, etc. In other words, when internal stakeholders tire of a recently updated brand, that’s the time to build on brand equity. It is not the time to change to something new.
  • You hope rebranding will fix internal problems.
    An organization shouldn't seriously consider rebranding if team members are not ready to embrace and reflect the new corporate identity or if the company is experiencing dysfunctional, divisive behavior. Rebranding won't fix any of that. And, serious issues like these are likely to undercut new branding efforts. That said, an organization like Relish can offer strategic workshops designed to help struggling teams discover common ground and inform a rebranding effort that everyone can support.

Have you waited too long?

There are three times when companies should engage in a branding update. And, if you see your organization reflected in any of them, take heed. By the time most companies in these situations recognize the need to rebrand, they’re under pressure because they should have started sooner:

  • The existing brand is out of step with your business.
    When an organization's existing identity feels outdated, too generic, or otherwise out of step with the reality of the business, that's a sign that a rebranding effort is overdue. For instance, a company's brand says, “small, mom and pop company” but they've actually transformed into a sizable business. Maybe a brick-and-mortar business now conducts most of its business online (or vice versa). Or perhaps the owner's nephew developed the original logo, and the company has outgrown it.
  • You're penetrating a new market space.
    Sometimes, business leaders recognize that the company is well-positioned to serve a new market – and needs to look like it belongs there. The right brand architecture approach can guide sub-brand development and differentiation while continuing to build and reinforce the primary brand.
  • You’re acquiring or merging with another company.
    When a large company acquires a smaller one, the smaller company almost always adopts the larger organization's brand. When two competitors merge, however, they may want to create a new company name and brand to reflect the new, united entity. Likewise, when a company acquires a business with significant brand recognition, it might be wise to leverage that equity.

How to rebrand right on time

The best way to hit the timing sweet spot for a rebrand is to plan ahead. Take time to explore your brand in the context of a potential market expansion or possible change in corporate structure, leadership, or ownership. You may find ways in which minor yet strategic adjustments can provide differentiation and possibly pave the way for a more extensive future rebrand – all while continuing to maximize brand equity. For instance:

The Greeley Company came to us during its acquisition by The Chartis Group. Both companies' leaders sought to communicate Greeley's offerings in context with Chartis' larger suite of hospital and health system services. We conducted a combination of competitive analyses and brand messaging research, which revealed significant insights and opportunities. By updating Greeley's messaging and making minor adjustments to their fonts and color palette, we distinguished their services in the context of the primary Chartis brand, reinforcing the Greeley-Chartis relationship.

Likewise, the Taylor English law firm built its brand on serving the needs of small to mid-sized companies. However, when leaders embraced a new opportunity – election law – they realized the need to visually reinforce their market fit. Relish helped them do it, providing competitive research, strategic insights, and creative design. The resulting Election Law Group branding reinforced the firm’s legacy identity while communicating concepts of patriotism, government, and public service.

And when the Lenbrook senior living community began planning its Kingsboro at Lenbrook residences, leaders recognized the need to distinguish the new expansion in the context of its overall brand. Our solution for Kingsboro communications and environmental graphics stuck closely to existing brand guidelines, emphasizing key colors while stripping away others. This approach reinforced the overall Lenbrook brand while elevating the feel of the new expansion.

The decision to rebrand can have a significant impact on any organization. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends on your timing – as well as your strategy and creative. Full disclosure: this is where we at Relish Marketing shine – and deliver significant value to our clients. If you’re thinking about rebranding, tell us more about it and let’s see where our experience can be your advantage.


Core Dance: New Website Delivers an Enhanced Digital Experience

Here was the situation.

When the leaders of Core Dance, a Georgia-based nonprofit arts organization, made the decision to transform their website to enable a variety of digital experiences, they turned to Relish Marketing. Core Dance had built its reputation on artistic innovations and the ability to support and connect with a wide range of visual and performance artists; its website had to deliver a similar experience online.

Working together, we determined that the new website would need to be strategically organized, with a sophisticated look and feel that would be easy to look at and navigate. We would make it easy for people to engage with Core Dance events, available space, art exhibits, videos and more. The site would have to be easy to manage. It would have to deliver a seamless experience across multiple devices. And, of course, the new site would have to facilitate donations and purchases of tickets and other merchandise.

Sue Schroeder, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Core Dance“There’s no time to be stalled or stale right now. Revitalizing our website during COVID-19 meant we kept moving. Relish's work not only made Core Dance's website updates easier, but they also enhanced our ability to share virtual content and continue to engage our audiences."

– Sue Schroeder, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Core Dance

Together, we did this.

We began by moving the Core Dance site to a new platform that would support the team’s ability to quickly adjust and upload content, as needed. We developed an easy-to-follow navigation structure so that any visitor could explore available offerings and find specific content with equal facility. Then, we tied it all together with a clean, contemporary look and feel, much like that of the Core Dance physical space.

Elizabeth Labbe-Webb, Executive Director, Core Dance"Working on this project with Pam and her team was a pleasure. Our long time relationship means they understand us and we can spend our time making good work."

– Elizabeth Labbe-Webb, Executive Director, Core Dance

 


website development

Building a Website? Pay Attention to These 3 Things

Website development once meant little more than making an extended, online version of the company’s business card and brochure. Understatement: today's websites aren’t that shallow anymore. Your website must be a sophisticated communications tool that will show up in the right Google searches, reflect the digital experience you want for your site visitors, and communicate your brand strategy, offerings and advantages. In other words, building a website requires concepting, engineering and continual adjustment and maintenance. Let’s take a look at all three:

Concepting and Setup

Regardless of whether you’re updating an existing website or starting fresh, treat it as a new project.  If you haven’t already, choose a domain name that can improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking in Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. You can use a do-it-yourself site builder like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. Or you can build a more tailored site with a hosting service that can handle the traffic that you expect as you grow. If you choose a hosting service, you’ll also want a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress(great for information), Magento (great for e-commerce), Drupal (useful for higher security).

Think strategically about your audience and their needs to present your brand and core values with a clear, concise and consistent message.  Now ask yourself: What content will support this strategy? Create a site map and hone it to lead people to the most critical aspects of your core business. Design wireframes that reflect your ideal customer’s journey, including the information and images that will appear on each page and where they will link.

Pro tips for better SEO: Include a minimum of 150 words on each page with links to outside sources and pages within your site.  Keep your primary message as consistent as possible. And do so while avoiding clear duplication of content within your website.

Design

Making your website look good should be part of your design mission – but more than that, your site design should make the customer journey easy to follow. Draw attention to the path that visitors should take when moving from general information to more specific content. Start with one of the many templates available in most do-it-yourself platforms and CMS systems.  Choose a design concept that reflects your brand image and is mobile-friendly, since these days, most people view the web on their phones or tablets. Of course, hiring a web designer can help you better customize your site.

Integrate social media channels with your site and use social media to reach out to your followers. Create a blog to share thought leadership, valuable industry information, announce products and promote events.  And remember to test every link to save visitors from the frustration of being sent to a 404 page.

Maintenance

Keep your website alive and growing as a reflection of your business as you optimize site performance.  A small snippet of code allows Google Analytics to track who is visiting your site, how long they spend on pages and even where they live. The Google Search Console can give you even more detailed information.  Bing Webmaster Tools also can help you understand what’s working and what isn’t on your web site. Using information gleaned from these tools, you may find that your customers are not spending time on something you consider vital. Are they uninterested, or is the path to that information not as clear as it could be? Armed with this information, you can adjust your website, giving it regular tune-ups and updating your content regularly to align with your customers’ evolving interests.

Use these basic principles to guide your efforts, whether you’re building a new website or updating an existing one. However you proceed, move forward with intention to design your site as a "must-have" business presence that produces strategic results, as well.