Categories
Marketing & Advertising

Why are we so scared of competing?

Imagine being a judge at the World Martial Arts Championship. Imagine walking into a massive arena where 50 of the best martial artists in the world are there in the hope of winning the title, and winning the crowd’s hearts.

Now, imagine each one of these martial artists, alone, in their own designated space demonstrating their unique ability to you. How will you choose — how will decide who is the best of the best if you don’t see them in matches against each other?

This is the world that many businesses have subjected consumers to. Within a category, they try and find a designated, unique space to position themselves. They expect consumers to make a conscious, rational decision based on a brand position that does not explain why they are better than the next business.

Businesses and their products are competing for the fulfilment of a need state, yet we sometimes get so specific in our positioning and differentiation that we put ourselves outside the terms of reference and separate ourselves from the need altogether.

We reject concepts because they use the same word a competitor used 3 years ago, or because the colour in the visual is in the competitor brands’ CI.

We think that we can be distinctive by delivering personalised messages and digital ideas, but we are not telling our audiences why to choose use.

Consider your audience, and then try to convince me how competing with your competitors by hiding in an uncontested space in a market is a good idea.

Categories
Marketing & Advertising

A trends “short”

Programmatic, Digital, Drones, AR, VR, Ai, Blockchain, Pepper the Robot, Influencers, Big Data and all the rest of the “trends” we see lately are not ideas.

They are methods, resources, inputs and channels that form part of a larger strategy to reach audiences in a meaningful way.

They do not solve for shitty products, bad messaging, poor timing or shallow creative.

If used, they should be part of an integrated approach that includes some insights-driven marketing and communications.

When everyone has the same tools, the work will look the same.

Value creativity and value the insight that drives it.

Categories
Marketing & Advertising

The space between

I’m not a huge fan of 1-stop-shops in advertising. When agencies promise to do everything well something invariably drops in quality. Focus makes sense to me, excellence in what you do, bearing in mind there’s a lot of grey in-between.

The promise of a 1-stop-shop is often: efficiency, turnaround time, accountability and ultimately cost saving. However, communication, together with centralising insights and data is seldom a reality. When you lift the roof off of a 1-stop-shop you may still see siloed departments, poor communication and a lack of centralised effort.

It is this space between that exists between agency types as well, between the brand agency and the advertising agency, between the advertising agency and the digital agency, and between PR and media – the list continues, and sometimes includes the client.

So, we go on and on about integrated marketing when we can’t really deliver on the important stuff – the stuff we learn from as a collective, the stuff we wouldn’t have exposure to normally.

Ownership, in my opinion, is at fault. Who owns the data, who owns the insights? Who owns the gap. We claim it when there’s visibility, but we will never claim the empty gap.

Now, tell me again why you’re afraid of consultants in advertising.

Categories
Life

2017 is gonna suck too

Expect nothing if you give nothing. A number on a calendar is not something that can or will give you hope and success.

Blaming 2016 for a bad year was a distraction that ironically helped make 2016 one of the worst years most of us have experienced because we blamed it on a number. 2017 was essentially the fall-guy. And the outcomes are quite serious.

1. Nothing had consequence.

From Trump’s rise to power to David Bowie’s passing, it all fell into the bracket of “oh well, another shitty thing this year did to us”.

2. Nothing had longevity, tragedies we minimised.

Well, not meaningful longevity anyway. We lost beloved celebrities and saw tragedies unfold globally, but most people couldn’t list 5 of them as we have moved on. None of those moments were treated individually, instead they were added to the list of things we didn’t have control of, and forgotten.

3. Our fear was compounded, good was ignored.

Our fear and hatred was validated over and over again, “yet another 2016 tragedy”. We started to fear the number, fear who would be next, ignoring the good that was happening around us.

4. We’ve given ourselves permission to forget it all.

It’s 2017 now, and we now have permission to forget all the shitty things that happened, to write off 2016 as the past and to move on… right? Well, that depends on your approach to the year.

This year I plan on making some serious changes to how I deal with the world. I am determined to become more active and to not only voice my opinions and beliefs, but make something of them. No matter how small my piece of the universe is, I am determined to be more in control of it.

If we do anything this year, we need to take the outcomes of fate and consequence on our own shoulders, and realise our role in that.

Categories
Resources & Tools

How to organise your creative resources folder

Like me, you might have a world of creative resources floating around anywhere from your downloads folder to your desktop or in job folders.

Here is my attempt to help organise your creative assets.
Download the creative resources folder structure.

Here’s what it’s made up of

Root of Resources Folder
Root of Resources Folder

The root contains almost all types of files you would need or have in your creative library, from vectors and audio to video and Photoshop actions.

In most folders, 3 sub-folders exists to help keep you organised
In most folders, 3 sub-folders exists to help keep you organised

Most of the folders have 3 sub-folders; Flat (photographs and raster images), PSD (layered photoshop files) and Vector (editable files such as AI, EPS, etc.).

Special Folders have also been created to house specific content types.


Add-ons

Were you would keep all your Photoshop actions, colour palettes, scripts, etc.

Add-ons Folder
Add-ons Folder

Audio

To store FX, Loops and Music, which have all been created with their specific sub-categories.

Audio Root Folder
Audio Root Folder
The FX Folder
The FX Folder
The Loops Folder
The Loops Folder

The Music folder is organised by genre each with 2 sub-folders for Clips and full Songs:

The Music Folder
The Music Folder

Fonts

Sub-folders for easy navigation of different types of fonts. Remember, the more fonts you install, the slower your computer!

The Fonts Folder
The Fonts Folder

Images

This one took a lot of thinking. Eventually I decided it makes more sense to categorise by subject, then by Flat (photographs and raster images), PSD (layered photoshop files) and Vector (editable files such as AI, EPS, etc.).

Images Folder
Images Folder

Themes

For Keynote, WordPress and other theme-able platforms.

Themes Folder
Themes Folder

Video

Almost exactly the same as Images, but also including folders for FX and Overlays.

Video Folder
Video Folder

You will notices that a few of the folders have place for licenses, as it is always good practice to organise them well.

Download the creative resources folder structure, give it a try and let me know what you think!

Categories
Resources & Tools

How to organise your client folders

If you’re a designer, freelance or part of an agency, you’ll understand the frustration when your own filing system is so bad, you get lost in your own work.

Although I am not a designer anymore, I was going through my old work and started the process of filing, properly. This led me on to some articles on folder structure and organisation, which eventually led me to the conclusion that I should put some thing together and share it.

The system is quite simple and you can download the whole client folder structure here.

Here’s what it’s made up of

The Root Folder
The Root Folder

In the root of the client folder (which you would rename to the client’s name) are 3 folders: Admin is where all the top line administration for that client is kept; Corporate Identity is where that client’s CI is stored separately to jobs and finally a Project Folder is which you would duplicate when needed for each new project.

A suggestion: Always give folders a decent name, perhaps starting with the job number, then a title, and then a date. That way they will always be unique and easily found.


The Admin Folder

The Admin Folder
The Admin Folder

The Admin Folder consists of 4 folders and 1 file. Invoices is where to keep your invoices for each job; Legal is for contracts and agreements; Operations is for procurement documentation, purchase orders, etc. and lastly; People is where you keep track of who is who at your client.

The People spreadsheet acts as a simple CRM
The People spreadsheet acts as a simple CRM

I put together a “People” spreadsheet that helps you track names, contact details and relationships, think of it as a super-simple CRM for yourself.


The Project Folder

The Project Folder similarly has 4 folders within it; Admin, Input, Output and WIP.

The Project Folder
The Project Folder

The Admin Folder houses your briefs, cost estimates and proposals.

The next 3 folders allows you to manage your workflow by separating Input (what client has supplied you), WIP (work in progress) and Output (what you supply to clients and or 3rd parties).

Download the client folder structure, give it a try and let me know what you think!

If you liked this, you may like this article on organising your design/creative resources.

Categories
Life

My opinion doesn’t have to be the same as yours

Social media has allowed us to practise our freedom of speech, debate others and generally be more involved than we used to be in each others’ lives. But that doesn’t mean you have to.

You’re not gonna jump up and disagree with a colleague in a meeting when they something wrong, or have an opinion different to yours, especially when it is not making some sort of critical difference to your life.

Your opinion is your opinion, I have a right to mine.

One should correct blatant incorrectness, such as false facts or news, especially those that can generate anger, hate or prejudice – with respect. It becomes a pain in the ass, when opinions don’t add value, and distract from the intent. After all intent is what’s important, right?

So it begs a question then. Should I even post my opinion anymore? Turn off comments? Do I just get used to the trolls who feel like they are genuinely doing the world a favour by policing the internet comment sections?

The only person I don’t mind commenting on everything I post is my mom.

Categories
Life

5 Things Social Media Addiction

I’ve forgotten birthdays, missed out on events and missed the office party pics. But I haven’t missed the hours that have disappeared trawling the web depths.

Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt
Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt

1. The early signs

It’s that you hardly speak at dinner anymore, or that all you can talk about is that post that Rob deleted (but not before you screenshot it). Have you seen that new Youtube video? OMG, I have to show you this hilarious thing on the internet that Kate posted, it’s so funny! It’s that this isn’t the first time you’re late for a human encounter over coffee, that you haven’t seen your best friend in months, or that you feel a burning desire to correct that typo on Lisa’s wall.

You’ve changed. You live in a bite-sized world, where life is tl;dr (too long, didn’t read, for those of you who are not in the know) and your social power is capped by clicking on a tiny black heart to turn it red.

Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt
Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt

2. Admitting you may have an issue.

Have you ever been woken up by the thud of your mobile phone on your face after you fell asleep? Have you ever had your heart rate quicken when you hear that ping of a notification or got a cold sweat when you have 5% battery and 2 hours left of the work day with no charger in sight?

Wait, wasn’t I just looking at this?

Have you ever closed Instagram, promising yourself it was time to go to work, and then re-opened it and thought: “Wait, wasn’t I just looking at this?” Have you ever found yourself having a conversation with someone, while you are trawling the endless scroll of Facie, agreeing with what they say when you should be apologising? Tick one or more of those off and, chances are you may be addicted to the reality distorting drug of social media.

Pick your poison, everyone remembers that first rush; the first time you looked up your ex (and found them, and stalk them, and realised that they have a really ugly new partner), the first time someone follows you, the first like, and soon after, the first DM. Now it’s all the same, endless scrolling, pings, randomly liking posts made by people you haven’t seen in years and would never be friends with IRL. Yes, real life.

You only believe you’re addicted when you have the realisation on your own. All those times your better half asked you to put your phone down didn’t quite cut it, but now that you see it for yourself, you realise it may be time to make a change.

Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt
Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt

3. Deciding you need to cut back

For me, the moment I decided to quit Facebook for good was both liberating and frightening. I knew I had to though – it had gotten too much.

Not only was I becoming more cynical by the day, but I was seeing the dark side of my friends and colleagues. The side that attacked strangers because of their opinions, the side that liked the post that was actually kind of racist, the side that only engaged with you when their notifications reminded them to. All in all, these interactions only provided a pseudo and slightly aggressive kind of engagement.

I didn’t quit it all, and I have shifted from one platform to another over the years, but the biggest time waster was always that damned timeline. I find comfort on Instagram, and I still have a voice on Twitter – but in my world they’re more manageable. For others it may be the exact opposite. All of the platforms out there speak to different primal urges that we chase as humans, which talk to recognition, being needed, being seen and showing your individual voice.

The key here is to maintain some kind of balance, and try and stick to your decision without the dreaded fear of missing something that isn’t really all that important IRL. Remember why you wanted to switch off in the first place. Know your trigger. Use your sword.

Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt
Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt

4. Resisting

A social media addiction is not physically life threatening (unless you’re driving and Instagram-ing or, walking and texting), but the social side-effects are way up there. Look, it’s not like smoking where you put on 5kg (okay, 10) by supplementing a craving, but there is an element of wonder. There’s a curiosity that needs to be fulfilled.

Resisting is not easy.

The first step is to try and kick the usual habits. Leave your phone after you’ve switched off the alarm, never take it to the bathroom (cause germs), “forget” your phone at home once or twice, stop charging it next to your bed, hell, switch it off for a few hours on Sunday. Break the cycle. And that cycle is almost always linked to boredom. And it’s ok to be bored.

The major key to getting through it all is by filling your time and space with intent; being purposefully productive, or purposefully unproductive is okay.

There are some negatives: I have had to re-create so many accounts that relied on my Facebook login to sign in. I’ve forgotten birthdays, missed out on events and missed the office party pics. I’ve missed my mom liking every post of mine and I’ve missed being judged on my personal choices and beliefs. Not so much the last one. But I haven’t missed the hours that have disappeared trawling the web depths.

Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt
Illustrations by Nicolas Nesbitt

5. Rediscovering

Quitting Facebook allowed me to rediscover reading, and I actively discover new music as well as write a lot more. It sounds ridiculous, but you will be surprised at how much time you waste scrolling mindlessly through pictures of baby showers, strangers’; weddings and road trips.

It means rediscovering what makes you happy. Which may mean discovering something altogether new. Something that legitimately replaces the loading GIF with something much more real and meaningful. There’s a beautiful troubled world out there. One that needs your actual attention, not armchair activism – one that needs you to be an active part of it. If that isn’t a damned good reason, I don’t know what is.

Marc’s Disclaimer

This article in no way means to belittle the harsh reality and dangers of substance addiction. That is a cause close to my heart. It is merely a reality check, a reminder that it is easy to be swept off one’s feet by something that elevates us, give us purpose and meaning only to find, when you look up, life has been passing you by.


The original article can be found here. Written by Marc Ashwell & Illustrated by Nicholas Nesbitt.

Categories
Marketing & Advertising

Don’t let anything but your brand be the hero

I have seen many media types pretend to be things they are not.

Life saving billboards, career enhancing banner ads, you name it – don’t fall into the trap.

The problem you face as a brand owner or an advertiser is that each time your agency comes to you with an idea that starts with “this is not a banner, it’s a …” or “this is not a billboard, it’s a …”; your brand stops becoming the hero. The attention is diverted to the tactic. You lose.

Your agency will get the case study, they’ll win an award for creative use of media, technically, so will you – but people seldom remember the brand over that cool billboard made out of money.

Categories
Marketing & Advertising

Data can be inspiring

It is important that our data discussions are had with the outcome of creative solutions in mind.

Data is frightening, cold and restricts the creative process, right? Of course not. Data is an enabler that makes our jobs as marketers easier and more challenging simultaneously. Data is a critical insight source, it enables rapid performance optimisation and a programmatic approach to media purchasing.

These days, anyone can do that. With the right tools in place, we can speak to individuals at a mass scale.

But differentiation sill lies in the idea – the use of all of these inputs to formulate a creative execution that speaks to people in way that resonates. Creativity is the differentiator in a world of data led thinking. We can now think in moments and modules, and examine the truth behind our customer’s interactions with brands and topics.

It allows us to break through the clutter with an amazing idea at the right time for the most possible impact.

That’s not frightening, cold or restrictive, that’s inspiring.