CMBell Wins Four More National Aster Awards

CMBell Wins Four More National Aster Awards

Creative work by CMBell and their clients have garnered four Aster Awards: One gold award for a marketing video in Physician profile, one silver in executive message – internal communication video, two bronze awards in marketing videos for regional healthcare systems.

The Aster Awards competition is dedicated to recognizing the most talented healthcare marketing professionals for outstanding excellence in advertising, marketing and communications.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Creating CMBell’s New Visual Brand

As we’ve been preparing for our 20th year, we’ve spent a great deal of time visioning and provisioning our company for the future. This has been exciting work, and you can see some of the results of this work here.

Communications has never been more important to businesses and organizations, and as we look at trends and needs among our clients, we’re convinced that our new mission statement precisely describes the space we’ll occupy: Creating signature communications that drive purpose and grow business.

As an outgrowth of that, we’ve updated our visual brand, and in this entry, we’ll take you behind the scenes on some of the work that led up to this.


Our final color palette is a nuanced mix of traditional and modern:

  • Navy and gold perfectly represent the classic and timeless attributes of our firm.

  • Orange adds a modern vibe—migrating from the deep burgundy of our previous logo into a more fiery, passionate version of red.


Our art director selected several fonts that represented the right mix of modern and traditional. In the end, we selected Optima because it has the dignity, sophistication, and clarity we were looking for. The addition of the dots between the C. the M. and the B harken to our first logo and were added back to help those unfamiliar with our name to say it.

We chose Raleway as our body font because of its clean versatility. It also expresses our belief that simplicity must be a central part of any communication.


Our signage and business package pair our tagline “Signature Communications” with the short version of our name, "CMBell"—dropping "Company” for the sake of keeping it as simple as possible.
Behind each of these was a great deal of research, exploration and internal discussion. Our entire team was involved in the process of reviewing, moving us closer to the final product with each of their insights.

Our Story

This is just one of the things happening as we celebrate year 20 of our journey. If you haven’t read our 20-year story or sauntered through 20 Things We've Learned from 20 Years of Business, we invite you to visit our blog and get some inspiration for your own journey.

8 Kinds of Videos Your Viewers Will Love in 2017

Getting heard is getting harder. But creating good content continues to be a winning strategy for building strong brands.

Whether you want to build culture, increase employee engagement, or win customers, video outperforms all other media in getting viewed and remembered and should be part of your 2017 brand content strategy.

But don't get caught thinking only of traditional, high-cost video productions. Videos now come in all kinds of styles and price points—some less than you've paid for a traditional print ad. Here are eight popular types to consider:

1. The Mood Video

Pros: Evokes a feeling about your brand through the artful use of visuals and music without narration. This style is less about persuasion and more about connecting you emotionally to the brand. These work well as the hero video for your website's home page. 

2. Illustrated Animation

Pros: Brings your message to life with custom illustrations in almost any style—from casual and fun to sophisticated and stunning. Helps you avoid that moment when you realize that your competitor is using the same stock images that you are.

3. Whiteboard Explainer Video

Pros: Great tool to add humor and fun to a topic that might be complex or less than exciting. Can be produced quickly without the need for images or footage. These are ideal for explaining a process or an idea.

4. Interview

Pros: This unscripted style can make a leader's message more personal or bring to life a customer testimonial. Affordable to produce.

5. Microdocumentary

Pros: Lends the credibility of real people doing real life. And who doesn't love a story?

6. Text Animation

Pros: This is a fast, affordable way to bring simple messages to life using motion graphics and music. Great tool for adding impact to websites, digital ads, and e-letters. In its simplest form, this can make you look smart even if you don't have the time or the budget to get great photos. And it can be embellished with photos or illustrations.

7. Storytelling Hybrid

Pros: Nothing reveals the heart of your organization like a story. These can be built with interviews, narration, b-roll, still images, illustrations, and on-screen text using fresh production techniques and arresting music, but the key is often a good interview. This versatile style is the must-have piece in any company's video portfolio and works well for web, special events, fundraising galas, e-letter marketing, and digital marketing. 

8. Presentations

Pros: Put your old-school PowerPoint presentation on steroids by reinterpreting it as a video rich with visuals, music, and narration. Good for selling an idea, strategy or vision to employees, customers, and shareholders.

Wondering how video can help your brand get noticed? Let's talk.

Great Design Is No Longer a Luxury

In some circles, great design is still considered a luxury. But more often than not, this idea is a fatal flaw for a brand.
Today’s consumer has sophisticated visual tastes created by the most creative communicators in the world. Their reference point for this is not just your competitors—it’s every message they get from any industry.
This is why great design is actually a brand differentiator. Great design provides instant visual cues about your brand that affiliate it with other brands familiar to the viewer—allowing them to decide in as little as a second if they want to further engage with you. The more oversaturated people are with information, the more they rely on these cues as short cuts for adjudicating a product or service. It’s simply an efficient way of navigating information.
Here are some common mistakes brands make when they don’t embrace this important truth:

  • Spend heavily on a media buy, but use so-so stock images and design that send the viewer packing after one look.
  • Spend millions on a new building and cheap out on photography. A top-drawer architectural photographer will bring a wow to your image that will pay off handsomely.
  • Invest in new technology or services, then depict them on a visually inferior website.

It’s better to go with less in other areas than to settle for also-ran design.

Use Your Communication Tools to Celebrate Successes

Every company has a story.
And as professional communicators, one of our most significant roles is to keep the purpose of our organization in front of employees, donors, supporters and customers—and to do it in ways that inspire them. We need to be intentional about seeing that messages about cost-control, quality and other business goals do not eclipse the stories that depict the grander purpose of our institution.
In this piece, our client took the time to celebrate the successes of a shared goal—a campaign to strengthen the future of their school. We worked with them to express their message visually in the design of a piece that honors the efforts of countless volunteers, donors and employees—and furthers the narrative of the school’s worth. Successes like these inspire and fuel other successes.
Let’s be proactive about tending our organization’s narrative. How are you using your communication tools to celebrate your successes and inspire employees, volunteers and donors to work on behalf of your purpose?

Create Micro-moments for Your Clients

Whether or not we like it, we are increasingly people of the moment—or even the micro-moment. We hear about a book and want to order it right then. We see a plant and want to identify it, or spot those fabulous boots and want to buy them.
What does this mean for marketers? You already know that mobile use is sky-rocketing. But it also means that your digital presence is vital. How you look and feel in the first seconds of a customer interaction determines if they’ll stay or go.
Good writing, good design and having a mobile-friendly site isn’t optional any more. It’s imperative. If your company is already there, hooray. But if they’re not, learn to create the moments your clients crave—and see what happens.

How the Seven Most Common Story Types Can Inspire Your Brand Story

Once upon a time,” says the voice from our past, and our imagination swells.  
From our earliest childhood, we remember stories—even before we knew how they would form our own souls.
Although media has changed, the elements of a good story remain constant. To create your brand stories, consider these seven archetypes that have characterized stories throughout human history:
Overcoming the Monster
From Beowulf to modern films like Avatar, this is the story of heroism, triumph over evil and courage.
Rags to Riches
Overcoming the odds fuels hope in all of us, explaining this story line’s historic hold on the human heart.
The Quest
Think Iliad or Lord of the Rings for examples of humans seeking a goal—and overcoming obstacles on the way to victory.
Voyage and Return
Like the quest, the main character searches for something difficult to obtain and returns to tell the story.
The hardest ones to execute well, comedies allow us to laugh at our foibles and connect us to our common humanity.
Although more difficult to execute as a brand story, tragedy can inspire an audience to action (think “text messaging” PSAs).
A threat, an about-face, and the hero becomes something more despite adversity.
What human yearnings does your brand story tap into?

8 Tips on Getting People to Read your Emails: Part 1

Some people get hundreds of emails a day, and don’t even attempt to read them all. How can you see that yours get to the “read this” status?

1. Start with the main point in a single sentence.
We’re sometimes tempted to start at the beginning to tell the whole story, thinking that a reader needs to understand what led to the point. In some cases, this requires too much work for the reader to get to the point, so they jump ship. Start with a summary statement that gives them enough information if they go no further—or a reason to proceed.

2. Invest in writing a good subject line.
This not only helps someone decide if he or she should read it, but helps them find it later. Retrieval of emails later can be time-consuming and downright frustrating if the subject line isn’t clear. Examples:

  • Need your review on the Smith case by tomorrow
  • Potential delay in shipping of the direct mail for Anderson & Evans, Inc.
  • Cost increase on ad space for Henderson Windows account

3. Make it easy to browse.

  • Use subheads to help the reader find the section pertinent to him or her.
  • Use bullets instead of paragraphs.
  • Underline, highlight or change font colors on the key point (deadline, cost increase, action needed).
  • Make action items and next steps stand out visually (in the subject line, when appropriate).
  • If more detailed back story is imperative, indicate where the reader can find it. Title it clearly and put it at the end, so only those who want it can find it.

4. Give your reader just-in-time information.
Many readers prefer to focus on just the next step, rather than the next 10 steps. Most don’t have time to save it and review it over a period of months as it becomes relevant.

Could You Be Wrong About What Your Company is Actually Selling?

Health care sells peace of mind and hope—not MRIs. Coke sells a feeling. Cars sell image. Banks sell security and peace of mind. These are the deeper motivations of consumers that lie beneath the actual product decision.
We worked with Dignity Health to sell lifestyle options in this recruiting brochure and display unit. While they are selling jobs, lifestyle motivations are what drive a physician’s decision to align with an organization. They’ll consider questions like these: How will my family flourish in this location? How much satisfaction will I find with my colleagues? How will I find meaning in my career opportunities? What will my lifestyle look like if I take a career with this clinic?
It’s important to reach your audience not just with product benefits, but to address the underlying motivations they have for engaging with you.
So what are you selling?

Dignity Health Recruiting Brochure

Dignity Health Recruiting Brochure

Dignity Health Recruiting Display

Dignity Health Recruiting Display

One Easy-to-Fix Reason Your Ads Don’t Work

You’ve put together an elegant campaign—all the right messages, all the right media. And then it happens.
You drive the reader to your website, and lose them.
This occurs too often, but there’s a simple solution: the campaign microsite.
A campaign microsite is a website that is exclusively developed to support the campaign. It allows you to control the user experience, deliver on your ad promises, and curate the strategic messages you want your viewers to see—without any advertising messages that you can’t control.
It also keeps the viewer from having to dig through your website to find the promised message—which often ends up losing them if the content can’t be found fast.
Want to see a microsite that’s working in action? Email us at for one of our latest examples.

CMBell Company and Clients Win Awards for Creative Work

Creative work developed by CMBell Company and clients has received one gold and one bronze award from the Aster Awards competition.

Entries are judged by design and health care marketing professionals on creativity, design, typography, production, quality and overall effectiveness.

Marketing Madness: Part 3—Beware of Entertainment as a Strategy


People increasingly want to be entertained as part of their communication fare. While there’s a place for this, we caution companies about heading too far down this road unless entertainment is their core business.
This is particularly true in businesses and services that are seen as serious, dignified and honorable. When we look for a doctor, we don’t want him/her to treat our situation as light or humorous. Competence and humor can be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
While today’s consumer may crave entertaining messages, companies need to think twice before stepping into this realm. It’s possible that lots of clicks and shares of a humorous video can actually be a bad thing, telling the wrong story about your company.

Use Your Company Anniversary as a Brand Refresh

Celebrating achievements are important, but corporate milestones represent an opportunity for more than just celebration. They’re a chance to roll-out your story in a fresh way—to revitalize your brand.
We worked with Simi Valley Hospital to pull together their signature messages about quality and growth, then developed a year-long plan to deliver those messages as part of their anniversary campaign—making the milestone work harder for them and getting more for their investment.

Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Print Ad

Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Print Ad

Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Transit Shelter Ad

Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Transit Shelter Ad

Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Banner

Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Banner

Marketing Madness: Part 2—Why Counting Clicks Could Be Your Most Deadly Strategy


It’s time we challenge the prevailing idea that online traffic necessarily equates to loyalty and purchases.
Make no mistake: You can create content that goes wild on the social media meter, but that does nothing for your brand image or customer loyalty. We’re not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to clicks and shares and traffic, but that it is often not put in its rightful place as an indicator of traffic—rather than an indicator of loyalty and relationship.
Ultimately, your digital strategy should build relationships that result in revenue for your company and benefit for your client. Getting the customer to your website is the first step.
But the next and vital steps are helping them see how your product or service would be valuable to them, which in turn will generate sales.
Stay tuned for more in our series on Marketing Madness.

Marketing Madness: Part 1—Your Digital Strategy Shouldn’t Be About Attention

Umair Haque, in his Harvard Business Review article by this title, tackles the myth that getting attention is the end goal of good digital strategies. He calls us to move from getting a client’s attention to giving attention to clients by improving their lives and wisely posits four mistakes of digital strategy:
Titillating, not educating. Getting the customer’s attention doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to anything useful for either of you.

Making zombies, not superheroes. Move from brainwashing (which doesn’t work) to helping them.

Infecting, not connecting. Going viral may make us temporarily giddy, but relationships are really the goal.

Communicating, not elevating. Create value in your communication, rather than merely contributing to the noise.
Stay tuned for more in our series on Marketing Madness.

CMBell Company and Clients Win Three Awards for Creative Work

Creative work developed by CMBell Company and clients has received one bronze and two merit awards from the 12th Annual Service Industry Awards competition.

A bronze award was given for Walla Walla University’s Student Employment—Employer Calendar/Direct Mail.



A merit award was given for Walla Walla University’s Student Employment Kit.

A merit award was given for Independent Colleges of Washington’s 60-year anniversary video.

Approximately 1,500 entries were received in this year’s competition, which was judged by a national panel of experts. The entries were judged on creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design and overall impact.

Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities Campaign

The Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities is taking a proactive stance to show how private colleges benefit students, communities and their state. We’ve worked with them to make their case and bring their messages to a variety of media—from video and social media messaging to handouts and easy reference wallet-sized cards.


OAICU Infographic

OAICU Wallet Reference Card

OAICU Value Proposition Brochure

OAICU Facebook Graphics

CMBell Company and Clients Win Four Awards for Creative Work

Creative work developed by CMBell Company and clients has received one platinum, two gold and one honorable mention award from the MarCom Awards competition, an international marketing awards program.

A platinum award was given for Walla Walla University’s Student Employment Kit.

A gold award was given for Key Technology’s 2013 shareholder’s presentation video.

A second gold award was given for one of many videos produced for LA-based White Memorial Medical Center’s Centennial Gala Celebration program.

The honorable mention award also went to White Memorial Medical Center, for another video created for their centennial celebration that honors employees.

Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talents exceed a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry. More than 6,500 entries were submitted from throughout the United States, Canada and 15 other countries.