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

Sweat the Details and Get a Proof

Your creative project is finished, and now it's time to send it to the vendor for printing or production. But never assume that once it is out the door it doesn't need your attention anymore.

On the contrary, mistakes often occur in production. Here's an example of a recent problem we navigated.

The project below was for a mall display (featured last week on our blog).  As always, we include a printed proof along with the design files, so the production team can see how it should render—and this can often save mistakes in the final stages of a project.

Even then, it isn't uncommon for something to go wrong—which is why we insist on seeing proofs.  In this case, we went through three proofs before getting it right.

In the first, the outside vendor producing the actual display introduced those odd shadows around and across the bottom of the icon where there should have been a drop shadow instead. In the second, they corrected this problem but introduced a new one—the registration was off causing the type to appear blurred. We sent it back with instructions and finally got it resolved in the third round.

Sweating the details at every stage of the project is the only way to ensure that you receive the quality of work your firm aspires to.

Attempt 1: Drop shadow didn't print correctly

Attempt 2: Registration was slightly off resulting in blurred type

Spine Billboard Wins Gold Aster Award

We just learned that the successful “Get your back back. In Walla Walla.” outdoor board we developed with Providence St. Mary Medical Center Regional Spine Center has received a Gold Award from the Aster Awards Competition which honors excellence in medical marketing.

The Aster Awards, one of the largest national competitions of its kind, received approximately 3,000 entries from the United States, Canada and South America.  Participant’s entries competed against similar-sized organizations in their category.

Gold Awards reflect a score that ranks the creative work in the top 5% of entries submitted. Judging criteria includes creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality and overall appeal.

Here are a few of the distinctive attributes of this billboard that contribute to its success:

  • Short, seven-word headline works with image to create instant understanding that this is an ad for relief of back pain.
  • Alliteration in the headline makes it memorable.
  • Use of the city’s name connects with local readers, and makes it clear to regional readers that the service is in Walla Walla.
  • Vivid colors tie in with the center’s corporate colors, but are also vibrant and suggest health.

Hospital Anniversary Campaign: Outdoor Advertising

This week we're following the launch of a hospital anniversary campaign for our client,

St. Anthony North Hospital

in North Metro Denver. Today we're featuring their outdoor elements.

Outdoor advertising is a good supporting media, and although it can't tell the full story, it can reinforce the key messages. Creatively speaking, it is the hardest to develop because the message must be so short in order to be read quickly.

See how the transit and outdoor ads above support the hospital's broader messages for their 40-year anniversary campaign.

Check back tomorrow to view the entertaining employee video for this campaign, and see how to engage your own workforce in your organization's strategic messages.

Hospital Anniversary Campaign: Mall Displays and Exterior Banner

If you joined us yesterday, you saw the evolution of the icon for our client's 40-year anniversary that is launching this week in Colorado. Here's the winning campaign icon; you can see how it was applied in the designs below.

For the mall displays, we decided to break the rules that suggest using 7-10 words on outdoor advertising. We didn't intend for viewers to read every word on the ad, but instead to walk away with an overall impression of how much St. Anthony does in partnership with its community. 

Note that on the bottom of the display, you'll see a QR code. Viewers can use a smart phone app to scan the code, which takes them to a special 40-year animation (check back later this week to view the animation, or if you click to enlarge the ad you can scan it now). The print ad echoes this design and also features the QR code.

What do you think. Did we meet the goal?

Print Ad

Mall Display

As a part of the overall media buy, we like to use a client's facility to communicate, since it's a cost-effective way to reach people already interested in the organization. There are no media buy fees, and it reinforces the campaign message with the staff, who are important advocates. Similar interior banners on stands are located in the two main entrances of the hospital.

Exterior Banner

Use a Word Only When a Picture Won’t Do

Always reduce your message to its most simple and compelling form. We like to start a campaign by developing the creative concept for outdoor advertising, which is the most difficult because it’s read so quickly. In a matter of seconds, the ad must convey:

  • A message that gets the reader’s attention
  • A promise that’s relevant to the reader
  • What is being “sold”
  • Who is doing the selling
  • How the reader can “buy”

See if you can supplement words with images that help telegraph the message more quickly. For example, on the outdoor board shown here, we rely on the blue man image to make it clear that the headline is referring to back pain. We rely on the logo to identify the service as a hospital—and not a fitness center. This means we can use those last remaining delicious words to get the reader’s attention and make a promise.

When you’re writing, ask yourself whether a picture or a word is the most efficient way to convey an idea. Think visually while you write. You’ll find that by introducing an image, you can trim out excess words and make it easier for your reader to decide if this is a message he or she cares about.

Good Ad/Bad Ad: Don't Make Your Reader Work Too Hard

Ads that work don't make consumers work hard to get their point. If it takes more than a second or two to figure out, most of us will move on unless we're highly engaged in the topic.

Even if you can't afford a formal research project, you can test for this by running your ad by people (more than one) who know nothing about the topic. Make them do a walk-by and ask them what the ad is for, whether they remember the name, and what they could do if they wanted to buy the product or service (is a call to action evident).

Here are two examples of a similar message—one that's effective, and one that isn't. The first billboard:

  1. Is too busy—impossible to read it all while flying down the freeway—so some key messages will be lost.
  2. Doesn't immediately telegraph the problem that I can relate to—a need to lose weight.
  3. Buries the potentially relevant "judgment free zone" message in fussy, small type.

In the example below, by The Johnson Group, the message is both simple and clear. Most of us can relate to the bulge, and the tipped angle of the board cleverly reinforces the overweight message. A URL might have been a nice addition, if it were available—but fortunately, the fitness center's name is dominant enough to remember—and to search for online later, when one has the chance.

Outdoor Advertising Offers More Than Traditional Billboards

Considering its cost, its effectiveness and the range of options, outdoor advertising can be an ideal supporting media for your ad campaign. Outdoor advertising can include:

  • Junior Posters—These are displays positioned close to street level and targeting pedestrian traffic on secondary arterials in urban areas.
  • Poster—Posters are good for new product campaigns, promotions, seasonal and special events.
  • Bulletins—The largest standard-sized form of out-of-home advertising, these are found on expressways and primary arteries and offer the benefit of heavy traffic.
  • Buses—These gain high exposure with pedestrians and vehicles, and carry your message to where the people are.
  • Transit Shelters—These are along busy bus routes, are backlit for night viewing, and are sometimes available where larger media are not permitted.
  • Bus Benches—These reach mobile customers and are located at eye-level within bus stops in high traffic area.
  • Digital Displays—These are the future of out-of-home advertising. Using an LED technology, these rotate messages every 10-12 seconds, don't involve production fees, and can be put up within hours. Messages can be changed easily, so these can accommodate time-sensitive material well.

With more people spending time on the go, outdoor advertising can be an effective way to build brand awareness.


The Benefits of Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising reaches more people with fewer dollars. Out-of-home advertising costs three times less than radio and magazines, seven times less than newspaper and nine times less than network TV. It literally reaches more people more often with fewer dollars than any other form of media. And, more consumers are spending more time with out-of-home advertising than watching TV, reading the paper or listening to the radio.

Not only does it cost less, it:

  • Can't be turned off
  • Can't be thrown away
  • Can't be fast-forwarded
  • Can be regionally targeted

Is outdoor part of your advertising mix? Perhaps it should be.


Is your outdoor advertising working?

If not, consider these tips:

  • Use high contrast colors. One study shows that high color contrast can improve out-of-home advertising recall by 38%.
  • Keep the message readable in four to five seconds—generally seven words or less.
  • Use big fonts. Always test your type either the old fashioned way, by printing out a sample line in actual size and viewing it from a distance, or by using on-line tools supplied by outdoor companies.
  • Select readable, bold fonts, and avoid ornate and serif fonts.
  • Allow enough kerning to keep the letters from streaming together.

Outdoor remains a very effective medium in many applications—one that is cost-effective and impossible to ignore. Just be sure to use your space wisely.