What Comic-Con Can Teach Businesses About Promotional Products Lauren Nelson | July 25th, 2016

Once a year, San Diego becomes the nerdiest, most magical place in the world as thousands of super fans convene for the International Comic-Con. This year continued the tradition of fantastical celebration, with major announcements from DC and Marvel, the history making premiere of Star Trek Beyond, a brand new Blair Witch, and a Skype-endorsement from Edward Snowden.

 

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The convention is usually associated with spectacular cosplay and enthusiastic community, but you don’t need to have a dog in the Marvel v. DC fight to appreciate this week of revelry.

(Though, to be fair, most of the crowdSPRING crew is #TeamMarvel4Life.)

No, even the straight-and-narrow-suit-and-tie set can learn a lot from the branding tactics executed at Comic-Con and beyond by content creators.

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Monday Motivation: Food for Thought Lauren Nelson | July 25th, 2016

Good Monday Morning! Well.. as good as a Monday can be.

 

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As you settle into your workweek and plot your course of action for the hours and days to come, it can often feel like detangling a box of Christmas lights originally packed by a drunkard: trying, time consuming, and headache inducing. But it doesn’t have to be painful. Sometime you just need to frame the thought exercise the right way. Our suggestion? Make a list of questions through which you measure your decisions today.

Not sure where to start? Here’s some food for thought while you try to get things sorted:

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Weekend Reads: Get Outside the Box Lauren Nelson | July 22nd, 2016

As another Friday draws to a close, the time has come to relax. But if you’re not going to be doing anything, you might as well let your mind wander. Sometimes it’s in those moments of stillness that the next big thing hits us head on. To inspire you towards such revelations, here are a few reads to tickle your mind:

 

 

But if you’re all done thinking for the day, maybe we can help you crack a smile:

 

 

Ok, you’ve been sufficiently inspired and entertained. Now go enjoy yourself!

 

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22 Ways Brands Can Use Facebook Live Video to Drive Business Lauren Nelson | July 21st, 2016

It’s a well-established fact that video can drive major engagement for a brand. As Gary Vaynerchuk pointed out last year:

The single most important strategy in content marketing today is video. Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube, the content you need to be thinking about creating and marketing on social for your business is video. Period.

No matter what you’re selling, no matter what your company does, if you don’t have a video marketing strategy for the biggest video platforms, you are going to lose. And in case you haven’t noticed, the platforms of distribution for video content online have shifted drastically over the last 18 months. Facebook is getting more daily minutes watched than YouTube, Snapchat’s daily views are now in the billions, and video on Twitter has taken listening and one to one branding to a whole new level.

 
What could be better than that? Live video.

Apps like Meerkat and Periscope shook up the market in this respect, but other social titans weren’t far behind. Facebook, in particular, realized pretty quickly they were going to have to evolve in that direction to keep their user base engaged. Initially they introduced the feature to their platform last year for verified accounts, but eventually they expanded access to the general user base.

 

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Though demand for the service had been demonstrated by smaller players, Facebook live video feeds didn’t catch on right away. Celebrities like George Takei have been more likely to use it than others, allowing the feature to function like a video-based version of a Reddit AMA, but most users were either unaware of its availability or unsure how to use it.

That’s begun to shift over the past couple of weeks. Following the live feed from Philando Castile’s girlfriend that was broadcast right after her boyfriend had been shot by an officer, a slew of people took to the live platform to express their frustrations. Suddenly, Facebook’s live video had found an audience, with one of many applications in the spotlight.

As the live broadcast option gains greater visibility, it’s anticipated to become a more frequently used feature. In acknowledgement of potential growth, Facebook recently updated the look and feel of such video experiences. As Design & Trend reports:

Facebook announced that it has begun rolling an update to its live video platform that would allow longer live broadcasts.

People and Page administrators will now be able to broadcast Facebook Live up to four hours per session, according to VentureBeat.

When Facebook Live first launched, it only allowed users to broadcast live videos for up to two hours. The social media site said that people have requested to make livestreams longer and so the company has done just that by doubling the limitation.

Facebook has also added fullscreen and video-only modes through the update. Previously, Facebook Live videos were presented with a square aspect ratio to give room for comments.

Now, livestreams are broadcasted and viewed in fullscreen on mobile devices. Fullscreen mode will work in portrait and landscape mode for iOS devices.

On the other hand, Android devices will only support portrait mode. Facebook says that landscape mode will be available more widely “later this summer.”

 

This change makes the live video functioning even more appealing to both users and broadcasters. But it should also be an exciting opportunities for businesses engaging in social media marketing. Why?

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Fresh from the SPRING: Sbdesign Audree | July 21st, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this Book Cover project.

Let us start the slow clap for Sbdesign. Check out more great work on Sbdesign’s profile page.

Nicely done, Sbdesign, nicely done!

FFTS-SBdes

 

Exploring the Social Impact of Graphic Design Lauren Nelson | July 20th, 2016

When it comes to crowdsourcing design needs, the projects that come to mind are pretty specific to branding. There’s good reason for that. Turning to the crowd can provide you with more innovative logo designs, engaging web designs, and creative packaging designs by bringing together a diverse set of creative perspectives for your perusal. That just makes sense.

But there’s another avenue of design that does well when sourced to the crowd that can have significant impacts outside of profit margins: socially influential design. From politics to public policy to culture wars, design has been front and center in the fight to sway public opinion.

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Why Investing in a Logo is Key to Startup Marketing Success Jason Byer | July 20th, 2016

Great companies know that to be successful you have to build trust with your audience through a consistent brand. Brands encourage trust by designing a consistent message in their graphics where the customer knows exactly what to expect. Its why a webpage, email or social post from a well known brand all visually fit nicely together and looks like something you would expect. The standard for your future brand starts with your logo.

Why Logos are Important

A logo will be seen by prospective customers, new employees and investors. Logos provide legitimacy to your idea by taking it from the abstract and creating something physical. Just as a company is more respected when the founders go from just the idea to a physical prototype of their product the same legitimacy is captured when you add a logo to your company name. The step of taking your company from the abstract to the physical using a logo provides a huge boost of confidence. If you feel like you’re a real company you will act like one regardless of how few employees and sales you have early on.

Every day we have the potential to be exposed to thousands of advertisements. Those are thousands of companies all competing for your prospect’s attention. Brand recall is the ability to recognize why a customer should pay attention to your company over your competitors in all the noise. The advertiser John Hegarty put it this way, “The first lesson of branding: memorability. It’s very difficult buying something you can’t remember”. How will you stand out amongst thousands of ad impressions and be remembered? It starts with a logo that summarizes what makes your business unique.  

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A Look Inside the Fascinating Cannabis Branding and Marketing Boom Lauren Nelson | July 19th, 2016

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For all the stereotypes about lazy, hapless stoners out there, those peddling green in states where recreational or medical marijuana use is legal sure know how to hustle. Make no mistake: the legal marijuana industry is booming, creating huge business opportunities and massive tax revenue incomes for their communities. As Forbes reports:

The size of the market for legal marijuana in the United States is projected to grow to $7.1 billion in 2016, according to a report by New Frontier and ArcView Market Research. That represents 26% growth over the previous year, driven largely by adult recreational sales of marijuana, the researchers found.

Legal adult recreational marijuana sales topped $998 million in 2015 compared to $351 million in 2014 — growing 184% year-over-year. America’s 2015 marijuana sales were higher than those of Dasani, Oreos and Girl Scout cookies.

The states that have legalized weed are seeing windfalls in “green” taxes, such as the $70 million that Colorado took in during the 2014-15 fiscal year. That’s nearly twice as much revenue than the state earned from alcohol taxes. Colorado is expected to generate$135 million in cannabis taxes and licenses fees in fiscal year 2015-16, according to ArcView.

 

That ain’t chump change, folks.

In the beginning, the brave entrepreneurs that entered the space simply had to exist. Demand was high and supply was spotty in places. Marketing efforts that did take place in that climate focused on image control. With all the negative stereotypes associated with pot use, companies needed to combat bias. Differentiation took a backseat to PR, in some ways.

But as the market swells, more and more players are entering the space, and legal marijuana providers find themselves in a position where branding finally matters.

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Four Frequently Neglected Elements of Branding You Can’t Afford to Ignore Lauren Nelson | July 19th, 2016

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When we talk about branding, we tend to talk a lot about marketing. We talk about logos and colors and persona and promises — all elements of how we present ourselves. Those elements are obvious crucial elements of any discussion about branding, and those conversations are important to a company’s growth.

That said, there are other factors that impact the actual form of your brand. Just as a person is not defined as what they wear or how they look, your brand persona is based on much more than an aesthetic. Understanding those elements of your brand will help you improve your marketing and sales efforts tremendously. Let’s get started.

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What Businesses Can Learn From Donald Trump’s Email Marketing Failures Lauren Nelson | July 18th, 2016

The Trump campaign made waves last week with the release of a poorly designed new logo. Like, really poorly designed. Like, begging for all kinds of jabs and jokes of a NSFW nature. And as some pointed out, there really was no excuse for the selection.

It took the team 24 hours of online ridicule to realize their mistake and pull the logo out of circulation. Frankly, I can’t believe it took them that long.

Will the ill-fated design have any significant impact on the campaign? Probably not. If we’re being honest, there have been a slew of PR and marketing missteps made by Team Trump in the election cycle thus far, and none of them have had the impact one might expect.

But there is one arena in which poor marketing strategy is have a deleterious effect on the campaign: email marketing.

It was the 2008 election that really propelled email marketing to the status of a core component of an effective campaign, serving as a huge driver of campaign donations. By 2012, the numbers were astounding. As MarketingLand reports:

One statistic that still jumps out: Obama’s 2012 campaign cost $690 million, a staggering kitty. What’s more impressive is how the majority of those dollars were raised through email.

Approximately 4.5 million people donated, with an average gift of $53. Toby Fallsgraff, who directed the 2012 email program, told MarketingSherpa, “You can do the math and figure out a lot of people gave more than once.”

It wasn’t solely because of their passion for the incumbent or their love of the process. Fallgraff’s team used an email model that was beautifully orchestrated and integrated.

The candidates in this election cycle learned a lot from the success of email campaigns, and have poured extensive resources into email marketing this time around. Well, most of them have. Donald Trump has not, and it’s showing. As AppBoy writes:

Last month, following media reports that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had fallen significantly behind his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in fundraising, the Trump campaign sent out its first email soliciting donations. Now, normally there would be nothing notable about a political campaign using email to ask its supporters for donation: it happens all the time. But the way that the Trump campaign handled that first fundraising email was so problematic that it’s spurred multiple complaints to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and an international incident involving legislators in at least five countries.

Ouch. Talk about a disaster. Where did he go wrong? More importantly, how can businesses avoid making the same mistakes? Here’s the low down.

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