Spotlight on Wallace Church
We are excited to announce that this month, Wallace Church is being featured in Avery Dennison’s Designer Showcase, a select spotlight on the world’s leading design firms. The showcase has included an impressive group of studios and luminaries within our industry and we are thrilled to be included.
Inside, Stan speaks about some of his favorite work and shares insights and inspirations from his 40 years of design experience. Rob also gives his thoughts on the impact design can have and why Wallace Church is driven to spread this message.
Explore the Showcase and learn more about Wallace Church’s experience and perspective and how we’re shaping the potential that design can have.
Architecting a Brand Experience: Converting Market Observations into Marketable Insight
A workshop from Rob Wallace, Managing Partner, Wallace Church & Sean Patrick Harrington, Founder, Previse
Learn how to turn your observations into sellable insights, focus your passion, and drive your entrepreneurial venture. In this two hour workshop Sean and Rob will present the 10 Best Steps to Create Meaningful Disruption & Full Engagement. They will detail how to build your brand identity with market and customer research, competitive insight, synthesized brand strategy and an articulate design exploration. They will deconstruct the rational and emotional engagement that results in a truly unique and relevant brand experience.
As part of this workshop, Mr. Harrington and Mr. Wallace are actively looking for participants to submit their core branding issues to be deconstructed and further analyzed in the team workshop.
To be considered, please respond briefly to the following questions and submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1st. Two entries will be selected to be analyzed by Sean and Rob and the participants during the workshop.
Act fast and bring your “A” game! This is free branding analysis by the HBA industry’s top thought leaders in establishing unique and sales-effective consumer experiences!
• What observations have led you to a key insight about your brand?
• How have you used this to create a compelling brand story?
• How have you used this to align / synthesize all brand communications?
Learn more at http://www.linkedin.com/groups/HBA-Global-Conference-Brand-Positioning-4990233?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr
Throwback Thursday: Circa 1993
You never know what will spark a trip down memory lane. Maybe you run into an old friend on the street or stumble across a box of old photos under the couch. Maybe you clean out a closet or catch a song from five years ago on the radio. Whatever the trigger is, every so often we’re all hit by something that makes us remember what was happening in the world on any given day any given number of years ago.
For us, inspiration came from this New York Times article on the early 90’s and the Age of Grunge. Struck by its commentary on “the golden age of untrammeled creativity”, we decided to follow suit and take a look back at Wallace Church twenty years ago. We were curious to see how our designs of that time reflected the culture and sensibilities, if at all, and if any of the design elements of that period are seeing a resurgence today.
We’re excited to share some of our favorite finds but please bear with us, we’ve accumulated a lot of great work since 1975 and it’s taking us a little while to get through our archives – the old photos we’ve found tend to gather a crowd. We’ll be back next Throwback Thursday with commentary on some of our work from 1993 and we invite you to come back and check it out. Your flannel shirts, Doc Martens and Evan Dando posters are optional, but encouraged. See you next week!
Hashtag Noms: Crowdsourcing Product Photography
- Elizabeth Minton, Marketing
Among the many delightful things Instagram has brought us – Throwback Thursday, endless pictures of puppies, a deeper insight into Beyonce’s life – it has become the definitive social platform for sharing pictures of your dinner. Or lunch. Or, the most popular choice, brunch, where you get added stylistic points if you A. made it yourself or B. checked into the hottest new restaurant in your upload. In this way, Instagram has made food photographers of us all.
While this is an easy tendency to hate on, and many people have, it’s also become an interesting opportunity for food brands and restaurants alike. In this ever-evolving age of brands figuring out how to utilize social media, Instagram is an easy way to maximize word of mouth marketing in combination with, what are essentially foolproof customer reviews. Indeed, the tool is overwhelmingly positive: when was the last time you saw a picture of food someone absolutely hated? Try as you may (and we did), it’s pretty difficult to create a scathing Instagram review of your meal.
Outside the realm of social media marketing however, could there be an opportunity for brands to use Instagram in packaging? We’ve already seen food photography become less staged, more natural and informed by consumer stories (see Jones Soda and others). The logical next step for a brand looking to create an impact is to further optimize the relationship it has with its consumers by finding ways to use their input and artistic abilities to their advantage. And… launching a social media campaign at the same time wouldn’t hurt.
What if a brand issued a call to their loyalists to take pictures of their product, or food prepared with their product, and post it under a specific hashtag? This would not only create a conversation, but the brand could then incorporate the best photographs into their package design and marketing, creating a disruptive and ground-up presence at shelf and beyond. In this way, Instagram could be leveraged as an opportunity off-line as well as on. By utilizing this easily-recognizable and universally loved medium, a brand could facilitate conversation and relationships organically from campaign to point of sale.
Image courtesy of Fine Dining Lovers
Back From FUSE
Last week, we joined design and brand leaders throughout the industry to attend the annual FUSE conference in Chicago. This year’s FUSE, “the world’s most revered conference in the brand strategy and design community”, took place over three days and celebrated “a more collaborative approach to building brands [uniting] top brand executives and designers”.
We spent the week hearing trends, insights, and brand stories from many exciting voices within the design industry and notes on some of the presentations can be found here, as our Managing Partner Rob was kept busy live blogging the event.
Congratulations are in Order!: WC Intern, Philip Giarrusso Named in GDUSA
As proud mentors, we want to congratulate our 2012 intern, Philip Giarrusso, for being named by GDUSA as one of 2013’s Students to Watch. It was a pleasure to have Phil as our intern last year and, thanks to his work on WC promotional and client initiatives, we saw first hand what an asset his talent and creativity will be to the design community.
Phil, we look forward to watching where your career takes you!
Images courtesy of GDUSA
Watch Your Language: Premium is a Bad Word
- Elizabeth Minton, Marketing
Like many writers before me, the inspiration for this piece began with a bottle of Russian vodka. Popov, to be specific. Fortunately for all involved, that’s where any similarities between this post and a Tolstoy novel begin and end.
Let me explain.
On a recent trip to the liquor store, I noticed that the label on the Popov bottle reads “Premium Vodka”. And, while I think we can all agree that while there is a time and a place for Popov, it’s not the first brand that comes to mind when I see the word premium. So I found this an interesting choice of language especially in the liquor industry, where “premium” is a category in and of itself.
Looking up to the higher shelves, I checked out how the other brands were using the word to position their product. This was harder, as I had to stand on my tip toes and pull down bottles to read side panels, back panels and bottle caps to prove my initial suspicion: they weren’t using the word premium on their packaging at all.
Although Googling “premium liquor” pulls up images of Bombay Sapphire, Glenfidditch and Stoli among others, these brands make no mention of their classification on their package. Instead they highlight their attributes, using words like “distilled”, “reserve” and “imported”. Conversely, Popov Vodka is not found in the search results, clearly indicating that the use of the word alone is not enough to reinforce quality as a brand attribute.
There are many examples of everyday brands that use this word as an aspirational device. Wrangler jeans, Vanity Fair paper napkins and McDonald’s chicken sandwiches for example, all make claims to be premium but their price point and brand equities tell a different story – these are value brands and the strategy of associating themselves with a vision that does not reflect their reality is ultimately confusing.
Brands want to call themselves premium because the association works to a degree (they wouldn’t say it if it didn’t), but in the long run, this is not a winning brand strategy. The value and meaning in using the word on-pack (and off) has become irrelevant and worse, a punchline. Perhaps a better strategy for these brands would be to play to their own strengths (as mentioned earlier, there is a time and a place for Popov, why not own it?) rather than make claims to be in a category they are not.
Truly premium brands don’t use the word in their communication or on their packaging because they don’t need to. They focus on design and messaging that brings the brand’s heritage, values, commitment and promise to life, creating a story and corresponding visual language that connects with consumers in a genuine way.
Image courtesy of Costco
Day 5: The Future, Part Three
- Andrew Jacobi and Lainie Zwecher, Strategic Development
Sophistication: Brand Expression & Story-Telling
With so many brands to see and experience, we found ourselves gravitating to those with unique and interesting propositions, or to those that had great graphic branding. The category did not matter as we were inspired by brands representing a diversity of products ranging from dish soap and condoms to cereals and frozen treats among others.
The ones that stood out combined brand message (natural, organic, healthy) with a sophisticated twist, often utilizing humor, fun or a sense of whimsy via design, and relying less on expressing the ingredient story or place of origin. This approach was smart as it worked in contrast to the world of Expo West as a whole, which is, at its root, a serious one – brands are fighting the good fight and deserve credit for all that they do.
To break through and connect with consumers though, story-telling benefited from the impact approachability and accessibility provided. We, as consumers, want to find brands whose values are inline with our beliefs, and we are certainly touched by passionate product stories that speak to this. But, we also enjoy (and remain loyal to) brands that capture the powerful appeal, and personality, associated with not taking oneself too seriously.
At its best, sophistication of expression is found in understanding and balancing these relationships, and this is an opportunity that all the products and brands represented at the show can push forward with. We are excited to see how the impact of those doing a great job today will inspire the breakthrough brands at the 2014 edition of Expo, and beyond.
Day 4: The Future, Part Two
- Andrew Jacobi and Lainie Zwecher, Strategic Development
1. Ingredients: Hemp to marijuana
At this year’s show, hemp was indeed a lead ingredient. We saw it used in everything from soaps to foodstuffs and presented in forms such as oils and seeds. Brands played with its illicit connotations, but the overall message was that hemp (rightfully so) is a super food packed with protein, fiber, omegas, minerals and so forth.
The real question is, with the acceptance of hemp as a highly beneficial ingredient, will we soon start to see the introduction of branded products with marijuana included in the ingredient list? Considering the spreading decriminalization and wide-ranging acceptance of marijuana, we fully expect that branded consumer products (beverages, foodstuffs etc) with this as an ingredient will become more commonplace in the near future. We also expect that Expo West will be a leading point of market entry for these items.
2. Transparency: Representation and promotion of major CPG players and not just their specialty brands
For those looking closely, it is easy to find a large number of traditional big CPG companies represented at Expo West. This is a great thing in the sense that they have the connections (both in retail and supply-chain) and the marketing know-how, to truly impact how well known a natural or organic brand can be out in the market. We saw products now found in the portfolios of ConAgra, Nestle, Clorox and Coca-Cola (to name just a few) powerfully represented at the show.
What we did not see though, were the larger corporate entities. Clearly it makes sense to focus on and highlight the branded products themselves, but we would like to see the corporations come out from behind the curtain and tell the world why it is important to them to play in this space and how it impacts their decisions at an organizational level. Consumers will appreciate this transparency and it will lend further strength to what is a very powerful segment of the CPG world (natural, organic, healthy products).
The Hain Celestial Group is one model to be considered. We were impressed by how the organization promotes itself (its values and beliefs), and the many brands in its portfolio.
We are loving the way that The Human Rights Campaign’s red version of its traditional blue and yellow logo is exploding across all forms of media at the moment, in support of the marriage equality / Proposition 8 case at the Supreme Court. Anyone who has even glanced at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram since Monday afternoon has seen the nation’s overwhelming adoption of the symbol, clearly indicating the power of meaning it has.
We are always excited to see the power that graphic design can have in expressing ideas and stories, and in connecting all of us. While we don’t yet know what the court decision will be, the movement is unquestionably winning hearts and minds and the graphic itself is central to this effort.
What is particularly exciting about what has happened since Monday though is that the foundational graphic has not just lodged into our consciousness, but it has also begun to serve as a template for people the world over to express their own perspective on the subject of love and relationships.
Indeed, we have seen all manner of expression and interpretation showcasing how individuals have added a deeply impactful level of personality and emotion into a conversation built on these elements. The continued variations of the symbol reinforces the power of the original graphic to serve as the movement’s focal point and is very much in fitting with the wiki world in which we live.