Posts Tagged ‘mix creative’

Anatomy of a Photo

June 2, 2010

Recently, Mix Creative had the opportunity to design the 2010 edition of the ONE coupon book. The book, filled with coupons for products from partners in the ONE (Organic and Natural Experience) program, needed to appeal to a demographic that included both tried-and-true consumers of organic products and the next generation of mainstream consumers.

Conceptually, my client and I wanted to merge the idea of the consumer experience with nature and organics. We imagined a picnic scene as the perfect juxtaposition. Next step: find the perfect image!

The brown grass outside told me a photo shoot was out of the question; I’d have to locate an image to use. I set out to find the perfect image, but instead found this one (click on a photo to see it enlarged):

Original picnic basket photo

The original photo: not quite right yet!

The original photo had the right idea, but lacked drama with its bland sky. The grass-only field didn’t tie in with the sunflower theme I had implemented on some of the interior pages. Also, the wine bottle wasn’t consistent with the type of products that were inside, the flashlights seemed out of context, and the thermos was distracting. Ideally, too, we wanted to highlight the types of products you might find inside the book.

So, I set out to make the image just right for our use by manipulating the photo in Photoshop. The following are the incremental steps to the final image:

Removed thermos from photo

Step 1: Remove the thermos from the photo and extend the foreground to fit our taller aspect ratio.

Replace sky in photo

Step 2: Replace the bland sky with one from another photo that had more drama, color and movement

Add flowers to photo

Step 3: Add yellow flowers to the foreground for visual interest, and to match the yellow flowers that appeared in the book's interior pages.

Add baguette

Step 4: Replace the baguette with a new baguette image. Strangely, the old one looked out of place once we started manipulating the photo, so we made the decision to add a different baguette image to this one.

Add lettuce to photo

Step 5: Add lettuce (taken from another stock photo) to the picnic basket.

Add jam to photo

Step 6: Add a jar of jam to the photo. Notice that as I added items to the basket, I also added the appropriate shading to make their presence more realistic.

Add crackers

Step 7: Add crackers to the basket

Add peanut butter to the photo

Step 8: Add a jar of peanut butter (and its shadows) to the basket

Add syrup to basket

Step 9: Add bottle of syrup to the photo. Note that I had to take particular care with all of the basket items to make them generic; the coupons inside vary from one edition to the next, so my client didn't want to highlight any particular brand on the cover image.

Add bottled yogurt

Step 10: In the completed image, I added a bottle of yogurt. The final image shows an abundance of consumer-friendly foods in an organic setting. Mission: accomplished!

The entire process took about 6 hours, and is compiled from 10 different stock photos. I should probably note that when possible, it’s more practical (and affordable) to shoot your own photography (via a professional photographer). That said, I was pleased with the final product. The cover image looked appropriate in the final design, appealing to a wide age range of consumers with familiar products in a beautiful and natural setting.

The completed cover

By the way, check out the Organic and Natural Experience online for tour dates (where you can get a coupon book and samples of partner’s products), and to learn more about how to live in sync with the planet.

What do you think of the completed image? Would you have done anything differently? We’d love to hear your comments!

Is magazine marketing right for your business?

May 25, 2010

Yesterday, while purchasing sandals for my son at Famous Footwear, the cashier handed me a magazine with my receipt, saying, “And here’s a free fitness magazine to thank you for your purchase today.”

“Cool!” I thought. Something for nothing is always a neat thing. And in this case, the brightly-designed and aptly named (Mind Body Sole) magazine seemed to be something right up my alley. The cover beckoned me to flip it open, with headlines like:

  • INSIDE >>>Exclusive Savings Offers
  • Tone up for Summer!
  • Comfort Food Makeovers
  • A Pizza Diet? Is it for real?

Inside the 60 page rag I found strong graphics, good photography and well-written articles peppered with ads for athletic shoes—brands all found at Famous Footwear. Genius.

Famous Footwear took a risk to spend the money to design, edit and print this magazine. One that, in my opinion, paid off. How?

  1. The articles were well-written and edited and provided content of value (and relevance) to their readers.
  2. The design looked professional and reinforced Famous Footwear’s brand elements.
  3. The product ads reinforced Famous Footwear’s product lines (and allowed the vendors themselves to present their products within their own brand campaigns).
  4. The magazine connected with the readers beyond the experience of buying shoes, building brand loyalty.
  5. The magazine drove readers to their website, allowing additional opportunities to interact with (and collect data) about their customers.
  6. The magazine included a special offer, to entice current customers into becoming repeat customers.

So is magazine marketing right for you? Before you jump in, beware of the following:

  • Creating a magazine isn’t cheap. To do it right, you’ll absolutely need a graphic designer/creative director, editor, copywriters, photographers, models, stock  photography, a sales representative, and project manager.
  • Publishing your own magazine takes time. Don’t expect it to happen in a couple of weeks. Depending on the content, you’ll need several months for planning and writing, a month for design and layout, and several weeks for printing/proofing. If you’re planning to publish more than one magazine, come up with an editorial calendar and production schedule to keep it on track. Note of caution: be careful not to call it a quarterly if you won’t follow through and publish it on a quarterly basis—you’ll lose faith with readers and advertisers.
  • The quality of the magazine should please your vendors. Vendors can help offset the cost of producing and printing a magazine, but if the end product doesn’t result in a return on their investment, you may end up harming that relationship. Make sure your magazine is created professionally, to a level that meets or exceeds the quality of your vendor’s ads.
  • You’ll need a plan for distribution. Consider whether you’ll send your magazine via direct mail, hand it out in stores, or rely on a third-party distributor to help it “get out there.” You’ll also need to decide if you’ll charge readers or make it a free publication.
  • Your content should be of value to your readers. Although it’s tempting to fill the magazine with plugs for your business, this should not be the focus of the content. Readers are savvy! They’ll quickly toss a magazine that feels like a big advertisement. Instead, focus on quality, relevant articles that connect with readers in way that fits the lifestyle message of your brand. They’ll get it. Trust me.

In summary, a magazine could be a great resource for your business—and your vendors—to connect with target audiences when done well. Not quite ready to commit? Consider a four or eight-page booklet or online brochure instead—they’re a great way to showcase your brand and your products without the huge page count.

As always, at Mix Creative we’re happy to talk with you about your magazine, booklet or any project! Contact us at 612-226-5717 or email us to chat about your project.

Correction in Mix E-Newsletter

April 22, 2010

Our monthly e-newsletter, >the mixer, went out today. In the newsletter, we featured products we designed for Drymate. I erroneously stated that they are from Shakopee, MN. In fact, they are located in Savage, Minnesota. I apologize for the error.

Here’s a larger image of their product design. Look for more to come!

Drymate pet products package design

Drymate Pet Products package design

If you’d like to sign up for our e-newsletter, click here. Each month we feature an article related to design or marketing your business, and feature recent work and news from Mix Creative.

Marketing the GoGirl

February 17, 2010

Yesterday morning I came across an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about an—er—implement that allows women to urinate standing up. It’s being marketed as a GoGirl, a pocket-sized piece of silicone that slips into a container in your purse and gives women the ability to discreetly take care of business when conditions are less than desirable.

Now, I realize you may be thinking, “This is an odd thing to write about on a marketing and graphic design blog!” but hang in there. The back story of the GoGirl is what interests me.

Turns out the product is currently in its first rebrand, being led by Sarah Dillon, a market researcher by trade. Sarah saw the potential in the product, but given her background, approached the business opportunity strategically, enlisting focus groups to learn about the product’s potential in the marketplace. Clearly, the research paid off. Everything about the product appears to be crafted to appeal to active women: its size, the price, the name, the package design, and even the tagline: “Don’t take life sitting down.” They aggressively market the product to women who are literally “on the go”: at festivals, fairs and womens’ expos, and take advantage of non-traditional marketing mediums such as sponsoring races, Facebook and other internet marketing.

Photo by Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune; "Go Girl sales director Jan Edman, center, and President Sarah Dillon in front of an advertisement for their product. They project that the Hopkins-based company will produce more than 1 million units this year and achieve $15 million in revenue by 2013."

Clearly, Sarah Dillon understands women, and has put together a marketing and branding package to sell an unusual product to the masses. Which is more than can be said for the first incarnation of the GoGirl.

Originally designed by Dr. Jim Block and dubbed “FemMed”, the product never went anywhere. The name and appearance was far too clinical, and didn’t appeal to women’s lifestyles. Now, as GoGirl, the product has the brand and marketing strategy in place to reach its target audiences and turn a profit. So: same product + understanding of target audiences + good marketing strategy = successful outcome.

I love this story because it really speaks to the power of the process we follow here at Mix Creative. When we get to know a new client, we go through a branding process that explores audiences, competitors, product features and benefits, the brand description and story, and the tone; then we use that to strategically design visual elements of the brand and determine the best route for marketing the company’s product or services. The result? Success in the marketplace.

So, Sarah Dillon, for getting it right, let me say, “You GoGirl!”

(tee hee, couldn’t resist)

Photo from the WIN Awards Ceremony

February 12, 2010
Mix Creative wins the 2010 Destined to Win award

Katrina Hase of Mix Creative accepts the 2010 "Destined to WIN" award from Women in Networking Director, Teresa Thomas-Carrol

We were SO thrilled to win the 2010 Destined to Win Award!
The entire day at the Destined to WIN in 2010 conference was a blur of greeting familiar faces, meeting inspired business owners, and learning from experts in the three breakout sessions. But I have to say, the highlight for me was being one of three WIN members (also including Kris Jamieson and Maureen Heinen) honored with an inaugural WIN award—what an amazing honor, in a room full of such accomplished women. Thank you!
Photo courtesy of Wendy Houser Blomseth, InBeaute Photography

Don’t miss our WIN Session Tomorrow!

January 27, 2010

Please join us at the the Destined to Win Conference tomorrow! Among the many breakout sessions during the day, Mix Creative will present as part of a panel for Market Like You Mean It. The session will present innovative tips to shake up your marketing in the year 2010.

Time: Thursday, January 28, 2010 from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (CT)
Zuhrah Shrine Center
2540 Park Avenue South
Minneapolis 55404

Here’s a full list of breakout sessions:

“Make it Happen” breakout sessions include:

Morning:

How to be a Media Magnet
Presenter:  Stephanie Hansen, FM107 radio personality

Manage Your Stress Resistance: The Cortisol Crisis™
Presenter:  Jenny C. Evans, B.S., C.P.T., C.F.T., PowerHouse Hit the Deck

Small Changes = Big Profits: 5 Ways to Bigger Profits
Presenter: Barbara Zuleger, certified business coach with ActionCOACH MetroNorth


Mid-day:

Put It On Paper: Goal Setting for 2010
Presenter: Cathy Paper Bottern, MA, RockPaperStar

The Nitty Gritty of Effective Networking
Presenter: Gretchen Shoup, image, etiquette and networking consultant and speaker

Trapped or Tapped: The 5 Things Every Woman
Needs to Know to Succeed

Presenter: Sher Foerster, owner of Leader’s Theater


Afternoon:

How to Stand Out from the Crowd: Step Out of the Shadow and Into the Spotlight
Presenter: Lauren Johnson, Image Consultant/Coach, Empire Within

Market Like You Mean It
Panel presented by Stephanie Hansen, Printz.com and PostcardBuilder.com;
Renee Godbout, May Advertising and Design;
and Katrina Hase, Mix Creative

Kick Butt Sales
Presenter: Pat Schuler, founder of The Gemini Resources Group, LLC, home of the Kick Butt Sales Training™ program
Hope you can join us!

December 2009 >the mixer is out!

December 10, 2009

Mix Creative has a monthly e-newsletter titled “> the mixer,” filled with marketing tips, news from Mix Creative, samples of our work, and testimonials from our clients. You have a couple of options to catch up with >the mixer: sign up on our website, or view our e-newsletter archives right here on our WordPress blog.

Not sure if you’re ready to commit? Take a look at this month’s >the mixer, featuring information about our new capabilities, the Minnesota Writers Hall of Fame Website, the Twin Cities Women’s Choir Illuminations CD, and more.

Announcing the Minnesota Writers Hall of Fame!

October 5, 2009

Mix Creative, a St. Paul, MN multi-disciplinary graphic design firm, announces the launch of the Minnesota Writers Hall of Fame web site, created to recognize Minnesota writers, past and present.

A project of the Minnesota Book Awards, coordinated by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, Mix Creative was selected as agency of record.  The site was established to recognize writers whose work distills the essence of the state; the people, the land and the spirit of Minnesota.

Katrina Hase, Creative Director of Mix Creative, sought to convey the spirit of the state through color; “Colors of the site represent sky, water and wheat; colors represented not only by the lakes and prairies throughout the state, but also in the palette of buildings standing tall in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

Minnesota Writers Hall of Fame Website

Minnesota Writers Hall of Fame Website

Mix Creative researched dozens of hall of fame sites, writers’ resources and even the nominees’ works for inspiration. The firm also designed the site’s logo, a mix of elegant san serif and serif type, punctuated with a writer’s quill.

“The site manages to capture the historical aspect while still keeping it fresh and vital,” commented Alayne Hopkins, director of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.  “We were quite pleased with the design.  Katrina brought so much to the project and brought it alive.”

Programmer Brian Sutherland provided technical expertise, creating a database-driven website supported by cascading style sheets that allows the site owners to update content themselves, with a simple form.

While the first nominees were selected by a committee and the Minnesota Book Awards, future nominees will be determined from nominations from literature lovers. Site users can register and nominate a writer using a simple online form.

The site is supported with funds from the Minnesota Historical Society’s Sesquicentennial Commission.  Visit the site at:  http://www.mnwritershalloffame.com.

Mix Creative’s Katrina Hase featured in recent WIN E-Newsletter

October 2, 2009

Minnesota Women in Networking selected Katrina Hase of Mix Creative to submit a member contributed article in the September 28 edition of the Connect e-newsletter. The article, Planning a Marketing Budget, was distilled from a longer post in the Mix Creative blog from September of 2008.

The WIN Connect E-newsletter reaches over 1,350 women in business in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Click here to see the e-newsletter in its entirety.

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