The right words

How you word your ad makes all the difference, as this video eloquently demonstrates.

This video reminds me of something Bill Bernbach once said.


Put your best foot forward

You might remember this billboard that featured a very unappetizing burger as the main focal point. To show how it should be done, here is a video from McDonald’s that shows how they make their food look so appetizing. A small business probably won’t go to such measures, but the same care should be taken for your marketing’s product shots, even if it is on a much smaller scale. It might take more time and add a bit more cost than simply slapping it on a table and taking a snapshot, but your product will be shown in its best light. And that will result in a far more effective advertisement.


How’s your web site? screenshotI finished this real estate web site for a client not too long ago. Because of the dynamic property listing database and the user content management system, it was the most complicated site I’ve overseen. Fortunately, I work with some great people, so things went well.

As complicated as things are on the back end of this site, the site itself communicates its message in a fairly simple manner. We’ve talked before about the need to keep things simple in order to communicate effectively, and this is still true even for a web site. Because so many things are possible in a web site, it is tempting to try to incorporate as many flashy elements as you can in order to get attention. This is always a mistake. If your message is relevant, then it will get attention. If you message is not relevant, then all the flash and pizzazz in the world will not help you grow your clientele.

Slate recently did an article on why restaurant web sites are so bad. It’s worth reading. And ask yourself, “Is my web site driving my customers mad?”


The benefits of professional services

Hand holding wrenchDavid Airey has a series of posts about the business lessons you can learn from Aesop’s fables. Thoughtful stuff for business owners. The lesson on hiring a professional stands out to me. I often see business owners try to save money by enlisting the help of someone who lacks experience. This is especially true with graphic design and video production.

Having some software is not the same thing as being able to use those tools to effectively communicate a specific message. Most people own a wrench, but that doesn’t mean they can fix your car, does it? For some reason, that realization is lost on a lot of business owners when it comes to logos, advertising, or web site development.


Literal logos

Costa Brava vertical logoLogo Design Love says your logo doesn’t have to show what you do. I heartily agree.


Playing nice, or being nice?

A client recently informed me that they were having trouble with their web site. I designed the site quite some time ago, so it had been a while since I had looked at it. Everything seemed to be working fine (the problem turned out to be a temporary access issue while the hosting service upgraded their servers), so I took a quick look at the client’s blog and this post caught my eye.

A lot of businesses talk about their great customer service, but I rarely experience it. We rarely talk about Thom’s customer service in his advertising, but based on my own experience with him, he regularly delivers.

Advertising is well and good, but you need to deliver on your promises or all the advertising in the world won’t help you.

Full disclosure: Thom is a client, but he didn’t ask me to write this post, nor am I getting any compensation for writing it. I figure one kind turn deserves another.




Cheerleader cheeringWhen making an ad, most people want it to be exciting. That’s understandable. If people are excited about your product or service, they’re more likely to become customers. And besides, no one wants to be boring.

But exciting may not be the best choice.

While all ads must have an emotional pull, excitement is not an emotion that can be sustained. Excitement takes a lot of energy and you grow tired of it very quickly. Once your audience has become familiar with you – and that’s exactly what you want – you will not be exciting anymore.

Do you want people to grow tired of your ads? Then try to be exciting. You’ll get tired and your audience will get tired of it. You might get some short-term benefit, but it is not something that can be sustained.

But there is another reason excitement doesn’t work: you can’t manufacture it. You can jump up and down and cheer all you want to, but when you get people’s attention they will ask you, “What’s all the commotion about?” The answer to that question will determine whether or not the audience gets excited.

And that leads us to your message. The message is the most important part of your advertising. It’s more important to be relevant than it is to be exciting. People respond to relevance, and they never grow tired of it.

People buy products for a lot of reasons, but rarely do they buy something because its exciting. Make an emotional appeal that addresses the real reason people buy your product or service, and people will respond to your ad.


116 years

1890s Coca-Cola ad

In 1895, Coca-Cola ran its first advertisement. I doubt this is that ad, but it does date back to the 1890’s. My how ad styles change, except for the logo.


Custom Jewelry


Goldcreations – Custom Jewelry from Mike Mayfield on Vimeo.

I completed this spot for the client this past November, but it just began airing this month so I thought I would share it with you.

We could have told people how this jeweler uses 3D design software to mock up the jewelry so you can see exactly what it will look like before you approve its manufacture, or we could have mentioned that they use a computerized state of the art mill to cut the wax mold exactly the way the jewelry was intended. But we didn’t. That information is useful if you are trying to decide which jeweler you’ll use to create your custom jewelry, but why would you bother having a custom ring or necklace made in the first place?

There are a lot of reasons people have custom jewelry made, but every one of those reasons touch on one thing: the person doesn’t want the same thing everyone else has. They want their piece to be unique. Directly address that desire and your ad will resonate with your audience.

It helps to remember what you’re really selling.


Wrough Iron Contracting

Wrough Iron Contracting logoHere’s a look at the new logo for Wrough Iron Contracting, a logging contractor in British Columbia. Wrough iron is another name for wrought iron, the metal that blacksmiths bend and pound to make their wares.

The company name immediately brought to my mind the image of a branding iron, and the owners loved the idea. Early drafts incorporating a literal branding iron were abandoned. Eventually the mark became an actual representation of a livestock brand.

The WR in the icon was selected to emphasize the spelling of the word “Wrough,” distinguishing it from its homonym, “rough.” If the brand is “called,” or read aloud, it is the Bar W R Combined. Both the icon and the lettering have a rough feel to them, as if they have been burned into the page by a branding iron.

This was a fun logo to work on. The client loved it and it will serve them well into the future.


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