Photo of logo and brochure design for Ben E. Keith's 2015 Mid South Food Show

Ben E. Keith Eats Up their Food Show Branding

Ben E. Keith, a distributor of food service products and premium alcoholic beverages, located in North Little Rock, Arkansas, hosts an annual Mid-South Food Show. The one-day show featured technology demonstrations, over 150 of their vendors showcasing their latest items, an American Culinary Federation Culinary Competition, guest speakers, and even a party the night before.

They wanted a special look for this years event. It was important that the look communicate their overreaching focus of simply providing customers with fundamental tools they need to succeed. They also desired an fun, creative and edgy look that fell in-line with the spirit and goals of both the company and the event.

The solution was a logo that literally spotlights a spoon in front of an audience. The logo would be used on specially die-cut hexagon shaped brochure that would be distributed to customers during food deliveries. They also used JPG images from portions from the design to promote aspects of the event in their client email campaigns during the weeks leading up to the event.

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Historically, the speaking portion of the event had not yielded a great deal of interest from participants. However, this year they had made a special effort to acquire speakers they thought would generate interest and likewise wanted to be sure those seats were filled. Because of the time constraints of the show, the keynote speaker would present one hour before the published event start time. The night before the event the staff cut-off the portion of the leftover brochures that featured the speaking schedule on one side and the cover graphic on the other. They handed those out to guests at their party the night before in an effort to drive traffic to both the early speaking event and the mid-day presenter. The result was great. Both the speaking events and the food show was well attended. They indicated that not only was the design creative and very fitting for the event, but that the hexagon brochure design was also key in getting attention and sparking conversation. Their only wish is that they had utilized the logo design in more of the event’s promotional items like tee shirts and banners.

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SignsXM Launches with Out-of-the-Box Lumpy Mail

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

CustomXM added a new division, SignsXM. It wanted to find a unique way to announce its new offerings which included all types of wide format printing, including banners, signage, wall graphics, vehicle graphics and more. CustomXM also wanted to use a cross media, multi-channel approach that would drive results and illustrate CustomXM’s marketing capabilities.

The SignsXM Awesome Banner Thingy Campaign: Complete with personalized box, envelope, personalized mini-banner and a fun-to-follow instruction sheet below. The inside of the box lid had a QR code that led to a fun video

 

RESULTS

CustomXM created a unique, dimensional mail piece that included a personalized mini-banner for all recipients. CustomXM encouraged recipients of their “Awesome Banner Thingys” to post photos on Instagram, which would qualify them for entry into a prize drawing.

420 pieces were mailed to prospects and current clients of CustomXM. Over 12% of recipients responded and completed the online survey. Additionally, over 13% of the recipients posted photos of their Awesome Banner Thingys on  Instagram accounts. Many of these respondents were a different subset than those that responded to the online survey.

The campaign received quite a bit of social media buzz and accolades from local ad agencies. It immediately led to meetings and opportunities for signage and direct mail proposals for clients and prospects. Many of these opportunities led to new business within the first three weeks of the campaign.

This campaign also received national recognition by receiving two Bennys awarded by the Print Industries of America during their Premier Print Awards, an international print competition.

TARGET AUDIENCE

The targeted audience was current clients and prospects of CustomXM.

SOLUTION ARCHITECTURE

At CustomXM, they like to market themselves a little differently. They like to use the marketing tools they are constantly advocating, and they like to have a little fun. They accomplished all this and more with their “Awesome Banner Thingy” campaign.

Recently, CustomXM added wide format services to their offerings. They even created a separate division, SignsXM. But they felt that it wouldn’t be enough just to tell folks about these new services, it would be better to show them. And have them show others.

To engage its target audience, CustomXM developed a dimensional mailer – an 8” x 8” x 1.25” box complete with a personalized label informing recipients that a “surprise” was inside. Inside the box was the following:

  • A personalized envelope and note card introducing the new division and services.
  • An instruction sheet showing recipients how to put together their own Awesome Banner Thingy
  • A QR Code that linked to a video explaining how to construct the Awesome Banner Thingy
  • The actual Awesome Banner Thingy which was a 3.25” x 7.5” vinyl banner, personalized with the recipient’s name, complete with a grommet and very tiny banner stand.

To encourage responses recipients were given two opportunities to participate in a prize contest

  • By visiting their personalized website and completing a survey
  • By sharing a photo of their Awesome Banner Thingy on Instagram
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Above:  photos posted by Box Thingy recipients. Recipients were asked to post photos of their banner-thingys on Instagram with the hashtag #thinkitsignit. The Instagramers were entered into 3 different sets of drawings for prizes and winners were announced via Instagram videos.

 

REASONS FOR SUCCESS

The main reason for success was a clever design and personalized promotion.

 

Article courtesy of W. Caslon & Company, 2015, PODi.org

Resurrecting Funeral Directors Association Membership

The Challenge

The Arkansas Funeral Directors Association (AFDA) works to establish, cultivate, and promote programs and policies that strive to mark the passage of life with dignity and instill high standards for ceremonies that are sensitive to the special needs of those who survive.

With approximately 300 funeral homes in the state, and membership currently at about 80 members, the Association was exploring ways increase statewide membership, while retaining and increasing engagement with its current members. A membership of 150 funeral homes was the desired goal. While cost of membership is often the reason given for those who decline membership or renewal, the association also wanted to explore ways to promote the value of the membership itself.

The Solution

CustomXM, a North Little Rock, Arkansas direct mail and print provider, proposed a concentrated effort to promote the value of membership in AFDA in conjunction with their upcoming 2015 Annual Convention. Because of the small existing membership and potential membership population, we recommended the following:

  • A direct mail campaign consisting of a well-organized and visually attractive brochure. This piece highlighted member benefits and included the conference event schedule, as well as member testimonials. The brochure would feature an incentive offer that reflected a substantial savings for members if they acted before the registration deadline.
  • The brochure mailing also included a well-organized registration form encompassing membership renewal and the conference registration.
  • A series of personalized postcards followed the brochure mailing. The postcards highlighted membership benefits and the available training opportunities. The same call to action incentive was also included in these direct mail pieces.
  • A segmented email campaign was launched just before the incentive offer expiration which targeted A) non-members and B) existing members thanking those who renewed early, and asking them to attend the conference and training. Lastly, an informative email that included the conference schedule was sent to the entire database prior to the registration deadline. All emails contained a link to the AFDA website with event information and links to a downloadable version of the registration form.
The Results

As a result of the campaign, AFDA membership reached new levels and the conference had a record number of attendees. Jeff Smith, President of the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association had this to say:

We had a record crowd this year and exceeded our projected attendance for the banquet, Thursday and Friday Continuing Education, and increased membership 20%.
Thank you! Your creative work with our efforts yielded great results.

Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub Logo

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub approached CustomXM about creating a logo for “The Hub” that reflected their purpose and appealed to their varied and in-the-know target audience. The Innovation Hub represents a new effort aimed at promoting entrepreneurship through business incubation, academic research, technical and manufacturing assistance and job training in central Arkansas.  With these aims in mind, it is the top-tier organization for the creative energies of three separate, but related ventures – The Silver Mine, Art Connection and the Launch Pad. These groups will be housed under the same roof and thrive in the atmosphere of collaboration and creativity.

The style for the logo and collateral needed to be clean, contemporary and edgy to appeal to an innovative audience that is well versed in contemporary trends. At the same time, we wanted the tone to have some wit about it, a down-to-Earth feel that was careful not to appear stuffy, exclusive or restrictive, as highly modern design risk coming across.  The Hub’s vision of being a place that welcomes everyone –  from the young, novice student to the well established professional. A vision of being, perhaps above all, being a place that encourages creative exploration and hands-on experimentation would be a vital part of how their look would take shape.  Additionally, it was important that the logo reflect a sense of place, community and of being a central “hub” for so many different initiatives.

DSC_6138The solution successfully captured all it set out to do.  The drop-pin icon – a current symbol now recognized universally as the badge of “place” – points to an ambiguous surface revealed only by two concentric circles that work to further enhance the importance of the pin’s marked-site. The circles appear to be ripples in the surface, perhaps made from the impact of the pin’s fresh landing – not a coincidental reference to  The Hub’s goal of making some serious waves here in central Arkansas.  Script type used for the words “The” and “Hub” recall mid-century style and compliment the rigid and forward slanted sans serif used for “innovation” – which appears to be caught in the act of innovating both upward and forward.  The letters IN are made red to support the idea of being “the IN place”- being IN-the-know, getting people INvolved, and further emphasize the concept of place and INcluding everyones interests.

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The administrative staff of The Innovation Hub currently leads a sort of nomadic existence while they await the completion of The Hub building (although subject to change at any moment, as we speak the Hub staff is actually working just down the hall from us at our sales and marketing office location)  We have assisted with exterior branding during their stint at 419 Main Street, printing and installing this window graphic last November.  Subsequently, 419 Main Street is now the HQ for the online retailer Bourbon and Boots. We were stoked when they asked us to outfit them with their window graphic too!
In addition to the work we’ve done, we also have just started brainstorming big plans for some pretty cool large-scale signage and wayfinding materials in the building once complete. More on that to come…

Seal Energy Solutions Rebranding

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Seal Energy Solutions is an energy assessment group providing commercial and residential spaces with energy audits and the retrofits needed to maximize energy efficiency. Finding themselves in a period of evolution and rapid growth, Seal approached CustomXM with task of polishing up their look. Their existing visual branding didn’t clearly communicate the services they provided, identify with their target audiences, nor did it reflect the new and innovative sense of their relatively young industry segment.  The structure in the existing logo looked like a house, however they also provide commercial services and even offer consulting services for builders and architects.

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Borrowing from the seasonal tree in the existing logo, CustomXM’s designers created an icon of four simplified leaf shapes that overlap to ultimately reveal the healing symbol of a cross in the center. The transparent leaf forms create a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors that reinforce the concept of of being in a modern and evolving industry, as well as borrow from our traditional color concepts of the four seasons. In conjunction with the leaf forms, colors also reference their eco-friendly initiative.

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During the rebranding process CustomXM also assisted Seal with updating their name so that it included Energy Solutions. (which we initially intended to be the tagline).  We also structured the name so to ensure that it would no longer be displayed in all caps as though it were an acronym, a frequent assumption of their audience due to the former all-caps type treatment.

We have had so much positive feedback from the new branding… they love the look and colors and they understand better who Seal is and what we do. The fact that the brand [look] still accurately represents who we are today gives us confidence that the decisions made with its direction were correct… As a penny-pinching entrepreneur, that gives us further assurance that the money invested in the re-branding was well spent and truly an investment in our firm.  Heather Nelson, President and COO, Seal Energy Solutions

Very pleased with their new look, Seal has also commissioned CustomXM not only to create updated printed materials, but we also provide branding within their new office creatively displaying their logo in an oversized wall decal, supporting window graphics and plans for an outdoor sign. As well as shirts, hats and water bottles, CustomXM has also provided license plates and van decals, and looks forward to providing more Seal swag.