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Phil’s Song — Time to Fly

We’ve been lucky at Marketing By Design. In nearly 25 years of Joel’s and my partnership, we’ve had incredibly small employee turnover. Usually a move or a life change caused our parting, and we’ve always remained friends. Life is too short for the alternative.

Hats off to Phil Tretheway, with MbD since 2002 as a young pup. He’s become an accomplished designer, a husband, a father of two, a social media practitioner; all while remaining a solid human being.

We offer our congratulations and deep wishes for success as you, Phil, move to your new position as Director of Marketing and Communications at the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

It’s been a wonderful nine+ years, with growth, challenges, new territory that you led us into; and we appreciate it all.

Don’t be a stranger…

And we know you won’t be, because we’ll be asking you to come back and remind us how to manage the CMS!

—Della

Della Gilleran

Posted By: Della Gilleran
Category: News,

As a board member, volunteer and vendor of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, I had a blast helping to invent this tree. At 3 feet tall (and wide), it holds 'pledge leaves', paper cutouts of leaves with contact and commitment information from donors. The Tree Foundation uses it at public outreach events and cultivation events, and it is a stunning piece of art with a fabulous purpose.
For me was the whole process was fun: hearing a request for 'a tree that hangs on the wall' and envisioning it to be something grander and more dynamic; finding a sculptor — Josh Kaiser — the best!; working with Josh to figure out the scale, the textures, the roots and the curly elements to hold the paper leaves; visiting an annodizing facility to explore coating/coloring it; unveiling it at a board meeting, and then seeing it in action at William Ishmael's cultivation event.
I grew up loving fabrics and colors and became an expert in print design. It was a pleasure stretching my knowledge to make this sculpture happen for Sacramento Tree Foundation. I appreciate the opportunity, Josh's exceptional work, and the pride I feel when I see it on display at the STF office.
You're invited to see it there, but I recommend you join and add a leaf to the tree. Visit sactree.com or call 916.924.8733 to volunteer or join.


Della Gilleran

Posted By: Della Gilleran
Category: Design Thinking,

MbD would like to announce that it is the proud owner of a little green alien.  A very green, very English alien, named Isla Waite. Isla has been an intern for the last few months and has been working on improving her production skills under our wing.

Isla met Della while she was still in school, and took an instant fancy to MbD. Through (self-described) pestering and bribes she managed to secure an internship straight out of school, and since we would miss her out-of-tune covers of Pandora, we decided to keep her on for a little longer. Isla has been working on projects for CSPC, and the Sacramento Tree Foundation. (Check out the STF “lazy days grow here” billboard below, which will grace the city skyline in July).

Isla arrived armed with a BA Dual Major in International Relations and Media Studies, and an Associates degree in Graphic Design. Her previous life involved ordering pilots around in the skies of Europe as an Air Traffic Control Officer in the British military. A two year stint as the Operations Manager of a retail store was all she needed to convince herself to follow a brand new path, with a life-long passion...in design. We’re really happy to have her around and it’s so much fun watching our green alien grow!

Della Gilleran

Posted By: Della Gilleran
Category: News,

Hats off to CalSTRS, for hiring Cooper Design in San Francisco to do qualitative research on its members. We are excited to phase into a new relationship with CalSTRS as a design resource, in addition to several good in-house and contracted designers. As CalSTRS is one of the largest pension funds in the world, the volume of member communications can be potentially staggering. Determining the target audience, the message, and the point are all critical to the ultimate goal of 'being of service to the members'.

 

Enter 'Personas'. [from Wikipedia]

Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.
Cooper's month long interviews of 75 members across the state yielded five personas. Each at a different point in his/her career, at a different level of financial interest and sophistication, and a different need for segments of CalSTRS' services. We love their approach and it was a pleasure to see it done methodically at a large scale.

 

The personas were of five different teachers:

• a young woman, married and busy with a family, who is not the financially-attentive person in the household
• a mid-career woman; single parent and struggling financially because her ex-husband lost his job
• a mid-40's man who made a career change into teaching, bringing existing retirement money and financial savvy
• a late-career woman, who is trying to figure out the best timing for retirement
• a retired community college teacher, whose benefits are defined by the years of service and dollars contributed — and who must manage his accounts from a different perspective.

 

Bringing this Home for Our Clients

We were impressed with the professionalism and thoroughness of the Cooper team. As Phil and I walked away from the meeting we mused how fun it would be to create 'personas' for our clients. The reality is we do a 'lite' version of this for our clients on each project. We don't have degrees in anthropology, statistics or psychology and our clients generally need to work within a tighter budget, but we do keep a strong focus on the target audience throughout our process.
We meet with clients from marketing managers to small business owners on a daily basis. At the launch of each project we ask "Who is the audience? Who are the likely buyers? Who would benefit from this, or be moved by this information?" When the answer is "everybody!", we know there is digging to be done. At that point, designing for 'everybody' will mean design for 'nobody'. Keeping the target audience at the forefront of design and strategy is crucial to making each project successful.

 

Clarity

Having shared this idea with my sister, who recently signed up to collect Social Security, it sounds like the SSA could benefit from customized messages to well defined target audiences. She's received several mailings of multi-page letters that drone on, difficult to read and identify the important points. As an attorney, she had the stamina to actually read the pages, and still had trouble understanding them. In this age of information overload, clarity is critical!

Della Gilleran

Posted By: Della Gilleran
Category: Design Thinking,

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I think of our client’s projects in the same way I think of boxes. I love interesting boxes: different shapes, different textures, different mechanisms to open, different purposes. You wouldn’t give an engagement ring in a packing box, and you wouldn’t pack computer ram in a velvet jewelry box — unless you are specifically going for an unexpected effect. From a simple packing box to a curved-sides box, to a silk-embroidered covered box, each box has its unique characteristics and purpose.
Design projects are the same, with characteristics and a purpose unique to each. Defining the project means understanding (the optimal) target audience, the goal, the reasons for action (features/benefits), and how this project fits in context with the rest of the project or campaign components so that coherence with the brand is addressed. Printed materials, display graphics, user interface design and packaging all have different criteria, as do the different manufacturing or reproduction methods associated with each. It’s super-critical when those different methods all must represent the product and brand appropriately and consistently!
For example, our branding work with the Sacramento Tree Foundation over the last ten months has included a great group of projects that have asked us to become involved at several levels. Each project was a different ‘box’ to be designed and tailored to a strategy and audience. To have a thorough understanding we participated in developing initial strategy and messaging concepts, and then worked through the design and production phases on many projects in parallel tracks. We’ve been able to create a new look that honors the 25-year-long history and reflects the new human-focused messaging. The success of those projects will play out over the next year, in the varied applications and venues. This process is similar for all clients. By understanding and appreciating the unique purpose of each project that we can create just the right box to manifest your desired outcome.

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Was this post helpful? How do you approach your projects? Do you enjoy delving into each project and refining the problem or do you find it constrictive to your creative process?
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Della Gilleran

Posted By: Della Gilleran
Category: Design Thinking,

Lucky us. After several rounds of submitting resumes, cost sheets, and forms, were invited to make a presentation of our work to Sandia National Labs in Livermore. I love science as much as I love design, and this could be a great opportunity to work on making nerdy projects accessible. But with short notice, my loathing at making anything look good in Powerpoint, and the idea that we’d be compared with megashops in the bay area, it was a fun soul-searching process to think about who we are… just the right amount of: creative, smart, nimble, and fun. 

Especially considering the notion that most in-house creative staff have to crank things out and sometimes forget when to stretch the boundaries to create a more effective result, the fact that we can stretch ‘just the right amount’ while still being fast and service-minded is a nice quality to bring to the relationship. I also realized that with them having designers on staff, our bringing ‘a vision’ and ‘art direction’ might be welcomed as a unique piece of the puzzle, beyond the regular design, production and project management.

If all goes well, we’ll be designing brochures, report covers and exhibit panels for some new smart transportation technology and other cool things that scientists are researching; things that need to be explained to policymakers, funders and the public. Wish us luck!

Della Gilleran

Posted By: Della Gilleran
Category: News,