Friday, June 18, 2010

The name change that isn’t a name change

Recently, we undertook the task of rebranding Walcott-Ayers Group, officially changing our name to WAG. The acronym was already in wide use–email addresses, website address, the shorthand way we were referred to by our clients and by ourselves–but that wasn‘t the driving force behind the change. There have been major changes in CPG Marketing, and we have been actively involved in new ways to target shoppers for our clients from start to finish. This isn’t a reflex action, but rather a studied and conscious decision to ride the forefront of a new marketplace. OK, that sounds pretty good, right? I’ll buy it. Onward.

We’ve had the same dog in our logo since 1989, lovingly referred to by waggers as the “Picasso” dog. The only change to the pup in 21 years was a move away from the bright colors used in the original version to a simpler, more straight-forward dog (my own dogs are losing their bright colors as well, especially around the snout–but that’s another story). So when we set out in the beginning of 2010 to reorganize our efforts to focus on Shopper Marketing and Social Media, we had to make a big decision. Simply put, dog or no dog?

We were torn. Some of our clients were torn. We explored several ideas that kept the old dog, or a version of the dog, by putting the image onto a shopping bag (remember the “Shopper” part of this new identity). They had a nice look, but, combined with the shopping bag, they all tended to subtly (or maybe not so subtly) suggest that we were a purveyor of dog toys. Or in the business of dog grooming. Which we decidedly are not.

But it was hard saying farewell to the dog. Do you really want to turn your back on an old friend? But then we hit on a possibility of keeping a hint of canine. (And we do mean a hint).

See it? See the tail wagging? Now we just needed to get the dog presence and the Shopper presence all playing happily together with the type. We picked up the idea of the shopping bag from the “doggy boutique” idea, and replaced the dog with the wagging tail icon. We then started the color studies.

The beauty of having several people work on a project is that you get a whole bunch of ideas - and those ideas spark others (it’s not really stealing when you own the company). For instance, one of the designers had hand-drawn a logotype early on in the process. It had a certain appeal, but some people saw it as old fashioned (and the “w” in particular set off some Freudian anxiety in some) so we sent it back to the drawing board where it emerged much jauntier (and with no more anxieties).

So we’ve done the color studies (dozens and dozens), worked on the dog (or at least the tail of the dog–and no, not the hair of the dog), written taglines to neatly sum up what we do, and now we finally join the computer drawn type with the image and tagline and here we are:

Then it’s redesign the website and the Facebook page, redesign the business cards, letterhead, mailing labels, CD labels and all the rest. We’re getting there. Welcome to the new world of WAG. Design Powered by Shopper Insights. And yes, we can explain it. just call us.

Jim Walcott-Ayers

WAG Partner

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ready for the QR Code Revolution?

What's The Buzz,
Tell Me What’s Happening!!
(borrowed from Jesus Christ Superstar, the Rock Opera!)

What is the buzz with marketers and retailers
in America? What is going to take American
consumers by storm?? QR Codes! What are
QR codes, how do they work and what can they do?

According to our trusty Wikipedia, "A QR Code
is a matrix code created by Japanese corporation
Denso-Wave in 1994. The 'QR' is derived from
Response’, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.” And high speed they are, as they rapidly fire across all measurement of consumer communication.

This two-dimensional bar code is quickly on the rise. In the past five years American consumers may have seen these little codes buried in the legal area of their consumer products. The on-pack QR code helped the manufacturer track parts, production, expiration dates, pricing and an entire myriad of information. But, the life of the QR is expanding rapidly as they are easy to generate, easy to execute and easy to utilize.

How do QR codes work? If you have a cell phone that has a camera and the right app, you can use a QR code. You point your camera phone to the QR Code, snapping a photo. The QR code decodes instantly and voilĂ : the browser on your phone launches, directing you to the webpage or program that was linked to the specific QR code you just scanned! You’ve now opened up a
whole new world!

QR codes can be used (and are being used!) for special offers and promotions, coupons, websites, maps and directions, menus, as well as other less obvious links: bus signage, business cards, postcards, marketing collateral, real
estate signage, security clearances, the list is endless. You can create QR codes for phone numbers, events, emails, data lists, or for whatever your mind creates the need for. Then, you can measure the data- the number of scans, the number of responses, the dates and times people used them. Using this information you can determine the ROI and how they measure up against other vehicles/channels.

In 2007, British pop group Pet Shop Boys used a QR-code for the artwork of their download-only single “Integral”. The video clip for the song also featured a QR-code. When the codes were scanned correctly, users are directed to the Pet Shop Boys website and web pages about the British national identity card.

Earlier this month I checked in for my Delta flight from Detroit to San Francisco. I was offered a ‘digital’ boarding pass, which I quickly signed up for. After telling them what type of phone I had, my desired phone number for my ‘boarding’ text and my phone operating system, I received my text message within seconds. I opened the text and there it was, my personal QR code for my flight! I used it at security and I used it at the gate. I LOVED it. I didn’t have to remember my paper boarding pass, I just needed my phone! I admit I got slightly panicked a few times when I feared the loss of my paper pass, but that fear ended quickly and I was silently thrilled by my QR ‘secret code’!!

The Pet Shop Boys and Delta Airlines aren’t the only groups utilizing QR codes and bringing them mainstream to the US consumer. Facebook just recently announced that they were enabling users to generate custom QR Codes. On the example provided, they are suggesting two QR codes for your
personal profile: 1) Personal QR Bar code and 2) Status QR Bar code. Now your friends and associates can scan your QR code to download all your personal information! Maybe they need directions to your house? Your personal QR code is their answer!!

Now that we know what QR codes are, how they work and what you can do with them, they will certainly become a marketing gold mine as consumers look to achieve information or offers with QR codes. This gold mine could further be enhanced with the use of Social Media. When Brandweek asked US Facebook Users why they join Fan pages (March 2010), 37% answered ‘to receive coupons and discount offers’. As these Facebook users turn to their ‘fan pages’,
marketers will provide unique promotional offers targeted directly to them using a QR code. For Example...A Haagen-Daz (HD) Facebook ‘Fan’ visits the HD Facebook page and finds a QR code. They ‘shoot’ the code to learn that they have just received a ‘BOGO’ offer exclusively at Safeway. In doing so, they make themselves happy HD consumers, they make the retailer happy
gaining a ‘stock up’ trip with this HD shopper and they helped increase
market share for HD shareholders. A win-win-win!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Help WAG Help "The Young Faces of ALS"

For those of you not familiar, ALS (commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease) stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In short, ALS is a progressive, fatal, degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. People who suffer from ALS slowly become paralyzed while all mental capacity remains intact. It’s a disease that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

ALS has commonly been referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the iconic baseball player died of the disease in 1941, just two short years after his initial diagnosis. He is remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and is probably most respected for his record of playing in 2,130 consecutive games, as well as his unrivaled sportsmanship and class. In 1939, at the age of 35, his streak came to an end when he became too physically disabled by ALS to continue playing. Gehrig, known as a power hitter and RBI king, suddenly felt his strength and balance fading. Athletic abilities that were once second nature to him quickly began to fade. After a trip to the Mayo Clinic, he learned his diagnosis and retired July 4, 1939 after delivering the most storied speech in baseball history. His record remained for 56 years, until Cal Ripken, Jr, broke it in 1995.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of ALS, is that “this disease is not incurable, it’s underfunded”, and in the 69 years since Lou Gehrig passed away, the prognosis for patients diagnosed today, in 2010, has barely improved.

However, an organization called ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI) is trying to change that. ALS TDI is the world’s first non-profit biotech, and their sole mission is to develop effective treatments as soon as possible to stop ALS.

WAG supports ALS TDI, specifically their new “Young Faces of ALS” campaign. The goal of the Young Faces campaign is to change the perception of this disease, raise awareness, and ultimately raise the money that would lead to a cure. ALS is not a disease that only afflicts people who have lived a long, full life, it strikes an alarming number of young people as well; people who have barely had a chance to start living.

At this point, what ALS needs is awareness and FUNDING. WAG is doing our part by teaming up with the amazing people at ALS TDI, as well as local ALS patient, Corey Reich (whose family has helped raise over $1 million for ALS TDI), age 24, to help launch their “Young Faces of ALS” campaign on Facebook. It is our goal to help ALS TDI and the Young Faces campaign educate as many people as possible about this disease, because once you know about ALS, it is impossible not to be moved to help.

Corey is my friend from high school and was diagnosed our junior year of college at age 21. Since then, I personally have attended fundraisers and awareness events, and simply educated myself so I can talk with people I encounter and spread the word on ALS, what is being done, and what CAN be done. Now working at WAG, I work with people who know how to draw attention to a product. We are using our resources to not only design a visually appealing Facebook page, but also create a forum for young patients, their families and friends, doctors, and volunteers to come and share their stories, promote fundraising events, and RAISE MONEY!

Stay tuned for WAG’s launch of “The Young Faces of ALS” Facebook page, and be sure to ‘Like’ it. In the meantime you can visit ALS TDI, or The Young Faces of ALS to learn more or donate. Or, even easier, text ENDALS to 20222 to donate $5, every cent helps.