Ad Agency RoundUp
By Lynn Geiger
Jennifer Lake, Founder; brand-tonic.com
New accounts in 2014: Goodwill Northern Michigan, Northwestern Michigan College, Northern Michigan Health Network, Warehouse MRKT, True Textiles (Grand Rapids), Kindlinger & Company, Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak
Project most proud of in the last year: We’ll highlight Goodwill Northern Michigan because it’s such a GOOD story. We launched a new brand image and marketing strategy focused on the positive impact the organization makes. The “GOOD HAPPENS HERE” campaign promotes the things we can do to support our neighbors in need in northern Michigan. We’re already seeing positive results, from team morale to greater awareness and community support.
Trend watch: It’s interesting to see how our industry is changing with social media from the client side. Clients are sending us Pinterest boards and Instagram images to help define their visions. We’re having better creative conversations and guiding them to solutions that are unique, outlast the trendy, but still fit the brand they are launching. The love for Pinterest also tells us that the hand-drawn, beautifully crafted style of design is still going to stay with us into 2015. Social media will continue to be the evolving piece of a brand strategy.
Company news: This year is a milestone year for me. I have been in business for 10 years in Traverse City, doing exactly what I love to do. We’ve had some national recognition for our work this year, which has brought a steep increase in web traffic and projects coming from across the country.
Chelsea Bay Design
Chelsea Bay Dennis, Founder; chelseabaydesign.com
New accounts in 2014: Ashtanga North, Goodwill’s Mi Fresh Start/Farm to Freezer/Good Pops, Funistrada, The Porch, Farmer FootDrums, GreenFills, Grand Traverse Culinary Oils and Flours, MoonWorks, Vanlanshoot & Sons Fish House, Northern Naturals, Waters D’Vine, Oryana, Pink Sugar Project, Pleasanton Cafe, Regional Goods, Rejuvenate Life Spices, TADL Commuting Library
Project most proud of in the last year: Labels for Left Foot Charley
Trend watch: Honestly, I don’t really pay attention to trends or “what’s next” as much as I Iisten to my client’s mission/vision, their audience and my own intuition. Authenticity, simplicity, and passion are the most important ingredients for my business.
Biggest difference and change now and ahead is in the world of Web – with so many templates, platforms and technology possibilities, I’m looking for firms to partner with that specialize only in Web. Experts in what is available now and what will serve my clients the best – while still staying simple, of course.
Company news: Have been contracting with Betsy Coffia as a writer/editor, and we are just about to hire a part-time production designer. Also, adding coaching and consulting for entrepreneurs and individuals to services in 2015.
Flight Path Creative
Aaron Swanker & Dan Smith, Principals; flightpathcreative.com
New accounts in 2014: Neurocore (Grand Rapids), Traverse Victorian Assisted Living, National Cherry Festival, Press On Juice, The Franklin
Projects most proud of in the last year: Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) – launch of its Taste the Local Difference Campaign; Networks Northwest – UpNorthTrails.com (interactive website); Critter Control – as agency of record, provided strategic consultation and assisted in production of marketing efforts on a corporate and franchise level.
Trend watch: Brands face the constant challenge of how to best communicate and sell their product to the consumer. Each customer controls their own individual brand experience; they want to learn why they should buy into a product or an idea, and how it pertains to them explicitly. Specifically, consumers will become more and more dependent on mobile devices to gather information and make transactions, exposing a need for more responsive websites, or websites that are easily accessible and viewable on smartphones and tablets.
Company news: Opened a second office in Grand Rapids to better serve our clients in southwest Michigan and to expand our client base. We have one staff member working in the Grand Rapids office on a regular basis, and a few employees who commute between our two offices.
Earlier this year, we hired three new employees: Josephine Ellis, a graphic designer; Katie Gordon, project manager; and developer Paul Hood.
Kevin Gillespie, Principal, greenlightmkt.com
New accounts in 2014: Red Ginger, Nifty Things and Zonta
Project most proud of in the last year: Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP) – Greenlight was engaged to refresh the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail brand, as well as increase trail event ticket sales. Our approach included new creative, a strong tactical plan and the strategically developed tagline, “The experience is delicious.”
Trend watch: “Content is king.” It’s becoming almost cliché, but for a reason. Content marketing is showing its value, with some companies enjoying ROI quite a bit higher than traditional marketing. And rightfully so: If you can communicate with current or potential customers without actually giving them a hard sales pitch, it will be more effective. Content sharing helps build trust and authenticity. If you share valuable information that your customers, fans, followers, subscribers appreciate, they will reward you with purchases and increased loyalty.
That said, solid thinking and great concepts are still drivers for a successful campaign. All marketing tactics must be derived from creative strategic thinking; otherwise they’re just shiny new widgets that can burn through your budget.
Company news: This year we hired Elaine Keaton as an addition to our account management team. Elaine began her career at ad agencies in New York, Houston, and at The Berline Group and SKM Marketing in metro Detroit. She has worked in real estate, automotive, health care, and hospitality marketing.
Marsha Stratton, Owner; idea-stream.com
New accounts in 2014: One really exciting project we launched was Taste Bud Branding, a company that puts anyone’s unique branding (logo, picture, artwork, event, message, tag line) on gourmet food and beverage products for promotional purposes. The bulk of the work was to design and propagate the website, which needed to be designed from the ground up.
Project most proud of in last year? We have a long time client in Grand Traverse Ophthalmology Clinic. They approached us for a “clean sheet” redesign of their website.
Trend watch: It might sound cliché and overdone but we’re continuing to push our clients to have a bigger slice of their budget devoted to digital advertising. Sometimes digital forms of advertising seem like an odd fit to our clients, however, the core message still always resonates.
Company news: Entering into our 16th year in business seems unreal at times. However, we are a boutique marketing firm and that allows us to run with minimal overhead. We get a lot done with just a few people.
Tyler Hernly, Partner; intersection.is
New accounts in 2014: Locally, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Miner’s North Jewelers, Ford Insurance and Air Services Inc.
Project most proud of in the last year: Grand Traverse Resort commercial work
Industry watch: Marketing is not something a company “does” anymore – it’s something to be embedded into product(s) and process.
Company news: Website featured on both Digital Telepathy and The Best Design for excellence in design. Recipient of numerous American Advertising Federation’s ‘Addy Awards’ in Intersection’s Indiana district. Awards included Best Of Show, Judge’s Choice, two Gold awards and three Silver awards. Traverse City’s Cordia, Xtreme Clean and Air Services, Inc. were all winners.
Doug Knorr, President & Phil Callighan, Senior Account Executive/Marketing Director; knorrmarketing.com
New accounts in 2014: Added seven retail home furnishings clients operating 27 retail locations in 15 states that generated more than $40 million in retail sales in 2013.
Project most proud of in the last year: We conducted a digital advertising test with a retailer in Iowa that generated an outstanding return on investment. With a digital spend of less than $600 for an eBlast and a Facebook coupon campaign, plus the cost of a sign walker promoting a Twitter link, the retailer doubled typical sales for a weekend and generated more than $100,000 in sales. Retailers must invest more in online, digital activities in order to effectively reach today’s consumer.
Trend watch: Although our agency continues to produce traditional advertising materials such as direct mail, newspaper circulars and TV/radio commercials, we are now encouraging clients to dedicate 10 to 30 percent of their advertising budget to digital activities. Everything from search engine optimization, pay-per-click and TrueView Video investments to emails, blogging and Facebook campaigns including coupon ads, sponsored ads, etc.
Company news: This past year we added 12 new employees, worked with a client in the Grand Cayman Islands and also began some work for a client in Canada.
Our 12 new employees include: Tara Pickard, customer service/account manager; Jennifer Scott, graphic designer; Erica Grody, media planner; Adrienne Bredahl, media assistant; Sally Modzel, media assistant; Michelle Holcomb, research; Rachel Plamondon, web designer; Malloree McLeod, social media assistant; Randy Hoy, programmer; Catherine Allchin, production coordinator; Erin Mackey, production assistant; Jill Fehrenbach, production coordinator.
Gregg Gallagher Smith, title?; lggroup.us
New accounts in 2014: We’ve added several … some of these include Elk Rapids Schools with the TBAISD’s first International Baccalaureate program, along with several other public school districts and independent schools.
Project most proud of in the last year: Creating and implementing the marketing/communication platform for melding two of the region’s oldest law firms, Kuhn Rogers, PLC.
Trend watch: Increased use of online branding tactics and social media remain a timely and ongoing trend. Defining the calculus of how these initiatives fit in the myriad mix of marketing/communication platforms remains a challenge and requires ongoing vigilance. Of course, we’re always on the lookout for the next game-changing personal app, emerging online “revolution.” Somewhere in Silicon Valley, on a college campus (or “skunkworks”), the next technology advance is being birthed.
Company news: We’ve added several staffers this year. Nikki Stahl, a well-established book production pro, has a wealth of communication and strategic planning experience. Collaborating on the production of several books, we’re seeking more. Jodee Taylor, former features editor of the Record-Eagle and longtime regional journalist, is contributing to clients’ diverse writing activities. And Christine Raymond has added graphic design along with computer and sales experience.
PROOF POSITIVE BRAND DESIGN
Eric Campbell, Principal; proofpositivedesign.com
New accounts in 2014: NMC Foundation, Darling Botanical Co., BLK MRKT, The Tribune Ice Cream & Eatery.
Projects most proud of in the last year: The NMC Foundation brand assessment (for community); the Parklands Map Guide for the Grand Traverse Conservation District (for utility and function); and The Global Mining Report for Circle of Blue (for reporting on environmental issues)
Trend watch: Companies have been reminded of design’s critical role in business success. And the most progressive companies are involving designers early in decision-making, resulting in better products and services overall. Consumers are savvier than ever. They have an increasing appetite and eye for well-designed experiences, products and services. So, it’s critical companies “get it right” from the start.
Social media continues to be a strong vehicle as brand tribes are seeking authentic experiences and a two-way conversation with the brands they champion. All that said, a balanced, integrated approach across multiple platforms – digital, social, print, broadcast and guerilla – remains the most effective strategy.
Company news:In October, we relocated to a brand new studio at the TruFit Trouser complex (on Woodmere). We have taken on a paid intern and recent graduate in graphic design from NMC’s Visual Communications program. And finally, we launched our company’s new portfolio website.