Eye on the agency

We asked several local agencies to name three of their major and/or local clients, to describe the kind of campaign they are doing (or recently did) for each, and to reveal the thinking behind their approaches. Here's a glimpse into what goes on behind those memorable ads, spiffy websites and clever campaigns.


Provides marketing, advertising and public relations services.

Founded by Chuck Lombardo in 1994. cmlmc.com

Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services

Last year, more than 1,200 people were treated for misuse of prescription drugs in northern Michigan. We created a public awareness and outreach campaign, "Be The Solution," to help stem the tide of this rapidly growing problem. Television spots are raising general awareness, while an interactive website allows access to campaign outreach materials, presentations and other resources. A Facebook page is helping to create a network of involved and engaged activists.

Munson Healthcare

Munson Healthcare's announcement of a potential merger with Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health led to intense public concern over the future of locally delivered health care services. We created a communications campaign, "Preparing For The Future," to help shift the focus away from a potential merger to why Munson Healthcare would consider such a move. One-on-one meetings, speaking engagements, emails and a website helped audiences refocus on two key questions: "How can we ensure Munson Healthcare remains a Top 100 quality system long into the future?" and "Can we do it on our own?" Also, we launched a frequent event, "Lunch with Ed [Ness, Munson Healthcare president and CEO]," which facilitated small group conversations that helped create a network of informed and engaged community members.

Petoskey Plastics

We led the rollout of the company's new Grip-n-Guard, an innovative self-adhering masking film product, to the commercial construction and home improvement market. We cross-promoted it with the "Dan Brady Tricks of the Trade" video series, using Dan Brady to demonstrate the product in a promotional video that is shown on both the Dan Brady Painting and Grip-N-Guard websites. Grip-n-Guard will also be highlighted in a future "Dan Brady Tricks" video.


A full-service marketing communications firm with an emphasis on Web design and development,

and interactive media for schools. Founded in 2004 by Aaron Swanker and Dan Smith. flightpathcreative.com

Northwestern Michigan College

Beginning in 2008, we provided website branding recommendations and redesigned and developed nmc.edu. This included developing a customized interactive calendar and implementing a third party content management system. We continue to provide monthly maintenance services, and offline and online services and strategy for the Dennos Museum Center and the White Pine Press.

Critter Control

We have provided online and offline services for this local company with a national brand since 2005. One original goal was to grow the company and create consistency between all offices. Through the years we have provided corporate brand strategy, and designed and developed multiple websites and print pieces. Projects include designing and developing crittercontrol.com, a mobile website and a website template used by the 120 Critter Control offices throughout the country, search engine optimization, holiday cards and collateral material.

iNetz Media Group

In collaboration with the Salt Lake City, Utah-based iNetz Media Group (inetz.com), a strategic partner since 2004, we have provided services for local and national brands. Together, we provide services in a timely manner and within an approved budget. Clients include 1-800 CONTACTS, "Yes" Utah, Sealy Mattress, Mrs. Fields Cookies, and Scholastic Books.


A full-service marketing communications firm including brand development and strategy, public relations and graphic design services.

Founded by Karl Bastian and Kevin Gillespie in 2004. greenlightmkt.com


For 17 years, baabaazuzu has been transforming unwanted wool sweaters, blankets and garments into one-of-a-kind felted wool hats, mittens, scarves, jackets, bags and accessories. We upgraded its image and marketing collateral to appeal to its now international market, beginning with a new logo and tagline. We also designed a catalog and brochure featuring new product and lifestyle photography, as well as point-of-sale materials. A new website will also debut soon.

Great Lakes Potato Chip Company

Founders Ed and Chris Girrbach needed help in creatively telling the story of their new line of gourmet potato chips. We created the logo, packaging design and website look for the Traverse City-made chips, tying the chips' quality and northern Michigan origins to consumers' nostalgia for the Great Lakes. We also got the word out to area media and will soon be assisting the Girrbachs as they launch their chips statewide and into neighboring Great Lakes states.

Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan

Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan wanted to "breathe new life" into their stores in Traverse City, Petoskey, Cadillac and Gaylord and give them more of a retail feel. We developed and executed a design plan that included a new paint scheme, new messaging, large wall graphics, directional signs, display signs and more. The end result? A fresh, attractive look that greatly enhances the retail experience.


A full-service agency offering design, advertising, public relations, media and website services.

Founded in 1997. Owned by Marsha Stratton. idea-stream.com

Grand Traverse Ophthalmology Clinic

We design all clinic marketing for both its optical and aesthetics business. We especially like to have fun with the optical trunk shows. This year's Fall Trunk Show had a baseball theme. We did the photo shoot out at the Beach Bums stadium. Dr. Thuente threw the first pitch of the game, and we also customized his baseball jersey with the Olde English "G." This event is a great platform to take a medical need and have some fun with it – allowing the doctors to be more approachable and visit with the patients in a fun setting.

Home Builders Association

of Grand Traverse Area

We handle all the marketing for the Home Expo, Parade of Homes and the Fall Showcase of Remodeled Homes – from magazine cover design and content to posters, TV campaigns, admission tickets and public relations. The marketing is designed to appeal to two audiences: the home owner and all of the trades that interweave with the home industry – from builders to electricians, masons, mortgage companies, lending institutions and title companies. The main message is "Hire a Licensed Professional."

Fitzmaurice-Garvin Insurance Agency

The company needed to bring its brand into the year 2010, while showing the stability and foundation that it has built in more than 50 years in business. We did a complete update of all marketing materials including logo, identity system, outbound marketing, ad campaigns, billboards and website. The design was selected for its cutting edge look while bringing in a traditional aspect with the color selection.


A full-service advertising and marketing agency. Founded in 1998 by Karen "Lindy" Soderholm and Cathy Lazar Nelson. lindylazar.com


Who said, "The whole is more than the sum of its parts?" The renowned educator, Aristotle, of course! Local inventors of a new classroom heating/air purification product were looking for a name that would be memorable among decision-makers in the education sector, and convey the product's multiple benefits. We proposed the name, AristotleAir, then created the identity package, collateral materials and website.

Springfield Commercial Roofing

When we began our relationship with Springfield Roofing, they had already been named the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. But the Springfield corporate identity did not convey its professionalism or expertise; they looked like a Mom-and-Pop organization. Owners Terry and Terry Jo Umlor wanted to take the business to the next level and chose to invest in a rebranding and awareness initiative. Their angled-edge logo has become a distinctive look for Springfield, whose branding now is consistent throughout worksite and headquarter signage, service vehicles, employee apparel, advertising, website and collateral materials

Village Press

Village Press has some very potent and unique offerings for major brands that need to control their brand identity, while giving distributors and retailers flexibility to promote products in their local markets. To earn the opportunity to pitch, Village Press wanted a mailer that could not go unnoticed. We devised a box, which contained a voice chip with a personalized message, along with a custom-printed message in a bottle.


A full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency.

Founded in 1986 by Doug Knorr. knorrmarketing.com

RoomMakers Home Furnishings

"Steppin' Out!" is the theme of the grand opening announced in 30-second TV spots and 12-page color TAB circulars we recently created for a new store for RoomMakers. Getting to this point began when our analysis showed RoomMakers appeals to a younger consumer who is time-deprived and prefers to choose among complete room ensembles. We created a new brand-positioning statement, new logo, and redesigned the website with an online room packages selection system. These changes helped stop a downward sales trend last year and fueled today's expansion.

Allstate Billiards & Patio Furniture

An 11" x 17" private sale mailing to the client's database of customers announced Allstate's "19th Birthday Bonus Bash!" However, it is the branding and click-and-brick strategic initiatives we developed that led to this moment. Originally, this client felt their name was confused with an insurance company. We overcame this concern with a new brand positioning statement: "All Fun…All the Time!" that helped set this southwest Michigan retailer's stores apart. We also developed a website featuring online specials and downloadable coupons. Supported by search engine optimization and pay-per-click campaigns, the website now generates the majority of in-store traffic.


"Your Business Loan is Approved!" is the newest in a series of mBank print ads that feature faces of mBank people. "The Face of Successful Business Has Changed" was the first ad in the series, created after mBank had undergone some significant changes and wanted to re-introduce itself to northern lower Michigan. Pictures of people attract attention and convey the personable approach taken by this bank. The continuity of "faces" also sustains awareness of this business bank among prospective and existing customers when there is no specific rate or new product to attract new deposits or loans.


A design studio focused on building brand.

Founded in 2006 by Jennifer Lake and Eric Campbell. tandemthinking.com

Herman Miller: Eames Plastic Chairs

Eames Plastic Chairs were updated with more earth-friendly materials, five new colors and three reissued base designs, creating "A World of Possibility" within the architect and design (A&D) community and for Herman Miller retailers. To illustrate the expanded possibilities, we created a specification wheel that allows users to "build a chair" by dialing in a shell/base combo. The second objective was to inspire the A&D community to consider these chairs beyond the home and office – specifically in large-scale public environments – so we created a series of eight interior renderings, presenting the chairs in large installations. The renderings were used in a corresponding promotional video and brochure. Results of sales to date have reached over 150 percent of projections.

360 Law

360 Law is an up-and-coming law firm in Traverse City with a fresh perspective on legal matters. Wise advice and a broad-view approach make this young firm appealing to young professionals. The logo reflects the firm's fresh thinking with its bold yellow color and contemporary typography. The owl icon, a well-known symbol of wisdom, also plays on the notion of an owl's ability to see in 360-degree rotation. The owl is a classic symbol used in a new way to distinguish 360 Law from the other traditional law firm identities.

Old Town Playhouse

In 2009 the Old Town Playhouse turned 50 years old – 50 years of theater, featuring dramas, musicals, comedies, and mysteries. With such a rich history from which to work, we created a colorful campaign, including brochures, program covers, posters, banners and buttons that featured original imagery from the various plays that brought us 50 years of culture, connection, laughter, passion, and impact. The results? Great PR and sell-out shows.


A full-service strategic marketing firm.

Founded in 1999. Luke Haase, principal. intelligenceagency.com

Team Elmer's

The client presented a challenge of how best to leverage their social media outlets to gather more fans and friends. When Team Elmer's painted a concrete mixer pink to raise awareness for breast cancer, we encouraged the community to post on Facebook when and where they spotted the vehicle. A donation was made for each post and followers grew from double digits to thousands in just a few weeks. In total, more than $10,000 was raised for the cancer support units at Munson Healthcare.

Traverse Symphony Orchestra

The Symphony had a fantastic "product" and strong core of supporters, but lots of questions about image, new audiences, venues and more. Through a strategic research process, we uncovered stunning results about their patrons, their patrons' needs, the brand identity, and the potential future of the organization. Now the Symphony is delighted, armed with the "voice of the customer" and tools with which to grow.

Horse Shows by the Bay

We just completed promoting the 2010 five-week festival, which was expanded to include a September portion. Although the show was securing incredible attendance and accolades nationally and internationally, locals knew very little about this event. Through year-round public relations, community partnerships and targeted paid advertising, we've helped them secure the position as one of the "big three" festivals in town.


Firm specializing in corporate identity and communication systems design and the implementation of graphic identities.

Founded in 1982. Tim Nielsen and Emily Mitchell, principals. ndgworks.com

Worldwide Anti-Malarial Resistance Network

What we did for this global client group is make scientific purpose recognizable to lay person partners. The first two malaria projects were initiated by two leading American malaria researchers who hired us to create culturally respectful logos for their field work in two African countries, Malawi and Mali. The most recent project is to create a graphic identity for a new online resource that shares data about critical malarial treatments. We created a logo, ID system, web graphics and communications for conferences that communicate information to colleagues, governments and health services workers in malaria-stricken countries.

The Prentice Companies, VRC ProTx

We were hired to prepare this national company for major growth, by bringing a diverse workforce together into one mission-driven brand identity. Partnering with Woody Smith of Traverse City-based Avenue ISR, we interviewed and brainstormed with key stakeholders; created a new brand architecture, name, trademark and brand ID system; and developed a highly actionable communication plan. The company is now well positioned to double its sales within a set time frame.

Cafe Santé

What we did for this client is evoke the feeling of a relaxing European café on the shore of Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City. It is our fourth restaurant identity design for Magnum Hospitality. The challenge was to call forth the flavors, aromas and atmosphere of a relaxing European café without symbolizing any one country. We researched and then recommended the name, designed the logo and ID system, advocated for the partners during the architectural interior design and construction process, and designed all of the signage and site graphics as well as the restaurant's menus and all collateral, including the shape and graphics for glassware. BN