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BRANDE : Client services

November 5, 2012

It Takes a Hurricane

Brandemix is always ready to celebrate brands, but this week, I want to celebrate our own brand – and the brand that is New York City. Though many others faced much tougher challenges, we at Brandemix knew that, despite all the hardships caused by the storm, the calendar hadn’t changed.
Our clients throughout the country still had important, immovable deadlines. And while the city canceled the Halloween Parade and the NYC Marathon, we knew we had to keep our commitments to our clients.
Two of us live on Long Island and had to evacuate. One of us lives in Downtown NYC, and lost water, power, and gas. But all of us found a way to continue creating strategies and solutions for our clients.

I took this photo of a fallen tree that’s leaning perilously on
power lines above Factory Pond Road in Locust Valley, NY.
In addition to our people, technology is a real star of the story. Through smart devices and software, servers and Starbucks, we were able to continue to work miracles together without missing a beat, a watt or an email (but yes, possibly a bath!).
We’re up and running and back at full strength. We hope you all fared as well. 
At times like these, I’m grateful to be in the city of New York, particularly because I love New Yorkers. And I want to thank the Brandemix team, particularly Kathryn, Dana, Jason, Clarissa, and Mike, who did everything they could to make sure our service wasn’t interrupted despite all the devastation we faced.
Stay safe and stay strong.
Jody

April 16, 2012

The Creative Behind the Brande!

Recently we hosted a guest post by Kathryn, our Director of Client Services. This week we turn the blog over to our Creative Director, Clarissa Zorr. She’s an award-winning designer with more than 10 years of experience in developing and executing integrated brand strategies ranging from print to web to video. Clarissa is a member of AIGA, the professional association for design. Here, she tells us the about her branding process, her ideal client relationship, and when to break the rules. Take it away, Clarissa!

On my branding process:

Start With Trust
Whenever I begin a new branding project, I always like to have an in-person meeting with the project stakeholders.  This is how I establish mutual trust. They are entrusting us with their branding, their marketing, and their communications needs. How can they do that if they don’t know me personally? I am entrusting them to provide us with history, context and the business perspective that I need to help solve their problems through creative. In-person meetings provide real-time sharing and feedback that transcends telephone tag, and reigns high over email communications.

Assign Each Project A Clean Slate
Everyone has preconceived notions on just about everything, and I am certainly no exception. But when I approach any new branding project, I always begin with a clean slate. I try not to talk – I just listen. I let clients tell me what they need, what they think, what they like, what they don’t like. They might say something that will spark a totally new idea or creative direction, and I won’t get that freedom unless I have a blank canvas to start from.

The Creative Brief: Where Art Meets Science
Design is art, and therefore subjective; people may have different opinions but we all share one goal. That’s why, after that first meeting, my team and I put together a creative brief. The creative brief helps outline each project’s general information, its goals, objectives, and deliverables, helping everyone stay on track for the duration of the project. It’s the blueprint from which all things emanate, and it’s what we check our work against to make sure we’ve done our job well. I describe it as bringing “science” to the art of creativity.

Client Mood Board

On my inspiration:

Ideas Are Everywhere
When I start any new branding project, I look at what others are doing – not just competitors, but also other industries and trends, and even what aren’t people doing (and why), so I can always bring something fresh and unique to the client that’s meaningful and helps deliver their message. My inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I might see a texture in a wall that I could use as a website background. Or I might take a photograph of flowers and use it as the color palette for an identity. I also draw inspiration from many industry magazines and websites. One of my favorite publications is Communication Arts. They feature the cream of the crop in design, photography, illustration, typography, and advertising. Some websites I frequently visit to check out the latest in all things cool are FormFiftyFive,  NOTCOT, and AIGA.

On our mantra: “One Brand”

Employer Branding vs. Consumer Branding
I don’t see any creative or process differences between creating employee communications and consumer-facing campaigns. Design is all about problem-solving. In each case, there is a message to deliver to an audience, and it’s the designer’s job to make that message clear. As creative director, my goal is to build brands, creating emotional connections between our clients and their target audiences.  I seek to attract, educate, and inspire people with my work, and my approach doesn’t waver based on audience, geography, or medium.

Want to talk more about your branding? Write to me at Brandemix or check out some of our recent design work on Pinterest.

January 30, 2012

Clients: Are They Allies or Adversaries?

Want to go deeper into the client-agency relationship?  Take a few tips from Brandemix’s own Kathryn Wandling, Director of Client Services. Here’s what she’s gleaned after a decade of successful experience “in the trenches”.
Secrets of Great Client Service
I’ve found every client to be very understanding and appreciative of the load we take off their backs. Though we may sometimes disagree, my clients and I share the same goal: To produce great work that solves business objectives. 
My philosophy boils down to these points:
Build Brand Equity at Every Touchpoint
While the client is the keeper of the brand, they may not always be keen on the best way to promote it. My job is to keep the brand top-of-mind.

Know the Client’s Business
This is critical when making marketing recommendations. Only through truly walking in their shoes, can I research and present best practice, and act as an advisor and consultant. I do my best to make sure I understand their industry, along with their industry-speak as quickly as possible. We carefully review everything that I think they should do, but I also listen to what they want to do and attempt to understand all the factors that led to their decisions. It is through this collaboration, that consensus emerges.
Teach Clients the Agency Business
Any learning that I can impart to my clients makes them look good and makes my job easier. While it’s not important to know what a vector file is, or the difference between an .ai and .psd, it’s important to understand our process and strategy, and how their goals have impacted the creative decisions we’ve made.

Learn the Rules
Every channel of communication has their own rules, and it’s my business to know them. If we’re building a new website, important items should never be more than three clicks away. If I’m executing a social media campaign, I need to discuss metrics for success — whether it’s likes, retweets, mentions, hires or sales. Our goal is always measurable success.
Hold their Hand and Watch their Back
My client’s feel like I have one client, and it’s them. I attempt to be the “level head” when dealing with the creative people on my side, and the crazy pressure from the CEO on their side. I can be a therapist, a policeman, a bean-counter, a devil or saint, depending on what’s called for in each unique situation. It’s not always an easy job,  but I always have my client’s back. That’s why they come back.

Got a question? My virtual door is always open.