March 27, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: More Interest in Pinterest

Is your brand ready to join the exciting social network of Pinterest? Jason Ginsburg, our Director of Interactive Branding, gives you some starter tips.

January 23, 2013

Video: Are You Ready to Rebrand?

June 18, 2012

Tips for Creating Great Corporate Videos, Part 1

Brandemix has been working on a lot of video projects recently. I see the same challenges whether the client is a manufacturing giant or a local nonprofit, whether the video is for employees or the general public. Here’s a brief list of hints and tips to make sure your video shoot goes as smoothly as possible.

Lights: Hot Set

Unless you’re shooting outdoors, you’re going to need lighting. Fluorescent office bulbs bleach everyone out, while house fixtures and lamps cast strange shadows. A good video requires at least two lights: a “key” to light the performer and a “fill” to fill in the shadows created by the key.
The lights get hot, so bring gloves – and be ready with makeup powder and towels for the performers sweating under in the heat. In a pinch, reflectorscan bounce the nearest light onto a performer’s face. You can even use your car’s sun shield! Rental budget: $75
image courtesy of CSI Rentals
Sound: Hearing is Believing
Without a doubt, the number one indicator of amateur video is poor sound. All too often, the microphone attached to your camera (or phone) isn’t sufficient. When you listen to the footage weeks later, suddenly you can hear the air conditioning, or traffic outside, or people down the hall talking. There are two ways to avoid this problem:
– A boom pole allows a crew member to hold the microphone above the performer. This boom operator wears headphones to monitor the sound of every take. They move and angle the mic so it’s always facing the right direction. This option requires an extra person on your set, and holding the boom can be tiring if the shoot goes long.

Lavalier or lapel microphones clip to the performer’s clothes. No one has to hold a piece of equipment all day and the mic is always near the performer’s mouth. But the mic sometimes picks up the sound of clothes rustling, so you have to be careful where you place it. Also, lavaliers run on batteries, so have plenty of replacements handy; sometimes the batteries quit halfway through a take.

Rental budget: $50

Music: Don’t Skimp or Steal
Movie scores have shown that effective music can heighten the mood and create an emotional response from an audience. Just because music is one of the last elements you’ll add to your video, don’t leave it until the last minute. Take the time to search for the right piece that supports your message and tone.
Also, don’t steal music for your video. If you post it on YouTube, you may find the soundtrack removed or the entire video taken down. Affordable, royalty-free compositions can be found at Music Bakery, StockMusic.com, Getty, or even from individual composersMusic budget: $200
A small investment and a willing, talented team can produce a professional-looking video in a problem-free environment. 
Of course, for larger-scale productions, call Brandemix; we’d be happy to help.
May 22, 2012

Non-Profit Branding: Yes, There is a Difference

My company has been working with several non-profitslately, and I’m constantly asked how branding in that space is different from “regular” branding. There are similarities, but also some important differences. Here’s what non-profits need to know about branding, based on my experience and research.
We start with “free.”
I understand that non-profits don’t have the marketing budgets of corporations so we start by leveraging every existing asset. Rather than creating new social media channels, how can we enhance the channels you’re already on? How can we repurpose your photos and videos? What are some past concepts or campaigns that could be revived with a compelling new angle? My fantastic staff and I have a knack for finding creative ways around limited budgets. For example, we’ve taken a stack of photos and turned them into a beautiful, moving slide show.

Talk to both the head and the heart.
Unlike other brands, non-profits aren’t selling a product or service; you’re selling a cause or a belief or a goal, which can sometimes be hard to define or quantify. This requires creating an emotional bond to donors, employees, and the people (or animals!) you serve. It is important to research that bond, deconstruct it, and examine it from every angle – and articulate it as your brand. As an example, see the World Wildlife Fund, which pairs its logical mission, “To conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth” with an emotional image, the giant panda.
Stay true to yourself.
As Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone point out in their recent study, non-profits run the risk of violating their own ethics or identity when they brand to a wide audience. They give the example of Acumen, which presents photos of proud, dignified individuals instead of pitiful images of poverty which “dehumanize the very people Acumen is trying to help.” I discourage branding from vanity, or because you just want a new logo. Branding is about the heart and soul of your organization and can’t be taken on and off like a shirt.

Tell a story
Storytelling was the #1 topic at SXSW and it works for non-profits as well. A strong brand is supported by good stories which allow people to connect to your mission. Brandemix helps non-profits find those stories, whether they’re about important milestones in your history, the life and deeds of your founder, or the success stories of the people you’ve helped. For example, the Sierra Club offers a blog called Explore, which features “stories of personal encounters with the natural world.” This turns large, complex issues, like hydraulic natural gas fracturing, into personal stories of triumph, wonder, and survival.
Non-profit branding is different from other types and requires a specialist. Brandemix has a history of giving back to the community by partnering with organizations such as the Epilepsy Foundation of Long Island, the Legal Aid Society, and Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State Metro Services.

Non-profit  branding is a specialty. Call Brandemix if you’re looking for a specialist.
March 7, 2008

4 tips on writing a great blog

From today’s ERE Daily | by Kevin Wheeler Reprinted here even though they didn’t mention us.

What Makes a Blog Work?

Blogs are hot. Recruiting blogs have sprouted up on a regular basis for months, and competing writers now vie with each other for readership and “followership.” The majority of readers of blogs are Gen Yers, and they are the influencers and indicators of what the future of media may look like.

A survey published last fall by Forrester’s Charlene Li indicates that “24% of Gen Yers read blogs, which is twice as often as the 12% of Gen Xers (ages 27-40) and three times the 7% of Young Boomers (ages 41-50) that read blogs.”

What makes blogs so compelling?

It’s not hard to understand. We live in a sound-bite era. Over the past two decades, people have increasingly turned away from long books and in-depth writing toward short, action-oriented pieces. Books such as Who Moved My Cheese, that are written at a high-school level or lower, are wildly popular. Television led the way by nurturing a generation that reads little and watches video a lot. Hence the popularity of YouTube and magazines such as Discover, BusinessWeek, Fortune, and Fast Company. They have made the short article almost a requirement. Only a handful of publications with small circulations such as The Atlantic or The New Yorker offer readers in-depth articles longer than a few thousand words. Don’t get me wrong, here. I am not complaining (well, maybe a little), I’m just describing what is a reality.

Given this, the Forrester survey findings are not surprising. Gen Y and the younger portion of Gen X are the prime target audience for blogs. And, when they are well written, blogs are a powerful way of reaching younger employees, candidates, and fellow recruiters.

Our industry has a lot of great blogs that are, again not surprisingly, written by Gen X or Gen Y recruiters.

RecruitingBlogs.com ( http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blog/show?id=502551%3ABlogPost%3A42426) recently published the results of its annual readers’ ratings of recruitment blogs, sponsored by ZoomInfo. Here are the winners of that contest in 10 categories, and I urge you to take a look at each one of them. They all follow the rules for an effective blog that I outline below.

1. Overall Recruiting: Six Degrees From Dave
2. Recruiting Blogosphere: Recruiting Animal
3. Third-Party Recruiting: Hiring Revolution
4. Best Recruiting Technology: I, Donato
5. Job Hunting: Wired & Hired
6. Corporate Recruiting: WirelessJobs.com
7. Sourcing/Research: CyberSleuthing
8. Group: Xtra Cheezhead
9. Recruiting Industry: Six Degrees From Dave
10. HR: Gautam Ghosh

Effective blogs are tuned to their readership in many ways, including their tone, style, and even their look and feel. But the following four critical elements have to be in place for a blog to gain the traction that it needs to get a high level of consistent readership.
Short and Fun

First of all, each posting must be short. Entries longer than 500 words are not going to be read, probably not even skimmed, by the average reader. The best entries are most likely 200-250 words and contain lots of white space and breaks. Once in a while, a longer post can be effective if the writer is telling a story about something exciting or has the ability to maintain some level of suspense. But even then it may be better to break the story over a few days to bring readers back.

Pictures and short videos are also useful. Jim Stroud, a recruiter at Microsoft, publishes a fun blog filled with humor and videos that exemplify what I am talking about.

Blogs gain a great deal of power when the writer is a real person. Heather Hamilton at Microsoft pioneered the idea of writing naturally and honestly. Good blogs are not overly edited or sanitized by the corporate PR department. They may have mistakes or reveal personal facts about the writer that lead the reader to feeling some identity with him or her.

Here is a great example from a recent post by HeatherLeigh: “Marketing plus potty humor.”

“If you don’t appreciate potty humor or clever marketing, don’t watch this.

And, can I tell you how proud I am that this was referred to me by my mother? Yeah, sometimes moms rock, even though I am sure they prefer to remain anonymous (and, right now, she is thanking her lucky stars she has a different last name than mine).”

Tell a story. We are all more likely to become engaged when there is a personal connection, some incident that arouses interest and hooks us into continuing to read.

Here’s an example from Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of the best-selling book The No Asshole Rule. As I read this, I want to find out what he said and what happens in the end. Here’s an example from Bob Sutton:

“I was listening to a great show on the other day on Fresh Air, where Terry Gross interviewed Bob Sullivan, the author of Gotcha Capitalism. I started getting quite agitated by the interview, as Sullivan talked about all the ways that credit card companies, hotels, and especially, cell phone companies ‘get us’ with hidden charges and related sleazy practices (listen to it here).”

We all tell stories, relate past incidents, and build relationships around shared experiences. The same applies in writing a blog.

Many blogs gain authenticity simply from their personal nature. We all tend to believe people who have a face, a personality, and are, to some degree, known to us. But, on the other hand, it is also useful to link to other blogs, websites, people who reinforce the posted message. If you look at the example above from Bob Sutton, you can see the links to the NPR show and to the book itself on Amazon.com.

Really good blogs use lots of links and associations to add depth and credibility. By doing this, the author builds trust.

Dave Mendoza, in his award-winning Six Degrees from Dave blog, illustrates all of these points. He uses video very effectively, links widely, uses humor, and introduces personal information in a way that makes him a real person.

Writing a blog is not hard, but it requires understanding these basics. It also requires the author to be engaged, have fun, and reflect his excitement to the readership.