Archive for category Design

Working with an Ad Agency? Help us Help You!

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Collaborating with an advertising agency isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is always worth it. Even today big name brands choose to work with advertising agencies rather than hire permanent staff. However, even though advertising agencies are there to help you, they need your help too. Here are 4 easy ways you can help your ad agency help you:

  1. Have important questions ready - Have important questions ready for your advertising company. This is the best way to get to know your ad agency and learn if they are compatible with your business. Do they share the same beliefs and values? Do they understand how you define success? Don’t let there be barriers of communication. You don’t want that and ad agencies certainly don’t either. 
  1. Trust your agency -Build your advertising agency up instead of tearing them down. Don’t stress about the little things that you think need to be fixed. For instance, “this font could be a different color.” Advertising experts are trained to look at the big picture–so be patient as your project progresses. Put yourself in their shoes and think about the overall interest of your company.
  1. Sharing is caring - Agencies operate better when they have creative freedom and open lines of communication. Supply your ad agency with the necessary tools they need for success. This can include anything from marketing sales numbers, to research information, or images. Include your ad agency in the early stages of building your strategy. When agencies are involved in all aspects of the brand they are able to calculate ways to come up with improvements and solutions.
  1. Have an open mind - An advertising agency’s job is to be up to date with the latest industry standards and trends. It’s important to have an open mind when it comes to your advertising agency and collaborating together to develop strategy that is mutually beneficial.

Start collaborating with CEA Marketing Group on the path to your marketing success!

 

 

 

 

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How to Start Looking for an Advertising Agency

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Now that you have decided that an advertising agency is the way to go, its time to choose which advertising agency is right for you. With the large number of advertising agencies out there today it’s hard to know if you are making the right choice for your business. To ease the frustration, here are some quick tips to help you with the process 

Fill Out a Request for Proposal (RFP)

It’s important to write down on paper the advertising objectives of your business. This is also the opportunity to tell agencies what type of business you are. What’s the personality of the business? What are you willing to spend? No one knows the business better than the people working there

With a request for proposal, advertising agencies can see what you expect from them and get a glimpse of who you are as business. This is the first step in seeing if the advertising agency would be a good match for you.

If a RFP is done right you will be able to adequately communicate your business’ unique brand to potential agencies.

Do Your Research

Start conducting research on different advertising companies. Are they full service? What do they specialize in? Does the company have 15 employees or 50? Size matters when it comes to advertising agencies. In smaller agencies you know the people pitching to you will be the same ones working on every piece of your campaign. They will be more hands on and will physically be there to oversee things.

Think about campaigns that you loved and ask around to see which advertising agency was responsible. Once you have narrowed down the list contact the agencies and see if there is chemistry. Whichever agency you choose will be working with you for years and a will become representation of your business. 

Set Up Pitch Meetings

Before your meeting takes place be sure to have all the legal paperwork ready. This will define the businesses confidentiality and conditions. Advertising agencies will have conditions too. This is just one step to ensure that you and the advertising agency are on the same page.

Once you have established legalities you can move on to the pitch. The pitch will determine what makes one advertising agency unique from the others. In a pitch, agencies will try to win your business by showcasing various creative campaigns.  All advertising agencies are good at what they do, but you have to decide which one is the perfect match for your business.

Even if you like the ideas you are seeing you might not like the people working for that agency. This is the last part of the puzzle. You have to be sure there is chemistry between your business and the agency because this will make working together easier.

The perfect advertising agency will understand your advertising objectives and help your business reach marketing success. At CEA Marketing Group we understand the struggle of searching for an ad agency. CEA Marketing Group is a full service-advertising agency that provides your business with solutions to your marketing problems. Get in contact with the CEA Marketing group and end your search today!

 

 

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We won gold for Best Social Media Campaign at NAHB 2015!

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#‎TeamCEA started the year off on the right foot by winning a gold award for Best Social Media Campaign at the NAHB International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nevada! Our “Be a Neal Star” campaign for Neal Communities soared to great heights, and we are honored to have received our FIRST national award!

Our social media contest and campaign featured residents from three different Neal Communities’ developments sharing videos about their favorite parts of life in their communities. The videos were shared on social media, with friends and family being encouraged to vote. By the end of the campaign, we collected over 25 videos, 16,668 page views, 55 organic searches, and 9,623 total votes! Neal Communities was able to create and repurpose content for web, social media, YouTube and blogs which increased brand awareness and improved SEO.

Are you ready to start building your social media presence with the experts? Contact CEA Marketing today!

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The Importance of Brand Identity

The Importance of Rebranding

Recently I’ve (Graphic Designer Diana) had the pleasure of becoming involved with a mentorship program through Ad 2 Tampa Bay, a network of young advertising professionals in the Tampa Bay area. The mentorship program seeks to partner young students with professionals in the Advertising industry to help guide them in their career path.

As part of my responsibilities as a mentor, I meet with a student from a local university and give her guidance on accomplishing her goals. One of which is creating a recognizable brand for herself that will be one driving force in her quest to land an internship. Looking at how much her brand has evolved since the first iteration got me to thinking about the importance of rebranding campaigns.

In a perfect world, companies would create a brand identity that fit them so perfectly it never had to change, but we don’t live in a perfect world. In the real world, companies are constantly evolving, and, while they might stick to the same core values, sometimes they change enough that their brands require some fine-tuning to match.  When this happens, it’s important to take a few steps towards making your new identity perfect.

  1. Understand what is and isn’t working: make a list, get feedback, and learn what it is that’s holding your brand back. Once you understand what about your brand identity isn’t lining up with your brand, you’ll be able to start on step 2.
  2. Now that you know what your brand isn’t, it’s time to understand what it is. No one knows your brand better than you do, so make sure you can distill your brand’s mission into one or two concise sentences. This should be the foundation of your rebranding.
  3. Take your newfound knowledge and start creating! Or find yourself an experienced partner to help guide you through the waters of your rebranding.

If you feel like your brand is in need of a facelift, contact us, and we can help you get on the right track.

 

 

 

 

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Form Over Function (Scratch That, Reverse It)

Do you like pretty pictures, or creative that gets your message across? Great advertising knows how to blend the two into one harmonious image. But at what point does one or the other become too much and no longer works?

Take a look at 5 tips to help ensure you blend form and function so that your message gets to the end user.

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1. Know Your End User’s Perspective – While most of us know what “we” each like, that is rarely the same for your potential clients. Make sure you and your agency know your first and secondary target audience so you can tailor your message properly.

2. Have a Lead for Your Marketing Projects – Someone needs to take charge and be willing to make final calls. Team feedback is good, but know when to listen to your team, and when to listen to your marketing professionals. When your team is reviewing artwork, gather all the changes at one time to send back to your agency. This will not only reduce possible overlap and errors, but can reduce your costs from the agency spending less time going back and forth on similar changes.

3. Determine Messaging Hierarchy – When preparing direct marketing objectives, give hierarchy to the messaging you want in your newspaper ads and eblasts. Give your headlines, subheads and messaging a pecking orde for the agency to follow so they can help tailor the message to the campaign. This can help ensure proper imaging and call-outs to offers that are important.

4. Know When to Cut Back – Trying to stuff the ad full with all your offers? You might just get your marketing overlooked. Stick to one main message and one supporting message. You’ll be surprised how often “less is more” will ring true for you. People are more likely to respond to a marketing piece that conveys one strong message versus multiple weak messages.

5. Be Careful of Friendly Input – Are you unsure of your message or could that headline be stronger? When you ask your friends for feedback, take into account how close they are to your target audience. Revert back to the first bullet, then just ask your agency. Your agency should have years of marketing experience, should know your target audience and will be more that willing to ensure that your marketing will hit the mark. Ask questions! it gets conversation going and helps fine tune your campaigns. We want to be your partners in your sales, not just the people who make your marketing”look” good.

So let’s make your artwork functional AND beautiful. You can do this by creating a strong message first, and then design the artwork to support that message. If you have additional offers you need to convey, just make sure they are on a lower priority level so your materials are still attractive enough to grab your audience’s attention.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level? Email eric@ceamarketing.com or give us a call at 727-523-8044 to get started today!

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Continuing Education: A Necessity NOT a luxury.

Does one’s formal education end when one walks out of the classroom? The correct answer is of course not!

No matter the profession, in today’s specialization driven world, keeping up with current trends, techniques and technologies is an absolute requirement to stay ahead of the curve, no exceptions.

 

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How does one go about improving themselves, their skills and their marketability once they’ve escaped the formal education system? Well, jump right back in! Pursue a higher degree or specialization by attending grad school or a technical school for an immediately marketable skill-set. Consider shooting for your Bachelors or Masters degree. If you happen to be a programmer like myself, keeping immersed and current within the ever-evolving software world is vital to my success.

 

1.) The lowdown on Formal Education

 

Strengths:

  • Structured and paced time blocks devoted to your field of study.
  • Supportive community consisting of mentors/professors and classmates.

 

Weaknesses:

  • Lags behind in certain fields
  • Can be costly

 

Personally, I’ve completed my walk through the halls and fires of my B.S. Computer Science degree. Who knows, perhaps a Master’s lies within my future.

 

2.) Community driven education

 

Strengths:

  • More time efficient
  • Learning through community resources can be less intimidating
  • Less Costly

 

Weaknesses:

  • Less structured
  • More dependent on self-motivation and commitment

 

Just this past weekend, my coworker & I attended a local community event, the Front End Design Conference & Workshop in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL. The wonderful speakers, organizers and attendees at #frontendconf were an invaluable resource for the latest and greatest trends and techniques in modern web design.

 

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In many classrooms, the curriculums are often pre-set in advance and most, if not all, of your fellow students are new to the subject material.

In this low cost informal workshop however, I found that both the speakers and attendees were capable of answering questions relating to the latest and greatest techniques of my field!

One speaker giving a presentation on SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) had to update her slides the very morning of her presentation as a new update to SMACSS had just been released by its developer the evening prior!

Having the knowledge base of the community readily available to you and answers to questions on the brand new Ruby on Rails library update released just days prior is near indescribable.

Sharing is one of the greatest ways to learn! Learn from others and one day give back by sharing what you’ve learned.

 

3.) Commitment, Commitment, Commitment

 

Of course, regardless of the path you choose to improve your own skills and toolset, you must commit! Those who don’t keep up with latest trends are often the ones who struggle to stay employed.

 

Always set aside a block of time each month to maintaining and improving your toolbox.

Keeping technical & business skills current and relevant is a necessity for employers. It’s oftentimes easy for companies to give the go-ahead on training when business is booming and profits are high. It is often a much tougher call when trying to squeeze every dollar out of the bottom line. In today’s ever changing world however, ongoing training isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.

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3 TECHINQUES TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MARKETING AGENCY

 

So you hire a marketing agency to help you rebrand your image and design a modern website. You’re not entirely sure which direction you’d like your project to go and find it easier to simply leave the decisions up to the marketing experts, giving only a vague description along with creative freedom.

Have you ever been in this scenario? Then you know how this is likely going to end up.

The project has started and you’re excited! You have the perfect idea and just gained a team of dedicated experts to bring it to fruition! What could possibly go wrong? In concept, this truly is as close to the perfect recipe as one could get, yet time and again we have seen this perfect synergy somehow fail.

Luckily, I have been in the position of a client, where I commissioned a fellow graphic designer to rebrand my own personal website, but also have my own experience as a Web Designer here at CEA. Thanks to this duality, I have some unique insight to offer to this conundrum. Here are 3 insights that may help to smoothen the process between conceptualizing an idea and bringing it to light.

 

1. Develop A Creative Brief: It’s necessary

  • Outline the scope of work and give as many details as you can to avoid multiple revisions and driving up cost. This will save you a great deal of development time and thusly a great deal of money.

 

  • Provide as much detail and direction as possible to avoid ambiguity. Left with little direction or given absolute creative freedom, you may end up disappointed with the end result. Why? One man’s vision is another mans nightmare.

 

  • Communicate your ideas to the artists and web developers behind the scenes to ensure everyone involved on the project is on the same page.

 

2. Keep Ongoing Communication: It’s Important

  • The responsibility of being a happy client does not rest solely on the shoulders of the marketing agency. In fact, a great deal of responsibility lies with the client themselves.

 

  • It is vitally important to designate a key decision maker within your organization to manage conflicting opinions and keep in constant contact with the marketing firm.

 

  • This individual manages change in the account including charges. It is best to address changes early on, and keep all parties “in the know” as to the current status of the project, and whether or not these issues have caused the scope to change.

 

  • Ongoing communication helps to meet target dates and to keep the project going with a clear goal in mind. I cannot tell you how often I’ve had to wait and wait for hours, sometimes days, even weeks for a client to get back to me. As you can imagine, this lack of steady communication greatly impacts the project.

 

3. Determine Your Resources: Who & What Is Needed?

  • As a web developer, I cannot stress this enough. Client, it is your responsibility to provide a means to access the required resources necessary for the project. Take for example, if you were commissioning an agency to create for you an e-commerce website.

 

  • Web developers will require content to fully put this website together. Do you have a means to provide product images and organized product details for the item you are marketing? How about informational content for pages, or rather, SEO optimized copy for your new website?

 

  • Details such as these are vital to the well being of the project and you will need to designate people responsible for the individual pieces of the project.

 

I understand this may seem like a lot to ask of a client. Your time is valuable, and that’s why I believe the above tips will help you to better interact with an agency, and create higher quality creative. Take my word for it; you will save time, money, and effort in the long run!

 

Challenge yourself! Put these 3 techniques into practice with your next project and reap the rewards!

 

Want some more advice?

Visit www.ceamarketing.com or follow us on Twitter @kbosetti for Social Media & Marketing tips & tricks!

 

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What makes a good logo?

The Nike “swoosh,” the “golden arches” of McDonald’s,” Apple’s, well, apple are all examples of brands with strong, instantly recognizable logos.

Good logo design, in all but a few cases, is not accidental. It is the result much thought, some consternation, numerous creative ideas rendered to paper and, whenever possible, testing among focus groups.

An effective logo should exhibit five basic principles. They are as follows:

1) Simplicity

Keeping a logo design simple does not mean boring. Quite the contrary, a simple design, when executed properly, is elegant and provocative.

 

2) Memorability

An effective logo design should be memorable to the point in which the viewer is able to remember it even after a single glimpse. It should also graphically represent the brand, entirely and succinctly.

 

3) Timelessness

The logo design should withstand the test of time. It should not be based on fleeting trends. A good rule of thumb for the design of a logo is that it should adequately represent the brand for a minimum of ten years without requiring updating or alteration.

 

4) Versatility

Keep in mind that the logo will be used in many different media and at varied sizes, from billboards to business cards. Keeping the logo simple accommodates its multiple usages is imperative. Additionally, the logo should be produced in vector format so as not to lose its visual integrity when resized.

 

5) Appropriateness

An effective logo design should be appropriate to the message the brand wishes to convey to its audience. For example, while the scratchy “M” and gothic style type usage is ideal for the Monster Energy Drink brand, such would definitely not be appropriate for a luxury automobile brand like Mercedes.

Written by: Dave Dubreuil

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What it means to “design.”

When getting an estimate from an agency, you may ask yourself, “What do I get for that “design” fee?”  Is it just some kid who’s good with computers? What kind of marketing experience goes in to it? Why is it taking so long?

First off, we not only look for the best designers but everyone at the agency needs to be creative.

Your account managers have to be able to envision what your ad/campaign/website needs to look like and operate for your potential prospects as well as suiting the look and feel of your company. We research your demographics and stay up to date on modern trends of their habits. Even the simplest web banners take into account our knowledge of how users will interact with websites and how your company has to be seen by them.

All our staff does research on a routine basis for design and demographic research. All this is after gaining their college degrees in marketing and/or design, previous job experiences and other trainings they’ve taken over the years. From here the account managers create a creative brief and meet with the Art Director. This is where the magic happens. A quick creative meeting gets everyone on the same page and then the creative ideas start brewing.

Once an idea is selected, the designers are off to work.

Designers are required to be following current trends in order to stay creatively relevant. What’s hot, what’s not, what’s TOO trendy…or does this job need to create a new trend? Each artist does his or her research differently. Some look at similar works to get their inspiration, others look at completely different subject maters to get the creative juices flowing. Nothing sets off a good campaign like the PERFECT photo or illustration!

Ok, now that we’ve got the creative mojo going it’s off to the sketchbook. Others head straight to the computer and the digital art board.  With a blank art board you start envisioning how the pieces will align together. You start with the main message. How do I make sure this draws them in? Does a graphic need to visually point to it? What about where their eyes travel after they see it?  (Did you know, that visually you could make someone leave your artwork and end up not readying the rest of the message?)

Ok, we’ve got the #1 message looking good. Now you’re onto aligning the rest of the art puzzle making sure all the information the client needs potential buyers to see is set up to have a visual pecking order. The first proof is almost ready. The artist loves the look, they think it matches the client’s look and speaks directly to the demographic the client is going after.

Now print it out, take a step back and give it a good once over. Is anything too crowded? Alignments look good? Is it too blocky? Too loose? After some minor tweaks it’s off to the account rep.

They review per the client’s request, make any tweaks, changes, or the dreaded…start over. It happens, sometimes that inspiration we found didn’t lineup with what we thought was first described…back to doing more research. That’s one of the MANY reasons the account rep is there for- to make sure we get it right before the client sees it.

It’s proofed again, and off for client review…phew, just a day in the life of a creative.

- Eric Gwatney

 


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3 Great Web Design Trends for 2014

3 Great Web Design Trends for 2014

Three things to make your website appealing, functional, and informative in today’s mobile world.

Below you will find three techniques to create or update an aging web layout to compete and flourish in today’s mobile world.

1. Mobile Responsive Websites – Media Queries:

Responsive web design is a relatively new trend in web development that has piggy backed alongside the advent of tablets and smart phones. The standard of coding techniques had to adapt to these new devices to create optimal viewing experiences, easy reading and navigation with little screen real estate available to display content. Thus were Media Queries born, a relatively simple bit of CSS3 that adapts the layout of a webpage to the device screen based on how many pixels are available on each device. This adaptive code is essential for business marketing and branding in todays mobile world where visitors to a site are more likely to look up information on their way out the door or while in the cars with web access on their mobile devices.

 

2. Web Traffic Statistics – Google Analytics:

 

For marketing, statistics are life when it comes to web traffic. We need to know our traffic, traffic sources, and we need the ability to measure our conversions and sales. Google Analytics has become the most widely used web statistics service and for good reason. It allows marketers and webmasters to track visitors from social networks, search engines, as well as referring sites and direct visits. It can also be utilized for pay-per-clicks, email marketing, advertising and tracking links. There are many more in-depth advanced features available through the use of Google’s API (Application Programmer Interface). There are two versions available to the public, one being a free of charge basic service and the other a premium version for businesses. Implementing some form of tracking on your web domain is essential to know the effectiveness of your web presence.

 

3. Content Management Systems – WordPress:

Though only required for certain kinds of businesses, content management systems are the wave of the future, and utilizing a CMS such as WordPress makes installing responsive layouts and monitoring analytics very easy for non-technical users. WordPress is a CMS software that businesses can use to easily create beautiful and functional webpages whose content can be easily manipulated and analyzed. Like Google Analytics, content management systems are the wave of the future and have both basic free versions as well as premium options such as easy to install plugins. These plugins allow users to quickly update their WordPress site with professional functionality in a beautiful package.

We here at CEA believe it is essential that our web presence be accessible to all devices to maximize our reach. We think you should drink the Kool-Aid too.

 

Written by : John ( Smiley) Atkinson

 

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