I am Kendall Arbogast-Wilson, founder and creative director of WTW Design Group here in Ann Arbor
My presentation today is
Something from Nothing
Let’s get started
Who can identify this guy?
This is Darren Stevens, iconic advertising man from the Sitcom “Bewitched”.
Other than having occasional arguments with his boss,
Darren’s only real problem was coping with his wife’s use of witchcraft.
There was never an advertising problem that Daren couldn’t solve by spending some time at his drafting table in the den.
On the other hand, this guy, whom I am sure you all can identify, is just the opposite.
In the span of an hour he smokes, drinks, womanizes, alienates clients and coworkers,
and most times, saves the day at the very last moment with a brilliant pitch.
So what is the difference between the two?
What really defines Don Draper is the drama that seems to surround him at all times.
Sure, he always manages to succeed in the end. But anyone who has followed this show would agree
that his lungs, liver, and relationships have all suffered as a result.
Vices aside, how much is your typical day like Don’s or Darren’s?
I would say that although we aspire to have a happy, predictable, planned and productive Darren style workday,
more often than not, it is the Don day that prevails.
Why is that?
This graphic from Michigan Creative came in my email a week ago, and kind of brought this point home to me.
It elegantly illustrates the content creation process in very simple terms.
In a perfect world, this is indeed the process we should all be following. However
Not many of us live in a perfect world.
Not many of us get the big “blank canvas”.
Many of us have short timeframes, limited dollars and staff, branding rules and guidelines to follow, and levels of approval.
And lots and lots of requests
We have to recognize that in these instances of on-demand marketing,
when things like time, resources, approvals and branding are not on our side,
The ideal process may not fit
A process that recognizes your constraints might look something like this
1.) GATHER Pull together assets that already exist, and have already been approved for some prior purpose
2.) REVIEW Take enough time to become familiar with the items you’ve collected, sort and remove those not fitting your project. 3.) IDEATE Work within what you have assembled to create attention-getting content that reinforces the brand and supports the message
4.) DESIGN Combine, build, and produce the content in its final form
So, in honor of our 10 minute rapid fire session today, I’ve developed a handful of 10 minute “prep steps” to help you prepare.
No matter how busy you are, you can always find 10 minutes to devote to getting ready for the next urgent situation.
These prep steps can help you build a library of content to draw from when time is short.
Your university brand is a wealth of resources for developing content.
ogos, colors, styles, fonts, tone, and messaging are all there for your use, and often require little to no approval.
Spend 10 minutes familiarizing yourself with what your organization has to offer,
where you can find it, and how you might employ it in your own circumstances.
At U-M, the Global Communications website is a great place to spend a little time discovering more about the Michigan Brand.
I return to this site over and over as I work on projects for my U-M clients.
One of my favorite pages is the colors page.
For a recent conference promo item project, we used a simple U-M logo on a card that attached to lanyards we already had on hand.
The visible side had the brand, and the other held a discount offer.
This promo has been repeated several times and has become a standard giveaway item at conferences.
Here’s an example of the new U-M color palette in action.
For this website redesign, each of the 3 engineering divisions had a different flavor of U-M blue
As marketers and communicators, our first goal should be to tell an authentic story,
and nothing says more than great photos.
For this step, spend 10 minutes planning where your photos are going to come from.
I advise my clients to make “image capture” a routine activity.
Custom photography is best, but if you don’t have the time,
you can look for stock photos from your school, flickr, instagram, or commercial stock…as a last resort.
I also advise my clients to get photos “pre-approved” and organized with dates, times, and even captions.
This will put you in a much better position when you have to move fast.
This email marketing message used photos collected over three different photo shoots.
We were able to capture students not only enjoying class, but also relaxing in an informal networking after-hours, and during a stadium tour.
The headline simply restates the story the photos have already conveyed.
In this email marketing message
The photos were screen grabs from a program video that the client had already produced.
High definition video now makes it possible to harvest good quality images.
Having a source of historical information and photographs can be invaluable in a pinch.
At a former job of mine, there was a published history of the college that we used many times for a photo or bit of text.
For this step, take 10 minutes to locate historical resources and make a plan to start your collection.
If you don’t have access to historical information in your school or department, check libraries such as U-M’s Bentley.
This spread in a recent U-M School of Kinesiology magazine employed a photo titled Student “pushball” contest, 1918.
Found online at the Bentley Library archive, it was the perfect contrast to the foreground personal training image.
This postcard concept uses a photo of Henry Ford receiving an honorary degree from U-M.
It underscores the headline perfectly.
This photo was also from the Bentley.
We are really good at making lists, and organizing them by category, and sub category, and sub, sub category.
But how often do we view the “buckets” themselves as content? What happens when we focus on making the menu, the content?
Take 10 to imagine how you could say more about some of the categories you work with.
For instance, this first iteration of the Six Sigma certifications landing page was merely a collection of bulleted course lists.
The next iteration went further to explain and call out the program categories,
making them more obvious and visual for viewers.
This page for a five year combined bachelor and masters degree called “SGUS”
took what started as a bulleted list,
and turned it into a visual process.
Big numbers, words, and symbols always get people’s attention.
And they are an easy way to convey information in a graphical format, without a lot of preparation.
What’s more, you likely have some of these stats and factoids close at hand and already approved.
You just need to decide on how they are presented.
Take 10 minutes to collect a few meaningful statistics, and do a thumbnail sketch of how they would look.
These two infographics are available for download from the Victors for Michigan Campaign HQ site.
This is a tremendous resource for graphics and information all available for U-M units to use and share.
This page spread from the Chelsea School District viewbook demonstrates the power of big numbers.
All the information on this page was derived from a 1 page black and white bulleted handout prepared by the district.
Large format numbers in this web-based dashboard user interface make it easy for plant operators to gauge their performance at a glance.
We need to work toward less drama and more design.
You’re always going to have to deal with the last minute, unexpected, put-out-the-fire projects that are dropped on your desk.
But with a little thoughtful preparation,
you can turn each one into another opportunity to promote your school, college, department, division, or organization.
Something from Nothing: Simple Ways to Look Sharp When Time is Short
Simple Ways to Look Sharp When Time is