Case Study: The New Madison Brand Audit & Website Redesign

Case Study: The New Madison Brand Audit & Website Redesign

Background

Core Realty Holdings is a full-service real estate investment and advisory company based in Newport Beach, CA. They are a national brand, with properties in 5 states, including 4 properties in the Greensboro area of North Carolina.

We were approached by CRH to assist them in both a brand audit and creative refresh of one particular property, The New Madison at Adams Farm. We began by taking a deep look into their existing brand standing, including the advantages and challenges they had, before we engaged our Creative team to help with any aesthetic updates.

The Challenge

Our first task was to understand where The New Madison sat in the crowded landscape of Greensboro’s apartment rental scene. Without getting a feel for both how current tenants viewed the property as well as how its competitors were positioning themselves, we’d be unequipped to make meaningful creative recommendations.

As such, we engaged in an extensive research project, speaking with current residents, management and staff, as well as tenants who had recently left the property. We also conducted “secret shopper” interviews at 3 other competitor properties to gain a sense of what their positioning was and how they stacked up to our client.

We sought to emphasize the green, natural beauty of The New Madison.

Through that research, we found that The Madison was indeed in need of a digital refresher, as the new amenities and upgrades to the property were not adequately conveyed on their website or social media platforms. We also learned just how important customer service plays a role in the success of a property/tenant relationship, and realized how helping the team revamp their social media presence would play a role in that process.

We also spent that time figuring out how to talk about The Madison in a way that was both engaging, enticing and true to the spirit of the property. Words like “secluded,” “peaceful” and “green” came up a lot in our conversations, so those kinds of feelings and descriptions formed the basis of our recommended messaging.

New amenities like their Dog Park would need to be shown in a fun, relatable way.

The Execution

Once we finished our brand audit and presented the results to our client, we began to work together to establish what items should be handled in what order. The first item on the agenda, clearly, would be to redevelop their digital presence — particularly in light of all the new and forthcoming amenities and upgrades we learned about during our brand audit.

This meant investing heavily in great visuals for The New Madison. We assembled a group of local talent and spent several days photographing and shooting high-quality video assets that would help tell the story of what life at the property was like. Once we completed those shoots, we began the work of figuring out what their new website would look like.

Any brand with a digital presence knows how important it is to keep their look and feel updated periodically. However, those brands also understand just how time-consuming and expensive that process can be. By taking advantage of a website and marketing platform built specifically for use in the real estate industry, The New Madison’s website could be easily managed without the burden of a full-scale developer.

However, while that management platform makes it easy to perform updates, it also makes it easy for sites to become generic or similar in look and feel. This is where our Creative team came in and found a way to work within the confines of the platform, choosing an updated, modern template that put our new photo and video assets front-and-center.

The New Madison’s homepage

Whereas the older website conveyed all the necessary information, it did not convey the story we wanted to tell. The new website would utilize the messaging developed during the brand audit to convey what life for potential tenants would be like and distinguish it from local competitors.

We also applied the same messaging and creative assets to The New Madison’s Facebook and Instagram channels, making sure that any online research of the property would ensure the same experience no matter where the property was discovered.

Showing off some of The New Madison’s amenities.

The result is a much more modern, inviting look into the property. The green and earth tones of the property are emphasized in the design, and the use of people in the photos—versus just architectural photos—help prospective tenants visualize themselves in the property.

BKI Hot Takes: When Brands Respond to Natural Disasters

BKI Hot Takes: When Brands Respond to Natural Disasters

As the Carolinas begin to recover from the devastation Hurricane Florence left behind, people across the country are pitching in to help those affected, including many well-known brands. Airbnb, Anheuser-Bush and Lyft are just a few of the dozens of companies that have announced plans to participate in disaster relief efforts, despite not necessarily having direct ties to the communities affected.      

Charitable giving and other humanitarian efforts are nothing new from the likes of large corporations, celebrities and athletes—especially when disaster strikes. But when Hurricane Katrina wrought havoc on the Gulf Coast in 2005, more brands began to participate in relief efforts. Fast forward 13 years, and now 87% of global consumers believe companies of all sizes must play a role in natural disaster response.

What changed?

Simply put, the widespread response by brands to Hurricane Katrina—the deadliest hurricane to hit the United States in the last 90 years—redefined the ways in which people could lend a hand.

Before 2005, companies often responded to natural disasters by writing a check to agencies such as the Red Cross. When it became clear that the need on the Gulf Coast eclipsed what traditional monetary donations could provide, they found another way to help: through the donation of invaluable resources such as their services or employee volunteers.

Businesses like Wal-Mart and The Home Depot sent generators, food, water, flashlights and batteries into the areas hit. Ford provided vehicles for search and rescue. HCA, a large private hospital company, helped evacuate people on their privately-leased helicopters. The contributions of these much needed supplies and services along with numerous other selfless acts showed that large financial contributions are not the only way to have a positive impact.

This realization has set a precedent that is still implemented today. In fact, nine out of ten global citizens now think companies should leverage their unique assets to lend support to affected communities. This shift in expectations has greatly helped with recovery efforts because brands that many not have the same financial capacity as larger companies or direct community ties to an event are still finding ways to help.

Increased participation by companies and people alike sometimes means that brands don’t receive the same amount of public recognition or praise for their efforts that they once did. But at the end of the day, what or how much your brand contributed isn’t the recognition that matters—it’s the act of stepping up to help fellow citizens is what’s remembered the most.

Click here to help in the Hurricane Florence relief efforts.

4 Reasons to Rethink Your Trade Show Approach

4 Reasons to Rethink Your Trade Show Approach

In today’s digitally-focused world, it may seem like there’s less value in a trade show than there used to be. Why should you spend precious resources on something that just doesn’t seem to hold a candle to your digital marketing efforts? If you’re no longer seeing the ROI on trade shows, it might be time to rethink your approach and strategy for these events. Let’s look at 4 reasons to attend trade shows and why they can still be a valuable marketing tactic.  

1. Network, Network, Network

Everyone knows that networking is a necessity when it comes to growing your career or business. And while LinkedIn has changed the way we network, nothing beats an in-person connection. Getting in front of potential customers in a face-to-face meeting gives them a chance to connect with your brand and ask questions in real time. As product and service offerings for consumers and B2B companies continue to grow at a furious clip, having that personal connection is more important than ever.

Trade shows also offer the opportunity to see what your competition is up to. By talking to other retailers when you attend a trade show, you might just be able to find someone who has the inside scoop on what’s going on in the industry. It’s also a great chance to see what innovations are coming down the pike—as well as what gaps in service or product might exist where your brand can fill a need.

2. Plan for the Future

No budget for a booth? No problem! Speeches, seminars, conversations and “walking the floor” are all opportunities to plan for your company’s future. Doing so gives you a chance to see who’s there, what they’re doing, how potential buyers are reacting to them and how many people actually attended the show in general. You can use this as an opportunity to start planning for next year so you’ll know if it’s actually worth spending money on exhibiting or sponsorships.

You can also see if there’s an opportunity for you to speak at the show. If you can dazzle the crowd with your ideas and insights, you’re subtly promoting your brand and boosting your credibility as an expert in the industry. Bonus points (and increased attendance) if your course gives continuing education (CEU) credits. It’s also a chance for you to educate yourself on your industry by learning from and interacting with other thought leaders.

3. Generate More Targeted Leads

In addition to all the networking and educational opportunities, trade shows are a hotbed for generating new leads. Virtually anybody who attends one is looking to learn more about companies like yours and the services and products you offer. So whether you’re simply exchanging business cards or using a digital device to sign people up to your mailing list, a trade show can deliver targeted leads for your sales and marketing teams.

In addition to generating leads, your trade show can bolster other important brand metrics, too. With the right efforts, you can increase traffic to your website, grow your social media presence and build your email database. These “softer” leads will certainly take time to groom and turn into customers, but they have the added value of both a more personal connection and the knowledge that they came from a niche, targeted source.

4. Debut a New Product

For many companies, a trade show is the ideal place to showcase a brand-new product or initiative. Particularly for brands in the B2B world, there are few opportunities quite like a trade show to generate hype and excitement around a new launch. Many companies in this space don’t have the benefit of being able to sell directly online or in physical stores where their customers can interact with products in person. A trade show gives you that space to really make a big impact—but you need a well-designed, captivating booth to do that (that’s a blog post for another day).

Even if you’ve got a forthcoming product that’s not quite ready for the limelight, you can use a trade show to quietly field test what you’ve got. From having real customers interact with the product to receiving valuable insights from the folks who will use it, a trade show can be a fertile testing ground for your R&D team.

Final Thoughts

Although there are many good reasons to exhibit at a trade show, they are not all created equal.  It’s important that you do your homework before committing to any trade show. Compare the conferences and trade shows in your industry and ask yourself some important questions:

  • How much attendance does this trade show typically attract?
  • What’s the breakdown by job title and function?
  • What kinds of exhibit or speaking opportunities are available?
  • How much time do attendees actually spend in the exhibition hall versus in conference sessions?

If you can, try to attend a trade show without exhibiting before you make plans to build out a full booth. If it doesn’t seem like you’re going to get a good bang for your buck, make another plan. And of course, you can always ask us to be your second opinion.

4 Tips to Improve Your Slide Decks & Presentations

4 Tips to Improve Your Slide Decks & Presentations

Whether you’re pitching your product to a new audience or leading a staff meeting, your slide deck is often the most important backup you’ve got. The content of your presentation means nothing if you lose your audience from the first slide. But how do you make it better? Here are 4 quick tips to help improve your slide decks:

1. Outline first, design later

Before you even open your presentation-making program, you need to know what information you’re putting on your slides. What captivating facts and figures can you put at the beginning to lock everyone in? What’s going in the middle? How are you recapturing your audience at the end? Outlining your presentation is a chance for you to keep your presentation simple, yet informative. It can also save you some time editing and help your presentation flow.

2. Create a consistent design

You don’t need an art degree to make your slide deck look nice. Explore the presentation software you’re using, and after you learn the ins and outs of it, you’ll be a pro in no time. When you’re confident enough to create your slide deck, pick a couple of solid fonts and colors that work together and fit your message, then use them throughout.

While you’re creating your slide deck, also keep in mind the 10/20/30 rule: Your slide deck should be around 10 slides (this can be altered to fit the topic), 20 minutes long, and should use no font smaller than 30 pt. Not only will this rule help keep your audience tuned in, but using fonts no smaller than 30 pt will keep you from putting too many words on your slides.

3. Hit the highlights

When it comes to presentations, less is always more. No one enjoys being read to—speak to your audience using the slides as a way to reinforce your main points. Essentially, you’ve got slides to guide your audience and keep you from having to memorize your presentation, but you’re the content. If the audience is too busy trying reading each slide, then they’re missing important information that you’re talking about.

And don’t let a funny meme come between you and a successful presentation. Save the joke-writing for the pros and avoid any pre-planned humor. If you’re able to throw in an off-the-cuff remark to lighten the mood, go for it, but use caution and make sure you know your audience.

Overall, you need to keep things simple and valuable. Your slides should add something to your presentation, not deduct from it. If including a meme or bullet point makes your slide deck that much better, then go ahead and include it. But make sure you think it through first. Ask yourself: “Can I get my point across without it?”

4. Proofread, proofread, proofread

It’s a tale as old as time and yet it’s still so often overlooked: the final proofread. When you’re working on anything that includes copy, someone other than you should proofread it. Once you’ve finished your slide deck, take 10 minutes to read over it so you can fix any errors you see. After that, send it to your cubicle neighbor, their neighbor, the cubicle furthest from you— whoever’s willing to take a look at it so that they can catch any errors you might’ve missed. Finally, you need to proof it again.

The last thing you want is an error or typo on your slide deck. It can hurt your pitch, your credibility and maybe even ruin a potential sale.

Creating a slide deck can be the easiest thing you do for your meeting, just don’t overlook the details. Keep these tips in mind and you’re in for your most successful presentation yet. Still have questions? We’d love to chat.

Case Study: Pinehurst CVB Campaign

Case Study: Pinehurst CVB Campaign

Known throughout the country as the Home of American Golf, Pinehurst (and its surrounding communities, Southern Pines and Aberdeen) boasts 40 distinct golf courses in a 15-mile radius. Designed by some of the most renowned golf architects in the business, the courses offer challenges and exciting play for golfers of all skill levels and ages. Pinehurst has always maintained a loyal following among the game’s most passionate and polished players with its lush fairways and charming small-town appeal. From historical treasures to fine dining and shopping, Pinehurst’s appeal rests with more than just legendary golf.

The Challenge

Though the 40 courses that make up Pinehurst’s world-famous reputation still hold a powerful allure, their CVB knew it was important to stay in touch with both the old and new guard of golf lovers. In an effort to appeal to both older generations and the upcoming wave of new millennial-aged golfers, we helped craft a robust print and digital campaign.

Our work campaign would strive to lure returning golfers back to the Home of American Golf as well as entice a younger audience to discover that legacy for the first time. Lucky for us, it’s not hard to reinvigorate a brand promise that has captivated generations of golfers.

The Campaigns

How do you convey the singular focus and dedication to golf that Pinehurst exudes? How do you make it clear that the city and its residents eat, sleep and breathe the game? First, you have to make sure you’re keeping the Pinehurst brand’s key value propositions foremost in the viewer’s mind.

Our first campaign execution, Golf In Mind, does just that. Using double exposure techniques, this series combines close-up portraits of golfers with striking images of the area’s courses inside their silhouette. It’s a visual cue that makes their value proposition perfectly clear: Pinehurst is golf.

These standout images needed bold headlines to match, which is why they’re paired with resolute words like legendary and inspiring. The taglines “Golf here is legendary” and “Golf here is inspiring” evolved out of a lengthy dive into the world of Pinehurst golf, working to identify just what made their courses stand out from the pack.

Simply put, the reputation of Pinehurst’s golf community is legendary, drawing in players from around the world. It’s inspiring, pushing professionals and amateurs alike to rise to the occasion and play their best. When you’re lucky enough to have nurtured a reputation like Pinehurst’s, it’s crucial that you don’t overcomplicate the message or clutter the basic facts of its appeal and success.

In addition to the more emotionally-driven Golf In Mind campaign, we also wanted to highlight the fact the Pinehurst is home to 40 golf courses in just a 15-mile radius—an almost uncanny statistic to comprehend. Unlike more common one-off golf destinations, Pinehurst gives golfers a stunning array of courses to test their mettle, allowing for an unparalleled diversity of challenges and rewarding games.

We put the number 40 front and center for this campaign, letting it do most of the talking. When you’ve got an asset like that at your disposal, you want to make sure it’s front and center.

The Execution

Once the campaign’s collateral was ready to tee off, it was time to decide just how and where these ads would be seen. Combining traditional print avenues with a digitally-focused campaign allowed the assets to reach both ends of the target spectrum: older, established golfers and their millennial-aged counterparts.

In addition to hitting high-traffic destinations for golfers across the internet, ads for this campaign appeared in national publications such as Southern Living, Golf Digest and AARP Magazine, as well as more regionally-focused outlets such as Our State Magazine (NC), VA Golfer and Washingtonian Magazine.

3 Essential Traits of a Strong Logo

3 Essential Traits of a Strong Logo

In the pursuit of a new logo, everybody wants a swoosh, golden arches, or mouse ears. But the fact of the matter is finding a single mark that does all that work for your brand isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It takes research, design exploration and a healthy dose of passion to find the logo that fits your organization.

When Rockingham County, NC, needed a refreshing new look to boost tourism and economic development, a new logo was critical to that effort’s success. After all, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your favorite brands? A logo is the face of your brand, and the most iconic designs share essential traits that give them lasting life in the minds of the audience. Let’s explore three crucial design guidelines that every great logo lives by:

1. It Reflects Your Brand Image

Rockingham County is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The primary focus of their re-branding efforts was on their rivers and natural outdoor habitats. The last thing they needed was a logo you’d see all over an Apple store. We settled on earthy hues of blue, green and orange, and an angular design that traced the outline of the county in order to keep the look grounded.

Modern logos can be fascinating. Vivid colors, winding geometrics, sleek new fonts—there’s some incredible work happening in the logo world. But if a logo design doesn’t fit the image of your organization, then it’s best to avoid it at all costs. With a mark rooted in the county’s most prominent aesthetic, Rockingham County could immediately bring the county’s strengths to the forefront and define what they were all about in the eye of the beholder.

2. It’s Focused on Your Message

Faced with some tumultuous PR surrounding the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill, Rockingham County had an urgent message they needed to convey to their audience: When you’re here, you’re in a good place. We addressed the message straightaway with a new tagline, but it wasn’t enough to leave it at that. Every aspect of the design was meant to feel welcoming, affirming and natural, from the colors, to the imagery and even the font.

You can say so much in a logo without saying anything at all. Tone, color and composition are essential tools of communication. For Rockingham County, this is reflected in the leaves of tree, with the six green leaves representing the county’s six municipalities, and the orange leaves representing growth of the natural habitats and the economy. Maintaining focus on what the county needed to say added depth to even the smallest details of the logo.

3. It’s Simple

There are a lot of compelling attractions in Rockingham County we could have centered the branding on. The area boasts four interconnected rivers: the Dan, Haw, Mayo, and Smith. The landscape is rich with development opportunities. The natural resources are abundant. At the start of the project, we explored them all, but ultimately narrowed down the most essential element to represent visually: the river and where it has the potential to take you.

Simple goes a long way in logo design. The winding river in the center of Rockingham County’s logo was deliberately left simple with a neutral white coloration so that it might also be interpreted as a trail, a road or the base of a tree. Just as Nike’s swoosh illustrates their greater commitment to action, so too does the river and tree portray the county’s commitment to the potential of their natural habitats.

Having a lot of good ideas is never a bad thing—you should see the wall in our conference room when we get brainstorming on a new project! But simplified, intentional logo design will always rise to the top when the editing scissors start cutting. That’s when good logos become great and start breaking new ground for your brand.

Ready to make your mark? Get in touch with us and let’s start exploring what makes your brand stand out.

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