When limits produce better creativity

I think it’s human nature to feel like limits are somehow equal to inhibitions.

For some reason, we think if we had more money, more time — more of everything — we’d accomplish more, be happier… and become Chuck Norris. However, I have noticed in my own work (and through reading studies and observations of others) that, very often, when we are faced with constraints of some sort or the other, we actually produce better stuff. That stuff can be creative design, music… and whatever else.

If you keep up with any of the popular advertising blogs, you consistently find smaller agencies producing some of the best work. Why? Usually because their budget are limited and they are forced to do their best, most creative work to cut through the chatter. Too many of the huge guys simply throw money at problems — but money is never a solution to a creative dilemma.

That’s one reason I like Twitter (check out @micahtouchet and @nbcda)… It’s amazing how when you want to express an idea,  you really can do it in 140 characters or less. Of course, we all love the URL shrinkers when there is more to say.

And time? Very often, my best work has been screeched out minutes before a ridiculous deadline. Sometimes I wonder why it’s that way, but pressure increase performance for me.

So, if you’re not the biggest and richest company — don’t worry too much about that. Do the best, the very best, with what you’ve got.

After all, you could have tons of money — and be Microsoft.


Best regards,
Micah Touchet
Creative Director

How important is market research to an ad campaign's success?

The defining property for success for any advertising campaign is the ROI (return on investment). Of course, the ROI is inversely dependent on several cost factors, including producing the advertisement, the media buy and so on. Moreover, if the cost-to-benefit ratio is not correctly proportioned, then the ROI is not very high—and the campaign was not very successful, bottom line. A great ad is not one that simply wins awards, or even is played a million times on YouTube. Certainly recognition and visibility are crucial, but if the ad doesn’t deliver profitable and measurable results, then it was less than what the client needed. Clearly, to understand the ROI, the results have to be measured and analyzed. After all, if you aren’t keeping score, you’ll never know if you’re winning—or losing.

What’s the best way before creating and launching a campaign to ensure success? The answer is market research, and lots of it. Just as you can’t speak to a foreigner if you don’t know their language, so you cannot communicate with a buyer unless you first understand their culture, lifestyle and habits.

But the paramount aspect of the market research is quality. If your research is not right, then it probably worse than none at all. How is this so? Let me illustrate with a simple, slightly ridiculous, analogy… Someone hypothesises that the color yellow causes engines to accelerate. This is based on an observation while standing at a traffic light. So, a research firm spends millions of taxpayer’s dollars to study this issue. They set up expensive cameras and monitoring systems at thousands of traffic lights and then analyze the results. Shockingly, they conclude that when the light is yellow, 87% of engines immediately rev. They also find that green doesn’t seem to significantly affect engine speed, while red causes the engines to idle.

So, now we have petroleum companies wanting to sponsor yellow lights every five miles along highways. Would a blitz of yellow lights still cause vehicle acceleration? No—in fact, it would likely dilute the perceived effect at a traffic light, and all because of incorrect market research. What the researchers did not account for is that engine revving is caused by acute increased acceleration, which is directly controlled by the driver. The idea that the yellow color being important is only minuscule at best. After all, traffic control system designers could have chosen any color for the traffic light.

To conclude, before beginning a campaign, make sure you have the proper market research. This will help to make your advertising effective, memorable and very profitable.

Questions or comments? Get in touch with NewBirth Creative Design Agency. We provide creative design services, ranging from branding, corporate identity, package design, print advertisements, website development and much more.

Best regards,
Micah Touchet
Creative Director

NewBirth Creative Design Agency commissioned for community websites project

NewBirth Creative Design Agency was recently commissioned by the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance (NELEA) to work with 57 communities across north Louisiana and provide each community a presence on the web. These websites will individually reflect what makes each area special, as well as features unique to the community.

In the annual meeting for NELEA, held Friday, December 12, 2008 in Delhi, Louisiana, Tana Trichel, CEO of NELEA, formally recognized NewBirth Creative Design Agency and introduced Creative Director Micah Touchet to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the others present there. The crowd of approximately 350 included U.S. congressmen, senators, state officials, mayors and CEO’s from regional corporations.

NewBirth Creative Design Agency will also be agency of record for NELEA, providing creative and media service to the organization. Creative services will include websites, brochures, presentations and other media services.

The power of connotation in branding

Recently, I was in conversation with a marketing guru at a large corporation we have as a client. We were tweaking the direction of a crucial project and he brought up an interesting point about which I’ve always felt strongly. He made the statement that what we were connotating through this particular media was very important.

I heartily concurred and replied that, oftentimes, what is implied is as important—and usually more memorable—than what is said directly. In everyday life, we all realize the significant role that body language plays in a conversation. I’ve heard the joke about the many meanings of the words “fine” and “okay” when used by a woman. And we’ve all heard the cliché, “Actions speak louder than words.”

What is interesting to me is how indispensable a role this all plays in brand identity development and marketing. Here at NewBirth Creative, as a design agency we provide a wide variety of creative services, but at the forefront of every creative project is a focus to strengthen brand identity. We realize the vital function for marketing and design to be memorable—yet never doing so at the cost of the brand.

So, in everyday terms, how does this apply to your brand? Well, the aspects are many and varied. Take, for example, your company’s color scheme. If you are in the business as a mortician, don’t expect people to love your magenta and lime green colors. No doubt, you will be instantly recognizable and unforgettable, but the bottom line is the bottom line and you won’t be taken seriously. The same is true if you are the proprietor of a candy shop—nobody thinks your steel gray and deep navy look cool or exciting.

Or consider font choices. People will not take your business as a serious investment management company if your logo is based off of Gigi. Likewise, if you are trying to portray a light-hearted, whimsical childcare facility, don’t draw your logo with the font Haettenschweiler.

Now, I’m not advocating connotation such as subliminal messages flashing or backmasking or any other dubious means of persuasion. What I’m talking about is the subtle, yet powerful, expression of thoughts and ideas that invoke memorable cues deeply ingrained in us all.

Most of what I’ve discussed thus far has been sight related. However, as Martin Lindstrom has pointed out, every one of the senses can be utilized to create a powerful brand experience. Consider the sense of smell. I was with a colleague at a semi-fine dining restaurant about a week ago, and the first thing we noticed when we walked in was the very fragrant aroma of some freshly-baked, cinnamon flavored delight. Partially out of curiosity, but mostly out of sheer hunger, my friend questioned the manager about the source of the fragrance. The manager admitted that what we were smelling was nothing more than plain waffle mix, a large amount of cinnamon added, placed on a hot stove to fill the air with the delightful scent. He said that they did this only to make customers order dessert.

Perhaps the intricacies of these ideas will be beyond some people. But when correctly implemented, these cleverly indirectly implied insinuations can connotate a compelling, convincing and cogent brand experience that will be absolutely phenomenal and prodigious. And profitable.

Questions? Leave a comment or email me. And as always, if you are looking for creative design services, then remember NewBirth Creative Design Agency.

Best regards,
Micah Touchet
Creative Director