Archive for the ‘Winter 2011’ Category

SEEN AND NOTED

Seen and Noted

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

It’s winter in Baltimore, hon, and a great time to catch the latest news in Cram Quarterly.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Stepping out of line

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Stepping out of line I recently saw a poster (left) designed for ABSA, a financial institution in South Africa. It immediately brought to mind a famous poster (right) created by Paula Scher for the Public Theater in New York. The similarity between the two is obvious, but the reason why they are so alike is not. The easy availability of everything online is blurring the lines of what does or does not constitute plagiarism. If you see it and like it, why not go ahead and use it? This practice of “borrowing” has infiltrated the practice of college paper writing, book publishing, and visual design. We need to restore our understanding of what constitutes an original work in a time where limitless access tempts us to step where we shouldn’t.

Contributed by Domenica

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

The luck of the draw

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The luck of the draw Save the Children launched this fundraising website to dramatize the plight of children born into poverty around the world and to stimulate donations for the organization. On the home page, you can enter your name, spin the “wheel,” and find out where you might have been born a second time around. Then you can learn about being a child in your new country through statistics, Google maps, Flickr images, and sounds. For example, you might have been born in Mali, where the illiteracy rate is 54% and only 20% of babies live past the age of five. These facts are shown along with a video of a baby, who has your name on its hospital bracelet. Clicking the stats takes you to an explanation of how Save the Children has worked to improve the lives of children around the world in each category, along with donation links.

The website does a beautiful job of showing us just how lucky we are, and using your name really personalizes the experience. “The Lottery of Life” demonstrates how institutions can use technology to individualize their messages and help donors relate in ways they might not have before.

Contributed by Jenny

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Big ideas

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Big ideas I recently came across the work of Dutch visual artist Helmut Smits. His images are funny, thought provoking, clever, ironic, and witty. His portfolio is a tribute to the power of ideas to make us pause, smile, think, and react. He reminds me that ideas are at the heart of all great communications—a fact that bears remembering in our hyper-textual, technology-obsessed world.

Contributed by Domenica

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

A serious new logo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

A serious new logo Comedy Central launched a daring rebrand, including a clean new logo, in January. Some critics have decided that the logo is a spoof on the copyright symbol. Perhaps, but a closer look shows a twist that makes the new logo appropriate for a cable channel that shows us the humor in politics, media, and daily life. The new mark is less busy and confusing on the TV screen, adapts to a wide variety of applications, and looks both smart and fun.

Contributed by Domenica

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Puzzling parking

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Puzzling parking I encountered this perplexing sign as I searched for a parking space on a recent campus visit. All other spaces were taken, so I wondered if I could be classified as an itinerant. According to Webster’s, an itinerant is a person who travels from place to place. That qualified me. But anyone driving a car would fall into that category. Feeling uncomfortable, I found another space off campus. Inside the building with the client, I learned that the “itinerant” spaces are reserved for teachers who travel from one school to another providing special services. Communicators, take heed: Don’t assume your visitors understand your institution’s language, abbreviations, and acronyms, especially on your website. Be sure the terms you use as links in the navigation can be understood by your online audience.

Contributed by Brenda

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

A thing of the past

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

A thing of the past I recently spied this relic on a subway platform. As anyone who rides the subway knows, cell phones do not generally get reception underground. So if you need to make a call, you might have to rely on the old-fashioned telephone wires a pay phone connects to. We see similarities to the fate of print materials. Seems as though everyone in the marketing business these days wants to know the future of print. Will it be eliminated, eclipsed by the web?  In some cases, it’s better to have a tangible source of information that you can physically touch. The alumni magazine is a case in point. Statistics show that the majority of alumni prefer reading the print version of the magazine over the online version while waiting at the doctor’s office or, well, sitting on the subway.

Contributed by Katie

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Hard to swallow

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Hard to swallow It’s not hard finding unintended humor in Ricola’s TV commercials. Maybe silliness helps sell cough drops. What surprises me is that Ricola’s ads present two different ways to pronounce the product. Is it REE-cola or Ri-COH-lah? When most companies struggle to gain name recognition, what is the advantage in adding to the confusion? From cough drops to college communications—we can’t forget to keep our messages clear and consistent.

Contributed by Domenica

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Reverse psychology

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Reverse psychology On the way to a client meeting, I spotted this unusual billboard. I immediately wondered, who is Steven Singer, and why is he so hate-worthy? When I visited the website, I understood. Steven Singer is a jeweler in Philadelphia who won two Philadelphia Advertising Club’s ADDY awards for excellence in advertising. The original customer who declared his hatred for Steven Singer was a man who gave his wife a Steven Singer diamond ring for their 20th wedding anniversary. The couple ended up with a surprise late baby as a result, and while the wife loves the ring, the husband was not too excited about having a baby in the house after their other kids were grown. This campaign is a great example of reverse marketing tactics that work. The love/hate angle is memorable. And isn’t that the goal of advertising?

Contributed by Katie

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Logo wizardry

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Logo wizardry Adobe recently sent out an email to promote an Acrobat training program. The stylized “A” logo was transformed into a wizard’s hat to show that users have a bit of magic under their hats. Whoever created the logo probably never thought of using it this way.

This reminds me that a good graphic standards manual will always allow for a bit of serendipity.  When GCF creates guidelines to assist in the launch of a new logo or graphic identity, we take care to protect the logo’s integrity and core marketing messages—because you first have to understand the rules. Then you can understand how—and when—to effectively break those rules. Ask yourself how your audience members might react. Will they understand, or will it confuse them? Will viewers or recipients still have a positive image of your brand? In this example, Acrobat’s decision to use their logo in an unconventional way works.

Contributed by Jenny

FEATURE : Perception is reality

Perception is reality

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

A New York Times article printed in December caught our attention and sparked quite a debate around the GCF office. A man on trial for murder underwent a transformation before he was due to appear in court. As you can see from the photos above, the defendant sports a swastika tattoo (among others) on his neck and unruly facial hair. But the jury saw a clean cut, well dressed young man with only a bit of a tattoo resembling a cross under his eye.

The article explains how the defense lawyer obtained permission from the judge to have the tattoos covered before trial so they would not affect the jury’s verdict. This idea of changing a person’s appearance caught our interest. As marketers, we are constantly finding ways to influence our audiences so they see what we want them to see. But when does manipulation go too far?

In the comments at the end of the article, some readers argue that the accused man should have his tattoos obscured so they do not distract the jury members from the facts presented in the case. Others pointed out that if he chooses to go through life with his tatts on display, then that’s how he should appear in court.

Replacing a swastika with a religious symbol swings the debate in another direction. Now the defense has gone past neutralizing the defendant’s appearance to misrepresenting his character. A cross conveys quite a different message than a swastika, and motive is often a factor in determining whether a person has committed a crime. If this man is a white supremacist, then he might have motive to kill based on his beliefs.

Perception is reality. In the photo on the left, the defendant is a hardened criminal; in the photo on the right, he is the guy next door. What happens when we leave the courtroom and examine what we say about the classroom? Are we being honest in our portrayal of campus life, facilities, neighborhood, academic rigor and outcomes? Or are we painting a picture that is rosier than reality? No matter how slight the distortion, misrepresenting who we are is never a good idea.

FEATURE : Minding the details

Minding the details

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Do you remember the Unilever commercials that ran throughout the last season of Mad Men? The ads were designed to mimic the look and feel of the show in an effort to get people to sit through the commercials instead of hitting the fast-forward button on their remotes. According to a marketing study commissioned by Unilever, the campaign was a big success. Attitude about the Unilever brand improved by 7%, in spite of complaints by a segment of viewers (including me) who felt they were tricked into watching the ads.

I might be less irritated if I had more admiration for the writing and production value of the commercials. After all, they are attempting to look like one of the most gorgeous and well-written shows on TV. I would’ve admired a spoof that captured the real flavor of the original. Instead, I thought the ads looked muddy and uninteresting.

Advertisers—and college communicators—are up against incredible odds as viewers take more control over what they do or don’t watch. You’ll get the best return on your advertising investment if your materials are impeccably crafted. Would Unilever’s success have been even more impressive with a better-crafted campaign?

FEATURE : One touch of nature

One touch of nature

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

We recently completed a President’s Donor Report for Misericordia University. The report’s cover features a strikingly cropped portrait of William Shakespeare to commemorate the Bard’s influence on campus and in the curriculum. The University recently opened the Sister Regina Kelly Shakespeare Garden showcasing plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. It is the only garden of its kind in the region and is a beautiful focal point on campus—a point of pride that deserved recognition, along with Misericordia’s donors.

NOTEWORTHY

How to not be socially awkward

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

How to not be socially awkward Are you struggling with ways to use social media that seem genuine and useful to your alumni? Check out this article on ten ways other institutions are using Twitter, Facebook, and the like.

NOTEWORTHY

Squirrel away this link

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Squirrel away this link The University & College Designers Association (UCDA) listserve recently buzzed with comments about this Beloit College video featuring talking squirrels. Most were nuts about it, some were not, but everyone had an opinion. More proof that doing something different gets you noticed!

NOTEWORTHY

Personalize your tour

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Personalize your tour One of our interns brought this page from WPI’s website to our attention. She liked it because it allows you to select videos and personalize your online tour to highlight what you are interested in—not just what WPI thinks you want to see.

NOTEWORTHY

Spooky Spokeo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Spooky Spokeo You’ve probably Googled yourself before, but have you checked out your profile on Spokeo.com? The website is a scary mutation of the old people searches that includes info about your relationships, wealth, a satellite image of your address, and more that it has gleaned from various Internet sources. Thankfully, you can delete your name from the site. Here’s how.

CLICK-ALICIOUS

Click-alicious

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

From now on, Cram will no longer feature delicious links for your info-snacking. Instead, join us on Facebook.

Join us

Join us

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

. . . in Baltimore, Maryland

UCDA Design Summit
March 24-26, 2011

Two Sides of Branding
Brenda Foster and Domenica Genovese are the two very different brains behind Greatest Creative Factor (GCF). Brenda and Domenica take turns talking about the need for a whole-brained approach to brand communications.
Two Sides of Branding; Left Brain Brenda will discuss the logical, rational, analytical, objective, structured side of branding. Topics include how to present an idea, how to win support from your client, how to put out the occasional fire, and why research matters.
Two Sides of Branding; Right Brain Domenica will take on the intuitive, spontaneous, risky, subjective, inventive side of branding. Topics include staying inspired, wrestling alligators, pushing the boundaries, and keeping it simple.

For more information or to register for the Summit please visit.

COOL TOOLS

Cool tools

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Math tricks Multiplication for the visually sharp (but mathematically challenged).

Cool tools video A stop-animation short featuring tools as undersea creatures.

FEEDBACK

Do you have comments, questions, or story ideas that you’d like us to cover in an upcoming issue of the Cram Quarterly? If so, email Brenda or call her at 410-467-4672.

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