Innovation Fuels Change and Finds Solutions

Innovation is the basis for breakthrough branding. It’s about pursuing ideas for positive change – and we surely need that. It’s often the driver for start-ups and entrepreneurs and at the core of long-standing successful businesses. Innovations are great ideas that tend to pay homage to other great ideas that came before them. They’re sparks that bring light to the challenges we face.

Not to be tongue-in-cheek (well, maybe), we can’t help but comment on this free-standing floor lamp from the artists at Moooi. It speaks to industrial design trends and people’s fascination with construction – cranes in particular. Little feats of engineering like this were a fun “Look at these!” share for our HIAB client, Atlas Polar.

Source: moooi.com

Fun aside, innovations take an existing idea and create different versions that also result in greater value for the user or the world. They simplify, speed up, save energy and space, add convenience, capability, and make things lighter, sturdier, safer, healthier, and more cost-effective.

Language fed the need to communicate. Gutenberg took the Chinese invention of type to mass production (at least for the time). And while Humphrey Davy invented electricity, 79 years and 40 glowing hours later, it was Edison’s innovation that put his name in the history books.

Today’s innovations range from global game-changers like self-driving cars, artificial intelligence (AI) to the use of virtual reality in everything from crane safety (HiVision 3D) to healthcare. Two we particularly love and are close to our hearts lie in the sustainability sector.

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is an international effort towards creating resource-efficient buildings – an environmentally-friendly vision we’d like to see grow.

Source: Construction Climate Challenge

And S.Café (we love the name as well) is transforming coffee grounds into wearable textiles that are more energy-efficient and faster to produce than natural fibres. Their patented yarn dries 200% faster than cotton, requires low temperatures and little energy, and naturally absorbs odours and reflects UV rays.

Source: S.Café®

Great ideas are everywhere, and innovation can come from anywhere in an organization and businesses should look for inspiration from anyone – inside or outside, top-down or bottom-up. But success, of course, is all about the execution. Not every idea will change the world, but many will improve life on a smaller scale, like USB Batteries – batteries you can charge via USB. Who knew? And three others we came across on awesomeinventions.com: a folding bike helmet, parking lots that show if space is free or filled with the simple use of red and green lights, and this one from San Diego Airport – long overdue. Brilliant.

Source: awesomeinventions.com

Large or small, what all innovations have in common is that they are driven by change – in economics, health, industry, technology, population and social attitudes. Things never stop changing. And innovation both feeds that change and finds solutions for it.

Kind of like branding.

A Dose of Our Own Medicine – Our New Website

Every day, we work with organizations just like yours to understand their brand, their audiences, their opportunities, and their pressure points. We focus on building integrated approaches to find, build, and share the best parts of their organizations.  We help them to understand why they’re stuck, to define and embrace their quirks, their passions, and their bold truths – to move, challenge and inspire their audiences. 

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A wall sign saying, "Thrive: We're not that."

Thriving Beyond COVID-19

A lot of Ink Tank’s time this past year has been dedicated to helping our clients through the changes the pandemic has wrought on their businesses, small and large.

With Thrive Fit, that meant flipping their personal training business entirely online, readying to reopen, closing again and communicating with members.

It’s been a challenge, but with careful planning and innovative strategies, they have not only survived but thrived. So, when the owner suggested taking advantage of the gym closure to brand and redo the space’s interior design, we could not have been more excited.

Thrive has built its business around the importance of a positive attitude –serious about workouts and outcomes and lighthearted in outlooks. The updated design introduces spots of vibrant colour that breathe life and energy into an otherwise calming environment. An inspirational quote reminds members not to take themselves too seriously and be proud of who they are and where they are in their fitness journeys. A photographic mural inhabits the back wall and is a subtle nudge to keep going. And the brand philosophy Ink Tank developed lays bare everything they believe and live by as a unique fitness studio model and a unique brand.

A Study in Blue – And Pantone Classic Blue

Everybody gets the blues. While the phrase often implies feeling low, lonely and depressed, the use and psychological effect of this versatile colour are as varied as its shades, tints and hues.

Teal, turquoise, azure, cerulean, sky blue, baby blue, ultramarine, some shade of blue is everyone’s favourite colour. Blue can be calm, spiritual and non-threatening – and lower your heart rate. It’s one reason why we commonly find in medical facilities and yoga studios. Blue can also be strong, stormy, energetic and powerful. Substantial, stable, secure, orderly, conservative, traditional, reliable.

Colour and its effect on behaviour have long been a topic of conversation and study for architects, designers, clothiers, retailers, manufacturers and psychologists. Context and the exact shade matters. Perceptions are ‘coloured’ by culture, gender, environment and even light. It defines both design and consumerism. And one of its most prevalent uses is in branding, like these from our clients.

I’ve seen many brand identities designed using a hue based on nothing but personal taste. But choosing the right colour to manage people’s perceptions about your brand is very much about personality and appropriateness to the product. Broad statements such as “green is calm” are misleading at best, yet frequently used by logo designers in support of their choices. And while jumping on colour trends is great for seasonal clothing or lipstick, it doesn’t fit the science when it comes to branding.

So at this halfway point, let’s look at one of those trends – Pantone Colour of the Year – and look at how Pantone Classic Blue has been put to use.

©FamilyHandyman, ©MavalaUK, ©TEALEAVES ©GlobeBrand

Products like shoes, clothing, nail polish, paint and even a tea flavour picked up on the Pantone Colour of the Year trend. And this year, brands like GM, Visa, Facebook, PayPal and Intel that had been built on ‘Classic Blue’, or some version of it, had an opportunity to relate it to their brands. But these brands were using the colour long before 2020. They didn’t jump on the bandwagon and follow the trend. Nor did we find others who had.

Think about it. Would you still feel the same about trusting Visa with your credit information, or buying a truck from GM if their logo colour was Pantone Colour of the Year 2019 – Living Coral?

Classic blue would make a perfect choice for many brands to hang their hat on – but not because it’s the Pantone Colour of the Year. Trends are short-lived and trendy colours are great for short-lived applications.

As a brander, marketer and designer, I’ll stick to the psychology and science.

Summer Swelters So We’re Doing — Ice Melters?

Blazing blue skies, brilliant sunshine and sweltering heat. It’s the height of summer, so our thoughts must be turned toward – ice melter?

Crazy, right? But par for the course for those of us in the branding and marketing business. We start thinking retail Christmas in July to have the packaging, point of sale and promotions ready to roll out in-store when fall turns the corner; digital and print campaigns and strategies planned well before that. In the case of some of our manufacturing and distribution clients, the balmy months of June through August have been all about ice melter.

At Ink Tank, we’ve been developing brand-name and private label ice melter packaging for over 30 years. That’s also just about the number of different ice melter brands we’ve created, along with multiple SKUs and all the sales and marketing tools to support them. Ice melter isn’t something most people think about –  except for the mad dash to Canadian Tire following the first snowfall or ice storm. But it’s there on the shelf when you need it – safety and liability insurance in a bag. In the case of commercial customers, its an automatic line item in their budgets.

So here we are, once again, feeling the cold when it’s hot outside. This summer, we’ve been redesigning some of our landmark brands. After years of healthy shelf life and sell-through, they were ready for a refresh. Current strategies, a new look and new private-label customers also called for additional SKUs and sizes, developing advertising to promote new green accreditation and producing exciting new sales tools for agencies and distributors across North America. The sales season starts in two weeks. Our client is ready!

It’s been fun, as always, but we’re happy to temporarily get out of the cold and enjoy the last throes of summer.

The Top 10 Elements Most Often Lacking in a Company’s Marketing Tools

Next to your actual sales force – and your undeniable powers of persuasion –websites, corporate brochures, sales materials and identity kits should be among your hardest-working marketing tools.

To ensure you’re maximizing the power of these tools, we’ve put together a checklist of attributes that every self-respecting corporate identity package should include.

1. Synergy With Your Company’s Overall Image
This synergy is key to building awareness of your brand. Everything should look and feel like everything else – because that’s what makes you look professional. That’s not to say everything should be identical, but it does need to be identifiable.

2. A Strong Selling Proposition
Without it, you might as well write your communications materials in Latin or some other dead language.

3. An Appealing Look & Positive Feel…
that’s both ‘in character’ and engaging to read. People read things that are verbally and visually appealing and interesting. Anything else, they tend to ignore – and why not?

4. Consistent Narrative Logic Flow From Top To Bottom
Bad grammar and poor storytelling are rampant in communications these days. They make your brand look like a not-so-bright, not-so-organized, and therefore a not-so-trustworthy company.

5. Obvious Corporate Identification
It’s all the rage in the design world to play down logos and taglines. But that’s how most readers end up missing them and missing the connection.

6. First Person Focus
When you talk ‘to’ your prospects as opposed to ‘at’ them, chances are they’ll pay greater attention to what you have to say. And talking about your company in the third person is just plain weird.

7. Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity…
in the use of supporting language and graphics. Remember, you know more about your business than your audiences. Showing respect for what they don’t know will always be rewarded.

8. A Definite Selling Attitude Throughout
If your communication isn’t selling your company, it’s unselling your company.

9. Testimonial & Case Study Support
Your satisfied customers are, bar none, your best salespersons. Anything that quantifies results is going to be more meaningful to your readers than abstract notions or platitudes. You’ll be surprised how powerful these underused selling techniques can be.

10. Concrete Reasons Why The Prospect Should Be Doing Business With You Too many companies fill their communications with reasons why they are so great, but seldom turn it around and give their prospects a real sense of what’s in it for them.

If you find your marketing materials to be lacking in any of these areas, contact us ASAP. We can help you rectify that situation quickly and cost effectively, to help get your brand break through and your marketing materials back on track.

The Ink Tank is a full-service boutique agency located in Toronto. We offer a wide range of business-building communication services from strategy to concept, execution, production and evaluation. You get senior-level only participation and highly competitive rates. We work in all on and offline media, and pride ourselves on being able to hit the ground running – getting it right the first time around.

Measuring for Success

To quote recognized management expert Peter Drucker, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” As marketers and brand leaders, metrics and measurement can be one of our most challenging responsibilities, and here at Ink Tank®, it’s one of the most critical things we do.
Metrics do not relate to a single point in time but are vital throughout the life of your project, initiative and brand. Here are three things to ensure your effort is on track for measurable success:

1. Think first. Ensure you understand how you’ll measure success before you implement any strategy or tactic.

2. Stay on top. Measure ongoing elements during the implementation phase so you can pivot and adapt quickly. Be ready to learn and adjust your actions in real-time. We live in an agile world: your activities and actions need to reflect that and be responsive.

3. Reflect after. Do a deep dive and honest post-mortem following the completion of a project launch or initiative. Learn what you can and learn from your mistakes. Future activities and focus can always be better.

Useful measurement requires a clear sense of available metrics, the knowledge to understand them, and the skills to make effective use of the insight you have gained. Look at the whole picture: a comprehensive examination, not just one tactical metric. For example, examining click-through rates from an online advertising campaign is valuable, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Did your click-throughs translate to conversions? Did your click-throughs help increase brand recognition? Are your customers aligned with the value and action that you provided through your campaign? Collect each metric and view it as part of the broader picture. Impressions and reach may not mean much if they don’t translate to growing your business.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for metrics, but all marketers need to measure. And all marketing initiatives need metrics!

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Whether your brand is brand new, evolving or established but stuck – come play with us. We’ll break through together.
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