Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bowling the Brand: CORROSION 2011 a Just-Right Re-Launching Pad for MATCOR.

Say you held a rebranding and everybody came? Week before last, MATCOR President and CEO Jeff Stello brought his whole gang to the NACE exposition in Houston.

To name just a few, Eileen Jacob and John Rothermel, Ted Huck and Carlos Fuentes came down from Doylestown-Pee-Ay, maybe the first time they’d been warm all winter. Helen Morgan came over from Mobile. Brian Biek and Rebecca Harding were at the convention center from the Houston office – and Trevor Eade, the company’s new Director of Marketing and Communications.

They brought the new MATCOR brand with them.

One of the marketing gamebook’s best plays is using a big tradeshow to create extra thrills about a client’s brand – past posts have highlighted Baker Hughes and Wood Group promos, for example.

Even though MATCOR has been creating cathodic protection products for more than 35 years, it has been readying itself for a bigger role, a leap into the comprehensive design and engineering of cathodic protection and corrosion prevention systems and the supporting services that are important today for a global company, with clients worldwide.

“Everybody at NACE” saw the new MATCOR…the total rebranded look. Being close to the company’s rebranding program reminds me that MATCOR is in the business of systemic cathodic protection and that frequently involves galvanic anodes.

In MATCOR’s case, “galvanic” means more than a direct current of electricity.

So, certainly, there was brand-new from top to bottom, from dramatic logo to purple color scheme to QR codes to bowling night. There was new literature, new (and memorable) handouts, a new corporate theme, a new client support program, a new Web 2.0 site.

The entire MATCOR team seemed to be powering some electric effect, as in intensely exciting. The week-long company presence was vivid and memorable and filled with personally powered interactions.

Stello clearly enjoyed the new excitement…but I don’t think he was distracted by it. He told me, “At the end of the day, we still have to execute, we still have to get the job done for every client on time and on budget.”

No matter how fast the company grows, keeping everybody’s eyes on the integrity part is still the secret to a 300 game.

MATCOR is a great Signalwrite client. Thanks to Jeff Stello and Trevor Eade for inviting me to participate in the adventure. All photos courtesy of Studio Holloman.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Evolutionary Musings from the Land of the Czechs – a Facebook Browsing Experience.

Sunday mornings on Facebook I ain’t doin’ nuthin’. Confess, this sometimes happens to you too. So I was browsing and stopped to look at some…posters, created by Tom Rust in Prague. Known Rust for years – here, read his self-description for yourself:

Designer, DJ, producer, guitarist who likes coke, strong coffee, tea, Pilsner, sucky sweets, muffins, Asian cuisine, green things, cats, vinyl, mpcs, my 909 and making music with all the above.

He comes from a wonderful quirky family, too, that’s another story. Anyhow, Rust created these posters, each footed by the word EVOLUTION.

Such a classic idea, early-versioned in 1863 by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins for Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature by T H Huxley. It’s been parodied and adapted ever since thereby confirming the visual power of the original concept.

Rust (who shares Huxley’s first name) takes the long-lasting meme in several fun ways. All these executions say “change.” The changes may not be recognized until they are presented in some visual progression. The evolution could be car models; there are some kicking automotive commercials on now doing something similar. Combat aircraft or Nintendo characters. MPCs or personal music-listening devices…PMLDs?

The question to be confronted in music, marketing, politics is, what hasn’t changed? This post didn’t begin with politics but it’s instructive to consider Rust’s “Evolution” meme in terms of, say, Middle Eastern and African dictators – who don’t change much at all.

Even Facebook has changed and in a damned short time frame, too. Read back to the protocols of Facebook etiquette from a few years back to see how people’s attitudes and behaviors have been transformed.

Man’s place in Nature becomes Man’s place on Facebook. And Woman’s, too.

Like Dan Nations has said: These are the small things that “just happen” when you have friends and family on Facebook and you check in on a regular basis. You find yourself drawn into their lives and into conversations you wouldn’t have otherwise had with them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Break in New Jersey #1: Of Death and Crocuses and Custom Truck Bodies.

You do know we’re taking a Spring Break, away from Houston, right? Last year it was a 10-day cruise to the Panama Canal. Remember that? For 2011, it’s off to a destination that is just as foreign: New Jersey.

We’ll be visiting Rachel Baron and Alison Bond in North Bergen, NJ. I realized I hadn’t posted you about this specifically. So when Rachel called to let me know that “…the crocuses were all dead,” I thought I better catch you up.

Look for Barbara Nytes-Baron and me just across the river in North Bergen in a couple weeks. We have been…alerted about the oddball weather in that part of the world in this time period. Alison mentioned that it could get up into the 70s – that’s Fahrenheit. I told ‘em, I thought that was pretty impressive but that as far as we were concerned, the 70s is so last week.

That’s when Rachel mentioned the crocuses. Planted in various parts of the outdoor realm of their house, they have apparently fallen victim to this afternoon’s hailstorm. Dead, dead, dead. “Hail storm?”

“We hardly ever get hail storms in April. Really,” Rachel answered.

I’ve done some research on North Bergen, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the culture. I pointed out one discovery to the girls – all the elected officials (the Mayor and four City Commissioners) all have Italian-American last names: Sacco, Cabrera, Ferraro, Gargiulo, Pascual. It’ll be such a change for us, even if I’m doing Commissioners Cabrera and Pascual an injustice. Those could be Latino and Portuguese respectively.

Rachel pointed out, “They keep the streets clean, we keep voting for them.” Fair enough.

We’re genuinely looking forward to this and I will make every attempt to avoid embarrassing [1] the people who are opening their arms to us in hospitality and [2] Barbara.

Meantime, you’re probably wondering about the sign in the photo, the one that says “Highway Body Works?” I put North Bergen, NJ, through a Google Images search and this photo came up in third place. I thought it was appropriate for some mental reason, so mille grazie to the photographer, Vincenzo Aiosa.

Vincenzo – I’ll buy you a beer, meet me at the Italian bar around the corner from Rachel and Alison’s, okay? April 2 – it’s a date!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Operate Your Website for More than One Audience at a Time.

You’ll see this graphic when you go to Upstream Marketing’s revamped website. Principal Brian Bearden and I were looking for a way to simply show how many more audiences are affected by a company’s website than most businesspeople consider.

We drew an early version of the graphic on a prospect’s whiteboard. (It really wasn’t a blackboard – that’s so 20th Century.) Even in the new website version, Bearden has kept the graphic expression simple.

The effects of the Web are indisputable; but listen, there are about 7.6 million businesses in the US alone (US Census, 2010). Which means that for every spectacularly savvy biz with a great website or two or three, there are maybe 10 or 15 that DO NOT realize all the impacts a website can have on their company’s sales, marketing and growth.

Effects on your audience(s) can be both positive and negative. So I view websites as “conversation changers.” Company managers can’t control every single conversation with a prospect, with an investment analyst, with a shareholder. Yet the website’s going to be the first place people go to have a conversation in both metaphorical and literal senses.

The graphic also imagines that some of the website’s exchanges ought to be two-way conversations, dialogues between you and customers, for example; or employees. Other interactions may be one-way: messages to prospects, perhaps, or trade press editors, at least to start with.

In a 50-word opening paragraph, the “About” section says:

We believe that in today’s world more and more effective marketing and sales conversations start with the website. Your website. So our job is to build engaging, easy-to-use, industrial websites for process and manufacturing industries, engineering and service companies. Conversation-changers. Game-changers…the most effective sites – bar none.

I want you to be strategic about your website before you actually make changes, radical or not. SEO is important; content creation also. But deliberation counts for more. A thoughtless website can kill a sale.

The right website, one touched by human thinking, can change your sales or marketing or employee conversations for the better. This is provably true. The best websites can change your game.

To keep the total idea in mind, simple is what you can draw on a whiteboard.

PS: Having visualized this marvelous model, now I have to figure out how to apply it to my own site. I’ll get back to you on that.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Andrex® Shea Butter Knickers” Drive TP into UK Top Brands List?

In a Sunday story reporting the Top 10 Brands in British grocery stores, it wasn’t the news about best seller Coca-Cola that attracted me. I was riveted by Andrex – the toilet paper that’s the No 9 brand in the grocery stores over yonder. (It is in The Grocer ’s annual Britain’s 100 Biggest Brands survey.)

The puppy is so charming – and the “Be kind to your behind” slogan so clearly British – I could hardly wait to get to the brand’s website. That’s when I discovered the most luxurious toilet tissue ever has tapped Ayten Gasson, identified as a British lingerie designer, to create its limited edition range of Andrex brand Shea Butter Knickers. Just ₤10 the pair.

Now I have received certain – so to say squeamish – comments about using a beautiful, luscious, four-color photo of Italian lingerie model Elizabetta Canalis in a previous Signalwriter post. This time I’m playing safe: you get the pup. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

However, Dear British colleagues, here’s your chance to help me get to the bottom, ha ha, of this special announcement. American’s have had their own love affairs with TP (“Please don’t squeeze the Charmin’,” 504 TV commercials, etc.)

So give us the story behind Andrex, ha ha. Some of us Yanks want to know what we are missing.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Strange Fish and Sea Monsters: “Continue the Campaign” Marks New PSI Ads.

When I first had the chance to work with PSI’s Bill Price and Neal Peeler, we created a new brand image – maybe you remember reading the post about it. At the time, I wrote:

The new PSI brand campaign takes “Petrophysics that Pays Off” vividly to market. The company devotes more time – and expertise – coming up with a consistent, comprehensive interpretation that represents all the information gathered.

PSI (Petrophysical Solutions, Inc) asked Signalwrite Marketing back to create new ads for 2011. The deceptively simple campaign begins this month in magazines reaching the upstream part of the oilfield exploration and production market, the “geophysics” space out there in the world.

The word “consistent…” also means continuing the campaign. Keep building the brand at the same time you’re opening new sales opportunities. The way Lyn Pilch and Susanne Thiede-Barnet of the Pilch/Barnet agency wrote about consistent ad messaging is right in line with our combined thinking:

Investor-minded advertisers know that consistently repeating your message creates confidence in potential customers. This is the basis for brand image-based advertising. Consistency should be the bedrock of any effective advertising campaign. Without consistency, no advertising campaign can be effective.

The 2011 PSI ad set brings brand consistency to market with fresh touches thanks to Kay Krenek for design and art direction, and photographer Michael Hart.

We reinforced the ad messages (of using proven performance to reduce risks, of PSI expertise in shale plays) with a new map from the PSI collection at the top of each ad. My fave (top) is the 1612 Abraham Ortelius map from his Theatrum. Its portrayal of strange fish and sea monsters is perfect for conveying the idea of the risks that exploration professionals face every day. This outing, though, we used a contemporary Hart photo of PSI’s consulting petrophysicists to counter the risk.

The 1873 US Geology Survey map of Texas and Louisiana (bottom) clearly conveys the broad swath of opportunities available in shale plays when explorationists have hands-on, minds-on PSI people behind them. Completely different feel in this map/landscape photo set…still within the PSI brand.

“Continue the campaign” is a great watchword, an idea I’m glad to be able to deliver for PSI. Thanks to great clients and a fine creative team for the fish, the sea monsters and the broad open ranges of fresh advertising.

Oh, yeah: “Petrophysics that Pays Off” and “Discoveries Drive Value” are trademarks of Petrophysical Solutions, Inc. All the rights are reserved.

Friday, March 04, 2011

I Wrote This – Fortunately, Great Clients and Designers Were Involved.

In 2010, I participated in the BP wellness calendar and it came out very well – you can read about that excellent project here.

Now the 2011 Calendar is in play, titled “I Can.” It is described in the most recent post on the Prism Design blog.

Whole different year now. But same great team of people, same fine clients. Thank you very much, everyone, for the chance to be involved again.