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beth seitzberg Archives - d.trio marketing group

Expression on demand recharge.

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Beth is the art director at d.trio.

Art Director. That’s the title on my business card. To people who don’t know better I’ll bet it summons up images of daily creative breakthroughs, someone who does magic with things called pixels and PMS colors. A person obsessed with light and print and what kind of shape certain blocks of type make on a page. Some of that is true but mostly what I do is make sure the communications my agency produces are up to Standards. Corporate Brand Standards, my Agency’s Standards, the Client’s Standards, and, whenever possible, My Standards. There is far more compromise and management of detail in my job than most people would expect. The popular, romantic image of the graphic designer is that of the artist who designs engagingly simple, perfectly complicated logos and beautiful websites all day. Lost in that image is the fact that most clients also need statement stuffers and whitepapers and tiny animated gifs for the Google ad network. There is less magic in this job than most people would like to know. But there is some. There is a way of thinking about space and light and color that has to be second nature. You need to be a little clairvoyant in this job, to be able to show people that thing that lives inside their own heads, but a better version of it, a more polished version of it, a more useful version of it. You need the perfect expression of the project goal. You need inspiration on demand, on schedule, on budget. And, oh yeah, everyone in the room has an opinion, from the client to the AE to the client’s wife’s cousin. All this can take it’s toll on a working designer who deals with multiple clients with myriad needs every single day, and who, like everyone else, never has enough time.

How to replenish that stock of inspiration? Look around. Find people who love what they do, who do it well, who look at things differently. Don’t copy, never copy, but seek out those people and places and works that let your mind breathe. Because it’s in that intake of breath that inspiration grows.

Here are few of my go to websites when I need to take a deep breath:

AlexandraFranzen.com – Alex spends her time being really good at helping other people be better. And sometimes the way she looks at the world and her willingness to speak truth is exactly the kind of mind bend I need.

DeviantArt.com – art takes many forms, and most of them can be found here.

ilovetypography.com – because I’m a little obsessed with typography and I feel at home here.

Curve from Getty Images – solid information plus beautiful images. Win.

Pinterest Design Boards – Duh.

TheOatmeal.com – because funny is good, but funny and smart is perfect.

Marketers and cyber security

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If you’ve worked in marketing, especially direct response marketing, for any length of time you are already well aquainted with the need to protect customer data. From locking data tapes in a safe to requiring a badge swipe to enter a secure section of the print room to recommending a reply envelope rather than a reply postcard, marketers have been guarding the personal information of their clients customers for decades.

Technology has forever changed the way businesses interact with their customers and the simple fact is that technology and marketing are chained together forever. We transfer data files over the internet to our printers, we require registration to access information on the company website, we build apps that give customers access to their account data no matter where they are, We develop lists of email addresses and real names in databases for retargeting and future contact, we sell products with the push of a button.

With the rise of new technologies, the cloud, and mobile networks, control of the data infrastructure has moved beyond the control of the corporate IT manager. Hence, new regulations and requirements of marketing companies working with corporations. For example, one of our large financial services clients recently changed their policy and now classifies all apps, whether they have any link to customer information or not, as a high threat to security. Which means the app we’ve been developing for them now needs to be scanned and certified before we can deploy it (even though it connects to no user information and doesn’t even require a registration). The requirement surprised us as well as our client and is based on the recent sensitivity to cyber security concerns. So, that’s what we’ll do. And the next time we start an app project we’ll know to ask the question of any company we’re working for. Like always, marketing moves with the times and develops new skills as we go. Because if we don’t, bad things can happen as demonstrated in a very creepy way in this Belgian ad:

http://mashable.com/2013/07/09/belgian-bank-ad-online-identity/

On the flip side, having cyber security in the news so often could be a great thing for one of our other clients. For the last few years we’ve been helping the University of Minnesota: Technological Leadership Institute market and promote their Master of Science in Security Technologies. The program is a leader in the field covering the foundations of security science as well as risk/threat management and policy.

Regardless of which side of marketing you work on, every marketer needs to understand the increasingly complex security demands of the technology they use. Be safe out there.

-Beth Seitzberg is the art director and technology manager at d.trio marketing group

Concept Graveyard – when great concepts aren’t

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I’ve been a designer for 14 years now (yikes!). During that time I’ve come up with some really good designs, some designs that weren’t my favorite but got the job done, and some concepts that I really, truly, loved. We typically show two to three concepts for each project (way more if it’s for logo design) and only one is usually chosen to move on to completion (unless there’s some Frankensteining of concepts). Which means that roughly 2/3 of all the work I do, good or not, amazing or not, perfect or not, goes… well, to the Concept Graveyard. It’s impossible to say how many concepts are in my personal Concept Graveyard but even with simplified math, it looks something like this:

14 years
2 new projects requiring concepts per month
2 concepts not chosen per project
672 concepts Graveyarded

And then let’s just assume that I’ve had two logo development projects a year, for which I likely show 12-15 concepts, the population of my Concept Graveyard is something more like 1,024.

Most of the time it’s just par for the course, I like all the concepts I show or I wouldn’t show them, so I’m usually pretty happy to have one of them chosen. But then there are those projects that really speak to me, where the creative brief is fun and inspiring and I have really, really good ideas. Sometimes these work out great, and sometimes the client decides to go another direction, or the budget dries up, or somebody’s boss kills the idea by insisting the dominant color be purple. Whatever happens, every once in a while really great work gets left behind where no one will ever see it. Sad? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Optimistically to be looked at as inspiration to do really fantastic work every time? … Ok, fine.

Here’s an example
The creative brief was something like this:
“We’re launching a new software tool and want to announce it with posters around the office. We want these to be cool and edgy and like movie posters, go ahead and really push the brand standards. Couple of themes you have to explore – a crystal ball and the idea of coming soon.”

Awesome (despite the crystal ball theme). I still had to keep in mind that this was for a major financial services company and they tend to be a bit conservative, but the gloves were off. I loved everything I came up with, and so did my direct client. But somebody’s boss’s boss wanted something else. And they got it. I got to see the finished project and it was nice. But I liked mine better. Which is what got me thinking about the idea of the Concept Graveyard and doing the math above in my head. Then I thought, well, why not let them see the light of day, even if it is only on the blog? So here they are, and I’ve started a Pinterest board called Concept Graveyard, feel free to contribute. I’ve removed logos and names to protect the innocent, do the same if you want to share.