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Packaging – Just As Important As What’s Inside

“Never judge a book by its cover.” It is a lot easier said than done. It is human nature to make quick judgments based on outwardly appearances. We are drawn to beautiful, creative things. That is why packaging is just as important as the product inside. Packaging is the vehicle for the product and the final step that can influence a consumer to make that impulse buy.

Graphic courtesy of

Graphic courtesy of

Packaging can be timeless. Take Coca-Cola for example. Its distinctive red label with white cursive script is instantly recognizable on grocery shelves. Recently, Coca-Cola put a new spin on its classic design by adding people’s names —  Alex, Bob, Carol — to the label. The new packaging created buzz on social media and brought new attention to the brand; tons of people started posting pictures of Coke bottles with their names on it to their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Other brands with iconic packaging include Tiffany’s with their bright blue boxes and Campbell’s with their red and white soup cans.

Packaging can be functional. When Burger King released a new product called Chicken Fries, it designed the perfect box to go along with it. The box is intended for people on the go. It is the right size for a car cup holder, and it even has a spot for dipping sauce.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Kellogg’s realized that sometimes it is a hassle to find a bowl for your breakfast cereal, so it packaged some of its cereal in convenient plastic cups. Consumers can just tear the plastic tab off the top of the cup, pour milk into the bowl and enjoy.

Packaging can also be clever. Check out this oven-shaped gift box for cookies from Thelma’s Treats:

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Charming and retro, this box is much more eye-catching than the typical bakery box. If you have attention-grabbing packaging, customers are sure to spot your brand at the store, on the street or on the Web. Packaging is effective advertising.

Never underestimate the power of packaging. Packaging — whether it is iconic, practical or innovative — gets your brand noticed, which in turn increases your customer base and grows your business!

Has a certain packaging ever caught your eye? How did it affect your chances of buying it?

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Marketing And Communication Through The Lens Of The Internet

It’s evident the Internet has impacted the way we converse personally and professionally. The Internet is a resource that has allowed people to transition from content consumers to content producers and consumers. Today, you can easily look up a recipe or compose a tweet using your smartphone. Think of how many online ads you see daily. As a result of the Internet, businesses are investing in relationship marketing. The Internet has transformed the communication industry into the integrated marketing and communication (IMC) industry. To put it simply, things have changed.

communication social media business

Image from Native Communication

The Internet’s impact on old mediums

Let’s review communication before the Internet. At one point in time, people relied on door-to-door marketing to sell their product or service. But then came the newspaper, the radio and the TV, which are all communication mediums that made it easier for businesses to reach target audiences.

Although some argue the newspaper is coming to an end, I like to think the Internet has made the newspaper even more available. You can access newspapers, radio broadcasts and TV shows simultaneously using the Internet. If you think about it, the Internet is all the old mediums wrapped in one. It’s informative like newspaper, provides audio like radio and is visual like TV.

Modern Communication

The primary goal in IMC is to establish relationships with consumers, and the Internet allows businesses to easily reach target audiences. For example, we share a lot about ourselves on social media. Besides sharing our latest selfie, we share the type of musicians, foods and products we like. This is all marketable information businesses rely on to create compelling copy and visuals to convince consumers to invest in their product or service.

Image from Kendal at Home

Image from Kendal at Home

The next time you’re on your favorite social network, look for a sponsored ad. Trust me, you won’t have to scroll too long before you see one. The ad will likely relate to your interests, or you may see an ad from the recent Facebook page you liked. Nevertheless, we’re experiencing the revolution of marketing and communication through the Internet. I can’t image what the future holds for the Internet, but I’m excited to be a part of this savvy journey.

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Five Myths I Believed About Marketing And Advertising

Right around this time four years ago, I moved from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota to Madison, Wisconsin for what I knew would be some of the best years of my life. The tenth floor of Sellery Hall was my home for my freshman year as a Badger. It would be where I took my first shot of vodka before the big game, where I missed classes because I hit snooze one too many times, and where I fell in love with the idea of someday working at a marketing or advertising agency.

I wanted to be a copywriter. I wanted to be just like Peggy Olson, a resilient character from Mad Men, with an undeniable talent for forming exquisite copy. To a freshman learning about marketing and advertising for the first time, a position at an agency seemed like the sexiest and most glamorous career choice out there. To an employee now fully immersed in the industry, I must admit, there’s more to marketing and advertising than old fashioneds and Don Drapers. So without further ado, here are five myths I believed about marketing and advertising before I landed a job at an agency.

Myth 1: Marketing and advertising are one-in-the same.

Reality: In some cases the terms marketing and advertising can be flip-flopped and hold a similar meaning, and both require some of the same skills and knowledge. But, ultimately, there are many differences between marketing and advertising. Marketing is about preparing your product or service for the marketplace; advertising is about spreading the word in the marketplace. Advertising means buying placements to send a certain message whereas marketing means evaluating a business and deciding whether advertising is going to be effective for that business. Advertising is often included in marketing plans.

Myth 2: Working in a marketing or advertising agency is a very glamorous career.

Reality: Yes, we like to have fun and sometimes crack open a beer on Fridays after 4 p.m., but working in an agency doesn’t mean you’ll eat delectable brunches and drink fancy martinis every day. Sometimes people have to stay in the office long after 5 p.m. and sometimes you put hundreds of hours into a campaign, design, copy or strategy only to find out the client doesn’t like the ideas and your long hours are essentially trashed, forcing you to start from scratch.

Myth 3: Advertising costs companies millions of dollars a year.

Reality: Yes, if you want to buy a Superbowl commercial, you’re going to pay some big money for the spot. And, yes, big companies are spending a ton of money on advertising because they can, but at the end of the day, your marketing or advertising budget doesn’t have to cost you millions. With the right strategy and right message, even what you think is a small budget can stretch in a lot of ways. In many cases, it’s better to advertise somewhere than no where at all because you could be losing sales to competitors who are.

Myth 4: Advertising is unethical and manipulative.

Reality: Yes, back in the day, many advertisers sold lies. In 1919 Dr. William Frederick Koch claimed his medication could cure all human illnesses. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson essentially claimed that voting for Barry Goldwater would cause nuclear war. Today there are very strict marketing and advertising regulations and laws that we must follow. Advertising requires a high level of consumer trust. For the most part, advertising is honest. If you’re feeling tricked, read the disclaimer. If you think an advertisement has broken a rule, consult with the Federal Trade Commission, which was created to protect consumers.

Myth 5: You should constantly change your marketing plan to keep up with shifts in the industry.

Reality: If your current marketing plan is generating ROI and keeping new consumers interested, you don’t necessarily have to change it. Why fix something that isn’t broken?  Changing the look, tone or voice of your product or brand can be confusing and frustrating to your consumers. To them, change is bad. You should definitely launch new campaigns or buy new advertising placements, but remember to stay true to your brand’s identity – unless a brand refresh is necessary. Don’t change your brand every time you think a campaign has gotten old. Change up the campaign but make sure that when your audience sees it, they recognize the messaging and look as your brand.

With that, I think it’s only fitting to leave you with a brilliant quote from Don Draper: “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”


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How To Make Your Business A Social Media All-Star

Social media has grown at an almost unbelievable rate during its brief lifetime. It seems there is a new social media platform being created daily. Some businesses fail to realize the power that sites like Facebook and Twitter have. Do you want your business to be a social media all-star? Check out these tips:

Selecting channels

Figure out which channels will suit your brand best. Does your company do work that’s visually appealing? Consider using Facebook and Instagram. Does your company put out content daily? Twitter might be the best option. Trying emerging social media channels allows for brands to gain popularity early on if it can learn what kind of content to use and the best way to utilize it.


The Internet is filled with blogs. Tumblr alone has more than 245 million blogs. User-generated content has become popular as the Internet has evolved. When businesses write blogs about industry related topics, they are seen as thought leaders and more credible. Brands should share their blog content on social media. You no longer have to wait for people to visit your site. You can put the content in front of people.

Content should also be engaging. Consumers don’t just want to see your daily specials or featured products. Instead of highlighting products, find relevant trends or topics to talk about. Find clever ways to say something that might not be so exciting. There are thousands of random holidays you can capitalize on. For example July 24 is National Drive-Thru day. If your business has a drive-thru, feature it in a fun and engaging way.

Content can also act as free public relations. If a follower didn’t watch the news or read the paper, they can still see events that your company put on or sponsored.

Community management

Social media allows companies to become more human. When a customer has a question, concern or compliment, you can be there as a brand to give them the right answer. Companies can also take control of potentially volatile situations. A customer takes to social media after slipping and falling in your store. You can respond immediately to them, and everyone else will see, too.

southwest airlines facebook post

Image via

Defined voice

The voice of a brand on the Internet is like its personality in real life. If a brand comes off as friendly, helpful and open, people will be more likely to trust your brand, giving you something that a newspaper ad or billboard can’t – a voice. Is your brand sassy, quirky and edgy? Or professional, clean and straightforward? Finding a brand’s voice can help with content ideas and get the right audience to read it.

Target audience

Everyone is on social media. If your business isn’t, get with the program. Facebook alone can target more than 1 billion people! It’s almost scary how specific Facebook can target. You can target using almost anything, including interests, behaviors, and much, much more. Writing great content is only effective if it is seen by the right people.

Creative Reign

Anyone can get on social media and post something, but the presentation and messaging need a creative touch to engage others, especially for businesses because of Facebook’s latest algorithm change. Make sure you have a right-brained person handling social media. Give them creative reign on content and your following will grow, guaranteed.

What are some of your favorite brands on social media and why? Tweet and let me know at @zakt3!

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Three Sources You Can Use To Grow As A Designer

I’ve always said that my personality is a strong reflection of everything I create. As a designer, I find it to be an important growing opportunity to explore who I am in order to feed the passion behind the style that I love. When I was in college, I constantly looked for new learning experiences. I wanted to know as much as possible, so I looked for resources to help me grow until it became a habit. This fed my talent and design style extensively. I enjoy teaching myself new things, and it has never stopped.

When you get into a rhythm of self-educating yourself, you search for outside resources to help you continue developing your skills. Many of those resources came from my professors and fellow classmates when I was in college. They helped me to understand myself as a person before myself as a designer, so I was able to see my personality as a design rather than a concept. All of my interests, hobbies and traits were characterized to fit into one design style. Soon after I let my personality branch out into my designs; I would challenge myself to continue my education. Some of the best resources I use include:


There are so many tutorials out there that it’s virtually impossible not to learn how to do something. Tutorials are step-by-step processes. These can be for simple tasks, such as how to re-create a Photoshop action, or more extensive instruction on understanding and using halftones in a vector you just created in Illustrator. For visual learners like me, tutorials help tremendously. Some of my favorite tutorials include Photoshop & Photography Tutorials and Redbubble, but there are tons more out there, especially on Youtube!

Designer Articles/Blogs

Three Sources You Can Use To Grow as a Designer

Photo Credit: Kaylee Brickey

Surely you have a favorite blog that you follow (hint hint)! So much information can be found just by reading a personal review on certain topics. When you read what others are passionate about, you want to feel the same way about something you love, too. Articles aren’t just good for the casual read, they show you the bigger picture. Articles challenge designers to look closer at a project or software program. Articles and blogs provide an exploratory tour of a writer’s thought process. Some cool blogs that I follow are The Design Blog, Millo and Good Design Makes Me Happy.


logo sketching

Photo Credit: Kaylee Brickey, logo sketching

Have you ever been to the design section in your local bookstore? It’s amazing! There are many different types of books to read, but don’t get overwhelmed. Know that they are there to share examples and spark ideas on how to do design. For instance, one design book on logos can open your eyes to new concepts you’ve never thought of before. When I bought my first logo book it was so inspiring to read. Understanding how designers sketch rough ideas really helped me to grow a better friendship with a pencil and paper. Books give another perspective on how to design or creatively think and approach ideas. For a list of books I’ve invested in, visit my Pinterest board. This list is also a good starting point as well.

Self-education adds depth to your design skills so you don’t fixate on one style. There are infinite possibilities to expand your talents and creativity. Don’t let a challenge to grow stop you from becoming an expert in your field. The design world is competitive, challenging and crazy, but it can also be rewarding and fun!


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