TAG! You’re It!

Meet Brian Buckles!

Brian is our Vice President of Design Services and like a Great White shark he navigates the design waters with creativity and grace. We want to ask him questions about his approach to design and what frightens him the most.

You dabble in painting, if could get a life sized portrait of yourself and the family done, which painter/artist (dead or alive) would you choose to capture the moment?

Claude Monet has always been my favorite artist. His use of color and the ability to capture the sense of light and atmosphere of a scene through dabs of color is incredible. While Monet focused his subject matter primarily on landscapes, having him paint my clan in his style would be fun to see. He would definitely have to paint quickly though…my kids don’t like to sit still…

claude-monet-claude-monet-the-artist-s-garden-art-print-poster_a-G-9795529-0

How do you go about approaching creating a design or logo for someone? Does it require research or do you sort of jump in and you figure it out as you go along?

It’s all about research! Knowing the business and its history (unless it’s a startup), vision and key attributes are all imperative. The more of the story of the business that you know, the easier it is to develop a symbol that captures the essence of that story. Of course, you never know where the design process will lead you, but research is imperative to getting off on the right foot on the design journey.

You continue driving the same green car (which is in pristine condition btw) but if you could have any vehicle you wanted regardless of price or fictionality what would you choose and why?

I would love to have a fully-restored 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. The design of the car and the attention to detail are amazing. Modern car is tougher, I don’t have one favorite but have always had a soft spot for the Chevrolet Camaro and Mazda Miata.

1955 Chevrolet Belair

Regarding design, how would you describe all of the complexities to someone who might not understand how much work truly goes in to what you do?

Design is really a process of elimination. It’s done best when you go through an exploration stage of research, sketching (tons of sketching!) to determine a design direction, selection of the best singular idea and then the refinement stage, which includes removing all unnecessary components of the design to whittle it down to it’s simplest and most effective form. While design still has an art element, design also has a job to do, and that is to communicate an intended message and we know that messages are best retained when they are clear and easy to remember. Many people can make something “look good”, but it’s next level when something that looks good is also able to clearly communicate the intended message. This is the challenge and what separates good design from great design.

Da dum…da dum da dum….da da da daummmmmmm. (Jaws?) You’re a big shark guy, what’s shark week like for you? Is it your Superbowl?

I am mildly (okay, majorly) obsessed with sharks, so yeah, Shark Week is a thing. If I’m honest, it’s the best week of the year, no contest.

Jaws

What are 3 of your favorite projects that you have worked on during your time at TAG?

I really don’t have 3 favorites. I really enjoy the problem-solving nature of design and helping the client achieve success through design is super rewarding for me. But if I had to pick some that were unique, creating the strawberry characters for the “Be Healthy QC” campaign for the Quad Cities Health Initiative was a fun campaign with a great cause, developing the Two Rivers Financial Group brand was great, working on the Hungry Hobo brand is always enjoyable (along with eating their sandwiches, particularly #3).

Is there something that scares you more than anything? If so, how much money would it take for you to face your fear?

Spiders! A LOT of money…haven’t settled on an amount yet but It’s more money than I’ve ever seen.

Spider

What is your favorite part about working at TAG?

I love that I get the opportunity to learn about so many different types of businesses and meeting so many different people. In many cases, I feel like I am an extension of their business and team, which is really cool. Plus, I totally dig graphic design so getting to do this everyday for my job is awesome. As a bonus, my TAG Teammates aren’t half bad either!

 

International TAG Team

Many TAG clients are local, or U.S. based. But, did you know we work with international companies as well? TAG clients and services reach all over the globe, making us worldwide! This requires us to be extremely forward-thinking and compliant to assure we represent our clients effectively. So not only are we worried about compliance state-side but also abroad!

International Clients TAG currently works with:

Sandstrom Coating Technologies develops and manufactures quality coatings for customers all over the world. Sandstrom needed a contemporary website with improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The TAG team updated Sandstrom’s brand as seen on their website, to reflect its status in the industry and convey expertise to global customers.

Sivyer Steel Castings produces high quality steel casting products for use in the global construction, energy, military, mining and transportation industries. While the company implemented a plan to restructure in early 2018, the TAG team helped Sivyer launch their turnaround with key strategies focused on reinvigorating their brand. This involved redesigning their website and enhancing social media deployment to include video as well as public relation strategies to better communicate with a work market how Sivyer can meet the needs of the industry.

Crane Merchandising Systems is a leading global manufacturer of innovative solutions for vending machines, cashless systems, software and wireless communications. As a pioneer and market leader in vending, Crane has sought out new ways to enhance how consumers interact with their machines. TAG is engaged in assisting with launching new product brands utilizing strong design and messaging deployed on the web, print media and trade shows. All efforts are geared toward new customer lead development and current customer retention.

Sears Seating supplies superior seating solutions with over five generations of experience. Sears has expanded greatly over the years, establishing Sears Europe in the United Kingdom, signing a manufacturing partnership in India, expanding business in Brazil and even opening an office in Japan. The TAG team designed and launched a website that is adaptable in North America and Europe to help customers navigate their new site to easily receive the highest quality products.

TAG represents clients domestically as well as internationally, all over the globe. No matter the client if they are an Iowa native or a business owner in the United Kingdom, we offer the same services and steadfast dedication to creating and designing the very best. Our website compliance assures that your content will be accessible to all user no matter what country they reside in. For more information regarding our work please visit our website!

GDPR Compliance and Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is expected to set a new standard for consumer rights regarding their data, but companies will be challenged as they put systems and processes in place to comply.GDPR

The European Parliament adopted the GDPR in 2016, replacing an outdated protection directive from 1995. It carries provisions that require businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. The GDPR also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. The provisions are consistent across all 28 EU member states, which means that companies have just one standard to meet within the EU. However, that standard is quite high and will require most companies to make a large investment to meet and to administer.

But can they enforce the GDPR in the United States? The answer is yes, as proven by Privacy Shield that passed in 2016, the United States government is fully prepared to cooperate in the enforcement of privacy laws enacted by the EU.

“Any business that collects even anonymous information from EU residents will be subject to GDPR compliance and, in the event of noncompliance, hefty fines”

Compliance will cause some concerns and new expectations of security teams. For example, the GDPR takes a wide view of what constitutes personal identification information. Companies will need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for a name, address and Social Security number.

The two primary GDPR concerns for US companies include:

Cookie Law (consent) – Majority of websites use cookies which are extremely small files, downloaded to your device when you visit a website. Many commercial sites use them including banks, online publishers, blogs or e-commerce serving the purpose of counting the number of visitors and their behavior. We’ve all seen the phrase “by using this website, you accept cookies” or a variation of the statement. It informs the user, but does it give them an alternative? The GDPR looks to change this in the future giving users an informed choice.

Data Permission (protection) – This includes how you manage email opt-ins or people who request to receive promotional material from you. People need to express consent in a ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’ way, which is reinforced by a ‘clear affirmative action’.

For EU based companies, you have even more concerns:

  • Timely Breach Notification – If a security breach occurs, you have 72 hours to report the data breach.
  • Right to Data Access – If users request existing data profile, you must be able to provide them with a fully detailed and free electronic copy of the data you collected.
  • Right to Be Forgotten – Your customers have the right to request that you totally erase their personal data.
  • Data Portability – This gives users rights to their data. They must be able to obtain their data from you and reuse that same data in different environments outside of your company.
  • Privacy by Design – This section of GDPR requires companies to design their systems with the proper security protocols in place from the start.
  • Potential Data Protection Officers – In some cases, your company may need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO).

The GDPR defines several roles that are responsible for ensuring compliance: data controller, data processor and the data protection officer (DPO). The data controller defines how personal data is processed and the purposes for which it is processed. The controller is also responsible for making sure that outside contractors comply.Though the task seems daunting, compliance is extremely important and necessary when moving your company forward.

For more information on how TAG can help your company become compliant, or to request a compliance please visit our website for more information.

TAG Blogging Best Practice Guide

Blogging is an effective way to reinforce your brand and draw audiences to your site. Writing engaging content, using SEO optimization, can bring in a broader audience, largely increasing the number of views to your blog and overall site. Here are some of TAG’s best practices when writing a blog:

Audience- Understanding who your key audience is can assist tremendously in blogging. Writing to a specific audience will engage them and keep them on your site. Incorporate audience data tracking into your content strategy to remain relevant to what your audience is thinking. Consider your audience, try to figure out their problems, then provide the answers they are seeking. Look to industry experts for their input, including quotes and interviews. Garner information on your audience from the experts and you can effectively communicate with them.

Hooking your Audience- You need to catch the eyes of your audience. Your headings need to capture the readers interest, but also make them want to read your blog post. Answering the problem within your heading defeats the purpose of reading your article. A header should never exceed 60 characters. Give the reader a small dose with the heading then further explain in your blog. Create interest in the reader then make them read your blog to find the answer to the question you pose. Using steps or lists is another way to engage your audience.

Content- Quality over quantity. Attention spans are shorter, people need to be drawn in with vivid content. Write engaging copy and grab people’s attention. It is better to compose two well written, thought-out blogs than hastily putting out four sub-par blogs. High-quality content is useful, and by providing your audience with solutions to their problem, your brand will become a helpful resource they look to. Content also includes photos, illustrations, charts, videos and quotes—use visual content to break up text or help better translate your ideas while keeping your readers engaged. Recommended word count has varied over the years, recent trends believe longer blogs tend to receive more views. Average of 500-1000 words is a good starting point, though your main goals are answering user questions and exceeding competitors’ content.

Mediums- People typically think of blogs in the form of written blogs. Any social platform utilizes video so why can’t your blog? Utilize all the tools social media has provided and create a video to include on your blog. Short videos have become a must-have on social media sites and including them in your blogs can attract a new audience.

Consistency- Continually writing your blog will drive more people to see it and keep your usual audience engaged with it. No matter if it is one blog a week or two a month, always putting out content will drive people to your site. Make your brand accountable by producing something week in and week out so your audience expects content.

Search Engine Optimization- If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, get familiar quick, then continue learning about it because it is a constantly shifting and twisting metric. By not optimizing your blog posts you are inhibiting the reach of your audience and growth of the overall blog. Use metrics to improve future blogs, and see which strategies are working. What are the best times to post, word count, and amount of people reading your blog to the end are all questions that can be answered by metrics.

Organization- Creating an organized calendar of content for the month will significantly help your team. Posting blogs or content several times a week can often have overlap or even repeat a topic.  Having a calendar of when and what you are posting for the week or month will reduce clutter, similar posts, and keep your team organized. Always try to include current events or trending topics to keep your content fresh and in the social loop.

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Emily Field!

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If you had to describe yourself using three inanimate objects, what would they be?

A house plant – I’m always looking for ways to grow, both personally and professionally. Plus, in this cold Iowa weather, you won’t catch me dead outside.

A planner – Organization is my middle name, or so I think it should be.

Laffy taffy – I think laughter is the best medicine out there, next to red wine, of course. Plus, I’m a total sweet tooth!

So, Emily, we hear you have a dog by the name of Pierce. If you could dress Pierce up in any costume what would it be?

You know how everyone claims they have the best dog?! I find it hard to believe! Clearly, they haven’t met Pierce. Recently, Pierce dressed up as a Beanie Baby for Halloween! I don’t know about you, but I sure thought he looked like one handsome fella!

Pierce

TAG sends you on an airplane over the Pacific to have a meeting with a client. The plane malfunctions leaving you on a deserted island. You have one book, one movie, and one other object with you. What are they?

  • The Woman in Cabin 10. If you haven’t picked this page-turner up, do so immediately!
  • Do nine seasons of The Office count as one movie?
  • Of course, Pierce. Someone has to keep me company!

Finally, what is your favorite part about working at TAG?

The list really does go on and on. Every day I come to work I learn something new and am challenged to think in fresh, new ways for each and every one of our clients. Every member of the creative team surrounds me with constant support – they really are my own set of personal cheerleaders!

TAG Expands Service Line Offerings

TAG Expands Service Line Offerings

 

Davenport, Iowa – The region’s most comprehensive marketing and communications services provider is expanding its client offerings. TAG has established a Public Relations/Public Affairs practice within the agency. In making the announcement, TAG Chief Executive Officer, Mike Vondran says, “Focus on new, ‘break-through’ digital marketing tactics has ignited TAG’s success and client growth in recent years. But, it also has distracted many TAG clients from more traditional, ‘tried-and-true’ marketing activities. By offering a ‘one-stop-shopping’ solution, our clients will now benefit from a more coordinated and highly effective marketing program.”

According to Vondran, this new TAG specialty practice is a response to growing client recognition of the value of broader, coordinated customer outreach beyond the ‘social-sphere.’ Services provided by the new practice include general interest media and trade press relations, government affairs and advocacy, guerilla marketing and special events. “These tactics influence and strengthen brand image when employed in conjunction with additional web-based and social media marketing,” Vondran adds.

TAG’s Public Relations/Public Affairs practice is led by TAG Senior Vice President, Ken Croken, who joined the firm earlier this year. Croken served as Chief Marketing Officer at Genesis Health System. He previously led the consumer technology practice at Edelman PR Worldwide in New York City and was the corporate communications “lead” for the global government industry marketing division of IBM Corporation in Washington, D.C.

Commenting on the announcement, Croken says, “While the marketing and sales landscape has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, one key principle has not. Comprehensive and relentless brand management is critical to consumer preference and business success. New trends and shifting circumstances only underscore the imperative of a ‘go-to-market’ strategy that employs all effective tactics, not just the most recent.”



TAG, established in 1990, began with a firm foundation in broadcast production and media. Since then we’ve evolved to meet the needs of our clients and build their brands.
TAG provides web design and development, social media marketing, video production, SEO, public relations, public affairs and much more. We invest in the stories and success of our clients and meet every challenge with creative thinking and enthusiasm. For more information visit www.tagteam.agency.

The Benefits of Effective Email Marketing

The Benefits of Effective Email Marketing

In today’s world, businesses need to connect with their audience in a highly personalized way in order to gain their attention and acquire their business. Email Marketing allows you to do all that, plus so much more. Current research has shown that no marketing category—such as print, digital, broadcast and search marketing—has the longevity or proven results than that of Email Marketing. While some marketing trends may come and go, Email Marketing will remain a powerful channel of business to consumer communication for decades to come—and here’s why.

Maximize your Return on Investment (ROI)
Did you know that email marketing is 20 times more cost effective than traditional media marketing? There’s no printing costs, no postage fees and no advertising costs—it’s about as affordable as targeted marketing can get. In fact, email marketing has been shown to bring in $44.25 for every $1 spent, compared to only $27 for direct mail or $8 for print advertising.

Target your Customers Directly
What makes Email Marketing so great, is the fact that you can deliver highly-personalized and relevant content directly to the home—or hands—of your customers. You have the ability to control exactly who sees your email by segmenting your contacts based on location, interest, demographics or any segmentation you see fit. Targeting your emails ensures that your audience receives content that is specifically suited to their interests, and is relevant to their needs.

Increase Brand Awareness
Each time you send an email, you are exposing your audience to your brand and everything you have to offer. With custom content, smart layouts, creative design and targeted sends, you are increasing awareness of your brand with each and every send. Plus, email marketing is easily sharable. With the simple forward button, your subscribers can share your content, deals, images or links with their friends and family, further increasing your brand awareness.You can also directly embed links to your website, blog or social platforms so your audience can further engage with and learn about your brand.

Measure your Results
As with any campaign, it’s important to measure its results and evaluate your efforts. Email Marketing is extremely easy to measure, and provides precise and valuable marketing metrics for each email sent, such as delivery rate, open rate, bounce rate, spam reports and click-through distribution, so you can pinpoint exactly which strategies are working, and which are not. Better yet, these metrics give you insight into your customers’ personal behaviors and interests, so you can better target and strategize your campaigns moving forward.

Reach your Customers on Their Level
Unlike social platforms, email is a much more professional medium, where people expect to receive information about products and services— some even prefer it. Recent studies show that 72 percent of people prefer to receive promotional content through their emails, compared to 17 percent of people who prefer social media. Reaching your audience where they prefer most will result in greater open and click rates, ultimately helping you increase brand awareness and make sales.

Are you ready to deliver a powerful message to your consumers via Email Marketing? The Social Media team at TAG is ready to help you maximize your profits and reach your audience with strategic Email Marketing. Contact us today!

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

Branding guidelines, brand standards, style guides. Whatever you call them, they are an important piece of building your brand. Branding guidelines set a foundation for your brand by creating a framework to operate in that’s consistent no matter what medium you choose.

So what are brand guidelines? Branding guides consist of essential rules for how to craft the visual pieces of your brand including typography, imagery, photography, logo usage, image style and more depending on the size and need of your business. These guidelines should point your communication toward your target audience with a consistent look and feel.

Consistency is vital in maintaining brand integrity. A guideline helps you maintain integrity by maintaining consistency in your branding efforts. And consistency makes you more recognizable in the market, assisting in building the way your brand is perceived. A guide plays an important role in perception. Every touch point between your brand and your audience should be used to reinforce a consistent perception.

Deviating from your guidelines can be harmful to your brand. Straying from your guidelines, be it typeface, color palette or tone, makes it harder to recognize your brand in the market. Not to mention it can make your brand look unprofessional. Consistency among all of your brand’s communications should always be your goal.

It’s easy to think that you can put off creating branding guidelines until a later date, but it’s important to start building that foundation right away. By using brand guidelines, you ensure that there’s an organized, cohesive approach to the points of engagement and communication with your audience that creates consistency in your communication.

At TAG, we recommend brand guidelines to all of our clients. Does your brand need help creating a guideline? Visit our website today to see how we can help grow your brand!

Salesman or Spokesman?

Social media means something to everyone, even if you aren’t an active user. For some it’s a social hangout, to others it’s a way to publicize business. For advertisers, social media is a tool that changed the industry. Honestly, it changed the world, but that’s another story.

Facebook, Twitter, Google Paid Search, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Foursquare, etc. What do they all have in common? Well, they all have the potential to generate sales. Yes, sales. The purpose behind social marketing can be seen as two fold; to build an audience while also building brand loyalty and to drive sales.

Steps for Social sales success:

  1. Strategy: As advertisers, we start with a strategy – first priority is to identify what platforms fit our clients need. Why do you want to use social media for your business? How can you use social media to sell your story?
  2. Platform: Which social media platforms are right for your business? There are multiple ways to reach your customers. Don’t limit yourself to the traditional Facebook and Twitter platforms.
  3. Delivery: How will you tell the story you want customers to hear? Connecting the dots from brick and mortar to virtual and back again. Aiding in a clients understanding of the work we do for them also helps connect the dots to the success of their business.

Take a company like Patagonia. Their Facebook page doesn’t have advertisements for products they sell; it has stories about the people that use their products. The stories they share depict a lifestyle that lives and breathes their mission. By sharing these stories Patagonia grows their own customer base. People read the stories and become inspired to live their life along the mission of Patagonia. This inspiration should be every company’s goal when it comes to implementing social media.

At TAG, we understand the value in a social presence for your business. We also understand the complications that go along with having a social presence. Lucky for you, we’re here to help! Check out our white paper on social media for your business by clicking here to get you started.

Current Culture: Multi-generational Workplace

For decades, employees from different social backgrounds, educational backgrounds and even different generations have worked side by side. New employees fresh out of school and eager to make a name for themselves sitting next to employees who are reminiscing on a life-long career and preparing for a relaxing retirement. In advertising, we are always striving to produce a seamless message across all mediums.  Does a multi-generational workforce aid in our never-ending quest for the next great idea, or does it prove to be more of a setback?

How does a multi-generational workplace affect office culture and productivity?

Advertising agencies tend to have an office culture that is unlike any other office you have ever seen. Relaxed dress policy, monthly snack-attack (surprise snack time here at TAG) and employees riding around on scooters are just the beginning. A relaxed environment where employees feel free to be creative is important for productivity. Breaking down the walls, literally, is one of the most effective ways to cultivate this creative freedom. Baby Boomers are familiar with the notion of working towards a corner office. This top-down mentality hinders the creative spark needed in advertising. Creative work environments motivate all levels of employees to engage and contribute to the success of the team.

Things that fall into the cracks between generations.

More than years separate generations. Generational norms change over time, and each generation as a whole becomes comfortable with certain working conditions and motivators. Advertising has changed drastically since Baby Boomers entered the work force. Graphic design, social media and Klout are all vital to any advertiser today, but that wasn’t the case twenty or thirty years ago. New technologies and mediums for advertising can be seen as a fad that will soon go out of style, or they can be viewed as the industry’s future. Earlier generations can be hesitant and resist change in the work place. Refusing to adapt can leave your business behind that is why it is important to constantly challenge yourself to adapt. Change is inevitable in the creative field, but those who adapt positively and quickly are those who will have the most success.

Positive aspects to a multi-generational work force.

A multi-generational workforce offers new perspectives and ideas to flow freely – the core objective of most creative companies. Who says upper management are the only ones with good ideas? If a creative company gets stuck in these generational barriers, they have failed to fulfill their core objectives. Each generation has their objectives in the work place. Some work to live while others live to work. The key is to have employees from a range of generations but understand how they relate to one another. No generation is 100% unique, there are similarities across the boards. Utilizing these complimentary qualities will not only create a unified office culture, but it will also prove beneficial to the agency’s work.

At TAG, our mission relays our positive feelings on a multi-generational workforce.

Learn more about the TAG culture by clicking here.