Defining Brand Identity with Design

Building a brand is a huge task in and of itself but being able to communicate your brand identity across multiple mediums can enhance the overall experience for the user. Graphics applied to a physical space allow a company to communicate their brand without having to say a word to customers or clients.

Environmental graphics can play a huge role in your brand. Your lobby space is a high foot traffic area, and you must consider visitors perception of your business. Imagery can be instrumental in the telling of your brand story through colors and engaging content.

TAG has helped define and redesign several projects for clients including refreshing and integrating a company’s brand identity though environmental graphics and identity design.

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TAG experienced flooding in our lobby area, which resulted in the physical space needing to be redone. The team turned tragedy into triumph and completely redesigned and redefined the space. The goal of redesigning the lobby space was to create an area that is welcoming and comfortable to guests, but also to illustrate TAG’s brand design and identity. Graphically the piece showcases a timeline of TAG’s history to our clients but expresses our brand identity through a high trafficked area. The graphic features a mosaic of words and images that fit together like a puzzle, many of which carry meaning and are symbolic moments in TAG’s history. The space is extremely unique and has become a great conversation starter as clients and visitors want to learn more!TAG Lobby

Two Rivers Financial Group

When TAG originally designed Two Rivers Financial Group’s brand identity, it started with understanding the business and history as well as where they wanted their future to go. This led TAG to creating a brand that features hand-painted watercolor graphics which we developed in-house. The watercolor was meant to be a friendly visual approach tying directly to the reference of the water in the name. Simultaneously, we developed the positioning statement for the bank division “My Neighborhood. My Bank.” This was used to emphasize the local approach taken by Two Rivers in how they conduct their business and treat their valued customers. We crafted their annual report covering 2018, to feature both the brand look of watercolor graphics, and the local, community-involved focus of the report. TAG’s VP of Design Services Brian Buckles hand-painted the watercolor landscape scenes of key communities that Two Rivers Financial Group serves, resulting in a well-received and brilliantly designed annual report.

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L&W Bedding

Another client, L&W Bedding required a brand refresh which offered a unique challenge to the TAG team. L&W Bedding makes high-quality mattresses which are all made locally right here in the Quad Cities. The owner of L&W Bedding, John Wheatley, is such a part of his business that you often can find him sitting behind a sewing machine, stitching together the next mattress. Their existing brand identity did not communicate the hand-crafted and high-quality approach to mattress making that they offer. TAG’s approach was to redesign their logo, creating a graphic with a stitched look that is as unique as the business, but also redesigning the store’s interior and exterior signs to reflect the uniqueness of the business. The signage was created to help guide customers into and through the store, attention-grabbing floor graphics and delivery vehicle wraps. TAG’s recommendations were well received, and the in-store experience became a whole new environment. All the elements came together, forming a cohesive visual language and brand identity that consumers were able to retain with ease.

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Everyone’s brand is unique and can be translated through a variety of mediums. Your brand is your business, the essence of who and what you stand for. It is important that you communicate that effectively to your customers. To efficiently utilize and voice your brand, you must communicate it through multiple facets of media. Design can be an effective tool in giving your office an inviting look into your company’s brand identity. Let TAG help you redefine your brand and show people who you really are. Contact us here to get started.

Expanding Your Nonprofit Identity: HAVlife™

Understanding your nonprofit’s brand identity is key when telling people what your organization is and its mission. Effectively marketing your non-profit and showcasing its identity gets your message out to more people, allowing for wider reach. You want to reach as many people as possible, and updating your web presence, utilizing social media and public relation events, you can start to gain a following.Havlife_Golf_Outing_Poster

TAG has assisted HAVlife™, an organization aimed at Preventing Lost Potential™ in youth ages 10 – 15, in crafting its brand identity and expressing how important the nonprofit’s mission is. TAG approached crafting an identity reflecting the nonprofit’s mission and resources it offers to students. By giving HAVlife™ a platform and web presence, it would be easier to showcase the organization and its mission.

Designing the HAVlife™ website, TAG clearly defines the HAVlife™ brand with a playful and unique user experience, while showing exactly what the mission is. Featuring videos of students pursuing their passions of artistry, athletics and music, the mission shines through. The site also includes the corresponding chapter pages of the HAVlife™ organization which include Dubuque and Johnson County. Each of these pages feature their own donation buttons and events corresponding to the area.

Havlife_MSO_PosterMarketing your nonprofit across various forms of media is also a necessity. TAG utilized digital design by creating Snapchat filters and digital media, including Facebook and Twitter, to market HAVlife™ to different audiences. Consistently posting and showing people that your organization is active in the community will expand your audience.

Presenting your nonprofit through public relations and hosting fundraisers is a great way to engage people. HAVlife™ hosts several annual fundraising events including the Martini Shake Off™ and a Golf Outing. These events have grown exponentially over the years, with the 2019 Martini Shake Off raising over $65,000 for local community organizations aimed at Preventing Lost Potential™.

If you are interested in learning now the TAG team can help market your nonprofit’s mission, contact us here.

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 To Open Des Moines Branch Office

47577626_2630691396948486_3214311747179511808_nDavenport, December 5…TAG CEO, Mike Vondran, announced today the Quad Cities-based marketing and advertising organization will expand to Des Moines in January 2019. “We believe the market is ready,” says Vondran. “Our ‘brand-focused’ approach to marketing, combined with our expertise in both the latest digital and more traditional tactics has earned TAG a growing base of clients. Many of these organizations want to expand to new markets and we want to help them succeed in that effort. Moreover, we believe there’s significant unmet demand in the Des Moines region for a true full-service agency, providing ‘one-stop’ brand marketing support.”

The new TAG office will be located at 100 East Grand Avenue in the East Village/Capitol Hill area of Des Moines. “This new location will serve as a ‘home base’ for TAG operations in Polk and neighboring counties,” says Vondran. “Already, TAG brand management staff is working with clients throughout central Iowa, including Clarke, Mahaska, Marion and Polk Counties.

According to Vondran, the new location will also improve the organization’s ability to meet the state government relations needs of current and prospective TAG clients. Vondran adds, “Today’s more savvy clients recognize the value of a comprehensive branding program that includes web-based social media, traditional advertising and promotions programs, and an effective ‘influencer’ strategy that includes trade associations, community organizations and federal, state and local government relations.”

In addition to its current headquarters in downtown Davenport, TAG also maintains an office in Dubuque, serving clients in that tri-state market.

Marketing to Generation Z


Knowing your target audience is important to effectively market your business. For example, audience members for an interior design business are typically going to look, and act, a lot differently than audience members for a company selling beef jerky. Defining your audience is key in getting your business’ message in front of people who are ready to engage and convert.

Just when you think you’ve mastered marketing to Millennials, a new generation comes running through the doors full speed ahead. Allow us to introduce you to Gen Z.

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z is the generation born between 1996 and 2012. There are over 23 million people in the U.S. alone who identify as members of Gen Z and it is considered America’s most diverse, multicultural generation to date.

Unlike Millennials, Gen Z is characterized by their initiative and entrepreneurial skills. They grew up during tough times (post 9/11, the recession) and over half of the generation is already actively saving for retirement, in fear that they will never have social security to claim.

Celebrity endorsements really resonated with a Millennial audience and this remains true when talking to members of Gen Z as well. But, Gen Z puts importance on transparency so if celebrities are in the ads they’re seeing, they prefer the endorser discloses that they’re getting paid to talk about a brand or product. Authenticity is (major) key! 

What social platforms do they prefer?

While Gen Z spends most of their time on YouTube, they do still utilize other social platforms – but for different reasons.

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Source: Defy Media Acumen Survey (March 2017)

They’re most likely to keep in touch with friends on Snapchat, while Facebook is where they keep tabs on Grandma. YouTube comes out on top for where Gen Z is interested in getting shopping recommendations (product reviews) and how-to videos (tutorials).

Gen Z loves technology – and as they should. They grew up with accessibility to technology and don’t know a world without the internet, cell phones or Mark Zuckerberg. Gen Z’s dependency on tech has already impacted the way businesses are marketing their products and services. They consume information online – with YouTube leading the charge. YouTube is how members of Gen Z learn how to change a tire, bake a cake, learn an instrument, and more! In fact, 95% of Gen Z uses YouTube regularly and 50% believe they can’t live without it.

With so much focus on digital, traditional media (TV) has taken a back seat. But don’t get it confused, video consumption continues to grow – it’s just on more non-traditional platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and ConnectedTV. In fact, these platforms are instrumental in getting video messages across to members of Gen Z.

How do I reach Gen Z?

Gen Z is really in-tune with brands that are being genuine and authentic in their marketing, more so than any other generation. They identify and focus on meaningful brand interactions and are most likely to dismiss marketing efforts that come across as insincere. Because Gen Z prioritizes transparency, social channels, like Instagram, give consumers the opportunity to

learn and interact with businesses more organically. Gen Z prefers unobtrusive brand messaging, which is evident in the rise, and success, of influencer marketing.

Your business can also reach members of Gen Z by creating a YouTube channel and uploading engaging and informative content. Or, if you’re looking for paid advertising opportunities, YouTube TrueView and/or Bumper Ads will deliver your messages on platforms Gen Z is already using in a cost-effective manner.

To put together a comprehensive marketing approach for Gen Z, talk with the TAG Team. We build brands that matter.

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You’re in love with your new website. Now what?

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The day you have your website built and launched might be one of the best days of your life. But don’t let yourself slack off during the honeymoon phase. There is some serious work to be done to drive traffic to your new site and make an impact in your market.

Be sure to put yourself out there

You know how everyone loves posting their big life events on their social platforms? Do that with your website. It’s a big life event in the timeline of your business, and that’s something you can justifiably brag about. Link to your site through email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other meaningful social platforms.

Word to the wise: Embed your YouTube videos on your homepage to increase your chances of being found organically through search engines.

Pay to play in the digital marketplace

Don’t underestimate the power of cash when it comes to digital traffic. Google Adwords, display ads and even ads on social media take your messaging beyond the limited scope of organic reach. Use a variety of designs and messages to reach targeted audiences and drive traffic to website content relevant to them.

Word to the wise: Marketing budgets are allocating more money to digital marketing each year. Be competitive in the marketplace by promoting your website with audience-enhancing ads.

Know the effect you have on your audience

Keep tabs on your website traffic with tools like Google Analytics. Note where your audience is coming from by monitoring referrals and search terms, and watch which messages gain you the most traffic. This is a strategic way to know what your audience is interested in and what makes your website relevant to them.

Word to the wise: Set goals for traffic—decide which pages you want to see traffic on, how much traffic you want on those pages and how many inbound marketing leads or e-commerce purchases you consider successful in a set increment of time, whether it’s one week or one month. Use digital methods to work toward those trackable goals!

Participate in active listening

Stay responsive to your audience. A digital relationship is something that takes ongoing work—don’t let yourself go just because your site is live. If you treat your website as a “set it and forget it” asset, you’re missing out on opportunities—and revenue! Tweak content and messaging according to your analytical feedback to keep things fresh and relevant.

Word to the wise: Use matching design elements across your website, social platforms, print and broadcast media in order to preserve your brand, but keep your branded content and campaigns dynamic and exciting month over month.

 

TAG understands new website infatuation, but we’re in it for the long haul with our clients. Think of us as your digital relationship counselor. From driving website traffic to creating complete marketing plans, feel free to reach out to the TAG team when your digital presence needs that extra something sprinkled in!

But why male models?

Here at TAG, we’ve been inspired by the brilliant marketing campaigns we’ve seen over the past few days. These three stand-out strategies set fire to our creative fuel, so we’re giving them the attention they definitely earned.

A release on the runway

In case you missed it, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson took to the Valentino runway during Paris Fashion Week in order to promote the Zoolander sequel. The stunt not only announced the motion picture in style, it also grabbed some major attention. Part of the success of this promotion hinges on the serious attitude surrounding Fashion Week and its designers, critics and brands. The surprise appearance was a comedic twist to Valentino’s catwalk, earning buzz not only for Zoolander 2 but also for the well-respected fashion brand.

 

NotThere Campaign

A campaign so subtle, you can’t ignore it

The #NotThere campaign was launched by No Ceilings for International Women’s Day, bringing attention to the state of gender equality worldwide. Implementing dramatic absences of women from billboards, magazine covers and commercials, this campaign not only drew attention through subtraction, it also achieved high success by supporting its messaging with an excellent landing page, well-organized and visually appealing data and clear calls to action.

 

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Bad stock photos make for great advertising

To promote their new movie Unfinished Business, actors Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco and others helped create a series of business-related iStock photos by Getty Images. Playing on the campy and cheesy aspect of stock photos, the cast managed to insert themselves into some laughably terrible stock images—that aren’t a far cry from the actual selection available to and oft-used by marketers. The blankness of stock photos is both the appeal and the detraction when crafting campaigns and promotions, making them the perfect stage for Vaughn and company to tout their new movie.

 

We’re excited to take these pieces of marketing inspiration and put our uncommon energy to work creating successful and meaningful campaigns that stick with our clients’ audiences long after they launch. From surprise appearances to disconcerting disappearances, these campaigns have heated up our creative atmosphere. TAG—we’re it so hot right now!

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Put the heart back into your content

Putting Heart into Your Content Image

Content marketing budgets are predicted to continue increasing, and social media is becoming inextricably linked to a successful content marketing strategy. However, it isn’t always simple to write content that engages and, more importantly, converts. One of the best ways to get that attention you’re looking for is to write content with heart in it, and these are a few tips to help you create content that hits your audience right in the feels.

Do your research

Stay on top of the industry you’re writing for. Set up Google alerts, follow partners and competitors on social media and subscribe to the feeds that will make you a semi-expert in that field. Relevant content starts with relevant information. Ask yourself: “If I made my living in this industry, what would I care about right now?”

Breathe life into your content by using an original voice

After jumping on the bandwagon topic for the industry (you know, for relevance), be sure you stand out. Take the angle that will resonate most with the brand’s target audience. Instead of another voice in the crowd, be a trusted source of information by carefully tailoring your content.

Pick a topic and stick to it

Especially on social media platforms, each individual post should speak to one specific topic. Keep the message clear by efficiently stating the topic, what piece of it you’re addressing and why it matters. This way, content is distributed in easy-to-manage bits that won’t confuse, bore or annoy your audience.

Put your best foot words forward

You have milliseconds to make a good first impression. Put the brunt of your information right at the front of your content. Use relevant photos and impactful words to get your message across even before your audience fully reads your post.

Make the company’s heart beat

The easiest way to lose an audience is to focus on the subject of the company. Warm up your posts by directing attention toward human aspects of the business. Leave out jargon, tell stories, highlight individual people, have fun and reassure your audience that there are, in fact, humans behind that digital platform.

 

If your content doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark, contact TAG. Our team of experts is ready to help you put the heart back into your content. TAG, we’re it!

Social Media for Dummies

How do I use social media to market my business or myself? How often should I post on social media? Which social media network do I need to be part of? What type of content should I post? How do I generate sales from social media?

The tricky part about answering these common questions is that the answer is never the same. The choices you need to make in your social media marketing strategy will all depend on what it is you’re marketing—and to whom.

Do your research

Start by researching who your customers are, how they consume information and how they buy. Every product or service is different, so it’s important that you understand which audience is on which network and how they prefer to communicate. Once you’ve identified your customers’ habits, you can choose one of over 200 different social networks to share information with them.

Entertain, educate and promote

The right strategy for any social media platform is to entertain to grab your audience’s attention, educate to move them to the decision-making phase and promote products and services to close the deal. Over 70 percent of businesses are eliminated in a consumer’s research phase, so build trust by focusing on help instead of hype and creating top-of-mind awareness by being in the same space they are. Many times people will forget about what you do and how you can help if you do not constantly remind them!

Be social

Although social media can certainly be used as an advertising outlet, its platforms are primarily used as social networks. When you see good content, share it and tell your follower why it’s worth their time and attention to become an authority for your audience. Sharing content in a more conversational manner allows you to start discussions, learn more about customer needs and uncover opportunities. Also note that consumers nowadays demand interactivity with their brands. If you are not responding to Tweets, Facebook comments or actively listening for opportunities through social listening, you are missing out.

Manage your time

There are several free tools out there that will help you manage your time in marketing yourself on social media. Hootsuite and Buffer are two free tools that you can use to schedule your content posts in advance during the times your target audience is most active on social media. Gather shareable content from news reader sites such as Feedly which collect valuable content from several sources. Just be careful not to share anything from your competitors!

Outsource your social media management

Although the social media channels are free to sign up (for now) and creating posts are also free, you will soon learn that social media marketing is not free. Time is probably our most valuable asset, and it is very easy to invest many “free” hours into your social media strategy. Even if you have the expertise and capabilities to successfully engage buyers, the amount of time it requires may lead you to explore outsourcing options.

TAG excels at gathering, creating and posting content that engages our clients’ target audiences, and one of the most important advantages of working with TAG is that our clients save loads of time on their digital marketing strategy while still reaping the benefits of the top-of-mind awareness, trust and leads that come with it. Click here for more information on TAG’s social media services!

Do you remember these five social media phenomena from 2014?

As 2014 comes to a close, we might be surprised to remember everything that’s happened since January, especially when it comes to social media. In a digital space where the #trending board changes every day, it can be hard to recall those especially impactful events that gained momentum through social media platforms. To help jog your memory, here are five phenomena from 2014 that we shouldn’t forget.

#SochiProblems and the 2014 Winter Olympics fiasco

What happens when a city can’t boast great living conditions for its own citizens, let alone build itself up enough to support the Winter Olympics? Worldwide ridicule, disgust and #SochiProblems happen. The 2014 Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia, a city that simply wasn’t prepared to handle the burden of hosting, housing and entertaining the hordes of athletes, correspondents and spectators that arrived to watch the games.

Within three days of its launch, the Twitter account @SochiProblems boasted more followers than the official @Sochi2014 account. From technical issues at the opening ceremony to bad bathroom planning, @SochiProblems poked rigorous fun at the humiliating mistakes in Sochi. While most #SochiProblems were due to unfinished construction, there were also issues like lost luggage, dangerous courses and unsanitary food and water. Athletes and journalists alike had a field day with #SochiProblems.

For a hot minute, it seemed that #SochiProblems would shine a light on the civil rights concerns in Sochi and other parts of Russia, but the Internet community was too focused on laughing at toilets to take a closer look at the underlying Russian culture.

The @SochiProblems account has since been modified, but #SochiProblems lingers, reappearing when preparation is horribly lacking and mass chaos ensues. We can only hope that a slew of #RioProblems don’t crop up in 2016!

Ellen’s Oscar selfie that broke Twitter – and the retweet record!

Kim Kardashian set out to “break the internet” in November, but way back in March it was Ellen DeGeneres that managed to shut down Twitter after posting a celebrity-filled selfie on her Twitter account during the Oscars ceremony. In the most retweeted tweet in the history of Twitter, DeGeneres poses with fellow stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt while Bradley Cooper takes the photo.

The crowded frame of actresses and actors gathered around DeGeneres quickly became an iconic and incredible piece of social media history, earning well over three million retweets since it was posted in March. The greatest part of the event was the world’s ability to watch the phenomenon happen in real time on the television and immediately experience the Twitter platform crash on their devices. All hail the Oscar selfie!

The FIFA World Cup 2014 and global conversation

In June and July, the 2014 FIFA World Cup overtook the globe in a dazzling display of digital marketing power. Through social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the tournament reached an incredible number of people, with billions of posts and millions of interactions, passing up the 2014 Super Bowl and Olympic Games on social media venues in the United States. Partly due to digital marketing tactics and features like Twitter’s “hash flags,” the World Cup exploded through viewer participation as they “joined in” the conversation, just as FIFA asked them to do. The social media sphere made the world a little smaller, connecting nations and fans through hashtags, pages and memes (like those about Luis Suarez’s biting problem or Tim Howard’s goalkeeping prowess).

TAG reinforced its social media strategies with some of the things learned from the engagement during the World Cup. Check out the investigation in a  previous blog!

#ALSIceBucketChallenge and viral charity

In a frenzied storm of charity, the ALS Ice bucket challenge took over social media in the summer of 2014. The “ice bucket challenge” itself was not originally linked with ALS, being a method of fundraising in which a few people were challenged to either pour a bucket of ice water over their head or donate money to a charity of their choice.

However, a non-profit baseball tournament raising money for ALS patient Anthony Senerchia Jr. reaped the benefits when #StrikeOutALS was used in conjunction with the challenge, and the challenge became fatefully linked with the fight against ALS. Through concentric social networks, the challenge reached former professional baseball player Pete Frates—and then it really took off!

Pete Frates

With incredible momentum, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge plastered itself across all social media channels, gaining celebrity and even political attention (before it was pointed out that politicians are forbidden from “endorsing” that kind of campaign), and the ALS Association saw a huge leap in donations. In the first month of the challenge, the ALS Association saw nearly ten times the amount of money donated during the same time frame in 2013!

The campaign might have continued if the weather hadn’t become too cold—or if there was anyone left to nominate!

Robin Williams and depression awareness

On August 11, 2014, actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his home at 63 years of age, and his death was ruled a suicide. The beloved comedian struggled with severe depression, a stigmatized illness that took center stage as the details of Williams’ death were released.

From favorite Robin Williams quotes, to well wishes for Williams’ family, to support for those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, social media buzzed with the shock of loss. In the midst of the grief, hope shone in the form of depression awareness. Many spoke out against the stigmatization of depression and suicide, calling out media personalities who deemed Williams a coward for his actions, sharing support for people struggling with their own or a loved one’s illness and posting advice for suicide prevention.

 

It can be difficult to predict what the social media community will latch on to next, but one thing is for certain—events and ideas can spread like wildfire through these channels. What trends are you expecting to see on social media in 2015?