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Will
Cornucopia of thanks from Sandstorm

Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and Hanukkah begins this week as well. It’s a time to be grateful for the goodness of life. To mark this festive time, I asked Sandstormers: “What are 3 things for which you are thankful?”

Interestingly enough, I noticed a number of patterns in the responses. (I’m always looking for patterns anyway). So, here are the many thanks of Sandstorm by the numbers:

We all love our families, friends, and Sandstorm. (No one was bribed to say Sandstorm and co-worker related things.) We also are appreciative of our health. Sandstormers also rank food and drink highly, which depending on the food and drink might actually counter our good health.

I also asked what everyone is most anticipating at Thanksgiving dinner. The most common answer was stuffing followed by the chaos of having a big family get together. (I said pie and expect there are more pie lovers out there.)

As much as I hate cliché (which, might I add, is a terrible way to start a paragraph), Sandstorm is a cornucopia. We’re all different but still belong in the same basket. (Someone please explain the cornucopia basket to me, it seems so inefficient). We all have different backgrounds, but still share the same values (and cravings).

Take some time to think about what is important in your life (at work and at home). For what are you thankful?

As a special holiday bonus, I’ve included everyone’s full responses below. Enjoy!

(In no particular order)

Sandy

The one thing I am most anticipating at Thanksgiving dinner is eating carbs with no guilt.

I'm thankful for:

  • My fellow awesome Sandstormers
  • My family
  • My health

Janna

Having dinner at our new house with my family and new friends.

I'm thankful for:

  • My first holiday in our new house
  • Healthy family and friends
  • Good food and beer

Nathan

I am most anticipating seeing my family, playing pool with my grandfather & uncles and celebrating my Mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!

I'm thankful for:

  • Friends and Family
  • Freedom to make my own decisions
  • My fantasy football career success

Derek

Anticipating a delicious prepared meal as last years venue was really pretty awful.

I'm thankful for:

  • A continuously interesting workplace and colleagues
  • HBO GO
  • Upstairs neighbor that is never home

Jason

Stuffing!

I'm thankful for:

  • Jon [his husband]
  • Sandstorm
  • comic books

Drew

The thing I am most anticipating at Thanksgiving dinner is finding out where Bree’s chosen to order from.

I'm thankful for:

  • My Wife and Cats
  • My Health
  • My Creative Freedom

Emily K.

Stuffing

I'm thankful for:

  • Cheese
  • Pajamas
  • Family

Mike M.

NOISE! Thanksgiving is at the Marsico’s this year!  We are a bunch of LOUD Italians! You’re welcome, Sandy. ;)

I'm thankful for:

  • My loving family
  • Good health
  • Mexican food

Alma

Chaos. There will be 10 people and 2 dogs, so something is bound to happen!

I'm thankful for:

Andy

Stuffing

I'm thankful for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Football

LLK

Sufganiyot, since its Hanukkah

I'm thankful for:

  • Coffee
  • Sleep
  • Mexican beaches

Kyle

Stuffing. I love it.

I'm thankful for:

  • The Internet
  • Friends
  • Family

Megan

Cranberry wine

I'm thankful for:

  • My family
  • The Clinton family
  • Dogs

Meaghan

A full belly

I'm thankful for:

  • Old Fashioneds
  • Ira Glass
  • Airplanes

Emily Y.

Not a joke, my grandma’s homemade ranch dressing.

I'm thankful for:

  • Family
  • Friends (yes, including coworkers)
  • Health

Michael

Staying home.

I'm thankful for:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food

Jesse

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the family that I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health

Will

Pie… all of the pie.

I'm thankful for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Cats
This blog was posted by Will on November 27, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Sandstorm Bowling at Timber Lanes

On November 1, if you called our office in the afternoon, you weren’t able to reach anyone. We all played hooky and went bowling.

Our core values rolled into one event

Sandstormers have three core values, and our experience on Friday tied together all three:

  • Warrior Spirit: Things got competitive, and we fought through our bowling shortcomings to, for the most part, stay out of the gutter.
  • Learning and Sharing: Some of us were re-learning how to bowl and learning how to score by pencil. Others were sharing technique, pointers, and math skills.
  • Have Fun: We were bowling! Some pizzas, some beers, a few laughs. Plus, we had a jukebox playing tunes such as the Gipsy Kings rendition of Hotel California.

Strike? Spare? Turkeys!?

Our expedition started with a good (and thorough) presentation on scoring by our in-house bowling aficionado Derek. It was a good refresher for everyone. This is bowling. There are rules.

Rolling the Lanes

We headed to Timber Lanes, swapped our shoes and got to business. It got competitive, but everyone was perfectly calm, dude. No one entered a world of pain. (Though, I’m pretty sure I went over the line on one occasion.)

All right! Way to go, Sandy!

Thanks for a great time. I can’t wait to share our next adventure. You can see more of our bowling shenanigans on Facebook and Instagram.

This blog was posted by Will on November 19, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Happy Halloween from Sandstorm

Sandstorm is full of creative minds. We’re dreamers most of the time, and we can’t wait for Halloween to stretch our legs as tricksters. Halloween is always festive at Sandstorm (check out 2011 and 2012).

Annually, you tend to see the scary, the fun and the odd. This year, our costumes ranged from the fun (a larger than life penguin) to the terrifying (fitness guru Richard Simmons). It’s always fun for everyone to have fun while expressing themselves in a different way. Plus, Sandy sweetens the deal by closing the office early.

For the past 3 Halloweens we have had a costume contest. In 2011, a clown won. In 2012, the prize went to a chilling Cenobite (It’s from the Hellraiser films), and this year went to…well, modesty prevents me.

You can see more of our costumed adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

This blog was posted by Will on November 7, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Scarestorm at Sandstorm

While developing new web sites, repositioning businesses and creating great collateral for our global clients; we’ve taken a little time to get into the Halloween spirit. No, we haven’t been wearing our costumes, but we will. (Sadly, Jason has not been wearing a ski mask every day.) Don’t be scared, we’re still working every day to bring innovative campaigns and technology to you.

Peek inside the agency to see what horrors can be found. (More photos are on theSandstorm Facebook page).

See what past Halloweens have brought to Sandstorm in 2012 and 2011.

This blog was posted by Will on October 11, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Brand strategy - voice and tone

What sets authors apart? Subject matter? Historical context? It really boils down to their words. Read these three literary excerpts.

  1. The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper.
  2. When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits.
  3. It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.

These are clearly from different authors. One is a British master (Charles Dickens), an American man’s man (Ernest Hemingway), and an Edinburgh single mother with a love of magic (J.K. Rowling). Without knowing who was who, you could tell simply from the test that every passage was at least from a different person (yet alone a different time period).

How does your business communication relate to this? Is your company’s voice recognizable?

Could you look at 4 different company whitepapers or pages of your website and feel like they are written by different people?

It’s often overlooked, but the voice and tone of a company is as important as color palette, iconography, and photographic style. Below are four reasons why you need to put more emphasis on your company’s voice and tone.

 1. Consistency

It adds to the consistency of your brand. What kinds of words you use, sentence length/complexity, use of descriptors are all things to consider. It’s just like visual brand consistency. Consistent voice and tone makes it easy for new team members to integrate and start communicating for the company. It creates a regular expected voice for your company that is almost as recognizable as your logo and tagline.

2. Identity and Culture

Who you are as a business and as a brand is important. You know how MailChimp, Chase, McDonald’s, UPS, and many well known brands sound. Hospitals speak differently than banks. Mountain Dew speaks differently than Diet Coke. Your brand has a personality and you should be reflecting that in your words on the web, in print and in all communications.

 3. Customer Relationship

Are you talking in their vernacular? Are you talking up to them? Down at them? Are you trying to educate them? Do you just want to sell to them? Your content and how you deliver it engages your customer is different ways.

  • Come to the zoo.
  • You really should go to the zoo.
  • Go to the zoo!
  • The zoo is great. It would be a shame if you missed out.
  • You’re fun (so is the zoo).

These all say the same thing, but all sound very different. Do you want to be more imperative? Do you want to have a sense of humor about your brand? Do you want to be seen as a trusted friend?

This post is full of questions that are meant to help you and your organization create a voice and tone that conveys your brand across every communication vehicle. Voice and tone are part of who you are as a company and who you are as a group of people working toward a goal.

The old aphorism remains true: “It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.”

How do YOU want to say it?

This blog was posted by Will on August 30, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

Will
7th annual Sandstorm guac-off

This Sunday was the 7th annual Sandstorm Guac-Off. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon of fun and food (and some canned champagne). This was an exceptional Guac-Off. We had a whopping 10 entries with special ingredients ranging from sweet to savory, mango and pineapple to hummus and edamame.

I know you’ve all been waiting, and the results are in. Being crowned in her first Guac-Off, this year’s “El Champion” is Emily Kodner (with a substantial assist from her husband Kenny).

Sandstormers must like it hot, since the winning guacamole was the spiciest with roasted jalapeños. You can see pictures of the winners, winning guacamole and more on our Facebook page.

This blog was posted by Will on July 30, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Sandstorm's new digital coordinator - Megan Culligan

Megan Culligan, Sandstorm’s new Digital Coordinator, knows the importance of picking a winner. With a background steeped in politics and public relations, Megan knows that a successful campaign requires the coordination of many moving pieces and a team focused on achieving a great goal. (Good thing we at Sandstorm know the importance of a great campaign, too).

Megan’s experience gives her an analytical point of view. She’s not always the loudest voice in the room, but you can guarantee that when she speaks up, she’s been actively thinking and listening.

This absorption of knowledge is a big part of Megan’s life. She fulfills this hunger for knowledge as an avid reader. When she’s not keeping up to date with the latest industry trends or changes in the political landscape, Megan spends quite a bit of time with Hank, her golden retriever.

Megan, welcome to the Sandstorm team!

This blog was posted by Will on July 24, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Responsive Web Development earns Drew and Alma a sweet treat

This morning the Sandstormers were greeted by a very welcome surprise from Sweet Sensations Bakery. This assortment of scones, cupcakes, and, my personal favorite, coffee was a thank you gift from our partner .orgSource. We recently developed their brand new responsive site (all made in Drupal). Take a look at their site on your desktop, tablet and smartphone. We’re really proud of it, and we’re glad that .orgSource is, too!

Thank you to Sherry, Tara and the rest of the .orgSource team for this thoughtful gift and the opportunity to develop your new responsive site. Congratulations!

This blog was posted by Will on July 10, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

Will
Sandstorm celebrates Independence Day

Tomorrow is Independence Day. What does that mean? Is it just the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Is it an excuse to get tipsy in the glow of pyrotechnics? Is it a reminder of who we are and what we do? Does the day mean anything to you at all?

I asked the Sandstormers what America meant to them and got some interesting responses.

  • Cultural diversity, acceptance, and hamburgers, BBQ and tacos
  • Star spangled awesome
  • Fireworks, Beer, BBQ
  • Bring on the Fireworks!
  • AMERICA! Canada's britches
  • Possibility, hope and family
  • Always moving forward
  • Home of the free
  • Limitless potential, scrappy grit, breathtaking topography
  • Cheap beer, grilling and bottle rockets

Some of us are already celebrating.

As you can see, the answers are all over the map. Which is great! We’re individuals who are all over the map. Ranging from where we come from, where we live, what we do outside of the office, and what we eat and drink. (You can see on the left that some of us have already started celebrating.) We’re silly and range from normal to weird (I’m closer to the weird end). Despite all of this, we come together everyday to create great things for our clients, whether it’s full marketing campaigns, company mascots, Drupal websites... you name it.

This is what America means to me. It’s the culmination of people, experiences, and backgrounds to do something great.

To answer all of the questions I asked at the beginning: Yes. Tomorrow, and America for that matter, means what you want it to mean. Independence Day is not a celebration of a country or an anniversary. This is the celebration of who we are and what we do and, more importantly, the potential of what we can (and will) do.

We, here at Sandstorm hope to accomplish something great with you very soon, but for now we hope you have a great and safe celebration tomorrow, whether you’re at home for a quiet day, at the park watching fireworks, or traveling cross-country to light sparklers with family.

Happy Independence Day!

This blog was posted by Will on July 3, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Sandstorm's new digital production designer - Jesse Lankford

For Jesse Lankford, our new Digital Production Designer, design is a way of life. He brings a curator’s eye to our designs and ensures every client’s brand shines.

Jesse studied Graphic Design at Columbia College and continued to cultivate his talent by joining the AIGA Chicago chapter. His ability to articulate a vision through disciplined design practice makes him a perfect fit within the Sandstorm creative team.

As one of the founders of Loosey Goosey, an art zine, Jesse provides a venue for underexposed artists to showcase their work. Through Loosey Goosey, Jesse curates art shows, designs the zine, and creates promotional materials to build recognition for the zine and the artists it supports.

Welcome, Jesse!

This blog was posted by Will on June 5, 2013.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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