James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.
Targeted Keyword Phrase
Machines possessing hopes and dreams is a classic theme explored in science fiction. Sandstorm® explored this theme when Acxiom IT restructured their organization and needed a rebrand to reflect their new position as a tech company that dreams of the future.
Acxiom IT recently became a standalone infrastructure management services business, which required a new name and brand strategy to set them apart from their former parent company. Sandstorm® was hired to guide the 46-year-old business as they developed a new corporate identity. The result: the Ensono brand and a vision for the future.
Sandstorm®'s first step was diligent research. We examined the client's history, needs, behaviors and desires to understand where they've been and devised a marketing strategy to help them reach where they wanted to go. In speaking with their senior leadership, it became clear that they wanted to position themselves as a solution that meets the needs of the present and the future. Although they offered industry-leading mainframe solutions, Ensono needed help representing themselves as a company that develops and innovates for the future.
With renewed focus on addressing current client needs while engineering solutions for the demands of tomorrow, we turned to creating a new name. Sandstorm® went international while exploring the concepts of progress and dreaming: "enso" is a Zen concept that refers to strength and creativity, and "in sogno" is an Italian expression meaning "in dreams." By merging these words and concepts together, Ensono, or the company that dreams, was created. This idea of inventive and adaptable thinking followed through the positioning statement, key messages, content marketing tactics, and digital marketing strategies.
Sandstorm® assisted Ensono with their brand launch and website development and has continued to partner with them on many projects including: collateral materials, promotional video, product campaigns, corporate signage, and assisting with the interior design of their new office space.
If you are dreaming of a new marketing strategy, Sandstorm can make it a reality.
Sandstorm® recently acquired some new hardware when we took home the Best Launch Award at the B2B Marketer Awards & Conference for our marketing campaign rebranding Holden, a global leader in sales performance development.
Like many businesses, Holden was in a shifting industry and looking for a way to stay relevant while standing out. Sales training was seen as an ineffective & inefficient necessity, leading Holden to borrow from the eLearning industry to disrupt their industry by repositioning as a SaaS company. Sandstorm came in to create their new brand strategy, which included the bold claim that "sales training is over".
This disruption, punctuated by the new tagline game-changing sales habits, moved Holden away from a traditional sales training organization to an innovative, educational solution for developing talent. The brand launch campaign, that included a new identity, tagline, digital marketing, website and marketing collateral, helped Holden achieve 106% their annual lead gen goal in the first 5 months.
Congratulations to the award winning, Sandstorm team: Chief Strategy office Laura Luckman Kelber, Executive Creative Director Janna Fiester, Creative Director (Content) John Rausch, Account Director Alicia Newland and UX Art Director Nathan Haas!
As 2015 draws to a close, Sandstormers are busy wrapping up our New Year’s resolutions before the clock strikes midnight. Help us celebrate the completion of each goal with these fun GIFs!
Be sure to check back each day until 2016!
Resolution: Save Money
Megan is counting her pennies as 2015 winds down. Looks like somebody is ready for a vacation!
Resolution: Take Fewer Ubers
Adam is determined to spend less time in Ubers in 2016 and more time on his feet!
Resolution: Finish a scarf
Just as the snow begins falling again in Chicago, Alicia is finally getting around to finishing that scarf she started back in 2007. Better late than never!
Resolution: Exercise more
It is everyone's perennial resolution - as soon as January 1 rolls around, those gym memberships start flying in. Unfortunately most of us fall off the bandwagon by February. This year Lisa has been creative in getting her lift in wherever she can.
Resolution: Learn Spanish
Executive Creative Director Janna is putting in some last-minute study hours to try and perfect her Spanish before the clock strikes medianoche!
Resolution: Relax more
Developer Jeff can always be found hard at work building a jazzy website for our clients. So now he is trying to get in some last minute rest time before the new year.
Resolution: Unsubscribe from email lists
Our Art Director Nathan had too many emails flooding his inbox. So this year he made the choice to finally get around to unsubscribing from all the lists he was no longer interested in. Of course, we were there to help him celebrate his accomplishment!
Resolution: Read all the books Laura has recommended
Laura Luckman Kelber, our Chief Strategy Officer, is a voracious reader. Luckily, she always lets us know when a particularly good book crosses her path. This year, Kellye devoted herself to tackling the “Laura-Recommended Reading List!”
Sandstorm is proud to be one of “Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For” as named by the National Association for Business Resources.
It’s wonderful to be honored for something we’ve been passionately striving for – making Sandstorm the best place to work! Of all the small businesses in the Chicago area, we are in the Top 50. The selection process looks at all aspects of business including: compensation, recruitment, achievement and recognition, work-life balance, and more.
“It is rewarding to see that we excel at employee enrichment and engagement. 'Learning and Sharing' is a core value for us,” says our CEO, Sandy Marsico. “Every day Sandstormers grow and pass along their knowledge to other creatives, developers, and strategists.”
We also scored particularly high in strategic company performance. Our entire team is aligned to move us and our clients forward every day. Our consultative approach is always thinking about the latest digital trends and how to find white space opportunities for our clients.
Everyone at Sandstorm is excited about the Chicago Blackhawks winning their sixth Stanley Cup!
As we’ve all anxiously watched games throughout the season(s), we noticed something familiar. (No, not “Chelsea Dagger.”) The Hawks display core values similar to ours. (If you need a reminder they are: Learning and Sharing, Warrior Spirit, and Have Fun) We haven’t changed our business to be more hockey-centered, but the connections between our winning formula and theirs is pretty clear.
Learning and Sharing
The Hawks are always training. They’ve never rested on their laurels from past wins. They don’t rely on their skill and natural talent. Every day they’re practicing and training to be a stronger and more agile team. They’re studying their past games to improve their performance and to make note of what their competition is doing.
Some of them have been at this for a long time, consider the coaching staff. Everyone has an experience or expertise that they can share with their teammates to help them improve.
How much do I have to say about this? HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED THEM PLAY?!
They take every game seriously, and they have each other’s back. They’re a team first and foremost. There are stars (the ones on commercials and billboards), but on the ice they are all working toward the same goal.
Everyone is putting out their best to win, not for themselves, but for the whole team. Look at Duncan Keith logging over 715 minutes in the postseason. Goalie, Corey Crawford shutout 25 goal attempts in Game 6 of the finals alone. That’s a LOT of Warrior Spirit.
After all the hard work they’ve put in this season, now is the time to have fun. Following the intensity, the team can finally unwind. If you’ve seen the news this week, you’ll know that they have, too, in clubs, parties, and the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Yesterday they’ve had a ticker-tape parade through downtown Chicago with at-capacity rally in Soldier Field. They have the attention of the city and the world, and they all get the opportunity to share their excitement and win with their day with the Stanley Cup at a venue of their choosing. Many choose to go to their hometowns to share with their families and friends.
Getting to the Cup
All of these factors come together to win. We at Sandstorm don’t have a cup we’re aiming for, we just want to do good work for good people. While we’re not in the national spotlight, we work just as hard together to make great things happen. Whether it’s a responsive website or a rebranding project, our team is working to make our clients scream “GOOAALLLLLLLLLLLL!”
[Our image for this post is of delicious Stanley Cup-cakes that Alicia brought in from Bennison's. Celebration never tasted so good!]
We have quite a few traditions at Sandstorm, and one of my favorites is our Holiday Party (and the 24 hours that follow it). After many years of battling calendars, I’ve discovered a human truth – just about everyone is free on Sunday night. I’ve also come to realize that the greatest gift I can give my amazing and hardworking team is the gift of… sleeping in.
So, we merged those ideas and another Sandstorm tradition was made! Every December we pick a Sunday night for our big bash at Chicago favorite, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (a group then goes out for an after party), and the following Monday we don’t open until 1pm. And when we do, it’s a comfy and casual pajama day – complete with pjs and slippers. With a cup of hot tea, sparkling lights and cookies galore, it’s the most wonderful (work) day of the year.
As we wrap up our “advent”ures for 2014, thank you for an awesome year of creativity, fun, growth, and collaboration! (And a special thanks to the Sandstorm team who worked together and managed to get everyone to write a blog post this year... anyone in digital marketing knows what a victory this is!)
It's been a great year. Thanks for being a part of it!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Sandstorm :)
Earlier this year, my roommates and I (one of whom is also a fellow Sandstormer) decided that we were ready for change. We looked to the east and found New York City calling our name. A few short months later we had our bags packed and were on the road leaving most of Chicago behind us. Fortunately for us, Sandstorm wasn’t quite ready to be done with with the two of us. They gave us the opportunity to stay a part of the web development and UX design team while working remotely from New York City. Not knowing exactly what we were in for, we were happy to stay on the team, so we said yes. Now only three short months, two internet routers, and one coffee maker later, I have to say that I couldn’t be happier that we did.
My mornings start with me joining a Google Hangout for our agency status meeting where everyone in the office discusses our tasks for the day. As a UX designer I find it easier to talk through my ideas, which is why a typical day for me is filled with short 1-1 video meetings discussing tasks, brainstorming projects, and learning and sharing new ideas. Because we’re a digital marketing agency, a lot of our work can be viewed and shared online and through the cloud, which means I’m still constantly collaborating with other Sandstormers.
A Part of the Team
It’s safe to say that our fellow Sandstormers go out of their way to include my roommate and I in whatever it is that’s happening around the office that day. Whether it's ordering us food to celebrate a co-workers birthday, or pulling a video of us up on the laptop so that we can make an appearance in the annual Halloween photo, we’re never out of the loop of the day to day office activities. We’ve even joked about making a makeshift robot by attaching an iPad to to a stick to a Roomba so that we can roam around the office just like old times.
The past three months with Sandstorm have definitely been a journey. Getting through the initial hurdles of setting up a remote office can be a challenge. But once you get the technology to work and everything starts to flow smoothly again, you can pick up right where you left off. And if you get the chance to work with as great a team as ours at Sandstorm, it can feel like you never left.
I am extremely proud of the caliber of designs our team created in 2014.
One project in particular stands out to me. The client has been really fantastic about giving us a lot of freedom with creative. Freedom is great, because it lets you try new things and really think outside the box. However, opportunity to explore always comes with a little risk. If we’re too far out of the box, will the client be disappointed?
We met to present responsive web design concepts. Embracing Sandstorm’s “Yes, and” philosophy, we had one web design concept that was polished and on strategy. The other web design concept pushed the creative.
We unveiled the first concept to a lot of head nods, but when they saw the user experience design from the second, their eyes lit up and they leaned in. The client turned to us and said “I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t think you’d knock it out of the park, and you did.”
So this year, I’m proud to be working with a team that pushes the envelope and tries new things, and to get to work with clients who are willing to think a little differently, too.
As Nathan has already illustrated, we take having fun very seriously here at Sandstorm. One of my favorite memories of the past year came after a particularly busy month when Laura decided that the Strategy team would embark on a much-needed outing to decompress and get away from the office for a bit.
Since the Strategy team was all female at the time (until Reilly arrived!) we decided to get our nails done on a Friday afternoon. This was followed by cocktails and catch up. While the pampering was fun, the best part of the afternoon for me was sitting around a table with my fellow Sandstormers talking about everything from likes and dislikes, to family, to funny stories about bad dates. Around 6:00pm I realized that I had to leave because I had somewhere to be, and I was genuinely bummed to be going elsewhere.
When you work at a place as busy as Sandstorm, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day deliverables and strategic thinking. But when you have a team as tightly knit as we are, you truly consider them a second family. Outings like this one keep us all grounded and allow us to reconnect over a cocktail and have a good laugh, which, to me, is such an important part of the Sandstorm culture.
I can’t wait for our next outing. Don’t worry, Reilly, we’ll choose a different activity!
I am going to brag about my team of Strategists. They are, as Sandy would say, “Awesome!” Why, you ask, are they awesome? Well, first off they are extremely passionate about what they do and how they serve our company and our clients. There is never a day or assignment where they just “get something done.” They embrace our clients’ challenges as their own.
This passion helps ensure that our clients get the very best work possible, while also staying on time and on budget (which is no easy feat). They also are highly accountable and when there is a miscommunication or problem, they always think of how they could have avoided it and how they can mitigate it in the future.
Additionally, they are big sponges. Not only do they never shy away from a learning opportunity, but they run toward any opportunity that is presented. This means that we are always getting better, every single day.
Oh, did I mention that they are selfless, too? They are always willing to help out someone on the team, no matter how busy they are. They are always looking for ways to ensure the creative and development teams have the time and resources they need to do the best work possible.