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Tom Jacobs

Tom, President, uses his keen strategic eye to help clients create groundbreaking creative campaigns. And he's been a thought leader appearing on Bloomberg, WGN, NBC, CMO.com, and Wall Street Journal.  

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Anne Lentino
Anne Lentino

Anne, as a Product Owner, enjoys the opportunity to learn about her clients' diverse fields of expertise. She consistently advocates to make the best products to support each client's growing business, while keeping workflow efficiency and creativity top of mind.

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Amanda Heberg
Amanda Heberg

As the VP, Business Development, Amanda leads new business development, sales, partnerships and marketing strategy across Sandstorm. Amanda collaborates closely with new clients to build strong, long-lasting partnerships while aligning Sandstorm's capabilities to solve client business problems.

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Eric Savage
Eric Savage

Eric Savage is a JavaScript Developer with expert knowledge and extensive experience in front-end development.

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Jeff Umbricht
Jeff Umbricht

Jeff is an Illinois native with a passion for web development. Making code into great things drives him every day. He’s often busy building awesome experiences for Sandstorm clients, and there’s a high probability that he’s rocking out to metal while he codes.

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Nick Meshes
Nick Meshes

Nick is Sandstorm’s Director of Technology & Analytics. He’s boosting our quantitative focus. He’s busy increasing our capabilities in web analytics, website optimization testing, SEO, SEM, display advertising, business intelligence, and personalization.

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Emily Kodner
Emily Kodner

Emily is our Senior Director of Client Delivery. She consults with clients, leads projects and works alongside our team of creatives and developers to provide solutions to complex business challenges.

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Nathan Haas
Nathan Haas

Nathan is a User Interface Art Director at Sandstorm. He is a proud alum of The University of Tennessee. His main focus was print design, but he soon realized the potential of pixels. This combination of print and interactive gives him a unique view of design possibilities.

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Andy Cullen
Andy Cullen

Someday I'll need a real bio, but for now I'm busy creating awesomeness for our clients!

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Janna Fiester
Janna Fiester

Sandstorm's VP of UX & Brand Innovation, Janna, is a design-thinker. Showcased in several design publications and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, she is talented in taking nuggets of good ideas and nurturing them into solutions that are always strategic, engaging and visually delightful.

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Alma Meshes
Alma Meshes

Alma likes to help get things done at Sandstorm. She's worn many hats in her many years here and knows a little bit about everything.

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Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO
Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

So you are on your hunt for a web design or graphic design internship at an innovative design firm, with a great client base, award-winning design work, steller G5's, and nice hourly pay? You are not alone. You are in a crowd of student graphic designers the size of the crowds from the Taste of Chicago. In this economy, a graphic design internship like the example above, with pay, is extremely difficult to find. Not impossible, but difficult.

First ask yourself, would you work without getting paid? Are you truly looking for design experience or are you looking for a part-time job? If you are willing to work unpaid, mention this in your cover letter (and always send a cover letter please). Some companies assume that you want pay with your design internship and don't have it in their budget.

Second, consider all options. Are you looking ONLY for design firms, ad agencies, and web development companies? What about in-house marketing or creative departments at Fortune 1000 companies? Or newspapers? Magazine companies? Many multi-million dollar organizations have superb in-house creative departments and potentially more opportunities. There are many large companies in the Chicagoland area: AllState, Sears, Boeing, McDonalds, Chicago Tribune, etc.

Third, consider local printers. Is there a Minuteman Press or AlphaGraphics near you? Small printers offer design services to their clients since many of their clients cannot afford the design studio prices. Maybe you could walk in and introduce yourself to the owner and offer your services for the summer? This could become YOUR graphic design internship.

Finally, make your own graphic design internship. Okay, so it's not exactly an internship, but you could offer your services pro-bono (free) to your favorite charity or not-for-profit organization. Get involved in your community, practice networking, and build your design portfolio, while at the same time building your community. After all is said and done, a design internship will not guarantee you a design job when you graduate. An internship helps give you some real world experience and keeps you ahead of the competition. There are many excellent designers out there, and in order to compete, look at the best student in your class and realize that he/she is your competition, and the beginning of your networking base.

This blog was posted by Sandy on December 3.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy
What NOT TO DO when looking for a design job

DO NOT email attachments of your design work if you are not asked to. This means NO list of 10+ jpegs of your work, no multipage pdf files of your work, and no attachments that are close to 1 meg or more. I got 5 MB worth of attachments from a student designer, and he sent it twice to make sure I got them all. What a job search mistake! DO NOT email your resume every week. If a company or design firm is interested and has a design job available, they will call you. Sending your resume every week for a month or two will not help you ever.

DO NOT email your resume to every email address you find listed on the company web site. This isn't a lottery. If a company is interested in accepting resumes or has a design job open, they will generally have an email set aside for it.

DO NOT email your resume without a note or cover letter in the message portion of the email. I won't ever open an attachment if I am not expecting one, let alone one from a random designer who didn't take the time to write me a personal message or tell me anything about themselves.

DO NOT call without having an idea what you want to say. We understand you are nervous, and it is tough to make the call, but practice first. You need to sound professional, this is our first impression of you. Also, don't demand a call back, if you leave a message, leave a time when YOU will call back. Most companies don't have time to call back designers, let alone take down your phone number, and your name, etc...

DO NOT email a resume that is 1 MB or more. You'll clog up mailboxes. Better yet, your resume should be 250K or so... bonus points if it's smaller.

DO NOT call and just leave your name and phone number. You won't fool most of us into calling you back, and even if you did, we wouldn't trust you anymore anyway!

DO NOT give up. Your dream design job may only be a resume away.

This blog was posted by Sandy on December 3.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Sandstorm Design wins first place in the Illinois Woman's Press Association Annual Report Awards for their work on the 2004 Annual Report for Cathedral Shelter of Chicago, "Celebrating 90 Years" for the second year in a row, and is now entered into the National contest.

The 2004 annual report theme visually demonstrated how Cathedral Shelter of Chicago evolved over the past 90 years. This 28-page annual report consisted of a vintage cover photo of the founder, vintage photography from volunteer events, financial statements, and lists of donors. Illustrating how, when and where donations were being used integrated with past memories played a major role in the success of the annual report. 

“We want to thank you again for lending your considerable talent and passion to this project,” said Marcy Darin from the Cathedral Shelter of Chicago.

Restoring hope and dignity has been at the heart of Cathedral Shelter's mission since the agency was founded in 1915. The Cathedral Shelter of Chicago offers counseling, education, job preparation, emergency services and provides the emotional and spiritual support to help individuals and families in recovery. 

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 12.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Sandstorm Design wins first place in the Illinois Press Woman's Association Annual Report Awards for their work on the 2003 Annual Report for Cathedral Shelter of Chicago, "Heroes". 

The 2003 annual report theme promoted the multitude of "Heroes" from the Shelter. This 28-page annual report consisted of success stories, photography from volunteer events, financial statements, and lists of donors. Illustrating how, when and where the donations were being used played a major role in the success of the annual report.

"We want to thank you again for lending your considerable talent and passion to this project," said Marcy Darin from the Cathedral Shelter of Chicago.

Restoring hope and dignity has been at the heart of Cathedral Shelter's mission since the agency was founded in 1915. The Cathedral Shelter of Chicago offers counseling, education, job preparation, emergency services and provides the emotional and spiritual support to help individuals and families in recovery.

Sandstorm Design is a marketing design firm offering strategic B2B marketing communications. From print to web, Sandstorm helps companies identify, craft, and clearly communicate their marketing message. 

This blog was posted by Sandy on July 6.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Chicago B2B marketing communications firm, Sandstorm Design, is one of 4 gold sponsors for Northwestern University's industry leading journal for the Department of Integrated Marketing Communications.

The Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications documents and helps define the changing role of communications in today's evolving business environment. Published annually, this journal of best practices publishes thought-provoking articles from the leading minds in marketing practice and academia. The Journal is celebrating its ten year anniversary in 2000 and was formerly the Journal of Corporate Public Relations when the publication began in 1990.

"We're excited to be involved with the leading integrated marketing communications program in the nation," said Sandy Marsico, Sandstorm Design's Principal and Founder. "Our sponsorship reflects our commitment to continuing education and the advancement of marketing as an investment, not an expense."

The mission of the Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications is to provide a forum for communications industry professionals and academia to discuss the theory and application of integrated marketing communications (IMC).

Sandstorm Design offers strategic and integrated web, print and marketing communications. Services include brand strategy, print communications, and web design.

Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism The graduate program in integrated marketing communications combines the traditional areas of marketing communications with business skills in marketing, finance, statistics and organizational behavior to form a unique program on the cutting edge of marketing communications and customer relationship management.

This blog was posted by Sandy on November 1.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Local design firm owner, Sandy Marsico, has been selected to judge upcoming Web Awards in Chicago.

As the number of nominations continue to grow for the 2005 North American Marine Industry Web Awards, today, boats.com and the National Marine Manufacturers Association announced the judging panel for this prestigious new industry initiative. Judges include: Sandy Marsico, Stephen Meade, James Nolan, Fernando Regueiro, and Dana VanDen Heuvel.

The Awards are designed to recognize companies that lead the North American marine industry's drive towards higher standards of excellence in website design and content. Closing date for nominations is Tuesday, November 30, 2004. Five award categories have been created to honor different segments of the North American marine industry and the companies in those segments whose websites demonstrate creativity in design, ease of navigation and up-to-date, relevant content.

Winning companies will hold one of the prestigious titles for a year and will also receive a trophy exclusively designed by world renowned yacht designer, Tony Castro to be presented at a special awards ceremony during the 2005 Miami International Boat Show, being held February 17-21 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

This blog was posted by Sandy on October 20.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Enthusiam. Make sure the web designer (or web design company) is enthusiastic about your project and wants to do it. This may seem odd now, but you'll know when you speak with a few designers, who is truly interested in your company and who is interested in your sale.

Design Experience. Confirm that the web designer has the experience that you are looking for by asking for URLS of previous work. A good web designer should have about 6 solid examples that he/she is proud of in multiple industries demonstrating a variety of design styles to suit each industry. Just because a web designer has 30+ websites doesn't mean they must be good, it may simply mean the web designer works a lot and produces template-type sites. 

Understand that there is no right answer when designing a website. The web designer you choose will create a website and base recommendations off of their experience. If you do not like their past work, they most likely are not a good fit for your company.

Questions. Be ready to discuss your website objectives and company goals. The most professional web designer will do more than make your site look good. The designer will need to be briefed on your current marketing strategy, how you are going to incorporate your new or newly designed website into that strategy, and how they can incorporate their design strategy into the big picture. If a web designer doesn't ask many questions, how will they be able to understand your company enough to visually differenciate your company from the marketplace?

Personality. The key to a successful relationship is mutual respect and good chemistry. Not egos, attitudes, nor technology jargon. If you like one another, you will work well together, be able to effectively communicate ideas, and have fun!

Marketing Savvy. Once the website is up and running, you have finished phase 1. Just because you have a website doesn't mean people will know how to find it. Depending on your need, there are plenty of marketing options for you to choose from. Having a savvy web designer will help make this a smooth process and the site will be already designed with marketing in mind.

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 13, 2004.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

1. Visualize Your Dream and Write it Down!
Putting your dream in writing is the first step to achieving it. The act of writing creates a commitment on your part, and helps you paint an even clearer picture of your future.

2. Invest in Your Identity
If you are looking to start up a new venture, don't skimp on the logo. Your logo is the first impression of your business (especially when all you have are business cards to hand out). If there is one thing to spend some money on, it's building your identity. And don't forget to choose a great company name!

3. Two Words: Royalty Free
Royalty free photography is a designer's dream come true. The images can be purchased quickly, at a reasonable rate, and can be used an unlimited number of times. This is an excellent way to build a beautiful, cohesive look to your brand.

4. Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Developing the ability to fire the "bad" clients can make the difference between a profitable year and a year with too many headaches. Sometimes the chemistry just isn't there, or you have grown apart. Either way, the relationship needs to come to an end - it's better for both parties involved.

5. Find Mentors Outside of your Industry
Some of the best mentors are those outside of your industry, with similar business philosophies and ethics as yourself. If you find someone who inspires and guides you, you've found a new mentor!

6. When All Else is Equal, Go with your Gut
Not sure what to do about a current situation? Listen for that voice inside that I call my gut. This natural instinct can help you make significant creative, business and hiring decisions.

7. Don't Underestimate the Power of Color
Color has the power to persuade, influence and engage a reader. Don't be afraid of color when working on your marketing materials. Thanks to digital printing, full color pieces have become more affordable than ever.

8. When Spec Work, Works
I personally hate spec work. But it worked once when we needed to show a client that we were capable of handling a project and we didn't have the specific experience in our existing client portfolio. If your company decides to hire a design firm based on spec work, make sure there is open communication with the design firms involved to increase their chances of pulling together a creative solution that works.

9. Creativity Takes Time
Designers have a saying...You can get creative work done cheap, quick or good -pick two. Be patient as the best creative ideas generally don't happen the first hour or two of brainstorming.

10. How to Get the Most Out of Your Design Firm
The best way to get the creative results you are looking for from your design team is to outline your marketing goals from the beginning so your designers can create a visual solution to your problem, not just a pretty picture.

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 13, 2004.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

One of the leading textbook publishers, McGraw-Hill, has invested $5 million in several companies that provide the software and applications to create e-books (Wired News, Aug 2000). From the success of e-books in the education industry, a completely new marketing tool has emerged. The e-book for business is not quite a brochure, nor a sell sheet or advertisement, but an informative, sales-driven resource.

Publishing an e-book allows a company to educate their clientele in a noninvasive way, to form strategic alliances with industry partners, and to open a dialogue with potential clients. Like a regular book, an e-book has chapters and pages of valuable information. As a marketing tool, an e-book reflects a corporate image, is distributed to educate prospects, and promotes an organization as the leader in their market for their product or service. 

Because an e-book can be posted to a web site as a downloadable file, sell sheets and pricing can be updated frequently, technological advances in a specific industry can be addressed quickly, and new products and services can be launched in detail without the cost of shipping or printing the publication. 

The trend of e-books in business is becoming a valuable, new marketing tool. Professionally designed and written, e-books can be integrated within a company’s marketing strategy and can reinforce a company’s corporate image. A prospect reading an e-book on a computer screen will do more than just read. Audio and video plug-ins can allow for video clips of product demonstrations and interviews with a CEO. Additional functions of a .pdf file enable prospects to highlight areas of interest, type notes in the margin of the text, and directly contact a company. 

E-books can be a powerful sales and marketing tool to generate leads and increase brand awareness. E-books can be sold on-line or given away as a promotional tool. Don't wait for your biggest competitors to discover the value of e-books.

This blog was posted by Sandy on june 13, 2004.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Not all graphic designers follow the same procedures in completing a project. But this cursory overview will help you become familiar with the ins-and-outs of the creative and production stages of the graphic design process.

Before any work begins, we suggest the following: a communication strategy; assigning one company staff person as the decision maker and key contact for graphic design; a written contract covering project parameters and responsibilities; money matters such as estimates and billing; and a project timetable. Since the communication strategy is the single-most important element guiding a project from its initial stages through final refinements, make sure that you and the graphic designer understand what it says.

Initial research should include an audit of your competitors' and your company's current communications. In trying to establish a distinct position for your company or one of its products or services, you don't want to mimic a competitor's work or contradict a message your company just sent out. 

The first stage of creative work includes concept development. This is an exciting process, exploring various options and weighing their merits against the communication strategy. Once the concept has been established, the refinement stage begins. Along the way, you see the project evolve, each time becoming more refined. Other creative work such as writing, illustration, or photography usually occurs simultaneously with refinement process. 

At the end of the concept refinement stage, the graphic designer will usually present a final comprehensive layout or mock-up to the person at your company who has final approval authority. He or she should be satisfied with everything that will go into the final product, including typography, photography, copywriting, paper and colors. 

Copywriting takes on particular importance because proofreading responsibility rests with the client unless other arrangements have been made. In today's electronic world, desktop publishing allows copy to go directly from word processing to set type. Correcting copy during the word processing stage, rather than later, saves time, money and headaches. 

Since the approval process may involve more than one client representative, expect changes at each decision-making point. It is important, however, that the client's key contact person keeps track of and agrees to all changes before the designer makes them. Then, the production stage begins. 

During production, you will be asked to review and approve preliminary proofs at each stage of the project. This proofing process ensures accuracy at every step in the process and keeps things on budget and on schedule. During the production stage, the designer ensures the technical accuracy and overall quality of the final product. 

A design project can span weeks or months. What you end up with will be the result of a joint effort. Talented designers and savvy clients produce effective graphic design by making the most of their common interests and their individual preferences. If you decide to work together on future projects, take the time to assess your experiences and look for ways to improve. A union forged by success can generate profits and growth for both of your companies. 

Text excerpted from "The Graphic Design Handbook for Business" 
© 1995 American Institute of Graphic Arts/Chicago Chapter

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 13.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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