Sandstorm Blog

Karen

Your logo is not your brand. This is a common refrain from designers that combats the common misconception that all you need for a brand is a logo. Our Creative Director, Janna Fiester, shared an article with the rest of the team recently that talked about building an unforgettable brand outside of the logo. It makes a great point that we wholeheartedly agree with. Now this doesn’t mean the logo isn’t important (it is!), but there are definitely other factors to consider when it comes to your brand identity—copy being one of them.

A recognizable voice and tone is as important to the brand identity as the logo. Think about Allstate, for example. You always know an ad is theirs long before you see their logo. That’s the brand in the copy. On your web site, blog, brochure and other marketing materials, the copywriting should capture your differentiator in the marketplace. Your content should reflect any marketing objectives and initiatives currently in place. (Are you reaching out to new audiences or offering new services? Is your voice changing to speak more directly to these new objectives?) And, of course, the voice and tone should be consistent.

To insure we build a complete brand, our copywriters are vital members of the marketing and creative teams here at Sandstorm Design. They work directly with designers during the branding phases, giving each company’s unique identity a unified presence—in the visual elements, the marketing copywriting, and everything in between.

This blog was posted by Karen on May 20, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

MIT has challenged students all over the world to give their best elevator pitch with the YouPitch Contest. This is the first year they've taken the elevator pitch competition to YouTube, requiring students to upload 60-second elevator pitches to compete to win $2000 and international glory. The winner was announced on Facebook, and will receive their award at the grand finale show on May 11 at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.

So, what makes an elevator pitch good enough to win a contest—or for many of us, good enough to win business? First off, it should be conversational. It should clearly point out the need you are filling, the competitive solution you are offering, and how the solution will be carried out. And it should be short, sweet, and to the point. The student competition at MIT called for 60-second pitches. At Sandstorm Design, we do ours in 30… but maybe our elevators are just faster here in Chicago!

You never know what opportunities could be opened with the right pitch. Whether the challenge is a competition or a new client, this part of marketing is always fun and exciting. Learn more about our take on marketing strategy.

Check out our favorite marketing elevator pitches from MIT’s YouPitch contest:

This blog was posted by Karen on May 10, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

Sandstorm Design is thrilled to announce the e-PRO® logo and website launch! e-PRO® is a certification from the National Association of REALTORS® that helps REALTORS® build their businesses online. We loved working on this web site to encourage interaction and conversation (our specialty). A social media API integration on the homepage, including their blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, continues the conversation beyond the website. And certificate holders can create and update a profile to stay connected with clients and peers.

At Sandstorm, we’re all about staying connected with those you really enjoy working with, and that makes this launch even more exciting!

This blog was posted by Karen on November 1, 2010.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Holly

At Sandstorm Design, we live and work by the “Yes, and” marketing strategy. It is one of our core values and reflective in absolutely everything we do. So what is the “Yes, and” marketing strategy? For us, “Yes, and” is a way of thinking. It is being open to new ideas, thinking outside of the box, and drawing outside the lines. It is doing what is asked for, or expected, and then coming up with something new and interesting to also think about. It is always striving to be better, and innovative, and three steps ahead of what’s next.

If you’ve worked with us before, the “Yes, and” marketing strategy is very evident in our creative work. Usually, we will give you one concept that’s exactly what you want (we hope), and another that gives you a new idea to consider. The goal is that, regardless of which concept you go with, we challenge you and show you something unexpected.

And, until now, we sort of thought that we coined the “Yes, and” marketing strategy phrase. Recently, I came across this article that proved otherwise. It also outlined how special “Yes, and” truly is (we invent airplanes ☺), and how the counterpart “Yes, but” also plays into the mix.

This blog was posted by Holly on October 28, 2010.
Holly Brinkman

About the Author

Holly Brinkman

Holly's title at Sandstorm Design is Strategy, Research, and Writing, as she does a little bit of everything. She loves clever advertisements, strong brands, social media, and intuitive web sites.

Karen
New Law Firm Gets a New Web Site

Sandstorm Design is so excited to announce the launch of a new web site for a new firm, Partridge IP Law. Having the opportunity to work with this unique law firm from inception has been such a privilege.

We created their new identity and brand, starting with the logo and print work before moving to the web. While the firm might be new, the attorneys are experienced. Their new web site showcases this expertise with detailed bios and a very active blog. We absolutely loved working with Partridge IP Law, and couldn’t be happier to announce this launch!

This blog was posted by Karen on October 25, 2010.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Sandy
Marketing and Design: Why Powerpoints Fail

Oh, PowerPoint presentations can be so painful. And just for the record, they can be just as painful if not more so for us designers as well. We want to build a brand experience, convey a message, and shout to the audience that we are not boring!

So I heard a presentation about how people learn: kinesthetic learning, auditory learning and visual learning. (I am a kinesthetic and visual learner - go figure). While in the presentation, it dawned on me that powerpoint fails for most of us because it relies so heavily on an auditory learning style, and some ridiculous low percentage of people are auditory learners.

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 10, 2009.
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.

Sandy
The meaning behind the brand names

How much effort goes into a brand name? Sometimes millions of dollars and hours of user research and analysis. Sometimes it's a random employee who comes up with the idea through a contest (think Accenture - accent on the future). We do a lot of naming for our clients whether it be for a new initiative, a new product, a renaming of a company, an internal program, and there really is no one way to go about it. From a brainstorm to all the legal intellectual property searches, I wonder how many hours really went into some of the most well known names out there?

Many people ask me where Sandstorm came from. I should come up with a highly conceptual meaning, but that's not how it happened. Sandstorm was a nickname of mine from college so I went with it because it was fun yet strong, spontaneous and energetic. Plus my maiden name was very difficult to pronounce, spell and remember. When I started the company in 1998 I had no idea that someday I would have an incredible agency filled with Sandstormers. Still wows me today.

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 8, 2009.
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
social media marketing tips to B2B success

Social media marketing successes are strategic - now say that 10 times fast. Every client and prospect we're in front of now a days wants to talk about social media. It's the buzz, it's been the buzz, and now every B2B company is ready to do something... but the big question is what?

I think the bigger question is why? And do you have the capacity in house to either drive the strategy or execute on it? And what is the strategy or purpose for including social media into your integrated marketing campaign - because at the end of the day social media is yet one more marketing tactic you can add to your marketing mix. And it could be fun, and it's exciting, and more and more companies are playing around with it. But who is successful? And why are they successful?

My social media marketing tip for the day is to do your research and study your competitors and companies in the marketplace that you believe are successfully utilizing social media. It's one of the first steps in planning a strategy, and social media should be no different. So start your competitive analysis and start gleaning some insights from those that are further along.

This blog was posted by Sandy on August 13, 2009.
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.

Sandy

So I don't usually write about pop culture, nor about tragedies in the news. But the Michael Jackson brand has just exploded. The PR, the news, the talk shows, the memories, the brand. As I am writing this, there are 404,210 memories from Michael Jackson fans worldwide on the Michael Jackson web site (and growing by the minute!). Web sites are popping up everywhere selling memorabilia. I predict the Michael Jackson brand will only get stronger. And the name 'Michael' will now make it back to the #1 boy's name for 2010 (it was slipping a few years ago after the Michael Jordan days).

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 30, 2009.
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.

Sandy
Marketing tactics to consider when creating your internet marketing and web design strategy

A non profit client of ours recently asked for a list of internet marketing tactics to consider while building her online marketing strategy. Here's where our user experience design firm started with our list:

  • SEO (organic search engine optimization) and linking campaigns
  • PPC (pay per click)
  • Affiliate marketing (think amazon.com’s books)
  • HTML Emails and Auto-responders
  • Conversion Concepts (getting people to do what you want them to do on your site)
  • Web Analytics and Testing
  • Online Video
  • Blogs and Social Media (facebook, twitter)
  • Banner ads
  • Article writing

Does anyone else have more to add?

This blog was posted by Sandy on May 27, 2009.
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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