Falling into Place

Lately I have been in a black and white film phase. I have always had a great respect for early photographers and their ability to capture the experiences and emotions of life. Digital photography simply lacks something to me and I feel I need to work in film to ultimately improve my eye. After all, editing only enhances photos. I also have a lot of love for the artistry of developing and printing traditional prints. Editing raw photos digitally is wonderful (and a true art in itself), but I love the hands-on personal feel traditional photography emits. Unfortunately, film photography is becoming more and more a niche specialty. It really is a shame.

I have been lazy for some time now and I have only gone out a few times in the past few months. In fact, the last time I picked up a camera for more than a minute or two was Tybee Island a few weeks ago. I am still kicking myself for screwing up my film from NYC among other things. It’s painful to develop film from a really good shoot and find you loaded the film wrong. Epic Fail. Well, here are few digital frames I just loaded on my computer from tonight. Hopefully the film comes out awesome! If it does, l”ll create a full post in the near future!

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What’s Brewin’ Today? Part IV

Today I attempted to work on some photo ideas, but nothing really screamed “Awesome” to me. It’s a combo of not having access to a light kit anymore and it’s a first draft. As a result, I just want to put out some “test” ideas and see what responses I get. I have always been horrible at editing my own work. Anyway, here are a few ideas I have been playing around with. Hopefully something will spark some interest. Photography is a process to me and I like to grow on my prior attempts. Those of you who know me well know my jaw dropping tendency to “finish” a project and decide to scrap it and start over. As this is a draft, ignore the lack of photo editing and color/grain issues. This was shot with horrific lighting and at ISO 800. I am shooting digital, but still… ISO 800. I know and I am really missing my access to photoshop… a lot. I may try using GIMP, but I think I will have access to CS4 pretty soon. YEAH!!! My goal is to create something that points out the difference in tea bag shape and how that makes the PG Tips bag pretty unique in an industry saturated by similar products.

As a theme/slogan/goal: “Look at your brand at a new angle”. Too Cheesy?
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What’s Brewin’ Today? Something “Caffeine Free”

For most people, having a base heart rate of 60 beats per minute is something to be proud of. For me, I tend to be down somewhere in the low 40s or high 30s. It’s one of the lovely benefits of riding a bike something like 150-200 miles per week. Today I woke up and counted a heart rate of 55 beats per minute. That is probably not a healthy sign, but you have to die from something. I’m going out with coffee in my hand.

Well, my room is littered with all kinds of tea. Research. It’s very important and the great part is I get to mix my caffeine addiction with my photography addiction in the near future! I do that anyway, but this time, I have a little more of a purpose. I have what I hope is a clever promotional ad planned out in my mind and the photography session is on my list of things to do for Thursday. I’ll see how it goes and hopefully play around with that over the weekend.

Today I worked on a draft for a container for my tea cards. I figure I want to enter the business of branding products and product packaging is a very important aspect to managing a brand’s identity. After all, the packaging of a product is the first “real” experience a consumer experiences when they actually interact with a product. And it is also important to note a visually stunning and unique package appeals to our senses. We  use are senses to judge our surroundings after all!  There is a good chance that if something looks good, it is going to contain something that really is good. It is also a great way to make your product unique. Take for example the bottled water industry. There are countless choices, but almost all come in very similar packaging… generic plastic bottles. That is except for a few premium choices. A good example is the Norwegian premium water known as Voss.  They also package wine in the same way.  Yeah Wine!

Last time I checked it cost something like $4 for a 750 ml etched glass bottle. I have to admit, I have bought a bottle just to try and I suggest you spend your money elsewhere. It is marketed as “Pure Norwegian Water.” If you want “pure water,” I suggest you invest your hard earned money into distilled water. It is roughly $.79 per gallon and taste pretty much the same. That is unless I am managing the brand’s advertising identity. In that case, it’s worth $10 per bottle and you should buy it. That is a savings of $6 per bottle right?

Well, the visually appealing look of Voss Water is what makes it worth $4 per bottle. It takes a bottle of water and makes it into something different. When you consume Voss you are not consuming water, you are consuming a brand and that says a lot about who you are. Alcohol companies like Grey Goose attempt to do the same thing with their aesthetically appealing bottles, but unlike water, there is a little more of a difference. They also employ a host of other marketing tactics like celebrity endorsements and so forth. Water companies also employ a variety of marketing tactics, but not at the level of alcohol distributers. Regardless of the product, its packaging is vital in expressing its brand identity.

That is what I hope my business card idea does for me. Here is my idea for “product packaging.” As I am making functional tea bag cards, they need to come in something right? Well, the idea is if a client comes to me and seems like a good potential customer, I will send them back home with a box of tea. Unlike other business cards, mine hopefully becomes part of the office kitchen or personal stash of the potential client. From experience, I have noticed people like a good cup of hot tea while they are working. Four years of going to a top ranked school and that’s what I learned. Haha. More importantly, my cards act as a memory stimulant in two ways. There is the obvious… caffeine… plus they put my name out there every time someone gets a tea bag. Even if they do not actively see what is on the tea bag, it acts to remind potential customers of my name and hopefully makes me look unique. After all, if you are trying to sell your product, it might be a good idea to go with the person who can sell themselves as a product. It also does not hurt to put you name out there “in mass.” Traditional business cards really work once, mine works multiple times.

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What’s Brewin’ Today? The next cup of course!

Who says research can’t be fun?

Well it can be. After something like 100 cups of tea and a lot of trial and error, I have made what I hope are some improvements to my business card idea. See for yourself!
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Part of what draws me to the idea of using a tea bag for my business card is the integration of product design and advertisement. A product’s design naturally defines the product as a useful physical object, but at the same time, part of what defines a product is the experience you get when you use it. Good Advertising identifies those types of product details and exploits them. That is easily enough to understand if you are talking about something like a coffee maker where ergonomics is the main issue for the designer, but really good designs are multi-dimensional. Yes I am aware most people think a coffee maker is just a coffee maker, but good designs do not “just work”, rather they “work better” than competitive designs. Just imagine two coffee makers that make identical cups of coffee, but otherwise differ in programing, physical design, and what have you. I do not know about most people, but I like things that just “work better.”

That is where it gets complicated making a business card. The function of a business card is not really defined by its physical usefulness outside the issue of making a card that is convenient, aesthetically pleasing, and memorable as a physical object. I loved the idea about making a carbon fiber card, but theory and practicality do not always mix. No biggie, just a fact of life.

So what defines a really good business card? I am sure everyone has their own unique answer, but I think I can answer my first question with its own question: Is it uniquely memorable? After all, a business card ultimately acts as a networking device. It is the original Facebook/Myspace/LinkedIn. It simply connects people and provides a means to remember a face and organize connections. After that, does anyone really care? So what makes a business card “uniquely memorable?” In my case, it is the fact people connect me with my never ending cup of tea/coffee. That is who I am and as a result, my card will hopefully cause some neurons to connect and lead to an association. It is the “This is different… oh! I remember this person” feeling. From there, I hope my design and other work speak for itself

Well, I will continue to work on my idea and expand on what was working in the next draft. Along with idea of a tea bag, I think I will build a box for my “brand” of tea! And why not some more varied print media too? In my highly caffeinated research sessions I kept noticing the shape of tea bags. In particular, the PG tips bag. It is triangular and unlike any other bag. Like me, it “brings a new angle” to tea bags. Well, I have some ideas about how to play with that.

What’s Brewin’ Today?

I’ve noticed something lately that really bothers me.. un-inspired business cards. Well, it’s time for me to design myself one and I refuse to join the legions of entrepreneurs sporting 3.5″x2″ black and white business cards!

After all, business cards are a time honored tradition and should reflect something personal about yourself and what you offer as a business partner. Furthermore, they are a memory device and a good card should immediately remind any potential customer exactly who you are and why they should hire you. And in the advertisement industry, if you can not market yourself as a unique and valuable product, how are you going to advertise someone else’s product effectively?

Well, I’ve been described as a caffeine addict. I’m functional without it, but I really prefer to have my coffee or tea with me… always. Those of you who know me well know how I feel about green tea in particular. It soothes the soul, energizes the mind, and keeps our bodies naturally in check. Mix it with a little honey and I feel ready to take on whatever the world can throw at me.

That’s when I started thinking, why not find a way to promote myself with green tea? At first I wanted to build a carbon fiber business card (reflective of my love of cycling), but that’s a little impractical. Carbon fiber edges are sharp… really sharp and I do not want to cut potential employers. You would be remembered, but not in a good way. Well, I also love tea and tea is not usually dangerous. As a personality, people always expect me to have a cup of something with me. It is just who I am. When I would show up to class without my tea, my professors would almost immediately ask me where my tea was and what was wrong. It was like they knew something was up simply because they did not see me with my unique and identifying mark. Oh how I love integrating psychology into my work!

So I have found my potential idea, but of course… all things have their issues… how to integrate a personality characteristic into a business card? After all, a business card needs to not only be memorable, it needs to be easily transportable and storable. Maybe that’s why everyone pretty much ends up with a 3.5″x2″ card. It’s convenient and convenience… that’s a very valuable thing.

So after some thought I have decided to package my card as a tea bag. Although tea bag packaging is not the most durable of paper, that is easily fixed… use card stock. And even better, why not make the back detachable… just in case someone really just wants a standard and convenient 2.5″x2″ business card! And the best thing? You can give potential clients a gift box (with you know who’s info all on it) full of tea for them to take with back to the office… Why not advertise just once when you can give the card that keeps on giving?

Here are a few pics of my first draft. Yes, I know some parts suck, but it’s an early draft and you don’t know how you like something unless you try it… And yes, future drafts are already being worked on! Of course, I want feedback; so feel free to comment. Tell me your positives and negatives! My big question is what direction should I move my design towards. Personally I like the back with its simplicity (the side that just says BrianDavidJoyner and my contact info). It feels professional and lets the design speak for itself. The slogan idea seemed good at first, but I am just not sure that is how I want to sell myself. I have always gone for the sleek classic feel and I want my card to reflect it.

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Fake ID’s aren’t just for “Young”

Being under 21 sucks in a lot of ways… There is of course the obvious disadvantage, but there is so much more. From personal experience, I can legally do a lot of things… I just can not afford to do most of them. As the old saying goes, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Turns out once you can afford to go out and do the really fun stuff… you are too “old” according to society’s rules. Even worse, a lot of things like groceries or movie tickets are actually cheaper! I totally disagree with society’s “law of the young”, but that is not the issue for today’s post. Oh no, I would like to use my time today to introduce an advertisement idea I have been thinking about for some time now.

One of American society’s most unique and identifiable characteristics is our firm belief that products should be restricted by age. Yes other cultures “restrict” products like alcohol and tobacco officially by age, but the rules are generally more a recommendation than a firm law. As a result, we spend huge amounts of time and money trying to stop underage consumption of goods. In other words, you will not see a “We Card” sign in a German Biergarten. In fact, they think it is delightfully funny and prude. Even so, we all know we are unique in this way and to be honest, I think we take pride in it. More to the point, most of us live for the day we turn 21. There is nothing like the joy of being able to legally do something so “Verbotten”, even if it pretty much tends to instantly make us fatter, dumber, and a whole lot poorer. At the same time, I have also noticed people feel sad when bouncers or check out clerks stop carding them. Something about passing that sign that says “We ID under 30” without being checked triggers the “Oh no… I’m old” fear.

Well fear not post 21 year olds of America! I want to appeal to that wonderful sense of joy we get when we are carded for the first time and I know just how to do it. And this time, you actually save money! The one problem… you need to be 55 or older to enjoy it. Yes, I want to establish carding 55 year olds for their AARP discount. Of course you also need the AARP card, but then again, I have plenty of cards that say I’m 22. I still get asked for my license just to prove it.

Television Spec AD

This ad uses TV as a media base and starts off showing a check-out line and a bunch of people waiting in line.

Cashier: Next please
(55ish man steps to the counter and proceeds to buy a few things. The final item is a bottle of wine)
Cashier: Sir, I’m going to need to see some ID. (The man looks nervous and fumbles around his wallet to find it. He hands it to the cashier)
55yearold: Here you go son. (Said in an old man voice)
(The Cashier looks suspicious. Calls his manager who arrives momentarily. The manager brings out an ultraviolent light and checks the ID. The shot switches to showing an obviously fake ID and a bold birthdate. The manager looks up displeased shaking his head.)
55year old: (looks frustrated, takes the bottle, and brings out his credit card)

Narrator: Being 55 doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it just means you don’t have to pay as much.
(Screen transitions to black screen showing AARP logo and joining information)

Print Spec Ad

Magazine and other forms of print ads can also be used in this campaign. Of course an appropriate publication would be used, but that is common knowledge.

I would love to use a photo showing someone in their late 40s trying to look older while a clerk is checking their id. The perspective will be behind and above the clerk. I want the audience to see what the clerk is seeing, but at the same time, I also want to show a clear view of the customer. A line of people can be seen waiting. None are very happy. The clerk is pointing to a sign that says “We ID…Under 55… no discount”

Ultimately I want to produce an ad campaign that pokes fun of our age restrictions, but at the same time reminds 55 year olds of that first time of being IDed. As humans, we love milestones and look forward to most… even if it is officially becoming eligible for AARP. In fact, after seeing the massive number of 60+ year old recent retires enjoying themselves (and whipping out $20 bills like they were nothing) on River street, Savannah, Georgia last weekend, I am convinced 55+ year olds are very much still ready to go out and have fun. I plan to be! The fact they can afford to do so tells me they are probably fairly successful and have been thrifty throughout their working careers. It is probably the same reason I see recent retires riding five to ten thousand dollar professional grade road bikes while loafing around at 12-15 miles per hour. The old adage really is true… “Youth is wasted on the young”