Cannes Stop, Won’t Stop

This summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Cannes Lions Creative Festival for two days. No, that’s not the film festival (although that would have been amazing too.) Never heard of this one? Don’t worry, I hadn’t either before I attended.

The Cannes Lions Festival is a giant creative meeting of the minds where the best of the best in our industry get together and celebrate the past, present and future of advertising. Every year people come from all over the world for this weeklong event to network, view presentations, attend workshops and quite simply, to be impressed.

Celebrities, CEOs, small agencies and independent firms are all welcomed with open arms. That’s the great thing about Cannes; no matter who you are or where you are from, creativity doesn’t discriminate against you. Everyone is welcoming and inviting because they’re all here for the same reason; they want to be inspired. They want to see what other people are creating, thinking and doing.

In my two days at the festival, I sat in on a discussion with the Marketing Director of Flipboard on how mobile advertising is the next big thing; watched Joe Pytka, the director of Space Jam (among many other accolades) discuss his career and how certain brands have left their mark on advertising; had my senses overloaded with the Saatchi and Saatchi Directors Showcase, an hour long set of the year’s best ad campaigns; chatted personally with Anthony Burrill, the creator of this year’s Google Beach; and was completely blown away by Marc Pritchard (Global Brand Building Officer of Proctor and Gamble) and his presentation, “The Creative Brief”.

If I had to describe the Cannes Festival in one word, I would go with moving. And I mean that with every sense of the word. Everyone there is constantly going, looking for the next event or to meet someone. On the flip side, I also mean it inspirationally. I have never, ever in my life, been to something so incredibly awe-inspiring. When you’re surrounded by so many great minds, the room crackles with electricity. You get the sense that you’re surrounded by something that’s much bigger than yourself. Which, let’s be honest, you are. This festival is bigger and more amazing than anything you can possibly imagine.

The biggest thing that I took away from the festival was that advertising isn’t just about selling anymore. What we do every day is more than putting a price tag on something, it’s telling a story. It’s making a memorable experience for a consumer. It’s creating a feeling, a moment where our consumer is totally and completely in love with whatever we are selling. But most of all, it matters.

For more information on the Cannes Lions Festival, visit






How to Create Your Own Personal Brand

A great way to make a lasting impression on a future employer is to have a strong personal brand. It may not seem important when it comes to building your resume, but don’t you want to leave a little tid-bit behind that makes you stick out of the crowd? You can add color and dimension to your resume, or possibly an interesting font that represents your characteristics. These are concepts that stand out when it comes to the hiring process. Don’t know where to begin? Here are some tips to get you started.

1.)   Think about what colors represent you. What’s your favorite color? Looking for more of a professional feel? (if you’re not in the creative field) – then stick with black and grey tones or use minimal color.

2.)   Find your favorite font. There are millions of fonts out there! Find a font that you think represents you. Just use this particular font for your name and possibly the header of your resume. Be sure that the font is free. You can find free fonts on the web including these websites:

3.)   Pick out a background, header or border for your brand. You could do something as simple as a border, or you can create something interesting like a chevron header. Be sure to play with all of these options so you can find what suits you best.

4.)   Make your own logo. This definitely is optional, but this is something that will for sure make you stand out. Your own logo could be your signature, your initials or your silhouette. You can make it anything you want, as long as it’s something that simply represents you. Be sure that your logo is made small enough to put on your brand materials.

5.)   Repeat your brand as much as you can. Impressions are another way to make you stand out. The more someone sees your brand the more they’ll think of you. This means you can replicate your brand by producing thank you cards and business cards. Create your own website using your theme, as well as putting it on Facebook and Twitter as your cover image and background image. This will show that you have consistency and professionalism.

6.)   Add your social media logos to your branding materials. If your social media profiles suite your career, there’s nothing wrong with extra networking. Place a small LinkedIn or Twitter logo on your resume and your business card for a little extra touch to your brand.

Depending on what you are applying for and where, be sure to alter and change your branding materials according to the company. If you feel that social media logos and different colors are not appropriate according to the company you’ve researched, simply remove those details.


Happy branding!



Reaching Consumers Through the Clutter

As consumers, we are constantly processing ads. TV, radio, billboards, grocery stores, store window signs and even sidewalks all have things for us to look at. We’re surrounded by advertising all of the time, no matter where we go. So, from a marketing standpoint, how do you get through? How do you reach that consumer that’s already seen 75 ads today and it’s only 3 p.m.?

The trick is to find what works for your specific product and match it with your consumers. If you’re trying to reach a certain demographic, there has to be a reason for that, right? Take Old Spice for example. They’re targeting young adult males with their new campaign featuring moms crying over their boys growing up. They’ve created the perfect moment for their consumers: Old Spice creates a “manly man,” which gets them girls and makes them appear grown up in their mother’s eyes. And you want to know what? Not only are they reaching their target audience with this idea, they’re also reaching their families. How much do you want to bet the next time Johnny’s mom goes to the store and she asks him if he needs anything, the conversation goes something like this: “Do you need any bathroom stuff? Oh, how about some cologne or body wash? I always see those Old Spice commercials, they’re so wacky. Do you use Old Spice?” It’s the idea that she would even suggest Old Spice as a brand that gives you a reference for just how successful that ad campaign has been. It’s clear that Old Spice has found their connection to their consumers.

Here’s the video for the Old Spice “Moms Song” ad:

This ad pretty much sums up what today’s advertising is all about. It can’t just be about informing consumers about how great your product is anymore. You have to grab their attention in a way that’s memorable and makes a real connection. And because we’ve become so desensitized to ads, our expectations are higher. As a company, you better come with your A Game because as consumers, we expect nothing less.

Designing in a Box

In a creative role it is mandatory to think outside the box, but what happens when content and brand guidelines dictate creative control?

When designing an advertisement many or all of the design elements like the logo, color palette, fonts, photos and content may have already been decided for you.

This lack of creative control can be seen as a restrictive box, so how do you create an inspired ad that looks different from the other corporate ads the client has released this year?

Try not to focus on the limitations of the creative control by approaching the design layout as a fun creative challenge that will employ a back-to-basics approach to showcase brand creatively within the confines of the brand guidelines (Box).

4 Quick Tips When Designing in a Box

1. Let the photo speak for itself:
The photograph is the first thing that catches the reader’s eye. When selecting from a group of corporate stock photographs take into consideration more than just the subject matter of the image. Don’t forget to focus on the color, movement, angles and negative space that can tell a story or keep the eye interested within the image.

2. Compliment with color:
Select a color or a complimentary color from the photo that will highlight the text and work into the existing corp. color palette enhancing the overall layout.

3. Grab attention:
Headlines should grab the attention of the reader then lead the focus to the next design element.

Placement of the headline layered over the photo or in relation to negative space can breathe new life into stale content and lead the reader to the next design element.

4. Command to be read:
Wordy taglines or body content in advertisements can be discouraging to read.

Limiting tag lines to two or three sentences will encourage the reader to read the whole message and not get bored with too much text.

What to do if you have to work with longer taglines or body content? Clean it up! By adjusting the Leading and Kerning you will be creating or deleting the negative space between lines and letters persuading the reader to READ ON!

Creative Reuse Ideas for Old Business Cards

When companies go through a rebranding process, such as M3 Group did at the beginning of the year, designing and ordering new business cards are usually a part of the process.

Some employees may be left with full boxes of business cards if they recently re-ordered before the launch of the rebrand.

Instead of tossing them into the recycling bin, here are a few clever ways to reuse them.

  1. Use them as a bookmark.
  2. Shred them into confetti (for celebrating the launch of a rebrand).
  3. Use them to clean between the keys of your keyboard.
  4. Use a stack of them to stabilize a wobbly desk.
  5.  Tape two together to use as a coaster to avoid coffee rings on your desk.
  6. Staple them to your brown-bag lunch as a nametag so no one eats your PBJ.
  7. Make an earbud holder for your office headphones.

If your company is in the need of a rebrand, contact M3 Group today!

24 Ways to Get Past a Brainstorm Stump

I came up with this list while brainstorming ideas for a project and needed some help. These are some of the things that I did to work through the project and the ideas that I came up with for those suborn brainstorms that need some more ideas.

List of ideas to help with brainstorming when stumped:

  1. Take a walk | Lansing River Trail
  2. Get some lunch | Jimmy Johns
  3. Ask co-workers for ideas
  4. Look for creative ideas online
  5. Work on alternate project
  6. Make plans for the afternoon | Celebration Cinema
  7. Take off shoes (Sometimes you have to kick back)
  8. Read articles on the subject
  9. Look for videos on some ideas | YouTube
  10. Look for some thought provoking artwork | Lansing Art Gallery
  11. Listen to some instrumental music | Pandora
  12. Have your favorite movie playing in the background (don’t get distracted)
  13. Keep a list of ideas that you can use for anything
  14. Look at the subject from a different perspective
  15. Have somebody else look at the subject
  16. Have a conversation about favorite hobbies
  17. Make a list
  18. Ride a roller coaster (when available)
  19. Pet an animal (not wild animals)
  20. Call your grandparents or parents (they love it)
  21. Play some 52 card pickup
  22. Bake some cupcakes (everybody loves them) | All Recipes
  23. Play with a clicking pen
  24. Doodle on the margins of papers

Plan for Success

I was talking with PR phenomenon Tom Crawford last week. As we casually discussed business practice and strategy, he dropped the phrase “fail to plan, plan to fail.”

As the day progressed, I continued to recognize the truth in this simple statement.

Of course, in rare instances failures end up becoming monumental successes. However, assuming you’re not the next Leaning Tower of Pisa, the following should be of some use.

Planning is one of the cornerstones of success, both on the micro and macro level. Any successful person will likely tell you that one of the first things they do to begin their day is jot down a quick list of tasks to accomplish, ideally in order of importance. One such example is our very own uber-planner Lisa Twenter, who knows this better than most. Planning out one’s day allows for better time management, efficiency and a way for the more absent-minded among us to stay on top of various projects.

While beginning a day with a game plan in mind often results in a more productive day, the same can be said for any business in the long term. With options for communicating brand messaging appearing left and right, it can be easy to get lost in the mix and begin firing blindly with a spread shot approach a la 90’s Schwarzenegger (excluding “Junior”). However, this equates to going through a day without having first established priorities and measurable goals. While it may seem as though much is being done, it is likely that a handful of important aspects are being neglected. As such, we here at M3 Group stress the value of assembling a research based, strategic communications plan before embarking on the all-important implementation phase.

For any marketing and communications plan to be successful, factors such as main goals, target audience, proper media mix, cost-effectiveness and more must be considered. For “maximum impact,” integration is a huge component. Reaching the target audience through a variety of their most used media increases the odds that the message will resonate and leave an impression, particularly in today’s era of constant clutter. Once these building blocks have been established, the fun part ensues. All that’s left to do is put the plan into action and watch the results speak for themselves.

For a free consultation on how your business can build a strong foundation for a high impact, integrated communications plan; contact me ( or one of the many other capable members of M3 Group. Until then, Brand Forward.

Not so Standard

“It’s important that people understand the “what you can do with paper” and having high quality paper allows you to do some of those special techniques you wouldn’t do otherwise” – Kit Hinrichs

When seeking print materials, it ‘s easy to limit your search by what you already know. For example, if a company needs promotional items the first answer may be simple informational folder packets and tri-fold brochures. While these materials serve a purpose and can be successful, they are not always the answer. Special effects and unique folding techniques can elevate your materials for a wide range of costs.

Let’s discover more about some of these creative opportunities in the print world.

Sappi Fine Paper North America has a really great resource, The Standard, offering free tips and creative opportunities for the print and design processes. If you followed the link, you’ll see a downloadable version for most of the five issues. The focuses are Pre-Press, Color Management and Calibration, Varnishes and Coatings, Scoring and Folding and Special Effects.  The coolest editions for clients to see are four and five, which do not come in PDF format due to the tactile, dimensional and interactive experience needed. Luckily, there are supplemental videos on the website to give you a peek inside.

I find the printing techniques discussed in Special Effects most entertaining to learn about. Check out a list of some of the effects below:

  1. Lenticular: create 3D optical illusions via lenticular printing.
  2. Thermography: an economic technique, thermography adds tactile dimension to our 19th century.
  3. Flocking: same color, different texture. See how flocking and print combine to define creature and landscape.
  4. Varnish Combinations (see The Standard Issue Number 3 for more about varnishes): thoughtful use of gloss and dull varnishes create contrast and visual interest with minimal cost.
  5. Foil Stamping: striking effects can be created by combining holographic, metallic and flat foils.
  6. Embossing: adds heightened visibility and dimension to images.
  7. Augmented Reality: see how augmented reality is blurring the lines between print and digital.
  8. Specialty Coatings: textural and raised coatings can accentuate the impact of your image.

List provided by Sappi.

The method you use to convey your information through print boils down to the purpose of the information, the expected results and of course, the budget. It wouldn’t be worth your money to add special effects and unique folding if it just looks cool and doesn’t enhance the design in a clever way. An important thing to remember is that some effects, like varnish combinations, look impressive but don’t break the bank.

Start a conversation with us today about your print material needs and let’s discover some creative, effective solutions together.

Improved Marketing Through Science Fiction

Science Fiction is a big part of why I became a writer. I was so entertained with the ideas and stories that were so interesting that I was always reading.

In my opinion, science fiction is a great way to improve writing skills, because it challenges your knowledge and vocabulary. It also brings up interesting thoughts and ideas that might not have been thought of in regular literature.

Much like marketing, there’s a lot of “out-of-the-box” thinking required for good science fiction. There’s always a different way to approach either marketing or writing science fiction.

Marketing is made up of a bunch of different parts, like social media, writing, logo design and advertisement. Just like writing science fiction has different parts to create great stories, with the plot, the characters and the settings. All of this works together to be more effective fiction. The more unique and interesting the pieces in either marketing or science fiction, the more interesting and effective the whole thing is.

New ideas are the key to pretty much everything, but especially marketing. Finding a new and attention-grabbing way to find new costumers for a business is dependent on new and fresh ideas. The same goes for science fiction; it constantly brings new ideas to grab the reader’s imagination.

If You Can Clean, You Can Blog!

Blogging and cleaning your bedroom go together like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, ham and cheese!

You may think I am crazy; I know, how do blogging and cleaning your bedroom go hand-in-hand at all? I’ll tell you.

When you make the decision to clean your bedroom, you don’t just jump in doing a bazillion things at one time, running around like a maniac do you? Of course not! You take a look at your room and usually start with the floor (so you can begin to walk around the room). Well, you do the same thing with a blog. You start with your main ideas (your bedroom), sort them out and pave a path for yourself to write.

For example, you notice that you have more clothes on your floor than Macy’s has on their racks. So, you take the clothes off your floor and put them in their respected place … the hamper to be cleaned and perfected. When you’re writing you start with all of your main ideas on paper (or on screen) and wash (revise) them until they are just the way you like them. Papers and books would be the next main idea, then organization of shelves and desks would be another. Each category would be a main point in your blog. Each point should be broad and should be able to be narrowed down and explained.

After your floor is cleaned and your main points are now clear, it’s on to your bed and sub points — or in other words, your reasoning. Making your bed is an important part of your room, just like your sub points. You should be able to bounce a quarter off of them!

Next, on to your decorations (i.e. pictures or anything hanging on the wall etc.). These come with special care and consideration. You chose them because you thought they were tasteful and brought a certain light to the room. Same thing with your conclusions to each paragraph.  They should be tasteful and make you go “hmmm” or “aha!”

Now, when your floor is cleaned, your bed is made and your decorations are dusted, you know you have a great blog (or bedroom) worth showing off!