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November 2015

Storytelling: The new marketing hero

Once upon a time, traditional marketing ruled the world, targeting people through tactical messages, via traditional media, of course. Today, with the world going mobile and people connecting online, this model has proven to become less effective, and borderline obsolete.

Marketing nowadays, has taken a whole new form, pushing brands to go beyond the conventional selling strategies and engage consumers through a whole new media mix, inspiring them to strengthen their relationship with them. This new model of marketing is known as Content Marketing. The basis of content marketing lies in storytelling. Brands are taking their new promise and translating it into a continuous story that spans over different media channels, with online being at the center of the mix.

The earliest forms of content marketing and storytelling, took place with Redbull, and more specifically their “Stratos” activation. On a strategic level, Redbull somehow proved their great slogan “Redbull gives you wings” to be quasi-possible to happen. By focusing on the old concept of aspiration, Redbull told the story of “Felix Baumgartner” whose aim was to break world records with his free fall, in other words by flying. They told their story through a mini-website, social media and pre-promotional videos. But more importantly they streamed it live on YouTube, rather than mainstream television. The activation went viral to a point that traditional media like newspapers, magazines and TV stations covered this inspiring and revolutionary story.

Storytelling indeed has been ruling the field. Iconic brand, Coca-cola is known for selling happiness, a promise which has created strong bonds between them and their audience. But they didn’t just stop there. Through a series of activations, they took happiness and social bonds to a further level. A notable activation to mention, is “The Friendly Twist”, which has been circulating for quite some time on social media. The activation focused on bringing freshman students together, to get acquainted. Coke created special bottle caps with a twist, that can’t be opened unless they are matched with someone else’s bottle cap.  The brilliance of this offline activation that went viral, is Coca-cola’s initiative to create real relationships between people and spread happiness by the simple gesture of breaking the ice and striking up conversations.

Another inspiring example of brand storytelling is Dove’s real beauty campaign which probably everyone has seen or heard of. The campaign not only served as a great marketing approach for Dove, but empowered women worldwide to appreciate their real beauty with confidence and not fall for the mainstream culture of fake plastic surgery. With CSR at the heart of their strategy, Dove strengthened their tale of natural beauty and reached millions of audiences via online channels, a result traditional media couldn’t have done as easily.

I could go on and on about how brands are telling their stories and mention more examples, like Harley Davidson and living life to the full, or Nike and defying obstacles. But the bottom line here is that nowadays, storytelling is key. Engaging users with the right media and becoming their longtime partners through consistent promises, is what marketers all around the world are seeking. And it has proven to be very effective.

Tony Raad
Content Creator and Creative Writer

About being an Associate Creative Director

As a designer you identify yourself with the projects you work on, whether in quantity or quality; for each his own. You may get recognized for a personal style or you may gain your reputation based on the journey you decide to make in life.

When you are a designer, the possibilities are endless. Your whole experience is bits and pieces of people you’ve worked with, others you encountered, and connections you’ve made along the way.

But mostly, it’s about the fact that you are a creator. “What does that mean?” you ask.

It means that you have the power to create anything you want, within reason of course.

As a designer you start believing in your super powers and that the sky is the limit!

You enjoy each creation, as if it was your last. The amount of effort and dedication you put in it occupies most of your days and on the seventh day you rest! And similarly to a proud parent, you can talk and explain for endless hours of how changing the kerning (the spacing between letters) changed your whole perspective!

Yes these were the golden days!

As you grow older, life happens! They call it evolution… Slowly you start losing this sense of creation, only to be replaced with another super power: creating a team.

The only difference is that there is no rest on the seventh day 😛

While creating a team does require super powers, maintaining a healthy one is what you take pride in. As a proud parent, you want your teammates to have the best positive environment, so in their turn, can be the best creators out there.

A few steps up on the professional ladder, you may lose that feeling too, but instead, you create bonds with your new partners: your clients.

You take joy and pride when they do. You feel your stomach ache, when they do. You create relationships. And as a proud partner this time, you share their success, praise them incessantly and tell the story of how you and them came to be.

According to the books or the Internet for now, an ACD (Associate Creative Director) maintains quality by managing project timelines, ensuring consistency of strategic branding, assessing project development, reviewing work and determining whether a project is on target and within the scope of the Creative Brief. In addition, an ACD acts as a client liaison and as a mentor to teammates, by providing developmental opportunities, responding to questions, providing direction and resources.

In other easier words, Creation is a never-ending process. Whether your relationship is with files or people, the more you create the richer you become.

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

5 reasons to use Fireworks instead of Photoshop for web design

If you are a web designer, you’ve definitely seen countless posts about which application is better; Fireworks or Photoshop. I use Fireworks to design websites and applications. I might be wrong, but I have been working on Fireworks for many years (yeah yeah I know adobe is not creating an updated version for it, it’s been quite some time…) and I think it is by far the fastest and easiest tool to put your ideas into pixels.

Below are some of the coolest things and the reasons that make me use Fireworks as my primary tool for web design:

1. States and layers

1.states

You can easily work on a big website with many pages with just one design file. In Fireworks you can work on each website page on an individual state with its own layers. This way, your file will be well organized and you can browse easily between the pages /states and add new layers or modify existing ones.

 


2. Gradients and curved corners
2.gradientIn Fireworks gradients are not applied as effects but as gradients! There is a main section dedicated to gradient settings. After you’ve applied a gradient to an object, you can drag, cut, rotate and squeeze gradients via the gradient handler – a special control that is available only in Fireworks.

The same applies for curved corners objects. When drawing a rectangle in Fireworks for example, you can rescale it without affecting its corner curves.
In addition, you can modify the curve of the corners at any time by simply using control handle. And one more cool thing is that you can make one corner straight and have the rest curved with one click only.

3. All in one

3

The smartest aspect of Fireworks is that it’s a tool that combines Photoshop and illustrator.

You can manipulate an image and adjust its color and add effects to it in addition to working on a vector based shape / design.

 

 

 

4. Vectors vs. bitmaps
4When you create an object in Fireworks (whatever it is), this object is basically a vector. This means that you can scale it and rescale it as much as you want without losing or affecting its quality.

This is wow! But what is even more awesome is that when you’ve applied an effect to that object; a drop shadow for example; and you scale the object up, the effect will scale up with it. Fireworks will not just change the dimensions, it will also change the attributes of the applied effects. This feature can be a huge advantage when you are designing Apps for iOS.

5. Developer-friendly

5The simplicity of Fireworks and the way it handles layers are two of its biggest assets. Photoshop files can become very messy when you want to design fast. If you don’t clean up your files at the end of your work session, it will be really hard for the developer to find the correct layers and groups to export.
More over the cutting tools in Fireworks are way easier and faster to use. Fireworks makes the life of any developer easier, and prevents any confusion in the development process.

Didn’t switch yet? What are you waiting for?
No seriously if you are used to Photoshop and have been working on it for years then definitely stick to it. At the end what is important is the end result.
But still, if one day you are bored or have around 10mins to kill, click on the little yellow icon and try to experiment. Who knows maybe you’ll end up liking it! :)

Edline Nicolakis
Digital Associate Creative Director

 

Let’s talk about hope

I’m writing you today to talk to you about hope.
First of all, my name is Firas Mghames & I’m a hopaholic.
You should be surprised if I weren’t!
How can I not be, as I was born in Zouk Mosbeh, Kesrwan in 1985 during the Lebanese civil war & lived there my whole life.
My parents brought me to this world hoping for the best.
I was raised & trained to deal with hope and call for it every day. “Inshallah” (hopefully) or “Inshallah kheir” (hopefully for the best) we say.

Sometimes I don’t get what I hope for, but that only happens when I’m lazy to do something about it.
But most of the time, I get what I hope for.

Hope got the best out of me. It always pushed me to do more & eventually be more.
Hope gave me nothing & everything at the same time.
What I found out later with time, is that you hope for the best but you do all the work.
Hope doesn’t respond back when you only ask for it. Hope doesn’t get you anywhere if you don’t work hard for it.
So hope didn’t give me anything but one lesson; not to count on it.

So let’s keep hoping for the best; hopefully things will stay on the right track for me.

Salamat,

Firas Mghames
Creative Director/ Entrepreneur

Minimalism vs. Maximalism

Outstanding minimalism is all about clean design and had its ethos and influence on creativity once upon a time. Minimalism is even more than that, it can be a choice of life. Some call it the simple life, where we are able to appreciate the beauty of some of the things we have even if that wasn’t much.

But where is the fun in that right?

And while we can be attracted to the minimalistic style, we may find ourselves in danger of being on the boring side.

Torn between “Less is more” and “Less is bore” each time we are trying to make a statement, we tend to admire a minimalistic point of view coming from the western world. Reality hits when we remember where we live; a world where maximalism rules, and where we are convinced from the minute we are born that more is better.

So who are we?

And believe it or not this question is not about settling the ultimate dilemma: mac or pc?

Whether you think less is more or prefer to go over the top, below are two profiles that might help you figure out your style.

Exhibit A

You like flat design

You are not flashy

You work with the most complicated grid in the world but only use one column of it.

You always choose clean and simple fonts.

For you minimalism is a principle more than a visual style.

You arguably defend minimalism as one heck of an influential movement that penetrated more fields than almost any other design trend.

You most probably know who Buckminster Fuller is.

You like contrast.

And most importantly you like your white space.

Exhibit B

You are all about the little details.

You never met a pattern you did not like.

You tend to break any grid you make, piss all over it and then break it some more.

You are excited about shiny stuff.

For you Robert Venturi is a god.

You embrace intricate styles and bold colors.

Your favorite color is everything.

You arguably believe that the best times were in the era of Louis XIV in Chateau de Versailles (and even there, you secretly think to yourself that the design is a bit on the shy side!).

Whoever you are, especially if you are a Middle -East born designer, my advice to you comes from no-one other than the minimalist Buckminster Fuller himself:

Doing more with less.

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

Plan Ahead

In the field of Design and Post Production, many times you will find yourself managing several projects at the same time. The key is to plan ahead, to make sure your tasks are divided evenly without any loss of precious work time.

Whenever you are starting a new project the worst thing you could do is rush through it; but then again, sometimes the first ideas that come to your head might be the ones that stick with you in the end result.

So how to balance between the two?

If you are, in general, a creative person, ideas will flow while reading or getting the brief orally from coworkers, bosses or clients. In my opinion, the first step would be to have a notebook with you and write down every idea that you might have during the process. Even if those ideas might not be applicable when you get to the end of the brief, at least you can use them as references at later stages of your process.

So you have the brief, your on-the-spot ideas, now what?

The first step would be to skim through those ideas and choose which one(s) would fit better in order to develop them.

If you are good at storyboarding, the next step would be to draw a detailed storyboard; if not sit with an illustrator and show them some sketches you’ve made to get a more detailed one to show to the client.

As a Technical Director, my job would be to plan an R&D (Research and Development) to see which software or plugin would be more suitable for the task at hand and furthermore, which technique would be more time and cost efficient.

The final step would be to have an organized schedule of tasks and milestones that would imply the state of the project so you could easily decide when to share your progress with the client in case of amendments.

If you would like a software to assist you with project management, there are loads on the internet. My personal favorite would be Microsoft Project – Microsoft Office which is not an open source software, but spot on and is included in the latest versions of Microsoft Office.

Giuseppe Boschiero
Technical Director & 3D Generalist

 

Happy at Work

Work.. For some of you it’s the place where we unfortunately spend 23% of our lifespan, according to recent sociology studies.

My work (while it definitely has something to do with computers, or at least that’s what my parents think I stare at all day) is the place where I meet my friends, acquire new family members, and get to admire many influences and talents on a daily basis.

My work..

It is a place where, stress, excitement and a deep fear of passing the due date, reunite and help you create a bond with the creatives around you.

It is a place where you learn to count to 10, to respect others’ OCDs, as it is the same place that allows you to laugh it all out at the end of the day.

My work, is where the magic happens; where ideas flourish into projects and projects turn into a reality. And for that reason we are magicians! (Ok a bit far-fetched, but that’s what it feels like). We tell people’s stories and in that way, it offers us the opportunity to experience a sense of wonder, thus happiness.

What is happiness?

Happiness is contentment, comfort and security.

Happiness is success, peace of mind and a sense of responsibility.

Happiness is forgiveness and sometimes forgetting.

Happiness is passion, dedication and the unveiling of one’s personality and reactions.

Happiness is changing what you think about a bad situation.

Happiness is challenging those around you, even around lunchtime.

Happiness is investing in the process.

Charles Dickens once said “the most important thing in life is to stop saying I wish and start saying I will”.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, do not wish to be happy, BE HAPPY!

 

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

 

 

The Fear Of Missing Out

The fear of missing out. We’ve all been there.

How do you choose where to be at one time? And take the risk of missing out on experiences that might never happen again. The decisions we take about where to be and what to be a part of, greatly influence the opportunities we get in life and ultimately the experience we make of it.

You wouldn’t think the fear of missing out would actually translate into the business world, but it is something we’re facing more and more each day. Being in social media, every client you will ever meet will experience the fear of missing out!

What if we’re on the wrong platform? What if we’re only talking to one segment of our audience? What if people are not seeing all our posts? Are we missing an opportunity here? And why aren’t we everywhere!!

It’s quite simple you see. Just as a human being, you can’t be everywhere, all at the same time. This applies to brands too. Being everywhere, not missing a single platform, a single person, a single new piece of information, a single social media channel… is simply impossible. It will stretch your focus and deplete your ideas. Also, being everywhere and posting the same exact thing is definitely not the right way to go.

Each social media channel has its own characteristics and each takes you in a certain direction of goals. Identify your audience first and where would they be: are they visually-oriented creative types, are they businessmen… Ask yourself where are you most likely to speak to the people that matter.

Another important question to ask yourself, is which platform showcases you brand in the best possible way. You would want to show pictures of your products if you sell clothes, but if your best asset is information then a picture-based platform is not the answer.

In a nutshell, choose the channels that will help you communicate in the best way possible to the right people. And focus your best there. Your audience will be thankful for it and you’ll be able to offer quality content where it matters the most. Don’t let the fear of missing out scatter your efforts and eventually the results you’re looking for.

Want to know what’s next in Digital Media?

Karen Abi Saab
Digital Manager