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Transformation: L.E.A.P.

From the Designer: 

Creating a brand can often be an exercise in answering questions. What does the client see? What do we, the designer believe will best represent what they are offering? How does what we envision work with what the client envisions? Who is the audience and what will they expect? What will draw the viewer in? What will push them away?

When executing a rebrand, the list goes on. What is our client’s current perception? What about their current logo contributed to that perception? What about that perception do they want to change? How do we move in the right direction?

In the case of the Washington County Economic Opportunity Council, an organization providing many resources both in and outside Washington County, from career assistance to educational resources to a food pantry, our objective seemed clear. They needed to expand in many ways, but first, their name needed to be shortened. We needed to make it clear their services were available to more than residents of Washington County. We needed to broaden the scope of their services beyond the titular ‘Economic.’ We needed to welcome those who felt they needed their services and not just cater to those who were directed there.

When we began work on this project, the client acknowledged that there was confusion being caused by their current brand. It seemed they were an agency of the Washington County government and the consistent use of ‘EOC’ was causing even more confusion than its source, ‘Economic Opportunity Council.’ We wanted to land on a name that was both more direct and more inviting for people in need of their services and potential donors/corporate partners alike. In addition to the naming, they wanted to leave behind their old mark, a busy, low-resolution file depicting the county with its seal and the acronym nested inside, and shift towards a more professional appearance.

After a ‘name-storming’ session or two ‘L.E.A.P.’ was decided upon, an acronym standing for “Learning. Employment. Assistance. Partnership.” and doubling as an accessible action verb. This name allowed us to position them as a serious and professional organization while also setting up a visual system, that unlike its predecessor, could encompass all that they do.

We started by focusing on a letter treatment with an abstract mark or none at all. While facing spacing issues caused by the periods in the acronym, the solution of using them as the signal art presented itself. Eventually, we landed on a solution where the letters were encircled in colored, lightly overlapping circles. This would allow L.E.A.P. to offer a bright and approachable look, while further establishing the division and overlap of their services. The rings related color to a subsection of services, something that would go on to be used across many print materials and organizational pieces. The transparent overlaps illustrate the Venn diagram of those services and spiritually represents the connection between the communities and people they serve.

 

A valuable insight came during our final round of presentation. Up until that point, the colors were saturated, but far from bright, and the spheres were perfectly symmetrical. The feedback was along the lines of, “These are too serious. We need it not to feel too heavy. We want people to feel welcome and comfortable coming to us.” This note was the perfect example of the question we hadn’t asked that pushed us one step further.

They were right. This wasn’t a brand about the severe nature of the problems that the organization was trying to resolve. This was about people. We brightened up the colors to a warm and welcoming family and added a loose, organic touch to the circles to echo that idea.

This mark is a clear and conversational identity for their organization and a catch-all for the multitude of services they offer and people they serve.

 

From the Account Manager: 

I jumped into my first rebrand at Trampoline with the L.E.A.P. project. It was an incredible immersion into Trampoline, rebranding, and the process of working with a client with multiple layers of decision making. As an account manager, one of the things I focus on is client satisfaction, in this case my clients were the administrative team at L.E.A.P., the Head Start staff, and leadership, the Board of Directors, the current and past customers of L.E.A.P. services, as well as the communities within Washington County that they serve. That’s a lot of layers!

Rob talks about the design process in his post, I hope to shed light on the other side of the equation, which are the goals and objectives of the various stakeholders and indeed forecasting how we can design and strategize in a way that makes people feel seen and heard. My experience prepared me for people to be nervous and resistant to change. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this group had done the work ahead of the project. Everyone was receptive, trusting, and excited.

As the first start-to-finish transformative project at what was to me a new job, L.E.A.P. helped me see that my non-design role is an integral part of the big picture. We established mid-way through that these groups were not going to work effectively through email.

We took great pains to ensure that people got face-time with us. We visited Head Start, attended various committee meetings, and generally made ourselves available. Even when people told us the idea of a name change was intimidating, they offered up promises to go for it. It was actually something we remarked on as L.E.A.P. rose to the surface from the potential names.

This organization and its people are all about making things happen. The Head Start educators innovate with materials and mindsets, the L.E.A.P. administrators navigate grant funding and bootstrapping aspects of the job, and the various committees volunteer their time with great excitement. Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were times when I thought they’d say, “It’s too much. We can’t.”

They met each presentation with thoughtful consideration, honest feedback, and valuable input. One of my favorite memories might be when they took turns “answering the phone” with potential names. And yes, some names got the ax because they couldn’t imagine saying them to a caller or to a colleague in an elevator.

Over the coming months, we’ll be helping L.E.A.P. launch, I have no doubt that they will do it with the same passion that they’ve had, but with a new spring in their step and twinkle in their eyes.

 

Planting Roots

Of all the rebrands I’ve been involved with at Trampoline, Capital Roots holds a special place on the list.

The partnership between Trampoline and Capital Roots began in 2014, when Executive Director Amy Klein reached out to rebrand an organization then known as Capital District Community Gardens. They had outgrown the name, which dated back to its formation in 1975 as a small collection of community gardens.

I was new to the Trampoline team. With just a couple of months under my belt, I was still timid when it came to speaking my mind in a room full of more seasoned designers. Nonetheless, the prospect of renaming such a great organization was something I was eager to be involved in.

We began with a process we call “namestorming,” where we gather around a whiteboard, throw out names and see what sticks. All the while we vet names to be sure there’s no competing trademarks.

The session produced a list of 50 names. We narrowed it down to seven that we sent to the client. None of them quite hit the mark, so went back to the drawing board. Then, a breakthrough: “What about Capital Roots?”

Eyes lit up. Someone ran to a computer and did a Google search. The name was free and clear of trademarks and patents. We pitched it to Amy and she and her team were as excited as we were. We got the green light to begin logo design.

As with renaming, logo development involves a lot of trial and error. Our first concepts were safe and conservative: words inside a badge or geometric shape; clean and legible. I felt that if ever a logo lent itself to an organic, unrefined shape, Capital Roots was it. I started sketching out logos where the “O’s” in “roots” were made of fruits and vegetables: apples, tomatoes, etc. After some lighthearted debate, we ultimately landed on beets. After all, beets are a root vegetable, reaching out as if searching for fertile ground to take hold and grow. The client liked it, too, and—after some fine tuning—it was adopted as their new mark.

Then it was on to creating system of word marks and taglines for the family of 11 programs and services they offer, like the Veggie Mobile food truck, The Produce Project, and the centerpiece of their transformation: the Urban Grow Center, a 12,000 square-foot headquarters and food hub in Troy, NY.

 

Since the initial rebrand, we’ve worked with Capital Roots on various other projects, including a 40th anniversary mark and, most recently, a case statement piece for Phase II of the Urban Grow Center project.

 

Maybe it’s because it was one of the first rebrands I worked on, but it remains one of the most memorable. I love seeing how logo has been embraced and implemented by Capital Roots: as vehicle wraps, apparel, tote bags, and even a mosaic mural designed by a local artist and collaboratively installed by the community.

 

I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this special partnership.

Stock in Photos

Consumers are surrounded by photography in their public, personal and social lives. With more visuals cluttering up the landscape, it’s more important than ever to invest in the best imagery possible.

Photo capture is at the top of the features list for new product offerings from Samsung, Google and Apple. Faster sensors, enhanced ISO and smart HDR combine with bokeh and depth control to produce better pictures—and there are reasons for that.

Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.*

When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.*

Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.†

Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than tweets without images.On LinkedIn, 98% of posts with images receive more comments than those without.‡

A common element in many of our most successful campaigns is the Trampoline strategy to show, not tell. The simplicity of a well composed image can communicate a concept easily. Here are 12 examples of how our staff leverages photography to turn heads.

1. Excitement

It’s FOMO, plain and simple. Show a consumer what they’re missing, and you’ll have them eager for an experience.

Photo of telemark skier Jack Fagone at Wildcat Mountain by Rob Hendricks.

2. Occasion

Captured moments are rightly seen as significant. Events are special when they’re worthy of a photo.

Photo of John & Alexis Coleman at High Falls Gorge by Staci Oswald.

3. Personality

Our expressions, emotions and humanity are on full display in a portrait.

Photo of Donnelly Construction worker on Rt. 66 in Chatham, NY by Allison Valiquette.

4. Quality

Professionally shot products imply that the seller values presentation. It speaks to pride, craftsmanship and quality.

Photo of burger lunch special at the Riverview Café by Staci Oswald.

5. Perspective

Offering a look at things from a different vantage can help an audience find ownership in big-picture concepts.

Aerial photo of downtown Glens Falls by Derek Slayton.

6. Emotion

Tension, elation, suspense, concern, sorrow or laughter—all of these can be easily interpreted in a single snap.

Photo of John Coleman on Arbutus Lake by Meg Erickson.

7. Inclusion

Candid shots work to make viewers feel like they’re part of the activities.

Group photo of hikers at Thompson Falls in Pinkham Notch, NH by Sean Magee.

8. Placemaking

Landmarks help travelers to orient themselves. Seeing a photo of a destination, and then experiencing that place, creates a repeat impression that reassures and provides familiarity.

Photo of the Hudson River at Glens Falls by Amanda Magee.

9. Opportunity

Behind-the-scenes photos or before-and-after shots show what is possible, and empower viewers to go out and experience their world.

Photo of Sawmill Terrain Park workers by Derek Slayton.

10. Delight

If it’s advertising, products in use by satisfied customers is a safe strategy.

Photo of outdoor adventure at West Mountain by Sean Magee.

11. Action

The act of doing, whether it’s a low-tech chore, or more state-of-the-art interaction, always makes for compelling content.

Photo of Woodsman’s Team at Cobleskill by Allison Valiquette.

Photo of Thoracic Surgeon at Glens Falls Hospital by Allison Valiquette.

12. Priority

Put the focus on what’s important.

Photo of Purchase College student: Shelley art directed by John Coleman and Rob Hendricks.

* Source: HubSpot
† Source: Medium.com
‡ Source: Wordstream.com

The Peaky Grinders

August is upon us, and the height of summer can mean only one thing for the team at Trampoline: ski season. Our crew keeps cool in the hot months by staying waist-deep in powder photos. We’re working through new concepts for Crotched Mountain, celebrating the incredible project underway at Hunter North, and sinking our teeth into restaurant branding for the new Carinthia Base Lodge at Mount Snow.

Peak Resorts has presented incredible, creative opportunities to build placemaking campaigns. Seven unique properties spread throughout the Poconos of Pennsylvania, the Catskills of New York, the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire, each with their own dedicated pass-holders and visitors.

Over the past three seasons, we’ve worked to create systems and messaging that positions each of these properties as a worthwhile destination, and beyond that—a guaranteed good time.

Peak has been ahead of the curve with their family of mountains, launching the Peak Pass that offers cross-mountain access to their northeast properties, as other privately held resorts have had to band together with competitors on offers like the Max Pass or IKON.

The Peak Pass continues to be a hot ticket on the east coast. Sales in advance of the 17/18 season doubled at the Boston Ski Show in November, and at the close of their 145 operating days, Peak announced a 47% increase in their student Drifter Pass unit sales. College kids are hopping lifts left and right.

Peak continues to invest in bricks-and-mortar improvements and marketing to share their new experiences. We’ve retired the Best-in-Show ADDY Award Winning advertising for Hunter Mountain and will launch a new Direction for the resort this fall. We’re working closely with the design team at Mount Snow to offer an evolution of their We 🖤Snow™ campaign. Crotched will reveal an Outta This World digital campaign in the coming months and the Get At It™ message for Attitash Mountain is working hard to entice skiers into the White Mountains.In a July press release, Peak Resorts reported a 9% growth in revenue during the 4th quarter, with an E.B.I.T.A. increase of 4%. Shareholders are squarely in dividend territory, and skiers and riders are loving the improvements, and unique recreation experiences available at each property.

Peak Resorts employs a team of marketing pros who are largely responsible for their marketshare in the east. Our agency has worked to provide the different mountain marketers with the tools and brand structure to create repeat impressions that showcase the best of each place. From there, Jack, Liz, Katie, Thad, Megan, Doug, and Greg go to work—shaking stories and press out of the trees like so many glade skiers.

We’re lucky to work with outdoor adventurers who love design as much as finding their line.

Cheers to Peak on the upward momentum—literally in the case of Hunter (new chairlift)—and we’re de-misting our goggles as we look toward another incredible season.

The scAvengers!


Trampoline exists as a team of dedicated designers, wordsmiths, strategists and production pros. We’ve grown at a carefully managed pace over 15 years and have a specific process that delivers results for our clients. We work hard, and love what we do—and it shows.

It’s not always that way in our industry. We’re aware of other approaches, arrangements and outcomes because we hear about them; from clients, potential and longstanding, industry allies and vendors. There are some risky bets where communication is concerned.

These Inaction Figures set poor precedents in our forum, so we’ve done our own surveillance on seven different creative counterfeits, graphic grifters and mountebank marketers.

The Visionary:

You’ll recognize this walking idea guy because he’s wearing a blazer, holding his hands together with fingertips touching, and cocking an eyebrow at an open laptop. He’s putting the finishing touches on a presentation with slides that include pictures of the planet, watermarked stock photos and statistics.

Be ready for pointless stories that end with questions and include pauses…for dramatic effect. Count along as they make a list on their fingers! Alias: Thoughtleader

The Guru:

Gurus know that the first step to elevate themselves professionally is a bullshit moniker. Well-positioned as a guide, Gurus elevate discussions to an intellectual level, where absolutely nothing is accomplished, but much is discussed.

Imaginary marketspeak like synergy or paradigm shift create obstacles where none existed previously. Be sure to jot down their inspirational business “quote” before booking your next session. Code Name: The Maven

The Collabro:

This dude is keeping it lit. Always ready to link, always tryna build.

Despite burning through those 250 Vistaprint business cards, momentum remains elusive. Assembling teams of specialists on a per-project basis seems like an innovative model, in reality it’s a scheduling nightmare.

With a phantom support staff, Collabro ends up doing a lot alone. Yet, even in the face of limited resources, no potential project will be refused. After all, he knows a design student who will probably do it just for the exposure.

Good Time Charlie:

At happy hour, the salvo comes from your immediate left, “Put that one on my tab.”

A quarter turn, and you’ve lost the evening to Mr. Charisma. He’s on a first name basis with the wait staff and has absolutely nowhere to be.

He’s comfortable asking questions to collect the information needed to build consensus through conversation. Good Time Charlie lives up to his name, he’s agreeable, and puts his big laugh to use, making it clear What A Fun Time We Are Having.™ Don’t forget to use a coaster on any barroom deal, they’re usually all wet. AKA: “The Consultant”

The Hypographer:

Designer clichés exist for a reason. Certain creative professionals value style above all else.

These Pantone™ unicorns don’t give a damn whether it works, “Just look at how beautiful this is!”

Their artistic opinion has made a long journey from under a slouchy knit cap, past boho chunky eyewear, and through a sloppy-yet-somehow-intricate scarf. Their masterpieces are completed, only to be critiqued by a client who has concerns about type size, contrast issues, and whether or not the work actually, ahem, works.

The Designbot:

For those looking to save some serious Bitcoin, consider an online, virtual, digital, futuristic, artificially-intelligent way to create terrible content.

The Name Dropper:

Laser connected, and ready to mingle, the Name Dropper knows them all. Or, has a friend who does.

They have worked with celebrities, magnates, heads-of-state, alien emperors and everyone that you know.

Easily identified by membership lapel pins. Alias: the Story-Topper

Changemakers

In the Spring of 2017, there were 11 Tramps creating in our studio. Over the course of the next three quarters, we added 5 more positions—accounts, production, design and social teams all benefitted from additional personnel.

Change can be hard.

Staff configuration, client needs, business plans…we’ve always been nimble with an ability to stretch and flex as needed. The last twelve months—and the 14 years previous—prove that we should not fear change but we should embrace it.

Without change we would never have assembled this amazing staff.

Change continues.

We’ve made space for even more positions in 2018. A videographer, a proofreader, and more designers, creating award-winning work in Glens Falls.

Change adds up.

A 2016 study found that the daily ritual of staff buying coffee and lunch can total $3,000.ºº annually. This summer, 19 hungry Tramps will hit the sidewalks of downtown, for a latte, a rice bowl or the Chef’s Whim. That’s a $57,000 change to our local economy in meals alone.

Change creates space.

Revising our structure has created room for new opportunities, relationships and revenue.

A change in approach.

Our growth led to the creation of necessary processes to guide our business.

Do you see a pattern?

Don’t fear change. Move with it, accept it. There are good things ahead.

 

The Intern Story

It’s snowing, I’m late, and I have no idea where to park!

Those were the thoughts running through my head as I looped around the slick streets of Glens Falls the morning of my first day as an intern at Trampoline. By the time I walked through the door to the office I was frustrated, flustered, and mortified for being late. The fabulous Meg Erickson showed me to my desk, as the introvert inside me cowered in fear as I realized the reality of an open concept office. My computer screen is wide open. My work is on display for everyone to see. I don’t like teachers looking at my work before it’s complete, let alone an entire group of people I don’t know! Ugh, what did I get myself into? Feeling like a bug under a microscope, I settled into my first day and hoped I would get used to this…

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Working it While We Work—POP Pilates

How awesome would it be if you could get your workout done while you were at work? When one of your co-workers is a group fitness instructor and your employers have an open mind, YOU CAN!

Last Friday I had the pleasure of teaching POP Pilates at Trampoline! What is POP Pilates? POP Pilates is a group fitness class that is a twist on classical Pilates. It combines ab-chiseling and total body defining moves to give you a full body workout choreographed to upbeat pop songs!

Since becoming certified to teach POP Pilates in 2016, I have found so much enjoyment in bringing this incredible format to new students and giving them a great workout they feel proud of! To say I was excited to teach a class at Trampoline was an understatement. I still couldn’t believe this was something we could do right in the office! I was excited to share my passion with my fellow Tramps and give them the special POP Pilates brand of positivity and encouragement.

As we set up the conference room for the class, I could sense some nervousness. Truthfully I was nervous too, what if they all hated me after I put them through the killer ab challenge? Or the crazy cardio track? Thankfully that didn’t happen. Everyone loved POP and I wasn’t fired for making my boss do hollow rock ab holds 😉

For me though, the best part was the feedback I received from my co-workers who didn’t take the class. They weren’t even watching, but they could hear me teaching through the double doors that separate the office from the conference room.

“You are a beast!” said Sean

“We were all sitting up straighter in our chairs just listening to you.” said Patty

“When I heard you tell the class that they’ve already done two rounds so they can do one more, it melted my heart. You have found your true calling,” said Allison

Wow. Those are the things I live for as an instructor. I want to bring positivity and motivation to my students. I want them to leave my class feeling good about themselves and of course wanting to come back for more.

POP Pilates is going to become a regular feature at the office once I begin working full time. As one of my Facebook friends commented on the photo from class; “You have POP Pilates in your office? Where do I apply?” Exactly. Trampoline is that cool.

I am thankful I will be able to continue pursuing this passion once I begin working, both in the office and outside of it. After seeing my passion for teaching, Amanda and Paula have agreed to let me leave early on Thursdays in order to make it to one of my classes in time. As far as jobs, benefits, and work-life balance go, that small accommodation means so much. I can’t wait to become a full time Tramp, and the official fitness instructor of the office.

 

Turning a Location into a Destination

As a full-service marketing agency, we have our hands in a lot of pies. Marketing as a whole may sound straightforward, but the marketing needs of, say, a small business are worlds away from that of a university, and marketing for a destination is another matter altogether. Even within the specific niche of destination marketing, no two locations are alike, and each place has unique strengths and pain-points that we take into account when developing a strategy.

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National Write Your Story Day: The Story of Trampoline

Today is National Write Your Story Day. As a partner at an agency that specializes in storytelling, through visual elements and words, I can’t help but approach this day with delight. We’re celebrating our 15th year in business and I want to take the opportunity to look back on all that has changed around us, personally and professionally.

It was late fall 2003 when we incorporated. We shook hands as newlyweds and new parents at a campground in Dorset, Vermont, pledging to create a company that put family first and would have an unerring focus on design and communication that hit the mark. The early months were lean, with late nights and light paychecks (if any). Two of us held full time jobs to keep us all covered by health insurance, the books were done after bedtime, headlines written before sunrise.

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