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Superheroes of Design

When I learned that Marvel Studios patriarch Stan Lee passed away recently, it struck a chord with me. I collected Marvel comic books and trading cards growing up; it’s largely what sparked my interest in drawing and graphic design. I filled countless notebooks with sketches of Spider Man and Wolverine, and monopolized the TV watching X-Men cartoons on Saturday mornings. My comic books gathered dust as I got older but my love of drawing only grew, eventually leading me to a career in graphic design.

You may be wondering how Stan Lee and comic books tie into December’s theme of focus?

Comic books are a great example of the four-color printing process in its purest form; but it’s only through close inspection with a magnifying glass (called a loop in our field) that you’ll notice the color separation into halftone or Ben-Day dots. This printing method, that is so often associated with comic books, was first devised in the 1930s as a cost-effective way to create shading and secondary colors in mass-produced comics and newspapers.

In the 1960s, artist Roy Lichtenstein built his fame mimicking comic books of the time, meticulously hand-painting halftone dots at enormous scale. Still today, artists and designers alike lean on the halftone technique, whether to keep costs down when screen printing apparel and merchandise, or to give their artwork a nostalgic look.

I’m not the only one at Trampoline that has a penchant for pulp fiction. Sean has boxes full of comic books from his days as a collector, and looks for any excuse to incorporate comic book stylings into his work. Rob also jumps at the chance to use halftone dots to give a poster a touch of pulp fiction. It’s our way of harkening back to the heyday of pulp fiction, and the superheroes of design.

Sean’s pulp fiction parody can be seen here in an ad for Meyer & Fuller PLLC.

 

Rob’s rockin’ retro poster for Druthers Brewing Co. used halftone dots as a pattern to give it a pulp fiction effect.

 

Call us biased, but we think Megan Coloccia’s Batman and Robin are the cutest superheroes of all time.

WE’RE SEARCHING

For the meaning of life, and also for a new member to join the Trampoline family! Every person that we add to the mix here in the studio shapes who we are. We hire great people and see where they shine to mold positions around them.

A large group of co-workers have a planning meeting as they stand around table.

The morning huddle, going over deadlines and meetings.

Our current opening is for an enthusiastic, resourceful and creative Communications and Production Associate. This is a unique, exciting position that supplements both the account and creative teams in order to serve our clients. We like to immerse ourselves in the culture and voice of our clients in order to help best tell their stories, and we hope you do, too.

Six people stop and pose for a picture at Wildcat Mountain.

Reporting for duty mountainside at Wildcat Mountain.

One day you’ll be writing an Instagram post, the next, you’ll be researching vendors who can source merchandise, and the next, you’ll be meeting with a client to kick off a new project.

– Manage day-to-day client projects including but not limited to oversight of creative production, timelines, budgets, verbal and written correspondence with clients.

– Research and develop third-party quotes and coordinate production process with designers and vendors.

– Manage client advertising budgets, develop plans and place media on behalf of clients.

– Support Partners and Account team on large client accounts, projects, and/or business development activities, as needed.

– Effectively collaborate with internal creative teams, business partners, and vendors.

– Manage Trampoline and client social media strategy, content curation, ideation, and execution. Access and interpret analytics and report back to clients and Senior Leadership team.

This role requires strong:

  • Attention to details
  • Organization skills
  • Creative written and oral communication skills
  • Customer service (internal and external)
  • Basic math skills
Five co-workers and one teenager stand arms laced before a 5k race.

Rotary 5k in Tramp Track shirts.

Our team and culture are unique, and we’re looking for an extraordinary person to join us. You don’t have to know it all, but you do have to be willing to learn. A degree is preferred. This position is located at our Glens Falls office and is full-time with benefits.

An iPhone screen showing people in a brewing facility.

Could this be you?

 

If interested please send resumé, cover letter, and work samples to:

amanda@designtramp.com

staci@designtramp.com

 

 

The strength of our work is our people

We’ve been talking about focus this month. It got me thinking about how and why we focus on certain things. There are areas where we are deliberate, methodical even and others where our focus on one thing makes us miss something else. It’s why I like the idea of having a word for a month, it’s a mechanism for revealing stuff we might otherwise wholly gloss over.

The last year or so we have talked a lot more about a process. Before we kick off a project, we gather background information and relevant context to make sure everyone understands the objective, budget, and timeline. We talk to the client to get a sense of their attitude and how to best arrange the team and process. When we get a quote on a print job we take into account paper stock, extras, pricing, and timing. The same attention to detail happens in the hiring process—what are this person’s strengths, how will they integrate into the current workflow, will they create new opportunities, and can we offer them something meaningful.

These are all great things to do, but something stopped me in my tracks about a month ago. I was walking to my computer, and I passed Staci’s desk. It’s beside a huge window, the sill of which is lined with photos of her family. Her desk always has some sort of snack. On this day, there was an avocado which reminded me of how during Staci’s pregnancy she sat next to Allison, who signed up for emails describing the approximate size of the baby on a weekly basis. One week he was the size of an avocado.

 

Work space with personal items, a baby bottle, documents, and food.

Her chair was empty as she leaned over a proof on the work table with a junior designer. I could hear her characteristically thoughtful feedback on the layout and the way she presents a balance of constructive criticism and praise. Her son Kaiser, who just turned one, was sitting in his stroller flirting with two or three Tramps.

I am guilty of not always remembering just how much Staci has going on, or John, or Megan, or Oliver. I looked at the bottle on her desk, the datebook open with a girls’ night scheduled as well as a chiropractor appointment. These things were alongside ad layouts with notes and her computer screen open to an InDesign file brought into focus how much each person has influencing their perspective. It’s easy to get distracted by the client, the work, and the push to get things done. Nothing happens without the person.

The holidays, in particular, can be a time when each day carries the weight of family obligations, poignant memories, and extra to-dos. I can appreciate the idea that personal issues aren’t for the workplace, but in so many ways we can’t separate a person and the rest of their life.

A mom holds her baby

I am grateful for the way that the people coming into Trampoline each day are unafraid to reveal their entire selves—dysfunction, delight, and massive distractions. When we are able to focus on lifting one another up, whether it’s creating a lactation room or giving advice on how to contest a traffic infraction, it strengthens our team and our process.

We’re planning a lunchtime visit to Mik and Milo, Friday we’ll be brewing a custom beer with Staci’s husband guiding us along with our friends at Mean Max, and on Fridays, we’ve started a tradition of walking down the block to take aerial yoga classes over the lunch hour. The work is essential, but it’s nothing without the people.

 

Seeing the People Behind the Project

I sat in the corner of the basement room on a cold, metal chair, surveying people. One by one, they stood to talk about the importance of the work they do. Their eyes lit up and their hands fluttered as they told stories of the people they help on a daily basis. It’s one of my favorite things about this job, watching people light up. Claire Murphy, Executive Director of L.E.A.P., talked about the children who participate in the Head Start program. Kim Cook, President and C.E.O. of Open Door Mission, emphasized the importance of meeting people where they are and helping them to learn the “rules” of entering the job force. Kim Sopczyk, Executive Director of Family Services, spoke about how someone came into her office that very morning, inquiring about where they could get a winter coat.

 

Sitting in that room among people who spend every day caring for others and trying to lift people up was humbling. I was there to document the event for L.E.A.P, but it became about more than a single day. I thought about my 10-month-old son who needs his first winter coat, and how expensive they are. Thankfully, the organizations we partner with can help people find what they need, and we can play a small part in helping them navigate their way there.

It’s easy to get stuck in your own world, but it’s those times when you learn about others’ stories that you realize how much more is wrapped up in the word community, and your gratitude multiplies.

We provide design assistance, help increase awareness and elevate the identity of programs, which can truly make an impact. But maybe the biggest outcome is sharing their stories after the work is done.

Two Tourism Excellence Awards & a Davey!

The New York State Tourism Industry Association has awarded Trampoline in two destination marketing categories.

GoNorth: The sights, shops, and stories of Northern New York won in the Public Relations category, and the Hunter Mountain: It Gets in Your Head campaign win in the Niche Marketing category.

The Go North campaign was the result of regional collaboration across communities and counties in the upstate region. The W!LD Center’s leadership (and grant-writing prowess) allowed for the inclusion of many cities and towns to benefit from tour visits. Businesses, Museums, and Destinations from Saratoga to Tupper Lake agreed to participate and extended special offers to tourists.

Hunter Mountain’s season campaign ran in the New York City Metro market as an effort to entice skiers away from Vermont resorts and into the Catskills. Hunter is the closest mountain to New York, and this campaign reminded skiers in the city just how nearby adventure is. Ticket sales improved 15% as print and digital ads made their way into the marketplace, supported by TV spots, social graphics, and print collateral.

The Hunter: It Gets in Your Head campaign was also awarded Best in Show at the American Advertising Federation’s ADDY Awards.

NYSTIA is organized for the purposes of bringing together New York State tourism industry interests to raise consumer awareness and appreciation of travel and vacation opportunities in New York State.

Trampoline’s Award-winning work shared the stage with other incredible campaigns for destinations throughout New York, including Binghamton’s BING concept, the Niagara Falls USA rebrand, and the Unexpected Buffalo, among others. Each winner was beautifully designed by organizations and creative agencies working to say how much We  New York.
The family of Mean Max craft beer cans and the silver Davey Award their label design won
A few days after the NYSTIA event we got the word that the Mean Max Brew Works crowler suite received a Silver Davey Award. Our partnership with Mean Max has been a labor of love and hops. Designing these, as well as yet-to-be-released barrel aged series in glass bottles, allows us to continue supporting this region. We’re also able to offer guests at the studio exceptionally fresh beer.
Cheers!

Trampoline Transformation

We’re dedicating the month of October to transformation. Because we’re creative types, each person’s interpretation of transformation might take its own shape. Next month will mark 15 years since we received the seal of incorporation and began the Trampoline story.

When we incorporated in 2003 we had two full-time employees; today we have 18. Our specialty was branding when we started, fifteen years later destination marketing is our sweet spot. That said, every new brand that comes into the shop is lunged at like a tray of gooey-fresh-from-the-oven-chocolate-chip-cookies.

 

There was a time when we thought we had to change who we were to make it, turns out the most important asset has always been who we are. This isn’t to say that we haven’t had to learn new things or make adjustments, because we have. What I mean is that the partners who started this agency made it because we had skills that complemented one another.

Numbers, design, strategy, and language—threaded together with a fondness for solving problems. These elements carried us from our first client to our current professional relationships. It’s these same strengths that have helped drive our growth. Looking back there are visible periods of expansion, as well as times that we’ll always remember with a wipe of the brow. There comes a time when you have to reevaluate the business plan, not just to update it, but to make sure it reflects who you are and where you want to go.

 

More significant than the influence digital had to print or that social media had to communication, employee additions have demanded the most transformation.

Today the reality is that we’re having a lot more of the meetings we used to scoff at, “Another meeting? Just get it done.” We’re talking about objectives and inviting conversations about leveraging individual strengths. I watch headlines publish that I didn’t write, our Art Directors approve projects they otherwise would have designed. We don’t sit in on every meeting, and we don’t take every job because we’re doing what makes the most sense for the entire team.

A few weeks ago, everyone in the office selected their favorite completed projects and we had them printed. Our impetus for doing so was a desire to make the studio represent the people here. Watching the enthusiast suggestions was unlike anything I’ve experienced.

Some days I catch myself looking at the office, the workspaces decorated with snapshots of pets, children’s handprints, and souvenirs from vacations people have taken and I am moved to silence. We started a business for us, but we have built a life for many more. It’s an honor and a responsibility.

Here’s to another 15.

 

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.

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