From the Inside Out

Here is the first in a series of Tramp Chats. We reserve the right to be very flexible with where these conversations go, but the goal is to give glimpses inside Trampoline. We asked two of our former interns, current employees, Kacey Visser, and Oliver Derosier, to recount some of the things they learned along the way from college to Trampoline. It seemed like a great way to give a leg up to anyone thinking about applying for an internship here.

Oliver and Kacey are two of the quietest people at Trampoline, one of the things they’ve taught us is that silence doesn’t mean an absence of ideas or enthusiasm. The insight they share here is pure gold for anyone applying to be an intern, whether at Trampoline or somewhere else. They’ve put the same honesty and matter-of-factness into their answers that they do into their work.

Ready? Here we go, first Kacey and then Oliver, mostly because having a last name starting with V probably means Kacey didn’t get to go first very often in school.

A woman in a black stocking cap smiles widely at the camera while pointing at a column festooned with stickers.

Kacey Visser, BFA in Graphic Design, 2018 The College of Saint Rose—this photo taken by Allison Valiquette during the Tramp Brew Day.

Kacey Visser,
BFA in Graphic Design, 2018
The College of Saint Rose

How did you find Trampoline?
I heard about Trampoline through the professor leading my internship class my junior year. She knew that I was looking to stay in the upstate area and suggested I look into Trampoline, a small but impactful studio where two St. Rose alum were currently employed who also did their internships there before being hired full time.

How did you apply to be an intern?
After looking more closely into Trampoline and immediately being drawn to the wide variety of exciting work the studio was producing, I sent an internship inquiry through the Trampoline website as well as to one of the senior designers, wanting to do everything in my power to get the opportunity to sit down and talk with the Tramps.

Did you apply to other agencies?
I did apply to other agencies, but Trampoline was the first studio I visited that made me feel welcome, comfortable, and excited to stay.  I could tell that the Tramps were interested in helping to cultivate my design skills and prepare me for my future as a graphic designer in the real world.

Did you do anything to make your application stand out? 
Taking the time to put thought into how you design your resume and portfolio and catering the work inside to your interests and aspirations as a designer is important not only as another way to showcase your talents but also as a first impression of your personality, design style, and how you might fit in with the office environment.

Do you remember your interview?
I remember sitting in my car after arriving twenty minutes early to my interview, going through my portfolio one last time to make sure I knew exactly what I wanted to say. The interview was made much easier by the warm welcome of Staci, Paula, and Amanda as well as the casual office environment as we sat on the couch and reviewed my portfolio over the coffee table. What started as standard pre-interview nerves grew into excited energy knowing that I could have the chance to work with such a talented and inviting group of people.

How did you become an employee?
Shortly after the beginning of the first semester of my senior year, I received an email from Trampoline telling me that they were interviewing for a Junior Designer position and, with my internship still fresh in their minds, they wanted to know if I was interested in applying. After a lunch meeting at a local Glens Falls spot and some discussion about how Trampoline would be there to help me balance school and work, I happily accepted the position. For the rest of the school year, I worked as a freelance designer with the studio and after graduation began my full-time career as a Tramp

Any advice for potential interns?
Don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back. It can be intimidating going into an actual business and doing work as a student, knowing that an error could result in more than a lower grade, but it’s important to remember that you were given this opportunity as a mean to grow your talents and gain new experiences. Don’t dilute your ideas for fear that they might be too much, not enough, or wrong, there’s a whole office of talented people at your disposal to help guide you in the right direction.

A man with a beard and man bun smiles at the camera as he sits in an office environment.

Oliver Derosier, BFA Graphic Design & Media, Sage College of Albany 2016

Oliver Derosier,
BFA Graphic Design & Media
Sage College of Albany 2016

How did you find Trampoline?
I had heard rumblings of Trampoline within my academic design circles in the Capital Region. I had heard that they mainly focused on the outdoor industry and that they were a fun, not afraid to get their hands dirty-type of an agency that operated out of a city near the Adirondacks.

How did you apply to be an intern?
My first encounter with a Tramp happened at the student portfolio review at the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. A previously employed creative director from Trampoline pulled up a chair from across my table, and we made introductions. After going through my collection of student work and discussing my creative process, he handed me a uniquely designed letterpress business card. He mentioned that Trampoline was interviewing students for an intern position and urged me to reach out via email. The next thing I knew I was driving up to Glens Falls, NY for my interview.

Did you apply to other agencies?
While applying to agencies, I knew that I was interested in branching out beyond Albany/Troy design firms, but didn’t have a specific location in mind. In researching Glens Falls and the surrounding area, I realized that it checked all of the boxes for my ideal location.

Did you do anything to make your application stand out?
While I never officially submitted an intern application, I did write a letter following the completion of my interview. It still lives on the Trampoline fridge to this day!

A stainless steel refrigerator with magnets and notes, including a handwritten letter.

Oliver’s handwritten thank you note drew exclamations the day it arrived. Classy.

Do you remember your interview?
I remember butterflies in my stomach as I navigated unfamiliar city streets all while trying to stay out of my head. I knew I had prepared well, and just needed to stay positive and confident. Upon entering the office I was struck by the bright, open space, and the warm welcome I received the moment I came through the door. I had anticipated maybe a couple of interviewers but ended up talking through my work with all of the partners and the creative director I had met at the portfolio review. I managed to keep my nerves at bay, and instantly felt that I was in the company of good-natured people. It was clear that they shared my passion for the outdoors and of course, graphic design. Shortly after, I started my internship at Trampoline.

How did you become an employee?
My internship had more career building experiences and opportunities than I ever could have imagined. The Tramp team included me in critiques, logo projects, print pieces and more. I felt that I was a part of the team environment, and I was determined to do well. Meshing with the Tramp employees was easy, and I found myself eager to learn and grow from their professional and industry experience. Following my internship, Trampoline opened up a position for a graphic designer. Unfortunately, the position required more experience than I could offer. I later reached out to the same creative director that I had met at my first portfolio review. He was no longer working at Trampoline but got me in touch with the company partners. Not long after, I was re-tracing my route through Glens Falls for an interview, this time for a full-time position. Needless to say, everything worked out quite well.

Any advice for potential interns?
Give it 110 percent—your design work, your professional skills, the whole nine yards. To do that you have to get out of your comfort zone, and you have to be humble and willing to grow. There is something to learn from every experience in your internship, and often it is the fleeting, seemingly routine moments that offer the most potential for growth.

 

Internship Details
Applicants have until the 15th of April to send a resume, portfolio, and cover letter to [email protected] Check your spelling and don’t delete your personality, both are very important. Good luck, have fun, and maybe we’ll be seeing you.

 

Expert or Empath

We live in a pretty great moment as far as communication tools go—there are performance-based algorithms, CRM, CMS, SAS, and on and on. Sometimes the biggest challenge is figuring out which tools you need. The thing that cannot be outsourced is our ability to be compassionate toward clients. We can keep ourselves up to date on the latest techniques. We can study audience habits, get training in communication skills, but to understand what is happening across the table or on the other end of the phone means we have to consider where they are coming from, what they are going through, and how far those things are from what we are doing and thinking.

A few months ago we began the process of rebranding. There was no hierarchy of involvement, which is to say that it wasn’t a case of, “this has to be done by a partner,” instead we decided to see what came of letting all the designers in the shop take a crack at it.

Everyone loves a logo and what brand could any of us know better than our own?

It was an eye-opening experience. Designers spoke in hushed tones to one another, they absentmindedly yanked on their hair or tugged on an ear lobe. “I just don’t know—” they’d trail off. Sometimes there would be nervous laughter and then silence, followed by a “Maybe I’ll come back to this.” The weight of creating something to replace our current brand proved to be more daunting than we imagined.

A few weeks passed, and there was nothing to look at as a group, so we invited designers to meet one by one to try and get to the bottom of what was stalling people. Turns out, the emotions people were feeling are very similar to what clients go through.

“What if I can’t come up with something better than what we have?”

“Is it possible that this isn’t necessary?”

“Why are we rebranding?”

“I don’t know if I can design this.”

We revisited the creative brief, which had been a deliberately informal discussion about who we are as a company, how we feel about the brand and how it relates to our current composition of people, skills, and desired work. Again, very much like we do with clients, we talked about how our goals can be supported by strategic design and language choice. We mapped out tactics and uses, as well as adjustments to the process.

Everyone went back to their workspaces with ideas. We let a few weeks go by with people free to work on the brand as if it were a paid project for a client. We decided to combine the crit of the logos with the day that we brewed beer at Mean Max. When we gathered to review it was early afternoon. We had the place to ourselves, and we laid out all the different versions beneath the bank of windows.

 

A group is gathered in a half cirlcle reviewing sheets of paper on the floor.

We set down our brewing tools and darts and reviewed the brand update explorations that had been done.

 

It was a strange sensation to look at the designs; I couldn’t completely remove myself from the situation and be the client. Looking over the work, I saw risks that had been taken, respect that shone through, and more, in the faces of each designer I saw vulnerability, hope, and uncertainty. I also saw admiration. They were proud of one another and, perhaps most poignantly to me, they were proud of belonging to Trampoline.

A man can be seen looking over sheets of paper placed on a hardwood floor. He is wearing a ball cap and jacket. Sunlight pours through the windows onto the papers.

Derek kneeled down to take a closer look at some of the work.

It’s been a few months, and we are poised to launch a new website. We are not, however, ready to unveil a rebrand. The more we talked, the less certain we were that the brand was what needed to change. I think there was a collective wave of, “So this is how it feels,” recognition as we thought back the rebrands, name changes, and brand refreshes we’ve conducted over the last several years. I realize that I have been guilty of saying that it’s an emotional process without truly demonstrating patience with and empathy for the process people have to go through to navigate change.

The experience of going through this together, poking and prodding our materials, scrutinizing our process, and really taking the time and focus to consider how we want to exist has pulled us together in new ways. We’ve learned a lot, not the least of which is that the exercise of considering a brand has a lot to do with people and emotions. These can be things that get lost in the pursuit of milestones and deadlines. At the core of any story or graphic is human emotion and chemistry that never gets its due, the exchange between artist, brand, and audience.

Our commitment, for ourselves and our clients, is to keep the expert and empath connected. And maybe one day we’ll rebrand, but for now we feel good being exactly who we are.

Spec: risk or flex?

The question about whether to provide spec work on a project is one that our shop has danced around for the last 16 years.

In our industry, providing creative work ahead of any contract or agreement to do work isn’t advised. On the client side, spec work is a lot like staying in a nice hotel, trying out the tub, sleeping in the bed and ordering room service without ever paying the bill. One might enjoy the experience and decide to book/pay for a room. Then again, maybe not.

This isn’t to say that clients don’t ask for spec. They do. Often, it’s a requirement on larger proposals. Organizations are in search of a guarantee that their investment will provide a valuable return. 

👎 Design Contests

We learned early on that attempts to skirt payment for design or concept work are nonsense. Business relationships need to be built on a respect for time and an appreciation of services rendered. It’s well marked as a two-way street. The value of our work can’t be reduced to tournament brackets, and someone who would underrate communication that way, probably isn’t all that bright to begin with. Read: you get what you pay for.

👍 Loss Leaders

At Trampoline we have found that, while risky, providing spec allows us to flex our creative muscles, often pushing our proposal to the top of the pile. There’s a risk that we could provide something in a color palette that the customer ultimately can’t stand or a style that they don’t usually go for. Our hope is that our work is creative enough that it elicits a response—negative or positive—that will begin a conversation. See the pitch video below, posted to the Trampoline Facebook page, misinterpreted as an actual social promo for the City of Oneonta. 677 likes, 211 comments and over 2,000 shares later, conversation was had.

Oneonta Beyond the Hills

Updated: We created this video 6 months ago to be considered for a project with the City of Oneonta. As we do for pitches, we rolled up our sleeves and put together a piece using photography we had, stock clips, and additional footage we shot on location. We have since begun working on the project. We are grateful for the interest and very much look forward to doing right by the city, the businesses, and its people.

Posted by Trampoline on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

 

☝️Proof of Results

In addition to those instances where spec is required we’ve also found opportunities to leverage our work ahead of contract negotiations. This is always done in an effort to show a prospective client the entire scope they can expect when contracting Trampoline. Tailoring work to them shows that we understand their brand. 

👋 An Introduction 

Sometimes spec is simply agreeing to work on projects before there is a long-term contract in place. Identifying a set scope of work, or a trial job can be a low-stakes way to build a working relationship between agency and client. Those organizations often stay with us the longest.  

👊 Client Singular

Creating content for use as a competitive advantage should clearly showcase ability, demonstrate research, and prove a result. The work, speculative as it might be, needs to be specific—or what’s the point? It’s safest to stick to the facts and leave opinions out. 

In our experience, if someone wants advice, they’ll request it specifically. Without that engagement any viewpoint is just more noise added to the internet. Take this blog post, for example: if you’re still reading it, then you must be getting something. 

Communication should be focused on the message, not who is delivering it. Talking heads serving up a self-promo gazpacho of marketspeak are not specific (they can’t be) and full of rhetoric (that they need to resort to). 

If you’re not 3D printing proposals with GPS coordinates, did you even pitch?

👌 Worthwhile

Ultimately it comes down to being flexible and weighing the pros and cons. We don’t believe that there is any single answer that works for every situation.  Like any agency we compete for marketshare, sometimes that means taking a risk to demonstrate your worth.

Honoring Emotion

When I worked in theatre I used to say that “when you stop having butterflies before a performance, it’s time to stop.” Theatre is unapologetically rooted in emotion, people are literally chasing the prospect of feeling something.

Tell me a story, take me to another place, teach me something.

Pierce my world with magic.

A shot splitting the view of backstage and the house

Standing backstage, waiting to perform or poised at the fly rail to send in a drop, I always felt lightheaded. The audience and the production have different chemistry at every performance, you can’t know until the curtain flies out, the lights go up, and the audience is invited in, whether the crowd is hot or you have your work cut out for you. That’s the thing about emotion, not everyone is comfortable with it.

I’ve moved from theatre to communication and it often feels like emotion is the last thing people want. People have a feverish need for confidence and stability, which is understandable as money is invested and huge leaps of faith are taken with brand and story. What sometimes get lost is that emotion is a fuel. Nerves can help with focus, excitement can sustain interest on a team, and the rush of venturing beyond comfort can lead to remapping boundaries.

The backside of presentation boards face out from a long wooden bench before a presentation.

The other day we were presenting logo drafts to a client. There were a number of versions to show, each one the result of numerous rounds of internal revisions and edits. The work was backed by research, polling, and experience. We had rehearsed our presentation and worked through specific ways to discuss different strategies. This particular project involved pitching a small group. They are intelligent, invested in the process, and respect our opinion. Despite all of this, my palms were sweaty and my voice was shaky; I had butterflies.

A group f of people gathered in a wood paneled conference room to review a presentation.

When these moments of anticipation and nerves come, I don’t fight them. There should be pressure and I should be channeling my energy into creating emotion. Maybe they hate the logo or they fall back in love with what they’ve had, perhaps the process of seeing how things feel leads to an exciting new direction. The important thing is that as we gather to consider the work, we feel something.

People gathered around work tables reviewing artwork pinned to a whiteboard.

 

 

 

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

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.

 

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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Called Out on Your Own Turf

Departing a bit from straight up ad talk and addressing the danger of bandwagons without forethought. This goes into the #MeToo movement and related topics. Read or click away as feels right for you.

Twitter released what is unequivocally a gorgeous spot during the Oscars as a contribution to the #MeToo movement. The execution of the vision—the range of faces shown, in age, ethnicity, and size, is exquisite. The poem, performed in the voice of its author, Denice Frohman, is powerful and relevant.

The participation of Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, and Julie Dash suggests that the ad is supported by an understanding of the #MeToo movement and a genuine commitment to the #HereWeAre idea. And yet…

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Surviving Instagram in 2018

Instagram has over 800+ million engaged monthly users. The photo-sharing platform is on track to hit a billion users this year, and currently boasts an estimated $100 billion market value. And while it falls behind its parent company, Facebook, in size and value, it outpaces Facebook’s engagement rates by over 15%.

While using Instagram may seem as simple as posting an image and calling it a day, the Instagram algorithm plays an important role in determining what each person sees when they open their phone. These parameters are an ever-changing puzzle, but if you understand how to leverage the rules you can take your Instagram—and your business—to the next level.

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The Price of Admission

Free of Charge! Live Music! Open Bar! 

These are a few qualifiers that never fail to draw a crowd. The first makes the wallet of a casual event goer happy and the second assures them they’ll be entertained (for free), while the third sets them up to crack open that very same wallet for other goodies.

I can confidently say that every one of the above exclamations has enticed me into an event of questionable interest.

Catch the eye of a stranger (and pique the interest of those who already support the product):

Events marketed by Trampoline are usually hosted by one of our clients. They have a brand that we need to reinforce, a clientele of their own to consider, and a regular means of sharing information. The point of event marketing is to reinvigorate the interest of those people and draw in newcomers.

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