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.

You won’t reach 100% of your audience. 

As a baseline, Instagram puts your content in front of a (somewhat) random grouping of users that make up 10% of your following. From there, it’s a race to get as much engagement as possible in the shortest amount of time. If your post shows an early burst of engagement, the algorithm determines that it’s content relevant to your audience, and puts it in front of more people. How do you get those infuriatingly necessary bursts of engagement? Read on.

Golden hour isn’t just for sunsetsBy posting at peak traffic periods, you increase the chances that your engaged followers will be online and ready to give your post the boost it needs to climb higher on the feeds of your followers. Users who regularly interact with your content are prioritized in the first 10%, so make sure you’re playing into their schedules. Trampoline’s prime posting time is Saturday at 1:00 pm, followed closely by Sundays at 2:00 pm. As a rule, weekday posts are optimal around 4:00 pm.

How do you know when prime posting time is? For the average user it’s as easy as trial and error. A safe bet for most accounts is early afternoon or late evening; times when people are taking a break or unwinding after a long day. Avoid the morning or right after the work day ends, people are traveling and not on their phones. Hopefully.

Shadowbanning; not as scary as it sounds. Ever wish you could put someone on mute? Instagram went ahead and did it. Shadowbanning is Instagram’s way of dealing with accounts that they consider spam. It’s a temporary ban that stops your content from appearing in search results and on most of your followers feed, a measure that the algorithm thinks will improve the average user’s experience. Engagement drops off dramatically, new followers will slow to a stop. Luckily, many of the ways you can avoid shadowbanning are also great for engagement (coincidence? Think not.), read on to find out more.

Think those hashtags through. The beauty and the nuanced headache of the new algorithm (which will probably have changed by the time I finish writing this) is the key role that hashtags now play. The days of engagement pods, purchased followers, and bots are screeching to a halt, and in their place rises the era of savvy hashtag leveraging. Where hashtags like #like4like #instagood #photography used to be a safe bet for legions of bot likes, now the only thing they’ll accomplish is a quick and silent shadowban on your account. A few quick hashtag tips below:

  • Five is plenty, less is better. Five relevant and well considered hashtags will do far more for your post than 30 irrelevant ones. The average amount of hashtags on posts made by accounts with over 100k followers is just two.
  • Don’t reuse hashtags too often. Want to gram something with #graphicdesign 12 days in a row? Instagram will flag that as spam, earning you a shadowban. 
  • There is strength in (small) numbers. Whatever you do, do not use hashtags that have over a million existing posts. There are few quicker ways to get shadowbanned, and by using a collection of hashtags with depths of 5,000–500,000 existing posts you drastically increase your chances of being seen in a search.
  • Don’t put hashtags in the comments. If you’ve been on Instagram in the last year, you’ve seen users commenting on their own posts with lists of hashtags. There’s logic in this approach—relegating the hashtags out of the caption and into the comments cleans up your post, diminishing the risk of a “read more” scenario. Starting in January of 2018, Instagram no longer includes images hashtagged in the comments in the search feature. All your hard work putting together strategic hashtag groups ends up wasted unless you keep them in the caption.

Engagement goes both ways. The best way to drive engagement is to engage in-kind. Spending an hour or so each day interacting with your followers through likes and comments is essential to a well-rounded social presence. While likes are great for getting the burst you need to climb the feed, genuine comments are even more valuable. In an effort to cut down on bot comments, the algorithm has deemed comments less than four words to be spam comments which don’t count toward engagement in a valuable way. If your followers are commenting less than four words, it’s no big deal, you can boost your own engagement numbers by replying back to them within the first hour with a four-or-more reply. Bonus points if your reply facilitates a conversation in your comment section. YOU get a comment, YOU get a comment, EVERYBODY GETS A COMMENT!

Utilize the valuable tool that is Stories. There has never been a better time to use the Instagram Stories feature. Instagram has positioned itself as one of the most valuable tools on the market for businesses, and Stories are more important than you may think for keeping your engagement numbers up. The new algorithm rewards accounts for posting stories, so dust off that iPhone and get to boomaranging!

  • Temporary by design, permanent by choice. The introduction of the Story Highlights feature took stories from a 24 hour blip to a permanent feed of dynamic content. Take your audience on a tour of your office, show them the behind-the-scenes process, or let your staff take the Story for the day and give a birds eye view of what it’s like to be part of the team. Want to feature a glimpse of everyone on the set of a video? Let it live for 24 hours. Want to give a tutorial that explains the basics of logo design? Save it to your Highlights—your followers and your engagement will thank you. 
  • People will watch, and that matters. Instagram Stories don’t live in a vacuum from the rest of your account. More stories equals more engagement, which in turn equals a higher placement on the feed.  
  • Prioritize interactivity. Tools like polls and hashtags allow you to get more engagement from each audience member, utilize them!
  • It’s all trackable. Like every other aspect of Instagram, Stories are trackable. Experiment with different tactics and styles and keep track of the swipe-through rate for each. You’ll be amazed by how much of what you thought was boring content is actually engaging, and vice versa.

Post it and leave it alone. One of the easiest ways to ruin your feed positioning is to edit your post in the first 24 hours. Making any changes to the caption will automatically kick you back to the bottom of your audience’s feed. You have two options if you spot a typo: ignore it and pray everyone else does too, or delete the post and repost it with the edits. Third option: proofread.

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.

One of our favorite ways to do this? Create new artwork for the event.

The best place to start is with the brand standards already being used by the event host and visuals centered around the theme of the event. From there, take creative risks – cultivate a sense of excitement. Build the information into an image, use a custom type treatment, or get outrageous with the size, color and/or content of your advertising. Find that inspiration and capture it to create something conceptual and new. You’ve got to stop those busy feet, eyes, and thumbs

The digital world, am I right?

I like to ask myself, “would I want this poster on my wall?” It’s rare that an advertisement stops me on my lunch break, but doesn’t make me interested in the event.

Create a unique experience:

When making weekend plans there is often simply too much to do. Life gets busy, so the audience has to be made to feel like the event is worthwhile.

What’s different? What’s new?

Event advertisements are constantly battling with movie releases, show posters and happy hour at the local watering hole. A fundraiser with music can be the same night as a good concert, but if that concert is presented as just another performance and that fundraiser seems like a one-time, can’t-miss event, decisions can be influenced. For this to occur there needs to be something about the event that stands out. Catchy naming, killer photography, and original art can go a long way.

Depending on the frequency of an event, the “unique” element can be tricky. This creates the necessity for consistency on top of captivation. If your event is going to happen with any degree of regularity, then it needs to have elements that make it special, and become a system onto themselves. Create a recurring poster style. If there will be multiple dates, give it different colors than the brand family. If there are different colors, make the fireworks those colors too.

Put that logo on some s#!t:

Repeat impressions. Repeat impressions. I repeat, impressions.

When the mark is made and the event announced, take that mark and slap it on everything you can. The strategy and planning of event marketing materials only carry so much weight. Good old fashioned exposure is your best friend.

At the risk of being garish, get that thing out there. If there is an ad, resize it for Instagram, Facebook, the newspaper, a web slider, a poster for bulletin boards, you name it. SWAG(Stuff We All Get), collectibles, stickers, apparel, and advertising that can also be sold as art are fantastic ways to add a little extra incentive to attend, while also giving your event recognizability. An event t-shirt that people want to wear after the fact is guerrilla marketing gold. A beer glass with a logo is going to remind guests about next year’s event every time they pour a cold one.

That beautiful poster? Now it’s on my wall, wonder what next year’s will be?

The above are just a few things to consider when creating marketing materials for an event. There are more and many things that can be done from visual, strategic, and incentive standpoints to draw crowds to your fundraiser, special evening, concert or trivia night. So long as you make the materials as fun as the event, you can’t miss.

If none of the above is working, just open the bar.

You have 215,000 new friend requests.

Here at Trampoline, we create a lot of content. How much content? Check out our “30 Days of Logos” series on Instagram. It’s easy to share rebrands and video clips on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but it’s harder to condense what we do for social media down to 1920 by 1080. Our work for Warren County Tourism has been a case study in growth and maintaining long term success. As our three-year contract comes to a close, we’re taking a moment to reflect on our time with @LakeGeorgeArea.

In the summer of 2015, we jumped at the chance to apply our take on the region we call home. Warren County tasked Trampoline to increase their online footprint, drive traffic to their sites, and add followers. Our solution was to push high quality content with a consistent brand voice on a regular basis. Rather than telling people to come visit, we wanted to show them exactly why a trip to the Lake George Area was worth their time and money.

Pinpointing the Lake George Area audience was one of the most important factors in content creation. On Facebook, the average fan is a 35-44 year-old woman from New York State, likely from a rural area. The average Instagram follower is a 25 year-old woman from an urban center in the Northeast. The average Warren County Twitter follower? A 25-34 year-old Republican woman who is married, owns a home and has a household income from $150,000-199,999. Oh, and she only buys name brand. Details like this may seem insignificant, but they paint a picture of what content we need to be creating, boosting and strategically placing across our channels to optimize engagement.
For Facebook, we took a family-focused approach. Blog posts about back to school fun and lists of family-friendly weekend events filled our followers’ feeds. Our audience was more than happy to pitch in, often commenting their own recommendations and fond memories. Blog posts, image sets and Facebook contests kept people engaged on a daily basis, but it was the video content that stood out as a clear audience favorite. Our video depicting Warren County Events even won the County a 2017 Telly Award!

Instagram was a different case altogether. Where videos and images with text overlays went viral with the older Facebook audience, they only saw a small trickle of likes from young Instagram users. This audience clearly wanted an escape. They didn’t want to see other people having fun or to read a list of everything happening in the region, they wanted an attention grabbing image, free from the context of someone else’s vacation.

In 2017, the same filter heavy shots that received rave reviews in 2015 were the worst performers. High resolution images of sweeping mountain views and saturated sunsets far outperformed images showing people. Instagram, which as a platform has gained over 300 million users since the Warren County account began in 2015, is one of the most dynamic accounts in the Lake George Area suite.


With Twitter we found that the fast paced nature of the platform made it perfect for letting our audience know about the events happening in the area. Although not conducive to in-depth copy, 140 characters is a perfect amount to tell people what’s going on and where.

Living in Warren County gave us the distinct advantage. We drive, bike, hike and ski in the region on a daily basis. As a creative agency, we have the skillset to generate organic content with our audience in mind. Living our lives, camera in hand, has allowed us to create a library of active, first-person material.

 

The Results
Warren County gave us the broad goal of driving growth on their sites. By all accounts, we’ve surpassed this goal with an average fan growth of 2,645.6% across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Over the course of our contract with the Tourism Department, their Facebook likes have increased by 3,322.4%, with the account on track to surpass 300,000 likes before the end of 2018. The increase in audience engagement (likes, comments and messages) is even more staggering, sitting at 88,064% over the last two and a half years.

Instagram followers have increased by 4,245.8%, with audience engagement up  21,101%. 2017 alone saw the @lakegeorgearea account reach follower milestones of 4, 5 and 6 thousand.

Twitter experienced slower growth than Facebook and Instagram, with a 368.6% increase in fans. With Twitter’s growth as a platform flatlining in the past three years, we consider our success on the site a testament to the quality of the content being pushed.


The numbers are impressive enough on their own, but more so when you realize that for every like, there’s a real person engaging with Warren County. To put the numbers in context, the Census Bureau cited the population of the county as 65,707 in 2016. The combined total followers for Warren County social media is over 3.67 times larger than the county’s population.

What Next
Successful social media management is a balance between analytics and instinct. In the daily battle to reach wider audiences, having the ability to create content is perhaps a smaller factor than having the knowledge to get that content in front of the correct audience. While we couldn’t have anticipated the level of success we experienced with Warren County Tourism, we weren’t altogether surprised. Through strategic planning, regular analysis and a willingness to adapt, we’ve seen results and learned valuable lessons, preparing us for many years of social media management ahead.

Happy Trampsgiving

We enjoyed a bit of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a matter of fact, on Wednesday we all walked out to our cars together. We swapped stories, shared plans, and maybe talked about the quirky relative we were looking forward to seeing (misbehave). Traditions, though they vary, offer a common thread. It’s often that connection we seek to unearth in the design process—creating unity through an unexpected, familiar, or striking element in communication.

Design can bring a community together, forward a mission and do good. Streamlined communication helps organizations to cut through some of the commercial clutter to deliver messaging that hits the mark.

Below are 10 non-profits that Trampoline has contributed to in 2017. As a group we’ve proudly donated design, funds and volunteer hours to assist as needed. Our reward has been seeing the impact of the effort. Whether the result is improved awareness, or an uptick in gifts—we’re on a mission (pun!) to have an impact on our region.

1. Double H Ranch

The Ranch was one of our very first clients, circa 2003. Maybe that’s why working for Double H always feels like coming home. Our team spent some time on campus in the fall, cleaning and preparing for an October Survivor’s Weekend. Getting our hands dirty in a brand always makes the design mean more. This year’s biggest triumph was a 25th Anniversary book that chronicled a quarter-century of camping and caring. Currently: drafts for the Winter 500 event branding!

2. Canal Street Marketplace

A Farmer’s Market in-the-making needed a representative logo to communicate the rehab of an unused barn in downtown Fort Edward, NY. We’re big fans of using what you’ve got, so the whole concept of placemaking was exciting on a number of levels. The lead designer was a Fort Edward native and Rob poured some local love into the creation. Next harvest: Merchandise!

3. Glens Falls Community Theatre

The Magee family’s involvement in the Glens Falls Community Theatre production of Oliver! The Musical led to the creation of a series of videos that featured cast members and costumes. This actor-friendly, community based content was shared hundreds of times and the series of vignettes racked up over 20,000 views in the week before the show.

In the spirit of the Lionel Bart’s opening song: Food, Glorious Food, the production set a framework in place to donate items to the Open Door Mission. Cast members led by example, arriving at tech rehearsal with over 200 donations, but that was surpassed by the Glens Falls community who attended the performances. Social media messages encouraged audience members to donate items as well, and at the end of the run, over 600 non-perishable food items had been collected and delivered to the Mission.

4. The Open Door Mission

A new facility—still under construction—and a recommitment to the homeless population in our region, meant that the Open Door Mission was ready for an updated identity. Staci has managed a team of designers since the summer to create and develop a mark that will connect with users and donors alike. There is much in store for this organization, and their good works in Glens Falls. We’re honored to have a role in their process.

5. Queensbury Schools

Music is a big part of everything that we do at Trampoline, and music education is something we’re passionate about. We’ve contributed to the orchestra and band programs at Queensbury, where our own artistic children play, creating wearables that make the musicians the envy of the school. Crescendo: we’re at work on merch for the Select Show Choir.


6. West Mountain School

As passionate as we are about the arts, the outdoors might matter even more to this Adirondack Agency, and skiing is at the top of our activities list. Local learning programs and access to training are essential to the future of the sport. To help put planks on kids we turn to West Mountain—their after school programs and ski-team development help to instill a love for the sport, and the season. The expenses associated with skiing and riding can be prohibitive for some, but the West Mountain School is doing all that it can to make the mountain accessible to as many families as possible. Oliver is working hard to create marketing pieces to help support the school. In the race gates: Snow!

7. SerioüsFun Children’s Network

Paul Newman’s legacy lives on at camp. The parent company of Double H Ranch, SerioüsFun, along with their sister organization: Newman’s Own Foundation, operate camps around the world—offering unforgettable experiences to critically ill children and their families. It’s important work, and cannot happen without support. This year’s annual report, designed by Leslie, will help deliver the SerioüsFun message, and show their effective use of donated funds. Next up: the SerioüsFun Gala in New York. Save us a seat (and a pint of The Tonight Dough or Marshmallow Moon) Fallon!

8. The Rotary 5k

Each and every April we lace up our kicks and hit the pavement for the race that raises money. Glens Falls Rotary uses the event to generate donations (there’s a different beneficiary each year). We’ve worked with Jim Goodspeed and company since the event began, and have had a team in place to run it every year, as well. We rub shoulders with some of the community’s best, and sweat side-by-side with clients and friends including teams from Mannix Marketing, Hudson Headwaters, and Glens Falls National. Pro-tip: bankers talk a surprising amount of trash during, and after the race. Here’s to healthy workplaces, and healthier donations!

9. Pitney Meadows Community Farm

Access to fresh food and the knowledge of how to grow it is an important issue in Upstate New York. Families continue to struggle with availability of produce and the understanding that some of the best food available can be grown, not bought. Pitney Meadows in Saratoga Springs is a farmstead that was rescued from the sprawl of development in order to help educate and inspire a new generation of agriculture.

For Trampoline, the project was a natural evolution from our work in the Capital Region with Capital Roots, and other agri-brands for small businesses like CLS Farms in Moxee, WA and Lakestone Family Farm in Rochester, NY. The project became a tapestry of old friends and new clients as familiar faces like Kim Feeney and Kevin London mixed with the Arnold Family and overlapped with the butchering program at SUNY Cobleskill. Give thanks for good food!

10. Paul Smith’s College

The College of the Adirondacks produces a different breed of graduate—leaders, doers and resourceful entrepreneurs. Smitties are the stuff of legend, and we’re proud to tell the story of the college. Recruitment materials for PSC continue to tell the story of Adirondack ingenuity and drive, and the staff at Trampoline is ready to jump to the task—no matter how immersed in the St. Regis they become. Next semester: A pro-bono logo for the Osgood Pond Program. In the classic words of John Cougar: “Yurts So Good.”

Branding Fun

“That’s work?” is something we hear a lot as we post snippets from our days. It’s undeniable that we get to do some pretty fun stuff in pursuit of the shot.

Putting a face on things is something we love—that can be places, products, or even events. Is it luck or strategy that so much of we get to brand are activities we love? It’s both. Combining work and play means that the passion we have will translate to the mark that’s created. This isn’t to say that non-playful projects get less passion, in fact, it means that our satisfaction keeps us alert, hungry, and game to push concepts to make them stronger, whether it’s an annual report or an ad campaign.

Here are a few identities we’ve created for activities that take you from bike seat to chair lift, from river rapids to mountain peak (on foot, Jeep, or wheels), and maybe—when you’re all done—to a nice hammock.

Over the Top—a new 10k Mountain Bike and 5k Trail Run at West Mountain.

Over The Top

The New Country of Saratoga 5K Race and Obstacle Course was also on West Mountain. Over snow, above icy water, alongside fire, and through a good deal of ice, runners and to hoof, crawl, leap, and tube their way to the finish line.

New Country
We have some major cycle nuts on staff, this has always been a mark we wanted to take a swat at. The Black Fly Challenge—a 40 mile cycling event from Indian Lake to Inlet (or Inlet to Indian Lake depending on the year)

BlackFly

The mind behind Brant Lake Bike Park asked us to help him create an identity to match his vision—A project to create single track trails across 200 acres of beautiful Adirondack terrain.

Brant Lake Bike Park

For their 5th anniversary the Lake George Land Conservancy wanted an updated mark for the  Hike-a-Thon—A day with 17+ hikes to choose from in the Lake George Area.

Hike-A-Thon

Kaatskillz—A pro-Am event at Hunter Mountain with skate park inspired features including hips, bowls, and rails. Making this was as fun as taking to the slopes.

Kaatskillz

Some jobs just fall in your lap. John Duncan, the genius behind SOC, strolled into a coffee shop 12 years ago. He liked the branding, asked who did it, and then came knocking. We’ve been working together ever since.

SOC

Turns out you can do more than ski at Hunter Mountain. They asked us to build upon the icon system we’d created for other events.

4x4

Our work with Hunter expanded to work with Wildcat, Crotched, and Attitash. This Alpine Slide icon is for the feature at Attitash, which, for authenticity’s sake we just had to try.

Alpine Slide

A new twist was to introduce some of our favorite places to a foreign audience. Go North is a brand, an invitation, and an itinerary to take travelers through our part of the state, produced for The Wild Center in collaboration with the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Warren County Tourism, the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau , and I Love NY.

Go North

 

Branding is fun. Maybe we can work together…or should we say play?

 

Draplinspiration

Good designers know that there is always more to learn. It’s an interesting industry to be a part of, like a log rolling contest. The rules and methods are constantly changing, and designers are systematically challenging the status quo. You have to keep shifting your feet to keep up, otherwise you’ll end up in the drink.

One of the ways we do that is to learn from fellow designers. On Monday, four of our designers attended an intensive logo workshop at SUNY Adirondack with one of the greats, Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Company.

We filed into a tightly-packed classroom filled with computers, and waved hello to a few friendly designer colleagues and students who we recognized. The room buzzed with excited anticipation, wondering how many swear words and pearls of wisdom Mr. Draplin would bestow upon us.

Aaron Draplin running the design workshop.

Dressed in one of his signature trucker caps, full beard and sweat pants (he is a rockstar on the road, after all), he absorbed the energy in the room and began the workshop. He whizzed through Illustrator quick keys and stories about past clients as we fervently scribbled notes and sketches in our books. He told the story behind his work for President Obama and opened up his working files to show us how he works on a daily basis. “Don’t tweet this!” he’d proclaim, followed by “Keys to the kingdom!”

Aaron Draplin running the design workshop.

One of the most interesting anecdotes he shared was his journey from Michigan to Portland, Oregon. (He and Staci later shared a moment when they talked after the workshop and discovered that his mom hails from the same hometown that she does: Livonia, Michigan.)

Draplin's hand drawn map of Michigan.

After the workshop, the entire team sat in on his presentation—filled with the same heartwarming, hilarious and inspiring design stories, more swear words, and insight into the design industry.

Our team came away feeling inspired and refreshed, excited to have touched base with a designer we all admire. We laughed and shared, and came to work the next day with the tips we’d learned fresh in our minds.

Design is all about evolving, listening to the world, and moving people with the art we create. And when we learn and get inspired together, we benefit as a team. You see it in the work we produce. As he stated when he closed out the workshop, “I know this is going to sound really ‘Bob Ross-y’, but inspiration is infinite. Catalog those things around you.”

Draplin puts Rob in a headlock.

Joy-of-painting-Bob-Ross

6 Ways to Turn Data Into Content

Last week Derek sent me a link to an AdAge article about consulting companies like Deloitte entering the industry, armed with data, determined to compete with math. Hiring someone to run numbers for you is a great idea, and can provide insight into who cares about your organization. Consultants are a great lens to view a given marketplace through, but that perspective doesn’t matter much without execution.

Accurate research can certainly inform your message, targeting individual segments. The AdAge article seems to take for granted that concepts will simply present themselves when the numbers have been crunched. I think there’s a lot of daylight between agencies on this point.

Rock-solid data doesn’t guarantee that the needle will move, as referenced by this article on Millennial preferences online. Campaigns need to have staying power, based on the research that digital advertising isn’t a transactional experience, it’s often a long-game. We’re all looking for something to share, an affirmation, or a way to define what is important.

When it comes to communication, the best ideas win. Concepts that make people consider a point, 30-second football spots that are so well done that they bring people to tears…these are what we talk about. Comedy, whether it’s slapstick or storytelling, unites a room with a laugh—and builds the rapport that we’re all in search of.

> Audience reaction, applause.

Someone wrote that joke or choreographed a pratfall, and it’s that work that’s easily overlooked or overpowered by big data. Ideas are subjective and therefore their effectiveness isn’t easily quantified. Having said that, everyone seems to recognize a good one.

This is all terribly self-serving, a blog post about the importance of creativity on an agency website. Probably a bunch of graphic design snobs in love with their own ideas.

…True.

There are other ways that we tackle a problem that have little to do with design. Decisions we make, as a group, to determine what the best course of action will be. Ultimately there is a visual component, but there are a lot of decisions (based on data) that inform what the best course of action will be. Here are six different approaches that we stand by.

1. Customized Messaging.
Create something unique and specific to an audience that reinforces a brand, even on a local level. Don’t rely on stock content, which can be terrible to begin with. What makes you different? Does a free typeface or a system font really work to communicate that?

Custom

^ The crew at Hunter Mountain are creating a 70’s skateboard-themed event at Empire Parks. Inspiration came in the form of Steely Dan tracks with a sprinkle of Hall & Oats. We named the event for the locale, and for the competitors—who will be judged on style points.

It’s very specific, it won’t work for another mountain, and that’s the point.

 

2. Consistency.
Keep things familiar at each brand touchpoint with the public.

Consistency

^ Big Slide Brewery & Public House contracted Trampoline to create a logo for the restaurant, some help with an exterior sign design, and a sticker. I wish they’d used us for more, but the reality is that we provided a flexible system of artwork that they’ve been able to use in their own executions from neon to socks. They have stayed true to the artwork, and have built a successful suite of repeat impressions.

 

3. Positioning, relation.
Aligning your brand with similar, successful entities. This falls into the category of Use What You Have.

^ Peak Resorts knows (data) that the strongest brand in their northeast portfolio of properties is Carinthia. The size and features available, content in its own right, puts the terrain park at the top of the list for skiers and riders in the east. Our strategy was to build on that brand equity and extend the imagery and color palette—black on black on black—to other mountains. The decision was a communication response to Peak’s assessment that terrain was the area that represented the most growth from a strategy standpoint. There was no need to reinvent the wheel, and ultimately it was an image pivot that embraced existing success.

 

4. Editing.
Classic less-is-more. Be selective and segment messaging.

editing

^ How quickly can you make a point? What is necessary and what is just noise? Druthers’ culinary chops are showcased here. Briefly.

 

5. Information Architecture.
Be clear and concise in delivery.Information

^ Design decisions certainly do factor into this category, but figuring out what goes where and how elements can be arranged to make communication easy and effective has to happen before layout. Understanding typography and how a [Western] eye accesses information on a screen or a page makes a difference to the success of a piece. Iconography, groupings, visual breaks, color coding. Decisions. Revisions.

 

6. Timing.
Be nimble with your messaging and you’re already relevant.

Timing

^ Communication built around events, or current events, can be some of the easiest to relate to or participate in. Real-time responses and interaction can convert fans faster than the most strategic media buy, or the wittiest headline. These events for the Lake George area are specific (see #1 above) customized communication that creates a sense of importance and helps to establish immediate demand.

We have a healthy respect for data, and have been actively measuring the effectiveness of our own work, to make our subjective industry a little more certain, particularly for clients new to Trampoline. Research is crucial to getting the creative right.

We’ll dig in ourselves or partner with great organizations like Schireson in New York City or Mt. Auburn Associates in Boston to make sure we understand our challenge. Follow-up, interaction, A/B testing, responsive design all matter and improve the customer experience, but they’re nothing without a concept.

Drinkin’ on the Job

Recently, the Trampoline crew set off on several photo shoots at breweries across the north country. The crew found themselves calling barrooms “offices” and adding “taste tester” to their job descriptions. These are their stories.

TUESDAY | Big Slide Brewery | Lake Placid, New York

9:00 AM – We arrive at the brewery bright and early to meet spunky brewmaster Kevin Litchfield (a Paul Smith’s alum, to boot!) He takes us on a tour among the gleaming tanks and kegs emblazoned with the branding we created earlier this year (pretty darn cool). They even turned our custom type into a neon sign.

Kevin Litchfield

11:15 AM – Kevin fields questions from the crew. Our resident beer geek and home brewer, Staci is eager to tap into the Brewmaster’s knowledge and expertise. His pride in craft is infectious and inspiring.

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1:00 PM – Kevin seems impressed by our interest in craft beer and shares the not-yet-released Bourbon Barrel-Aged Ubu Ale. It would be rude not to sample the offerings after hearing about all the hard work and dedication that went into each beer. *Hiccup*

WEDNESDAY | Druthers Brewing Company | Saratoga Springs, New York

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9:30 AM – With cards purged and batteries charged, we pack up for another full day of shooting at Druthers Brewing Company in Saratoga. It’s the day after the election; a chilly, drizzly hump day that has us all feeling emotionally hungover. Spending the day in a warm, cheery brew pub turns out to be the perfect remedy. Sampling the goods doesn’t hurt, either.

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12:00 PM – We fight off the sobering election results with liquid courage and prepare for the next interview. Brian Van Derlofske, Saratoga’s Head Brewer, tells us what sets the brewing process apart at Druthers. We honor his devotion to the craft with a cheers, or two.

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4:30 PM – As the bar fills up, we breakdown the set and toast to another suss- sucsess- successful day of shooting!

THURSDAY | Druthers Brewing Company | Albany, New York

10:00 AM – After a couple of coconut waters and some strong coffee, we embark for the capital and Druthers’ newest brewpub.

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11:15 AM – We start by setting up shots at the bar. Wait. Let me rephrase that. We stage the bar area to begin taking photos. Yea, that sounds better.

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2:30 PM – It’s time for George De Piro’s closeup. Druthers’ Brewmaster General shows us around the gleaming facility and even teaches us some neat forklift tricks. It is made clear that we are not allowed to operate heavy machinery. Probably a good call.

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5:45 PM – We’re sooooo HAppy with the res- *hiccup* results from our uh, camera thing. It’s gonna be like sooo good. You don,t even know. OMG we can’t wait to st art editing!!!! Wait…where/s my phoen? HAbe you seen it?! Ok. BYE.

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Editor’s note: The Trampoline crew successfully made it through their bar crawl of a week. Rest assured they were safe and responsible throughout. Cheers!

Sunscreens

What did you do over summer vacation?

That’s the question our kids are answering during their first week of school. For our part, the change in season has produced a bumper crop of online offerings, with more launches planned. Here’s a look at some of the sites of summer, 2016.eldorWe planted this shiny little nugget back in April over beers at Bale Breaker Brewing Co. in Moxee Washington. The CLS Farms creation, gold in color, citrawesome in flavor, is so sought-after that Eric Desmarais and family had to contract farmers in Washington State and Idaho to grow the variety and meet ElDorado demands.

breathinglightsBreathing Lights is illuminating areas in the Capital Region where vacant buildings stand, unused. The project, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is intended to start conversations and provoke questions—like any good art installation. The creative use of space is also the foundation for a full season of programming: workshops on how to rehab an older home, events with music and speakers that will showcase the importance of neighborhoods, communities and homes. WMHT and Mannix Marketing both made bright contributions to the launch of this site!

meyerfullerA law firm with no online presence? Objection, your honor: speculative. Meyer & Fuller raised the Bar with their new site. Mx on the dev.hhhn
Hudson Headwaters Health Network took their healthy connections online with a comprehensive site overhaul. Service lines, locations, doctor profiles and patient portal information can now be easily accessed from any device. Mannix Marketing turned out to be the perfect prescription for development.


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Fresh off a communications overhaul and a new rebrand, Paul Smith’s College released its Annual Giving Results online. Green, in more ways than one.
morcon-coming-soonEven though the team is all wiped-out from a summer of web work, we’re excited to announce the conversion of another new online presence. The redesigned Morcon, Inc. website will go live in advance of ISSA in Chicago, this October. It will be beautiful and you’ll wish you had tissues.

Paul Smith’s College, Illustrated

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When Paul Smith’s College approached us about a reboot of their campus map earlier this year, the designers here instantly got excited. Maps are a specialty for Trampoline, with styles ranging from illustrative to informative. For a designer, it’s a fun challenge to create a map that is memorable and achieves the goal of being simple to use.

Which designer gets to work on a map usually comes down to workload; understanding that a map project —especially an illustrated map — is inherently time-consuming. In this case, workload was such that I was able to take on the project.

In choosing a style, we turned to Shannon Oborne, Paul Smith’s Chief Marketing Officer, for guidance. We presented her with samples of maps we’d created in the past and Shannon kept coming back to the illustrative approach. While it’s a challenge for a designer, an illustrated map can result in something distinct and impossible to overlook.

psc_campusmap_detail2_snapseedWill and Cara made a trip to Paul Smith’s on an unseasonably cold March day to take reference photos. The trip yielded hundreds of photos of campus buildings, walkways and other details that would need to be illustrated. Capturing the beauty of the college’s setting — on the shores of shimmering Lower St. Regis Lake and surrounded by rugged Adirondack peaks — wouldn’t be hard to do.

Next it was time to establish the map’s perspective. Would it be a 2-D birds-eye-view or a 3-D illustration? After some exploratory design work and an office roundtable we decided that a three-quarter, or isometric, perspective would be the best perspective to fit all of the buildings on the sprawling campus as well as the surrounding environment.

With Shannon’s solid direction, I began creating a base layer that would be the campus footprint, including roads, walkways, lakes and surrounding mountains. I relied on Google Earth and the college’s existing campus maps for accuracy.

Then came the task of illustrating the campus’ 35+ buildings in a consistent isometric perspective. This was the most time-consuming of all the steps but made all the difference in the end, adding a level of rich detail and dimension.

The final steps included adding in trees and smaller details like canoes, kayaks, lampposts, a stagecoach, and Woodsmen’s Arena. Least time consuming but by no means least important, was the map key. In creating the key, I had to be careful not to distract from the map’s detail while also having the 2-D numbers and corresponding text pop off of the page.

Shannon and the Paul Smith’s team are pleased with the end result — as are we. We’ll add it to the growing list of maps we’ve created and look forward to including the map in an upcoming Paul Smith’s trifold brochure.

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