July 6, 2017
Posted By: Ryan

MSLK’s Sheri Koetting was asked to examine digital marketing optimization for GCI Magazine’s June issue. Successful beauty brands are in constant dialogue with their followers, new and current alike. Robust digital ecosystems turn strangers into followers, followers into customers, and customers into repeat customers. The development of a fluid ecosystem that connects social media platforms, blogs, and emailers allows for the exchange of fun and valuable content while leading to sales. Catch the full article on the GCI Magazine website.

October 26, 2015
Posted By: Ryan


MSLK just launched our newest case study video for Sparkle Collagen, an ingestible beauty brand. Sparkle is consumed as a beverage and contains a collagen peptide supplement that reduces fine lines and improves skin-elasticity. Discover how we helped launch the brand from the ground-up, from the initial strategy and naming, to the packaging, website and social media campaigns.

September 10, 2015
Posted By: Marc

Simple-and-Clear-The-Art-of-Refining-Your-Brand's-Message-MSLK

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This adage seems to make perfect sense, from a marketing standpoint. No one wants to settle on a bad idea that leads to no measurable success. Too often, brands try “even if you succeed, try, try again.” This results in brands which appear to suffer from ADD. Brands with multiple messages — no matter how individually great they are —  will still find there is consumer confusion. We see this happening in advertising campaigns, packaging, websites. Shockingly, this happens with logos, where there are endless variations, sometimes related, sometimes not.

Initial marketing success is often found by relying on help from friends and  relatives. Typically, there is little or no budget allocated for marketing. When brands experience rapid growth, they often end up with separate marketing strategies for online and print. This rarely happens by design. It’s likely the result of no plan, or lack of communication. 

The larger issue is that there is no one within the organization in charge of the messaging. Without any documentation of what is “on-brand” vs “off-brand,” nothing is communicated. Smart brands abandon this slow, inefficient, and expensive process. A simple and clear approach is what’s needed to refine the brand’s message.

The Brand Audit
When messaging can be viewed all together, brands can understand how many messages exist. MSLK’s Brand Strategy process studies an organization’s messaging across all media. During this process, themes usually emerge. Social and online statistics can also be become powerful tools for insight into the most effective messaging to use.

Just One Thing
For design and marketing, “Just One Thing” is our internal mantra. We believe having one great thing is more powerful than five. In branding, this can mean a simple logo rendered in a distinctive color. A memorable material used in a product’s packaging could be the “One Thing.” Sometimes, it could even be as simple as a word. The key is simple and distinctive within the context of the marketplace. 

Coping with Internal Fatigue
Successful brands often become bored by their own successful campaigns. (Or packaging, logos, whatever…) The knee-jerk solution is to scrap it for something new. This happens most with internal marketing departments, the desire to create something new.

Experience shows that a well-laid marketing plan should serve a brand well for years. If you’re tired of the same messaging for the past two years, this does not mean that your audience feels that way! They do not interact with your brand with this intensity day after day. Unless this sense is coming from the outside, you are likely just beginning to reach people. It is usually a matter of refining the focus, and trying a few minor variations on it to keep things fresh. Seasonal promotions are great reasons to use theme and variation.

The Key to Simplicity is Focus
Simplicity can be difficult to embrace. It forces you to limit your options and focus your efforts. Steve Jobs built the world’s most successful company based on simplicity and focus:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

 

July 9, 2015
Posted By: Marc

Sheri recently made a presentation at the Westchester Digital Summit on “Defining Your Brand Audience and Need.” After her presentation, she sat down with Chris Dessi, the CEO of Silverback Social. Amongst other things, they discuss the creative process, working with brands and the importance of Style + Substance™

March 14, 2014
Posted By: Ryan

MSLK-Rethinking-Responsive-Web-Design
Responsive web design has become one of the most ubiquitous buzz phrases in the web world for the past three years or so. In case you aren’t familiar, the phrase refers to a set of web development techniques used to create the optimal viewing experience of a website across all devices. Perhaps you’re thinking of redoing your website, and maybe you’ve already been sold on responsive design as a “must have.” With all of the articles out there, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter.

MSLK’s philosophy has always been to respond to client needs and project objectives over industry trends. Over the past three years, we’ve created a number of responsive sites (including our own), and we’ve gleaned new insights along the way. We have found that responsive design is essential in many instances, while in others it is over-scaled for our client’s needs and/or doesn’t make sense with kind of site that is being created. Read more to determine when it’s best to invest in a responsive site.

Read more

March 13, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

MSLKcontentFirstOnline

Businesses seem to naturally gravitate towards considering technology needs when looking to build or update an e-commerce site. However, the more valuable — and often overlooked — consideration is that of content. Without a doubt, technology is essential in helping to deliver the content, but technology without content is meaningless. I believe the best process begins with defining user desires and marrying those with   business objectives in order to create the ideal front-end user experience. Defining the user experience should then inform the selection of a technology platform, not the other way around.

When considering the type of content to be included in a user experience, we have found that it is important to consider the following key areas: Read more

March 4, 2014
Posted By: MSLK

Easton Architects is a leader in historic building preservation, helping educational, public and cultural institutions plan, restore and reuse their buildings for the future. Their new brand presence exudes the same sense of historical respect and refined simplicity that they bring to each of their projects.

Read more

February 10, 2014
Posted By: Ryan

MSLK-4-Content-Strategies-for-your-Website

As your number one marketing tool, it is imperative that your website speak effectively to your target consumer. Design and technology will fall flat if the words on the page aren’t carefully considered—everything from primary messaging down to smaller stories. Indeed, content development is an often overlooked, yet crucial, aspect of the web design process.

At MSLK  we believe that in order to design, one must first understand. If we apply this mantra to a website project, it means that content creation should happen as early as possible, which will directly influence the design. The content strategies presented here are applicable to any industry, and have proven successful for our clients time and time again: Read more

January 17, 2014
Posted By: Marc

MSLK-annual-report-blog-post-animation2

Annual reports are seeing a resurgence amongst a number of savvy consumer brands. Once only the domain of publicly traded companies and non-profits, annual reports began with humble roots to fulfill a fiduciary responsibility with shareholders and to file with the S.E.C. Typically, these reports were single-color, and had little to no design. During the 1950s, many large corporations turned this yearly obligation into lavish glossy catalogs, affording them an opportunity to tell rich stories of achievements to their most ardent supporters.

Annuals typically follow a “reverse mullet” convention of “party in the front” via photography and interesting production techniques, with “business in the back” where financial data was relegated. Many famous graphic designers throughout the 20th century created notable reports such as Paul Rand for Westinghouse and Bradbury Thompson for Westvaco. Some reports were ostentatious, others were profound. This trend grew well into the 1990s until Microsoft sounded the death knell by having their annuals available online, setting a steep downward trend in printed annual reports’ significance.

Then, in 2005, something interesting happened.

Read more

January 8, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

2014 strategic brand development

The economy is improving and as 2013 came to a close, I believe all of our clients finally felt this to be true. It is now our collective job to get out there and capitalize on the reemergence of commerce. Do you have a plan to convert more business in 2014?

We’ve been working with many of our clients on setting that plan. Here’s six of the most common strategies we’ve found on the “To Do” list for 2014.

1. Create a targeted direct mail piece
Everyone got the memo that print is dead and guess what—now our inboxes are jammed full, and our mailboxes are sleepy. We see this as a great opportunity to make some noise! Create something exciting, memorable — heck, even beautiful — for recipients to open! Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a nice card in the mail? You’ll be surprised how many recipients will tell you later that your mailer is still out on display, keeping you top of mind. Read more

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