A New Face with a Familiar Voice: Advance 360 Rebrands Statewide Organization

It’s official: the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association has a new name, and a new look for its legacy. Together with partners and members throughout the State of Michigan, Advance 360 guided their journey to their new name and brand, now known as Check In Michigan.

Who is Check In Michigan?

Check In Michigan is an association for the hospitality and tourism industry, leading efforts to benefit hotels, attractions, and hospitality ventures through out the state.

The Scope of Work

Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association, as it was formerly known, knew that they were poised to reinvent themselves. Under new leadership and with a changing landscape for lodging entities with the surge in short-term rental companies like Airbnb, the collective efforts of advocacy on legislation around Post-Labor Day Academic Year, minimum wage and Pure Michigan funding, the work of the association was stronger than ever, but their dated identity no longer served them well.

Advance 360 was contracted to develop charrettes for the stakeholder groups across the state, use the findings to develop a logo and identity system, and launch a new web presence for the association’s conference and institutional websites.

Of this work, Deanna Richeson, President and CEO of Check In Michigan wrote, “Our association has a rich history of 112 years representing a widely diverse industry, and we wanted to forge a stronger future for our hotels, attractions, and hospitality ventures. We envisioned honoring the contributions of those who were before us, and yet opening our arms to embrace younger generations of rising leaders. Clearly this required the skills of master communicators! Over several months, [the Advance 360 Team] created a process that was inclusive, reflective, expansive and thorough. We held several focus groups with a diverse kaleidoscope of hospitality stakeholders, including engaging exercises that gleaned rich insights into the values, emotions and preferences of our participants.”

The Charrette Experience:

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The association’s team recruited a diverse group of open minded individuals to share their thoughts and stories. Activities generated forward iterations on individual ideas, and the groups were able to weigh in personally as well as in groups. From 68 ideas that emerged during these discussions, 16 common themes were forged, crossing the generational, business, and personal preferences of those in the rooms. These themes became the source for creative inspiration for logo designs.

But These Journeys are Rarely Linear

“Just when we thought we were nearing our final stage, MLTA realized we were envisioning a new culture and decided to choose a new name as well a new logo. We were also racing against the clock to announce our new brand at the annual industry conference,” said Richeson.

Advance 360’s regroup was immediate. An additional focus group, called the “Groundswell” was formed to further explore the concept of a new name, build further “buy-in” to this change in direction, and build upon what had already been explored. Activities during this session built to a crescendo around the strategic priorities that would need to be reviewed by the Board of Directors.

This charrette was followed by two board planning sessions to do just that. These sessions were intense for everyone, but harvested the best version of commonality across all the collected data and overcame any hesitation around change for the organization at large. The board was a united team and was energized to “grow forward.”

Now What?

Now the design began. Over a months-long process, the guiding principles of the association were built into a verbal representation of the brand (name) and the visual representation (logo). The group that carried us forward toward that end was formed with executive team members, board members, and a cross section of industry representation.

“None of us looked back, but instead focused on the tasks ahead with a team of stakeholders who met to guide the design process with their input. The result was stunning … a look that was strong, professional, inclusive, inviting, and even a tad fun.”

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Former Logo

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New Logo

The former logo represented a time when the State Capital served as the center of the lodging and tourism universe for the association. This simply is no longer true. The association has transitioned to an immersive model. The team and board are truly wherever their membership is, and wherever their membership requires them to be. Their multi-faceted mission is more than just advocacy, but has expanded to include education, workforce, and community.

Alongside this rebrand was also the digital presence of the organization, which needed to reflect the energy, momentum and credibility of Check In Michigan to the public. View their new site which will launch on April 2.

“Once the brand identity was complete, the final leg of our marathon was creating the “brand reveal.” Our Advance 360 partners created the presentation that will inspire nearly a thousand conference attendees, from scripting to creating an animated video that excites the imagination and “cool factor” among our audience. I am completely confident in the positive reception of our new brand identity, and in the electrified energy the audience will experience at our brand reveal,” said President Deanna Richeson.”

See what conference attendees saw, here.

Advance 360 is an affiliate of Advance Travel & Tourism

Creative Tells the Story

Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa is a unique client. They have a strong sense of self, understanding what niche they want to fill for their clientele: a chic, boutique hotel experience with exceptional amenities, offering ocean view banquets and weddings and al fresco dining in West Palm Beach. Unfortunately, their changing ownership and management companies, along with a deflagging from a franchise hotelier left them without a usable logo, identity system or creative assets.

In addition, they needed a web presence worthy of the property itself. The vast majority of their reservations were taking place with online travel agents (OTA’s), and unnecessarily sacrificing margin to those third party entities. The return on marketing investment was untraceable, as the technology was not being used to its potential. In short, this resort needed an identity and a campaign, quickly.

Our team first performed a market analysis of competitive properties in the area. Our review included all that would appeal to the core customer of Tideline Resort, rather than focus on like-sized or properties with similar entities. What we discovered: The property’s beach was exceptional, better than the competition in space and size. The dining offerings were fresh and desirable, with a credible sushi chef and sought after brunch buffet. The spa offered traditional services, specializing in bridal groups. All of the pieces were in existence, the hotel simply needed to generate the creative assets to tell the story.

The Advance 360 Creative Team then came on site to collect video and still photo assets, staging hotel spaces, vignettes, and amenities in order to capture just the right pieces of the story.

From there, a new website/digital environment was produced and launched, as well as a campaign to generate lift in brand awareness and site visits, and reduce third party booking agents.

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Creative Examples

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William & Mary Athletics’ Social Campaign Draws Record Attendance

The College of William & Mary sought assistance with ticket sales for their basketball season. With a layered targeting approach, Advance 360 used lat/long targeted (also known as geo-fencing) to target students on campus, with messages specific to student ticket pricing. List-matching and social media targeting was used to find alums within a specific radius of campus, and those viewers were encouraged to engage with the purchase of season or single tickets. Additional audiences with an interest in basketball, special events or sports were also targeted and delivered messages around the affordability of tickets, and specific athletic events and dates.

Overall, this campaign achieved record attendance for the University, tripling the men’s basketball audience and quadrupling the women’s audience YOY.

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2018 Digital Marketing Trends

Who is your most valuable audience? Your digital strategy should lead them directly to you. But the landscape changes quickly. How do you keep up? Here’s our take on actionable insights you can (and should) incorporate into your marketing strategy, including advances in online display targeting, content marketing and video.

Peter & Company Jewelers Increases Awareness and Revenue with Strategic Marketing

By all accounts, Peter & Company was a successful Cleveland jeweler. With their concentration on special occasion jewelry, diamonds and engagement, and specialty brands, they had all the devices to gain and keep their clients’ attention.

But at Advance 360, we knew that with a strategy centered around events and special occasions, true gains could be made. We built for them a layered campaign with evergreen, event, and other segments, targeted at those that could be most influenced.

Marketing Challenge

Peter & Co. is a single point customer service oriented jewelry retailer that has been in business for 30 years. They have/had partnered with jewelry specific agencies over the past decade. Peter & Co. wanted to understand how their marketing efforts were performing, have a better knowledge of their customer base, and be able to better leverage the digital space.

Our Solutions

  • We proposed becoming their Agency of Record to handle ALL marketing efforts
  • A full CRM and POS data analysis was performed
  • Custom reporting was created to track both web analytics and POS performance in one place
  • We built them a 12 month media calendar including digital, video, print, radio, signage, etc.
  • Our team coordinates and/or activates and optimizes all of the media plans
  • Our creative team initially designed campaigns for Always On, Mother’s Day, Spring, and Summer

Capabilities:

  • Display impressions
  • Campaign management
  • Design
  • Video
  • Photography
  • Responsive rich media
  • Social media marketing
  • Print advertising
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Blog
  • Exterior signage
  • Store collateral & signage
  • Swag items
  • Catalogs
  • Holiday website
  • Campaign analytics
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Creative Samples

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Rebranding can be Daunting, but Results Exciting

Just as our own lives have seasons, generations, or iterations, so do brands. Businesses that experience dramatic growth find themselves telling new stories about capacity, e-commerce, or new product availability. Perhaps the physical space is remodeled, creating an enhanced, in-person experience for your customers. Or, you simply recognize that the brand identity system you have has existed for a number of years, and deserves “refreshing.”

This was the case for a jewelry client. A long-time business, Plata y Oro, was acquired by an established local jewelry designer. With the purchase of the business, the new owner had to evaluate and determine the company’s branding moving forward. Lengthy discussions took place to tackle some tough questions like brand equity in the market, preserving existing clientele, communicating this change. The new iteration of the business would also get a new physical space within the year, and a new website. In all, it was determined that the business would use a new name, as well as a visual identity authentic to the new ownership and business design.

Original Designs

The original Plata y Oro mark was comprised of rounded script, evoking familiarity and warmth, while retaining the strength of the name as its central focal point. It served the business well for a number of years, and was very true to feeling of the business for that season of its life.

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New Designs Reflecting the Name Change

The new design changes retained the circular component as the strongest visual que. But the breaks in its border offer an openness, an inclusion of the negative space surrounding. Also important was a modern representation of the name: Teel Jewelers (the last name of the new business owner). It is graphic and modern, but readable, and iterations were crafted to provide opportunities for using a more concise mark when required.

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Final Deliverables

Developing a new mark isn’t enough alone. It’s the entirety of the identity system, the way that colors, images, type, and visual elements function in congress that generates new brand assets. At Advance 360, we don’t just develop a logo. Instead, we provide a guide or playbook that offers the framework of how these elements should be used now and into the future. This guide provides printers and third party users of the brand reference material for their creations on behalf of the business.

From our clients, “The process for designing something as seemingly simple as a logo is somewhat magical. Looking at what we had before and looking at what we have now is an impressive difference. Our staff sees the difference and is excited and motivated to promote and expand the brand. We love the guidelines, it will be a valuable tool in our marketing going forward.”

Basics for Your Travel Social Media Strategy

According to a recent study by Sprout Social, travelers are turning to social media to influence them more than ever before. In fact, only 48% of those that used social media to research travel followed through with their original plans.

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As a destination, you certainly rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, so this is a trend that you simply can’t ignore. What are you doing to take advantage of these trends? At Advance 360, we recommend a few places to begin.

Develop Goals

Without a headline, call to action, or supporting text, an ad is just a pretty picture. Any ad unit you craft must have a goal and a purpose before it’s created. If you seek an increase of 1.75% in revenue over the next quarter, draft advertising units for the social spaces that push your customers or visitors toward that goal. Or if you rather change the makeup of the visitors to your property, seeking to expand your footprint to new geographies? Social media’s audience targeting can help with that, too.

Craft Something Beyond the Click

It isn’t enough to have a great ad. You also need something to explore once you’ve gained the click. You earned that click – but you won’t earn it again unless there is value to the action you’ve enticed.

Be Useful

Serve up tips, tricks, and the unexpected, and curate it well. Four Seasons, the luxury destination properties that nearly everyone knows, saw a 1000% increase in daily average visitors to their site, using this kind of strategy on Pinterest.

Don’t Bite Off More than you Can Chew

If you can’t manage SnapChat, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and a YouTube account, don’t go there. Take on only as much as you can, and then grow only once you’ve achieved success in that platform. Your audience will feel that you’ve diluted your identity and your product, and you probably won’t disagree while you’re feeling stretched too thin.

Monitor All, Measure, Repeat

Track everything. Google Analytics will help you see your work from ad to conversion. Manually analyzing metrics across platforms is time consuming and cumbersome. Instead, use the aggregating tools available to you to automate as much as you can, and make more impact.

83% of travelers trust recommendations from family and friends. Use the social space, where those conversations take place, to your advantage.

Accelerate Intent for Prospective Students

Imagine the Admissions Department of a four year college that can name their desired admissions yield.

Picture an online MBA course that fills to the desired capacity, semester after semester. Envision an ongoing education department that attracts business leaders and keeps them in the pipeline long enough to engage them in returning to school an finishing their degree. With Intent Acceleration, these become reality for the Education industry.

Intent Acceleration is the process of guiding your audience from initial awareness to decision with speed and accuracy.

It’s the process we deploy, the art of combining relevant media, marketing and financial principles to create the most effective and cost-efficient solutions for your marketing team and stakeholders. We integrate science by conducting extensive audience exploration across multiple media and data sources to know your audience from an emotional and logical perspective.

Intent Acceleration blends compelling content, creative design and 360 degree media exposure with effective frequency to influence decision.

 This effort:

  • Pinpoints a consumers exact location within the decision journey
  • Serves the precise creative message at the appropriate time
  • Delivers the optimal call to action to advance the consumer in their journey
  • Clearly convinces consumers to take action in their decision
  • Functions progressively (iterates to adjust) in an ever forward fashion

For NonProfits: The Importance of Understanding Your Donors and Their Motivations

To well-informed marketers, it’s no longer a question of whether they should be diving into digital marketing. The answer to that is a resounding “YES!” The question now is: “How do I integrate digital marketing into my organization’s strategy?” While this is a valid question, marketers should be asking an even more important question before even considering the development of their digital marketing strategy: “Who is my audience?” 

Many nonprofit organizations assume they know who their donor audience is, and develop strategies based on these assumptions. There are two problems with making these assumptions: 

1. How do you know these assumptions are accurate? 

2. Even if these assumptions have been accurate in the past, are they still accurate, and will they continue to be accurate in the future? 

This lack of audience clarification is an important reason why it is crucial for a nonprofit to define its donors. 

Data is one of the most important parts of any digital marketing strategy. Eighty percent of nonprofits use donation amount as their primary, and often only, data point for their targeting strategy. Only 34% use age and birth year data in their targeting. In order to more effectively increase engagement and conversions, nonprofits need to expand their use of data. 

Rather than blindly sending out a message to any available audience, a data-driven strategy can be used to identify and target specific segments of donors. For data to make sense and be valuable, you need to have numerous and accurate data sets. Think of data like a black and white picture. Adding one set of data – like donors – would be like adding the color red. Another set of data, possibly social media followers, would be green, and then adding a third set of data would be like adding blue. Suddenly, you have a full scale color picture. When you analyze and organize the data, it’s like adding a nice frame around it and now the picture is ready for viewing. 

When an organization truly understands its donor base, everything can be planned around those audience members and what they’re looking for. Content can be created that speaks to what’s important to them and what drew them to the organization in the first place. E-newsletters can be timed to agree with a donor’s schedule and filled with content that is important to them. Social media interactions can be more meaningful and create further conversations through sharing. The fact of the matter is that people are more likely to respond to campaigns that resonate with them. More than just knowing an audience, digital marketing helps build strong, loyal, and long-term relationships with donors, so they feel a connection to the organization and continue donating on a regular basis. By knowing who donors are on a more specific level, organizations can understand their habits and behaviors, and relate to donors even more.

 

Exposure Does Not Increase Retention

While dated 2014 (which in today’s market seems outdated), note the crux of this Media Dynamics, Inc. study. Over time (70 years!), despite a dramatic increase in exposure to media, the amount of ad retention remains relatively static. Remember, too, that in 1945, there were significantly fewer advertisements in the media space. It appears that there is a cognitive ceiling to the retention of a traditional ad unit, like a television commercial or periodical display ad. 

 As far-fetched as it seems, we know that with the right audience targeting and frequency, new messages can be learned, retained, and converted to action. Some more than others, but in truth, we do recall the tag line, website, or brand. Knowing that there is a retention ceiling for media users, it is even more important to find the right person to receive your message at the right time. Without someone primed to retain your message, it becomes wallpaper, falling on deaf ears – an audience that simply isn’t prepared to take action. 

This regression, from thousands of messages to just 12 brand engagements illustrates one point clearly: the value of an engagement far exceeds the value of a broad-stroke branding message. If, those engaging are the influence-able few that can be driven to conversion (whether that conversion is a sale, website visit, or entry into an organization’s CRM), then they are the few that must be reached. 

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