Being responsive

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you'll enjoy the experience.

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience.

Yes, it took a while.

But BloodLinesCreative.com is finally a responsive website.

So whether you visit on an iPad, your phone, a tablet or on a mac or pc, the site now adapts to the confines of the device.

Yes, it should have been done some time ago. And yes, the site could use a refresh of new work that’s been done over the past year or so. That will come. In fact, the site still isn’t 100% fully functional – my broadcast reel still doesn’t play on mobile devices – but that should be addressed in the next week or so.

I have fallen victim to what so many other advertising and marketing communications companies deal with all the time – it’s tough to manage your own marketing when you’re busy helping with the needs of the clients you serve.

It’s been a busy start to the year. But in order to keep that momentum going, I need to ratchet up my own marketing efforts – and before I began that endeavor, I needed to get the website fully functional no matter how it was viewed.

So I guess I need to wait a few more days until we get the broadcast section remedied for mobile viewing.

In the meantime, feel free to visit the rest of the website – http://bloodlinescreative.com

I welcome any feedback!

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

All in a day’s work – augmented reality, vehicle signage and video script writing

I don’t often post about the work I’ve been doing for BloodLines Creative – which is probably bad for business. Yet I’ve been so busy doing things, including continuing to paint in the evening hours, that I just haven’t found the time – or the energy to tout some of the recent projects I’ve been involved in.

That’s okay because business continues to roll along – never at the volume that I would prefer which would be 40+ billable hours a week – but at the end of each workday, I often wonder where did the time go.

These past few weeks I’ve been working on a new business pitch and part of our proposal involved using augmented reality. In case you’re wondering, Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In case you’d like to see it in action, here’s a little demo you can view – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaO5tXzj58U

I won’t go into the actual applications that we were proposing but suffice it to say, it has the potential to be pretty cool – if we actually get the business.

I’ve also been involved in creating new vehicle graphics for an electrical contractor we’ve been working with via The Epstein Group. Recently, we got the opportunity to see some of the new graphics put into place on a variety of vehicles in their fleet – vans, bucket trucks, pickups and even a trailer where we wrapped the entire vehicle in graphics.

What’s really exciting is this is part of a comprehensive re-branding effort that will include a new website, print and collateral materials along with new videos.

Speaking of new videos, I’ve written a number of them recently. One for a construction company, another for a new product launch along with a series of internal award videos recognizing the collective efforts of groups or individuals.

No, I’m not naming names or showing the work as some of the projects are confidential in nature or haven’t been approved for public release.

But the work has been both fun and rewarding. And I continue to learn new things and new tactics to utilize in the ever-changing world of advertising and marketing communications.

Regardless of the tactic, they still take smart, strategic thinking in order to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

Big Ideas Start Here.

BloodLines Creative provides Big Idea Thinking to a wide variety of consumer, B2B and government-related and not-for-profit accounts. The work we do ranges from individual projects to full-scale advertising and marketing communications across all media. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, then resist the ordinary. Give us a call at 314.973.9197 today.

Close Encounters of the Pokemon Kind

Pokemon Go gets people out and about - but only paying attention to their phone.

Pokemon Go gets people out and about – but only paying attention to their phone.

 

The workout facility where I usually get my calorie burns is closed for a few days this week. So I set out for a little 5-mile walk in nearby Des Peres Park, only to be engulfed by a multitude of Pokemon GO players trying to find whatever Pokemon character that had been geo-located into the park that day.

It was a very bizarre experience.

I’ve heard about the popularity of Pokemon GO but I never really experienced it before yesterday. I went to http://www.pokemongo.com to get a little overview and I watched the video on their home page. It’s actually a pretty cool idea – using the interactivity of your phone as a geo-tracking gaming device to find Pokemon characters not just in your area, but all over the world.

Magical.

The reality was a bit different.

As I tried to stroll through the park, there were literally hundreds of people – mostly teens in clusters of three or four walking all around, all staring at their phones as they moved about.

Upon arrival, I immediately knew that Pokemon GO had lured them to the park. It’s what you call a Poke Stop. That’s not a bad thing. But most of them had their heads down as they were walking. You had to avoid them – they were oblivious to your presence as they searched the park for Pokemon characters in their habitat.

I saw a few people on bikes, riding and looking at their phones at the same time – a certain recipe for disaster. I had to step out of their way as they went by. There were a few others on skateboards, heads down, searching their maps, looking for where they might be able to throw a Poke Ball and up their level.

It wasn’t all teens, either, who were transfixed by their phones. Lots of adults were in on the hunt as well. I saw a mom, pushing a stroller with two babies in it. Her concentration was entirely focused on the phone.

You can’t really complain about a game that gets you out and about, off of the couch and out of the house. It also gets you to explore and maybe go places you haven’t gone before.

It’s just when you have hundreds of people doing the exact same thing and their entire focus is the phone, it makes you wonder.

Mark Twain had a quote, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Put Pokemon GO in place of golf and that pretty much sums up my feelings.

How about you?

And now, a few words about Snotes

Snotes? What in the world are Snotes?

Snotes stands for Secret Notes – they’re a way to send secret messages – via email, Social Media or you can print them off and either hand them or mail them to friends, family members, fellow co-workers or send anonymously to that special someone you’ve been admiring from afar.

For the past several months, I have been working with the Snotes team, helping to refine their website (snotes.com) and also helping to develop a wide range of licensing materials designed to help companies, game manufacturers, businesses and organizations see the potential power of Snotes to engage either customers or employees.

Much like a fortune cookie, once you know how to read a Snote, (http://snotes.com/how-do-i-read-a-snote/) almost any time you see one, you just have to know what they say.

Soon, we’re hoping that you begin to see more and more Snotes in a wide variety of applications.

Making and sending them is easy – you can do so from the Snotes generator, found on Snotes.com (just hit the Create and Share link at the top of the Snotes homepage).

Go ahead, try it out … I’ll wait …

If you really want to get into advanced Snotemaking, you can get a premium account for just $1.99. That’s like paying for a 16-ounce soda – and once you have the account, it’s yours to keep – and it will enable you to send all kinds of animations along with your Snote message, scramble your message via the Snotes Secret Decoder, make them more colorful and allow you to print them out in high res quality with vector files and do a wide range of other tricks to make the Snote deciphering process as hard as you want to make it.

That’s one aspect of Snotes. The other falls in the area of licensing – because you can put Snotes on almost anything – we find new uses for them almost every day.

We’re particularly excited about the possibilities for Snotes in a few key areas.

Jewelry is one of them. Imagine a special wedding anniversary gift – you take your initials and your significant other’s initials – you go to the jewelry manufacturer’s website, enter them into the Snotes Love Knots generator, choose your border, place your order and you have a very personalized gift that at first glance appears to be art – but in actuality, it’s two sets of initials, intertwined together. Cool looking, isn’t it? They’re not available yet – but we hope they will be soon.

Snotes Love Knots make for a very personalized piece of jewelry.

There are so many other potential licensing applications. We’re looking to align with a wedding supplier to help us create personalized wedding invitations featuring the initials of the bride and groom that can be carried through at the wedding, putting them on glasses, napkins, mementoes and personalized gifts for the bridal party or groomsmen. It’s just a matter of time.

Combining the bride and groom's initials into a Snote makes for a very classy wedding invite.

wedding4_napkin

We’d love to work with a company that could sell personalized placemats featuring the names of the family. Or find a manufacturer of coasters or perhaps a brewery that could put trivia questions related to beer to help move more product with time-based games or even use our Snotes app to play triva games on line – table against table or one bar versus another.

We’re ready to engage with companies who specialize in employee recognition and engagement programs, creating Snotes-related awards that would be conversation starters as well. Temporary tattoos? Educational games where either the answer or the question is contained in the Snote? I could go on and on about the many ways that Snotes can be used. If you’re interested in seeing more, visit http://snotes.com/licensing-opportunities/

There’s also a Snotes Quotes app and a Snotes app (both fun to use, both available for free via Itunes or on your android)

Visit Snotes.com – look around. Create and send a Snote or two and then let your imagination run wild as to whom you might send your secret message and what you might say.

The $1.99 cost to get the Premium feature is well worth it as it opens up so many more possibilities for your Snote-making.

Get creative.

Have fun.

Discover the world of Snotes. And imagine the possibilities.

P.S. – I’d love to know what you think – we’re just now beginning to push Snotes out so any and all feedback is welcome. If you’re interested in learning more about how your company could use the power of Snotes or have your own ideas for uses, just let me know!

Random thoughts from a soon to be 58-year-old man

My 58th birthday is now just hours away and as I get ever closer to that very strange number of 60, it’s got me thinking all kinds of weird thoughts.

How did I get this old, this fast?

I know, getting older is a gradual process. When you’re a kid, you wonder what it would be like to be a teenager, to be 20 and beyond that, you really have no clue. I have vague memories of wondering what I would be like when I was in my 50s. I still wonder what it’s going to be like when I’m in my 50s as they’re not done yet.

I wonder about the world and where it’s heading. Doomsday chronicles seem to populate my inbox with more frequency these days. The world is coming to an end. The U.S. is going to be hit by a terror attack unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. The grid is going to go dark. Chaos will reign. Become a survivalist, pack some water, batteries and lots of beef jerky and get ready for the worst.

Yikes.

Yet you’ve still got to keep on keeping on. The lead story on the local news tonight was about a cat that had been shot with an arrow and there was a frantic hunt to find the perpetrator. If that’s the lead story, somehow, the planet should be able to carry on. With or without the cat.

I wonder what I’ll be doing two years from now. Sometimes, I wonder what I’ll be doing two weeks from now. You can’t predict the future.

This is coming from a guy who has had two hip replacements, 64 stitches to his head to close up a wound from an errant golf ball, a broken nose from being an idiot behind home plate without wearing a catcher’s mask, a few broken wrists, a broken ankle, more stitches to my head when a neighbor’s buck teeth pierced my skull playing King of the Hill and numerous other close calls with death, danger and dismemberment.

I’m lucky to be alive.

I’m glad to be alive.

I’ve got a loving wife who puts up with my eccentricities and makes me a better person every single day that I’m with her and three great kids who are immensely talented and unique in their own respective ways. I love our extended family. I love our dog. I love Brian Piccolo – well, I’ve always loved that line at least.

We’ve been blessed with good health, good fortune and overall, lots and lots of good times.

My career is still a career. I’m still doing what I set out to do upon graduating from Mizzou – create advertising and marketing communications. I have a journalism degree with an emphasis in advertising and I have put those skills to good use for a lot of clients through the years though I sure wish I could get back to making TV commercials again. I always thought that was my best strength – print, radio, TV, outdoor, direct marketing – I loved to do TV. These days, TV spots seem to have been removed from the equation.

So I adjusted my skill sets. I’ve learned new skills. I realize that I have to be a lifelong student and that I need to learn something new every day.

I was thrilled when my first Vine video went live courtesy of Pickett Productions. Five months ago, I had never even heard of Vine.

Have you?

We live in an ever-changing, always evolving world. It seems to get crazier everyday. It seems people respect life less and less. I don’t long for the good old days. I don’t know when the good old days actually were.

To me, all the days that I’ve been around have been more than just good, they’ve been blessed.

When you get to be 58, you wonder how many more laps you’ve got around the calendar. You think back to the many things you’ve done in your life – some good, some bad.

And then you set your resolve to learn more. Do more. Give more.

There’s so much I haven’t done.

There’s so much I need to do.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Bring it on!

 

 

New York city in a day

Tom Blood, Karen Lamerick and Brian Schultz, all decked out in our Ikigai wear (including the Rival backpack).

Tom Blood, Karen Lamerick and Brian Schultz, all decked out in our Ikigai wear (including the Rival backpack).

 

Any visit to New York city in a day is always a whirlwind. It was even more so on my recent visit to attend the Photo Plus Expo, the largest photography event in North America on behalf of Ikigai, the new line of professional photographer camera bags that just hit the market at the beginning of October.

We didn’t have a booth at the show – Ikigai officially launched the first week in October and currently, the only product offering they have is their Rival backpacks featuring a removable, configurable camera cell on the inside. So we didn’t exactly have a full line to be touting though that will be coming soon.

So instead, we went as observers and thanks to Karen Lamerick, our new PR person, three members of our team managed to get in on a tweet-out event that took place Wednesday night where members of the media could see what’s new and check out the merchandise. Through that little affair, we managed to get a fair amount of both press and tweets and the reviews continue to be extremely favorable about the Strength from Within of Ikigai.

I needed to call on my own Strength from Within to roust myself out of bed and be at the airport by 4:50 in the morning, knowing that when you fly Southwest, any time can be a busy time to get through security. By the time I made it through the scanner, the plane was boarding and long before the sun came up, Brian Schultz and I were heading east, arriving just in time to catch the tail end of rush hour as we had a nice 90-minute cab ride to the Javitts Center. Brian’s represented the design arm of our Ikigai marketing team and we’ve paired up on quite a few projects now in the print and online world.

Upon arrival, we immediately had a quick meeting with a new distributor for Ikigai. That in itself was a good start. Then it was time to hit the floor. I’ve been to a number of trade shows featuring mammoth booth displays and Photo Plus certainly held their own.

Nikon and Canon had huge areas featuring demonstrations, speakers and some of the most absolutely gorgeous photographs of just about anything, enlarged to about 4′ x 6′ formats. Special note was made of the super soft carpet in the Nikon area – after walking the floor for several hours, your feet became very happy when they made acquaintance with this deep plush carpet.

All the major camera brands were there as well as a wide assortment of accessory items and of course, our reason for being there – backpacks, sling bags, messenger bags and a variety of other carrying solutions all catering to the needs of the professional or at least the quite serious photographer.

We checked out our main competition – there were three primary brands that we paid special interest to – LowePro, Manfrotto and Think Tank. Each had a wide assortment of bags, each had their own positioning. But none of them had quite what Ikigai has – a removable, configurable camera cell that provides an added layer of protection to a photographer’s most valued possessions; an easy carrying solution for when you’re out on shoots; and thanks to the removable liners and adjustable Velcro pads, a customizable packing solution that keeps all the gear safe and secure.

We took notes. Took a few marketing brochures. Took pictures. And our net takeaway is that Ikigai is ready to grab its share of this market.

Once people get to know and understand the brand, there is a strong likability factor. And once Ikigai hits the market with a few more product offerings so that a photographer can begin to employ an actual system for packing their bags, this brand is going to take off.

For now, we were content with a one-day up and back.

It was all a blur. It was last Thursday which actually seems like it was already last month.

We have a lot of work to do. And as for next year’s show?

We’ll be back.

The Strength from Within of Ikigai

This is the second of at least four posts about the total teamwork that went into the launching of the new line of Ikigai professional photographer camera bags.

Developing theme lines for companies that can stand the test of time has always been one of my favorite parts of branding. Through the years, I have had the opportunity to help position companies or products with just a few select words. Though I can’t claim anything as resoundingly successful as “Just do it” or, “Good to the last drop”, I’m proud to have helped all sorts of companies position themselves or their products to their respective target audiences with lines that were memorable, focused and that ultimately, helped sell a lot of product or generated a lot of interest.

So I was thrilled to be given this opportunity when I became part of an international team that was helping launch a new line of professional photographer camera bags called Ikigai.

I had heard a lot about Ikigai from Jeff Pickett, president of St. Louis-based Pickett Productions, a graphics animation company. Jeff was going to be creating some new videos on Ikigai’s behalf and said he might need a little copywriting help. I was definitely interested but wanted to learn more.

At first, we¬† had a conference call with one of the founding members who filled us in about where they were with product development and told us a little about the Ikigai name. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that essentially means your reason for being – what wakes you up in the morning. It seemed like a cool name but I wasn’t quite getting the correlation between Ikigai and a line of camera bags.

So we asked to have a meeting where we could actually see the product. We met at Jeff’s office. Brian Schultz, owner of Brian Schultz Design also attended as Brian and his team had developed the logo and an initial themeline that they were moving forward with. Upon seeing one of the new backpack prototype models featuring a removable, configurable camera cell, I was intrigued.

It was kind of a bag within a bag. The camera cell fit snugly inside the backpack and it was inside the camera cell where precious items like cameras and lens packages would go. Since the interior of the camera cell featured removable velcro linings, you could adapt the insides to include other key gear like flashes, battery packs or miscellaneous essential items for any shoot away from the studio.

“Does the competition have anything like this?” I asked. No was the answer.

“Does the bag within a bag give an extra layer of protection for the cameras and gear?” I asked. Yes was the answer.

The backpacks were very cool looking. They were made of this honeycomb ripcord nylon material that is tough, weather-resistant and gives the bag a distinctive look. There were all sorts of other features and benefits to the bag as well – from ergonomic zippers to a detachable waist belt and tripod carrying system. But the unique selling point?

That was on the inside of the bag.

I took all of this info and put together an overall creative strategy document that we all mutually agreed upon.

Then I went to work, trying to create a theme line that played off of the Ikigai name but also dealt with the key selling feature as well.

I discarded the obvious and tossed out the obtuse. When I hit on three simple words, something clicked with me.

Strength from Within.

The whole concept behind Ikigai is that there’s a strength within all of us that is a unique guiding force. Check.

The unique selling point of the Ikigai line just so happens to be the removable, configurable camera cells that can be switched out from one backpack to another – though there is only one model on the market right now, more are on the way and the larger versions will all feature these camera cells that make packing for shoots easier, add an added layer of protection and you don’t have to lug the entire backpack around when you’re out on a shoot. That’s truly strength from within.

Finally, there’s the whole inner resolve that any photographer who’s committed to getting that awesome shot has to have – photographers need their own strength from within to endure harsh environments or put themselves in precarious positions or wait for just the right moment to come along to turn ordinary into extraordinary.

It was a trifecta – a theme line that worked for the product name, the product itself and the target audience.

The old theme line was retired, replaced by ‘Strength from Within’.

With that as our base, it was time to begin to build the brand messaging.

And we had just the team to do it.

 

Total teamwork on building a brand

I have been given an opportunity unlike any other in my more than 30 years of creating advertising and marketing communications.

I’m part of an international team that is helping to launch Ikigai, a new line of professional photographer camera bags that are officially available for purchase online on October 1st. http://us.ikigaibags.com

Literally, we have been working as one on both sides of the Atlantic, building a brand from the ground up. I was invited a bit late to the party as the product name, logo and color palette had already been decided upon and an e-commerce website was already in the works. Still, there was a lot more to be done and I was thrilled at the opportunity to be able to help.

What we’ve done over the past few months has been fun to see it all evolve. There is still a lot of work to do. And this is a long, interesting story to tell.

So rather than condense it all into one blog post, I’m going to spread it out a bit.

I’ll begin with the product name – Ikigai.

It’s a Japanese term that essentially means your reason for being – what gets you up in the morning.

Google the term and you’ll find this diagram:

So how did a new line of camera bags decide to call themselves Ikigai?

One of the founding members new of the expression and thought it would be a great name for a company that featured three entrepreneurs who were all looking to follow their own passion of creating a company from scratch and doing it a bit differently than the competition.

Turns out, the name Ikigai was even more appropriate than they initially imagined.

But that’s another story.

My not so unique selling proposition

Big Idea Thinking is why I get up in the morning.

Big Idea Thinking is why I get up in the morning.

 

Big Ideas Start Here.

That’s been the theme line of BloodLines Creative ever since I began this business and it’s true – they really do start here.

Of course, I don’t have a monopoly on the creation of big ideas. They can come from anywhere and there are all sorts of agencies and design firms here in St. Louis and around the world that could say the same thing. Expand that to all sorts of businesses and companies and these days, you have to include the power of the individual to be a walking, talking think tank as well. So is this a unique selling proposition? Probably not.

Still, ideas are what I sell and I truly believe in the power of the big idea – something that connects with the individuals you’re targeting.

There are so many ways to connect with people these days. Which also means there are so many ways you can completely miss connecting with them. Tweets and posts come and go. Commercials are easily ignored or never even seen – completely tuned out or turned off because there is simply too much information.

How do you cut through it all?

You have to know your customer – more so now, than perhaps ever before. That’s no easy task, especially to clients that don’t have vast sums of money to spend.

It takes big idea thinking. And it takes a client who is willing to take that flying leap of faith to do something out of the ordinary.

I have been fortunate to be engaged with a wide assortment of clients who not only are expecting me to deliver big ideas, they are demanding it. I’ve been even more fortunate to continue working with some truly talented individuals who do amazing work and have joined forces with a brand new network of talent, not just here but across the pond in London as well.

We’re all working as one to find innovative ways to get our client’s message out and in some cases, almost completely build their audience, as we seek to turn them from mere customers into brand advocates.

So though the theme line of BloodLines Creative may not be the most original line ever crafted, it’s still on point.

If your business or organization could benefit from some big idea thinking I offer two words of advice: start here.

 

 

To blog or not to blog?

 

I was amazed when I searched images to find that this headline had been done about 500 times before.

I was amazed when I searched images to find that this headline had been done about 500 times before.

When I originally began this blog more than 300 posts and nearly 100,000 viewers ago, I was fired up and pronounced that I was ready to do great things.

I still am.

I’ve written about a wide variety of topics, focusing primarily on advertising and marketing communications which is how I earn my living. Yet the most readership I’ve gotten through the many posts I’ve done has generally not had anything to do with those topics.

The potential merger of St. Louis city and county has drawn the most interest. That’s good, I guess.

I remain a firm believer that there should be a merger, that the current divide is harming our region and that we’ll never really capitalize on our true potential unless we join forces to address the variety of issues that need to be dealt with and eliminate the needless bureaucracy, fiefdoms and petty politics that continue to put a slow stranglehold on this region.

Other posts I’ve written that have drawn many views and elicited quite a few comments range from the glory days of Kenrick Advertising to the Rams leaving town to the loss of my dad this past December.

I’ve tried to position myself as a thought leader in the wonderful world of advertising and marketing communications.

But I’d be the first to admit that I’ve been playing catch-up to the ever-expanding digital and social media whirlwind that has hit traditional means of communications and knocked them down for a ten-count. Though I’ve made great strides in my knowledge base, new technologies and user platforms emerge on a daily basis. If you think you’re on top of something one day, you’re behind the next.

But one thing remains unchanged no matter how it’s being delivered: the simple ability to communicate.

These days, it’s more important than ever to develop your brand personality and connect with your audience in ways that are honest and true to what you’re all about.

I love to write.

I love to tell stories.

I have tried to assess the amount of business I’ve gotten through writing these blog posts. Directly, I know it led to one piece of business that has long since come and gone.

But people know I’m out there. Those who have read these posts know that I am capable of putting together a sentence or two that somehow leads you from Point A to Point B though I have a strong tendency to take detours and on occasion, run directly into roadblocks.

I’ll keep writing.

Business has been very good recently. I don’t think there’s any correlation to the work I’ve been doing and the blog posts I’ve been posting (or more recently, not posting).

If you’re still reading, you’re the reason that the answer to the initial question is this: blog.