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GA Creative sponsors Washington Marketing Summit, hosts panel called Beyond Branding

GA Creative sponsors Washington Marketing Summit, hosts panel called Beyond Branding

We’re thrilled to be one of this year’s sponsors of the Washington Marketing Summit, taking place Tuesday, March 5, at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle. According to summit organizers, “250+ Washington-based brands will come together to share fresh ideas, solve problems, and make meaningful connections.” The summit is attended by chief marketing and brand officers, advertising and social media strategists, creative directors, and other marketers from local, regional, and national brands.

A day of discussion
There will be seven interactive discussion panels, one of which will be hosted by our own brand strategist, Julie Burke. Following are the panel details:

Beyond Branding

Moderated by: Julie Burke, Principal + Client Services, GA Creative

An exploration of foundational brand identity and its evolution as companies, products, and audiences change. How do Washington’s brands authentically live and convey their purpose to—and through—their audiences and ambassadors?


Time for fun
Not only will the summit give marketers inspiration and new tools for telling their own brand story, but there are plenty of networking opportunities. Four hours, in fact! This includes welcome breakfast, lunch, and cocktail party.

Beyond the summit-sponsored fun, in true GA style, our table will be spirited, as well. If you’re attending the summit stop by to test your knowledge at some marketing trivia for a chance to win a pocket-sized pick-me-up.

Whether you’re attending the summit or want to check it out from afar, follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get updates as they happen. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to hear about learnings after the fact.

Let’s connect!

We can help with advertising, branding, or trivia questions

People walking in downtown Seattle shopping.

How a branding expert approaches rebrands – and why it’s worth it

How a branding expert approaches rebrands – and why it’s worth it


An interview with GA Creative’s brand strategist Julie Burke: For more than 20 years, Julie has helped clients tell their unique stories, by facilitating brand input sessions and surveys, and asking the right questions to unearth brand strategies that move organizations forward.

Companies can’t afford not to pay attention to their brands. It’s the secret sauce that helps prospects quickly understand what you stand for. A strong brand helps you acquire customers more quickly because your message is aligned with their experience. Ultimately, a solid brand enables you to charge a premium because the market is willing to pay for a relationship they trust. We asked GA Creative’s brand strategist, Julie, for some insights for teams considering whether to rebrand and how to go about it. Here’s what she had to say.

What is a brand strategy and why does a company need one?
A brand strategy supports long-term organizational goals and objectives, which typically revolve around increasing customer retention and attracting new customers. It sets the stage for how everyone across the company should communicate who you are and what you do for customers, in a way that’s different from competitors.

Companies need a brand strategy because advertising and communications should not be built in a vacuum. Choices around messaging, imagery and design should all map directly back to the overarching strategy. When you’re up against a competitor, whoever can more clearly and consistently articulate value will win the race when it comes to engaging and closing customers.

The better your company does at following a brand strategy, the more “brand equity” you will build, making your company itself more valuable over the long term.

How should a company go about developing a brand strategy?
It’s important to start by gathering as much input as possible from stakeholders across the organization, representing different functions from sales and marketing to product and customer service. Plus, gather insight from those outside your organization, including partners and customers. By conducting a brand audit and analyzing survey results, you can identify where impressions are consistent and areas for improvement.

Another key step up front is gathering data about your customers and prospects, and segmenting them into groups that personas can be built around. Personas are fictional representations of your target audience that take you beyond basic demographics. They help you dive deeper to build an understanding our audiences’ specific behaviors, concerns and needs.

A brand strategy should also identify brand attributes, or the dominant personality characteristics of the company. These are traits to be communicated through images, stories, interactions and experiences with your brand much like personality attributes permeate your interactions with people.

How do you approach developing the visual elements of a brand?
Our team uses the brand strategy along with exercises on creative preferences to inform the visual design of brand elements. We may look at competitor materials r communications from those in similar industries and discuss what we like and don’t like. Do you want to be edgy or conservative? Do you want to be more real or aspirational? We also take information from the brand audit to address all the various uses, from the website to advertising to sales literature and event materials.

We typically present two or three creative options for clients to choose from. When there’s a team of stakeholders involved in selecting the visual elements, we’ll have each person rate the options against the brand criteria as a way to see if one solution rises to the top.

Your brand name, logo, color palette, typeface and photography should all work together to present a cohesive impression. By using the key elements of your visual identity properly, you can ensure that communications retain a consistent look and feel that captures your mission and culture and advances your strategic plan. Templates for commonly used communication vehicles, such as ads, presentations and case studies, can help maintain consistency no matter who is creating them.

What key things have you found can make or break branding efforts?
One of the biggest mistakes companies can make after investing in a brand refresh or a total brand overhaul is not having the necessary guidance, training, process and oversight in place for developing communications that adhere to the new brand look and feel and tone and voice. Here are five best practices I recommend to keep a brand intact:

  1. Identify who will be creating communications on behalf of your brand. This will inform the best process to instill the brand, and ensure consistency in communications.
  2. Determine how you are going to organize, store and share brand assets. This will depend on the size of your organization, the number of individuals and teams creating communications on your behalf, the complexity of your brand and your budget.
  3. Create detailed brand guidelines. At a minimum, include brand attributes, writing style, logo, tagline ,color palette(s) and/or combinations, typography, supporting graphics, photography/image style and examples of the brand in action.
  4. Deliver training to those people identified in step one. You may need to host multiple training sessions to address particular individual or team needs. These can be in-person brown bag sessions or live online meetings. Either way, make sure to record these sessions–including the Q&A–for those folks that are later identified as brand ambassadors, creating materials on the company’s behalf.
  5. Make sure there is a clear point person (or email alias) that people can contact with questions. And consider offering to review/approve creative. For some clients, we serve as a brand ambassador, responding to questions and offering guidance to in-house or freelance writers and designers.

What results do you expect companies to see from investing in a strong brand presence?
We’ve guided companies large and small through everything from brand audits to logo and website refreshes and total identity facelifts. The clients who have worked with us on creating a cohesive, relevant brand presence have seen accelerated growth. In some cases, the up-leveled, polished brand has helped the executive team command a higher price when they sell the company.

Investing in a new brand—whether it’s a total overhaul or just a refresh—means a commitment in terms of time and money. When does it make sense to explore a rebrand? We advise clients that have experienced a merger, change in direction, increased competition, expansion to a new geography or audience, launch of a new product or service, or simply have a gut sense that their look and feel is outdated.

You won’t see the business results you want if your organization has outgrown your brand to a point that it doesn’t accurately reflect who you are or what you do—and is telling the wrong story.

Time to freshen up your brand?

We can help.

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B2B lead gen for technology companies

B2B lead gen for technology companies


An interview with GA Creative’s campaign strategist Karen Axtell: For more than 20 years, Karen has developed lead generation strategies for local, national and global companies, helping them refine efforts to achieve more cost-effective acquisitions over time.

Today, buyers do research online, finding a variety of educational resources through search engines, social media and other online channels. With these content resources, today’s buyer can learn a great deal about a product or service before ever having to even speak to a sales person. So, businesses must make sure that they have a robust digital presence to build trust and capture the interest of prospects. That’s why we asked our campaign strategist, Karen, how to use content marketing to generate qualified leads who will turn into sales faster.

If a company wants to ramp up their lead generation efforts, where should they start?
Companies need to understand their buyer personas and the buyer’s journey. Then they can put the tools in place to attract, convince and close leads. The secret formula is a smart mix of tactics that will help build awareness, educate and prove your solution to buyers.

What are some best practices in nurturing leads through the funnel that companies should follow?
It starts with mapping lead nurturing content to each stage in the sales cycle. If you’re reaching cold prospects, you should speak to what’s on the mind of your prospects before you talk about your own product features. The content for the top of the funnel should be industry thought leadership or practical tips—not product-driven content.

In addition to posting your content on your own website, it’s also really useful to tap industry publications or content syndication platforms to host your content in trusted environments where more prospects might encounter it.

Once a prospect has expressed more interest, that’s when demos can be used to showcase your solution. And case studies can be used to prove it works.

What skillsets are needed to ensure an end-to-end lead generation effort succeeds?
As they say, it takes a village. It’s starts with strategy, so a campaign strategist should map out a targeted plan. And then copywriters and designers need to work hand in hand to gather information from subject matter experts to create white papers, eGuides, videos, webinars and other nurture content. They can also develop ads to drive interest in your content offers. A social strategist can oversee a blog and social efforts. And someone skilled in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) should oversee optimizing your site for search and paid search advertising. Marketing operations should be in place to build automated nurture campaigns, making sure the CRM is functioning as designed, and capture the results in reports. Making sure the sales team is aware of all marketing efforts helps with a smooth transition of marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads.

How can sales and marketing best work together to see results?
Sales and marketing need to work together—not in silos. Meeting to agree on goals at the start of any lead generation campaign is a critical first step. Generating high quality leads is one of the biggest challenges cited by sales orgs. If marketing is aware of sales goals up front, it can use them as a guidepost for campaign activity. In addition, use marketing automation tools to shuttle leads generated through marketing efforts into the sales funnel seamlessly. Sales teams can follow-up in a timely manner and marketing teams can focus on continuing campaigns to bring in qualified leads.

How do you recommend that companies track and measure ROI on their lead gen efforts?
This is consistently one of the biggest challenges companies face. Tracking a lead from the first time they interact with a piece of your content through to a sale is not always easy if your technology stack isn’t integrated and doesn’t enable you to easily pull reports that show this type of data. Many companies track various statistics to gauge the results of their lead generation efforts, including:

  • Web conversion by traffic source
  • Quantity of opt-ins year over year
  • Cost per opt-in: Campaign costs/quantity of opt-ins
  • Cost per opt-in by content offer
  • Quantity of trials year over year
  • Cost per session from social
  • Email unique opens and clicks, often viewed as an open/click rate against the total delivered

Need help with your lead gen efforts?

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Salty Seattle identity captures the fun of culinary art

Salty Seattle identity captures the fun of culinary art

Linda Miller Nicholson is an internationally recognized pasta powerhouse, who’s made pasta art for the likes of Katy Perry and Harry Connick Jr., among many others. Her just launched book, Pasta, Pretty Please: A Vibrant Approach to Handmade Noodles, has been featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America and King 5’s Evening Magazine, to name just a few. This colorful dynamo also hosts a pasta show on The Food Network. She’s amazing, which is why we were honored when she turned to GA Creative for a logo for her brand, Salty Seattle.

Getting to the heart of the Salty Seattle brand

Having fun with pasta is Nicholson’s specialty. She uses natural ingredients, such as beets, chard, turmeric, charcoal, matcha, harissa, paprika, carrots and peas, to achieve vibrantly colored pastas that are then often turned into works of art.

Nicholson innovates with pasta, while respecting traditions of the past, and thrives on challenging people to think about the world around them with fresh eyes.

“I want my brand to represent a healthy escape for people with busy lives who have an appreciation for art, delicious food that is not totally gluttonous and has a ‘clean’ aspect,”
says Nicholson.

Creative options to capture the fun

GA Creative developed three logo options for Nicholson to consider, as a reflection of her naturally dyed pasta in all the colors of the rainbow. And with one round of feedback, the logo was finalized and applied to her website, social channels, merchandising and products.


Option 1

Option 2

Salty Seattle logo

Option 3

Salty Seattle logo

“Linda is knowledgeable and provides trusted advice, tips, tricks, how-to. But she’s also as artistic and fun as her pasta, so I wanted her logo to reflect that side of her.”
Jeff Welsh | Project lead, GA Creative

Translating a vision into visuals

Nicholson is delighted with the result. “I am absolutely thrilled with my logo, but beyond the finished product, GA Creative was a complete joy to work with,” says Nicholson. “It was important to me to find someone who would really listen and translate my ideas, and they did this and more. It was like they were inside my brain turning what I wanted — but couldn’t articulate — into the best version it could possibly be. The project came in ahead of timing expectations and under budget. 11 stars out of 10.”

Salty Seattle YouTube channel example

Hankering for a new logo, look or tagline?

We can help.