An Incredible Internship

August 5th, 2013 by lauren.schultz@hyperquake.com

First, I would like to apologize for not posting more blogs during my two-month internship at Hyperquake. The fact of the matter is, I have been so incredibly busy that I haven’t had time to blog. However, I don’t consider this a bad thing.

While at Hyperquake, I have had the opportunity to learn about the capabilities and activities of multiple departments, including Strategy, Client Leadership and Operations. And, I worked on numerous projects for each of them.

I particularly enjoyed working in the Strategy department, where my responsibilities included brand-building, brand identity, brand equity and story mapping. I also created Front End Innovation (FEI) content and identity development for a new consumer products (CP) technology. One of Hyperquake’s senior strategists became a valuable mentor, offering me great career advice. We even started a book club and discussed Brand Portfolio Strategy by David A. Aaker.

But my role as an intern didn’t stop there. I researched and analyzed local and national competitors to assist Hyperquake in its corporate rebranding program. I conducted trend and cultural research to analyze market  research data, creating a holistic summary of the findings. Along with editing and proofreading internal and external documents, I also generated agency awareness through blogging and social media tactics.

Project leaders asked me to present in numerous client meetings and on conference calls. I felt honored that Hyperquake allowed me to interact with clients; most interns don’t have that opportunity.

As a result of my experience at Hyperquake, my interest in the branding, marketing and advertising industry has skyrocketed. Additionally, I have gained valuable skills that will help me solve problems in a creative and constructive manner, analyzing unconventional and challenging angles to find the most inventive solution.

I want to thank everyone at Hyperquake for investing in my future by providing me with fun and unique opportunities for training, mentoring and hands-on work experience. Thanks, also for welcoming me into this creative, collaborative community. I will miss you all. Now… it’s time to return to Hanover College and hit the books!

International lunch day at Hyperquake. One of the many fun events this summer!

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A Captivating COOP

June 7th, 2013 by lauren.schultz@hyperquake.com

What do most college students crave during their summers? Sun and fun? Sure. But, the majority of students also are looking for an opportunity to work in the “real world.” An internship or COOP is one of the most valuable experiences that students can have because these jobs allow them to apply what they’ve learned in class and to explore different career choices. As a Communication major and member of the Business Scholars Program at Hanover College, a liberal arts school near Madison, Indiana, I craved the chance to work in the marketing and branding industry. I was fortunate to be named the Marketing and Business Development Coordinator COOP here at Hyperquake for this summer. A dream job!

Gorgeous view of Paul Brown Stadium and the Ohio River from Hyperquake's downtown Cincinnati office.

Summer interns may expect that they will be fetching coffee and taking meeting notes at their organizations. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that at Hyperquake my duties will include writing, researching and assisting with projects that full-time employees are working on. In fact, on my second day in the office, I joined a team that is creating a name for a non-profit boutique affiliated with Dress for Success, Cincinnati. My ideas and opinions were encouraged and positively received by my coworkers! Immediately, I felt as though my opinions and skill sets were valued… which leads me to my favorite thing about Hyperquake—the people.

My first day, I felt very overwhelmed—as does everyone at the beginning of a new job. But after personal welcomes from the leaders of the company and introductions from members from each department, I relaxed. Hyperquake is one big family. Through my training sessions, I experienced the nurturing environment of this community. My coworkers took time out of their extremely busy schedules to teach me the ins and outs of computers, programs and projects.

Hyperquake’s youthful, creative and inspirational atmosphere is absolutely captivating—I can’t wait to come into the office every day. This company’s unique culture fosters happy employees and, ultimately, outstanding strategic and creative output. I am so excited to learn about all aspects of Hyperquake: Strategy, Client Leadership, Design, New Business and so much more. I feel so valued and special here. Even after just one week, I can report that Hyperquake is the perfect fit for me.

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Branding Myths Executives Believe #2: You can be all things to all people

April 2nd, 2013 by Allison Bradley

“Branding Myths Executives Believe” is a five-part blog series that explores branding misconceptions. This blog series appears weekly on Tuesdays and is written by Allison Bradley, Brand Strategy Director at Hyperquake.

“You can be all things to all people.”

Isn’t this something each one of us wants to believe even if we know it isn’t really true? Executives want to be “all things to all people” with the best intentions of reaching the widest demographic. However, this approach is a myth and will likely hinder the brand’s growth rather than encourage it.

As an example, let’s step outside corporate America and examine a non-profit organization for which a friend of mine once worked. This organization catered to teenagers, providing a positive environment where teens could hang out on weekends and avoid common youthful temptations. The organization went through a branding initiative and was asked who comprised its target market. Being aspirational, the non-profit said its target was all teenagers in the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) because they hoped to have the most widespread, positive impact.  Unfortunately this target cast their net far too wide.

“All teens in an MSA” is not a consumer target; it’s a population demographic, a slice of humanity. Also, being too inclusive with the target market ignored the following considerations:

  • –Consumers’ natural brand affinities (e.g., the common interests of the youth who like the organization’s services)
  • –How brand benefits align with consumers’ aspirations (e.g., a youthful consumer wants to feel “cool” and fit in)
  • –Obvious barriers to brand adoption (e.g., half of the target audience cannot drive, thus geographic distance was a limiting factor).

Trying to be all things to all teenagers hindered this non-profit organization. It didn’t allow the organization to create a brand that resonated with their actual consumers.

Large corporations innocently make similar mistakes when they define their target consumer as “moms” or “seniors.” In doing so, they overlook the rainbow of differences along the consumer spectrum and create “least objectionable” products/services. As a result, the brand becomes less ownable and weakens its value-added consumer connections.

As marketers, let’s erase this myth and replace it with reality. Brands need precise consumer targets to encourage consumer engagement, capture consumer loyalty and reap the greatest financial benefits.

Allison Bradley is a Brand Strategy Director at Hyperquake and believes she’s the target consumer for brick-and-motor bookstores. She can be reached at allison.bradley (at) hyperquake (dot) com.

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Branding Myths Executives Believe #1: If you build it, they will come

March 26th, 2013 by Allison Bradley

“Branding Myths Executives Believe” is a five-part blog series that explores branding misconceptions. This blog series appears weekly on Tuesdays and is written by Allison Bradley, Brand Strategy Director at Hyperquake.

“If you build it, they will come.”

This famous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” is not universally true in the branding world. Just because you “built it” doesn’t necessarily guarantee that consumers “will come.” Let’s explore this notion a bit more to find out why.

Building Solely to Corporate Competencies: Many organizations create products/services solely based on their competencies and capacities. At first glance, this practice might make sense. But with a closer look, we understand it skips a critical step—consumer understanding. Why? Superior, profitable products meet relevant consumer needs in a manner that complements a brand’s equity. Without embedding this approach within product attributes, brands take on otherwise avoidable risks:

  1. Consumers may dismiss the new product/service altogether.
  2. Consumers may devalue the entire brand portfolio.

Not Recognizing Where Consumers Are Today: Brands need to recognize where consumers are today before creating new products/services. Why? Great brands complement consumers’ current mindsets toward the brand and its category. These brands create roadmaps that realistically reflect current consumer understanding and projectable future brand/consumer relationships. They take the consumer along on the journey, creating the foundation to long-term engagement, in a manner not possible with an “if you build it, they will come” product.

Skipping Research: If you just build a product quickly research is often skipped. Research does take time and money but it should not be passed over in order to expedite a launch. Why? Consumer research done correctly will position the company for the greatest return on investment (ROI). Research can help marketers know how high to price without decreasing share of preference. It can also educate the brand team on which product attributes are most important and which to ignore or remove. Recently, Hyperquake conducted a choice-based, conjoint analysis for a client’s new product. The resulting pricing simulator showed us how to configure and price a product to gain 34% in share preference. Still think research is worth skipping?

Not Recognizing When Consumes will Arrive: If you build it, consumers might come . . . but perhaps not right away. Consciously considering in-category behaviors and attitudes will help marketers understand consumer adoption. Consumers might not come right away, but, if you evaluate the landscape properly you’ll know when they will. Then, the brand can plan the spending and develop an ROI timeline appropriately.

“If you build it, they will come.” It’s an easy branding myth to believe (or want to believe). Hopefully in consideration of this myth debunking, you and your c-suite will believe brand truths and base your product launch on them.

Allison Bradley is a Brand Strategy Director at Hyperquake and is not afraid of referencing movies that prove she’s a part of Generation X. She can be reached at allison.bradley (at) hyperquake (dot) com.

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Social Commerce

April 26th, 2012 by Caitlin Rose

I love to shop. I don’t mean just going to the mall shopping, I mean I will buy anything. Anywhere. I am a retailers dream. Ironic because I’m in the marketing industry and I’ve read Freakonomics. But I’m still a sucker.

I also love Facebook. Come on, what 20-something girl doesn’t? Heck, my mom loves Facebook. So wouldn’t that make me the ideal target for social commerce? My two (almost) favorite things in one place? So far, I haven’t bought anything on Facebook and I don’t plan to unless something pivotal changes.

When Allison Bradley, our Director of Client Leadership, wrote an article about social commerce in Multichannel Merchant, I began to think of myself and my purchasing habits. Why I buy things where I buy them and what triggers me to swipe my card. Then I thought of why I like Facebook and what I use it for. Although I whine and complain about the changes made since Facebook first came to fruition, I still log on daily and am attracted to retailers pages offering me a discount or information about their next big in-store event for ‘liking.’ So why am I so turned off by making a purchase?

Bradley highlights some very valid observations of how retailers can better utilize social commerce on Facebook to make users, like me, click ‘buy’. Facebook is a social platform and in order for retailers to get users to make a purchase, they must make the act inherently social by providing a product that they can share with their friends.

In my opinion, social commerce on Facebook shows some promise. I’m not in love with the idea of selling items on Facebook, but if a company gives me enough reason to buy, I always give in.

A good example of a social site that retailers have begun to utilize effectively for social commerce is Pinterest. As a user, I am sharing products that I like, or think are cool, with my friends and other users interested in the same categorized subject. Before I know it, I’m on a retailer’s site purchasing the iPhone cover my roommate pinned or the skirt the blogger on Pinterest was wearing. Companies are beginning to see the value in nonintrusively marketing their products on Pinterest in order to generate social buzz and ultimately lead users to purchase.

If retailers begin to tap into the reasons consumers use social websites and then seamlessly integrate the sale of their products without making the user feel like they are online shopping, social commerce will become successful.

 

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Is information too easily communicated?

March 28th, 2012 by Kate Kovalcin

I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to infographics. They’re beautiful, carefully crafted pieces of information, to make it easier to digest. We should love them! It’s like reading a picture book for adults. However the increasing surge in infographics in recent years has caused us to be bombarded by information we otherwise wouldn’t really care about. But they looked cool, right? At first, we believed them. Sometimes startling pieces of information rapidly going viral up and down Twitter and Facebook feeds, it would spark public astonishment: “HOW COULD THIS BE? HOW DID WE NOT KNOW?!” And then we all lived in an ideal world where we would change whatever startling habits were going to give us cancer tomorrow, and then forget about it 5 minutes later.

Now, we seem so jaded by the astonishing information, that we tend to not even believe it anymore. Today, an infographic posted on FastCo. caught my attention, Red Meat is Killing Us. I’m always curious about things dealing with food, since it is my favorite thing in the world and all, so naturally I clicked on it. I read through these astronomical numbers (and despite being vegan and patting myself on the back for not adding to the statistic) and I didn’t wholeheartedly believe what it was telling me. It was just too crazy, right?

I read through the comments on the post. And there was a definite backlash on this graphic:
“The graphics are confusing, misleading and a little too retro.”
“I’m a vegetarian and even I found this completely offensive. Scare tactics.”
“This infographic is awful. Please don’t post anymore like this. It’s misleading. Fast Co, you should know better.”
And my personal favorite, “Seems like a pretty hysterical piece assembled very likely by a flaming vegan.”

The author responded to these comments with a link to a New York Times article where the information had come from.

I clicked the link, read through the article, and I felt at ease about the information. But, why? Why do we suddenly not trust these beautiful displays of information in exchange for just reading them first hand? The commenters on the original FastCo. post seem to feel that the information was somehow skewed based on the designers’ possible personal beliefs. Even when infographics have links, cited sources, and all of the other credentials that published news sources do, we still do not trust them as much. Is it because of the fact that it is designed that we feel that another person’s hands have been stirring up the information pot? Possibly. Or could it be that we just don’t want the information laid out so easily if it is things that we don’t necessarily want to digest? As designers, our first priority is to communicate information clearly and effectively. How can we elevate infographics to be back to their respectable, trustworthy glory days without alienating our viewers in the process?

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A sincere thanks can go a long way.

March 26th, 2012 by Dan Barczak

Yesterday, we received a box of goodies from our friend Brian at Steam Whistle Press here in Cincinnati – our new letterpress thank you’s. Of course we have a desire to create a kick-ass print piece whenever we’re not working with zeros and ones, or creating something confidential. But this was our chance to take pride in something bigger – appreciating our friends and clients beyond an email. When you receive something handwritten in the mail from a friend, you know that it took time. It shows someone much more than simple appreciation. So we’ll be sending some your way very soon. Thanks to all of you who help make Hyperquake what it is, and empower us to do what we do best. For those of you who believe in the power of Brand Evolution. We humbly thank you. (more pictures to come soon)

 

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