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Branding, Strategy and Design for the AEC Industry

The value of rebranding — it’s not about the logo

The AEC industry has changed drastically since many firms were formed. If your firm wants to remain relevant, it’s time to re-evaluate your brand to make sure that it’s clearly reflecting your grand vision (you do have one don’t you?), brand personality, core values and purpose. Many established firms that come to us (over 20 AEC firms to date) are looking to refresh their identity or their website or {fill in the blank} without an integrated approach. Unfortunately this doesn’t always achieve the desired result. Your brand is so much more than just a tactic.

Probably one of the most significant outcomes of our branding process is the clarity and focus that it generates for your leadership team. It has a rejuvenating effect on the entire company—a renewed sense of purpose that goes deeper than some cheap marketing gimmick or incentive ever could.

The top 5 benefits of rebranding

  1. You will have a platform to establish a leadership position in your category and more importantly create alignment inside your company. It’s another chance to get things right.
  2. Your vision, purpose and core values get reflected into your new brand identity creating a sense of pride within your company.
  3. You will attract the right talent to your company and more importantly, make it easier to finally release those people that you know should have released long ago.
  4. You get exciting new graphics that rejuvenate your proposals, business cards, signage, shirts, trucks, website, etc.
  5. You get a brand standards guide to make sure your brand is consistent across all forms of communication – a key ingredient to managing a strong brand.

“Pinteresting” development for businesses.

Pinterest is a powerhouse in the social media spectrum when you are wanting to reach and engage with females 18-49. But, up until now, many small and mid-sized businesses were a little shut out by big-budget brands.

Well, Pinterest has big news for smaller companies because the social media site is now expanding its ad business to be the perfect platform for any size company. Time magazine explained how Pinterest is thinking big to target small.

This summer, Pinterest plans to broaden its advertising model to make ads viable for small and medium-sized businesses, on a cost-per-click basis to be served in specific Pinterest categories. This will differ from their prior process, which had set rates based on a cost per 1,000 views. With this new cost-per-click model, advertising on Pinterest will become more accessible, affordable, and amenable to smaller-sized companies.

Not only will this move position Pinterest as a viable and valuable vehicle for any sized business to add to its social marketing mix, but it will also give the site a sharp marketing boost against rival social media platforms and search engines that use a similar system. The shift will pin Pinterest as a direct competitor to Facebook, Twitter, and even Google, since their business is built on their ad business.

Keep up with all the latest trends and news for social media marketing, digital, branding and creative. Call Trippco at 314-440-3477 or 954-736-4796

Happy July 4th – News and projects

When we formulated our new tagline (look right above this), we wanted it to reflect the type of work we love to do. Also, it needed to represent the caliber of client with whom we choose to work… below are two examples of good work for good brands.

Behavioral Health Response (BHR) site launches

When members of the St. Louis community are having a mental health crisis, where do they turn for guidance? The answer is BHR. Their 24-hour hotline is manned by Master Level clinicians who are not just experts in their field—they’re also caring human beings.

The site was built on a content management system in order to allow BHR ease-of-access. The colors came from their existing brand and we embraced them… we really felt they were very calming and tranquil. The imagery focuses on happy people… the result and not the crisis.

Finally, we built a searchable database of crisis centers based on zip codes. If a person is in need of help at a mental health center, they can find which of the many options available serves their area.

Better Life – better packaging

For those of you that know us, you know we are working with Shark Tank Alums, Better Life®. They are a naturally-safe household products company that helps rid the world of nasty toxins and chemicals that you find in traditional household cleaners. After being their agency of record for the past year and focusing on their brand and core creative, as well as their social media and marketing strategies, they were presented with another HUGE break.

A major distribution opportunity (we can’t tell you who…yet) propelled us to quickly tweak their packaging. Many of the individual products had been conceived separately of each other. As such, the labels were disparate and didn’t communicate a cohesive brand. In some cases, the company’s name wasn’t prevalent enough to realize that it was a Better Life product.

Without reinventing the wheel, we refined the illustrations styles on the bottles,unified messaging and tweaked the hierarchy of information. Our goal? Lift— increase the chance that shoppers will pick up the products and subsequently put us in their cart. Watch for more great stuff from Better Life and Trippco

Give us a call or drop us a line and let us create work that moves your audiences for you.

BTW Check out our new site at We are still adding projects and such, but it looks a little spiffier than our ancient one did (two years old).

Coming Soon:

Promotional video for Hippo Multipower Systems. Shot on location in Kansas City… go anywhere and do anything.

Bargain bin or custom fit?

Let’s just imagine for a moment that you are a man (maybe you are) and you are buying a suit. This “outfit” is going to represent who you are and tell the world that you are successful at what you do. You walk into the store and spot the perfect suit. Maybe it has a slight pinstripe or perhaps you go for the classic charcoal gray. The sales person approaches and says, “Sure, those are nice. We could tailor that to your unique needs and your suit will be exactly what you want, but let me show you these suits over here.” The sales person walks you to the back of the store where there are several identical black suits hanging loosely on wire hangers. He continues, “They are pretty close to what you want and the material is inferior. Oh, and the fit may be a little off in places, but look at the price. I can get you into this suit here for 1/3 of the cost of the good suit.”

A lot of businesses have been considering the cheap route lately (templates) when it comes to print and web projects. On many levels, we get it. We haven’t been in a booming economy and we all need to be better stewards of our marketing dollars.

It’s an overall unfortunate situation, really, because those who go the template route are missing a really great opportunity. This is your chance to get ahead. While everyone else is settling for a template, you can bust out with custom built materials. There’s truly no better way to get your customers’ attention.

Having a brand created just for feels exactly the same as getting that suit tailored. Was your business card created custom? If so, you know you won’t see another one like it in the whole world. It truly represents you, because it was built for you. We may have actually done the design work on your custom pieces, but it’s your voice behind every syllable, behind every pixel, and behind every backend function. It’s truly unique.

One thing we have learned here at Tripp Co. Creative; there’s no better way to build a relationship with customers than by being yourself. When your customers see how much you care about your own business and reputation, they’re receiving a very strong message about how you’ll care for their business and reputation. When actions speak louder than words, custom is the only way to go.

Top Secret Success

Keeping our client’s secrets is tougher than we thought.

Every year our client attends a large industry trade show where they host a private dinner event for their best distributors and clients. This year’s theme was a Monte Carlo-esque casino night mixed with a James Bond theme.

From the outset we knew we wanted to deliver pieces that would require some type of “spyishness” and we soon decided on decoder glasses. All invitees received a personalized mailer with “super secret spy glasses” affixed to the inside. In order to see the message of the mailer (and all communications to follow) they were required to use the glasses to reveal the hidden words. The challenge was how to design the reveal graphics. We had never done this before, but really wanted to learn. After a lot of surfing, some sweat and tears, we figured it out and were able to bring the vision to life.

Tope Secret Mailer

A few days later, each invitee, we mean “agent”, received an email with further instructions. They had to use their glasses to decipher the message and learn where they would be rendezvousing.

Tope Secret eblast

The open rate on the
e-blast was over 49% and we hear the event was a great success.

Give us a call or drop us a lineand let us help you accomplish your next marketing mission.

About Tripp Co. Creative

Tripp Co. Creative, Inc. is a small, strategic creative consultancy with big project experience. All of our team members have a passion for collaborating with clients and we’d love to visually charge your message with a uniquely authentic and memorable voice that stands out from the crowd. From collateral design, web design, branding and identity to advertising, interactive campaigns, social media and marketing, Tripp Co. brings a unique and highly creative perspective to any project.

Client or customer?

What’s the difference you ask? Well let’s look at the proper definition first:

1. a person who purchases goods or services from a store or business.

1. a person or group using the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.

To us, the choice is clear. We are looking for “clients”. If YOU want to present your business in the best light and have truly creative solutions that propel you in the marketplace, you should be looking for an agency that wants a relationship and not just someone out to do what you tell them (no matter how wrong or misguided it may be) then snatch your money and run.

Still unclear?

Let me tell you a little fable:

Once upon a time, a small creative services firm had someone approach them asking for a logo, marketing materials and a website. Being a small agency it’s difficult to turn away work, so the firm took the job. Right away the customer was negotiating and him-hawing about the rate they quoted and then the client claimed he/she was a graphic designer and photographer so he/she knew exactly what he/she was doing and what he/she wanted—he/she just didn’t have time to do it him/herself. All the while this client is degrading what the creative firm does for a living and keeps saying “no offense” after every offensive thing he/she says. Ever hopeful they would prove him wrong, the creative firm kept steering the ship into rough waters. Then the client’s spouse gets involved… BUM BUM BUM BUMMMMMM.

So long story short, the firm provides several different logo options because the client was wanting to update their image. And then the client changes his/her mind and decides he/she likes elements of the old, horrendous logo and wants to merge the two. Then, after the creative firm spends several hours on the option that merged the old and new, the client tells the firm he/she wants all new options “just to be sure”.

This is an example of a customer. If that firm were a restaurant, this customer would be the complainer that sends everything back and then bellyaches to management in hopes of getting a free meal.

We provide creative services and advice on marketing tactics, etc. We really want the relationship between us and the client to be mutual and respectful. That way we can learn about your business, your needs and challenges and how to solve them. If you just want a logo created from a sketch you’ve done on a receipt for a Big Mac, we are probably not going to be a good fit for you and you are probably not going to benefit as much as you could if you were open to the advice and solutions we can provide.

I can’t hear you over your crappy website

Am I the only one that has noticed that many of the “branding experts” and “marketing gurus” have, shall we say, less than stellar Web sites and marketing materials?

Come on guys (and gals). If you are going to the top of the mountain to preach at us that you know the way to marketing and creative Valhalla, please please please walk the walk. If you are going to proclaim you are a tattoo artist, make sure you aren’t drawing stick figures.

I understand that you are strapped for time. I get it. Starting a business is a time suck. Maybe your argument is cash. Fine. Then don’t put on your site that you do “cutting edge design work” when your web presence looks like something straight out of the AOL era.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not saying that our website is the shizzle (like my use of youngster vernacular there?), but I’d like to think it has some style and flair and is an accurate tattoo that represents who we are and what a client can expect from us.

And for those of you out there that are preparing to hire these firms, ask yourself this question; If your car was broken, would you hire a vacuum salesman to fix it?


So I’m sitting here in my office this morning and catching up on all the daily news. I got a logo concept out to a client and thoroughly enjoyed a pot of coffee already (That’s right a pot! Give me a break. I gave up smoking in January.) and then it hit me… “It sure is quiet today!” Not many emails coming through. The phone is all but silent. What is going on?

Usually this would be a fleeting thought, but i checked my calendar and noticed the date; FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!! Could this be the explanation? Do people not want to do business on this “haunted” day? Since I had the time, I went ahead an did some Googling.

According to an article posted on, Henry Ford himself was afraid of this day. Apparently  so were quite a few Presidents. Well hell! If these “great men of power” were concerned, perhaps lil’ ole’ me should be as well! Why did i get out of bed? What now?

Face it, I’m screwed.

Although I jest, Friday the 13th really does strike fear into the hearts of many. How one little day on a Dilbert® calendar can do so much damage is beyond me, but it is a serious problem for most businesses across the country… and they may not even know it. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, an estimated 17 to 21 million people suffer from a fear of this day. That number comes with another estimate — a financial loss of $800 to $900 million in business productivity.

I’m not sure how much I buy into the whole superstition game. But just in case, I locked my black cat in the closet for the day*, put away all X-acto® knives throughout the office and cancelled my plans to drive to Starbucks® and get a Venti Mocha Frapp. I guess I should look on the bright-side; at least this doesn’t have anything to do with the other well known Friday the 13th… or does it? NOTE TO SELF – don’t go anywhere alone today either, especially an abandoned campground.

*please note – no animals were actually locked in a closet for the making of this blog… yet

The cost of social media marketing

So let’s put aside the more advanced options when it comes to web 2.0 marketing: widgets, sites, podcasts, vlogs, custom apps, etc.  Let’s, for now, just concentrate on the basics: blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

“But aren’t all those things free?” you ask. And you are right. As far as out-of-pocket costs go, these options can be free or very low cost. But there is a hidden cost that, if not taken into account, can derail your efforts and all your hopes and dreams for social media nirvana. That cost comes in the form of time commitment. Not many people are prepared for the amount of time that will need to be invested in order to consistently market themselves or their businesses through social media.

We are guilty of it here. We set out with the best intentions. “We’re going to blog once a week Tweet twice a week and set up a Facebook page with the goal of 100 fans.” So here we are blogging about the lack of blogging, I forgot to log onto Twitter last week and Facebook is really coming along well (I now know my horoscope for the week, won a few fights in Mafia Wars and started my own farm).

Now I know all you marketing managers out there are all up in arms! “So what’s the ROI for this ‘cost’ you speak of?” I know this answer is going to be scary for you, so if you need to, sit down: Measuring ROI for social networking can be difficult because, in many cases,  the returns you get are not immediate and do not directly impact the bottom line. Tweeting or FaceBooking does not always give instantaneous results, but you are networking. And Networking is a valid slice of the business development pie.

So the lesson here: when you are setting out on the social networking highway, make sure to allocate time to the process. Know that it takes time to cultivate those relationships. This isn’t a one night stand sort of deal. There needs to be some courting and some wooing. Also have a solid idea of what you want to achieve from the effort – and be realistic! You’re sales aren’t going to increase by 500%, but you may get someone interested in subscribing to your newsletter or RSS feed or just make someone aware of your company that didn’t know you before. Realize it’s okay to be vague when measuring the ROI of your efforts. And most of all, be authentic. Don’t come off as frigid, indifferent or formal.

And just like a diet, it’s okay to fail at first. If you fall off the Web 2.0 horse, get back on. The effort will usually pay off in the end.

Branding is for cows.

There. I said it. How has this word, that has such negative connotations, become so infused into the business vernacular? Oh I get the implication here. A “brand” should make an indelible impression on the consumer. Fine.

My only complaint with the term is the process of getting branded in real life hurts and then afterward you are left with nothing but a horrible, ugly scar that sometimes only vaguely represents what you meant it to be.

I propose we start using a new word. Now what would that word be? Stain? Nah—sounds messy and unwanted. Engraving? Hmmm… sounds nice but not quite right.

Tattoo!!! That’s perfect! A tattoo is considered a work of art. There may be a little pain involved up front, but you are left with something much more elegant and thought out than a nasty burn scar. Plus, let’s face it, tattoos are cooler than ever.

We could even take this line of thought further… over time, tattoos fade and need a little refreshing. Or maybe the content becomes out of date and you need to create a new one but keep pieces of the old (note to self—don’t tattoo someone’s name on your arm again).

WOW!  Why have we not been using this term? I say we start a grassroots effort to change the terminology.

I just Googled it. It looks like someone beat me to it. It’s good to know there are others out there. If we all make an effort, we could eventually stomp out the use of the cruel word “branding” and replace it with the cool word “tattooing”. Let’s start converting! And think about how happy PETA would be.