Halloween has always been our most celebrated group holiday here at Imagine Group. It brings out the silliness and creativity of those who like to dress up which is most everyone. And we traditionally share a pizza lunch with all staff and whichever of their partners want to come. Most of the day is play time, with Harry Potter showing in the showroom and Rock Band video game in the Exhibit room. Lots of laughs all day long. And fun bonding time for all. Here's some photos of this year's festivities. Click here to go to our Facebook page if you want to see a few additional pictures.
Sasha as Chris' cutout and Katrina as Steve's cutout
Chris as a "unsuccessful goat rancher from South Dakota" and Walt-avius
Robin Hood and the whole crew together!
Happy Halloween everyone!
By the time our videography intern Gavin’s green card came through and he was eligible for paid employment, we were hooked on video. We had seen the power of storytelling through video. We wanted each of our divisions to have a video showing all the cool stuff we can do that people often don’t realize. So we found the money in our budget and hired Gavin for a short term set of video projects.
We separated it into bigger projects and what I call “outtakes”. The bigger projects are 4-5 minute videos like the “Meet Steve Smith” Imagine Photographics introductory video and the virtual tour of Dynamic Business Photography: THE SHOW that are already finished. The outtakes are interesting little tidbits that we hated to waste from the footage he had collected. You can see the whole set for Imagine Photographics here. Now he’s working on a main video plus outtakes for Imagine Graphics and another set for Imagine Fleet Graphics. You should see the end results on our websites within the next month or two.
I am still incredulous to see that it can take 4-8 hours of footage to make these 5 minute videos. That’s a lot of tedious editing! But if we’re doing our job well, the results will have the impact more lasting and more effective than perhaps any other marketing endeavor we undertake.
In planning our new websites, we knew we wanted to incorporate video if at all possible. We had watched some business friends use one of the little Flip video cameras to make very informal little shorts. They got a lot of views because people are curious about those they know. But we were looking for something more polished than that. We have spent years developing a trustworthy and cool looking brand and knew we didn’t want to dilute that with some flippantly created video. (pun intended!)
We didn’t have a budget for video so we thought we’d try getting an intern. I imagined a college kid who knew his or her way around video editing and who was creative, to make us some fun, fast motion mini documentaries to make our production process visible in an entertaining way. It would be an experiment. And if it didn’t fit our brand well enough, we just wouldn’t use it.
But instead of a college kid, I was lucky enough to find Gavin Sherlock, a professional videographer from the UK who was willing to work as an intern while awaiting his green card. We bought a video camera and some editing software for him, gave him some basic idea of what we were looking for and he started filming.
Our illusions of quick and easy soon gave way to the experience of how much time goes into making something that would really tell the story we were trying to tell. Gavin knew the angles and the lighting that made the footage look good. That’s the foundation. He taught me that there is a syntax and a punctuation to telling a story through video. Ignore that at your own peril. Clearly there’s a whole lot more to it than I would’ve gotten from halting attempts with a Flip camera or a college-kid intern.
The first video he did for us was used as part of our photography exhibit and as a way to launch Imagine Photographics. That video is an introduction to our Lead Photographer, Steve Smith. When you watch it, you get to see Steve’s personality, how he operates, what kind of work he does in the studio and out in the field, and you get to learn something about commercial photography. Sort of a hybrid between a brochure and a documentary. Our hope is that it has value to viewers, is interesting, and also that it is an effective marketing tool in our tool kit. Click here to watch it and tell me what you think.
I hear the term Web 2.0 being thrown around and I’m not sure exactly what it means. The part I do “get” is that people expect interactivity and freshness, not some old static website that hasn’t been changed in years or even months. I also associate the term with the emerging social media business culture in which companies use informality, authenticity and direct communication to connect with their customers and build brand loyalty. There is still a place for the formal polished look, but it is definitely not the only way most companies want to be communicating.
A lot has been said about social media as the cutting edge in businesses marketing communications. But I want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on video as a powerful small business marketing tool. YouTube has made it so easy to upload a video and embed it in your website, and people are used to watching little videos online now, or even whole TV shows, that there’s a lot of potential for reaching people there. Online video is a familiar and engaging medium, and importantly, it is more communal than getting an email or looking at a website.
Have you ever been watching a short clip and had someone walk over to see what it is and then stand there behind you watching with you? It can happen in your living room when you’re watching a little videos on facebook of a friend’s kid. Or it can happen at the office when someone starts watching a business-related short. I’m sure we all have had someone forward us a link to a funny video. Videos are both communal and potentially can spread “viraly”.
If a photo is worth a thousand words, then a video must be off the charts in terms of how much it can communicate to a viewer. That’s why companies have paid the big bucks for TV commercial airtime. But paying big bucks for advertising was never in our budget as a small business. And now we can reach people affordably with video by making compelling content available to them on the internet. Compelling is the key to that. And incorporating the authenticity, and connection that social media is famous for, while maintaining some of the polish that keeps our brand looking great. I think that makes for a very powerful marketing tool.
One of the best parts about owning a business is having the power to make it better and better. You’re not forced to endure the frustration of mucking around for years in a system that is set up inefficiently, watching the potential of the organization be squandered because of inertia or resistance to change. When you’re the owner and you see something that could be better, you can make it better!
Usually organizational self improvement is a slow, incremental process. But every once in a while an opportunity comes along to accelerate the process to warp speed. Whenever we can, we do this by hiring an expert to consult with us. Fly them in, put them up at a hotel, clear the schedule and get ready to learn, learn, learn.
After the end of the few days, we are tired, but energized, and poised to implement a raft of changes that would’ve taken us years to discover on our own. Changes that improve our efficiency, improve our outcomes for our clients and improve our profitability. What’s not to like about that?
Why reinvent the wheel? If you know of someone who has been wildly successful in one aspect what you’re trying to do, hire them! Even if they’ve never done consulting, they might well be amenable to being hired as an expert for a few days. It’ll be well worth the investment in airfare and consulting fee. As Nike says: Just do it!
The decision to create a Group with 3 divisions has evolved over the course of many months. At its core, this decision was motivated by an attempt to communicate more clearly to our clients, who we are and what we can offer to them. That is a worthwhile goal. However, I had forgotten how big of an endeavor it is to change names.
I suppose it's like the way I experienced childbirth. It came from a worthy impulse, required a gargantuan effort, and then, not too long afterwards, the memory of the effort faded and I was willing to undertake a similar path again for the same worthy reason!
It was only 3 short years ago that we undertook a radical rebranding and re-naming for our business. We went from being Signs of the Times to the bigger, broader and more visible Imagine Graphics.
I should've remembered clearly how much work it is to change names. Yet even the second time around, I have been caught by surprise by the sheer number of places we must carry out the change of naming. Interior and exterior signage, websites, business cards, print ads, postcards, email newsletter header, KLCC underwriting message, logo shirts, brochures, and even things such as email signatures and voice mail greetings.
Re-naming may well be a fabulous strategy for advancing your business. But be fore-warned, it causes a snowballing domino effect of work to update all your communication and positioning pieces. It’s sure to require more time and resources than expected.
Did you know there is a museum style exhibit of commercial photography, complete with multi-media components and diverse graphics displays on a variety of materials, set up at our 990 Garfield location through October 30th? The PDF below is the write-up that appeared in the Register-Guard.
It’s a great way to get a behind the scenes peek into a working photography studio and see some of the innovations and tricks used to get that perfect shot for a client. Let your jaw drop when you see a photo of a 1” section of an engraved gourd enlarged to 6 feet tall, in awe inspiring detail and resolution. Learn about product photography and the specialized field of food photography. Check out some beautiful architectural photography and see if you recognize anyone you know in the commercial portraiture display. And see Autzen Stadium and some of our local college athletes come to life through high caliber photography.
Don’t miss this opportunity. Stop by Monday through Friday between 9 and 5, now through October 30th. See how photography can help take your business to the next level. You’ll be glad you did!
We're cutting a big hole in our wall so we can install an even bigger garage door. If you have a semi truck (AKA a tractor-trailer), there'll be no more waiting around for a dry day to install your graphics. We will soon be able to put gorgeous graphics on the side of your trailer fast and efficiently in any weather. If you have a fleet of a dozen vans and want them all done together, we will have the space and the people-power to do multiple vehicles at the same time.