Designing for The Great Outdoors

My career in commercial design has had me working a a wide variety of different marketing arenas. But one channel that I’ve rarely had an opportunity to work in is outdoor advertising. That changed this month when I took on a billboard design project for Hornblower Cruises.

And this, my first ever US Interstate system billboard advertising design gig, was one of the largest sizings offered by Lamar/Clear Channel: a 14′ x 48′ behemoth cuddled up to the I-8 freeway with an estimated 100k views per 24-hour period. I build my gallows high, baby.


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Filed under: Advertising, Blog, Copywriting, Marketing, Outdoor Advertising by Stan Fairbank

Berkshire-Hathaway’s Brilliant Website

This week I was looking for design inspiration for websites dealing with clients in the financial sector. After looking over dozens of examples of equity fund, online trading and real estate investment group sites, I encountered some good wireframe and design ideas that fit well with the model of my client.

Wanting to be thorough, I decided to finish the exercise with an overview of the top ten investment groups in America. I immediately struck pay dirt with this approach, visiting the website in the #1 position, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. – the largest investment group in the U.S. View this screenshot of their website with reverence and awe, for it stands alone as a monument to clean design and precision-targeted user experience.

After viewing the graphic of their home page or visiting their site, you may think I’m being sarcastic. But I swear I’m not. OK maybe a little, but not much. Because despite the fact that I make my living producing and designing websites and other collateral for online marketing, after pondering this site for some time I realized that I could not improve upon this website. Yes, I could make it look prettier. I could add functionality. I could re-platform it with a CMS. I could go to Getty Images and purchase stock photo assets featuring 20-something women in business suits standing in 30th floor office suites talking on their smartphones, and put those images into jQuery slideshows on the home page.

I could do all of the above and still not increase the functionality of their website of Berkshire Hathaway Incorporated one tiny bit, or add one dollar of value to their investment portfolio.

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Filed under: Branding, Marketing, Online Marketing, User Experience, User Interface, Web Content by Stan Fairbank

Solid Gold Sustainability: Agrarian from Williams-Sonoma

The PR about Williams-Sonoma‘s new Agrarian collection is all around us this week. Agrarian is a line of “DIY” merchandise targeted to the upscale sustainable farmer.

If you know anything about Williams-Sonoma, you already have surmised that this merchandise is targeted to a special breed of farmer. The kind of farmer who likes their planting equipment coppered, monogrammed, patinated and distressed. Who likes chicken coops priced well into 4 figures, and for them to be of an iconic, prefabricated appearance to trumpet the designer label origins. And for farmers desiring White Glove delivery, where the term “do-it-yourself” temporarily takes on another meaning and becomes a simple command to the delivery driver who is expected to assemble it on-site with the gentleman farmer looking over his shoulder.

You could poke fun at this concept all day long, as many pundits are doing. Which is what intrigues me about Agrarian: It’s too easy to laugh at. But the fact is, when a top brand pulls something like this, they’ve usually got some business fundamentals behind it.

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Filed under: Blog, Branding, Identity Design, Marketing, Retail, Social Media by Stan Fairbank

MINI USA Thanks Me For Being a Friend

Those wacky marketers at MINI USA. Always up to something.

As a MINI owner on the BMW/MINI house distribution list, I recently received a message from them thanking me for being such a wonderful customer and enticing me to follow a link where I could further bulk up their customer data about me for more accurate targeting in the future receive their humble gratitude.

I clicked through. I had to look. Wouldn’t you? And like me, aren’t you dying to know how they personally thanked me for being a MINI-ite?

MINI USA Personal Email Campaign

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Filed under: Advertising, Blog, Branding, Direct Marketing, Email, Facebook, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media by Stan Fairbank

Martha Stewart’s iPad Magazine is a Good Thing

Martha Stewart. Inside trader. Domestic dominatrix. Employer from Hell. Electronic media pioneer.

That last tag may seem out of place in Martha Stewart‘s dark cloud. But it’s true. She’s reworked her magazine into iPad format that acts as a showcase for the capabilities of the device.

Martha Stewart Living for iPad

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Filed under: Apple, Blog, Interactive, iPad, Marketing, Mobile, Publishing, User Interface by Stan Fairbank