Our Blog

Jun 01

Marketing and design teams approach creative assignments differently, which can make harmony a challenge. Marketing approaches the project as if talking to a group. Designers approach the project as if talking to one person. The goal for both is to fulfill the brand promise, but they can’t do that until they align the marketing strategy with the creative so it sends the same message from the beginning.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at HOW DesignLive in Boston. Partnering with Cleveland Design client Elizabeth Darragh, VP of Global Marketing Communications at Sensitech, we presented best practices to utilize, drawn from our years of working together, to allow designers and marketers to work together from day one and make great things happen!

We began with how the creative brief should become secondary to open discussions about the project, supported by knowledge, communication, and transparency. Traditionally, the creative brief has been used as the kick-off for campaigns and projects. Filled out by the marketing team, then submitted to the creative team, the brief tried to cover what the project should include to succeed, but it often missed the mark on what is truly required to achieve an excellent outcome.

The creative brief is named “brief” for a reason, it should be short and to the point of the overall project deliverables. The problem with the creative brief is it is created with the assumption everyone has the same background knowledge of the overall mission, including the strategy of company and their brand promise. Relying too heavily on the brief can kill opportunities for communication, shared vision and team support.

The brief does help define the overall scope of the project though, and is a vehicle to document the action plan, schedules, deliverables, and assign responsibilities. However, as a stand-alone document, it falls far short of the knowledge that is truly needed to implement the brand promise in your project or campaign.

To address the shortcomings of the brief, Elizabeth and I created a toolkit, for marketers and designers alike, that promotes clarity to guide the creative process by focusing on three key areas, Knowledge, Communication and Transparency.

knowledge

Key knowledge of the company everyone on the team should have:

  • The history and the who, what and why of the company
  • How the company has evolved over the years
  • What mergers or acquisitions have occurred
  • The current brand promise and mission
  • Understanding of every product and service, and how each serves the company’s mission and strategy
  • Knowing the target market and demographics, and understanding the difference between the two
  • Knowing which global markets the company is active in, along with the cultural differences in each market

communication

Start talking! Work together, not as two separate teams:

  • Communicate about all aspects of projects from day one
  • Request that everyone be included in initial discussions
  • Share ideas and best practices
  • Keep dialogue flowing throughout the entire process
  • Learn the capabilities of each team member, and utilize those skills

transparency

Being open and honest ensures everyone is on the same page while working together towards a successful outcome:

  • Budgets—share from the beginning and discuss what is being allocated for what
  • Give input on long-term budget planning so you can forecast as a team
  • Assign who is responsible for what, discuss deliverables and timelines, review expected outcomes
  • Who are all the decision makers, e.g., do Corporate and Legal need to approve?
  • Are there other product management teams involved?
  • Bring Sales into meetings if they are the end users of the campaign

Utilizing the tips from this toolkit will help create a smart team of marketers and designers that works well together. Start talking from day one, bring your knowledge to the table, and share ideas and expectations. When you commit to work together as a team, aligning creative and marketing strategies, your next project is sure to bring brand promises successfully to life.

Topics: Marketing Tags: marketing, creative team
Jun 01
June 2018 Calendar

If you've ever grown a dahlia, you know there's no more spectacular flower in the garden, and our June calendar features one of the many varieties. Much like the dahlias' gorgeous array of colors, styles and sizes available, deciding which design direction to take with a project can become an overwhelming choice. At Cleveland, we embrace variety, but will help guide you to the beautiful, smart, and on brand design you need for your campaign. Contact us today to talk about how we can help grow your industry presence and make your projects bloom.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
May 01
May 2018 Calendar

Becoming a leader in your industry is easier to achieve when can promote your brand, both internally and externally, in a timely fashion. We understand the slow down that occurs working with layers of people at some firms, so Cleveland Design was built on the premise of direct relationships between you and your designer. Cutting out the middleman allows us to help our clients stay on schedule and on budget without ever sacrificing design. Download this month’s calendar, then contact us to see how together we can bring your projects across the finish line.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
May 01
Digital Summit Los Angeles 2018

Last month, Digital Summit held a 2-day conference in the heart of Los Angeles for hundreds of digital marketing professionals. Being a designer, this was a huge opportunity and great learning experience. I heard from industry leaders, such as Mitch Lowe (co-founder of Netflix), Jessica Cohen (Mashable), Cliff Seal (Pardot), Kirsten Benson (Getty Images) and more. While many different topics were discussed at the conference, one overarching takeaway was this idea of “storytelling in marketing.

This was a new concept to me, so I found myself asking “what is storytelling for marketing, and how can I apply it to what my clients and I do?”

Start to think about your audience's journey—what product or service do you provide that makes their life easier? What particular problem are you solving for them? Once you have that figured out, you can then begin to tell a story around the journey that they will genuinely relate to.

Some reasons why storytelling has become a more popular marketing tactic in recent years (and there is some science to it!):

  • When you hear a story, you tend to put yourself in the shoes of whomever you're watching, as if you were the one going through the experience first hand (this is called neural coupling).
  • Stories can be 22x more memorable than facts. The brain releases dopamine when experiencing an emotionally-charged event, which makes it easier to remember. This can be incredibly beneficial to marketers looking to educate potential customers on more complicated ideas or systems, or when sheer facts aren't getting the point across.
  • Hearing a story activates more parts of the brain, making it more engaging. This helps to make it more memorable and also more enjoyable.
  • And of course, everyone enjoys a good story!

When using storytelling in your marketing strategy, it's important to remember that everything should be genuine. Always work from real-life experiences, and really think about the emotions your clients already feel. Reach out to current customers and interview them, get testimonials and some real down-to-earth stories. This will help you to connect with both existing and potential audiences in a more meaningful way. This more meaningful connection, in turn, helps to really strengthen your brand's identity.

While storytelling was the most prominent topic at the conference, it certainly wasn't the only topic. Stay tuned for more blog posts with insights into some of the other concepts I was introduced to at the summit.

Topics: Marketing, News Tags: summit, conference
Apr 01
HOW Design Live 2018

Bringing Designers and Marketers Together. i.e., kill the creative brief and start talking. Presented by Jonathan Cleveland of Cleveland Design and Elizabeth Darragh of Sensitech. Monday, April 30, 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Marketing and design approach everything differently, which makes harmony a challenge. It’s often said that Marketing approaches the work as if talking to a group (i.e. how the overall campaign will help sway a new audience of customers to their product), while the Creative's approach is as if talking to one person (i.e. how an individual will react to the visuals, products and brand). The goal for both is to fulfill the brand promise, but they can’t do that unless they can align marketing strategy and creative and speak the same language from the beginning.

In this presentation, Jonathan Cleveland, Principal of Cleveland Design and Elizabeth Darragh, VP of Global Marketing Communications for Sensitech, will describe the evolution of their 13 year relationship as designer and marketer and share a case study of a recent rebrand (including for market and product segments, position acquisitions, and development of a new website) that combined the talents and skills of everyone involved and brings a unified voice, great visuals, and a successful market strategy. Save yourself 12 years and come to listen, learn and talk.

Learn more about HOW Design Live

Topics: News Tags: HOW Design Live, conference
Apr 01
April 2018 Calendar

We made it through Winter and now that Spring is here, we can’t help but dream of those hot Summer days! At Cleveland, we strive to be forward thinkers and always plan for the future. So allow yourself to day dream about those sweet Summer months and let’s start to plan for them. It’s never too early! Contact us today to see how we can help make your marketing ideas become a reality.

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View our Installation Guide for instructions on how to set this month's artwork as your background wallpaper.
Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Mar 01
March 2018 Calendar

The Crocus flower is one of the first of the beautiful blooms to burst into Spring. As the flowers begin to rise, capture that motivation and capitalize on it by getting a head start on your next project. Contact us today to see how we can help make your projects flourish.

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Without Calendar:

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View our Installation Guide for instructions on how to set this month's artwork as your background wallpaper.
Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Feb 05
2017 Year in Review
A Year of Inspiration and Opportunity

As a client, you are an important member of the Cleveland family. To honor this valuable partnership, we would like to take a moment to share with you what we accomplished together in 2017. It was an exciting year and we couldn't have done it without you.

In 2017, our creative was featured in marketing campaigns around the globe.

Event Locations Map

Brochures & Reports

21

532 Projects

Websites & Apps

16

Email, Social Media, & Infographics

107

Integrated Marketing & Branding Campaigns

27

Digital & Print Ads

86

Video & Animation

4

Meetings & Events

122

Product & Sales Sheets

149

Thank you for a wonderful 2017. We look forward to the exciting opportunities and growth our continued partnership will bring in 2018.

Topics: News Tags: year in review
Feb 01
Katie Dobberpuhl

We are happy to announce the addition of Katie Dobberpuhl to the team at Cleveland. Katie will be with us for 6 months as part of the co-op program at Northeastern University where she is in her sophomore year studying Design.

Katie has enjoyed her first two years living in Boston while studying at Northeastern University, and after studying abroad in Berlin, Germany this past summer, she is looking forward to taking advantage of more of the global experience opportunities that the school offers. She has had a passion for art since she was a child, and alongside her interest in graphic design, she enjoys drawing, painting, writing, taking photographs, and playing the piano. She is grateful for the opportunity to develop her design skills and learn about the industry while completing her first co-op at Cleveland Design. In her free time, Katie can often be found spending time with friends, reading, or developing ideas for a new art project.

Topics: News Tags: company news
Feb 01
February 2018 Calendar

This popular Socrates paraphrase not only ties in nicely with our February Calendar, but also inspires a fresh approach to optimizing your brand. Contact us today to discuss partnering with Cleveland Design on your 2018 projects. Also, embrace the wisdom of the owl and download this month’s beautiful calendar for your computer.

Embrace the wisdom of the owl and download this month's beautiful wallpaper.

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With Calendar:

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Without Calendar:

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View our Installation Guide for instructions on how to set this month's artwork as your background wallpaper.
Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar

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