What Greenhouse is Working on this Week:
Pacific Field Service:
- Trade show follow up
- Competitive analysis
- Branding foundation
- CA Center web: content consultation
- CA Center web: site population
- CA Center web: preparing for launch!
- CEITAN web: discovery, session 2
- Web site redesign
- Marketing consultation
The PFS crew and booth are at their Orlando trade show as I type. CEO Kevin reports, “Good response on the look of the booth. Definitely one of the most unique. We have had several great compliments.”
Before leaving to an event, remember Murphy’s Law and be prepared. Take an emergency kit. We packed a small one for PFS. In the 8 inch box is:
- Super glue
- Duct tape
- Masking tape
- Scotch tape
- Mini stapler and staples
- Large garbage bag
- A wipe towel
- Baggy of rubber bands
- Zip ties
- A highlighter
- A black sharpie
- Small clips
- Post-it notes
- Ballpoint pens
- Extension cord
- Power strip
- Leatherman or Swiss knife
- Wet wipes
10 x 10. The standard dimensions for a single trade show booth. What to do, what to do. How do you stand out in a sea of 10 x 10 fish?
Pop up displays are relatively inexpensive, light weight, and with a graphic treatment, very effective. Our client Kevin, mastermind at Pacific Field Service, was open to a traditional pop up display for their first-ever trade show event. We shared two concepts…both pretty cool…taking advantage of a standard, 10′ x 7′ concave display.
But at Greenhouse, it’s our job to think out of the box….a 10 x 10 square, in this case. And Kevin and PFS are just the kind of clients to run with something cool. Here’s my initial sketch:
Instead of one 10′ display, how about five retractable banners, SuperHero-style?
Delivery day was fun. Kevin and I set up the banners in his conference room as other team members filed in to see and “wow!” All of us are thrilled to know that PFS will be the only one at the trade show with four, seven-foot SuperHeroes representing their company! The Heroes have already been shipped to Orlando, thanks to the great service we received from Connie and Dennis at Ferrari Color. Meanwhile, we’re working on theme driven business cards, a PowerPoint display, and a few other elements guaranteed to get attention.
Here’s the skinny:
- Four 2 foot x 7 foot retractable banners.
- One 3 foot x 7 foot center banner.
- Light weight: fits in one container.
- Sets up in minutes. Literally!
- At a show for several days? The banners can be moved around inside the booth giving you a different look each day.
- Center banner doubles as a media screen.
- Different from any other display at the show for the same price as a regular pop up!
Stock photos are amazing. Custom photos are amazinger. But don’t forget about illustration!
Shawn Turner helped us turn our SuperHero concept for a trade show display into stunning reality. He converted our direction into four, bigger-than-life characters representing our client, Pacific Field Service’s core values.
Below, I ham it up with “Max”. He’s all about technical innovation, a hallmark of PFS. It would have been possible to convey this concept with photos but Shawn’s illustrations are stunning….and a whole lot more fun!
Being only a couple blocks from Land Park puts us close to the beauties and beasts of the Sacramento Zoo. But today, we had an entire flock of flamingos perched in our yard! Plastic, but none the less, very dramatic!
Thank you to client and friend, Kim at Fleet Feet Sacramento for the gift of pink! It’s a great way to support the fur and fins at our zoo. Oh, and make sure you lace’m up and walk or run the ZooZoom 5k and 10k. I hear they have a great shirt….
Sometimes we get so caught in our tunnel of projects that we forget to say hello to the world. So … “Hello world!”
I didn’t realize it but I have a thing for whiteboards. I dedicated my last post to my dry erase “system”, using an excited tone that should only be used when you invent donuts or something. They’re just whiteboards, for gosh sake!
Whiteboards are imperfect, raw, and utterly human. You can actually see the effects of passion, excitement, and success in the tell-tale handwriting and drawings.
But today…wow. I discovered Whiteboard Nirvana. Greenhouse is working with WestEd on a new site for the California Center; an infant and early childhood mental health organization. I partner with special people at WestEd. Big brains and some of the hardest working folks around. WestEd moved to a new location recently, so working on the web site’s information architecture meant meeting in a large conference room, which was new to me as well as my clients, Monica and Carolyn.
Our ideas quickly became too big for our 8.5” x 11” paper, but scanning the room, we noticed there were no photos, plaques or art on the walls…let alone a white board. “I’ve seen people write on the walls,” Carolyn said hesitantly. Sure enough. A complete set of markers and erasers sat on a small table…calling to me!
“Maybe just write something small, in a corner, just in case it doesn’t come off,” cautioned Carolyn. Good advice. I wrote. “Opps.” in small letters on one side of the giant, blank wall. “It’s spelled, ‘o-o-p-s’”, said Carolyn. She’s an excellent writer and editor, so I acted as if I had done it on purpose, stood back from my work of art, then quickly erased it. And at once, I realized the dry erase power that surged in that marker!
Brilliant! The walls ARE the whiteboards!
One 30-foot surface as well as a 15-foot, and a third 20-foot wall meant 65 feet of available writing, drawing, and diagramming space! The walls are covered with a special dry erase paint (a warm coffee tan, by the way) designed to convert wall space to idea space. Again, brilliant. Our collaborative juices now unrestrained, gave me the ability to quickly turn one wall into a 10 foot rendering of the first three levels of our site’s architecture. Twenty minutes later, we pointed our iPhone cameras to the wall, and “click”, sent the images to our DropBox, then cleared the wall to tan. So cool.
Whiteboards aren’t new. But they represent something I feel is extremely important. There is so much emphasis in the business world on converting and optimizing our world to fit our computer…and with amazing results. Missing though, is the instant connection from the mind to the hand to a surface. The free-flowing path that allows you to step back, view the opportunities, problems, and potential solutions from a greater perspective. An instant point of collaboration and power. It is imperfect, raw, and utterly human. You can actually see the effects of passion, excitement, and success in the tell-tale handwriting and drawings.
I miss that. I am a designer, a marketing consultant, and by necessity, a computer expert, at times. But above that, I am a thinker and whiteboards pop the cork.
I’m going old school for my 2nd of 5 Top Productivity Tools…all the way back to my dot.com days. Back then, (cue the nostalgic 90′s music), ideas were bursting around me like fireworks on a hot summer night. Yup, it was a magical time when multidisciplinary collaboration was the expectation. At our company, the sound of stinky dry-erase markers sliding across shiny whiteboards was as common as the phrase “stock options”.
Then the bust.
Then everyone went home to work as consultants.
Whiteboards left my life for a long time. Idea-catching and concept development is easy on my Mac. Everything is more efficient on the computer, right?
Not so fast. I have been using a two-whiteboard system for six months now and truly believe it has been a key factor in my productivity. More importantly, I feel it has been the difference maker in my solutions development process…and that tops my list of core values.
Top Tool #2:
The Good ol’ Whiteboard, with a Twist
Here’s a peek into my system:
- I use a portable, free-standing, easel-style whiteboard as my primary idea catching surface. I don’t move the easel around much, but it has proven to be more flexible than wall mounted boards when it comes to office reorganizations. (Portability also means it can be used for a spontaneous game of Pictionary!) I have the easel positioned next to my desk so I can jot down notes by simply reaching to my right; I believe that to be critical to a successful solution. Keep it close and use it for To-Do’s, research notes, world-changing epiphanies, reminders, phone numbers, etc. I don’t worry about keeping it super neat or uber organized. This is the most direct path from my brain to the real world. No filtering. No filing.
- In October, I added its little brother, a 14” x 11” lap version. Designed for cubicles, this whiteboard is my portable idea catcher. The small board is particularly useful when I read or listen to a podcast on a couch or chair outside my office. (It also works well as a lap desk…and even as a lunch table, sometimes!)
- My secret: Nothing on either board is sacred! I get the thoughts out of my noggin and onto the board. If it’s a concept, I work it out fast and fluid. Then, I take a picture of the board with my iPhone, then erase the board. Now I’m ready for my next great idea! I use the DropBox app on my phone to transfer the image to a folder and up to a cloud. (DropBox will be the subject of my next Top 5 Productivity Tools.) Once the whiteboard photo is loaded in a DropBox folder, it is available on all my devices…phone, iPad, laptop, and desktop.
There it is. A little of the old with a little of the new. Hope that helps!
“Home is where the heart is” is a saying I’ve heard many times. When I recently came across this saying in an article, I saw something new. “Home is where the heART is” jumped out at me and inspired me to create a unique and personal gift for my husband.
Scott and I have spent many fun hours together creating art for our home. Not only do we get to fill our empty walls with one-of-a-kind pieces, but we also get to experience the personal story behind each piece. Our home is where the heart AND the art is.
Since our hearts have lived in so many homes, I thought it was fitting to use these addresses as part of our art. My home addresses fill the top half and Scott’s home addresses fill the bottom half of the design. The two addresses highlighted in red are the two homes we lived in together.
Each street, city, state, and country bring back old memories that Scott and I get to relive and share with each other. Transforming seemingly mundane data into art is not only what I do for a living, but is also what I do for fun (imagine that!).
Do you have information about your life or your company that can be transformed into art? The answer is, yes, we all do. And if you give us the privilege, we would love to help you create art for your home, your business, and your clients
We all have a mix of tools and tricks we depend on to keep us on track and working our best. There are several, however, that stand out in my day-to-day Greenhouse world that feel too good to keep to myself. I use a combination of old-school and closer-to-the-edge tools that help me stay motivated and at the top of my game. Over the following weeks, I’ll pass on my favorites and hope one or two make a difference for you.
Top Tool #1
The Podcast: Digital Donuts
Downloadable web feeds represent an absolute wealth of phenomenal information…free to the world…served up like a platter of donuts waiting in the break room. Pick your topic and dive in. A wise author, one I can’t remember to credit at the moment, said, “Never be without a book!” A great tip. My take: Download a couple of Podcasts so they are queued up when you find yourself on a machine at the gym or sitting in the car waiting to pick up your kid. You won’t be sorry. The content can change the way you do business and will always provide a path to divergent thinking…the process I value more than any other.
Podcasts put the voices of industry leaders, teachers, and working peers from around the world in your earbuds.
They are as sweet as an “old-fashioned” dipped in chocolate from Marie’s Donuts on Freeport Boulevard, but much, much better for you. I don’t have to remind you that the marketing and messaging worlds move at a pace that can make your head spin. Keeping up can be challenge. Podcasts deliver potent doses of industry knowledge. Programs range from 15 minutes to an hour and since most podcasters are hoping to build your interest in their services, the segments usually contain some of their most valuable insights. Once downloaded, you can play them (and replay them) at your convenience.
Staying current, I feel, is one of my primary responsibilities to you. Luckily, I love it. Learning and adding improved skills to my work is a driving force in my life. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I only listen to business Podcasts. Being a football geek in a season that the Niners are on a comeback, well, let’s just say I’ve found plenty ‘casts to support my addiction. I’ll follow up with a list of my favorite business Podcasts as well as the balance of my Top 5 Tools. But for now, I’m off to watch the Niners vs. Giants game!
A blank canvas can be exhilarating, challenging, and loads of fun! I think a lot of designers and other creative types would agree. Often times, clients request original concepts, something they’ve never seen before, and even ask for, dare I say, a look and feel that’s “cutting edge!”
And then there are companies like NuVasive, California Healthcare Association, Delicato Wines, R.W. Knudsen, Standard Pacific Homes, and John Muir Health, to name a few, that come to us with beautiful boundaries. All of these companies have amazing brands that we have been privileged to work within.
Our colleagues at Towers Watson wanted Greenhouse to take the painted canvas, already started by John Muir Health (JMH), and strengthen their brand for their 2012 Open Enrollment Season. JMH’s Brand Standard Guidelines were established with strategic purpose and artistic specificity that demanded our respect.
JMH’s use of the Whitney font family, black and white photography, and color-blocking within their brand, allowed Greenhouse to create brochures and posters that were inviting and informative. Greenhouse took advantage of the puzzle pieces that JMH provided us, and we put together marketing pieces that successfully delivered their message.
Greenhouse uses a client’s brand standards as an opportunity to be smart and creative so that each new piece increases the visibility and stability of that company’s voice. When a company comes to us with their brand standards in one hand, and a strategic goal in the other, we see a sea of possibilities within those beautiful boundaries.