New Work: AIM Rebrand

“We are so proud of the new brand we’ve recently revealed to the communities we serve, and the cities we plan to expand to soon. Our efforts were truly collaborative between our internal team here at AIM and Phenomblue. From the first time our teams met, we felt we had finally found the right partner to help bring our vision to life. We worked side-by-side, which was important to us, to make this a successful and seamless effort. Phenomblue did an excellent job in pushing us to take our identity to the next level, too. We couldn’t be more excited about our ongoing partnership and the opportunity to continue creating brilliant work together.” – Dr. Kandace Miller, President/CEO

Recently AIM revealed expansion plans, along with a new logo, name and branding effort at the Midwest’s premier business and IT conference, Infotec. AIM is a not-for-profit community organization that promotes technology to empower people, enhance organizations and create brilliant communities. Phenomblue has served as a proud partner in the rebrand and we’re excited to announce an ongoing partnership as AIM continues growing with the businesses, communities, organizations and individuals they serve.

The Omaha World-Herald explains, “The AIM Institute, which stands for Applied Information Management, will be known as just ‘AIM,’ with the tagline, ‘For those who seek brilliance.’”

As part of the rebrand we collaborated with AIM on, we conducted an initial discovery phase to determine why a rebrand was necessary. After gathering a deep understanding of the organization’s target market and desired positioning, we worked to modernize the brand, creating a powerful, cohesive story that conveys the variety, value and depth of AIM’s offerings. We leveraged their master brand to drive credibility and revenue for its lead products, Careerlink and InfoTec. We worked back and forth, evolving, even changing directions completely. Ultimately, our organizations declared the final AIM rebrand position and identity after much collaboration and many revisions. This was translated into external messaging, and a new mission statement.

“Rod Armstrong, vice president of strategic partnerships, based in Lincoln, said the organization was moving toward use of a ‘master brand,’ AIM, so the Lincoln office at the Nebraska Technology Park will be AIM Lincoln, and so on. ‘It just makes it easier to manage the variety of locations and services we do,’ he said,” as reported by the Lincoln Journal Star.

The new logo utilizes a simplified diamond shape to express AIM’s empowering, uplifting nature. The shapes visually imply the AIM initials and hold another diamond in the peaks. Through eye-catching interplay, these shapes compose a larger picture, symbolizing AIM’s internal structure and its integration with communities and individuals. The logo pays homage to AIM’s past and serves as a beacon to its future.

Check out our AIM Work page for additional information.

Rewind: Let’s Talk About Stuff

Rewind is our weekly More post where someone from our brand experience agency curates his or her favorite news from the week before. This week’s post is brought to you by Jules B., design director of UX and interaction.

As a child of the 90s, The Fly Girls remain as Jules’ dance move idols. She also recently visited Tulum, where she shared a thatched roof bungalow on the beach with at least 5 lizards, 2 humans and 2 iguanas.

I suppose this week’s Rewind is thing-centric. Enough with the internet. Let’s talk about stuff.

Sight Unseen posted an entry on the gorgeous studio of textiles artist Christy Matson this week. Not only is her studio an inspiration – neatly organized with tool walls and color-coordinated materials (wouldn’t you love to work from a space like this?!) – but they’ve captured Matson at work on her loom.

Rollo-Press (out of Zürich) prints a lovely collection of books, zines and things. Their newest offering is this set of memory cards, but you should also consider owning this beauty (reprint in progress).

So, purchasing your reading material from the publisher is great. But I was interested to see this online men’s fashion retailer, Frank & Oak, add a library section to their site this week. Hmm. Interesting. And isn’t this the greatest name for a magazine?

Food52 is a culinary site I thoroughly enjoy. Now, you can procure their lovely curated collection of kitchen goods (crap).

The Vinyl Factory published a brief post and photos on the tale of this incredible abandoned record warehouse that once was.

Now get lost in the hamburger sea.

Bonus Day Project: Phenom Photobomb

The first official photo booth debuted in 1925 on Broadway and took 10 minutes to print eight photos. We’ve come a long way, friends.

Built on Bonus Day, with HTML5 and Javascript, Phenom Photobomb is a digital photo-booth tool that lets users take and share photos and videos via email and social media straight from the booth. A green-screen-enabled background and various filter options make this the ultimate photo-booth experience.

Photobomb eliminates the hassle of saving the file on a desktop, and its green-screen enabled background can transport you anywhere. Users can apply various filters — including black-and-white, for that “special moment” touch — to craft the ultimate photo.

Even better, Photobomb can be re-skinned for clients, who can use the app to easily develop and share their own branded content.

This project took home two of our three Bonus Day awards – including the coveted Bonus Day Gold Award.

This is part three of our featured Bonus Day projects from the second quarter of 2013 (see here for part one and here for part two). Bonus Day is an internal, agency-wide flash-exercise in innovation, where ad hoc teams of dreamers, innovators and creators carry a passion project from conception to completion in a day.

Rewind: Whole Lotta Links Edition

Rewind is our weekly More post where someone from our brand experience agency curates his or her favorite news from the week before. This week’s post is brought to you by Megan M., our manager of quality assurance.

Megan’s favorite dance move is anything seen in a Michael Jackson or Beyoncé video. Right now, she’s really into her iHeartRadio app and obsessed with the Bobby Bones show, the Big98’s morning show out of Nashville right now. And, yes, it’s country. Don’t judge her.

Last week there was a lot of talk about the Moto X, Motorola’s newest smartphone and their first since being under Google. So, if you’re in the market for a new phone and Apple isn’t your thing – or you’re just really curious about the first real Google phone, there definitely isn’t a shortage of reviews, lists of whys or why nots and background pieces.

It’s officially one of the best times of the year – no, not college football (although, in case you’re counting…). It’s Shark Week! And for the Discovery Channel, this year’s Shark Week isn’t just about the TV programming, it’s about a new look, more characters and storytelling. Also, forget kittens and puppies, there’s a shark cam (!!!!) accompanied by a chat box reminiscent of AIM and being 13 again –I’m watching it right now and someone just typed “TEENS FOR LIFEEEEE!” …. seriously, you’re missing out. Also, I want to be friends with this girl. Oh, and have you met Sharky?

Nowadays it’s hard to imagine a brick and mortar store not having an e-commerce site, right? Well, for those who love fashion and steals, you’re well aware H&M has been one of those places for a long time. Well, they were. Until last week when they announced, via Twitter, their long-awaited e-commerce site was (finally) live. And, without surprise, there was nothing but excitement, editor’s picks and…well, more excitement. So, go get your shop on, gurrrrrl.

As an English major, it’d just be a shame if I wasn’t super excited to come across My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs, Mattheu Roth’s adaptation of a Franz Kafka’s best stories for children. With illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason the book gives kids (and parents) a “bizarre, dark fairy tale to read before bedtime.”

It wouldn’t be a Rewind if I didn’t spread the latest iPad and iPhone (5c?) rumors or mention that, in case you hadn’t heard, the royal baby was born…they named him George and he “wriggles a lot.”

And lastly, since it’s Monday and you can never laugh too much, last week Harry Styles’ fans reacted to British GQs latest cover with terrifying (yet hilariously embarrassing) tweets. And, then there’s this.

Time To Cut The Cord?

The phrase “cutting the cord” has entered the brand experience lexicon as shorthand for ditching cable and satellite services. With so many affordable options for video streaming, internet TV and gaming experiences, consumers are increasingly bidding adieu to pay TV and the 1,000+ channel bundle of the past.

Last year, the cable industry suffered its first annual net subscriber loss, and satellite providers added the fewest amount of subscribers to date. According to Nielsen’s recent cross-platform report, the number of “zero TV” households has grown to 5 million as of March 2013. This zero TV audience includes the estimated 3.75 million American households that use at least one TV for streaming video content, watching DVDs and playing video games.

And as more sophisticated internet TVs and gaming consoles (such as PS4 and Xbox One) hit the market, even more consumers are expected to cut the cord. Not surprisingly, this has brand experience pundits in a tizzy, spouting dire predictions, inexplicable hyperboles or sardonic denials about the impending irrelevance of pay TV.

(For everything you need to know about using the next generation of multi-platform home-entertainment devices to deliver useful brand experiences, download our free Phenomblue Strategic Insight Series white paper, “Owning the Living Room – the Future of TV Advertising.”)

What does the cord-cutting trend mean for cable and satellite providers, not to mention brands and media buyers? How should you react? This week’s Wired article “Why the Internet May Actually Be Good for the Future of TV” offers a well-reasoned, if cautious, take on the issue: pay TV is far and away the more popular platform … so far.

Contributor Graeme Mcmillan cuts through the noise and points out the obvious: internet TV is not different from traditional TV. A different platform, sure. With different modes of advertising, yes. But look, watching a Louis C.K. special on HBO in your living room is no different than watching the same special on Netflix in your living room. Sure, you might not be able to stream it live (not yet, at least … there’s still a lot of tension between streaming services and cable providers) but you will be able to get it eventually.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway in the article applies to traditional and internet TV encounters alike: augment your TV ads with second-screen experiences, because over 80 percent of viewers do something else while watching TV, such as checking in on email, texts and social media or just surfing the web, according to Deloitte Vice Chairman Gerald Belson.

While internet TV is not an immediate menace to pay TV, all it takes is a little foresight to see that, hey, people are cutting the cord on the old platforms and adapting to new technology — as they’ve always done. Remember when telephones didn’t have screens?

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How We Spent Our Summer Vacation: A Look at the New Phenomblue Offices

While you’ve been out lounging by the pool, enjoying your summer vacation, sipping a frozen adult beverage with a little umbrella, we’ve been updating our homepage, launching PhenomblueTV, creating great work for our clients, as always – and moving! In the process, we’ve also gotten pretty handy with U-hauls and screwdrivers (the tool, not the drink).

We recently shared our work on the new AksarbenVillage.com. We liked the area so much – with its pedestrian-friendly, party-friendly atmosphere – we decided to move there from our former location.

“Aksarben is emerging as Omaha’s hub for the work hard/play hard lifestyle and we wanted to make sure Phenomblue was a part of that,” said President and CEO Joe Olsen.

Architect Jeff Dolezal from TACKarchitects designed the new space, and AOI took care of construction. When the dust settled, we stood breathless in our new home, admiring the huge, eclectic space that supports both high-energy collaboration and focused solitude.

Olsen said: “We charged TACKarchitects and Noddle Companies with creating an open collaborative space that inspires both our team and our clients, and they delivered above and beyond expectations. Phenomblue’s space is unlike anything that exists in Omaha today. We hope it inspires others to embrace modern office design, continuing to make Omaha a destination for gifted talent.”

VP and General Manager Jimm Wagner agreed, adding: “Our new office is entirely designed around collaboration. It’s about taking something that is raw and filling it with talent to create a polished and refined creative environment. It’s similar to how we work and our process, too – starting with something raw, and ending up with something defined and polished.”

Why stop there? We also got a new office in LA – Culver City, to be exact, the historical epicenter for motion picture and television production.

“We chose this location for several reasons,” explained Kt McBratney, vice president and general manager. “Logistically, it’s close to freeways and allows our team to come and go easily. Culver City is its own cool part of LA with many creative companies, good food and history. It fits our culture, and our space does as well.”

The LA office’s aesthetic is pure Phenomblue, with polished concrete floors, clean white walls and exposed glass and metal. The two offices have matching suite numbers, garage doors, collaboration spaces, natural light, etc. – all to express and reinforce the Phenomblue culture and brand.

We’re eagerly awaiting a few feature stories on our new spaces coming soon – we’ll be sure to share them when they’re out. In the meantime though, enjoy a few photos (above) of the new Phenomblue offices.

Rewind: Charlie Sheen, Cheerios and Beards

Rewind is our weekly More post where someone from our brand experience agency curates his or her favorite news from the week before. This week’s post is brought to you by Andy C., senior analyst of insights and media.

Andy used to live in one of the rainiest cities in the U.S., Portland, and never really had to pay much attention to weather forecasts being that it always rained. After relocating to Omaha, Andy has come to find that there is no rhyme or reason with the seasons in the Midwest. For this reason, the app that he cannot currently live without is Yahoo’s new(ish) weather app.

I have to admit, I admire Charlie Sheen for his willingness to say or do anything. So, it was not surprising to see that earlier this month he made an impromptu trip to Loch Ness in search of its fabled monster. Here is what Charlie had to say upon returning stateside.

Back in May, Cheerios rolled out a commercial featuring a mixed race family. The video generated such a strong racist backlash on YouTube that the comments section had to be closed. A few weeks ago, Fine Brothers Productions released a video in response to this backlash. If nothing else this response gives me hope for our future generations. On a side note, Cheerios didn’t waver and they stood by their decision – kudos to them!

Keeping with the old news theme, just over a month ago, the founders of Dollar Shave Club released a new product, One Wipe Charlies. Now they are offering razors AND hygienic wipes. It is not very often that you hear a CEO say “We want to service your face, ass and everything in between.” To that I say, touché!

Trend Alert…Dad Jeans are making a comeback (for those willing to push the envelope)!

And last but not least, who can write a Rewind without talking about beards?! Not this guy! On that note, last week I ran across a new(ish) craze sweeping the internet, Dog beards. I love it … beards make the world a better place!

Social Nicheworks and You: the Story Evolves

Now, for what seems like no particular reason, here’s a pop quiz.

Q. About how many Facebook friends does the average user (aged 12+) have?

A. 303, according to a study by Arbitron and Edison Research.

Q. About how many real-life friends can a person actually have?

A. 150, according to our brains.

The Dunbar’s Number phenomenon states that, thanks to evolution, you are literally incapable of having more than about 150 “friends” — defined as people you know and keeps in social contact with — at any given time in your life. Everyone after that magic number becomes more like an abstract idea or vague, self-referential feeling. And when they start filling your newsfeed with political screeds or inexplicable pictures of the beach, you might feel a little weirded out.

There’s this idea that the major social networks are supposed to give people the opportunity to broaden their horizons, connect them with the larger world and cultivate meaningful relationships. But platforms like Facebook and Twitter just aren’t designed to do this effectively. Smaller, specialized, niche social networks — Quora, Quibb, Potluck, etc. — are.

We call them social nicheworks: sites built to bring community, focus and meaning to the online world. They aim to add value to people’s lives, not foster meaningless engagement, and they offer brands a great opportunity to deliver relevant experiences and utility to a passionate audience. (For help with this, download our free white paper “Mobile Wallets Social Nicheworks and More Tech Trends to Watch Out For.”)

In her must-read Fast Company Labs article, “The Rise of the Niche Social Network,” contributor Rishon Roberts writes eloquently about social nicheworks as the antidote to oversaturated newsfeeds and superfluous messages.

Roberts writes, “It’s no secret that the web gives us the infinite power to connect, so why are we wasting it updating each other about the minute details of our day?”

Exactly. When there are more opportunities than ever to make meaningful connections, posting pictures of half-eaten desserts and random musings just seems wrong. As Roberts points out, “we share every detail of our lives merely because we have the technology at our fingertips; but much like the boy who cried wolf, any time an action is constantly repeated, it becomes meaningless.”

Social nicheworks give brands the opportunity to stop crying wolf and to start getting closer to that holy grail of marketing: the meaningful brand/consumer interaction. Don’t waste the moment.

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Rewind: 3-D Printing is Here to Stay

Rewind is our weekly More post where someone from our brand experience agency curates his or her favorite news from the week before. This week’s post is brought to you by Sam W., Designer of Graphic & Motion (who was recently promoted from a junior designer; and prior to that, promoted from intern).

The strangest place he’s ever visited was an extremely awkward gas station in Atwood, Colorado. Everyone knew he wasn’t from around there immediately, and let’s just say they were less than inviting to him.

Patents on a technology called “laser sintering” (the lowest-cost 3-D printing technology) will expire in February 2014 according to Quartz. This will create a boom in open source low-cost 3-D printers for the average hobbyist consumer.

Fab Labs. These small manufacturing shops are popping up all over the place utilizing 3-D printers to allow designers, engineers, artists, students, etc. the ability to experiment at a much reduced cost.

With the prices of consumer 3-D printers going down, people are starting to look at products in a much different light. Missing a battery cover for your remote or a dial for your amp? Do you have a broken cellphone cover or sunglasses? You can replace them yourself with a 3-D printer.

New Faces Update

Let’s take a look at a couple new faces that have joined the Phenomblue family since our last New Faces post back in February.

Copywriter Andrew Norman joined our team back in March – in fact, we’ve already talked about him here on More when the organization he co-founded, Hear Nebraska, took part in Omaha Gives!, a 24-hour charitable challenge (PS, they took home second place!). Hear Nebraska is a nonprofit whose mission is to make Nebraska an internationally known cultural destination, and Andy is the director and editor-in-chief! Andrew is a veteran journalist-turned-copywriter who has worked with clients such as Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Smeal Firetrucks and Scooter’s Coffeehouse and with Lincoln agency Thought District. He earned his master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University. Andrew has already contributed to a number of our projects – check out his work on AIM and Hayneedle, and follow his tweets (@andrew_norman).

With more than 16 years of experience, Stephen Dwyer leads Phenomblue’s Insights and Media group. Before joining Phenomblue, Stephen held leadership positions at Gap, Target, Ameriprise, and Experian. In addition, Stephen led digital teams at Peterson Milla Hooks, FRWD and Goodby Silverstein & Partners. He has developed digital strategies and plans for Target, JCP, Kmart, Athleta, Gap, HP, Microsoft, Clorox, Polaroid and Pacific Bell. Stephen was also a part of the team at Goodby Silverstein & Partners that won Adweek’s first ever Online Media Campaign of the Year for HP’s Color Leadership. His extensive experience in digital strategy and media, as well as the development and management of the practice in both the agency and corporate world, make him a valuable addition to our team! Follow Stephen on Twitter (@dizzy) for his take on pop culture, the digital ad industry and design.