Mar 112014
 
Brand Training

Claire, Ram and Hulda – singing from the brand prayerbook.

If you don’t exercise it, you lose it. This month, we are taking the next step in helping communicators across campus exercise their brand muscle. We are conducting our first ever full-day brand workshop. Unlike other workshops in the past, this one has been developed into a daylong course with alternate sessions of theory and hands-on application. All thanks to Kathleen Valerio (she runs CalPact), Diane Presler (our engaging trainer from Academy X), Hulda Nelson and Laurie Frasier (our kicka** brand design team) and yours truly. With exciting case studies and projects like the launch of a new School, we expect participants to leave at the end of the day with their brand muscle totally exercised.  Who needs endorphins when you have brandorphins!

The first two workshops are planned for March 18 and May 20.  Register at the UC Learning Center on blu.berkeley.edu (Search for “Berkeley Brand Design Guidelines”)

Feb 282014
 

 

branded leafletIt’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. As part of the brand patrol (it’s like the neighborhood patrol, only we’re color coordinated!), my beat is to cover neighboring cafés where campus groups put up posters and flyers (no, really). On my visits, I usually come across at least one or two pieces designed with the correct logo, font, graphic elements, sometimes even the right tone of voice. That gives me a feeling of accomplishment, a sense that the labors of the last twelve months are finally bearing fruit (we launched the brand training workshops in Feb 2013), a tentative hope that (holding my breath) the tipping point may well be upon us. People seem to agree. We continue to get email and social media praise from our community (you guys rock!) and have even won accolades nationally. Our branding case study won the Silver award at CASE (national) and the Gold award at CASE (western region). While all this acclaim is welcome, the biggest thrill I get is when I walk into a meeting and see the right branded PowerPoint template on the screen. Of course, those who know me understand that I would take a café over a meeting room any day. A recent visit to the Free Speech Movement cafe unearthed this simple gem pictured alongside. Time to count my blessings!

Jun 122013
 

Note for those who have been living on Mars the past few years: Pandora is an online streaming radio that creates channels based on the groups or songs you like. It is extremely addictive.

LIKE OR DELETEPandora has us all figured out. What we like, what we once liked, what we will never ever like, even if it was served up hot and steaming in the middle of an ice storm. Here is Pandora’s Like Sleep Delete (LSD) formula:

Like: If you hear a song you really like (and would be happy to hear over and over), click the thumbs up icon.

SLEEPSleep: If you hear a song you used to like but have now grown tired of hearing over and over, click the sleep (I’m tired of this track) option.

Delete: If you hear a song that reminds you of the fat kid who used to bully you in middle school, click the thumbs down icon. (If only you could do that in the real world…)

What a perfect formula for life:

Like something? Keep doing it. (You won’t go blind.)

Like something but have grown tired of it? Take a break for a while. (Tell your partner you have a headache.)

Don’t like something? Just don’t do it. (Unless you could lose your job.)

Seriously though, this LSD formula has found application everywhere because it is rooted in human psychology.

fly-through-shotTake my iPhone mail app of the moment, Mailbox. I know, I know, I keep serving up apps. Guess I just “like” them. Anyway, mailbox lets you answer urgent emails immediately (Like), send emails away to lists or to return tomorrow/next week/in 3 months (Sleep) and of course, get rid of / archive the emails that come from your old high school classmates (Delete).

So what do you think of the LSD philosophy? Do you think you could apply it to aspects of your life? If you did, what would you select for the Sleep category (apart from my blog posts, of course)?

May 312013
 

You’ve heard it said hundreds of times; “a picture is worth a 1000 words.”  This is no surprise as more than 50% of our brains are devoted to visual process, taking in our surroundings real time, and responding to visual stimuli.  Most of us find watching a movie or looking at photographs to be cognitive candy compared to reading a book or a long report.  Knowing what our audiences prefer, why do we spend so much time finely crafting written copy and long prose, and so little time developing visual messages?

It is time to step away from your keyboard, let go of that mouse, and get back to basics with a pen and a piece of paper, and start sketching…

sketch

 

“I can’t draw,” I hear you say, and neither can I.  However, we can all draw lines, arrows, rectangles, circles, and stick figure people.  These are the only skills you need to operate a pen and work out some ideas for your next communication piece.  Start your new project with a sketch. You’ll be surprised how using both hemispheres of your brain will invigorate your thinking. Use sketching to develop visual components for your storytelling. Here are some examples:

sketch 2 - types of sketches

 

So here’s my prescription for you as you start a new communications project:

sketch

 

  1. Think visually – what images come to mind, how can you explain things more simply with a picture, what message do you want your audience members to read and retain?
  2. Start with a sketch – brainstorm, play with ideas, pick a sketch type that works well for your project
  3. Communicate pictorially – use your favorite computer tools to create professional images of your sketches to tell your story
  4. Increase cognition and retention – it is easier for our brains to read, and retain information that is provided visually.  Use images to be more memorable and as a way to convey complex ideas.

Have fun! Less is more when you sketch.

May 012013
 
Brand Training Workshop

Claire Holmes, Ram Kapoor, Hulda Nelson from the Office of Communications & Public Affairs leading 25 brand training workshops, each one with inspired participants!

A year ago, we began to talk about creating a communications platform for UC Berkeley that would be all encompassing, authentic, relevant, forward thinking, and inspirational.

We talked with hundreds of people across the campus to get their thougths and ideas.  Slightly overwhelmed but with a firm resolve, we preserved and steadily worked to find a way through the myriad of opinions and ideas to uncover a simple concept that encapsulated the essence of Berkeley.

At times it seemed elusive, impossible, overwhelming, and unattainable.  Yet the idea that we could find a way to align our communications in a creative and inspiring way kept calling us.  The challenge of taking something as complex as UC Berkeley and orienting a messaging strategy and platform to something simple was the challenge of our careers.

And then, with the help of a creative team of people who were just as persistent as we were, we thought we found it.  Still, you don’t know if something really works until it rolls out and the community responds….

We have heard from at least 140 of the participants of our brand workshops and come June 13, we hope to hear from the rest of you too. What’s working? What’s not? Where do you feel supported? Let down? No need to spare our feelings. We’ve got titanium-coated skin in all the brand colors. Feel free to add your comments to this post.

“Positioning and platform, you guys nailed it!”

“I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve often thought I need tools, or classes, or a degree in journalism – or something. This workshop gave me a lot of the tools that I know I’ve needed. Thanks!”

“A toolkit – a strategic direction to increase synergy across the campus.”

“brand.berkeley.edu is wealth of resources!”

“I may not embrace every element, but I’m excited to get started!”

“The group exercises with the Creative Brief were useful.”

“I liked the interactive and experiential aspects of the session.”

“The story of the process – from perception study to today.”

“As you move forward, possibly have more examples of integration with other departments.”

“Applicable, small session, individual attention”

“Provided practical tools and lots of background for usage in my organization based on strong ideas”

“Liked the visual communication examples of how to apply the guidelines.”

“Practical and useful. Informative. Knowledgeable speakers.”

“Great presentation – variety (video, PowerPoint, exercises)”

“Liked the Q&A, and just talking through ideas.”

“I think that it will be helpful in the future to have more examples open for critique; and to hear about the challenges overcome by departments as they transition.”

“Public Affairs & the University have given me so many resources to use immediately and they are so well thought out. The planning was incredible – so impressive! Thank you! The book and websites are so exciting!”

“I was inspired by the possibilities of refocusing our messaging.”

“Relatively low key. No hard sell or big hype.”

“Concrete tools like the gallery, colors, font family.”

“Best training presentation I have attended in my five years at Cal. Thanks!”

“Nice to have a small group – also nice to know we have a resource in Public Affairs.”

“Liked the interactive way of rolling out the guidelines (as opposed to just sending out the guidelines.)”

“Very welcoming and earnest in desire to help.”

“The platform made sense to me. I understand better how to use reach further.”

“Engagement, exercises, optimistic!”

“I’ve seen this many times but it was still worth it!”

“Applicable to all departments on campus, including those that are non-academic.”

“Compelling, clear, inspiring.”

“Interactive exercises at the end, videos, Cal Day website and other examples of the brand in action.”

“More workshops! How about once a month? Sharing designs, how-to’s for photo shoots and short videos.”

Bouquets? Brickbats? Feel free to comment and continue the conversation.