What Now?: The Balance of the PGA Torch

Brand Iron PGA

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Rory McIlroy’s sudden and dominate reemergence on the PGA scene but how I believed it was still Tiger’s “throne,” if you will.  Then Rory goes on to win the PGA Championship as Tiger hacked his way to another missed cut.  So maybe I spoke too soon, but only to an extent in my opinion.  It is only fair though that I address Rory’s current hot streak and Tiger’s mighty fall.

Rory McIlroy wowed ALL of us at the PGA Championship, including myself.  As I sat there in utter denial, refusing to believe what I was seeing, it was inevitable that I would admit Rory’s performance was remarkable.  Dare I say we saw a “killer instinct” that we used to see during Tiger’s reign?  No no I can’t…well maybe…ok yes.  I have to confess that I enjoyed seeing the McIlroy and Rickie Fowler duel during that final round.  One moment you thought it was going to be Fowler FINALLY earning his first major win after three consecutive top five finishes in majors this season and then next thing you know, Rory is crushing his second shot onto the green at the Par-5 10th and draining his seven foot putt for EAGLE to cut the deficit to one stroke.  From there, it was all Rory, hitting consistent shots and sinking putts on his way to his 4th major victory…in near darkness too I might add.  All while this is happening, Tiger is no where to be found, most likely sitting back and watching Rory do what he once did, thinking how golf at one point used to be fun and not a challenge or another “hurdle” to jump.

But lets take a step back for a minute and agree that Tiger Woods needs to come back in 2015 in a BIG way.  Lets not be too quick to forget that last year he won five tournaments on his way to player of the year.  I strongly feel Tiger still has game, and a darn good one too but I am now convinced that the PGA will stay afloat without him.  Keyword there is “afloat.”  Tiger created a movement unlike any other for the PGA.  He IS Nike Golf, crowds flock to him regardless of how he is playing, and if it weren’t for him, the tournament purses wouldn’t be what they are today.  He put the game of golf on the map more than anyone else, including the legend himself, Jack Nicklaus.  Tiger revolutionized the game and we need him to stay around for as long as possible, at a competitive level, while these new age young guns slowly become the new face.

Though I feel as if this golf season was a preview of what is to come.  Think about it, a limited to no-Tiger year where we still saw outstanding tournaments with phenomenal play.  Yet, many probably didn’t tune in as much without Tiger.  Why?  Because most are waiting and wanting to see that next consistently dominant player to spark that excitement that Tiger brought back in the day.  What has made golf so intriguing and exciting over the last decade has been Tiger’s complete and utter dominance.  So many of his victories were flawless, blowing the field away on his road to win after win after win.  Even if he was behind the leader going into Sunday, we still tuned in because we were all prepared and expecting a fine-tuned Tiger comeback.  We were in awe and kept glued to the television.  But with this torch starting to slowly flicker out, the PGA needs to be reignited by this new generation.

So as Rory hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy for the world to see, I began thinking to myself, “What now?”  Is this just another hot streak by Rory McIlroy with a major decline in 2015 to come or are we finally seeing the true, dominant, and winning Rory we all expected to see after his first Major win in 2011?  Rory seems to be the face of transition in a new era for golf.  A younger generation of elite players ready to take the game by the horns and run with it.  While golf still needs Tiger Woods, it has been craving a group, a change like this.  All of us have wondered what the PGA would look like once Tiger left the scene.  While he is still very prominent on tour, his window is unfortunately closing so we naturally think to ourselves where the PGA goes from here.  So with that, I call your Vijay Singh with one Jordan Spieth, raise your Phil Mickelson with one Rickie Fowler, and will go all-in with your Tiger Woods with one Rory McIlroy.  This is where the balance of the PGA torch rests.

It is inevitable that Tiger’s days will come to an end, I can accept that, but it shouldn’t be just yet, it can’t be yet.  The PGA brand depends on Tiger’s face, name, and presence with everything it represents but will thrive on these young “kids” in the coming years.  The PGA is in a good position with the new up-and-comers but for now, Tiger is the PGA’s life support.  So while he is sidelined, it is imperative that Rory, Rickie, Jordan, and others alike keep breathing life into the brand, into the game.

Your Team is Now On The Clock: Formulating a Fantasy Champion

Brand Iron Fantasy Football

What do I do?  Do I take an elite QB in the first or second round?  How about snagging the Seahawks Defense before everyone else?  Should I just wait on a Tight End?  These type of questions are the ones that swirl through your mind as you approach your league’s Fantasy Football draft.  Yes it is that time of year again.  The dog days of summer are upon us but with training camp nearing its end and preseason in full swing, we can all let out a sigh of relief that the NFL season is just on the horizon.  With the NFL season comes the euphoria of playing Fantasy Football once again, where you live or die by that television remote, flipping back and forth from following your local team to following the players of “your” team.  Maybe you are lucky enough to have a NFL package, never skipping a beat on NFL Sunday.  So what strategy do you take in the draft to win it all this year?  Who is going to be your team’s hero, taking you from last year’s worst to this year’s first?  Well I am here to help.  I cannot claim myself as an expert, but I can confidently say I’ve found a strategy that has worked for me time and time again.  But let me first give you a little background and history of when I started.

My first year of Fantasy Football was the 2005 – 2006 season, my freshmen year of high school.  I was the typical newbie of the league showing up to the draft unprepared, looking like a deer in the headlights.  I landed the 5th overall pick in a ten team league and luckily selected Larry Johnson from the Kansas City Chiefs, who ended up being the workhorse for my team and the #2 fantasy running back that season.  I was also the guy who selected Drew Bledsoe with my third pick, which then was followed by laughs by all of my newly made friends and fellow league members.  I felt like a complete moron, as if I was already setting myself up for a long and painful season.  To make a long story short, the top four teams made the playoffs and I snuck in as the 4th seed.  I went on to win the championship that year, knocking out the #1 and #2 teams along the way.  How did I manage to do this my first year?  I stayed persistent with managing my roster, having a keen eye for the waiver wire, studying teams and trends week by week, and of course…a little newbie luck.

I am heading into my 9th season of Fantasy Football and I have only missed the playoffs one year (2007 – 2008 season, I don’t want to talk about it) and have won at least one of my leagues four of those eight seasons.  So with making the playoffs seven out of eight times, I have walked away four of those as a champion.  At the most, I have been in four different leagues in one given season but a minimum of two every year.  I have found managing four teams can become a headache, unless you truly have the time and have some sort of elaborate Excel spreadsheet formulated.  I believe in joining two to three quality leagues at the most, truly owning those teams to dominate and torment your friends, colleagues, or random strangers you may join up with in an online league.  Sure, anyone can join ten leagues and hope to walk away with at least one championship, maybe two, and earn a slightly positive return on investment.  But where is the fun in that?

So whether you are in one league or multiple, a standard or PPR (Points Per Reception) league, with eight teams or sixteen teams, everyone has a strategy they like to utilize year to year but how exactly should you approach 2014?  From when I began in 2006 to today, RBs went from being your team’s powerhouse players to your overall necessity that you need to draft early just to stay afloat in your league.  Fantasy Football has evolved within the last few years and began trending in a new direction which calls for strategy adjustments heading into your drafts this season.  So here are my 6 tips to formulating a championship roster in 2014:

1. DO NOT be a “rankings slave”  – This is pretty self explanatory but what I mean here is do not rely on your magazines, Fantasy Gurus, draft kits, etc as your sole source when drafting your team.  Their rankings are not the be-all and end-all.  If you are halfway decent at Fantasy Football, you have some good personal knowledge on the NFL itself by watching it year to year.  As you make each pick, take a step back and look how your roster is forming and fill the positions with players you know will play well week by week.  If you believe player “X” will outperform player “Y” but player “X” isn’t “ranked” as high as player “Y” you know what you should do?  Stop overanalyzing the rankings!  Your gut is an amazing tool sometimes.  So use rankings as a “guiding compass” if anything because if you lean on those rankings and they don’t turn out how you thought, you will be like Kevin from The League, struggling to bring home “The Shiva.”

2. Draft a Running Back FIRST – The depth at Running Back, and talent too for that matter, is lacking this year.  After the first round, there is a MAJOR dropoff.  Running Back by committee has become a trend in recent years and “studs” are not always receiving 3rd-and-short touches or goal line carries.  While Peyton Manning is enticing because he is bound to put up crazy good numbers again, picking him first (unless you are in a 16 team league) will result in you struggling at the RB position all year.  Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham are your exceptions for a first round pick.  So save yourself the turmoil and snag yourself a top RB that you know you can trust in your lineup week after week.  If you do pass on one in the first round, be weary that you may suffer from Running Back woes all season long.

3. Use the “Best Available Player” Mentality – Now this may contradict my previous point just a little bit about drafting a RB first but hear me out on this tip.  While many have read or heard of the drafting strategy of: RB, WR, RB, WR or some combination of that, I do not recommend following this platform.  Why?  Because why pass up on an opportunity to draft a combo like Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant if you have the 11th or 12th pick in a twelve team league?  Seems like a no brainer to me especially if those top 8 to 10 RBs, Calvin Johnson, and Jimmy Graham are gone by that point.  Follow the draft board, anticipate your picks and who the other league members may pick, and draft the next best available player.  Now don’t take my logic as draft back-to-back QBs because they were the “best available” on the board…use common sense.

4. Elite Quarterbacks WILL BE Available Later – The most depth in this season’s draft will be at the QB position.  Last year, there were 13 different QBs who scored 240 fantasy points of more.  Yep you heard me, 13!  So why not focus on your RBs, WRs, and possibly a top tier Tight End in the first seven rounds or so and still snag yourself a Tom Brady, Nick Foles, or Jay Cutler later?  Talk about stacking your team early while selecting a proven fantasy stud at QB with your 8th or 9th round pick.  As of today, NFL.com “experts” have Tom Brady ranked as the 6th best QB this year and 78th overall, putting him around the 7th to 8th round (in a ten team league) if you are basing it off of rankings.  This is Tom Brady we are talking about here too.  Heck, I’ve even seen a variety of mocks with Colin Kaepernick and Tony Romo dropping as far as the 9th and 10th rounds.  So save yourselves the stress of thinking you need to get Manning, Brees, or Rodgers in the late 1st or early 2nd round because there is absolutely no need when you can still get quality QB numbers from someone in the middle rounds.  Obviously there will be the teams that snatch up these three elite QBs but don’t sweat it.  You building depth early will benefit your team more in the long run.

5. Draft a Fantasy Team NOT Your Favorite Team - I admit, I am guilty of this.  What I mean is do not draft four or five players from your favorite NFL team because it most likely will not bode well for your fantasy season.  Granted it worked out perfectly for me last year, being a huge Denver Broncos fan, having Manning and the Thomas duo help carry my team to a championship win.  But seasons like last year’s Broncos with those type of offensive numbers are as rare as a traveling violation in the NBA.  So do not bank on stacking your team with multiple players from your favorite team hoping to see the same.  When it comes to the draft, keep your bias and fanhood in the timeout corner.  You’ll thank yourself later.

6. Draft a Kicker Last - I feel this speaks for itself.  Please don’t take Gostkowski or Prater with your 12th pick.  For all that is holy, do not use any picks except for your last to draft a kicker.  Just because some moron selects a kicker earlier than anticipated doesn’t mean it is the round to select the kickers.  Just no.  Thank you.

  • BONUS Tip: Know Your Team and Become a Waiver Master – So your team is now set, now what?  If you want to be the champ, study and know your roster like the back of your hand.  You don’t need to run off and make a trade with someone right away either.  Have confidence in the team you drafted, play your matchups, and trust your studs for at least the first four weeks then reevaluate.  But try bettering or “fixing” your team first via free agency.  Yes, study that waiver wire and master it.  This does not mean instantly pick up the 3rd string running back of a team after he goes off one week and “vultures” the two goal line TDs away from the starter.  Be selective and smart with your pickups.  If you can have the pickup of the year, you may be adding a new trophy to your case, just as I did last season with studly free agent pickups Alshon Jeffery, Joique Bell, and Julian Edelman. Boom.

There a million other tidbits and topics of conversation we could dive into but for now, this should be a good start to get you on your way to building a great championship team.  Again, I am not claiming myself as an expert but I do believe if you have a strategy and you can align it with my six tips, then you will be successful.  So go ahead, do your research, take some chances formulate YOUR strategy and let the beginning of your championship run and bragging rights begin!

If you have any other Fantasy Football questions or concerns feel free to shoot me an email.  I’d be happy to chat with you: mseems@brandiron.net.

U.S. Men’s Soccer: Boom or Bust?

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Every four years, the flags, the chants and the colorful scarfs come out from hibernation in preparation for what is one of the largest sporting spectacles in history.  Already into the midway point of June, the hoopla that is the World Cup is in full swing.  Will the U.S. soccer team shock the world or will they succomb to the doubters who believe their group is too difficult of a foe?  With the renowned and decorated but unproven Jurgen Klinsmann at the coaching helm and the absence of our American soccer hero, Landon Donovan, the team heads into its first match against Ghana with many questions.   Two major changes for the face and brand of the U.S. Men’s Soccer team without one single World Cup match under their belt.

But with doubts there are always hopes.  Hopes of a bright future for U.S. Mens Soccer.  Hopes that the Klinsmann move was genius and finally brings the American soccer talent and brand to the forefront.  Hopes that the combination of inexperienced and young will prove to be a darkhorse. Many people fear the unknown, but in the case of the U.S. Men’s Soccer team, the unknown means little to no comparison to previous failures and letdowns.  So it may be safe to say that there are hopes with little expectations.  The moment the U.S. was given their draw in the intimidating and strong “Group G”, Americans’ hearts dropped.  Was it that FIFA was possibly worried of the U.S. potential or maybe that it was only fitting to place the United States in the strongest group in Brazil, staging the match of Klinsmann against his home nation of Germany?  We will never be certain the reasoning but we do know the Americans are heading into a David versus Goliath story.

Though the United States is a member of this “Group of Death,” the team and brand of soccer in the U.S. has taken a step in the right direction.  In order to be successful and prevalent in this sport, it was necessary that a change of direction was made.  Did the Klinsmann hire seem out of the ordinary, crazy, but potentially brilliant all in one?  Perhaps.  Did the cut of Donovan make the entire nation second guess such hire?  No doubt.  But with back to back exits in 2006 and 2010 to Ghana, a team who also joins this Group G, there wasn’t time to second guess or hesitate.  The Americans have a score to settle with Ghana beginning tonight and if they succeed with this revenge, a tone can and will be set.  The “I believe that we will win” montra will truly turn from a coined chant to true belief and confidence that we can win.  The U.S. soccer name and brand has gotten stronger within the last decade and the euphoria surrounding this team since it bowed out in 2010 has been building at a rapid rate.  Will 2014 be the year we are propelled as a legitimate competitor or will such hopes be crushed within 90 minutes?  We are one and a new beginning starts tonight…Ole Ola.

Memorial Day Partying – Then and Now

If you were to jump back in time to 1983, our parties would look VERY different from today. For those of you that remember 1983 (not me, sorry), check out this awesome infographic from Mashable that compares our “party technology” then and now. We’ve come a long way in 30 years!

Will you be using any of this 2014 or 1983 party-tech for your Memorial Day party?

Marshable_Memorial_Day_IG_3-3 (2)

We’re Hiring! Brand Manager Position Open

Open Position: Brand Manager

Job Description:
Our Denver-based branding firm is seeking a creative, detail-oriented and self-motivated individual with an expansive skill set to fill a Brand Manager position. The position requires at least two years of agency experience and a history of managing client accounts, working collaboratively with creative teams (designers and web developers), and creating strategic branding and marketing campaigns. Our clients come from a variety of industries needing varying levels of strategic branding support. With clients ranging from start-up businesses to well-established companies, Brand Iron’s mission is to forge brands and drive revenue.

Job Summary:
This position is best suited for someone with experience in the marketing/branding space who has managed clients or worked on account teams previously. The Brand Manager will be responsible for leading account teams, managing projects, working against timelines and budgets and being in direct communication and interaction with clients.

Primary Job Functions:
Responsible for overall management of a group of account teams. Develop, direct and implement marketing programs for clients in a variety of applications, including brand development, integrating sales and operations with marketing, drafting strategic positioning and messaging as well as general marketing content development. The Brand Manager will also participate in developing new business proposals to address the needs of prospective clients.

Qualifications:
2+ years related experience (marketing/branding agency experience is most desired)
Experience with WordPress or other website CMS systems
Experience with email management systems (Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact or MailChimp for example)
Excellent writing and editing capabilities

Additional Skills and Duties:
Supervise client programs and account team activities.
Oversee account team in development of strategic marketing plans and implementation of brand strategies.
Provide strategic counsel on client marketing plans and activities.
Work closely with in-house creative team in facilitation the brand development process.
Participate in client engagement planning sessions with new and prospective clients.
Responsible for daily execution of ongoing marketing plans and strategies for clients.
Manage vendor relationships.
Prepare and supervise client budgets, with emphasis on profitability and scope evaluation.
Exhibit exemplary business leadership, professionalism and presentation skills.
Proactively demonstrates concern for agency goals and objectives; effectively balance client service and agency fiscal goals.
Demonstrate strong organization and attention-to-detail skills, and possess great multi-tasking abilities.

Salary: TBD
Hiring Level: Mid
Application Deadline: 05/30/2014

Please send the following items to jobs@brandiron.net: Resume, cover letter, salary requirements & history (last 3 positions if applicable). Include “Brand Manager” in the subject line.

Check out our job listing on Andrew Hudson’s Job List!

Clouded Leopard Cubs at The Denver Zoo!

New clouded leopard cubs at Denver Zoo

Two new clouded leopard cubs are now greeting visitors at the Denver Zoo! Born March 14, Pi and Rhu are the first of their species born at the zoo. We think they are way too cute!

The cubs are inside El Pomar Foundation Village Hall in the Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit. You can meet them from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily.

Watch Pi and Rhu play:

 

 

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Here they are as newborns:

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3 “Lucky” Traits for Every Entrepreneur

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are the traits according to Entrepreneur that entrepreneurs and business professionals can adopt from the Irish in order to create their own luck!

1. Be courageous

Learn from these Irish leaders who had to fight for their freedom: Queen Maeve who ruled Ireland in 100 A.D., the “Pirate Queen” Grace O’Malley who beat Queen Elizabeth in a battle and Irish politician Michael Collins, who lead the Irish cessation from England. As an entrepreneur, you may need to put your security and financial life on the line. You need courage to surmount past whatever battles may come your way. “Maybe you’ll be lucky straight off and maybe you won’t, but you can take a note from the Irish and increase your odds of luck by being courageous in your entrepreneur endeavors.”

2. Be creative

Learn from the famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats, literary James Joyce, artist group U2 and songstress Enya who tapped into their creativity to achieve success. “Creativity promotes flexibility of the mind and a flexible mind is a great tool for creating ‘luck’ out of opportunities and challenges.”

3. Be persistent

The first female president, Mary Robinson served Ireland from 1990 to 1997 but did not stop there. She was appointed the United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002 and founded Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative to influence policy makers about securing human rights on a global level. Robinson currently also serves as the chair to the board of The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. “Be persistent of the things that really matter to you and be open to opportunities that will help you in unexpected ways”

Protecting Your Brand Name

At Brand Iron, we see companies looking to make changes to their brands everyday. Often times this means changing the name of a current company or coming up with a brand new name for new company. Naming is a vital step in laying the foundation for creating a successful brand name.

Finding a name for your company can be difficult and when you’re changing your name there are many things to consider. The process can be time intensive, but at the end of the day the name of your company will be the first thing your customers will relate to. You will want a name that is creative, relatable, and protectable.

Research is the first step and most essential step to finding a name. It is highly important to analyze your industry and competitors. You want to choose a name that will differentiate you in your industry and make you stand out in the eyes of your customers.  Ian Gibson, a California trademark attorney, who specializes in trademark law gives advice in one of his recent articles, he says, “A basic tenet of branding is the importance of crafting a name that sets you apart. Ideally, this is a unique identity that instantly gives your customers a feeling about your brand and clearly identifies your business as the source of certain goods or services.” Gibson continues on and makes his most important point, “No matter where you are in the branding process, it’s important to ask: how protectable is your brand name?” He stresses the importance of trademarking your brand. If a brand is left unprotected competitors will be able to use your brand name to take market share and dilute the value of your brand.

The most effective way to assert exclusive rights to a business name is to have your name registered as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When trying to register a name with the USPTO there are many things to keep in mind. Understanding the process will give you the best chance to find a name that is effective and protectable.

First, we need to understand a bit about how trademark applications are evaluated. Understanding what type of name you have will directly relate to the opportunity you have of obtaining a trademark. Below is the continuum that all names are analyzed by.

Generic — Descriptive — Suggestive — Arbitrary — Fanciful

(shown left to right from weakest to strongest)

Generic and Descriptive names will have little chance of being protected through trademark because protecting them would give an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Giving one company the sole right to use generic descriptions in that industry would make it impossible for other companies to marketing their services without infringing on trademark laws. Therefore the USPTO will never allow you to trademark those generic industry terms.

One of the most effective naming strategies is to create your brand using arbitrary names, created by using words with common meanings in a way that has no connection to the goods or services offered — i.e., APPLE is used to for a tech company. However, for the best way to get your brand name protected by USPTO is to create a fanciful name. These are brand names that have come from invented words with no prior common meaning or are completely out of common usage, made for the sole purpose of functioning as a trademark or service mark. A few well known examples include PEPSI, CLOROX and EXXON.

It must be noted that when choosing Arbitrary or Fanciful brand names you will have to educate your target audience on what your company does since the name does not naturally imply the services or products offered. You will have to use marketing and advertising strategy to inform your audience and create your unique brand and industry distinction. However, by building your brand you will be able to stand out in your industry creating future brand value.

Check out the USPTO’s “Basic Facts About Trademarking,” for information.

 

What’s Stirring Up at SXSW?

After seeing these four letters – SXSW – everywhere this past week, I was intrigued – what is this SXSW craze?

According to Wikipedia, SXSW (South by South West) is a “set film, interactive and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring” in Austin, Texas. This year it began this past Friday, March 7, and runs through Sun., March 16. SXSW is the highest revenue-producing event for Austin ($190.3 million estimated revenue in 2012) and largest music festival of its kind.

SXSW’s original goal was to create an event that would act as a tool for creative people and the companies they work with to develop their careers, to bring together people from a wide area to meet and share ideas.” SXSW is much more than a typical music festival, packing in key note speakers, mentor sessions, workshops and more – ideal for generating connections and even making deals.”

Not only is SXSW an event for new artists, film producers and tech start-ups to get discovered (this happened to John Mayer and James Blunt), but major brands are getting noticed as well. I gained insight in the fact that SXSW is a HUGE marketing bonanza. The most clever tactics involve satisfying needs or solving problems for attendees. Entrepreneur reports companies providing survival kits, along with some notable mentions. Samsung delivered new phone batteries on bike to people who texted #PowerOn, PPLConnect sent a representative to wait in line for you if you downloaded their app and Cottonelle offered a Refresh Lounge with free massages, makeup touch ups and hair blowouts. Attendees are likely to remember these brands more than if they were just given a pen or note pad. These brands delivered real experiences and likely made a difference in their day. Rescuing people from a dead phone or melted make-up can go a long way.

Pinterest Marketing Tips

Don’t think you have time for expanding your social media activity to networks like Pinterest? Think again. Pinterest boards help tell your brand’s story with visual engagement that boosts referrals to your website or product page.

“According to Sprout Insights, Pinterest’s share of social-media referrals soared from .68 percent to a whopping 26 percent in just one year, generating more than 400 percent more revenue per click than Twitter and 27 percent more than Facebook.”

In order gain from time and effort spent on Pinterest, we must remember that prime objective with Pinterest is not to pitch to your potential customers, but appeal to them by offering value, such as “humor, statistics, interesting facts and beauty.”

  1. Share infographics and checklists with interesting facts about your industry, consumer habits or your product/service
  2. Evoke emotions with images, words and phrases that trigger the five senses
  3. Engage with videos from YouTube
  4. Use a call to action with text like: “Click Here, Repin This, or Comment Below”
  5. Grab them with teaser text: “10 Tips for…, How to…”
  6. Boost your SEO with keywords in the About section, on pins, in board titles, captions, links and hashtags
  7. Schedule your pins with Viraltag or Curalate

Brand Iron Critiques NEW 9News Website

9News launched a new website yesterday – we very well know that this is an exciting moment. It’s the time to celebrate the hard work, the evolution, the transformation of a vision into a reality. You’ve already spent time crawling the site and making fixes before the launch – glitches, dead links, images that don’t load, etc. However, there’s bound to be  a need for additional adjustments post-launch. That’s why this is also a critical time to make those adjustments before you drive away your visitors.

So what’s new? The new website incorporates some of the latest web design trends:

  • Grid-style layout (think Pinterest) with dynamic image captions
  • User-friendly icons
  • Lots of images & videos accessible from the home page
  • Animated transitions (news articles pop-up instead of bring you to a new page & the page “slides” across when traveling through pages)

 

Now that you know some of the new elements, our Graphic Designer Jon Lambert and Web Developer Anthony Simone, dove deep into the site to give you the pros and cons according to design and user experience.

Pros

  • The logo and main navigation bar move and reorder when you scroll down the page.
  • Dynamic content is continuously loading. New articles are brought up without having to reload the page.

Cons

  • The site rearranges itself based on window size to an extent, but doesn’t give any options for medium to small sized desktop and laptop screens.
  • Past the top level navigation, the pages seem cluttered and a bit confusing to find your way around.
  • Animations aren’t responding consistently throughout the site.
  • Right sidebar repeats the content on the left (see picture below).

 

Recommendations for Improvement

  • If the site is going to respond to window width but also have a separate mobile version, allow the responsive aspect of the site to go down to at least tablet or small laptop size for usability.
  • Having the small elements (i.e. individual articles) load dynamically without page reload is great because it allows for easy access. However, making the entire high level sections of the site load dynamically has diminishing returns in regards to usability and seems to affect the proper function of the site on some tablets.
  • Replace repetitive content in the sidebar with items like “Featured Video” and “Producer’s Picks.”

9News – we understand you are currently in post-launch adjustment mode working out the kinks to reduce the “visual headache.” We hope this is constructive and doesn’t tear you apart like some of your critics:

 

Congratulations Steelhead Composites!

We are very enthusiastic that our client, Steelhead Composites, is significantly contributing to the acceleration of Colorado manufacturing! The company found a way to serve a demand in the market for a high quality manufacturer of large, high‐pressure, lightweight vessels such as hydraulic accumulators. This made news in ColoradoBiz Magazine!

Steelhead Composites is currently making accumulators for Lightning Hybrids. Accumulators can recycle 75 percent of the energy to make a vehicle 40 percent more fuel-efficient – something that has caught the attention of major car manufacturers!

“We have some great technology that will increase range for natural gas vehicles,” says Andrew Coors, CEO of Steelhead Composites. “We’re happy at Steelhead to serve many different markets in the alternative fuel space and the emission saving space.”

Read the full article for more on Steelhead Composites’ innovations!

Let the madness begin: March Madness is here!

I am self admittedly what you’d call a “fair weather” basketball fan. I attended one game this year when my alma mater CU played KU, and I catch the occasional Illinois games with my dad (his alma mater).  I can count on one hand the number of regular season college games I watch, but come March I’m constantly checking my Sports Center iphone app and bracket results. So what is it about March Madness that turns us all into college basketball fans each year? I decided to learn a little more about the history of the tournament to see if I could figure it out.

“March Madness” was first used to describe the NCAA Tournament in 1982 by Brent Musburger. However, the term was used as early as 1939 when Illinois High School Association (IHSA) official Henry V. Porter wrote in IHSA’s magazine, “When the March madness is on him, midnight jaunts of a hundred miles on successive nights make him even more alert the next day.”

When March Madness began in 1939, there were only 8 teams competing and very little media coverage. Over the years, more teams were added and more terms were coined to enhance the brand including “Sweet Sixteen”, “Elite Eight” and “Final Four.” Todays tournament of 68 teams competing for the championship in 3 weeks of games looks quite different. With the expansion of the tournament came the expansion of the brand and media coverage. March Madness has evolved to be the second most watched sports showcase, right behind the NFL playoffs. March Madness earned more than $1 billion in ad revenue in 2012 and one top-tier marketer spent upwards of $35 million for its NCAA sponsorship, according to an Adweek estimate, and 30-second ad slots during the men’s basketball championship game on CBS could reach a record $1.4 million.

In 2010, The NCAA launched March Madness On Demand (MMOD) and got 8.3 million unique visitors that spent over 11.7 million hours streaming live video and audio. IN 2011, US employers were estimated to waste $1.8 billion in wages of unproductive employees in the first week of March Madness when fans drew up their brackets. That number has significantly increased over the last couple of years where coverage is easier than ever to access on smart phones, tablets and social media.

MSN put out an online survey in 2012 asking website visitors if they would be filling out brackets, and a whopping 60% of people surveyed said they would be. With 68 teams competing, the odds of getting a perfect bracket are 295,147,910,000,000,000,000. No wonder Warren Buffett has offered $1 billion to anyone who submits a perfect bracket. Businesses around the country can engage their customers in a similar way by offering prizes for anyone who can get the closest to a perfect bracket.

With today’s evolving technology, March Madness has made it easier than ever to catch the games, get score updates, and fill out those brackets. They’ve created a yearly “tradition” which offices rally around and friends compete to see who can guess the best upsets. The brand has evolved with the times and is continuing to generate followers in greater waves each year.

Get your brackets ready!

FDA’s New Nutritional Label

If you haven’t heard yet, now you have: the FDA is redesigning their nutritional labels. Manufacturers have two years to comply with the new design.

According to Fast Company, “the new design simplifies and magnifies the calorie count, moves the percent daily value to the left side of the column, and includes a space for ‘added sugar.'”

We think this is a positive change because the nutritional facts are presented much more clearly, which will absolutely benefit consumers’ knowledge and buying decisions. Now here is a breakdown of what expert designers think about the changes:

  •  Maintaining the black and white colors is beneficial because it “creates a blunt contrast with the surrounding package, so consumers can locate this label no matter what.” – Tobias Frere-Jones (one of the world’s leading type designers)
  • The typeface “Helvetica tastes like authority, like confirmed fact. We need to feel trust when we get a second opinion on our food.” – Tobias Frere-Jones
  • “I always thought of the existing label as one of the best pieces of government communication. The new one is even better.” – Stefan Sagmeister (created album covers for the Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and The Rolling Stones, and was a frequent artistic collaborator with Lou Reed)
  • “This is a nice big baby step in the right direction. The original label was not designed for consumers, but rather as compliance with the FDA.” – Bonnie Siegler (founder of design studio Eight and a Half, which has worked with everyone from the Criterion Collection to the Brooklyn Public Library to Late Night With Seth Meyers)
  • Shifting the Daily Value percentages to the left makes each category a clear unit – Tobias Frere-Jones

Read more to find out what other adjustments these world class designers would make to the label.

The Oscars, A Branding Extravaganza

It is that time again, the highlight of awards season is here.  The 86th annual Academy Awards are this Sunday, March 2nd.  The nominations are out, and people are making their predictions on the winners.  You officially have two more days to see all the movies you didn’t have a chance to watch yet. Nothing better than a Saturday movie marathon.

You can download a ballot to fill out prior to the show. Here at Brand Iron we are all discussing who the winners will be.  The New York times has a great predictions article we suggest you check out before filling out your ballot.

As excited as we are to see who wins the awards, we are even more excited to see what designer brands each nominee is wearing on the red carpet!  Did you know the red carpet is 500 feet long?  Brush up on these fun Oscar facts to share at your viewing party this Sunday!

We found a great drawing of all of the Best Actress winners since 1929. It is amazing to see how timeless the designs really are.  Although each year you can get a glimpse of the fashion trends that year, overall the feel is always glamour.