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Nov 4, 2011

Lucky. Thankful. Humble. Proud.


Michelle and I were going through our client and vendor list—prepping addresses to send Christmas cards and goodies—and we realized that local logo design has been a significant percentage of our workflow this year. While we provide many other creative services, we averaged two to three logos a month. That's quite a lot for such a small team, especially in a market the size of ours. The Parker Brand may be small, but we feel like we pack a punch that's not indicative of our size.

Michelle and I feel very blessed to have helped our clients develop new marks, or update old ones. The real joy has come in the collaboration with our clients. We take pride in the fact that we listen to our clients and put the input they give us to good use. We never blindly go off in a direction without first getting a strong idea of what they want their mark to accomplish. Of course, there's the added bonus of growing relationships with some really great people.

Many times our first set of designs have been approved with very few edit requests. I'll never get used to the way it feels to get that message saying "approved" after only one or two proofs. It's a feeling of pride, to be sure, but it's also humbling. When it really settles on you that your clients trust you... well, that's a powerful thing.

We thought it would be nice to collect the logos we've designed this year in one place. When I see this collection of logos I feel thankful for all of the clients that have hired Parker Brand this year. They've made it possible for us to continue doing the job that we love in the southwest Louisiana community we call home. The clients that trust us keep Michelle and I motivated. Their confidence in our brand pushes us to work harder and get better at what we do.

If we're currently working with you, or have worked with you this year, please accept our sincere thanks. If you have a business, organization, club, or manage an event in southwest Louisiana and you haven't worked with our brand, don't hesitate to contact us. We understand the challenges that small businesses face, and we're here to use our combined creative skills to help those in our area build stronger brands. That's our prime directive. That's all we do. Who knows? If you have a small business in southwest Louisiana maybe we can help you too, and if we can't then we'll help you find someone who can.

-Oran Parker

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Apr 17, 2011

We're not saying it right.

This video really touched me, and reminded me how subtle changes to a message can affect our perception and reaction to a thing.

In advertising communication it's a perfect mix of words and images that draws the viewer in,  hopefully generating a positive response. It sounds like it would be very simple, but it can often be quite a challenge. We sometimes think we're saying what we need to say, or showing what we need to show, but then the response we get is either non-existent, or the wrong response altogether.

We recently had this very experience with a small ad campaign, and have since changed our language and images to generate a more desirable result. The jury is still out on whether the changes were more, or less affective.

This really cuts to the heart of something that drives the Parker Brand. It's the willingness to shift your thinking when you know that something you've created isn't working. We don't care how creative it is, or how nice it looks. If the phone isn't ringing then we need to go back to the drawing board.

When you devote weeks to a concept, graphics, and copy there is a tendency to get invested in them. Who wouldn't? They are your ideas made tangible. Devotion to an idea or direction at all cost, simply because it was yours, is the wrong way to play. Blind faith has no case when standing next to tangible results.

Listen. Watch. Cultivate an awareness of the effect your communications are having. More than anything, be flexible. It's nice to find a direction, but there's no need to follow it blindly down a dead end road.

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Feb 22, 2011

No, you can't have my "Creepy Classics" finger puppets!

Dollar Tree. What a fantastic repository of junk... for a dollar.
I usually go there to get things that I don't mind messing up... paper plates, paper towels, off-brand window cleaner. Stuff like that.

I never expect to find anything cool... and I never, ever, ever expect to find anything super-atomic cool.

But I did.

In fact, I found 6 somethings... and they are very, very cool.
Meet my new "Creepy Classics" finger puppets!

Super-atomic awesome? You betcha! They are totally craptastic, made in China, plastic junk based on monster movie classics like Dracula, Curse of the Werewolf, Frankenstein, King Kong, Godzilla, and the Mummy.

I can't imagine any kid having much fun with these crummy little guys, but damn if I don't dig 'em!
For cheapo Dollar Tree junk I think they have a little special something that makes them fit right in on the Parker Brand desk.

What's really awesome is that they're all carrying these little billy-clubs (at least I hope that's what they are).
Now, why the hell these movie-monsters need billy-clubs is beyond my ability to comprehend, so I won't even try.

Just accept the strange.

Accept it.

The packaging was pretty ho-hum, covered in dust (I don't imagine they're flying off the shelf), but what I really dig is that they each came with a little trading card of each monster's classic movie poster. It's actually kind of cool (again... just accept this as fact).

Anyway... I needed a break today, and the $6 bucks I spent at Dollar Tree on these terrible treats provided me with that, so I figured someone out there might appreciate them too.

And if you ever come by my office don't try to swipe 'em. I'll be watching... with a billy club. ;)


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Feb 6, 2011

Way to go, Brainiac!

It's been a while since I've picked up a pencil, or a pen, or a marker. To be honest, it was probably last October. It's been too long.

My son asked if we could sit down and sketch for a bit, so I broke out my sketch kit, and some cheap water colors to whip up this quick Brainiac sketch.

I've got one word... rusty.

I really need to get back into to doing a sketch for fun at least once a week, because this just won't fly.

That's the way it goes. When you lay something down for too long it's easy to get cold. You have to practice to get better.

Still, I think I'll start using the watercolors and the Pentel water brush more.
It's fun and real easy to bang out some color.

I've definitely got to get back in the sketch groove.

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Feb 1, 2011

Think invasive advertising couldn't get worse? Urine for a surprise!

I've always considered myself to be a hard sell. I like to think that advertising doesn't work so well on me. In fact, I usually look at the campaigns I work on from this perspective, constantly asking, "why the hell should anyone care about this?" I find it helps me to step back and think just a bit harder about the concept we're proposing.

See, I think a lifetime is the most precious thing we've got... because it's 100% limited, and that's what advertising does. It asks for your attention, and your time... your finite resources. Once you've given those away, the sender hopes you'll retain the information, or act on it.

Don't get me wrong. I still strongly think that advertising can be a good thing. It can inform us about things that could better our lives. It can motivate us to change. It can entertain us. It can encourage us to act. Advertising drives the pulling and hauling of our society, and without it our economy would come to a screeching halt, becoming fully dependent on word-of-mouth marketing (I feel like I'm selling myself here).

Still, more often that not, advertising is an invasion of our privacy, a cluttering of the landscape, reminding us to dig deep into our pockets and spend our earnings on a service, or thing. That's the way things work, and I can live with it, for the most part. In fact, this is the same message I give my clients. It is what it is and if you can't generate a successful word-of-mouth business, then you need advertising to get your message out to the public.

Every now and then a new form of advertising comes along that just grates on me, reminding me of everything that I loathe about our industry, hence these new restroom mirror displays. As if advertising's worst wasn't invasive enough, we are now destined to be exposed to more of in the worst place imaginable.

Meet the restroom mirror digital display.

Look, mens' restrooms aren't places that I tend to linger, and I think most men feel the same way. Public restrooms are usually pretty filthy, disgusting places, with the fine odor of mint and human waste floating like a cloud. I get in, wash up, and try to get out using elbows and knees, taking as few breaths as humanly possible.

News flash! These displays won't work on me... at all.

I think that really good advertising plays on all of the human senses, leaving subtle triggers in the human mind. This is basic psychology. You see, smell, touch, or hear something enough times in relationship to a message then you will eventually begin to retain and recall that information.

Simple stuff. Branding 101.

I guess my question is do you want your brand associated with the your service and message, or restimulating the fine scent of fresh pee and urinal cakes?

Hey... I think I just found my next sales pitch. -Oran

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Jan 21, 2011

Play it for your kids. Play it for you. "What I Am"

I stumbled on this while reading one of my favorite blogs, "Skepchick." The post simply stated, "This has been stuck in my head." When you hear that how could you not press play?

So, I did.

Then, I did again.

Then I played it for my kids.

You know, sometimes as adults we tend to get moving in such a hurry that we don't really stop to contemplate who we are, where we're going, or more importantly who we want to be, and where we want to go.

See, just because you're going somewhere doesn't mean it's the right place, and who you are may not be the best you. Sometimes you have to stop, look deep inside yourself, find that center and say, "Hey! Wait a minute... this just isn't who I really am. I'm going to do something different and change things."

I believe it's a noble path, the path of self discovery. When you figure out who you truly are then you can share that with your colleagues, partners, friends, and family. Change can be infectious and motivate others to do the same.

I wrote this down the other day, and it seems to apply here... "You are the coal. You are the shoveler. You are the engine. BE SELF PROPELLED."

You are the engine. You are the change. Figure out who you are, then do something different. -Oran

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Jan 20, 2011

Run for cover! Here comes a gut bomb! (courtesy of Starbucks)

So, Starbucks has announced its new size, the Trenta (which sounds like a pharmaceutical company to me). The Trenta will be a 31 ounce mega-gulp of Starbucks goodness.

I drink a lot of coffee during the day, but I don't think I want to have it all in one sit down. Still, I'm sure the Trenta will be a hit.

What I really want to talk about is the info-graphic showing the various sizes of their drink as compared to a soda can,... and a human stomach???

Is it just me, or is this kind of gross? This doesn't make me want to try a Trenta sized Starbucks drink. It makes me think of the episode of Mythbusters where they test pop-rocks and soda in a pig stomach. It makes me feel kind of gross and I imagine that every time I see a Trenta sized drink I'll think of this graphic.

The thought of a bloated, sloshy stomach doesn't make me think "tasty treat."

What say you? -Oran

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The sound of one print ad clapping

Sometimes creativity gets in the way of a good idea. I talk about this a lot, and I'm sure most everyone is pretty sick of hearing me say it. Still, I see creativity, the thing that 's supposed to be our greatest asset in the ad industry, step right up and get in the way of the message. Happens all the time.

Take this EDF ad, for instance. Does is make me stop? Yep. Does it make me curious? Yep. Do I get it at first glance? Nope. When I do get it do I take action? In my case, nope. I wouldn't.

The ad is meant to applaud the athletes of Team EDF for their 2010 performance. Basically, you are supposed to close and reopen, then do it again several times to simulate clapping hands.

I don't know about you, but I might feel a little weird using my own to hands to slap these two pages together as if they were clapping, especially when I have two perfectly good hands of my own.

Of course, what's weirder? Clapping two print ads together, or using your own hands to clap while looking at the ad.

I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts on this one. -Oran

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Jan 19, 2011

Crunch into a Biz Bite! "Skipping Brimstones"

Yesterday I had a bit of time to kill before a meeting and I decided to stop by the Henning House right next to the historic Brimstone Museum) in Sulphur, a fine art gallery directed by my good friend Thom Trahan, assisted by the Creative Director Eric Manual.

Now, I live in Sulphur, and you would think that being interested in art and creativity, I would stop in more often. Sadly, like most of us, I'm always going full-speed during the day, seldom making that conscious effort to stop and enjoy the things around me. Yesterday was one of those days where I decided to not skip over the opportunity to drop in and visit my friends at the Brimstone, and I'm really glad I did. READ MORE >>

Parker Brand Biz Bites
features small businesses and organizations
that are doing something extra creative,
as well as a variety business tips
from small market professionals.

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Chimp My Ride!

I don't care which e-news software you're currently using. I don't care how good it is at what it does. Do you know why? Because Mail Chimp is the top banana in my book.

It's not only very powerful and user friendly, but it's a treat to log in to. From their talking chimp, to their various landing pages, Mail Chimp obviously gives a damn about how you feel when you visit their site, and they have a ton of creative fun with it.

Check out their current log-in page, all snazzed up "Pooh Corner" style. What else do I need to say?

I know, I know; looks aren't everything. Mail Chimp has more than looks going for it. It has guts. And bolts. And nuts. It would take a lot for me to switch platforms, to be quite honest.

What I love about companies like Mail Chimp is that they're constantly adding features, asking for feedback, and coming up with new ways to help you have a better user experience.

If you're not married to your current e-news platform (and even if you are) I'd would say you should at least take Mail Chimp for a swing. It won't cost you anything but your time, and they've made sure even that investment will be enjoyable. Even if you're not interested you should at least get an account (free) and see what I'm talking about.

I guess you'd say I'm kind of bananas over it (sorry... I couldn't resist). -Oran

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Just how happy are you? "Mappiness" can help you find the answer.

I love social media, but not so much for the media part. I don't take part in every feature offered by every platform, especially geo-tagging.

I don't have any real problems with it, and I suppose I could put it to good use if I had an event to promote. Foursquare, and Facebook geo-tagging features really don't do anything for me on a day to day basis.
Foursquare seems more like a game, and it's really a game that I don't have any fun playing. And Facebook places opens up some weird doors because unless you're on top of your privacy settings, just about anyone can tag you at a particular location without your authorization.

Then, I discovered Mappiness.

Now, Mappiness isn't really a social networking site, but what it does do it ask you personal questions at different points throughout the day in regards to how you're feeling. You can respond as often as you like, and the more you respond (and answer truthfully), the more you start to see which situations in life bring you the most peace, joy, and comfort. Basically, it gauges your happiness.

I'm always open to giving something a try, but most of these things don't last long with me. Still, I've really been enjoying Mappiness. While it doesn't really allow me to connect with other folks, it does let me get a quick snapshot of how I'm feeling.

The app is nice and simple, with a really clean interface, and most of the questions they've provided cover just about any situation I might find myself in. Right now the app covers the UK as its research area, so the geo-tagging feature is moot. Still, the app does ask you where you're at and uses that data to create its various charts and graphs.

What makes this app ultimately work for me is that it's not heavy. It's easy to set up, and easy to use. Also, it's being used for a positive purpose, and helps remind me to constantly ask, "Oran, are you happy?"

GET "MAPPINESS" >> http://www.mappiness.org.uk/

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Jan 18, 2011

100 Logos. 100 Minutes. 100% Pure Awesome! (A Behance Gallery)

A few years ago I was looking for an online gallery platform that I could use as a catch-all as completed creative design & branding projects. What I stumbled on has become one of the greatest repositories of creativity anywhere on the internet―Behance.

Recently I came across the "100 Logos in 100 Days" project and really enjoyed what I saw. If you love logos like I do, then stop by and treat your eyes.

Basically, the designer challenged themselves to create 100 unique (and often funny) logos over a period of 100 days. If that weren't challenging enough, they set a time limit of 100 minutes per project. Wow.

I definitely think some are better than others, but they're all a lot of fun to look at and find the creative twist.

So, take 100 seconds (maybe more) and swing by this very creative Behance gallery (and I wouldn't mind if you stopped by mine as well). -Oran

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Planning a Kid's Birthday: A Few Advertising Basics

This video has been making the rounds online and I've got to say that I really, really love it.

First off, it's pretty funny, especially if you work in the advertising industry. But, beyond the obvious humor, what I love most is that it really does show you that most of what we do in advertising can be pretty standard. There are rules that seem to apply to planning and promoting any event, large or small.

I think what really gets me the most that there are businesses that put less effort into their marketing and promotions than they would for a child's birthday.

I'm not suggesting that we all go out and offer free pony rides (or whatever the relevant equivalent for your business might be), but I am suggesting that there are some basic actions that can be taken to get the word out (many are very inexpensive) and keep the message moving.

Sure it takes planning,... and money,... and time, but if those kids are any kind of reflection of what an engaged, happy customer might look like, then I'd say it might be worth the effort.

Watch the video. Take notes. Take action.

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