Monday's Dose of Inspiration: Sonos' New Logo


Monday's Dose of Inspiration: Sonos' New Logo

Sonos Logo

You probably just scrolled down to read this, but if you didn't, slide that scroll bar down a little.

Did you see it?

You might've thought that it was just a mistake in your screen, but try looking at that Sonos logo (above) while you scroll up and down.

Now do you see it?

It almost looks like there are waves emanating from the heart of the logo. It's a weird trick on your eyes, and it's not an accident. Our fellow Canadians over at Bruce Mau Design did the work on this design, and they've really found a novel way to represent the sonic nature of Sonos' business (for those unfamiliar, Sonos is into wireless speakers and now app-based music). As the folks at Quartz say, "the logo vibrates like a subwoofer," and I can't think of a better way to say it.

If I have any criticisms, it's that the logo is great on-screen, but representing it on any other media is challenging due to the unconstrained nature of the logo. It works because when you control the media and the presentation (as in an app) it seems to go on to infinity, but it's hard to say that the logo can be consistently represented, say, on a golf shirt or on letterhead. (Not to mention the vibrating effect only appears on a computer screen.)

At any rate, these are minor criticisms on what is a fantastic design that forcibly expanded my perspective on what a logo can do and leverage.

How about you? What's expanding your mind this fine February morning, design-wise?

P.S. I'm thinking of starting this Monday Dose of Inspiration as weekly feature. What do you think?


Proud to Launch Package Deals


Proud to Launch Package Deals

What if, instead of being able to buy a car, you had to take an inventory of parts around to competing dealerships to get quotes and hope you could put them all together to make a car in the end? I know I wouldn't be able to own a car. So why do we put up with this from marketing agencies?

At Rocketworks, we’re proud to have launched some package deals that don’t just give you the parts you need, they give you the whole thing. For example, new businesses can take advantage of the Start-Up Launcher that helps them get their business' name out there (a logo, business cards, letterhead, and a website) all at price 20% lower than if the business bought each element separately.

In addition we have a variety of package deals for existing businesses as well as sports teams (and right now, if your baseball team needs a re-brand, you can take advantage of an even bigger discount through our World Series Sale).

Don’t see a package deal that’s right for your business? Let us know, and also know that our services are always available à la carte, so you can get exactly what’s right for you.



Everything I needed to know about honesty in advertising I learned from Jerry Seinfeld


Everything I needed to know about honesty in advertising I learned from Jerry Seinfeld

If you like advertising and/or ‘90s sitcoms, you may have seen Jerry Seinfeld’s recent industry roast acceptance speech at the Clio Awards, the ad industry’s annual awards shindig. For those that haven’t, it’s worth your time to see a comedian at his scathing best (and an audience trying a bit too hard to appear in on the joke).

Now, you may have come here for marketing advice, and to see us sharing this video of an award-winning advertiser ripping the business a new one might seem odd.

The problem is, Jerry has a point. And it’s a big problem.

You see, advertisements and brands lie way too much. They may be bold lies (looking at you, cosmetics brands and late-night infomercials), but more often they are small lies.

  • When Anheuser-Busch sells you on a lifestyle, it’s a small lie; they don’t say that buying a case of Budweiser surrounds you with laughing friends at a campfire or helps your team win the championship, but they show you those pictures over and over.
 I mean, I'm sure they're decent shoes, but are they $250 nice?

I mean, I'm sure they're decent shoes, but are they $250 nice?

  • When Nike puts LeBron James’ name on a pair of sneakers, it’s a small lie. We all know we won’t be able to walk onto the court and leap over people just because of the shoes; after all, if Nike shoes really made you play better than another brand’s, hyper-competitive athletes would be paying Nike to wear their shoes (or at least, Nike would get their endorsements at a steep discount). But still… wearing his shoes couldn’t hurt my game, right?

So you’re right, Jerry. Advertising does enable people to sell beer, shoes, and trillions of dollars of stuff (including badly-made stuff) by convincing the masses that this next thing will make them happy.

 Come to the dark siiide... and use advertising to con people out of their money by telling them a simple product is all that stands between them and eternal happiness.

Come to the dark siiide... and use advertising to con people out of their money by telling them a simple product is all that stands between them and eternal happiness.

But that’s the worst part of advertising. That’s the dark side of the force. Advertising, marketing, these are amoral tools—albeit dangerous tools—in the hands of people.

There are great advertisers out there who are doing it right. They are making entertaining, informative ads targeting people who want or need to know so that they can make better decisions about how to spend their limited resources to make their families’ lives healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.

And that is the kind of marketing we strive to do here at Rocketworks: Marketing that uses creativity not to obscure or change the truth, but to make the truth more easy and fun to understand and remember.

By the way, the ads Jerry won the Clio Awards for? They’re pretty good, and do a pretty decent job of putting his ideas into practice and subverting automotive advertising in the process. 

"You want a family? Get a family." So good. More of this campaign (and Seinfeld's interview) at Adweek.


An Introduction by way of Trading Card


An Introduction by way of Trading Card

Welcome to Rocketworks! Thanks for checking us out.

I’m thankful that you’ve joined us here. As I hope you can tell, we’re passionate about branding and advertising here. But since the “we” is quarterbacked primarily by “me,” as in Philip (check out our About page for more on that), this would be a good time to introduce myself more thoroughly.

In pre-internet times, one of the ways people got to know individuals in sports was through trading cards. (Kids, ask your dads. Every one will have a story of the famous athlete's rookie card they traded away before the athlete made something of themselves.) On the back of these cards they printed biographical information and stats.

So if marketing people had trading cards, what would it say on the back of mine?

A vintage Philip Wiebe card. For context, it's worth way less than the rare 1976 Steve Jobs rookie card, but way more than the complete set of the 2000 Enron management team.

Name: Philip Wiebe
Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba
D.O.B.: 05/20/85
Spouse: Cassondra (married 2011)

Education: BComm (Hons) from University of Manitoba’s I.H. Asper School of Business (Marketing & Finance Majors)
Past Roles: Marketing Specialist (2011-2013), Marketing Coordinator (2007-20011) at Federated Insurance Company of Canada

Marketing Hero: Steve Jobs. For all his flaws, he brought a brand back from virtual extinction and never compromised on visual elements.
Favourite Ad Campaign: See earlier blog post, below.
Favourite Business Book(s): Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath, Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz, Drive by Daniel Pink
Favourite Sports Logo: As far as teams I don’t cheer for, the Minnesota Wild have a tremendously creative look that even makes a difficult colour scheme work very well.

Of course, you can't really define someone on the back of a trading card. To learn more about me and what we're doing here at Rocketworks, feel free to keep exploring the site or contact me!



Beyond the Trailer: Movie Marketing at Its Finest

As you may know from elsewhere on this site, movies are a passion for me. And while Netflix has changed the way I consume TV and movies, I still love getting to the theatre as often as possible. One of the reasons for this is advertising; specifically, the trailers before the movie. But trailers are a century old, sayeth Wikipedia, and nowadays movies are trying to find new ways to get an edge. As a result, every once in a while, something fresh comes along.

Here are four of my favourite movie marketing strokes of genius.

The name's Zero, Coke Zero.

To promote Skyfall and Coke Zero, marketers came up with a clever idea: have unsuspecting train station people experience the 007 life by creating a high-speed action scene, complete with planned obstacles and challenging interruptions. Fortunately nobody took advantage of any license to kill. 

The resulting two-minute video is fun, exciting, and has been watched more than 10 million times. Not a bad return on a video that couldn’t have cost Coke much to make (although it would take a lot to break the bank for the world’s third most valuable brand). And the ad does two things well: it makes you want to see the Bond movie (it’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s got a sweet theme song!), and it makes Coke Zero drinkers seem active, quick, even agile (except maybe that guy biting it on those spilled oranges).

Ron Burgundy’s world tour

I remember cry-laughing in the theatres at the first Anchorman, so hearing that the gang was getting back together for the sequel was exciting, if a little unnerving. (Nothing like a bad sequel to sour you on a whole franchise, am I right Johnny Depp?)

To promote Anchorman 2, Will Ferrell donned the famous moustache and went around the world in character as Ron Burgundy. He hit local TV news broadcasts and wrote an autobiography. He shilled for Dodge and showed up on the cover of Dog Fancy. He even broadcast curling live from my hometown.

While the movie went on to gross over 350% of its budget, the campaign did more than just help create a winner at the Box Office. Dodge Durango sales jumped 59%. Curling TV ratings got a big boost. The over-thirty-minute North Dakota news broadcast even has almost 1.3 million views on YouTube! In short, associating your brand with Ron Burgundy was a win-win, and for those of us who appreciate his comedy, well, add a third win on to that.

Prometheus’ dispatches from the future

Contrary to Anchorman, I’ve never been a big fan of the Alien franchise. (I like to be able to sleep with the lights off, thanks very much.) But Prometheus, billed as a prequel to the quadrilogy, played on its somewhat mysterious relations to the existing franchise in some interesting ways.

By building a whole website for Weyland Industries, a company at the centre of the Prometheus story, fans got a lot of content to sift through to try and piece together just how the story might tie in. (You can still explore today.) A major part of that is this mock TED Talk from the year 2023, with actor Guy Pearce playing Sir Peter Weyland. TED Talks are beloved for the way they can make high-minded ideas accessible; it’s a great fit, then, to use a TED Talk to introducing a complex science fiction universe.

Unfortunately, it seems the movie wasn’t strong enough to sustain the hype. After a $50 million opening weekend, Prometheus succumbed to a tough summer movie schedule to “limp” (relatively speaking) to a $126.5 million domestic box office haul. (Don’t worry, they grossed over $400 million worldwide, but on a budget of $130 million, you hope for better on your home turf.) But making great movies that audiences want to see again and tell their friends about is very different than wetting the audiences’ collective appetites before the fact, and in that sense, Prometheus’ was a creative success.

Once dead, social media gives Blue Like Jazz its kickstart

Some movies don’t just need promotional help once they’re made, they need help just to get made. And the movie most responsible for the modern era of crowdfunding is Blue Like Jazz. Based Donald Miller’s “non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality,” the movie had been stuck in development hell for years. In the interim, Miller had even published a book (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) about writing the BLJ screenplay. Then in the fall of 2010, despite having a script, a director, a cast, and a crew, funding fell through and the project was dead.

Or so they thought. After reading Miller’s announcement on his blog, two fans of the film set up a Kickstarter campaign for the film. After all, thousands had already read a whole book about the struggle to turn a book of essays into a cohesive script; maybe they’d be interested in helping get the movie made. They set a target of $125,000.

Through a grassroots social media campaign, in 30 days the campaign had brought in $346,000 (Kickstarter’s second-biggest-ever project at the time, and yes, I was a donor) and to make a long story short, the movie got made.

Since then, a number of major motion pictures have been crowdfunded—including the Veronica Mars movie that raised $5.7 million and releases this weekend—and the movement has even had its own backlash. And maybe that happens even if “Save Blue Like Jazz” had failed, we may never know. But we do know that BLJ did it first and, if you ask me, without an A-list star pushing it along or a beloved TV property to crib from, BLJ did it best.

So what’s your favourite movie marketing idea? I thought of a few others along the way—The Simpsons Movie turning 7-Elevens into Kwik-E-Marts, The Blair Witch Project sending out all-too-real looking missing persons and police reports—but what tops your list?



Hungry for a logo change? These brands were!

Hungry for a logo change? These brands were!

For most restaurants, the company logo is the most visible and recognizable element of the brand. Three year olds who can’t string together complete sentences light up at the sight of the golden arches, and Pizza Hut’s logo got launched into space.

But there comes an interesting point in time for many companies where they change the logo. Today I want to break down why these changes are made, what the results look like.

5. Hooters

I’m going to try hard to be fair about this without judging the underlying companies’ business models. Clearly the Hooters brand stands for something, and if you’re proud of that, you’ll want to stick close to it. But this redesign misses an opportunity to retain the fun while clearing up some of the glaring weaknesses (bland colours, lumpy typeface, uneven strokes).

That said, I don't know that Hooters' clientele is going there for the logo anyway. 

4. TGI Fridays

Let’s be clear; the gap between fifth and fourth here is huge. TGI Fridays’ update is pretty decent, actually. I like it, in fact; the candy striping is retained, the font modernized, the whole look is cleaned up. If anything is missing, perhaps, it’s the soul.

It appears TGI Fridays modernized everything effectively, but it’s like a house that’s a little too clean and tidy. And if it’s true that they modernized to keep up with the local watering holes that are crowding them out, well, maybe a little more soul is what they needed. Maybe bring back the lowercase “i” in “FRiDAYS”. Who knows, maybe embrace brand integration and start handing exiting customers cherry lozenges instead of mints.

3. Olive Garden

For many, the jury is still out on this Olive Garden change. Some like it’s flat simplicity, while @the_blueprint said on Twitter that it looks “like it was drawn with a breadstick.” (I’m pretty sure he meant that demeaningly; at any rate, many people dislike the new design.)

It looks to me like Olive Garden has recognized who they are. Every city in North America has a list of beloved restaurants where you can go to get real Italian flavours; Olive Garden doesn’t make any of those lists. They’ve recognized that they lost the war against the authentic Italian restaurants for foodies; they’re now competing against the other chains for families and working lunches. And for appealing to those crowds, the warm easy-to-read script and the unthreatening olive branch might just work.

2. Wendys

Two fast-food restaurants top this list. This makes sense, since they invest disproportionately in branding. (You’re competing against McDonald’s, after all.)

Wendy’s took an outdated look and refreshed it. Wendy looks happier, more carefree and light. The text is unencumbered by bulky signage (although something about the curve of the text looks uneven). It still looks old-fashioned—which if “old fashioned hamburgers” are your thing—probably isn’t the worst thing in the world. All in all, it’s a nice update.

But even the Wendy’s update could learn a few things from the Colonel.

1. KFC

KFC’s previous logo didn’t look as old as Wendy’s, but because they weren’t going for a retro feel, it certainly looked dated. But you might not have noticed if their update hadn’t come around and put the old logo to shame. You never realized how old the colonel looked, how muddled his features looked, how bland the colours looked, until you saw his age melt away in the sharp lines and clear contrast of the new logo. Plus, they put an apron on him, which is a clever way to tie him back to the food.

What are your favourite logos? Any logo changes lately that you’ve loved or hated? Let’s talk about it in the comments, and I might throw them into a future post!


My Top 3 Ad Campaigns of All Time

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My Top 3 Ad Campaigns of All Time

Okay, so this might be a bit ambitious so early in this blog's life, but here are three ads that stick out to me as my favourites of all time.

3. McDonald’s: Michael Jordan and Larry Bird “Showdown”

This ad may rank a little bit higher in my estimation due to my undying love of the mid-‘90s Chicago Bulls. But the ad also uses its celebrity endorsements more effectively than most, especially given how wooden Jordan and Bird are as actors (Bird especially). Instead of forcing them into the role of pitchman, they play out the duo’s greatness to a comical extent, give us all a laugh, and don’t let us forget the ad for, oh, the next 23 years or so.

2. Volkswagen: “Think Small” Campaign

Speaking of ads that have stood the test of time, this Volkswagen ad dates back to 1959! But as you may have noticed from my design portfolio, I've got a lot of love for print, and this might be one of the most iconic print ads of all time. The expansive visual contrasting the tiny Beetle; the subversion of the "bigger is better" theme; the focus on economies before environmentalism was cool; all these were masterstrokes by DDB.

Thanks to The Inspiration Room for the ad visual. Check out this post for another great VW print ad from that era. As well, more background on this campaign can be found (unsurprisingly) at Wikipedia.

1. NicoDerm: Crazy Flight Attendant

Putting this at number one might be a bit of a stretch. There's no way this ad will have the lasting impact that "Think Small" did or the massive following Jordan vs. Bird generated. But this more recent ad from 2006 does a few things really well, and was made in an era where the degree of difficulty (due to the supersaturated ad market) is quite a bit higher.

What it does well:

  1. It starts out with a bang. The flight attendant charging out through the curtain screaming grabs your attention from the first frames of the commercial on.
  2. It has perfect comedic timing. Right around the part where she is sobbing into the PA phone is where I start really cracking up. The cuts between the perfectly composed interview shots and the screaming and sobbing shots keep you guessing.
  3. The commercial's humour actually ties into what the product doesHow often do you tell your friends about a commercial that you thought was really funny—and then you can't remember what the ad was for? (Granted, some industries like insurance or beer may have a harder time illustrating their benefits in a commercial.) But this ad ties in beautifully: I get it: NicoDerm makes you "not crazy"! I don't even need or care about NicoDerm and I get it.

The ad was Johnson & Johnson's Global Ad of the Year for 2006 for a reason (tip of the cap to you, Graham Robertson of Beloved Brands, as well as the commercial's star, Canadian actress Anna Silk), and perhaps this is the greatest compliment I can pay it: of all the ads that get overexposed, I never got tired of seeing this one.

Now that I've reached the end here, I'm realizing I'm probably forgetting dozens of ads I've loved. (I loved every second of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, for example.) So hit comment and let me know what your favourites are, or which ad absolutely deserves a spot in my next top three (or top five, or top fifty)!

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Welcome to my blog!

I'm honoured that you've come to check out my site and this blog in particular. While I'm passionate about many things (and their influence will no doubt be felt on my posts), this blog will serve as the place where I "think out loud" about the art and science of marketing.

I look forward to sharing these thoughts with you, but perhaps the greatest benefit of a blog is the freedom it allows you to fire back with your own thoughts, so please hit the Comment button below and share your expertise and opinions!