November Means Working Together (Pro-Bono)

sandhill cranes in the distance

Here it is November and we still have sandhill cranes. If you look closely in this zoomed-to-the-max iPhone shot, you see two of them enhancing the otherwise desolate cornfield. They caught my attention a few mornings ago as they gaggled away in response to another pair far in the distance. This weekend we’re supposed to get several inches of snow so these snowbirds will likely say to heck with this and take off for warmer temps.

Aren’t the migratory habits of birds amazing?

For example, for several months in autumn the sandhills gather in wetlands before heading south. These are called staging areas and here in Wisconsin there are several where thousands of cranes assemble at a time. I like to imagine this is a time of preparation and joining together of forces for the arduous journey ahead.

You probably knew migrating birds fly in the V-Formation, officially known as the echelon formation. They do this for its aerodynamic advantage, obviously. But did you know birds take turns flying the front helm of this V, a very strenuous task? And did you know the mortality rate for birds is six times higher during the migration season? Given this, isn’t it interesting that even though survival favors the selfish—those that promote their own well-being before that of others—the God-given nature of birds is to selflessly share the responsibility?

This author makes a good point when he says, “If migrating birds work together, the flock has a greater chance of having all of its feathered brethren make the long trip to their destination.”

Working together. For the good of all.

With this caring concept in mind and because November is the month of giving, let me announce it’s my season for pro-bono applications. Each year Adunate accepts two pro-bono projects for greatly reduced or no cost. These are projects I strongly support and believe will positively impact God’s creation, his people, or his ministry.

My interests include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • Children
  • Faith
  • History
  • Humanity
  • Natural Food & Living
  • Nature & Animals
  • Preservation & Sustainability

If your organization needs creative assistance in the upcoming year, click here for an application. Then, to guarantee your project’s success, be sure to click here!

Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2015. I will let applicants know of my decision in January.

Forward Thinking Means Responsive Thinking

Forward Mutual Insurance Company website is now in responsive viewing

I often use the phrase “forward-thinking” to describe Forward Mutual Insurance Company. Yes, it comes across rather pun-ish, but, pun or not, I’m proud to give kudos to this —here we go— forward-thinking company. On top of that, I’d like to present Forward’s recently updated website. Ta Da!

Forward Mutual's website on a laptop and iPad

At first glance, Forward’s new site looks very much like its old. In many ways it is.

Here’s how it’s not.

Last spring President and CEO Lois Wiedenhoeft discussed updating their website with new content and a few minor layout changes. We talked target marketing. We talked user-friendliness. And then we talked responsive web design.

Lois, being the forward-thinking CEO that she is, was gung-ho for all of the above, including re-writing the framework in responsive design. Why the extra effort and expense? Especially when some mutual companies don’t even have websites?

Historically, farms were the majority of Forward’s market. Nowadays, its landscape has changed to include city dwellings, country dwellings and hobby farms. The people in Forward’s market have also changed and the mutual now actively targets a younger generation. Forward wants to communicate the same way its market communicates. Nowadays, that’s via mobile devices.

Usability on All Devices

Forward Mutual website on the iphoneResponsive web design is a framework that automatically resizes, hides or moves content to fit any device of the user’s choice. Simply put, responsive design makes a website look good on any device, whether a desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Forward’s previous website looked good on a computer, but not so great on a smartphone. The phone on the left shows Forward’s site in its previous state. It’s the same layout as the computer’s except proportionately smaller and, obviously, much more difficult to read. Also note the photo slideshow, or lack thereof. Most mobile devices don’t accommodate Flash Player so the ol’ standby coding we used to use is now completely out of date.

In comparison, look at the phone on the right. This is how Forward’s website now appears in its responsive form. Each of its elements have automatically resized and re-ordered themselves according to priority. It’s legible. It’s clean. And because Forward now has a larger, more helpful menu, we grouped all the links into a clickable toggle.

Google Rewards Mobile-Friendliness

There’s another reason Forward moved ahead with responsive web design. It’s a very important marketing reason.

In April 2015, Google changed the way its search algorithms rank websites. It now gives top billing to mobile-friendly websites, meaning those that employ responsive web design will be listed in searches before those that do not.

How Mobile-Friendly is Your Website?

When is the last time you’ve checked your website on a mobile device? How legible is it? Is your website coded in responsive design? If you need to be higher in search rankings, drop me a line.

What’s Your Sense of Place?

lilacs in bloom

My 4-year-old granddaughter is coming for a sleepover this weekend. Of course, it’s a grandmother’s job to create the most magical memories ever so I’m pulling out the purple bedspread and planning heart-shaped pancakes.

We hear the phrase sense of place a lot. People develop a sense of place through their physical and emotional experiences in an environment. In addition to excesses of love and spoiling, our granddaughter will unknowingly take in the freshness of lilacs in bloom, the soothing white noise of wind on our hill, and the happy chatter of birds in early morning.

(Or, depending on her level of tolerance, she may or may not come away with an appreciation for the incessant crowing of Cornwallis, puffed up rooster that he is.)

Did you know sense of place and our memories are closely related?

Knowing this, it’s logical to apply sense of place to marketing and design. When customers make note of a business, their impressions are influenced by their experience. The colors of your logo, the imagery on your website, the words in your content…they all work together to create a memorable sense of place in your business environment.

What’s your organization’s sense of place? Does it convey who you are? Is it meaningful and memorable?


Award-Winning Heritage Homes Hosts Art Auction

A "water-painted" photo by Adunate Word & Design

Photoshop actions are one of many tools in a designer’s box for creating communicative art. Here I’ve taken a photo I used in this post, merged it with two more photos, tweaked here, colorized there and with the help of an action—violá—I’ve brought spring’s watercolor to my message.

Now let me promote communicative art of another kind—real watercolors. Communication with real connection. It’s called Memories in the Making® and it’s a fine arts program designed for people with memory loss. Long after their words have faded, these loved ones reach out with a brush, canvas and watercolor paint to convey their thoughts. Heritage Homes, an award-winning health and memory care facility in Watertown, Wis., finds the program to be a meaningful bridge between residents and their families.

This Sunday, April 19, 5-7 p.m., Heritage Homes is hosting a Silent Art Auction for works done by its memory care artists. These are beautiful expressions of the person within and are accompanied by descriptive stories. Proceeds from the event will benefit memory care programming at Heritage Homes.

In the meantime, let me refresh a press release I wrote on Heritage Home’s award-winning program.

Heritage Homes Helps Residents Communicate with Art, Watertown, Wi

Alterra Coffee Tastefully Brews a New Brand

Alterra Coffee is now Colectivo Coffee

¡Viva Colectivo! Short Vimeo Photo

So early yesterday morning we woke up to big headlines in the coffee news: Alterra Coffee is now Colectivo Coffee.

Wow. Really? Milwaukee’s locally born and raised brand? What’s the scoop?

Well, according to sources, Alterra owners Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller say they are parting ways with Mars, Inc., the global distributors to whom they sold the brand name in 2010. By changing their name, they will move forward as an independent and locally owned company.

I’m not necessarily interested in their business plan. But their marketing plan fascinates me. Once again I say wow. I’m in total awe of the gurus who ground this campaign—anyone know who is the agency? By noon of yesterday, everyone from On Milwaukee, to the New York Times, to the San Francisco Chronicle had announced the news. And Colectivo Coffee was cruising along with its re-branded website.

Here’s what I think is wonderfully creative and brilliant. The Fowlers and Miller have taken something so commonplace as public transportation and made it meaningful. Sure, colectivos are nostalgic to them because back in the early days of their business they rode these funky buses throughout the Guatemalan countryside learning about coffee. But they make colectivos meaningful to us as well. They acquire this hippy-cool 1958 bus and use it to tell a wonderful story. They talk about the everyday men and women that work in Guatemala and use colectivos as their daily mode of transportation.

“Colectivos gather people together at stops in the community,” say the owners. “It’s the beginning of the day and the end of the day. They’re places where people form relationships.

“Our cafes are places where people gather. We bring people together from many walks of life. If our cafes could be put on wheels, I think they would be colectivos.”

Aren’t these just the best branding words ever? They completely define the community spirit that embodies specialty coffee cafes. I’m ready right now to go hang out in a Milwaukee Colectivo Coffee!

Check out both these awesome videos: This short story on their name change and this longer version about the bus. The quotes, the storytelling, the people, the music, the imagery…both videos are done so lump-in-your-throat well (and I’m so jealous)!

Blessings to Colectivo Coffee and your new brand!

Alterra Coffee changes its name to Colectivo Coffee

¡Viva Colectivo! Bus Vimeo Photo