Posts in Category: Branding

Olympia Moto Sports: Lessons in Website Development

When Olympia Moto Sports first came to us, they already had what a lot of companies yearn for: stylish and quality products with a loyal following. What they didn’t have was a website that reflected this. While their old site had served its purpose for the past few years, the look was out of sync with the clean, modern brand that they are today. There was nothing modern or “cool” about it. And let’s be clear, when it comes to their products, OMS is the epitome of modern and cool. While OMS prides themselves on staying ahead of the curve with their motorcycle gear, their website was starting to feel left behind.

Olympia Moto Sports


In addition to modernizing and adding style to the website, the old site just didn’t function the way they wanted, and needed. The dealer locator was clunky, and the product gallery was hard to navigate. Not to mention that a lot of the helpful information customers came looking for was scattered over different pages and buried in long blocks of content. Want to know the best way to wash your new jacket? The information was there, but you had to look for a while.


When it comes to the functionality of the site, specifically the product catalog and the dealer portal, we had some challenges. There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but there are a hundred ways to deliver function to a website. We wanted options that would make life easier for everyone – functionality that made it easy for OMS to update and change products in the future, and for potential customers to find the information they needed.


It became clear early on that it was critical for the owners of OMS to be involved and up to date at all times. While some clients prefer to fade into the background and only view the site once it’s nearing completion, OMS was not that client. They had their own specific vision for the website and how it should work for their customers, and thankfully, they wanted to stay involved throughout the process. We had weekly meetings where often we would present the latest version of a dealer portal or product gallery that we had fallen in love with, only to have them point out that it was missing something of importance for their clients. We would hear comments like this: “Sure, that dealer portal looks great, but you can’t search by zip code. So now if a customer is riding across the desert and wants to check out our products, but doesn’t have a specific address because he’s in the middle of nowhere, what do they do?” It probably goes without saying that the scenario of a customer looking for products on his phone in the middle of the desert wasn’t one we had considered before.

The biggest lesson we learned is that while we may know communication and web design, the client knows their business. If the website doesn’t work for that business – and especially their clients – then it doesn’t work. Period.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 2.10.30 PM


After a few rounds of meeting where we analyzed the different functions for the website, we arrived at solutions that made everyone happy. Olympia Moto Sports’ products are displayed in a visually appealing and easy to navigate gallery, with complete information on each product, including videos and links to other helpful information.The new FAQ page features a variety of helpful information that has been condensed and organized, so it is easy to navigate and customers can find what they need to know quickly.The dealer locator offers a visual map that you can use to quickly locate a store near you, and yes, you can search by zip code if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and need some OMS products (assuming the internet is working- there are some things even we can’t fix).

In the end, everyone was a winner with this one. We were given free reign to add a modern style and visual design to the site, and the Olympia Moto Sports brand. The OMS owners (aka “the dream team”) were able to ensure at every step of the way that the website would function in just the way they had envisioned. The best part – the style and function work together perfectly, delivering the best experience for the Olympia Moto Sports fan and customer.

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Allison Development Group Receives MarCom Awards

MarCom AwardsIt’s pretty exciting around here – ADG was honored with Platinum, Gold, and Honorable Mention MarCom awards for our marketing and design work in 2014! The International MarCom Awards is a creative competition for the writing, concept, and design of print, visual, audio, and web material and programs. This year the MarCom awards received 6,000 entries from all 50 states in the United States, along with 34 countries. We were presented with awards for our work in special events, logo design, and video production in 2014.

ADG received top honors in the “Special Events” category for our work with Children and Family Resource Center’s “Speak Out for Kids 2014,” a community engagement campaign focused on involving local residents in bettering the lives of Henderson County youths. To refresh your memory throughout February and March of 2014, virtual and live conferences were held, designed to engage youth and the larger community in addressing gaps in services, understanding community priority areas, and providing opportunities for everyone to plug in and do more to help children in Henderson County. The campaign culminated in a live event on March 1, 2014 where ideas promoting these objectives were given cash awards towards implementation.

We were also honored with a Gold Award in the “Pro Bono” category for our recent re-design of the logo for Only Hope WNC, a non-profit dedicated to ending youth homelessness, and was given an Honorable Mention in the “Video / Nonprofit” category for their video production on the importance of farmers’ markets across the region, for their clients at MountainWise. 

The Pros & Cons of a Virtual Conference for Community Engagement

Last month, ADG blazed the trail with Henderson County’s first-ever Virtual Conference, which coincided with a live event for Speak Out 2014. We brought together non-profit groups and childcare professionals from around Henderson County to discuss issues facing children in our area and brainstorm ideas to help them. At the end, we were exhausted, mentally drained, and satisfied that we had brought something new and successful to deliver results to our client. Now that it’s further behind us and we have some time to reflect, Erica has some thoughts on the pros/cons of putting on a Virtual Conference (VC), and what you should consider before doing one of your own:

An example of an exhibitor "booth" at the Speak Out Virtual Conference

An example of an exhibitor “booth” at the Speak Out Virtual Conference


  • The VC works well for a regional campaign, multi-state or even international network of people who want to gather around a topic and do so over a period of time, rather than gather together physically in a location.
  • A VC can be a great branding and messaging tool, as was the case with Speak Out 2014: delivering a broad message with multiple touch points and subjects, to a diverse audience.
  • The cost for attendees is minimal, other than their time, it’s simply logging on with internet access and enjoying an array of educational opportunities or options. It was also much cheaper to put on a Virtual Conference compared to putting on a live conference.

Welcome to the New ADG Website

ADGIconFBWell, things certainly look a little different around here, don’t they? Welcome to the new ADG website, we hope you enjoy our new look as much as we do! With all the work we’ve been doing lately, it took us a while to finally put ourselves on the priority list, but we’re glad we did. Let’s take a look around at some of the changes:

New Faces

As some of you may know already, ADG has grown quite a bit this year. We’ve added new team members to better serve our clients. Please take a few moments to get to know the folks on Our Team, and learn about what they do here at Allison Development Group. I have to say that without a doubt, we have a fabulous group of people here. Our mission is to do meaningful work for our clients; these folks definitely get that. I know our clients would agree.

New Work

We’ve been so busy here at ADG that we’ve barely had time to catch our breath, and it shows in the impressive results we’ve been delivering for our clients. This year has truly been a record year, with an almost 140% increase in sales over last year. No wonder I’m tired! I’m also energized by the innovative projects that we have been able to work on and the new partners we’ve had the pleasure of working with along the way. If you’ve talked to me, you’ve likely heard about a few of these awesome projects, but if you haven’t yet heard, feel free to browse Our Work to see what we’ve been doing with Websites, Branding, and Media Campaigns.

Same Great Service

You know the saying about the cobbler and their shoes? Well, that’s what keeps us so busy. We help other cobblers not only cobble their shoes, but market them and sell them. Turns out, we’ve not always done a great job of marketing ourselves and the work we do. Being an integrated marketing and Public Relations firm is quite comfortable for us, but it’s not always something the public at large “gets.” In fact, they usually try to put us in one of several boxes: ad agency, PR firm, social media group, or marketing shop. What I realized is that I need to do a better job of telling people that we really do all of the above and if we can’t do something you ask of us, we’ll definitely let you know. First and foremost, we want to be your partner and provide comprehensive, strategic marketing and PR services.

We’ve always known what we are capable of, now we’re happy to say more people will too! Explore What We Do and learn more about our approaches to Brand Development, Marketing and PR/Media Relations. Once you do, let us know what ADG can do for you!

What to Learn From the New Chipotle Ad

I want you to think about two different scenarios. In both scenarios we have a parent trying to convince their child to brush their teeth.

Scenario #1: A parent explains to their son the reasons why brushing their teeth is healthier. They do this over, and over again. When that doesn’t work, they yell whenever they catch the child trying to avoid brushing their teeth. And yet they’re still frustrated when, after weeks of cajoling, the act of brushing his teeth is not a formed habit.

Scenario #2: Another parent reads a story to her daughter at bedtime. The main character is everything this child wants to be: well-liked, talented, smart, AND she just so happens to brushes her teeth regularly. There are other kids in the story, kids who get in trouble or aren’t as well-liked, and as you might imagine…don’t brush their teeth. Her daughter loves hearing the story, and wants to be just like the main character.

Now, who do you think is having more success instilling life-long teeth brushing?

Don’t Tell Me What to Do. Tell Me a Story.

You might be thinking this type of persuasion only works in children, but kids aren’t the only ones who want to be guided to a conclusion rather than forced there. They also aren’t alone in wanting to feel that they’re part of a group, specifically, the “right” group. Chipotle knows this. Qdoba, Moe’s, Baja Fresh, and many others are all competing to be the best Mexican burrito chain. They all boast fresh ingredients and healthy options, but with their new marketing add, Chipotle is heads and tails above the rest when it comes to communicating that message. Check it out below:

Video Link

This add captures what is so often missed in marketing: consumers do not want you to tell them what to buy, they want you to tell them a story. They don’t want you to rattle off a list of why your product or service is so much better than the others, they want to feel that your product is the better choice.

A synopsis of the ad:

In a dystopian fantasy world, all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system. Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory.

Chipotle is barely mentioned in the ad. With the exception of a brief glimpse of a tortilla, there are no beauty shots of burritos or tacos for the entire commercial. In fact, the ad isn’t even for Chipotle’s restaurants, but for a new game. And yet, anyone with a soul is going to feel connected to Chipotle by the end of the 3-minute video. Chipotle’s message is clear: all those other restaurants encourage unnatural, factory farmed ingredients that promote an unhealthy culture, but WE are the kinder, natural choice. This is conveyed without the use of words or a list of facts.

The lesson to take is that although you might be able to rattle off acts and logical reasons that your product or service is better, the real way to attract customers is to connect to them on a deeper level. You have to reach beyond their mind and engage their emotions as well.

Know your customer. Tell them a story they want to hear.

What’s Your Story, Morning Glory? Your Brand Needs to Know

That’s right, I’m talking about your brand. You know, the one that you want us to “do” for you. The one you need to “re-brand” or “refresh” in order to solidify your base or bring in new clients. We get it. We love it, in fact. There’s not much more we enjoy than bringing a brand in line with whom or what it represents.

Did you get that last part? The brand is more than a logo. Your brand is more than a catchy phrase. Your brand must tell your story, and tell it well. 

Is Your Business Ready When Opportunity Knocks?

My friend Jayme Soulati says that my life is full of lessons, astounded by the run of ‘stuff’ that I’ve encountered in the last year in business. I tend to agree with her; it does seem like my life is one big lesson after another lately. However, I also think we’re all given those ‘lessons’ in life and it’s up to us whether or not we learn anything from them.  For me, I really do believe that there is something to be learned from nearly EVERYTHING.

Today’s vlog post (yeppers, a video) is no different. It’s packed full of lessons related to being ready when opportunity comes a callin’.

Basically, those of us with a plan in place are more than ready when opportunity knocks. Even better, we can discern when the opportunity is right for us and when it’s not.  I use a recent business opportunity and a glitch in my brand, brought on by winning a Facebook cover photo contest as examples of how having a plan, and an understanding of my business goals, prevented me from making some poor choices.

Take a few minutes to watch the video and then come on back and share any opportunities you’ve encountered.  Did you have a plan when you heard the knock? Or, did you welcome the opportunity in and decided the plan wasn’t a fit after all? I’d really love to know!

And for a before and after of my web and Facebook images, here you go:



Thanks to Christa Quillin for a job well done and to New England Multimedia for having the Facebook Cover Photo Contest!

Warning: Diversifying Your Brand Could Result in a HOT, PINK Mess!

hot pink glitter reflects very pink m.a.c.

Let’s talk about brands. Specifically, let’s talk about when it’s a good idea to diversify your brand and when it’s not.  There are times when expanding to reach a broader audience can work really well. Even better when it’s in the same family…moms, dads, sons and daughters.  Think JCrew and Crew Cuts, for example.  In my opinion, JCrew has done a great job of solid brand management while expanding to grab younger audiences and age groups.

How about when that brand wants to reach a lower price point? In the case of JCrew, the price point is relatively the same across the board.  Think about Old Navy, in contrast, which is part of the Gap family, but at a lower price point.  The shopping experiences, the stores, the products are different.

What would happen if you put them in the same store?  Confusion.  Cannibalization. Chaos! Ok, that’s extreme, but the potential for confusion and loss of market share is there.  There is a valid reason that the Gap and JCrew have a different, yet complimentary brand and there’s a reason they are stand alone entities, at least to the public. Together, they would cause harm. Apart, they work well.

The Rise of PINK Nation

When it comes to bras, I have one style that I prefer. Victoria’s Secret makes it. Ladies, you know what I mean. There are a million and one styles, makes, shapes and shimmies out there, but we all have that ONE that fits great, makes us happy and that we need more of than one.  I used to buy from a boutique, because of their outstanding customer service and quality, but the boutique is long gone, so I’ve made my way back to Victoria’s Secret after many years away.

Oh my. How things have changed. What band of teenage girls and rock stars came in and took Victoria’s Secret hostage?  There’s an explosion of hot pink and purple (my daughter’s favorite colors, but most definitely not mine), clothing with words on the bum (you know how I feel about that one), and Sexy, PINK, Hot splattered all over everything.

The first time I walked in, I wondered if they even sold bras anymore. Oh yes, they do. They’re at the back…just beyond the junk at the front.  Hmmm…last time I saw a commercial for the Victoria’s Secret brand, the junky billboard sweatpants for mature teens (and immature adults?) was not part of it.

No, it was the angel, the boobs, the bras and the derriere.   So, why not put THAT at the front of the store? Why must I be hit with this schizophrenic brand when I walk through the front door?

Don’t Diversify Your Brand Into a Corner (or to the back of the store)

Obviously, Victoria’s Secret, in an effort to compete in this recession (aka, down economy, depending on your semantics) has reached out to a wider range of consumers with lower priced items…and they’re doing it in the same space. I realize that VS introduced PINK prior to the recession, but they’ve really pushed the brand…to the front of the store…in this down market.

This shot at diversification, under the same roof, is in my opinion, seriously damaging their brand.  It’s also potentially driving away the higher price point consumers by putting a wall of crap between me and my bra.

Many a smart marketer have given this approach kudos, saying it’s a great example of thinking ahead and grabbing future consumers. I can see how that might work if there was more of a progression from one to the other. The Gap brand (if you overlook the Gap Brand misstep) does this really well with it’s baby, kids and even Maternity lines, all in related or adjacent spaces. Gap and Old Navy, however, do not co-habit their spaces or their brands.

In the case of VS and PINK, I question the long term impacts on the Body by Victoria market…the bra shoppers.  Is SEX really enough to keep them both afloat? Or, are the price points too different; the segments too different; and the products too completely different for SEX alone to save them?

This Shopper’s View of the Brand

Let’s just be clear right now. I’m not necessarily the target market for VS, but I am part of a core group of people over the age of 40 who needs a bra and likes to get in and get out of a store without being visually assaulted.  Up until recently, I really hadn’t had to go in a VS in quite a while.

Let me explain how I shop.  If it’s clothing, especially undergarments, I shop quickly. I don’t linger. I scan. I usually know what I want and I grab and go. (Shoes are an entirely different story…hours upon hours of looking and trying on).

Shop with children? I like to live dangerously, so I often bring my youngest and by far, the one most geared for shopping, my 3 year old little girl.  When that happens, I go even faster.  I know what I want and go in for the kill before the wheels come off the proverbial wagon.

I like a styled window and storefront as much as, if not more, than the next gal. I don’t however, like to be assaulted with merchandise that is so far off from my brand awareness that I wonder if I’m even in the right store. Add in the three year old and you’ve really got me questioning why I’m standing in this room reeking of a HOT, PINK mess.

Unfortunately, my latest venture into PINK Nation and Victoria’s Secret has me seriously wondering if they’re interested in my business anymore.  Could that be the point? If so, I’m sure Soma would be more than happy to see me.

Hot Pink Glitter Image via Flickr

What Cain Can Teach Us About Crisis Communication

see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil
When a crisis hits in your campaign, be it political or marketing, it’s not the time to play hard to get or “turn the tables” on the reporter.  In this day and age, where everything and anything can be found and shared across a myriad of channels, do you really want to be ‘that guy’?

No. You do not. I’ll bet Herman Cain really doesn’t want to be that guy right about now.  His attempts to ‘handle’ his latest situation re: allegations of sexual harassment are at a minimum, disingenuous and at a maximum, disappointing from a PR perspective.

Really, Mr. Cain. Did your team not ‘vet’ you to this degree? Did they not know this little issue might come up? Whether it was real or not, whether you did it or not, here are a few tidbits I would offer to anyone who wants to be in the public eye and needs to know how to handle a brand crisis.

  1. First and foremost, sit down with your PR team or communications command center and go over anything and everything that could possibly rear its ugly head in a public way – BEFORE you start your public relations campaign.  Education and knowledge are beautiful, especially when shared with your team in advance.
  2. Have a crisis plan in place for the day that it might happen. Think it’s a waste of time? Think again. Even if you never use it, it’s time well spent preparing you for the worst of times and making you shine in the best.
  3. If you are presented with ghosts from the past or something new on the radar that you’re not aware of, rather than deny, play dumb, ask for the accusers’ names, or get antagonistic with the reporters, try something new and refreshing.  Try sounding sympathetic and helpful, with a healthy dose of directness.  Let them know when and where you’ll be addressing this issue and then set about addressing it.
  4. Don’t let the crisis hijack your existing message or public relations campaign. Address the issue separately if possible then continue to stay on topic. This will go a long way in keeping you looking like you’re in charge, but also in showing that you listen and that you know you need to address the issue.
  5. Take control of the issue and how you handle it. Avoid sounding reactionary or defensive.  It doesn’t look good.  Use your own communication channels to share your story.  Depending on the legalities of your particular issue, make sure you know what you can legally share and then make it easy to understand.  Admit what you can admit and then suggest we all move on – particularly if you and the parties have done so.
  6. Play to your strengths and to your audience.  Part of Cain’s original charm in the polls was his no nonsense approach to politics and campaigning, pledging to not dodge questions or give “non-answers” we’re all so weary of in these campaigns.  If you find yourself in a public brand crisis such as this, address it based on your strengths and the facts and how your audience wants to receive it. Too much hemming and hawing and the usual deny, deny, deny and you’ll damage trust and credibility.  Too sappy in your apology (think Mark Sanford here in his gushy heartfelt mea culpa) and you border on being disrespectful.

I don’t know about you, but I’m rarely surprised anymore when someone in the public eye has an issue or a crisis. What I am surprised by is the utter lack of planning that goes into how it should be handled.

Know that if it can be said, it will be said. If it happened in the past and it’s in the least bit negative, it will be shared.  Accept that and plan accordingly.

What do you think? How do you avert a brand crisis in our digital age? What do you do to maintain your integrity but satisfy your audience’s need to know what happened?

Image via Flickr.