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So You've Rebranded, So What?
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If Your Messaging Lacks Humanity—Humanity is Less Likely to Listen full story...

Bastille Day, Steet Photography
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Mark Mothersbaugh Exhibit Opener at the MIA, Minneapolis full story...

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Using Stock Photographs To Represent Your Brand And Corporate Culture—Seriously?

As a designer with serious photography chops there are few things that bother me as much as using stock photography in print or digital designs. I admit it's a convenient go-to when you need images for a mood board or an image of a cityscape or a field of pretty flowers... but when stock photography is used to represent corporate culture or brand identity, I ask why? Do these things not actually exist?

Sure it's cheaper and faster to buy it online rather than make it yourself, but what does using stock photography say about your company or the products and services you offer? Stock images may have the ability to give your website the look and feel of a larger, more stylish, more profitable organization, but what does a generic image of a group of diverse looking models in business clothes on a white background say about your actual employees, or the customers you serve? Stock photography is the instant macaroni and cheese of the design world.

To the companies who market themselves using stock photography of people, I ask, why? Do they think that their employees are too unattractive to show to the public? Are they ashamed? Even worse—are they lying or misrepresenting who they are? The same goes for locations and interior shots. These are important issues to consider, especially in the age of increasing transparency.

My advice is hire a professional photographer.

See you out there. —Cheers!

If you have comments, please direct them to, info@ntegralinteractive.com.

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If Your Messaging Lacks Humanity—Humanity Is Less Likely To Listen, Enter The Conceptual Creative With The Big Idea

Consider the importance of relatability when it comes to your company's marketing and advertising communications—after all it's relatability that drives positive perception and the same perception that drives decision making. It's a known fact to anyone who works behind the curtain, that advertising is often a delicate balance of truth telling and story telling. In other words, it's all about presenting the facts and manipulating the emotional response. Even in the cases when you are simply telling the truth with minimal manipulation, there's always a level of hype or implied urgency, whether it's color or tone, typography or even font selection. If you live anywhere in the free world you are aware of how ever-present commercials and marketing communications are. They are so ubiquitous in fact that even in the absence of any messaging whatsoever, the average consumer will still do what we've all been trained to do from childhood, which is to assess the decision to purchase goods and services, based in part on actual need, and based in part on our own emotionally-driven perception. In other words, we eat because we are hungry, but where we choose to eat may serve only to satisfy are ego or say something about financial or social status. It's a bit oversimplified, but we exist in a corporatized, commercialized, monetized capitalist democracy where we are driven by the desire to purchase, collect, own and consume—because we are taught to believe the things we consume will set us apart, or make us feel included in some way.

So, how do you go about tapping into this basic emotional response? Enter the Conceptual Creative with the big idea. As a Conceptual Creative I know there's an important distinction between, "fiction", and outright misrepresentation. For example, you can't successfully sell the notion of quality, if quality does not truly exist. Not only is that unethical, it's illegal in certain instances. Certainly your customers will figure out the truth soon enough and you can guess the rest.

As I described in the opening paragraph, successful marketing blends truth and story telling, ergo the fiction element. In an ideal scenario, one would begin with a product or service that has apparent value—that being the element of truth—and then package the product's value statement in a relatable story.

See you out there. —Cheers!

If you have comments, please direct them to, info@ntegralinteractive.com.

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So You've Rebranded, So What?

Today I wanted to share some of my opinions and experiences on the subject of the company rebrand—the act of changing the external, outfacing look and feel of a company or institution, and why I feel that many fall short of a true transformation for one simple reason. That one simple reason is focusing only on the external—the logo, the tagline, the team colors—it's easy to compare yourself to the competition on such a superficial basis. But too often companies fail to address the culture that exists within the company.

First I'll give you an example of one of my personal experiences. Years ago I was employed by, Company X, as a marketing team member in a Senior Designer role. As far as business goes, Company X, had been around a while, but in recent years, they had been experiencing a falling off in sales revenue (not that their market verticle was in similar decline, it seemed the competition was doing fine). Anyway, by this point the rumor mill was at full capacity, most of the internal messaging was passive aggressive, if not a bit grim, and the territorial finger pointing was an ongoing silent gun battle being fought from cubicles rather than fox holes and words rather than bombs. Suffice it to say morale was low.

In spite of the apparent futility of continuing with business as usual, the middle and upper management, most of which had been at the helm for a couple decades or longer, naturally carried on as they always had. Department shrink and layoffs did follow until the day came when someone occupying an office on a higher floor decided that all the company needed was a brand refresh so that the customers would see them as a shiny new thing and naturally come running to their door. So it was decided that the product, while it remained the same on inside, would get new paint, an agency would be hired to do extensive research resulting in an all new brand "Y" and crispy new logo would be hoisted above the door. Then all they needed to do was wait, right?

Obviously you can see where I'm headed with this little parable. External things are all very novel ideas, and novelty wears off. The point of the story is that, while a fresh coat of paint can change how others perceive a building, ultimately it's the people and the culture that drive success. Rethinking a brand isn't a true transformation without rethinking the "business as usual approach" at the same time. And while it's common practice to perform extensive research on the verticles, target markets, demographics, the competition, etc., this type of research falls short when similar practices aren't used to look at the day to day within an organization at the same time.

See you out there. —Cheers!

If you have comments, please direct them to, info@ntegralinteractive.com.

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It's Hot In The City, Bastille Day Celebration, 2015

July 12, 2015. I'm out and about in Minneapolis whenever I have the chance—camera in hand. Minneapolis is a diverse, modern city with a variety of outdoor activities to choose from—people watching is one of my personal favorites. If you enjoy street photography in particular and you'd like to see more, you're invited to follow on Instagram and Like on Facebook. You can also browse more Minneapolis street photography on my smugmug page. Keep in touch and I'll see you out there. —Cheers!

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Opening Night for the Mark Mothersbaugh Installation at MIA

A few snaps from the crowd scene at the Minneapolis Institute for the Arts. Collectively this was one of the most unique exhibits of works I've ever seen. Created and curated by the former DEVO front man, the collection was eclectic blend of original art, drawings, multimedia displays, hand made musical sculptures and iconic memorabilia from the post punk 80s era.

I had the pleasure of chatting with the man himself—it was also my first celebrity selfie opportunity, so how I could I refuse.

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©2015 J. Nathaniel Dicke