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touch me

Communications You Can Feel

By Blog, Marketing Strategy, Technology, User Experience

Have you ever stepped into a car, sat down and closed the door and heard a nice solid “thud” as the door closed? There were no rattles or any objectionable noises at all. And then other times you’ve stepped into a different car and you heard a metallic, clanking kind of sound when you closed the door. At the time you probably made a snap judgment about the quality of the car you were entering. You most likely concluded that the first car was a reliable, sturdy, perhaps more expensive model. And you may have thought the opposite of the second car.

I realize that most people don’t go around listening to the sound of car doors. At the same time I know there are some of you who have heard the sound of the closing door and drew a conclusion based on the sound. You may have even drawn a conclusion about the owner of the car.

The truth is the sound of a closing car door can affect your perception of the quality of the car.

Your Senses and Perception

Have you ever be awakened in the morning by the smell of fresh brewed coffee being made by your significant other? You probably got a warm feeling all over from the aroma and an even warmer feeling inside for the person who was making you the coffee. The smell of the coffee can affect your perception of that person.

Now let’s take the car door and sound, and coffee and smell one step further. Studies have shown that paper and touch affect the way people receive and retain information. These studies have also shown that touch and paper can even influence the way people feel about the companies who use paper to market their products and services.

How Does the Medium Shape the Message?

Dr. David Eagleman is an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University. He has worked with a team of researchers in the Psychiatry Behavioral Sciences Department of the university to determine if the weight and type of paper can affect the perception of individuals who touch and read marketing materials.

“In humans touch represents a powerful form of non-verbal communication. Our sense of touch plays a fundamental role in daily life, from learning about objects to communicating with other people.” – Dr. David Eagleman

He and his research team created marketing materials for three fictitious companies. The materials were presented to test subjects on heavy coated stock, on lighter uncoated paper and on a website.

According to his research, he found that when subjects read a message on heavy, high quality coated paper they remembered it better, even when asked about the massage a week later.

He also found that when the message was printed on a high quality paper stock the individuals had a more positive first impression of the company. And they were more likely to recommend the company to a friend or a colleague. The test subjects rated the quality of the company based on the quality of the paper stock.

Direct Marketing Strategy

Let’s take this research and apply it to your marketing. You want consumers to remember your message and have a positive feeling about your company. I’ve previously discussed how effective direct mail is in reaching new clients and consumers. Now imagine a direct mail piece that goes beyond heavy coated stock.

Imagine a dimensional mail piece where you can go beyond the weight of the paper to the touch and feel of the image on the paper. Imagine feeling the feathers on an image of a bird. Touching and feeling the lines in an image of a circuit board. Or the rough, bumpy feel of the waffle cone in the video below.

We’re talking texture that makes people want to engage and experience your marketing piece. A message that people will share with their friends and colleagues. A marketing piece that will capture attention, and be memorable. A message your customer will see, read and feel!

Our senses help us gather information, draw conclusions, and make decisions. If you want your marketing to make an impression then take advantage of the sense of touch.


Millennials are about to move into their prime spending years

By Blog, Direct Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Millennials, Mobile Apps, Technology


One of the largest generations in history, millennials, is about to move into their prime spending years. How best can you get your products and services in front of the millennial generation?

When most people think of millennials they think digital. According to Forbes, it is not uncommon for millennials to use multiple tech devices. “87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis.” Perhaps this is why millennials are always pictured with a mobile device in their hand.

With an estimated $200 billion in annually spending and more than $10 trillion during their lifetimes, millennials are the “holy grail” of consumers.

Determining the Best Marketing Channel

There are a number of marketing channels that can be used to reach customers. Online video, social media, and email are channels that seem best suited for an “online” digital generation. But traditional marketing channels should not be ignored. In fact, research show that millennials react better to traditional forms of marketing, like direct mail, than to online electronic marketing.

A 2016 USPS Marketing White Paper reported that:

  • 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail
  • 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email
  • 77% of Millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising
  • 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable

And when it comes to marketing and purchases:

  • 82% read direct mail they receive from retail brands
  • 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers

The chart below demonstrates that despite their digital appearance, millennials read, open and interact with direct mail.

The Top 200 Direct Mail Service Providers

Direct mail gets your message in the door and into the consumer’s hand, where it can be seen, read, and felt and generate a response! That’s why a big part of what we do is focused on direct marketing. In fact, it’s so big we’ve just been named to the Bell & Howell Top 200 Direct Mail Service Providers list for 2017.

The reason direct mail works for millennials, and all other generations, is simple. As Nabeel Jaitapker, Senior Communications and Marketing Manager, Content Development and Demand Generation at Bell and Howell stated, “Direct mail marketing is getting more personal, more real, and more effective thanks to affordable high-quality digital printing and technologies that simplify integration into a multi-channel campaign.”

The USPS White Paper highlights some of the new technologies that can engage millennials with direct mail. They include:

  1. Incorporate multimedia and digital: Embed QR Code® barcodes, near field communication, or augmented reality to link your mailer to video and interactive materials on your website or social media sites.
  2. Keep your messaging succinct and easy to read. Provide bite-size pieces of information.
  3. Be authentic. Millennials distrust traditional advertising, so avoid hard-sell language. Use a straightforward, transparent approach.
  4. Use enhancements such as scent, sound, or texture to make your piece stand out.
  5. Help them feel good about their purchase. Millennials are compassionate and want to improve their world. Campaigns that donate a percentage of profits to a worthy cause or in some other way demonstrate corporate responsibility can resonate—if they’re seen as authentic.
  6. Use slang with caution, even if you are a Millennial. You risk turning your audience.

When you’re looking to engage millennials, or any other generation, you need a variety of proven marketing channels. A direct marketing campaign that includes mail, video, email and social media, is sure to accomplish your goal.

Westamerica Communications Selected a Winner in the 37th Annual Telly Awards

By Blog

I’m very proud of our team here at Westamerica Communications. As a cross-media marketing company we work in many different communications channels. And this requires our team to be knowledgeable and flexible. But the rewards are great.

Award Winning Marketing

In the recent past we’ve received numerous awards for our client’s work
in various industry categories. We’ve won a couple “Bennies” in the Premier Print Award Competition, from the Printing Industries of America. This international competition recognizes the highest quality printed pieces in various categories.

We’ve received Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards from the Marketing Association of Credit Unions, which “has been recognizing the best of the best in marketing achievements since 1986.”

And now we’re very excited to announce that the Telly Awards has named Westamerica Communications as a Bronze winner in the 37th Annual Telly Awards. These awards honor the best in TV and cable, digital and streaming, and non-broadcast productions.

Award Winning Video Production


One of our clients was launching a new product. They were also exhibiting at a trade show. They wanted to help their clients understand the new features available in their new microprocessor controlled prosthetic knee. Because we understand the importance of video in today’s marketing environment, we suggested a 3-D product animation video with 360° rotation and exploded details.

Our video production team created a video that highlighted the 8MHz microprocessor, the customizable settings and the fact that the entire unit is fully submersible.

The client was extremely happy with the final outcome. The video was a great addition to their trade show graphics. And, due to the versatility of video, the client has featured the video on it’s website and distributed it through their social media channels.

It seems the client wasn’t the only one impressed with the video. Now it has been recognized as an outstanding video production by a group of top advertising and production professionals.

The Telly Awards

You may have never heard of the Telly Awards but I can tell you they’re a really big deal. To win a Telly you’re in the company of video production houses like:

  • Comcast
  • ESPN
  • Fox
  • HBO
  • NBC
  • The History Channel
  • Time Warner, and more.

And, it’s not like everyone who enters wins an award. These are not “participant” trophies. In 2016, there were over 13,000 entries from companies all over the United States and from five continents. And, when you consider that only 7 to 10% of entrants are chosen as Silver Telly Award winners and Bronze Telly Award Winners typically represent about 18 to 25% of entrants, earning a Telly Award is a significant creative achievement.

The Judging

The judging panel is made up of over 500 accomplished industry professionals, each a past winner of a Silver Telly.

It’s also interesting to note that the entries do not compete against each other. Rather entries are judged against a high standard of merit and thus are recognized for their distinction in creative work.

According to the Executive Director of the Telly Awards, Linda Day, “The Telly Awards has a mission to honor the very best in film and video.”

“Westamerica’s accomplishment illustrates their creativity, skill, and dedication to their craft and serves as a testament to great film and video production.” -Linda Day

It brings joy to my heart to be working with such a talented group of people. From our sales and customer service staff, our creative services department, our video and print production departments to our employees in the shipping department, we all work together to create some of the most beautiful, useful and dynamic marketing materials in all of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.


Butcher Block group photo crop

The Ultimate Point of Purchase Display

By Blog

We have this client, Jim, who we’ve worked with for a number of years. One day last year, he called and said he had decided to sell his restaurant supply company. And, like many entrepreneurs, Jim was not ready to settle down but instead had an idea for a new company.

His idea was to take a profitable part of his previous business and expand it into a full business of its own. Armed with this idea, and with the help of the creative design services at Westamerica Communications, Wood Welded West was born.

Developing the Brand

In a previous post I quoted Paul Rand, the famous American art director and graphic designer, who said the logo is only as good as the product it represents. Well, when Jim called looking for some help in branding his new company we knew the quality of the product he was producing and wanted to make sure his branding matched his product.

Jim is selling custom cutting boards, butcher blocks and other beautiful wood products from Michigan Maple Block Company and the Bally Block Company; know collectively as the Wood Welded® Companies.

These are some of the most beautiful and stunning kitchen countertops, food prep surfaces, and sturdy industrial workbench tops you’ll ever see. The popularity of Wood Welded® butcher block products is due in part to its continuous operation, by one family, for over 125 years.

The goal of our creative services department was to create print collateral, signage and even a van wrap that would reflect the beauty, durability, and history of the wood welded products.

Graphic Design Services

First, we slightly modified the company’s original logo to reflect the new West Coast location while keeping its original look and feel. We wanted to preserve the company’s 125-year history.

Wood Welded® provided a wonderful graphic with a butcher working on a butcher block and a maple leaf to represent Michigan Maple Block Company, which is located in Petoskey, Michigan—the heart of hard maple country. We enlarged the graphic, cleaned it up a bit and used it to create a sign for Jim’s showroom. We also used the same graphic on the door panels of the van.

The next challenge came when we started creating the artwork for the van wrap. The graphics needed for such a large output had to be high resolution. We started with stock images but they didn’t really have the look and feel we needed. So we took some photos of the actual wood stock that Jim uses to make his counter and work bench tops. We were able to capture the wood grain and texture in the images. Thus we used photos of Jim’s own products to create the van wrap.

Point of Purchase Display

You may argue this point with me but I think the ultimate Point of Purchase Display is a van wrap. To prove my point, Jim drove his newly wrapped van from our facilities in Lake Forest to his showroom in Anaheim. By the time he arrived there was a phone message waiting for him inquiring about his Butcher Blocks!

Up to that time, Jim had done no other advertising. He had yet to send any direct mail or distribute any of his custom print collateral. The only way anyone would have known about his new business was the van.

Jim, from all of us here at Westamerica Communications, good luck on you new endeavor!


What’s in a Name?

By Blog

Is it a box of Kleenex or a box of facial tissues? Are they cotton swabs or are they Q-tips? Is it a bottle of Coke or a bottle of soda? The panicle of branding is reached when the product itself takes on the name of the brand.

Yet branding goes beyond just the product. When you see Coca-Cola’s signature logo you may want to “Taste the Feeling” or have “A coke and a smile,” or, if you’re old enough, you’d “Like to Buy the World a Coke…”

So, is the brand a tagline, a jingle, a logo, the product itself, or does branding and corporate identity go way beyond these things?

Branding and Corporate Identity

If you’re going to help a company “brand” themselves or create a corporate identity, a logo, a tagline, and a jingle will be helpful but the brand will only be as good as the company and the products produced by that company.

Paul Rand, the famous American art director and graphic designer, explained that a logo “only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation takes on any real meaning.” And that the logo’s meaning or significance will only be as good as the product it represents.

So, if you like Pepsi you may not think much of the Coke logo. Does that mean that the Coca Cola logo is not effective?

Rand also said, “A logo doesn’t sell, it identifies.” So the logo represents the brand. The same goes for the tagline and jingle. To develop a brand or corporate identity you must start with the product itself.

Examine a Brand

Let’s take Apple as an example. The beauty of Apple products, in my humble opinion, is their ease of use. This goes all the way back to the first time I used a Macintosh computer. The idea of a using a mouse and a GUI interface instead of having to enter programming code on the keyboard was a stroke of genius. I know that it was Xerox and the developers at PARC that came up with the mouse and GUI, but it was Apple that had the vision to make it accessible to the public at large.

The vision to make products that are easy to use is just part of the Apple brand. Apple products are also sleek, clean and stylish. Once you understand that Apple’s goal is to offer consumers easy to use, stylish products then you can see how their branding follows suit. Their logo is simple and stylish. Their products come in plain white packaging with minimal text and graphics. Their stores are open, clean, and inviting. Even the employees at the Apple stores are dressed in simple, plain, and comfortable clothes.

The truth is, if Apple products were cumbersome and hard to use no amount of sleek packaging and simple, clean logos would sell their products. As Paul Rand said, the logo is only as good as the product it represents.

It’s interesting to note that Paul Rand and Steve Jobs had a similar approach to design. Rand’s designs were simple and clean. Take for example his UPS logo and the logo design for ABC television. In fact the two worked together after Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, Inc. And Rand was later featured in one of Apple’s Think different campaign.

Lessons Learned

To create a brand you must understand the goal of the product or service. Is the goal of the service to make life easier? Is the goal of the product to make you healthier? Is the goal to make your automobile run smoother? Once you understand the goal of the product then you can create the logo, tagline, jingle, packaging and all of the other necessary advertising and marketing devices to present the product to consumers.

A big step in the branding process is finding a company that can assist with developing your product along with designing and producing the marketing pieces. You’ll need a company that provides quality graphic design services along with the ability to create video, produce and disseminate online content and a print production facility that can produce and distribute your marketing materials. Depending on your product you may need a facility that can take a unique package design or point of sales design and produce a point of purchase display.

When it comes to developing a brand for yourself or someone else, remember to start by examining and understanding the product or service. And who knows, with the right logo, tagline and jingle you may come up the next big brand.