As I noted on the About Me page, my career has been defined by identifying and capitalizing on market opportunities and making heavy use of content to promote those endeavors. Much of this content has been devoted to branding; the following are examples of my branding efforts for a couple of my businesses.
1) The only multi-market Spanish-language entertainment and current events newspaper in the South: Vida Latina
Since 2000, the southeastern United States has claimed the highest Hispanic population growth rate in the nation. National and multinational corporations, including auto manufacturers, food and beverage companies, and telecom businesses, have been spending big money to gain these new residents’ patronage. I raised capital to purchase the intellectual property of Vida Latina–which I had previously written for–in order to capitalize on this advertising spending.
I rebranded the paper as a regional Spanish-language entertainment and current events publication, which differentiated the product and allowed for multi-city expansion. The differentiated, regional focus made Vida Latina appealing to national advertising agencies representing national and international brands, which sought to target Hispanics throughout the region. Advertising with us, they were able to cover the region’s Hispanic population with one media buy. Advertising through the other Spanish-language media available throughout the region, they had to make separate buys in each of Vida Latina’s markets.
The rebranding started with a change to the masthead design. For the “VL” logo, I used a modern design painted in warm colors generally associated with contemporary Hispanic culture’s vibrant nature. I brought the “L” to the front, as the word “Latina” describes the word “Vida” (life) in terms of the Hispanic experience. (To further emphasize this point, I highlighted the letter “L” with a sunburst.) For the title of the publication, I chose a font commonly used in Latin America to advertise cultural events and religious ceremonies. The idea was that the logo design would represent the entertainment aspect of the publication–music and movie news, sports news, etc.–, and the title font would represent the various Hispanic cultural events that took place throughout the region. I used the darkest background possible, black, in order to maximize the pop of the logo and the contrast between the transparent title of the publication and the opaque field on which it was written.
The rebranding significantly altered the type of content featured in the publication and the manner in which the content was distributed. Eschewing politics and crime news pertaining to the Charleston area, I compiled national and international Hispanic entertainment news and hired freelancers in multiple markets to write about Hispanic entertainment and cultural events in their towns. Cover stories generally consisted of interviews I conducted with Hispanic celebrities such as Edward James Olmos and Carlos Valderrama, and articles submitted by contributors generally covered events throughout the region such Atlanta’s Festival Peachtree Latino and interviews with local Hispanic personalities such as the members of the North Carolina band Bravo Norteño. I spearheaded the construction of a website that not only featured an online version of the paper, but also daily links to national and international Hispanic entertainment news. (The procured content strategy helped cultivate organic traffic as well as returning visitors.) Although the universal nature of the differentiated content would have allowed us to expand Vida Latina’s circulation virtually anywhere, I limited it to the metropolitan areas of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia due to logistics and the law of diminishing returns.
The regional distribution of the paper, along with the popularity of the website (which I call a web portal because much of the content was links to articles on other sites), spurred media buys from ad agencies representing household names such as Budweiser and Wachovia (now Wells Fargo).
You can learn more about these branding efforts in the Vida Latina media kit.
2) Native design expertise in an area heavily populated by newcomers: Lowcountry Vistas
The Charleston, South Carolina metropolitan area is one of the fastest-growing metros in the country. The area is increasingly populated by newcomers who have migrated from parts of the country with different climates, different soil types, and different indigenous plants. As such, many of these newcomers look to natives for landscaping advice.
The majority of landscape designers in the area are newcomers themselves, and few get their hands dirty. Few have the native-caliber landscaping expertise many newcomers look for. I created Lowcountry Vistas to take advantage of the disconnect between the supply of native landscape designers in the area with real-life gardening experience and the demand for designers in the area who not only have an artistic eye, but can also offer landscaping expertise as Charleston natives. “Landscaping Native” is my slogan, and my primary value proposition is that I’m a son of an artist with a keen eye for design who has been tilling the Lowcountry soil for most of his life.
The native branding begins with my logo. For it, I chose a silhouette of a palmetto tree (the state tree of South Carolina, chosen because its moist wood prevented British cannon fire from burning the historic city of Charleston’s Ft. Moultrie during the Revolutionary War), painted in the color of the state flag (which was designed from Charleston’s Moultrie flag), with the word “Lowcountry” written prominently across the tree in a font commonly associated with Antebellum Charleston, my slogan placed directly below the name of the business. As most historic buildings throughout the area feature a cornerstone that displays their year of completion, I chose to display the year of Lowcountry Vistas’s creation across the “root” of the tree, which is shaped like a shovel to represent the “planting” of the business on that date.
I filled the site with branded content that firmly establishes my status as a proud Charleston native with an artistic eye who’s a native gardening subject matter expert. This content includes several primary pages (such as my Landscape Design and Installation Philosophy page), a photos page, blog posts, and a video page, presented in fonts and colors commonly associated with the South Carolina Lowcountry.
I also make use of the “Landscaping Native” branding in e-newsletters (which link to specific sections of the site, depending on the topic), business cards (which prominently display Lowcountry Vistas’s logo, fonts, and colors), and even in the outfit I wear in the field, which always includes a shirt of a color similar to that of the logo, and a well-worn hat, which demonstrates that I’m not another transplanted designer who sits in front of a computer all day; I’m a Charleston native with a lifetime of real-life Lowcountry gardening experience.