October 10, 2022No Comments

Business Supports the Arts

This year’s “Business Supports the Arts” theme was inspired by one of our favorite artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who often worked wearing Armani, showing up at public events in paint-splattered suits. We used the simple black tie as a symbol of support from local businesses, and a holding device for all the different forms of art the Cultural Alliance advocates for.

September 28, 2022No Comments

Support Arts Champions

We've made a pledge to support the arts. It's super easy and you get that warm feeling like being hugged by flannel in the fall. A couple of ways to do it:

1. Sign up for Create the Vote CT.
2. Check out the CT Arts Alliance survey responses to find out if your candidate also supports the arts.
3. Attend any of the Create the Vote forums happening around the state.
4. Vote on November 8th.

That's it! Learn more at ctartsalliance.org.

August 15, 2022No Comments

CT Arts Director’s Club Awards

Congratulations to the CT Arts Alliance and Sunfish Technologies for their recent Excellence Awards in Brand Identity Design from the @thecadc! We're so luck to partner with clients that are passionate about what they do, and have a true vision for how their brand should look and act. Our design solutions are always a result of real partnership and collaboration, so we consider these plaques all yours — if you don't mind, we're just going to display them in our office for a while. 😊

July 20, 2022No Comments

Alive at Five Revived!

The Alive at Five concert series has been a staple in Stamford for over 20 years. (We remember when it was free – and you could bring your own cooler.) When Stamford Downtown reached out to help bring the event back to life this summer, we just assumed the original “Alive @ Five” lockup would be a dreaded “mandatory.” But the more we explored, the more we felt it was time for a brand refresh. We presented 3 options, none of which included the old logo. (Though there may have been alts in our back pocket 😉 Then we just had a frank discussion about brand equity and the merits of maintaining a consistent look and feel versus breaking through the clutter with a bold new approach for 2022. Turns out, all we had to do was ask. The entire team was on board with the concept we dubbed “Summertime Rhythm & Rhyme.” We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. Look for this design to paint the town pink, teal, and tangerine all summer long.

June 1, 2022No Comments

The Arts Attract

New work for the CT Arts Alliance — The ONLY statewide non-profit organization that advocates for the arts in Connecticut. We are so humbled by this amazing opportunity to position the brand of a non-profit that is driven to build a healthy and vibrant arts sector. In an era when the arts fight for relevance and funding, the CT Arts Alliance works to unite all advocates to create a positive impact on communities, individuals and the economy.

The CT Arts Alliance lives in two worlds. One is a world of creativity – music, theatre, dance, performance, gallery, outdoor and public art. The other is a world of business dealing with local communities, the economy, and legislation at the state level. The brand needed to be both energetic and approachable. Vibrant and trustworthy. Motivational, confident, and memorable. In other words, it needed to be flexible – so we developed a system that could act as a resource for both inspiration and information. Check out our work, and see all that they do at https://ctartsalliance.org.

March 30, 2022No Comments

First Brand to Move

Traditional marketing puts an overwhelming amount of importance on the coveted first to market, especially in digital technology, product innovation, and even retail. It’s reasonable to understand why – the first mover is often rewarded with early adopters and a large slice of market share. This is especially true when the initial audience is relatively small, or there is likely to be stiff competition soon. But for many businesses and organizations, for example those in the service, specialty, and not-for-profit sectors, being first-to-market is both unlikely, and even risky. Short of consumer testing and market research, who’s to say your target will even drink the tea? 

For so many entrepreneurs, a focus on brand development prior to launch will lead to sustainable growth that far outweighs the importance of timing. As IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Jr. said in 1973, “good design is good business,” and a brand’s identity is built on a foundation of solid design. While it’s possible to evolve brand perception, thoughtful consideration prior to launch can help avoid costly brand dissonance in the future. Combined with sound strategy, a unique identity will help make an immediate emotional connection to the intended audience that will contribute to a brand’s longevity. 

Obviously, we’d see many more successful businesses out of the gate if developing an relevant brand was easy. It’s not, which is one reason even business owners that understand the critical role of branding often put it off. A good friend and entrepreneur once told me, “well, let’s just hang the ‘We’re Open’ sign now and then we can always revisit the branding later.” Those that understand the real value of design, like Mr. Watson Jr., realize that there is nothing more powerful in the marketing toolkit. If speed is of the essence, though, how can businesses that aren’t first movers really move their audience?

First, focus on adding real, tangible value to people’s lives. Think about the reasons people would choose your service or product over what’s already in the market. What problem are you trying to solve? Problems are almost never solved with a widget or fancy feature. Things we all like more of: love, money, and time. Saving a busy person 5 minutes during their hectic day is extremely valuable. Dig deep, and do some soul-searching to figure out what that unique value proposition is — then include that value in both your brand ethos, and your launch strategy. Reinforce that emotional connection at every brand touch point. When you offer something of value, your audience doesn’t care whether you were first to market, or last. 

Second, talk to and engage with your customers as if you are a person — because you are. Nobody likes talking to robots, at least robots without a personality. (My kids happen to love Alexa.) Your brand’s tone of voice helps to differentiate your business or product from your competitors. It’s important to consider and establish this tone prior to launch – especially if the first movers have already established one. Is your brand warm, empathetic, and endearing? Or loud, charismatic, even irreverent? Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. You might put off some potential customers, but the idea is not to please everybody. You’ll build a more meaningful connection with people who respect the fact that you stand for something.

Last, find the brand whitespace opportunities. If your business lives in a crowded space, don’t do what everybody else does. This may sound obvious, but examples of parody abound. How many pizza parlors maintain that they are the “home of the slice?” And most of them just blend in. How many pizza places do you know market cold mozzarella cheese on top of the melted cheese? I know of one, and they’ve been the most popular pizza place in town for as long as I can remember. How many brands of bottled water can you recall? Seems like aluminum could make a real splash. If you offer a similar product or service to other businesses in the market, find ways to add real value to your customers’ lives, talk to them like they are your friends (or like you want to be friends), and develop unique ways to differentiate your brand from your competitors.  

We live in a “launch now, learn later” world. Unfortunately, the reason we our fathers told us not to “judge a book by its cover” is because that’s what we do, instinctively. We’re human. First impressions are important, and not just with people. When I have a bad experience at a new local restaurant, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll bring my family there again. I’m not unreasonable, there are just too many other good options that exist. We form the same initial opinions about the products and services that we interact with. So why do we continually see brand launches that don’t form immediate positive connections with audiences? Because they haven’t take the time to invest in the values of their brand, they don’t speak to their customers like real people, and they market themselves the way everybody else does. 

Launch today, or launch tomorrow — products, services, and businesses that last are built on brands that move people. 

February 28, 2022No Comments

Opposites Attract

On February 16th, Map Agency hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with AIGA CT called Opposites Attract. The event featured 6 incredibly talented creatives that work at opposite ends of the design spectrum. Each set of "opposites" spoke about specific topics. Sam Becker, Software Director at IDEO, chatted with Rietje Becker, Creative Director at Soulsight about branding. JP Flagg, Creative Director at Arc Worldwide, discussed teamwork and collaboration with Rebecca Hansen, Creative Director at Kayak. Last, Steve Habersan, owner of Habby Art, teamed up with Daniel Sheridan, Owner of Sheriden Design, to wax about process. The event was free, and attended by over 40 people, including AIGA members and students from Syracuse VPA.

December 23, 2021No Comments

Map is Moving

Sitting on the banks of the mighty Pootatuck River in Sandy Hook, CT, sits a 150-year-old brick mill building where, legend has it, Charles Goodyear once experimented with the vulcanization process of rubber. Built in 1870 with timber framing and a gabled roof, we're proud to announce it now houses the new Map Agency office! Should you find yourself in this beautiful area of Newtown, stop in to say hello. Until then, please update your contact information with the following:

Map Agency
27 Glen Road, Suite #200
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Our new phone # is 203-304-1846

November 26, 2021No Comments

Open for Business?

Small Business Saturday is almost here – can your audience find you? Do they even know you have this cool product/business/idea/thing that exists?!!

As much as we hate to admit, most of us don’t break out the Yellow Pages to find a local coffee shop these days. We Google it. In light of the ensuing giving season, and that Big Holiday (eh hem, Small Business Saturday), here’s our gift to you: If you want your business to be discovered, either your physical location or a brief description of your service, the first thing to do is create a Google My Business Account. Here’s your new “Open for Business” sign. When you’re ready to start reaching and connecting with your audience or customers in unique ways that create engagement and loyalty, give us a call – we’ll get a coffee!

October 26, 2021No Comments

Top Branding Agency in CT

Map Agency has been recognized as a Top Branding Agency in Connecticut by DesignRush.

The DesignRush community lists over 9,300 agencies from over 50 different countries and is consulted by thousands of decision-makers looking to start a project. We're honored and excited to be recognized as we continue to grow our business and add services for our stellar list of happy clients.

Map is a strategic brand and design agency in Sandy Hook, CT. We launch brands that demand attention in today's radically competitive landscape. By partnering with people and businesses to better understand audiences, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems, we create innovative marketing solutions that help position brands on the Map.