Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

All is Not Equal

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013


The other day, I came across this sign at the entrance of a Sports Authority:



The two equally sized signs seemed to have conflicting messages: “Welcome/Come In” and “Not an Entrance/Get Lost”. I literally had to study the handles on the doors to determine what I was expected to do. Eventually I figured it out, but I was still left with a rather jarring sense that I wasn’t wanted here.

The problem with these signs is that they failed to communicate a hierarchy. Yes, it’s important that folks not get smacked with customers exiting the door to the right, but it’s MOST important that customers feel welcomed into the store using the appropriate door, right?

Hierarchy is a principal in design in which messages are communicated visually in the order of importance. A design with no hierarchy leaves the observer to their own wits to decipher meaning. A more appropriate visual hierarchy of the above example would look something like this:

Improved-HierarchyThis example clearly welcomes visitors to the left door, while also appropriately discouraging use of the incorrect door. The message is quickly read and deciphered and the visitor feels welcomed.

Make sure you consider hierarchy in the design of everything you present for your company. Know which messages are most important to communicate quickly to your audiences and make sure graphic layouts support those messages!



Guide to Business Card Shapes

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012


WordPress Resources

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Stuck writing a post or editing a page on your WordPress site? Help is on the way! has a ton of “how-to” content to help you accomplish what you need. Here are a few resources to get you started:


Recent Work

Monday, March 5th, 2012


Recently, we had the opportunity to design the identity, website and business cards for a new store: Forget Me Not In Stillwater. For the design, we drew upon a combination of trellis-style frames and old world illustrations with fresh, contemporary colors. Here’s the result:

Forget Me Not Business CardsPin It

NBA Missing Its Shot to Reach Female Fans

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Women and Basketball


Superstar point guard Ricky Rubio has done the unthinkable—he’s got me watching and following a professional sports team for the first time in my life. I suppose I should have seen this coming, after spending weekend upon weekend watching my son’s basketball team play back-to-back games, but nevertheless, my friends and family remain bewildered at my transformation.

Apparently, though, I’m not the only female NBA fan out there. Rob Mahoney’s article, The NBA’s Forgotten Demographic, states that 40% of NBA fans are women. Despite this significant demographic, women—such as blogger and Hornets season ticket holder Sarah Tolcser—reports that the NBA fails to understand female fans.

Sarah observes that scantily dressed dancers and advertising spots with sexist overtones fail to connect with her as a female consumer. And attempts to connect with fans like herself by offering pink jerseys (“Do you know that you’re wasting your time bedazzling things and making them pink, when my team wears teal?”) and “family friendly” promotions have little effect on her. In fact, Sarah identifies herself as part of a growing class of unmarried women, ages 25–44, without children.

As for my experience, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a game for just $20 as part of the Timberwolves’ Ladies Night Out promotion because the price was right. But given the nosebleed seats that came with the offer, I’d gladly trade the $20 spa and $10 restaurant coupons (which I’m sure I’ll never use) for first deck seats. Heck, I’d even throw in the free wine or beer (which, as my son pointed out, was different from the “beer-only” offer the NBA offered for Guys Night Out).

But it’s not just the NBA that’s missing the mark in appealing to folks like me. As a recent sports convert, I’ve found myself wrestling the sports section away from my husband to read about the previous night’s game and pour over the stats for my favorite players. In the process, I’ve encountered a bit of a language barrier; I struggle to decipher insider sports jargon that my husband seems to know intuitively. For example, even though I played basketball as a child, I struggled with terms like “hit it,” “at the elbow,” “getting to the line,” and dozens of phrases which all seem to mean “field goal.” I also searched in vain to find the key for the abbreviations at the top of the stats columns.

But it’s not just the jargon that feels off. The focus of the writing doesn’t feel like it’s for me. While sports articles center on male-oriented objectives that assess “who’s the best”—records, stats, and contracts —deeper “people” stories, more likely to appeal to women, are missing: Why didn’t Randolph play last night? How is Derrick Williams feeling about his rookie year now that it’s half over? Why is Love considered such a great player when he’s always blaming his hands or the referee? Perhaps it’s because as a whole, women comprise roughly only 10 percent of the sports journalism work force. Whatever the cause, there’s a missed opportunity here to present a more balanced perspective of the sport that will appeal to a broader audience.

My journey into the world of NBA basketball might have started with the flash and dazzle of a Rubio-ruled Timberwolves game, but it’s also presenting itself as a valuable lesson to me as a marketer and for others who market to women. What have I learned?

  1. Ask (and listen to) what your audiences want. If the Timberwolves had asked me what I had wanted for Ladies’ Night Out, I would have told them $20 off main floor seats. Getting feedback could avoid the sense in your audience that they’re “buying a product we aren’t even sure you want us to be buying. Because we love basketball. And sometimes I feel like we’re putting up with a lot, just to love basketball,” as Sarah Tolcser states.
  2. Don’t isolate potential audiences.Beer advertisements that air during games clearly continue to market to men. But with women accounting for approximately 25% of beer sales (but 55% of wine), there’s a growth potential for this market (that number goes up when you consider purchases women make for events).

    Beer advertisers take note: women turned out in large numbers for this beer event.

    In marketing to women, should advertisers be concerned about men running the other direction? In a word, no. According to Marti Barletti, “effectively targeting women generates higher customer satisfaction among both women and men”, in part because women want the same things as men—and then some. Fulfilling the expectations of women, she says, more than fulfills the demands of men. (Marketing to Women: How to Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market, 2006)

  3. Skip the jargon. Jargon, by its nature, is fun for people “in the know,” but excludes others. If your goal is to appeal to a broader audience, it’s best to stick to plain English.
  4. Strive to paint a balanced picture. Understand what your audiences want to learn, and work to present the information in a way that enhances the experience for both men and women.


As for why I like Rubio: it’s not because of his “twinkling eyes” or mischievous grin*,  as so many people assume when I talk about Rubio and the Timberwolves. It’s his love and passion for the game, and how he makes the people around him better. That’s a theme that should resonate with men and women alike.

*JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune, “Ricky Rubio seemed to suggest with that twinkle in his eyes and a mischievous grin

Author Katrina Hase looks forward to attending the Timberwolves vs. Indiana Pacers game in the nosebleed section of Target Center tomorrow night.

Marketing Budgets 101

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Map your company’s marketing budget now and navigate your way to consistent branding.

Few people would argue that having a budget for office supplies, personnel, or vendor services is not a good idea. But too often, people approach their marketing in a scattered fashion, creating a piece of marketing collateral as the need arises, or placing an ad when a good deal comes their way. The result? Overspending on some projects, underspending on others, and an overall inconsistent message to your target audiences.

The solution? Plan your marketing budget for the year, then spend it strategically.

As a rule of thumb, many experts suggest spending 8-10% of your annual budget on marketing. This is helpful, but it’s also important to ask yourself about your marketing goals as they relate to your company’s overall exposure and branding.

For example, if you’re a new company, your budget should be larger than 10% of your expected annual revenue to accommodate the need for basic start-up materials, such as a logo, website, business cards, business stationery and marketing collateral.

If you have an established company with a strong client base, perhaps you’ll plan your budget with the objective of staying in front of your audiences through primarily advertising efforts.

Finally, if your company is going through a transition or is ready to refresh your marketing materials, you should plan to spend a little more to re-communicate your brand through a logo refresh, website makeover, and updated marketing collateral. Don’t forget a roll-out advertising campaign to let your clients know how you’re changing!

Wherever your business falls on this continuum, know that your marketing budget will need to encompass a range of products and services, including many of the following:

  •     marketing consultation, planning, or market research
  •     graphic design services
  •     media purchasing
  •     printing services
  •     website hosting
  •     website programming
  •     copywriting
  •     video production
  •     professional photography
  •     model fees

Confused about what you may need? Get suggestions from your agency. They’ve likely worked with companies of many sizes, and can help you prioritize your marketing needs based on experience, and even give you ballpark estimates of costs. Better yet, if you know your budget, enlist your agency to help you spend it strategically. They can help you determine where it makes sense to cut costs and where it may make sense to spend a little more.

Here are a few more resources to consider when planning your company’s marketing budget:

Video Parody Holds Lessons for Marketing to Women

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011


This video, a parody about common phrases women say, was meant to amuse but it’s got me thinking about marketing to women. When I first saw this video, posted by a friend in my Facebook stream, I couldn’t stop watching it—I think I’ve said most of those things (except “Twinsies!”) at one point or another! After watching it several times it occurred to me why I enjoyed it so much: these comedians were clearly paying attention to women: not only what we say, but our mannerisms, the way we dress for different social occasions, and the differences between how we behave around the men and the other women in our lives. I’m not alone in my enjoyment of the video: to date it has nearly 2 million views, and has been accumulating likes and reshares on Facebook, almost exclusively by women.

Imagine if companies marketing to women took the time and effort to understand their audiences as well as the comedians in the video, instead of guessing what they think we might want. Perhaps they’d stop creating women’s versions of men’s shavers by simply putting flowers on them, or creating a “girl’s” website version of a computer site (Dell’s tragic “Della” experiment). With women’s 85% share of buying power in the market, one could argue its in companies’ best interests to get to know women well—really well—as the writers and actors in this video has done. Sure, it’s more work, but the payoff can be substantial for those who take the time to get to know women and market to them in a way that connects with us as this video has done.

New Work: Surround Sound Concert Poster

Friday, November 4th, 2011


Surround Sound Concert Poster

Mix Creative designed a concert poster for the upcoming Twin Cities Women’s Choir’s 15th Anniversary concert, Surround Sound. The concert will celebrate the choir’s 150 women’s voice and the richess of stories and sound established over the choir’s 15 years. The concert will blend with the gospel/jazz of the Bruce A Henry band.

In creating the design, Mix Creative’s creative director, Katrina Hase, conceptualized sound as waves, emanating from a central source: the choir’s 15 years. “Sound wave” design elements lead the eye toward the concert name, which is intentionally broken after the SUR- to emphasize the relationship between “round” and “sound”, thus implying a fullness of the auditory experience. Superimposing these graphic elements over a duo-toned image of the choir, the design captures a sense of the excitement of viewing the choir.

Hase referenced the Choir’s brand elements through use of the brand’s color palette, solid bars, brand mark, and brand fonts (text about location, etc.). “The challenge in designing a poster for the Twin Cities Women’s Choir,” Hase explained, “is to create an exciting and independent sub-brand—the concert—while staying true to the Choir’s overall branding.”

Halleland Habicht Photo Shoot

Monday, September 19th, 2011


Mix Creative owner and creative director Katrina Hase introduces Halleland Habicht’s Katheryn Gettman, who explains how each lawyer personalizes their bio photo with meaningful props.

See how the shoot turned out!

Behind the camera (not shown): Rod Wilson

The Kiehl’s Bottle and Design

Friday, September 16th, 2011


Kiehls Jar

Graphic design author Robin Williams wrote once that “most people can look at a poorly designed page and state that they don’t like it, but they don’t know how to fix it.”

Practiced graphic designers know the fix. How? Because they apply some basic rules to their layouts that help to direct the viewer’s eye, clearly communicate a hierarchy of content, create an aesthetically pleasing design, avoid unintentional meaning, and more. (more…)