Stillwater Women’s Business Bridge

June 14th, 2013


This morning I met a wonderful group of women at the Stillwater Women’s Business Bridge, where I also delivered my Branding 101: How to Hone Your Business Message talk. We had a great time breaking into groups and talking about the elements that make up our brands. I was also pleased that we came up with such great examples for our volunteer to describe her brand personality.

I’d also like to thank everyone who donated to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW). I am thrilled with the generosity of the group and am excited to present them with a check. Thank you for helping Mix to support MCBW.

Here’s a link to download a pdf of the Branding 101 PowerPoint. And please—keep in touch! I’d love to hear from you.

Katrina Hase
Mix Creative Owner

Animated History of Typography

May 20th, 2013

One of my colleagues shared this animated short about this history of typography and I liked it so much, I thought I’d share it with all of you! It’s important as a designer to understand where type came from so that you understand the underlying historical references you’re making in the selection of a particular typeface.



B2B Examples

April 19th, 2013

At Mix Creative, our primary focus is working with direct-to-consumer companies, particularly in the retail industry. However, we’ve had opportunity over the years to work with select business-to-business companies and have found it to be quite rewarding. Literally, in fact—our website design for Halleland Habicht, PA won an American Graphic Design Award!

Here are some examples of our B2B work. Note: click on images to see larger examples.

  1. An early project for us was working with the upstart internet company, The site achieved a significant amount of success in a short time, but ultimately was a victim of the early 2000s recession. A memorable comment from our client about the project was that the design of the site and accompanying collateral was “New York” design at Minnesota prices.

    Commercial real estate B2B example media kit, website refresh and direct mail design.

  2. We’ve partnered with marketing firms on several occasions to design collateral for their clients. One such firm was M Design Interactive, for whom we created many works, including this brand refresh for Anchor Capital Management and a brochure for a marketing firm in South Dakota that caters to hunting clubs.
    Anchor Capital Management brochure

    Anchor Capital Management brochure


    Above the Creek branding and brochure design

  3. Another marketing firm we’ve collaborated with in the early days of Mix was All Out Marketing. This firm specialized in medical markets. We created this over-sized brochure for one of their clients.


    Possis Medical brochure

  4. Chromis Fiberoptics has been, and continues to be, a client of Mix Creative. The firm first hired us to create custom graphics for their website. Since then, we’ve created dozens of custom illustrations, spec sheets, product sheet templates and more to help communicate their unique positioning in the fiber optics marketplace.


    Clockwise: Website Refresh, Illustrations and Diagrams

  5. Halleland Habicht is a current client. They came to Mix Creative to establish the look, feel and voice of their brand through their website design, advertising, communication pieces and more.


    Clockwise: Website, E-invitation, Pocket Folder, Print Advertisement

See other examples of our work on our portfolio page.


Client Interview: Darn Knit Anyway

April 5th, 2013


I’ve been wanting to showcase my clients for a while now, because I’m inspired by their success and they have a wealth of small business knowledge. I’m especially pleased to introduce Aimee Pelletier [pictured, right, next to a yarn-bombed tree in front of her store], owner of the Stillwater-based yarn shop,Darn Knit Anyway. When she first walked into my office four years ago, I could tell that this was a woman with a fantastic business sense. She came prepared with a written business plan, already knew her audiences, had spoken with a number of her potential competitors and had a vision for the shop she wanted to create. Now going on four years, Aimee’s business is thriving. I asked Aimee some questions about branding and marketing:

Q. How have you seen your business grow since you opened Darn Knit Anyway in 2009?

A. It’s grown a LOT! We’ve gone from 2 to 6 staff members and our sales are up 30% from our first year. We’ve also launched online class registration, started Darn. Knit. University, introduced our 12 in 12 program (12 sweaters in 12 months), and are about to add online yarn sales.

Q. How important is branding to your business?

A. In my mind, my brand includes my voice, my customers, the way my shop looks and feels, our staff, our website, our logo…everything. It’s important that everything associated with the store has the same welcoming, modern, easy feel. Our brand is totally about knowing who we are and conveying that in everything we do. That way, people always know they’re in the right place.

Examples of Darn Knit Anyway-branded items designed by Mix Creative

Q. How do you market your business?

A. We primarily market with our e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth.

Q. Which marketing tool do you feel is MOST important to your business?

A. Our e-newsletter is very important. We always see a spike in web traffic the day after I send it. Facebook is also important. We currently have 2097 likes. A recent photo we posted was shared 1200 times and had a reach of 130,000 views! Our average share is 3–6 and our average view per post is 500–1000.

Q. What lesson have you learned about marketing that you’d share with new business owners?

A. Go in STRONG. You have to be solid on your brand—know what it is—when you open. You can’t trickle in with your brand. Know it and launch it ALL OUT with a cohesive look and feel. It’s critical that all your stuff looks intentional. Have someone help you.

In addition to the marketing tools Aimee mentioned in our interview, Aimee has also published 277 blog posts on her website; created an implemented a program called “Darn Knit Anywhere“, which encourages customers to photograph themselves with their Darn Knit Anyway tote bag and email it or post it to Facebook for a discount; and helped organize events such as the Stitch-and-Pitch at the St. Paul Saints game or her own Naughty Knit Night, which was featured on Fox 9 news.

Trend Watch: The Snarky Spokeswoman

March 20th, 2013


I’ve been noticing a new trend in advertising: the Snarky Spokeswoman. More “Juno” than “Star Search,”  the spokeswoman  is typically an attractive and witty brunette who comes across as confident and knowledgeable about the products she’s hocking. Ads frequently feature the spokeswoman played against a bumbling or confused male, presumably with the intent of connecting to female audiences.

Notably, the Snarky Spokeswoman is being used to sell products in markets less traditionally marketed to women, including insurance, technology and automobiles. This seems to show a growing awareness among marketers that women are driving actual purchases in each of these markets.

Examples of the Snarky Spokeswoman include “Flo”(TM) from Progressive Insurance, Carly from T-Mobile, and “Jan” from Toyota. Each of these characters has been used in a series of television spots. Here are a few examples:

I should note that T-Mobile appears to be backing away from the Snarky Spokeswoman in more recent spots, which feature Carly strutting in tight leather and rarely opening opening her mouth to talk. It’s not clear to me whether they’ve intentionally shifted their focus to target male audiences (which these ads do), or have simply reverted to more traditional marketing that objectifies women as Carly gains in online popularity with men:

In fact, T-Mobile’s about-face from Snarky Spokeswoman to objectified sex kitten is even more obvious in one of their more recent spots, featuring “Sexy Carly” in a helicopter, not only does she not talk anymore, but there’s an authoritive male voiceover! Oh well, at least they kept the pink. That’s sure to connect with female audiences (note sarcasm).

All is Not Equal

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!



Six Big Things You Need To Do With Your Facebook page

January 29th, 2013

6 tips for facebook

1) Log in as the page and “Like” Facebook pages of other similar or related businesses where your target audiences are likely to visit. Later, you’ll be following their streams by clicking on the “Home” tab at the top of the page and liking their posts, leaving thoughtful comments and sharing their posts on your page.

2) Begin posting on your page daily. Keep it chatty, not authoritative. You want people to be both excited about your brand. People like feeling like they’re a part of your success or inside story. Ideas:

  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be funny.
  • Tell people what you’re excited about: is there a product or service that everyone is asking for right now? Did you discover a new use for an older product? Are you already hearing some great things? What are people asking you about your business? Publicly thank clients and vendors.
  • Post quick quotes
  • Let people know about any special offers you may have
  • Share articles related to your brand that people may find interesting. Make sure to note why you think they’re interesting to you!

3) Post photos. It’s OK if they’re snapshots, especially if they show something current that relates to your brand. With permission, feature a staff member or customer. Show what you’re working on, pictures of speaking engagements, a press kit you just got in the mail, etc. Repost funny photos or comics with a comment.

4) Use the Events tab to post information about upcoming speaking engagements or publicity events

5) Use the Notes tab to post related articles  (treat it kind of like a blog entry)

6) INVITE YOUR CONTACTS to like your page. Use the “Build Audience” tab at the top of the page.

Rock Your Brand in 2013

January 8th, 2013

Thank you to all who attended my talk at this morning’s Women in Networking breakfast. I was honored to be able to present our talk on how to rock your brand in 2013. In case you missed it, or just want to revisit some of the elements that make a brand, you can download a pdf of the presentation here.

Best wishes, and please keep in touch!Sincerely,Katrina Hase
Owner and Creative Director of Mix Creative