Tag Archives: brandagency

The Write Stuff

Reading about writing is sort of like eating about cooking. They’re connected activities, but there’s a little more to it than tossing ingredients together and pulling out a lasagna. There are steps to creating strong content. 

First and foremost [and we can’t stress this enough] great content begins with great input. A talented copywriter may be able to build and expand on even small details, but give that same writer plenty of resources and background and they can work wonders. At helium, we’ve gotten pretty skilled at asking the right questions to gather the kind of insight that inspires writers, and we also make it a point to keep clients engaged in ongoing communication since sometimes ideas take time to mature.

Effective copywriting also has to consider style or tone. That’s because the way something is said is often just as – if not more – important than what is said. Very straight-laced, precise, almost academic language appeals to a different audience than content that has a humorous slant. Likewise, if there is an emotion an audience should feel when reading content, the choice of words and the length and flow of content matter tremendously.  

One of the most challenging aspects of creating excellent content is authenticity. There’s a big difference between a product that is truly innovative and one that simply comes in a new color. It is why diamonds are described as “exquisite” and rhinestones are simply “sparkly.” It can be easy to get attached to a specific word, but that doesn’t mean it is the right fit for every brand. When we create content for our clients we want them to be the best versions of themselves, while still remaining true to what their product, service, or offering actually is. In the long run, this closes more sales by attracting the right kinds of customers and prospects in the first place.

We’re a moody bunch with a bunch of mood boards

Mood boards are a critical step in our process. They allow us to capture the visual essence of a brand or project in a realm that is somewhere halfway between real and imagined. It allows us to help clients tap into their own creative vision and communicate their intentions and feelings much more clearly than words will sometimes allow.

mood board
Snippet of a mood board for our client, Casana, which helped shape the brand.

The mood board process helps us creatively as much as it help the client understand a direction. In our creative process, going through tons of visual inspiration will help shape the intangible concept in our head. Image after image starts to refine and idea and construct a direction that ultimately guides where we go with the brand — from storytelling, statements, and print collateral like brochures, packaging and stationery, to online material such as websites. The mood board helps get all the ideas in front of us.

retail branding
A snippet of our mood board for drip pop

With everyone picturing the same visual universe, we find projects move forward more efficiently. Instead of spending round after round of revisions to nail down design direction, we can spend more time executing the special details that make a project one of a kind. It might mean having extra time to add 3D renderings [check out helium reality  for more on this]. Other times, a streamlined creative development process may allow sales efforts to launch sooner, a quicker transition between temporary and permanent websites, or the addition of special finishes on printed pieces and animations on digital elements. 

Retail Branding
A snippet of our mood board for ROK Hotel and Residences

So, what goes into a mood board? That’s both the fun part and, perhaps, the most challenging. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it easily takes a thousand [or more] pictures to convey an idea as complex as an experience, an idea, a destination, or a home. We comb through a gross amount of images in magazines, websites, books, and everyone’s favorite: Pinterest. We’ve got our own bank of photographs and items we’ve collected of the years.

Discovery trips and travels
Mood boards are made up of collected items on Discovery trips and travels as well.

We scan what the competition is doing and look for uncharted territory. We sketch on notepads. We take our own photos of things that inspire us. We start arranging things together in a composition. We see what other team members think. We switch things in and out. And then… we walk away for a while and see what still strikes us as powerful and unique. After we’ve done all that about a dozen times [usually more], our clients get a chance to dive into the mood board themselves. It’s at that point that our role shifts from creators to listeners and observers. What was the initial reaction? Positive? Awe-inspired? Energized? Which elements are getting the biggest and best responses? Is it color? Camera angle? Something else? The mood board brings all of this to the forefront and becomes the anchor point for everything that comes next.