Traverse City Business News | Building the Brand: Our annual look at a sampling of local ad agencies and their work

Building the Brand: Our annual look at a sampling of local ad agencies and their work

How much of an organization’s success is fueled by good marketing? Just about all of it.

From logos to slogans to websites to social media content, a surprising amount of the public-facing identity and messaging of any business or nonprofit (and even some public entities) is the result of deeply strategic marketing decisions.

Sometimes, those decisions are guided by in-house marketing teams. Perhaps more often – especially for a small town with a lot of small businesses – a lot of that vision is driven or helped along by outside marketing firms and their teams.

To get a better sense of just how much influence a marketing agency can have on a business community like ours, the Traverse City Business News asked four (among the many and talent-laden) local agencies about their services, clients, projects and 2021 accomplishments.

Tessa Lightly, content and social media strategist, Oneupweb

Number of employees: 45

Top three services: Website design and development; search engine optimization; video marketing

Regional clients: Northwestern Michigan Health Services, Inc.; Oryana Community Co-op; Bel Lago; Chateau Grand Traverse; Traverse City Downtown Development Authority; Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.; Short’s Brewing Company; Turtle Creek and Leelanau Sands casinos; Honor Bank; Boat Trailer Supply; Grand Traverse Resort and Spa; Windemuller

2021 case study:

Windemuller – a Michigan-based electrical and design-build contractor – needed a modern, easy-to-navigate website that made their services easy to understand. Their website speeds were down … and their content lacked structure and calls to action. With nearly 100 core pages explaining their specialties, Oneupweb’s search engine optimization and content marketing team was eager to get started on that task while our developers and designers started creating.

The Windemuller team acknowledged that their service pages needed an overhaul. Oneupweb helped them identify opportunities to streamline their services section and make sure it accurately represented their capabilities. The Oneupweb team also conducted extensive research to ensure that high-opportunity keywords (were) targeted throughout the new website.

Meanwhile, Oneupweb’s design and development teams worked closely with Windemuller to create a new website that’s appealing, easy to navigate, and conveys Windemuller’s brand and values. Each page cross-links to related content, making it easy for the user to learn more about Windemuller’s many services and past projects. And with calls-to-action baked into each page, it’s easy for the user to contact Windemuller directly to ask questions or discuss an upcoming project.

Oneupweb’s photography team also spent a day shooting job sites, work vans and personnel for Windemuller. The photos provide the new website with fresh imagery portraying Windemuller’s branding, scope of services and strong work ethic.

Since the website launched on Dec. 2, organic sessions to the website have increased more than 37%, the bounce rate has dropped 25% and pages per session and average session duration have both increased more than 26%.

Marsha Stratton, owner, Idea Stream

Number of employees:  4

Top three services: Logo and brand development; website design and development; media buying and public relations services

Regional clients: Catholic Human Services; Associates in Dermatology; Sonny’s Body Shop; LochenHeath Golf Club; Nowak Cabinets; Popp Excavating; MPN Home Builders

2021 case study:

We were engaged in a complete rebrand and website rebuild for Catholic Human Services (CHS). This nonprofit agency has offered services to a large northern Michigan service area for over 50 years, but they have a brand that is not recognized in the community for the most part. Chances are people have heard about one of the services they offer, but didn’t know the direct association with their organization.

The purpose of the rebrand had several facets: First, CHS needed to provide education to the various communities they serve through the many family and individual services offered. They needed to be a resource for referring agencies with clients who need their services.

An additional goal was to reach out to community members who would like to participate in the various programs offered by CHS and become associated in a volunteer capacity.

The third goal was to make it easy to become a donor. This agency operates on donor funding and wanted to create an easy donation process for members of our community.

Since CHS is celebrating 50 years of service, Idea Stream wanted to bring that milestone forward so northern Michigan communities could see the vast array of services offered and stand behind the organization with the opportunity to make financial donation.

We are proud to be associated with CHS and the rebranding initiative. This new messaging brings forward the services offered by the organization so that individuals and families can receive needed services, new volunteers are engaged with fostering various programs, and donors can become a part of the solution.

Karl Bastian, creative director, PB&J

Number of employees: 4

Top three services: Strategic planning; brand and creative development; social and digital marketing

Regional clients: 4Front Credit Union; Peterson McGregor Insurance; Maxbauer’s Meat Market; Traverse City Tourism; Grand Traverse Distillery; Northern Building Supply; Substance Free Coalition of Northwest Michigan; Father Fred Foundation; High Street Insurance Partners

2021 case study:

There are two projects we’re very proud of this year.

The first is the work we’ve done for the Substance Free Coalition of Northwest Michigan. We’re in the third year of an ongoing marketing campaign aimed at preventing prescription opioid use disorder throughout northwest Michigan. We developed a comprehensive strategy that included all major media: social, digital, billboard, print, TV and radio.

Since the campaign broke, we’re continuing to see lives positively impacted by our efforts. People are more aware of the dangers of opioids, are having discussions with their families and physicians regarding their use, and leveraging the available resources to address any issues with opioid use. Last year, this campaign won best of show at the Great Lakes Bay Region Advertising Awards Show.

The second project is the rebranding of Grand Traverse Distillery, Michigan’s oldest continually operated craft distillery. We had the opportunity to take this well-established brand and give it an entirely new look, feel and attitude. We refreshed the packaging for their entire product line, giving it a cleaner, more contemporary style so it stands out on store shelves. In addition, we created a new website, graphics for their tasting rooms across the state and a full suite of marketing materials – including print ads, a brand video, and social and digital executions.

The new branding has been extremely well-received and retailers and customers have commented positively about it. Our work was recently featured in Lurzers Archive, a prestigious, Austrian-based publication that recognizes creative excellence in advertising from around the world. PB&J was featured alongside top agencies in New York, Los Angeles, France, England, Japan and more.

Jennifer Lake, owner, Brand Tonic

Employees: 2

Top three services: Brand development (including brand messaging and visuals); identity design and development (including logo, naming and identity materials); and non-profit campaign creative (including theme, communication materials and website)

Sample of regional clients: The Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park; The Center for Plastic Surgery/Copper Aesthetics; Charlevoix County Community Foundation; Chateau Chantal; Golden Swan Management; Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation; Interlochen Center for the Arts; Newton’s Road; Northwestern Michigan College (NMC); Northwest Michigan Health Services Inc.; Old Town Playhouse; The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay; Traverse City International Curling Center

2021 case study:

2021 was the year of the nonprofit campaign. We helped five regional nonprofits develop case statements and campaign themes to kick off leadership phases of their multi-year giving campaigns. The messaging and design wrapped around each of these campaigns helped bring clarity, excitement, and consistency for the clients, donors, and community.

In addition, we completed our work this year for NMC’s Be What’s Possible campaign. For this critical community fundraising campaign, we developed brand messaging; outlined a multi-year communications plan; and designed the campaign logo, identity standards, case statement, public kick-off materials, and creative advertising.

With the size of the Be What’s Possible campaign goal ($35 million) and the elements involved for a comprehensive reach, the NMC Foundation team wanted to bring in an experienced partner to help handle design and management of many communication pieces. We were able to respond quickly to changing needs over the three years of the campaign and deliver creative elements that had energy and purpose.

We were honored to be NMC’s partner, working with their great team to ensure the longevity of a true educational and cultural asset to our community. Being involved in such a meaningful campaign that will change the lives of students and community members is what it’s all about for us. We are thrilled for NMC’s continued success and the all who support it.




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