2019 Year-in-Review Highlights

Let our work speak for itself.

16 times on the podium:

  • Entrepreneur 360 | 2019 Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America
  • AZ Central Top Companies to Work For in Arizona, Small Company
  • Phoenix Business Journal Best Places to Work in the Valley
  • MarCom Award | Web Video/Marketing | Travel Costa Mesa
  • MarCom Award | Web Video/Marketing | National Harbor
  • MarCom Award | Marketing/Promo Campaign/Branding Refresh | Travel Costa Mesa
  • MarCom Award | Marketing/Promo Campaign/Branding Refresh | Spinato’s Pizzeria
  • MarCom Award | Web Video/Marketing | Travel Costa Mesa
  • MarCom Award | Marketing/Promotion/Guide | Travel Costa Mesa
  • Addy Award | Elements of Advertising-Logo Design | Loft+Manor
  • Addy Award | Branded Content & Entertainment | Travel Costa Mesa
  • Addy Award | Sales & Marketing | Hotel Valley Ho
  • Addy Award | Integrated Advertising National Consumer Campaign | Mountain Shadows
  • Addy Award | Print Advertising, Branded Content & Entertainment | The Cliffs Hotel & Spa
  • Spaces Arizona Awards 2019 | Best in show
  • 2019 PRSA Phoenix Award of Merit | Colleen’s Dream Foundation Butterfly Effect Campaign

6 Brand Videos:

10 Rebrands & New Brands:

  • Camelot Homes
  • National Harbor
  • Starfire Golf Club
  • Cabana
  • Mavrix
  • Spinatos Pizzeria
  • ECD Systems
  • ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
  • From the Rooftop
  • Poppy

16 New Websites:

2020 promises to be filled with more of the exciting projects and people that make TJA so special. Cheers to the new year!

5 tips to help you calm the crazy during photo/video shoots

A big shoot is coming up, and you’re getting prepared for the fast-paced, rapid-fire action. If you haven’t read our blog on everything that comes before the shoot, go check it out now to make sure all your bases are covered. Shoot days are always sprinkled with a bit of mania since time is limited and there likely isn’t a second chance to get it right. This guide is here to help you make the most of your day, keep the cast and crew efficient, and minimize the guesswork involved when calling the shots.

Bring your bible.

You’ll live by your shotlist on the day of the shoot. It serves as the rough itinerary of your day, and has all the information that anyone involved with the shoot would need to know:

  • The contact information for the crew, client, talent and venue
  • Shoot schedule
  • Concept overview
  • Storyboard and moodboard
  • Keywords and messaging
  • Script
  • Model release forms.

Bring one for yourself, and bring a few extras for key members of the shoot.

The purpose of a shot list is to tell you precisely what you need to capture and how. It minimizes the time spent hemming and hawing over how to get the right angle, or whether you should do certain shots now or later. Of course, there will always be some in-the-moment decision making, and you’ll have to be flexible if the shot you planned isn’t executing the way you hoped. But the keywords here are “it minimizes time.” Often, you get one go-round at a big shoot. Do-overs are impractical and expensive, so pre-planning as much as possible helps you when you start rolling.

Scout. 

It’s a tale as old as catfishing: online pictures are not always faithful to the IRL experience. If you’ve only been able to see the shooting location online, make sure you take some time before cameras, cast and crew all show up to scope out the scene for yourself. Maybe things have moved, buildings aren’t as attractive as they once were or it’s much, much smaller than you had envisioned. Give yourself the chance to prepare for these new circumstances, or plan alternatives to make things easier. Doing this in advance saves some time. 

Hot tips: 

  • Google street view. It’s not like being there in person, but if you only have architecture shots from five years ago to go off of, the street view gives a more faithful day-to-day representation for outdoor settings. 
  • FaceTime. If you have someone on the ground you can call, have them give you a quick, virtual walkabout. 
  • Have a plan B. Even before you go scouting, do a little research on what other nearby areas could serve the same purpose if you need to make a last-minute switcheroo.

Get there early. 

We cannot emphasize this enough. Whatever you think is early, show up half an hour earlier than that. Murphy’s Law seems to apply in double doses for shoot days. Having a little extra time at the beginning to get your mind right, smooth the rough edges, make sure everyone is adequately caffeinated, relocate people who are sitting in a spot you have to set up, help crew with any questions, run over your shot list, etc. etc. etc. will help the whole process. 

What to do when people don’t show. 

Welp. It was bound to happen sooner or later. But now’s no time to panic: you brought those extra model release forms, right? Okay, great. Look around you. Are there people walking by who would be able to fill those roles? Approach them politely and ask them if they want to be in a movie. We’re entirely serious. This is one of those times where you just gotta roll with the punches and do the best you can with what you got, and sometimes who you’ve got is a kind stranger off the street.

Keep an open mind.

Having a flexible approach is your biggest strength. Be ready for anything (and we mean anything) and stay light enough on your feet to make quick decisions. If you see the potential for a better shot than the one you had planned, be willing to take that calculated risk. This is a creative activity, after all. Trust your crew and talent to do what they do best. Know when you’re needed to manage a situation, and otherwise, take a step back and let it flow.

5 things you have to do before shooting a brand video to make it a success.

Everything that comes before “Lights, camera, action!”

Creating a brand video is the ultimate creative project. Storytelling harmonizes with videography to become a money-making, movie-quality video the client gets to splash across their website, paid media and social media platforms. However, there’s more to creating a film than storyboarding and day-of shoots; myriad decisions that involve other departments are critical to the final result. In this blog, we’re highlighting four considerations that go into making our award-winning brand videos. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on behind the scenes.

How media buying influences videography. 

One of the biggest influences on a brand video comes from the media department. How will the video be used? Has ad space been bought that comes with sizing and timing constraints? Taking the endgame usage into consideration at the very beginning will eliminate many challenges during the editing phase. If you know you need a fifteen-second, vertical video for promoted stories on Instagram, writing that into the storyboard will align the creative process with the practical application. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Start a “future project” section part of your storyboard that lists all the applications for this video. Where will it be posted? How long will it be? What are the specs for social media platforms where it’ll go up? Usage can determine content, so having a written-out understanding can constructively guide creative brainstorming. 

KPIs and client objectives.

Keeping the measurable goals in mind is not a very sexy part of the creative process, but it’s essential. It actually makes telling your story easier by supplying queues on what to include and what to leave out. Understand upfront how the value of this brand video will be determined. Knowing what will be considered a success from the client’s perspective will prevent difficult conversations down the road. Better to course-correct toward the beginning than realize at the very end that your goals and the client’s objectives are entirely estranged.

Add this to your to-do list:
Before any work is done on concepting the video, agree upon three measurable KPIs and write them at the top of any documents relating to the shoot. Get a written statement from the client stating what they will consider a success and keep that as a North Star throughout the duration of the project.

How casting and data go hand in hand.

Did you know Google Analytics can help you narrow in on whom you should cast in your video? Here at TJA, we do significant research on target audiences to understand who they are and what they want. Casting decisions should take demographic and psychographic data pulled from reliable sources into consideration. Choose actors whom your audience can empathize with or aspire to be. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Have your team source information about your audience from your first-party platforms, like Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics. Combine that with third-party industry data to make data-backed casting decisions. 

Location, location, location. 

You’ve seen pictures online; maybe you spent some time on the Google Street View scoping out the area. Now it’s time to visit the locations IRL. It’s critical that you get face-to-face with your shooting spots. Assuming that the space will work without walking through it is like trusting a kindergartener with your dental work. Get a grasp on the variables, so that they don’t end up undermining the whole operation. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Walk through all of your pre-planned shots in the space so that you can check how angles, lighting and framing are going to turn out. Nine times out of ten, you’ll discover there’s a shot that isn’t quite as feasible as you thought. Do this far enough in advance so you can make edits to the shot list without throwing everything into chaos. 

So where does creativity come in?

Even with all these external considerations, the core of filming a brand video is to tell a story. The narrative thread will be the heart and soul for creative efforts. Media, target audience data and location provide the structure to build the story around. Additionally, once shooting begins, there will inevitably be improvisation. You’ll need to get creative with shots when timing gets tight, or when things on set don’t go to plan. Stay loose and go with the flow; it’s better to think on your feet than to force a shot just for the sake of the storyboard. Keep standards of quality high and the finished product in mind: an unexpected, dramatic sunset can be the money shot that pulls the whole video together. 

Add this to your to-do list:
During the lead up, think hypothetically about multiple ways you can achieve the same effect if an obstacle crops up. How will you handle talent running late? Adverse weather? Set malfunctions? Lost props? By employing problem-solving before you even reach the set, your mind will be primed to handle any situation you find yourself in. 

High stakes and tight turn arounds.

A project manager’s perspective.

You never know what will come your way when you work in advertising. The most painstakingly coordinated tasks and schedules can become little more than color-coded scrap paper when the perfect opportunity pops up out of the blue. When a shot too good to pass up comes our way, it falls to the project managers (PMs) to be the eyes in the sky. They’re the ones rearranging the pieces so our clients can make the most of every opportunity.

In the words of Tim Gunn: “Make it work.”

We’re can-do kind of people ‘round these parts, so when we have the chance to make national impact for a worthy organization, we take it. That sometimes means putting the pedal to the metal and generating all the creative collateral in two days. Organization is the make-or-break factor for any high-stakes undertaking, and our PM Riley gave us some tips for how she approaches a project where every minute counts:

  1. Get organized and make a plan of attack to avoid any snags that come along. And trust us, there will be snags.
  2. Detail! Be meticulously detailed when you write up the expectations for each deliverable. This is majorly important when it comes to facilitating an efficient project.
  3. Most important: communication. Over-communicate with your team. Even when there’s only a short amount of time allocated to a project, you need to work in tandem with your designers, copywriters, developers, etc. Being overly-communicative with your clients will also help alleviate any confusion that pops up along the way.

It takes two to tango and four to pull off a campaign.

The collaborative nature and tight schedule of the World Ovarian Cancer Day fundraiser meant there were a lot of parties with a vested interest in making sure it was successful. TJA was the creative agency (and center of communication), Colleen’s Dream Foundation was the recipient nonprofit organization, seven Pacific Retail locations across the country hosted murals made by the Butterfly Effect, which was the nonprofit agent that facilitated these flash fundraisers. In addition to these main players, there were print vendors and overnight shippers to keep in touch with. Riley shares how she keeps communication straight between everyone involved for seamless handoffs and no missteps:

  1. Make sure everyone is on the same page across the board: the clients, account managers and team members should all have identical expectations of the outcome.
  2. Clients should receive consistent updates on the status of each deliverable. Radio silence never ends well.
  3. Identify and address any potential hiccups as soon as they occur. It’s easier to solve problems when they’re small than once they’ve exploded. Frequent communication is the key to troubleshooting.

A recap is worth $1,000. 

The fundraiser was a success. All the collateral arrived in time at the Pacific Retail destinations across the nation, and lots of posts went on social media featuring pictures of people posing against the Butterfly Effect murals. All told, about $1,000 was raised during World Ovarian Cancer Day for Colleen’s Dream, and the campaign won a 2019 PRSA Phoenix Award of Merit. But the most crucial part of any project is reflecting on the results—what went right and what can be improved upon next time. What are the most important aspects to include in a review? Riley’s so glad you asked:

  1. Compare the goals of the project to the outcomes. Provide explanations for how these goals were met and identify opportunities for improvement.
  2. Highlight any eye-catching issues and successes so the team can remedy or replicate them next time.
  3. Memorialize successful processes so they can be employed in the future. Share these internally with the team so everyone can benefit from the knowledge.

Give your PMs some love (and take a page from their book).

We know we’d be lost without the scheduling savvy of our PMs and their on-top-of-it-all-ness. Just for fun, we also asked Riley to share what would make a PM’s life easier as well as what we can take from her process and apply to our everyday lives.

  1. It’s important that the team communicate with the project managers, of course, but it’s also vital that they communicate amongst themselves. If you’re working on a project, explain your thought process, and share any suggestions you have before you hand it off to the next person.
  2. We know it’s no fun to admit you’re struggling, but it truly makes everything easier in the long run if you’re upfront with any issues that arise. Your team won’t judge (at least not too hard), because everyone is working toward the best possible outcome.
  3. It’s corny, we know, but have fun with your tasks! It makes work interesting, it keeps you engaged with the projects and, oftentimes, clients will end up loving adventurous takes on their brand.

The James Agency’s Creative Wins Big with U.S. Travel Association

Ad agency’s ‘Split Decisions’ campaign for client Travel Costa Mesa wins two ESTO awards

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (August 22, 2019) – A marketing campaign created by hospitality and tourism advertising agency, The James Agency (TJA), was awarded two Destiny Awards at the U.S. Travel Association’s ESTO conference in Austin, Texas this week. The annual awards ceremony recognizes excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing at the local and regional level.

TJA’s “Split Decisions” campaign was part of a total brand refresh for client, Travel Costa Mesa, a Southern California destination marketing organization (DMO). The campaign utilized a “two halves of a whole” design narrative that transformed stereotypical branding into an authentic realization of the fresh and urban experiences that Costa Mesa has to offer. Of the 16 Destiny Awards presented, Travel Costa Mesa won two: one for a branding campaign in the $500,000 – $1,000,000 marketing budget category and another for the People’s Choice Award.

The campaign included the creation of brand videos and the design of traditional and digital ads targeting a younger market of foodies and weekend travelers. Within a year of the campaign’s initiation, Travel Costa Mesa saw a 23 percent increase in engagement by its target age market and a 22 percent increase in leads to its hotel partners.

“TJA was tasked with captivating a younger age group – a generation that dreams of travel and curated experiences,” said Veronique James, CEO of The James Agency. “I’m proud of the amazing creative my team conjured up that captured the notion of limitless possibilities in Costa Mesa.”

TJA, an integrated advertising, public relations and digital marketing firm, lead the research, brand development, website redesign, email and content marketing for Travel Costa Mesa, which is located in the heart of Orange County.

“The Travel Costa Mesa team is thrilled to be recognized for our work in destination marketing this year for the unique and vibrant City of the Arts®,” said Kim Glen, Director of Marketing. “We’re grateful to the U.S. Travel Association and all those who voted for us, and big kudos to the creative talents of our partners at The James Agency, who were instrumental in developing this fun, integrated branding campaign.”

Founded in 2005 by James, TJA specializes in working with hospitality, restaurant, real estate and experiential brands. In addition to Travel Costa Mesa, TJA is the agency of record for the National Harbor Convention and Visitors Association on the East Coast.

A complete list of the Destiny Awards finalists and winners can be found online.

About The James Agency

An integrated agency specializing in consumer advertising, public relations and digital, The James Agency (TJA) custom fits a comprehensive, insights-driven marketing strategy for each client. Founded in 2005 by Veronique James, TJA represents travel, tourism, hospitality and lifestyle brands.

About Travel Costa Mesa

Located in the heart of Orange County in Southern California with a population of approximately 113,000, Travel Costa Mesa was established in 1995 with the primary goal of promoting tourism to the city and to fund programs and activities that benefit the hotel and motel businesses within the city of Costa Mesa. For more information on travel to the city of Costa Mesa, visit www.travelcostamesa.com  or follow @travelcostamesa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Travel Costa Mesa is a 501(c)(6).

Considerations for collaborations: How to make unique brands work together.

Marketing is a group activity.

However, branding is often created and deployed in a silo. There are some external considerations of course—industry trends, competitor sets, etc.—but beyond that, brand development is not a decision that necessarily needs to be “coordinated” with anything outside of the company. Even nested organizations or those under the same ownership tend to be visually independent of each other.

Right, so what’s the issue?

We are operating in a collaborative age: companies, influencers, popups and celebrities are mixing and mingling their brands. With all this crossover, it takes real work to keep all those logos, color palettes and keywords from turning into a puddle of melted crayons. When brands collaborate, talented designers—like the ones we’re fortunate to have here at TJA—are responsible for keeping aesthetics consistent but complementary, without muddling or diluting the impact of the organizations involved.

Join us as we share our top tips for keeping cooperative branding from becoming a mess.

Don’t just smoosh them together and hope for the best.

You have the logos for both organizations, so why not just paste them in the same area? You have pictures of both products, so why not just collage them together? No. Please don’t. Trust us; we know whereof we speak. You could probably get away with asset dumping, but that doesn’t mean you should. For the sake of brand (and visual) integrity, we encourage you to explore some of these alternative strategies before you Salt Bae logos and photos all over the place.

  • Cut to the core.
    A great place to start is with why these entities are collaborating in the first place. Did they come together to support a cause? Are they selling complementary products? By looking at the end goal, you’ll be able to create a narrative for the partnership as a whole.
  • Symmetry is your friend.
    Sometimes it’s impossible to work with perfectly coordinated colors, logos, assets, fonts and voice. Strive to find equivalent content, and then mirror it in layout. I.e. do you have two photos of people having fun? Two illustrations of buildings? Using subject material that’s as similar as possible can show how well the two brands go together.
  • Have the elements converse with each other.
    Try a call-and-respond methodology when you’re selecting which photos to use. If one has a couple at breakfast, pick another that has someone walking through a street during midday. End with a photo of a family at night. There’s a way to create a continuous theme throughout the piece even when you’re working with seemingly unrelated content.

Respect the integrity and individuality of each brand.

It’s a good idea to unify the palette and marry the messaging of the players involved to a certain extent. It becomes an issue if your audience isn’t able to tell that you’re portraying more than one brand if you took the names of the organizations involved out of the equation. Be sure to pay homage to what makes each brand unique.

  • Play up the contrast.
    There’s harmony in opposition; allow the brands to become foils for each other. It creates an interesting dynamic when the distinct traits of each brand play off each other. Execute this well, and the entities will appear more complimentary than ever.
  • Give the brands a platform.
    Even if brands are working toward a goal that is separate from self-promotion, the secondary goal of any collaboration for the brands involved is to expose themselves to a new audience that shares traits with current loyal fans. Always keep in mind what will pique the interest of the individuals who may not have encountered the organizations before, displaying what qualities align with the audience’s affinities.

Speaking from personal experience.

Mountain Shadows and Hotel Valley Ho—two of our long-held clients—run an annual, cooperative 3-Day Sale in the springtime. While both properties have histories that begin in the midcentury, they have unique brands, looks, voices and personalities. Both hotels appear together on the collateral, billboards, emails, social posts and more during the lead-up and duration of the 3-Day Sale.

In previous years, the 3-Day Sale was hosted simultaneously but separately: each hotel used its own branding and promoted the sale through their specific channels. This year, the hospitality concepts came together to maximize exposure and broadcast the event to a broader audience than ever.

The properties are distinct, but the creative team utilized the similarities the hotels share to create symmetry for visuals and narrative. We also pulled out and highlighted the differences, which allowed each concept to shine where they specialize. For example, Hotel Valley Ho has a lighter, brighter, mid-century-mod vibe, whereas Mountain Shadows has an elevated, secluded, contemporary aesthetic. By choosing colors from the brand standards that are complementary, photography that created the narrative we knew would be appealing to both audiences and crafting copy that conveyed the urgency of the sale, the collateral came together and made the brands look like they always belonged together. 

Five things my TJA internship taught me about being an agency pro

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you are reading this blog post, you aren’t planning on retiring any time soon. Chances are, you are a young professional looking to get a leg up on the competition by reading some quality insider content from those in the know.

That’s where I come in: I’m a college senior finishing his first agency internship at TJA. It’s been a great leap into the big leagues, and I can say that I learned quite a bit about what it means to be a bona fide agency professional. Here are my top five takeaways: 

  1. Work without borders

    There is a time and a place for silos. Bountiful fall grain harvest? Get a silo. Making some beer? Consider a silo. However, in the world of advertising, nothing happens in a vacuum. If you want to put out quick, quality work, it is important to familiarize yourself with every step of the process. My official title is Media Intern, but I made it my goal to learn and work with each department and ended up learning a heck of a lot more than I would have otherwise. A puzzle is always easier to put together when you can see the whole picture on the box.

  2. Fail gracefully, recover tactfully

    Everyone always says “Oh don’t worry about failure, it’s a part of learning!” which is true; it’s good advice. However, it doesn’t do you much good in the moment when your clients and superiors start asking you why your work was subpar or why you missed an important deadline. Anyone can mess up, but what separates amateur hour from the big leagues is how you recover. Apologize sincerely, correct quickly and move on. Don’t fight it, fix it.

  3. Embrace the things you’re bad at 

    I spent the first two years of my marketing major thinking that I could get by solely on creative prowess and intuition like some 18-year-old Don Draper. I was afraid of data and was generally clueless as to how one uses it meaningfully. It wasn’t until I had to work with survey data for a marketing research class that I realized my disdain stemmed purely from a lack of understanding and fear of messing up. With that revelation, I dove in headfirst and haven’t looked back. Now, I work with data on a daily basis and have found that I actually enjoy using it to tell stories quite a bit. You can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water.

  4. Find your calm 

    At a recent quarterly meeting, lifestyle coach John Beck of Leadership Embodiment, gave us his advice for finding our calm in the face of stress. His technique was as easy as inhaling while sitting up straight, exhaling while relaxing the chest and thinking of something that makes you smile. It is simple, yet solid advice. After a few attempts at this myself, I started to realize just how often we tend to rush into a problem without fully thinking it through. Never underestimate the value of facing a situation with a level head.

  5. Follow through

    Life moves fast in an agency and it’s often easy to lose track of deadlines or outright forget them all together in the face of larger projects. Be the person who does what they say they will do, when they say they will do it, even if it means writing down every deadline or staying late to finish a project, there is great value in being a person that others can depend on. After all, a person is only as good as their word.

So there you have it

Above all, make sure you enjoy what you do. If you are having a good time, the rest is sure to follow. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and never stop learning. Be the kind of professional that you would enjoy working with.

Sources

http://www.leadershipembodiment.com/

Written by: Harrison

Vote for TJA for Ranking Arizona 2020!

Voting is now open for AZ Big Media’s Ranking Arizona 2020 and we need your help! Follow the simple steps below to help TJA rank #1 again this year. You may vote once per hour through July 31 at 11:59pm.

How to Vote:
1. Click on the Ranking Arizona link
2. Register with your email address and create a password OR use your login information from last year
3. Vote for TJA in the following categories by clicking the VOTE button:

  • Advertising and Marketing
    • Advertising Agencies
    • Best Workplace Culture
    • Graphic Design Firms
    • Internet Marketing
    • Public Relations Firms
    • SEO/Social Media Marketing
  • Business Services
    • Best Place to Work
    • Event Planning
    • Women-Owned Businesses

Thank you for your support!

Three things a luxury brand isn’t (and one thing it always should be).

What we talk about when we talk about luxury.

Luxury brand marketing is a vague concept when you stop to think about it. What does “luxury” even mean? How do you encapsulate it visually? More importantly, in this age of omnichannel branding, how do you convey the value of luxury through a digital experience?

When Bradley Wealth Management, a high-end boutique financial services firm, reached out to The James Agency to refine their brand’s visual and online identity, we took the time to evaluate what constituted a luxury brand experience, and more importantly, what did not.

You’re better off without:

Excess

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is a principle to live by when it comes to luxury branding. White space is your savior, an economy of language keeps your core message clear and high-impact visuals convey the essence of your brand without the need for extra fluff.

Bradley Wealth Management’s original site was overwhelmed with content. Without a clear hierarchy of information, visitors had a hard time engaging with the website. One of the primary goals of the brand refresh was to create an online journey that conveyed the most important details right away in an easy-to-read and elegant manner.

Vagueness

Get specific. Dedicate time to understanding what the most critical elements of your brand are: if you had to boil your company down to five pillars, what would they be? Could they stand on their own? As tempting as it might be to lay out every detail of your organization’s operations on the homepage, highlighting a few crucial elements will perform measurably better than speaking generally about everything.

Bradley Wealth Management made it clear that their priority for the website was to offer the same quality of personalization as they do during their one-on-one consultations. Through goal-based planning, Bradley Wealth differentiates itself by encouraging the life aspirations of their clients. We translated those traits into an engaging web experience with messaging that focuses on the in-depth relationships their team cultivates amongst all their clients.

Inconsistency

“A brand is only as good as its execution across mediums.” Is that an adage? If not, it should be. Make sure you’re providing consistent touchpoints across all platforms so that no matter where potential clients pop up first, they’ll be sure to get an accurate impression.

We were tasked to create the graphic standards and web experience that became the paradigm for all iterations of the Bradley Wealth brand. By developing a clean, bold personality that could be replicated across multiple applications, we created a foundational aesthetic that would gain rapport with their user base.

However, don’t leave home without this:

Flow

A conversion website is essential to keep the user journey as fluid as possible. Eliminate all points of resistance or friction; get to the point and then get to the call to action. Every aspect of the experience should be relevant, and shouldn’t land the user in a dead end. By interlinking webpages and referencing different parts of the brand experience, you’re encouraging your consumer to self-direct through the journey you built for them.

For the web experience, we worked with Bradley Wealth Management to develop a clearly-defined sitemap that would seamlessly lead users from one page to the next, filling them in on all the need-to-know information without winding up stuck. Every page features a call to action that prompts the users toward signing up for the customized planning offered by their financial services team. 

The more you know.

Luxury isn’t just in the looks, but looks matter; it’s not only in the sitemap, but content organization counts. There are various definitions of what comprises a truly high-end experience, but perhaps more important is understanding what to steer clear of in order to retain the respect of your consumers, both past and potential.

Should you bring your dog to work? Absolutely, yes. But also, maybe not.

Let me get a couple of things out of the way: One, I am more than fortunate to work at TJA. I’m able (and encouraged) to bring my dog to work and we consistently employ people who love dogs. Two, my dog is the best dog. (HI, BAILEY!) Okay, the second point is debatable, but I need you to know that I am writing from an extremely biased viewpoint.

Bringing Bailey to work is fun. I like having her here. There are obvious benefits like the fact that I don’t have to rush home right after work to make sure she can go outside and I certainly don’t need to buy one of those treat-dispensing pet cameras. It gives me peace of mind that she isn’t sitting at home, bored out of her adorable mind. Which, in turn, prevents me from spiraling into an existential line of thinking. “Why do we even have dogs (or pets) if we just ignore them? Is she really bored or is she fine? What does she even want out of her life?” Selfishly, and a bit more realistic, I like looking at her face and petting her throughout the day. It also allows me to do things after work like dinners, meetups or happy hours.

However, what started as a selfish decision to bring my dog to work has turned into somewhat of an obligation. The thing is, I’m not the only one that benefits from bringing Bailey to work. After she came with me to work a few times, I started to get questioned about where she was when I didn’t bring her. I loved that my coworkers love my dog, so I kept bringing her. Soon enough, she was at work 3-4 times a week and became an installation in the office. If she’s missing on a day that isn’t Monday or Friday, I get questioned about her whereabouts almost immediately.

My coworkers don’t love Bailey because everyone here loves small, fluffy and somewhat grumpy dogs. It’s because she provides comfort for everyone. She greets everyone in the morning (and sometimes when they return after lunch) with a rooster-like series of barks (she carries a tiny tennis ball in her mouth and barks through it—it’s delightful) and then sits dutifully on my desk throughout the day where she waits for people to pass by and pet her. Most people need a little break from whatever worries are bouncing through their head. Bailey provides a smile and a fluffy body to pet. Baby and/or Muppet voices are optional, but appreciated. She has developed into the official TJA therapy dog over the years. It seems like my duty to bring her to work all the time, and it’s especially important during busy times at the agency.

Bringing your dog to work sounds great. So why am I even writing this blog? There’s more to the story. Bringing your dog to work requires even more work than what you get paid for and it can be very annoying if someone brings in a dog that disrupts the entire workday. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the past few years:

  1. Get to work early. Dogs will probably be amped/curious to be in a new place and generally don’t know what, “I have to work now” means.
  2. Keep track of them. Even if your dog is perfectly behaved at home, this is not your home. Even the best-trained dogs have accidents and it’s not a good look to have that happen at work.
  3. Bring treats and toys. Make your dog comfortable so they aren’t barking or disturbing everyone all day. If your dog likes to squeak toys until they break, maybe leave the squeaky ones at home.
  4. Take them outside often. Dogs are more active in an office, which means they drink more water and generally need to go outside more often than if they were at home sleeping the day away.
  5. If an accident happens, clean it immediately and teach your dog that it’s not okay. This shouldn’t need an explanation.
  6. Be ready to take them home if there’s an issue. Please take your dog home if they aren’t behaving.
  7. Expect to take care of your dog all day long. On the rare occasion you have to leave, you might have to ask someone to watch over your dog, but it should never be your coworker’s responsibility to take your dog outside or to watch it for an extended period of time. It’s a business, not a doggy daycare.
  8. You will probably need to stay later than usual. It’s not fair for you to take extra breaks to care for your dog and then leave exactly on time. Be fair to your coworkers and work for the entire time you are obligated to work.

Unfortunately, not all dogs are ready to come to work. Your dog is obviously a Good Dog, but might not be appropriate for your workplace. Here are some reasons to leave your furry friend at home:

  1. If they are aggressive. This is potentially dangerous and rude. If there are other dogs, there might be a fight, or worse, there could be an injury inflicted by your dog. At TJA, we have clients, vendors and delivery people coming and going pretty often which can cause a lot of disturbances.
  2. If they bark a lot. To be fair, my sweet baby angel face dog, Bailey, barks on occasion and doesn’t love children at the office. She can generally be consoled and I am always ready to take her home if she gets out of hand.
  3. If your dog is active when people are around. Eventually, your dog will need to settle in for the day and be quiet. If your dog isn’t able to do that, it’s best to leave them at home where they can get some rest.
  4. If they aren’t well-trained. Accidents happen, but are only forgiven if it is a rare occurrence. If your dog is known to mark everything or doesn’t know how to tell you they need to go outside, leave them home.
  5. If you are in meetings or off-site for a good portion of the day. If you aren’t going to be with your dog during the workday, they should stay at home.

Now that you are wiser about office dog etiquette, bring your fuzzy friend to work! Or don’t. Be considerate to your coworkers and remember that work comes first. If all else fails, you can always stop by and visit Bailey.

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