Apple’s Holiday Commercial “Sway”: How Apple Created an Emotional Connection

Apple has been creating iconic commercials that make their product’s stand out for as long as I can remember. Whether it was the high-energy, dancing silhouette campaign for the iPod, or the dad joke style of humor in the Mac vs PC ads, I always saw Apple as having an entertaining and engaging marketing strategy. In their latest holiday ad titled “Sway”, Apple avoids showcasing their latest product and instead creates an emotional narrative through movement and music.

The ad starts with a young woman walking down a snowy street in the middle of the day, surrounded by the busy noise of city life. Once she puts in her AirPods and presses play on her iPhone however, the scene transforms; it becomes night time and she dances around the street with a spotlight on her, engulfed in the soft piano and clear voice of Sam Smith’s “Palace”. While other people on the street go about their business as usual, the young woman dances freely. She is lost in her own world of music until she spins into the arms of a young man passing by.

The contact forces a sudden shift back to reality, however the music and dancing resumes when she hands him one of her AirPods. The man and woman seem to float as they dance together throughout the snowy city, their intimate movements perfectly illustrating the narrative of love in the song. As they move in close for a kiss, the scene jumps back to reality, showing the man and woman had never moved from the spot that she fell into his arms. As they both walk away smiling, “move someone this holiday” displays on the screen.

In the advertisement, the woman is able to escape reality and dance freely in her own world because she connects with her iPhone and it gives her the power to be herself; this message symbolizes the strong positive association Apple’s customers have with the company and their wide range of products. A brand that can interact with its audience and move them emotionally can leave a strong, lasting impression that benefits both parties. For the customer, they feel that the company relates to them and is selling the lifestyle of a product rather than the product itself. For the company, they create a bond and an emotional response from their customer, which can establish a lasting business relationship in the future.

As a business owner, it’s important to consider the connection your brand has with your customer and the impression you leave on them from the marketing you create. If your ads only focus on the latest and greatest features of your product, customers might not feel an emotional pull towards the message you are trying to send. Apple’s “Sway” is a refreshing example of an ad that focuses less on the product’s specific features and more on the message of connecting with others in some form. While this may not be an ad that gets fondly remembered like the dancing silhouette campaign of the past, “Sway” is the perfect example of a quiet ad that speaks loudly.

Your brand should strive to move others.

(Guest blogged by Brandon Hoege)

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Shop Local on Small Business Saturday

Turkeys, stuffing, and cranberries are synonymous with Thanksgiving. As the years have passed more has been added on to the holiday week such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And while the season has become increasingly more commercial American Express has found a way for people to give back to their community.

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 when American Express noticed that small businesses were hurting. In an age where many things can be bought online and people go to big name stores to get their products. Small businesses are part of what make the community unique and great.

One year after this began the Senate passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday and by 2012, officials in all 50 states participate. Now as Christmas is encroaching and trying to take over before Thanksgiving is even over, pay attention to a navy blue sign around your community. The blue sign is around many of the local businesses in Madison and advertising Small Business Saturday.

IH Concepts is invested in Small Business in the Madison community as we strive to help owners grow and become a staple that everyone can come in and enjoy. Because of this mission IH Concepts became a member of Dane Buy Local , whose goal is to educate the public about the benefits of thinking local first. One local business that IH Concepts was proud to help was Yola’s Café and Coffee shop by creating engaging digital graphic designs for their new customer’s to check out. Yola’s has been a part of the Madison community by providing delicious meals that remind people of home cooking.

Other Small Businesses that have been engrained into the Madison community are REI , MadCat , and Orange Tree Imports which celebrated its 42nd year open this year. Part of why IHC and many people love Small Businesses is their uniqueness and their relationship with customers. As small business ourselves we value the hard work and the long hours that gives Madison it’s unique character.

By shopping at a small business, customers are more likely able to talk with owners and get results on any problems they may have with a product quicker. Small businesses thrive on being friendly and welcoming to all customer’s to create a loyal customer base while selling great products. But with larger chains, they sometimes struggle to stay open.

While Black Friday is great for stores like Walmart and Best Buy, and Amazon rules over Cyber Monday, most small businesses don’t see an increase in sales during either of those days. Small businesses also don’t gain much of a profit by staying open weird and longer hours during those days. In the end they can’t compete with large companies with the slashed prices and find themselves losing out. Their charm comes from their unique items that most can’t find anywhere else and by spending money there, people are able to support their neighbors in the community. When Small Business Saturday was created, it made it easier for people to find their independently owned stores and to contribute towards them. And while they may not have as crazy of deals, most small businesses offer discounts and other prizes to lure in new and existing customers.

Small businesses are a general favorite due to the fact that they provide jobs to friends and family, and also understands the value of holidays. Large corporations just care about their bottom line, while small businesses work to meet their bottom line and keep their employees happy. Some people even see them as the backbone of their county.

With small businesses they don’t skimp on quality and still offer discounts, just not as large of slashes. A customer will get a nicer quality product and be able to support a small business and keep it open in the community. More people would rather have a mom and pop shop than a brand name store take over again. Shopping will continue to be America’s favorite obsession, with a severe spike during the holiday season. Instead of standing out in lines on a cold Friday morning or sitting at your computer on Monday, head out and support local businesses such as REI, MadCat, Yola’s Café and more this Small Business Saturday.

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The Brand Quadrant: What It Is and How to Position Your Business!

What is in a brand?

A brand is something that your company uses to distinguish itself from others, it is something unique solely to you. What’s in it is your company’s values. A brand is a symbol that is able to represent a company quickly and accurately so customers can immediately associate it with the company. Correct association, means correct branding. To create a good brand, one must find where their company first lies on the brand quadrant so that they can design accordingly. In our last blog we discussed how a brand quadrant allows a company to fall into four sectors: utility, symbolic, functional, and emotional.

If a company falls into a utility quadrant that means that the company provides something timeless. Companies like Coca-Cola and BMW offer a lasting brand, while also being something that someone needs. Companies that fall in this quadrant usually have consumers that will pay for something that have more value.

The next quadrant symbolic, means that the company offers something that is there for the future, or isn’t quite tangible. One company that falls under this is Apple. All of Apple products represent a status symbol for the consumer who owns them. Apple is well known for being user friendly and having a strong community. By having an iPhone, a consumer has the symbolic nature of a large community of other Apple products owners in their pocket.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the functional quadrant that deals with special activities or specific purposes or tasks. With a company in the functional quadrant, one never has to question what they offer or what they do. Some functional companies include Yahoo , Microsoft , and Intel , all companies who provide a functional product. If a company is functional, then their brand is simple.

The last quadrant is emotional, and it’s the one that has you mildly tearing up when their commercial is on television. The best example of this could be Sara McLachlan’s ASPCA commercials. It shows depressing images of animals in horrible situations for about a solid minute on television while you debate to change the channel. They use the emotional quadrant to make you feel and also to make you want to donate as animals are often connected with most people. IH Concepts recently positioned Full Spectrum , a homecare agency, as an emotional brand as buying homecare options is an emotional experience. Emotional brands can be quite effective, but remember to not be too depressing or push the envelope too far, because that can push people away as well.

While a company can fall into any of these brand quadrants, it’s most important that they are able to distinguish themselves from their competitors. A brand to a company is like a personality to a person, no two should be the same.

So where does your company fall on the brand quadrant? If your company offers a timeless product that someone also needs, your company would most likely fall into the utility quadrant. If your company offers more of a luxury or lifestyle product, it would most likely fall into the symbolic quadrant. If your company offers a straightforward product or service, your company would most likely fall into the functional quadrant. Lastly, if your company provides a service that touches upon someone’s emotions and offer’s more of a peace of mind result, your company would most likely fall into the emotional quadrant.

Finding which quadrant your company falls into can be tricky, and if you need help figuring it out, hiring a marketing brand consultant would be an advisable option. They can help you figure out your material visually and why consumers want to do business with you.

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The Brand Quadrant: What It Is and How We Used It to Position Full Spectrum

Companies often use brand quadrants to position their brand and figure out how they want to convey their message. The purpose of a brand quadrant is to find the balance between centrality and distinctiveness. By finding this balance it will help customers better understand what this company does and sells.

Earlier this year, we had the honor of working with Full Spectrum, a homecare agency here in Madison. They were a startup at the time, and they gave us the opportunity to design new and unique marketing collateral for them. In collaboration with marketing consultant Marc Glazer from Three Suns, we did just that. Full Spectrum was able to hit the ground running with a wide array of consistent collateral that set them apart from the competition.

It’s important for businesses to think about the messages that their brand images send. By positioning a brand strategically, a business is able to communicate effectively with the target audience and help them stand out. After a marketing consultation, we determined that Full Spectrum’s brand should convey warmth. It should come across as an emotional brand, as opposed to a lot of its competition falling in the functional quadrant.

By deviating from what their competitors were doing, Full Spectrum’s different look provided another perspective that their customer’s hadn’t seen yet. It also made sense as a way to connect with Full Spectrum’s audience. After all, deciding to pursue homecare options for yourself or a loved one is nothing short of an emotional experience. An emotional brand image for Full Spectrum made sense on all accounts.

After determining how we needed to position their brand, we created strategic designs, as well as effective copy, containing the brand language for Full Spectrum’s marketing collateral. This included a website, business card, letterhead, car magnet and brochure. As always, we designed holistically. As a result, Full Spectrum’s collateral was both visually appealing and consistent, highlighting the importance of having one designer manage all print and web collateral. When you have a different designer for each piece of collateral, it is very likely that your brand will suffer inconsistency and confusion.

Our brand positioning was a guide to Full Spectrum for social media posts, future copy, content, and marketing campaigns and strategies.

We very much enjoyed working with Full Spectrum, and its entire graphic design and marketing process served as another reminder to us that thinking about the big picture is essential. To truly convey what you want to with your brand image, you need to ensure clarity and consistency across all marketing collateral.

To read more about our work with Full Spectrum or to see the collateral that we designed for them, visit our case study page!

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5 Things for Businesses to Consider When Developing a Brand

Well, we did it. We’ve revamped our website and the changes are officially up and running! It took a little over a year, but after a lot of hard work we’re proud to share our new online presence. None of these changes would’ve happened without the creation of our IH5 Web in 2016. IH5 Web contains our design and marketing guidelines for websites, and we’ve included them in our new website to share them with others.

IH5 Web proved to be an easy task for us. It also inspired the creation of IH5 Mobile and IH5 Branding. Mobile, like Web, was no big deal. Easy p-z. IH5 Branding, on the other hand, had us stumped for a moment. Why do companies decide to brand or re-brand? What steps should they take to achieve those goals? Those were some questions we were asking ourselves. To help answer them, we conducted interviews in a focus group with business professionals. Not surprisingly, we received a wide range of great answers to help us develop IH5 Branding. Here are a few questions we asked along with common answers we received:

Q: What makes you want to do business with your favorite brand?
A: I know their story. They’re quality. They have great customer service.

Q: What is it important for people to think about your company?
A: Reliable. Fun. Quality. We’re here to make their lives easier.

Q: What might cue you to brand or rebrand?
A: Not seeing results. A big change in management or organization. Straying too far from our original mission.

After listening to such answers and collaborating amongst our own team of professionals, we developed five key points for branding:

1. Tell Your Story

2. Keep Your Audience in Mind

3. Be Memorable, Be Recognizable

4. Stay Current

5. Keep It Consistent

By keeping these five things in mind, businesses can better connect with their audiences to communicate their brand messages, such as reliability, quality, excitement, etc.

We feel that IH5 Branding has taken our own brand to the next level and that it can help others to do the same. To read more about IH5 Branding, browse the other IH5 Principles, or to see our updated website, visit us at

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Awesome Tips for Great Food Photography: Follow These and Bring in Customers

Restaurant Week is getting closer, and we’re getting hungrier. The downside to having so many amazing restaurants in the Madison area is that we have to pick and choose between them. While we really wish that we could just sample it all in a fantastical, mile long buffet, we also realized that this is a good opportunity to talk about restaurant food photography. How do customers choose where and what they want to eat? As the saying goes, people eat with their eyes. Photos in a menu, printed or online, are a customer’s first interaction with a restaurant’s food. It makes sense, then, that those photos need to strategically entice people and make them hungry. So, we’re here today with another list of tips, this time pertaining to restaurant food photography.

1. Less is more

While it might be tempting to include a photo of all the delicious items on the menu, too many photos can be overwhelming for customers. The pages will feel cluttered and customers will have a harder time deciding what to order. Instead, keep it simple by choosing a select few dishes to photograph. This technique is great for featuring dishes that you especially want to promote, such as house specials or customer favorites.

2. Use appetizing photos

This one might seem obvious, but food photography in a menu needs to be visually appealing. It needs to be appetizing. Though it might taste great, a lot of food is not easily translated as delicious on camera. Sometimes it takes a little gussying up. Bold colors, good lighting, the right angles—find the dish’s good side and work it. This also means photographing the dish in its true environment, to prevent dish appearing to float on a menu. It looks strange. Consider a table setting and plating details in your photographs.

3. Think about print first

First and foremost, restaurant food photography needs to look good for print. It needs to look good on the menu. Photos usually look much better on a computer screen, but a vibrant digital version might print into a dull one. Be mindful when digitally adjusting colors, because they will look different as ink on paper.

4. Stay true to your restaurant

While a menu should picture dishes in their best light, maybe looking better than they normally do, it’s important to not stray too far from the truth. Customers won’t be impressed if they think they’re ordering one thing and something that looks completely different comes out of the kitchen. Avoid over-styled photos, and stock photography if you can. Food photography can be fancy, but it also needs to be realistic.

5. Nothing beats expertise

Food photography is an art, and not every photographer works with food. If you want the best results for your menu, find a professional food photographer. They will have the exact lighting, tools, cameras and know-how to make your food look appetizing. It’s easier said than done. Heck, they’ll probably even have special food makeup for the job. Trust a food photographer’s expertise to ensure that you get the tastiest looking menu.

If you haven’t yet, we recommend you start researching what Madison area restaurants you want to try, or even ones that you want to re-visit. We definitely have a working list for ourselves. From all of us at IH Concepts, we wish you a delicious Restaurant Week!

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4 Important Marketing Tips for Restaurants: Follow These and You’ll Be Successful

When we found out that Restaurant Week was at the end of the month, our stomachs started to grumble. Those grumbles got even louder after thinking about all the good eats in the Madison area. We also got to thinking: This is a great time to talk about restaurant marketing. It can be really difficult to make your restaurant stand out from the competition. After all, customers have so many different options for dining out. Your restaurant could serve the tastiest grub in the whole Mid-West, but if you’re not advertising well enough, you could easily be losing potential customers to the restaurant next door. So, we’ve thought of a few tips to consider for restaurant marketing.

1. Budget for marketing

You’re a restaurant and you serve great food. Your ads should reflect the quality of that food. Professional work is going to cost more than homemade designs, of course, but your business will benefit more in the long run from consistent, expert designs. According to, one of the top reasons that restaurants fail is poor restaurant promotion. Ensure great promotion by working with experienced professionals.

2. Engage your customers

Again, customers have many, many restaurants to choose from. You need to give them good reasons to choose yours over the competition. One of these reasons should be that you engage and build relationships with your customers—you openly appreciate their business and welcome their feedback, both positive and negative. says: “You may never discover where you are going wrong unless you proactively consult your guests and read their rates.”

3. Choose appetizing color schemes

Certain colors such as red or orange have been shown to stimulate hunger. Darker colors like purple or deep blue can create a cozy, intimate feeling. When choosing a color scheme for your restaurant, consider the feelings you are trying to evoke. For more on color choices in restaurants, click here.

4. Don’t look like everyone else

We can’t stress enough how many options your customers have. It’s not enough to serve great food if your image doesn’t reflect it. What makes your restaurant unique? Why should people choose your restaurant over another that serves similar cuisine? Know the answers to these questions and have a visually appealing, consistent identity that communicates those answers to others.

We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to chow down at IH Concepts. Stay tuned for more restaurant marketing tips later this month. In the meantime, get your fork and knife ready for Restaurant Week!

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Getting Up Close and Personal – The Importance of Consumer Data Collection

Here’s the deal, we all love being made feel special, we love feeling cared about, we love being paid attention to. It’s human nature, no shame in it.

So, what does this mean for you as a company?

It means that whether marketing your brand, product or service, great content is no longer merely creative or informational or unique. Great content is all those things with another secret ingredient, PERSONALIZATION.

So now, what does getting personal mean for your marketing?

It means that your content needs to be personalized and contextually relevant in order to engage your consumers. To get there, you’ll need to identify who your target audience is and truly get to know them. This means taking the time to gather consumer data. In addition to the obvious demographics questions such as age, gender, income strata etc., dig deeper – find out what they value, their lifestyle choices, their decision making process etc. Once you have this data, be sure to integrate the findings into your content creation process.

You might now be wondering, why go through all this trouble?

Well, it goes back to the opening paragraph – human nature. We love feeling special. We are more likely to form emotional connections and loyalty to brands that resonate with us on a personal level. The marketing space is filled with noise and in order to stand out, your brand should always send out a message that you understand and care about what your consumers want. When people recognize their wants and needs being fulfilled by your brand, they’ll keep coming back. Keep in mind that it costs a lot more to acquire new customers than to retain old ones.

So, main takeaways:

Consumer data is the name of the game. That is the key to getting to know your audience. Utilize that key to roll out content that will reach your consumers on a personal level.

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The Revamp of MUM – How It Changed IH Concepts

We don’t mean to toot our own horn but we’re very proud of the work we did on the Madison-Area Urban Ministry (MUM) project and wanted to share our journey with you! As a results-oriented company, we were thrilled when, a year ago, Executive Director Linda Ketcham shared the impact that our work on her website had on her organization.

First things first, what is MUM, you might ask? MUM is a non-profit interfaith organization dedicated to helping people impacted by the criminal justice system. They have helped over 9,000 individuals and have a recidivism rate of under 5%.

While they were doing a great job on their own, they wanted to know how they could be making an even stronger impact, and so they came to us. One of their biggest challenges was figuring out how to stand out to the public in order to increase donations. Given that they compete against 1.5 million other non-profits for donations, cutting through all that noise was definitely a hurdle. In addition to that, MUM was also looking to increase their retention rates for online donors, which at the time stood at 25%.

We at IHC love everything they stand for and was more than excited to take this project on! We took whole picture design marketing approach. We began with making information easy to find on their website. Recognizing that users today are often in a time crunch, we restructured the website layout making commonly sought out information readily accessible. By doing so, MUM’s engagement increased by 30 times!

Next we looked at incorporating several call to actions on their website such as including a “Donate Now” icon. You’d be surprised by what a huge difference the smallest of changes can make. In this case, not to brag or anything, but it increased donations by 800%! (okay, maybe we’re bragging a little, but hey, we take pride in our work!)

Throughout the entire website restructure process, we made sure to integrate their brand identity into the designs. We at IHC wanted to make sure users browsing through their site had every opportunity to connect on an emotional level with MUM. We also wanted MUM to be unique in order to stand out and truly make an impact.

What made this project so special to us was that it was validation that we had something great up our sleeve. Since then, we create principles for doing a website an named it IH5 Web, which has produced success with our other clients as well. Working with MUM showed us how important it is to create marketing collateral to build a brand for clients as opposed to just a short term fix. We’ll also be taking this a step further by launching our IH5 Mobile and IH5 Branding principles set to launch later this year, and we’re excited to achieve great things with it!

When designing your website, be sure to keep the big picture in mind!

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The Design-Dos of 2017

Ever noticed how outdated trends that we swore we’d never be caught dead in eventually creep back into our lives? Well, design trends are subject to the same fate. In the past few years, graphic designers have shied away from bold, loud layouts and turned to minimalism. However, as we welcome 2017, we’re seeing a circle back to more vibrancy. With some help from Venngage, here are some tips that will help you jump on board the design train:

1. Think loud, think bright

Many brands have fallen into the comfort of utilizing safe, neutral, easy to digest colors to connect with consumers. However, now that the market is so saturated with such styles, it’s hard to stand out. Instead of staying with the herd, be fun again, get out there with some loud and bright colors! Your graphics will not only stand out, but will also be more memorable!

Image Source: Robert Berki

2. Bold is the name of the game

When it comes to typography, it doesn’t need to be in-your-face, but you do want to grab your audience’s attention at first glance in order to get them to read your content. It takes a lot more today than it did a decade ago to get a viewer’s attention. Especially in this age where everyone seems to be in a time crunch, you NEED to be BOLD to get their attention. This transition that Celestial made is a great example!

3. Google’s got you

Two words, Google fonts. Well, for starters, they’re free. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’re some of the most versatile and easy to use fonts out there. You’ll never have to work too hard to find fonts that look great together. They also tend to mesh well with your blogs or websites. To top it off, Google Fonts are universal across multiple platforms, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

4. Keep it real

Yes, there are some great stock photos out there. However, let’s not forget about branding. Whatever you put out there represents your company’s identity. Be the company that cared enough to create original photographs. Readers will recognize the authenticity and respond to it.

5. Back to the drawing board – literally

In this age of consumerism, brands face the challenge of cutting though the noise of their competitors and truly connecting with their customers. Nothing says genuine like a hand drawn graphic. It separates you from the pack and can also be that first step for a more personal connection.

Image Source: Design Mantic

6. Minimalism with a twist

When we say minimalism here, we don’t mean your standard greyscale, safe, neutral tones. We do mean keeping the essence of your graphics simple enough, but with bold and fresh pops of color. In other words, the layout shouldn’t be busy, but it should also by no means be dull.

7. GIFs, GIFs, GIFs

If pictures speak a thousand words, then animated GIFs would speak a million. From a technical standpoint, they’re great as they don’t require any special software to run and have small file sizes. From a branding standpoint, it catches the viewers’ eyes and are far more expressive than text and ordinary images. Because of data concerns, you’d want to be careful not to overdo it, but they’re a great alternative to still graphics every once in a while.

That got your attention, didn’t it?

8. Play with Duotones

Who says two vibrant colors don’t go together? Sometimes, all you need to do is find a couple of colors that complement each other to bring your graphics to life. Duotone layouts can get tricky in terms of designing, but the final product will be well worth your time. It brings originality to your website and draws people in!

As 2017 rolls along, we invite you to roll with these trends. Break free from the overly clean, white layouts and bring color and vibrancy back into your designing! Let this be the year to make bold choices for your branding!

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