The Power of a Poorly Designed Website

I’m sure you have seen the MN Sure healthcare commercials that is encouraging people like you and me, to sign-up before March 31 to enroll in healthcare savings.

A reliable source had this on his large list to do since the first of the year. I share his experience.

As the solo owner and operator of his business, my dad, Keith knew it would make sense to sign-up at especially after owning his own business for over 15 years and not being able to find affordable insurance. My mother works nearly full-time at a locally owned store and isn’t offered benefits. My parents pay almost as much as I pay for rent on my townhome in the Twin Cities for their monthly health insurance. Seriously.

Keith logged-on to several times over the last month and read about the process before just jumping into the registration process.

He started at 8 AM yesterday and moved his business route back just an hour to get this done and off his list.

The website says it will take 15-20 minutes to finish.

The first problem he encountered was the M002 online service message.error message mn sure

After many tries and exiting out and restarting his 2-year-old PC computer he called the 1-800 number. The first question he got from the operator was what browser are you on?

He was on Internet Explorer 11. As many developers know IE11 is a standard practice,  The IE11 changes help, in part, prevent poorly written user-agent detection mechanisms from (incorrectly) identifying Internet Explorer as an earlier version. As a result, sites that rely on modern standards display as intended.

The operator told my dad that the website was compatible on Firefox or Chrome. He was told to google it then download one of them and that should be the fix or at least help the process.

So Keith downloaded the Chrome browser.

He got to start the form! A few pages in he was looking for the NEXT button for several minutes. Because the size of the website and the right aligned button was pushed so far to the right of the screen with no horizontal screen bar, it wasn’t visible. He’s on a standard 20 inch screen, with a 2-year old PC– there is no need for that problem. Luckily I was near by and I showed him the quick trick of zooming the page itself out to make it smaller to see the NEXT.  ON a PC (Control + Shift – ).
This trick luckily eliminated a call to the 1-800 that is open just 8 AM to 4:15 PM. Who doesn’t work Monday to Friday those hours? When would you talk to customer service?

I took a look at the form myself and the form size was OK on MAC Safari, but I was surprised on how poor the form’s UX was. The alignment of the form fields and titles are horrible. So are you asking me for my middle name or last name on the first line? Simple spacing change could help this.form on mn sure

After getting through most of the website, Keith saw the SAVE button and thought it was a great idea to SAVE just in case another error or something timed him out. He hit SAVE & EXIT and was moved out of the entire process back to the homepage. Shortly after hitting the button he realized he should be fine, he will just log-in again and go back to his drafts or find a resume. He has a log-in and password where his sign-in info should be. That is why they make you sign-up right?

Keith logged in to his account to find there are NO DRAFTS, RESUME or SAVED areas on the site to find anywhere.

So he called the 1-800 number. It is now 11 AM.

The operator said that Keith qualified for a specific NAVIGATOR because it sounds like he is having some troubles online. Keith was given a phone number to call his NAVIGATOR who will schedule a time to call you back and talk him through his site problem.


When Keith called his NAVIGATOR he/she quickly said they were booked up to March 31 and had no openings.

Keith quickly asked the NAVIGATOR if he could just explain his simple problem of finding his RESUME or SAVED DRAFTS. The NAVIGATOR seemed knowledgable and was nice but they had never heard of where this info was saved.

She advised him to start over.

This 20 minute process turned in over 4 hours and Keith had to get to his customers and start his work day. would have to wait again.

Not only did I feel the pain of this process but there is no excuse for this to happen to anyone.

A website should:
– Always be programmed for a 15-year-old up to a 75-year-old to operate
– Be tested on all standard browsers (like IE) and eliminate issues with up to date browsers
– NEVER have a SAVE button if there is no way to access the information again
– Have experts, like NAVIGATORS, but please don’t send someone to them if they are fully booked up
– NEVER change the shape of a logo

GOOD LOGOScreen Shot 2014-03-21 at 3.33.44 PM

BAD LOGOScreen Shot 2014-03-21 at 3.33.28 PM

I did offer to finish or restart the form for Dad.

Thanks for making this hard for an educated and busy business owner to apply for your assistance. I know he’s not the only one.

Was this done on purpose? Let’s just hope not.

Remember it’s not always your computer– it could be the website.

Always curious,
Tricia jo


Severson to a leanger

As the bride, when the wedding is over, there are many things that still need to be done–like changing your name. The name change is a big deal and there are many steps that are involved in converting an identity you have been born with to a brand new one. It isn’t just practicing your signature and changing the name on your checks anymore…

I knew that changing my name after decades of being a Severson would be hard, and actually wasn’t really looking forward to it. As a designer your name is your brand, your digital footprint. I branded myself MNdesignGal after starting a Twitter handle for myself and other social channels soon followed, so transitioning in the social space actually helped it become pretty seamless.


For email, I secured months before the wedding to make sure my new name wouldn’t need a number 69 or 21 after it to make it unique.

My Google + account and circles was luckily pretty easily transferable with all the attached history with them. It takes about 7 days, but once that is up and running you can shut down your old maiden name Google+. You do lose your Google +’s on webpages from the past name but that can be quickly made-up for right? Right.
Also you can only combine accounts twice in a lifetime, so beware. [As of December 2013]

google+tricia youtube tricia

YouTube videos and history can NOT be transferred or combined to a new account. So no more TriciaJo22 from 2006, it will now be TriciaJoSeverson connected through my new Gmail account. All videos need to be re-uploaded losing your stats and views. This leaves yourself wondering if should keep both accounts active. #WhatAPain

Facebook name change is easy, my question is how long do I keep my maiden up in as “formally known as (Severson)”? 6 months? A few years? Forever?

Work email transfer will never be perfect, a co-worker will always reference you with your maiden name because of the history the email account will have. I will always need to have an email re-direct from the maiden name. Google chat doesn’t let you change you name, everyone would need to delete you and re-add you with your new name (that is a waste of time and who will do that?).  I’m also not putting on the bottom of my signature ” as of November 16, please refer me as Tricia Leanger” – who am I Prince? Formally known as? No ones reads a signature anyway.

US social security office line

Finally, the social security card change. Get ready ladies for a fun little day trip. I found the 6-county area office that is off of Chicago Ave downtown Minneapolis. Find your location before heading over. In most cities it’s a different office than your friendly and local DMV (I learned the hard way). I thought it was such a great idea to take off work the Monday after my honeymoon to mark this one-off my TO-DO list. From the research I have had, there is never a good time to get there. I stood in line for 2 hours (outside in November) then made my way through a metal-detector and got questioned by an officer (for real). Then I waited over 3 hours in a crowded DMV-type-office with about 100 other people. Ladies don’t worry, the only times you have to go there is if you lose your card or change your name. Thankfully hospitals file for your new baby social security cards.

us social security office 1

What to bring to the Social Security office:
– Wedding License
– Driver’s License
– Current social security card
– Hand sanitizer
– Something to drink (you may be able to sneak something in)
– A snack
– Your phone / iPad fully charged

TIP: Get 2 copies of your wedding license when you go in with your fiancé. It will only be $10 more. This way you can send it to get your Passport changed and even your Social Security without being too nervous about losing the only copy you have. 

Overall the name change has been successful and I have re-branded myself.




Cheers to a new name and an exciting time in any gal’s life. It only happens once–right?!

your MN Design Gal TRICIA jo leanger

a new bride

Pinterest Interest – content done right

Are you on Pinterest? Are you using Pinterest for a search engine for ideas? Is your brand on Pinterest?

Many companies are experimenting with Pinterest. I’m very observant (and sometimes slightly obsessed) with Pinterest campaigns, sweepstakes and contests. I participate in them to see how they are run and what goes wrong or how it makes an average Pinner like myself feel. In this case, it was about a brand and their experimental marketing of their own content to drive traffic to their e-commerce website.

I just read last month in the Minneapolis Egotist (must check out if you haven’t yet) about a very unique brand I don’t know much about UNIQLO. They made a big splash with a campaign that they claimed had no paid media, with over 55 Million Impressions in just 5 days.

This post isn’t about critiquing this campaign actually– even though it would drive me crazy seeing pins like that– I literally would curse this brand’s name. As of December 11th though the pins can’t be found on their board (good call they actually do remove them). Content that was done well caught my eye within their profile: UNIQLO Hairdos.

Incredible imagery to drive traffic to even more info on how to style the hair.

uniqlo's hairdo

How much effort probably went into this content? Hiring a stylist for 1 day and then shooting the girls doing their hair (the stylist doing it in between takes) then a designer / Art Director to review photos and compile either gifs or single panels to describe the “how-do”… then getting the images on Pinterest through the URL’s on the website is easy; it takes about 30 seconds do that for each Pin. Probably will need a writer on that to cleverly draw users to the website and people to relate to the pin.

Estimated time and cost break-down:

1 day photo shoot – 8 hours, Photographer $6000
2 hair stylists (10 total looks) (5 would be ideal) $1500
1 fashion stylist $1000
5 models – 8 hours each total $10000
production for shoot including, lighting, space, Food and Snacks for shoot $5000
Graphic designer for post graphics (approx. 10 hours) agency bill rate: $150, freelance bill rate: $70
Writer for web page and Pinterest (approx. 8 hours) $800
Social media designer to post graphics (approx. 3 hours) $300

Now let’s try and cut some costs shall we?
Get an Art Director that knows simple everyday fashion themselves. Also someone who is social savvy to think about the layout of the images with the photographer and different shots to use later (after the Pinterest content). Sounds like you need someone like this MNdesignGal on set.

Wait– is that you MN Design Gal? Uniqlo blonde

uniqlo relief

The clothes could be donated by a related or Co-Promoted brand, or unmarked Wal-Mart turtle necks that mean nothing.
The hair stylists should be interviewed and provide feedback to a copywriter. Really cut costs and get a hairstylist that also is a copywriter.
The photographer could be an up and comer too (like my sister Trina), someone who has their own blog that can shoot many photos with fast editing time, it also helps to get friends and models that have little acne or facial hair.
Who ever said you need real models? Local celebrities or bloggers can make perfect models too! This also will help with your impressions and reach on the campaign. They will for sure share their hairstyles with their incredible following.

serious look from uniqlo's

A behind the scenes tweet, blog post or content for the brand’s Facebook is perfect. It can also create buzz before the final content is up, think of writing a preview piece. Don’t worry about competitors taking your idea, your turn-a-around time isn’t 10 weeks, it is MAYBE 10 days. Your copy is already written before the photo shoot right?

Think of Prom and Homecoming, New Years and Spring break timing for a hairstyle focus posts. Many people will be looking for pins on this topic. If you can ever bring in a #wedding tag or two, that can also help drive traffic since that is 24/7 – 365 pin traffic.

Overall, great job by this unique brand UNIQLO. I now follow all their boards. Feel inspired?

your pin gal 

PinneditliveditA little side project I started last year in my attempt to demonstrate some easy to publish fashion content. #PinneditLivedIt

Stowe Away Holiday Sweaters

This year for the family, I decided to design a logo and propose something different for the Severson family to participate in. Introducing the Stowe Away Holiday Sweater Spectacular Family Gathering.


Ages 5 to 85 are all encouraged to wear a sweater of their own or borrow one. To give the family some ideas I also sent along these photos found in random Google searches for inspiration. These are NOT family members, friends or co-workers (wish they were though).

sweater2 sweater1


I wish everyone a fun, safe and unforgettable Holiday. Remember you can introduce new things into your family traditions. Check back for up the results of this event happening this weekend.

Happy Holiday Sweater wearing!



FLASH-BACK to a party I planned for a past agency. This invite I designed to introduce the “ugly sweater Holiday party” to them bowling-style.


Engaged then Married the Same Day Story

What would you do if you were proposed to and your wedding day was all in the same day?

  • Would you run?
  • Would you un-accept the proposal after learning about the wedding day surprise?
  • Tell the groom your crazy because you’re not even on Pinterest.
  • Be SO happy that it was your childhood dream?

This concept worked for a couple that had been together for almost 5 years. The video is below and feel free to watch it at any time because I got to experience their story this weekend.

The Pinterest board that was done by the bride wasn’t a success, it must be taken down or blocked because I couldn’t find it anywhere online. Only a few photos of the couple that bloggers posted to gain traffic to their boards.

Amanda Leak Pinterest


Where I get confused on this story is, how did that mermaid dress fit so perfectly? What if she was plus or minus a good 5 lbs before the wedding? (that can happen easily we are women).

And what about the “I Love You” in the car on the way to the proposal? There is no way that a woman would be able to go 5 years from being asked out to not hear those words… right?

I’m guessing it isn’t made up but that is the exception to the rule that a woman wouldn’t push the ego of a man or leave them all together to hear those 3 words.

The TODAY show has a write-up of an interview and in that the groom says, “She already knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her and that we wanted to get married someday,” Leak told about the wedding, which he says took him roughly a
year and a half to plan. “I asked her to write down everything she wanted on a sheet of paper: What are we wearing? Who is invited? Who is officiating? She wrote it all out for me a year before I even started thinking about planning.”

So she did see this coming?
Probably not that day, but she had it on her mind that it would happen one fine day.

Does knowing this make this story less exciting? Unfortunately yes, but it’s still a nice 30 minute fill-in time to watch and be entertained by.

It really cracked me up when the 2 ladies at the Hotel catch the groom off-guard and he spills the truth to the camera crew following them. I wonder if he actually regrets doing that because that element of surprise was for sure slightly taken away from him by doing that.

Well, I’m glad I’m not going to be proposed to and married on the same day. My Pinterest board dress would be tricky since there isn’t one consistent style (and my wedding dress style isn’t even pinned).

pinned wedding dress

Some of my favorite wedding inspirations come from: and Pinterest boards

idea for picture and wed



Another blog and Pinterest account I enjoy is: or Pinterest boards
Style me prettyRemember you can always search within the source too when others pin things from the site. Like this URL >>>

Keep on dreaming and pinning though ladies because you never know what your story may be and the last thing you need is a fake not up-to-date Pinterest board to stir him wrong.

Your Bride to Be Blogger and Friend,


Good-Bye to My First Ever Domain

It was the early 2000’s and I was a digital graphic design student and was eager to launch my first ever website that I coded in HTML. was the domain I picked and so excited to have for the rest of my life. I remember picking that because I always knew my last name would change but loved my initials.

My email was and that was just silly having my name twice in a row tricia@tricia what was I thinking! I remember shortly after getting a few years under my belt and wishing I would have been more trendy with or like all the other cool designers and shops were doing.

Carrie bradshaw

Carrie Bradshaw on Sex in the City. Notice the Apple is upside-down still back then.

But today I have finally came to the conclusion that this domain and identity is no longer needed. I searched for it one last time and found also my first-ever Twitter account name of course @Triciajsdesigns.

My first-ever tweet:

just finished my ad2 HH/Speaker outline… the ’09-’10 season will be a great success I can feel it! July 15, 2009

Lets take a look and go down memory lane a bit shall we?


triciajsdesigns3 triciajsdesigns2 triciajsdesigns4

My social content was around finding a job and my volunteer work with Ad 2 and Ad Fed of MN. I would be candid about dating (just like Carrie Bradshaw of course) and was on the job search and was vocal about that. Too bad hashtags were around then because #JOBS #HIREME #WILLWORKFORSUN would be my most used hashtags.

I realized that Twitter wasn’t about a business or had to be the same as your URL. It was an identity that was just yourself. That is when @MNdesignGal got started.
Location + Passion  Gal 

The gal came from Carrie Bradshaw and her famous 1st ever email. Can you tell that Carrie’s writing career and style influenced me during this time? 

see me?

The website domain has to go because I’m not paying GoDaddy for forwarding and keeping an email going that I don’t use. After years of still being able to see my design work that I hosted on there for years it finally doesn’t show up in my search anymore.


The Twitter handle I can’t part with just yet. It may live on for a few more months or even years or maybe I can use that creditability of those 106 faithful followers and just change the handle for my daughter’s name one day, or even my own agency.

It was nice to take a spin down memory lane and remember how passionate I was to be in advertising, have a full-time position and how much I loved my Ad 2 volunteer work and was very candid about my dating life.

Until we meet again,
your mn design gal


JT 20/20 Vision Spotlight

Most of your know one of my favorite people in the world other then my parents and Jennifer Aniston is Mr. Justin Timberlake.

Today is a quick tribute to him #justbecause. Featured here on Jimmy Fallon.


He says it opened a huge door in his career when he starred in The Social Network. No mention to the Mickey Mouse Club? Justin talks with Matt Lauer just on Tuesday. Read and Watch Now, name dropping and panty dropper he is.

Listen to the the Justified reference at the end. Did you need a refresh of this album?


TKO just was released this week now of his new album. Have you heard?

His full version and part II is out on September 30th folks. Read More and Order Now.

tko no text

Justin recently got married to Jessica Biel. Pictured here on their Wedding Day in 2012. 1 really good decision he says… Great interview with him and Ellen shortly after.


I’m lucky enough to have purchased tickets and will be attending his concert here in Minneapolis in February 2014. Are you going too?

Hope this entertained you and made you laugh a bit. Justin is the man, and I’m sure I will need to continue to add to this post. Gosh I missed so many, send me your favorites and I will add with your comments.

See you soon JT!
Your MN Design gal

geeking out – YAHOO! logo creative team investigation

Today I was inspired by Marissa Mayer’s newest Tumblr post with candid thoughts on how she was involved in the logo design and her love for Illustrator. My opinion the 30 logos in 30 days was simply a PR marketing stunt to create buzz around the logo launch rather than poll and gather insight for the official design. The new logo was introduced live on their website late 9/4/13.

Marissa goes on to tell us in her post that they spent a weekend designing the logo. “We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday designing the logo from start to finish, and we had a ton of fun weighing every minute detail. ” read more

Did they order pizza Saturday night? Did Marissa make eggs Sunday morning or bring in Breakfast Burritos from Taco Bell? Was it a brilliant discussion listening to jazz music or a messy music blaring ideation session with PBR and junk food.


Who was there?

Marissa starts with giving credit to Bob Stohrer, who is the SVP, Brand Creative at Yahoo! He has only been there 8 months so it seems like someone who may have a working past with Marissa. He has the writing background so I could see him being the one that concepted “old school” on the chalk or white board. Bob may even inspired the intern to come up with the CAD-like architecture edge inspiration. Did I mention he used to work at Virgin? This picture proves he did, sitting with Richard Branson talking strategy as his cover page on Facebook. Will Marissa make the cut one day as the coverpage icon? [She would be my FB coverpage]Capture_talkwhands_Bob

Second on the team, we have our copywriter, the SVP counter part Mr. Marc DeBartolomeis, VP, Creative Director – Brand at Yahoo! Marc joined 7 months ago, so obviously Bob needed a wing man to go with his mad writing skills. They worked together back in their NFL days and Virgin Mobile. Marc had left and worked for the Madison Square garden where he drove MSG Entertainment’s creative and brand. Want to be his Facebook friend?
The designer is Ruslan Khaydarov who is the Visual Designer at Yahoo! Marissa referred to him as “Russ Khaydarov”. Nothing showed up with the name search or with Russell. So I wonder if there will be a spelling error with him being nicknamed Rus (with 1 s). Rus has the background of being at Razorfish and has a Bachelor degree in Graphic Design from Drexel in Philadelphia. Want to learn more? Check out his Pinterest account or of course friend him on Facebook [I bet you won’t get a response].
Then there was an intern. He comes the Big Apple as Yahoo!’s summer intern from ITP a Master program through NYU. With the name Max Ma you know he must be brilliant and he is actually from Beijing, with a portfolio that Senior Art Directors would drool over. Max is on Twitter and wasn’t afraid to check-in and show his friends and colleagues where he was working. If you notice, he even says “I will come back”. Will he back with a hired-on position?Capture_internFoursquare
Marissa gives credit to the video to Max “Here’s a fun video (created by our amazing intern Max) that animates the design notes:”
Lets watch it again together.
Now, I’m not going to get into my opinion on the Yahoo! new logo, because frankly whatever Marissa goes with I will support and I respect their design vision. It makes sense to redesign after 18 years and it seems like the perfect opportunity for her to shine some positive light on change while the team is working hard on some secretive programming and product launches.
What did we learn today? Within every job, it will influence the future teams and jobs you will have later on in your career. I’m sure if you would have asked Rob and Marc back in their NFL days if they ever would want to re-design the Yahoo! logo, they would have laughed that one up. Yeah- right!
Also get a really cool internship, practice your video animation skills and you could be on the Yahoo! team one day. Or just aim for your favorite agency, brand or product.
Yahoo! is currently looking for a Media intern and a lot more. Apply Now, or just click and dream.
Stay whimsical, yet sophisticated, modern and fresh, with a nod to your history.

Content and information was based on Tumblr post by Marissa, that I read on 9/5/13. The search on the team names were made by Google (sorry Yahoo!) and were just assumptions and public profiles. Nothing was alternated or confirmed by the resources. 

Pin your interest

Pinterest has become a buzz word just like Twitter and Facebook, YouTube and more. Pinning something doesn’t mean you’re tacking it on the bulletin board or fixing a hem, it’s your on a website that is theme-based with images and information.

History Lesson

History [just skip or scan if not interested in the facts]
Pinterest began development in December of 2009 and was launched as closed beta in March 2010. Nine months later he had 10,000 users and was operated out of a small apartment until 2011. The iPhone app launched March 2011 then was listed by Time magazine as “50 Best Websites of 2011”. In December 2011, the site became one of the 10 largest social networks according to Hitwise data. Then in January 2012, comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique users mark. 2012 Pinterest has some major changes including someone no longer needed an invite to join the site and Android was launched. The latest is that Pinterest acquired Livestar, which is Livestar is a mobile app that lets you get recommendations quickly and easily from critics, friends and people with the same taste as you. Currently Livestar provides recommendations for restaurants, movies, music and apps, with more categories coming soon…. To Be Continued.

What does a MN Design Gal do with a thing called Pinterest? I am on Pinterest every day for at least 1 minute. It’s something that takes me away from thinking about interactive environments, writing in less than 140 characters and inspires me to try some new fashion combinations, decorate a dresser (that I have still never done), try a new hairstyle, bake a rainbow cake and since I’m a BRIDE-To-BE my boards come in handy to plan with.

Board naming is tricky and luckily I started with a plan having the topic of the overall board Hair_MUSTTRY, notice it has an initial capitalization then there is an underscore and the description of how it relates back to the main topic. Hair_MUSTTRYThis makes it easy to place items into particular buckets because the last thing you need is an account with only 3 boards filled with hundreds of pins that becomes frustrated to track something down again.

My pinterestCurrently I have 67 boards and 1,092 pins and have liked 64 things. Wait- is that a lot?

How to stay organized for a wedding?

My boards all start with Wedding_theDRESS, Wedding_MYMAIDS, Wedding_INVITE, Wedding_FLOWERS… This way I’m not scrolling through the endless amount of dreams but it can be quick and easy to organize and be your thought-leader.

Can you spot the "joke" pin for my friends and true followers to catch?

Can you spot the “joke” pin for my friends and true followers to catch?

Have I ever deleted a pin? YES. And someone should. Lets face it your probably buzzed-up 25% of the time your on @Pinterest, because it’s just like flipping through the channels of your TV or looking through an Entertainment magazine.

Do you ever review your HOME feed or do I search only? I ALWAYS start with my homefeed. This is something that surprised me, most of my friends don’t and will go directly to the category they want to know about. Food, Fashion, Baby… One of the best things about Pinterest is you can follow your favorite designers, fashion icons, celebrities or even just fashionable friends and have the most diverse feed that features all things you love!


I don’t enjoy pins about animals, cars or things from garage or flea markets. I actually used to get bothered by the quotes but now have started the best in Words_READ DAILY board to keep me inspired and have printed several for my desk, friends and home art.

Something I have started that has the most follows is my board Haveit_WEARIT_LIKETHIS. This started with having a hard time on deciding on what to wear in the mornings [actually started when I was 5 years old]. Pairing the same things together gets boring very fast. When adding a bright pair of pants with a Junior High jean jacket and a necklace could be the needed inspiration to wear to work that day [I wish someone would have told me this earlier]. Pinterest helps you be brave enough to start wearing floral with stripes. No one at work does it, but I have this old floral scarf and my new strip shirt I’m already sick of, will make a whole NEW statement!

I started #PinnedItLivedit because I was inspired by fashion and do-it-at-home projects. DIY usually comes from something like a Pinterest post so why not show your friends through an easy hashtag or post that you got it from Pinterest. You Pinned it – Lived it!

Got a good content that shows a fashion statement, DIY project or something you cooked that you pinned it lived it? Let me know and you can be spotlighted on the website and pinterest. Email Now.



I’m thankful for Pinterest because it will always be something I refer back to for party planning, baby fashion, everyday fashion, gift ideas, decorating and if I ever get married again -Gross! Just kidding!

If this hasn’t yet inspired to start using Pinterest, maybe go and dust off that cork board you have in the basement and start living the life of pinning again.

Your Pin Gal

Summer snap shot


Agency Content Matters

Content has always been something that comes second nature for me and I gravitate to and am always observing things and taking notes.

Facebook is the most popular channel, but surprisingly some agencies don’t mess with. mono actually has never made a page, and I was told by a past employee, that they have no desire at that time to be part of that space. It was their image to be slightly mysterious. [how cool right?]

But that isn’t the norm, about 98% of all advertising agencies, design shops, creative firms have a Facebook page to talk about themselves, show how they celebrate Birthdays, post shameless summer party photos, share photos from their taco-themed Tuesdays and share how they give back to local charities.


When a friend starts at a company or your interested in working at a new place, what is one of the first things you do? [Facebook them of course!] It’s a very secretive way to snoop and it gives you personal and real-time insight to get to know a possible future employer. See their space before visiting, understand that they have clients they hang out, how they work hard and play hard, the sometimes stocked keg in the kitchen or the cool Ice T and Ice Cube is on their pop machine.

What companies also forget is that Facebook is another place where client’s engage and look at their agency too. They want to see their agency having fun, making a difference and being really cool and different. I can clearly remember working at a web design firm that a corporate client [I’ll just tell you it was General Mills] and they would come in every other Friday and they were just excited to crack a beer and play video games and hang-out with “their agency folks”. Why is that? Because the agency part is the fun part to their corporate jobs! They don’t want breakfast meetings with plain bagels and bad coffee with mini creamers. They want afternoon meetings with beers on the table, giant bags of chips and 90’s music playing while you sit in the coolest and most comfortable conference room they have ever been in!

Where agencies miss the bar is spotlighting their employees within their social content. Lets face it, you can have a really cool name, do fairly great work but if your employees are stale, boring and un-entertaining that client will leave you because there is another agency that does just as great work but has a ping-pong table, a killer view in their conference room and the people just get your needs and make you feel so comfortable – also that Creative Director is just so damn cool the client secretly wants to be him.

make it happen today

How to solve this? Have fun with your employees and let them come to YOU with your social content too.

Example: At an agency I know, they had a employee craft fair. [Neat idea thought from an employee of course!] What was showcased was employee’s original talents, crafts and photography that they did on their own that you never knew about them because of their titles and day jobs. The entire event was just a few hours at the agency but a month’s worth of social content! Spotlight the production manager as a talented jewelry maker, take a picture of her with hand-made earrings on she made for another co-worker and post that. Or the quiet developer that you never knew his name actually paints guitar picks! Even cooler he actually has one from Elvis, [not a true story but that could happen].

Employees love talking about themselves and sharing things if the right people at the agency ask them about it. Before you know it, the employee is sharing their picture on FB with their friends and their old college roommate is the data analyst you have been looking for and you not only have a new hire, but that same guitar painting guy was going to start looking for a job. But now, he likes it because his distance friend is there and he feels like his employer not only cares about him personally but he feels loyal to them.

The small entertaining things work too. Take a picture of the Friday beer cart and post that a few times a month [not every Friday of course that deadline for the client was killer]. Did a partner or Creative Director speak somewhere for a local nonprofit? Did someone go and take a picture of him? Did you write a blog post about it or at least post the picture tagging the organization? You just missed out on thousands of impressions and that speaking gig lost his chance to triple in value.

agency culture - beer cart

I took this picture and made these employees laugh to capture the Friday beer trolley invented by this employee and friend.

When client’s visit, remember they check-in too and some will even tag you on Twitter. Twitter is slightly different then Facebook in my opinion with agency content because you want to also be forward-thinking and have new business at top of mind always.

When that same client tweeted your agency did you reply back to them? That can be a negative feeling for that client without you even knowing. Remember to check your social channels and respond and thank NEW re-tweeters and always be mindful of client tweets and remember if you want that digital business you better be watching them in their digital space.

Finally, I have to note that a very small 10-person design shop that I worked at wasn’t on any social sites and didn’t want to be. I convinced them they should be because the website didn’t say ANYTHING about the people that worked there. So after multiple weeks of selling and then educating the company and 4 partners on what Facebook was (other then stalking old High School friends) we launched. Not only was it successful and but even got all 4 partners to get on Facebook themselves and they found those old friends and past co-workers who then noticed and starting bringing in new business. I moved on from that job months later after getting social up and running but the Facebook page and Twitter (even though it’s just posts that are posted on FB that I totally don’t recommend but is good for these guys for now) is still up and running. The content still continues to be new and it’s even better then I could have imagined because a production artist with some passion was added to the admin to maintain the content as well. The social creative is still up with what I designed and created for them and it’s part of their agency culture to update it.

This blog post is near and dear to this MN Design Gal’s heart, because I’m so passionate about agency branding and online content that I find myself thinking of new and re-branding strategies in my sleep. [nerd]

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