Judging the Echo Awards (1,302 words)
Here are some of the ideas that I took away from this year's judging:
* There was a Saab lease retention program where the type, leading and kerning were just so perfect that the piece looked absolutely stunning. We often forget how the selection of type is so important; but seeing this perfect usage of typography, I remembered that type has to be an integral part of the design package, not an afterthought.
Not only was the Saab package beautiful, it also included a survey that had a really innovative twist; for every completed survey that it received, Saab would make a donation to Meals on Wheels.
* Branding elements and the tone of a package should all be consistent. One submission was an invitation to a lobster fest, and the entire execution was fun and colorful—it even had a disclaimer cleverly titled "Legal Claws."
Caribou Coffee did a great job selecting colors, paper and images that all reflected the Caribou brand. It created a feeling of the cold North, using natural, rugged, woodsy images. Even the logo invokes these images—it's an
* The most compelling direct mail is always targeted correctly and comes into your home looking like it came from a real person. One such package I saw was from a pharmaceutical company mentioning a drug to help women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment. The package included articles that appear to have been ripped out of newspapers. There were even "hand-written" notes in the margins. It used a spokesperson who was a survivor and a nurse, who wrote in a very down-to-earth and human way to the target audience. It was an extremely powerful and effective presentation.
* Along the same lines, I saw a car manufacturer mailing in a plain white envelope (it looked like a fund-raiser had sent it!), and the sender's name was "handwritten" above the typed return address. In addition, the business reply envelope had an actual Post-it note tacked on to it. It looked like a real human being had touched it.