Ted Catanzaro Rides Again

January 28 2016

How do you best promote yourself after 1. you’ve been around for awhile, and 2. you’re known as being part of a duo that shoots together, and now you are creating images solo. Good question. 

Our client Ted Catanzaro of Ted and Debbie worked with us on a digging down, rebranding project to help him get to know his own particular attributes.  and to shoot, edit, build a website and develop marketing materials that fully reflect where he is now in his career. One of the results is this fabulous, imitation wood grain, handmade feeling promo, reflective of Ted’s homegrown, funky, point-of-view. It was just cited by aphotoeditor.com as one of the best photographer promos of 2015

Proof that growing, developing and taking ourselves on in new ways can have award-winning results. We’re proud of you, Ted! 

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Beth at the Photographers Dining Club in London on April 1st

March 27 2015

Beth is very excited to have been invited to curate an evening on Discovering and Communicating Your Brand at the Photographers Dining Club at the Proud Archivist in London on April 1st. Joined by her clients, photographers Tom Parker and Squire Fox, Beth will be speaking as well as participating in an extended Q & A about the branding process, how it works, and how these two photographers have grabbed hold of their careers by working from the inside out.


The Dining Club marries two of our favorite yummy subjects: food and photography! Participants sit down for a dinner while discussing critical subjects in photography in talks given by leaders in the field. All in all, it’s a very chic event, which sold out in the first two hours! Never fear, though, as we will be posting excerpts from the event on our website in the near future, so stay tuned!

If you were not able to get a seat at the the Dining Club but still would like to meet with Beth, she will be meeting with clients old and new while she is in London. We are taking bookings until April 15th

Please contact studio@mercurylab.com to book your appointment.

See you soon!

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Print Portfolios as Objects of Desire

January 08 2015

A perennial topic of conversation amongst photographers, photo agents and buyers swirls around print books. Everyone wonders if the print portfolio is dead, in a deep slumber, or if it somehow still vital. I’m a big fan of print books – when built around a photographer’s brand and vision, they are seductive and immersive, a place where the viewer can enter and experience your brand in a tangible and tactile way.

These days, many more portfolios are perfect bound, highly designed and sophisticated presentations, and present more like photo art books. This trend in fabrication and presentation places the photo portfolio front and center as a book to explore, appreciate, and return to again and again – much like a great photo art book from a published artist.


Gabriella Imperatori-Penn's perfect bound brand book marries her structural still life photographs and fine art images

This is not news to many of you, yet it was interesting to have my point-of-view confirmed by the recent article in The Business of Fashion, the highly influential London-based fashion blog. The headline of their article is “In Age of Online Inspiration, Fashion Creatives Still Love Beautiful Books.” The article is about coffee table books, and talks about the inspiration and references that Art and Creative Directors find in visually based photo books, whether they are contemporary, retro, or historical. Many Creatives travel with book collections, and many are avid photo, fashion, and art book collectors, using their collections for inspiration and creative juice.


Sarah Silver's portfolio incorporated distinctive design elements in conjunction with her glorious photographs

A great, well designed, thought through print portfolio elevates your brand to the context of a printed photo book, as an object of desire to be explored, and remembered, and to be inspired by. While the days of having eight copies of your portfolio are over, fabricating two or three copies of your “object of desire portfolio” can help to clinch the deal with your highly visual, selective target market.

Artists and agents -- think about this and take it on as you go forth with your branding, design, and marketing activities in 2015.

Go Forth! Mercurylab in London (Part Two) | They (and we) Love to Eat

July 29 2014

Farmer's Market Marketing

Whether based in Brooklyn or London, good farmer’s markets not only bring a sense of the native culture and some delicious foods, but also offer great marketing opportunities for the vendors.


Broadway Market, Hackney (Left, Popino, based in Hampstead, and their homemade savory tarts and pies; right, artisan cheeses from all over the UK)

The markets provide a great atmosphere and the chance to sell not only your product, but your brand. These small business owners and artisans foodmakers often build their brands at markets, gaining a following that allows them to begin to wholesale or maybe even open their own shop. These days, in the artisan sector, a successful food brand will always bring together a combination of market sales, wholesale and retail. The sellers at the market level are in a unique position to get feedback about their products straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak). Sellers can interact with customers, create a relationship, and put a face to the food. It's all very organic (mind the pun). The UK has been forward- thinking in providing provenance for local foods, and the local food movement has taken hold and flourished here for many years, far in advance of the US.

There is an incredible interest in locally sourced food. Cooks and consumers want the Real Deal. Organic. Healthy. Ethical. Local. Lucky for market stalls, eating and ethics all get rolled up into one concern that points to more sales and exposure.


Heavenly Andina, where we set at the kitchen counter and coveted everything coming out of the kitchen

Adina, an amazing Peruvian spot we went to a few nights ago in Shoreditch, is one of many restaurants to feature fresh, local, GMO-free ingredients. They call out their sourcing right on the menu. Even the beverages are based on “Peruvian Super Fruits,” and the fries are not potatoes, but are actually healthy root vegetables typical of traditional Peruvian cuisine. Anyway, it was all delicious, and everyone in the busy kitchen wanted to share their enthusiasm for the food. YUM!

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Courting the Milennials: Banana Republic Ramps it Up

June 03 2014

with guest blogger Annie G.


Banana Republic is a brand that has long been seen as Gap's older, more mature counterpart (or at least since its induction to the Gap Inc. family in 1983). The company has transitioned from its original positioning, exchanging the original safari themed items and decor for a more polished look. Their aesthetic has been targeted towards Ben and Anna (say it out loud and you'll get it), their fictional, 30-40 year old, well-off, style conscious customer. Simon Kneen, Creative Director since 2009, successfully designed for this audience for many years. However, in recent seasons, Kneen has been criticized for dulling the brand down and perhaps being out of touch with current trends.


photo by Billy Farrell Agency

Enter Kneen’s replacement, Marissa Webb, Banana's new Creative Director. Not only is Webb young and stylish, but she's more plugged in. She's conscious of the vital role social media plays, and is an avid Instagram user. Webb’s personal Spring 2014 line displayed a fresh vision that will help push Banana's image forward, and her point-of-view will create a shift in Banana’s design sensibilities, audience, and marketing that will help them to reach hip, twenty-something millennials and their buying power. While Ben and Anna remain a core part of Banana Republic's demographic, Benji and Annalise are the new kids in town. They may still have brunch dates like their parents, but they're young professionals with blogs to write and tweets to send, and they want to look cute while they’re gramming.

While Webb isn't expected to debut a collection until next summer, her ascension has already created a notable shift in the brand's product. Additionally, the late L'Wren Scott designed a successful colourful and bold collection for the company. Her prints were a bit louder, the colors more saturated. The cuts were sleek and (dare we say) sexy. And all of a sudden, Banana engaged in some effective social media marketing. With the release of Scott’s line came a Twitter/Instagram selfie contest. Fitting room mirrors had decals that read #ThisIsGlam, and encouraged customers to take and post pictures in the collection. Last week, Banana Republic also launched another collaboration with Marimekko, the graphic and funky Finnish brand that has already staged a successful comeback.

While the brand will always be loyal to Ben & Anna, the duo who love neutrals, classic non-iron shirts, and perfectly fitted Sloan pants, the future may have a positive pop of colour for Banana Republic. Will this mass-market clothing brand successfully throw off its mumsy identity and evolve with the times and develop deeper and more vital market reach? We’ll be sipping on our Arnold Palmers and taking a wait-and-see.


photo by Banana Republic

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Tyrells: Chips (or Crisps), Depending Upon Where You Live

March 14 2014

The other day I went to the grocery store in search of a delicious salty snack. A photo of a group of little old ladies caught my eye, and I knew I had found what I was looking for: Tyrrells English Chips (or Crisps for you Brits). The chips were absolutely delicious. In this case, the packaging was witty and effective in differentiating the product, and definitely pulled me in.


via

The company was running a promotion that was featured on the bag that I decided to enter (more on that later), and after a quick google search, I found that they had two different websites, one for their US customers (tyrrellschips.com), and one for their UK consumers (tyrrellscrisps.co.uk). While the sites have the same look and feel, I could see a slight difference in the language, which makes sense given that the UK and the US are two countries separated by a common and similar language! The UK product offerings are far more extensive, offering a wider variety of flavors like Sunday Best Roast Chicken and Naked. The brand’s witty, playful voice comes across in the flavor naming and design, which is very effective (note that I bought the first time I encountered the chip = 100% success for the brand). Having a more extensive product line in the UK makes sense considering that Tyrells is well-known in Britain, and the UK is their main market.


left & right

The US and UK sites do share a few promotions, such as a Facebook potato sack race game and caption contest, but the “big-ticket” promos differ vastly. In the US, you can enter to win a Cambridge Satchel. This style of bag has been very popular this past year in the fashion industry in the US (and still is). It is a slice of traditional English design that is still very much in vogue with the younger crowd. The bag design is a play between modern and vintage, and it works well with the Tyrrells brand voice and aesthetic.

The UK promo is quite different, and very quirky. You can win prizes like “A Monkey’s Uncle”, “A Pack of Lies” or “Inappropriate Trousers”—the actual prize being £25,000, but of course, if you’d prefer an awkward head massage, they’d be happy to oblige. The UK promo really emphasizes Tyrell’s humorous voice to a degree that a caption contest cannot capture, and as an established brand in the UK they can run an almost snarky promotion. This type of oddball promo might not fly yet America because their audience here does not know them well enough. I’m going to track them to see how they promote in the US in the future.

The takeaway? When marketing and communicating your brand in different markets, like Tyrrells, it’s likely that you will want to shade your marketing and communications to target and engage your specific audiences based on the culture and country. Your approach to marketing your brand is unlikely to be monolithic, whether you are selling a service, product, or company.

It’s Nutty: Almond Milk’s Increasing Market Expansion

January 09 2014

Buying milk is not as easy as it used to be! Gone are the days when we would buy an important part of the daily staple very inexpensively as retailers used it to tempt buyers into their shops. Now we are assailed by choices of many different types of milk from coconut to soy. Is there anything in it?

A recent addition to the plethora of milk replacers or substitutes is almond milk. Unflavored almond milk has no animal fats, no soy, no lactose and is low in calories but many prefer the flavored versions which have sugars, gums and other additives. Silk almond milk has set itself against dairy milks as evident from the Silk almond milk carton, which affirmatively declares that "Dairy Milk is getting jealous!" This is an interesting marketing move, as by doing so, they are also taking market share from their own line of soy milks.


via

So does almond milk sell well? Undoubtedly. In 2011 almond milk sales increased 79% and in 2013 sales surpassed those of soy milk! And how about pricing? In equivalent sizes, almond milk retails for 25% or more than dairy milk, so customers must be drawn by something other than price. Almond milk is touted as being better for your health, as there are concerns about the estrogen in soy, it appeals to consumers with lactose intolerance, and there is also a move within the natural and alternative community away from cow's milk. Consumers also want to know what they are drinking or giving their children contains no growth hormones or GMOs, which is a claim that Almond Milk fulfills and puts front and center.

All this begs the question of whether dairy milk will retaliate and, if so, how. The move towards alternative milks has been going on for years, and will only continue to pick up speed. It's part of the larger consumer trend towards having more control and knowledge about what they are eating, as well as the abiding Boomer interest in longevity. It has certainly been documented in countless surveys that Boomers seem to see death as an option, not an inevitability, and that they believe that good eating and heart health will help them live forever. Almond milk fits the anti-aging profile -- hence it's popularity with a large sector of the population.

Will the dairy industry be able to assure consumers that they are still the best choice for their health? Have they become too accustomed to US Government subsidies so that they have lost their competitive spirit? Only time will tell.

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Leveraging the Old to Make Way for the New: The British Journal of Photography embraces the iPhone

December 18 2013

Hold on to your iPhones, photographers! The venerable British Journal of Photography has launched FLTR, a new weekly magazine dedicated to iPhone photography, published ONLY on the iPhone. This is a very progressive and forward-thinking move for a magazine with such strong historical roots, founded in Liverpool in 1854 (one hundred years before the Beatles appeared on the scene), and is typical of the smart leveraging of historical brands taking place these days in the UK.

So, about the magazine. The British Journal of Photography has a kind of fusty name, one that is a bit disconnected from how modern they really are. (That is a different brand topic for another day.) They have carved out an important role in the UK photo community, spanning the realms of commercial, fine art, critical analysis, news, events, job listings, and more. In creating FLTR, they are embracing what is going on NOW and what will be taking place in the future of the photo world, rather than pushing against the tide and ignoring or complaining about how bad things are for professional photographers. There are some compelling articles in the first issue, one by the uber-influential Kathy Ryan, and another about the impact smartphones would have had in recording dramatic events such as the attacks on 9/11.


via

These days, non-professionals fluidly take pictures with their phones all the time, freely documenting what they are eating, doing, where they are going, and who they spend their time with. It is estimated that more than 880 billion images will be taken over the next twelve months, with many of the images shot and shared by phone. That’s a whole lot of photos! Some of my photographer clients shoot campaigns on their iPhones, adding special lenses to bring more flexibility and refinement to the shooting process. Other clients of mine are asked to create the feel of iPhone photos – in other words, the naturalism and real life qualities of phone images, but with more technical backbone. Instagram has changed the way that we all relate to photography, and is used very actively as a major marketing tool for professionals, one where technology provides the bridge for a very personal connection between photographer and client or prospective client.

I would pay attention to this magazine, photo people. It’s another way of putting yourself out there beyond your own social media, and a great way of being part of the important conversation about what is going on in photography today.

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A Bigger Interview At Hasselblad Bron's Shoot NYC 2013

November 14 2013

Beth Taubner ShootNYC 2013 from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Beth in action (wearing pearls) talks about branding and marketing at this years ShootNYC.

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Aerie, American Eagle, and the Building of a Retail Brand

October 01 2013

How many of you know about or shop at Aerie, a growing intimates brand established by American Eagle? Their demographic is for girls aged fifteen–twenty-five. Since the line was launched in 2006, it has only gained in popularity. However, right now, they are functioning more like a sub-brand, rather than as the sister- brand they want to be.


via ae.com/blog

The majority of Aerie’s current departments are situated inside larger American Eagle stores, but there is a definite difference in vibe between the two. Aerie is set up to function more of a store within a store, much like you would find DKNY or Ralph Lauren at Bloomingdales. Aerie has their own female sales staff. The atmosphere is brighter, lighter, and almost ethereal, while American Eagle is darker and more masculine – more about an All-American, casual, worn vibe. American Eagle’s merchandise, advertising, store design and marketing communicate a broad sense of vintage authenticity, even though the brand was born in 1977. On the other hand, Aerie projects a voice that is new and youthful. The brand is not rooted in Dad’s old memorabilia. Aerie’s wants to make girls feel pretty inside and out. They are the “girl-next-door” of intimates, and they aspire to be in every girl’s closet.

Aerie has definitely benefitted from being under American Eagle’s roof and brand umbrella. Being situated both physically and digitally in the American Eagle retail experience has helped bring them traffic and brand awareness. However, they have cultivated a different kind of aesthetic, both in their products and retail presence, one that differentiates from their parent brand. They have the potential to be a big competitor in intimates, but to do so, they need to continue to expand beyond such a close consumer alliance with American Eagle and add more stand-alone stores. If not, they will be forever overshadowed—a sub-brand, not a sister brand. It is definitely time for them to move out of their parent’s house.

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