Quick and economic graphic design services get more fans in your seats

Minor design tweaks lead to major results

Minor league sports are all about creativity. It’s hard to be stodgy when your graphic design teams get to work with mascots like the RockHounds, Iron Pigs and RubberDucks.

There’s also the matter of necessity. Minor league teams don’t have the money or star power of top-tier teams. Even when they do have a talented player as their draw, they can’t build much around him: the nature of the business means that he’ll be called up before too long, sometimes on a day’s notice.

Small market teams, minor league teams and colleges outside of the Power Five need their brand to stand on its own. A season of success on the field will only take them so far. Teams outside the big leagues thrive because of what they do and what they represent off the field. Basic elements like logos, colors and marketing collateral must be instantly recognizable and in touch with their community (fun fact: the RockHounds, Iron Pigs and RubberDucks have nothing to do with dogs, swine or water fowl, respectively).

Quick and economic design services to get more fans into your seats

Minor league teams put in the work to look this chill

Small market teams have been threading a difficult needle for the last decade: they’ve embraced the kitsch, and even the occasional gimmick, but they have to do it in a way that doesn’t come off as amateur. They have to take their job seriously enough to look like they don’t take themselves very seriously.

When it comes to graphic design, this means smartly executed brands and collateral built around the fun laid-back name and logo. Digital and print graphics have to project a free-wheeling brand across all platforms, being consistent without coming off as corporate.

At the same time, they need to have just enough corporate appeal to satisfy the parent clubs, trustees, board members or other overseers. Teams can satisfy this need through the quality and professionalism of the work, and by staying up to date on what the big players are doing that can scale down to the farm teams.

Small market teams rely heavily on physical marketing assets

Because minor league teams draw their fan base exclusively from the local area, they have to saturate their communities with their presence. Billboards, in-store displays, year-round community-facing events and sponsor tie-ins are important for any sports team, but are crucial for local markets because they create immediate touch points.

It’s a good add-on for a major league team to have a booth at the city’s half-marathon expo or “taste of” weekend. A minor league team, on the other hand, could generate a noticeable spike in engagement and ticket sales by having staff and players wearing event-specific t-shirts at those events while handing out promo cards and taking selfies with fans.

Every aspect of that interaction – the visuals at the booth, the t-shirts the team personnel are wearing, the promo cards, the social media filters – need to be integrated and, better yet, customized for the event. Teams can’t afford to have one all-purpose t-shirt or promo card – people will quickly stop noticing them. Worse, they may look like they are phoning it in. The physical assets should reflect whatever external event (the race expo, corporate wellness fair, etc) they are supporting. This maintains attention, and adds value to the partnership for both sides.

Packaging the gulls

Integrated graphic design and production services for minor league teams

WW&L provides full service graphic design and production. From logo creation or rebranding to producing digital artwork and physical collateral – from souvenir tickets and flyers to NFT-backed collectibles and NFC-enabled packaging – WW&L can handle any marketing design project.

By doing everything in-house, WW&L keeps the process efficient and costs low. Our graphic designers can provide 1-2 day turnaround on most requests, and they work alongside the production team so there’s never a delay caused by a mismatch or misunderstanding of requirements. We can also work with you on your marketing strategy, recommending the best design concepts, assets and distribution methods for your needs.

Even with these capabilities, we are still a small shop in a small town (Ft. Smith, baby!). We understand the unique situation of small market and minor league teams. In our 100+ years, we’ve seen six minor league baseball teams come and go – a few were even before our time. We’d like to have one come back (any takers?). But until then, we want to make your team, our team.

Drop us a line today to see how our graphic design services can help you put fans in the seats.

Oh, and if you’ve made it this far and are still wondering: a RockHound is a geologist, which makes sense for the oil fields of Midland, TX. Lehigh Valley (PA) was a center of the steel industry, which used a lot of – wait for it – pig iron. And Akron, OH, is the home of Goodyear, so, obviously, RubberDucks.

Park Your Thoughts Podcast: Episode 3 Jeri Baker, Director of Parking and Transportation at Virginia Tech

Join Philip Warren and Laura Skulman as they interview Director of Parking and Transportation at Virginia Tech, Jeri Baker. Jeri discusses the importance of the transportation marketing program at Virginia Tech and the campus’ newest project, the Blacksburg Transit Multi-Modal Transit Facility.

Park Your thoughts podcast parking podcast featuring director of parking and transportation at Virginia Tech, Jeri Baker

Creating an unboxing experience worthy of your brand

The unboxing experience is the sort of thing you may never notice, until that one time when you do, and then you can never not notice it again.

Brands built around impeccable customer service do a lot of things they really don’t need to do. What sets apart the greats is that they believe they do, in fact, need to do those things. The extra “thank you,” the commitment to always finding a customer-pleasing solution, the “never say no” attitude seem gratuitous to those on the outside but are essential to those on the inside.

The unboxing experience is an e-commerce extension of those values. Brands that would never allow an in-store customer to have a single substandard moment are not willing to let their customers have one at home.

Blog about how to create an unboxing experience worthy of your brand with custom personalized packaging

Bring the brand experience into the customer’s house

Delivery times will be soon be measured in hours, not days. But there will always be a lag between when you place an order and when you receive whatever it is. Brick-and-mortar stores don’t have this downtime. Product selection and delivery takes place within the physical brand experience. That creates a continuity in the customer experience that e-commerce does not have.

An e-commerce brand’s packaging reconnects the customer to the brand at a key moment: when they get the thing they paid for! The logo, the colors, the physical design and whatever little touches the sender adds to the packaging all bring the brand back to the customer in the way that a generic brown box cannot. They’re reminded of the brand as they hold the product for the first time.

Creative packaging gives you one more way to be you

More than just the printed elements, the unboxing experience includes the physical design of the packaging. This opens up new possibilities to show your company’s creativity and personality.

If you company is known for sparse, modernist and streamlined designs (think Apple), the packaging should be the same. The customer should be able to take the product from the box and into their hands in as few movements as possible; and those movements should be simple and smooth, sliding and gliding rather than flipping, popping and hinging.

On the other hand, if your company has more of an old-school geek / maker vibe, maybe you want that extra level of complexity. The unboxing should feel like stepping through a fun puzzle. Surprise, excitement and discovery more your thing? Then throw in some random goodies: a gift card, company-branded swag, a sample of something that complements the customer’s purchase.

Does your company sponsor a sports team or non-profit? The tie-in activation pretty much writes itself.

Personalized packaging for unboxing experiences the Catalina Wine Mixer

What are the basic elements of a customer-pleasing unboxing experience?

Let’s go from the outside and work our way in. You may be able to get creative with the actual shipping box, but there are some important limitations. First, despite your commitment to a great unboxing experience, there’s still the economics. Your warehousing and shipping contracts may require you to use standard-size, brown, plain corrugated cardboard boxes. Switching up the type or size of the box could affect your pricing, and therefore your business model. The other issue is security: if your brand is recognized and coveted by customers, it is to porch pirates, too. It may be worth the anonymity of old school outer packaging to make yourself a “hard target.”

Once the customer opens the outer box, the first thing they will probably see is the spacer or protective packaging materials. Unless you’re sending someone fish ‘n’ chips (and if that’s the case, we have  questions), you can do better than crumpled up newspapers.

An easy option is to order tissue paper in your brand colors or with your logo. Another possibility, depending on the product, is to use structural cardboard shapes to create a platform in the box and secure the item to the platform with a clear plastic wrap or zip ties. It eliminates the need for both an internal box and packing materials. This is a popular option for shipping laptops and tablets, so much so that UPS offers a laptop box. The platform option lets people open the box and immediately see their purchase; and it is more environmentally friendly since it requires less material and leaves the customer with a lot less waste.

If you do have your own box within the outer box, this is where you can be creative with the aesthetics and design. Customers should know intuitively how and where to open the box: if you need to write “This End Up” non-ironically, there’s a problem. Once they open the box and have the product in their sight, how do they take hold of it? Does it fall into their hands, slide onto their table, seemingly lift into their grasp? And is there anything under it, perhaps a message, a personalized card, or just a pleasantly on-brand picture?

How to create an unboxing experience worthy of your products

The unboxing experience turns packaging from something generic and functional into something unique and useful. Like everything else in the customer experience, it needs to be about the customer: satisfying them, improving their mood, helping them feel more connected to your brand.

If you’re not sure where to start, WW&L has been making the mundane and practical exciting and personal for over 100 years.

Our design team will work with you to develop your unboxing concept and produce the packaging materials you need to carry your brand from your store to your customers’ hands. E-mail or call us today to get started.

Packaging Ravens

Can tickets and access credentials finally make QR codes popular?

Can tickets and access credentials finally make QR codes popular? View our blog to find out

QR codes are everywhere. That should be a digital marketer’s dream, except for one little problem: we’ve all learned to ignore them. They’re everywhere, yet no one even notices them anymore… let alone pay attention to them… let alone hold up the phone to see what lies on the other side of the black and white squares.

The technology behind QR codes hasn’t changed much since they were developed in 1994. Yeah, you read that right. QR codes were 13 years old when the first iPhone was released. In the 14 years of the smartphone era, QR codes have become part of the background on packaging or printed items like tickets – less useful and somehow less attractive than a barcode.

The challenge for marketers is finding ways to draw customers’ eyes and phones to the QR code.

Give customers a QR code worth scanning

Repeat engagement starts with a single click. Now how do we get that click?

Some brands are making their QR codes more attractive by incorporating logos, words or colors into the pattern. Sports teams can take advantage of this very easily, since they already have highly recognizable marks that fans are used to interacting with.

A prominent, specific call-to-action – one that tells customers what’s in it for them if they snap the QR code – is one way to go from noticing to acting. “Scan here for see what seats are available at this weekend’s game!” “Free parking at tonight’s game by scanning the QR code below.”

Teams can place their branded QR codes in print advertisements, on their website, on tickets and in their sponsors’ locations. For example, many teams have a supermarket sponsor. Part of the activation can be displays around the store with QR codes that offer on-the-spot digital coupons. The value of the coupon could double if the customer scans the code with from their team app: this way you build favor with new markets and possibly increase downloads, and reward existing fans for their loyalty.

This could be a very low overhead sponsorship activation. A single QR code at the entrance or point of sale could be used indefinitely: the printed code is fixed, but the action it triggers can change every week or every hour. These are called “dynamic QR codes,” a somewhat misleading term because the QR code itself is static: the dynamic aspect is on the back end. This week, the QR codes in a supermarket could give customers 10% of their total purchase. Next week it could give them a complimentary ticket to a midweek game of their choice.

How to leverage smart credentials with a must-click QR code

QR codes and bar codes are almost interchangeable for mobile ticketing. But when placed on a physical ticket, QR codes have far more possibilities.

Wait, isn’t that going backwards a decade? Aren’t venues going fully mobile and paperless, from tickets to cash? Yes, but that trend is already rolling back a bit. It turns out that people like to have something in their hand, even if the real action is on their phone (refresher: NFTs good, NFTs validating a bobblehead better).

Teams are increasingly offering their fans souvenir tickets, and providing physical smart credentials to their season ticket holders. No one wants their credential on the end of a lanyard to be a just a status symbol – they want it to do something.

A QR code on a season-long reusable ticket is a way for the team and the fan to build a season-long engagement away from the game.

The team can update the back end of the dynamic QR code on a regular schedule to give season ticket holders reasons to click throughout the week. On game day, until 2 hours before the game, scanning the QR code will give the fan the most up-to-date information (perhaps including special video content) about the team and the lineup. Once doors open, the QR code becomes the ticket. After the QR code is scanned and the fan is in the arena, the QR code can offer promotions, highlights, an extra entry in the nightly drawing…. anything. In the days following the game, taking an occasional snap of the QR code can offer, well, as you’re now realizing, anything.

Dynamic QR codes become another stream in your customer relations or sales & marketing strategies. Alongside social media, email, phone calls and in-person touch points, QR codes give you another way of uniquely targeting your customer base. 

Every QR scan increases the chances of the next one

We’ve talked mostly about how sports teams can use QR codes for digital marketing, but the same ideas apply for museums, concert halls, universities, festivals and even companies that issue an access badge. Anything that can be scanned by your phone’s camera – from a credential to a screen – can become smarter, more generous and more interactive with a well-managed QR code on it.

And not only will your fans thank you for a non-intrusive way of doing more for them, the entire digital marketing industry will be grateful that your company helped get people in the habit of noticing and snapping QR codes.

Maybe a future QR code-enabled VIP pass will be the one around your neck as you take the stage as an inductee into the Digital Marketing Hall of Fame.

QR codes have been around a long time, but WW&L has been around even longer. For over 100 years, we’ve been leading the way on printing tickets, access badges, parking decals – anything that connects access to experience. Let us know how we can bring QR codes or any other form of tech – new or old – to your marketing efforts

Park Your Thoughts Episode 2: Josh Stone, VCU

Park Your Thoughts Parking Podcast Episode 2 featuring Josh Stone of VCU

How does a ski instructor break into the parking industry? What are the benefits of a CAPP certification, the leading credential in parking and mobility? Josh Stone, the director of parking and transportation at Virginia Commonwealth University, sits down with Philip Warren and Laura Skulman of Weldon, Williams & Lick to discuss all things campus parking in this episode.