12 Years of Building a Brand in an Environment of Culture Unawareness

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2018, Fully Integrated Campaign--Print, Online, Social, Radio, Television, Outdoor

THE CHALLENGE

Supermicro is a company made up mostly of Taiwanese immigrants including it’s Cofounders. While they have tremendous insight in developing cutting edge technology the understanding of marketing the product in a manner that is more accepting of western culture where the larger portion of their customer base is was quite a challenge First the company had been growing, although slowly, quite steadily. This made it difficult to justify change, albeit, to improve the effectiveness of the company’s branding efforts.

THE JOURNEY

For the sake of illustrating the evolution of the Supermicro brand we’ve focused on the advertising as a representative of all of the branding efforts. Rightfully so, since most often the advertising was used as the foundation for creating much of the creative assets of the brand once the advertising creative was released.

Being that the majority of the culture at Supermicro is influenced by Taiwanese culture, colors, images and words used in brand assets are influenced as well. It’s been quite the challenge to move the company away from the Blue Sky and Yellow/Gold Type despite these color combinations being more associated with toys and other less critical industries. The reach for improvement over the last 12 years has been relentless but you can see each time some improvement was made we’d get a bit of push back the next time around. Nevertheless we were able to move from advertising with a smorgasbord of product images, blue sky and yellow/gold type to just one hero image. We were also able to move from lots of technical spec to a simple clean message, subhead and brief sell copy. This was utilized across all brand assets.

Much care was put into determining the core value of the company to its customers and making sure that message is delivered first and foremost.

THE ARRIVAL

Today both customers and partners can see that the brand has matured in its messaging and sophistication in delivery. Ads are no longer stand alone. They are part of an integrated effort that cross platforms, including outdoor, environment and social channels that drive interest to action and measurable metrics growing the customer base and brand value. As a result, a brand that was valued at just $500M 12 years ago is now valued at $3B.

View Landing Pages at
https://www.supermicro.com/application-optimized

12 Years of Building a Brand in an Environment of Culture Unawareness 2006 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2016 2017 2018, Fully Integrated Campaign--Print, Online, Social, Radio, Television, OutdoorTHE CHALLENGE Supermicro is a company made up mostly of Taiwanese immigrants including it’s Cofounders. While they have tremendous insight in developing cutting edge technology the […]

Choosing Substance Over Sexy in Advertising

( Concept I )Inside Every SuperServer is a Super Story

( Concept II ) We Power...

( Final Campaign ) Application-Optimized Server Solutions

THE CHALLENGE

The CEO wanted to turn the corner on the company brand. To do so he came up with Supermicro 3.0–An internal reference to reflect that the company’s maturity yet still reminiscent of fresh, new and improved.

To compliment this refresh I embarked on a journey interviewing employees, customers and partners, to not only see what Supermicro 3.0 meant to them, but what the true core value of the company was.

THE JOURNEY

After weeks of interviews, evaluations and analysis we tried to come up with a warm and fuzzy campaign showcasing the many ways Supermicro touched the lives of regular people. We even tested portions of the concept in our Superbowl Ads. However, that did not seem to fit the tone of management who preferred to lead with innovation. We even tried clever statements depicting us as the Power behind vertical markets however, we found that to be too narrow of a message.

So after further consideration and days of circling back we concluded that the core value to our customers and the reason customers chose Supermicro over our competitors was the company’s ability to specifically optimize product performance providing the best performance-per-watt, per dollar and/or per sq. ft. for each and every application. This was the differentiating factor for the company moving forward. As a result, the campaign became Application-Optimized Server Solutions. It wasn’t new, fresh or exciting. However, it was the first time that the value of the company had been concisely communicated that was in line with how we opened up dialogue with customers as well as closed the deal.

THE ARRIVAL

For the very first time we had received feedback that we finally got it right. That, along with a more comprehensive click-through plan in web banner advertising, we improved online ad clickthroughs and reduced bounce backs more than 30%.

Application Optimized Server Solutions. It’s not sexy but it has pertinent substance that drives the bottom line.

Choosing Substance Over Sexy in Advertising ( Concept I )Inside Every SuperServer is a Super Story ( Concept II ) We Power... ( Final Campaign ) Application-Optimized Server SolutionsTHE CHALLENGE The CEO wanted to turn the corner on the company brand. To do so he came up with Supermicro 3.0–An internal reference to reflect that […]

Satisfying Block Buster Aspirations on a Home Made Movie Budget

Docufilm video delivered on desktop, laptop and mobile devices in digital and social media channels across the internet.

THE CHALLENGE

So the VP came to my desk and said he wanted a movie poster for the video projects he assigned the team. Little did he know, I already something in the archives that would fit the project perfectly so that wasn’t the challenge. The true challenge was to satisfy his blockbuster movie aspirations despite having home made video resources.

THE JOURNEY

So the project was to produce a Docufilm discussing the effects of the energy consumption of the increasing count of compute servers around the world, as well as their effects on the environment. Initial concepts included a Mission Impossible type theme but CLevel management did not want to lose focus of the core message. Supermicro is a leader in server efficiency and passionate about using that efficiency to save energy and ultimately reduce the amount of natural resources needed to power servers around the world.

The challenge was to bring awareness to the increasing power consumption of the server industry while also shining a light on Supermicro as the energy efficient server solution without the video looking like a sales pitch.

So what we decided to do was to bring in NASA climate research experts that, not only simulate climate change using large datacenter clusters, but also use Supermicro servers to execute the simulation.

We also included Intel’s CTO to discuss the architecture needed to optimize the minimization of resources in the datacenter environment.

This was all complimented with Supermicro’s CEO explaining his passion to help save the earth and the technical innovation Supermicro has created to lead the way.

THE ARRIVAL

An Integrated Digital campaign was delivered through social media and other digital media channels. To give the docufilm that blockbuster film flare the music sound track was produced in
collaboration with Lalo Schiffron the original composer of Mission Impossible. At the time of this study the video had reached 1.6 Million views and counting on YouTube.

To View Video
Copy and Paste Link Below
https://youtu.be/LlSUzlKUVMU

Satisfying Block Buster Aspirations on a Home Made Movie Budget Docufilm video delivered on desktop, laptop and mobile devices in digital and social media channels across the internet.THE CHALLENGE So the VP came to my desk and said he wanted a movie poster for the video projects he assigned the team. Little did he know, […]

Building Gamer’s Trust with Server Reliability

THE CHALLENGE

Supermicro is a designer and manufacturer of desktop and server main boards along with servers and desktop chassis. They decided to dip their toe into the gaming board market to see if they could get some traction. However, this is not Supermicro’s expertise. Neverless they managed to have some success in the realm of overclocking which is a very desirable feature in the gaming industry. Unfortinately, Supermicro gaming boards lack much of the desirable features that are popular among customers and provided by much of their competition.

THE JOURNEY

The first challenge was to figure out what the true value proposition was for the product. It wasn’t speeds and feeds. It wasn’t blingy good looks with brushed metal and bright colored LEDs and it wasn’t low cost. After much deliberation the most differentiating factor of the Supermicro gaming motherboards was that they are built with server board construction in mind. This means they have a higher level of durability to withstand long run times at higher speeds. Essentially the team agreed on the positioning statement “Server Grade Quality Built for Gaming”.

The next challenge was the low budget gaming marketing team had for the line. In this case, we needed to devise a campaign that can grow legs and walk on it’s own as we would not have the budget to push it any further. It needed to resonate with the audience in a manner that they would be willing to tote it on their back and take with them. What we believed represented the strength of the product, as well as the interest and enthusiasm of the audience, was the phrase “Play Harder”. Nothing resonated with hard core gamers better. This phrase was carried out on all the collateral and advertising.

THE ARRIVAL

For the very first time a video created by the inhouse video team received an enthusiastic ovation from the marketing team and went on to be the most viewed gaming video with an audience retention level of 91.%–More than 20% over the channel average. The slogan has been well received laying the ground work for Supermicro to be taken seriously in gaming industry proving that outright performance is more important than frivolous features. As a matter of fact the Z390 series board is, currently ranked #1 by Hwbot.org for the top bin Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor clocked at 7.511 GHz and chosen for Best of Show at the CES 2019.

Building Gamer’s Trust with Server Reliability THE CHALLENGE Supermicro is a designer and manufacturer of desktop and server main boards along with servers and desktop chassis. They decided to dip their toe into the gaming board market to see if they could get some traction. However, this is not Supermicro’s expertise. Neverless they managed to […]

Iconic Brand Building in Competitive Industry of Beauty Services Industry

THE CHALLENGE

My friend Margaret and I go back to the 7th grade where she was a Cindy Lauper/Depeche Mode/Madonna Mod queen and I was a budding break dancing BBoy. We weren’t really friends back then but we knew of each other and since then life’s ups, downs and criss crosses we grew into the same circles and have become life long friends ever since.

So one day Margaret contacts me about doing a logo for her newly purchased beauty salon. However, starting out in a new business she had no real budget to put behind a logo design. Since we were old friends I told her I’d do it for free. She balked at the idea at first but eventually agreed.

She wasn’t picky as she trusted me to deliver something fantastic and fantastic was surely my goal.

THE JOURNEY

I wanted to create something elegant and classy as I imagined that would be the environment of her salon.

To gather ideas I toyed with her first and last initials but didn’t really find anything that came together well. Then I had a slight memory of her middle name Michelle. I asked to confirm and I was correct. I settled on the name Margaret Michelle and began to create from there. What made the most striking impression is the double-line “M” that depicted the Margaret Michelle moniker in clever fashion. As a result, that day the Margaret Michelle Salon was born.

THE ARRIVAL

The logo was used on all merchandise, signage and promotional items throughout the salon. The destination became a staple of Southern Silicon Valley and well known through-out the central coast region. Years later her and her husband returned the favor buy cooking for a birthday gathering I had at my home in the East Bay. He was and still is quite the cook. Good food and Good friends forever.

Iconic Brand Building in Competitive Industry of Beauty Services Industry THE CHALLENGE My friend Margaret and I go back to the 7th grade where she was a Cindy Lauper/Depeche Mode/Madonna Mod queen and I was a budding break dancing BBoy. We weren’t really friends back then but we knew of each other and since then […]

Building a Niche Home Base Business into an International House Hold Name

THE CHALLENGE

Double-Ace Racing Products was the first retailer to carry the AA Radio Controlled Boat Racing Engine Brand. When they sealed the partnership with the manufacturer they set out to be the “ONLY” name known for selling the new engine around the world. As a small home based business that type of brand awareness was certainly a challenge.

THE JOURNEY

The first challenge was to choose a name for the business that was synonymous with the Engine brand yet still distinctive to itself while maintaining relevance to the target audience. After some discussion the team concluded that Double-Ace Racing Products depicted the AA Engine brand while providing some flare and advantage for competition minded customers.

The logo was designed depicting two Ace cards creating the feeling of competitive advantage when choosing DoubleAce Racing Products.

The website was created for the customer to eventually manage. As a result a CMS application was used to build the site. The design relates well to the racing industry using bold and bright colors in contrast to a dark solid base. Initially great care was taken in photography of the AA engine products as the team believed that better images of the product would lead customers to the Double-Ace Racing site as customers want to see product with the most detail available.

The brand building continued with winning races first. Then eblasts, merchandising, sponsorships, videos and social media initiatives were combined to promote the brand’s success in
competition as well as promote company product.

THE ARRIVAL

Double-Ace Racing Products ranks number one in searches for AA Engines. It is seen as the sole source of the engine rather than being just one of many dealers. The site has near 300 repeat customers in 17 countries around the globe with individual customer purchase totals reaching as high as $3700.00 annually.

Building a Niche Home Base Business into an International House Hold Name THE CHALLENGE Double-Ace Racing Products was the first retailer to carry the AA Radio Controlled Boat Racing Engine Brand. When they sealed the partnership with the manufacturer they set out to be the “ONLY” name known for selling the new engine around the […]

Launching a Brand for a Prehistoric Experience that Hit the Road.

THE CHALLENGE

Latin Reach is a marketing agency that focuses on marketing to the Hispanic community and/or marketing entertainment and attractions from South American regions. I was approached to help the team create a business touring replicas of dinosaur skeletons found in Patagonia, Argentina. The task required the writing of the business plan, marketing plan, creating partners, making alliances, designing the event layout and building the means in which it will be transported.

THE JOURNEY

For the purpose of this document we will focus on the creative and branding efforts. First our thought was to create an immersive experience as if to create another world. We settled on the use of the word “Planet” and coupled that with the name of the region to create “Planet Patagonia”.

The logo was created to depict a skeletal footprint of these giant animals that were on display.

The environment and experience was designed to represent the rich vegetative environment that these great beast roamed long ago.

The experience was housed in a giant inflatable tent supported by two tractor trailers which also carried the contents of the spectacle. Visitors were first introduced with a 3 minute introduction of the region of Patagonia and how the skeletons were discovered. From there they proceeded to a simulated excavation site where they can use real excavation tools to uncover replicated dinosaur skeletons.

THE ARRIVAL

The event was designed to entertain up to 1 million visitors a year. It remained in South America but laid down the ground work for many of the traveling dinosaur exhibits you see in the US today.

For facilities that could accommodate it, our team partnered with a film production company to produce an IMAX film to compliment the experience. I was fortunate enough to write the film
treatment from which the script would evolve from and introduced the featured Paleontologist, Rodolfo Correa.

The film can be viewed at
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3o5nec

Launching a Brand for a Prehistoric Experience that Hit the Road. THE CHALLENGE Latin Reach is a marketing agency that focuses on marketing to the Hispanic community and/or marketing entertainment and attractions from South American regions. I was approached to help the team create a business touring replicas of dinosaur skeletons found in Patagonia, Argentina. […]

Tackling Design Performance for Precision Speed, and Agility

THE CHALLENGE

So the big boss came to me and says, kind of in passing, that we need a new fuselage design for a new line of radio controlled acrobatic helicopters. He said the problem with his existing designs is that they had too much lift. In helicopter aerobatic design every move needs to be precise so when the controls are at neutral the aircraft flys neutral.

THE JOURNEY

As the Art Director my responsibility was to make sure all of the promotional and marketing collateral looked good. Designing a fuselage was a whole other discipline. But I was up for the challenge and took the tools I knew and did my best. His modelers could take it from there.

I did however understand the dynamics of lift as well as the principles that aided and detracted it from it.

My theory was that the fuselage needed to part the air equal from top to bottom going both forward and backwards. The new design did just that. I also added break points in the design to keep the air from creating a suction effect around the fuselage.

THE ARRIVAL

The new fuselage was an astounding success. We ran a print ad on it headlining the words “Absolutely Insane”. We also created a POP shown below. Later the design was used on newer models of different fuel sources. As a result, it is the most popular helicopter fuselage from the brand to date.

Tackling Design Performance for Precision Speed, and Agility THE CHALLENGE So the big boss came to me and says, kind of in passing, that we need a new fuselage design for a new line of radio controlled acrobatic helicopters. He said the problem with his existing designs is that they had too much lift. In […]

Branding an Old Product with a New Face in a Very Competitive Space

THE CHALLENGE

So the first thing I do is check out the competition. What are they doing? What are they not doing? And What could they do better that we can capitalize on.

It’s retail and I was called to the job again. I like to think it’s my specialty really. I feel I have a knack for catching the eye of prospective customers, drawing them in, engaging them and converting them to a sale all within the course of a few minutes. In this case we needed to do it all over again for an old product with a new face.

These days it’s a bit tougher though. With the internet and product review sites often times customers have made up their mind. Nevertheless the opportunity still exist for an attractive well thought out retail experience to win them over

THE JOURNEY

In a world of the hands-off online purchase it’s important to give the customer that sensation of touch and feel as much as possible, such the same, as off-the-shelf purchases. For this reason high quality product photography is just as important as ever. Detailed photos of the product were taken at every significant angle to answer the customers every question.

The design of the packaging was next on the list. We chose a color unlike the competitors so it would stand out from the competition at just even a glance. The name of the product was big bold and prominent in a future edge type style to convey leading edge design. Strong contrasting angled lines were used to disrupt the eye in its typical horizontal left/right read behavior. The words “Endless Possibilities” catered to the markets desire to continue to make upgrades to a purchase. This statement eluded to the fact that this product was compatible with most any upgrade possible.

To support the product a variety of accessories were branded to match the product design. This made it easy for the customer to understand that these products were compatible with one another for easy use.

THE ARRIVAL

The new design was well received. The appeal and continuity of the accessory line with the feature product was second to none. It provided the customer strong assurance that their purchase was well thought out and seamlessly supported.

Branding an Old Product with a New Face in a Very Competitive Space THE CHALLENGE So the first thing I do is check out the competition. What are they doing? What are they not doing? And What could they do better that we can capitalize on. It’s retail and I was called to the job […]

National Championship Race Program with International Magazine Quality Design.

THE CHALLENGE

The event was being held for the first time at an Amusement Park in California. It attracted more than 600 entries from across the nation and some parts of the world. It was the largest since the 25th Anniversary event that took place in Los Angeles several years prior. Attendees were well accommodated at some of Silicon Valley’s most sought after lodging where they enjoyed complimentary food and beverages. There was great expectation for this event so I felt that it should stop short of the event program.

THE JOURNEY

The event was a National Boat Racing Championship so we wanted the race program to be representative of the type of event it featured. Wavy cascading graphics were created of various blue hues to depict the motion of water. Images of water were also used to carry the concept through. Complimentary colors such as orange were used to give the piece more vibrance to match the summer occasion. High definition photography was utilized to really capture the excitement and special moment of the event as well.

There was also the issue of content. In years past the race program was just an accumulation of a poorly formatted welcome message, repeated hall of fame pictures with one or two additions, list of contestants, sponsor ads and order of events.

I thought this piece should be more special than that. It’s not the usual job of a creative director to generate the content of a given piece but I felt it needed it to meet the significance of the occasion. Since people were coming from across the country and the world around I thought it might be nice to highlight of few of them. The purpose was to tell a story that most might not know. I highlighted those with the most championships, those with the most records, women and kids as well. I got their point of view of their experience and the event itself. This really added the personal touch that I thought this piece needed.

THE ARRIVAL

Some said it was overkill as it was far and beyond anything that had been done before. Some referred to it as a magazine rather than a race program. Many were astounded by it’s quality, thoughtfulness and craftsmanship while others were simply proud to be part of it.

It certainly raise the bar for such a piece and many committees made their best attempt to follow suit in the years following.

National Championship Race Program with International Magazine Quality Design. THE CHALLENGE The event was being held for the first time at an Amusement Park in California. It attracted more than 600 entries from across the nation and some parts of the world. It was the largest since the 25th Anniversary event that took place in […]

Bringing the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop together in real-time in to the Apple App Store

THE CHALLENGE

As a Hip Hop lifestyle enthusiast, I saw an opportunity to bring all enthusiast of the 4 pillars of Hip Hop together in a real-time competition application called BattleBoyz. This includes Rapping, DJing, Break dancing, and Graffiti Art. The challenge was to capture the enthusiasm, passion and excitement of the genre in a manner that allowed spectator participation and validation for the credit of the Battle competitors. It needed to allow battles to take place from neighbor to neighbor to country to country but take it to the next level and establish an archive and ranking system that can be sorted locally ranking competitors by neighborhood, city, state, country or world-wide. The intent was create the most comprehensive Hip Hop Battle ranking system in the world.

THE JOURNEY

The first step was to outline what the user was supposed to be able to achieve and how they were to achieve it. An outline was created of interface sequence from registering to creating a profile, uploading media and creating a battle. Other considerations were made as well including inviting friends to vote for you after a battle was created as well as how that battle would be initiated and end. Heavy deliberation was made regarding the introduction of each battle. We wanted to be sure that it depicted the excitement and enthusiasm as a live event. Video was introduced to depict different venues a participant was able to choose from. For example, a challenger can send a challenge to a contender to meet them at the TerrorDome. Once accepted the challengee and all who are invited to watch will be introduced to the battle through the TerrorDome video introduction.

The ranking systems was also a challenge as we didn’t want it possible for a challenger ranked 559, for example, to be able to challenge someone ranked number one. So we developed an
algorithm that doesn’t allow someone higher than half the distance to the challengee place to make a challenge unless you are ranked in the top 10. Rankings are determined by number of battles, wins, losses, draws as well as battles accepted and battles turned down.

THE ARRIVAL

Available on iTunes

Bringing the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop together in real-time in to the Apple App Store THE CHALLENGE As a Hip Hop lifestyle enthusiast, I saw an opportunity to bring all enthusiast of the 4 pillars of Hip Hop together in a real-time competition application called BattleBoyz. This includes Rapping, DJing, Break dancing, and Graffiti […]

Constructive Criticism and Using it to Push the Boundaries of User Interface Design

3D Thumbnail Flow View

Instant Video Play Anytime Video is Available on Selected Page

When Video is Not Available on Selected Page Text Summary Appears

User Profile Screen

User Profile Admin Screen

If “Click More” is Selected Additional Summary Appears

Online Store Screen

Online Social Lounge Screen

If “Click More” is Selected Full Article Appears

Online Store Merchandise Screen

Online Emailable Magazine Screen

THE CHALLENGE

So I was on the 5th design refresh of TheFlowOnline.com in the 15 years I had been the design producer for the site. At the completion of the first revision of the 5th refresh I asked a friend what she thought about it. She replied, “It’s good but it doesn’t scream Roger Hooks”. It appears that to her and others that know my work believe I have a certain flare to it and that first revision didn’t have it. So I set out to create something that was reminiscent of my design flare and intuition.

THE JOURNEY

Since the site is geared towards youth and young adults around my daughters age I used her as a test user to determine what the new site needed to be. Her feedback was invaluable. What she said is that my original site had too much text. She said she is constantly swiping on her phone for video. She said we don’t want to do too much reading. We’d rather watch a video and then if we are interested we will read further. Her feedback provided me my basis for the new design. What was a created was a floating thumbnail interface that the user can swipe through to find the content that interest them. Once they found it they could click on it to go to the video associated with that page if one was loaded to it. If there was no video a brief summary of text appears. If they were more interested they could click for an additional summary. If they wanted to read the entire story they could click through to that content age. If not they could close the window and continue to swipe through the other thumbnails that appeared on the that page. We call it the 3D Thumbnail Flow. Patent Pending.

Other features were designed and developed into the site including a social network, a free user online store, an online social lounge, web version of the iTunes app BattleBoys, and an email magazine that the user could customize and send out to their own email list.

THE ARRIVAL

The new site has been received with rave reviews. Traffic is steady and increases approximately 30% every month.

Constructive Criticism and Using it to Push the Boundaries of User Interface Design 3D Thumbnail Flow View Instant Video Play Anytime Video is Available on Selected Page When Video is Not Available on Selected Page Text Summary Appears User Profile Screen User Profile Admin Screen If “Click More” is Selected Additional Summary Appears Online Store […]