From MIW Podcast: Behind the Scenes of the MIW Brand ft. Savannah Guthrie

by | Dec 7, 2021 | Behind the Scenes, Design, Podcast

This week, we’d like to share with you an episode from Stratos’ Marketing in the Wild Podcast. In this episode, Stratos graphic designer, Savannah, talks about the behind-the-scenes of creating the Marketing in the Wild brand. We hope you enjoy this episode which can be found anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts. Be sure to subscribe to Marketing in the Wild Podcast so you can tune in to new episodes every week!

Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: Well, guys, welcome to this week’s podcast of Marketing in the Wild today. You are going to get to hear from one of my favorite people, Savannah. She has been with us for a while, first as a freelance designer, and now she’s in-house. And let me tell you, our clients love her work. And so Savannah, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you. 

Savannah: All right. Well, I am currently living in Florida. Yeah, I used to freelance design a lot, but after I started working for you guys at Stratos, I was like, you know what, I just want to focus on this full-time because the Stratos team is just so much fun. I have a new daughter named Miriam, so I’m just entering into the whole parenthood game, but we also have two cats, so we’ve been cat parents for a while. Yeah! I’m just really excited to get to talk to you today.

Julia: That’s awesome. She is married to a dentist and so sometimes we talk about dental marketing, which is just a whole different world in itself. And, yeah, so Savannah and I met very randomly. We have a mutual friend in Madison and we went to a, what was that thing called? It’s like an ice festival. 

Savannah: Yeah, it was like a frozen winter snow, some sort of festival.

Julia: In Madison, Wisconsin, where they would fly kites off of the ice. Our mutual friend had a kid and so we went and hung out with them and we met. And then I think a few months later, I was like, I remember that girl Savannah was a designer and I really need some help. And now Savannah is part of our Stratos family.

Savannah: And that was also the day I met Lucy. Very important. 

Julia: Yes, very important. Because really, this is Lucy’s life and we’re all just living in it. Anyway, tell us about how you became a designer and what you’ve come to love about design. 

Savannah: I think rather than coming to love design at the beginning, I just came to love Photoshop as a high schooler. 

Julia: Okay. 

Savannah: Like I remember studying in some of my early design classes turning my teachers into mermaids and all sorts of weird things. 

Julia: That’s awesome. 

Savannah: And I just loved the creativity that I could do. And like a lot of other teenagers, I really got into photography for a while and different design programs allow me to be really creative with photography. I also remember early on, did you ever use Picnik as a photo editor? Do you remember Picnik? I have all those pictures of like my eyes dyed, like bright green and like all those… 

Julia: I have those, too, yup! 

Savannah: You have those, too? But yeah, then, later on, I got to do like our high school yearbook basically by myself, cause not many other people at my tiny school were interested in design. And I got really good feedback on it. I was like, yeah, this is actually super fun! And it kind of clicked in my head that graphic designing is just like solving one big problem. It’s like a big puzzle and you get all the pieces and you have to put them together in the most beautiful way that you can and that’s what really got me sold on it.

Julia: Yeah, that’s awesome. That is really, really cool. And then, I’m curious because I feel like, pre-Savannah, I did some design work for us and it’s not nearly as good as what Savannah does, and I think that’s what made me realize is, we all have creativity in us, but some of us are better at being creative in some ways than others. And I think that you’re really, really at the design creativity. And so I just am curious, how do you take a brand or a company and help them think creatively about the design? 

Savannah: Hmm, that’s a great question. One of the most important things I’ve had ingrained into my head since I started designing is who is your audience? And what’s going to be attractive to your audience and what’s going to capture their attention? And so when we started designing for Marketing in the Wild, that was something we had to talk about, like is our audience our normal Stratos audience or are we wanting to branch out and get people who aren’t marketers or maybe don’t have as much marketing know-how as we do.

Julia: Totally. I just, I don’t even think I’ve told you this story, but just this past week we had a client tell us that they didn’t like a design for an ad that we created, which is totally fine. I think it’s like a balance of trying to find stuff that your client loves and then the audience loves because this ad was performing at 19 cents a click, which is incredibly good, and so even though the client didn’t love it, their audience loved it. And I think that’s such a good nuance because I would imagine a lot of designers, and even a lot of marketers, like we want to create things for ourselves when really we should be thinking about our audience. 

So let’s talk, this episode is a little bit of the behind-the-scenes of making Marketing in the Wild and so when I first came to you, I was like, “Savannah, we’re going to do this podcast. It’s going to be called Marketing in the Wild.” What were some of the things that you started thinking through? 

Savannah: Well, I think first off, we had to decide what type of “wild” we were going for. Cause I think a few of us on the team, our brains went to like jungle wild and animal prints. We really had to think through, okay, what’s the connotation with animal prints and wild and jungle and all of those things, and is that going to be the vibe we’re going for with Marketing in the Wild podcast? I didn’t feel like it quite fit. So that’s when we kind of switched to this forest, beautiful nature, camping side of wild. I feel like it fit our team a lot better because like, you rock climb, I love to backpack. I know several people on our team just love the outdoors, so that was kind of our new focus.

Julia: I think you showed me the designs right before a Yellowstone trip. And I was like, this is Yellowstone! Like, that’s all I could think of. I think I remember there was this mountainous landscape?

Savannah: I was just going to bring that up. 

Julia: That reminded me of the Tetons because we drive past the Tetons to get to Yellowstone. And so even with that, like once we had narrowed it down to like, okay, our version of the wild is not jungle or ocean, it is forest mountains, I want to say like national parks?

Savannah: Yeah, and Julia, I got to throw you under the bus and talk about your comment on these mountains. Cause I had this really pretty graphic with those mountains you’re talking about. And Julia goes, “These mountains aren’t ‘Utah’ enough. Like, can we change the shape of these? Because they’re not my type.” You just got so excited about them being your Utah mountains.

Julia: I know, I do love my Utah mountains. I’ve totally forgot about that. But once we got to like that wild, that version of the wild, you presented us with a couple of different options, which I love. And it was kind of like themes. Like we had the mountainy theme, and then we had the bear.

Savannah: And then the bear.

Julia: And I remember first looking at it and being like, okay, well that is very interesting. And suddenly, I got out-voted, everybody loved the bear, which is totally fine cause I think one of my operating philosophies is just because I like something doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing. And then I would rather have our team decide on something because then it’s more brains saying that they like it. So tell us about the bear.

Savannah: Oh, well, I also think you touched on something important there of like, why I think the bear called to so much of us, because I feel like when we’re doing our Stratos internal marketing, sometimes there’s like this little bit of friction when it comes to like putting our faces on social media and trying to figure out like whose face has been seen too much and like, oh, I’m not on a good day. I don’t want my face to be like the only face of Stratos. Like all of those, you know, thoughts and so, by adding the bear, we kind of added a new face to this brand that doesn’t have to be one of us. Not to say that it’s bad when it’s us cause we, you know, love sharing about our personal lives and things.

Julia: But it does add a persona to the brand. And we’ll tell you all the bear’s name in a little bit, but I still want to talk a little bit more about the other elements. So then it came to creating the logo. Once we had the concept, then it gets into the practical stuff, like creating a logo, then designing the website. So tell us a little bit more about that process for you. 

Savannah: Well, that was actually another reason I really enjoyed the bear concept, because I felt like it was very versatile, because I knew when I was creating a brand, it wasn’t going to be just for the podcast cover art. It was going to be, um, you know, I was going to need website backgrounds and icons. We are going to be having a social media feed that would need lots of different design elements, so, we thought all those things through from the very beginning step when we were creating our color schemes and the logos, like what parts of this can we break down and use against somewhere else to create that brand identity?

Julia: For sure. And that’s something that we really strive to do even with our clients because we don’t want to just create a logo that can only be used in one place because that’s really silly. Like we want to be able to use it in different places. So if you check out our website, you’ll see a lot of Savannah is referencing. Like we have a lot of icons, we have a tent icon and a sleeping bag icon, and a campfire icon that really have nothing to do with marketing per se. But we even try to weave those themes into the copy. Like what camp are you in? Are you in the camp of like, “I have no idea what’s happening with marketing,” or are you in the camp of like, “I have this all figured out.”

And so we even played on those words, which I think helped them solidify this wild-ish brand. Any other things that you’re particularly proud of from the Marketing in the Wild brand? 

Savannah: Hmm. I think there’s a lot of really good overlap with our Stratos brand, without it being the exact same brand copied over. Cause we knew that we wanted them to compliment each other, but also be completely unique. So when we were choosing colors and fonts and even just like the overall vibe it was getting, I think it was, yeah, really fun to kind of mesh it with Stratos while also making it its own.

Julia: For sure. For sure. So let’s talk a little bit more about the bear before we close. And so I really liked the fact that you bring it up, like this is almost like having a mascot really. Tell us about how mascots can kind of help your brand. 

Savannah: I think that’s a great question. I mean, especially with both of us being from Madison, I think that Bucky Badger is just like ingrained in our heads. It’s one of the greatest mascots of all time, because it’s not something that just the students at the school jump on board with, it’s like a city wide mascot, like the face of community. And when it’s your mascot that you create, you can give them whatever, you know, personality you want. So a lot of companies do this, like I think of Reddit, their entire logo’s a mascot, Mickey mouse, Geico, Ronald McDonald, like all these companies use faces that help people connect emotionally to a brand.

Julia: And it also gives like, I think it helps that emotional connection, especially if the brand needs to be somewhat more timeless. Because if you think about Walt Disney, Walt Disney was here and he’s not here. But Mickey Mouse is forever, and all of the iterations of him. And so I do think it portrays like a connection that it doesn’t matter who is in charge, there’s still like this persona that they can connect with. 

Savannah: Yes. And it also allows for your messaging to change with the times as well. So even though you might be able to go back to things Walt Disney said, Mickey Mouse can kind of change with the times and— 

Julia: And be more relevant. 

Savannah: Exactly, yes.

Julia: So let’s talk about relevancy. Cause I noticed, Savannah sent me her notes, so I’m like cheating. You added an element to the bear to make him a little bit more relevant. Tell us about that.

Savannah: All right. So when we first decided on the bear, we kind of went over some of his facial features as a team. We were like, does he look, does he look mad? Does he look scary yet? We couldn’t quite decide if he looked funny and serious or if he was just like an angry bear.

And so we added in this element of a coffee cup and all of a sudden the bear just took on this whole new persona of, you know, someone who’s sitting back, relaxing, about to enjoy a podcast. And I think that was like just the right touch that he needed to have what we wanted Marketing in the Wild to be.

Julia: For sure. And I think what excites me is that, again, we are learning how to incorporate the bear. So like that’s where we’re learning that, cause right now he is very involved in our design, but we don’t necessarily talk about him per se in other ways, but I think what’s awesome is, as a company, one of the things that I want to do is find…if you look at the bear, you’re going to notice his cup is orange. And like, how can we find orange camping mugs that we could put the logo on and that people could just have a lot of fun with? And so, it just is a way to create more fun without feeling like people are maybe purchasing from us or purchasing from Stratos. It creates this element that we all get to be a part of. And it’s not just like the consumer is getting to be a part of. I don’t know if that makes sense. I feel like I’m rambling now.

Savannah: So, I love that you say that, cause even without you seeing this in my notes, I feel like one of my goals with this design was just to bring fun to the table and to find a way to make marketing more approachable and more fun.

Julia: And it is, like we have a lot of guests lined up that are really cool. A lot of them Savannah has brought to us, which is awesome. And I think that it is more fun. And I think it’s a way that we, even as a Stratos team, can kind of implement the things that while, for our clients, we want to create things that they love, we get to create something that we love, which I think is just really unique. 

So, we had a contest both internally and externally to name this bear. And this is like our major release of the name. Savannah, do you want to tell us his name? 

Savannah: Or MAJOR release of his name?

Julia: Yes. 

Savannah: The winning name of the bear was Major! 

Julia: Yes. We have a lot of really good contenders. One of them being Beau, but I nixed that one because that’s my dog’s name, and I felt like I couldn’t have two things in my life with the name of Beau. So we have our Major, Major Bear. He doesn’t have a last name. His last name is Bear. And so we actually, Savannah, I haven’t even shown you this, and you guys can’t see it cause we’re on Zoom, but go to our website and you’ll get to see it. We got our stickers! 

Savannah: Oh, they look great! 

Julia: They look awesome. And so guys, if you want a sticker, just tell us, we’ll send you one for free. That’s how much I love these plus postage is very cheap, so we’ll send you a sticker for free so you can have Major on your computer, your water bottle, your camping gear, so that we could just kind of make marketing more fun.

So, Savannah, do you have any last words on your debut podcast?

Savannah: I don’t think so. I would just be curious to know what ideas listeners have for involving Major in our future podcasts and on our website and things. Cause I think there’s a lot of potential there and I am excited to see how he shows up again.

Julia: I agree. Yes. Tell us, cause we’re brainstorming. I kind of wonder if we need to have a voice over for Major. The other thing that I really wanted to do was tell jokes about bears. So like, if anybody has a joke about a bear, send it to us also. But yes, that’s a great idea and a great ask. If you guys have any ideas of how to involve Major and if you would like a sticker, please reach out and tell us.

Savannah! Thanks for joining me. Really props to you for creating a beautiful design for us and a beautiful brand. We really couldn’t do our work at Stratos without you. So thank you, Savannah.