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DESIGNING A WIN FOR GLENN YOUNGKIN

POOLHOUSE first sat down with Glenn Youngkin in late 2020 to develop the campaign’s creative strategy. One of our first tasks was to design an iconic logo to represent a once-in-a-generation candidate running a different kind of campaign. The announcement was coming up fast, so our team accelerated our process to produce a variety of logo directions. This facilitated a conversation that not only helped us finalize an awesome logo but also brought clarity to the way we’d introduce Mr. Youngkin’s campaign.

When working with tight deadlines, we typically start broadly and quickly narrow down our options. You can see we were casting a wide net with some of the early concepts.

Process

The most important attributes of a candidate logo are name recognition, scalability, and legibility across mediums (like at high speeds on a billboard or in the corner of a tv screen). The solution we arrived at did several things well. 

For starters, the primary wordmark was the candidate’s last name in a bold san serif font. Paired with a red-white-and-blue color palette and VA state shape, it helped boost name recognition in the context of a candidate seeking elected office. We often try to break the mold, but it’s important to remember that familiar elements help voters make quick connections that are extremely valuable. 

Next, we built a brand book so the campaign could scale consistently to digital, print, web, and merchandise even in its early stages. This gave every vendor quick access to logo assets and Pantone colors, which is why you saw it so consistently applied all over VA. Over time we expanded it to include rules for step and repeats, coalition branding, billboards, and on-screen animation.

Finally, we put a premium on legibility. Opting to keep the logo as simple as possible meant we’d need to work in meaning subtly without relying on embellishments and symbols. The arching baseline of the Youngkin logo is meant to evoke a rising sun, representing a new type of candidate and a new day for the commonwealth of Virginia. This subtle design element made the logo unique enough to stand out, and clear enough to be instantly recognizable. 

Results

The logo that we created was more than a design element. It became a symbol that people across the commonwealth of Virginia proudly adopted. A symbol of hope, pride, and promise that we wove through 40 statewide TV spots over the convention and general election campaigns, as well as hundreds of radio, digital, and design advertisements. 

Want to talk with us more about our comprehensive strategy, branding, and marketing services? Click here to reach out

 

HOW BRANDING AMPLIFIES ADVOCACY

You may have read about how we built a brand department at Poolhouse, where you how we took a B2B/B2G software company through a comprehensive rebrand that catapulted them to their next chapter of growth. But we didn’t build the team just for brand-savvy companies like Paystar. We know from experience that branded campaigns lead to big results in the highly competitive advocacy space as well. 

The Poolhouse brand team is built to expertly align with your organization and identify creative opportunities that build coalitions, frame communications, and attract the attention you need to advance the ball. Our in-house team of designers, videographers, and developers brings our campaigns to life, and we promote them through targeted marketing efforts to maximize reach. 

Check out some examples of how we’ve helped advocacy organizations:

  1. Lead Conversations
  2. Advance Organizational Culture
  3. Disrupt Social Trends
  4. Educate Decision Makers

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1. Lead Conversations

“I Love Frank”

2.5 Million views and national earned media coverage. 

The National Association of Manufacturers launched the “This is Our Shot” campaign in early 2021, proactively arming their members with resources to get vaccinated. They needed a way to promote the campaign that felt authentic and relatable. A call to action that would resonate with their membership and hopefully the industry and public at large. We delivered “I Love Frank,” a series of ads that went viral, reaching 8.1 million people through social channels and garnering attention from national media outlets like FOX News. To date, the video has been viewed 2.5 million times on social media, and has driven over 17,000 visitors to NAM’s COVID resource center. See the full case study.

“Life”

Natural Gas and Oil Powers A Lot More than People Think 

API strives to meet America’s demand for cleaner energy and lower emissions. We work with them to help translate that message to the public every day. But people don’t realize that oil and gas is a lot more than filling up their tank. To help communicate relevance in an unexpected way, we created “Life – Brought to you by Natural Gas and Oil” to air on Discovery Channel’s Mike Rowe: Dirty Jobs Rowe’d Trip. The spot exceeded expectations, leading to a national cable and digital campaign.

 

2. Advance Organizational Culture

Culture of CARE

A branded campaign that led over 450 member companies to “Take the Pledge.”

Modern workforces are safe, inclusive, and free of harassment. To help align members behind these cultural pillars, we worked with the Associated General Contractors of America to launch BuildCulture.org. Instead of preaching, the site empowers industry leaders and employees with educational resources, encouraging them to tell their stories and share in a commitment to positively impact the future. So far, over 450 firms have signed the Culture of CARE pledge. And because the site has grown into a communications tool that members trust, AGC has a platform to lead on broader cultural issues that affect their entire workforce – from racial discrimination to mass shootings, to vaccines.

3. Disrupt Social Trends

2ndVote Funds

A one of a kind ETF for Conservative Investors. 

We don’t always build a coalition for brands, sometimes we build brands for a coalition. We helped 2ndVote Funds connect with a specific community of investors, launching a suite of financial products with brand loyalty built-in.  

4. Influence Decision Makers

Stop Air Tax Now

“They need it printed”

Issues don’t make it to a decision maker’s desk if they don’t fit a briefing book. Those are just the facts. We branded and launched the Stop Air Tax Now Campaign for Airlines of America around a key taxation issue. And to make information accessible to airline passengers, we launched a website where they can find the impact to their specific ticket taxes on an interactive map. A4A kept the map constantly refreshed with new data, so we built a custom app to generate not just state-specific landing pages, but also downloadable infographics, designed by the website in real-time, based on up-to-the-minute information. This functionality caught the attention of federal lawmakers and their staff’s and made advocating for their members highly effective for A4A.   

 

Beer Serves America

Advocacy Is Local

The beer industry impacts the American economy and countless local jobs. Right, we get it. But sweeping statements like that are too general to relate to, much less rally grassroots activism. That’s why digital resources like – BeerServesAmerica.org that we built for the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers of America – are so effective. They help supporters and legislators alike understand the impact in local terms. From the type of jobs and the type of people that hold them, to the real-time dollar figures down to the district level. 

 

WHY WE BUILT A BRAND DEPARTMENT

Since the jump, POOLHOUSE has delivered world-class strategy and storytelling to candidates, causes, and companies. Those marketing services consistently moved the needle for our clients. But we wanted to do more. Over the last two years, we’ve been building an in-house brand and design department that is taking our campaigns to the next level. 

For starters, let’s all get on the same page about branding. Specifically, what it means. Branding is an exercise in defining a company’s purpose, and it clarifies why people will care in a crowded, competitive market. It’s more than creating a logo. It’s helping a company articulate its mission and values in a way that people can connect with.

While our marketing efforts have always been tactical and fluid, our branding efforts are foundational. They set our campaigns up for success.

The addition of a brand and design department has elevated the campaigns we run across the board: defining big issues, launching new companies, and helping candidates build authentic connections. Here is a quick overview of how our process works. 

Direction

Believe it or not, most brands haven’t figured out what they are really all about. Discovery is a collaborative process where we align with our clients and learn about why they’re in business. We use tricks like “The 5 Whys” to get clients to dig deep, and explore the real motivations behind what they’re building. Through the process, we figure out the answers together. To document our findings, we deliver brand direction in the form of a Creative Blueprint— a presentation that defines crucial brand elements like mission, values, audience profiles, and communication style.

Here is an example from our work with Paystar. We worked with this B2B startup’s founders to uncover their core purpose, defining a clear mission statement in the process. Through stakeholder interviews, a product audit, and by gaining an understanding of their optimal user groups, we determined that Paystar’s branding was too dated and their comms strategy too complicated to resonate. By identifying a market opportunity to provide an accessible, modern platform that puts the customer first, we aligned the brand around a philosophy of simplicity. The Creative Blueprint we delivered spells it out.   

Identity development

A brand’s identity is how we describe its identifying characteristics. Typically that means the way a brand looks (although it can also mean how it sounds or engages with its employees and customers). To most of our clients, the lynchpin to their identity is their logo. At POOLHOUSE, we take a comprehensive approach to the logo design process. We work with our clients to define pillars, or core tenants, that guide our design decisions. Pillars like “sophisticated,” “friendly,” or “nostalgic.” From there we present visual style scapes to help us hone in on look and feel, before concentrating our attention on creating a unique logo mark. Our identities are delivered as systems, complete with color and font selections, usage guidelines, and contextual samples to help our clients visualize their logo on business cards, t-shirts, and even billboards. It’s everything our clients need to jumpstart their marketing efforts and gain buy-in from their employees and stakeholders. At POOLHOUSE, our brand guidelines are a signature service and a guaranteed way to elevate your marketing efforts. 

Check out how our brand direction informed the evolution of the Paystar logo, from traditional, complicated transactions to modern and simple payments. We presented the new logo system in our signature brand guidelines, including Pantone color selections, custom iconography, and company swag. 

Brand Building

Brand building is where the rubber meets the road, as POOLHOUSE’s team of strategists and storytellers unite to run compelling campaigns with quantifiable results. We set key performance indicators (KPIs) around engagement goals like impressions, acquisitions, or donations. Then we deploy our team to maximize your brand’s impact and earned media opportunities. We’re known for our video work, but with the addition of our brand team, we’ve added display, social, print, and web to our formidable list of offerings. The result? A return on your investment in the form of brand awareness and audience connection that simply wouldn’t be possible organically. 

For Paystar, we killed two (actually multiple) birds with one stone. We designed a killer marketing website, then leveraged it to create an asset library for use in printed sales sheets, social media advertisements, and editorial campaigns. All important parts of a multifaceted launch campaign. 

What’s next? 

If you’re contemplating a run for office, eager to influence a constituency, or excited about launching your brand, let us be your first call. Our team takes pride in educating our client partners on the ins and outs of building their brands with intention. We are the experienced team hell-bent on your success.

AWAY WE GROW!

POOLHOUSE continued to grow in May, as we welcomed four new team members into key roles. We keep raising the bar to provide even better, more comprehensive services to our brand and campaign partners.

Meet the latest additions to the team:

John Phillips, Design Director

A South Carolina native and graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, JP has a passion for all things creative, and has been fortunate enough to work on a variety of projects in various mediums for many years as a designer and illustrator.

JP has the honor of helping motivate, elevate, and fine-tune processes on a daily basis for the exceptionally talented design team at POOLHOUSE.

Justin Toulon, Editor

As Editor, Justin takes the visuals at POOLHOUSE to the next level.

With over 10 years of experience filming and editing documentaries, films, music videos, and news, Justin’s background in television and film enables him to bring a cinematic flair to his projects.

When he’s not cutting awesome videos, Justin enjoys crushing weights at the gym and spending time with his wife, daughter, and 2 dogs.

Tom Dickens, Producer

A producer over the last 3 years for political campaigns, shoots, and ads, Tom brings tremendous knowledge and hustle to our team.

He’s worked on political campaigns across the country at the state and national level as well as for State and Federal Government. Most recently, Tom served as Director of Political Strategy at the Republican National Committee before founding his company, SAO Films.

And once we get a break from election season… Tom will teach us all how to catch and release as he runs a side business as a fly fishing and hunting guide in Alaska and Wyoming and was even a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Maine.

Corey Scott, Project Manager, Political

With years of campaign, legislative, and executive agency experience, Corey brings a unique skillset to meet our clients’ needs.

On the political team, Corey works hard to make sure our clients are set up for success with the tools they need to win. In addition to being POOLHOUSE’s resident space nerd, Corey is a combat sports enthusiast, enjoys riding his motorcycle, and loves bowling.

 

WE WON MORE AWARDS

POOLHOUSE is walking away with some big wins at the 2021 Pollie, Telly, and Reed Awards. We’re stoked to have our video and brand work recognized again this year.

What’s our secret for award-winning work? Clarity, intention, execution, grit? Well, those all play their part. But we have to give credit to our clients, who come to the table with the belief that big ideas matter. Clients that trust the process and are willing to invest in creativity, time and again, prove to be a crucial factor in the equation. We’re grateful to partner with clients like that every day.

Looking for an agency that can help you win? We’d love to hear from you. Click here to get in touch.

Here’s what won this year:

Reed Awards

Most Original Online Video (Republican) and Best Online Video for US House Campaign (Republican)
Gets Things Done

Best Logo & Branding – Candidate Campaign (Republican) 
Curtis for Congress Re-Brand

 

Best Online Video for IE (Republican)
Priorities for Iowa – As Seen on TV

 

Pollie Awards

Silver in Best Television Campaign for Overall Ballot Initiative
All In – Yes Norfolk Committee

 

Gold in Digital Candidate Division for Internet Advertising – U.S. House of Representatives
Gets Things Done – John Curtis for Congress

 

Telly Awards

Bronze Telly Winner in Online: Series: Education & Discovery
Life Brought to You By Natural Gas and Oil

 

Bronze Telly Winner in Online Commercials: Public Interest/Awareness
Conversations – Natural Gas

AWWW Yeah!

Our very own Poolhouse.co website is a nominee on awwwards.com. Voting is open and we’d be grateful for your support. 

For Poolhouse, building this site was like planting a flag. We believe the investment of time and resources pays dividends in the long run. People can’t help but take notice. We’re stoked to be featured on Awwwards and – with your vote – hope to bring home a win!

If you want an “awwward” winning website of your own, shoot us a note. We’ll help you bring your idea to life!

How Adapting to COVID-19 Made Us Stronger

As we approach the one year mark, working as a creative agency in the era of COVID-19, we’re taking stock of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. See, so much of our time is spent collaborating – gathering on set, meeting to strategize, and huddling around monitors. But, working as a dispersed team came pretty naturally. Our offices already spanned three states, so leaning into Zoom, Figma, and Google Drive covered most of our bases.

But coordinating video shoots created an unexplored frontier of challenges for our production team. In short order, they developed AICP compliant protocols – including health screenings, on-set testing, distancing, and PPE. Each was meticulously applied when selecting locations, accommodations, travel arrangements, and crew/talent/food&bev vendors. A monumental accomplishment that they are continually improving through careful scrutiny and refinement.

The lessons learned along the way have been tremendously valuable. Here are the big takeaways that have influenced our greater, company-wide culture:

PREPARATION

The production team learned quickly that building extra prep-time into schedules was vital, but doing so actually uncovered efficiencies in the long run. We try to create environments on set that foster creativity and allow for flexibility. So over the last year, we’ve had to renew our focus on the details that make that possible. By buttoning up our planning process, we’ve smoothed out the friction points that can make even pre-COVID sets chaotic.

Here is the takeaway – Preparation requires anticipation. Leverage your expertise and understanding to forecast the issues that siphon valuable creative time. For us, that means being diligent about discovery and making sure to dial in our…

DOCUMENTATION

We give a hell of a pitch, but the real key to stakeholder buy-in is documentation. We’re talking scripts, contracts, shot lists, NDAs, etc. Dialing in paperwork isn’t the sexiest thing we do for sure, but it is the ultimate measure of accountability. See, when you’re on one of our sets, your health and livelihood is our highest priority. Ensuring that is worth the necessary documentation.

Here is the takeaway – Documentation keeps you accountable. For us, that means noting internal progress with notes on Basecamp, being transparent with our clients about our process, and always prioritizing…

COMMUNICATION

This is the big one. COVID-19 has made it harder to communicate effectively. That doesn’t mean there are fewer ways to communicate. Between Basecamp, Slack, email, and text we’re easy to get ahold of. But being dispersed does create friction that doesn’t exist in-person. Being deliberate about over-communicating and opting for a phone or Zoom call over a typed message is the best weapon against miscommunication.

Here is the takeaway – Ideas aren’t meant to be shared in a short text or email. If you’re presenting, collaborating, or even disagreeing, don’t waste your time or energy on any other medium.

Last year led to dozens of successful shoots. Some of our favorites were an energy round-table in Texas, a political ad in Iowa, and – believe it or not – a spot we created in our Atlanta office using Zoom.

Above all else over this past year, we’ve focused on gratitude. Gratitude not just for clients who endeavor to persevere through difficult times, but for a team that never shies away from a challenge. As we approach another year of uncertainty, we’re grateful for the lessons this season has taught us. Adapting to COVID-19 has only made us stronger.

Designing POOLHOUSE 3.0

Today is a big day at POOLHOUSE. The culmination of months of planning and hard work. Designing for yourself can be a lot like giving yourself a haircut (and we’ve all seen how tough that can be this year), but I wanted to share a few insights from the path that got us here.

Pulling off a company brand update – in 2020 of all years – was an all-hands-on-deck exercise.

We took our company through the same branding process that all our clients experience: setting goals, designing great assets, and weaving it all together to tell a story that resonates. Each one of our projects starts the same way, by understanding where the company has been and defining where it is going.

Where it started.
When it launched in 2013, POOLHOUSE was a scrappy upstart. Just two political ad makers hell-bent on crafting innovative, creative-driven content for political candidates and causes. From the start, POOLHOUSE was different, with its funny name, Richmond address, and hand-crafted approach. The brand design reflected that. But as the company quickly grew in scope and scale, a fresh design system was deployed – signaling to Poolhouse’s expanding roster of advocacy and corporate clients a sense of quality, readiness, and refinement.

With success in both the political and corporate sectors, POOLHOUSE expanded its brand department in 2019. Now boasting unified in-house capabilities in strategic communication, creative direction, advertising, and brand design, POOLHOUSE was set to blaze a new course for the future.

Where it is going
We’ve proven ourselves capable of tackling huge challenges for candidates, causes, and companies. The kinds with big budgets, big visions, and even bigger expectations. POOLHOUSE has matured into a sophisticated agency with multifaceted capabilities and big ideas that matter. This brand update, one we’ve codenamed 3.0, announces that loud and clear.

3.0 has been a passion project for the POOLHOUSE team. Many of the details coming together after hours, over late nights and long weekends, when our client obligations were done. Our new company brand book, complete with a new logo mark, draws inspiration from the past and sets up a scalable visual language for the future.

We’ve elevated every touchpoint, from our social media and print collateral to our photo library and reel.

Today we also launch a new website that we insisted should tell our story not only through visuals but also through detail refinement and immersive experience. A platform that finally showcases the comprehensive work we do, and the special team that does it.

3.0 marks a new chapter in the POOLHOUSE story. We’re grateful to our team for the hard work and our awesome family of client partners who have been willing to bet on us (and win!) along the way.

If you’re interested in connecting with us to learn more about the branding process, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to share your vision.

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