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Message In A Flash

By Karen Greenwald

Imagine that you are going for a job interview. You arrive and find yourself meeting with a nameless, faceless corporate type. Wearing a lucky suit and carrying an impressive resume, you wait for the questions to begin. Somehow, "my biggest weakness�" and "if I could change one thing about my work style�" replace pre-planned, expertly worded answers. After losing control over the flow of information, you leave exhausted, drained, but still hopeful.

Trades shows, like interviews, are a great medium to present your company's best self to numerous potential clients and partners. And just as in the former, strategy is crucial. To demonstrate, let's consider what Elcoteq Network Corporation did to drive customers to their booth at CTIA in Orlando.

Let's Begin
First, some corporate background. Located on three continents and in twelve different international cities, Elcoteq is one of Europe's largest electronics manufacturing services companies. They provide international high-tech enterprises with supply chain management and engineering, manufacturing, and after-sales services. Included in their client list are Nokia and Ericsson.

It was understood that the blueprint for Elcoteq's CTIA exhibit would be founded on their three defining principles: global reach, universality of staff and facilities, and "Co-Evolution." While the first two need little explanation, the latter is Elcoteq's corporate philosophy. Signifying mutual growth of company and customer, "Co-Evolution" achieves results through rounder and stronger client relationships. The challenge: How could we entice people walking the floor of the enormous venue to come and learn more? At a minimum, the goal was to reach as many people as possible. Without leaving the booth, Elcoteq wanted to express its essence, surpass the traffic at other booths, and score new business. In a trade show situation where floor space is regulated and "freebies" are standard, how does anyone avoid the status quo?

Visualize It
It is said that 70% of adults learn from visual demonstrations, but trade shows often result in sensory overload. In order to draw interested visitors to their booth, Elcoteq had to offer something unique. Freebies can be cute, but they attract people looking for trinkets and typically not anything else. How many times have you feigned interest in a booth for the free chocolate? I won't deny it -- there are several toys from shows sitting around my office and collecting dust. To be different and stand out takes something a little more cutting edge. Hence, we created, designed, produced, and ran what you might describe as, "The Best of Elcoteq" on a giant flat screen monitor.

With funky music, metamorphosing images, and layered narrative, Elcoteq's Flash presentation speaks volumes in four minutes or less. Generally, this type of digital "movie" requires a great deal of research, planning, and strategy. Coming up with a solid concept is probably the toughest and most important part of the process, since it creates the paradigm within which your company will be viewed. From there, message-driven copy is your greatest tool. Each carefully selected word offers the chance to elicit credibility, quality, and desirability. Content that is witty or that generates a sense of duality adds depth and sophistication. Words need to be chosen as if in a poem, so that maximum meaning is concisely given.

For example, Elcoteq's presentation is divided into sections. Each is introduced with a topic headline and sub-headline that mold the piece and transition each area. For lengthier sections of copy, the main title remains in place while one-word captions signal new paragraphs.

The old clich� a picture is worth a thousand words brings to mind the next obvious element. The task of producing the Elcoteq presentation was simplified because the company already possessed professional quality digital photographs. Inspired by what we received, style parameters were created with ease and immediacy. Most clients have samplings of pictures, but typically these collections are quickly whittled down to one good slide.

For those that do not have access to print-quality photography, e-commerce sites are a good resource. They sell both individual pictures and collections on disc. A few caveats for purchasing royalty-free images: locating usable and poignant brand-oriented pictures is time consuming and most likely expensive. Due to overwhelming use by the tech industry, relevant photos from the sites can leave your Flash presentation (or collateral) looking generic. In fact, there is one very popular image of a call center operator -- I think you know the one I mean -- that has permeated the collateral of many different companies. Your message is diluted when polluted by everyone else's "look."

Move It
Images alone are not sufficient to add interest, or in this case, emphasize the progressive thinking and tech-oriented corporate culture. Enter the "cool factor." Achieving elements of style and intrigue takes motion. Your tools include interesting text flow (literally, how it appears and disappears from the screen), photo color manipulation, and three-dimensional graphic displays. All of these things work in concert to create atmosphere and intensify the message. Whatever you choose, it had better whirl, spin, shake, or snake. Every moment of the presentation offers a prime opportunity to reinforce the message.

In the case of Elcoteq, the cool factor had to include global representations. We used two different methods of portraying internationalism, including an outlined, rotating globe and an interactive map. Of course, we also needed to avoid looking trite, since this theme is not uncommon.

Make It Sing
Also, music should never be relegated to the background. Rather, it is a subtle vehicle that guides the viewer through the journey. With Elcoteq, we tried to capture the "Elco-techie" look and feel in each metallic, repetitious tone. The piece opens with a world map blurring across the screen. As the mechanical, rhythmic leitmotif underscores more lyrical notes, city names fly by and land where they belong. Suddenly, a loud crescendo is heard, the action halts, and silence permeates the air (another powerful tool). The presentation has taken a noticeably new direction and the viewer receives that information via artwork, language, and sound. As the piece continues, the mood remains unchanged, but the music's pace and tone change. What better punctuation mark can you find than the drama of this visual and audio tango? In this way, we take the Flash movie and turn it into an intense Elcoteq orientation.

In less than four minutes, Elcoteq presents a clear biography. The presentation itself accomplishes the corporate goal -- it evolves with you, changing tempo, timbre, and tone. The suggestive three-dimensional objects that whirl across the screen create an element of "cool" and spark interest in the passerby. When showing the completed Flash movie to the client, I noticed foot tapping and head nodding.

As in the interview scenario we opened with, planning without a tangible product does not serve you well. Stand out in the crowd or trade show and dare to be different. But if you still feel like giving away chocolates in your booth, I guess I could stop by�

Karen Greenwald is the Communications Director and Design Team Branding Strategist for Cylix Communications. Cylix provides organizations with strategic marketing, public relations, media relations, and investor relations counsel. Cylix retains a seasoned staff of senior-level only professionals with knowledge of the technology, telecommunications, Internet telephony, e-commerce, and contact center industries.


This article originally appeared on TMCnet.com in April 2002.

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