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While everything we do falls under the umbrella of “brand development,” this section describes how we articulate a brand and its strategy before the actual implementation begins. It’s the most overlooked part of the marketing process, and that’s a shame, because, without a solid foundation of strategy—which includes understanding your customers and audiences, knowing yourself, knowing your competitors and knowing how to compete on more than price alone—it isn’t real branding. It’s just decoration.
This section describes what we do. Want to see how we do it? Check out our methodology.
Customer research & analysis
We dig deep to find out what your customers’ challenges are, what they really need, and what they think about you and your competitors. From one-on-one interviews to ethnography to focus groups to wide-ranging surveys, we do it, and then we analyze it for you so everything makes sense.
We don’t just describe what your competitors look like—we delve into what they’re promising, what they’re implying and what your customers think about them. And we use that knowledge to give you a unique competitive edge.
Part of any real branding work is making sure your brand is aligned with your business objectives—what you’re currently doing, and what you could be doing. An aligned brand–business strategy is honest, attainable and strong.
We’re not talking about market position, or a vague description of your brand that could sound like it came from any one of your competitors. Through our process of brand positioning, we uncover what your customers can and do think of you, and you alone. Then we show you how to use that thinking in a way that’s relevant to your audiences.
Are you looking for some ideas on how you could offer a better, more relevant, complementary or customized product, service or partnership? Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective to unleash your own creativity. Or maybe you’d like an agency to get creative for you. Either way, we can help.
Our staff developers, programmers and quality-control experts will work directly with you on your online initiatives to ensure you’re using the right software, media and tools to reach your audiences most effectively. Because we offer our services in house, we can boast a seamless approach to web design that incorporates not just a terrific-looking digital experience, but one that’s also mapped, wireframed and developed to be robust, effective, user-friendly and optimized. View some samples.
What do you hope to achieve with your website, news feed, online advertising? Who are you targeting? What do you want them to do? How does this affect your overall brand strategy? While these are relatively standard questions to ask when beginning any “traditional” marketing campaign, you’d be amazed at how many digital campaigns and projects start without a strategy. Don’t start without a strategy.
Social media strategy
See “Digital Strategy” above. Then answer a few more questions: “How often do we need to respond to content? Hourly, daily, weekly?” and “Who is going to monitor and respond to content, and how do we make sure this person is able to do so?” We can help you figure out what in-house resources you need, or we can monitor and manage your accounts for you.
One of the best things about user-interface design is that it combines cool-looking with cool-acting. Because, if you can’t navigate it, all the “pretty” in the world won’t hide that.
Our full-service editorial team can map it, write it, edit it, proofread it and test it.
A responsive site is just the first step; we also like to create a mobile experience that pays attention to how people actually use their phones. That is, they probably don’t want or need to see your full site. They need what they need on the go.
Have you ever seen a site that’s been optimized to death? You’ll know it if the home page reads, “Goods & Services is a Toronto branding agency. Our marketing and branding agency, based in Toronto, offers branding and marketing, as well as advertising, digital development and graphic design. Goods & Services is also a website company, based in Toronto.”
That’s bad search-engine optimization. There are better ways to optimize—and we can show you what they are.
As branding experts, we sincerely believe that brand-building takes years, and it’s not something that’s easily measured. As the saying (often attributed to Albert Einstein, but actually from a sociologist named William Bruce Cameron) goes, “Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.”
That said, it sure is fun to see immediate, measurable results sometimes. And that’s one of the coolest things about digital marketing: whether you’re running online ads, Google AdWords or branded content, you get immediate metrics. You can kill off an option that isn’t working, you can adjust your budget to push a concept that is working, and you can do it all on the fly. It’s awesome.
Apps & digital publishing
We were proud to be chosen as a beta-tester for Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite—an honour that gave us a roaring head start on one of the most innovative technologies since the printing press—and we continue to stay ahead of the curve in new technologies for customized app programming and design, as well as digital-publishing development. We also employ cutting-edge cross-device development technologies (and by “cutting-edge,” we mean that the landscape is changing daily), which allow for the creation of rapid, low-cost applications for every mobile platform.
We build content-managed sites because they give you more options: you can update the content yourself, you can get us to do it, or you can get someone else to do it—whatever works best for you. We generally use Drupal, which is one of several popular open-source frameworks (which means that you can find lots of developers who can use it).
As with any medium we work in, our website development starts with rigorous attention to the planning. We start with a sitemap and detail the site’s functional requirements (both today’s requirements and those of the future). Then we create some of the most detailed wireframes you’ll ever see. We also start talking about how you intend to handle your analytics. As always, a little rigour up front equals fewer surprises down the line (and by “down the line,” we mean the weekend before your launch). Trust us, you’ll prefer our approach.
Our company began its life as a small graphic-design agency nearly 20 years ago. Today, company founder and Creative Director, Carey George, still infuses a razor-sharp design sensibility into all aspects of our business. This is what makes our work outstanding in any medium, from traditional print to websites to apps to packaging. If your customers need to look at it, navigate it or interact with it, excellent design is essential.
A lot of agencies create identities, but they stop there. We specialize in creating and implementing brand identities. The implementation experience is the most important part—if your agency doesn’t know how brand identities live and breathe in the real world, how can they create one that works hard for you? Give us a call, and we’ll show you how we bring a brand identity to life.
Brand identity, logo & wordmark
Your brand identity incorporates the entire breadth of visual components you communicate to your audiences. Creating one that speaks clearly starts with an in-depth understanding of your business and your audiences, and concludes with your logo, colour palette, typography, photography, illustration, online presence and other visual communications. Check out our branding work here.
Our designers work alongside our in-house developers and writers, offering you a seamless, integrated approach to websites, eblasts, app development and digital publishing. We understand the unique challenges of creating successful user-interface design, and we adapt to the constantly changing technologies driving it.
“I’m different! Pick me!” it shouts. “Here are the logical reasons to want me,” it says. “I’ll make you look cool and smart,” it whispers.
From trade shows to retail spaces, branded environments let your customers immerse themselves in your brand experience. Better make sure it’s a good one.
When you find yourself staring at that new, blank PowerPoint slide, thinking, “How on Earth am I going to show this?” consider this: we write and design some of the best presentations you’ll ever see. Let us show you some samples.
Brand implementation & production
We not only create brands, but we also implement them, which means you enjoy the convenience of having all of your marketing materials produced by the team who developed them (and understands them best). We can roll out your messaging and identity elements into all of your collateral, including items such as (but not limited to):
- brand identity and style guides
- brochures and reports
- newspaper, magazine and OOH ads
- websites and apps
- digital ads
- videos and motion graphics
Of course, we are also experts in prepress and print management; in fact, we manage print on six continents.
Having an in-house editorial team is one of Goods & Services’ secret weapons: It’s a secret because many of our clients don’t want editorial help—until they’ve experienced what we can do for them. And it’s a weapon because it gives you a powerful advantage over your competitors.
Communications Director and co-owner, Sue McCluskey, has assembled our editorial team, a group that is talented, curious and fanatical about their craft. We have expertise in journalism, teaching, medical editing, customer research and analysis, publishing, plain-language editing, corporate communications, scriptwriting, presentations, speeches—and, of course, creative copy. We can handle ANY of your writing challenges.
Our writing has been recognized with awards from the Advertising & Design Club of Canada, the Canadian Marketing Association, the Society for Technical Communication and Applied Arts.
Brand books & guidelines
Our brand guidelines include graphic standards, of course. But we go well beyond the standard. With our brand books, we help you communicate your brand internally, so that all of your employees understand the important role they play in bringing your brand to life. After all, they’re often the first point of contact your customers have with your company. It’s a good idea to make sure they know what you stand for.
A common flaw in marketing communications is that most content creators stop short of asking the question, “So what?” Companies happily create lists and descriptions of product features or services, but never tell customers why they should care. As part of our brand roadmap process, we help you determine your unique differentiators and your customers’ “pain points”—and then we create key messages that communicate the specific ways that you, and only you, can relieve that pain. The result is a solid foundation of language that is benefits-driven and relevant to your customers.
We will warn you, though: one side effect of our process is that it also gets you in the very handy habit of demanding that all your communications answer the “So what?” question.
Naming & taglines
We follow a proven, five-step process for generating names, taglines and naming architectures. Our process begins by clarifying your requirements, allows for an expanse of creative exploration, and ends with our recommendations, accompanied by a clear rationale that explains how they will best meet your needs.
Need a catalogue, report, white paper, manual, memo or eblast? If you’re communicating to internal or external stakeholders, to friendly or indifferent audiences, we get to the heart of what you need to say—and, just as importantly, to what you want your audiences to do with that information.
When you find yourself staring at that new, blank PowerPoint slide, thinking, “What on Earth am I going to say?” consider this: we write and design some of the best presentations you’ll ever see. Let us show you some samples.
Marketing & advertising
From billboard headlines to product brochures, sell sheets, animations and videos, we make it our mission to keep the reader reading or the watcher watching, by being clever, provocative, mysterious, dramatic or just plain interesting.
Whether you call it branded content, sponsored stories or good-old-1990s-style advertorial, our writers can give you copy that your customers will actually want to read. That’s because we always tell a good story, no matter what you’re trying to sell.
Online & digital
Writing for online is different from writing for print—but not that different. The biggest contrast is that you have to think in all dimensions, rather than in a linear way. We’re really good at 3-D thinking.
See our “Video & motion” section for details.
Marketing & advertising
Like most agencies, we create campaigns of all types. However, we are one of only a few agencies that specialize in brand marketing and advertising. Brand marketing and advertising is a way to communicate your company or organization based on long-term strategies, rather than short-term tactics. Think about the classic Volkswagen ads or Apple’s “Mac versus PC” campaign, for example.
While both long-term and short-term strategies have their place in promoting your company, we focus the majority of our energy on long-term brand marketing for one key reason: it differentiates you in your marketplace. It allows you to communicate your brand promise in a way that makes your customers want you, and you alone. As a result, you avoid selling on price, giveaways, limited-time offers or other tactics that weaken your bottom line.
While it may seem like a prosaic detail, all of the strategy, identity and key-messaging work in the world won’t get you far if it can’t be translated into the collateral you need. We’ll roll out your brand fully and authentically into brochures, pamphlets, free-standing inserts, reports, sell sheets, DMs and eblasts, or hats, pens and golf balls—seriously, we can create whatever promotions you need. And the members of our dedicated production team are experts at not only print production, but production of any kind.
Bringing your customers and audiences into contact with “like-minded” brands can be an invaluable service. We can help you communicate the value of looking out for your customers, which, in turn, leads to reciprocal favours from your partners, greater reach for your brand and deeper loyalty from consumers.
From creating an engaging trade show booth presence to brainstorming ways to surprise and delight your prospects, experiential marketing is an opportunity to give people a taste of what they’re missing. Or a reminder of what they already have.
Print, online, out-of-home and direct-mail advertising all share one thing in common: they need to command an audience’s attention immediately, memorably and effectively. The immediacy can be easy to accomplish—the elements of surprise, irony, juxtaposition, beauty, humour and tugging-on-the-heartstrings are the tools of the trade. Memorable is also relatively easy: make a big impact, either with a story, a slogan, an offer or a promise, and make it as often as needed. Effectiveness is another story. As Luke Sullivan describes in his great book on advertising, Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This, people will certainly notice and remember you if you spit on the boardroom table in a meeting. But it isn’t going to be effective at improving perceptions of your business. We don’t take cheap shots.
Video & motion
Nothing is static anymore. From animating a logo to bringing your story to life through a video, we can get your brand moving.
Concept & script development
Scriptwriting is described as “writing for ears and eyes.” While we generally encourage a conversational tone for all of your content, our scriptwriting takes “conversational” to its maximum. And word count to its minimum. All while telling a story with a beginning, middle, end—and clear call to action.
Like everything we do, we believe that a clear project plan is the secret to success (and a lot fewer headaches along the way). A strong, detailed storyboard is one of our greatest weapons. If you work with us, you’ll notice a difference.
Video & motion graphics
With video, the variables are endless: uncooperative weather, challenging topics, delayed flights, CEOs who go off script and off schedule—we’ve seen it all, from pre-production to shooting to post-production. We can handle it all, too, with professionalism, a problem-solving attitude and a load of good humour, to deliver a final product that makes it all look seamless. Only you (and we) will know the truth.
One of the most overlooked areas of agency business is the day-to-day logistics of getting the work done. This is where we shine. Our account team, led by Malia Mitchell, Executive Director of Account Services, is united by a single-minded philosophy: to attend to the details of every project, no matter how small or large, keeping it on brand, on brief, on time and on budget.
The importance of the day-to-day work is that it gives us an ongoing channel through which to gain deeper insight into the bigger picture of your business, your challenges and your priorities—which is what transforms our project management into account stewardship.
We can say, without a doubt (at least, according to our clients), that our account stewardship is the best there is.
A strong project brief is the starting point. It keeps us all on track. We’ll work with you to nail down the details about the audience, format, time frame, quantities, messaging, call to action, desired results, follow-up plans, measurement methods and many more variables. Then you can relax, knowing we’ll take it from there.
Once a project gets under way, all documentation is versioned (copy decks, design presentations, etc.) for easy-tracking purposes. All of our records—quotes, purchase orders, invoices, component lists, timesheet information, etc.—are tracked and managed through our customized, proprietary system. If you want it, we can get it for you, quickly.
If the scope of a project changes—and, let’s face it, it often does—we revise our quote and send it to you, along with any updates on timings and deadlines.
Ever get an invoice that didn’t match the quotation? So have we, and we don’t like it either. Rest assured, any invoice you get from Goods & Services will reference your original quote, so you can be sure we’ve stuck to our promise.
Quotations & estimates
Nobody likes surprises, especially surprises that involve money. We know this—we’re business owners, too. That’s why, once we know what you’re looking for, we’ll pull together a detailed quotation, which breaks down the fees by discipline or phase (concept development, design and production, writing services, digital production, etc.) with projected expenses (print, stock photography, video production, etc.). It’s simple: you decide what you need, we figure out what it will take to get it done, you approve the quotation and we do the work.
Do you prefer to work on a retainer basis? We’ll still track our jobs to keep everything organized, and we’ll send you regular statements, just so you know that we’re never burning up hours needlessly.
Scheduling & communications
For every meeting, we capture the details and confirm the specifics in an email, which may include the overall brief, timelines and any major milestones that must be met, a workback schedule (if required), action items for your team and ours, and a list of any outstanding information needed. This helps ensure that we’ve understood what you need, and you understand what we’re delivering. It sounds simple, and it is, but you’d probably be surprised at how often our clients tell us they’ve never seen such attention before.