Few things are as validating for a graphic designer than winning a design contest. You submit your design, you wait for what feels like a billion years, and then out of all the entries they choose yours.
Feels good, man.
I got my first taste of victory at the ripe old age of 5. I carefully drew a picture of my dad for a Father’s Day drawing contest a local newspaper was holding and I very vividly remember my mom calling me to tell me I won. They gave me a gift certificate to True Value where I excitedly picked out a kite and a Mickey Mouse candy jar that I’m pretty sure I broke within a week because it was made out of glass and I was 5. A devastating loss, sure (where am I going to keep my candy now?), but not even seeing Mickey Mouse shatter into a million pieces can take away the joy of winning. Victory is delicious.
I’ve won a few contests since then but none more exciting than my most recent “W”. In August, the Chicago Cubs kicked off their Social Media Night Snapchat Filter contest where they invited anyone to submit a design on Twitter to be considered. I entered, and I won.
I went with a fairly straightforward, almost on-the-nose approach, incorporating traditional baseball iconography with elements from Wrigley Field and the classic pinstripes of the Cubs’ home uniforms. Illustrating the iconic marquee that has adorned Wrigley Field for more than 80 years was no walk in the ballpark but I felt it was a necessary challenge, and as a Cubs fan I was thrilled with the result. It was surreal getting to see my design put to use on the Cubs official Snapchat, and seeing my name on the massive left field scoreboard was a real eyeopener.
Having my design chosen and then used by thousands of Cubs fans was very exciting for me – both as a graphic designer and a huge Cubs fan. However, my design process and the choices I made really pale in comparison to the reason I entered in the first place.
Sure, it was a design contest but more specifically it was a design contest for the Cubs’ Social Media Night. As someone who is very active on Cubs Twitter I have been wanting to partake in this event for a couple years and I finally got my chance. Social Media Night is an event the Cubs host every year as an opportunity to celebrate all things #CubsSocial and all of us who make up the vast network of Cubs fans on social media (mostly Twitter).
Winning this contest meant getting to go to a Cubs game for free (which always rules) but more importantly it meant spending a few hours before the game finally getting to meet Cubs Twitter friends in real life. We had an absolute blast playing games and winning prizes and I can’t wait to go again next year. All thanks go to the @Cubs team for being the central star in our Cubs Twitter universe and for showing other clubs and brands how to do Twitter right.
I could go on forever about how Twitter has impacted my life personally but the point I want to make is that Twitter can be a powerful tool if you just know how to wield it. You can form real meaningful relationships and organically expand your personal and professional networks in ways other platforms can’t. Putting a human element behind your brand can prove invaluable in building and maintaining brand trust. But let me warn you, it’s not just about creating content and putting it out there, it’s about engaging; engaging with existing customers, potential customers, and yes, even engaging in the culture that is Twitter. There are countless ways to cleverly market your brand on Twitter without marketing your brand on Twitter and it takes not only understanding your audience but understanding the platform on an intimate level to do it.
To stay on topic, one perfect example is Major League Baseball itself. Twitter has changed the way we watch and enjoy baseball (or at least it has for me) and MLB has embraced this by not only having their main account but an entire network of accounts (14 in total) that highlight the different facets of the game and how/why we watch and enjoy them. From @MLBStatOfTheDay to @MLBGIFS there is something for everyone out there.
Also while I have your attention, I want to give a special shout out to MLB’s graphic design team who has been knocking it out the park with their impressive 2017 postseason branding. It’s pushing the limits of traditional sports design and completely elevating it and crushing it. I absolutely adore it and I can see now why I never got that job with MLB back in the day. This is a great example of eye-catching, engaging content.
Another great example is the Chicago Cubs themselves, I may be biased (I definitely am) but the way they have embraced social media as a legitimate way to connect and interact with their fans is top notch. I got the opportunity to meet the minds behind the account (Hi Travis!) and they are just as delightful in person. Intelligence, empathy, and wit reign supreme on Twitter and they have it in spades.
What most of this boils down to is that the most successful brands don’t tweet like brands. Twitter was built for people so the best way to reach your audience is to simply – gasp! – treat them like people, not a marketing target. I know that goes against everything marketing “gurus” ever taught you but unlike traditional media, Twitter is not a place to talk at your audience but with them. It is as incredibly nuanced as any other day-to-day, face-to-face interaction and hitting the right tone can make or break you. The way you present yourself on Twitter matters because it is the outward expression of the very soul of your brand.
If you don’t have someone that eats, breathes, and sleeps Twitter running your account, find one and hire them.
(Pssst. That’s us.)
Interested in handing over the reigns of your social channels to some folks who know how to tweet in their sleep? Contact us here, or better yet find us on Facebook, Instagram (@itsbingbang) or you guessed it, Twitter!