What does sound look like? Well, it depends on what it says about your company.

For Reid Sound, a Windsor-based company that does public audio-visual productions and custom sound system installations, the problem was an outdated logo (at right) that looked old and was not easy to reproduce, particularly on paper, says Tom McManimon, founder and president of Stimulus Brand Communications, an advertising and marketing agency based in Ewing. Reid was starting to grow quickly and by the end of 2009 needed to decide what face it wanted to put out to the world.

Up until then the company had done little in the way of crafting sales materials or its brand image, McManimon says. “Whatever they had was on their computer, but it wasn’t much.”

In January, 2010, McManimon says, it was “time to step up their brand presence.” Reid’s owner, Darren Sussman, wanted to give the company’s logo and materials a new vibe. Something that would convey audio power but still be friendly.

“It was important to not look too stodgy,” McManimon says. “We didn’t want to look like a bank, we wanted something that said ‘fun’ and ‘friendly.’” Reid is, after all, a small firm that wants to highlight its place in the community.

At the same time, he says, it was imperative that the new design be “all about technology.” If you have been to a commencement ceremony at Rider University in the last few years or to one of a handful of fitness centers in the area, Reid is the company that has made the audio possible. The company hooks up sound systems for public events, sets up audio/video systems for conferences, corporate meetings, and performances, and also does installations that allow venues to play background music.

Taking all that into account, McManimon devised nearly 30 logo designs. “About 75 percent of the creative work I do myself,” he says. The logo Reid chose replaced a basically square image featuring concentric circles with one that has bold, yet rounded fonts and a soundwave caught in mid-throb. Below the name of the business is the motto: The Room Comes Alive.

The new logo was the bedrock of the campaign Stimulus Brand kicked off, a multi-media effort that put Reid’s new image on everything from stationery to the web. McManimon launched the web campaign through CentralJersey.com, where the image could be made into more than just a graphic. The soundwave would pulse and the words “Reid” and “Sound” would “fly off and be replaced by other words” that highlighted the services Reid provides, he says.

The web ad also played sound, but not automatically, McManimon says — because that can get obnoxious.

The revamping project took about four months and “a typical amount of work” for McManimon. The print materials, including banner ads, were done sooner. The web campaign launched in April, 2010. The entire campaign captured two ASTRA awards — a silver for business-to-business multi-media advertising and a gold award for logo design.

Stimulus also won a silver ASTRA for a campaign it designed for iXP Corp., a Cranbury-based provider of public safety and security solutions, featuring New York Yankees hall-of-famer Yogi Berra (U.S. 1, June 9, 2010). The campaign zeroed in on Berra’s famously folksy sayings (called “Yogiisms”) and his reputation for hard work and success behind the plate. The idea, McManimon says, is that Berra stands for strength and integrity, exactly the message iXP wants to get across about itself.

The Reid campaign was one of about 20 Stimulus did last year. “And I’m not even a website boutique,” McManimon says. Still, he enjoys the work and is overall happy with the Reid campaign.

One thing he would change, however, is the printing. One of the risks when working with small businesses is how the money changes over the course of a contract, he says. “What happens with a lot of small companies is that they come in saying ‘I want to invest money in my company’ and then when they really get into it start penny-pinching.”

Often it happens near the end of a project, and McManimon says that Reid wanted to take over the printing aspect. He was OK with the result, but not ecstatic, he says. The reproduction was not the quality he would have liked and the paper stock was not as high-grade as it should have been.

“It’s part of the follow-through,” McManimon says – the tangible end of advertising where the customer gets to feel and touch the materials themselves. “I was happy with the styling,” he says, “but it would have been just that much better if we’d managed it through the printing.”

None of this is to suggest that he has any problems with Reid. “They were satisfied and easy to work with,” McManimon says. “This really raised their game.

Stimulus Brand Communications, 1 Currier Way, Ewing 08628; 609-538-1126; fax, 609-935-0870. Tom McManimon, president. www.stimulusbrand.com

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