Vancouver Photo Booth Rental Branding

I was on Facebook or Google Plus about a week ago and I meant to write a post about what I saw, but you know how it is… things are busy and things get pushed back.  Today, I finally got around to doing it. So my friend had posted a picture of himself at a wedding he went to in Vancouver somewhere.  He was wearing some crazy looking hat, ginormous glasses and a paper moustache.  hahah… what?!

Well, he had good reason to—he was in one of those new fandangled photo booth thingies that are so popular these days at weddings, birthdays, grads and stuff.  I’ve been in a couple myself, once at a work event and another at my buddy’s birthday party.  They’re a lot of fun!

Naturally, I was intrigued so I took a look at some more of the photos and then checked out which company was behind it all.

The guys, or should I say “guy”, behind it all was Vancouver’s That Photo Booth Guy.  I only talk about branding, design, and websites that I’m impressed by on this blog… so here’s what impressed me about this photo booth rental company:

1 – EPIC LOGO

Most of the logos that I’ve seen from photo booth companies here in Vancouver are either:photobooth-guy-vancouver-logo

  • boring plain text
  • “fancy” text logo that’s almost always poorly done and makes me cringe
  • a super cheesy graphic of something to do with either a lens, camera or photo booth (again, always poorly done and looks dated) OR
  • an attempt at a graphic logo but always looks like awful clipart from the 90s…

So, finding this happy little guy was a real treat for me.  The logo is not only well done, he’s cute, has good character, tasteful, and he’s wearing some fun looking props that sort of makes you want to get into a photo booth yourself.

Again, unique, very original and not some lame cookie cutter thing that looks like everyone else’s logo.

2 – WEBSITE DESIGN

that-photo-booth-guy-website

  • Fixed Navigation and Sidebar
    When you scroll up and down, only the centre part moves.  The navigation on the left and the quote form on the right stay in place.  I think this is really neat because it’s always handy to have the navigation visible so you can click to another page without needing to scroll up and down.  Having the navigation on the left hand side is quite unique.  The fixed sidebar is also a neat way to keep the call to action conveniently accessible.
  • Responsive
    that-photo-booth-guy-website-mobileEverything is responsive and it’s quite the feat when you have tricky features like the fixed navigation and sidebar.  Go onto their site and try it out.  The first thing to shift is the sidebar, which gets sent to the bottom of the page.  This is a little bit of a bummer because the call to action is no longer nudging the user to act, but the little link at the very top is a nice touch to make it easy for people to get a quote.Once you shrink things down a little more, the navigation pops up to the top and it rearranges itself to what you see in the image to the right.  A little nice touch here is that the menu button actually says “menu” instead of the typical “three lines” icon.
  • Simple and Classy
    Overall, the website is really simple and classy, yet has that charming quaint character to it.  The simple monochromatic color scheme lets the photographs really shine, which is a really smart play and does the job well.  The only other color you really see there is the eye-catching green.  The green is only used for the call to action—textbook awesomeness.

I took a look at their other social media outlets like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter, and there doesn’t seem to be much action there—something they can definitely improve on…  They do have some consistent cover graphics going on though, which is great.

Really cool, “That Photo Booth Guy”…. really cool…

I’m impressed by your branding and I hope I get to try out your photo booth service in person sometime in the near future.  I’d like to see the product behind this cool branding and see if it lives up to the reputation ;).

Signin’ off,

D

Vancouver Limo Service Brand

Guess who was the best man at a wedding last weekend?  Yup… ME.

Nothing new though, because in my books, I’m the best man every day of the week.  haha.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is NOT just because I like to impose my big headed ego on all my website visitors.  The reason I bring it up is because I thought the branding of this Vancouver limo service we used for the wedding was quite well done.  They’re called VanCity Limos and they’re right here in town.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the vast majority of limousine websites and branding I’ve seen in my day are just terrible.  And heck… can you really blame them?  They’re a limo company, many of which are owned and run as family businesses and they don’t have time to mess with those logo details.  Not their fault… no worries.  So maybe the branding of the limo company we went with wasn’t super great overall, but I was impressed based on the expectations I have in my mind for limousine companies.

Alright, so VanCity Limos…  I did a good amount of research into them and all their different web properties to see if they’ve done a good job being thorough.  You know, because if you look at 9 out of 10 non-technical service companies out there, they might have a half decent website, a facebook page with no pictures, name spelled wrong, really butt ugly, etc.  In short, they’re usually incomplete, sloppy, ugly, or all of the above.

So VanCity Limos may not be the greatest and well put together brand out there, but they surprisingly seem to have a lot of their stuff together.  Here’s a little list of what they’ve got:

1. WEBSITE

It’s fairly simple, nothing crazy fancy.  I think its simplicity is its strength though.  Right when you land on the homepage, there’s the phone number big and bold right at the top—you can’t miss it.  Love it.  I can’t tell you how many times I go to a restaurant or business website and I have to dig around all over their website hunting for a phone number.  It drives me nuts.  I can tell you that many restaurants have missed my business just because they made it so hard for me to find the number.  Next, they’ve got a free quote form on what seems like every bloody page on their website.  Maybe a bit overkill?  It looks a little bit pushy, but it does make it easy for the user for sure.  Following my example with the phone number, having the quote form so accessible is probably a really good idea.  Lastly, the navigation bar has everything you’re looking for—home, services, fleet, about, contact, blog.  Perfect… not too little, not too much.  Oh yeah, the website is also responsive.

I feel like the website could look a little nicer, but they definitely have the function part of it down.  In the mobile version of the website, the form is pushed to the very bottom of the page, which sort of sucks… but they redeem themselves with a button at the top, which automatically scrolls you down to the form.  Nice touch!

Last thing for real on this topic… they’ve got a favicon!  And not just a crappy unreadable or ugly favicon.  It’s nice.  It just says LIMO.  Short and sweet.

2.  LOGO & COLORS

pic_VanCity-Limos-Logo_727592_largeThey’ve got a black, white and red color scheme going on.  The look of the website has a dark background.  Good choice.  It’s tricky to have too much color for a limousine service brand.  Branding a limo company is an interesting issue.  The hard part is that limo companies service a wide variety of events and occasions, all of which have a different feel or mood.  You’ve got light happy weddings, the darker nightlife partying, casino tours, wine tours, and corporate transportation—all very different.  How do you brand for all of those?  Like I said, really tricky.  I think going for a very monochromatic theme is probably really smart, and that’s what they’ve done.  So, the logo is pretty nice in my opinion.  It’s clean, sleek and has a classy city feel to it.  I was more impressed when I saw their video where the logo is actually animated.  Check it out here.  The animated logo shows in the beginning and at the end:

3. SOCIAL MEDIA PROPERTIES

Like I said, many small companies (companies like limo services especially), don’t care to set up or maintain their social media properties properly or at all.  VanCity Limos has a facebook page, youtube, twitter, google plus, yelp and even foursquare.  Here are links to all of them:

And look!  ALL web properties fully populated with descriptions, content and images!  Now for a small business, that is impressive.  To take it up a notch, the pages aren’t just complete, the content and branding even looks quite good.  Some of their web properties are a little sparse.  Their twitter, facebook and google plus only have a little bit of content on there.  Maybe they’ve neglected the pages or maybe they’re new, I’m not really sure.

Anyway, that’s that.  That’s VanCity Limos, a local limousine service company in Vancouver that has branding I was reasonably impressed with.  The service they gave us for the wedding was really good too.  I recommend them if you happen to be looking for a limo in the Vancouver area.  (they service other surrounding cities as well… we had them drive up to North Van and drop us off in Burnaby).

Design by Artificial Intelligence

I’ve always been interested in web design and have made my share of web sites.  I haven’t made a whole lot of websites but I’ve made enough to be able to appreciate how time consuming and how much of a hassle it can be to fiddle around with CSS and HTML.  Yes I’ve had those times where I’ve spent hours just trying to format an image properly or create responsive columns that work properly.
Finding a really great template or wordpress theme is great.  But sometimes, as the goals or content focus of your website change, you may want to adjust or change the way your website presents your content.  Of course, making the jump to change the way your website looks is always a huge hassle, which is often avoided probably even more often never done.

Earlier this month, a San Francisco startup announced the launch of a new project that could make pain of website design go away.
The Grid is creating a new web site platform which uses artificial intelligence to designing your web sites for you, and to do it on going as you continue to add more and more content to your web site.  Check out the video below for a bit of a preview.

Yes the promises being made are pretty big promises.  Whether they will pull it off or not successfully, is a big question.  However, it’s a really exciting idea and I would love to see it happen.
The grid is headed by two guys that used to work at Google: Brian Axe and Leigh Taylor, which adds some more weight to their promises.
At the moment they are raising money through crowd funding with the hopes of raising $70,000 to start production.  They’re expecting to be able to open doors to its first members in late spring of 2015.  They’re planning to offer the service for $25 a month, but are offering its pre release supporters the chance to lock in a membership fee of $8 per month.

I was seriously considering signing myself up to be one of the founding members, but decided to wait a little bit.  I’m not really sure what holding me back.  They say that their website was made by their artificial intelligence platform.  I loaded their website on my phone as well as one of my friends phones, and their site didn’t quite work as expected.  I guess I’m not quite fully a believer yet and I’m willing to risk paying an additional $13 a month later if it does turn out to be good, as opposed to paint for a year’s subscription upfront that a potentially may not end up using.  But, I’m still hopeful, we’ll keep an eye on how things unfold, and we’ll be sure to sign up if deliver on their promises.

Vancouver Convention Centre Website

I attended a conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre recently.  It was my first time actually going inside the building.  I had driven by a couple times and taken quick glances at it but have never gone close or into the building.

After the conference, I was really impressed with the convention centre building.  It’s beautiful!  I regret not going to take a look earlier.  It’s been there for a good while already.

It’s right on the water, it’s got an amazing iconic green roof, uses a ton or reclaimed wood that was incorporated into the design beautifully, the spaces inside are grand and functional, and the views from inside the building are spectacular.  Just take a look at some of these photos:

and here’s their corporate video which shows off many aspects of the building:

Just to give you a bit of perspective on how big this place is, they’ve got almost half a million square feet of space and can accommodate a banquet for 6000 people.

Naturally, after my increased intrigue about the building, I wanted to see if they had a website to check out if they had any more cool stuff to see and if their website lived up to the impression that the building gave me.

They in fact do have a website: VancouverConventionCentre.com.

Unfortunately, when I first landed on the website, I felt a rather large disconnect.  I didn’t feel like the website did the building justice at all.

There’s a lot of great content on the site, but something about the site just felt weird.

Take a look at these screenshots for reference:

Here’s a short numbered list rant about the Vancouver Convention Centre website:

1. LAYOUT

The landing page is confusing.  It feels like there’s too many options.  Links on top, on the side and on the bottom.  Don’t get me wrong… links on the top, side and bottom are pretty common.  For some reason here, it’s confusing.

It’s confusing because of the types of links they are.  Some of the links at the bottom, I would normally expect to be at the top.  The links on the side are fine I guess.  My guess is that they figured out the top three functions of their website for the top three types of visitors, and stuck them there in plain view.  Good on them.  I think it’s a good call and I imagine it works well.  However, where they go wrong with this is in…

2. THE MOBILE SITE

Take a look at the mobile site. There’s little resemblance to the desktop site, except for the background and logo.  The entire menu is stripped down to 6 choices.  The content is laid out completely different.

I understand that it might be a little overwhelming to have that many options on a mobile site, but it looks as if the content on the desktop site isn’t even accessible from the mobile site—at least that’s the way it looks at first glance.  If I were a “Visitor” and wanted to book my public tour, like it has on the left of desktop site, I don’t see that there on the mobile site.  Feels a little disconcerting to me, personally.

3. COLOR SCHEME

Sure, they have a color scheme going on.  Things are a clean blue and white.  BUT… there’s a thing called active colors and passive colors.  It should be really clear to the user what can be interacted with or clicked on and what can’t.

It looks like their intention is that blue is their active color.  This works and looks great on the left.  It breaks for the top navigation bar, and the tagline “INSPIRATION STARTS HERE” is NOT clickable.  The line just below it is a different shade of blue (weird?).

When I hover over the black navigation bar at the top, I get more menu items… sub menu items.  I don’t have a screenshot of them, but the submenu items are white text on a dark navy blue background.  Confusing and inconsistent if you ask me…

This is maybe a small thing, but the logo is a different shade of blue than the website’s theme blue.

4. LOGO

I can say with quite a bit of certainty that the logo and website were designed separately.  It’s always a slippery slope when the design of an entire brand is a mish mash of visions.  It’s important to keep everything under one comprehensive vision.

Maybe I was a little harsh on you, Vancouver Convention Centre website…  For what it’s worth, you did pretty good, considering you’re a corporate website.  There are plenty of corporate sites out there that are way worse.