The Trouble with Design Templates

Ben Schwab
Creative Director

The Trouble with Design Templates

Say you need a one-time solution that cuts down time and cost from production of your print and design pieces. That’s what standardized design templates are for, right? They’re easy to use and promise to alleviate the headache of managing external communication with an agency on a regular basis for every minute project. But sometimes, it’s possible the benefits are offset by some unexpected drawbacks.

Benefits of a Design Templates System

The number one supportive reasoning behind the desire for a template-based system is cost savings. The list below breaks down why, in theory, the use of a template could lead to this desired effect.

  1. Time – Now that a look and layout have been established, your internal art department should be able to easily plug-in copy and photography for production of quick-turn print and digital projects.
  2. Consistency – The use of a template clearly defines guidelines and graphic elements to carry across all artwork, leading to a consistent tone and feel for all of your projects.
  3. Internal – Provides you with the comfort of dealing with your own employees face to face. With proper use of the template, your own art department can handle all projects internally. 

Drawbacks to a Template Design System

Clearly, there are great benefits to using design templates. However, in practice there is a list of drawbacks you should prepare yourself for, including but not limited to:

  1. Time – Having an internal production department handle creation of ads based on a template can take just as much time, if not more, as having the agency handle production of artwork. Since the agency is more familiar with the design, the turn-around on artwork may actually be more cost effective by leaving it in their hands.
  2. Compromised Design – Sacrifice of unique and eye-catching design can occasionally result from simplifying templates to be easier for internal production artists to replicate accurately and quickly.
  3. Longevity – Often changing opinions and direction can force a template to be scrapped after only a short time of use.

There’s no doubt the use of templates can prove beneficial. We have created them successfully for a multitude of clients and continue to do so. But whether the benefits outweigh the possible pitfalls is ultimately up to you and should be carefully considered. If you find yourself in a bind, feel free to lean on us. We’re your resource and are more than willing to help see your project through to completion.

[gl-hs-form form_id=’1863abe3-c1e4-43d0-a298-c7b132f8ce03′]


Get your Marketing Score Report and Assessment

Tim Leon
President/Brand Strategist

Get your Marketing Score Report and Assessment

It’s time to assess how your marketing department performed in 2015, and how you are going to achieve your marketing goals for 2016.

I was at the Fuel Lines conference in Nashville last week and heard a fantastic presentation from Paul Roetzer, president of PR 20/20. His agency published the Marketing Score Report which provides some valuable insights on how companies rate their marketing performance.

The report evaluates marketing areas including:

  • Audiences
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Marketing technology utilization
  • Marketing team strength

and so much more.

As you develop your 2016 plans, this could be a useful resource in helping justify investments in technology, creating realistic and defendable budgets, and aligning measurable objectives with strategies that will produce the desired results.

One of the key findings that Geile/Leon has observed with many clients is that the majority of organizations have aggressive growth goals and conservative budgets, creating a potential misalignment of expectations. 

Another key finding is that despite lead generation and lead-to-sale conversions being the two highest priority goals, organizations are failing to tap into the power of social media to achieve those goals. Many companies don’t have a cohesive content marketing plan which supports their lead generation and branding efforts.

How does your organization’s marketing efforts stack up?

PR 20/20 has developed an online assessment tool to help marketers rate their marketing programs and identify weaknesses. Check out this valuable tool by clicking here: What’s Your Marketing ScoreTM?

Marketing Score

This report and assessment tool gives you plenty to think about as you evaluate 2015 and plan for next year, such as:

  • Does your organization have the right marketing talent and technology in place to achieve desired performance goals?
  • Are your expectations for growth aligned with your potential?
  • What can large enterprises do to stay on top when nimble organizations develop more modern marketing teams and quickly adapt to marketing technology advancements?
  • Do you have the right agency partners to fill internal marketing team gaps, and provide the skills/expertise needed for critical growth areas?

Fill out the assessment or just review the report. I have found them extremely beneficial for our agency and clients.

2015 Internet Trends Report – What Stands Out

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

2015 Internet Trends Report – What Stands Out

Every year, Mary Meeker from KPCB, a top Silicon Valley firm, releases the Internet Trends Report, which offers a comprehensive look at how the web is changing and evolving.

And at just under 200 slides, it sure is comprehensive. While most of the information makes sense, some of the numbers and trends are simply staggering in terms of pure volume.

Here are some of the trends that stood out in terms of importance as well as sheer entertainment value:

Mobile, mobile, mobile everything

In case you missed it, accessing the Internet from your phone is kind of a big deal these days. In fact, over the past year, mobile grew at three times the speed as Internet usage in general. On top of that, mobile data usage rose by nearly 70 percent in 2015.

So what does this mean? People are consuming media on the go more then ever. The times at which consumers are being presented with information continues to evolve, and as long as they remain glued to their phones, marketers would be wise to find opportunities to meet them there.

It seems like that’s what’s happening, with mobile ad revenue growing by 34 percent while desktop only growing by 11 percent. It’s not surprising on the whole, but the numbers behind really drive the point home.

Facebook Video – An attempt to keep growth going

You’ve probably read 74,393 different articles by now about how Facebook is dying or dead. Which is good for clickbait headlines, but the jury is still out.

On the one hand, Facebook revenue per user growth is slowing down. It grew nearly 60 percent last year and is down to only 30 percent this year. Some people are indeed looking elsewhere for their social networking needs.

On the other head, Facebook video is going through the roof. There are nearly 4 billion video views every day. Unsurprisingly, 75 percent of those views are coming from mobile. Not too shabby.

So while some may think Facebook is on the way down, I tend to believe the platform still has some room to maneuver. While the desktop version is down, there’s still a high ceiling for video, messenger and calling options within the platform that should help the old standard stay relevant.

What a difference a couple of decades make

The tech industry is one of the most disruptive. As such, companies that have been on top in the past might not evolve well enough to stay on top. Early in the presentation, there’s a great example of this.

Here’s an example: can you name the top Internet company in 1995? It was Netscape, who rose to prominence in large part with their product Navigator, which was a precursor to Internet Explorer.

Where are they now? Well, AOL owns them now and uses the brand to market a discount Internet service provider.

In fact, while the dot-com bubble burst knocked out a good chunk of the names on that list, there is one notable company who has able to hang around:

That’d be Apple, who finished second on the list in 1995 and is now #1.

Staying on top of trends is a full-time job, and we treat it that way. It keeps our digital offering relevant and our clients benefit immensely. Contact us and lets talk about what’s trending for your brand.

[gl-hs-form form_id=’1863abe3-c1e4-43d0-a298-c7b132f8ce03′]


MOBILEGEDDON: Three Critical Points to Survival

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

MOBILEGEDDON: Three Critical Points to Survival

Google’s SEO astroid hits the Web

Google’s search algorithms are changing to benefit the user. This means mobile-friendly websites are now coming up at the top for mobile searches. This has caused a bit of an uproar, known as Mobilegeddon. Here are three critical points you need to know about Mobilegeddon and your business:

As of right now, this change will only affect mobile traffic – the searches happening on mobile devices. For now, your tablet and computer rankings are not in danger. However, be aware that 62 percent of total Web traffic comes from mobile – and that number will continue to increase.

If your audience uses mobile devices for the internet, which we can assume most audiences do in this day and age (see stat above), then you could be at risk of losing 1/3 of traffic to your website. Obviously, this is going to affect your business.

Stay calm. Connect with your Web developer (or ours) about a mobile-friendly website. As soon as your website converts to mobile-friendly, then your site is back in the rankings.

Take comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone – 67 percent of Fortune 100 companies are not mobile-friendly – but it won’t stay that way for long. We don’t always recommend following the crowd, but this time it’s definitely the right choice for your business and we are here to help.

If you want us to contact you with more information about how to build and optimize a mobile-friendly site, please fill out the form below.

[gl-hs-form form_id=’0358cafe-f200-42d7-8e5d-f372c2060315′]

Google has provided resources to help guide businesses through this change:

Statistics provided by SumAll.

Equine Web Design: 5 Brands Telling Their Stories Well

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Equine Web Design: 5 Brands Telling Their Stories Well

Marketing, PR and advertising all aim to tell stories of the brand. Telling a story digitally can be a challenge – especially in an industry where the audience is knowledgeable and looking to connect personally in a digital experience. The Equine industry is one that features many great stories of the relationships between humans and horses. In addition to being a labor of love for many involved, it is also a booming business which includes millions of horses and more than 1.5 million jobs. We have learned in our time working with our client, Manna Pro, that success is achieved in the equine industry (and many other similar, niche industries) by telling the audience a story and showing authentic personality through all communication mediums.

A number of companies and organizations accomplish storytelling through custom imagery and video that shows personality. In a world where stock images are everywhere, websites that have their own images really stand out. Some G/Lers met with our Web designer and came up with equine websites that we think successfully connect to their audience by showing personality – from imagery to content:

Note: Our Geile/Leon team has worked on Equine Web Design projects, including Manna Pro Product’s Equine blog. (We got all this knowledge from somewhere!) For the sake of staying as unbiased as possible, we haven’t included that project in the list below, but certainly feel free to check it out!

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 3.48.46 PM 

1. Cavallo

Website: Cavallo makes horse boots, saddle pads and equipment for riders. Their website stands out because of strong imagery, easy navigation and a focus on telling the story of how their products help both horses and riders perform at their very best. In addition to the store, the site’s content is boosted by a robust blog, general information on riding as well as testimonials and other information about the company.

Personality: Our team enjoyed how Cavallo invested in original imagery that shows the brand personality and their love for horses. They’re not just selling a product, but also selling a lifestyle. Putting the president of the company with the horses they work with every day makes her seem very down to earth.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.08.53 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.09.07 PM

2. Justin Boots

Website: The website for Justin Boots conveys a tone that shows the brand’s origins dating back to 1879 while also focusing on how they’re continuing to improve today. There’s a lot of rich imagery showing different age groups enjoying their products. In addition to still photos, they utilize a decent amount of video to tell more complex stories.

Personality: The website has some authentic photography that features their products and the people that use them. This provides another glimpse into the personality of the brand and how it connects to horses and horse lovers. Reaching across different audiences is tough, but the varying photography also shows how the products work for everyday life as well.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.11.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.11.01 PM

3. Reinsman

Website: The western riding equipment heavily leverages their celebrity/athlete partnerships to highlight the competitive quality of their products. Their equine content is very crisp and well organized.

Personality: Seeing people with their horses and the actual Reinsman products makes the site more authentic. Their focus is more on how the products are more competitive and built to help you compete – showcased well by using images of well known professionals using the products.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.18.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-15 at 3.42.00 PM

4. Grand Meadows

Website: The imagery on the Grand Meadows site does a good job of blending the quality of the product with the effects of what that product brings to the end user. By making that personal connection, it makes the site about more than just e-commerce. Also, having that combination of regular blogging and more in-depth feature articles also helps the site bring in inbound traffic.

Personality: The focus on helping horses grow makes them seem like they truly care about the horses wellbeing, which is really awesome. Seeing the owner insert herself into the brand and the industry also adds a strong personal touch.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.22.34 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.22.44 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.22.23 PM

5. Noble Outfitters

Website: Another great example of digitally highlighting the culture of the brand. The Noble Outfitters online magazine is updated more than once a week with a good mix of product features and info related to those who might use the product.

Personality: There’s a lot of great original photography that makes them stand out. Their focus seems to be on highlighting the brand will help end users perform better while looking stylish in the process.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.20.15 PM

Does your brand tell a story well? Share it with us! Connect with us via @GeileLeonSTL, or just email us at [email protected].

Interested in more of our equine work? Check out our previous blog about equine web design!

Trending Now from G/L: Brand Storytelling, Groupon’s Social Win, Web Design and Knowing Your Consumer

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending Now from G/L: Brand Storytelling, Groupon’s Social Win, Web Design and Knowing Your Consumer



Every Monday morning, the G/L office starts our week by meeting together and updating everyone on new business, old business, this week’s needs, last week’s successes – all the good stuff. We always take time at the end of these meetings to discuss what is trending now in our marketing and design world. We decided that what we talk about isn’t only beneficial to us, but to our clients and followers – so every Monday morning we share our favorite trends with you.


Last week, we talked about innovative technology, how brands are positioning themselves and algorithm changes to know for clients. This week, we discussed amazing ways brands are telling stories, a social media win by Groupon, Web design and knowing your audience.


By Generation
Nike came out with a new ad called Ripple. This ad is the epitome of storytelling as it shows two generations of golf meeting one another, involving the brand through the entire journey. Nike isn’t prominent in the video, you may not even know it is a Nike ad until the very end. This is a characteristic of great brand storytelling – get your audience to remember the story and they will, in turn, remember the brand telling it.

Using Real-Time
Baseball is a sport of history. This year, Major League Baseball moves forward with a real-time approach to what baseball is and means to all of us right now. This isn’t just one ad, but a season-long campaign called “This Is Baseball.” This campaign will celebrate memorable plays and outstanding players and teams as the season unfolds.

Read the full story from Ad Age, and watch the new ads here.


So often we see brands failing on social media, this week we talked about Groupon winning at planned social media. Groupon knew that the product they were promoting strongly resembled a very, very different product. They knew the joke, with a product like this, how could you not? Instead of cowering away from the subject, Groupon embraced it and planned the post knowing it could be trolled and prepared for the responses.

Here are a few of our (more appropriate) favorites:

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 12.21.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-06 at 12.26.09 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-06 at 12.22.26 PMRead the full story from Ad Week about how Groupon planned the post here.
Read the full story from Ad Week about the responses to the post here.

(If you are reading this at work, then you’re welcome for not including a picture of the Banana Bunker with our brief; can you imagine what your co-worker would think? Product shopping for your produce while on the job is a definite no-no.)


When we share trends, we like to keep in mind what will move our clients’ brands forward as well as our own. If we’re always giving the best advice to our clients, we should do the same for ourselves, right? So, if you are a part of an agency, consider the next few trends to assist in processes for your clients and your own brand.

Web Design
Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 11.58.44 AMFrank Chimero, a Brooklyn Web designer and Missouri State University , created a website interpretation of his talk from Webstock 2015. The website shows the process of Web design from Dial-Up to the future and all the challenges that designers and brands may face along the way with how to overcome them. We encourage using his talk and website as a resource for Web design and transformation.

View his website here.

Big Music Needs Big Budget
Established songs and artists require high financial stakes. It makes sense for a brand to want to associate itself with an already successful piece of culture; however, it also speaks volumes for a brand to connect with an artist on-the-rise and take advantage of the opportunity to build campaigns and partnerships that benefit both parties. The artist gets some much-needed exposure and the brand gets a sound of its own without the price tag (which frees up some budget to be reallocated to support the campaign).

Read the full assessment from Ad Age here.

4 Out of 5
IBM released a study stating that 4 out of 5 consumers feel that a brand doesn’t know them as individuals. Even more, 80% of marketers think they understand their audience. Yikes. As an agency, it is part of our job to research and connect our brands to their audience in an authentic way. So where is this divide coming from? How do we fix it?

Read the full story from Bulldog Reporter here.

The long weekend brought us a lot of information; want to talk about these trends with us? Did you see an interesting trend we haven’t talked about? Let’s chat. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Did you miss the last trends we shared? See them here.

Digital Balance: The reason digital strategists and designers don’t eat at the same table

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Digital Balance: The reason digital strategists and designers don’t eat at the same table

Do you dream about a world where digital strategists and web designers live in harmony? So do I. Well, I mean, I guess I don’t remember all of my dreams, but I’m sure it happened once or twice before.

As G/L’s copywriter, I’ve been working closely with our designers and digital strategists on the new G/L website and any client web stuff. And one reoccurring nightmare just seems to keep presenting itself: After developing a strategy, the designers will concept an outrageously creative layout using all kinds of Flash and what not. Then, like clockwork, they’ll present it to the digital department, and it will undoubtedly be dubbed, “not best practice.” After wiping away the tears of defeat, the designers head back to their desks, as do the strategists, and this process goes on till some sort of meet-in-the-middle solution is agreed on.

I’ve watched this go down time and time again. While the process is tedious, it’s the best way to ensure we are maximizing creativity and searchability. The rulebook on web design changes all the time. And SEO best practices change about as fast as Google’s crawlers can figure out our next trick. So the result of such fast-changing elements creates what I call the Jerry-Springer-Design-and-Digital-Strategy-Effect.

It’s a double-edged sword. We need to achieve Digital Balance—websites that are aesthetically unique and populated with content interesting enough to generate repeat traffic and sharing. But to get people there in the first place, you sort of need to be able to find the site. So while I don’t sit on the edge of my seat while writing meta descriptions and littering content with keywords, I do realize that for the real creative to be seen, it must first be optimized.

According to The Best SEO Tips and Practices for 2011, awesome websites with Digital Balance include:

  • Killer content
  • Keywords
  • Strategic Titling
  • Links/Backlinks
  • Social Media
  • Video
  • Mobile Functionality

Through a process of making everything digital mobile-friendly, highly searchable, and most importantly, functional, G/L delivers incredible digital work. And this is one service that won’t slow down. I guess for the sake of the websites, I’ll just try to keep the peace between my design friends and digital colleagues. From the looks of the soon-to-be-launched G/L website, we’re definitely doing something right.

Also, this is what happens when you can’t achieve balance.