December Inspiration

A little beachy inspiration to warm up your December.

From left: Boulder Beach, Cape Town, South Africa | Container Ship via joreyhurley on Etsy | Hoop Embroidery via StitchCulture on Etsy | Bodrum, Turkey | UCLA Law School of Law Magazine by ETCH Creative | Quote by Dragos Roua

November Inspiration

Grab a hot drink and check out our inspiration for November.

From left: USC Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry Recruitment Campaign | Beijing, China | via @minted | The Chairman, Los Angeles, California | Forbidden Palace, Beijing, China | Quote by Beverly Sills

The Instagrammable World of Wall Art

Have you noticed Los Angeles looking a lot more colorful these days? It could be the cleaner air from all this rain, or it could be the explosion of wall art and murals that have gone up all over the city in the last two years.

With tons of blank walls suddenly going from empty to art, you have to wonder if LA residents are suddenly into art appreciation, or is there something else at play? And by something else, I mean Instagram.

Do you know that there are 500 million Instagram users these days, and about 95 million pictures are posted every day? That’s a lot of eyes. Is it possible that the extraordinary growth of an app that illustrates life through pictures corresponding with all of this extremely photogenic public art is a coincidence? I think not.

Instagram has created a new generation of celebrities that use the pictures they post to promote brands, experiences, and themselves. It’s a brave new world for marketers, and in the land of # and @ you better find a way to stand out.

Where business all over the country once saw their exterior walls as simply structures to keep their buildings up, they are now the perfect marketing tool to draw millennials (and everyone else) to their store.

Instagram celebrities love posing stoically in front of a beautiful walls, and Los Angeles businesses are more than happy to oblige. Instagrammers then geo tag themselves at that location, or even plug it in the caption, and a beautiful marketing partnership is born.

Local artists also get incredible exposure, although more often than not they are not credited with the work on social media. It seems, however, that most of these artists are aware of the motivation behind the sudden interest in wall art. The aptly named @mostfamousartist, seems to perfectly sum up this trend with his creation of Venice’s “selfie wall.”

So does marketing disguised as street art somehow cheapen the art? Do you see it as less sincere, less serious? And more importantly, with all of this art adding much needed culture and color to so many neighborhoods in Los Angeles, does it really matter?


Images via: @studiodiy | @walltraveled | @venicepaparazzi

October Inspiration

The weather is cooling down, and our color inspiration is heating up!

Form left: Museum of Neon, Las Vegas, Nevada, | via @purl.bee | Quote by Mark Twain | UC Irvine Department of Informatics | Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey | GiesenLeenders

Building a Strong Brand Identity

Brand identity receives a lot of press these days. People are increasingly – and rightly – focused on what their product stands for and the value that it adds. The trouble with branding is that it’s given rise to an industry that often hides the ball out of a reflex toward self-promotion and protection.

Brand strategy is not brain surgery, and consultants would be wise to focus less on the “mystique” of their craft and more on enabling and empowering clients to get the job done. Building a strong brand is an important and ultimately straightforward process, requiring adherence to a few basic guidelines and an openness to hearing what your public has to say.

Here are some branding basics, as we practice them at ETCH:

  • Be consistent. Communicators often [understandably] want to redo and renew, but repetition is critical for message penetration, and your audience is not as tired of hearing the same thing as you are.
  • Get creative. Too often, people build brand by mimicking success – imitating competitors’ messages because they feel tried and true. Don’t get stuck on being safe: You won’t stand out, and you’ll lose a chance to convey the authenticity that makes a brand sing.
  • Know your market. You have something your target audience wants and needs. Identify and articulate that. Your people are out there – embrace them, and they’ll find their way home.

We’ve included some branding that we’ve created below. Click on any of the images to learn more.


USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Recruitment Campaign



Flintridge Preparatory School Recruitment Campaign


DMVdesk Marketing Campaign

Septmeber Inspiration

Just a few things that inspired us this month.

From left: Quote by Samuel Beckett | Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung Taiwan | Doug Aitkin at the Geffen Contemporary | Ryan Humphrey | Westmark School Annual Report by ETCH Creative | Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland

5 Reasons Why You STILL Need an Annual Report

In an age of rapidly changing marketing and communications needs, we are constantly asked if businesses still need annual reports. While every business is different, we would enthusiastically say YES.
A well-executed annual report is a valuable tool, and often, they are a marketing gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Here are five reasons why they are a great investment for your business.

  • The very best reason to create an annual report is to showcase all that you have accomplished that year. Whether you are a nonprofit, small business, or a school, it is great opportunity to show the world all that you do, why you do it, and the difference that you make.
  • In this same vein, an annual report will create transparency for your inventors or donors. We all want to feel like our money is going towards something meaningful, so this is your chance to show where your donor’s money is going and what it’s accomplishing. Stories, pictures, and statistics are great ways to convey this information.
  • Speaking of donors and inventors, an annual report is a great way to thank them for how they’ve helped. Stories about major donors, or a simple list of names will do the trick.
  • An annual report might only be created once a year, but you can use to showcase your business year-round. It can be an impressive marketing and fundraising tool for potential inventors, donors, and clients.
  • It’s a great excuse to showcase your brand. An annual report is all about the business, and how much it’s accomplished. What better place to hone in on your brand promise and drive that message home? A great annual report can not only tell your investors and potential investors and clients what you do, it can show them who you are.

New Work

We are starting the new week off with some new work from ETCH Creative! Click on any of the images to learn more about our partnerships with our clients and our path to creating a final product.

UCLA School of Law Magazine

USC School of Pharmacy Magazine

Southern California Public Radio KPCC Gala Invitation

August Inspiration

Here at ETCH, we are inspired by things all around us. From art, to travel, to architecture, we love to surround ourselves with good design and great communication. We are sharing this inspiration over on our Instagram account, so head over there and check it out!

From left: Seven Magic Mountains, Las Vegas, Nevada | Geoff McFetridge | UCLA Neurosurgery Advancement Campaign by ETCH Creative | Bolivian Salt Flats, Bolivia | The Linq Hotel, Las Vegas Nevada | Quote by Maya Angelou

Welcome to ETCHED

The best blogs avoid empty calories. In a cottage industry known for navel gazing and self-promotion, what stands out are reflections with intention: well-articulated thoughts that offer real value and illuminate new perspectives. It’s what we counsel our clients at ETCH – to reach out to new and established audiences with quality content, not rehashed, recycled messaging.

To follow our own advice: This is the goal of ETCHED, a venue we hope to use to shed light on communication trends, to explore the benefits and disadvantages of particular brand strategies and generally to discuss topics we think may be of interest to our clients in higher education, healthcare, nonprofit and beyond. And while our motivation may be commercial (a business, after all, needs to grow), our approach is philosophical. We want to practice what we preach, showcasing why we think, when it comes to new student/donor/client acquisition, content is king.

The idea is a fairly simple one: People are smart, and sales pitches are usually transparent affairs that are more self-serving than service-providing. No matter your business category, prospective clients are out there shopping, but you need to give them an actual reason to bite – something that empowers them to choose you, to trust you and to make you understand you have their best interests in mind. In other words, if you’re going to advertise, make the advertisement about more than just you – stimulate and engage in a way that gives people food for thought. You’ll be surprised by how often that thought leads to, “Great! I want to learn more.”