Caution: Contents Hot—Award-Winning Local Coffee Roaster Gets a Fresh New Look

BRIGADE draws upon local imagery to craft a strategic new brand identity and packaging design for the popular Massachusetts café, Esselon.

Esselon is a much-loved local coffee roaster that came to BRIGADE for a serious brand makeover. The celebrated roastery and café has built a loyal following on the quality of its product—artisanal, small-batch coffee with an emphasis on Direct and Fair Trade. The company grew up with a rustic, simple look and a two-color design scheme. Esselon was ready to take it to the next level and was looking to achieve a new brand identity they described as desirable, clean, and refined.

“Elegance without being elegant,” is how the Esselon team put it. We love it when our clients challenge us with a design framework that seems contradictory (and yes, we knew exactly what they meant!).

Esselon approaches every stage of their production with meticulous care: sourcing the best green coffee beans available within their product price-point, and “cupping” (individually brewing and tasting) to ensure their target quality is met.

Another unique feature of Esselon is that they roast their coffee on-site in their café, in Hadley, Massachusetts. The café itself is in an iconic local spot, located on a busy road at the intersection of several college towns, yet backing up to lovely farmland. Passersby are delighted to discover this not-so-hidden treasure.

“Esselon’s café is a meeting ground—a place where people come together to discuss ideas, share conversation, and practice their daily coffee rituals,” explains Designer Steve Oparowski. “We knew we wanted to feature the art of roasting and the science behind the perfect cup, and create a package design that would leverage the café’s local reputation for potential national exposure.”

The BRIGADE team set out to capture Esselon’s new identity with a bag that would stand out on-shelf and encourage local grassroots brand growth while driving potential presence in national chains. Could we fit all that on one 16 oz. bag? Designer Steve Oparowski, Executive Creative Director Kirsten Modestow, Design Director Jan Šabach, and Associate Creative Director Joe Marden tackled the challenge.

“Capturing the iconic Esselon café meant capturing the vibe of Hadley. I tried to create an accurate representation of the Seven Sisters mountain range, which forms the backdrop of the town” explains Steve. “I love it when I get to pull out the pencil and paper and start with a sketch.”


Steve experimented with different graphic elements to capture the agricultural setting and unique character of the valley, balancing the messaging of the visuals with their aesthetics. After some experimentation, the design team selected a suite of simple and appealing graphics including cows, barns, and a hiker. They then applied those designs across a captivating landscape of flowing graphic horizon lines rendering fields, pastures, and mountains.

“The unplanted fields create instant visual associations with the locally-grown movement, which says ‘this is local, it’s all done here’ without having to actually say it,” says Steve.

The design also features Esselon’s iconic café building front and center, a set of ascending stairs leading to its front doors, creating a warm and welcoming feeling that draws coffee-lovers in.

Interestingly, Steve explains that giving the brand a strong sense of local identity is not in conflict with Esselon’s goal of national exposure, but will actually drive it. The tidal-wave of consumers choosing small and local brands are increasingly seeking specialty products tied to a specific place—even if that place is not local to them.




“We want people who pick up a bag of Esselon coffee in a Whole Foods miles away to feel like, ‘I want to go to that place, I’d like to visit that café.’”

To achieve the clean, refined look Esselon wanted, Steve was inspired by the work of Virginia Lee Burton, particularly her landscapes which form elegant stylized patterns out of topographical lines. Steve’s design also includes ample negative space, simple linework, and a black-on-white scheme.




At BRIGADE, our job isn’t done until the client is positively thrilled with the design—simply liking it isn’t good enough. It’s safe to say Esselon is crazy about their new look. They’ve already used it to launch a new website and dive into several new product avenues including a snazzy line of retail products, and K-Cups are coming soon.

Coffee, anyone?

BRIGADE Kicks Off 2017 With Award-Winning Design

BRIGADE is recognized for outstanding and innovative design with an early wave of awards in the first quarter of 2017.

Awards certainly aren’t everything, but they do offer a unique opportunity for our team to look back and celebrate some of the amazing work we’ve done. In the past three months alone, we’ve had three such opportunities.

Our work with Black Box Premium Wines, Serpent’s Bite Whisky, and Vertical Water each brought challenges and triumphs – and we’re proud to have the finished products praised by renowned publications and institutions in the design community.

Most recently, BRIGADE designed a limited-edition Halloween sleeve for Black Box Premium Wines. The goal was to celebrate the Halloween season with Black Box Premium Wines, but with a more sophisticated and “grown-up” approach that would resonate with the brand’s core audience.

BRIGADE hand-illustrated a haunted house scene that wraps around the box, creating an illusion of depth and transforming the box into a stage for storytelling. The artwork leverages white inks and spot UVs, bringing the scene to life using details like a broken fence, full moon, and tombstones. Custom copy suggested a game to play with guests, and a tagline “Serves-20-Ghoulish-Guests” completed a sleeve that put Black Box at the center of Halloween festivities.

The Halloween sleeve proved to be a great success for the brand. With a photo-realistic illustration style and original copy, the box was successful in celebrating this increasingly adult occasion while maintaining Black Box’s brand recognition and taking its packaging to the next level. This limited-edition sleeve won an American Package Design award from Graphic Design USA – the latest in an early wave of awards for our agency in 2017.

Last year, BRIGADE created a striking point-of-sale program for the fledgling whisky brand, Serpent’s Bite. The collateral focused on a heroic key visual that would work to bring the brand’s serpent to life.

As a “badass” whisky centered around the shot ritual, the tone of our original imagery was moody, dark, and masculine. We wanted it to feel as though the brand’s serpent had come to life to protect the bottle and the whisky’s key ingredient: an apple.

With a concept and sketch in hand, we combined forces with our favorite 3D renderer and spent months studying snake anatomy, rendering apples, and photographing textures to ultimately create this award-winning key visual. The result is a breathtaking image that brings the brand to life across mediums, including the poster that won Silver in the prestigious 2017 Graphis Design Annual.

As part of a brand refresh project around the same time, our team created an awesome new packaging design for Vertical Water – an innovative maple water on a mission to preserve U.S. forestland. The goal was to create a brand look and language that would capture Vertical Water’s mission and help the product stand out in the natural water category.

BRIGADE finessed the Vertical Water story, rebranded the mission in a way that felt more compelling and genuine, and seamlessly incorporated it into the new packaging.

The result was a package design that brilliantly told the company’s story while still making consumers crave the crisp taste of maple water. The design won BRIGADE a Merit award in the 2017 Graphis Design Annual and was previously featured in The Dieline.

Wholesome Identity Gives All-Natural Snack Category a Healthy Presence

By Alex Lyman, Guest Blogger

As retail spaces become increasingly saturated, it is that much more difficult for a product to stand out amongst its competitors, especially in the constantly evolving “Healthy Snack” category. BRIGADE combats this by using its unique personality and strategy to impact the way their clients are seen by consumers.

BRIGADE has found their niche in the natural, healthy snack category, which comes with a lot of baggage and complications. In an industry that has reinvented itself overnight, the agency found that their inexperience in healthy snacks was a plus, and drew in clients wanting a fresh perspective, rather than the stale designs that no longer represented their brands.

BRIGADE has also found that a creative way for their clients to compete in the healthy snack aisle is to build an identity that relates to their customers. The word identity has changed over time, and has applied itself to companies and products in a way it had only done with individuals in the past. Companies can no longer sell a logo or a package to consumers. They have to sell their story to gain any traction.

“We work along the lines of what I call the “Six Foot Rule” or the “Twelve Inch Rule,” explained Creative Director Kirsten Modestow. “The idea is that if I’m pushing my shopping cart down a cluttered aisle, I need to see something that pops off the shelf. Once I pick it up, I want to be rewarded for my decision. I want to be drawn into the story more. All products want to have shelf presence.”

It is with this mindset that BRIGADE creatives reinvent the look and feel of their client’s brand in order to accurately convey the source and benefits of the product.

When Frontier Bites, a granola type snack product, approached BRIGADE to help them rebrand several years ago, the agency first did their research on competitors. They sought other products labeled as a healthy snack that also had the same sugar content as Frontier Bites, and sampled them all. What they found, was that the nutrition labels only accounted for the amount of sugar in each product, but not the quality or source of sugar it contained. For example, they came across a kid’s healthy snack that tasted like candy, likely because it came from a natural sugar source, rather than sugar from fruit, like Frontier Bites. This completely alters the taste. The challenge was then to try and appeal to the right audience that wanted a truly healthy snack, not a candy-like substitute. One way around this was to include a glycemic index callout in addition to a non-GMO verified stamp and list all-natural ingredients on packaging.

“The average consumer is more educated and knows how to read labels better than ever before,” said Modestow. “Could you have mentioned a glycemic index on a label a few years ago? I would say probably not.”

Now, Frontier Bites has grown, and is looking to introduce new products, while still keeping the brand clear and consistent in a landscape that has significantly shifted since their last rebranding and packaging efforts. BRIGADE’s Associate Creative Director Joe Marden was tasked with giving Frontier Bites new shelf presence, while still retaining familiarity to the consumer.



Considering the average customer and their needs and wants in snack products goes a long way in establishing appeal and benefits for consumers and their families, something Joe had to take into account.

“With increasingly busy schedules and active lifestyles, consumers are looking for ease on the go and functional packaging to complement their snacking habits,” he noted. “They’re getting smarter and are looking for transparency with less noise and distractions from what is important to them. Also, consumers today think of the products they purchase as extensions of their values. They want to know the beliefs and principles of the companies they are supporting by purchasing their products.”

One of Joe’s major challenges was the idea that the snacking category is filled with products claiming to be all-natural—many of which are misleading.

“Frontier Bites are made with only eight real ingredients,” explained Joe. “They can legitimately make that healthy claim, but it’s so overused and over saturated in this category that it doesn’t really mean anything anymore. We had to figure out another way to clearly show the consumer that this is a healthy, all natural snack.”

While researching other food products, some even outside of the snack category, he found that while many did employ the all-natural narrative, they also used warm, natural colors on packaging to cognitively influence the customer’s perceptions of those claims. He also paid close attention to how other products handled new flavors and subcategories within the context of branding.

Once the team knew what everyone else was doing, they made a conscious effort to design something completely different for Frontier Bites. First, since the product’s hallmark is that they are made with recognizable ingredients, the BRIGADE team displayed the three main ingredients on the front of the packaging, so the consumer is able to clearly see what they will be eating. The wording and narrative on the package also supports a healthy message by talking about the real ingredients, using words like ‘simple’ and ‘balanced,’ and introducing a new way of snacking. Joe and team also used slightly desaturated colors that were still bright, but had a more natural matte look and feel, a clever way to stand out from the competition.



Frontier Bites also opted to switch from clear bags to metallic ones, which would increase the shelf life of the product. The catch was that the metallic bags couldn’t have a window for consumers to see what the product actually looked like.

“We had to solve that with imagery,” Joe said. “We introduced a circle graphic that works as a callout on the front of the bag to showcase the product and separate it from the other messaging on the bag. Also, we placed other product shots on the back of the back around the story and ingredients panel.”

Finally, the team solved the subcategory problem by calling the products Frontier Fruit and Nut Bites. This allows the brand to add other categories as needed. The newest addition is Frontier Fruit and Seed Bites. For the design, the BRIGADE team wanted to keep the boldness of header on the old packaging, while also keeping it flexible for shorter or longer subcategory names. Overall, the ingenuity in the packaging lets the consumer know instantly that the snacks are bite sized, made of fruit and nuts, and have real ingredients in each bite.

One concern of working with and in the healthy food industry is the risk of companies stretching the truth of how healthy their snack really is, or simply not providing the quality product they claim to. This can be challenging to any designer trying to not only brand a product, but also take responsibility for honestly informing consumers.

“Our clients coming in through word of mouth are genuine,” Modestow noted. “They have found a niche and developed a phenomenal product. The right client for us has already been in the trenches making their product quietly behind the scenes. They know they have a good product that’s solid and authentic before they spend money on design. I’ve found that when people come in here looking for design to help them further develop their product, we have a problem.”

It’s the ingenuity of BRIGADE and the authenticity of clients, like Frontier Bites, that make for a “naturally sweet” partnership.




Alex LymanAbout the author: Alex Lyman is a multimedia journalist, public speaker, social media enthusiast and blogger. Learn more about her here or follow her on Twitter @alexlyman89.

BRIGADE Helps SVEDKA Roll Out Bold New Vodka Flavor

SVEDKA Blue Raspberry Key Image

The design agency celebrates its most recent national print campaign for the leading imported vodka brand in the United States.


SVEDKA Vodka–the number one imported vodka in the United States–has been working with longtime design partner BRIGADE to launch its most innovative vodka flavor to date: SVEDKA Blue Raspberry. Geared toward the millennial market, Blue Raspberry delivers on the trend of extreme foods and flavors. It is now available in-store as well as at the BRIGADE office bar.

SVEDKA tapped BRIGADE to develop a national print campaign to launch their explosive new flavor. In development for more than a year, BRIGADE collaborated with a range of vendors and agencies to develop and launch all visual aspects of Blue Raspberry. From the bottle artwork and shippers to in-store displays and magazine ads, Blue Raspberry needed to look like nothing else in the vodka aisle.

“We quickly determined that if Blue Raspberry blended into the crowd, we would have failed” said Robert Parker, Creative Services Director at BRIGADE. “Most flavored vodkas emulate a taste, but Blue Raspberry creates one. Our creative strategy was to instantly communicate that this meta-flavor was something new, explosive, and energetic. Our goal was maximum impact.

If the goal was maximum impact, BRIGADE struck gold. Going so far as to create proprietary inks for the bottle and explore all new production methods to help print items pop, the team at BRIGADE left no detail to chance. That attention to detail can also be seen in the bold key visual of three bottles exploding with lightning, liquid, and shots.

“We wanted the creative to appear as if it were glowing” said Dave Grasso, Senior Designer at BRIGADE. “Even without the special production techniques, lightning appears to sear off the page while the bottles seem to explode with color and flavor. The composition took a lot of finessing, especially when it came to amplifying the impact of colors used on black.”

With the creative printed and in market, BRIGADE’s team shifted its attention for detail onto a range of celebratory Blue Raspberry cocktails. Thankfully, the good people at SVEDKA Vodka, owned by Constellation Brands Inc. (CBI), made a few suggestions to get the ball rolling. Check out the best new cocktail recipes below.




  • 1 1/2 parts SVEDKA Blue Raspberry
  • 3/4 part lime juice
  • 3/4 part Simple Syrup
  • Pinch muddled mint
  • 3 muddles blueberries


Instructions: Combine ingredients in a shaker set and shake over ice. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with mint, raspberry, and blueberries on a skewer.




17_BRI_BR_BlogPost_BlueHeaven_1000x1000Blue Heaven

  • 1 1/2 parts SVEDKA Blue Raspberry
  • 1/2 part Blue Curaçao
  • 1/4 part fresh lemon juice


Instructions: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a shot glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.



BRIGADE has worked with SVEDKA Vodka for more than ten years in varying capacities. To date, BRIGADE has helped SVEDKA launch many of their award-winning flavors, including SVEDKA Cucumber Lime, SVEDKA Grapefruit Jalapeño, SVEDKA Mango Pineapple, SVEDKA Strawberry Lemonade, SVEDKA Strawberry Colada, SVEDKA Colada, and SVEDKA Orange Cream Pop. Click here to see more.



The Rule Of Three: New Additions To The BRIGADE Team

BRIGADE welcomes three talented new teammates to diverse roles within its ranks.

We’ve recently hired a meticulous and driven Junior Project Manager, and created two new leadership positions to help propel our agency into a new decade. Leadership and vision are the cornerstones of the new Design Director and Chief Financial Officer positions.


Caitlin Poirier: Junior Project Manager
Our new Junior Project Manager was born and raised right down the road in Holyoke. She studied Marketing, Communications and Advertising at Western New England University, and received an MBA from Salem State. Her background in business landed her positions at both American Tower and LEGO. The love of our local sports teams is strong with this one, but since she is currently between football and baseball season you can find her hanging outdoors with a big fluffy husky named Juno and her not so fluffy fiancé. In the fall she will marry and take the name Buckley, but that still won’t help the fact that she is the 4th “Cait” that BRIGADE has on staff.


Jan Šabach: Design Director
Although our new Design Director landed in the U.S. close to 20 years ago, he is originally from Prague in the Czech Republic and has had tremendous success in the Design field. Over the years he has received numerous national and international design awards from Red Dot, European Design Awards and Graphis. His work has been featured in publications such as HOW, Novum, Print Magazine, and Communication Arts. Jan honed his creative drive at Secondary Graphic Design School in Prague, Charles University in Prague, and Parsons School of Design. Those from New England have most likely seen his art direction over the past year with Take Magazine, but his impressive career also includes a stint with NYC branding agency, Sullivan – not to mention running his own design studio called Code Switch. Jan clearly has collected a few stories from his travels over the years but what we love hearing about most is how his drive to be a designer started by collecting rare and vintage soda cans as a youngster. Dumpster diving all in the name of design!


Don Magri: Chief Financial Officer
Embarking on the second decade of a successful creative agency is a BIG step. A step that required some BIG shoes! Thankfully Don was there to step in at the exact and precise moment we needed him. This was our agency’s first and you might ask: Is it fun watching a “numbers guy” dive into a creative pool of insanity? The short answer is TOTALLY! Truth be told, this is not Don’s first rodeo with a creative company. He took Brooklyn’s Fuzz Productions through the roof, and being laid back and chill made him one of the team instantly. He is also from Holyoke and attended Merrimack College. As a young numbers-cruncher, Don dreamed (on a bed covered in He-Man sheets) of being an FBI Agent. This explains his day-to-day official swagger that we’re sure gets tossed aside while spending time with his family poolside.


Learn more about the rest of the team here.

3 Ways Social Media Marketing Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Social Media Marketing offers a unique opportunity for brands: the opportunity to easily, and relatively inexpensively, reach their target consumers with relevant content.

Consumers have never been so connected to the marketplace as they are currently. With a smartphone in every pocket and a laptop in every home, it has never been easier for marketers to place content in front of people who are interested in seeing it.

Still, many marketers find it difficult to convince their managers or c-suite executives of the value of social media and that, when done properly, it can ultimately lead to increased revenue.

If that sounds like you, or if you yourself need convincing, here are three ways Social Media Marketing can boost your company’s bottom line:

Brand awareness

Running ads, promoted or sponsored posts on social media can help get your message in front of consumers outside of your already-established following.

Better yet, most social media platforms have backend advertising features with which you can target consumers based on interests, behaviors, demographics, employment information, and other very specific details. This allows you to easily ensure your message is getting in front of consumers in your target market segment. Once a campaign is done you can pull data on what demographics engaged with your content most, and on what platform/device. That will help you better understand how your growing consumer base behaves online.

But this is also where most people become skeptical: investing money in a social media post or ad seems wasteful. After all, how does getting your post in front of new people turn into actual business?

The answer is simple: the more people who see your brand’s message or product, the more likely someone will buy or want to learn more. If no one new ever learns about your product or service, it is very unlikely that you’ll get new customers and keep your business afloat. Social Media Marketing provides a fix for that, and while you may not be directly selling product, you are priming more and more people (who are probably interested in buying or at least learning more) to buy your product or service in the future.

Brand loyalty

While Social Media Marketing is effective for reaching out to new potential customers, it is also a tremendously effective means of cultivating brand loyalty.

Through strategic posting, community engagement, and positioning your brand as one that people want to be a part of, you can keep your customers coming back. Social has become the first stop for people researching and engaging with brands online. Customers and potential new customers are now more likely to check a company’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts than its website.

Brands are more or less in control of their image on social media, and can use that image to create loyal customers who will return and/or continue to buy time and time again. Like brand awareness, loyalty to a brand does not directly sell products, but it makes it much easier to sell to a repeat customer who already loves your brand than one who knows nothing about it. The key is creating share-worthy content that engages followers on social. This will help boost your web traffic and sales while decreasing overhead advertising costs.

Move more product

Both of the points above – using Social Media Marketing to reach new people in a target market segment and posting content that helps to cultivate a loyal following – contribute to increased sales and revenue. They are largely indirect approaches, but are doubtless the most popular reasons brands are on social media at the moment.

However, brands can boost their bottom lines a third way: driving conversions directly with paid social ads. This means actually selling products in social media posts and ads (most platforms have already or will soon have e-commerce or conversion oriented ad options for marketers) or driving traffic to a landing page on their website where a product or a service can be purchased or inquired about.

This method, which is integral to every good social strategy, will be the most effective at boosting a company’s bottom line. Using in-platform advertising tools and third-party analytic tools (like Google Analytics) you will be able to track exactly where conversions are coming from and what types of content are the most (and least) effective.

There is no doubt social media offers unprecedented opportunities for businesses online, but only a few are actually capitalizing on it. If you were skeptical at first, hopefully these three points have helped clarify the value of Social Media Marketing. If your boss remains unconvinced and is unwilling to invest in this efficient marketing channel, hopefully you’re now armed with evidence to persuade him or her otherwise.

BRIGADE’s 5 Favorites From The Graphis Design Annual 2017

IMG_5829-EditBRIGADE scores a spot in the 2017 Graphis Design Annual, Creative Team digs in for inspiration.

The wait is up! This year’s renowned Design Annual by Graphis has finally arrived at BRIGADE’s doorstep.

Congratulations to Graphis Publisher and Creative Director, B. Martin Pedersen, and his team for yet another gorgeous contribution to the international world of design. Although we take pride in our small town set up, this worldly publication allows us to expand our minds and find inspiration for new groundbreaking work.

“Graphis is the definitive curator of emerging graphic design, and we’re honored to be featured among some of the best work from around the world in this year’s annual,” Executive Creative Director Kirsten Modestow said.

Each year, the beautiful hardcover book filled with brilliant design circulates around our office, stirring up conversation and sparking inspiration among the team. Our Creatives couldn’t wait to dive into the 2017 edition, and it wasn’t long before chatter of group favorites could be heard loud and clear. Here are five that hit our team’s hot button this year:


Capo Capo Aperitivo – Packaging

Design Firm: Concrete

A modern and simple, yet bold and artistic, design that is unexpected for a wine label. At BRIGADE we’re firm believers that a glass of wine (or three) a day keeps the doctor away.

Capo Capo Aperitivo


Gear Up IPA – Packaging

Design Firm: Jolby & Friends

It’s hard to stand out in the craft beer category because of the overwhelming competition on shelf. This minimalistic vector design with an unexpected color palette definitely stands out. #BeerCanRevival.

Gear Up IPA


Coca-Cola: 100 Years of The Coca-Cola Bottle – Poster

Design Firm: Coca-Cola Global Design

Coca-Cola keeps it fresh year after year. This hundredth anniversary bottle transforms the brand’s iconic logo into the number 100 – it’s simple, smart, and elegant. What else is there to say?

Coca Cola 100th Anniversary


Wisconsin Cheese – Posters

Design Firm: Shine United

Wisconsin Cheese has somehow managed to make dairy products seem cool. Their “Discover The Land of Goodness” campaign features a series of fantastically hand illustrated posters that put a surreal spin on dairy production and make it appear more accessible. #GotMilk is dead.

Wisconsin Butter Wisconsin Cheese Wisconsin Milk


Serpent’s Bite Whisky – Poster

Design Firm: BRIGADE

The poster our team created for Serpent’s Bite Whisky won Silver in this year’s Design Annual, and happens to be one of our favorites as well (although we may be a little bit biased).

There’s no doubt it has serious stopping power, and designing such an intricate visual was no easy task. Every step of the process, from the hand-drawn snake figures in various poses to the 3D modeling and rendering, was marked by BRIGADE’s trademark obsession with the details, and the final product is nothing short of amazing.

Serpent's Bite Whisky Poster

8 Steps To Effective Social Media Marketing

BRIGADE’s Digital Marketing Team shares everything you need to know about creating and implementing a social media marketing strategy.

Social Media Marketing is the most popular digital marketing channel and can be highly effective when done properly. Follow these 8 steps to build a kick-ass Social Media Marketing strategy and execute it the right way.



“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s cliché but true. If you don’t set concrete objectives – whether percentage or monetary – you won’t know if what you’re doing is working.

The more specific the better – simply saying, “I want to grow my audience on Facebook” isn’t going to cut it. Saying, “I want to increase my audience size (Likes) on Facebook by 20% by the end of Q1 2017” is much better. You have a number to shoot for and a deadline. Write it down and get to work.

Facebook and other social media platforms make it fairly easy to choose an objective for individual posts and ads, and they will optimize the delivery of those ads and posts to serve that objective. Learn more about that here.



Your overall Digital Marketing strategy can be represented by a wagon wheel – spokes connecting to both a hub and outer rim. The spokes in your wheel are the various digital channels, of which Social Media Marketing is just one. The others include Email Marketing, Content Marketing and SEO, and Online Advertising. At the center – the hub of your wheel – is your website. The name of the game is to bring people from the outer rim to the hub, via the spokes.

You must determine which specific pages (landing pages), you will be driving people to via your Social Media Marketing platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc…). For example, if you have a certain offer that you would like to advertise on social media, you would want to use hyperlinking in posts and ads to drive people from those various platforms to the specific landing page on your website where they can easily buy the product, register for the event, etc.



It takes money to make money and social media platforms know it. Facebook in particular recently changed its algorithm to decrease the reach of non-promoted posts to nearly zero. This means that if you aren’t putting at least some money behind your posts and ads, they are very unlikely to reach new people.

Which types of content best serve your objectives established in Step 1? Which platforms will best help you to reach your target audience? How competitive is your industry and/or market? Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re well on your way to establishing the budget you will need to be successful on social media.

You’re not going to promote every post on every platform. Be strategic – only put money behind posts that serve your business objectives and drive traffic to the landing pages you established in Step 2, and only on platforms that make sense. Lastly, consider how competitive your market and industry are. The more competitive (think bank or insurance agency in New York City), the more money you should expect to spend in order to get your ads and promoted content seen by the right people. Less competitive areas and industries usually require less money to stand out and make an impact.

Consider how many times you plan to post per month, how much you think you’ll need to put behind each post (total, across platforms), calculate a monthly budget, and stick to it.



How frequently you should plan to post and run ads will depend on your budget, and vice versa: if you have a budget of $1,000/month for Social Media Marketing spend, you basically have two polar options: post fewer and promote each post with more money (bigger punches), or post more and promote each post with less money (more punches). The choice is yours.



“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Again, cliché but true. Now that you have determined your goals and how much you’re willing to spend, you will need to outline a strategic plan to achieve them.

The key to this step is brainstorming content ideas and mapping out when you’ll post that content to social media six months or a year ahead of time. To do this, we advise developing a few different campaigns (types of content) that will get engagement from different segments of your target audience and have slightly different business objectives – and then brainstorming more specific content ideas underneath each of those.

This can be difficult. At BRIGADE, we offer a low-cost Strategy package that includes content idea generation, strategic planning, AND a branded content calendar. If you’re tight on time or simply don’t know where to start, we can help.



Once you’ve planned out what types of content you want to produce and when you will post each, the next step is to actually create the content.

We recommend outsourcing this step to a creative agency like BRIGADE. We are experts in content creation – whether you need a quality photo, text overlay on an existing image, a gif, infographic, or an even more complex graphic design, we’ve got you covered. We also can give you creative and conceptual direction to take your strategy from good to great.

Content is king, so take this step seriously. Your strategy is only as good as the content you use to execute it.



Different social media platforms each have different best practices (do’s and don’ts) and they can be as fastidious as what time of the day to post. The most important difference between the platforms is the way you’ll need to approach the copy. A few examples include LinkedIn not allowing hashtags, Instagram now allowing links, and Twitter limiting the amount of characters you can use. Facebook also restricts the amount of text allowed in images for ads and promoted posts, so be careful.

In addition to learning the lay of the land for each platform, we also recommend drafting content and scheduling it for dissemination on each social media platform as far in advance as possible. This can be done using the platform (Facebook already offers scheduling and other platforms are following their lead) or a third-party application like Hootsuite. Once a post is published, the various platforms with advertising capabilities will allow you to go into the back-end and run the post as an ad.



Last but definitely not least, you will need to pull your results regularly in order to see what’s working and what isn’t. Take a look at your objectives established in Step 1, then at the results from each platform (you can lump similar metrics from the various platforms together if your objectives are more general), to determine if you are succeeding or not. We recommend doing this monthly, that way adjustments can be made if need be.

For example, if one month your total audience size across platforms increased by 40%, and other months increased around 5% on average, you will want to look into what specifically you did that month to result in such an increase. It’s that type of analysis that will lead to more effective Social Media Marketing in the future.


Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective digital channels available to businesses. It can be complicated, but it’s worth doing right. If you are looking for help on any or all of these 8 steps, contact us HERE.

Looking Back At 2016: BRIGADE’s Biggest Year Yet!

2016 was highlighted by award winning work for clients including SVEDKA Vodka, Wyndham Hotel Group, Weleda, NTC, HOTSHOT and Travelodge.

The year at BRIGADE was marked by new digital and social media initiatives, continued excellence in packaging, branding, and design, as well as an expanding team of talented individuals. We’re impressed but not surprised by the quality of work we created this past year, and are humbled and thankful to work with such awesome clients. Here are a few noteworthy projects and campaigns from 2016:



We’re thrilled to enter yet another year as partners with SVEDKA Vodka and our friends at Constellation Brands. We’ve been a part of SVEDKA’s meteoric rise with award-winning campaigns that have helped them become the #1 Imported Vodka in the United States. We continue to support new flavors at every touchpoint – from case cards and recipe brochures to press releases and celebrity event materials. This past year’s celebration-worthy work included Party Edition Stars and Stripes packaging and point of sale materials for July 4th, Summer point of sale displays, spooky Halloween sleeves, and Naughty & Nice Holiday shelf talkers. Check them out below:


Wyndham Hotel Group

Getting to know the team over at Wyndham was definitely a highlight of our year. The world’s largest and most diverse hotel company challenged us to develop 15 separate brand books that would visually evolve each of these unique personalities, while keeping them distinct so they could serve as a foundation for other brand materials in the future. It was BRIGADE branding as its best. See a few of the brand books below:



We love this product: a shot/drink that’s scientifically proven to prevent and treat muscle cramps. Publicly traded pharmaceutical giant, Flex Pharma, approached us to help them bring HOTSHOT to market. We created print ads, web banner ads, branding and packaging materials, and a brand new responsive website design that would help HOTSHOT be seen by athletes and active individuals who could benefit from it.


Weleda North America

Weleda, Europe’s #1 selling natural skin care brand, came to us back in 2014 to breathe some life into their brand stateside. Since then we’ve worked with them on a number of awesome projects spanning branding, point-of-sale, packaging, and digital. In 2016, our most noteworthy projects included their new Baby Care Brochure and special 90th anniversary Skin Food packaging. We love working with the talented team at Weleda and are excited to create buzz worthy work in 2017.


New Teacher Center

New Teacher Center (NTC) partners with school districts nationwide to provide educators with the support and resources they need to succeed, making an extraordinary impact on student achievement. They came to us in 2016 for a complete overhaul of their brand identity and to develop a hard-working new sales tool that would bring the NTC story to life in full color. We designed a new brand identity aimed at giving NTC an aura of professionalism and authority while tapping into the human touch behind its success, a brand book focused on outlining the applications for that new identity, sales collateral including brochures and one sheets, and Trade Show collateral to match.



Travelodge came to us because they loved their brand book so much and asked if we could further explore the look and feel for a new campaign that would capture their three keywords: Adventure, Friendliness, and Reliability. The campaign we created shifted Travelodge’s key messaging from a focus on their accommodations to the end-goal of a stay at Travelodge: the freedom to pursue and experience of adventure. We utilized photography showing people in a variety of aspirational outdoor situations in order to tell the story of Travelodge as a stop along the road the adventure. Here are a few images from the campaign:



This year was marked not only by outstanding client work but also by internal campaigns and initiatives, expanded capabilities, rapid growth, an influx of new awards, and of course BRIGADE’s 10th Anniversary.

img_4342-2After outgrowing yet another office space, we kicked off 2016 with a move to a more suitable location. The entire place is designed for optimal creativity and fits our growing crew of designers perfectly. We even added seven new talented individuals to our team in various roles and we couldn’t be more excited.

As an homage to the past decade of brilliant work, we hosted a challenge for our Creatives. The task was straightforward: reimagine BRIGADE’s iconic “B” logo in the form of a poster; yet the possibilities were endless. The end products impressed us so much that we also converted each of them into downloadable wallpapers for desktop, tablet, and mobile. Check them out here and download a few for your devices.

This year we also invested in our digital and social media capabilities, designing more beautiful responsive websites and creating more captivating and strategic content for social media than ever before. Midway through the year we even launched a brand new website of our own which manages to capture both our attention to detail and the unique personality of our team.

Lastly, while awards are never our focus and they’re certainly not why we strive to create the best work possible, they are an enjoyable byproduct that we’re always happy to share with our clients. This year we took home 46 print and digital awards. Here are a few of the organizations that presented us with awards and other accolades in 2016:


The past year was BRIGADE’s biggest yet, filled with great work and awesome client partnerships, but we’re expecting 2017 to be even bigger! Cheers!

BRIGADE Welcomes New Talent

Our three new team members bring experience and passion to BRIGADE, and plan to hit the ground running.

Kate Huff: Creative

Our newest Creative, Kate Huff, came to BRIGADE from the world of non-profits. She arrived just as business was booming and we expected her to dive right in. Luckily she thrives in high intensity situations, describing her happy place as “zipping around trails on a mountain bike”. As the third Kate/Cate to join BRIGADE’s ranks, and recently married, we just can’t quite figure out what to call her. Despite the name confusion, she brings an energy and positive attitude to our office that is impossible to mistake. Like the rest of us, she also has an ideal vacation in mind. Her “go anywhere spot” would be a full blown African safari. Why? “The giraffes, of course… tall, lean, and fast,” she said.


Candace Hope: Project Manager

We’re glad that, of all the places she has been in the world, our newest Project Manager landed at BRIGADE. An avid traveler, Candace Hope has visited countries including India, Kenya, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Spain. Blending her passion for travel and talent for photography she also captured beautiful images of each place she’s been, impressively winning Gold at the 2015 Ad Club of Western Mass Creative Awards for her images of Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya. When she’s not traveling or balancing project deadlines at BRIGADE, you can find Candace working in her vegetable garden, “just a little bit sunburned and covered in dirt” as she put it.


Shaun Kelleher: Account Manager

Shaun Kelleher joins BRIGADE as an Account Manager, bringing big city experience to our small town firm. A Massachusetts native, Shaun recently returned to the Valley to put down roots after a successful stint in New York City. He graduated from Syracuse University in 2008, and after about 10 years of climbing the ranks in marketing at a recruiting agency, helping to connect top brands with talented individuals, it’s ironic that Shaun was just the talent we were looking for here. Growing up Shaun aspired to become a dentist, which explains that killer smile. Welcome, Shaun!


Learn more about our team here.