While 2005 brought a few awards to z2 for our client work, 2006 blessed us with Telly Awards, Summit Awards, and our first Clarion Award from The Association for Women in Communications. (While we love getting recognized for our work, no reward is greater than doing amazing work for our clients, and 10 years later we continue to pursue that goal.)


We also grew to six full-time employees in 2006, so the “new” office we moved into the previous year was starting to feel just a little crowded. We may have started looking at a few other options to expand, including moving into a new building. (And yes, an old theater may have been one of the buildings we looked at. Perhaps fitting, as we were doing more video work in 2006.)


This was also the year in which we started working with Generac Power Systems, mainly doing photography, but expanding to other disciplines throughout the years. From commercial standby generators to consumer power washers, it’s been a pleasure to grow our partnership with Generac. In fact, we just did a video shoot for them using our RED ONE Digital Cinema Camera on a 26-foot crane!


Well, that wraps up 2006, and if you missed it, we’ve already covered 2005 and 2004. We’ll continue to look back at the history of z2 until we get to the present day, so stay tuned!

September 20, 2013 · Posted by in branding, misc, photo, video  


A recent post about the San Francisco flag at Burrito Justice reminded me that Milwaukee has a flag that is much less than awesome… how much less than awesome? Well, it was designed by a Milwaukee Alderman in the 1950s, and back in 2001 it was deemed so bad that a competition was created to redesign it. With over 100 designs submitted, none were chosen and the old (ugly) flag remained.

To further add insult to injury, in 2004 a poll conducted by the North American Vexillological Association, the flag of Milwaukee was rated the fourth worst of all major cities in the United States. Embarrassing!

With a vibrant creative arts community in the Milwaukee Area (including branding firms like ourselves) perhaps the time is right to give it another shot and see if we can improve upon our flag. Having a well-designed flag we can be proud of might do wonders for the city.

August 15, 2013 · Posted by in art, branding, design  

Most brands’ logos have changed, at least a little, over their history. Many times it’s for a rebranding effort and sometimes it’s because the logo is outdated. The reasons vary, but one thing is consistent between these 10 brands, simplicity wins. Here are 10 brands that have logos that have stood the test of time.

1. General Electric

Not only is GE one of the oldest brands around, it is also one of the most innovative and digitally savvy. While it continues to grow, the logo has remained the same for more than 100 years. GE may be the most timeless brand in the world.

GE Logo

2. Ford

From the Ford Model T through 2013, Ford’s logo has stood the test of time. The brand has been thought of as American as baseball or apple pie, and with such strong roots and brand equity, why change what isn’t broken?

Ford logo

3. BMW

BMW has shown why you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. They continue to innovate, yet keep things simple. The logo is among the most recognizable in the auto industry.

BMW logo

4. Macy’s

One of the most well known retailers in American history has kept its logo simple since the beginning. While Macy’s had used its name as the logo the entire time, the company was actually more known for the “star” within the logo—something that was reintroduced during the mid-2000s in the current logo.

Macy's logo

5. IBM

For a tech company, where change is constant, to keep the logo the same over a long period of time is impressive, which means the brand has strong value and presence. How many long-standing tech companies can say that?

IBM logo

6. Shell

What’s in a name? In this case, it’s the logo. Not all brands’ logo and name are so intertwined, but because Shell’s are, there likely won’t be much change in the logo going forward. This is why it’s remained the same since the early 1900s.

Shell logo

7. NFL

America’s most popular sport also has one of the most popular logos. There have been a few changes since the beginning, but much like the game, the logo hasn’t changed much.

NFL logo

8. Nike

The “swoosh” is among the most recognizable brand logos in the world. The only change has been the removal of the word Nike.

Nike logo

9. Little Debbie

The logo for Little Debbie, who is actually a real person and current employee, works because they used a member of the founder’s family to be the face of the brand. Much like Wendy’s, Little Debbie stuck to its roots. A real person as the face of your logo and brand can be more powerful than a simple shape or object.

Little Debbie logo

10. z2 Marketing

This year, Z2 is celebrating 10 years in business! Although much has changed for us, we remain true to our roots and prove that with our logo.

z2 Marketing logo

What other logos do you know of that have withstood the test of time without much change?

Check out our other “Top Ten Friday” posts and check again next Friday for more fun Top 10s!

August 2, 2013 · Posted by in branding, design  

In our professional lives here at z2, we try to do work that gets people to buy/use/like our clients’ products. This rather obvious observation got me to thinking: “Have I ever bought anything because of its advertising?”

Hmmm, let me think. I’m sure there have been some coupon ads and Buy One Get One offers that motivated me to buy something or another at a grocery store or restaurant, but not counting those I honestly can’t remember anything that advertising actually got me to buy.

Despite a few bad consumers like myself, and perhaps you, advertisers aren’t giving up. A recent strategy is the use of celebrities and other so-called “influencers” in social media. They’re paid to make favorable mentions of products on Facebook and Twitter. And they’re paid very well.

Actually, it’s a freakin’ crime what some of them are paid. Khloe Kardashian, for instance, gets an astonishing $13,000 per tweet, and her sister Kim is rumored to rake in $20,000 per tweet.

I can’t decide what’s more sickening: how much they’re paid for their shilling, or the fact that they’re actually esteemed as “influencers.”

Alas, the FTC is catching on to this social media gravy train, and to protect the naïve they are now requiring celebrities to disclose that their tweets about products are not done purely out of love for said products. Among other things, they’re requiring that they add the hashtag “#ad” to all sponsored tweets.

What about you? Is there any product or service you’ve bought as a direct result of its advertising, or the person paid to pitch the product? And, conversely, is there anything you’ve avoided buying as a protest against a particular product’s advertising?

As for me, I’m putting my foot down and will not be buying any Kardashian-endorsed eos Lip Balm, regardless of how pretty it would make my pout.

July 23, 2013 · Posted by in advertising, branding, social media  

The Future of Video

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The Future of Video

Cedar asked JJ and I what we thought the future of online video would be, so here’s a few thoughts from my perspective.

I started putting videos online nearly 10 years ago, before there were easy (and free) ways to do it, and a lot has changed since then, not just in the world of video, but the online world, including the social media and mobile world. Back in 2005 I never would have imagined that you could shoot a video on your phone and have it automagically uploaded to some service that would host it for you and spread it out across multiple networks. Crazy!

So here’s the thing, and this comes from my own view, as someone who produces videos for organizations and clients. The new “short form” video we’re seeing from Vine and Instagram is a good thing. We shoot a lot of video here at z2, and what the pros know is this–editing is the key. We’ve done shoots that consume an entire day, with a full crew, multiple cameras, and hours of footage, all to distill it down to a video that’s less than 3 minutes long.

Sometimes I like to think of video editing like a marble sculpture. You start with this huge thing, and you keep taking parts of it away until it reveals itself to be beautiful.

So with Vine’s 6 seconds (or Instagram’s 15 seconds) you’re really forced to think about what you want to do, in effect “pre-editing” before you even shoot. I’ve said before that design is about working within the constraints, and I think this is another good example of that concept.

So the big question now is, will these short videos all turn into blipverts?

July 16, 2013 · Posted by in branding, social media, video  

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