Checking the list

Well readers, we've come to the end of another year. Like most people, I'm wondering where exactly this one went. As a kid I remember time seemed to pass by so00000 slowly. One month felt like three, three months like six and whole year seemed to stretch into an eternity. Now time is flying by with such speed I have to look back at my planner (yes, I still use a paper planner) to remember what I was doing two months ago only to realize that what felt like two months was actually six.

For me time goes by quickly when I am busy, and this year has definitely kept me on my feet. Even with challenges in the market, we at Function: haven't just been sitting around playing solitaire. We have worked on getting new business, on bettering our own and of course, on making sure that our clients are achieving the best results possible. We've been exploring new tools and technologies, and how to use those to further our reach. I have to admit, much to my husband's chagrin, I have become quite proficient in Twitter. And after a day of work, I go home to chase a very active toddler around my house. It's exhausting I tell ya!

Now readers, I don't know about you, but I am not one for resolutions. Well, let me rephrase that - I make a list of both personal and professional objectives (in my sweet planner) for the coming year, which are more like action items than resolutions.
It's like my own 2011 strategy. I figure I make 2011 plans for my clients, why not myself, right? I even draw little check boxes next to each item (this is my method for my daily to-do lists as well. Check boxes make my world go round). And, checking those boxes once a task is completed feels so good.

So, as we quickly head into a new decade (I am in shock that I have been around for so many decades at this point), think about what some of your 2011 objectives are. What's your personal and professional strategy? How will you best achieve your goals? What are the outcomes that you are hoping for?

I know that Function: (and my rapidly growing toddler) will continue to keep me moving in 2011. I can't make a check box to slow time down, but I can make the most of each moment.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Catch you on the flip side.

Design, cocktails and X-ACTOs, oh my!

Long time, no post.

I just don't know where fall has gone.. The Function: elves have been busy: ads, brochures, product launch campaigns, websites, brand strategy and pr. We've even done some consulting.

But yesterday, we let loose. Holiday lunch, complete with Secret Santa gifts. Then cocktails and card-making.

That's right! All you lucky clients, vendors and prospects out there will be receiving a bundle of fun in a few days, mostly-handmade by all of us. I won't give any of the surprise away, but they're intricate and cool, which equals labor-intensive. So a rally was in order. They're beautifully designed, thanks to Reyes, and we can't wait to share them!

Some much needed fun, for me at least. It was great to slow down and hang out, share a few drinks and a deep passion of mine – making.

The best thing about making, particularly making by hand, is that it's personal. You really have an opportunity to communicate something through your efforts.

To me, our cards this season reflect our unwavering dedication to design and design thinking, to our clients, and to the target of our work. Making those cards, together with my coworkers and friends, was a lovely reminder of my own passion for my profession and craft.

An apt quote on a sticky note at my desk:

"Design is in everything we make, but it's also between those things. It's a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda and philosophy."
– Erik Adigard

May you all greet this holiday season, and the new year ahead, with renewed zeal for all that is of importance in your lives. Happy holidays, everyone!

angela mitchell
art director
FUNCTION:we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Your Building Is Alive and Well

Researchers in the UK are attempting to create something radical for the building industry: a living building skin. Like coral, this carbon negative compound is made from simple cells that can grow and multiply, which would not only combat climate change in a continually evolving way, but also protect the building that it houses like armor.

It seems almost like the plot to a classic horror movie--building comes alive! But unlike traditional ivy skin or plant facade, layers of this skin would eventually harden and become a part of the building itself.

The technology is years away from real application, but it does make you think about the future of architecture. How would this affect the way buildings are designed? Would it change the way people thought about taking care of their spaces, or how to use them? Is this the next way to engage with the natural world--by harnessing some of its power for constructive technology?

jessi probus
public relations specialist
FUNCTION:we’re into building things
through marketing, design and public relations

GKD, Experts in Woven Metal Mesh and Daylighting, Received Byline in Environmental Design + Construction

Untangling Daylighting and Mesh 
Environmental Design + Construction
By J. David Carduff
May 2010

“Light every building using the sky.” That’s the vision of the Daylight Collaborative, a program created by the Energy Center of Wisconsin to provide information on daylighting. It sounds implausible, perhaps. But then again, many of the most successful trends and inventions sounded far-fetched at one point. Think flying. Telephones. Cars. The Internet. As with these other endeavors, those who seek to mainstream daylighting need to “find the light,” so to speak. Which is exactly what some architects, designers and product manufacturers are trying to do through the use of innovative products and technologies. One such product is woven metal mesh fabric, which when used for daylighting purposes has proven to save energy by reducing the use of artificial lighting and heat gain. For this reason, woven metal mesh fabrics have been on the cutting edge of daylighting technology throughout the world. That’s forward thinking.

Let’s take a look at the concept of daylighting. It seems simple enough: As buildings are illuminated by the sunlight, they are less dependent on electric lighting. And because sunlight produces less heat per unit of light than electric lights, buildings lit by sunlight have smaller cooling loads and don’t require as much energy fromHVAC systems.

While the concept of daylighting is straightforward, successful implementation of the practice is more challenging. Daylighting requires creativity and expertise. “Good daylighting creates beautiful, appropriately lit spaces while saving energy. A successfully daylit building is the result of a combination of art and science, of architecture and engineering. It is the result of an integrated design process, according to Daylighting is more than simply installing windows; it involves foresight, innovation and ingenuity. Not to mention planning – planning is key.

During the planning process, consider all of the available materials that can help in successfully daylighting a building. As daylighting becomes an increasingly significant component of a building and a successful means of energy efficiency, more architects are integrating it into their designs. In a 2009 survey performed by GKD-USA, architects throughout the United States were asked how big a role daylighting played in the design of their buildings. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they always try to incorporate daylighting into their design, while 22 percent responded that the incorporation of daylighting was dependent upon the type of building. Because of this, building product manufacturers are developing a variety of new products to help the process, including woven metal mesh fabric.

Aside from enhancing the aesthetics of a building, woven metal mesh offers a unique way to control solar heat gain and extreme daylight and is commonly used as a sunshade. Depending on the location of the building and type of heat and light a window is exposed to, different patterns and sizes of mesh can be utilized. When used for sunshading, mesh can help contribute to Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification points.

The first to place flexible mesh on buildings, GKD recently began to explore ways in which their products could be further utilized. Through commissioning several studies and experiments, GKD found that woven metal mesh could indeed be used for daylighting purposes. While mesh can be used to block glare, GKD has also collaborated with ag4, a mediatecture company, to create Illumesh and Mediamesh – high-grade architectural woven stainless steel mesh fabric with interwoven LED profiles. This unique product has been used to replace solid LED boards on buildings, allowing daylight to enter a building without obstructing interior views or exterior architecture.

Using woven metal mesh for daylighting purposes saves energy by reducing the use of artificial lighting as well as heat gain. At the request of GKD, a study of several metal mesh products from GKDwas conducted by ift Rosenheim, an independent party research team. The purpose of the study was to determine the solar characteristics of metal meshes and to calculate solar heat gain of glazing in combination with solar shading devices. The materials tested were each of different thickness and design. Results showed that GKDwoven metal fabric exhibits improved sun protection, which leads to reduction of required cooling loads and allows for smaller cooling generators and HVAC systems.

Daylighting is also valued for its benefits to building occupants. According to, recent studies show that daylighting creates a stimulating environment – much better for occupants than the environment created by any type of artificial light. Natural light contributes to increased concentration among occupants and positively affects their emotional well-being and overall mood. Studies reveal that students in rooms lit by an increased amount of daylight consistently progress 20 percent faster in math and 26 percent faster in reading.

Time magazine discussed the way unlikely inventions became reality: “[Flight] did not come about by luck or accident. It was vision, quiet resolve and the application of scientific methodology that enable Orville and Wilbur to carry the human race skyward.” Likewise, a combination of vision, education and application will allow daylighting to become commonplace so that maybe one day, every building will be lit using the sky.

-- J. David Carduff is the product manager for GKD-USA. Having spent the past 28 years in the technical metal weaving and forming business, Carduff is an expert in the benefits of woven metal mesh.
GKD ED+C byline 5.1.2010

It's That Time Again...

Last week I awoke in a panic....IT’S ALREADY THANKGIVING!! I hadn't boarded the dog, the kids were out of school for a whole week....the holiday season was upon is. Really?? Where did the year go?

Once the panic subsided of all I had to do, I started to embrace it all and focus on being thankful. That IS the point of this time of year. It has been a hard year, in many ways, yet a really good one. The economy has really forced us all to look at ourselves and our businesses differently. Things that appeared as struggles also taught us to find new ways to do things. So I thought I'd reflect on what I was grateful to have learned or discovered during these more difficult times. It's always nice to look back so going forward will be so much better.

I am thankful.....

That we are still here and going strong. That says alot.

That the change in marketing budgets has created a change in how we communicate and encouraged us to work in new ways. We've done some really awesome things this year that went way past just sales brochures of years ago.

That I've discovered an incredible range of ways to use social media in conjunction with traditional marketing over the past years. It has been a powerful medium with vast reach.

To have realized that downtime isn't a bad thing. Rather, it is a time to learn new things, or test out those crazy ideas we've been thinking of.

For our ability as a team to change our actions, behaviors and habits to manuever through these times and make Function: a better place. We've all learned to be better more conscious, less wasteful and even more aware.

For Scoutmob. Really, for those of us that can't handle coupons and are looking for a deal, you can't beat this!

That our industry expertise has helped us gain new relationships with some really dynamic companies who are doing some incredible things.

To have been forced to streamline excess spending and waste.

That this time of year gives us a reason to do something creative, unusual, fun. Design a cool card, give back to an organization we love.

That i can really see the efforts of architecture and building products to make better schools and institutions. Being a part of the elementary and 4/5 academy, this really is exciting. I spent alot of time in the cafeterias for Thanksgiving lunches last week looking around - trying not to look at the holiday lunch....

That Thanksgiving is over and there are no more left overs.

That I truly believe 2011 is going to be a great year.

Iconic Ski Jump in Norway, Outfitted with GKD's Woven Metal Mesh, highlighted in Metal Building

New ski jump balances both design appeal and functionality 
Metal Building Developer
May/June 2009

Scope: Norway’s most recognizable mountain, Oslo’s famous Holmenkollen, now boasts a newly rebuilt ski jump, which has already been honored as the chosen site for the Nordic World Ski Championships. Renovated 18 times since its opening in 1892, the old ski jump no longer met the requirements of the Fédération Internationale de Ski. Now, it meets ISF regulations and also stands out as a modern architectural marvel. Designed to withstand harsh winds and symbolize the success of the Norwegian capital, the new Holmenkollen is clad with stainless-steel woven metal mesh fromGKD-USA Inc. GKD is located in Cambridge, Md.

Details: Julien de Smedt with JDS Architects, Oslo, designed the new Holmenkollen as an HS 134 jump hill that balances both design appeal and functionality. A crucial element in the rebuilding process was meeting requirements that protect ski jumpers from harsh winds, the most common cause of ski jumping accidents. Designers used more than 14,000 square feet (1,301 square meters) of Sambesi light andPC-Sambesi mesh from GKD. A total of 315 units of Sambesi light, each measuring approximately 39 by 3 feet (12 by 1 m) were fitted to the exterior of the steel structure with round rods and eye bolts. An additional 130 units of PC-Sambesi rod mesh were tilted laterally and fitted in the steel structure on the inside of the jump platform, which allows for replacement of removal. A mesh size of 5.9 by 7.9 inches (150 by 200 mm) in the area around the lamps facilitates the surface illumination of the mesh. Both the Sambesi Light and PC-Sambesi are designed for extreme wind loads.

In addition to protecting the jumpers, Architects selected GKD’s mesh to protect the ski jump structure from harsh weathering. The durability of stainless-steel woven metal mesh will enable the Holmenkollen ski jump to be long lasting and easily maintained. Additionally, GKD’s mesh was selected for its aesthetic appeal, flexibility and varied application options. The stainless-steel mesh’s characteristic semi-transparency, along with the spotlights place inside and on top of the jump tower, creates a magnificent visual effect. At night, the backlit mesh turns the arena into a hill of sparkling light.

Work on the Holmenkollen began in 209, and the ski jump officially opened in March 2010, in time for the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined World Cup. An additional phase of construction will be completed in fall 2010, adding more than 9,500 square feet (883 square meters) of mesh.

MEDITECH, Constructed with Kawneer Products, Highlighted in Architectural Products

Medical Building Gets Dose of Efficiency 
Architectural Products
November 2009

CHALLENGE: As MEDITECH continued to grow, it needed a facility that would not only accommodate new and future employees, but also provide and opportunity for existing employees to relocate closer to home. The four-story, 122,000-sq.-ft. building, located in Fall River, Mass., includes hundreds of workstations, dozens of private offices, 28 conference rooms and eight training rooms. Situated in the southeastern part of Massachusetts with a panoramic glass façade that capitalizes on water views, the Medical Information Technology Inc. (MEDITECH) Building, also called “Meditech Southcoast,” is a tribute to the community and a major component of the area’s economic revival.

CRITERIA: Thermal performance was paramount to the project. To address Massachusetts’ strict energy code requirements, specifications called for low U-values and enhanced thermal performance.

A design choice needed to be made: Either a new custom system would need to be created specifically for the project, or the designs could incorporate a strategic combination of existing products integrated into an advanced façade. 

Supporting the curtain wall posed a structural challenge. All four stories of curtain wall required suspension from the roof framing to accommodate a central atrium space. The building’s flyby bays (5-ft. wide x 15-ft. tall) cantilevered horizontally beyond the outside wall, making the wall look larger than the building behind it. Special anchoring was needed to address the design.

INFLUENCES: Besides helping advance the economy of the Fall River area, MEDITECH wanted to create a building that would advance the way sustainable structures are created. To carry out the design, Boston-based Payette was selected as the project’s architect; the company worked to incorporate sustainable elements into the building that would capitalize on the natural landscape and scenic location of the site.

To provide advanced energy performance and meet Massachusetts’ stringent thermal requirements, MEDITECH Southcoast features an advanced façade, a synergistic, seamless integration of products designed to provide advanced energy performance and indoor environmental quality. Using a collaborative approach, the advanced façade includes high-performance glass, thermal doors and windows, and motorized sunscreen systems that automatically respond to exterior solar conditions and are integrated into the versatile curtain wall.

SOLUTION: An advanced façade was created using a collaborative approach to achieve optimum results. Kawneer’s capability to combine internal expertise and a vast product line, coupled with the customer’s regional fabrication/installation skills, helped optimize the fenestration solution to meet architect/owner specifications for a high-performance building.

Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System 1 curtain wall, outfitted with automatic solar-tracking motorized shades to provide maximized daylight and views while offering sunshading, was used in the creation of the advanced façade, helping contribute to the overall indoor environmental quality of the building.

Additional combinations of high-performance Kawneer thermal products – 7500 Wall curtain wall, 1600 Wall System 1 curtain wall, 560 Insulclad Thermal Entrances, 8225TL ISOLOCK Windows and 2000T Terrace Doors – reduce thermal transmittance and help optimize energy throughout the facility. To achieve Payette’s vision, glazing contractor Tower Glass, located in Woburn, Mass., partnered with Ontario-based Erie Architectural Products to coordinate and complete the fabrication of the building’s advanced façade, integrating products to optimize performance while controlling installed costs.

Supporting the curtain wall from the roof allowed wind-load supports to be minimized, enhancing views to the pond from the atrium. The flyby bays and adjoining wall that used 1600 Wall System 1 curtain wall utilized a combination of cantilevered horizontal steel supports and dead load anchors at the top of the curtain wall with wind load anchors below.

The advanced building technology made possible with Kawneer products helped to create a beautiful and sustainable design for MEDITECH’s employees as well as set an example of sustainable design for the entire community.

Planning For 2011

Every year about this time I work with our clients in their 2011 marketing budget planning.    I am a strong believer in trying to make sure every dollar is somehow contributing to product sales and specification.  I know that is not always possible but keeping that goal at the forefront of the planning process usually makes for a more effective and less wasteful marketing spend.  Marketing in this economy is not about how many print ads one can afford or Google ad words you can buy.   It is about getting the facts before you allocate your marketing budget.

Here at Function: over the last several weeks we have worked in conjunction with IsqFt, the nation’s largest internet plan room, reaching out to the builder/contractor market and asking important questions relative to product selection and purchase habits.  Due to the constant changes with this audience these habits and thought processes have evolved over the past few years.  After receiving direct feedback from this audience segment, we then have the facts do better planning for our clients.  To see the results of this research, please contact

We constantly get asked by building product manufacturers "what are other companies in the industry doing with their budgets or their staffing issues, etc." So we are currently in the middle of a study with the BPM’s to take a top level look at the industry as a whole to determine best marketing practices.  These results will be shared back to the industry and will be valuable information in future planning.

These are just a few ways that Function: does its homework before crunching the budget numbers.

dana castle
principal + director of strategy
404 524 3075 x12

we’re into building things through marketing, and public relations

check us out online:
twitter: @FunctionAtlanta

IFMA World Workplace 2010 Conference & Expo

IFMA's annual tradeshow, the World Workplace Conference & Expo, celebrated it's 30 year anniversary this year. Held at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta from October 27-29, this is the IFMA's flagship event and one of the biggest conferences around focusing on workplace programs.

The facility manager audience is an increasingly important decision maker/influencer for our clients and
and the last time World Workplace was held in Atlanta was 1988, so it was an easy decision to check out IFMA's trade show to see what it was all about. Not to mention, one of our clients, Johnsonite, needed some press kits delivered to the media room.

Because work environments and workplace programs touch so many different fields, IFMA's World Workplace attracts professionals from not only facility management but also other key segments to the building products industry: architecture, design, engineering and more. As a seasoned veteran to trade shows in the building and construction industry, yet a first timer to this show, I was impressed by the exhibitors and how well it was attended.

The opening of the expo was kicked off in grand fashion with a drum line that marched through the Georgia World Congress Center, down the escalators outside the exhibit hall and eventually marching onto the trade show floor. I captured a brief video of the drum line you can watch on Function:'s YouTube Channel here: 

I also took a few images from inside the expo you can see on our Flickr page here:

For me, one of the most impressive parts of World Workplace was the use of social media to take the show viral and reach a wider audience than just those who attended the show. The IFMA World Workplace website featured a social media section called NETworkplace which embedded feeds from their twitter, youtube and flickr accounts to share real time news, stories, images and video from the trade show:

Those who were not able to attend could keep up with the happenings at World Worksplace as twitter users easily contributed to the show's live twitter feed using the hashtag #ww2010. Video footage from the opening keynote and welcome reception was quickly posted online and IFMA also shared images from the conference sessions and exhibition through Flickr.

I've seen other industry associations attempt to incorporate social media into their trade shows but I haven't seen anybody else pull it off as well as IFMA did. Greenbuild: you're up next. I'm interested to see how the USGBC uses social media to help promote their annual conference and expo.


ted hettick
director of client development
business analyst

FUNCTION: we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Waste not

Maybe it's being surrounded by all the creative energies here at Function:, but I would definitely say I fancy myself a creative person. I need to be creative in positioning my client's news, creative in how we promote Function:, creative in my excuses for being late to work (kidding on the last one).

On a personal level I like to think that I can be ("can" being the operative word here) creative when it comes to home decor. In my mind I have aspirations of generating fantastic pieces of art to decorate the walls of my home. I see an old window frame and think, "how great would that be on the wall with a big, blown up picture behind it". Or look at my kid's empty formula containers and thought they would be really useful as planters. And maybe, just maybe, I could do it. Maybe I could create something useful and artistic, and even, dare I say, good, from items I have or have seen around. (Art is subjective, right?) My problem with my personal artistic ambitions is that I never get around to executing them. So the formula container planters end up going out with the recycling and the old window frame gets tossed. It's a waste.

Not to get all environmental huggy-huggy on you, but we, the people, really do waste a lot. From not turning off water when we brush our teeth, to letting things go to landfills because we are tired of them or they have served their purpose. This is a problem in the architecture and design community, as manufacturers send product samples and once those samples have served their purpose or become outdated the question of what to do with them arises. Very often materials get wasted and sent to landfill.

Today I had a really interesting call with Mike Dungan, cofounder of ZeroLandfill(TM) and President and CEO of BeeDance . For those of you who aren't familiar, ZeroLandfill is a wonderful project that began in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 2006, ZeroLandfill™ began in 2006 as a recycling effort. Rather than throw expired specification samples into the trash, Mike and a few others organized a one-day "event" where architects and designers could drop off their old samples to be recycled. However, the program expanded when one of the team noted that that artists and educators would love the materials. These artists and educators where then invited to harvest the materials for their own projects.

Since inception, ZeroLandfill has collected materials in over 10 markets and is planning a great deal of expansion in 2011. I learned about ZeroLandfill through a client of ours who works with them to ensure that their product samples don't go to landfill. I also spoke with a talented artist, Nicole McGee who creates beautiful art using many items she has upcycled with ZeroLandfill.

These conversations have gotten me to rethink how I use the items around me. During our conversation Mike said, "In nature there's a lot of waste, but nothing's wasted. Humankind could achieve the same results."

So my readers, as manufacturers, designers, architects, think about how you are using what you have and what you are doing with it when you're done. Get creative and if you are like me, great ideas but not sure about the execution, look for programs like ZeroLandfill and see if you can give those old samples a good home.

The Future

As we approach the second decade in the twenty-first century, literature and pop-culture predictions are all coming together to tell us one thing: the future is now. As any good film geek would know, we are only four years out from the week in October, 2015 when Marty McFly visits the futuretopian version of his hometown in the Back to the Future II.

And while we may be years away from flying cars, hoverboards and power shoelaces (albeit not for lack of effort), many of the inventions showcased in the film are now part of our everyday lives: Doc brown’s “binocular card” resembles a thin digital camera, thumbprint scanners exist—albeit not often on residential homes, kitchens and restaurants are digitized, and some of our pop culture icons (read: Lady GaGa) seem to have taken a cue from the HIll Valley 2015 fashion catalogue.
While it’s impossible to know which technological developments are a result of the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon created by movies such as this, one thing that struck me while re-watching the film was the various marketing advances in the town square, most notably the Jaws 3-D shark that startles Marty, the holographic billboard that pops up across the street advertising hover-conversion systems. Discounting the 80's VHS quality of the movie, the billboard looks strikingly like GKD's MediaMesh, shown below on the American Airlines arena.

Seeing such a dynamic media installation, especially one that looks so familiar to that which was invented by set designers of twenty years ago, makes me jittery with the thoughts of our future, and where medialized technology will be going in years to come. For those of us in the business of pushing the boundaries of marketing and advertising and public relations beyond the outer realms of Hollywood's imagination, we must ask ourselves where the next phase of development is going. Should we limit our best creativities and efforts to the ever-evolving internet sphere? or should we aim to integrate the technology of the future, the technology of today, into our own "Hill Valley" town squares?

As the technology continues to improve and become more widespread, I predict that facades like this will literally be popping up all over the place, from supermarket aisles to hotel marquees to residential homes--and with screens this big and this "futuristic", everyone is in the front row.

jessi probus
public relations specialistFUNCTION:we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Extending Reach

I have a post it on my computer that I live by – “Create impact through design”. Each word in that statement is powerful to me. In the past, I would have focused on the word “design”, as design was a vital part of the sales tools we created. They were tactile, beautiful (there were some great ones I must say!) powerful in messaging, yet, solely dependant upon the sales force that used them. That being said, how could we evaluate the “impact” these pieces had on our audiences?

I can’t count the amount of times a client has said that they struggle with the sales force. Are they communicating correctly to the audience, do they know the products, are they using the tools, how do we track results? As much as those brochures or kits had all the bells and whistles to speak for themselves, often they remained in trunks or briefcases. At the same time, many of them made them into the right hands and did their job wonderfully. But that percentage that didn’t….how could we close that? How could we reach more of our audience effectively? Previously, that was a tough one.

Today, we have the opportunity to really extend the reach of our messaging and campaigns through integrated marketing and PR. To really create an impact. One that we can control. We can take that campaign, and broaden it by PR initiatives, as well as social PR. I never thought I’d get used to the idea of social PR – previously so different from the idea of design - but it has the ability to take all that we’ve created, and blast it into different mediums (we designers love recognition anywhere we can get it). Talk about reach. And, we can track it (because we all need validation that it’s a brilliant campaign).

We used to launch a product with a brochure and ad. Again, very reliant on the sales force, and in regards to the ad, where did it lead them? Now, we create an ad, that drives the audience to a microsite, which in turn provides a platform for an incredible amount of information. At the same time, increases database information. If the ad didn’t get them there, how about tweeting about the campaign? Or maybe speaking up on LinkedIn? Or a bylined article? So if the brochure is in the trunk….so be it. We’ll find another way. This is the advantage of integrated marketing and PR….where the sales force falls short of reach, PR and social PR can pick up the slack and carry the message. The more integrated, the more angles of attack.

Create impact through design. Design is an incredible tool, but even better when it generates a lot of impact.

michele emmons dehaven
principal + creative director
FUNCTION:we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

a+d trend watch: a conversation with susie spivey-tilson of tvs design

The other day I had the chance to visit with TVS Design's Sustainable Studio Director, Susie Spivey-Tilson. As one of the members of USGBC Georgia Chapter's Board of Directors and Function:'s 2010 Architectural Advisory Board, Susie is a veritable goldmine of insights, especially when it comes to developing trends in the building and construction industry. Here are a few select snippets from our conversation:

The A+D Community is focusing on building performance, especially measuring actual efficiency and tracking progress toward the Architecture 2030 Challenge.

One of the biggest struggles architects and designers have with manufacturers is the disconnect between BPMs staff who are knowledgeable about LEED – and the BPMs field staff/sales reps who she is in touch with directly who struggle to answer questions about LEED credits and how their company's products contribute to credits in the various LEED categories. Not surprisingly, she said she loses faith in a BPM if she has to make 5 calls to get an answer about a LEED question she may have.
 As short staffed as many of us are in this industry, nobody has time to chase down an answer that may be easier to get from a competitor, so it's critical that reps are able to speak intelligently on LEED.

The prevalence of architecture firms using modeling software is increasing dramatically. Not just BIM but energy modeling as well is becoming the norm. There is also a movement toward "getting back to the basics" – fundamental design aspects such as building orientation.

WATERGY: Susie said “Green is the new black and water is the next energy”. Design teams are paying more attention to the energy consumption associated with transferring water from the source into the building to the end user. The term Watergy™ was coined by the Alliance to Save Energy to describe the strong link between water and energy in municipal water systems.

ted hettick
director of client development
business analyst

FUNCTION: we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations


What inspires you? Personally and professionally.

Think about it.

I find inspiration in many places; in every move my son makes as he takes on new challenges and (literally) dives headfirst into learning new things. I find inspiration in my family for the lives that they have chosen to lead and their many accomplishments. I find inspiration in art, music, literature, movies and architecture.

I try and look at things with open, accepting eyes so that I can be inspired by everything I see. Sometimes that's hard. There are days where we all feel a little less than inspired or enthusiastic. There are days where you look at your work and think, "how can I make this different? Or better?"

I have these days. You know you have had them too...

But that's one thing that I love about Function:. Inspiration is everywhere. Each person at Function: is an individual. They each have their own knowledge and expertise. Every person here is unique and creative and watching them as they develop an ad for a client, identify unique, new business opportunities, create a blog about their upcoming wedding or design their child's birthday invitations, inspires me to look at what I do (personally and professionally) and ask myself if there is a new way I can do something - a different direction I can take or something that will make what I am working on different and better.

As marketers our job is to motivate audiences and instigate new ways of thinking. The manufacturers we work with work to encourage new design through their products. The architects they target work to stir emotion and arouse interest through the buildings they create.

We all want to inspire and we all need to be inspired. So, I ask again, what is it that inspires you?

Launching a Product in the Building and Construction Industry

It’s important to tailor any marketing approach to the specific product and company, but with over twelve years of experience in this market, we at Function: have found that there are certain things to consider when launching a product in the building and construction industry that apply to any concept.

1. Look at all your audiences. Each one (including media) requires a different and relevant message. An architect’s thought process is different from a contractor’s, which is different from a trade publication editor, etc.

2. Rank your target audiences. Categories will depend on your need, whether you rank them by power to specify or influence or size. If you have a limited budget, for instance, and your product category lends itself to being specified- the message should be focused on the specifier or architect.

3. Chart out your message channels. From PR to advertising to social media, keep messages consistent in all channels—say it once, say it twice, say it again!

4. Create conversations around your new product. Go to your sales channel, go to your specifiers and your installers and collect relevant information about product usage. Then you can encourage viral conversations about it. Remember that conversations are always two-way—create the community and contribute effectively.

5. Know how your product is positioned in the market place. When you are familiar with your product’s place and reputation you can find the opportunities to create buzz where you can build awareness the quickest. Meet the market at the need.

dana castle
principal + director of strategy
FUNCTION:we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Releasing fear, embracing creativity.

As a design geek, I read a lot of design blogs. One of which I follow religiously is Seth Godin's blog. Frankly, I think he's brilliant.

Several months ago, I was struck by his post on the lizard brain. This is an actual part of the brain, and has been with humankind for millennia. It's the amygdala, near the brain stem, and is responsible for the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. If you've experienced an event that left you afraid of heights, for example, your lizard brain tells you to slowly back away from the ledge, to be careful.

Unfortunately, it also tells you to play it safe, to stay within that comfortable bubble you've built for yourself. This is particularly bad in business.

Every designer has had those clients who are terrified of breaking out of that bubble. You start off with a presentation of inspired, thought-provoking design work, but are forced to go through round after round of dilution only to end up with the same old tired line.

Pushing past that pattern is difficult. We at Function: are lucky to have trusting and truly brave clients. And while we worked for years to get here, we're constantly working to make our expertise ever more solid. We push ourselves every day to find innovative and exciting methods of promoting our clients and their initiatives. We do this through super smart strategy and, of course, slammin' design.

Case in point, the recently-launched integrated campaign announcing Kawneer's partnership with Forster. It's a spectacular leap forward for Kawneer, adding steel to their already all-encompassing array of aluminum products. Thanks to this partnership, Kawneer leverages themselves as the only supplier in North America to offer a complete range of aluminum and steel glazing solutions.

To fully express the bigness of the partnership, we went big with the design.. and the message. And Kawneer fell hard for the concept. We can't say we blame them.

angela k mitchell
art director

we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Excellence has its rewards!

Below is a video clip from Architectural Record's AIA Excellence in Advertising Awards Ceremony featuring commentary from the jury on our print ad that won Best in Class: Single Page.

From one of the judges:
"I gave it high marks for aesthetics; it stopped me in my tracks and compelled me to read more. I read every word of it, yet it never even showed the product."

Video courtesy McGraw-Hill Construction.

ted hettick
FUNCTION: we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

lighting up the market [ GKD Webinar ]

See and Be Seen: Designing a Transparent Media Facade

Situation: One of GKD’s 2010 objectives was to increase awareness of its transparent media facade products, Mediamesh® and Illumesh®. Because the products had been on the market for a while, Function: suggested GKD re-introduce them to its audience of architects and contractors by focusing on product capabilities. Function: also recommended educating GKD’s audience through a new approach rather than the traditional product press release.

To educate the market, Function: worked with GKD to develop messages and content that emphasized the unique features, as well as the aesthetic, environmental and financial benefits of transparent media facades. Function: developed an internal calendar of bylined articles the company could develop and pitch, as well as various case studies, a comprehensive webinar and more. The key was promoting an integrated message that consistently educated architects on the benefits of transparent media facades. Consideration of the vertical markets played a large part in message and byline development. Because education was a critical factor throughout the re-introduction campaign, segmenting the audience into vertical markets was essential.

To reach the audience, Function: targeted specific industry publications across the vertical segments, as well as architectural and environmental building and design magazines. All case studies and webinar information was distributed to the targeted media list. In addition, bylined articles have been developed and tweaked with the specific publication’s audience in mind.

Results: The re-introduction of GKD’s transparent media façades is an ongoing campaign and has been very successful thus far. GKD hosted its webinar, “See and Be Seen: Understanding Transparent Media Facades” and drew more than 125 registered attendees, which included architects and media. Function: produced this webinar and developed all promotional content including press announcements and eblasts. Function: and GKD continue to find that emphasizing the specific benefits of the products has not only made the products more memorable, but also has been an effective way to educate GKD’s audience.

things are looking up [ Ceiling Tile Focus Group ]

A+D Ceiling Tile Qualitative Research

Situation: Despite a superior product offering, a ceiling tile manufacturer was struggling to compete for market share against established competitors with larger marketing budgets. The client needed to adjust their message and positioning for better alignment against the competitive landscape and turned to Function: for an insightful, customer focused marketing strategy.

Qualitative research was conducted to gain favor with new and existing ceiling tile specifiers by aligning the client with current industry style trends, creating new sales and marketing opportunities, and generating R+D initiatives. The study focused on revealing trends such as aesthetic preferences and nomenclature within the architect and designer audience segments. To uncover these findings, interviews were conducted with 22 ceiling tile specifiers from the A+D community.

Results: The results provided an overall look at the competitive landscape and how other manufacturers are describing their products. A competitive analysis was created from the findings and recommendations were made for strategic positioning and branding. A simple approach to A+D customers was uncovered, resulting in an opportunity to increase sales by saving specifiers a step in the product selection process. The study was designed to maximize reception of market insights and the findings ultimately helped the client to:

  • Better understand the needs and preferences of target audience
  • Deliver a system/solution comparable to the competition
  • Establish a tighter spec
  • Increase awareness
  • Develop brand loyalty
  • Increase sales and capture market share

Other recommendations helped the client:

  • Understand the thought process of the architect or designer at the time of product specification
  • Differentiate their products amongst the competition
  • Achieve deeper vertical segment marketing

laying ground for haiti [ Johnsonite NeoCon Event ]

Johnsonite – Promoting Sustainability Through Interactive NeoCon Event

Situation: With a history of strong sustainable product development and practices, Johnsonite sought to increase awareness around its ongoing sustainable programs and efforts during the NeoCon® World’s Trade Fair 2010. However, gathering an audience through a static event at tradeshows can be difficult and costly. The company wanted to develop an event that created an ongoing buzz at show, gaining them recognition amongst designers, architects and media.

To help develop a campaign, Johnsonite enlisted Function:. Taking the audience and messages into consideration, Function: worked with Johnsonite to create an interactive event that would unite architects and designers to create a larger picture of sustainability, generate awareness of the platform, showcase products and provide ongoing education to these audiences. To do so, NeoCon attendees were invited to come by the Johnsonite booth to pick up a piece of the company’s floor tile (getting specific product samples into the hands of the audience). The attendees were then asked to place their piece on a larger canvas, working with their peers to create a collage. For every tile placed, Johnsonite pledged to donate five-square-feet of flooring product to Architecture for Humanity for its efforts to rebuild in Haiti.

Promotion of the event was critical. In addition to working with Johnsonite to create and execute the event, Function: also worked on developing several promotional items, including a microsite, Tweet cards and Collage stickers. The microsite was designed to replicate the visual of the collage, with links to Tarkett, Johnsonite and Azrock sites, key product information, sustainable messages, event information and a downloadable press kit. In addition, Function: created an online Twitter campaign for Johnsonite to share sustainable messaging and show information. The event was also promoted prior to the show via press release and with media during scheduled interviews throughout NeoCon.

Results: Due to excellent event attendance, Johnsonite will donate 3,000-square-feet of its Harmonium xf Linoleum Flooring to Architecture for Humanity. In addition, several industry publications featured the story online and blogged about the event. These included Interior Design, Interiors & Sources, Environmental Design & Construction, and PME, amongst others. Johnsonite also gained followers and recognition on Twitter and continues to grow its group of online followers.

getting social with the industry [ Function: Social Media Campaign ]

Function: Socialize with Your Audience Campaign

Situation: Successful public relations and communications are dependent upon a company’s ability to reach its target audience. As an agency that specializes in connecting building product manufacturers with the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, Function: sees connecting clients with their target audience as our most important task. Recently, we launched our “Socialize” campaign. “Socialize” allows us to use new and rapidly growing forms of technology to engage and connect with architects, manufacturers, contractors, engineers and more. The ultimate goal of these efforts was to fulfill their promise to clients: “we’re connected to the audience you need to reach.”

To better understand our audience, we began our “Socialize” campaign by conducting a study on the social media activity of architects (What sites do they use? How often? For what purposes?). Using this research, we began to connect to and build a following of AEC industry professionals on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and also created guidelines and schedules to ensure our consistent and active involvement on each of these sites.

With the foundation of relationships and guidelines of consistency, the second step of “Socialize” was creativity. Function: hosted a conference on Twitter (termed Function:140), webinars on social media and content management, which included participation from architects and members of the media and conducted a survey on the number of architects using social media. We also developed a “Meet Up” group, inviting architects from around the country to join us at AIA in order to tour manufacturer booths and provide first-hand advice on how building product manufacturers can improve their products and communications tactics.

Results: “Socialize” has achieved tremendous results. Industry media and architects regularly approach Function: with questions about social media and its role in the industry, and have utilized our research in blogs and presentations, ultimately showing they value Function: as a resource and as expert thought-leaders In addition, we have seen an increase in client media placement as a result of the relationships we have formed through our “Socialize” campaign. Clients are also beginning to look at social media as a viable communications tool and calling on our expertise to develop strategic plans, content management services and internal guidelines.

talk the talk [ Mohawk Sales Training ]

Training for the A+D community

Situation: With new single family home construction diminishing, Mohawk Industries decided to focus its sales efforts beyond the residential builder/contractor to capitalize on current market opportunities. Mohawk expanded its target audience to include architects and designers, developers, and facility managers/owners to increase market share in multi-family residential, mixed-use development and commercial building applications. Accustomed to selling to builders and contractors, Mohawk’s reps were immediately challenged by the complexity and difference of the A+D Community, quickly realizing their usual residential sales approach would not work. To help their sales force better understand and sell to their expanded customer base, Mohawk sought out Function: for our in-depth knowledge of and expertise with the trade audience.

Results: Function: executed a phased research and sales training program based on the clients’ short and long term goals and sales strategy. Structured content branded the sales message, creating a consistent and successful customer experience. Within 12 months of implementation, year-over-year sales increased by 25% and their sales force had become reportedly comfortable in their interactions with the A+D Community. Project scope/deliverables included:

  • Market Analysis – micro-segment the clients target audiences to help sales people identify the proper entry point, based on firm type, size and specialization.
  • Customer Behavior Profile – online surveys and video interviews with architects and designers to develop value propositions per target audience, identify vertical market opportunities and create a level of comfort for reps dealing with the A+D Community.
  • Sales Training – creation of sales program based on research findings and existing knowledge. Featured interactive presentation materials and workbooks with content and instruction for conducting sales calls and lunch & learns, facilitator training guide, and sales tools per target audience.