We launched the HaptX Gloves Development in October of 2018. We took this opportunity to overhaul our website, with product-focused imagery and a call to action to “Get early access.” I created new imagery of our DK gloves, pairing them with copy that highlights key selling points of our product.
When the Sundance Institute selected HaptX as an official selection of their 2018 festival, it presented a tremendous opportunity to launch our startup company to new heights. However, Sundance presented a unique marketing challenge: the festival organizers wanted to promote our experience, but not our company.
An example: They didn't want us to put our company name or logo next to the experience. They didn't want their exhibit space to feel like a trade show. This makes sense when you think about movies. The marquee will show the name of the film, and perhaps the lead actors and directors. It does not list the studio nor distribution company.
The solution: a series of posters to highlight the story and interactions of our VR experience. These posters snuck in our company name and logo without feeling garish, and provided a splash of our brand colors.
I kept this as a low budget project: I personally designed the posters in about a week's time. The printing, mounting, and shipping collectively cost under a thousand dollars.
These went a long way: In addition to branding our demo space, we plastered the posters throughout Park City. We shared them on social media, and gave a limited number to VIPs who tried our demo on opening weekend.
Although HaptX a B2B company, I knew that Instagram would be a major social media platform among influencers at the festival. For this reason, I created our Instagram account weeks before Sundance, and populated it with our posters and branded artwork.
We wound up getting tagged in posts and stories from people including The Black Eyed Peas, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame, and comedian/musician Reggie Watts.
People loved them so much that we repurposed them for events like SXSW. We have the original Sundance posters hanging in the entry to our office.
Telling a unified story through an integrated media campaign
You’ve probably heard of owned, earned, and paid media. We use a similar framework, but as a scrappy startup that looks to maximize every marketing dollar, we do little-to-no paid media. Instead we group our efforts into three categories: owned, earned, and events.
Owned: This is what we say about ourselves. Our new website, launch video, social media channels, press release, and our new visual identity. Throughout these materials, we told a story about why touch is fundamental to virtual reality, and showed how we can simulate touch more convincingly than anyone else. More about our owned media launch here.
Earned: This is what other people say about us. We spent months sharing our demo with media and influential members of our industry to earn third-party endorsements that validate our claims. We launched with positive coverage in Engadget, Road to VR, GeekWire, IEEE Spectrum, WIRED Magazine, and several other outlets.
Events: This is where we engage with people directly. We decided to publicize this announcement in advance of a busy events season. We had three events in the two weeks following our launch:
I/ITSEC – the world’s largest modeling, simulation, and training event
GeekWire Gala – the local tech outlet’s year-end celebration. This year, GeekWire recognized HaptX as one of the Seattle 10 – their annual list of the hottest startups in the region
VRX – a leading senior level VR industry event
We produced a video as a central component to launching the HaptX brand. The goal: show the potential of our technology, and the key use cases and differentiators of our product. We worked with Cinesaurus, the team behind viral videos for clients including Deloitte and SpaceX.
When we rebranded from AxonVR to HaptX, we created a full new website. We created wireframes, images, and messaging in-house, and worked with Rotator creative on the development, functionality, animations, and graphic design. We designed the video to work as a looping reel on the haptx.com home page.
In addition to overseeing the content and UX design of our website, I took a hands-on approach to our art direction. Because HaptX is where the real world and virtual world collide, I developed an aesthetic of 3D objects in real-world environments. I created most of our images myself with a combination of the Unity game engine and Adobe Photoshop. The images below are featured on haptx.com, animating along with key selling points as the user scrolls.
When I joined AxonVR as their first marketing hire, I had a lot of work to do. After a few months of planning our marketing efforts and learning about the space, we developed and articulated a brand identity.
The AxonVR Brand Book codified our visual identity, positioning, and messaging. It enabled the brand to scale to the rest of the company and to third-party vendors.
You can download a PDF here.
Artwork and images
Part of the AxonVR brand was developing a distinctive visual style. We focused on full-body experiences and interactions related to the hands. We used fine particles like powder, film grain, and small stars to convey a sense of precision. We flooded these images with cyan and magenta to make them distinctively look like “AxonVR.”
I met the duo behind Mustard and Co. at a craft fair in Seattle in mid-2015. They were the most popular stand at the festival, with people lining up to try their mustard. I loved the the mustard, so I bought a few jars and asked them about their business.
They told me they like craft fairs and street markets because they're selling direct to consumers. They were carried in a few stores and online market places, but distributors and retailers took the majority of their margins. I saw an opportunity.
In late summer 2015, I joined Mustard and Co. on a contract to accelerate their online presence and e-commerce business. The goal: to launch for prior to the 2015 holiday season. I led an overhaul of their website on the Shopify platform.
After revamping Mustardandco.com, the next step was to drive traffic. I achieved this through optimizing SEO, and performing paid ad campaigns on Google and Facebook.
I created new photo and video assets, launched their social presence on Twitter and Instagram, and executed an influencer marketing campaign. I even led the development of the Five Flavor Gift Set, a new holiday product designed for online buyers.
For the first time, the majority of their profits came from online sales.
Above: Screen captures from Mustard and Co's website.
Left: Mustard and Co's Instagram featuring pictures from when I led their marketing efforts.
Below: A video I produced to tell their company story.