Workshopping a Message

It’s not always easy to get a company’s true value proposition down on paper or screen in a manner than everyone–or even anyone–will understand. This is especially true if the company is competent, sophisticated, and at the top of its class, because the difference between it and its competitors can be complex enough to transcend most readers’ familiarity with the concept. This is true of one client Melaroo is proud to have because of their reputation, and the commitment to excellence that got it for them.

Comstock is a wealth management firm, focusing on investment advisory services for high net worth individuals, trusts, and other organizations. Basically, they help people know what to do with their money, and often even help them do it.

There is a very clear differentiator, aside from the simple “we’re better” factor, that distinguishes Comstock as a group you would do well to hire: duty and loyalty, or

“fiduciary responsibility.”

See, a broker dealer, the guy who wants to handle your stock transactions, doesn’t actually work for you; he works for a brokerage. He’s legally obligated to do what’s best for his employer–even if that means talking you into buying an investment that pays him a tidy commission but may not be right for you. If he doesn’t do that, he’s breaking the law, and perhaps ironically, certain ethical codes. Broker dealers are incentivized to sell you stuff.

Comstock, on the other hand, is a fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor. That means they work for you, and you pay them for their sage advice. If the advice is good, you’ll pay them more for more good advice. Comstock is incentivized to give good advice.

Want to hear it from them?

Watch these videos (that we made).

Looking different

It’s generally not enough to say you’re different. Even if you say “we’re soooo different” with great emphasis, most people will think you sound just like everyone else. And by the time you’ve explained why your duty and loyalty is better than your competitor’s duty and loyalty, your prospect is drooling on their desk, and not because they can’t wait to consume your products–it’s a drool of stupefaction. It’s way better just to show it.

Now, to this end, we faced myriad challenges. We had to make them look different without looking strange. We wanted to be fun but not goofy. We had to be informative, without confusing or boring the reader. This was a job that left layers upon layers on the cutting room floor, seemingly worthless scraps of once-grand creative mojo, decomposing into…aesthetic hydrocarbons that we would one day reuse on our website!

Below are the pieces that we didn’t use for Comstock, that contributed in no small way to what we eventually published.

Chicken Pics

Comstock has a running chicken theme. “Don’t eat the chickens”, they tell you, because chickens make eggs, which make more chickens. Just as wealth begets more wealth. Don’t squander it, invest it. And let Comstock help you. When we designed the first iteration of their new website, the first rework since maybe 2009, we made all these fun little illustrations representing the various areas of the site.

Then it was decided that the chickens had run their course.

The Machines

Comstock needed to make the difference between the RIA model and the broker dealer’s commitment to make money off you painstakingly clear to their audience. They had identified a simple gear image that a competitor was using to show that they were a connection between a client and the market. But the metaphor was too general and uninteresting, so we crafted a few wacky machines conveying Comstock’s superior efficiency, scope of services, and loyalty.

Well, the metaphor got a little too complex, which is death to a good analogy. So death to these cool pictures.

The Board Game

Something investment professionals really like to visualize, for some reason, is their allocation strategies. Are you young and tolerant of risk, or are you trying to retire in five years? The answer to that question will profoundly impact where we’re going to suggest you put your money.

Comstock’s allocation strategy breaks the mold a tad, because remember, these are high net worth investors, which means there are all sorts of places they can put their money that most folks would probably never think of. Things like rhodium mines, commercial forests, and hedge funds. We set out to convey that a solid allocation strategy is like a board game, with moving pieces, changing objectives, and fairly nebulous strategies.

Well, it got the message across, but it was a bit over-the-top just to depict an allocation strategy.

By now, your inner monologue is probably saying, “Golly, that’s some really great stuff! What actually made the cut?”

We’re glad you(r inner monologue) asked!

Beneficiary Bootcamp

When working with family trusts, one of the challenges a wealth advisor faces is to help transfer discipline and financial savvy from the original wealth creator to the privileged next generation. Handoffs can be very rocky, indeed. So Comstock offers workshops to young heirs of family fortunes, schooling them in the ways of wise money management. This is a significant source of new business for the wealth management side, but is also a viable business in and of itself. Comstock had the name, we came up with this.

Within a year of publication, wingtip boots were all over the department store shelves, but when we invented this, we had to composite the photorealistic image from a photo of a plain old brogue.

The wing tip boot is on two websites and a handful of print pieces, in two separate styles. Paul wore combat boots in the jungles of Southeast Asia, and he wears wingtips now, so it was a subtler way of symbolizing his legacy than the bow tie.

The Transit

If you’re a wealthy person, there’s a good chance you’re busy. You may be running a yo-yo factory, buying and selling jets, golfing, or giving your time to some noble cause. Chances are, you have little interest in markets and investments, at least little enough that you don’t want to spend all your time researching them. That’s Comstock’s job.

We had to identify something to symbolize “vantage point”, “perspective”, or “market landscape”, to convey that Comstock had an eye on the markets and could speak intelligently about them. Hence, the antique surveyor’s transit (because it looks awesome). Sure, it could be confused for a telescope, implying a better view, or mistaken for a sextant, which is used to identify latitude, but both of those work, too.