Color House Graphics: Insights Drive Impact

The opportunity

Mid-way through 2018 we received an inquiry from a local printing and book manufacturing company in Grand Rapids. Their initial request read:

“We are interested in obtaining proposals to produce a short video that covers our manufacturing capabilities while highlighting our brand.”

Color us interested.

After they submitted our initial project questionnaire we had a quick call to ask a few questions, but more importantly to listen. After the call we had a task list that included doing competitive research, having Color House write down what they believed their key value propositions were, and provide links to examples of content that represented the desired look and feel of the final videos they wanted delivered.

The Competition -  A sea of sameness

The first thing we noticed when researching the book printing and manufacturing market: the homogeneity. You could swap out colors & logos and each company’s website and value proposition would be almost indistinguishable from the next. We recognized there was an opportunity for Color House to focus their message and stand out. We proposed a working meeting where we would utilize some of our favorite business and marketing strategy tools to align on what the opportunity really was.

The Methods

Value proposition design is nothing knew. Strategyn and their business model canvas is used by startups the world over, taught in business school, and used in Fortune 500 companies. However, it’s sister tool, the Value Proposition Canvas is an amazing asset when developing marketing campaigns and communications messaging.

During our first working meeting with Color House Graphics, a Value Proposition Design workshop, we shared with Phil our competitive research, and had him describe who their current target markets and consumers were. We then spent a few hours white-boarding with the value proposition canvas as our guide. A number of patterns emerged as we completed the customer profile, especially under the jobs-to-be-done (what the customer wants to accomplish) that the different customers segments wanted to complete. The most valuable jobs were easily sorted between two core customers (users): The Indie-Author and Traditional Publisher.


With the Indie-Author and the traditional Traditional Publisher identified as their two largest, and most important customer segments we began sorting the JBTD as well as the pains and gains identified with each job. Our completed customer profile now had the jobs, pains, and gains identified. With this we moved to the Value Proposition side of the canvas.

Their Value Proposition

The first step of understanding the value proposition is listing out the products and/or services you provide your customer. After going through this activity with Color House Graphics we were quickly able to see how their capabilities and products and services relieved pains, and created gains for both Indie-Authors and Traditional Publishers. These prioritized gain creators and pain relievers become key messaging components in the development and concepting of each video. However, these activities act as a map. Verifying their importance to the consumer is the next step.

The Insights

Trust, but verify are words to live by. We took the work we did with Phil and conducted qualitative research via customer interviews, employee interviews, and desk rides. The insights gathered from these research activities helped augment and elevate the messaging we identified in the Value Proposition design Trsession with Phil. Not to mention we were able to uncover some additional insights, including the fact that Phil’s customer support and sales team were so experienced that they acted as faux-consultants for many of their clients, offering a depth of care service that many of their competitors do not offer.

These observations, paired with the value proposition work led to key insights that helped mold and inform our ideation and creative process. We were able to focus the Indie-Author message on the consultant-like support the color-house staff provided as it relieved the greatest pain Indie-Authors have: the uncertainty of where to even begin when they finish their manuscript.

Traditional Publishers on the other hand knew exactly what they were looking for and were looking for a partner to execute against their specific requirements and timelines. However, the most important job was the functional job of executing against requirements it was the emotional job of removing the head-space dedicated to worrying about executing against requirements. By Removing this head-space for their client Color House allows their client to focus on strategic initiatives and planning their next project. This small, but significant played a key part in final outcome of the video.

The Results

The two videos above are the output of this strategic and creative process. More importantly though Phil Knight and his team have used the videos to engage current and future clients with clear and responsive messaging.

Even more valuable though, we were able to cut together completely new videos from the footage we shot nearly a year later. With numerous interviews and countless quotes that embodied the Color House Graphics mission, and value proposition we were able to continue delivering value without having to shoot more footage. Phil and his team now have a series of fresh videos for 2019 to keep their content momentum going without having to break the bank.

Phillip SwansonComment