Perfecting Your Instagram to Enhance Brand Awareness

Perfecting Your Instagram to Enhance Brand Awareness

We recently brought in Adelaide Matte of AMD Birmingham to teach us more about perfecting our Instagram accounts! If you haven’t heard of AMD Birmingham, you need to check them out. They do everything from branding, graphic design, photography, social media to web design! They have worked with brands like Urban Cookhouse, Farmbowl + Juice Co, Dreamland Barbecue, Vulcan Park & Museum and Alabama Ballet. Adelaide gave us 5 steps to Instagram perfection that we’re sharing with you!





Step One: Identify Your Brand


You need to take time to  choose your colors and fonts.  Also think about what you want the overall feel to be. Adelaide mentioned that Drybar is a great example of a company who has a very defined theme with specific colors and fonts that are recognizable to their audience.




Step Two: Determine Your Grid


What do you want the layout of your Instagram grind to look like? A mixture of photos and text?





If you don’t already have them, you need Instagram Highlights for your account! What do you want your target audience to know? As a restaurant you can choose highlights like food, location, hours and facts! Think about what is your aesthetic? Stick with the colors of your brand as much as possible.




Step Three: Gather Content


You need to take plenty of photos so you can go ahead and plan out your posts. Photos of landscapes, your products, projects and even personal photos are all great options! AMD always focuses on having blue in their photos- especially lots of blue sky if it’s a landscape! Blue is an integral part of their overall style and aesthetic.



Adelaide gave us her recommendations for her top 9 favorite apps for all things Instagram!

(in no particular order)

  1. Plann
  2. CapGenius
  3. Hashme
  4. VSCO (she REALLY loves this one!)
  5. Lightroom CC
  6. Facetune
  7. Repost
  8. Canva
  9. InstaCleaner



Step Four: Find Your Voice


You have to create captions that drive your audience to action! But you don’t want every single post to be advertising for your product or service. Make sure you throw in some inspiring or witty quotes too. Your audience values knowing that they can count on your messaging to provide them with what they’ve come to expect rather than it being a gamble every time.


Brands that accurately hone in on a consistent brand voice for their social media accounts quickly build followers, establish trust, and have stellar engagement rates. Be consistent with your voice!




Step Five: Plug and Chug


Now that you have all of your content stored up, you have all of the tools you need! Go ahead and post! Or better yet, plan out your posts through Plann app and you can see exactly what your grid will look like.


Thanks for all the tips Adelaide!



Wise Words from Forge’s Summer Intern

Wise Words from Forge’s Summer Intern

Hello! My name is Emily Jackson and I’m an upcoming senior at Samford University. I’m studying marketing and finance and had the pleasure of interning at Forge this summer. I knew nothing about Forge or its purpose before my internship! But my interest continually grew as I came to Forge and began meeting Forge members and attending Forge events. I wrote this blog post about what I’ve learned and why I could never work alone.

In a time where technology has made it very easy to be able to work from where you are, so many people choose to work from home. For many, that initially sounds like a dream, but for me that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Not only would I distract myself from my work, but the extrovert in me would be drained and exhausted all of the time. Since working at Forge, I have realized I won’t ever have to put myself through that! The benefits of coworking far exceed working from home or a coffee shop. Here are my top five reasons for working out of Forge!


  • I’ve realized how valuable it is to network with other young professionals and meet new people! Forge is packed full of entrepreneurs, remote works and small business owners who are doing amazing things in Birmingham.
  • At Forge, I’m not alone. Of course that sounds obvious, but I have realized that simply being in an environment with others around you is incredibly important. It gives you more energy than staying in your basement or home office to work!


  • I really need a quiet space to focus and be productive. Forge has just the right atmosphere with great playlists. It’s not as quiet as a library but not too noisy like a coffee shop- a great balance!
  • The access to conference rooms is essential! If you are working in a group or meeting with a client, Forge has a variety of conference rooms you can book easily. After spending significant time in coffee shops, I realize how difficult it can be for a team to productively meet in a crowded atmosphere like that.


  • The Lunch & Learn events at Forge can help you grow as an entrepreneur or simply as an employee or student. I’ve learned about stress management hacks for the modern entrepreneur and how legal affects your small business. Forge always chooses topics that are relevant to you and your business!
  • At Forge you can easily receive feedback from the community around you. Feedback is so important for growth and at Forge you have the community surrounding you whenever you need to ask questions or get opinions about a certain project or pitch.


  • If you want to be in the heart of the action, Forge is the perfect spot for you. Being downtown in the Pizitz building is fun and energizing! With so much change and growth downtown, Forge is where you want to be.
  • Let’s not ignore the close proximity to the Pizitz food hall! The food hall is packed with a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options from around the world. Even if you have a packed schedule of work for the day, you can grab food downstairs in just a few minutes.


  • Forge strikes of a balance of being both relaxing and professional at the same time. You can feel confident bringing a client in for a business meeting at Forge rather than a coffee shop or your own home!
  • The environment is bright and welcoming! With big windows around the whole second floor at Forge, you can be certain the sunlight will be much more energizing than your dark basement!

In conclusion, my experience with Forge has taught me how I like to work with others! I love knowing everything that Forge has to offer. Forge is an inspiring atmosphere filled with lots of creative people! I can’t wait to share about Forge with my fellow Samford students.


Coworking at Forge means networking with lots of movers and shakers (and spinners)

Coworking at Forge means networking with lots of movers and shakers (and spinners)

Our friends at Bham Now featured Forge member Tiffany Martin and her new spin studio! Read on and find out why Tiffany chooses to work from Forge and what her studio has in store!


Ever been to an exercise studio in Birmingham that’s dedicated solely to spin classes? Not yet? Ignite Cycle owner Tiffany Martin wants to change that.


The Cycling Life


A University of Southern California graduate, Martin has always been into the gym scene and has worked in gyms and boutique studios all over the country. Before moving to the Birmingham, Martin and her husband lived in Boston. While there, she started teaching group fitness classes and cycling classes. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for cycling and how fitness can change lives.


“I fell in love with being an instructor and also being a rider. I love being able to create this amazing experience for people.”


Creating Her Niche


When Tiffany found out that her husband’s work would be relocating them to Birmingham, she decided it was time to find her niche in the job world. After some market research, she discovered that Birmingham has plenty of spin class enthusiasts, but no boutique cycling studios that are dedicated just to cycling.




“When I found out that there were no boutique cycling studios in Birmingham, I realized it was something I really wanted to create and bring to the area.” 


Doing The Body Good


Tiffany’s studio will be named Ignite Cycle. Tiffany said the mission is, “to be a community for you to discover and become your best self, and cycling is how we do it.” Classes at Ignite will be full of music and fun! So fun that Tiffany describes the classes as a “party on a bike”.



“It’s a party on a bike, but it’s also a lot more than that,” Tiffany said. “It is that feeling where you’re somewhere and you’re dancing with a bunch of people—some you know— some you don’t. There is just this amazing energy among everyone because you are all moving together. Everyone is together feeling free, and with that feeling, you are doing something really good for you and your body.”




No Shame In This Game


Positivity is a huge aspect of Ignite Cycle. While working at other gyms and spin boutiques around the nation (Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle), Tiffany found that there is often a sense of shame, rather than pride, present among fitness centers.


“The environment at Ignite Cycle will be positive,” Tiffany said. “It’s all about living your best life, appreciating your body’s ability to move, choosing the best things for you and enjoying what life has to offer and not feeling guilty or shameful about it.”


It’s this emphasis on positivity that Tiffany hopes will set the “Ignite experience” apart from other fitness experiences in the city.


“Instructors at Ignite will go through a six-week training program on safety, our method, and keeping the culture and brand consistent for everyone,” Tiffany said.


Tiffany plans to carry over her mission of positivity and motivation to her instructors as well.



When And Where


Ignite is set to open late this year or early 2019. The location will be announced soon, and we will bring you that information! Stay tuned for more information regarding when and where.



One thing is for sure, when you take your first Ignite class you’ll wonder if you can take a class everyday — and you totally can!


The Perfect Workspace At Forge


After completing her market research and coming up with the idea for Ignite Cycle, Tiffany began planning. She has spent the last year creating and developing her business model and brand while working out of Forge, a place she says she fell in love with because of its physical space and also the idea behind it.


Tiffany has worked out of the Forge space for a little over a month, and said that she feels like she can be very productive in the space.

What’s an ideal day like for Tiffany while working out of Forge?


“It’s a lot of community, coffee, and skittles,” Tiffany said. “The community is so great, it is really fun being aware of what other people are up to in Birmingham, and it is much more motivating than sitting on my couch with my computer. Forge also has a really great playlist, which is great to work to.”


Check out the original article here!





The Most Effective Words for Email Campaigns

The Most Effective Words for Email Campaigns

If you’re needing advice for your email campaigns, look no further. The team at 24 Communications wrote this blog post to teach you the words you need and the words you need to avoid. Also check out this video they made to go along with the post. The Forge team loves learning from our members like 24c. Read on!


We all know that words have power, but when it comes to your business’s email marketing campaigns, do you really know which words will encourage your subscribers to act, buy, and/or give?


Believe it or not, a few small tweaks to changing how you write your emails just might be the key to increasing engagement. By using more influential words, you can push your subscribers to take the action your email campaign intends to ignite. You’ve landed in your customers’ inboxes; now it’s time for some reciprocation.


The experts at 24 Communications are here to help you uncover the most powerful words and phrases to use for your email marketing campaigns – the ones that ensure maximum effectiveness.



How to use powerful words in your email campaigns


To better help you identify the most powerful email subject line words for your email campaigns, consider these helpful tips:


1. Lead with emotion

Avoid the overused click-bait jargon and aim to appeal to your audience’s emotions instead. Consider the pain points of your customer base and how they will feel when your product or service helps solve that problem. These are the emotions that will increase the power of your email content.


Think of adding some of these pain point healing words in your email campaign subject:

  • Tired of feeling [X]
  • Grr!
  • [X] doesn’t have to be hard
  • Make [X] fun again
  • Ugh!
  • Learn to love [X] again
  • [X] survival guide
  • [X] 101



2. Dig further into the pain point


If you prefer to cut right to the chase and want to leave emotion to the solution, dig into the pain point to show how you can make your customers’ problem or struggle painless. Instead of going with “wow” words, target specifically what your ideal customers care about.


Effective email campaign words that center around pain points and/or solutions include:


  • Ready
  • Beat
  • Advance
  • Save
  • Develop
  • Complete
  • Avoid
  • Change
  • Escape
  • Improve
  • Gain
  • Faster
  • Easier
  • Sooner


3. Keep it in the now


Call to action. Call to action. Call to action! We can’t stress it enough.


Words and phrases that inspire a sense of urgency instantly make your emails and subject lines more powerful. You can spark urgency without using all caps or a gazillion exclamation points. Try incorporating these words into your email campaigns:


  • Now
  • Fast
  • Save your spot
  • Limited time
  • Before tickets run out
  • Limited supply
  • First come, first serve
  • Be the first
  • The clock is ticking
  • Don’t miss [X]
  • Before [X] is gone





4. Make it personal


Throw third person out the window. Your email campaigns become more compelling when you address your customers personally. The intimacy, so to speak, gives your message a personal feel.


This viewpoint can make your subscriber feel like you’re speaking to them exclusively, rather than a group of people. Try these words on for size:


  • You
  • Your
  • Our
  • Us
  • All of us
  • We
  • Together, we…


5. Show them you care


A little goes a long way – in life and in your emails. Show your customers a little love by using appreciative words in your email campaigns and subject lines.


When you reach a new goal, thank your customers with a new deal, host a customer appreciation event, or send a kind email thanking new subscribers for signing up. And don’t forget to use these:


  • Thank you
  • Thanks
  • You’re the best
  • We appreciate you
  • Couldn’t have done it without you
  • Here’s a reward
  • You deserve this
  • Because you helped us [X], we’re giving you [Y]
  • You’re awesome
  • Because of you, [X]
  • Thanks to you, [X]



More tips for effective email campaigns…


Don’t get lost in the inbox abyss of personal messages, promotions, spam sales, news pushes, and more. Here are some more words we suggest using in your email campaign subject line to help you stand out:

  • Secrets
  • Tips
  • Effective
  • Learn how to [X] with this guide
  • The [X] you’ve been waiting for

Words and characters to avoid


Just steer clear whenever you can:

  • Free
  • Buy
  • Purchase
  • Order
  • Urgent
  • Exclamation points !!!!!
  • Dollar signs $$$



Keep in mind that the ‘rules’ for powerful words are not all black and white. In fact, the most powerful words for emails and their subject lines will vary by industry, and according to what’s being offered and who it’s being offered to.


What works for one business may not work for another, and what works for one brand’s personality may not work for another. The key really getting to know your audience base and what appeals to them. Use these guidelines and apply them to your business, then use your metrics to test, measure, and optimize the most powerful words for your email campaigns.


Need some more help? We’ve got your back! The experts at 24 Communications specialize in everything from email campaigns and newsletters to the development and implementation of marketing plans with copy and design that is maximized for sharable content. We find strategic ways to leverage your content across multiple platforms to maximize your brand reach.


Get in touch with the experts at 24 Communications today. We can’t wait to work with you!

Local filmmaker Brandon Loper has big plans while working out of Forge

Local filmmaker Brandon Loper has big plans while working out of Forge

We are reposting this article from Bham Now- check out the original article here!




You might know who directs your favorite TV shows, but you may not know the mind behind the commercials! Enter Brandon Loper, a local filmmaker and commercial director working out of Forge in Birmingham.



Born and raised in Alabama, Loper graduated from the University of North Alabama in 2005 with a degree in entertainment media production. He lived in San Francisco, California for almost eleven years before moving back to Birmingham with his wife and two kids.


For a creative like Loper, Forge is the perfect spot to manage his projects. From directing his own films to working with big-name advertisers, Loper does it all from his spot overlooking Downtown Birmingham. We hopped up to the 2nd floor of the Pizitz to find out what Loper has planned for the future.



How do you define your work?


I’m a commercial director as my day job, so I partner with advertising agencies, production companies and directly to brands to execute a concept or flesh out an idea. A lot of times, I get a script and they’ll say, “Hey, we’d like you to put your spin on this. What can you bring to the table?” I’ve been lucky enough to do that for brands like Nike, Google, Twitter, Comcast, Starbucks… a lot of brands that have a lot of national recognition.





The heart of it is storytelling, which is why I’m pushing more towards narrative filmmaking. I just finished my first short narrative film that I submitted to Sidewalk. I also submitted the documentary I did for Nike last year, “Still KD,” on Kevin Durant and his run-up to winning the championship.


Where did you get your start?



When I moved to San Francisco, I got an internship in a large advertising agency called Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. I had a boss there, James Horner, who started a young director’s program. This was pivotal in my career because I’d always wanted to direct, but I viewed myself as the guy editing, shooting, writing, and making everything.





I got my first gig outside of the Goodby world directing with producer Dalia Burde exclusively for five years, and her production company produced my feature documentary, “A Film About Coffee.”



When I moved here, I went nonexclusive in an effort to work more with people here in Birmingham. It’s been fun to travel and see the world, but I really want to be home at night.



How long have you been working out of Forge?



Since January. I toured it in August of last year, before it even opened. If I’m in town and not hanging out with my family at home, I’m usually here. It’s great being downtown.





What does a typical day look like for you?



I’ll get here after I take my kids to school, have my second or third cup of coffee, and then go settle into my spot. When I’m not co-working, it’s a headphones-on situation.



Depending on what I’m working on, I’ll take advantage of the phone booth, or one of the conference rooms that you can use for phone calls. I don’t take my phone calls in the middle because usually, I can’t really talk about what I’m working on, so I’ll go there to chat.





How is networking with others at Forge?



Kim Lee, the founder and CEO of Forge, is a major networker. A few weeks ago, we were having coffee in the kitchen, and I was telling her about everything going on. She says, “You’ve got to meet this person! You need to work together.” Later, we were meeting about me directing her TV pilot. There are a lot of cool connections. Working at Forge has been great because we can just pop into a meeting room and whiteboard it out.




What are you up to now?



I’m launching an online film workshop called On Set Prep, and I’m working with someone here at Forge who is helping me do the marketing and sales funnels. I’m really excited about that because I enjoy teaching and being a part of education. My course, On Set Prep, is a boot camp for people to learn to be a production assistant. We’re going to be launching it this month. I’m also looking to partner with local high schools and the Film Birmingham coalition. I’m very excited about what’s happening in the film community in Birmingham.



Loper is just one of the very creative people working at Forge.