Communication Design Manager
The Sabian Cymbals company was formed in Meductic, New Brunswick by Robert Zildjian and his family in 1981. I can remember first hearing about the Canadian cymbal company as it was around the same time that I started playing the drums. My parents bought me my first Sabian cymbals in 1984, which I still have today, and it is not a surprise to me that many years later I would be designing Sabian Cymbals advertisements for my favourite music magazines Modern Drummer, Rhythm, Drummer, and DRUM.
I joined Sabian Cymbals on their 25th anniversary year and moved to Meductic to establish and manage an internal communication design department and photography studio as part of their marketing department. In my role as Communication Design Manager, I designed consumer and trade advertising, packaging, signage, trade-show sales tools, information design, product and event photography, website support, and sales materials for international markets. I standardized the production of various marketing collateral and managed the workflow of an intermediate designer, junior designer, external freelancers, and various suppliers. I also spearheaded setting up a photography studio and the creation of a comprehensive photographic image library consisting of hundreds of product images.
During my time at Sabian, I met drummers Chester Thompson (Genesis, Weather Report, Frank Zappa), Chris "The Whipper" Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan), Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne), Jeff Watts (Branford Marsalis), and Ralph Peterson Jr (Fo'tet, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers) to name a few. It was a great honour to meet and work with everyone at Sabian and to be considered part of the Sabian family. Sabian is one of the world's leading cymbal manufacturer's with cymbals sold in over 120 countries.
Over the years, Sabian's product lines continued to grow and expand while becoming more and more confusing to their distributors and customers. A major exercise in overall brand repositioning and messaging was required and through a process of simplification and differentiation, a classification system was developed to organize the different types of cymbal sounds into five descriptive categories:
Concepts, look, and style were developed for each of the above categories. The new creative direction was initially produced for the company's brand magazine Newsbeat and expanded through to all consumer and trade advertising. Sabian's What's Your Sound? campaign won music industry and advertising awards.
I collaborated with marketing colleagues to explore creative directions for the initial development of the campaign. I was involved in brainstorming sessions and produced initial mock-ups and visualization of concepts. As Communication Design Manager, I was also responsible for addressing brand and design issues with the international roll-out of the campaign.
What's Your Sound?
Sabian's “What’s Your Sound?” sound guide was designed with music retailers in mind. The concept behind the pocket booklet was to provide retailers with an easy-to-use reference guide for recommending cymbals to suit a customer's particular style of playing and genre of music. The guide, organized by musical genres, provides specific models for the basic types of cymbals (hats, rides, crashes, splashes, and chinas). This sales tool greatly aided retailers in pin-pointing specific options and sound recommendations to inquiring customers. It was well received and utilized by Sabian's exclusive US and Canadian distribution networks. This important retail-level sales tool was developed by Sabian marketing with sales, artist relations, and the artisans who create the sounds.
I designed consumer print advertisements for placement in a wide variety of international drum and percussion magazines. I worked with the internal marketing team and artist relations to develop consumer print advertisements targeted to international audiences in the USA, UK, European, Latin American, and Asian markets.
Acted as liaison to international music photographers, magazines, and the world’s leading drummers. Sourced high quality performance imagery for advertising and marketing purposes.
I designed international print advertisements for music trade and retailer magazines. Trade advertisements included new products, information about Sabian sounds, and product benefits. Advertisements were created by working closely with our internal sales and marketing team and were targeted to industry retailers, dealers, and distributors in the USA, UK, Canada, Europe, Latin American, and Asian markets.
Readership included employees and owners of music retail stores, industry professionals, manufacturers, and distributors.
Created trade show displays, booths, and supporting promotional items for a wide variety of worldwide trade shows and including PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Conference), NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), the Montreal Drum Festival, and Musik Messe.
New Sounds Booklet
This accordion style booklet was designed to showcase seven new sounds from the Sabian Cymbal Vault. Each panel featured a new product, its photo, and specific details about the cymbal's qualities and benefits (finish, weight, size, sound characteristics, and metal composition). The information booklet was available as a takeaway piece at international trade shows. Ergonomic design and a compact format allowed for the piece to be carried away in the pockets of inquiring industry professionals.
Point of Purchase
Created in-store POP materials, cymbal display headers, artist banners, product table cards, signage, contest ballots, buttons, and stickers. I worked with internal sales and marketing personnel in the development of marketing materials for external retailers.
Product & Event Photography
Established, organized, and set-up a photography studio equipped with lighting, light boxes, backdrops and a remote computer. The photography studio was located in the cymbal factory where we could gain easy access to the cymbal inventory. Photos were captured and transmitted to the marketing department at a nearby location for colour correction and digital filing.
Approximately 1,400 new product images were acquired, colour corrected, close-cropped, and catalogued into comprehensive image libraries for both print and website applications. I managed, oversaw, and directed a student photographer and designers in the production and workflow of creating digital image libraries. Additionally, I photographed various cymbal manufacturing processes in the factory. Photographs were utilized on our website, online factory tour, and in various marketing print pieces. Documented Sabian artist performances at various music events (Montreal Drum Festival) and during artist visits to the factory.
For more information about Sabian Cymbals visit: https://www.sabian.com/en/home