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what we do

hz stories | issue 5 | summer 2018

The World Is


The Challenge: As the flagship of the Hilton portfolio, Hilton Hotels & Resorts takes pride in showcasing some of the brand’s best destinations and resorts. HZ’s charge: Increase awareness and engagement while also growing the Hilton Hotels & Resorts social audience. The How: HZ established five separate content series designed to build the brand’s social channels as a source for travel inspiration. HZ’s strategy also included leveraging influencers and optimizing content types like dynamic video. The What: HZ’s efforts led to an increase in total engagements by 48% yearover-year, and reduced the overall cost per engagement by 66%. The strategy was a boon for follower growth, too, with Instagram alone seeing a whopping 44% increase over the previous year. HZ dramatically improved engagement rates through in-depth work with influencer content, resulting in a 444% and 268% increase in total engagements on Facebook and Instagram respectively.


WE’LL DRINK TO THIS. THE CHALLENGE Hangar 24 Craft Brewing came to us with their brand already established. But they wanted a cohesive approach to storytelling, where design and copy would work together to seamlessly bring their “Adventures we share” ethos to life.

THE HOW The beer aisle is an ultra-competitive landscape. So we used vibrant colors and a unique, distinctive labeling system to make Hangar 24 stand out, letting customers easily find them amid the packaging clutter.

We took Hangar 24’s core beers and created a unique family, with design and copy complementing each other. The system resulted in an ownable Hangar 24 section in the beer aisle. With each of their core beers having a look and label copy that pays off “Adventures we share.” Allowing customers to immediately zero in on their product. And get a sense of the Hangar 24 ethos while encouraging them to take some home and share a few with friends.

Slow-food pioneers Organic Valley needed an influencer campaign in a hurry.

The Challenge: Our friends at Organic Valley built a billion-dollar business around the idea that slow food is good food. But last spring, Organic Valley was looking to move fast. Really fast. Concept-to-execution-in-only-13-days fast. The ask? Show consumers what life on an Organic Valley farm looks like. The How: Like organic farmers, we worked with what we had, and we worked quickly. We tapped Instagram stars who fit the bill: geographically close to the Maryland farm, aligned with the brand’s values, and thrilled to spend a day in the country with some very friendly cows. The What: Our influencers discovered what makes Organic Valley farms magical. Their audiences did, too—more than 15,000 people watched our influencers’ Instagram Stories of the event, and even more people read about the experience on the influencers’ blogs.

Rebecca Gallop A Daily Something

Caitlin Kruse The Mama Notes

up close and musical HZ




live- m u sic


w it h

n e w, v e n u e.

C l y d e’s




Expert DC-area saloonists Clyde’s Restaurant Group had great success with its first live-music venue, The Hamilton, in downtown Washington. As part of the revitalization of downtown Columbia, MD, developers asked Clyde’s to transform their small Tomato Palace restaurant (adjacent to Clyde’s of Columbia) into a music and privateevent space. But how to stand out in a crowded and growing field of livemusic venues in the DC area, Baltimore, and Annapolis? The folks at Clyde’s sent out an SOS (a.k.a. RFP).



After doing some research, thinking, and creative to win the business, the HZ team really got to work. We did more research into Columbia’s story, target consumer profiles, competitors’ positioning, and relevant cultural trends; we conducted site visits and immersion meetings with the Clyde’s team. From these findings, HZ developed a complete brand positioning, leading to a group of names. The selected name, The Soundry, was expressed in a range of logos; the top two logos then became the visual cornerstones of two brand directions.



The selected creative direction—the Clyde’s team was thrilled with both—combined vibrant colors and active graphics inspired by sound waves and mixing board level indicators. The HZ team developed an integrated campaign of print, digital, and social elements, as well as a channel strategy and a media plan. We created barricade banners for construction and on-stage screen graphics for pre-show use; a landing page and an email template; print and digital ads, including Google display ads; and local radio spots. And we set up Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, along with organic and paid posts. With a sold-out opening night, The Soundry is already making (sound) waves in Columbia.

Happy trails. THE CHALLENGE While the pioneering social enterprise organization has been a trailblazer in the field of cloud computing, its cluttered and clunky website had them lost in the digital woods. Our destination? Present as the leader in nonprofit and higher ed marketing technology, highlight compelling outcomes and clients, and drive users to want more. THE HOW Analytics from the site showed two interrelated problems: a high bounce rate and a high number of “unqualified” leads—people who had asked for a free trial without learning anything about the product first. Both were tell-tale signs of a confused audience. HZ created a simpler interface and a more intuitive user experience—essentially a roadmap and a compass. THE WHAT With design, UX, and SEO teams working hand-in-hand, HZ increased the traffic to’s landing pages by 17%. Qualified leads went up, leading to a 46% increase in conversion rates on free trials. More schools and nonprofits are using the Salesforce platform than ever before. Now, everyone can get where they want to go.


What’s in a Name? The first step for HZ? Redefining what “next day” means for a new generation of consumers. We wanted to communicate Next Day Blinds’ customer-centric approach and premium craftsmanship, while emphasizing the brand’s unprecedented level of accountability for customer satisfaction. We translated those three differentiators into one short, striking phrase: For your tomorrow. In a simple tagline, we captured the essence of what it means to invest in quality for the long term—to create a better tomorrow with great products that are guaranteed for life.


A Window of Opportunity For 25 years, Next Day Blinds has been crafting premium blinds, shades, and shutters in a state-of-the-art factory in Maryland, supporting the local economy while building every product to each customer’s exact specifications. But with an uptick in new retailers competing for market share and a lack of consumer awareness outside the local area, the brand decided it was time for a top-tobottom overhaul, starting with a refreshed brand positioning and extending to a full website redesign.


Crisp. Clean. Classic. The new positioning paved the way for a revitalized brand look and feel that communicates the ideas of exquisite craftsmanship and excellent service in a thoroughly modern way—with lifestyle photography, an updated color palette, a new logo, and modern typography. Next, we tackled the Shutter Guide, leveraging stunning lifestyle photography from a three-day photo shoot along with a journalistic approach to brand storytelling.

+200 % increase in catalog and Shutter Guide requests

+100 % increase in email sign-ups

A Digital Revolution With a clear brand vision established and a sense of creative momentum behind us, the next logical step was to overhaul the Next Day Blinds website. In mid2017, we unveiled a responsive redesign that constitutes a thoughtful balance of simplicity and smarts. With a revamped checkout process and mobile features unmatched by the competition, the relaunched site has exceeded expectations, delivering a dramatic increase in engagement as well as significant decreases in bounce and abandonment rates. Functional, beautiful, and built for tomorrow—just like Next Day Blinds.

Total abandonment rate decreased by


“Sift has built a passionate following among baking enthusiasts who look forward to each issue hitting newsstands. Some readers even buy two—one to make notes in and one as a keepsake. It’s that beautiful!” — STEPHANIE KAY, ACCOUNT SUPERVISOR, HZ

Holiday Happiness The Challenge: After years of close collaboration, HZ and King Arthur Flour partnered on a bold new way to bring the joy and beauty of baking to life: a standout editorial product that could compete on newsstands with legacy baking and food magazines. The How: The HZ team works with the King Arthur Flour team to create Sift, a 100+ page magazine published three times a year. In close collaboration with the client, the HZ team meticulously plans each page, from directing composition and creating pre-shoot layouts to prop styling and color palette. The What: The 2017 Holiday cover featured a delicate stack of snowflake-shaped cookies with confectioner’s sugar being sprinkled from above. The enchanting scene leapt off the newsstand among a crowded field of holiday issues. The issue was a hit on newsstands with an above average sell-through rate of 46 percent.

An AwardWinning Issue Baking enthusiasts aren’t the magazine’s only fans: the American Advertising Federation awarded the 2017 Holiday Issue a coveted ADDY award in 2018.

’Tis The Season THE CHALLENGE For decades, Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree Lighting has been a beloved holiday tradition for New Yorkers and tourists. For the last seven years, HZ has partnered with Tishman Speyer, a longtime client and the destination’s owner, to capture and share the magic of a New York Christmas with global audiences. This year, our challenge was to push our campaign even further to create a meaningful experience for visitors and digital fans alike. THE HOW Using Instagram stories, Twitter threads, Facebook albums, Twitter and Instagram polls, and more, HZ’s Content Studio encouraged followers to engage with the brand in multiple ways, and gave fans the flexibility to follow this year’s excitement in real time or on their own schedule—and all through their favorite social platform. THE WHAT The content evoked emotion and, in turn, produced results: 25K new followers, 16M impressions, and more than 750K engagements throughout the campaign, far surpassing average rates for brands.


3.3 %

total organic impressions

engagement rate

A Tree Arrives in Manhattan The HZ team produced real-time coverage of the 75-foot-tall evergreen’s journey from State College, Pennsylvania, to Midtown Manhattan.

140K+ video views

The Main Event: Tree Lighting To encourage social sharing and engagement on the morning of the Tree Lighting, HZ published a series of Twitter and Instagram polls to connect with those gathering around the Plaza. A microblog series chronicled the stories of those who traveled from distant cities and countries to be a part of the Rockefeller Center holiday tradition.


engagement rate

Maryland is


The Challenge: Maryland boasts a highly educated, diverse workforce and leads in industries including biotech, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace. The Maryland Department of Commerce enlisted HZ to increase awareness of the state’s impressive resume and promote Maryland as a business-friendly state. The How: The HZ team created a campaign with the Governor’s catchphrase “Open for Business” and the state’s enviable stats front-and-center. Eye-catching visuals and bold type treatments conveyed the message in a succinct and striking way. The What: After devising a strategic placement plan, HZ specialists disseminated marketing materials for print, digital, radio, and outdoor, targeting both in- and out-of-state audiences. As a result, web sessions rose 106%, from 52,330 to 107,622.



“It’s tradition with a twist. We’ve created something new, but with a respectful nod to the past.”

Designing new ice cream packaging for Dear Old State was a labor of love.

—Tom Davis, Manager, Penn State Berkey Creamery




For 150 years, the Penn State Berkey

Boasting at least a dozen Penn State

The Berkey Creamery team was thrilled

Creamery has been a world leader in

alumni, HZ was a perfect fit. Out of three

with the new packaging. While no sales

dairy production and food science—

design directions, the selected creative

numbers are available as yet—the new

and a beloved campus landmark and

featured a “seal” in school colors with

design has just recently debuted on

touchstone for alumni. With plans to

a whimsical illustration of the Old Main

pints of ice cream, with half-gallon

boost sales among current and former

building—a clear connection to campus

containers and other applications still to

students and reach new customers,

culture and tradition. HZ brought the

come—initial reports from campus are

directors of the creamery came to HZ

ingredients list forward, and each package

all hearts and smiles.

for a packaging redesign. They wanted

now bears a photo of the ice cream inside.

a fresh new look that would still reflect

And HZ added fun catchphrases that

Penn State tradition.

tie flavor names to campus life and the creamery’s mission of education.

THE CHALLENGE Bakery de France, a wholesale bread bakery that ships locally in the Mid-Atlantic and across North America, turned to HZ to develop a brand that was as compelling as their old-world-style artisan bread and state-of-the-art baking headquarters. The respected, family-owned business needed


a smarter, more captivating way to convey their product offering, their 30-year history, their business capabilities, and their commitment to quality.

THE HOW HZ began with an immersion that included analysis of a highly competitive landscape, interviews with the founders and sales and marketing teams, research on the art of bread baking, and a tour of Bakery de France’s bakery and production lines.

THE WHAT After receiving client approval of a refreshed brand positioning, HZ developed an updated and modern logo system, color palette, and typography style, and organized a photo shoot that would showcase Bakery de France products from a mouthwatering new perspective. To date, creative includes new product packaging, print and digital brochures, and a new website. The result? Thrilled clients who now BEST IN SHOW EXHIBITOR BOOTH AWARD HONORABLE MENTION

have a brand that’s as exceptional as their delicious bread tastes.

BEHIND THE BREAD To provide Bakery de France with an ownable look and feel, HZ partnered with photographer Helen Norman and food stylist Lisa Cherkasky for a photo shoot that captured every angle of the client’s artisan bread. From insights on lighting and propping to overall composition, HZ leveraged its food photography experience to bring valuable art direction to the table. And, as a result, collected a cohesive library of savory application shots—from crust to crumb.

BE OUR GUEST The Challenge: Southern Management Corporation—an HZ client for nearly 20 years— turned to us for brand development of The Hotel at the University of Maryland, the first luxury hotel of its kind to premiere in College Park. The How: HZ calibrated each message to target a variety of audiences and needs. From companies hosting events and conferences to business travelers, alumni, and families looking for a respite, the message was clear: Be our guest and you’ll be at the top of the class. The What: During this multi-year project, HZ worked with SMC on every aspect of the hotel’s brand development. From initial positioning to architectural design details, HZ created a brand imbued with the spirit and prestige of a world-class university.

THE CHALLENGE Stephen Curry is one of basketball’s most popular and exciting players. To contribute to the hype surrounding his NBA All-Star Game appearance, HZ was asked to design and create a box to house the limited-edition shoes with two colorways—one to be worn during each half of the game.

THE HOW As a fitting testament to his story of per­sev­erance and determination, we proposed a box made from aged wood and engraved with his “NBA story”— the stats from his career that led him to this moment. While the stats centered around his prolific shooting ability, we also included some lesser-known data, like his 24 in-game dunks. On the interior, we create a pristine environment to show off the shoes and included backlighting to enhance the unboxing experience.

THE WHAT The box was presented to Stephen Curry at an Under Armour party during the NBA All-Star Weekend. “Impressive,” was how he described it after closely examining the exterior. And, upon seeing his 24 in-game dunks memorialized, he made a point to make sure everyone in attendance was aware of the stat.

Distinctively Addressed

LEED® certified building Double vanity sinks in master bath Hansgrohe bathroom fixtures Full-height kitchen backsplash

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his newest Nobu restaurant right at 2501 M.

EXTR AORDINARY And, in September 2017, the world-famous Nobu Matsuhisa premieres

Solid-wood entry doors


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to the best of Georgetown, Rock Creek Park and Dupont Circle.

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Elegant Italian Stile wide-plank white oak flooring

flooring. Located in the heart of West End, 2501 M offers easy access

Expansive private terraces and balconies with Italian wood-effect porcelain tile

cabinetry, the highest-quality stone, customized lighting and white oak For more information and to make an appointment to view the model residences, call the sales team at 202-293-2501. The office is open daily from 11am to 5pm.

Residences featuring 1,170 to 2,320 square feet of space of space

brilliant natural light, these sophisticated residences sparkle with sleek


Landscaped rooftop terrace, including ample space for grilling and entertaining

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2501 M ST NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20037 202 293 2501 SALES@2501M.COM

AMENITIES Sales office open daily 11am to 5pm Call 202.293.2501 for an individual appointment

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the challenge.

the how.

the what.

When Hilton Honors partnered with, HZ booked a big undertaking. Our creative needed to introduce their partnership and explain how to shop with Points. It also needed to establish exciting connections between shopping and traveling, and ultimately inspire members to link their Hilton Honors and Amazon accounts.

HZ created paid and organic content for multiple social channels that motivated audiences to pack their (shopping) bags. Each tactic— from split screens of products and properties to a Facebook Canvas ad with a “choose your own travel identity” premise— playfully prompted viewer participation and stopped scrolls.

The goal was to inform, entertain, and send the “hard sell” packing. HZ nailed it with social content that targeted both Hilton Honors loyalists and online shoppers. Organic posts and ads saw success, but the Canvas ad garnered particularly high engagement, even with a glut of holiday ads vying for the same eyeballs.

The Points from your latest trip are in the bag-now spend them on tons of items at @Amazon!

choose your adventure.

Taking a vacation just got even better. You can use your Points to shop at @Amazon!

The Facebook Canvas ad told the story of “escaping” by shopping with Points. Dynamic Canvas features, like video and tilt-to-pan, prolonged engagement. Curated products and hotel suggestions for featured travel identities made the ad feel like a customized adventure.

Here’s a pretty amazing eye-opener: Hilton Honors members can use their Points from traveling to buy millions of items at!

Now with Hilton Honors you can use your Points to buy tons of stuff at @Amazon!

Getting the most out of travel is music to our ears! You can use the Points you rack up when you travel on millions of items.






*Paid and Organic for Snackable Video





T H E W H AT : From September to October, we increased email submit goal conversions by

10% audience growth.

228% , resulting in

Engagement rates increased by more than

15% and continue to perform above industry average for clicks and opens.

Putting a New Community on the DC Map. T H E C H A L L E N G E : When we were tasked with introducing the District’s

largest new neighborhood to the world, we jumped at the opportunity to fully leverage HZ’s truly integrated capabilities. T H E H O W : We created a distinctive, versatile brand to break through the

cluttered DC real estate market, raise awareness about the new neighborhood, generate excitement for the grand opening, and easily adapt to ongoing efforts for a fresh, cohesive brand experience across all tactics—including ads, print collateral, outdoor site signage, giveaways, website, email, app, and social media.

More than



attended The Wharf’s four-day Kickoff Celebration.


instagram 400% , and published 11 Instagram Stories that resulted in more than 225K total Grew The Wharf’s following by nearly impressions on the live content.



Increased Facebook event

Tripled the number of Twitter

40% , to more than 2.3M.

followers and increased

page reach by

the engagement rate to an average of

2.7% (industry

standard is 0.05%).

The District Wharf App T H E D O W N L O A D : The Wharf app makes it even easier to

stay connected to the vibrant waterfront community. HZ designed it to be a pocket concierge, delivering an event calendar, news, tenant information, the area’s history, and detailed info on all nine ways to get there. But what really makes it stand out is the real-time transit information—and that you can call an Uber directly from the app to any venue listed in the directory.


trending on Google Play Store for the travel & local category on opening day.

We employed street teams at two events to give away branded T-shirts to incentivize app downloads—resulting in 1,800 new users.

The audience-tailored Holiday Gift Guides—featuring Wharf retailers, restaurants, and entertainment—resulted in

652 website visits, 29K+ impressions, and an average of 02:24 time on site.

High-octane web results. See how sourced info and a sound strategy can really make things GO for Volkswagen. HZ has been the agency of record for Volkswagen of America After Sales since 2009. This includes the Service, Parts, and Accessories divisions plus Wholesale and VW DriverGear. Beyond attentiongetting creative, we’ve continually had to stay ahead of the curve with the latest tools, tactics, and technologies to maintain measured success for one of the most iconic brands in the world.

HZ collaborated with key VW vendors for a seamless user experience and robust data sets. Data-accelerated methodology, from click-to-call analysis to conditional logic, put the brand’s pedal to the metal.


increase to individual dealer pages quarter over quarter

The Challenge: Year after year, quarter after quarter, increase awareness and drive conversions.


recorded conversion rate, with an average of 14.9K “Schedule Service” clicks per quarter

The How: HZ partnered with VW to better collect, monitor, and leverage key data via web, email, and direct mail. Every customer engagement became an opportunity to learn more about audiences—and serve them the offers and experiences they crave.


increase in unique click-through rates from coupons and offers


increase in traffic to

The What: HZ implemented an integrated data-reporting strategy across digital and traditional efforts, optimizing and delivering learnings along the way.

Brand. New. The Volkswagen Certified Pre-Owned Program gets a confident new makeover. The Challenge: The Volkswagen “WorldAuto” program was struggling with its identity. Simply put, the name didn’t fit into the VW brand. Armed with a decade of experience in Volkswagen After Sales, the HZ team jumped in. By Q4 of 2017, the confusion was gone. And Volkswagen Certified Pre-Owned was launched. The How: HZ created a strategy that tapped into buyers’ mindsets—specifically, the need to know they are making a smart decision. From first click to final purchase, “Go with confidence” was more than a tagline. It was a call to action—supported with a new look and feel that underscores the benefits of the program in a friendly, reassuring way. The What: Deliverables included national and dealer website updates, POP materials, digital and paid media efforts, email communications, and dealer resources and communications.

I graduated Magna Come Highway. Passed a comprehensive 100+ point dealer inspection. And ready to roll.

Let’s make my former owner jealous. Engineered for performance and backed by model specific limited warranty coverage.* *See owner’s literature or dealer for your vehicle’s warranty coverage, exclusions, and limitations.

TA K E T H E H E L M THE CHALLENGE: How to showcase a leader in the world of high-end yachting? Lauderdale Marine Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, which is the largest yacht shipyard in the U.S. and specializes in yacht refit and repair, needed a brand befitting its talents in a niche industry. THE HOW: HZ developed an integrated marketing strategy to help LMC set sight on their ideal target audience: yacht owners and their captains. THE WHAT: LMC’s new identity package—including a new website— took them from a rough and rugged shipyard to a brand that’s a yard above. And a lighthearted print advertising campaign spoke directly to the needs of their audience while setting them apart from the competition.

NINE UNIVERSITIES. UNDER ONE U. THE CHALLENGE Refreshing a brand is always challenging. Multiply that challenge by nine and you get HZ’s charge: to create a unified brand identity for a campus offering degree programs from nine Maryland public universities—some of which looked very similar.

THE HOW A key objective for the new brand? Reduce complexity and counter confusion. But simplicity requires coalition-building throughout extensive and complex approvals: HZ worked closely with partners at The Universities at Shady Grove to arrive at a new identity everybody—from the marketing team, to key stakeholders, focus groups of students, the board, and eventually state officials—could agree on. Those approvals came with only minor tweaks: a minor miracle.

THE WHAT The brand boldly ref lects the client’s forward-looking business model, nods to Maryland pride by using abstract elements of the state f lag, and brings it all together behind one shield formed by a modern U.



The Challenge: With one season of being “on the team” under our belt, we did what Coach Patterson asks of his players: We looked at our game to see where we could improve.





The How: We reviewed both our approach and TCU’s rivals and determined that what we needed was more nimble collaboration: The ability to respond quicker—via visuals and messaging—to team activities and big happenings. We found

new ways to open up channels with TCU’s marketing team to allow for this type of in-the-moment responsiveness. The What: Today, TCU is recognized by national digital media specialists as a “must follow” for college football fans. The wins are evident off the field, too: TCU has attracted a national top 20 recruiting class. We’d call that another successful season.

Fresh Print THE CHALLENGE: Reach an audience of high school seniors preparing for college—and increase sales to them.

THE HOW: HZ’s Content Studio proposed transforming Dormify’s traditional merchandise catalog into an editorial-driven magazine-catalog hybrid. Following the model of service journalism, we leveraged our understanding of the target market’s needs and interests to generate content that was both educational and engaging.

THE WHAT: From interviews with real college students to helpful checklists and infographics, the content not only helped deliver on Dormify’s promise to make shopping for college easy and fun, but also helped to enhance brand loyalty by adding value to the conversation between Dormify and its customers. The 2017 catalog drove nearly 4% of total sales during the back-to-school period, constituting a 262% increase in year-over-year growth, and revenue per catalog sent increased threefold.

Dormify introduced “Style Studios” in Maryland, New York, and Chicago. Set up as showrooms and guided by a stylist, the pop-ups allow customers to design their dorm rooms from start to finish and see and feel products IRL.

Double-tap that Custom posters designed by HZ designers!

Instagram has become as important to the brand as email marketing, so the team now makes sure that every post is shoppable. Those efforts are paying off, driving a 144% increase in sales from Instagram.

YouTube creator Danielle Carolan showcases Dormify’s holiday gift offering.

Holla days THE CHALLENGE: Over the last two years, HZ’s Content Studio has

New look, who dis?

established strong relationships with a variety of top-tier influencers on behalf of Dormify. So, when the brand approached us to help promote its back-to-school products, new collections, and holiday gift offerings, we were able to quickly enlist influencers from our roster, each with a proven track record for success.

A digital makeover for web and mobile showcases Dormify’s forward-thinking approach. Coupled with a migration from Magento to Shopify, the e-commerce experience is now easier, faster, and better for Dormify customers. And that means more sales!

THE HOW: With little to no budget available, we formulated partnerships to create YouTube videos and Instagram posts on behalf of the brand—a testament to our ability to broker successful relationships between influencer talent and our clients.

THE WHAT: Over the course of three influencer campaigns, our efforts have driven nearly $149,000 in revenue for the brand. The influencer content resonated with Dormify’s target consumers—proven by the 363,000-plus organic social engagements. It also inspired them to take action, as the content drove more than 3,200 site visits.

There’s an app for that Designed to engage and assist high school students as they prep for moving into a college dorm, the Dormify app combines inspiration tools—like a custom moodboard creator—with helpful tips, checklists, and relevant content.

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HZ Stories Issue 5  
HZ Stories Issue 5