BLACKS is Still Photography

BLACKS Photography| Creative & Video, Integrated Planning & Digital| Digital| 2015

In the 1980s and 1990s, BLACKS was printing money. Everyday photographers printed every single photo they took in the hopes of finding a few winners for an album. When digital cameras came along, consumers were able to delete bad photos and only print the photos they wanted. This had a huge impact on the photo-printing industry.

Total Disruption

Mobile phone cameras and social media have changed photography – how we take pictures, what we take pictures of and what we do with them. We document every moment of our lives and post them to social media. Photography is fleeting.

While photo printing has declined significantly since the 80s and 90s, it has now plateaued and is beginning to rise again. Why? Camera phones are getting better, we are taking 10 times as many photos and are looking to do something more with the photos we’ve captured.

The question for BLACKS was: how do we inspire consumers to create photo products they would cherish.

As we mentioned, the photography industry has evolved and BLACKS not only has to move along with it, but also stay one step ahead.

BLACKS engaged our team to transform their online customer experience – across Web and mobile – to align with their new brand vision: Playground for Photography.

In the first year, our digital goals were to:

Two months to identify an audience and strategy.

Things needed to move fast to prove that BLACKS could be a viable business for TELUS. By fast, we mean: conduct research, define the strategy, design the digital experience, launch the website and hit our benchmarks within 12 months.

Where did we start?

First, we leveraged Environics Research Group’s (ERG) social values data to quickly identify relevant consumer segments that aligned with BLACKS new brand values. While Personal and Creative Expression ranked high with our desired audience, they also indicated they weren’t confident in their ability to express themselves creatively.

This insight provided an opportunity to inspire creativity and build confidence in their ability to express themselves through BLACKS products. The new digital experience needed to inspire consumers, and make it easier to transact.

Inspiring consumer creativity and personal expression

As part of our core strategy, we introduced a platform for Canada’s top home décor and creative bloggers to share their ideas, tips and inspiration with BLACKS consumers.

Bloggers were selected to align with our different audience’s personal style preferences (modern, eclectic, bold) and life stage (with kids and without kids). The editorial content was designed to showcase the endless possibilities to express yourself with BLACKS products, through gift, home décor and occasion ideas. It also aimed to increase consumer confidence in selecting the right product and being able to see the quality of the final output.

Beyond inspiring consumers with tips, blogger photography kept the website on trend (and reduced photography costs), and drove traffic to the website. After one Instagram post, Monica Hibbs increased BLACKS Instagram followers by 100+.

Satisfying different customer needs

Proof envisioned the complete online experience to meet different user needs and provide a seamless path to conversion. The primary navigation is designed to lead users based on their desired path; whether they are looking for ideas (Inspiration), a gift (Occasions) or a specific product (Products). Each page also included call-outs, promotions, or blog posts relevant to the page content to assist decision-making.

Where we netted out

After the first year in market, the new website exceeded expectations (and industry averages) in increased conversion, sales performance, engagement and positive customer feedback. Anecdotally, customers were printing off blog posts and bringing them in-store saying “I want to do this!” But, for case study purposes, hard metrics are more convincing. Within 9 months, saw:


Unfortunately, BLACKS retail brand no longer exists. However, another great success metric for Proof is that the online experience continues to deliver photography products for today’s consumer.

Love the new website. Very happy to see a Canadian company thriving