Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Rhubarb Media is known for simplicity in design and a deep commitment to create and express your story to the world. But, if you’ve ever wondered what goes on in a creative mind, this little Christmas scene might sum it up. Mayhem, slightly distorted, a kaleidoscope of hues and a cornucopia of imagery, shapes and shades – all mashed up and interacting and sometimes fighting with each other. We wrestle and wrangle, mix and match, fail and find, until… it becomes your logo, your website, your brochure, your story. Somehow it all comes together.

As we look back on this past year, we celebrate. Our team has worked hard and I’m proud of them. Tyler, Zhenya, Mario, Joelle and Sandra. (And yes, although you’ve moved on Jess, we celebrate you too!) I look over our client list and I am thankful. Many have been with us from day one! (That’s almost 9 years, folks!)

We hope your Christmas isn’t as crazy as this scene looks and that next year is a year of significant and satisfying growth. We look forward to serving you in 2015!

Orillia Museum of Arts and History (OMAH) Gets a New Website

Orillia Museum of Arts and History (OMAH) Gets a New Website

Over the past 8 years, Rhubarb Media has become the go to studio for design and web services for arts and culture organizations and OMAH continues that trend. We consulted with them to create a new and improved content managed site (DRUPAL) designed to be highly visual, interactive and responsive.

What they said when we launched…

“OMG….just checked! WOOT, it’s there!! OMG!!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!” 
~ Ninette, Executive Director 
Those Executive Directors can be so reserved sometimes.:)

See their new site here!

Meet Rhubarb’s Founder

Rhubarb’s founder and owner Chad Ballantyne continually takes a leadership role in the community, encouraging the collaboration of businesses, mentoring of youth and modelling social responsibility.chad-ballantyne-rhubarb-owner

In addition to donating these invaluable services, Rhubarb’s founder and owner, Chad Ballantyne, has sat on the ‘Pathways Committee to End Homelessness’ and the ‘Entrepreneurship Advisory Board’ for Georgian College. Chad is a contributor to our community newspaper, challenging readers to pursue passion, creativity, care for others and personal responsibility.

Rhubarb sponsors The “Creative Space”, a coworking space of over 40 small business members (created by Chad and his wife Sandra) which supports Barrie’s entrepreneurs through collaboration and community, mentorship of students and encourages the revitalization of Barrie’s downtown core, which is one of the priorities addressed in the city’s 2010-2014 Strategic Plan.

Rhubarb’s owners, Chad and Sandra Ballantyne live and run their business in a way that truly reflects their understanding of the connectedness of each of these elements to a healthy, thriving community. They put heart into their business.

Ballantyne volunteers at the organization he started and Rhubarb sponsors, ‘The Creative Space’, where local businesses can sponsor a desk for a Georgian Student through their ‘Trep’ (entrepreneur) program.



Stop sending spam to ask permission to send more spam (or A Discussion on CASL Compliancy)

Stop sending spam to ask permission to send more spam (or A Discussion on CASL Compliancy)

First off, don’t be in a panic about July 1, 2014.

(Unless you are sending unsolicited nonsense to mass recipients without providing “a way out”… then God help you)

In the past few weeks we have been receiving  questions from our clients about sending out emails to their contacts in an effort to be CASL compliant. It appears that many corporations are taking a “sledge hammer” approach in a knee-jerk reaction to this legislation and sending out mass messages to their clientele and contacts. Their goal is to confirm with everyone in their list that they have indeed given express consent to continue to spam them send valuable marketing messaging to them in the future. We think that’s bad for brands and super annoying.

We have done a lot of research to find out what it actually means for our clients to be CASL complaint… and surprise, what we recommend is a more strategic approach.

The first thing to note is that most (if not all) of our clients are already using a proper email list management solution such as MailChimp or Constant Contact. This is probably the largest step toward becoming compliant (depending on how they initially setup/acquired their email list and imported it). These services track sign-up information, so you can provide that if it ever comes into question. They also offer templates that present the originating company’s address and an easily accessible unsubscribe link. These are key aspects to being CASL compliant.

Regarding complacency on the email list itself, the main thing we’re working with our clients to establish is whether or not the individuals currently within their lists have already given implicit consent. This by virtue of the fact that they have had past communications about something (such as membership or a business transaction), provided their email address and therefore have been added to the list database.

For these people, (from what we’ve read) you don’t need to have their explicit consent until July 1, 2017 (see the section labeled “Transition” on the Government of Canada’s CASL FAQs). As a path to least resistance, what we recommend doing is adding a clause to your membership/contractual agreement where it explicitly informs them that you are requesting their email address to add them to your membership email list and that they can unsubscribe any time.  Please look up other articles outlining other strategic recommendations to accommodate this requirement over the next months and years. Please do not spam your members, constituents or customers in a panic demanding consent.

Many of our clients also have people on their list who registered through the website subscription form. This means they have already given explicit consent to send them messages (which MailChimp has a record of, if this ever comes into question), so you don’t need to bother them to ask for it again.

Other than the government’s own website that does a fairly good job of express consent versus implied consent, a great article to quickly read through is up on MailChimp’s website. It explains all of this and allows most of our client rest easy that they’ve already been compliant to CASL (and it’s predecessor from 2011).

Another resource that explains the implications of the July 1, 2014 date vs the July 1, 2017 date is Constant Contact’s FAQ page on “What does the Canadian Anti-Spam law mean when it talks about implied and express permission?

Still confused about your situation? Give us a call or email us and we’ll talk through it.

Shopify e-commerce websites under our belt

Shopify e-commerce websites under our belt

In the past few weeks we have launched two new e-commerce websites on the increasingly popular Shopify platform.

Under the Shopify Partners program, our team was able to work with clients to configure, populate, train-on and thoroughly test their new online stores.

Although this is our 4th major update to since first launching it in 2009 using Drupal 6, we consider this an official “version 2” after migrating it from Ubercart 2 to Shopify. In 2012 the site underwent a restructuring and simplification of products and categories to improve UX and SEO.Sweet-Flour-Bake-Shop-v2-300x195

Since seeing an increase in online sales conversions, we made it a priority to maintain the site’s SEO equity by migrating the structure, maintaining keywords in content, page titles and meta descriptions, configuring 301 redirects and submitting the updated site map to Google Webmaster Tools. Additionally, we made it a priority to ensure the website content is mobile-first and usable on all size of devices with its responsive design. Helpful features such as a “call now” button that is revealed on the mobile-view of the website have been put in place to increase value to the customer experience.

Our client Kim Gans forwarded a note in a support discussion she had with a Shopify Guru Team member:

…I must say that you probably have one of the best put together bakery sites I have seen. The layout, the rules and feel of the site are extremely well done.
Mark G — A Shopify Guru


Parcelled-With-Love-300x195Parcelled With Love was a start-up e-commerce site with the idea of selling toy products to parents and have them delivered as care packages to children while they are away at Summer camp. We worked with Sarah and Josie to give direction on marketing messaging, content development and appropriate photography styles. The logo and brand colours had been kicked-off before we took on the project, but we worked to further refine some of the styles and round out the colour palette to make the site’s presentation fun and kid-friendly without making the site look childish.

We were extremely pleased with the website that the Rhubarb Media team designed using the Shopify platform.  Rhubarb was able to successfully choose a theme in keeping with our products and provide us with design concepts that reflect our brand.  The structure of the site the team built worked well,  incorporating all of our categories and products.  Finally, the Rhubarb team ensured that we were well trained to update and navigate changes to our Parcelled with Love website independently.  We would happily recommend the professionals at Rhubarb Media.
Sarah and Josie – Parcelled With Love


Let us know if you have an idea for an online business and need some assistance with your marketing efforts!

From Rhubarb to Yoga: Farewell Jess!

From Rhubarb to Yoga: Farewell Jess!

A New Chapter for Jess Clarke

Hey All!

It’s Jess here! For those of you that don’t know me I am the Lead designer here at Rhubarb. I have had the pleasure of working on many of your branding/logos, print material, social media marketing, some websites and much much more over the last 5 years. 

I am writing today to let you all know that as of this Friday, May 9th, I will be saying goodbye to this chapter of my career and to all of you.

I am moving on to work at a yoga studio full time. I am really excited, but also really sad to be leaving. Rhubarb has been a huge part of my growth and career over the last five years. I have met some really great people and learned so much. I have also seen/helped a lot of businesses grow and learn.

I have appreciated being a part of this with you. Thank you for allowing my creativity to flow and bring you designs that you love. Thank you for all of the relationships I’ve built and the fun I have had. Thank you!

Jess Clarke

From the Lead Rhubarbarian,

Jess Clarke came to us from Georgian as an intern and I knew pretty early on we’d keep her!  She started as a Jr Designer and gradually became our Lead.  She’s been a huge asset to the team and the success of Rhubarb.  During the recession when print media faded away for a bit we had to lay her off but she took a job back at the Examiner in hopes we’d ride the wave out and hire her back – and, we did!!  Jess is a great designer and over the years continued to grow to take on more projects, improve her skills and move into client care.  She loves being on the phone!!  (that’s a joke)  She fit in well with the “boys” and will definitely be hard to replace.  You will be missed, Jess!  Blessings on your new journey at Bliss!  We hope to see you ’round town!

Rhubarb Media putting heart into business  – Alan Atkins, Special to the Examiner

Rhubarb Media putting heart into business – Alan Atkins, Special to the Examiner

This is a continuing series discussing the reduction of poverty and homelessness in Barrie and how it affects volunteers and those they help

Chad Ballantyne has a mission.

Rhubarb Media was founded in 2006 to help businesses and not-for-profit organizations tell their stories to the world.

His company creates multimedia messages through print and web-based platforms with a social twist.

From its inception, Rhubarb Media has developed a reputation for supporting community organizations, such as the David Busby Street Centre, by donating web and promotion services and encouraging them to market themselves like businesses.

He feels not-for-profits are unsustainable if they rely solely on donations and government funding.

It also means that the funding determines the programs rather than the reverse.

On the other hand, Chad feels strongly that there has been a philosophical shift in our thinking from the social to the corporate model.

“Knowledge and productivity have become kings,” he says. “But we have lost our heart if everything is measured by the bottom line.”

Chad believes that although some poverty will always be a fact of life, much of it in affluent nations like Canada is due to poor distribution of abundant resources.

“We have to ask ourselves if we are prepared to give up some of our personal comfort and privileges if we want to reduce poverty and homelessness,” he says.

Organizations like the David Busby Street Centre deal effectively with crises that result from our current value system, according to Chad. But we need to go deeper by instilling new values and priorities in the young to change the problem at the source.

“There is a lack of strong mentoring and leadership in society today,” he says. “We used to look to the church to take the lead in dealing with social problems. Although I think churches can play a bigger role than they do today, that isn’t the answer. We have gradually lost the concept of personal responsibility. This is why we don’t blame ourselves but look to big government or big business or something else to fix our problems.”

Chad believes that real change begins at home. When parents model values of caring for others and take personal responsibility for their actions, children will follow.

The next step is to instill these values through the education system.

Unfortunately, due to a mistaken focus on political correctness, schools have become almost value free, leaving youth to fend for itself in navigating a conflicted world where narcissism, conformity and the pursuit of wealth and fame are the dominant themes.

Chad has walked the talk even after leaving a 15-year career as a youth minister to go into business. Aside from his company’s ongoing commitment to the community, he voluntarily created and ran a 14-week youth program called Spark for 3 grade 8 classes from Holly Meadows Elementary School.

“It was an interactive course that discussed life skills and values,” explains Chad. “Ultimately, we tried to fill in the gaps by teaching them how to fight the three main battles in life: 1. Doing it alone versus teamwork; 2. Conforming versus being creative; 3. Being famous versus pursuing greatness.”

Chad grew up with parents and grandparents who were ministers and watched them give constantly regardless of their own often marginal circumstances. He was taught that each of us has an obligation to use our gifts to help others accomplish their goals in life. This is his corporate philosophy as well. Although many people are afraid that this approach will hamper personal success, Chad disagrees.

“Our company has been around since 2006 and despite giving away significant time and money, we continue to expand. Success is important,” he says. “If we fail, we can’t be in a position to help others or provide employment.”

While they do a lot of work for the arts and cultural community and other non-profits, they have also done work for the City of Barrie, and large publicly traded corporations.

“I have been called a social capitalist,” Chad says with a chuckle.

He sits on the community committee for Barrie Pathways. This new organization seeks to end homelessness by creating a continuum of care beyond the triage services provided by organizations like the David Busby Street Centre.

“The Busby Centre does excellent work in giving people a hand up. But we need follow up to keep people from falling back into the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” he says. “Barrie Pathways hopes to do this through the co-operation of many agencies and the community at large. By providing better integration of services we can eliminate the gaps that so many participants fall into between service providers.

“We believe we can reduce poverty by ending homelessness.”

He admits people can be overwhelmed by the magnitude and complexity of social problems.

I asked him what he thought individuals can do to make a difference.

“Each of us can do something. My own goal is to mentor other business owners through example to show that business can become the conscience of the community,” he says. “Specifically, I think individuals can do a number of things. It starts with changing our own thinking about helping others.

“We can do this by getting personally involved in doing something for our community as well as giving more. We have to think about the legacy we wish to leave behind. We have to be counter-cultural. And we have to start at home by empowering our children to believe that we can never be great by ourselves, but that greatness is measured by the quality of life we make possible for everyone else.”


Alan Atkins is a writer and volunteer on the Community Relations Advisory Council of the David Busby Street Centre. For more information or to get connected to the Busby Centre, email or call 705-739-6916 or visit If you know of a Community Champion contact Alan directly or 705-791-1141.

Northern Rockies Regional Airport Says Thanks!

Northern Rockies Regional Airport Says Thanks!

The Northern Rockies Regional Airport (NRRA), being one of the fastest growing airports in Canada, was looking to develop a new website that utilizes the most effective technology to enable the airport to provide a dynamic, interactive and user-friendly website for its passengers.

northern-rockies-regional-airport-website-conceptIn early 2013, the NRRA had selected Rhubarb media through a competitive public FRP process due to their great deal of attention put forward into their proposal and their forward thinking in order to achieve the goals of the NRRA.

Rhubarb Media’s objective was to produce a website that would support the airport’s overall strategic vision of attracting additional routes and airline partners to serve domestic regional markets not currently represented at NRRA. Equally important was this project’s ability to attract new business and investment through e-marketing and the publication of pertinent airport economic development information and links on the website. 

Here’s what they had to say:

“Throughout the entire process, Rhubarb Media was thoroughly organized and extremely easy to work with. They were able to compile all of our requests and produce a product that not only functioned extremely well, but went above and beyond to ensure the site not only matched our vision, but exceeded it far beyond our expectations.

Rhubarb was continuously looking out for the NRRA’s interest, and was innovative in finding solutions to our unique operations of a busy northern airport. Their approach to customer service, although very professional, came off as working with a friend than a typical client/business relationship which was easily helpful at putting us at ease during meetings and troubleshooting scenarios.

Rhubarb Media were an absolutely joy to work with, and I highly recommend their services.” (Eric Desnoyers, Business Manager, Northern Rockies Regional Airport)

Rhubarb Wins Arts and Culture Award

Rhubarb Wins Arts and Culture Award

(From the Barrie Examiner, November 27, 2013) “The Barrie Arts Awards celebrated some of the city’s artistic best in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Southshore Centre November, 26, 2013.

Five awards were presented in between performances representing a cross-section of the arts community.”

“Chad Ballantyne picked up the business award for his long time support of the arts, both as a volunteer, a parent of kids who have interest in the arts and as the creative director of Rhubarb Media, which operates out of a unique co-work environment, he started in downtown Barrie called The Creative Space.”

Rhubarb Media has been a strong supporter of arts and culture in Barrie since they launched in 2006. They have sponsored or offered expertise to the MacLaren Art Centre, Kempenfelt Community Players, Moving Art, The Loft Art Space, Talk is Free Theatre, Cingolani Arts, Arts ce Soir, Barrie Arts and Culture Council, The Green Room News and the Barrie Arts Awards.  They believe that “the arts are one of the biggest contributors to positive and cultural transformation”. Rhubarb’s generosity has clearly demonstrated a sustained support and investment in helping to make the Barrie arts community thrive.

Rhubarb Media helps Seniors in Need

Rhubarb Media helps Seniors in Need

We’ve been working over the past four months with entrepreneur and seniors advocate, Peter Cook, along with Kim Mclaughlin from to design and develop SENIORS IN NEED.  The moment we chatted with Peter, we knew we wanted to help.  Knowing that great ideas deserve great marketing, we contributed the logo and design branding and worked with them to make the site happen within their budget.   They are getting some great media coverage!   This site is a Content Management System (CMS) build on DRUPAL and allows the sponsoring agency  (eg. VON, Red Cross, etc.) to join the site and post the needs of the seniors they support.  They then link a senior in need with a donor via the agency that made the submission.  Please consider contacting your local social agency assisting seniors and tell them to sign up and begin to alleviate the burden of our senior citizens.

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” Hebrews 13:16

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