Friday, February 29, 2008

Innovative Leap

The company I work for (Stinson Brand Innovation, Inc.) used the extra calendar day this year as an opportunity for the entire company to get in the same room and cover the walls with tactical ideas that would benefit our clients brands.

From my perspective the most innovative ideas that were presented were operational ideas that would allow us to streamline communications with our clients. There is so much potential with all of these new tools (Adobe Connect, WebEx and Creative Manager Pro to name a few) that clients and agencies will really start integrating teams on a whole other level. Not only will these tools transform the way we work they will most likely transform entire organizations.

Just as technology propelled certain organizations through the Industrial Revolution, these new tools will propel marketing organizations through the digital revolution.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Flying High

I've always enjoyed flying for business mainly because it gives me a chance to catch up on all of the industry news that's been piling up on my desk. The one trade that I still read cover to cover is Creativity. Not only does it inspire some new thinking for my clients it one of the few magazines that makes me laugh out loud. And that goes a long way when you're stuck in the airport. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It just so happened that I was traveling the other day to Philly and came across the Southwest Airlines Floridaaah ad that inspired the other SWA ideas.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting to creative solutions faster.

Let's start with the premiss that communication that has the most impact has a single focused idea. An idea that is relevant, resonates (with emotion), is memorable (and/or unique) and in a perfect world has a way for whomever we are communicating with to respond. 

In the world of creative ideas I've found that there are several paths to get there. Typically, with the long slow path there is a lot of wasted effort involved, late nights, painful conference calls, confused co-workers, budgets burned and time wasted trying to figure out what should be the path forward. 

I realize I am stating the obvious here but it's amazing to me how often the basic steps of a creative methodology get pushed aside just to "make progress" on an assignment. In particular I'm referring to Step 1: The Creative Brief. When it comes to creative briefs there is no magic format, no one size fits all form and no perfect model that will answer all questions for all projects. However, I believe this fundamental step will lead to a more strategically sound, more efficient use of resources and truly inspired creative as a result. 

So what needs to go into a brief? That leads us to the second premiss that beliefs drive behavior. And if you can impact beliefs you can impact behavior. With this in mind we can put a framework around how we think an advertisement, a podcast, a web page or just about anything else we put in front of someone could shape their belief system. Sounds pretty tough 'eh? It is. And that's why creative briefs are important. It forces you to outline what it is you are really doing to make a change in your audience's (and/or marketplace) belief system.

So what are some of best practices that I've found that lead to powerful communications? Here's my list.

1) What does your audience currently believe (about your brand/product/service)?

2) What do you want your audience to believe (about your brand/product/service) in the future?

3) How does your audience currently behave (about your brand/product/service)?

4) How do you want your audience to behave (with your brand/product/service) in the future?

5) What's the consumer / industry insight that would drive us to think differently?

6) What is the disruptive thought which will help to change their belief when we put this piece of communication in front of our audience?

7) Support/Facts/Data/Stories

8) Specific must haves and no goes

An additional thought that I think is worth including: let's stipulate that this is the document that accompanies a briefing. It won't simply be emailed to someone or slipped under a door. It will be accompanied by your exciting self, emoting and inspiring like crazy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Is it February already?

Only one week left to submit entries for the Clio awards. Say it ain't so. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Blog Recommendations

Here's a few more blogs that I've added to the right. I check in on these regularly to get some perspective on our industry. I thought I'd pass them along.
Very focused on logos with some decent commentary. Because David is in Scotland he has a very different experience with brands and design than we do here.
Lots of attitude. Lots of fun.
I had the privilege of working with Jason and he makes some great observations. 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

For Those About to Rock We Salute You.

Some days it is really hard to get anything creative accomplished. That's when I turn to really loud music. Thank goodness my friends are musicians because they have plenty of volume to go around. 

Over the last 15 years or so I've been watching my friends take the stage at various Chicago venues. It's been exciting to witness the eveloution of these artists and I am amazed by their drive. On occasion we'll have some deep conversations about why they keep doing this and what keeps them going. With all of the egos, empty beer bottles, heart aches over women and other bad habits it's amazing most bands stay together at all. At the end of our conversations we always end up in the same place, "it's about the music". That's what I love about the music culture because it's the one thing everyone can agree on. 

Creativity, whether you are humming a song or drawing tree has one fundamental rule. If the work connects with you it connects and you know it. And if the work doesn't then it doesn't. It's pretty simple.

It's about the work. Because the work is all that matters.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Get Your Play On.

I was just having a conversation the other day about creative culture, process and its connection to idea generation. Typically you can't turn creativity on (or off) like a switch. It's becomes a part of your personal methodology if you have an environment that can support it. Anyway, the conversation led to showing our clients our approach to creativity. Then I came across this nice piece about the creative spirit. 

Veer: Ideas: Creativity Never Sleeps

Even though it's a commercial it's inspiring. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Make No Small Plans

Objectively I can't give this video the highest marks because it feels
like it started off as two different ideas that were "Frankensteined" 
into a final product. But subjectively I love just about anything 
showcasing a Chicago story so I connect with it. The human
stories/portraits are very well done.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Want To Get Away?

I really don't expect anyone from Southwest Airlines to really see this but in case they do here's a proposal. I'll trade you the billboard ideas I came up with for 2 pairs of free round trip tickets. Any takers?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Copy This Interbrand.

I'm trying really hard not to make a negative comment about the new Xerox identity. For this entry I'm going to pretend that I was in just one of the many Interbrand creative review session over the course of the 2 years that this new identity was in development and a designer on my team brought this to our group for direction. What would I have said?

Hmmmm? Not knowing what the brief may or may not of said I'm pretty sure it didn't say take a look at the XBox logo for inspiration. Assuming this I would of kindly asked to see his/hers pencil sketches to see the rationale of how they got here. Then they probably would of said "oh... I don't have any of those". I would of then asked to see any research that they may of done. I can only guess that there would be the new AT&T logo along with the XBox logo and maybe even the .mac icon that a lot of us stare at everyday. I know I'm focusing on the icon but it really is the idea in this execution. 

Next question... "So do we have a good reason to have 3 Xs in the logo?" 

Moving on to the typography it's not all that bad but it really does take a back seat to the icon. I wonder where they may have found the inspiration for the logotype? Kodak perhaps? I'm going to stop here because it's Friday and I don't want to get too upset over this.

The bottom line is that Xerox is still a copy company. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Mimieo Corp has developed technology that allows customers to give real time feedback on devices such as the iPhone and just about anything else that will connect to the internet. I really like taking advantage of this technology but rating communications on a "liking" scale may not be the appropriate way to measure all brand communications. 

We're still in the infancy of using this type of technology and it's probably the first step of many to come in quantitative market research. When used appropriately I can see it being a useful tool.

To learn more go to

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Fine Line

When you are paying $2.7 million dollars for a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl (just for the media alone) you really should know what you are doing. Here's a few brands that did.

Audi - Truth In Engineering
Bud Light - Wine and Cheese
Pepsi - Justin

Here's a couple that didn't.
Icebreakers - Carmen - Panda

I'll save the "why" for a later posting but I think you may already have an idea. 

Friday, February 1, 2008

Keeping Score

Super Bowl XLII is here this weekend and part of the game experience is actually watching the commercials. So before the game you'll probably be asked "who are you betting on?" and after the game you'll be asked "what was your favorite commercial?" 

The people at Pavone ( are once again bringing us realtime commercial polling at On the surface it's entertaining to see what ads people are reacting to but is it really measuring the success of an ad? Fortunately most creative shops are a lot more strategic than going for the "wow effect" at $90,000 a second. And I highly doubt that any of the creative briefs for these ads used the index as a metric for success.

Successful advertising isn't just about entertainment it's about connecting a creative expression to a communications strategy to change beliefs and behavior. To really keep score make your communication objectives strategic, precise and clear so that you can develop ideas that will really make and impact with your audience.