Cream of Dallas Ad Agencies – Moving Brands Forward

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20 (or more) events. 4 days. 1 whirlwind trip to NYC for Advertising Week.

Advertising Week New York was a whirlwind of panels, networking and dodging the crowds of Times Square. It was a jam-packed four days and I learned so much from the 20+ events I attended that I could write a book. For this Go Deep, I want to focus on one of the most memorable for me.

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Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, gave a talk titled “The Future of Marketing: Driving Growth in a Digital World” the opening day of the conference. It was the perfect event to kick off the week and inspire big thinking. The future in Weed’s eyes is mobile combined with artificial intelligence. Consumers want instant information and have zero tolerance for waiting. Brands have to create a frictionless experience. He argued that we need to move on from digital marketing. There has been a flip to marketing in a connected world. In this world you don’t have to have a big TV budget or connections with major retailers to be successful. There are diverse brand categories and no barriers to entry. However, where we need serious improvement is in cross platform measurement. On Weed’s “Report Card” he gave measurement reliability an F. Today there are 600 million people ad blocking and the digital supply chain is unclear. We need measurement reliability now more than ever.

All of this talk about the future was enlightening but what really stuck with me was how Unilever goes about crafting brands for life. Weed outlined the three components for success. Number one, above all, is put people first. You have to understand people and move from mass marketing to customization. Understand the customer journey inside and out. Number two is to build brand love. Give people an idea to buy into. The fastest growing brands are purpose brands that align with consumer’s values. Weed sited that brands that moved to progressive ads saw a 25% increase in performance. Building content around consumer need and passion is the difference in advertising as interruption and advertising that consumers seek-out. Finally, unlock the magic. As Weed said, “winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.”

-Clara Seddelmeyer, Account Executive

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designing with purpose

When Harvey made landfall in Houston on August 25, we knew two things. We knew the devastation would be like nothing Texas had seen in our lifetime and we knew that Texans from all around the state would rally around our Houston family. Texans are some of the most resilient, compassionate and creative people in the world. This is apparent in the droves of T-shirt designs benefiting hurricane relief that have come out since the Hurricanes and subsequent flooding.

Sometimes a simple design is what it takes to make a difference. It’s incredible to see local businesses and designers use their craft for something so good, without any hesitation.

Purchase one (or all!) of the T-shirts we gathered below and you will be making a donation to help aid the victims of the hurricane and flooding (and you’ll also get a badass tee your friends will want to steal, so maybe buy some for your friends, too).

Have we missed any? Send them our way and we’ll add to our list.

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failure as a goal

Photography is hard. When you’re trying to get better on your own time and your own dime, sometimes you just have to make a big old expensive and intentional mistake to “level up,” as the kids say. The following is how I learned a little about photography, but more so that one’s own time, money and failure are often the best education.

After perusing various photography and travel history books from greenlight’s very impressive semi-public library, I decided to shoot a “road trip photography” project, with full knowledge I wouldn’t come back with a gallery show, but not knowing why yet. On the route from Texas to Colorado for my annual mountain camping trip, I planned to capture dilapidated, outdated service buildings, diners and gas stations from the endless peripheral scroll of the highway, shot on instant film to show the contrast between analog and digital spaces via analog means. Simple enough! Well. It turns out you don’t just tack on a photo assignment to a well-planned road trip with a set arrival time. You must account for time to stop, frame and scout angles, constantly making micro-evaluations passing cluster after cluster of roadside shacks and signage at 75 mph. After a few of these stops, I realized that not only was this a project worthy of its own road trip, but after burning a few packs of discontinued Fuji instant film I was hitting my limited supply.

While I got a few cool prints, the experience of doing something like this blind was the real value. I learned that calculating cost, time and appreciation for a variety of subjects are processes with inherently measurable consequences, and are things I can account for in the future. Sure, I could’ve Googled “how to take a photography road trip,” but A) that’s no fun, and B) I like to learn things in ways that stick with me. Time and money happen to be some of the most effective teachers in life.

-Aaron White, Sr. Production Artist

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keep laughing.

After reading a few go deeps, you probably realize that this is not your ordinary office. We could go over several reasons why, but one in particular is the amount of humor we incorporate into each day. It keeps us going, encourages relationship building, and relieves stress. Plus, health professionals have found that laughing lowers blood pressure, boosts T-cells, and triggers the release of endorphins. Simply put, LAUGHING is good for you and your office culture. I mean, y’all, we have now spent two consecutive Thirsty Thursdays talking about going Big Foot hunting on our fall retreat. (This was aided by a few beers.) These lighthearted conversations help to remind us that we are all human, even in the workplace.

So, if you find yourself in need of some positivity, crack a joke… and a few cold ones.

-Kaylee Caldwell, Account Coordinator

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be a teacher. stay a student.

Last night was a cool evening for our agency. We hooked up with our friends at Café Momentum to mentor an art project about Racial Justice. What does a 39-year old white woman living in North Dallas know about feelings of racial injustice? Not much. But I listened and learned. I worked with Christina on bringing her emotions to life in a mural. Christina didn’t feel confident in her ability to communicate her feelings with pictures, so it was a pretty awesome dialog. We both shared our points of view and experiences and created a pretty cool piece of art. The idea was all hers, I just followed her direction.

Being a mentor is one the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. Not only will you learn about yourself, your community and your gift, you will…

  1. Connect with someone on a level that’s honest and raw. So good for the soul.
  2. Be asked questions that you can’t answer, and will be pushed to be (and do) more.
  3. Provide someone with a confidant, a place to go for guidance when they feel off course.

I always tell our greenlighters to “Be a teacher. Stay a Student.” Set up monthly check-ins with your mentor, talk about setbacks and successes. LEARN from them. And pass it FORWARD. Just as good as chicken noodle soup.

-Olivia Cole, COO

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working like a mother, without the guilt

“Life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The piña and the colada.” -Ellen DeGeneres

The best thing that happened to me was being laid off 18 months ago. I found my happy place here at greenlight. Not only is the work that we get to do amazing. But it’s the culture that makes it worth it. It was on our annual retreat last year when I finally learned how to let go of my working mom guilt.

We had a group session led by Rocky Garza of Staff Retreat Co. where I was able to tell myself how lucky I am to be mom to two amazing young men and that all this guilt is coming from me.

This isn’t a new problem, though; it’s a common feeling in working moms everywhere. Literally. Of course, I am not resentful of stay-at-home moms. I actually did that when my second son was born and stopped working for 5 years.

In 2010, my time to go back to work and single mom it came without a choice. My oldest son took it in his stride, but my youngest, just about to start kindergarten? That’s a lot for one kid to experience all at once. I could not help but feel guilty about the changes going on in their world.

As a newly single mom, the struggles were real and made me feel that I wasn’t doing well at work or home. But after years of perfecting the balance (and thanks to Rocky and greenlight retreats) one of my favorite things my youngest ever said to me couldn’t have happened if I wasn’t making it work. I asked him what he thinks about when he thinks about me and he said, “your personality.” To which I asked, what about my personality? He said you're sweet, kind, loving, funny and hard working. Hard working. He knew this at 10.

-Alex Liesner, Account Director

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creating more with less

Making a box is expensive. A package design project can take anywhere from months to even years worth of research, design and execution to accomplish. We know that the design of the product is important to draw the consumer in to purchase. But, what about manufacturing the product? How does the total cost of a package impact the design? Sometimes we wish it didn’t, but of course budget plays a role in what we can ultimately produce. What’s great as a creative is that gives us the opportunity to explore alternative methods and materials to produce a box.

As an example, lets look into the cost of building an MDF (Multi-Density Fiberboard), hinge top style box (I know, but stick with me). Say our creative team has designed a genuine leather-wrapped, metal-hinged box with a foil paper interior. The client loves the design and wants to produce 25,000. It turns out, that’s about $20/box, leaving the client to invest $500,000 to produce and ship. Knowing this client doesn’t want to spend no more than $250k of their investment, but also doesn’t want to sacrifice design to the packaging, this raises several problems with the original design materials. Now we get thinking. Instead of using MDF, use cardboard as your base. Genuine leather is expensive! Try heavy paper with a leather pattern press. Exploring alternative ideas has the potential to dramatically drop the cost per box, while maintaining a luxury aesthetic. With these switches in materials and production methods the cost of the box was dropped from $20 to $10/box – cutting the investment in half!

This is pretty much how we work over in the creative department. And as a designer this process teaches you how to effectively collaborate with the client, sales teams and manufacturers to produce a profit-making product ready for distribution. What it comes down to for me is that budget is an important factor in how we creatively concept and execute any project.

-Kreyton Polka, Senior Designer

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how design live

Last week I got to go to Chicago for HOW Design Live for my “Employee Enrichment Program.” What is that you ask? Well, every two years that you work for greatest agency, greenlight, you get to pick a conference you would like to attend and they send you! This conference not only brought in people from everywhere around the world but also from all different positions in the creative world. I learned so much from all the speakers, so I couldn’t wait to get back and share with the team! Today, I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces of advice I gathered:

  1. Don’t be afraid to be weird
  2. Don’t confuse fear with discomfort
  3. Be the expert in the room
  4. Fall in love with the process
  5. Believe in your flyness, conquer your shyness
  6. Make Things, Inspire People and Create Change
  7. Live Purposely (not purposefully), Live Generously and Live Intentionally
  8. If you’re playing it safe, you’re not playing at all
  9. Keep bringing your ideas to the table even when the “big guys” aren’t asking for them
  10. Critique is at the core of collaboration

What am I going to start applying to myself today? Definitely believing in my flyness, conquering my shyness and falling in love with the process. I hope at least one of these pieces of advice inspires you and that you will share with your own team!

-Celeste Randall, designer

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office style

When I wake up in the morning my first conscious thought aside from “Where’s the coffee?!” is “What am I going to wear today?” I grew up believing that what you wear matters because what you’re wearing is one of the first impressions someone is going to have of you. Even to this day my mom tells me to always dress up to get on an airplane because you never know whom you’re going to meet. Turns out, there’s some science to back up that what you wear actually does matter. Recent studies have shown that breaking out of your normal status quo of attire can boost your confidence, help you focus and give you an edge into bigger-picture thinking. I’ve found that when I’m in an outfit I feel confident in, my energy and optimism skyrockets. So how can you achieve this same high? Break out of the norm, browse fashion blogs and use the excited feeling you get looking at an outfit as inspiration to put together an outfit of your own that will give you the same feeling!

-Morgan Montague, Account Executive

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find your fit

Go with your gut. That’s the only way you can find an internship that’s right for you. Well any position really, but for our right now, it’s an internship. As we open up our call for summer interns, it got me thinking about what really goes into that decision process, from the intern side. It’s nerves, it’s mass emails with copy and pasted notes, it’s sending the wrong cover letter, it’s paying attention to detail. What it should be, though, is showing who you are, being loud, spellchecking an email three times and being selective. We want to find young pros who are passionate about where they work because that’s how you get great work. And it’s more fun. So take your time, don’t forget what you stand for, and make sure the agency you choose stands for you. We hope that’s greenlight!

If you think it is, get on over here (greenlightad.com/babydinosaurs) and apply. We can’t wait to hear you roar.

-Claire Higgins, Brand Strategist

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in·spi·ra·tion

As creatives we are often left staring at a blank page or screen waiting for inspiration to strike, and we know all too well that that is simply not how it works.

So how does inspiration work?

Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” It is a process that I believe is constantly happening in the back of our minds and in order to tap into it we must occupy our brain with something other than the task at hand. Listening to music, walking in nature, looking at a painting, cooking a meal, conversing with someone who has a completely different outlook on life than you, these are all ways that can spark inspiration.

I truly value stepping away from a creative problem and looking at beautiful and inspiring images for even a few minutes each day (ahem, I have over 11 thousand pins on Pinterest). When thinking of inspiration this phrase comes to mind “A watched pot never boils.” Yes I know this is a cooking term, but it applies to design as well. When we sit looking at a creative problem for too long it seems like we may never find the solution. But if you step away and occupy your mind with something else…That’s when the ideas start boiling over.

-Kaitlyn Coffee, Art Director

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millennials in the workforce

Jason Dorsey, co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics, spoke at La Quinta’s annual conference here in Dallas. Jason’s focus is on solving generational challenges for companies and leaders through his unique research with an emphasis on millennials and Gen Z.

His session was an interesting experience for me. He was specifically speaking to the Gen X and Baby Boomers in the room about the challenges of hiring and retaining millennials. Being one of the few millennials there, I agreed with most of what Jason was saying about my generation. We are brand loyal, and out of any other generation, we have serious spending power. And there are a lot of us. Millennials make up the highest percentage of the workforce (45%) and have the most college degrees (and college debt!) of any generation. I agreed that, in general, we are an entitled generation. So much so that we introduced a new life stage called “delayed adulthood” because of it. However, there were a few points that I did not personally agree with, such as entitlement in the workforce. But then he explained – and this is what really resonated with me – that for the first time ever the millennial generation is splitting. Now, we have two kinds of millennial. There are those that feel entitled and those that can’t stand the entitled ones.

I realized I am a little bit of both. On one hand I completely fit with my generation and those in the “delayed adulthood” stage. I want the freedom of being an adult, but I’m not that excited about the responsibility of being an adult. However, when it comes to my job, I think more like a Baby Boomer (likely because I was raised by two of them). I believe there are no short cuts to success. My work ethic and determination to go above and beyond are what will bring me success in my career.

-Clara Seddelmeyer, Account Executive

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"helpers high"

Words like helper and helpfulness have always followed me around – they would pop up in every personality quiz I took. At first, I resented it. Don't get me wrong – I love to give back. It just seemed like a trait that would be a burden to carry around. But once I gave in and embraced this helpfulness, I began to realize how rewarding the simple act of helping out felt. Then I found greenlight. Helpfulness flourishes here, regardless of title, because greenlight thrives on being a team, collaboration and being part of something bigger. Helping others triggers the "mesolimbic system" or portion of the brain that releases feelings of reward. It's that feeling after a day spent volunteering for a foundation you're passionate about or simply getting the door for someone who can’t. These sometimes even instinctive actions are proven to boost self-esteem and give you a greater sense of belonging.

A couple ways you can trigger this "helpers high" at work? Offer to contribute on a tough problem-solving brainstorm or lend a hand on a coworker's project. Proof read an email or offer to take something off someone’s seemingly never ending to-do list. I guarantee the reward is worth the extra effort to help out – just ask any greenlighter.

-Jamey Molberg, Agency Operations Lead

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Mental Health in the office

Mental health in the office – Start the conversation

Have you ever noticed it’s difficult to work when you have the flu? Between the sneezing fits and exhaustion, it’s hard to focus on the job at hand. Now, imagine feeling just as terrible but every day and without the ability to take extended time off. This is common for people living with a psychological disorder. While perceptions are improving in society as a whole, in the professional realm the topic of mental health continues to carry a negative connotation.

Here’s a fun fact: 1 in 5 adult Americans suffer from some form of mental health disorder. That’s 42.5 million people who walk into work silently battling an inner storm their colleagues may know nothing about. It’s time to start the conversation and talk more about mental health. Office culture is more important than ever, so with that in mind, this taboo subject is something worth exploring. Open dialogue in the office fosters understanding and acceptance, and it benefits the company by boosting productivity and employee retention.

Companies like greenlight have found a way to create an open, inclusive culture. Each employee is like a member of the family. We are valued individually, just as much as the business. What better way to cultivate a collaborative work environment than by promoting self-assurance and support just like a family. We are all creative, and Sylvia Plath said it best, “the worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.”

-Lauren Rasins, Creative Coordinator

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you are what you eat

Who wants to be more productive, alert and energetic at work? Everyone, right? Well my friends, I’ve found a way. During January I did #Whole30 (so hard, really rewarding!) and learned more than anything that you are what you eat. For 30 days I only put good things in my body. The result — My productivity at work went through the roof. I was accomplishing more in a day than I would’ve ever thought possible. Even though it’s over, I’ve developed a weekday routine for work. So far, it’s helped me keep the clarity and energy that I had in January. If you’re interested in making similar changes, I recommend #Whole30 but start small. The plan itself can be pretty daunting (No cheese? No wine? No bread?!), but start by making your afternoon snack a healthy one. I roast and season almonds that I can snack on all week. I also always make sure I bring a piece of fruit to work. It’s refreshing and a natural kick of sugar that helps me finish the day strong.

An Experiment in Productivity: Does Diet Really Help You Be More Productive? Part 1

-Brittney Stephens, Account Supervisor

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Go Deep with greenlight

An interesting thing is going on in this hyper-changing digital-driven world: a longing for analog. Vinyl records, instant cameras and yes, even old Nokia cell phones are making comebacks. As someone more than mildly fascinated by vintage products, this recent resurgence in popularity for analog got me thinking about what is driving this interest.

Before going any further, let me define analog for the purpose of this post. I am using analog as a general term for both actual analog products (like old record players) and for those products using less technology (like old cell phones). With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

In a world where digital is supposed to make everything better, how is it possible that vinyl record sales could outsell digital downloads? That people would choose to take pictures with film cameras? And buy fine papers and writing materials? The answer is complex but can be summed up as: a return to the made thing. Contrary to the easy explanation that this is being driven by baby boomers longing for nostalgia, the reality is that the market driving this is digital natives and millennials. The attraction to analog is that it does remain and is a welcome alternative to the ubiquitousness of digital.

If everything is available – which is the case with digital music streaming – is it even possible to curate a collection? Start a vinyl record collection and you’ll see what I mean.

-Erik Herskind, CEO

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Super Bowl marketing smarts

We’ve been keeping an eye on the Super Bowl spots that’ll hit our TV screens on Sunday, but one in particular has stuck with me. Mainly because it’s a company I’ve never heard of, so I’m intrigued, but also because they’re smart. 84 Lumber — First time Super Bowl advertisers and already pros. This private company is being talked about on a national level before the Super Bowl even airs. Crazy. Although controversial, they’re brought into the spotlight, and people will certainly be talking about them long after the Super Bowl airs.

What’s interesting, though, is that they’re ready for this. They’ve got a paid ad on Google. They’ve issued statements about how their spot is too controversial for TV. At the end of the day, it’s smart marketing. 84 Lumber is using the current political climate to create a buzz around a brand that would have never crossed the minds (or the televisions) of most American people. And they’re doing it to recruit 84 Lumber employees. They say they want people with grit and passion. And my bet is that they get just who they want. They’re planning to break the internet by skirting Super Bowl rules and play the original version (that was deemed “too political” Super Bowl broadcaster, Fox) followed by a link to search employment opportunities.

Albeit the most expensive recruitment campaign I’ve ever seen, I’m predicting it a success. It won’t be just the passionate watching online, but the curious and furious, too (I did). And I’d bet you they’re going to get more applicants for 84 Lumber than they’ve ever received before.

http://www.adweek.com/creativity/84-lumbers-ad-about-a-mexican-family-is-sure-to-court-controversy-was-that-the-plan-all-along/

-Olivia Cole, COO

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typography

Do you ever look at a menu, sign, or anything with type on it and think, “OH DEAR” and then run away from it as fast as your can and try to block it from your memory forever? Well, this is a daily occurrence for me as a designer. Typography is something we encounter every day whether you realize it or not, so my only hope is that we can all appreciate the small details after this. Type choice can make or break a design, so let me give you a few tips:

  1. Design with intention, simplification and composition in mind – There are many different styles from which typefaces are derived, such as Old Style, Modern, Square Serif, Sans Serif and Script. Depending on who or what your design is targeting, choose your type style wisely.
  2. Learn to Kern – kerning has to do with the spacing between each letter. You want all of them to be equal, but sometimes you have to adjust them because your eyes can play tricks on you.
  3. Be a Leader – leading is the distance between each line of copy. If there isn’t enough leading then your block of copy will be really tight and hard to read. If there is too much leading then your lines can start to look like separate thoughts. It’s safe to use 1.25-1.5x the point size of your font as your leading.

-Celeste Randall, Graphic Designer

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news + design

There’s no question that web design really allows for endless creativity. And I think we all know by now that the internet has made news more than accessible and abundant. So I’m here to say: Designers and journalists rejoice! We can work together! More freedom in design means more ways to tell news stories. Design should make news look as important as it is. We shouldn’t slack on staying informed just because it’s not in the morning paper. And we shouldn’t slack on design just because it’s “bad” news. Instead, use design to better inform. Get creative with graphics and video, experiment with telling stories in ways that make people want to read the news. Now, I leave you with the media sites doing just that. Some are simple, some more complex, but each one presents all kinds of news in a compelling, smart way and that, to me, is the beauty of creative storytelling and what can make news exciting. I encourage you to check these out and actually take some time to read. Really, it’s good for your brain!

-Claire Higgins, Brand Strategist

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design trend predictions

It’s that time of year again. All of the design-savvy pubs are letting us “creative types" in on the design trends that are headed our way for the New Year. It’s fun reading, and there are plenty of setters out there letting us know what’s going to be trendy, but year after year I can’t help but notice an old stand-by that creeps on the list; minimalism. For one, if it’s on the list every year, then it’s not a trend. And two, minimalism isn’t a trend at all – it’s a movement. Minimalism broke on the post-WW2 scene in American visual arts and has never left. And for us in the commercial visual arts, it’s a mighty coup in our creative quiver. When you’re competing for eyeballs in a world where a literal half-second is worth more than a whole minute; a simple concept, word and visual is your secret weapon. Clever and stunningly simple communication and design is tried and true, and apparently trendy too. Take that 21st Century!

-Todd Lancaster, Creative Director

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