Cream of Dallas Ad Agencies – Moving Brands Forward

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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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responsive design

Remember the adage, “You have seven seconds to grab their attention?” For us ad folk, this originated around radio and TV, then morphed into the mantra for print, and eventually web. But thanks to Steve Jobs et al, seven seconds now feels like seven minutes. Actually, Litmus.com says 51% of recipients delete your email within two seconds of opening it. People are busy, folks. That’s one reason why you’ll be hearing “mobile first” even more loudly in 2017. So when we sit down to design and develop emails, designers need to focus on designing for mobile, then expanding that to desktop. The challenge in 2017 is catching your audience in that crucial fraction of time it takes to swipe up. Having design that looks good and works on smartphones is what’s going to make that difference.

-Damon Dycus, Web Developer

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importance of refinement

Maybe you’ve come across people who seemed to “have it,” though they weren’t more imaginative, more talented, or had some ethereal quality others lacked, but definitely had something that made their work more… finished. That mysterious quality was likely the practice of refinement. Where some will work until they’re tired of looking at something, or have procrastinated until time ran out and the client needs SOMETHING. NOW., the artist who refines will create work that elicits unprovoked compliments from passers by. Spending a few extra moments means the difference between a collection of shouted copy points and beautifully effective communication. Success is borne from exploring one more angle; doing one more version knowing it’s wrong but necessary to contrast the right one. We should refine until only a clear message can be wrung from our work. Refinement isn’t an inherent gift, so here are some simple thoughts to consider in order to get there:

• Don’t stop prematurely, but definitely take breaks. 5 minutes away and sometimes you see a new solution the instant you return to your screen.

• Ask someone for a look, but prepare to forget what they tell you if needed (have a gracious reason you didn’t do what they suggested!)

• Refine until you can’t. Just don’t stop until the work is really done. That is the secret to creating a body of work that shows you have a seemingly indefinable quality.

A well-executed weak idea is easier to sell than a half-assedly constructed mind-blowing concept.

-Aaron White, Senior Production Artist

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greenlight's 2017 resolution

greenlight’s 2017 resolution? To live a 'more inspired life.' I know, my banker husband is shaking his head wondering what the hell that even means. It means something, honest. Let me rant for a moment. Being a creative thinker is harder than it looks. We believe you have to have a healthy work/life blend to be truly creative... it's about being just as happy at home as you are at work. It’s about pushing yourself to think differently at work AND at home. And when you put these ideas into motion, you’re living what we can “an inspired life”. In November, our team spent an afternoon with Rocky Garza of Staff Retreat Co. and we mapped out our personal identities. Short version: We determined HOW we operate and defined personal values for the WHY and combined those with WHAT we do. The idea is that everything you do should align with your map. If they don’t, you won’t be happy. If you’re not happy, you’re never going to create anything. If you don’t create anything, well…that’s just making me depressed thinking about it. It’s far from inspiring. In the new year, we’re using our identity maps to find inspiration in our professional and personal lives. In the agency, we all have a deeper understanding of each other, what makes us flourish, how we think and adversely, what stops our ideas from forming. At home, I personally share hopes for the future, nurturing my need for connection and teach my children generosity. This harmonious blend is giving me an inspired life. One that I never want to lose!

-Olivia Cole, COO

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