Friday, February 26, 2010

The day I spent in a hat factory next to the Space Needle.

The School of Visual Concepts in Seattle is in an old hat factory. Now, instead of hats, what's produced in this building is concepts. And creatives who come up with them. I was craving some continued education and creative community, so, thanks to my friend Chelsea's prompting, I looked into workshops at SVC. Brand Strategy for Creatives was being offered and taught by Devin Liddell of Phinney/Bishoff Design House, so I signed myself up months ago and drove there to attend yesterday.

As I approached Seattle on I-5 North, there was a huge rainbow arching over the city. No joke. I took it as a sign that it was going to be a good day.

It was a good day. After a quick walk to find the closest coffee shop, peer at all the spring blossoms and gawk at the Space Needle, I learned lots about branding with 16 others, some self-employed like me and others from large companies such as Starbucks and T-Mobile. (The group even included a copywriting colleague I worked with years ago at Livengood|Nowack on the Rejuvenation account as well as a girl that went to the same high school as me in Sioux Falls, SD. Seriously! What a small, small world.) The diversity in the group made for interesting questions and collaboration.

Out of the thirteen pages of notes I took on Devin's presentation, here are a few gems I want to share:
  • Creatives are intuitive strategists.
  • Branding is the intersection of creativity and business solutions.
  • Your brand should be distillable to a single word. If it can't be, it's probably just not good enough.
  • We are bombarded with 30,000 marketing messages per day (New York Times). You have to set yourself apart. Therefore, branding should be about Radical Differentiation. Narrowly positioning yourself is emotionally counterintuitive. It does not feel good. But you have to do it.
  • Brand Identity = What a company thinks of itself. Brand Image = What others think of a company. The closer together these two things are, the better. (Think Apple vs. Microsoft)
  • Brand image is not about marketing. It's about behavior.
  • The more comfortable a brand is with their identity, the more they will concede control to consumers to shape their's not about sending messages into the world, it's about having a conversation.
  • Most logos are blue; blue inspires a lot of indifference.
  • The truth about who you are is not the same as the truth about how you're different.
  • Strategy provides structure for creative.
Thank you SVC! 'Til next time, Seattle!


  1. Megan,

    Thanks for this post. I didn't know you came all the way from Vancouver! That was early AM rise for you. Puts my longer-than-expected snarl on the West Seattle Bridge and 99 into perspective:) Thanks again, and hope to see you another time.


  2. Hey Devin - it was well worth the drive! I will certainly be back.

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