There's no job too small or unimportant. Every project is a chance to flex those creative muscles and create something beautiful.
Instruction manual for a Great Lake Chair for Beau Lake.
There's no job too small or unimportant. Every project is a chance to flex those creative muscles and create something beautiful.
Instruction manual for a Great Lake Chair for Beau Lake.
Sending in our 2017 entries to Communication Arts today brought to mind past winners. Some of the winners, coincidentally, are some of my personal favorites. But while it's always nice to be awarded for your work, at the end of the day, what really matters is did your design work for your client. Was it successful for them? Thankfully we were able to achieve both goals with these entries below.
Here's hoping to a few more successes this year!
For creatives, as concepts become reality, an emotional attachment begins to grow. Time, thought, energy, heart and soul go into a creative concept, and that does not change, whether it’s for themselves or for a client. In fact there may be MORE effort put into it if it’s for a client. They’re not just serving their own desire to push something out into the world but are trying to solve a problem for client and their audience alike. In branding and advertising, specifically, creatives don’t create just to create. There is strategy and purpose behind every detail.
So what happens when all that hard work gets shot down by a client? What do you do when the potential from all that thought, strategy and creativity is just not seen by a client? It’s not a rhetorical question, I’m really asking?
Seeing an inferior ad published for a client can bring a pang of disappointment. Especially when you know in your heart of hearts your original concept would have worked so much better. But sometimes, no matter the conversations on the purpose for the creative, the push and pull on the part of both parties, the desire of the powers that be (the client, of course) will out, and a lesser design and strategic concept is settled on. That can be a hard pill to swallow. You can find yourself asking, “why couldn’t they just trust us?”. After all, you wouldn’t stand behind an electrician, having never done electrical work, and insist you know a better way. But art is different. It’s subjective, even unfortunately, when backed up by strategy.
This pain can often be amplified when you actually receive validation from your peers in the advertising community. It’s a wonderful feeling to receive accolades from colleagues on particular projects but cuts even deeper when the person paying for it does not see that potential the way other creatives do.
So what do you do? Well, you toughen up. Anyone who works in advertising can tell you, you’d better have a thick skin in this business. You may have studied and trained for years for your vocation but at the end of the day, someone is spending thousands of dollars on, what really amounts to, a product they cannot see…not yet anyway. They have to trust you, and despite your reputation, your portfolio, etc. it’s a lot to ask someone for thousands of dollars worth of trust.
So how do you build trust? For both client and creative, honesty and candor go a long way. You have to respect the client’s hesitation and be ready to change direction. Your first solution may be fantastic but that doesn’t mean it’s the only solution, or the best, for that matter. Demonstrate to the client, that they can trust the expertise of the creative team. Show them that thought and research go into the design, logo, and advertising campaign for a brand. A brand cannot stand out without some risk, and let them know that you and your creative team are taking a risk as well. You and your clients ultimately have the same end goal, success for their brand.
So the next time you feel you have to settle when it comes to your concepts or designs, take a deep breath, put yourself in the shoes of a wary client with doubts and concerns about the money they are spending, open up a respectful and honest dialogue with them, and get those creative juices flowing for some new ideas. Who knows, you might even outdo yourself this time!
Good clients and exciting projects can make just another day at work a wonderful day, indeed. Looking for more clients like these so we can continue having the best days at work!
Last Friday we celebrated the Advertising Club of Richmond’s Ad Show. As always, we look forward to this night, not just for recognition for our hard work over the past year but to connect with other folks in the industry (many of whom helped us with these particular projects as freelancers and contractors). It’s also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our good fortune when it comes to our fantastic clients and the privilege to do what we are passionate about for them.
You see, awards are wonderful, no doubt, but it’s that comradery between those contractors and the clients who trusted in us in the first place that make this night truly special.
Creative is a hard commodity to pay for. A client is dropping a good chunk of change on something they can’t really see yet. There’s a lot of trust that goes into that relationship as the payoff can take weeks or even years to reveal itself. In turn, teaming up with freelancers who go the distance with us, trusting our vision and giving us their best only comes from a relationship built on mutual respect and admiration. Receiving these accolades and positive feedback from our peers lets us know we were on the right track, and that our clients were justified in trusting us.
Many thanks to the Advertising Club of Richmond, the judges, our WORK Friends (Pete Humes, Adam Ewing, Steve Covert, Ty Williams, Rian Chandler-Dovis, Eric Boyd, Scott Wichmann to name a few), and our wonderful clients for making it possible for us to create work we love with people we like in a place we want to be!
WORK Labs has had a few different faces over the years. WORK, WORK Advertising, WORK Inc, WORK Brands, WORK Labs...and now? Well before we reveal our next incarnation, let’s talk about what won’t change.
WORK has always adhered to the platform of staying small in order to offer the best services at the best price for its clients. With larger agencies, the standard process is to charge a large, sometimes exorbitant amount for their services. Understandably so. That fee is used to help pay the extensive overhead, salaries, and expenses that a big agency can generate. Remaining small means fewer salaries, smaller overhead, and overall less expense, allowing WORK to only charge for the services necessary for the client.
Hiring out for those extra services only as they’re needed also means we have the freedom to hire only the best of the best i.e. the best photographer for the job, the best copywriter for this particular client, and so on. We build strong relationships this way. When we form those connections and create a mutual respect for others in the industry, we solidify an environment the breeds good creative. We create good karma if you will.
Our other mantra? Practice what you preach. If we can’t successfully bring our own products to market, why should we expect our clients to have faith in us to do the same for them? So our “facelift” will be far deeper than just an exterior change. We will be continuing to put our money where our mouth is as we strive to get WORK products out into the world.
So as we move forward, continuing to create strong relationships and walking our own products from concept to reality, we reinforce our brand beliefs with a new(ish) name and logo. But I’m afraid you’ll have to wait just a little while longer for the reveal.
So excited to finally see this project come to fruition! One of our newest clients has such a fantastic product the assisting with the naming, branding, and design almost seemed like too easy a task. I mean, how can you call a gelato tasting for your morning meeting, “work”?
Allison Monet came to us with a dream of creating a non-dairy ice cream-like dessert for individuals who often miss out on the opportunity to indulge in a delicious, creamy dessert due to dietary restrictions. So with some investigation into the legal parameters for dessert packaging and labeling, many taste tests, and some concepting with WORK Labs, she ended up with, O’My Dairy Free Gelato.
We provided to Allison an accelerated exploratory, name direction, logo and packaging designs and a simple website. But because this project was just too much fun, we couldn’t stop there. We teamed up with writer and director, John Irwin (who helped put together the “What’s Next” promotional video for the VCU Brandcenter) to provide an announcement video for the gelato.
Looking at the packaging of a number of ice creams in the market, there were few that left us impressed. This made us all the more excited to get to work on Allison’s product. Frank Anderson (a talented and former WORKer) did a beautiful job with the designs for the packaging for the multiple flavors, highlighting the natural ingredients Allison so carefully chose for her product.
So take a look below at some samples of our designs, and keep an eye out for O’MY in your local grocery stores, coming soon!
Had just enough time for a couple more questions with Cabell before he headed off for more client meetings. So take a few moments of your coffee break and have a look-see. Let us know if you have any questions for Cabell.
How do advertising agencies and design firms differ from one another?
It’s really just which door you enter. Each says they provide both services but rarely do they do both truly well. Advertising and design have distinctly different aesthetics and training, so clients can have their products hit by two very different points of view that unfortunately may not mesh well together. Having a solid foundation to your brand can help to prevent a breakdown between design and future advertising.
So what does building a brand mean exactly?
You don’t ever stop. It’s like building a house; foundation first, and then keep moving upwards with it. It’s not just throwing a logo on everything. Everything the brand touches, every piece of communication should be reinforcing the brand point of view. It works internally and externally. Corporate behaviors internally represent the brand just as much as external communications.
When your coworkers are lucky enough to collaborate outside of work, beautiful things can happen. WORK Labs’ Chris Harris and Nathan Covert, for example, found that their after-work hobbies worked well together with Chris testing out his new laser cutter by using one of Nathan’s graphic designs.
Nathan posts his work about 3 times a week on Instagram. Usually, it’s just a logo that he knocks out for fun. It pays to practice your skills for your own interest rather than just at a client’s request.
Recently, he showed Chris how he had been experimenting with linocut illustrations. This inspired Chris to try using his new laser cutter to bring the design to life.
@glowforge started a campaign years ago on Kickstarter to fund an economical laser cutter/engraver and Chris couldn’t resist pre-ordering it. Back in college, he ran a more industrial laser cutter for the Art Department and missed having access to that level of technology.
So what are their thoughts on their first collaboration together?
Chris: Tools like this can really help to bring your ideas to life. Whether your prototyping a product or adding fine detail to a piece of art. I’m really excited to see what’s going to come out of the laser next.
Nathan: The reaction on Instagram has been awesome. I think people appreciate seeing things made in real life and rather than just pixels.
Had a quiet moment in the office (okay not necessarily quiet but Cabell was stuck working at his table and couldn't run from me) so I took the opportunity to ask him some more industry questions to get his perspective.
A partner. Plain and simple. I don’t want to be a vendor to a client. I want to be a partner in the branding of their product. I look for someone who is smart. Someone who is passionate about their brand. Someone I can find a relationship of mutual respect. It’s fairly safe to assume, whatever product that client is looking to sell, they know that product forwards and backwards. We trust that knowledge. We know branding forwards and backward. It makes a world of difference if the client can trust our knowledge. But we’re not here to dish out ideas and commands. We want a partnership form the very start.
2) What is image advertising vs. product advertising?
Product advertising is highlighting a product’s benefit and point of difference in the category. This is advertising that has a more strategic and factual based focus. What do you have that your competitor does not? What separates your brand from others in that same category?
Image advertising highlights the feeling and personality of the product. It communicates to a different piece of your brain. What does the audience feel when they think of your brand? Image Advertising is useful with parity products. If, for example, you can not quickly identify some characteristic that helps your product stand out above all the others then you need to lean towards Image. Cola or beer is a great example here.
3) How have the agencies you’ve worked for differed from one another?
They have far more similarities than differences. That seems to be the overwhelming case even now. The most creative agencies share a creative principle that has done good work or is doing good work. This affects leadership and output for the better.
You can, unfortunately, be at the most creative agency and find a lot of crappy work and in turn, can be at a mediocre agency but find brilliant work that just doesn’t get to see the light of day due to a lack of strong leadership or a strong voice that can push that work through.
Most agencies today are over processed and will, unfortunately, stay that way as long as they have clients who are willing to pay for that kind of set up. And just as their set up becomes formulaic, unfortunately, so does their creative.
Until next time i.e. Cabell gets stuck having to answer my questions...
Today is a sad day at WORK Labs as we've had to say goodbye to one of our four-legged partners, Dudley. While Dudley is the Harris family's pet, he, like their other pets, has become a vital partner in our everyday work-life.
I think it's safe to say, there are very few places of work where a dog (or cat, for that matter) does not improve the environment. The dogs of WORK Labs have provided every kind of service from models for photographs, product testing, lunch break partners, holiday and social media promos, to resident diplomat for fellow designers and clients alike. Dudley put up with us placing every kind of prop you can think of on him, and positioning him in whatever kind of spot tickled our fancy. Patience was definitely something he had in masses, as is required for most shop dogs.
As we sadly bid farewell to our sweet bud, we look back at all his efforts as partner and mascot to WORK Labs. If you don't have a shop pet gracing your office with their presence, we highly recommend you get one. Thanks for being ours, Dudley!
The Richmond Ad Club hosts an annual event called AdBowl to view and discuss ads released for the Super Bowl. So, to prepare, Cabell ordered the staff a pizza and we hunkered down and watched as many commercials as we could to help him prepare his critiques. Sadly, there were few on the list he thought were deserving of an A.
Here’s why. Regardless how good the acting, writing, production, etc. may be, if in the end, it does not effectively communicate anything worthwhile for the brand, well then what’s the point?
These are Super Bowl ads. Companies are paying 5 million dollars for a 30-second ad. That’s not including production, celebrities, fees for the ad agency creating the commercial in the first place. Five MILLION dollars just for the ad time! The bar for a good commercial set in this time slot has to be higher. And as a viewer, you have to be more critical of what you are seeing.
Whether the concepts are dictated by the client and there is little room for the creative team to maneuver is uncertain, but unfortunately, it seems most of the commercials from the 2018 Super Bowl suffered from the beginning stages of concepting.
Some commercials were trying to be funny but just seemed to miss the mark i.e. Febreze ‘Bleep don’t Stink’. While others seemed to have a good concept but dragged on too long or simply failed in the execution, such as E*TRADE’s ‘This Is Getting Old’.
But some of the biggest misses were the commercials trying to tug on our heartstrings with something that is in no way related to their products. It began to fill a bit insulting. I’m all for members of 4 different religions getting along but what in God’s name does that have to do with a pickup truck?! And while I’m certainly thankful the poor family was rescued from that terrifying flood, it has WHAT to do with Verizon?!
And the good deed commercials? I’m thrilled that Stela Artois is helping to promote the water.org organization and Budweiser donated cans of clean water to people in need but was it necessary to spend 5 million dollars (or more, really) to tell us that?
So what was good? Well, we’re certainly not disagreeing with the majority of the viewers. The commercials we liked, were liked by pretty much everyone.
#3 Doritos Blaze vs Mountain Dew Ice
What’s not to like? Good actors, good music (great cameo from the original artists, Missy
Elliot and Busta Rhymes), good production (without a million camera cuts) and ultimately
communicates the brands well.
#2 Alexa Loses Her Voice
Simple, yet witty premise, good writing, and great production. And of course great
And the number one commercial from Super Bowl 2018?
#1 Tide - It’s a Tide Ad
Well duh! It was genius! Reminiscent of the Energizer Bunny ads (remember that bunny
busting his way into other commercials?), The ‘It’s a Tide Ad’ commercial is fun, humorous,
has good production quality, editing, and storytelling. This is a campaign you can see going
forward and growing. It’s got longevity and growth potential. Something you want for a $5
As we work furiously to finish up our digital entries for the 2017 Richmond Show for the Richmond Ad Club, it got us thinking about our past entries. Whether they won awards or not, we are still quite proud of the work we accomplished and honored to have been chosen by those clients to help move their brand forward.
The best part of these projects is the joy of seeing collaboration with others come to such beautiful fruition. We worked hard on these concepts but we didn't work alone. From the clients to photographers to models and a multitude of vendors, these ideas became reality thanks to not just their assistance but their belief in our vision.
So have a look-see at some of our past entries. Let us know what you think!
A very warm welcome to our new Studio Designer, Nathan Covert. Today is Nathan’ first day, and he is already up and running!
As a Creative Advertising graduate of VCU, Nathan has provided everything from motion graphics and video to branding and print design for companies like UZURV, Glynn Devins, and Silver Ridge Productions, as well as VCU’s own Technology Services. His personal claim to fame is having worked once with RiFF RAFF.
While Nate has a lot to learn (like how to speak “Cabell”, and how to dog-proof his workstation) one look at his work and you’ll understand why he is certain to be a good fit!
Check out a video we did for the VCU Brandcenter. Many thanks to John Irwin http://www.john-irwin.com/ for his beautiful work!
While it's a rarity that we actually take on an intern, we never seem to be disappointed when we do. So I Thought we'd take a moment to shine the spotlight on our newest, Danny Askins. Danny's been here just over four weeks but within the first two, we were egging him on to forgo school and come work here with us full-time. What do you need an education for?!?!
That "school" we're so eager to have him leave has its own impressive reputation. Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia where Danny will be graduating with a degree in Graphic Design in June. Talented, personable, and eager to find design solutions for whichever client we are working with, Danny's designs are clean and elegant. And while I'd love to show you the remarkable work he's been doing for us, I'm afraid that will have to wait until after final production for our clients.
So for now, take a look at some of his previous work, and if you're in the area, stop in and say "hi" to Danny before we have to bid a fond farewell come January 5th.
Don't go!!! :(
I'm going to come clean and say that we here at WORK Labs stayed up way too late last night attending holiday parties and the premiere of the latest Star Wars movie. So, instead of a lengthy blog (I can't think of words today), let's just get to the good part, pictures.
Below is a link to a collection of our Identity work. We hope you enjoy...
Okay, so according to Snopes, this is not, in fact, the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. But it does make a very good point about the people in our lives, and their importance. So, to whoever did write this, thank you!
You don’t have to answer the questions. Just read the email straight through, and you’ll get the point.
How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headlines of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one.
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.
Okay, this one IS Charles Schulz-
“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today…It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
I’m at my best when…
There is mutual respect and there is adequate time and budget.
I’m at my worst when…
I am forced to play a role I am not comfortable in and wearing too many hats that don’t fit.I also have a hard time with presentations, when I have not been invited and then forced to present something.
I always look to do…for my client.
I always look to do smart, unique, and effective work for my client.
If I could tell the world one thing about me, I would tell them…
I’m a rare breed that combines strategic and creative thinking that would bring valuable thinking to any product or service.
A problem is just…
A problem is just an opportunity waiting to be recognized. It is pieces of a puzzle waiting to be put together.
Providing relevant information that makes a connection with an audience.
The purpose of an agency is to…
Solve a client’s problem. Find opportunities that the client hasn’t thought about yet. Continue to evolve and connect all the pieces of the brand.
But most agencies tend to…when they should be…
Most agencies think only about the paid media when they should be thinking about the what ifs.
I love my job because…
I love creating, taking a blank piece of paper and giving birth to something that has not existed before.
As we approach Thanksgiving, a day of thanks and frankly, gluttony, we leave you with some food for thought. Check out "Alike", a beautifully animated short film about creativity versus conformity.
From Barcelona comes "Alike," a short animated film by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez. Made with Blender, an open-source 3D rendering program, "Alike" has won a heap of awards and clocked an impressive 10 million views on Youtube and Vimeo. A labor of love made over four years, the film revolves around this question: "In a busy life, Copi is a father who tries to teach the right way to his son, Paste. But ... What is the correct path?" To find the answer, they have to let a drama play out. Which will prevail? Creativity? Or conformity? It's an internal conflict we're all familiar with.
Watch the film when you're not in a rush, when you have seven unburdened minutes to take it in. "Alike" will be added to our list of Free Animations, a subset of our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..
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