Category: creativity

Finding Our Inner Child Through a Mascot

Mascot design for franchise company

JB (1) copySometimes we are lucky enough to get a project that leaves us jumping with joy. Over the last few months we have had the pleasure of working with one of our favorite clients, JumpBunch to help them develop the perfect mascot for their children’s sports and fitness brand.

We got together with the JumpBunch founders, corporate team and franchise owners across the country and we all agreed – it would be wonderful to have a JumpBunch mascot to help support their efforts to help kids stay active and have fun playing sports.

We wanted to create something that we felt represented the values JumpBunch strives to instill in every child. So, we developed a strategic creative brief that outlined the messaging we needed to drive home: a character that would embody the joy, health and happiness JumpBunch coaches and classes bring to kids across the world. Part of the messaging that we really wanted to dramatize, was the wide variety of sports and activities that JumpBunch offers (over 80 if you can believe it). The end result shows just a few of these sports through the equipment that is “magically” floating around JB.  Once our creative team got us started with recommendations on our creative approach, we went through several rounds, working with an artist to accurately hone in on the JumpBunch values and identity.

We are so happy with the results, so, without further ado, we’re proud to introduce a new valued member of the JumpBunch family: JB!

JB will be helping JumpBunch add lots of kid friendly activities and free downloads to the Kids Zone of their website, he will also be on t-shirts and featured in comic strips for kids. Who knows, one day he might even show up to a JumpBunch Birthday party!

This was such a fun, out-of-the box project with us. We can’t wait to see what else we can do with JB in the future.






Exercising Creativity

263 A Daily Creativity Journal

When you’re tired of grunting at the gym (I’m thinking of the folks at the gym downstairs from our office), it’s time to exercise in a different way. Get your creative muscles in shape. Plugging away at your desk all day leads to tired thinking. Breaks and variety can help improve creativity. Here are some creative exercises to inspire you:

Drawing Exercises

Drawing on the Artist WithinThere are many different drawing exercises you can do to improve your visual acuity and spark your creativity. The book “Drawing on the Artist Within” by Betty Edwards is a great source for exercises.

Blind Contour Continuous-Line Drawing
Get out some paper and pencil and choose an object. Keep your eyes on the object and begin drawing the outline of the shapes you see. Don’t look at the paper or lift your pencil, until you’re done.

Timed Sketches
Set a timer and draw your subject for a minute or two. The goal is to loosen up and draw more freely with an expressive line. This works best standing with your paper on an easel and drawing using charcoal so you can get more freedom of movement and speed.

Do Something Else

Instead of sitting at your desk and staring at your work, try getting up and doing something else. Many creatives I’ve worked with swear by getting away from their work as the best way to get new ideas to surface. Move on to a different project, sleep on it, play a game or solve a puzzle.

Keep Learning

Have you thought about learning a skill but been intimidated by not having enough time? If you want to learn to play the guitar or sew or practice yoga, don’t worry about how long it will take. Just dabble, you don’t have to become an expert. Variety is the spice of life.


263 A Daily Creativity JournalKeep a journal of your thoughts, sketches and ideas. You can refer back to this and it will help feed your next creative thoughts. Get ideas for what to write about from this book, 365, A Daily Creativity Journal

How Did You Come Up With That Ad?


creativityCreativity is ideas. We’ve been talking a lot about how creativity in our agency is much more than the team in charge of actual ad executions. But honestly, we still know what fascinates folks most and has them ask: “how’d you come up with that ad?” The creative process that actually occurs in the Creative Department is fascinating but all too often it’s melodramatically portrayed in the media and Hollywood.

The most important thing to me in the early stages of idea generation is reserving judgment for later. Make an initial brainstorming session open for uninhibited creativity without premature criticism. Nothing will shut down a good brainstorming session quicker than me killing an idea. If there’s an idea killer in the room, the team will withdraw or even worse, turn ugly and arguments ensue. ‘Don’t want to make a fool of myself so I’ll just keep

After a free and open brain dump, it is time to evaluate ideas. It’s my job to then bring to light the details of the creative brief. To explain why some misguided ideas are based on anything but the strategy, tone or target audience within the brief. Sure, there is some know-how that comes into play after doing this for 20+ years, but an educated criticism beats out the ‘in my experience’ justification any day. Not all ideas at this point are completely discarded but simply massaged to see if they can adhere to the criteria of the brief. If they cannot, the trash can is the best place for them. ‘Let it go,’ I say.

Initial ideas are often just in your head. The next step is to see if it can quickly resonate visually. Grab a sketch book and doodle what that idea would look like. If you struggle, it’s an idea that probably won’t work. Visuals are an essential means of communication; they are what draw a viewer in. Often even brilliant ads don’t succeed when summed up in a pithy headline.

Once you’re comfortable with the overall idea, it’s time to bring it to life. An art director and copywriter team are formed while the Creative Director watches over them by day and night to make sure they don’t stray from the established strategy. With this team, a kind of ping-pong ensues in which words and visuals go back and forth until the ultimate combination is achieved.

The ultimate and most difficult part of this creative process comes now: the final idea. At this stage, every idea could be the one. The path to mediocrity begins by choosing a winner in your mind and treating the others like the unwanted step child. Leaving isolated moments of genius out of the process and giving them half the effort. Only hard work can turn good ideas into great ones. Once all ideas have you entire heart and soul, you can then scrutinize, rework, reject, adjust and finally without a doubt pick your winner. Next step: love it and leave it be. If you are a confident ad person this will be the easiest thing in the world. Sadly, far too many people lose sleep at this stage and stay awake at nights wondering: ‘Am I really creative?’


Creativity (cre·a·tiv·i·ty)


CreativeCloud Creativity is one of those buzz words that everyone in the marketing world just loves to throw around. In pitch meetings, in brainstorms, in vision statements, everyone touts their ability to live and breathe creativity. But the fact is being creative is a heck of a lot more than the design team developing original, strategic ad concepts. Creativity shouldn’t be relegated to the part of the marketing team in charge of the actual ad executions. It should be a way of thinking that’s integrated into every part of the marketing process.

Creativity is ideas. Ideas that are a part of every facet of the marketing process. It’s the ability to think up new, better and effective ways to do the ordinary: conduct research, plan media, change opinions, determine positioning, create PR opportunities, stretch budgets and create new relationships. Yes, creativity will always be a part of producing works of art to sell, but it should also solve problems in new ways. Creativity is the ability to see something ordinary in that new way. Truly creative marketers use resourcefulness, originality and vision get the job done right whether they’re doing research, media planning, account management or creative development. That’s what we ask of every Cyphers Agency team member – to approach every task and challenge with a creative mindset. The account staff doesn’t get off easy simply because they don’t do copywriting or design work. Everything on our agency’s collective to do list is an opportunity to think creatively, come up with an inventive solution to a problem, get imaginative with our recommendations and try to inspire each other along the way. Creativity brings the entire agency together. It’s a blend of imagination and execution, thinking and doing.

Don’t be fooled by a simply creative execution. In today’s world the fact is that almost anything is possible with the right technology. Technology and new media tactics are changing consumer behavior, but the heart of marketing is still in the ideas and how we tell a brand’s story. The ideas that come from truly creative marketers are influencing behavior, not simply trying to change it. As long as we remember that creativity is about the ideas, not simply the art, execution, technology or new media options, we will create amazing and enduring ideas TOGETHER.


Web Design & Development Resources


No one likes to struggle with a design or web development issue especially when they lack a bit of knowledge and flounder through it. That’s why we turn to the amazing collective of human knowledge on the web to help us through design problems. I’ve put together a small list of helpful design resource websites that I often turn to for a bit of insight and help on a regular basis. Tell-your-story-1-Thumbnail-300x292

  • Smashing Magazine has been my go-to resource for web design trends, free fonts, tools, and new techniques.
  • Best Web Gallery is one of my quick-web-inspiration sites that is nicely laid out and always up to date. I can land on this site and immediately be inspired with some new menu functionality or great responsive grid examples.
  • Dribbble has successfully pulled in every great designer out there and presented their work in concise thumbnails for an excellent, community driven, creative inspiration pool.
  • Codrops is a great collection of free to manipulate web code and design examples with tutorials and great articles about web design trends.
  • A List Apart is a resource I turn to for more refined articles and discussions about big things happening around the web design world. It’s been around for a long time, has it’s own conference, and must be on your radar if you work in the field.

I check in on a number of websites ranging from advertising to typography, branding, art, print design, and culture. For me, there can’t be just one area of interest and focus when every creative idea encompasses so many different pieces of these fields. Our focus can be on advertising and interaction, but we have to gather the inspiration from whatever is around us. Feel free to drop some links in the comments to whatever websites give you inspiration or resources that make your day a little smoother.

Swag with Swag

Flex Your Tech Pecs No One Does IT like ADP Tshirt Design

Many of you probably have heard of ADP — you know the brand that most likely handles your company’s payroll. As one of our clients, ADP came to us with a unique challenge: changing the perception of ADP among graduating college cloud engineering students.

ADP’s IT Department frequents college job fairs across the country and finds the perception of ADP to be a giant obstacle in recruiting these young and talented college graduates. They tend to be viewed as a straight-laced, button downed, conservative company – not attractive to these young up-and-coming cloud engineers.  We took on the challenge of showcasing what the work life at ADP is really like despite these preconceived perceptions – a fun, hip and interesting place to work.

Our solution: create fun t-shirts to give out at these jobs fairs as swag (because who doesn’t love swag). The t-shirts dramatize all the great things about working at ADP. Check out the designs:

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Pinterest: An SEO Specialist’s New Best Friend

Improve search engine optimization with Pinterest

As many Search Engine Optimization specialists can tell you, SEO often requires creative, out-of-the-box thinking in order to find new and effective ways build relevant links and manage pertinent keywords to keep sites optimized. They are always checking out new tools and looking for ways to help support these everyday efforts. Our SEO gurus have taken a particular liking to a relatively new social platform in town, Pinterest.  When integrated properly SEO and Pinterest can maximize overall impact, making them new partners in crime.

This requires the SEO and Social Media Marketing teams to become besties and work together in a manner in which they can understand the best tactical approach for a particular client that will positively effect both efforts.

Here are a few relationship topics our SEO and Social Teams discuss on a regular basis:

  1. Tags – The teams review the client’s goals and the SEO teams current efforts in order to have a full understanding of direction.
  2. Keywords – They chat about what keywords are trending for that month. This will help the Social Team know what keywords they should be including in descriptions and also help with what items they should be pinning based on the trending topics.
  3. Descriptions – The SEO specialist can assist in recommending what should be going in the descriptions (ie. links, trending keywords, etc.)
  4. Links – They share their thoughts on when links should be used and the most important web pages to link to.
  5. Photo Gallery – The two teams put their brains together to decide what relevant content and photos they can use, what boards they can make, etc.

One client that the SEO and Social Media teams have collaborated on with great results is River Glass Designs. The custom glass company has a large photo gallery, full of eye catching work that is well suited for Pinterest. The Social Media team was already managing a Pinterest account for River Glass Designs and creating a solid feed of web traffic for the brand. But when we integrated the efforts it helped boost Pinterest performance as well as SEO impact. The great photo content was ripe for advice from the SEO team to help create strategic descriptions, links and keywords that leveraged existing content to created valuable results on the SEO side.

While Pinterest can serve as a resourceful tool, not all clients lend themselves to this perfect relationship as the platform is not appropriate for every brand under the sun. Pinterest is a highly visual platform that lends itself to brands that have photo-heavy products related to food, design, crafts, etc. So before you run off and create a Pinterest account to help support your SEO efforts, take some time to strategize and make sure the brand is well suited for the platform.

The Rise of a New Ad Generation

The advertising industry

The advertising and marketing field is significantly molded and defined by the people and the technology that live and breathe the art and science behind it. As technology continues to evolve and define the limits we push as marketers, younger generations are growing-up in a world saturated with online communications, brand storytelling and immediate access to information. The ad industry was once a place where aspiring artists went to build successful careers with a paycheck rather than spend a lifetime as a struggling artist. But in today’s world, young marketers are entering the field with the passion, drive, experience and technology know-how to take the industry by storm.

We all know that advertising has been in a constant state of change over the past several years as technology continues to evolve and dictate how we reach and connect with consumers. With this evolution, today’s young marketers grew-up seeing a story behind a brand and as an extension of their own lives, rather than just a product. They grew-up wanting and aspiring to be a part of our industry. The term “ad nerd” arose out of this deep love for artistically designed and carefully crafted content. These young men and women have sparked a new generation of advertisers who see ads not just an avenue to sell a product, but as a story behind a brand.

With abundant opportunities specifically targeting youth with interests in the ad industry, groups, networks and even secondary schools are a growing trend worldwide that foster and enhance the interest and fascination with the field. Universities world-renown for their advertising and marketing programs are shifting their curriculum from traditional advertising methods to integrated marketing strategies and how to effectively implement the use of technology and online communications. With the opportunities to build on the existing talent and passion at a young age, students of the art continue to grow and develop an impressive portfolio that is preparing them take their place in the industry as young associates after graduation.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? The influx of young talent will will drive the creative and competitive edge of the industry, making us push boundaries, yet covet our clients and campaigns more than ever. The effective use of online communications and technology will only continue to grow and dominate as this young group of professionals enter the industry already knowing how to effectively leverage the tool and interpret its data output. With this deep understanding of digital media comes a sincere determination to foster a corporate responsibility that both entertains consumers and sells products. It’s not just about product sales anymore — it’s about creating a brand community on which consumers can depend on for products, resources and information. As the industry continues to evolve, so will its people and the people we attract.

With new creative and passionate minds onboard, the industry will only continue to change the face of advertising and take us all to the next level. Tomorrow’s marketers are entering agencies worldwide with the tenacity, creativity and experience to take the industry by storm. Are you and your agency prepared?

Getting from Good to Great: Circumstances or Choice?

no more good

I was lucky enough to attend the Global Leadership Summit this past week. Needless to say, I’m fired up about all the things that I learned. It went just beyond great leadership tips and tricks – it taught me how to observe my own self, organization, or clients in a completely different way. I also learned that greatness isn’t a consequence or result of circumstance. It’s a choice to be better than “good.”

no more good

Jim Collins gave an amazing speech about what makes a company stand apart: a difference between good and great. It’s dedication, time, and effort beyond what everyone else does. It is sticking to your plan when no one else does. It’s not losing your vision when you are only half way through. But mostly, it is about following these three pieces of advice:

1. Fanatical Discipline

Being better than good requires fanatical discipline.  What does that look like? It’s setting a standard and sticking to it, no matter what the circumstances. Maybe it is something as simple as tweeting ten times a day every. single. day. or maybe it is something more lofty. Either way, sticking to your plan regardless of good days, bad days, good markets, bad markets… you get the point… will give you a leg up on our competitors and will allow your consumers to rely on you when they most need you.

2. Empirical Creativity

Sure, we all preach creativity, especially here in the advertising industry. But what makes you go from mediocre to amazing is turning those creative exercises into a discipline. Work to remove anything that hinders creativity. Find what works and what doesn’t, and eliminate the negative. Test your processes, scale them down (or up, if need be), and choose things that you’ve seen work. Be scientific about your creativity, and only then can you go “big.” It’ll make you stand apart from all those other companies who are pursuing creativity just for the sake of creativity.

3. Productive Paranoia

Once things are working well, that isn’t the time to rest. While most of us take a load off after a campaign starts or after our work day is done, we should in fact be questioning everything we’ve just put into motion. Success doesn’t happen by chance. Understand why things work and apply them moving forward. But in the moment, question everything. Be paranoid that it won’t work. Come up with eight back up plans. And if you achieve success, don’t plan that each following achievement can be done the same way in the next round. Be sure to take what has made you successful and evolve that process so that you are always relevant and ahead of the curve.


Success isn’t based on good or bad situations, but rather your reaction to those circumstances. Greatness is not a matter of circumstance, but rather of choice. Each choice greatly affects your team, your company, and your clients. And who doesn’t want to be great? Why would we fall short if we could achieve something better? Get fanatical. Get scientifically creative. Get paranoid. Get great.

Staying Creative: How To Never Be Bored.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Only boring people are bored?” Do you find yourself sitting and staring at a wall more often than not? Have no fear, I am here to cure you of your illness. Follow my 3 step process to being more creative and curing boredom.

1. Engage in physical activity.

As soon as you hear that voice in your head “I’m sooo bored,” stop yourself and get out of your seat. Walk to a window or step outside if you’re in a secluded dark hole with no windows. Getting up and walking, talking or exercising brings you back into the flow of life.

You can expand your creative brain by learning new exercises or stretches that you can do at work with even very limited time. Tai chi and yoga have a lot of useful simple stretches that you can do quickly (and discretely if you’re afraid of scrutiny) that will boost your brain activity. It’s important not to separate your mind from your body and get caught up in one place. Keep moving.

2. Focus on and expand past success.

Whenever you accomplish something it’s easy to feel good about yourself. On the other hand, when you’ve had some failure it’s easy to give up and sink into that familiar boredom and bad attitude. This will cripple the creative environment.

When you feel this happening think about something you really enjoyed doing and pick one of your strengths from this experience. It could be anything from completing a drawing, finishing a blog post or washing the dishes. Focus on a strength you had in that experience, i.e. “I drew that dog’s tongue perfectly!” Now draw that dog’s tongue again. Don’t stop there, but instead ask yourself questions about the experience. “Did the tongue look realistic enough? Was I trying to make it realistic?”

Self-interrogation will build on your skill and reinforce your curiosity. This positive, curious environment will allow you to feel more open to learning and being more in tune with the flow of ideas already present in your mind.

3. Do something that scares you.

Jump headfirst into a new learning experience. Pick one thing you’ve been afraid to do and do it. You may come out successful or you may fail misserably. Either way you will have shown yourself that you have the ability to step out of your boredom. This will boost your confidence. Even that failure can be viewed with a positive outlook and increase confidence. Any step towards that confident environment of the mind will build.

Try not to focus on the failure but rather see it and accept it for what it is.

Take a breath. Repeat step 1.