Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Daily Inspiration: The History of Typography in Stop-Motion

Working in advertising and branding, I think a great deal about typography. While I usually write words and let others sort out how they look on a page, typography can alter how we read words, perceive their meaning and ultimately enjoy them. Thus I find myself becoming a bit of a typography nerd.

That is precisely why I enjoyed this stop motion video explaining the history of typography.
It is a fun and fast moving piece. Very accessible to the beginner, yet interesting to the crusty old designer.

Graphic design student Ben Barrett-Forrest has a lot of fun, and gives us a great primer on typography.
Kudos Ben!


Friday, May 3, 2013

What the World Eats In a Week

A very interesting photo project that captures families in various parts of the world surrounded by the food they consume in a week.

The first time I viewed them, I was struck by the difference in the volume of food.
Then I began to notice the types of foods. Some have dramatically more processed foods than others.
Some are almost entirely prepackaged foods.

After stepping away and coming back to these images I began to notice how many of the foods are American brands. Also how much packaging is contained in one week of food for a family.

It reminds me that when we work in consumer packaged goods and food innovation, we need to remind our clients of the role they play in not just selling food, but being responsible in how they make, package and deliver food.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pro Tip: Best Source For Design Thinking Inspiration (and It's Free)

Visual thinking is a framework for finding solutions.
We use it is brand design, advertising and marketing.
 It is also used in architecture and urban planning.
I am here to tell you that it can and should be considered in most every task and ever profession.
It influences how we think, and how we are perceived by those around us.
It is business, art and science.
Above all, it is a process. A structured process. There is a specificity to it all.
We must train ourselves, practice and learn.

You must imitate and learn the basics before improvising and creating new.

So, as designers, writers, concept strategists and more, how do we learn?

My 'Pro Tip' is to get yourself to the Institute of Design at Stanford.
Wait, you can't just take off today for California?
Luckily, the 'D.School' believes in everyone sharing in these lessons virtually.

They offer a 90-Minute Crash Course Program.
They have a listing of
various learning experiences through courses and project work.
You can explore their way of thinking and working.

Now, find some time to doodle, sketch, write and explore.

Also, let me know what other resources you use for design thinking, inspiration and improvisation.

Happy creating.

How Cities Will Drive Global Change

An inspiring short film from Ericsson on how urban areas and the associated networking of them will spur incredible global change.
This is important for every citizen regardless of where they live.
It is vital that we understand the urban migration so we can innovate in business, architecture, marketing, agriculture and more. To me, this migration is not to be feared, but embraced and planned for.
How will consumers adapt? How will products evolve? How will experiences change?

52% of people currently live in cities
200,000 new urban dwellers join their ranks every day

by 2050, it is estimated that 6,000,000,000 will live in cities. Yes, that's billion.
The rate will accelerate as well, with 1,000,000 new people a week moving to cities.

The costs of action now are lower than inaction.
Cities already account for 70% of global energy use.

If we fix problems of cities, we fix the problems for everyone.

The solutions are generated in the cities.

Technology and data collection is what will allow us to solve problems.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To Innovate For Others We Must Innovate Ourselves

When I started Rockhill Strategic, the mission was to provide world-class marketing ideas to clients who value beating their competition with smarter thinking, not more spending. Luckily a lot of companies share that philosophy. Thus, it is still the center of our brand vision. 

The key to success with this strategy is to know where your consumer will be at various points of time in the future. Knowing your former customer and your current customer is important, but not nearly as important as reading the demographic and trend 'tea leaves' and making a plan to adapt.

Deciphering trends for clients requires a lot of research, daily observation and a knowledge of demographics. Then the science is balanced out by the art of naming, branding and creative. In the course of daily client work, you start to also observe missed opportunities. Unexplored gaps in the marketplace. These new ideas frequently find there way into my Moleskine notebook. Random notes, incomplete ideas and sketches. Hundreds of them. I am sure some are good, and some our terrible. 

Now to the point of this post. I have decided that it is time to start picking a few of these ideas and developing them for market. Yes, Rockhill is launching an Innovation Lab. We are starting small with one project. If successful, it will propel the creation of more consumer ready products and projects. At the best, we launch some great products that people love. At the worst? It makes us smarter and stronger for our clients. We are continuing to develop relationships with great innovation centers like DigitalSandBox, the Kauffman Foundation, SparkLabKC and Tumml. We are excited to learn and grow. 

So without further ado, we give you NeighborsGrow
More will be revealed as we move to beta.
Until then, please follow the NeighborsGrow Team on Twitter
at @NeighborsGrow and sign-up for the beta here


Friday, April 12, 2013

You Play Like a Girl

Britney Griner of Baylor
As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, that taunt was hurled at various boys on the playground. Most of us have heard them, "You throw like a girl" or "don't cry like a girl." The boys that said those things largely grew up to hold the same feelings in the business world. Maybe they dropped the overt taunts, but the sentiment was the same. Women are weaker, they aren't as tough, not as capable. To anyone who would lob the taunt "you play like a girl" at me now, I respond
"I hope so."
This isn't some 'politically correct' game. It isn't about making men and women the same. It isn't about making our boys less capable. Not at all. What it is about is recognizing that talent and skills are defined by each individual's capabilities. Abilities that are not rooted in gender. That does not mean that men and women are the same. Gender differences are apparent in many things. How we approach challenges being among the biggest. Let me tell you, that is one heck of a good thing. When we lead as a gender we struggle. 66% of people surveyed in every corner of the world said "the world would be a better place if men thought more like women." I am here to try and help make that 100%.

When we lead as a team, when we respect and value each other's opinions, we win. This applies in the board room as much as it does on the playground.

Which brings me to my recommendations for today:

First, Watch the video below of John Gerzema (@JohnGerzema) speaking at TEDxKC last year. Go and reserve a copy of his book, The Athena Doctrine. Read it next week, and start implementing the thinking. I guarantee that the work he and co-author Michael D'Antonio did with researching how people think, and what we want out of our world, will change the way you approach your day-to-day life.

Second, If you are a man. Try and play more like a girl.
It will be tough to reach that high, but I have confidence that you can do it.
Need more reason? Our kids already get it. They are already learning that teams composed of equal genders, and when men think a bit more like women, we make better decisions.

Finally, get involved in your local community. There are many organizations dedicated to this challenge. Here in Kansas City, we have WinWin. Find an organization like WinWin near you and contact them.

Rob Fields (@RobFields) of PSFK recently interviewed Mr. Gerzema.
The following is a small excerpt that I feel hits home. The Millennial generation gets it.
Now we all need to. Read Mr. Field's full article and interview HERE.  

The Athena transformation is being driven by young people. How so?
The millennial views are hugely important in this shift.  They just don’t see the world in such stark contrasts.   They can see leaders being more collaborative, more empathetic.  This doesn’t suggest people are soft.  Rather, they’re fierce.  They’re building interesting businesses.  They’re just realizing there’s a different path to doing it.  There’s nuance, listening, communicating, there’s being flexible.  Being patient.  People that were willing to give in and think about long-term implications of problems, rather than focusing on short-term expediency.
For example, there’s the lead city planner in Medellin, Colombia, who’s combating the violence that’s marred Colombian society for decades by devoting 2/3 of the city budget to people under 40.  Digital schools, free schools, free libraries, free healthcare.  Basically, anything that provides infrastructure for youth.
Or, in Germany, there’s Felleshus (a Danish word for “house for everyone”), the five nations embassy where countries pool resources, share support staff, and work collaboratively, both for economic development and public policy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Work: Storytelling is What We Do

Take a look at the latest work from Rockhill Strategic. Created for Travois, an amazing Kansas City company that prides themselves on being a mission-based for profit corporation. Since 1995, they have been the leading builder of housing on tribal lands and have had a positive impact on tens of thousands of lives. 
Be sure to keep and eye on them, as they are growing fast and doing a great deal of good both here, and globally. 

Now, back to our project. Travois approached us to help them better tell the story of their investing program. In partnership with the incredibly talented Rhymes With Style, we created a brand vision platform and then developed the following investor video around a story and design concept that is expandable to their other business units.   

Not only are we proud of the work, we are proud of the story it tells and the result it has had in helping them to raise investor dollars to further their mission. 

Great work always begins and ends with a story. We love helping our clients to find the story within them and then tell it in a fun and interesting way.

We hope that you enjoy it as well. 

Travois: Low Income Housing Tax Credits Explained

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Daily Inspiration: The Joy of Books

Sometimes beauty is simple. This simple stop-motion no doubt required a massive amount of work and time. But at the core, it is a simple concept that stays true to the message that books, and bookstores are wonderful joy filled places.


Monday, February 25, 2013

CMO On-Demand Services: What It Means

Rockhill Strategic: CMO On-Demand Services Explained

Rockhill is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy. 
We help our clients succeed by delivering fresh thinking and actionable ideas. We are Exceptional Ideas, Realized.™

We are passionate about helping our clients, from Fortune 500, to small technology start-ups, build powerful brands, solve their toughest marketing challenges, and achieve their short and long-term business goals.
We are experts in strategic brand positioning, positioning activation and marketing performance. We help companies achieve step-change improvements to brand and marketing performance by:
  • Developing winning business strategies, grounded in marketplace and consumer insight
  • Identifying competitive advantage and developing powerful brand positioning
  • Creating brand activation blueprints and driving innovation across products, services and consumer engagement
  • Building exceptionally strong marketing and brand plans
  • Dramatically improving the effectiveness of marketing plans, programs and organizations
Whether you operate your company with or without a CMO, are in transition to finding a full-time CMO, or just need CMO expertise, we will take responsibility for driving your marketing objectives.We deliver superior strategies and ideas. We have gained our experience in the real world – where accountability for results is paramount – and we know through experience what it takes to help our clients build and execute.
We have the ability to deliver fully customized solutions encompassing:
  • Strategy
  • Marketing plan development
  • Innovation (product, branding and more)
  • Analytics
  • Marketing research
  • Creative and design
  • Partner agency search and selection
  • Marketing vendor management
  • Process re-engineering
  • Training and coaching
  • Change management
  • Marketing/communications role definition and hiring strategy
We base our process in flexibility, and in building strong collaborative partnerships with our clients – working closely together to develop strategies, create initiatives and execute programs to deliver superior results. We embrace our client’s goals, share the weight of their challenges, and move with equal urgency and enthusiasm.

Our flexible process allows us to work within your needs, providing our services on-site, seamlessly as a team member, remotely and virtual as preferred consultant, or any combination.

To learn more, visit is at Rockhill Strategic

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The One Thing Your Company is Missing in Innovation

Proposed Retail. Thor Equities Building Wrap, New York City
Demographic data. Data, data, data.
Please. Wait. Don't run away.
I know, just the words 'demographic data' fill you with fear and loathing. You picture reams of data in boring spreadsheets. I can relate. In the course of my career, I have dug for data on and requested trend data from countless other sources. I have sorted and analyzed it any number of ways. I can be the long and lonely work in vetting the viability of a company, a product or determining which markets to enter.

Now for the good news. Finding and sorting data has never been easier. Technology now allows us to have nearly limitless data points to pull from. Granted, you still have to have the skill (or hire the expertise) to identify what is valuable, and extrapolate how the information relates to your product or service. How you can use it to create positioning, naming and branding that will resonate. Determining where you will locate your restaurants or retail locations, and what sales you might expect.

Demographic data has also never been more important. In the hyper competitive marketplace of today, it is the smart products aligned with the smart marketers drawn to the right places that win.

That is why I wanted to highlight a site that offers some incredible data. I recently discovered it through and article in The Atlantic highlighting age distribution disparities between metro areas. But the data has much more depth than that.
The Urban Institute has long offered great data insights through their MetroTrends portal.
Now they have also launched a new Metropolitan Area Data Dashboard that offers a really great array of data from jobs to age distribution. It also offers maps of each metro area with the data shown on a simple map (see below).

I look forward to using this tool for clients to help them further understand their marketplace and the marketplace of the future. That is what we do and what all businesses should be doing.

I would like to hear from our readers as well.
Where do you go for relevant data?