Category: DC Local

Design Alexandria Recap

This post was written by our lead designer, Lindsay Benson Garrett. 

Design Alexandria

We had a great time last night hosting the Design Alexandria meet up. It was wonderful to connect with local designers and developers who are passionate about creating, growing, and networking.

Some of the things that were discussed included Tate’s experience redesigning the DARPA brand. The project goal was to communicate DARPA’s dual mission of developing technology that defends America and scares enemies, modernizing the mark while also going unnoticed. Tate discussed how success was achieved on all accounts, which funneled into a wildly different project with a shared goal. We showed our work in progress on a preschool identity kit, which is a logo refresh that adds in an element of play.

Juancarlo shared a pro-bono project that he did for the Chilean-American Foundation and the things he learned while working with the non-profit. We examined the web designs before and after and discussed what he learned in the process.

Anna, a co-host, shared her process for building a website for a recently published e-book. Her process was very thorough from the start, where they mapped out every kind of site visitor with their motivations and goals, to how the site would develop a community and add new features systematically.

Joe, the author of the e-book, was actually in attendance. After celebrating his new acquired status of “published author” we had a group brainstorm on methods he can use to market his work.

Stokefire enjoyed hosting the meet up and we look forward to hosting more in the future. Stay tuned for the next one!

Event: Design Alexandria at Stokefire HQ

Hey locals!

Just a quick note to say that as of a couple days ago we’re hosting Design Alexandria‘s events at our Del Ray HQ. In addition to the usual great chats you’ve been having with other designers and technologists, attendees will get a glimpse inside the doors of our little shop and meet a member or two from our team.

As of this moment there are a handful of seats left at next week’s November Meetup, and you’ll need to reserve a spot, since space is pretty limited. Derrick Douglas will be giving a presentation on using InDesign to create an interactive wireframe document, and attendees will be discussing the various things we’ve been working on.

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/
Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Time: 7 PM to 9 PM
Location: 2016 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA #300 (top floor)

The Stokefire crew will be there, but probably won’t be presenting anything at this event. Still, should anyone want our guidance, opinions, or some nifty drink coasters, we’re game.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Learning the Lingo While Teaching

Posted By:
Tate Linden


Quick update!

Last week I spoke to a great group of coaches and organizational developers about my developing book applying Gandhi’s wisdom to branding. His quote, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” seemed to make sense to everyone, but when I used it in practice to reference the thinking, saying and doing of an organization’s leadership everyone was left scratching their heads.

What I learned from the experience is that there’s too much awkwardness and wiggle room in explaining someone’s reason for doing or saying something as “their thinking”, or worse, “their THINK”. I spent half the session doing verbal gymnastics to make “think” stay within the model I was discussing instead of using the Think/Say/Do model as way to introduce the conceptual and them immediately applying more business- or brand-appropriate language.

Leaders speak of their intent or motivation, and since that’s who I’m speaking with and about there’s no reason to make them try to learn some buzz-wordy “my THINK is X” phrasing when all we’re talking about is what gets us out of bed in the morning. What really surprised me, though, was that until now I’d been so absorbed in the development and application of the philosophy that I’d completely ignored how awkward it was to discuss.

Many thanks to the ASTD and CBODN members who helped me discover the problem and watched me work through it in real time. Both cool and humbling to experience.

(And if you want to buy the post image on a tee? Gandhi just might approve.)

A Concrete Win for PCA and Stokefire Branding & Advertising Agency

Sorry to all for not posting this great Portland Cement Association PR on our site earlier. Was a bit of a flurry yesterday. Here’s the official release: A Concrete Win for PCA and Stokefire Branding & Advertising Agency. It looks pretty spiffy in PRWeb’s format – or you can see it awkwardly formatted below.

DC-area agency makes concrete front-page news and earns client top honors from 2011 CWA Marketing Communications Awards.

This billboard was viewed by hundreds of thousands of frustrated commuters during asphalt repaving.

A Billboard from PCA’s Award-Winning Campaign

“Forty-eight hours after the billboard posted, concrete was on the front page of the region’s major newspapers.”

Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) October 05, 2011

Stokefire Branding & Advertising Agency today announced that its work on behalf of the Portland Cement Association (PCA) has won the 2011 BEST OVERALL Marketing Communications Award as judged by the Construction Writers Association (CWA). This marks the first time a non-profit industry association has earned top honors in a contest typically dominated by commercial industry titans. PCA will receive the award at CWA’s Grand Awards Dinner in San Antonio, Texas on October 25, 2011.

“We are honored by CWA’s recognition and excited that the concrete brand and campaign developed by Stokefire’s creative team served the needs of our membership so well,” said Bruce McIntosh, PCA’s Vice President of Communications. “This campaign quickly allowed us to become part of critical infrastructure conversations, and ultimately led to new concrete and cement projects for our members.”

“PCA needed to provoke a change in behavior,” said Tate Linden, Stokefire’s President and Chief Creative. “Politely knocking at the door of opportunity hadn’t opened it, so we gave the industry another way through. PCA’s top-notch team delivered in a big way once the door was opened, converting opportunity into tangible results.”

CWA’s judges lauded the multifaceted national effort targeting wide-ranging audiences including public works officials, consulting engineers, city and county officials, and even taxpayers and the motoring public. Stokefire delivered campaign strategy and creative execution across print, web, outdoor, clothing, and trade-show elements. In awarding top honors to PCA, judges cited the all-around strength of the campaign, from the design detail and copywriting effectiveness to the broader strategic approach and key media placement.

A strategically placed billboard component above an asphalt repaving project received specific praise from the panel. Forty-eight hours after the billboard posted, concrete was on the front page of the region’s major newspapers, had earned favorable stories on CBS TV News and Public Radio, and had generated buzz on blogs, bulletin boards and Twitter. More importantly, PCA’s leaders were granted access to key infrastructure decision-makers, leading to the true measure of the campaign’s success – tangible new business.

About Stokefire Branding & Advertising:

Stokefire has secretly branded and advertised stuff from its hideout in the Washington DC metro area since 2005. The Stokefire team develops award-winning strategic brands and advertising campaigns that change behavior and get results. The agency has quietly established a diverse client list that includes Heinz, Charles Schwab, Discovery Communications and the US Department of Defense.

About the Portland Cement Association:

Based in Skokie, Ill., the Portland Cement Association represents cement companies in the United States and Canada. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. More information on PCA programs is available at http://www.cement.org.

About the CWA Marketing Communications Awards:

For over a decade the Construction Writers Association has recognized the top marketing and communications work from around the globe. Previous CWA Marketing Communications awards have honored work for megabrands like Caterpillar, Bobcat, John Deere, and Volvo. The CWA, founded in 1958, is a non-profit, non-partisan, international organization that provides a forum for journalism, photography, marketing, and communications professionals in all segments of the construction industry.

###

That’s it!

Congrats to PCA on the 2011 CWA BEST OVERALL Marketing award. Many, many, thanks to Bruce, Patti, Doug, Brian and the rest of the PCA team for giving us the opportunity, for giving our strategists and creatives great information to work with, and for executing flawlessly after the campaign launched. Without every ounce of opportunity, trust, and execution none of this would’ve happened.

EVENT: “Branding? Meet Gandhi.” with Tate Linden

 

Be a part of Tate’s first-ever public discussion on the topic of kickass Gandhian brands. One day you might even tell your grand-kids you were there. (Note: said telling is far more likely to occur if you already have grand-kids, and if they just so happen to be visiting around October 4th.)

Details:

Topic: Gandhi’s Secrets to a Successful Brand
Presenter: Tate Linden, President & Chief Creative of Stokefire Branding and Advertising
Sponsors: The DC chapter of ASTD and the Chesapeake Bay Organization Development Network.
Cost: Free! (Thanks sponsors!)
Date: October 4, 2011, 7 to 9 PM
Location: Bethesda Regional Library7400 Arlington Rd. Bethesda, MD 20814.

RSVP:

Only about ten seats remaining.
Call Peggy Linden, Coaching SIG Leader at 301-424-0860 or send her an email.

About The Session:

Organizational brands large and small struggle and fail every day. Many chalk this up to bad luck or poor timing, but that’s a cop-out. In most cases the situations leading to failure can be recognized and turned around before it’s too late. In this session you’ll learn to recognize and decode the warning signs, and to understand the steps needed to fix the problems. Tate Linden may be conveying the information, but it’s Gandhi’s words on alignment and perception that are the foundation of the session.

By the end of his 1 hour interactive session you will:

  1. Understand what a brand identity is and why it matters to the success of every organization, be it a sole proprietorship or industry titan.
  2. Easily recognize the three signs of brand misalignment and three indicators of weak brand elements – and the negative consequences of each.
  3. Learn why a critical ingredient in brand success is provided by the audience, not the branded organization.
  4. Know where and how to effectively focus your efforts to build a solid foundation for your own brand’s success.
Tate’s discussion starts after brief introductions from the attendees, and following his discussion there will be Q&A and networking.

About the Presenter:

Tate has over 15 years experience advising, managing and developing brands for the likes of Discovery Communications, Heinz, Charles Schwab, ADP, and the US Department of Defense. He’s also an in-demand speaker for audiences from 10 to 1500, with recent appearances for the US Congress, HOW Design Conference, ASAE Great Ideas, and the ACCE annual conference. He’s in the midst of writing a book and developing workshops that show in detail how and why to incorporate Gandhian philosophies into organizational identities.

About Time You Pull Over And Ask For Directions:

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Thingnamer misses PR tidbit. World goes on.

The Washington Business Journal has (had? It was a while ago…) a new column called “Problem? Solution” that helps business owners solve their troubles by hooking them up with area experts. Sadly, no one seems to be asking for naming help there, but I did get the chance to show my ignorance (and apparently my propensity for sentences awkwardly phrased) when it comes to designing affordable but cool office space.


You can check out the article here (from the Friday, May 11, 2007 edition.)

Problem: Tate Linden’s Stokefire Consulting Group has been working out of the Business Incubation Center of the Community Business Partnership in Springfield. He is ready to leave the nest but wants some help designing and setting up a “professional, creative and stylish office environment” on the cheap. “In my business,” Linden says of his branding company, “I can’t afford to have all the ‘coolness’ limited to my marketing materials — it has to convey via our environment too.”


Sadly it didn’t include a link to our little corner of the world. But what’s worse is that in the words that I wrote I can almost see the “finger quotes” around “coolness.” (…and I always forget that the way I talk and the way I write are different… Who says “convey via our environment” anyway? Not me.)


Many thanks to Lucy Webb and Barbara Wrigley for setting this up. Thanks as well to Dave Denny at Hickok Cole for his advice.


“Plastics!”


Amen, brother.

Local Naming Story – Campbell and Associates

We talk to many marketing, branding, and graphic design firms in our area and frequently ask about where they got their name. Typically the answer is something like “It sounded cool” or perhaps “we kept searching until we found one where the website was available and made a bit of sense.”


Today I spoke with Bruce Gemmill, president of Campbell and Associates – a marketing firm located in Herndon Virginia. In addition to being an all-around good guy who is involved in the local chamber and other organizations, he had a nice story to tell about his firm.


I was curious how a guy with the last name of Gemmill might end up becoming president of a boutique marketing firm with the name Campbell. I was guessing he’d bought it from someone.


I was wrong.


As Bruce told me, he’d spent years leaving messages and talking with administrators for his clients – and invariably people would respond with “Thank you Mr. Campbell.” As noted above, that is not his last name. His last name, Gemmill, is a name not many people have heard of – and it sounds awfully close to Campbell when heard over the phone – or even in person.


Rather than spend the remainder of his career correcting people on his last name, Bruce went with the flow. He named his firm “Campbell and Associates” and in the process ended up with a name that is highly memorable even though it appears on the surface to be common.


Sometimes it isn’t the name itself that lends character to the company. Sometimes it’s the story. Okay, often it is the story. (In fact, we tend to prefer the story behind the name to be at least as powerful as the name itself. It lends strength to the brand.)


Bruce’s selfless act of removing his own last name from his firm showed a lot about the company’s core values. And it gives him a nice story that helps people remember who he is, what his firm’s name is, and even provides a peek at his own persona.


Kudos, Bruce. Thanks for taking the extra thirty seconds to tell me your story. Hope others enjoy it as much as I do.

Biz Dev Job Opportunity with the Thingnamers

We’re hiring! (Or bringing on a contractor, more accurately.)


We need a veteran business developer who has sold marketing services in the past (or now.)


But if you have read this blog before you probably know that we don’t do things the normal way. We figured we might as well make the listing interesting. Here’s how we’re doing it:

  • We’ve posted the job description on the Internet
  • It ain’t on our site
  • We’re hoping the right candidate has the skills to find the description, figure out that it’s for this position, and send us a note telling us you’re interested in the position.

Time-saving hint: If you’re hoping to just put “Stokefire” or “Thingnamer” and “Sales” into Google you’re going to be searching for a long, long time. It’ll take more creativity than that. But, no, we did not password protect or otherwise make the description inaccessible. It just doesn’t have our name on it.


Hope we hear from you!

The Naming of a Child

May 26th, 2007 at 8.30 pm
Theodore Joseph Linden was born.
Weighing in at 6 lbs 10 oz.
Congratulations Sarah & Tate!


images-1.jpg

The captain attempts to right his ship.

(I can say that, can’t I? It’s not a euphemism I’m familiar with, but I’m sure someone will take offense…)


There was a time long ago when the staff at Stokefire thought to themselves “Why is it that so many business start blogs, only to watch them fizzle and die?”


We were haughty. We were confident. We occassionally had an hour in our day in which we had time to think to ourselves how wonderfully haughty, confident, and gosh-darn right we were.


We are no longer haughty. Apparently haughtiness takes time. So do blog entries. Oddly enough, things that also take time include rewriting your entire naming process, going through a visual rebranding, responding to requests for proposals, and just plain getting your butt in front of people that want to do business with you.


We are humble.


And we now sort of understand. It happens because life happens. It happens an hour or a day at a time. Soon there’s a week of no posts. And then two…


…and then you start getting notes from your clients and fans wondering what the hell happened.


We have some of the most incredible clients in the world – and we forget that one of the reasons they find us incredible (or at least they say they do…) is because of this very blog. When in the midst of a client workshop someone raises their hand and stops us – asking “when are you going to start blogging again” we know we’ve done something very wrong. We thought that focus on the client experience was paramount, but our clients were wanting to engage with us and see if there were lessons that our staff was learning while working on the project. They liked the fact we wove stories about them into our every day conversation. They wanted to see their name in backlights…


We were being stupid.


So… Hello to all of you out there who threatened to drain our laptop batteries if we didn’t get back to it. Hello to my wife who barely stopped short of pointing out that if she can handle nurturing our unborn child in her belly while upholding our constitution and spending nights readying our home for the baby I can darn well invest some effort in keeping her entertained for five minutes of reading while she drinks her morning tea. Hello to Dana who I must also kindly beg to begin her posts again. Hello to Nancy, Denise, John, JT, Kevo, Florence, Mark, Jeffry, the five guys named Mike, Brent, Evan, Claude, and the rest of you that have been kind enough to come back regularly, comment and basically validate our online existence.


Hello blog.


I admit it. I’ve missed you.


And yes… I’ve got a whole lot to talk about. (Gotta remember to mention office space tomorrow…)


I’ll start tomorrow. Promise!


Tate Linden
Principal Consultant
Stokefire Consulting Group
703-778-9925



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