Category: happenings

The Power of Unhappiness at TEDx

unhappiness-TEDx

Our nation’s founding fathers may have been inspired by unhappiness – they wrote it into Declaration of Independence. Seriously. Don’t remember it? Right after “Life, Liberty”… we have “and the PURSUIT of happiness.” See what they did there? We get life and liberty from our first breath, but if we want to be happy? We gotta buy some sneakers, a nice track suit, and then try to chase down happiness. 

Don’t like exercise? Prepare to be disappointed. And even if you do like it, you’re still screwed, because the moment you stop pursuing and start having… you’ll find that our founders didn’t tell us we could actually keep happiness, or how to know it when we see it. 

Traditional wisdom says that the value of unhappiness lies in making the good times feel that much better. We’re not advocating that you practice masochism on Tuesdays so that your Wednesdays feel better, but being unhappy does provide with us with super powers that disappear once happiness creeps in. 

Unhappiness and happiness aren’t as hard to pin down as we think they are – there are specific conditions that lead to one or the other and once you know what to look for you’ll know what to change.

Tate Linden, Stokefire’s President and Chief Strategic Consultant, has been invited to present at the inaugural TEDx Herndon event this Saturday, March 14th (Pi Day). He’ll be sharing the secret sauce on to how unhappiness can be used as a tool to find happiness easier and more often. And we promise he won’t be chopping anyone’s toes off to make the next speaker sound better.

TEDx Herndon

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!

 

 

Happy +1, Us!

Almost exactly eight years ago I was sitting in my basement with a space heater blasting on my bare feet as I went through a stack of mail. It was mostly bills as I recall. But one plump envelope contained a notice from our friendly government saying that Stokefire Consulting Group, Inc. was officially incorporated. Oh, and also that we should start paying taxes and stuff.

The effective date for Stokefire’s incorporation was January 13, 2005, so we’re just past the start of a new year.

Since incorporation a whole lot has happened. Our clients have enabled us to develop outstanding and often award-winning work. We’ve worked with hundreds of organizations and many of the world’s best known brands, including Charles Schwab, Discovery Communications, Google, Heinz, Motorola, the US Department of Defense, and the United States Congress. At the start I couldn’t have imagined landing any one of them, but over the years I slowly got better at going after business that seemed improbable or impossible to win.

Since Stokefire hired its first employee in 2006 I’d struggled to find a way to teach employees how to bring in business. It never worked. I could show them how I did it, but it didn’t work for anyone else. On the plus side, it continued to work for me. We landed major projects, pulled business from agencies more than a thousand times our size, and for a while were nearly bulletproof in pitches, landing better than 90% of the work we went after. But nearly eight years in, my fingers on the keyboard and face in front of the prospective client was the only way it happened.

I write “nearly eight years” because two days before our eighth year in business I lost the right to claim sole ownership of the sales channel.  On her seventh day of employment, Lindsay (the newest member of our design team) got us a signed contract with a new client. I wasn’t even on the call. (Is it possible for me to retire from selling via blog post? Because that would be awesome.)

Congrats to Lindsay for giving Stokefire even more momentum as we blaze past eight years in business, and many thanks to all of our clients, employees, and partners who make it possible to keep doing what we’re good at and love to do. Without all of you I’d still be sitting barefoot in the basement.

And… For decency’s sake let’s just agree I’d at least be wearing PJs.

Stokefire Welcomes… Truth.

Woe betide anyone visiting Stokefire HQ on a day (like today) that there’s client-involved brainstorming to be had. If you do our boss may also betide you a bunch of cheap beer and takeout food. You’ve been warned. No… that’s not quite right.

YOOOOOOOU’VE BEEEEEEEEN WAAAAAAAAAAAAARNED!

Better.

And yes, this really is on the big sign in our lobby.

Today's Welcome Sign at Stokefire

This month’s happenings at Stokefire Headquarters

September – October 2011

You’re probably wondering – what happened to the weekly happenings? Well here’s the simple answer – we’re busy, VERY busy. We know – the economy sucks, so what could we possibly be so busy with? Well I can’t exactly tell you (it’s a secret), but I can tell you that we’ve been having a blast making messes, taking photos (we may have even seen a ghost or two), and smashing things with a hammer – all for a client project. Oh and our boss Tate Linden has been writing blogs like crazy, he’s a fan of Gandhi if you haven’t noticed *wink*.

We’ve also been photographing more of our work – if you didn’t see our last website update we launched all of our client work, but that doesn’t mean we’re done. We are continuing to update our pictures and results from all of our projects. There has been a lot of media going around too – we won an award for our work on the Think Harder. Concrete brand for PCA. (If you look close, you can see Tate sporting the brand above!)

Video mark-ups #3, 4, and 5 are all in the works, so you’ll be able to see them coming out very soon. We already completed our mark-up video on the Stokefire logo (#1) and the Think Harder. Concrete brand (#2), so we’re pretty darn excited to have more on the way.

We of course can’t forget about our client work either. We’re working on advertisements, logos and a whole lot of strategy. Tate has also been off on a few speaking gigs, getting people all psyched-up about brand alignment. With all this stuff going on, we’ll be putting out the Stokefire Bellows (our newsletter) very shortly, so keep your eyes peeled.

Get More:
Posts involving Gandhi
Tate Linden: Speaker Extraordinaire
Stokefire’s Classic Rants

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.

Happenings in Advertising, Branding, and Design

1. Oh Netflix – What are you doing to us! Netflix’s Attempt at ‘Transparency’ Angers Consumers, Hurts Brand. Take a look at their new name and logo. (via Ad Age) (via Brand New)

2. OXY had a design overhaul, is that all they did? (via The Dieline)

3. Ben and Jerry’s won’t back down: Schweddy Balls Leaves Sour Taste in Conservative Group’s Mouth AFA slams Ben & Jerry’s. )What do you think of their new flavor? (via Adweek)

4. Nextel rebrands – X Connects the Spot (via Brand New)

5. BBH Rebrands British Airways in Grand New Campaign Ads debut new tagline: ‘To fly. To serve’ (via Adweek)

6. The colors you choose for your brand show personality and emotion – IBM represents it all. IBM Billboard Changes Color Based on Your Clothing (via Adweek)

7. Barefoot Wine presents a poster made completely out of rubbish: “One Beach” (documentary) (via Creative Review)

8. Esurance Taps Leo Burnett (via Adweek)

9. Maggie Gyllenhaal Does First-Ever Latte ‘Got Milk?‘ Ad.

10. A little something for all the designers out there: Josef Müller-Brockmann: Principal Of The Swiss School (via Noupe)

11. The evolution of the advertising executive infographic – Where do you think you stand? (via Adverblog)

Get More:

Thoughts on Advertising 
Thoughts on Branding
Thoughts on Design
Thoughts on Creativity

 

Happenings in Advertising, Branding, and Design

1. It was a big thing on all of our minds this week and last week. Here’s a great way to remember the good times: Twin Tower Cameos (via The Inspiration Room)

2. It’s been a long time since the side braids! Real Wendy Takes Star Turn in Wendy’s Advertising  (via Ad Age)

3. Well Toyota is definitely being creepy. Excuse me while I stick my foot in your face. (via Adweek)

4. Everyone loves a rebrand, especially when just about EVERYTHING is included! Warburtons’ Complete Package (via Brand New)

5. Ever wonder who’s behind the scenes of some of those awesome movie websites, such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Mars needs Moms? It’s this guy: Andreas Shabelnikov – Check out an Interview with him (via Web Designer Depot)

6. Do you have stuff? We know you have stuff – Norton Talks About Stuff  (via The Inspiration Room)

7. How a little copywriting can go a long way: David Ogilvy Inspires Big Ad Gig Hopeful (via AgencySpy)

8. Hooray for celebrity advertising (maybe) – Jennifer Lopez Stries Alliance with Fiat (via Adweek)


Great Designs from a Great Week

1. Celadon rebrand
2. Pop-up Design Museum
3. Madison Sourdough | Lincoln | Liberty | Eagle


Get More:

Thoughts on Advertising 
Thoughts on Branding
Thoughts on Design
Thoughts on Creativity

Happenings in Advertising, Branding, and Design

1. WOW – It’s too bad the automatic laces don’t exist! Nike Auctions 1,500 Michael J. Fox ‘Back to the Future II’ Nike MAGs. (via Adweek)

2. Technology just keeps going and going and going! It’s amazing what we can do these days! An interactive table top and mirror. (via Adweek)

3. Play.com gets a new logo. Clean, simple and very friendly. (via Brand New)

4. Mercy Hospital once again gets a new brand – Double Crossed. Check out the more modern look.  (via Brand New)

5. Well I could use a little adventure and a new car! Ad of the Day: Dodge W+K hides three Dodge Journey’s across America. You find one, you keep it. (via Adweek)


In Other News:

Twins rock the Creative Industry – Pelle and Calle Sjoenell

Wieden + Kennedy named Digital Agency of the Year 2011

Celebrities Avoid .XXX Domain Naming and Branding, But What About the Rest of Us?

Get More:

Thoughts on Branding

Thoughts on Advertising 



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