building brand endurance

  • brand strategy
  • creative direction
  • design

At the HOW Design Live conference, 3,000 creative professionals from all over the world came together for learning, networking, and inspiration.

We heard from design legends like Bob Gill and Stefan Sagmeister, as well as innovative new artists like Dana Tanamachi-Williams. Knowledge was shared from marketing gurus, branding experts, industry leaders, and panels of peers. Here’s a snapshot of some of the inspiration I walked away with…

"It is what you learn after you already know it all that really counts." – Dana Tanamachi-Williams

“Have an experience. Go to the source. Start from the problem. (If the job is for a dry cleaner, go to a dry cleaner!)" – Bob Gill

“Identify one personal creative project you’ve been saying you want to do and schedule it. Make it just as important as client work.” – Stefan Sagmeister

“If you’re not passionate, you’re drawing on your reserves. If you’re passionate, you always have a bank account.” – Alina Williams

“You’re in the business of transformation.” – Jason Blumer

“If there’s value in it for them, there has to be value in it for you too.” – Doug Dolan

“A picture is worth 1,000 words, but in the hands of the right designer, a word is worth 1,000 pictures.” – Douglas Davis

“Focus on taking deliberate action on what matters.” – Corwin Hiebert

“Self confidence is rooted in competence and practice.” – Ilise Benun

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Stop, Drop, and Stroll Your Way to Creative Breakthroughs

Have you ever experienced a mental block or felt stuck with a project? If so, taking a break and getting out for a walk might be just the thing you need to shift your mindset and boost your creative thinking.


When you’re up against a deadline or have a huge to-do list to complete, it’s tempting to just push through – even if you’re experiencing a creative block or struggling to find a solution to a problem. It seems counterintuitive to stop working, but taking a break can actually help shift your thinking to allow for new ideas. According to recent research explored by the Harvard Business Review, taking a break can also be a crucial step to having more ideas. Often ideas will come when your mind isn’t focused on the problem. When you set the project aside and spend time on other unrelated tasks, it allows for incubation time:

When you work on a problem continuously, you can become fixated on previous solutions…Taking a break from the problem and focusing on something else entirely gives the mind some time to release its fixation on the same solutions and let the old pathways fade from memory. Then, when you return to the original problem, your mind is more open to new possibilities – eureka moments.


Dropping the mouse, tablet, or smartphone and eliminating distractions (email, social media, texts) may be just what you need to focus. Quieting your space and removing the external noise allows for clearer thinking – and clears the way for the a-ha moments to happen.


Physical activity has dual benefits…it improves your physical well-being as well as your overall state of mind. Walking circulates the blood, delivering oxygen to the brain to help turn the brain on and spark new ideas. It’s probably not a coincidence that many of history’s great creative thinkers were also fans of walking – Darwin, Mozart, Thoreau, Shakespeare, and more.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir"

Next time you’re facing a creative block or a tough problem, try stopping the work, dropping the electronic devices, and going for a stroll. Getting away from your desk and being physically active may be the most productive, creative thing you can do.

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How fit is your brand?

It’s that time of year. Resolutions for the New Year are set, and by now are in full swing. For many, fitness goals were included in the mix.

Since “getting fit” is on everyone’s mind this time of year, why not evaluate the shape of your company’s brand too?

Here are 4 questions to help determine the state of your brand’s fitness:

1) Do you know who you are? (Add muscle.)

Just like humans, each brand has it’s own personality. Brand personality is a set of distinct human characteristics associated with a product, service, or company. Basically, it’s the adjectives that are used to describe your brand. People tend to personify things, and your brand personality is something your customers can relate to consistently throughout all of their experiences with your brand. They begin to form an overall concept of what to expect from your brand. Much like human personality, brand personality is built over time. 

A common way to uncover your brand’s personality is by comparing adjectives that may describe what your brand is…or isn’t. For example, conservative vs. progressive. You then identify which side of the spectrum your brand falls. Once you’ve identified your brand’s unique characteristics you can start injecting this personality into all of your written, verbal, and visual communications.

It can seem somewhat intangible, but developing a unique brand personality is essential to your business.

2) Do you know who you’re for? (Trim the fat.)

Make sure you’ve clearly defined your ideal customer. Who are you talking to? What type of audience would you like your brand to attract? What makes them unique? You may have heard the quote, “If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to no one.” Successful brands are focused. They’re not trying to be all things to all people.

3) Do you know how you’re different? (Build on your strength.)

In what unique ways do your products or services impact your customers? How does this differ from your competitors? Consider how you might emphasize these key differentiators in your marketing.

4) Is your brand consistent? (Form good habits.)

Think about your brand as a whole. It should be represented consistently across all customer touch points – from the copy in your brochure, to the visuals on your website, and even the language you use when talking to customers. Your brand message should be organized and consistent, helping to grow and build your brand.

Evaluating your brand personality, your ideal customer, your key differentiators, and your brand’s consistency are tools you can use regularly to keep your brand “fit” year after year. So what’s the verdict? How fit is your brand?

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As we approach the holidays and reflect back on the year, we have a lot to be thankful for – especially the people in our lives – family, friends, clients, partners, and colleagues.

You may have seen this TEDx Talk from Shawn Anchor, where he talks about the connection between gratitude and happiness and the effect that happiness and being positive in the present can have on your life. (It’s worth the 12 minutes if you haven’t seen it yet.) He suggests a 21-Day Challenge where you can train your brain to become more positive. The challenge helps you grow happiness through gratitude. Each day for 21 days in a row, by writing down 3 new things you’re grateful for, you train your brain to scan the world for the positive first, rather than the negative. If you’ve heard of the 21-Day Challenge and have been participating through the month of November, then you should have hit the 21-day mark. How has it worked for you?

As a start for us, here’s a visual snapshot of some of the things we’re grateful for (in no particular order).

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season full of happiness, health, and adventure!


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Brand Inspiration from Ironman

We were recently in Kona, Hawaii for the IRONMAN® Triathlon World Championships. Arch had the amazing opportunity to participate in the race, and I was thrilled to tag along as the “super fan”.

"Swim 2.4 miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.2 miles. Brag the rest of your life." – John Collins, IRONMAN Founder

Throughout the race weekend, it was hard not to be impressed by the success and the loyalty that the IRONMAN brand has accomplished. Athletes from all over the world were sporting the IRONMAN brand – on their clothing and even inked on their bodies. How many other brands have customers who get tattoos of their logo after experiencing their brand? Talk about brand loyalty. IRONMAN has cultivated this brand loyalty by creating the ultimate experience.

An experience…

For participants – whose months of training culminates into one grand, well-organized day. A day that’s fully catered and offers valet bike service, countless volunteers, and a booming voice at the finish line announcing that, “Arch Fuston, you are an IRONMAN!” They know they have accomplished something truly epic, and for some this experience can be a life-changer.

For volunteers – who get the opportunity to be a part of something bigger, to help countless participants achieve their dreams, and to be inspired by the people and stories they experience throughout the day.

For spectators – who watch their friends and family accomplish amazing things throughout their months of training and on race day. They too, feel the joy and elation of that finish line.

If you’ve never experienced an IRONMAN finish line – either as a participant, a volunteer, or a spectator – put it on your bucket list. Now. Because it truly is the ultimate experience.

How can you enhance your brand’s experience for your customers? How can you let your customers in on your brand’s story and invite them to be a part of your legacy?

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