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February 2013

Concept Graveyard – when great concepts aren’t

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I’ve been a designer for 14 years now (yikes!). During that time I’ve come up with some really good designs, some designs that weren’t my favorite but got the job done, and some concepts that I really, truly, loved. We typically show two to three concepts for each project (way more if it’s for logo design) and only one is usually chosen to move on to completion (unless there’s some Frankensteining of concepts). Which means that roughly 2/3 of all the work I do, good or not, amazing or not, perfect or not, goes… well, to the Concept Graveyard. It’s impossible to say how many concepts are in my personal Concept Graveyard but even with simplified math, it looks something like this:

14 years
2 new projects requiring concepts per month
2 concepts not chosen per project
672 concepts Graveyarded

And then let’s just assume that I’ve had two logo development projects a year, for which I likely show 12-15 concepts, the population of my Concept Graveyard is something more like 1,024.

Most of the time it’s just par for the course, I like all the concepts I show or I wouldn’t show them, so I’m usually pretty happy to have one of them chosen. But then there are those projects that really speak to me, where the creative brief is fun and inspiring and I have really, really good ideas. Sometimes these work out great, and sometimes the client decides to go another direction, or the budget dries up, or somebody’s boss kills the idea by insisting the dominant color be purple. Whatever happens, every once in a while really great work gets left behind where no one will ever see it. Sad? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Optimistically to be looked at as inspiration to do really fantastic work every time? … Ok, fine.

Here’s an example
The creative brief was something like this:
“We’re launching a new software tool and want to announce it with posters around the office. We want these to be cool and edgy and like movie posters, go ahead and really push the brand standards. Couple of themes you have to explore – a crystal ball and the idea of coming soon.”

Awesome (despite the crystal ball theme). I still had to keep in mind that this was for a major financial services company and they tend to be a bit conservative, but the gloves were off. I loved everything I came up with, and so did my direct client. But somebody’s boss’s boss wanted something else. And they got it. I got to see the finished project and it was nice. But I liked mine better. Which is what got me thinking about the idea of the Concept Graveyard and doing the math above in my head. Then I thought, well, why not let them see the light of day, even if it is only on the blog? So here they are, and I’ve started a Pinterest board called Concept Graveyard, feel free to contribute. I’ve removed logos and names to protect the innocent, do the same if you want to share.

Portit mollis vitae

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7 serious and 7 funny predictions we love for 2013

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From what’s going on in the marketplace to what’s going on in the world. Here are 14 inspired predictions for 2013 from the d.trio staff – ranging from business to pop culture. How do they match up with yours?

Tablets and laptops will finally find a way to coexist; a viable hybrid will enter the market in 2013.

Justin Bieber reveals he is a Canadian spy and has been using his popularity to extract crucial U.S. secrets from C.I.A. fans.

Apple will regain its status as the worlds most valuable company with the introduction of an amazing new product that we do not yet know we need.

Reality shows will nose dive as we realize that we need much more fiction and much less reality.

Marketing budgets and property values will increase.

Tensions will develop between the United States and Great Britain as battles erupt over media and merchandising competition for Kim Kardashian’s baby and the new royal baby.

Design firms and designers will continue to become more and more responsible for problem solving and proposing solutions, rather than just executing within traditional boundaries.

The reflective, gradiented bevel technique will finally die. Hooray!

Apple will rediscover it’s “core” and restore its stock value.

Jesse Ventura will announce he’s making a run for the 2016 presidency.

No more one-off projects — campaigns are the thing this year. It’s is a “must” to incorporate multi-channel marketing to reach your audience, using traditional and new with synchronized messaging.

For all the foodies, this is the year of the bacon wrapped bacon. In the exercise world, treadmill rollerblading will be in every gym soon…be a trendsetter in your gym and try it first!

BlackBerry will jump back into the Smartphone competition with a new phone/announcement.

An app will be created for your car that allows you to drive it through your iPad.

Marketers will need to rely more and more on original content creation and really good researchers and writers will therefore be hard to find.  Jobs in the writing and marketing technology categories will grow in 2013.

Politicians will learn to work together and figure out a compromise that stabilizes our economy creating healthy job growth and low inflation.

Ownage In The Mountains

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Campaigns I Loved 2012

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Thinking back to 2012, I really loved the following ad campaigns for being smart, insightful, and fun to experience. What campaigns did you love from last year?


Red Bull: Stratos

What they did: Red Bull sponsored a mission to push the boundaries of human potential by breaking the record for the highest freefall jump in history.

Why it was great: Perfect brand connection. Red Bull stands for making things happen and taking risks. There is no bigger risk than dropping 128,100 ft and falling 800+ miles per hour. Plus, “it gives you wings” is a relevant brand message when someone jumps from the edge of space.


Proctor and Gamble: Proud Sponsor of Moms

What they did: Proctor and Gamble created a mom-centric campaign during the 2012 Summer Olympics, aligning their family of brands around appreciation for moms everywhere.

Why it was great: It’s P&Gs motto to make emotional connections to their consumers. What better way to pull at the heartstrings than to talk about the value of mothers?


Samsung: Next Best Thing

What they did: Samsung developed a campaign insisting consumers don’t need to wait for the next Apple product; the next best thing is already here with their Galaxy SIII.

Why it was great: It’s easy to be defensive against the market leader, but Samsung took the high (and funny) road by showing that people don’t need an Apple iPhone to be happy/hip. Plus, the ads showed iPhone users as “lemming-like” individuals, exactly what Apple used to do back in the 80’s when talking about their market rival, IBM.