All Posts in Article

March 31, 2015 - Comments Off on Nurturing A Brand

Nurturing A Brand

There isn’t a month that goes by where I’m not in a meeting and the idea of our brand and what it “looks like” comes up. Those visual indicators like logo animations, colors, and fonts we call our “animation package”. And it’s inevitable that I launch into my speech on how we’ve come to nurture the package into what it is today.

The simple analogy goes like this…

Nurturing a brand is like raising a child.

When we first launched the rebrand back in 2009 it was a baby, so we treated it like a baby. It had strict rules that couldn’t be broken and we fiercely protected it. Every day there was something new to discover but we took each new challenge very seriously and made sure to stay true to the goals we set during the initial stages of the rebrand.

Around 2011, the rebrand hit it’s teenage years. I call them the “experimentation years”. And like all teenagers this period can be chaotic and quite exhausting. You’re tired of the same old thing and the creatives are desperate to try something new. Anything to break out of the monotony. But this is also an exciting time if you have a strong parent (aka Creative Director) in charge because it means that you can experiment with relative safety. Just like a teenager pushing against authority but always coming home, so should the visual identity of the brand.

Now, in 2015, the rebrand has reached it’s adult years. It’s confident and knows itself well. We know where to push and where we need to stay true to who we are. We know which rules to break and which rules only bend. It’s also the time in which we’re starting to see the end of the road - retirement, if you will - and prepare for it.

These days, I’m actually on the fence wether or not our brand is heading into “retirement” or into it’s “rejuvenation” phase; for I can see ways to expand and build on our brand in ways we never thought about 5 years ago. Regardless of wether we set the brand out to pasture or reinvigorate it with fresh thinking, the analogy of raising a child has worked well for us. It’s given me an easy way of explaining the rationale behind some of the decisions that might otherwise have seen arbitrary to someone looking into the process from the outside.

March 12, 2015 - Comments Off on Using Slack within a team is harder than I thought

Using Slack within a team is harder than I thought

I’ve been trying to implement Slack within our department for a few months now and the challenges in getting it adopted are a bit harder than what I've read in many an article online. Here are a few things I’ve run into that make it pretty challenging for Slack to become the de facto communications platform within our dept. Hopefully, others in similar situations or the team at Slack can find some of these useful.

1) People have a very hard time letting go of email.

This is by far, the biggest problem. Whether it’s muscle memory, forgetfulness, or something else, people have a very hard time letting go of email for tasks that are much better suited for Slack. Even when all participants are on Slack, someone will still send an email resulting in another back-n-forth email chain cluttering up an inbox. Making Slack top-of-mind is a very difficult task among a team who is very used to an email culture. I’m stumped in this area as to how to provide guidance.

2) Notifications aren’t consistent across users.

Everyone has different ways of setting up their software. I like to download the desktop version as well as the apps, then go through each setting tailoring the app to my liking. I make sure all notifications are turned on and even slightly adjust those notification settings depending on the app. Ninety-nine percent of my coworkers however aren’t like this. They may download the desktop version, they may not. I have a few coworkers who had no idea there was an official Mac app and were using the web version. Almost all had no idea there was an iPhone app - much less an iPad app. Some have notifications turned on, some don’t. Some people go through and kill all the apps they don’t use, essentially de-enabling their background processes and any chance of notification. My point is, if people don’t get notifications that conversations are happening or their attention is needed, they forget about Slack and revert back to email.

3) People don’t understand the flexibility or capabilities of Slack.

Even when I can get a good conversation going within Slack, most people don’t understand all the functionality of Slack and revert to email very quickly. For instance, I had a coworker who didn’t know you could save images within Slack, so whenever they sent a JPG of a design, they sent it via email because they didn’t know you could save an image out of Slack. I have coworkers who still don’t know there’s an edit function in Slack, so when they make a mistake in typing, they just retype the same thing again with a correction. I have coworkers who haven’t added their real names to accounts. This results in people not recognizing their coworkers online or have no idea who’s available, so they revert to email.

4) It’s a toy.

Lastly, it’s my belief that a lot of people within our department view Slack as a toy and not a serious communications platform that can add tons of value to their workflow. They don’t sign up, thinking it’s just a passing fad, which leads to the fact that very few projects have their complete team within Slack. This causes even more confusion because people aren’t sure wether to communicate within Slack for this project or do they need to revert back to email because “so-n-so” refuses to sign up and work with the rest of the team. Senior Management is now testing Slack though, so if they like it, then we could soon have an “official” blessing.

I love Slack. I love the easy of use. I love the transparency it provides around the creative process, projects, and conversations. I love the fact that it takes the burden of keeping everyone up-to-date off key stakeholders and puts it squarely back on each user. I love the fact that Slack isn’t burdened with all the regulations and procedures our I.T. department implements for every piece of company software. It just so happens that not everyone within my department shares those sentiments, so getting everyone to use Slack consistently has been a real challenge.

UPDATE: See my new post on the Top 3 Slack Requests

February 23, 2015 - Comments Off on Creativity is key to success and it doesn’t come easy or quick

Creativity is key to success and it doesn’t come easy or quick

If you haven't read The New Yorker's "The Shape of Things to Come", a profile on Jony Ives, it's a fascinating read. There are some great stories in there and some very rare accounts by designers who work for Jony. But what fascinates me, as a Creative Director, is going through the timeline from when the iMac was released in 1998, when Jony had been in charge for almost 2 years, to when the iPhone was released in 2007. It took over 10 years and 3 amazing products (iMac, iPod, and iPhone) for the design team to become "the hub of the wheel," according to Bob Mansfield.

Typically, Robert Brunner explained, design had been “a vertical stripe in the chain of events” in a product’s delivery; at Apple, it became “a long horizontal stripe, where design is part of every conversation.”

So, this idea of design as a central component to a company didn't come easy or quick, even for Apple, and even with a figure like Steve Jobs as CEO. There's something very comforting in knowing that it was struggle, even for Apple.

But using the word "design" is partially misleading, because what really is the hub of Apple is creativity. And putting creativity at the core of the company is really what makes the difference.

Jon Stewart has been in the headlines recently for his announcement that he's leaving The Daily Show after 17 years. But did you know he almost quit many times in the first few years? After Jon took the job, it seems no one told the senior writing staff about his change in vision and they were a little ticked off with the new host's ideas.

“I walk in the door, into a room with the writers and producers, and the first thing they say is ‘this isn’t some MTV bullshit’…. And then I was told not to change the jokes or improvise,”

It took Jon almost 2 and half years for the “natural winnowing process” to leave him with a staff that shared his creative vision, and thus for The Daily Show to become what we all know and love 1.

Stories like this give me great hope on the most frustrating of days. So the next time you feel like the company simply doesn't "get it", remember how even some of the legends of creativity took years to build the foundations of strong design and creativity in their respective fields. And if that doesn't help, at least you don't work for Samsung.



February 9, 2015 - Comments Off on iOS – Picker vs. List

iOS – Picker vs. List

We've been working on a new iOS app for PBS for awhile now and we're having some discussions around if/when to use a picker versus when/if to use a list.

Let's go through some examples…

Read more

May 5, 2014 - Comments Off on NBC & Showtime – You’re Streaming It Wrong

NBC & Showtime – You’re Streaming It Wrong


During my TV transition week going from cable to internet only I’ve been testing a lot of apps and services. I can honestly say Hulu is pretty great.

I can also say that some networks just don’t get it. I’m looking at you CBS and FX. CBS only allows viewing though a browser - and no, airplay is not supported. FX requires a cable subscription - lame.

But honestly, NBC and Showtime have me the most confused. During my overlap I still had my cable subscription but wanted to try Showtime’s iPad app to watch content via Airplay and AppleTV. Except, for some unknown reason, Showtime doesn’t allow Airplay or even AirPlay mirroring. Now, why would a network who’s content you’re already paying a premium for and obviously wants you to watch their content via their mobile apps, purposefully restrict you from viewing it on your TV?

Read more

April 7, 2014 - Comments Off on The Fractured Streaming Marketplace

The Fractured Streaming Marketplace

As I make my plan to leave Comcast behind, I put together a list of my shows over the weekend, along with the various ways to watch them1, and it’s pretty pathetic. As I started grouping them by network, trends would emerge.

For instance, FX really does not want you streaming their shows. They’re not available on HuluPlus or Amazon, nor through their own apps. Basically the only way to watch them will be to purchase them on iTunes. Meaning, I’ll be watching a lot less FX shows in the future.

Another trend, Broadcast networks like FOX, ABC, and NBC are very Hulu friendly, but CBS is not - that probably has something to do with the fact they have a vested interest in Hulu being successful2.

I know websites such as Can I Stream it and apps like have sprung up to try and help viewers make sense of this crazy world. But I’ve found them to not be 100% reliable or they don’t explain all the restrictions very well.

I’d actually be a little surprised to find out if networks keep a running tally of their competitor’s streaming availability in a chart such as this so they could program against it. At PBS we basically put every show from every local station up for streaming if rights allow it3.

PLUG: We also have AppleTV, XBOX & ROKU apps for your TV. Plus, it’s ALL FREE. Hmmmm…maybe we should do a commercial about that.

  1. Current seasons only. 
  2. FOX, ABC, and NBC all own a piece of Hulu: 
  3. If it were up to us, every season of every show would be available all the time. 

March 26, 2014 - Comments Off on Cutting the “Network” Cord – Or So I Thought

Cutting the “Network” Cord – Or So I Thought

In my series on cord cutting (Cutting The Cord Analysis, Cable vs. Cutting the Cord & The Fractured Streaming Marketplace), I’ve been talking about how some networks have a better understanding of what customers want and some just downright don’t get it or are confused (NBC & Showtime - You’re Streaming It Wrong). But an interesting fact has arisen that I never expected.

Read more

March 9, 2014 - Comments Off on Cable vs. Cutting the Cord

Cable vs. Cutting the Cord

Back in 2011 I decided to go through all my TV viewing shows and compare what it would cost if I decided to “Cut the Cord” by getting rid of cable and go "all in" with digital subscriptions and/or purchases. The results were pretty disappointing to me…

The cable option was $472 and the online option was $574. Cutting the cord was way more expensive that I had previously thought. These results might not be perfect but they show that, despite all the marketing and news reports about customer subscription rates dropping, this technology just isn't up to par with my old fashioned cable subscription - yet!

So, now it’s 2014 and it’s time to once again re-evaluate the cord cutting option. I’ve seen quite a few friends go cable-less over the years and I myself have had a love-hate relationship with Comcast. Oddly, in 3 years, the same players are still the only ones on the field - iTunes, HuluPlus, and/or Amazon. I could make a case for Netflix being new to the party with it’s original shows like House of Cards though.

Read more

May 22, 2013 - Comments Off on Marketing’s Future in TV

Marketing’s Future in TV

Some think with the future of TV perhaps hanging in the balance given the rise of NETFLIX's new season model and others like it that typical marketing and promotions teams might not be relevant in such an "on-demand" world.

I would argue, that in such a world, promoting one's content might be more important. If such traditions as "Networks" go the way of the dodo bird, marketing and promoting your content among a sea of content is going to become even more relevant.

I can foresee a day when all a viewer may remember is that the show they wanted to watch had something to do with England and midwives. So they tell their TV, "Search for dramas about midwives in England." And up pops Call the Midwives from PBS.

At that point, marketing is the dominant force in that person's choice of what to watch. People are still going to need to be informed as to their choices. And the louder we are as content marketers, the more we'll be stuck in a viewers mind when it comes time for them to make the choice of what to watch.

"Brands" or "Networks" may not hold a place in the future of TV, but marketing one's content will still be a strong industry.

January 16, 2013 - Comments Off on Presenting Creative to Power

Presenting Creative to Power

When presenting creative to someone who isn’t involved with creative on a daily basis has a lot of potential pitfalls. Here are a few things to consider first before laying everything you’ve worked on in front of them.

1. Who’s your audience?

Is the person you’re presenting to so busy the only way to get a reaction is through email? Or are they open to spending 15-30mins letting you present and then having an open dialog? Are they the type of person who understands the creative process and can easily see past the visuals to a bigger picture? Or is presenting final artwork in short bursts easier for them to digest?

2. What do you want from them?

Know what you want to take away from this meeting before the presentation. Are you asking for a full sign off on the creative? Or are you just looking to gauge their reactions and get initial feedback? Or, even more limited, are you looking to just wrangle them down from infinite possibilities to 3 or less categories of style.

Knowing the answer to these two very important questions are essential in presenting creative to people of influence within a company who are outside of the creative circle.