Credo

Credo (Latin for Believe) is both a place to share ideas and a call to action.

It’s not Mumbai, it’s Bombay.

It was a week before Diwali (which is like Christmas in India) and thousands of people were shopping in the open air markets buying colorful lights, flowers and gifts for the upcoming celebration. Shoppers were rummaging through piles of shoes and rugs and everything you could possibly imagine while taxis and mopeds inched their way through the thick crowds. It was chaotic yet strangely orderly and beautiful. The sounds were intense as the shopkeepers, shoppers and car horns all fought for attention. No one seemed upset and everyone went about their business. My goal was to make sure I never lost sight of the man with the yellow and white striped Charlie Brown looking shirt. He was our Mumbai guide and it was his job to make sure I didn’t disappear.

It was about 4:30 and the sun was about to set. It was the magic hour, the moment you live for as a filmmaker. Our journey was about to come to close in a spectacular fashion. Three cities in 6 days, Bangalore, Chennai and finally Mumbai. I had quite the entourage. Hussain my Director of Photography and Satish, the Audio Engineer were both from Delhi and travelled with us. Jennifer and Maxine were the clients but they were more like Den Mothers making sure I didn’t eat or touch anything that would make me ill. Plus the crew from Tata Consultancy Services that assisted us in every possible way. It was like traveling with Indian royalty.

Hussain was the serious and focused Director. Satish, the Audio Engineer had an easy smile and laughed a lot. He regaled us with incredible stories of his last production with the Dali Lama. His easy going nature was only disrupted with the occasional “Quiet on the set! Silence please!” They made a great team.

As we continue further into the market, the crowd begins to thin out. Through the haze I see a mosque at the end of the street. Behind me is the traffic and noise of the square. I turn to Hussain and pointed up. “Can we get above the crowd?” He turns to this fellow with a thick red “Duck Dynasty” beard and a white hat. He mumbles something and points up.

I hesitantly follow Hussain, Satish into the building, past the noise and color of the markets and into a quiet dimly lit hallway. The air has a stale smell and two dogs lie panting in front of us. Then it hits me. This lily white American is walking into a random building in the heart of Mumbai with about 25 grand in camera gear. Is this adventurous or foolish?

Mumbai is the home of Bollywood and filmmakers are required to carry permits (which we didn’t have) and warned that filming in public will most likely attract police and crowds of onlookers. But I felt completely safe with my companions as the attendant pressed “3” in the rickety elevator. Hussain takes us through a maze of hallways and we finally we find the apartment with the view. It’s clear that it belongs to the red-bearded man, because standing by the window is his red-bearded son. The panoramic view of the market square revealed a 100,000 or more merry shoppers. We thank the son and returned to the street without incident. It was the most amazing 2 hours of filming ever.

Each city had a distinct vibe. Our first stop, TCS Bangalore has a glass replica of the Epcot dome. While shooting inside and I noticed the glass was kind of dirty. I turned and jokingly said to our handler, “Someone needs to clean these windows.” An hour later we see a man suspended from the dome of the roof cleaning the windows!

All the TCS campuses were incredibly clean and modern, especially TCS Siruseri in Chennai, the largest campus in Asia. It’s a breathtaking structure. From the top it looks like a butterfly and from the front an Indian Temple. A 400 meter spine connects one side of the campus to the other. Over 30,000 people work there.

Siruseri is about 90 minutes from Chennai and TCS workers shuttle by bus. One day our film crew took one of those buses to shoot broll and interviews. I saw a lot along the way. The real unvarnished India you won’t see in the travel guides.

An ancient current flows through India. And yet in many ways it’s quite metropolitan. It’s not uncommon to see a luxury condominium or a high-end shopping mall right next to a shanty town. There is no separation. Imagine rush hour traffic in LA but with no one observes the lanes. I would hold my breath as the driver would zip into oncoming traffic and the shoulder to pass. Craziness I tell you but that is the norm. BMWs and Rolls-Royces speeding by a family of four on a single moped. Carrying a microwave. With no helmets.

My colleague Jennifer confided, “Jeff, you wouldn’t believe how much it’s changed since my first trip 10 years ago.” For all India’s progress I saw many things that were difficult to witness. India impacted me in many ways, some I’m not sure I can even put into words. It’s something you have to see for yourself to understand. As I reviewed the images and footage from my travels, I realized that capturing what’s real is just as important as capturing what is beautiful.

The production schedule was tight, so I missed out on most of the tourist attractions. But the trade off was getting to the people.

Our two main characters, Namrata and Rameez, the Rajeshes, Amit, Maxine, Jen, Raj, Kiki and dozens more. For six days the cast, crew and clients were one big family. At mealtimes, we shared stories about our families, upbringing and culture. I met so many incredibly smart, innovative and hard-working people that work for a fraction of an American salary. They are proud of their accomplishments and rightly so, but never arrogant; incredibly gracious and kind.

I cannot wait to go back.

There are many more stories to share, like the time we almost missed our flight to Chennai because I had to dump my ENTIRE video suitcase for airport security, but we’ll have to save those for another time.

What happens when trying to help someone totally backfires.

A few years ago I met a small business owner. The owner had a great business, good staff and a product that was very unique and high quality. It was clear that the owner had invested a tremendous amount of time and capital but after several years the business was still unprofitable.

“Let me help you.” That was my response. After all, I am a small business owner and happen to own a branding agency. Peace of cake I said to myself.

Another year passed and the owner offers me a deal. “How about we work in trade?” I think “cool, I love the product and it’s ridiculously expensive, so free is good.”

Things started off great, but over the course of a year the relationship began to go south. The client wants to part ways and would love it if would just tear her invoice up. (Note: we agreed to trade, so there is no cash involved) It was very hurtful to to be dismissed so easily after a year’s worth of hard work, creativity and so on.

The bigger issue for me is why did I take this client on? I really felt like I could help, but in the end it’s a total waste of time. The client doesn’t like the work, which is silly when you look at what they have.

I’m a fan of the scrappy startup, the entrepreneur who is willing to take risks. I love to see the underdog win. My intentions were pure but my decision making process was deeply flawed.

Here is where I went wrong. I have a few rules when it comes to taking on a new client.

This is important:

  • HDco works best with companies and non-profits that have a dedicated marketing person, preferably a CMO or Director of Marketing. The more experience the better. We speak the same language, they have a budget that they have to spend and so forth.

  • The client needs a marketing plan, even a simple one. If not, that’s step 1 before we design or video or animate anything.

  • We seek out clients who want extraordinary work and have the resources to execute ideas.

  • We prefer marketing premium brands. Target over Walmart. Or better yet Neiman Marcus. ;-)

The client did not meet any of these requirements. And yet I agreed to work with them anyways because it would be a special, interesting project. A weak justification. I would have been so much better off just writing a check and walking out the door.

Think about all the wasted time I could have spent building my business or working on meaningful pro-bono work. As creative people, time is our inventory, once the hour has depleted, you will never get it back.

This is not the first time this has happened. It happens every 2 or 3 years. I scratch my head move on but don’t seem to learn the lesson.

So I will spend a few hours writing this so you will not make the same mistake. Let me be straight about this. I’m not saying don’t help people! But who you help and why is an important consideration. Don’t take on a project simply because it makes you feel good or because you are getting “free” stuff. It has to make sense from a business perspective and both parties need to mutually benefit from the relationship.

I would ask myself or a trusted confidant the following questions:

  1. Can I really help this person or organization? Do I have the capacity to take on this project right now?

  2. Does the client have the capacity and knowledge to engage? Do they show a pattern consistent communication and follow through?

  3. Is there an opportunity to do something exceptional here? Will you have creative license to do the best work possible? To create work you are proud of?

  4. What is the best way to help this person with my skill set? Maybe it’s just consultation or a limited engagement. You don’t have to be a savior.

  5. Have I been clear about my expectations (deliverables, compensation, schedule, roles, what the client is expected to do?)

If you can’t answer yes to these questions, take a step back and reconsider the project. It’s better to walk away because the perfect match could be waiting for you.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to have an experience like this. Would love to hear your story in the comments.

5 ways to improve your emails

Start with better email titles.

  1. Good titles make searching for and finding emails easier.
  2. Titles should be informative, not pithy.
  3. Be sure to include the client, project, date and version.
  4. If there are immediate action items, state them in the subject.
  5. Try to avoid starting a new email thread. It’s okay to hit reply and just change or update the subject of an email.

Examples of bad titles. These titles don’t tell us anything about the subject, date, priority or action item.

You won’t believe this! :-(

Video updates

This is too funny.

RE: john.smith@abcdcompany.com has sent you a file

Here is a good title. Tells me everything I need to know without opening the email.

GLM 2013 Hong Kong update: Client has 3 revisions due by EOD today (Jan 4) – gulp!

Little changes like this go a long way towards improving clarity and response in our business communications.

Email Etiquette

Came across this great article from Adam Grant on some basic email etiquette.

 

The BBQ Bible and Happiness from the Skies

Skip to 1:11 to see the most amazing cookbook I have ever seen. A heartwarming video from Coke. Getting’ misty.

HDco Couch Sessions 001 // Carl Smith

HDco Couch Sessions 001 Carl Smith from Jeffrey D Harrington on Vimeo.

Carl Smith of nGenWorks joins us on the couch for a conversation about the JellyFish Model.

How to say no to pro-bono work without losing face.

As a branding agency owner, I have been asked by dozens of friends either working for or with not-for-profit organizations to help with their marketing. At first, frankly, I was flattered that someone would want my work to grace their organization’s letterhead or website or business card or event poster or invitation or…..I’m sure you get the picture.

After a while though, there was real resentment growing in me anytime I saw their number show up on my caller ID. The cynic in me just knew they were calling for another freebie.

A colleague of mine, Rockwell Morris, enlightened me about a term called “donor creep.” It is rise in requests from a charity seeking free or steeply discounted work. Before long I even started receiving requests from other charities who had seen or heard what a great job I did for so and so and wanted me to help with their free project!

Don’t get me wrong. I really believed in what these organizations were doing. They each, respectively, provided a much needed service in our community and went a long way to positively changing lives.

I could have declined the requests but I didn’t want to appear as a scrooge and I suppose I envisioned my free work for them would eventually lead to paid jobs. I simply had not learned how to say no. A few years ago, however, I instituted a policy for my firm that proved to not only preserve respect and dignity for the charity and my firm but it also relieved some pressure and allowed my pro-bono work to have more impact.

Here are the steps I took:

  • To simplify matters for you and your firm, identify one organization you are partnering with to provide services and establish a time frame. For instance, you may want to commit one year to a particular charity. This also has the benefit of allowing you to perform a dive deep into the organization’s marketing, operations and so forth.
  • Be very selective about to whom you “hitch your wagon”. In other words, make sure the organization shares your same values or is not embroiled in some controversy. You could find yourself and your company enduring some unwanted advertising.
  • Evaluate the organization’s operations and donor base. You want your valued work to build a sustainable charity with vision and means, not saving a sinking ship.

When other organizations call with requests for services, simply tell them you have committed your pro bono time for this year to (insert name of charity). This demonstrates your firm’s commitment to assist charitable organizations and articulates an established policy. You may allow them to submit an application for next year’s coveted slot.

These steps may not totally eliminate all your anxiety when confronted to donate services to a charitable organization. But the respect you earn from saying no in the right way will maintain your dignity and reputation.

What ways have you found work best when dealing with charitable organizations? Click here to jump to the comment page.

Google Glass: A fourth screen?

The driving question I have about Google Glass. Will it be rude to wear them indoors, or will you be all like. It’s Google Glass, I’m not really that pretentious.

So will this become the next screen…A key part of our life or will these sit in the glove box like our bluetooth headsets and wristbands?

A Golden Evening with Jim Bailey and Character Counts

Florence Haridan, Executive Director of Character Counts in Jacksonville, commissioned HDco to produce a short film about Jim Bailey,  President of Bailey Publishing and Mayoral Candidate.

Director of Photography and Editor: Jeffrey D Harrington

Motion Graphics Editor: Stephanie Soden

Stephanie Speaks at SCAD

On Thursday, October 18th, HDco’s Stephanie Soden and her other half, Jim Ward of Native Sun visited the Savannah College of Art and Design’s AIGA student group. The AIGA SCAD student group is one of the largest student chapters in the country, boasting over 400 followers on Facebook and enough programming power to orchestrate frequent speaker events and even conferences.

Students were in attendance from a wide variety of years and disciplines. Designers, animators, comic drawers, and web developers gathered to hear more about AIGA, and its importance in the graphic arts community. Stephanie and Jim spoke on the importance of having networks like AIGA, and how to get more involved. While speaking about the beneficial aspects of AIGA from a networking standpoint, Stephanie told the story of how she met Jeffrey Harrington at an AIGA Jacksonville event, and was later hired after several more AIGA encounters.

This organization is not only beneficial from a design education standpoint, but for the life-changing connections its events can offer. Stephanie’s story isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last. Especially after so many students seemed interested in getting more involved!

We’ll look forward to seeing them at upcoming AIGA events and future school visits.

Here’s an idea. Let’s use our design superpowers to help people make good choices.

Came across this Fast Company article authored Rob Girling by via LinkedIn. It discusses how nueroscience is showing that the power of design can be used to help people make positive life choices, such as becoming an organ donor. It’s a heady read, but a good one.

 

A Show Called Pecha Kucha

On the fourth day since I moved to Jacksonville, I sat in my car outside of a bar called Kickbacks and hyperventilated. I had relocated just months after the start of the recession to a place where I knew no one and had no job. But that night I was hoping to change that.

It was a “Cocktails & Creatives” event put on by AIGA Jacksonville (The Professional Association for Design), and I sucked down my fear long enough to go in there and meet some people. Among them was my future employer, Jeff, who instantly recognized my goofy smile from my self-promotional book, featuring a photo of me smiling goofily in the inside cover.

That night I also met Tiffany Manning and Kellie Osgood, who invited me to participate in a speaking event I couldn’t quite pronounce, but sounded fun enough to agree. The event was called Pecha Kucha (puh-cha-ch-kuh), and it was the Jacksonville chapter of a global event held in over 400 cities. Speakers are invited to share any subject they like, the only catch being they have to do so in 20 slides that last 20 minutes each. After more hyperventilating in the bathroom I gave a talk on my passion for drawing comics, having no idea that somewhere in the crowd was Jeff.

So months passed. I got my dream job (at HDco, if you’re wondering). And I was sad to hear that after a few more shows, Pecha Kucha Jacksonville had been discontinued. It wasn’t until at another Cocktails & Creatives event that I met Justice Kragiel, who shared a similar passion for reigniting this quirky little speaking event.

We teamed up with Tiffany Manning to bring Pecha Kucha to the 5 Points Theatre, where it thrived more than we could have ever hoped. Speakers were invited to talk about the history of Jacksonville, intimate photography projects, the Jacksonville roller derby girls, weird diets, adventures in the wilderness, adventures being shipwrecked, beards, beer. Biking, neuroscientists, robots, coupons, and art initiatives.

The first event we put on at the 5 Points Theatre was Pecha Kucha volume 7 on January 19, 2010. Just this week Pecha Kucha volume 17 was held at Intuition Ale Works. I just couldn’t have been more proud to say it was my tenth show, nor more confident in the future of this event. After two years being a coordinator and a lot of great times, I’m passing the torch to Tommy Hobin, who is a past presenter and expert people person.

When I think back to my Pecha Kucha presentation, when I opened with: “A lot of you may not know me because, well, I haven’t been around very long. This is my third week in town.” I think of all the things Pecha Kucha has given me. More courage to speak in public. The experience of planning my first event. A memorable introduction into a new community. A job that I love. Friends that I love. And the opportunity to meet new people.

The best part of this event was and is the people.

So this coming March, I encourage you to join me in the crowd for this delightfully strange event, and support Tommy as he ushers in a new era for Pecha Kucha Jacksonville. And if you have the courage to stop hyperventilating, maybe you’ll even participate in the show.

Until next time!

~ Stephanie Soden, Brand Designer at HDco

The cards look terrible, we can’t use them.

When Community First Credit Union hired HDco to design five new credit cards, I was eager to produce a signature piece from start to finish. I had experience designing credit cards for Capital One, but taking one through production was a new experience.

After bringing on Florence Haridan, who as a former SVP for Citi Cards had extensive knowledge of credit card users’ habits, we developed a comprehensive brand strategy for the redesign of the three consumer and two business cards.

Part of the brand strategy was to create a more sophisticated look for the Community First brand. The senior team at Community First along with its Director of Marketing Roger Rassman embraced the 28-page document and gave us the green light to move forward with the design phase.

Having been a creative director for many years, I knew what to expect from most of the graphic designers I would have hired for this project. I wanted to do something differentsomething distinctivesomething that would really stand out in the grocery check out line.

After all, a credit/debit card is most important piece of communication a bank issues. You not only do you use every day, but the design of the card says as much about you as it does about who you bank with.

HDco set out to create a series of cards that would elevate the credit union’s brand and have a certain cache, so I called on my friend and client Marsha Faulkner, a prominent Interior Designer, to tell us what materials, finishes and colors were trending.

We came up with around 50 designs to present to the Community First senior team, which then narrowed the field for focus group testing. The results were pretty clear.

IMG_1190

This was the favorite by far and the first card that would be produced.

Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you’re ready for the part in the story that authors and filmmakers refer to as the rising action that leads to the climax.

The card was approved, yes, but we still had to print it. As it turns out, printing on plastic is a lot different than printing on paper. We released the mechanical to the printer. (with 11 spot colors over foil, it was a complicated piece)

And then we waited. Unfortunately, the proof we got back didn’t look like what we had envisioned at all.

My vision was a white card. The proof was silver.  So…

Me:                 “That doesn’t look right, let’s get another proof.”

Client:             “Everyone loves it and we’re running out of cards.”

Me:                 “Are you sure?”

Client:             “Yes!”

Me:                 “Gulp, okay…”

Me:                 “Can we do a press check with the printer?”

Client:             “No time. Need these asap.”

Several weeks later.

Client:             “The finished cards look terrible, we can’t use them.”

Me (thinking)  “Oh shit, we’re fired.”

Me:                 “Hey, I’ll come right over.” (tires squalling to headquarters)

Me:                 “The finished cards look terrible, we can’t use them.”

Client:             “What do we do?

Me:                 “Uh, I’ll think of something.”

After some negotiation, Roger and I were on a plane to Chicago for a do over press check.

Roger, the print rep, two press men and me squeezed into this little room as we got ready to look at the first sheet. There was a fair amount of tension in the room. The printer had just “absorbed” the cost of the last print run and was not too happy with me.

The press sheet looked good, but it wasn’t there yet and I was not going home empty handed. I calmly asked the printer, “How can we fix it?’ He replied, “We can’t. We would have to pull the job off the press and replate it, which is very time consuming.”

I summoned up all my courage, looked at the pressman straight in the eye and said nicely, “You should do that. Take all the time you need.” The printing team quickly left the room. Much to our surprise the two pressmen and print rep came back with new sheets within the hour. They threw out some jargon about adjusting screen angles and yada, yada. Turns out they didn’t have to replate after all. Honestly, the sheet looked great. Roger was happy, snapping pics to send to the CEO. That’s all I cared about. A few hours later we were done and headed back to Florida.

Initially, I was uncertain if my vision for the design was achievable. But these pressmen were artisan craftsmen who cared about the finished product. A few months later we finalized the design for the other four cards and headed back up to Chicago for another press check. Everything went flawlessly. We couldn’t have hoped for a better experience.

All five cards are now in circulation. You might just see one them at the grocery store or mall near you.

Steak is funny.

A.1. ‘Consciously Uncouples’ from Steak in New Ad

The Sauce Decides Its Time for Some New Partners in New Spot out of CP+B

http://creativity-online.com/work/a1-sauce-new-friend-requests/35494