It takes a
whole lot
of effort
to make

We Believe:

That you should decide what a design should do before you start to think about what it should look like.

That the person who has the authority to approve a project must be among those who provide the initial input and direction. Otherwise everyone’s in trouble.

That you should be able to accurately describe a design over the phone. This means that you are working with an idea instead of a technique. This is always a good thing.

That brevity is the soul of wit. Yes, it is. Truly. The soul of wit. Yes, indeed. Brevity. It sure is.

That designing is easy. Getting people to trust you and invest their hopes and dollars in your vision takes a bit more work.

That people should be in charge of their own destinies.

That people have different definitions of design. To some it’s the tarted-up decoration that is applied to something after all the thinking is in place in order to make it appeal to the public. To others it’s the evaluation of a problem, determination of a strategy, and creation of an effective way to convey information or an experience in an exciting and memorable manner that captures people’s imaginations. (Guess which one we prefer.)

That people are inherently good. (We know. But we're still all in with this one.)

That it takes a whole lot of effort to make something seem effortless.

That if you don't have anything to say, stop talking.

That there is no point whatsoever to salt-free potato chips.

That Elvis is alive, as long as you believe. Thankyouverymuch.

That if you look at any designer you admire, whose work inspires you, and whose approach somehow resonates with you, we promise you’ll see a person who does not think of what they do as just their job.

In luck.

That sometimes luck needs a little push.

That Krispy Kreme doughnuts are the answer.

That design is a process that requires research, rigor, a nimble mind, and an appreciation of beauty (however you define it). It’s not a bunch of people sitting around a table wearing berets and coming up with “notions” and sketching “concepts.” Although don’t get us wrong — we do like berets.

That “fa” really is not a long, long way to run.

That your identity is more than a logo, a typeface, and a color palette.

That “mandals” are not appropriate business attire. Even with socks.

In the power of duct tape.

That, come to think of it, we would like to take a look at the cheese trolley after all.

That brainstorming is a great way to get a lot of bad ideas together quickly.

That we won’t do speculative design work.

That the 1972 men’s U.S. Olympic basketball team wuz robbed big time. We’re still angry about that one. Really.

That if working out of a barn in Connecticut was good enough for Lester Beall, it’s good enough for us. 

That if you buy quality you only cry once.

That you should never send an email when you’re angry.

That the best barbecue is North Carolina-style pulled pork with vinegar-based sauce. (That’s not technically a belief, actually — it’s more of a fact.)

That, in an ideal world, you should be able to judge a book by its cover.

That there can be only one fifth Beatle, and it was not George Martin, Murray the K, Billy Preston, Brian Epstein, Pete Best, Neil Aspinall, or even Yoko but Stu Sutcliffe. Phil Spector? Please.

In ourselves.

That most scallops you buy in the store are probably just stamped out of fish with some kind of cookie cutter thing.

In what we do.

That “Pal Joey” is the great underappreciated American musical. Discuss.

That designers who don’t use prooferaders are crazy.

That yes, the typo in the previous line was on purpose.

That design is a powerful and magic art that must always be employed for good instead of evil. (Unless someone has crossed you, of course.)

That “56” will never be broken.

There’s no way that Batman and Robin could have put on their costumes while sliding down the bat poles in stately Wayne manor. It just doesn’t make any sense. Who would believe that? Come on.

That if you are a designer and you actually take the time to learn about a client’s business, you’ll do a better job. (OK, some of these are pretty obvious, we admit it. But a lot of people don’t seem to get this one. Crazy, right?)

That if you're designing a publication, there is no way you can do a good job if you haven’t read the manuscript. Um, duh.

That suckers walk.

That Bruno Hauptmann did it.

That “Louie, Louie” is not inherently dirty.

That if you build it, they will come. And if you do a really good job building it, they'll stand in line to get in.

That while we appreciate the guileless appeal of SpongeBob, we’re firmly on team Squidward.

That it was really annoying on “M*A*S*H” and “Happy Days” where, near the ends of their runs, the actors just kind of gave up and walked around wearing 1970s hairstyles and clothes, not even pretending to make it seem as if the events took place in the 1950s.

That Mrs. Partridge was hot.

That watermelon tastes better with salt on it.

That if you can remove an element from a design and it still works, remove that element. Keep doing this until it falls apart, then put that last thing back in.

That “sustainable design” means more than using soy-based inks on flecky paper.

P.S.: We’re sick of that “sustainable” word. It’s overused and by now almost almost meaningless. This way of thinking must now be a cost of entry.

That if you “could care less” about something, it means that you hold it as something of importance — not the opposite. Grrrr. (OK, we’ll shut up about this kind of stuff. We know it annoys people at cocktail parties and on Websites. And don’t even get us started about “chomping at the bit.”)

In Zimmerman, in Elvis, in Beatles.

If you are a musician and you are lip-synching a performance, that's bad enough — but jeez, at least plug a cord in the guitar to make it seem sort of real.

That you should work with and for people you like.

That good work only happens when there is trust.

That you should beware of creative firms that claim to offer some sort of Proprietary Immersive Branding Methodology System™. (Hocus pocus, nos amis.)

That taking a champagne bath really stings.

That standing in line outside waiting get seated inside for brunch is nuts.

That Alex typed “in line” instead of “on line” because he's not from New York. (Which is also why he refuses to stand in line for brunch.) Also the word brunch.

That a brand is the promise of an experience.

That when clients are honest and divulge their budgets upfront, they’ll get a better, more resourceful, and more creative solution from their designer. Honest.

In half-full glasses.

That you have to work hard in order to get it right.

That you can always learn more. And you should always try to.

That having interests outside of work is healthy. And fun.

That while vanilla definitely has merits, you can’t beat chocolate.

In honesty.

That you can’t create a good design by noodling around on a laptop. Do some research. Make lists. Get some ideas. Get better ones. Make a sketch or two. Talk about them a bit. Make some decisions. OK, now it’s all right to fire up the hardware.

In schedules.

In laughter.

In loudly speaking actions.

That inspiration is contagious.

That your workplace should be invigorating.

That when a client says to us, “I trust you; do what you think is best. I know you won’t let me down,” we will not fail. We will expend incredible amounts of time and effort ensuring that the results are perfect. (It’s human nature to rise to that kind of challenge.)

That if you ask us to do “work for hire,” we’re gonna push back.

That teaching offers a good opportunity to learn things about design and life.

That every assignment we undertake addresses considered areas of inquiry, exploring tropes and methods of agency that are informed by current design thinking best practices. (Just kidding.)

That the term “design thinking” is a redundancy.

That looking at design annuals is a terrible way to get ideas. (Or at least it’s a terrible way to get original ones.)

In knowing when to be open-minded and when to be stubborn.

That in branding and positioning themselves, companies are animals that follow the law of the jungle. They can either:

(a) Try to blend in so that they won’t get eaten, or
(b) Try to stand out so that they will attract a mate.
We like companies that opt for the latter.

That pro bono means “for good” not “for free.”

That people are smart, and we design accordingly. It makes us crazy when we are asked to dumb down stuff to ensure that everyone will get it. There’s enough dumb stuff in the world already.

That after you’ve packed for a trip, go back and take one-third of the stuff out of your suitcase. Then you’re good to go. Don’t forget your chargers!

That if you’re in a hotel and forgot your charger, ask at the front desk. They often have extras that people have left behind.

In being generous with credit to our clients, team members, and associates. We’re in this together.

In being optimistic and full of enthusiasm.

That it takes real courage to do something different.

That if you are willing to not take yourself too seriously, it indicates to others that you have confidence and competence. This goes for companies as well as people. (Hint.)

That while companies are most certainly not people, they do get judged in the same ways — by what they say, how they look, and how they behave. (We can help with the first two. That last — and most important — one’s up to you.)

That design can help people think about things in a new way.

That design can help people do things in a new way.

That everyone should stop using the word “disruptive.” Just stop it. Right now.

We’d prefer to be thought of as productive rather than creative.

We’re militant in our love of the Oxford comma. This passion fills us with satisfaction, pride, and a whiff of self-righteousness.

That the minute you begin to have no doubt that you’re really good at something is the minute you start to become really bad at it.

That experts are those who’ve seen it all... and once someone’s seen it all they tend to stop looking. (We prefer to be called “experienced practitioners.”)

That wanting to seem different is not the same thing as wanting to be different.

It’s easy to take something that is great and, through the power of consensus building, turn it into something good.

That “eatery” is just about as loathsome a word as can possibly be.

That “feckless” is just about as wonderful a word as can possibly be.

That if you’ve made it this far down into our site you must be interested in some way, so quit lurking already and give us a call.