Fun Office Ideas

We spend more hours at work than at home, so why not make it more enjoyable? Working our creative minds to the maximum requires a break from the norm…

Google Maps + Google Local + Google Places + Google Plus = ?!?!?!??!!

I love Google. I have gone through extensive training on how its search engine works. I believe in Adwords. I believe in optimization. I know that only 4% of people go to page 2 when looking for something. I know about relevance scores, Zagat ratings, outbound links, meta-tags, ad positioning, and all the little things in between. I recently noticed that a majority of businesses in our area do not have a Google Plus page, and did some investigating with our own G+ page here at Think, and wow…no wonder I get the deer-in-headlights look when I start speaking “Google” to people…it can be pretty confusing!

Spring Break 2013

#Spring #Break #2013

Well, here we are at the end of “Spring Break.” Life in the Advertising Business can be exponentially exciting. Yet, at the same time business seems to go on hold while business is made during “Spring Break.” Make sense? Not really. In our business we work to prepare our clients for their busy season. What I mean by prepare… not plan to prepare, but prepare your plan. Without a plan there is no end in sight. One of the advantages in having an Advertising Agency is to strengthen the business’ army of support with strategic planning.

Example: Client wanted to brand their business to “Spring Breakers.”  Our thoughts…get the prospects before they get there, target their needs, etc. That meant developing not only their brand locally, but also to the seasonal vacationers heading to the area.  We can’t give you too many details without giving away our jobs! The idea of this is exciting. From pre-Spring Break to pre-summer advertising – when will you be ready to grow?

WE LOVE TO THINK and prepare advertising that works toward reaching each client’s goals.

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Think Team: Stevie

I’ve been working with Think since June 2012 and I must say that I absolutely love my job. We have a great team who enjoys having a good time and making each another laugh. Even though Think started in 2007, the first issue of The Menu Mag wasn’t released until 2010. Only since the beginning of 2012 has Think been offering other print products, promotional products, and graphic design options. Before then it was all about the magazine.

My title is office manager, but anyone working for a start-up can appreciate the many hats that we all wear. I read an article recently that said you’re ready to handle working for a start-up if you can tolerate sleepless nights thinking about business, putting in overtime every week with no end in sight, making mistakes and fixing them, and being your own boss. These are all true, and are also the reasons why our team loves being a Think team. We are insanely dedicated because we know that in a small town like Destin word travels fast if a business is sub-par. We are also dedicated because we are basically in control of our own positions that we take great pride in. As “office manager” I handle: (1) any new/potential clients that walk into our office, (2) placing all print and promotional orders, (3) sending clients estimates and invoices until we have an agreement that everyone is excited about, (4) tracking orders and keeping clients updated, (5) collecting payment, (6) scheduling graphic design time with Shea, Steve, and Umair so things happen on schedule, (7) social media that includes 3 Facebook accounts, Twitter, Pinterest, and arranging for this blog to happen, (8) cleaning and organizing the office every week, (9) playing good music and making people laugh, and (10) any random errands or tasks that must be done.

I’m also sending out monthly email updates that I’ve appropriately titled Think Tank. At the beginning of each month we like to update the world with what we’ve been up to, relevant information about small-business ownership, and a coupon to be used within the month. It would mean the world to us if you would sign up! It’s only one day a month, so it’s not spam! Sign up here :)

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New Job, New Title, New…Last Name?!

Hello there friends of Think! I’m Whitney, Think’s newest team member. This past month has been crazy to say the least, but crazy as in the best-month-of-my-life type crazy.

As a new Account Executive, my role here at Think is two-fold, which has kept me totally busy during my first month on the job.

Creative Blocks

An inevitable part of having a creative mind is hitting creative blocks every once in a while. They can last for days, weeks, sometimes months. I’m actually in the middle of one as I attempt this blog entry for the 11th time this week. I figured that writing about would help me complete it, but it has become something of a catch-22. I still can’t write anything!

When I hit a wall, I go through some variation of a Kübler-Ross model, otherwise known as the five stages of grief.

The first stage is denial. It’s a defense mechanism for my threatened ego. I’m a creative professional; I can’t POSSIBLY be having a creative block right now. I’m so good at being creative, I pay my bills with it! Nope, not me. I’m all creative, all the time.

The second stage is anger, which stems from the realization that my denial can’t go on forever. This is the dumbest stage of the whole stupid thing and I don’t even care anymore, I HATE THIS BLOG, STOP READING IT, YOU JUDGMENTAL TURD.

The third stage is bargaining. I promise I’ll finish this paragraph later if you just pretend there was one here in the first place. I’m just going to copy and paste this twice to make it look longer. The third stage is bargaining. I promise I’ll finish this paragraph later if you just pretend there was one here in the first place. I’m just going to copy and paste this twice to make it look longer.

The next stage is depression. It’s filled mostly with fear and regret. My biggest regret is writing about creative blocks with a creative block. My biggest fear is rereading this thing once I finish it. Why bother finishing it? It’s not even that good, so what’s the point?

The final stage is acceptance. This is where I can finally move on. This is also the step I should have just skipped to in the first place. Sometimes you just can’t avoid a creative block. You need to face it because it won’t go away on its own. You can either figure some clever way to get around it or just muscle through with brute force. And you shouldn’t worry about producing something from the whole experience. You don’t always need something to show for it or else you end up with weird, rambling blogs of frustration. Tackle a creative block for your own self-improvement.

The exciting life of developing an advertising firm…

While the many demanding responsibilities loom over me, I do find time to do the fun things in my job, like the recent Destin Mardi Gras Parade.

mardi gras cooziesThis year was the first year we participated in the parade and what a blast we had. We partnered with Tracy (Sign Chick) to get some cozies printed together. The parade started on the Destin Harbor behind AJ’s and ended at Harbor Walk. We were the second-to-last float and we thought by that time we got to the middle of The Harbor Walk, all the crowds would have died down…Not on your life! People wanted everything we could throw to them…cozies, Menu Mags, pens and anything else I could pick up. I think I threw my toothbrush out of my purse so they wouldn’t take us over…The crowds were the biggest ever (estimated over 8k!). When everything was over we calculated what we went through: all 1,000 cozies that we ordered, and 1,400 Menu Mags. Throwing out The Menu Mags was a great idea and everyone seemed grateful to take one! That was a great way to get the word out to the masses about our magazine and all of its wonderful local restaurants. Everyone loves a good coupon too, am I right?

 

It was great fun and the best part of branding our company. On to bigger and more money making ventures…Automotive Dealerships in our future?

 

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Get Up, Stand Up

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

There’s a good chance that Bob Marley was talking about the new stand-up desk craze that’s spreading through the office world. We can pretend, right?

I’ve been doing research on the health benefits of using a stand-up desk after seeing this infographic.

Thankfully our CFO owns a roofing company and is also a general contractor, so he was able to construct this awesome extension to my current desk! I did some research online to figure out the correct height for the monitor and made sure it would sit at eye-level for me. My keyboard has a slide-out tray (drawer pulls from Home Depot!) that holds my mouse as well. Underneath I have some storage for pens and office supplies. The mat is an anti-fatigue mat that I purchased on Amazon since it had good reviews and was reasonably priced.

I have an exercise ball at home already, so I’m going to bring that in and slide it under my desk for when I need sitting breaks. A stool would work as well, but I thought the ball would be fun (and they’ve come recommended for better posture, too!). There is research that shows standing for 8 hours every day is not healthy either, so it takes a good balance to make this work. The main thing that interested me was the fact that your metabolism basically stops when you sit down. Studies show that even people who exercise regularly cannot escape the downsides of sitting down for hours at a time.

Overall, I am really looking forward to seeing how this desk works out. I will update you all in a few months with my findings! After reading countless articles about people who said they would never go back to a sit-down desk, I had to give it a try. There are plenty of expensive options out there to purchase (some are gorgeous), but this fits in perfectly with our office and my current setup.  Benefits include increased energy throughout the day, better focus on tasks, reduced back and neck pain, and the feeling that work is less structured due to not being confined to a chair. Fingers crossed, but so far I’m really enjoying standing up today.

stevie desk 1 stevie desk 2

How Music Inspires Creativity

Even though I’m only 25, I can say that I’ve been a graphic designer for over 10 years now. Almost all of my creativity is derived from listening to different genres of music depending on the project. From Smooth Jazz to Hardcore, I can dig just about anything! As of writing this article, Avicii is my current Pandora station. Mornings are a little easier going, so I try to start off with something a little lighter like Foster the People. As the afternoon continues, I begin to grasp for any extra energy I can find to finish the day and electronic seems to be the driving factor to get through the final 4 hours.

The genre of music will always affect the outcome of each project. Some projects like Noonie’s Thai Café menu was narrated by Breakbot & Madeon. The design stayed simple in terms of layout yet the dirtiness of the background and supporting elements added a little complexity to the overall product.

Noonie's Thai Cafe Menu

Other projects, like Poppy’s Time-Out Sports Bar Menu required some heavier listening. Four Year Strong tricked me into following the menu down a dark alley by doing the grungy chalkboard layout. With some help on the illustrations, the overall menu concept only took a few hours to develop once the theme was set.

Poppy's Time Out Menu

A much older project, one not to be found in the Think portfolio, was a website design for a church back in 2008. I believe Spyro Gyra and The Rippingtons made the First Presbyterian Church of Destin website come alive. The design stayed clean and light – perfect for a church project.

Across the room, Steve Weid is designing a logo for a band and jamming out to The Refused. Although his style and mine differ greatly, music still affects the outcome of his projects as much as they do my own. If I had to pass any advice on to another designer it would be to choose your music wisely! If you don’t know where you’re going on a project, change up your genre and see where you continue. Good luck and happy designing!

 

Be sure to check out the following artists if you’re looking for something new!
Madeon
Breakbot
Avicii
Four Year Strong
The Refused
Spyro Gyra
The Rippingtons

Visual Communication, Party of 3

Standing awkwardly between art and design, there is illustration.

Art is the wiser, older brother of Illustration. He is often mimicked by his younger brother, but he is simply too unique to be duplicated. He is intense and engaging, interacting with viewers on a personal level. Each interaction happens only once, and from those interactions, countless discussions are to be had.

Illustration strives to be as visually brilliant as his older brother, but is decidedly clearer in his message. While Art can be interpreted in more ways than one, Illustration is simply understood. Art is felt; Illustration is read.

Design is the hip, younger brother of Illustration. He has learned a lot from his older brother, but is determined to carve his own path and be recognized as a separate entity. He is practical and pragmatic, calculated in approach and deliberate in communication. He is often critical of Illustration, but never hesitates to accept his aid.

Illustration is proud of his younger brother and happy to work alongside him, but favors fun and creativity over deliberation. They share many traits, but are exceedingly different in execution. Both have a strong desire to communicate a clear message and can do so in more than one way, but Illustration will be more dramatic in presentation. Design answers; Illustration riddles.

Illustration is the clichéd middle brother between art and design, but is an indispensable member of the family of communication.[signoff][/signoff]