Category: blogposts

09
Jan

Winter Offers Creatives Opportunities To Quiet The Busy Mind: Are You Listening?

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons, John Lagzo

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons, John Lagzo

With the arrival of a new year, we are filled with anticipation and excitement. We can feel transition working its way through our minds and into our desks; the old giving way to the new, the future’s blank slate awaiting our touch, time and efforts.

Many of us make the mistake of turning our focus to lists of highly structured goals in the new year. And often when we share them with others, we conflate our anticipation and discussion for change with actual change. Instead of approaching 2015 with a list of resolutions and to-dos, try starting it off by doing nothing.

A difficult concept for those in our laborious and demanding industry, but this liminal time is a great opportunity to rethink our creative craft. We don’t often get opportunities to settle into the terrains of our minds, relax and daydream, or step back and ponder how we ply our trade.

But we must.

For one, the idea that long days and nights will fuel our creative selves is simply not true. On the contrary, we must recede into our brains and engage the senses. Because, whether you’re daydreaming, reading or listening to music, a relaxed and diffused mind reinvigorates creativity.

For creators of every stripe, it’s an always-looping process of doing work and then stepping back to prime the pump, so to speak, and starting all over again; it’s how we re-acquaint our talents with our profession.

The good news is, you can start 2015 by creating an atmosphere of productivity and energy, bringing vigor and awareness to your work. So, keep some of the following in mind as you clear out your calendar.

First, you have to fully appreciate the value of doing nothing for your creative work. Most artists visualize their creative preparation as “time out of time,” such as being out of sync with schedules, offices, obligations, phones, or the demands of our narrowly focused attention. Writer Don DeLillo describes this as transitioning into a new world. Ancient philosopher Plato so revered the time for creativity and thinking that he thought artists and philosophers shouldn’t be attached to any form of work because it took them away from contemplating “the good life.”

Writer Henry Miller thoroughly plotted his time spent prepping to work. He scheduled time in cafes, chats with friends and even booked himself solo explorations of whichever city he happened to be visiting. Time to doodle, draw graphs, diagrams and charts were ways Miller relaxed his mind to broaden his perspective and ease back into the work of holing up to write.

We can apply these same principles to the cluster of days at the beginning of the New Year, when colleagues and clients are still transitioning back into the workflow and meetings and schedules are noticeably, but temporarily light.

We must harness that crux of excitement and possibility with the openness of time we are temporarily allowed. Unfettered and unabashedly unproductive thinking fuels your creative work. It provides the big picture and the background noise for your creative process.

So, rather than spending that precious free time poring over upcoming budgets, projects and strategy, clear your calendar for nothing. Nothing except time spent to remember how you create.

01
Jan

Oishii Creative Interviews Vine Sensation Ian Padgham

At Oishii Creative, we believe design thinking can’t be constrained; it fuels innovation and helps us think big. In our Think Like A Tourist series, we explore life at the intersection of creativity, thinking and technology. We recently asked Vine artist sensation and Twitter animator/producer Ian Padgham about what inspires him, and how he makes six seconds feel so dramatic, engaging and big.

What artists or music inspires you in your work? Why?
Albrecht Dürer, M.C. Escher, Bill Watterson, Bob Ross.

When did you start working on the Vine platform? What attracted you to it?
The day it came out. I liked the ability to produce content immediately and share it just as fast. Nothing saps the creativity and joy out of a project like months of meetings and revisions.

How does Vine compare to other mediums?
While Vine is little more than animated GIFS with sound, there is something truly special about the platform. This is partly due to the community, and partly due to the fact that, at least initially, it was a production toolkit with incredibly limiting parameters. That has since changed, but I think the ethos of DIY ingenuity continues to set the tone.

Which project do you find most inspiring and creative?
Projects that have no precedent and no goal other than creating something delightful and different.

What inspires you as an artist? Where do you find your stories to capture/tell?
I’m not a huge fan of the word inspiration. It feels like it’s saying that something out there is giving us a hint of what is cool, like we need to find a muse that will show us the way. I think stories and ideas just come from letting our minds off their leashes and letting them roll around in the park.

In 2013, observers pointed out that Vine was built on “constraints.” It allows you make edits and stitch them together for a story. You’ve worked out Vine’s constraints and taken shots and motion into a new medium. What does your process look like?
It depends on the Vine. Some Vines I make up as I go along, literally letting the animation flow out frame by frame without forethought.

30
Dec

Audiences Want Stories With Context & Connection

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Co-Founder & Director of Strategy and Research Kate Canada recently wrote an article for MediaPost about how brands can authentically provide context and connect with their audiences.

You can read the full post here, but we’ve included an extract:

Today’s audience is craving a real connection, and authentic stories that represent the changing demographics of the American landscape are one of the most powerful ways to establish that connection. Stories tap into the emotions we all share. Stories are universal ways of telling our personal view from the individual and tying it all up with what’s going on in the city, country and globe. Our job is to create stories of possibility and resonance.

I see two related opportunities for brands to meaningfully connect with audiences using story: as content for context and as content for everyday storytelling.

Content as Context

2014 was the year for telling the Big Family story, content as context. The 2014 Coca-Cola America Super Bowl spot and Honeymaid’s This is Wholesome commercial are examples of telepathic compelling campaigns; piquing our emotions without running too much in the way of sentimentality. In these spots, we see the “wide screen format” of storytelling as context. It gives the reader the emotional landscape.

Content for Everyday

The smaller but nonetheless still potent pieces of the story are what I call snap-shorts of everyday life, the smaller bits that make up our big picture. P&G’s Tide with a Problem-Solving Dad doing laundry and French-braiding his daughter’s hair; the Thank You Mom featuring kids and falling and learning with lots of support from mom; Chevy Malibu’s The Car For The Richest Guys On Earth piece or the Cheerios Here’s To Dad where the narrator looks straight into the camera and says, “We make the new rules… this is how to ‘Dad.’”

As advertisers, we are responsible for taking the constellation of social dots of demographics, sentiments and media connectivity and turning them into tactics and actions, shaping the data into meaningful ways of reaching out and engaging with consumers. In so doing, we will be able to, as David Ogilvy suggested, respectfully and empathetically become trusted partners with consumers, smart and savvy social beings who live in the world.

10
Nov

Color Coded Creativity: The “Six Kid Technique”

Imagination is what keeps marketing and brand work relevant and meaningful. Dreaming up new ideas, processes and applications isn’t merely a good skill, it’s increasingly a metric for your success. Can you see the world differently enough to write a story, design a product or execute a strategy? And if you are lucky enough to work for a company that invests in you – asking you to solve problems and innovate – then you’ll want to reacquaint yourself with the the “Six Kid Technique.” It’s our adaptation of the classic Six Hat Technique used by Edward de Bono. It’s simple and easy to use. Pull out the six color-coded kids during your next meeting. Use and apply all kids when working on a challenge.

The Six Kid Technique Spectrum

TheKid_red02

Red

Use emotions to look at the situation. What do your feelings or impulses tell you about it?

TheKid_white01

White

Use facts, logic and objectivity to assess what’s in front of you. Make a list of all the facts.

TheKid_yellow02

Yellow

Put on a smiley face and look at the bright side. With a positive view, make a list of what works and what can be accomplished.

TheKid_black01

Black

Tap into your dark side. Make a list of what doesn’t work and which elements of the solution just can’t work.

TheKid_green02

Green

Think laterally and then some. Imagine the situation in the most alternative and unconventional ways, then work backward.

07
Nov

Agency Post Profiles Kate Canada Obregon

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 10.22.30 AM

Our Co-Founder/Director of Strategy & Research Kate Canada Obregon has written extensively about the power of data in helping brands to better understand and connect with their audiences in authentic ways.

Agency Post recently profiled Kate on the marriage of social science and research in Oishii Creative’s work for both design and brand clients.

Here’s an excerpt:

Should creative ideas always be based in research and data? How does this foundation provide brands with a more impactful strategy or campaign?

The best creative emerges from a conversation with qualitative and quantitative data sets. I like to know the facts and the big picture that numbers can readily tell us. With that said, numbers do miss the subtleties of opinions, perceptions, and desires. This is where semiotics, ethnography, or other social science methods are extremely valuable tools. The best campaigns I’ve worked on are those where I’ve been able to dig deep into all sorts of data and turn up something unexpected and new. These campaigns end up being the most timely and talked about beyond a quarterly life cycle or the next ad buy season. I like partnering with clients who want to be relevant and let the research lead them beyond trends and into real meaning and relevancy. Audiences and consumers want this, too. 

Check out the full interview here!

03
Oct

Oh My, Look at the Time

Image via n4bb.com

Image via n4bb.com

When the biggest brand in consumer electronics revealed its newest ground-breaking product, the Apple Watch (so far, the brand is breaking its “i” naming trend, staying away from the moniker), earlier this month, the internet went wild. The long-rumored watch — speculated on since 2010 — was finally available for consumers to view, and purchase, sometime early next year for $350. A small price to pay compared to the $1,500 and awful aesthetic of Google Glass and with voice- and touch-activated functions that allow users to check email, call contacts, look at photos, track exercise, and yes, tell time, all with stylish interchangeable bands.

Now, wearable technology is nothing new. We’ve had bluetooths since 2000 and digital hearing aids, technically a form of wearable tech, since the late ‘80s, but in fact, as Mashable reports, it was tech geeks in the ‘60s and ‘70s trying to cheat casinos who are credited with pioneering some of the first forms of wearable tech.

But, outside of computerized wristbands and even rings, mostly used to track fitness levels, while wearable technology has quickly been gaining ground, nothing has broken into the laymen’s market yet. Yet. Looking at how Apple changed the cellular communication market, making smartphone ubiquitous with cell phone, or really, even phone, and considering their enormous database of loyal customers, if anyone is primed to crack open this market, it’s Apple.

And, the consumers are ready for it. According to a poll done by GlobalWebIndex, 71% of 16- to 24-year-olds would like to own wearable tech, which the poll defined as smart watches, smart wristbands or Google Glass. And according to the same study, 64% of global internet users say they have worn or would like to wear a piece of wearable tech, with men dominating that number at a 69% affirmative rate and women at 56%.

As marketers and creatives, we’re always being asked to anticipate “the next big thing” or being bombarded with what the media has dubbed “the next big thing” (Anybody employing holographic teleconferences yet? Didn’t think so.), so sometimes, we can be most blind to designing our campaigns for emerging platforms. Just look at how long it’s taken us to crack the mobile market, and how clueless many big brands still come across on social media, and you’ll see that as much as this industry loves something shiny and new, they don’t always understand how to use it to best serve them or how soon to become a part of it. The best strategy we can have for wearable technology is to figure out ways to experiment with it now. Maybe it’s a one-off stunt as part of a bigger campaign or maybe it’s an in-house experiment. Whatever we do, we need to do it fast because as soon as that Apple Watch gets strapped to your client’s wrist, they are going to be asking how you can get them a marketing presence on it.

Wearable technology is going to be a whole new platform to us. A more intimate version of mobile that will open many doors, and present an equal number of challenges, but isn’t that the fun of it? In this business, I’ve seen enough tech trends come and go to see that wearable tech isn’t going anywhere. Whether it comes in the form of an Apple Watch, a more accessible version of Google Glass or the product of a startup founded by someone who hasn’t started high school yet, soon, it’s going to be second nature to us to strap on our tech. We don’t need to anticipate this as a trend, we need to embrace it as a new part of our lives.

 

19
Sep

Congratulations, You’re A Creative Strategist! Now What?

Attribution: Flickr: Tunisia-3433

Attribution: Flickr: Tunisia-3433

My former life in academia and my current one in branding have taught me everyone has the skill set within them to be what I call a creative strategist. I believe strategy is a creative skill, requiring our whole brains; the logic and rational working effortlessly with the non-verbal, passionate and the visual. A creative strategist knows how to use data, ethnography and trends to tell a story for clients. To talk about what’s going on in the world without vague platitudes. (Millennials want authenticity and honesty!) Creative strategy sets into motion a brand study or brand integration that is both granular and deep.

Creative Strategist: Person who uses several types of data and applies to a problem or project.

While we should all be strategists, the fact is our work environments and thinking habits get in our way.

In our work lives we must hit metrics, make deadlines and take back-to-back meetings at the office. Our days are consumed with finding ways for everyone to do more with fewer resources, money, people and time. We spend our waking working hours thinking small. And by that I mean we grow accustomed to solving operational problems rather than the big creative knotty ones. We don’t allow ourselves the time to contemplate a project with depth or rigor what I call, thinking big skills.

And thinking small isn’t necessarily bad.

It’s a necessary part of running a successful creative work environment. But, when thinking small preoccupies us and becomes a fixation, it diminishes the culture, business and eventually, the people around us. People start getting in the way of their own thinking and creative capabilities; they look to what others have done before them or try formulas. People begin to believe it simply takes too much energy and time to think big for clients. The work culture and individual habits form a dysfunctional quality, where changing demographics, consumer tastes and technological disruption become a blur of problems without solutions.

What is the relationship between strategy and creativity?

  • Some would say they have little in common. But I think they are more interconnected than many assume. Strategy involves combinatory thinking. Combinatory thinking looks to data, but to other sources disciplines and trends. You’ve got to read up, mix and match, and spend time listening, reading, doing and applying to creative work.
  • Creative Strategy uses a visual thinking toolkit. Visual thinking combines our imagination and drawing or visual techniques. A toolkit has exercises to stimulate ideas and take you out of your ordinary brain strengths. We tweeted about one such exercise: Sit in your chair and imagine the buildings behind you. What are people doing there? Go to the building behind the first building. What are people doing there? Write down notes and draw pictures.
  • The best strategy comes from operationalizing creativity into the office.  Tag on 15-minute work sessions after other less creative meetings. Research shows creative work sessions after “boring” meetings can spur divergent thinking, the fuel for creative work.
  • Strategists daydream. When tackling a creative problem, and after you’ve met with other people to collaborate, give yourself time to process the information. Creativity flows from the unconscious and once you’ve stuffed your brain with the food of data, trends, information, books and thinkers, let your unconscious have its way with the problem.
  • Creative Strategists have disciplined individual habits. As much as I’ve talked about unleashing your talent, the best work comes from a disciplined set of work habits. Work at the same time every day, produce visuals or writing with set goals, and fuel your imagination with quality books and movies.

How do you think big? I’d like to hear how these tips work for you!

— Kate Canada Obregon

 

05
Sep

Think Like A Tourist: Do You See or Notice?

Photo by opensource.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

Photo by opensource.com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

This summer, we’ve been traveling on our “design pilgrimage” as we call it.

I brought several books on the trip with me to give structure to my thoughts and writing. One was Experiences in Visual Thinking by Robert H. McKim, the classic how-to manual for anyone who wants to sharpen his or her creative visual thinking skills.

These are the methods of approaching any problem or situation using subconscious and conscious types of thinking. Visual thinking is a multifaceted skill and approach to any problem we have to solve on any given day.

We’re all born with the ability to harness our imagination, and we think most of our waking lives, but as McKim sees it, schooling, habits, thinking patterns and work life get in the way. We think broadly and unproductively. We believe the way we think about one situation applies to most other problems or assignments.

When I was a university teaching assistant, we new teachers had several sessions of training to prepare us for working with students and the various ways people think and learn. Most academics are logical and linear thinkers, but that’s merely a slice of the learning personalities in the world.

In one particularly useful session, the trainer was a professor and researcher who used neuroscience in his teaching methods. He said that all of one’s thinking life could be reduced to patterns we used in the grocery store (before Amazon, obviously!). The way we thought and acted on our thoughts in the store was the organizational patterns or thinking blueprint we probably applied to everything else in our lives, including university assignments. Some people are spiral thinkers, he said, they go in the middle and work their way out, with or without a list. Others work from the sides going up and down the aisles.

He gave us this information as a way to help us teach and empathize with students. Everyone uses patterns in their thinking and we apply them to most aspects of our lives. Raising our awareness about the types of thinking, he wanted us to understand that just because someone doesn’t take what we think to be logical notes it doesn’t mean they’re not absorbing and using the lecture content meaningfully.

We approach our design problems in similar ways to our approach to the grocery store and McKim’s tool kit remains valuable for all of us visual solutions people.

The pivot for thinking takes place as we look at our world. Using McKim here, seeing is what most people do; perceiving is what most successful visual thinkers do.

What’s the difference between perceiving and seeing?

Seeing

Seeing is looking at the world and our surroundings as is. We use and apply thinking blueprint and go about our day solving problems or creating solutions. We look at an assignment or problem. We research what others say about it and come up with solutions. It’s practical, efficient and reliable. This is often called deductive thinking. It means you apply general observations about the world to particular problems.

But, seeing as a thinking tools is rarely innovative.

Perceiving

Perceiving, on the other hand, is active with multiple steps and involves all of what McKim calls “operations” in our brains. Here are some key facts about the process of perception:

  • Active and ‘down below.’ Let’s say you are given a creative brief with an assignment. Perceiving would involve looking at the problem, researching and talking to others. Perceiving problem solving means sitting with the assignment and walking away, shifting the process to ‘down below’ into the unconscious layers of brain activity, anfr letting the mind work through the assignment for some time without using the conscious mind.
  • Integrates past ideas. Perceiving blends the past with the new assignment. Let’s say your assignment involves coming up with new ways to drive interest in a company’s new product, say men’s socks. Because you’ve worked on many, many projects with the assignment of driving awareness, you know the tried-and-true steps. But wait, you’ve also seen stellar and creative work done in financial services lately that raised awareness about products, too. While not the same product, they had similar market problems and they tried x, y or z. Integrative thinking brings in other experiments to your problem and sees what works.
  • Connects dissimilar topics. Perceiving is making mental leaps and combining with other areas. Let’s say you have a passion for travel and you read lots about the best surfing in world, which you know is in far-flung places like Taghazout, Morocco, Bundaran, Ireland or Tofino, British Columbia. You know this topic, and you’ve stuffed lots of details in your brain over the years.This “stuff” comes in handy when you are thinking about travel and surf and your sock assignment. You’ve looked at the sales figures, the average consumer and you’ve got a stack in your drawer at home and the office. You realize that connecting the socks that fold easily can be found in the dark easily and are made of breathing micro-fibers with travel and these often unheard-of places could breathe new market life for the socks, and make the client very happy.

That’s perceiving — seeing the world in a new way. Utilizing your brain’s functions and harnessing your creative powers.

So what’s your take on the world around you? Do you see or perceive?

— Kate Canada Obregon

29
Aug

How Danish Design Infuses Into Everyday Life

Scan 2In our last post, we talked about the connections we saw between geography and design thinking. The city of Christiana in the middle of Copenhagen seems to embody the thinking and problem-solving skills any designer needs. It functions as a mini-city and its early founders wanted to experiment with the best way to combine design and urban planning with living off the grid. At least the 1970s version of off the grid.

 In this post, we’re going to pare down our thinking and talk about Danish Design. Specifically, how their design thinking is infused with their art and how they spend their days.

 The ingredient in their version of design thinking seems to be empathy.

Empathetic design is not just decoration. It’s a powerfully blended combination of art and purpose, beauty and functionality. It’s an orchestration, a deep understanding of how people interact with their worlds; how the body best sits in a chair, how lighting best distributes in a room and how toys stimulate the brain.

On a less grand scale, design thinking infuses Scandinavian and Danish Design.

The Danes are renowned designers because they are design thinkers. They invest energy and time into what an object, idea or concept or thing will do for people, how it will interact with people’s everyday lives. How we are drawn to objects and ideas. Design in this way is problem-solving and empathy. Whether it’s a chair, lamp, clothes, art, buildings, machinery and technology—the problem-solver designer wants to make our lives better, more comfortable and interesting.

 

Poul Henningsen's PH Artichoke Light

Poul Henningsen’s PH Artichoke Light

The iconic Danish chairs or lighting that we love here in the States could have been made less beautiful and quirky, but why would we want to settle for a chair that may look good but makes our back hurt by noon? We love these objects because they marry style and function, utility and beauty.

And why not merge style into function and in the process make people happy about sitting in a chair during a long, boring meeting? For the winter light-deprived Danes, the Poul Henningsen’s PH Artichoke gently fractures light into smaller bits that envelope the room in warmth.

From this perspective, design inserts itself into people’s everyday world, quietly and respectfully. Designers want to live with us, so they think about how objects or ideas will burrow into the habits and routines of our lives.

chair

 

 

 

 

lights

 

 

 

 

 

Scan 3

22
Aug

Think Like A Tourist: Deconstructing Danish Design

The island of Christiana situated in Copenhagen.

The island of Christiana situated in Copenhagen.

We headed out this summer for what call our Oishii design expedition. These trips help us to refresh, shift perspective, and perfect our practice. Around the office we ask everyone to “Think Like A Tourist” and purposeful travel is the best way to realize our recognizably lofty ambitions.

Going out and exploring is not simply about seeing what others are doing, although that’s always useful and fun. These trips are for us, about immersing ourselves in how other cultures think and work and create. So this summer we packed up and headed to Denmark, one of the centers of iconic Scandinavian design.

Design is everywhere in Denmark and Copenhagen; it infuses daily life, and not just architecture, industrial design, furniture or fashion. For well over 300 years, Denmark has been universally recognized for design and craftsmanship. And we are familiar with the modern designs of Bang & Olufsen, Kaare Klint, Arne Jacobsen and the Jans J. Wegner chairs. For us, we wanted to experience and understand the power behind Danish design, and capture thinking in action. We wanted to spend time in Bregade and the Design Museum and wander the city.

It became clear quickly to us that the power of Danish design is what happens before an object becomes physical and real.

Danish design captures a thought process, long before the iconic lamp, chair or building takes shape. Like good design thinkers, Danes create things for people, to use and maybe make their lives better and more comfortable. And fun, too. Perhaps it’s the history of Denmark; they endure long winters with only a sliver of sun, the many fjords and waterways cutting cold into bare skin. This is design thinking, solving our problems with a solution that brings light and air into routines. After all, that is what the best design is, problem solving on a grand and neverending scale.

You see design thinking obviously in architecture and urban planning. One example is a “city” in the middle of Copenhagen called Christiana. It’s not a “city”; it’s more of an urbane modern commune smack dab in the middle of a bustling metropolis. In this “city space” on a fjord, was once a 700-year-old military barracks. The Danish government was in the process of abandoning the property in 1971 when locals quickly marched in. They set up a semi-autonomous city with housing, public services and a public garden and architecture codes. They called in celebrated graffiti artists to paint murals, they set up food markets and industry. Lots of thought and experimentation has gone into all facets of the garrison-city, what the early founders wanted residents to experience.

The flag of Christiana.

The flag of Christiana.

 

 

 

Welcome and well-placed firewood

Welcome and well-placed firewood

Entering the gate into Christiana.

Entering the gate into Christiana.

 

The fjord looking onto the bridge. Note the new architecture emerging in the background.

The fjord looking onto the bridge. Note the new architecture emerging in the background.

 

 

 

A typical “vacation” house on the island. All houses must adhere to strict regulations.

A typical “vacation” house on the island. All houses must adhere to strict regulations.

 


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