Author Archive for IQ

  • 01.25.16

Decoding Modern Marketing Series Overview

We have recently begun a new series, Decoding Modern Marketing. The full overview article by IQ CEO Tony Quin is here. We’ll have Part 1 here for you next month.

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  • 09.29.15

IQ CEO Tony Quin interviewed in Cannes

Recently IQ CEO Tony Quin made a pilgrimage to the Cannes Lions festival, representing both the agency and the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) as the Chairman. While at the festival he participated in the Executive Perspectives interview series and shared his thoughts on advertising trends, the benefits of having talented, driven employees and how data drives strategy and creative to produce exceptional work at IQ.

Here are a few notable excerpts from the interview:

KR: How would you define success in your role?

TQ: The most important job that I have as CEO is to have a sense of where we need to be as an agency 24 months from now so that I can be making sure that the agency is moving toward that. That’s the most important. Because if you don’t get that right, you’re not in business.

KR: What do you do to help your team be successful and help keep them in line with your goals for the company?

TQ: My job is to make sure that I have the smartest people on the bus, and not necessarily in the right seats, and listen to them and empower them. What I’ve learned is that if you just collect really smart people who have the right character for the work, then they are going to tell you the right place to go.

KR: In a world so driven by data today, why do you think creative still matters?

TQ: Creative is the business of connecting emotionally to people. Creative is not about data. Creative itself is really not measurable. Data helps to tell you where to point creative. The strategy that comes out of data – because data itself means nothing; it produces insights and strategy – tells you how to pick the places where you want to spend your money and those places are where you’re going to apply your creative. That last mile is informed by data but it’s always takes some magic which is inspiration and an understanding of the psychology of the people. It’s really hard to make that a science.

KR: Do you feel like creative always needs to be measured?

TQ: You can measure the end result of whether something happens or not. There is some testing you can do around creative. It’s the whole Steve Jobs approach to doing new things. You can’t base it on what’s happened in the past so at some point somebody is taking a leap of faith or just having a creative idea and you just have to go with it or not. You don’t really know what’s going to happen.

KR: How do you motivate your team on a day-to-day basis?

TQ: Every company, whether it’s a big company or a small company, has to have a vision of tomorrow. It’s kind of what we’re selling to our brands. Any kind of branding is a promise for tomorrow. That promise is, in some way, “tomorrow is going to be better.” It’s the same thing with a team. The reason you’re doing this work, other than getting a paycheck, is to create some better thing and you have to define that a little bit for people and make them excited.

KR: Can you describe the attributes of one of your top performers?

TQ: What I look for is people who are self-motivated, have an entrepreneurial spirit, are not about doing the mechanics of their job. They are about achieving the goals of their job. It’s not really about how they do it; it’s about how they get there, which is very entrepreneurial. I look for people who are sufficiently confident in themselves and aren’t afraid of taking risks.

KR: How would you describe the difference between an idea and a solution?

TQ: Ideas are bigger than solutions. Solutions, you have a problem and some parameters around a problem and you want to find something that solves that problem.  An idea can be much bigger than that. An idea might solve a problem but it might have many more ramifications to it. Ideas are about what capture the imagination of people. They can drive companies. They can change the marketplace. They can create movements. Whereas a solution is just, “I’m really glad we solved that problem.”

KR: What are you looking to take away from Cannes?

TQ: I wear two hats. I have my agency, IQ, and it’s always interesting to hear what’s going on and I always get ideas. With my primary job being what’s going to happen 18 to 24 months in the future and “are we on the right path for that?”, it’s great to come to these places where people are talking about those things, about what’s next. The other hat I wear is as the founder and chairman of the board of SoDA. SoDA is a wonderful organization where I get a chance to give back to my community and to have great relationships with people who are in the same boat that I’m in, running agencies around the world, so that’s very fulfilling.

  • 08.17.15

Mojitos and SoDA


Tony Quin, IQ’s CEO, presenting the annual toast at SoDA’s general meeting in San Diego. The Mojito toast celebrates the first meeting of SoDA, the Digital Society, which Tony founded almost nine years ago when he got the CEOs of 13 top digital agencies together in Miami to talk shop. Today SoDA is almost 100 agencies strong, but still only accepts 14% of agencies considered. “This is the cream of the agency business worldwide, not just the biggest, but those judged by their peers to be the best and the brightest” said Tony, “it’s where we learn from our peers and help chart the course of the future of this business”.

  • 08.13.15

Equifax and Post Properties pick IQ as AOR


We are delighted to announce that IQ has been selected as Agency of Record (AOR) for Equifax and Post Properties. Both companies conducted competitive reviews before selecting us. “We are delighted to have been selected as a lead agency for these two blue-chip brands” said Tony Quin CEO of IQ Agency.  Equifax is one of the three leading credit bureaus in the U.S. with both a sizable personal solutions business as well as a leading business-to-business offering in the credit and business intelligence vertical. Post Properties is a large national owner and operator of rental communities in cities across the U.S. “While both companies were impressed with our creative work in both digital and traditional channels, they were particularly impressed with our strategic approach to integrated marketing” Quin continued. The assignment for Post Properties will include all aspects of marketing both traditional and digital. The Equifax assignment covers both the consumer and B2B lines of business and includes digital as well as traditional work.

  • 05.07.15

Smith & Wesson Blows up the Competition.

M&P_ExperienceStrategy and creative teamed up for IQ’s new campaign for the American icon, Smith & Wesson. The POV campaign lets consumers project themselves into the shooting experience and see how it looks and feels to have a Smith & Wesson M&P in their hands. And there’s nothing quite as fun as blowing up a watermelon.

Watch the TV spot:

See the rig that let’s the camera shoot right down the barrel during live fire:

This is one of many campaigns IQ has created for Smith & Wesson brands. IQ is an integrated agency with digital at the core. We work primarily with brands that need strong strategy, planning and integrated execution across media. Check out our Portfolio section to see more of our work.

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  • 04.09.15

4 Keys of a Go-2-Market Plan

In today’s complex marketplace what a brand does is as important as how it does it. Without the right plan, the best creative is worthless.

This short deck outlines the 4 keys of a validated, actionable go-2-market plan.

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  • 02.18.15

How IQ built a culture of #IntelligenceAtPlay

IQ Culture

“Culture cannot be created – it forms organically.” This statement is true in many respects however, the manner in which an agency fosters this organic formation is key. At IQ we take many opportunities to foster a healthy agency culture but it’s not all about Ping-Pong tables and Beer Fridays.

IQ Waffle Friday menu

Waffle menu from IQ’s monthly Waffle Friday.

In order to foster a best-in-class agency culture, you must first start with a collaborative environment. Having the ability to ideate in real time with likeminded colleagues is crucial to culture. In our offices, many times you may walk into a room and think that A Beautiful Mind was filmed here. The sheer amount of mind-mapping on the walls can be seen as a direct corollary to the creative and intelligent output of the agency. Having ample collaborative work spaces, war rooms and think tanks is key to developing great work; which is in turn key to having a great culture.

IQ Collaboration

One of IQ’s collaborative brainstorming spaces.

Secondly, the way in which we work shapes culture. People tackle work and challenges differently. Giving employees the freedom and flexibility to do their jobs in a manner which is suitable to their strengths and personality, without fear of micromanagement, creates a positive agency culture. When employees feel empowered and have a sense of ownership in their work, the end result is boost for the agency and in turn, the culture.

IQ Culture Fun

Foosball and Nerf fun at an IQ Rockstar’s desk.

Lastly, the final piece to agency culture is allowing ourselves to have fun. One of the main differentiators between the ad industry and others is the playful nature of the creative environment. Whether it’s having regular group outings, pot-luck lunches in the office or just winding down with a coworker at the end of a long day over a game of darts and a beer, fostering a fun and laidback workplace is a must have for a great agency culture.


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  • 12.17.14

Head to Head:

IQ designers duke it out over “how to” or “how to not” follow a brand’s style guide.

Head to Head Style Guide Design

Point: The Type-A Guide to Following Design Rules

By: Lauren Weir, Sr. Designer

Our creative team nominated me to write the point of the article — establishing why you should stick to brand guidelines and how to work creatively within them. And while I’ll give you that I’m the type of person who neatly orders my pens, keeps a daily game plan on my signature yellow notepads and may or may not be easily compared with Monica from FRIENDS, I still have fun and sometimes I show up to work in a banana suit. I just think of brand guidelines like a pair of moon shoes — sometimes kind of clunky, but they help you jump to new heights. They’re also infinitely cool.

Brand guidelines are so important to designing for a brand because they explain and uphold the values and importance of the brand for which you are designing. A strong brand will help increase recognition and brand loyalty, which is directly related to a company’s success and profitability. As Smashing Magazine points out, brands have to reach people through so many different platforms that recognition is critical. As designers, if we do not help a company clearly communicate their messages and uphold the definition of their brand then the brand will start to develop on its own through customer opinions in spaces like social — and we all know how that can go south pretty quickly.

How to stick it to the Book:

  1. Make sure you and your client have a complete understanding of the brand guidelines. Take time to go through the guidelines with your client and ask questions. By sitting down for a conversation first, you’re avoiding the future problems that could arise if the brand guide has any holes. Figure out how strict the guidelines are and what will still be considered within the guidelines if it is not explicitly stated. This will give you a clear understanding where the designs can start to move forward. You can also for a clear idea of what to measure your design successes on and give you, as a designer ground to justify the designs you have produced. You can become a design partner for your client, making recommendations for their design in the future, rather than just a production artist for what they envision for their brand.
  2. Experiment within your limits. Think mixing different martinis, rather than making a mix drink with gin, Bailey’s and Chardonnay. Creating and following parameters set by guidelines can give you the chance to try a ton of experiments on different pieces to create interesting designs that relate back to the brand. For example, within a color scheme, try combining the colors in a different way or in different proportions to create something that is different than what is expected. Sometimes the most successful designs come from a new or updated perspective on already existing guidelines.  Guidelines can help you narrow down what areas to experiment in, rather than spending all of your time looking at the endless design options. Put your design energy in the right places, rather than the places that are already defined.
  3. Measure back to the guidelines. Keep brand goals, audience needs, key messages, and brand personality central to each and every decision made in designing for the brand. It is easier to justify your design decisions because the client has already approved their guidelines. Once you can design really well and with new ideas within the limitations given by the client, you can clearly understand the best way to adapt the brand to new platforms (social, mail, web, etc). The most successful and gratifying design systems work show a strong brand voice and visual style across multiple mediums without becoming too repetitive.

There are many brands out there whose designers rely heavily on the visual guidelines and still create some badass designs. Like these:

Counterpoint: How to Design Outside the Style Guide (and not get caught)

By: Carol Montoto, Associate Creative Director

So I was nominated to write this counterpoint by my team. I guess they see me as that annoying creative who just won’t stick to a style guide. Maybe that’s slightly true, but I see a style guide as just a guide and not an end-all-be-all. It’s tough exploring creative directions to take a brand without wandering outside the style guide a bit. Rebellious design superhero, Paula Scher, talked about guidelines at the Adobe Max Conference (13:00).“Guidelines are difficult things because they’re rules that prevent bad things from happening, but they don’t really promote good things TO happen.”

It’s not that I think designers should irresponsibly blow off style guides and have a creative free-for-all. But as creative experts, it’s our job to ask questions, challenge the rules when necessary, and push our creativity beyond its limits. Personally, it’s my favorite part of the job. The key is to use brand guidelines to maintain the spirit of a brand. As long as your brand remains consistent, recognizable and the design doesn’t suffer, the guide has accomplished its goal. As John Moore from Idea Sandbox put it, “A Brand Style Guide is essentially an internal communication compass. It provides guidance on how a business should communicate the Identity, Personality, and Authenticity of a brand.”

Common Style Guide Challenges

There are some style guide challenges every designer is familiar with. An incomplete style guide is the most common. Its creator can’t predict what all the uses for it might be in the future. For example, often it is created for print, not for digital. This leaves important brand details such as color (CMYK versus RGB), and fonts (web-friendly) up for debate. The ridiculously strict, 598-page style guide is just as tough to work with. As blogger Geri Coady explains, “Guides can be so strict that it can be virtually impossible to introduce a little creativity.” If you are spending more time measuring pixels than exploring creative directions, just take a step back. The last thing you want to do is kill any amazing ideas you have because they might not exactly fit the style guide. Sometimes, the style guide looks like the ugliest pair of moon shoes you’ve ever seen. If following the style guide is forcing you to make bad design decisions, you’ll need to bend the rules a bit, for everyone’s sake. Chances are that making some small tweaks will vastly improve the design without looking off-brand. If you can pull this off while keeping the brand police happy, nice job.

How to Design Outside the Style Guide:

  1. Know the rules before you break them. Read the style guide. Thoroughly. Really get to know it. THEN you’re ready to challenge the rules. You’ll need to have a good reason for doing so, not just because you think it’s fun to break rules. (Sorry.)
  2. When in doubt, share your thoughts with your client. Even something as small as an inverted white logo on a dark background may just have never come up for a brand. Crazy, I know. If you want to challenge the style guide, why not just talk with your client? Paula Scher suggests making your client a co-conspirator with you (16:52). Be up front and explain to them why you need to deviate from the brand guidelines. You’d be surprised how effective this can be.
  3. Don’t let the style guide become a design crutch. At the end of the day, people will see the final product and NOT the style guide you are following, no matter how beautiful that guide may be. Don’t be afraid to push the creative. The brand police will rein you in if necessary.

Above all else, just remember, “I was just following the style guide” is not an excuse for bad or boring design. Have fun and rebel — responsibly.

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Snapchat is the New Facebook

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  • 12.09.14

Snapchat is the New Facebook.

A quick explanation of why brands should love Snaps.

Snapchat article by Eric

As our social media channels become overrun with stagnant ads, eager parents (and grandparents), over filtered photos of food, and articles that begin with “Top ten things,” the next generation of users have found a new way of sharing their lives: Snapchat. Brands are looking, too. Snapchat is a mobile only platform that allows real time sharing of someone’s life. No filters, no editing, no “10 reasons why_____.” Just you telling a story with your phone. Casey Neistat does an amazing job explaining the rise of Snapchat in his recent video with Jerome Jarre:

Yet as this new space is emerging, few brands are taking advantage of the 30 million monthly active users, mainly because no one has really figured out the best way how.

Right now there are three ways brands are using it:

Sponsored Snapchat:

These are posts that go out to every user, from Snapchat. They are usually pretty short and generally video. Recently there was a trailer for the Dumb and Dumber movie that went out.

Sponsored Snapchatters:

This is where a company approaches a popular Snapchatter and then asks them to do a story sponsored by them. For instance Casey Neistat spent a day with Karlie Kloss for fashion week, sponsoring and advertising

Point all other channels to Snapchat:

This allows companies to use their existing audience on their other social channels to follow their Snapchat. This requires them to constantly produce content to keep people involved and interested, which is time consuming and expensive.

Speaking of content, this is the second problem companies are having: quickly producing cheap, quality content. No company (that I know of) is doing that right now. But individuals are, which is exciting because there is a totally new space that is untouched by brand use.

The fact is Snapchat is here to stay. It has been quickly adopted by the next generation of social users, and the current generation is adopting it, too. Snapchat is the perfect space for a new brand to be born on, and an even better space for a current brand to own. The opportunity is ripe. You just have to reach out and take it.

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  • 11.14.14

7 Key Insights by Maurice Levy, Chairman & CEO of Publicis Groupe

Reposted from the Berlin School of Creative Leadership blog.

Maurice came to the Berlin School of Creative Leadership to speak about how big data, e-commerce, digital transformation and two billion new consumers will affect the creative industries. In picturing the communication landscape of tomorrow and the importance of re-thinking the intersections in a blurred world, he shared what he claims to be his personal formula.

1. The “Blurred World”
2. Speed
3. Digital Transformation
4. The Formula: IQ, EQ, TQ & BQ
5. Pioneering in Today’s World of Advertising
6. The Issue of Collaboration
7. How to Align People

1. The “Blurred World”
“We used to live in a world where we would categorize companies and industries, even people, in kind of formatted ways. This person is an engineer. That company operates in the automobile industry. These days everything is blurred: People are blurred. Companies are blurred. Even time is blurred. Think of a company like Amazon. What kind of a company is it? A bookseller? A retailer? A media outlet? The great thing about that is that we can now think about the intersections in a way that we never thought of before. Today you can be very creative and successful in redefining these blurred lines.”

2. Speed
“We are living in a time of speed. If you think about something today, and if you really believe you can do something different – you’d better do it bloody quick. You just have to move fast or somebody else will probably take your idea. Think about companies like Facebook. At the same time, existing companies are struggling to keep up. Even if you have been very successful for a very long time – if you’re not taking the right decisions today, your company can get close to death by tomorrow. This is very much true if you think about tech firms and companies, but as our world continues to digitalize, it’s not only them anymore.”

3. Digital Transformation
“Remember the Internet bubble? In 2005, we were basically in dead seats, no one was investing in digital anymore and yet – you could see the change happening. I’ve heavily invested since 2006, because I did observe the people in the streets. How they were using their mobile phones, how they were shopping online. And I knew things were about to happen that would impact our industry in a game-changer kind of way. Anyone remembers Sony’s Walkman? Why haven’t they invented the i-pod? They were on the wrong technology path, basically.”

4. The Formula: IQ, EQ, TQ & BQ
“How can you be a pioneer in today’s world of advertising? In advertising we can change the way people see the world. If we manage to engage with them emotionally, we infect their brain. But what we need today is not only smart ideas that connect brain and emotional intelligence. We need these four: IQ, EQ, TQ – which refers to technology quotient – and BQ…be bloody quick.”

5. Pioneering in Today’s World of Advertising
“In advertising, we are supposed to be at the forefront of everything that is new. We are supposed to be the Avant-garde, to take risks – but we also have a high responsibility towards the client. There is some paradox in that. We cannot predict exactly how people will react to something. We have to accept that there is no secure recipe for success or total control. People are analog, not digital. But no matter what you do, if you believe in what you’re doing, stick to it, fight skepticism, and at the same time, be cautious about what you’re doing – at least make sure that your idea would cause no harm.”

6. The Issue of Collaboration
“We don’t live in a world of manufacturers anymore, in which companies used to design, develop, produce and distribute their products under the same roof. We all have to go for collaboration. Big data is a big issue and the new markets of China, India and Africa – just imagine the scale of two billion new consumers. We’ve started early to collaborate with Google, Facebook, Twitter, with different start-ups and media outlets. I believe this trend of collaboration will increasingly play a big role in the world of tomorrow, and the way in which we will manage business effectively.”

7. How to Align People
“A pioneer is not a group of people. A group of people can be pioneering in what they do, but there is always the one who is leading the way. It’s crucial to align people. Stay curious. Observe. Accept. Be flexible and alert. Make sure you give a few directions that everyone understands. No one has a better idea than everyone together. Don’t refuse to learn from somebody else, that’s just arrogance. I hate complacency; and I always like to think that the greatest success is yet to happen. If your team has the same spirit as you, you’re heading in the right direction.”

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