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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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IQ Spotlight: Shari Benowich, Account Supervisor

Intelligence At Play

Danger: Good Times Ahead

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IQ Spotlight: Shari Benowich, Account Supervisor

IQ Spotlight Shari Benowich

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Shari Benowich and I’m an Account Supervisor.

What is one thing you can’t leave home without?

I know it’s really cliché, but I’d have to say my cell phone.

What is your role in building the client/agency relationship?

That is really what I do everyday here: nurture relationships with our clients. I get to know their business and having a good idea of what would help them grow, even if it’s not what they initially approached us for. And I also make sure they’re happy with the work we produce for them.

What gets you “in the zone” for your daily work?

I have a long commute to the office, so a combination of a lot of coffee and belting out with some awesome music, whatever playlist I feel fits my mood each morning. And I wind down and listen to audiobooks on my way home.

Tell me about the moment you knew this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally.

Where I did undergrad they have a co-op program where you get to do three internships, where you don’t take classes, you just work. The first two I did weren’t really a good fit on my end, so I had an idea of what I didn’t want to do, which is always useful. My third one I worked at an advertising agency, and I fell in love with the tangible aspect of advertising and the process from start to finish. And I always wanted to be a creative person, but I don’t really have a lot of creative ability, so here I get to be around creativity and be a part of the process.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

I think it’s how everyone works together. We have people who are experts in all different areas that come together and produce really well rounded work for our clients.

Quickfire:

Cake or Pie?

Cake.

Hike or Bike?

I don’t know how to ride a bike, so hiking.

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee.

Dawn or Dusk?

Dusk.

Unicorns or Narwhals?

Narwhals.

Now you know a little more about Shari Benowich!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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IQ Spotlight: Tanya Richburg, Sr. Analyst

Intelligence At Play

Danger: Good Times Ahead

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Intelligence At Play

Kickoff - Intelligence at play

This month at IQ we’re thinking about what makes truly great work. Well-rounded, happy people make great work. A company culture that fosters an environment of play (play = exploration and discovery through informal means) does a lot for creating great work. So this month we’re focusing on intelligence at play. We will be sharing original articles here and in our other social media channels (TwitterFacebookTumblr, and LinkedIn). We’ll also be sharing other articles and links that inspire us and engage our minds in a playful way.

So keep an eye out for the #IntelligenceAtPlay hashtag as we share things that expand our creative intelligence by engaging our playful side.

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IQ Spotlight: Tanya Richburg, Senior Analyst

Danger: Good Times Ahead

Head to Head: IQ Designers Duke it Out Over Brand Style Guides

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IQ Spotlight: Tanya Richburg, Senior Analyst

Tanya IQ Spotlight

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Tanya Richburg and I’m a Senior Analyst at IQ.

What was the last book you read?

“More Than Conquerors.”

What do you enjoy most about working with a new client?

The process of the agency and the client building a connection and working together towards the clients various project goals.

What brings you the most joy in your day-to-day work?

Finding solutions. Whether it’s an issue our clients are facing, or just a challenge they’ve asked us to meet or a challenge I’ve given myself; I really find joy in creative problem solving.

Tell me about the moment you knew this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally.

I started my career as a marketing researcher where I found myself more and more inquisitive about the human nature and complexities of the choices people make. Having the ability to look into those choices, see those trends and make informed projections for future behavior was really cool to me. This path led me into the online analytics world because it uses those same characteristics and strengths. And now being able to dig deeper than traditional research and getting to see what consumer behavior is and how it affects things in a digital space is something I love to be a part of.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

Being proficient and efficient in innovative thinking and applying that to the creative process while understanding the way human beings think and react during that whole process.

What is something you’ve learned this week?

I have learned that I really am a creature of logic. Where there is logic there tends to structure, and I like structure far more than chaos.

Quickfire:

Caramel or Hot Fudge?

Caramel.

Kindle or Paperback?

Paperback.

Apple or Android?

I’m pretty indifferent there.

Bath or Shower?

For getting clean, shower. For relaxing, bath all the way.

Drama or Comedy?

Drama.

Now you know a little more about Tanya Richburg!

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IQ Spotlight: Nick Lentsch, Lead Developer

Danger: Good Times Ahead

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

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IQ Spotlight: Nick Lentsch, Lead Developer

IQ Spotlight Nick Lentsch

 

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Nick Lentsch, and I’m the Lead Developer at IQ.

What does your ideal workspace look like?

I like a simple and clean workspace. I wish I had more monitors, but what developer doesn’t? I also want to get some more pictures of my family at my desk, especially with our new addition.

What are a few sites you visit at least once every week?

I like to check The Verge and get a daily dose of what’s new in tech around the world and I also check Quartz, which has more technical-specific industry news.

Tell me about the moment you knew this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally.

I’ve really been into technology and gaming since I was a kid, and I just kept learning more. As I got older I started dabbling in different areas and liked development the most and just starting figuring out how I could make money doing what I loved to do. And here we are now.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

To me it’s taking the newest technologies and using them the right way to integrate new ideas and creative problem solving and find great solutions to our client’s problems.

How has the recent addition of a new tiny human at home affected you and how you do work in the office?

I’m not getting that much sleep, so I just feel tired a lot of the time. Having two small kids at home is exponentially more difficult than just one. That’s for sure.

Quickfire:

Cake or Pie?

Cake.

Pizza or Spaghetti?

Pizza.

Marvel or DC?

Marvel.

Math or English?

Math.

Spring or Fall?

Fall.

Now you know a little more about Nick Lentsch!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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IQ Spotlight: Carol Montoto: Associate Creative Director

Danger: Good Times Ahead

Pushing Boundaries in a New Year

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Danger: Good Times Ahead

Danger: Good Times Ahead

In case you haven’t noticed there is a sea change happening in business. As companies go into 2015 they are more confident that their marketplace is solid than at any time in the last five plus years. This is very different from every January I can remember since the recession hit. If you recall, as we would roll into each New Year, brands would emerge extremely cautiously, prepared at any moment to run for cover as they watched their consumers crawl back into their shell. Of course they had reason to be gun-shy. Pretty much on schedule every year the promise of the economy turned to ashes usually around the second quarter. Budgets were cut, rosy forecasts trimmed and the rest of the year was usually a matter of subsistence marketing.

This year, however, is different. Confidence is brimming, because the fundamentals are finally, truly strong. More important, consumers feel the wind at the back of the economy for the first time in a long time. As a result brands are bullishly turning their attention to full force competition. That’s a big shift in mind-set. Planning to grow market share in the face of competitive pressure requires a different set of strategies and tactics to those required to just make it through the year.  This is made much more demanding when you consider that consumers have been trained by years of scarcity to be value conscious, sophisticated buyers. The upshot is the most challenging, competitive environment brands have probably ever seen.

The lean years have turned consumers into smart, careful shoppers. Buyers of all stripes have been provided with the tools, education and practice to become adept digital consumers armed with the skills required to make the best possible decisions every time. This has reshaped the buying process and redefined consumer expectations. Now there is really no choice for brands but to deliver enablement, transparency, quality and a superior experience. Anyway you look at it, it’s a tough nut to crack, but the companies that deliver on these expectations will earn a place in the consideration set.

All of this requires not only a different mind-set, but also a different tool kit to what brands used the last time they went out to do battle in a strong economic environment. Some forward thinking companies saw this coming, recognized that buying dynamics would forever be linked to new consumer expectations and put the pieces of a new kind of brand ecosystem in place. This ecosystem intelligently connects all of a brand’s touch-points throughout the consumer decision journey. With technology supplying consumer insights, and content keeping the consumer engaged, the new brand ecosystem has shifted to more science than art, and provides companies with more predictability even in the face of more complexity.

Today as we launch into the best environment in years, those brands that studied the new consumer and invested in the infrastructure and technology, find themselves ready to activate these sophisticated marketing ecosystems. Brands that did not do the work, however, are in a very different position. They will quickly find that they don’t have what they need and will be forced to not just change the tires on the bus at 60 mph, but to try and rebuild the whole bus without stopping.

Within the next few months the gap between the haves and have-nots will play out and for the first time the stark realities of marketing in the digital age will be plain for even the most hitherto blinkered to see.

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Pushing Boundaries in a New Year

Head to Head: IQ Designers Duke it Out Over Brand Style Guides

3 Technology Game Changers

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Pushing Boundaries in a New Year

Social kickoff January 2015

It’s the first Monday at work in 2015, and at IQ we’re thinking about growth, refining skills, and transformation. This month we’re focusing on pushing boundaries in creative intelligence. We will be sharing original articles here on the blog and in our other social media channels (TwitterFacebookTumblr, and LinkedIn). We’ll also be sharing other articles and links that inspire us and push our perceived limits. So keep an eye on our channels as we share things that push, grow, and expand our creative intelligence.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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IQ Spotlight: Carol Montoto, Associate Creative Director

Head to Head: IQ Designers Duke it Out Over Brand Style Guides

3 Technology Game Changers

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IQ Spotlight: Carol Montoto, Associate Creative Director

Carol Montoto, ACD

Carol in her Ugly Christmas Sweater for the contest at the IQ Holiday Party.

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Carol Montoto and I’m an Associate Creative Director at IQ.

Tell me about your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame microsite I worked on when I was at Sapient-Nitro. It was a massive project that we had to get finished in a month. We were working nights and weekends and it wasn’t just the creative team, we worked closely with our developers, our motion graphic guys, everyone was just so passionate about the project and the end result was amazing and totally reflected that passion.

What’s your superpower?

I would say my energy. I’m sure you’ve seen me running around the office like a crazy person getting all the things done. Maybe the coffee helps.

Outside of IQ’s clients, what brand is doing really well in advertising lately?

For me, they have to suck me in and make me think it’s not an ad until they show the brand and I’m like “oh, they got me!” I really liked when Skeletor took over Honda’s twitter a couple weeks ago.

What is “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

I think it’s more the collective of brains in a room coming together. Not just people in any one department, but the cohesive vision of the agency.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Anything snow related, even if it’s fake snow. I try to go skiing and snowboarding at least once during this time of year. I love snow?

Quickfire:

Hat or scarf?

Scarf.

Sun or moon?

Sun.

Strawberry of blueberry?

Strawberry.

West coast or East coast?

West coast.

Handwritten or typed?

Handwritten.

Now you know a little more about Carol Montoto!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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Russ Sauvé, Social Media Community Manager

Head to Head: IQ Designers Duke it Out over Style Guides

Why Designers Love Whitespace

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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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Russ Sauvé, Social Media Community Manager

Snapchat is the New Facebook

Why Designers Love Whitespace

 

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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 Vogue.com.

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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Russ Sauvé, Social Media Community Manager

IQ Presents #IQgifts!

Why Designers Love Whitespace

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