We all like to be recognized for our hard work. It's always nice to hear that you’ve done a good job on something especially when you give it your all. However, what’s more important to me is not the praise itself but whom I hear it from.

For example, last week some of my work (along with several other Old Hatters) was featured on The Bleacher Report's Top 50 College Football Posters of 2013. The posters were ranked on a variety of criteria, from team spirit and photo quality to all-around creativity and general awesomeness. Everything seemed to be taken into consideration when being ranked. However, once you begin reading the rational for the ranking of each poster it becomes clear that those doing the ranking aren’t designers. It’s obvious they’re completely unaware of what all goes into designing a successful college football poster. 

They have no way of knowing which elements were the designer’s ideas and which were the school’s. They don’t know about the conversations designers have with their clients or what resources the designers had to work with. Nor do they know about the time and design constraints put upon them by University athletic departments. But you know who does? Yep, other designers. They know all about what goes into making a successful college football poster. They know it can be a difficult task to give the client what they want and at the same time give them what they need.

So even though my work showed up on this list (one piece making it into the top 5) it’s not the praise from Bleacher Report that matters to me. I take that with a grain of salt. What really matters to me is what my peers think. If I’m able to impress them with the work I’ve done then I feel like I’ve created a successful poster.

#46 Michigan's 3D poster designed by Geoff

#43 Texas Tech designed by Jared

#37 Virginia designed by Geoff

#32 Rice designed by Geoff

#28 Syracuse designed by Geoff

#24 Bethune-Cookman designed by Jared

#23 Appalachian State designed by Geoff

#16 South Carolina designed by Aaron

#3 Florida State designed by Jared 

Okay so it's safe to say that popular meme has run its course. Good job everybody, we killed it. However, I had a feeling that title might work to catch your eye in an age when everybody and their dog is competing for your attention with the wisest of wisdoms to share with their fifties of followers. Lucky for you today my 4th anniversary with Old Hat is this week and I feel like I have some wisest of wisdoms to share with you regarding videos for the upcoming 2013-14 sports season. 
 
Zac has created a culture in the office where if anybody says "No we can't do that" it better be followed up with a "but here's how we can solve the issue." It can be really annoying at first, because it's so easy to shoot down something and find all of its faults. You actually have to engage your brain to solve issues. I think it's a quality that makes Old Hat a unique and desirable company to work with and work for. He's got a whole legion of problem solvers at his disposal. This can be a handy weapon in your marketing arsenal if you're stuck in a pickle. 
 
Here are three of the top Frequently Asked Video Questions/Issues ("FAVQ/I" if you will) that I've heard during my tenure whilst at the Hat. 
 

Q/I: We don't have any highlights because all of our starters are new. 

  
   A: Like MJ says, "you are not alone" (great song, creepy creepy video). When you're working in athletics this is something everybody deals with at some point. Players graduate, go pro, leave the team, get traded, retire, etc. You might feel limited, but there are a few different routes to follow:
 
-Schedule an Old Hat shoot with your noobs practicing/working out. August two-a-days can provide some pretty unique footage. And from my experience, Strength & Conditioning coaches are a treasure trove of audio (Fear not. We can bleep out and edit around all of their creative words of encouragement). 
 
-You can also go the green screen route and have a cool voice over script throughout telling the story of this new team. 
 
-This could provide the perfect opportunity to introduce your new players to your fanbase. Hometowns, childhood photos and video give fans a glimpse into who these athletes really are and where they came from.
 
-Focus on your team's history or tradition over the years. Invite the legends back to campus. Or 
gather up your old photos and videos.
 
 
Q/I: Hey Deb, not all of us have a big tradition to brag about. What then? WHAT? THEN?
 
  A: That's a-okay! I know you'd like to have a rich history of winning (I know I'd like for the Minnesota Vikings to have seven championships) but your history is history. You can't change it (Unless you have a time machine). From a video perspective this frees you to try new ideas each year. Some of our most creative videos come from teams that don't have a championship pedigree. 
 
-Focus on your current team. Remember, you can have 15-20 solid highlights from a season even if you don't make the post-season.
 
-Maybe your coach had a really good locker room speech and you have the footage. 
 
-Utilize your city/campus for locations. 
 
-Show off your game day atmosphere.
 
 
Q/I: We can't schedule our shoot now because our new uniforms won't arrive for another month.
 
   A: This is another common issue for almost every team. We know a lot of you get worried about the short turnaround time from shoot to Game 1 that is created by waiting for those slick new jerseys to arrive. If you don't HAVE to shoot your players in their new jerseys you can get away with using warm-up uniforms, practice shirts or whatever team gear your players have. It is possible to have a cool video without the new uniforms. 
 
 
There are several more questions/issues that we deal with on a daily basis here at OH HQ. We're like little creative firefighters putting out fires left and right (can you imagine Dustin with one of those hats??? Geoff, get on that one please). So no matter the issue you can be confident we will find the best solutions.

After any big game, fans and players often want commemorative t-shirts. To meet the demand and to cash in on the 'We're #1" euphoria there are often two sets of shirts designed declaring each team the Champs…you know, just in case.

I've been a designer a while now and over the years I have designed a lot of these championship t-shirts. I've alway been curious as to what happens to the losing teams shirts, jackets and hats. I mean that’s a lot of misprinted items that can’t hit store shelves.

Well, recently I found out  about a group called World Vision. These guys save the items from certain doom by sending them overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished, third world nations which is great. Of course, there are people right here in America who could desperately use a fresh, clean t-shirt or jacket. I'd actually prefer that these items be donated to local charities. However, overseas distribution is part of an agreement between the pro leagues and World Vision. The I guess the leagues want to avoid any donated items popping up on eBay or appearing on TV.

 From a branding/marketing stand point I guess I can understand that decision. But it does make me wonder if the leagues are really interested in helping people in third world countries or if they're more concerned with not offending losing players and heartbroken fans…

One of the most critical elements for any print project are the photos. Whether they are action shots, posed shots, facility pictures, or something else, the pictures are always the focus of the design. Our clients do a great job of giving our designers photos to build awesome designs around. 

I had the opportunity to go over to Duke yesterday for their photo shoot for the football poster that we’re getting ready to design. When doing staged shots, it takes a lot of time, planning and prep work to get the set up just how it needs to be. The Duke Photography crew did a great job of setting up the area with the lighting they wanted and positioning the players and coach in just the right way. 

  

 

They took a lot of pictures and will then narrow those down to their top choices for our designer to look at. From there, we will select the one we feel will work best for the poster design and create an amazing poster from there! I’m already excited to see how this poster will turn out and am glad I was able to be there for the photo shoot process. I think I did a pretty good job of blending in!

Two subjects today...

 

AMAZON PRIME

I love Amazon.com.  LOVE IT.  I despise going to malls and stores to buy things.  And Amazon has made me so much happier because it prevents me from having to do that.  And they keep doing more and more to make me my ability to never leave my desk or house a reality.  There's this specific type of granola bar that I like that I can never buy in stores.  Amazon has 'em!  And they offer a subscription service so once a month they just automatically send me some.  I never run out!  Sunday night my sons and I were wanting to watch a movie.  They had never seen Cheaper by the Dozen but Netlix doesn't have it.  Amazone Prime does!  Within seconds we had paid $2.99 to "rent" it and were snuggled up watching a great family movie together.  And if you're a member of Amazon Prime, you get free 2-day shipping on everything.  WTF?!  How could life get any more convenient than this?

Well that brings me to my story about yesterday when I realized just how spoiled Amazon Prime has made me.  My mouse broke mid-morning.  The little scrolling ball on the top stopped scrolling as these Apple mouses (mice?) tend to do.  I already had my browser open so I went to amazon.com and typed in Apple Mouse, clicked on the first result, placed my order and in less than 30 seconds, a new mouse was on its way to me.  So while Speedy Gonzales might be the fastest mouse in all of Mexico, I undoubtedly got the speediest mouse in all of America.

 

BRICK WALL ADVERTISING

Entirely different subject here but since I rarely (if ever) blog about design, I decided to post a quick tribute to one of my favorite forms of design... Brick Wall Advertising.  I love me some old brick wall advertising.  The more worn and vintage looking, the better.  I grew up in a town full of old buildings that had this stuff painted on the sides.  Maybe that's where I developed my affinity for it.  But if I could figure out a way to hang giant brick walls around my house and office featuring these old ads, I would.  Here are some of my faves that I found from a quick google search.

Good morning!

I've been thinking about this topic for about a week now.  On July 2, Twitter updated some of its display requirements for tweets.  (These can be found here - https://dev.twitter.com/terms/display-requirements).  The main idea behind this is to allow for a more fluid user experience between Twitter and other sites using their API.  That's not a bad idea, right? Well yes and no.  

If you are going to make requirements for the displaying of your tweets, I believe you should be responsible for providing the information for those tweets.  For instance, one of the guidelines is to make every hash tag and username in a Tweet clickable.  Not tough, Twitter does this for you right.  Nope.  Not when using their API.  They return a string (message) with no html to you.  No links, no method for converting the links, nothing, nada.  They expect the developers using their API to do all of this processing on their own.  In other words, here's some more work for you to do if you want to use our product.  I'm sorry but that is pretty lame.  You already have the programming set up in your system.  Just return the string with the links already provided! It's not like I'm asking for anything difficult here!

Another requirement is to have the intents (favorite, retweet, follow, reply) links available.  They don't have to be shown immediately, but must be available to the user upon some action (hover, click, etc).  Cool. Great idea. NOT! Again more programming that they don't provide and what if I don't want people to reply from my site.  What if I'm using my Twitter account more as a news feed for my site, such as when this is done:

Well basically this is a no go.  It breaks the guidelines because it has no intents and links in its has tags, and user profile name or picture linked to the account.  Say what?! I also have to have my Twitter profile pictures and account name on there! And there are restrictions on where and how I can place these items too!  But what if I'm only displaying tweets from my account.  This is absurd.  If I want people to get to my Twitter account, I will link them to it with the little bird.  

This brings me to my next point on the guidelines.  No changing the color of the bird.  I really don't have a huge beef with this one as it is their logo and you are not supposed to change logos, but the unintended effect will be ugly Twitter icons that do not match your site design.

Yes a white bird would have technically worked in this feed, but it would not have been near as eye pleasing as one that blends flawlessly into the design.

And finally there is the whole date issue.  They have specific ways they want you to display the times.  That's great, but please provide a way to do so!  Don't make the people who are making you the platform to go to, do more work.  On top of that, it increases the chance that people may display them improperly.  

I rate these changes right up there with how I feel about Facebook changes.  And that's not too high.  I understand wanting a more fluid experience but sometimes not squishing people back into the box is the best way to make your product the number one item in your industry.  If you want everyone in a nice neat box, provide the packaging matterial to do so.  Don't make me go out and build the box that I am supposed to be shoved into.  If you are going to provide me with an API to get info from your site, let me do what I please with the info.  If not, don't give me access.

Twitter, do you feel these changes are really going to help your product?  I feel you are just hurting the people that helped you build your empire.  Are you really going to try to enforce these policies you are making?  If not, call them recommendations, not requirements.  And if you do enforce them... well expect to see a lot feeds disappearing from sites.  

So to recap, say goodbye to feeds like these and say goodbye to creativity:

RANT OVER!

 

UPDATE:

I just wanted to let you all see what the new stands look like when all the tweets come from the same account.

I'm bad at directions.  This past week, I've been vacationing at a condo in Siesta Keys where the friends I'm with became familiar with the area after the first day.  They jump in the car and easily find the grocery store, restaurants and the airport when I would have to get out my phone to figure it out.  I know the reason I'm not good at this is because I don't always pay attention to the details.  When they drive they make note of things they passed, remember the street names, etc. while I just enjoy all of the fun things that are happening around me.

There are always fun things going on in our daily lives, so imagine trying to sell someone like me a ticket to a sporting event.  How do you get my attention long enough to give me the details I need to make a purchase?  Giving me a long, detailed brochure is great, but then I need you to break it down for me too.  I want to be able to reference that brochure when I have questions, but if you want to actually sell me something, I need it presented in small, digestible chunks.  

And sadly, I'm not the only person like this.  Give me a visual or tell me a story and I can spit back that information perfectly, so that's why I love infographics.  If you're trying to tell a story that people will remember, they are amazing.  Even if the story isn't flashy, you can make it look fun.  For example, last year when I was working from the Miami campus, I found out that one of the most confusing processes for the fans was printing their tickets at home, so together we made this infographic:

When you're running a new contest with the goal of collecting fan data to make a sale, an infographic can show people why it's worth giving their contact info and they can easily share this contest with friends and family across the social media platforms.  The reach is much bigger when you create something your fans want to tell their circles about.

We saw the power of the people in Pulaski, Tennessee in 2011 when we created a social media campaign for James Justice to win the fan vote into the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest.  He's 5'9 attending a school of less than 800 students in a town of less than 8,000 people and yet, his story spread across the state to beat out guys at schools ten times the size of his. 

When he won the fan vote, Athletic Director, Jeff Bain, then came to us and said, "well, now we need to raise the money to actually send him to New Orleans!"  Using the t-shirt we designed, we continued the campaign to turn these voters into donors, which we did.  The best part of the story is that with this opportunity he went there and won the dunk contest!  It still gives me chills to think about it.  I've never met James Justice, but getting to know him through this campaign is by far one of the best experiences I've had working in college athletics.  How can you not love this guy?

 

So if you're wondering if infographics can help tell your story to generate national brand recognition, as well as generate revenue for your programs, the answer is yes.

Without them, I have to rely on other people to get me where I'm going.

 

I don't have a ton of memories from spending time with my father growing up.  He was in a car accident when I was 6 that nearly killed him and for a couple of years, he was incapable of doing much in the way of the typical father-son things.  And even after he had fully recovered, he was never the type of father to sit down on the floor with me and play a game.  He worked hard all week and then on the weekends he worked harder (I grew up on a farm).  This is not to say that my father failed in any way.  I think he still spent more time with me and my siblings than a lot of fathers do.  And he was a great dad.  I'm just saying that due there wasn't just a ton of one-on-one time.  Therefore, the memories I do have of time with my father are held very precious to me.  Three to four times per year, he would drive me the hour-long trek from Guthrie, OK to Norman to see the Sooners play football.  It was the Switzer era and there was no bigger fan of Brian Bosworth than I was.  I was equally as excited to go to the 2-3 OU men's hoops games each season.  Wayman Tisdale, Mookie Blaylock, Tim McAlester...  All my heroes.  But I don't think anything was better than when he'd take me to Stillwater to see OU play Oklahoma State in basketball.  Gallagher-Iba Arena held all of about 37 people back then and there were typically 4 OU fans in the entire crowd.  I was one of them for about 8 years in a row.  I'll never forget those times and because of those moments, I have passed that along to my own sons.  I want them to have those same memories I have.  

Years after I started Old Hat, I finally decided to sit down and figure out our mission.  What is our purpose?  Why do we do what we do?  I had pondered that many, many times and for some reason it was never obvious to me.  But all at once it became very clear why we are here and why I started Old Hat to begin with.  Almost every person I speak to, whether they are sports fans or not, have some memory of a sporting event that they will never forget.  Whether it's just driving to track meets with their dad, attending the World Series or simply playing little league, I've never met a person that didn't have a great sports memory that nearly brings tears to their eyes thinking about.  And those people ALWAYS remember exactly who they were with.  

Sports brings people together.  It provides opportunities for fathers to create lifelong memories with their sons.  It allows people to share great moments with their brothers, sisters, mothers, friends, etc.  And we get so wrapped up in it that the emotion often turns into embraces and tears of joy.  And all of the stresses of life are temporarily invisible.  

THAT is why we do what we do.  At Old Hat we have the opportunity to be a part of that.  We can amplify that experience for people.  Whether it's helping get people in the seats to begin with or making they experience better once they arrive, we are a part of creating memories for literally millions of people every year.  I take great satisfaction in that.

About six months ago Old Hat Creative was approached by the team at Operation Hat Trick for a little help with their website.  I had heard of the organization before but did not really have any idea of what they did.  It is a great organization and you can find out more about it here.  

In the past, Old Hat has done Mayham, Humayliation, and this year our Super Fan 5k to help raise money for good causes.  Since I have been here we have not had an opportunity like this and it was something I was excited to play my part.  The request was simple enough, help us redesign our website and make it look professional.  

When we started, the site looked like this….

There are a couple of issues with the look, but all in all, it really just needed a face-lift.  Our interactive team jumped on a conference call with everyone involved.  When we first look at a site, it is easy to tell what can be changed and what should be fixed.  However, it is not until you talk to the people involved that you really get an idea of what needs to be done.  Amber Lilyestrom was great to work with on this project.  She has a passion for her work and this organization that you feel when talking to her.  Once we heard what she had to say, it was a lot easier to come up with the changes.  Here are a couple of looks at the changes.

 

It is always a process doing a project like this because we were not going to develop the site.  Normally, our designers work hand in hand with our programmers to make sure the site design will function properly, and more importantly can actually be coded.  The programmer for this site is someone I have only met through email and that leads to even more emails.  

Relaying the functionality of the design, as well as the specific items that the client needs, requires a lot of emails and discussion but in the end, it came out right.  The site looks great, the programmer did a great job of making our design come alive, and the client is happy with the work.  

Operation Hat Trick is a great organization and one I would encourage you to support. 

http://operationhattrick.com/landing/index 

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