Boise ad agency, design studio or what?!

We’re the first ones to admit it: we have struggled with what to call ourselves.

We’re not an ad agency, at least not in the traditional sense. Most of what we do is not advertising. We’re not big fans of the commission-based media system (not transparent enough). And frankly, it just feels like an outdated term.

We’re not a design studio. We have too much of a strategic and account planning focus. We love design. Believe in the power of design. But also think it is just a small part of the bigger picture.

We’ve settled on “creative studio.” The studio part captures the fact that we are small-ish. A boutique firm. The creative part says that we can solve lots of problems using good old fashion ideas. “Creative studio” seems to work really well when joined with a short description of all that we do and our commitment to underdog brands.

So creative studio it is. Er, we are. Whatever. I think you get the point…


Yes…we finally made it. To the blogosphere, that is. Just in time for the word “blogosphere” to seem completely outdated. So 2006.

Our goal here is not to regale you with pithy business parables, marketing tid-bits, industry gossip, etc. No, we just want to open up a little. Lift the curtain. Show you what we do, read, like, think…and whatever else comes up.

Here’s what you can expect from 314:

  • Inside access: experience for yourself the rarely seen glamorous world of marketing. We’re talking thrills like job status meetings, timesheets and proofreading. We’ll share our play-by-play and photos of it all.
  • The not-so-pretty process: a lot of what we want to do is show and discuss what goes into creating our work. Raw ideas. Sketches. Even client critiques. We’ll show whatever we can as long as it doesn’t compromise client confidentiality.
  • Creative work: we’d be remiss if we didn’t use this space to share the latest and greatest stuff we’re creating on behalf of clients.
  • So-called timewasters: Like YouTube videos, cool kitchen gadgets, and knock-knock jokes. And some other neat-o stuff we find. But only if we think it will enrich your life.

One last note – we’ll collect all of this goodness up over the course of the week, then publish it once a week: Fridays.

So please, enjoy. Comment. Even ridicule. But mostly enjoy.

Conference room idea wall.

conference room in Boise ad agency

Our office has a couple different idea walls. We use them to tack up work-in-progress, announcements, inspirational quotes and anything else we find. The other day the one in the conference room was in use with logo concepts.

So we took a snapshot. Cool to see how some have been turned around (they’re out). Some are left up (fine as is) and others have been snatched away (for more refinement).

Rizen now Twittering. (In a good way.)

Yes, Rizen has finally joined the ranks the Twitter elite. You can find us here.

Not sure what Twitter is? It’s a social networking site that crosses blogging with instant messaging. In our case, we “Tweet” messages ranging from mind-numbingly mundane to edifying-ly insighful (maximum length 140 characters). If you’d like, you can opt-in to follow us via the web, phone or other device.

Some use it for fun. Other for promotion (it can be a very effective part of your media mix). Others for who knows what. Interested in learning more? Here are a few links:

The Wikipedia entry on Twitter.

16 examples of huge companies using Twitter.

Ad a great Common Craft vid explaining Twitter:

Scrap mission statements: start thinking about your purpose.

This post was original published on my Underdog Effect blog. We’re still undecided if that one will continue now that Rizen’s has been given life. More to come on that. In the meantime, enjoy…

Mission statements have become wrought with baggage. They don’t mean anything. They’re too often too verbose. They don’t pin you down. So let’s toss them out…

Instead, try defining your brand’s purpose. Answer this simple question: why do you exist?

Or think about it another way: what would the world be missing if you didn’t exist?

Most mission statements (contrary to their original intent) have become victims to worthless buzz words like “increasing shareholder value” or “stakeholders” or “quality, service and value.”

Your purpose won’t let you off the hook that easy.

Recently, after working with a client to define their brand purpose, I was, as always, nervous as hell about how we (the rizen team) settled on articulating it. As we presented the sentence — our working version of the company’s purpose — to the  founder/CEO, for a moment it seemed I was right to be nervous. He just stared at it. Then he turned to me and said that I was missing a  word that described a key product difference. He was right. It wasn’t there. We intentionally left it out. I explained that a purpose is bigger than a product difference. It is all about the deeper value you provide to customers and society. The stuff that made you decide to be an entrepreneur.

He got silent.

We all got silent. We sat. Stared. Thought.

After about a minute (which, it turns out, is an excruciating long period of silence in a conference room), he spoke. “Yeah. Yeah. I f***in’ love this. At first I hated it. But I love it. It really says it.”

It was a sentiment he continued to express throughout the meeting, even after we’d moved on to other discussions.

Over time, I’m sure the sentence will be changed. Improved. That’s OK. It was never about the sentence. It was about developing a core understanding of your brand’s purpose. Articulating it. Then…and this is the most important part…acting on it.