The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea Etherverse graphic

Original post: 2/4/2012
Updated: 2/3/2019

Introduction to Updates: Since writing this in 2012, the world of digital and creativity has evolved quite a bit. At the time, I was working in the digital marketing division of a large agency called Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. The agency is still operating, but I have moved on to work on the client side. The updates here will reflect that shift in my employment role.

Talking About “Creativity”

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. I’ve worked as a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency and on the client side. No matter where you work, people look to creative teams for fresh ideas. After all, that’s why we’re called “creatives.” Continue reading

How Tigers Influenced Your Visual Processing

What do you see when you look at the picture below?

It’s not really a formal quiz, so I’ll just give you a hint. If you started off by thinking “it’s a grid” then you were correct. You were also correct, if you noted that the grid was comprised of 54 individual blue squares or boxes. You might have noted the rectangular shape of the grid too.

Grid with 54 Blocks

Grid with 54 Blocks

Continue reading

Conflict Is Story: What It Means for Marketing Storytellers

Conflict by Joe Kalinowski

Conflict is story. Graphic by Joe Kalinowski based on a photo by Gianluca Ramalho Misiti.

Without conflict, there is no story. It is conflict that defines the story.

Whenever a writer is sharing a story idea with me, I’m listening for the conflict. Specifically, what is preventing the main character from reaching a specific, desired goal. And whenever a marketer references the brand “storytelling,” I’m listening for the same things. Let’s explore…

Without conflict, the story is just a setup. It may be an anecdote or even a nice scenario, but ultimately, great (heck, even good) stories require some sort of conflict. And lest we think this applies only to fiction, this is also relative to brand stories told in marketing. Read on…

Let’s start with a story example. Everyone loves zombies, so let’s make this a story set in the zombie apocalypse. Now, consider your main character Bob. What does Bob want? Does he want to win the zombie-slaying trophy? If so, why? What will winning the trophy be?

It doesn’t matter if Bob is from present day or from the future (a guy from the future fighting zombies is a nice setup!). All that really matter is that Bob wants something and why he wants it can be clearly defined.

There are lots of different theories on story conflicts, but many educators agree there are generally four types of conflict. (Meta irony: Someone will disagree with this.) These are conflicts that work both in fiction, non fiction, and marketing stories.

The four types of conflict: Continue reading

Comics for Content Marketers

comics-for-content-marketers1-smOver the past three or so years, I’ve been getting up on stage and talking about visual content marketing and what web designers can learn from comic book artists. You can see one of my decks here: “Seven & a Half Tips to Jump Start Your Visual Content Strategy.”

At the end of my presentations, there are always a few people who talk about how they’d like to check out a few comics, but they don’t know where to get started. Or that they’ve walked into a local comic store, were overwhelmed by the choices, and left without buying anything.

Hence, I’ve compiled a list of a few comics that curious, intelligent adults may want to explore. All of this is based on my personal preferences, so your actual mileage may vary. Oh, and none of these have anything to do with content marketing, except that you probably saw me speak at a marketing conference.

Or maybe it’s brain candy that will help you become more effective at visual storytelling.

Continue reading