Founded in 2004 with $14 and a dream, Imagine is an integrated marketing, branding and design firm that combines Northern Virginia’s flair for innovation with Chicago’s warm personality and West Coast creativity. We’re an industry-leading group of problem solvers that believe that marketing can’t truly be effective unless it’s integrated, and handled by dedicated experts in each field.
In a lot of professions, you can almost predict the level of enthusiasm that is taken towards one’s job. For instance, if you pull up to your local drive-thru window, and ask the individual with the headset if they felt born to have that job, you may get some colorful language. You may get an airborne milkshake. You probably won’t get an enthusiastic affirmation. The work is for pure necessity; not a lot of passion, if any at all. It pays the bills and they save their quest for fulfillment for their free time.
Something I have found fascinating about graphic design is that it carries a breed that is rarely found in any other industry. Please keep an eye out for these people, particularly if you’re looking to hire one. They are the designer that, in high school, had doodles on almost every flat surface they owned. They made decent grades in art class, but loved it far too much to care about the grade. Nowadays, they will annoy you to tears about the fonts they see in public, and will debate with seemingly unnecessary fervor on whether Paul Rand or Saul Bass made a greater contribution to the trade. Their favorite color is a number. They are the designers you want to have developing your image, because they will put everything they have into it. They will forego sleep, solid food and social interaction to ensure you are glad you chose them. The strangest part of it all is that it’s not work ethic; it’s passion for the art.
If you work with a designer like the one I have mentioned, you are strongly advised to keep them. They may not be incredibly business-savvy. They may run late to meetings. They may use designer-speak far too often, but I’m sure that they can’t help it sometimes. It just happens.
You get the point. If you have a relationship with one of those far-out, artsy-fartsy, backstock-of-midnight-oil gluttons for punishment, hold on to them. I highly recommend it.
Starbucks has finally fired back against the blows that fast-food competitors like McDonald’s have dealt at the ubiquitous giant and rightfully so. But how did they choose to set themselves apart from their rivals? A large, big-money ad campaign! You can read about the campaign anywhere, so I won’t waste your time with recycled news. Instead, I’d like to express what I feel has brought us to this point.
A long, long time ago, Starbucks became a part of our daily routine, whether it was to grab a quick latte on the way to work, or to meet with friends and soak in the ambiance in the evenings. Starbucks was more than coffee, it was an intimate experience where stress was checked at the door.
Starbucks made little more than coffee drinks, and they did it well. Half of their counter was dedicated to selling the beans that made them famous, the other half was where espresso was made into an art form. The staff was educated and enthusiastic about the heritage and craftsmanship of coffee, in a cafe laid out in such a manner that you could almost feel like there was no place quite like it anywhere else. Over those years, my daughter and I made Starbucks a place where we could just hang out and talk about life, her with her Frappuccino, and me with my iced-quad-venti-nonfat-caramel-macchiato.
I even spent a while working at a Starbucks. In that time my passion for coffee led me to earn a black apron. If you’re not sure what that is, Google will help.
Things have certainly changed. If you walk into a Starbucks today, you’ll see that the whole bean counter has been removed, to make room for toaster ovens where you can get a sandwich with your drink. Don’t care for coffee? No problem. You can now choose from a wide array of bland smoothies, waters, or even no drink at all. The environment that once made us feel at home is now cluttered with clearance retail and, to keep up with the times, CDs.
Starbucks has grown into the “pack ‘em in” fast-food enterprise that they were once the very antithesis of. And now, to further homogenize themselves in the bland corporate mix, they have their own ad campaign. Maybe it’s a good thing that they’re feeling the economic and competitive pinch. Hopefully, it will wake them up to what made them great in the first place and stick to only that, because no one wants to see Starbucks and feel Walmart.