Bills home opener to feature Super Chexx

Watch for Super Chexx to be featured at tonight’s Buffalo Bills home opener!

 

Super Chexx is an official, licensed bubble hockey game that can be customized with NHL, AHL, USA Hockey and Hockey Canada players and branding. It’s the ultimate home game for hockey fans offering fast-paced game play, electronic scoring & shot clock, and even hand-painted replica jerseys. And for all of the Buffalo fans, they even feature live action sounds of the Buffalo Sabres play-by-play legend Rick Jeanneret.

 

They also happen to be a long-standing client of ours, and we just launched their redesigned site today. Check it out! icechexx.com

ice-chexx-blog

Thanks for a great summer!

Eli Melas | Marketing Analyst Intern

John Carroll University ‘17

 

Being offered a summer internship to work at clevermethod was a huge relief. I had gone through the interviewing process for several companies and I can honestly say that if any one of those companies felt like “home,” it was clevermethod. I distinctly remember leaving my interview thinking two thoughts: “Well, these people are really friendly” and “Wow, I actually know a lot of these clients they work with!” It was awesome. I was ecstatic to start working and couldn’t wait to start finding my niche in an office setting.

 

As I walked into clevermethod on my first day as an Intern, I must say I was pretty nervous. I came in with no prior office experience and I had no idea what to expect from this opportunity. Yes, I was surely eager to start this new life experience and see how I could contribute within the company, but that still couldn’t stop those initial “butterflies” from setting in my stomach. Yet, soon after entering the building, I was welcomed by friendly co-workers and a bright, color-filled work atmosphere that specifically made me feel like I was going to be apart of something great. Accompanied by this, I was greeted by the immense amount of smiles, laughter, and hard-working people that fill the office. It was a good feeling to be apart of and the camaraderie around the office is truly unexplainable.

 

Everyone that I spoke to within the company had said that I would be thrown right into the fire and given actual, meaningful tasks, but I didn’t believe it until it actually happened. I soon found out that I would be working with well-known companies like Mattel, Mighty Taco, Moog, and so much more. And on top of that, they keep you busy! I found my time here at clevermethod to be flying by and rarely did I catch myself constantly checking the clock. There was always some type of work to be done so there was no worry of being bored or having a weak workload…Which I enjoyed! In my eyes, the busy days are the good days.

 

Overall, I can only appreciate the opportunity that I have been given to work for a company that not only cares about the work that they produce, but also the people that they work alongside. I am happy to have spent the past couple months learning the ins-and-outs of the business from such helpful individuals and I am grateful to have started the next chapter of my life with the clevermethod team!

Are you taking advantage of the Pokémon Go craze?

You mean that TV show and game from the 90’s?

No. Well, kind of. That was Pokémon.

 

So what is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is the new and improved version for the digital world. The game forces users to get out of their seats and move around the real world to catch Pokémon characters. It utilizes smartphone features like the camera and location services to create a compelling combination of real-life and virtual experiences. In order to catch new Pokémon and rank up, it is crucial that gamers visit locations called PokéStops. PokéStops are important places around your area like monuments, statues, or other public places where you can collect Poké Balls and other special items. The items you find at these PokéStops are then used to help catch characters which can be found not only near these large PokéStops, but virtually anywhere by simply walking around. The game has truly become an overnight phenomenon and people are flocking left and right to try and “catch ‘em all.”

 

Why is it so popular?

Pokémon Go was released on July 6, 2016 and has already surpassed the average usage time on popular apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even Tinder. But why?

 

Well first off, it is important to understand why this game has become so popular. Although this is certainly not the first location-based game to ever be released, there has not been one that has seen this type of growth this fast. The main difference between Pokémon Go and other mobile games is that it requires users to physically go to these public places to find the Pokémon characters. While doing this, it is not uncommon to see other gamers who share the same goal.

 

One of the main reasons Pokémon Go has become such a societal craze is because of how popular the Pokémon brand once was and how much people enjoy reminiscing about it. Playing and experiencing Pokémon Go has even created friendships, connections, and real-life interactions between gamers that few other mobile games can replicate.

 

How can I take advantage as a business owner?

The quick rise in popularity of Pokémon Go has made many businesses wonder how they can capitalize on the movement. Some have found that they are conveniently located near PokéStops. So, while gamers are walking around trying to collect more items and Pokémon, these businesses are offering discounts and coming up with creative promotional ideas in an attempt to lure more gamers in. Some have even gone as far as implementing phone-charging stations in hopes that gamers will buy a drink or meal as they wait for their phones to charge.

 

Social media has also played a large role in capturing the business of these gamers. As both business owners and customers discover Pokémon in these settings, they have begun to post more and more photos of them on social media. By taking advantage of this craze, much like Mighty Taco has done, customers are being drawn to these locations and overall engagement and revenue is increasing for these businesses. With a little creativity, the possibilities can be endless.

 

Mighty Taco: Pokémon Go       Mighty Taco: Pokémon Go 2

 

And yet, us employees at clevermethod are wondering, “Why are there so few Pokémon at our office?!”

Unadilla: MX at its best.

With racing season coming up fast, Unadilla MX came to us needing a complete site redesign and we were excited to deliver.

 

Tight deadlines and the client’s need to make updates on a regular basis had us in search of a WordPress theme that allowed us to design quickly in the browser. After looking at what the Divi theme could do and quickly sketching a few solutions, we were off. With some CSS styling tweaks and a few custom jQuery functions, we managed to create a visually engaging responsive site that supports the various racing events at Unadilla MX.

Unadilla MX Sketches

Racers and their fans crave action, so we knew we had to bring energy and excitement to the site. The theme’s full-screen background video functionality and Unadilla’s collection of high-resolution images and videos allowed us to provide visitors with a simple, engaging experience. The redesign even got a shout-out from Racer X.

Unadilla MX Website

Check out the final product here.

Photo credit: Simon Cudby

One day, four new clevermethoders

This summer, we coincidentally had four new employees all start on the same day. One month later, they reflect on their experiences so far.

 

Employee: Cailey BardwellCailey Bardwell

Position: Project Coordinator

Education: B.S. in New Media Marketing from Rochester Institute of Technology ’16

Feelings about clevermethod so far: I love clevermethod! I interned here last summer, so I already knew I was coming into a really awesome company.

Strangest office occurrence: Life size hamster balls…

Do you participate in the office GOT conversations? Nope, but I still get the weekly “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” question from Brandon.

How many times has Sam convinced you to eat out? None so far – it has taken a lot of will power!

 

Employee: Eric HuntEric Hunt

Position: Application Developer

Education: B.S. in New Media Interactive Development from Rochester Institute of Technology ’16

Feelings about clevermethod so far: Everyone and everything has been great so far! I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone over the past month. It has been a very fun and productive experience, and I have already learned so many new things! I’m excited to see what my future here holds and am happy to be a part of the team.

Strangest office occurrence: Nothing really at this point, but I did have to have my car jump started because I forgot my keys in the ignition with the accessories on, which is more embarrassing than strange.

Do you participate in the office GOT conversations? I try, but I am only caught up on the first season, unfortunately.

How many times has Sam convinced you to eat out? Only once so far! I had my first Moe’s experience with Sam and Victoria last week.

 

Clevermethod: Eli MelasEli Melas

Position: Marketing Analyst Intern

Education: John Carrol University ’17

Feelings about clevermethod so far: I am very happy to be working at clevermethod.  It’s such a friendly and casual company, and we work with some pretty cool clients as well.

Strangest office occurrence: During my first week of work, I was driving to work and my glasses broke in the car.  I still hadn’t really met everyone in the office and I needed to fix my glasses to last me the rest of the day.  So, I had to introduce myself to someone (Brian) and also had to explain my situation and ask him for some scotch tape.  He was cool about it but he probably thought I was crazy.

Do you participate in the office GOT conversations? Yes, I love Game of thrones!

How many times has Sam convinced you to eat out? None

 

Employee: Kristina RobinsonKristina Robinson

Position: Web Development Intern

Education: B.A. in Web Design from Alfred State ’16

Feelings about clevermethod so far: I’m super excited to be working at clevermethod, it’s a casual and friendly work environment, but super productive! I’ve learned an incredible amount since I’ve started and I’m so happy to be a part of the team.

Strangest office occurrence: When there was a small parking war with Josh’s Corvette VIP Guest of the Week.

Do you participate in the office GOT conversations?Absolutely, theories for dayz.

How many times has Sam convinced you to eat out? Convinced me to eat out: 0. Convinced him to eat out: 1. How the tables have turned.

 

Check out our website here to learn more fun facts and statistics about the rest of our employees!

Presenting: The Mighty Run

The problem: The Mighty Run
Lunch time rolls around at the office. You are hungry, and so is everyone else. Finally, someone says the magic words – Mighty Run. Everyone loves a Mighty Run, but not everyone loves being responsible for one. By the time you’ve gathered everyone’s orders, you’re left with a mess of scraps of paper and post-it notes. You then attempt to read them off to a Mighty Taco employee, faced with the pressure of getting every last detail right.

 

The solution: The Mighty Run app
Look no further. We’ve solved the problem with easy-to-use, fairly powerful technology. Simply go to mighty.run and invite your coworkers. They enter their orders online and you print out a perfectly formatted order to present at your nearest Mighty Taco.

 

The results: Lunchtime Hero
Return victoriously as the hero you are – a Lunchtime Hero.

Showcasing impress at Apple

The traditional product catalog and sell sheet has been a staple of sales teams for many years. We saw an opportunity to disrupt that aspect of the sales cycle with our iPad-based app, impress. impress enables you to digitally upload all of your sales content to a single, secure platform, allowing for a streamlined and consistent approach to presentations, pitches and client interactions.

Impress Apple Store


If you will be in the Buffalo area on May 11th, join us at the Apple Store in the Walden Galleria Mall at 8:30 a.m. to learn more about impress and how it can help you and your team.


Please RSVP to info@impress.buzz by May 6th to reserve your space.

A Mighty Website Launch

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s delicious. The clevermethod team is pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with Western New York’s favorite Mexican food chain, Mighty Taco, for a mighty website launch.

 

Whether you order a three cheese burrito, an empanada, or the popular super mighty, there’s no doubt that the classic, quick stop restaurant has something that everyone can enjoy. While Mighty’s menu is filled with timeless favorites that customers don’t want changed, they decided their website could definitely use a transformation.

 

With a need for extreme creativity and a true confidence to take risks, Mighty Taco selected clevermethod as their new digital agency. The new and improved Mighty Taco website will encompass the Western New York brand’s identity, with a few surprises that’ll be sure to capture the classic culture of the brand. And what are these surprises you may ask? Well, you’ll have to go see for yourself.

clevermethod goes Platinum and Gold

The clevermethod team is proud to announce that we have received three AVA Digital Awards for 2016.

 

AVA Digital Awards recognizes excellence by creative professionals for the overall implementation of digital communication, on an international level. With recognition spanning a variety of categories, from audio creation to complete website development, clevermethod took home one gold and two platinum honors. Additionally, we were the sole winner in the Mobile Website category, which we find, well, pretty exciting.

 

Gold Award – Business to Consumer Website
www.ninjakitchen.com

 


Platinum Award – Marketing, PR, Advertising, Digital Agency
www.clevermethod.com

 

platinum

 


Platinum Award – Mobile Website

http://ninjakitchen.com/experts/rachel-beller/

The Doll Evolves

#TheDollEvolves

#LaMuñecaEvoluciona

#ÉvolutiondeBarbie

#EwolucjaLalki

 

Mattel announced a huge game changer in the world of Barbie® today; the new Barbie® Fashionistas™ line which introduces three new body types for Barbie® to the world – Curvy, Petite and Tall.  In addition to the Original line of dolls, these dolls feature a greater range of body shapes and skin tones than ever before.

 

This global event has earned Barbie® the cover of Time Magazine as well as a spot on the Today Show this morning.  The clevermethod localization team was tasked with assisting the team not only in the localization of content but with graphic production as well.  In addition to the versions of the international sites we support normally, we worked to support other markets which are serviced with a pared down version of the site.  You can now see the brand new Fashionistas™ line on barbie sites in 22 different markets around the world.

barbie-cover-final

The work was intense but incredibly exciting as everything came together for a global launch this morning just as Time magazine hit the newsstands.  #TheDollEvolves is now a trending topic and the brand is getting press from multiple outlets. Check out the Time article here. I have my personal favorite dolls, what about you?

 

Check out this exciting content in English and many other languages below!

www.barbie.com/en-us
www.barbie.com/de-de
www.barbie.com/fr-fr
www.barbie.com/pl-pl
www.barbie.com/ru-ru
www.barbie.com/da-dk
www.barbie.com/hu-hu
www.barbie.com/sv-se

Responsive Gaming: Peering Into Our Process

Over the twelve-plus years we have worked with Mattel, localization of their product sites for international markets has become second nature to us. We’ve helped present brands like Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Monster High®, Ever After High™, Polly Pocket™, and BOOMco™ to a world audience.  Kicking off the start of the 2015 spring season, we dove into the mindset of their target audience, and started developing HTML5 and mobile-friendly games for site users to enjoy.

 

The Challenge (AKA The Problem)

Designing interactive games around the Polly Pocket™ brand that captivated girls aged 4-6 was the challenge. Through organization and coordination with the design team, we were able to develop graphics and game play logic that would not only be responsive, but also intuitive enough for young children to grasp and appreciate.

 

Through the use of Trello Task Management Board, a group of three developers were able to simplistically compile their notes, and swiftly manage individual tasks. With all of the game’s assets requiring planning prior to implementation, thorough organization was imperative and essential for the success of the launch.

 

Initial Steps: Designing a Modern, Responsive Game

When designing and developing games to support an already-established brand, it is imperative to stick to a style guide, to ensure similar color schemes, and an overall corresponding premise. In a suite of mini-games including; “Spice’s Pet Party”, “Crazy Candy Carnival”, and “Glitterizer”, users are able to immerse themselves in interactive videos, content, and characters that capture the Polly Pocket™ brand image. While each of the games had it’s own set of challenges, collaboration between developers and project stakeholders allowed the issues to be addressed upfront and in a timely manner.

 

Blog-Pet-Party-Lineup

 

To be able to create scenes throughout the games in a simpler way, the team created a template that consisted of an inner and outer box that allowed a place for artwork to be placed. It represented the boundary of where graphics would be seen on both desktop and mobile devices. We also discovered that tiling the background, rather than using one large image, made adding graphics to the games more efficient. Occasionally one of the game’s assets, such as the bounce castle, had to be broken down into individual parts and then layered proportionally, in order to achieve the desired animation effect (balloon movement from side-to-side and diminishing in foreground and background).

 

We used a pre-existing game engine called Phaser which provides a platform for the development of HTML5/mobile games. We then specified a gridded area to use for the production of illustration assets shown below.

 

Sketching and Bringing Assets to Life

Establishing a finalized drawing, and eventual image, of people or inanimate objects takes time, and of course, multiple sketches.  So, sketch is what did.  The first step in any drawing is obvious, you must first put a pencil to paper, with the hope of forming a rough image, at best. The pencil-scribbled game assets eventually become more refined to the point we used tracing paper to transfer the finalized images into the software.

 

Sketch-Spice-Sequence

 

Sketch-SpiceSketch-Bounce-House

 

Adding Color and Light

Once in the software, it was time for refinement, color and light.  With the help of Adobe Illustrator, we added lines and primary shapes to the scanned images. The Gradient Mesh and Pen tools became our best of friends and gave us the power of styling to ensure brand consistency. When it came time to bring the images to life, we used Photoshop Timeline panel to turn various poses into sprite animations.

 

Spice-CharacterPinataHat-StageBounce-House-Finished

 

 

 

Spice-Animation

What We’ve Learned

This took more time that we thought it would!  But, it was well worth it when we reached the final product.  Also, it is imperative to have strong communication between designer, animator and developer to ensure what was imagined becomes a reality.  Check out the results here.

Adobe Comp is fun and functional

Sketching has always been a particularly important part of my team’s creative process here at clevermethod. Therefore, when tasked with adding a new page to the ever growing ninjakitchen.com website, my colleagues and I decided to quickly sketch out how to move forward and regroup. After completing the first sketch, Brian, the account manager on the project, asked if he could draw on my original legal sized sketch to share some ideas and provide his feedback. At first I was hesitant, but eventually I scanned it with my iPhone.

 

Behold the scan:

Josh Scratch Pic

 

We then created a list of what changes were necessary for the next version of the sketch. I wanted this version to be tighter than my previous loose sketch, in case the client needed to see it, so I reached for a clean sheet of 8.5×14 and my trusty steel ruler. After drawing just a few lines, it hit me. I recalled an episode of The Big Web Show where Khoi Vinh explained the concept behind Adobe Comp.

 

Adobe Comp CC

 

You know something is good when you wish you had thought of it first. After only using Adobe Comp for a few short minutes on my iPhone 5s, I got that feeling. Even on such a small screen, it was still an elegant and pleasant experience. Since the App is centered on using gestures to quickly draw a layout there is a bit of a learning curve. Luckily there is a rich and copious help system that interjects at the necessary moment to help you along. The app also performed quite nicely on an iPad Mini, and was especially delightful on the iPad Pro.

 

iPhone 5s Screenshot:

 

Screenshot

 

The auto snapping and smart guides in Adobe Comp make the experience feel surprisingly precise. This is an immensely important factor, because drawing on a touch screen often does not allow for the precision this App provides its users. The gestures allow the screen to be free of icons and tools. Khoi Vinh and his team really got the touch experience right. Thank you!

 

At clevermethod we are always searching for new tools to use that help us keep up with the fast, moving train of web design and development. Adobe Comp has helped with our search, all while making it fun. But don’t get me wrong, this is NOT the end of a pencil and paper for me. Let me put it this way, hokey apps and shiny screens are no match for a good sketchbook at your side, kid.

You are not alone!

The clevermethod project management team took a road trip earlier this month to Toronto to attend the FITC Process Spotlight.  We were excited about the opportunity to hear how other companies solved problems like:

  • How do you make sure everyone at your company follows the process, and not just when it’s convenient?
  • How do you explain to a client that it will be better for their overall budget, timeline and work quality if you wait to start their project?
  • How can you make your business development cycles more predictable?

Funny thing is, we didn’t leave Toronto with a check list to solve all these problems, but we left feeling inspired to try.  Because what we learned is that we are not alone!  No one has this thing called “process” all figured it.  But coming together and sharing our experiences, learning how one company adjusted their process to better manage resourcing as their company grew, and how another changed their estimating process to improve accuracy – hearing about these wins in different areas inspired us to come back and try to solve some of our own problems and inefficiencies.  And then to try again.  To refine the process.  Evolve the process.  To know that once we do finally have something “all figured out” that we’ll probably need to change it again.  But that’s what excites us!

 

One of the simplest, most profound tips we got was “write it down”.  Start small and then make it better.  Don’t have a process for new employee orientation?  Open up your text editor of choice and start making a list of the things you wish someone did for you on your first day.  It doesn’t have to be perfect (and it likely never will be), but it’s a start.  Because as we were reminded, there is a process for everything, whether it’s defined or not.  So you might as well give it shot!

Business First Article Demonstrates the Versatility of impress Sales App

Have you heard about impress, our tool for modern sales professionals? It can power presentations, build custom catalogs, and even create self-running kiosks – and it’s featured in Buffalo Business First. Check out the article.

If you would like to know more about impress, please contact us.

 

 

The life of a clevermethod intern.

Internships can be truly rewarding experiences, both for the intern and for the company. By allowing students to immerse themselves in their specified fields of study, gaining real-world experience is made easy. If you are fortunate enough to land a good one, it can help you decide what you really love, or don’t love, to do before graduating college. We interns here at clevermethod were among the fortunate ones.

 

 

Cailey Bardwell | Marketing Analyst Intern
Rochester Institute of Technology ‘16

 

When I heard that clevermethod wanted me to join their team for the summer, I was ecstatic. It was everything I wanted in an internship: a marketing agency, focused on the digital side, and a young, casual company. As excited as I was, the nerves naturally set in as the first day approached. However, they subsided just as quickly as they emerged. I was greeted with warm smiles from the friendliest of people. I was given a tour of the newly-renovated office, met my new co-workers, and was immediately put on tasks for exciting clients. As the summer went on, I became more and more comfortable in my new environment, but how could I not? We had regular company catered meals, played KanJam on lunch breaks, and worked closely with each other across departments, sharing ideas and getting to know each other.

 

Any college student’s biggest fear when searching for an internship is that they will spend their summer running out for coffee for the office in between streaks of boredom stuck in their cubicle, but that was far from the case for me. At clevermethod, I was able to dive right into the company and immerse myself in a number of different areas, giving me the asset I lacked most: experience. I had the opportunity to work on social media, analytics, content creation, app development, and even project management. More importantly, I was able to see the ins and outs of the agency world as a whole. But aside from all of this, I was able to experience the kind of company culture that I will now look for in all of my future jobs. I had fun at work and I liked the people I worked with, making my internship enjoyable. I was excited to come into work every day and I cared about the work I produced. Even when I was on my incredible summer vacation, I found myself wondering what was going on back at the office and wishing I was there working on one of my various projects. I know I will be doing the same when I am back at school this fall.

 

So, to say I had a great summer internship is an understatement. I absolutely loved my time here at clevermethod and I will most certainly miss it when I am gone.

 

 

Jacqueline Colello | Marketing Analyst Intern
Rochester Institute of Technology ‘18

 

It was definitely a long shot, or at least I thought. A timid freshman in college (at the time) scouting out an internship at a career fair filled with upperclassmen. After being shot down by what felt like endless companies because of my “lack of experience,” the discouragement set in. Just then is when I spotted clevermethod’s table, and their colorful logo that instantly caught my eye. I was initially nervous to approach the two stereotypical, nerdy-looking men standing at the table. Okay, okay, so they weren’t nerdy-looking. In fact, they were actually pretty tall and intimidating, but I soon realized I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

 

What began as a casual conversation with my age and college year level having no influence, eventually turned into an interview a few months later. After meeting one of the partners and being interviewed by my soon-to-be manager, I anxiously waited for the email that hopefully asked me to join their team. When the email finally came, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to be given the chance that I know most freshmen don’t get.

 

So here I am. A “clevermethoder,” if you will. As my marketing internship quickly comes to a halting end, it’s safe to say that I’ve learned more here than I did my entire first year in college. They really weren’t kidding when they told me I’d be thrown directly into real projects, with real clients. And as Cailey mentioned, I didn’t have to go on a single coffee run! Not one! I feel confident and prepared for whatever my future endeavors may be. Whether they’re in the workforce, or throughout the remainder of my schooling, I know that clevermethod has provided me with enough experience to take on anything, and not to mention an absolutely awesome team that helped me get as far as I am today.

 

Thanks team!

 

 

Evan Stoddard | Web Application Developer Intern
Clarkson University ‘19

 

So I never thought that a kid just out of high school would get a job at a place where games for Mattel are being created and groundbreaking apps are being developed, but here I am.  Finishing up my internship at clevermethod.  I too, like Jackie, thought there was no chance of being hired.  I figured I’d get a chuckle and a “come back when you’re older kid.” I showed them some of the apps I had worked on (nothing ground breaking and some weren’t even finished) and they said that I’d be a great addition to the team.  I started the following week.

 

Ask anyone here and they’ll say that they were thrown right into a project.  That is absolutely the case and I was indeed thrown right in.  I was given features that needed to be added and updates that needed to happen.  Some things needed to be reengineered and some things needed to be learned.  Coming into this job I had no idea what dispatching processes to the main thread meant.  I knew very little about core graphics and SQLite.  I knew that it was required so I learned.  Everyone was willing to listen to my questions and help me find resources that would help me along the way.  I’ve always heard that learning never stops and this job has definitely reinforced that statement.  The skills I learned at this job are ones that can’t be taught in school and the teachers here are definitely more interesting than those that taught me math.

 

Leaving clevermethod is like leaving family from out of state.  We would eat lunch together at long tables and we’d play KanJam or bubble hockey.  Other’s cracked sarcastic comments as if they were talking to their siblings.  Everyone genuinely cared about each other.  At the end of the day I knew that people were glad to see me and I was glad to see them.  I got to work with people I wanted to be around and people that I genuinely cared about.

 

So I must say goodbye to my family now.  Thank you for the great memories and time we got to spend together.

 

 

So, as all three of our personalized internship experiences come to an end, it’s safe to say that we’ve all developed new skills and capabilities that will stick with us far into the future. Whether an application developer or a marketing analyst, clevermethod truly provided each of us with an individual, real-world work experience that we will never forget.

 

Thank you, clevermethod, for an awesome summer!

Scaling to New Heights on Mt. Cleverest Day

It’s that time of year when the spring warmth turns to summer heat. The change of season also marks an important day here at clevermethod: Mt. Cleverest Day. In the same vein as the 3M 15 Percent Rule or the Google 20 Percent Time, Mt. Cleverest Day allows us to work on a problem that we wouldn’t get to in the course of our day-to-day work. You can team up with a colleague or run a solo mission on an idea, just as long as you can finish it in a day. 3M pioneered the idea of giving employees company time to work out solutions to any problem. Emphasis on innovation and failure has kept 3M prospering. Many of 3M’s famed products were discovered while employees worked on 15 percent time, Sticky Notes and sandpaper to name a few.

 

This year we have teams working on a variety of projects, including building a game that leverages Unity. Meeting applications were a popular topic this year. We had two groups working on two different meeting apps. An in-meeting app provides a common place for meeting attendees to add comments, allot time for topics, and email notes to attendees at the conclusion of the meeting, etc. Another group worked on developing a digital display to show room availability for our conference rooms. This uses a Raspberry Pi and a digital screen and connects to our calendars to show who is using the rooms and at what time. We also developed new assets for our social media (including this blog post), check out our Game of Thrones themed tweets here, here, and here.

 

Our blood, sweat, and tears went into this day. Mostly Dave’s blood after he sliced his finger on the underside of a table. Dave got 5 stitches and a new nickname: Ser Daveos, and we got to fill out our first OSHA form.

 

At the end of the day we compile the projects into a presentation and show them off to the partners the following day. Some of our projects were just practical applications of learning a new program or method. Some ideas are applied to projects we are currently working on, and some ideas are shelved for another day. Creative and innovative companies provide forums to pursue creative and innovative ideas. Mt. Cleverest Day is our forum.

Snapchat: The Next Biggest Advertising Platform

With a whopping 100 million users daily, Snapchat continues to make a prominent mark in the digital world of social media. Established in 2011, the app continually dominates app stores, and earned the title, “Fastest Growing Social App” in 2014. What started as disappearing messages, stripped of any advertisement or promotional matter, is now a leader in market reach that’s causing Fortune 500 advertisers to bend over backwards. While innovation and access to a network of youth may sound appealing, is ten seconds of promotional fame worth the hefty $750K price tag?

 

It all comes down to brand. Brand image, brand identity, and how brave you are to test your consumers’ brand loyalty. Snapchat’s core user demographic consists of individuals between the ages of 17 and 24. For companies catering to this age range, Snapchat could be a worthwhile option, although the app does have a few shortcomings.

 

Most marketing campaigns are designed for consumers to view at very specific points in time, and Snapchat holds no control of when users decide to press down their finger. If your ad can be opened at odd hours of the night and spark the same consumer response, this form of advertising may be for you. Take GrubHub for example. As an early adopter of Snapchat’s advertising, the specific time that their ad is viewed has no effect on consumers’ responses. Using the story feature to post sequences of appetizing and tasty photos leads users to access promo codes for online food delivery. It doesn’t matter if GrubHub’s ad is seen at 3 in the morning, or at 3 in the afternoon. Discounted food always sounds good to an 18 year old, no matter the time.

 

Their advertisements are there, but GrubHub and an endless list of other companies have learned to dodge the immense $750K-per-day price tag. They simply created their own account, and began gaining their own followers. Yes, there’s a loophole to Snapchat advertising, and it’s free. Although market reach must be gained through efforts made on your own, it’s a much better alternative than pulling out your depleted wallet. Personal account advertising has upsides that may even outweigh the market reach gained from paid advertisements. Snapchat implements limits on paid ad lengths as well as content, yet these guidelines/limits are not enforced with personal accounts. Although, like GrubHub, you may have an immense amount of friends on the app, it is still considered a personal account; therefore, Snapchat cannot put limitations on your displayed content.

 

So your company’s consumer demographic mirrors Snapchat’s, and your advertisement delivery has no specific time frame. What’s next? To pay or not to pay, you decide.

Looking for a job? Don’t look here!

The Interview.

Over 10 years ago, I nervously walked into a conference room and sat down.  What followed was a series of people coming in, one after another to talk to me.  About everything.  My background, my interest in technology, my hypothetical super powers (if I were to have one) and what I’d be doing if it wasn’t this.  I was prepared for all of the “standard” interview questions, but struggled to understand how a hypothetical super power was relevant in the context of whether or not I would be a good programmer/analyst (yes, that’s where I started!).  I did my best to answer their questions (and tried to remember all of their names), and left feeling hopeful.  A few days (maybe a week later) I was called back to go through the same process again, with more people!  My interview took about a day.  Like literally 8 hours.  But they eventually decided to give me a shot.

 

Star Wars.

Before I even officially started at clevermethod, the whole company went to see Star Wars.  In the middle of the day.  I started to get excited.

 

My First Days.

At my previous job they had a pretty standard new employee training program.  A binder that you went through with test exercises, example projects and a lot of documentation and paperwork to read.  My first day at clevermethod was not like that.  I was thrown right in.  I was meeting with clients and working on actual projects with legitimate deadlines.  Within a few months I was flying to Los Angeles to document and understand a complex consumer relations application.  To say the training wheels were off would be a misstatement – they were never on!  But I was learning a ton (very quickly!), and gaining confidence as I started to see the trust that was being placed in me.

 

My Co-Workers.

Starting a new job you always wonder what the people are going to be like.  Will everyone be nice? Are you going to fit in?  Will you have someone to eat lunch with?  The answer I soon realized was yes.  To all my questions.  We ate lunch together every day.  We had a contest to see who could wear more orange and blue (a throwback to those that remember our original branding!).  I started to realize that the whole team just gelled.  Our skills and personalities complimented each other.  We had inside jokes (mmm…peanuts…), celebrated birthdays, and always found ways to help each other.  Looking back, I realized this was the reason for the day-long interview.

 

Growing Up.

I was an ambitious 23 year old when I started at clevermethod.  I was newly married, just bought my first house and was still trying to figure out the whole “being an adult” thing.  The partners were young single guys in their twenties too, just trying to make it work in a rented office space next to a daycare.  We all worked hard, and we all worked together.  And the hard work paid off.  In 2008 clevermethod moved to 1200 Maple Road.  We had a fancy new building.  I had my own office.  In 2009 I had my son (who’s now 5 1/2 and finishing up Kindergarten!).  In 2012 I had my daughter.  Things like affordable insurance, health savings accounts, 401Ks and flexible time off started to increase in importance – fortunately they were (and are!) important to clevermethod as well.  Our services grew (up) too.  When I joined clevermethod it was a relatively new company that made websites, whose process was defined more often than not by the client or the project.    Now we are a modern marketing agency, proud of the process that we’ve been able to define (and refine) over the years.  We grew up.  Together.

 

Full Circle.

So why don’t you want a job here?  A job is something you do to earn a paycheck.  You punch in, you punch out.  When you leave, you aren’t checking your email, or checking in to see how your co-worker is doing in the daily squat challenge group on Facebook.  A career might be better.  A career describes a journey that can include a number of jobs and experiences.  clevermethod is a small company, so we all have a lot of “jobs” here that contribute to a career.  So it’s a bit closer, but still not everything.  It still seems too small.  clevermethod has been there with me through good times and bad.  It’s helped me grow and evolve as a person and as a professional.  Heck, I’m even married to a clevermethoder (almost 12 years already)!  It sounds corny and cliché, but the only word that comes to mind to describe what clevermethod is to me is family.  So sure, clevermethod could be one heck of a job, but it could also be something so much more.

 

Enough with the websites, already.

We’ve been filling up screens on behalf of our clients for nearly 15 years. When we started, saying “we make websites” felt like enough to convey to people (or, to our mothers) what we did. But these days, it doesn’t begin to cover all of the things we do to help brands make the most of their online marketing.

 

A quick description of our company has always been elusive. Digital Agency, Web Design Studio, Custom Software Developers – they were all true, but none of them ever felt quite right. So we asked ourselves, are we a tech company that does marketing? Or is it the other way around? And the answer was “yes” to both.

 

So we created our own category that feels just right. Whether its pixels or code or campaign ideas, it’s what we do and it’s what we now call modern marketing. Check out our bitchin’ new site to read all about the evolution of our brand and our services.

We rethought our own visual branding, too. Take a look:

 

cm-LOGO-animation

 

The finger tapping the circle represents the interaction that takes place when devices deliver our work to people. The fact that it looks like a “C” is a bonus. The “end wrench” in the center represents our blue-collar ethic and attitude.

 

We’d love to know what you think about our refreshed brand and position. Among its many benefits is that when our moms ask us what we do or people drive by our office, they get it. We do modern marketing.

 

So, heres to the new clevermethod! Many, many thanks to everyone who put their time and their sweat into making it happen.