This is *How* We Do It

Learnings from the HOW Design Live conference

The HOW Design Live conference was hosted in Atlanta this year. Since the event’s inception in the 1990s, creatives and industry icons have gathered for a multi-day outpouring of ideas, trends and creative inspiration. The HOW brand began in 1985 as a print magazine. Today, HOW continues as an award-winning magazine and also touts numerous other products, competitions and events to meet the business, creative and technology needs of those in graphic design.

As an agency continually inspired by our clients, people and partners, our Creative team felt compelled to attend this renowned creative event. Most called it an experience of a lifetime, and our thoughts were no different.

“Wrong Turns Make Better Maps”

In an industry consistently striving for the right mix of creativity and inspiration, HOW visionaries demonstrated that inspiration is all around (and within) us. From talks on Generation “D” – a new generation of business leaders and design professionals who support the power and results of good design and creating for an ever-changing environment where dreams and reality don’t always see eye-to-eye – to digital best practices for ensuring the user experience is unified and consistent, and overcoming personal road blocks (excuses) in order to achieve the impossible, numerous fruitful conversations were had. A presentation by a certain “red bullseye” executive emphasized “there is no end point to the process of doing your best work.” And in yet another presentation, participants were told to do the “best work of their lives.” During this session, we learned that a lack of courage in standing up for their beliefs could easily transform brilliance into mediocrity, and that we should relentlessly create and not flee from failing. After all, “wrong turns make better maps.”

The concept “best work of our lives” was echoed throughout the conference. To us, it’s about creative momentum. About passion driving performance. At one point in his career, Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. Today, with more than $88 billion in assets, falser words were never spoken. One conference speaker said, “If you’re not passionate about it, then why are you doing it.” We want to ensure our people bring that creative yearning to what they do each and every day, because then, there really is no failure.

Further evidence of creative innovation was seen at the conference when looking at business titles. What used to be industry standards – CEO, Art Director, Designer, Creative Director and Writer – are now being replaced with more lighthearted, breezy titles – Global Director of Innovation, Chief Folding Fanatic and Head of Realization. The advertising industry seems to constantly break barriers: casual clothes, open workspaces, dog-friendly offices and a flexible work-life balance. Now, it seems as though job titles themselves are also going through a creative rebranding. These unorthodox titles not only demonstrate creative innovation and spirit, they also reflect a generational shift in advocating for one’s own brand in the workplace.

Conference Sound Bites

At HOW, inspiration was also provided by various brand representatives in the form of sound bites. Here are some examples:

  • “Typefaces are the clothes that words wear.” (TypeCamp)
  • “We leave no bit or atom unturned to fit the services to people.” (Uber)
  • “Who are we not reaching – and why?” (NPR)
  • “Find fun in everything you do.” (Mattel)
  • “Just do it and fail hard.” (Cartoon Network)

“It’s Not Bragging If You Can Back It Up”

Muhammad Ali was always the biggest advocate for his own brand, coining the above phrase because he believed in his value and believed others should know it too. At Laughlin Constable, we consider our clients our biggest advocates.

“Become the Client” was discussed at HOW, an advertising 101 theme on the importance of wearing the client’s shoes to better understand their needs, likes, frustrations and dreams.

Since 1976, our agency has worn a lot of shoes and we’ve learned a lot of lessons, many of which were reiterated at the conference: The importance of teamwork, listening to – and addressing – feedback, the importance of being clear when explaining ideas and creative, and finding – and keeping – the passion in your work.

Conferences such as HOW Design Live justify what we’ve known for 40 years: It’s not your job to anticipate “the next big thing.” It’s ours. By providing inspiration, steeped in accountability, we’re preparing you for the future.

Taking Flight: A Look to the Future

“The man with no imagination has no wings.”

Inspiration can be elusive. If you’re looking for creative mojo, HOW announced its venue for 2017: Chicago. Mark your calendars for May 2-6, 2017 and visit for more information.

For more tips and insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Nicole Stone – Senior Vice President, Business Development at or 414.270.7235.

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