“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t—you’re right” ~ Henry Ford
It’s a quote Brent Porter, Creative Director and co-owner of a digital creative agency out of St. Catharines, Ontario, knows first hand. Brad attended one of our recent Pro-topics classes to provide some inspiration and inspire he did.
His company, form&affect, houses five or six employees, including himself and while it may be a small shop don’t make quick assumptions, the work this little gem is turning out, is simply stunning.
Some big names on the form&affect client roster are: CBC, Best Western, Days Inn, VISA, Samsung, Niagara Parks, United Way, Petro Canada and Niagara Region (which is by no means a full list).
Sustaining this success is based on the following five values, inherent to the culture of form&affect:
• Ask why
• Be honest
• Have empathy
• Share knowledge
• Think big
Brent also bases hiring on personality and the right fit, then the right set of skills.
He likes to keep things light and lively but is a stickler about deadlines. These days as the demand for what he does grows rapidly, efficiency is important.
Life wasn’t always so rewarding though. What this man’s accomplished he’s won by struggle and wits.
As a high school drop out he spent a number of years on the streets of Hamilton, surviving by producing his own unique brand of posters and guerrilla street marketing. It was a talent he seemed born to and for which he followed and what would eventually forge the path to the hard won success he enjoys today.
And in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, guerrilla street marketing is an unconventional mode of grabbing an audience’s attention; often used by small businesses but also used by the big brands like McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Nike who have joined the movement to promote their own products.
A few existing examples of this marketing method are:
• A Folger’s decorated sewer grate, made to look like a steaming cup of coffee
• An Ikea couch placed in a bus terminal (A place to sit when you really need one)
• A Kit Kat decorated park bench, made to look like a half opened candy bar (time to break off a piece), the brown horizontal slats of wood taking on the persona of giant Kit Kat fingers
Brent talks about the convergence of two circles and working within the space where those two elements overlap. You might call it the ‘sweet spot’, or you might call it ‘the zone’. Brad simply calls it ‘working within your element’.
In those formative years, with the night scene and the unconventional marketing, he’d made enough money to own and run two night clubs but it was a hard existence, it took its toll both on himself and those around him. With the loss of a friend to suicide, he began to feel the weight of those years. It caused him to re-evaluate where he was and what he was doing and it spelled the end of the night club scene for him.
Evaluating his own life led him to explore what motivates us, how humans relate to one another and to their environment, how they use their environment and if you haven’t caught on already, he’s perfectly describing ‘user experience’ which has become such a big part of web design today.
He tried college for a while, tried working for other agencies, both were less than constructive experiences but he’ll tell you even negative experiences can be instructive.
Brent’s advice to us is:
• Success lies in mastering the details, and…
• Trust your struggle, take what instruction you can from it. How you deal with adversity will form your career path whether you like it or not.
In parting, he left us with a lot to think about and suggested a few resources:
Podcasts to listen to:
• Shoptalk, An internet radio show about the internet, with Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier www.shoptalk.com
• The Big Web Show with award winning Big Web Show features, special guests and topics like web publishing, art direction, content strategy, etc. http://5by5.tv/bigwebshow
Books to pick up:
• The Stretch Handbook and,
• A Book Apart Library, now up to about 30 editions
And for questions or comments you can find him on LinkedIn. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you.