All posts by mrhancock

Tina Roth Eisenberg’s 11 Rules to Live By

As a creative design and advertising agency, we’re always on the lookout for quality inspiration. Luckily, we are blessed to live in the same world as Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss-born NYC designer better known as swissmiss, after her Twitter handle and the name of her immensely popular design blog. In addition to running her blog since 2005, she’s founded numerous successful ventures, including Creative Mornings, a monthly lecture series which now has chapters all over the world; FRIENDS (formerly Studiomates), a creative co-working space; TeuxDeux, a to-do app; and Tattly, a line of designer temporary tattoos. Oh, and did we mention she’s a mother of two? Tina is basically Wonder Woman.

It’s not surprising, then, that when Tina delivers a talk, it’s packed with enough positive energy and enthusiasm to keep us feeling fired up for days. We recently revisited her Interactive Keynote at SXSW 2013, in which she shares how she found her way to success and fulfillment by following these 11 rules to live by.

1. Invest your life in what you love.
Life’s too short to spend it doing something you’re not passionate about. Finding joy in what you do, whether it’s working with animals, raising children, or designing beautiful packaging, makes getting out of bed every day so much more worth it. When you’re chasing your dreams, even the challenges are less like obstacles and more like puzzles waiting to be solved.

2. Embrace enthusiasm.
When you get ridiculously excited about something, that’s a major clue pointing toward what you find most important. Plus, gratitude is good for you, and celebrating life’s little victories is a surefire way to stay positive.

3. Don’t complain. Make things better.
Have a problem? Tina says you can either do something about it, or let it go. If you’re unhappy with some aspect of your life, your job, or society itself, you have a choice: work to change it or accept it. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy said it best: “The best way to complain is to make things.”

4. Trust and empower.
This rule is all about sharing responsibility with others. As creative types, it’s easy to want to control every single aspect of a project, to the point of overwhelming ourselves and becoming miserable. Tina advises us control freaks (raise your hands… yeah, us too) to delegate some tasks to others, and trust in their abilities to get them done right.

5. Experiences > money.
Everybody wants to make it big, but a high-paying job isn’t everything. Sometimes doing what you love, even if it isn’t particularly lucrative, opens the door to financial success farther down the road. This means accepting the occasional pro-bono contract for that company you really admire, or maybe taking a job at a startup instead of a big corporation. “When things fall into place, it’s the universe telling you to keep going,” Tina says.

6. Surround yourself with likeminded people.
Remember being in high school, when your parents were worried about you falling in with “the wrong crowd”? Turns out, they were right: when you hang around unmotivated people, you’re more likely to stay unmotivated yourself. Conversely, when you spend your time with people who share your goals—for us, creative individuals involved in design and advertising agencies—your talents will blossom.

7. Collaborate.
Check your ego at the door and make room for other people’s ideas. In Tina’s case, it led to the creation of the highly successful iPhone app, TeuxDeux. You never know what might happen if you collaborate! It could be magic.

8. Ignore haters.
In the immortal words of 3LW, “Haters gonna hate.” Most likely, there’s going to be someone out there who thinks your time could be better spent than by following your bliss. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! Throw on some shades and wave buh-bye to that nonsense.

9. Make time to think and breathe.
When you’re a driven, ambitious person, especially in a competitive industry like design, it can be hard to take some time for yourself. Even when you finally decide to take a mini-vacation over a long weekend, ignoring those mounting notifications on your smartphone can prove exceptionally difficult. Tina’s here to tell you, chill out. Take a break. You can’t be your best unless you give yourself time to relax.

10. If an opportunity scares you, take it.
Sometimes the things that scare us the most are the things we absolutely must do. Quit that job you hate. Write a pitch to that brand you admire. Accept that invitation to give a keynote speech at SXSW. If you stay in your comfort zone forever, you’ll never give yourself the chance to grow.

11. Be someone’s eccentric aunt.
In her hometown in Switzerland, Tina found some of her earliest inspiration by spending time with her aunt, a fashion designer and all-around creative. The experiences she shared with her aunt gave her the encouragement she needed to pursue her dream of becoming a designer. Be the eccentric aunt, and help someone realize their dreams can become reality.

The best thing about these rules is that they can be applied to any part of your life, whether personal or professional. So, are you ready to conquer the world? We know we are!

Getting Cozy with Ginger and Baker

Ginger Graham had a dream: to open a pie shop where people would gather to swap stories, laugh freely, and, of course, eat delicious pie. But when she teamed up with chef Deborrah Traylor to make the dream a reality, she had no idea how their simple vision would grow to become the Fort Collins culinary extravaganza that is Ginger and Baker.

Now a 20,000-square-foot community center with a bakery, restaurant, market, event space, and cooking school all rolled into one, Ginger and Baker’s story begins (as these stories often do) with humble origins. The century-old historic building that housed the Northern Colorado Feeders Supply has served the people of Fort Collins since 1905, when sheep and sugar beet farming formed the backbone of the town’s economy. Ginger and her team lovingly restored the two-story brick building to its former glory, and built an exquisite metal addition. The result is a striking blend of old and new, uniting Fort Collins’ agricultural past with its bright, shining future.

When it came time to create branding and designs for their venture, the G&B team approached several Colorado design firms to find the right fit before settling on Oblique Design. They shared their vision for a big-time eatery with a small-town feel, so that whether you’re grabbing a slice of pie at the Cafe, meeting friends for dinner at The Cache, or enrolling in a class at the Teaching Kitchen, you know you’re in good company.

We wanted every piece of the design package, from the typography to the color palette, to evoke the sensation that visiting Ginger and Baker is like visiting family, like listening to your grandma tell stories from way back when. To step into Ginger and Baker is to reach out and touch the very fabric of Fort Collins’ rich history.

Even the menu reflects these ideals. Featuring innovative offerings made from local ingredients, you won’t find any imported meat or seafood here. What you will find are dishes inspired by Northern Colorado’s bountiful rivers, fields, and farms, which change frequently to incorporate seasonal fare.

All this is to say, when Ginger and Baker chose us as their Colorado design firm and asked us to reinvent their brand, we knew we had our hands full. But branding is our bread and butter, so we felt confident that we could deliver designs that perfectly encapsulated what G&B is all about, and deliver we did: Our toolkit provided over 70 pages of logos, fonts, colors, patterns, and illustrations to be used both in print and online. We carefully crafted each element to embody the sense of community, comfort, and familiarity you get when you walk into Ginger and Baker—a feeling not unlike coming home.

A glance in the rearview mirror before flooring it into 2018

Lively, thrilling, and highly creative, 2017 was a wild ride for Oblique Design.

Once again, we dabbled in the restaurant industry as team Oblique won the pitch with Ginger and Baker, Fort Collins’ newest dining experience. While Ginger and Baker is, no joke, the destination to grab your morning coffee and pastry, they’ll keep you coming back for more. Whether it’s a casual lunch, an upscale dinner, an event in their stunning space, or a fine wine tasting in their well-stocked cellar, you’ll feel right at home. It’s a little raw here. It’s a lot real here. Built on tales told and yet-to-tell, Ginger and Baker is at the heart of it all. The Ginger and Baker team approached Oblique Design to evolve their brand and create a 70+ page toolkit to be used across all print collateral, marketing materials, packaging, and website design. We delivered, and have loved seeing our designs come to life.

In the technology and software arena, we collaborated with clients such as BDI, JNBridge, PUHL, and Instream Water. Check out our handiwork in BDI’s new logo and website; JNBridge’s product icons; PUHL’s logo (website launching in a few weeks); and Instream Water’s logo, video, and app. Not to toot our own horn too much, but we feel pretty great about the creative impact we’ve made on all of these brands.

Oblique excelled at naming new companies in 2017. With over 123 years of industry experience, Talon International easily tops our list. A leading supplier of customized zippers, managed trim solutions, and Tekfit Stretch Technologies, Talon International has a diversified customer base of 950+ manufacturers representing over 200 brands. Oblique Design had the privilege of renaming Tekfit, one of their main business units. The Tekfit technology transforms an otherwise non-stretchable fabric into one that’s incredibly flexible and comfortable. After legal approvals, trademark searches, and patent office requirements, Talon International settled on ADJUSTEC for their new business unit name.

Throughout the past year, we expanded our work in the beloved and burgeoning skincare industry. Package design is our passion, and we were crazy excited to work with both Bjorn’s Bees and Cause+Medic in 2017. Originally conceived in Sweden, Bjorn’s now makes their honey and bee-based skincare products right here on the Front Range. Oblique created seven package designs for Bjorn’s, including body lotion, toothpaste, salve, lip balm, and more. And speaking of salve, when it comes to CBD-infused body lotion, body oil, tattoo balm, and pain cream, Cause+Medic’s got you covered. Oblique worked with savvy CBD industry experts at Cause+Medic to create eye-catching and relevant packing in a super competitive retail space.

We’re psyched to say that 2017 was basically just one giant celebration of our 15 Year Anniversary. If you haven’t already, check out our previous blog entry to read an in-depth interview with owner Janice Ferrante. Discover her personal thoughts on the advertising industry and how branding is changing. Plus, you won’t want to miss her words of wisdom on moving forward as a boutique agency owner.

It’s been quite a year! We laughed, we cried, we kicked some butt. Team Oblique would like to thank each and every client for trusting us with not only your brand, but your company vision and future growth. We strive to make your lives easier, more insightful, and a lot more creative.

Cheers to a fabulous 2018!

Several Design Reminders Inspired by Chip Kidd

As graphic designers and brand specialists, we’re always looking for inspiration that will strengthen our creative chops. Recently, we’ve been exchanging insights shared by Chip Kidd, power-house New York based book jacket designer and winner of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award. Here are a few reminders from a recent article and how we put them into effect across our own branding, interactive and packaging projects.

1. Don’t Be Too Obvious
When working with a new client, we first sit down and get to know all about their business. We dive deep at first and then later sift through the details to determine what specifically should be our focus, and theirs. When crafting a new brand, concepting for a new ad or designing a packaging, we strive to convey what’s important without being too in-your-face obvious. We constantly ask ourselves “how can we convey this in a new and unexpected way?”

2. Narrow Things Down
Before we start designing, it’s important for us to understand the parameters and limitations of each project. While too many stipulations can stifle creativity, too much freedom can lead to a lack of direction and focus. The same principle can apply to design concepts. Oftentimes when presenting initial concepts we’ll limit the number of fonts or colors we show so our client can focus on the overall concepts and zero in on the idea they like best. Fonts and colors and other details can be determined once we’ve decided on an overall direction.

3. Be Candid and Clear
When conveying a concept through design, you can be very literal or very creative; highly straightforward or highly abstract. Is it best for a viewer to know exactly what you do within seconds of seeing your ad or can we create a sense of intrigue that gives the viewer just enough information so they’ll want to seek more? We leave it to our clients to ultimately decide where their brand falls along this spectrum, but we do believe the best designs strike the perfect balance of each.

4. Keep It Simple
It can be easy to overdo it and over-complicate a design. You see examples of this all the time where someone has tried to incorporate too many design elements and ends up creating something that is overly busy, overwhelming or just visually off. The best designs find the right balance of visual elements and minimalism to create something that is unique, interesting and visually appealing. While designing we regularly take a step back and ask ourselves “is this too much”?

To see all eight tips offered up by Chip Kidd, you can find the original article here: http://www.howdesign.com/design-creativity/designer-spotlight/book-design-tips-chip-kidd/

Find Your Brand Voice

There are few things more memorable than a person’s voice. You could hear a voice you haven’t heard in 10 years and instantly recognize the face it belongs to. Every voice is different and your unique voice conveys who you are, or at least who you want people to see you as, to the world. We achieve this through our inflection, our tone and the things we say and how we say them. Just as we as people shape perceptions of who we are through our voice, brands connect with their fans and customers by creating a brand voice that appeals to their unique audience.

Think of your favorite brands and ask yourself why you love them. What is it about the brand that you connect with? Is it their dedication to a specific cause? Or the benefit you get from using their product? Or, is it simply that you love their personality and the way they just seem to “get you”? Good brands achieve all three. What you may not realize is that two of these three things are a part of the brand’s voice and have likely been carefully crafted in order to win your love. With that in mind, ask yourself just how important brand voice is. Would you love that brand so much if they didn’t support your favorite cause? Would you feel any affinity toward them if they didn’t seem like a brand you could trust? Yeah they’d have a great product, and maybe you’d buy it, but you might just as likely buy their competitor’s product, because you would have no sense of brand loyalty.

At Oblique, our sweet spot is creating brands. We design killer logos and come up with clever names and also help identify the brand’s voice. What would your brand be without a distinctive voice? Brand loyalty is more important than ever with so many competitors crowding the market in all industries. Without a voice to communicate to your customers, you risk being overlooked or forgotten when it comes time to make a purchase. Not quite sure what your brand voice would sound like? We’ll help you find it. We can’t wait to meet your brand and hear what it has to say.

Tersa Steam: Refreshed Clothing, Refined Living


We all have clothes lying around that need a quick chemical-free fragrance steam, a handy anti-bacterial whirl and a de-wrinkle lift. Two young guys from St. Louis saw the need and jumped on it to start their own company called Tersa Steam.

With over $79,298 already raised on Indiegogo since September, 2017, they are on the fast track to success. Tersa Steam is the new and innovative way to steam your clothes – without ruining them, and the hassle that steamers and irons bring. Did we mention the entire process takes only 10 minutes? You can pinch yourself now.

When Tersa Steam came knocking at our door for a Brand Strategy Workshop, Logo Design, Tagline, Stationery Suite, Indiegogo Landing page and Trade Show Booth designs for CES, where we really going to say no? We think not, these guys are onto something BIG. Not only with consumers, but big hotel chains and corporations as well. Two thumbs up.

How does it work? Simply place your clothes in the wall-mounting device. Turning it on, insert your pod of choice, press a button and walking away. Literally. Turn the power on and continue with your morning routine. Grab coffee, eat breakfast, or just relax and read the newspaper while this machine steams, de-wrinkles, and freshens your clothes for work, school or even a night out.

We think it’s genius. Don’t be shy, join Oblique in backing them today.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tersa-steam-the-10-minute-clothing-care-system-design-fashion#/

S.O.S: Save our Skin with Cause + Medic

Marijuana use and legalization is a controversial topic of discussion these days. While many states have made it legal to get high, cannabis laws have brought us other benefits as well that can be enjoyed by a broader audience. Although not everyone may be a fan of THC, I think we can all enjoy the benefits of CBD.

“What’s CBD?” you ask. It’s a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis that’s associated with relaxation, stress relief and other wonderful things. CBD has regenerative effects – repairing skin, healing wounds and reducing scar tissue and because of this it can now be found in skincare products. You may be wondering why Oblique would care about this. Or can you guess?

That’s right, we’re writing to introduce you to our newest client, CAUSE+MEDIC! CAUSE+MEDIC is an all-natural skincare line combining the healing properties of cannabis with other active botanical ingredients, to enhance skin health and radiance. To us they’re a dream client offering a dream product. CAUSE+MEDIC has hired Oblique to redesign their logo and packaging as they seek to place their products in spas across the country. Sign us up for a CBD mint infused massage pronto!

Once you’ve experienced their products in the spa, you’ll want to buy some for use at home. If not just for the beautiful packaging Oblique will design, you’ll want to own them, because they’re amazing products with great restorative qualities. If that doesn’t sell you, maybe this will. CAUSE+MEDIC products incorporate a variety of consciously selected botanicals and are responsibly sourced and cruelty free. All of their packaging is recyclable or made from recycled materials. And best of all, they pledge $1 from every sale to a charitable organization of your choice. What’s not to love?

As you can tell we’re totally smitten and we think you’re about to be as well. Check them out at causemedicated.com. Branding and packaging photos to come, so check back regularly to see the finished product.

New Swag, BOOM!

We recently designed several apparel items for one of our local clients, BOOM Properties. We teamed up with a local apparel company, Goodbye Blue Monday, to design hats, t-shirts and hoodies. One of our TEEM co-workers even volunteered to model our swag and we had a great time running around Pearl Street taking pictures of her in BOOM’s new apparel.

The designs that Oblique created for BOOM Properties clearly stands out from all other property management companies. Our killer designs are modern, modular, and shows how this company pushes boundaries for their own clients.

Team Oblique is chomping at the bit to design cool products for your company. Need a company hoodie, trucker hat, water bottle or lighter? We’d love the opportunity to create branded gear for you. Come to us with your challenge and we’ll design a kick-ass representation of your brand!

Changing the Way We Feed Our Kids

I guess you could say Chef Ann is our latest celebrity crush and all the recent media hype she’s received has made us giddy. We’re huge fans of this renegade lunch lady and her initiatives as she works to reform US school food programs one district at a time. Oblique has recently teamed up with the Chef Ann Foundation to create a fresh new brand for their new program, the School Food Institute. We came up with the name, mission statement, logo, tagline and website copy for this thriving organization.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chef Ann Cooper, you won’t be for long. Her goal is to create an organization that grants children daily access to fresh, healthy food in their school cafeterias. At this time Chef Ann oversees the cafeteria food preparation for 50 different schools in the Denver area, which leads to 13,000 meals prepared each day. With the introduction of programs such as the School Food Institute, these numbers will only continue to grow.

The School Food Institute is an online educational program that provides in-depth training, operational skills, and strategic vision to food service professionals. These skills will help to bring healthy and sustainable food into lunchrooms across the nation. The program also hopes to bring attention to issues within the school food system and inspire change among them. Already, they have been recognized for their outstanding efforts in changing the Denver school food system and they recently received a $520,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation that will allow all Colorado food service workers to enroll in SFI courses at no cost. It’s encouraging to see so many school districts coming onboard and participating in this outstanding certification program! You can read more about Chef Ann and the School Food Institute in recent articles from the Denver Post and the New York Times.

We’re proud to have developed the face to this impactful name that is already making a difference in our local Colorado community, and in communities across the country. You can learn more about the Chef Ann Foundation or donate to their cause here.

Oblique is going Hybrid

Oblique is moving down to the big city… Pearl Street! Our new office will be downtown at TEEM’s co-working space, right off of Broadway and Spruce.

Our new space offers an environment that maximizes productivity working alongside highly-skilled, motivated professionals in our industry. TEEM’s tenants are like-minded creatives, striving to advance their own businesses in this vibrant, energetic environment where ideas and execution thrive. This community will provide a sounding board for creative concepts, a team to brainstorm alongside and a competitive environment in which we’ll be challenged to constantly improve our craft.

The Oblique team will be moving in the first week of September. What does this shift mean for our clients? We will still consist of the same small, niche kickass team, but we’ll be working in the heart of a creative incubator and saving money with the intention of passing the savings onto you.

Come visit us in our new space. There’s free coffee, happy hours every third Thursday and did we mention that dogs are welcome? We look forward to welcoming you there!

NEW ADDRESS:  2088 Broadway, Boulder CO, 80302
NEW PHONE NUMBER:  303.718.9811