That is ALWAYS a very tough question for me to answer.
I design stuff? (Yes) I'm a storyteller? (Yes) I design new products? (Yes) I design websites? (Yes) I design ad campaigns? (Yes) I draw stuff? (Yes) I design logos? (Yes) I blah, blah, blah (Yes)
Ummm...(that's what I say when I'm thinking)
Okay. Well, maybe a job "TITLE" would be easier to answer? Ummm...now that's a tough one, too. I'm a brand strategist, ideator, UX strategist, UI designer, visual designer, product designer, campaign designer, campaign writer, logo designer, illustrator, and many, many other things.
But I can break down my skills into two very distinct categories:
UX/UI Designer/Product Designer and Visual Designer/Creative Director
So what do I do? What do I say when I am asked?
The short answer: "I am a DESIGNER" – and when asked 'WHAT do you design? –"I create things that positively change the way you do things."
I'm a creative. I'm a dreamer . I'm a visionary. But I am also very left brain. Everything I do is highly strategic and intended to solve a problem in an unexpected and creative way. Yes, I am very passionate about design - but my goal is to always create groundbreaking creative that solves client problems and propels brands.
UX/UI DESIGNER + VISUAL DESIGNER
Some are highly skilled on one side – but I am highly-skilled on both – an award-winning combo of left brain (a highly effective strategist) and right brain (a visual creator of unexpected design).
And when it comes to narrowing it down to current "industry titles", I best fit into two: "UX/UI Designer" (mostly left brand) on one side – and expanded "Visual Designer" (mostly right brain) on the other. Both sides are crucial to the success of any project, product design, platform interaction, device interface, and advertising or marketing campaign.
Yes, UX and UI are generally divided into two parts – but when your design work is much more than just UI Design, you have to tweak just a bit. I put UX and UI together – "UX/UI Design" – and my hyper-expanded design work as "Visual Design".To show you what that looks like, I've split up my portfolio in these two different categories:
Click on these links and you will see exactly what I mean. Both sides are evenly proven. The result? Pure brand awesomeness.
I AM A PROBLEM-SOLVER
Yes, you can simplify what I do to just that - solving problems.
And I do it in very creative and unexpected ways.
Behind everything I do, there are many layers of extensive research, strategy, target audience data, and analytics - things you can't see. But all this creates the foundation to deliver the right solution. It's all about problem-solving.
There is also several layers of psychology behind delivering the right solution - it's all about Human-Centered Design and understanding your target audience's current code of need vs. want - and knowing how to alter or enhance existing perceptions of a product or service to change behavior (to drive conversion).
(hey, that's cool - but if you still want to know more about me, here goes...)
I CREATE AWESOMENESS
Hey, I know that's a big statement - but that is always my goal.
To me, 'awesomeness' is when you exceed client expectations in a really big way - delivering highly effective brand strategy and creative that takes the brand to a whole new level. Work that produces real engagement and real conversion. To me, awesomeness means creating REAL results.
And I love to get my clients excited about their brand all over again.
BIG OR SMALL? IT DOESN'T MATTER.
I have worked for many different large ad agencies (one rated Top 10 on AdAge’s “Top 50 Interactive Agencies” – and I helped to get us there), and I've created award-winning campaigns for some of the largest brands in the world.
But when time permits, I love to do freelance work for Veteran-Owned start-ups and small businesses, as well as Non-Profits (501(c)3s – because they can't afford the cost of a big ad agency – so I apply my big brand experience and deliver "BADASS" results:
(by the way, "Badass" is not self-named – that's how my clients describe my work)
Yes, small excites me, too - it gives me even more room to launch a brand into the stratosphere. You don't have to be a huge well-known brand to get me excited. I get excited because I love to solve problems in unexpected ways. No matter how big or small, every single project is an opportunity to create pure awesomeness.
CREATIVITY ON DEMAND
Do I get stressed with unrealistic timelines?
"I am a very easy-going, stress-free guy"
I am VERY easy-going - BUT I am VERY passionate about delivering on-target strategy and creative that elevates brands.
I am always happy because I love what I do.
I am very calm and work great under pressure (this is easy stuff compared to my time in the Marine Corps and Combat) - and compressed timelines don't stop me from being highly strategic and uber creative.
(okay, okay! I know I can be a bit long-winded - I swear I'm almost done!)
SO WHAT'S MY SECRET?
There is no "secret" in producing work that delivers REAL solutions for REAL problems. It simply comes down knowing all the necessary steps. It comes down to doing the front end research – formulating the right strategy – and knowing the specific target audience. It comes down to real collaboration and effective brainstorming while always keeping an open mind. We want pure, SIMPLE ideas...
CREATING SIMPLE CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT
It's ALWAYS about creating the simple. It comes down to the process of 'sort and simplify'. Highly-Intuitive means simple, moving through a website or app or interface naturally (intuitively) – navigating without thinking. It has to be simple. Creating a marketing or ad campaign is ALSO in search of the perfect campaign – one that is pure and simple.
Simple means Perfect. The funny thing is that when others see it as 'pure and simple', that they think it was EASY to create. Wrong. Simple is the most difficult thing to create.
ANYONE can create complicated. (yuck)
You see it all the time, commercials that are too wordy and complicated. Product naming that you can't remember. And websites and apps that make you so mad and frustrated because it's not working the way it's "suppose to" work/function.
STORYTELLING IS ALWAYS CRUCIAL
Storytelling can take on many forms. It can be the right ad campaign that pulls the audience in. It can be writing a story that connects with the consumer's code of need/want to drive them to consumption. It can be about identifying the target audience's current perception of a product or service and then producing work that alters that perception.
Storytelling can also be created AFTER the fact – AFTER the product has been created or named. Here's an example of this: The client (HP) wanted to launch a new product named the "Z Workstation". I asked why they chose that name, but there was no particular reason, except "Z sounded like a cool letter". That is when I crafted the following storytelling to create the reason – which I called "Where does innovation begin?"
This is storytelling - intended to solve a problem and inspire the audience.
My storytelling even inspired the top creatives at Dreamworks - so much so they held a private screening to inspire the entire DreamWorks Animation staff.
(yeah, pretty cool!)
Another example of effective storytelling is what I wrote and directed for HP's HDX. "HDX" again was just a name that was approved without a backstory or real reason. And I created a story and visuals where the viewer would REMEMBER the name:
Storytelling can also be the process of engaging the target on a website or new product. I break everything down to two parts: "The Experience Funnel" and the "Booking Funnel". Think of a website or app where you are introducing a new product. The storytelling part is in the Experience Funnel where they learn more about the product or service. Once they have received the information they need, it is easy to guide them to conversion – over to the "Booking Funnel" where they make a transaction.
Tell a Good Story. Drive Traffic. Engage. Convert.
MENTOR OTHERS TO PRODUCE THEIR BEST WORK
"While always expanding and growing as a designer"
So here comes the fun part – a sampling of my UX/UI Design and Visual Design work.
As I previously explained, my skills are divided into two (2) highly-integrated categories – the first being Bret Stout the "UX/UI Designer" (mostly left brain):
As you saw in my portfolios above, I do not have just one style – I don't do cookie-cutter designs and I don't have a one-size-fits-all solution - I let the individual project "tell me" who it is.
SO HOW IS WORK JUDGED?
In the world of advertising, marketing, and product and app design, you are NOT simply judged on the work you create/produce - you are more clearly defined by how it delivers real solutions for the brand and/or the consumer. The awards industry also judges you on same level of creativity and engagement of a campaign or product AND how it solved a problem. If you want to check out my awards, click here:
< Bret-Stout-UX-UI-VISUAL-Design-Awards.pdf >
NOTE: I mention my awards only to let you know the quality and industry validation of my work. Being recognized for your work is really cool - but that's not what motivates me. What motivates ME is the excitement of getting everything right and delivering it in unexpected ways.
Yes, it's closing time – but its not the end of my story – or YOURS! I just want you to always remember to consistently focus on the following:
BEGIN WITH ENGAGING STORYTELLING
The only way you're going to engage your target audience is to tell a good story – in writing and in visual design. We know that words can tell a story – but images can, as well. A highly intuitive brand experience tells a story in itself. Don't ever try to 'force' your target into a transaction – build an authentic relationship FIRST. And you do this by telling them the story they want to hear.
ALWAYS DELIVER "SIMPLE
"Simple" is what separates great UX/UI Designers and mediocre ones. The perfect campaign. The perfect product design. The perfect user experience. And don't forget, creating "simple" is never simple. It is one of the hardest things to create.
AND GET EXCITED!
Elevate your enthusiasm! Attack EVERY project with a high level of excitement. And when you NATURALLY get excited about every project – you have created "passion". And when you have passion, you will "inspire" everyone around you – and collectively you will produce brand awesomeness.
I am extremely humble and passionate about design - and I hope that shows in my work. I really enjoy contributing to a brand or agency's success - in any capacity. My experience, leadership, and innovation always grows accounts, increases brand/agency revenue, and makes an overall positive impact on the entire team by elevating the enthusiasm and quality of the work.
"Thank you for taking the time to check out me and my work!"