myNote at #HOWLive

It has been four years in the making. What started with a tangible element missing from my 2011 HOWLive experience has finally grown into a full-fledged creative concept, the myNote. The idea was to encapsulate the energy and inspiration from the event into one publication that also had space for each person to write their own notes and thoughts or ideas they garnered from attending. Half publication, half notebook.

I tested the concept in 2012 with the support of local printer, Topline Printing, by bringing my creation and distributing it during the event (you can find out about the first prototype in the Creatives’ Cupboard website). Making this leap led me to partnering with a San Francisco print house, Red Dog Graphics and Neenah Paper to create the second version for the 2013 HOWLive event. This version was more “officially” distributed to the full Creative Freelancer Conference division. (You can view it at online.)

With the support of Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor, my concept was passed along to the new F&W Event Director, Amy Conover. After meeting over the course of a few months we collaborated together to create a custom HOW myNote that is to be distributed to ALL 3,000+ conference attendees.

In reflection this opportunity to expand my own vision has only been possible because of:

1. Doing the work. Being inspired by fellow creatives professionals and speakers I have met over the years. I learned that they have all succeeded because they have simply done the WORK. I found an inner belief in my concept that was met with approval and support of those who experienced the vision.

2. Taking the risks. It is always a challenge to put your own creative “baby” out in the world. We all know that we wear our creative hearts on our sleeve. Learning that even with failure, we find growth and direction.

3. Creating a solid proposal. An idea and concept can only get you so far. You need to invest the time into creating a proposal on paper that properly visualizes your idea. Learning that not everyone is as visionary as yourself, helping them to see the concept gives weight to the idea.

4. Engaging with professional connections. Realizing that we are not islands. It is through word of mouth and collaboration that ideas grow. When I came up with my concept I talked about it to anyone who seemed interested and my enthusiasm for the idea seemed to be taken up by people who could see the potential.

HOWLive 2015

This year I felt HOW did an amazing job of creating a solid brand design for the event. The vibrant colours and structured elements they created made designing this book like a really easy puzzle. The hexagon graphic and divided triangles tied into a carnival feel that I incorporated into the design. As this is their 25th Year Anniversary, the booklet was bound with a silver wiro coil to tie into that feel. So what is it about the myNote that makes it unique? Elements of the previous conference guides I never felt that really functioned best were:

The event schedule. The structure did not lend itself to a logical calendar flow. So with the update – the calendar shows a logical flow that provides space to check off the session or even order them based on preference for quick reference. HOW has done a great job of creating their conference branding graphics this year and they also have streamlined their session offerings to nominee than six at a time which allowed the schedule to be condensed to one page per day compared to previous years where there could be up to 10 or 12 sessions at a time which would not fit a standard page width, so pull outs had to be created to accommodate.

Speaker bios and session details. The session descriptions were basically a duplicate of the previous calendar just with the copy descriptions included. One of the biggest draws to an event is who will be speaking. So in order to create more of a “directory” feel, the speaker bios were included and following each the sessions dates/times/details that they would be speaking at. To connect the actual schedule to reference the details on the calendar is a page number where the session information can be found.

Sponsorship impact. Here is the thing, events would NOT happen if not for the support of the business community. I had found the random unconnected ads flowed in the booklet previously confusing and without order or reason, they were just filling their ad space. This version provides another “classifieds” directory feel to the listing of companies. Working to categorize by colour whether printer, service or technology provider is a quick reference for after the event when a creative is looking to reference companies there were keen to make connections with. The other design element with the myNote was to not incorporate any bleed ads. This was a conscious decision so each page could have the footer information of the event as well as page number for once again easy reference.

Note pages. In the end, the most beneficial information that is provided during such an event is the inspiration and advice each person gets from the speakers. A space to also write in their own notes so everything is located in one spot. Over the last couple years, designers have referenced the myNote as their “creative dump” that continues to hold valuable shelf and/or desk space at their place of work. The myNote creates enough note pages to hopefully cover the needs of the note taker. This HOWLive issue has up to 44 pages compared to previous versions that either didn’t have space or 2-3 pages. I had suggested keeping things simple and just incorporating blank pages, but the HOW team was a fan of the subtle guidelines for noting session titles and speaker names. It also gave a chance to highlight the paper sponsor at the footer where we could inform the paper stock used.

Branding. One of the core elements of the myNote is the outside back cover. The design is based on the the iPad look with a logo in the middle and then the size followed by specs. So for the myNote – we highlight the main sponsor of the piece and the isolated clean look lends itself to more impact than a full page ad and also defines this as a book with value instead of as a brochure with a limited lifespan. This year Neenah agreed to the format and they took the inside front cover ad slot which is also a custom die-cut pocket – new to the HOW guide. A space to hold business cards, flyers and notes one collects over the 5 days. This feature ensures that Neenah get’s it’s bump in awareness consistently as attendees will likely be perusing the pocket more often than the back cover.

I am about to head down to Chicago and I am anticipating and yet nervous seeing my own creative work out there. I was pleased to hear that the F&W crew are pleased with the myNotes when they arrived at the event.

What’s Next?

I guess the next thing would be to see myNote concept grow. I would love to see the publication increase to the original proposed size to allow for more space to incorporate more engaging content outside of the standard schedule, session and sponsorship details. In my earlier versions I loved creating content about the local area on where to eat and where to party with fellow attendees, also insights and stories about the people attending. Who knows, there is always room to grow.

If you see the potential of this concept for your own upcoming event or conference or business communications, don’t hesitate to drop me a line and see how collaboration creates great ideas.