Rules Of Engagement

It’s often said that “people buy from people,” and here in the digital age that old adage seems truer and more important than ever. In building any business or brand, it really does come down to people. It’s easier than ever to get glued to your desk, head down in the work, communicating via text or email. But it’s important to remember – while social media can be good; real, live, social interaction is always better.

If you’re shy about networking, or if you think that your work “speaks for itself,” you might want to think again. Your work doesn’t speak for itself. You have to go out there and speak for it – with confidence and clarity.

As a well-established branding and design studio, quality referrals account for very close to 100% of our business. With all the marketing we undertake to promote our company (including this blog), in-person networking remains one of the most reliable ways to grow the kinds of referrals and relationships that can sustain a business.

New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley would agree. In a 2015 profile in Fortune magazine, he gives much of the credit for his quick rise through the financial ranks – on his way to becoming NYSE President by the age of 40 – to the power of effective networking.

“I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking,” Farley says. “Networking is crucial to succeeding as an individual, thrive in your industry, and have fun in your career.”

In that same article, Farley offers a few tips on how to make networking work for you and your business. Here they are.

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Everybody’s Talking At Me

If you pay a visit to the Cronin Creative website (and we hope you do!) you’ll notice that the first step listed in our process is “Listen.” We make a point of approaching each and every project with our mouths closed and our ears open. It’s the essential first step in absorbing and understanding the needs of the client.

There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of ink devoted to the lost art of listening. Ironically, most people are too busy talking to consider this important lesson.

Tune into any cable news network on any given night and you’re likely to see as many as six talking heads, stacked, like a Game Show Network rerun of “Hollywood Squares,” jabbering away on one issue or another. What’s striking about these group “interviews” is that every one of those pundits seems concerned only with getting their particular point across. They’re way too busy talking, interrupting, or formulating their next response to actually hear what’s being said.

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The Difference Is The Differences

Here at Cronin Creative, we describe ourselves as “enthusiastic collaborators.” Whether it involves photographers, web developers, PR experts, social media specialists, or all of the above, we love the challenge of putting together the right team for a particular job.

For both team members and clients, this approach has its advantages. First of all, bypassing a traditional agency, with their full time staff and high overhead costs, can be a real money saver. Also, the ability to draw from the wider world of talent offers the opportunity to bring the very best people, and their fresh ideas, to the job at hand. And then there’s flexibility. Utilizing a team of independent professionals makes for quick-and-easy adjustments and the ability to scale the size of the team to fit the project.

Yes, we’re all reaching for the same optimum solution, but one of the not-so-obvious advantages of these types of collaborative teams is the differences between the individual team members. All those disparate personalities and opinions create tension, and that creative tension inspires real moments of clarity, pushing the team to its full potential.

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From Russia With Love

With roots in Russia, the Swiss Style was a modernist graphic movement that sought to express messages in an easily understood and straightforward manner. In 1918, Ernst Keller developed a design and typography course at the Zurich School of the Applied Arts based on the new idea that “the solution to the design problem should emerge from its content.” Keller carried out his “form-follows-function” philosophy with simple geometric forms, vibrant colors and evocative imagery.

Back in my New York City days as a graphic design student, we focused on the Swiss Style. I was taught to design within a strict system of grids, san serif fonts and flat colors. It made logical sense, but after an entire semester of using nothing but the Swiss Style Helvetica, I didn’t go near that font for 20 years!

I was fortunate back then to score a summer internship in Lausanne, Switzerland, where I worked under the Hungarian born, and very precise art director, Gabor Halmos. Gabor took the Swiss Style to an elevated, understated, and very elegant place. It gave me an appreciation for white space and clean design that has heavily influenced our “Clarity By Design” philosophy.

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The Ramones – Head Banging And Great Branding

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the Ramones. What a blast. And I mean “blast” in every sense of the word. Yes, there was the trademark, stripped-down, jet-engine guitar roar, but these guys were really just tons of fun. It was, and still is, a blast to listen to the Ramones.

I guess that’s why my kids immediately got it, and why they pogo to the band’s songs to this day. By boiling it all down to its gritty, three-chord essence, the Ramones created primal rock ‘n’ roll that spans generations.

“What we did,” said guitarist Johnny Ramone, “was take out everything that we didn’t like about rock ‘n’ roll and use the rest, so there would be no blues influence, no long guitar solos, nothing that would get in the way of the songs.”

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