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Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Travis Poffenberger Process Corcoran College of Art + Design Spring Semester 2012



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Research 3. Strategy 4. Role

and Tactics

in Branding

5. Website 6. Problems 7. Solutions



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012


The Task We were instructed to pick a minority group in the United States and get their voting rates up. At first I was excited about the task, thinking that everyone should vote, why not? The more research that I did the more I realized how important it is to be educated, and inclusive when assigned with targeting a certain group. So there were now two goals. First of all, make sure the campaign never stereotypes or “others� the Hispanic demographic we were trying to reach. Secondly, to get the voting rates up, and how to do so. As the problem became more complex, more interesting solutions were reached, and I feel in the end a thorough and inclusive campaign was created. So, what did it take to get there?



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Research Process Book : Travis Poffenberger



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Books I read a fair deal of books. The more nonfiction I read the more I realize that everything can relate to design somehow. The main texts I referenced for strategies were, “Understanding Media” by Marshall Mcluhan,”Takin’ Over by Imposing the Positive” by Brandon McCartney,”In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan, an essay by Lee Weng Choy in “Contemporary Art Since 1985” as well as the graphic novel “Watchmen” written by Alan Moore. Each book offered it’s own unique insight into the task at hand. Voting or not voting is more of a psychological issue than one of pure “graphic design”. We needed to design an experience, design a mind set, and then make graphics which spoke to the way we wanted folks to think, and react. I read a lot. Then I started writing myself, to more fully understand my thoughts, and ended up developing some strategies by doing so. When trying to reach a culture, one must research everything that every culture has. Food, vernacular vocabulary, and traditions.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Books Continued “Change by Design” written by Tim Brown assured me that the best “designs” were those of experience. The book had a lot to offer but I wanted more real world situations than what was provided in the text. So I looked elsewhere for grand undertakings, good and bad, then looked at it through a design perspective. Examination is really the key to everything. When I understood the fact that literally everything around us in the city is made by humans, it becomes apparent how powerful design can be when implemented correctly. The graphics are a part, but much less important than the “experience” or “vibes” the project as a whole gives off. This “experience” influences the visuals that will represent it truthfully. This book really hammered home the concept that the concept is what is most important. Choosing how you want the audience to feel or interact with whatever is designed should be considered first, after research is done, only then can visuals be created to echo the intangible idea.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012


On “Busy”

People Vote all of the Time, everyday. People vote when they choose how

“I’m just too busy”, The leading misinformation of a vague phrase. How

to get to work, what they eat at lunch. Casting a singular opinion into the

many times have you made that excuse about something you really did not

greater scale of things is a human theme, we have been doing it for millions

want to do?

of years. I am sure you can think of several things you do every day which is

Example A: “Hey man can you help me move my really heavy couch

“voting” in nature. It can go down to the route you take home, to the brand

Saturday?” “Sorry dude, I’m really busy Saturday” “Whatever, man.” People

of bottled water you consume.

make time for things that are important to them. How many times honestly

Imagine if no one bought any gas today, in the USA. What actions

have you skipped some classes or called in sick to an appointment in order

would that promote? What would it look like on sales graph’s for the oil

to make time for something you deemed more important? People get the

companies? What would people spend their money on instead?

stuff done that they believe is the MOST IMPORTANT. Putting this question

People who don’t vote because they see the political system as crooked.

on the questionnaire which was widely circulated by the census seems to

Most people drive cars, or use some kind of transportation which is based

have leading results. “Too Busy” may be one of the most highly subjective

on fossil fuels, which we all know are not sustainable. It is COMMON

phrases to exist in the English language. Even if people are not “too busy” by

KNOWLEDGE that these technologies are bad for the environment, are the

one’s standards, the unpleasant nature of voting may further deter people

cause of several fatal crashes, and not to mention stink up the environment

who have little else to do that day, but see voting as such a low priority that

and deplete the ozone, but we do it anyway- because we have to, or we like

even walking a dog will exceed the importance of such.

to, or we feel comfortable with it. Even though macro-voting has far less

Example B: “Hey why didn’t you vote? You do know that voting is the

negative affects, or far greater reaching positive ones than the micro-votes

root system on which democracy is based and It’s really important. There

do, we see it as alien, and are hesitant to participate in this circus.

must have been a good reason.” “Uhh, I was really busy, Official Looking

Even though we vote in our “rulers” we do not see this as essential, which

Government Survey.” “Business is a good excuse, you must be a very

is insane. We need to figure out how to people to view voting as a normal

productive person, I am not judging you at all”

behavior, such as eating lunch meat or riding the bus. People need to see it

Have you ever been summoned to an event, say your favorite band is in

as a learning experience, even if it means making an uneducated vote for

town, but you are “really busy”? Did you make time for your friends birth-

the “wrong” candidate. Perhaps they will learn from their experience and

day party? Even if you had several other commitments? If not, what was

put more emphasis in educating themselves in the future.

MOST important to you? People don’t vote because they see the political

Politics and the sentiment of “idealism” are too closely related. We seem

process not as a glimmering fractal of eagles and stars. They see it as a

to think of these people as creating something closer to being “ideal” than

grey rainy day, standing in line in a stinking community center only to cast

other aspects in our lives, linking back to the fossil fuels idea. We all buy

their worthless opinion into the swallowing abyss which is the political

stuff we know isn’t IDEAL for the environment, yet we want our candidates

spectrum. But maybe, that’s just it. Maybe it’s not that people are “too busy”

to be?

but the unpleasant nature of the voting process itself. Perhaps the actual

I think we can emphasize political participation as the first step to

voting process works against itself in getting people to vote, maybe it in

becoming more educated about the political process, even becoming so

itself is competition for our campaign. It is not an “organization” per se, but

involved to designate one’s self as the “ideal” candidate.

it is in itself an institution.

We are competing with everyday choices, but we need to partner with them. We need people to see that the things they do everyday are votes, and that way the “real deal” will be less weird, and more welcoming. page


Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Strategies & Tactics Process Book : Travis Poffenberger



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Development I did a lot of research in the research phase. Competitive analysis, and other things that I saw relevant,I would take notes. These notes started to take up much real estate in my sketchbooks. These are samples of the notes that led to our core strategies.

I participated in surveying folks along with other group members. We tried at a church, no success. People don’t like to be bugged at Church, especially in the parking lot. We got some good insight from a group of young men and women drinking away their hangovers, eating, and celebrating. They were chatty, open, and most importantly honest.

The best information we received was at Hispanic grocery stores. People were relaxed, sober, and talkative. Strangely they really wanted to talk about voting. If someone approached me with a clipboard I would humor them, but they seemed angry, or hopeless, or passionate about it. Obama inspired hope in a lot of people. Studying his strategies became a top priority after the Grocery Store Survey.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Refinement I did a lot of thinking in the research phase: Competitive analysis, was the root of the research. I wanted this campaign to be able to “compete” with the LIVESTRONG and Obama campaigns. I did not want to study rinky dink operations for their tactics, only for their failures. and other things that I saw relevant,I would take notes. These notes started to take up much real estate in my sketchbooks. These are samples of the notes that led to our core strategies. Shown are the original slides from the first presentation. Strategy 4 is exclusively from Brandon McCartney’s “Takin’ Over by Imposing the Positive”. He regularly re purposes words in order to toy with the connotations and meanings as a whole, it proves to be successful. The other two strategies are derived from a mixture of the LIVESTRONG Campaign, the Obama Campaign, and Michael Pollan’s “An Eaters Manifesto”, with guidance from “Change by Design”.The same is true for the ones not shown, I just found these the most interesting.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Role in Branding Process Book : Travis Poffenberger



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Role in Branding Branding the project was largely a group process. We all pitched in during the divergent, and convergent stages. We brainstormed with stickies, with words, grouped them, so on and so fourth. I contributed several failed logos as the rest of the group did . This was a long and rough journey before we found the perfect mark .



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Logo Process We knew the logo had to be organic or pattern based. Here are the early stages of the logo, from my exploration. None of these were even really considered, but it was interesting that all of our explorations had the same type of “vibe�. Meaning that we all understood the research and concept of the project the same way. My favorite is the photograph of the human hand.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Website Process Book : Travis Poffenberger



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012


Not all websites are the same. Obviously, But what is different about the websites that people look at? For www.CreerEs,org I chose to model the site after those which sharing and visual culture play a main role. I wanted the website to be friendly, fun, and put viewers in the right “mood” ; it needed to be inspirational. As designers we know all about mood boarding, Just because there is a specific word for the concept does not meant that it is an ineffective tactic for those unfamiliar with the idea.

Looking at a grid display or scroll feed of images is currently recognized as “truthful”. Look at Facebook, they use a scroll feed, Tumblr, uses the same concept. Google images is a premier source now a days for information. Let us say that one has never seen a Dragon fruit, plug it into Google images and there it is! A whole bunch of Dragon fruit. We trust this image display format because it is associated with a giant search engine we trust as well. The semiotics of Google Images were utilized to create the home page of the website, to provide a legitimate appearance.

Coming back to the mood boards, what if instead of someone typing “Dragon fruit” into Google images, a grid of pictures comes up with someone’s motive behind the content and arrangement? My goal was to inspire people, to make them feel good, to feel like participating. Using hand selected content and a trusty structure the home page of the website is a mood board for inspiration, for involvement.

The other pages contain pictures from the community. The local feel was pivotal in this site concept as well. I want folks to be able to visit the site and immediately recognize a face, or location, as well as to be inspired by something. Mixing this with the approachable vibe of the branding one creates an accessible, yet professional platform for community engagement. A hub for our social media outlets, and a place one knows they will always find something good. People like good sites, they will tell their friends. 1+1 =2 ,



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Example A Here you can see the “Dragon Fruit” search compared with the “inspiration” search. The Dragon Fruit results are more or less the same. Dragon Fruit cut open, dragon fruit trees, etc. The results for inspiration are much more interesting though. Everything from text art, to photography, to fractals. What does this mean? It means that a tangible object is much easier defined as “one thing”, naturally, but I can assure you that no matter what link is clicked on that page it will bring you to “Dragon Fruit”. In order to find out what “inspires” people to vote, they have to find their own way in. Some people vote because they are excited about the candidates, others feel it their civic duty. Do they click on the picture of the sunrise over the desert? The psychedelic fractal? Maybe even the heart shaped globe. Essentially there is no one agreed upon method to get people to vote, so letting individuals choose their own by providing a similar styled “mood board” seemed the best idea, based on my research. The motivation lies within themselves. On the Creer Es website, every bit of media has a description under it which loosely relates it to voting, and links to the “speak up” page. When people begin to associate what inspires them with the voting process, they are more likely to feel connected to it.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Example B If one is to search “Washington DC on Google Images this is what shows up. Take notice of the related searches, and the images that show up. Many of them are of the skyline or monuments, no real shots of the actual city, peoples homes, businesses. The related searches are “Washington DC map, Washington DC city, Washington DC skyline, Washington DC monuments, Washington DC at night.”There is nothing in the visual dialogue about the lack of congressional representation of the city, because people do not seem to be interested in it. It would be interesting to see what would happen should Google Images put a pro DC vote image on the first page of image results for Washington DC. I believe it would change the perceptions of the populous , as one strong image in a mood board would change the direction of a design project. This “mood board” is almost as linear as the Dragon Fruit one. DC is seen as only monuments to many people.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Proof A1 Today (Thursday May 3rd) a friend was showing me an interaction design website and we stumbled upon this redesign of the Mott’s product website, via codeandtheory. com . I noticed many similarities between my design strategy and theirs. It felt good to see a professional re-design of a large company’s website, which follows similar interaction principles and concepts as one of my own.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Proof A2 The site is the mirror image of the Creer Es site, in some regards. The concept of the Creer Es site is to create a moodboard to inspire in general, with the backbone of voting. This site is to give choices as well, but also re-inforce brand strategy. Eitehr way they are emotional approaches. The Creer Es site has share buttons when one mouses over a bit of media. This site has specific images to share on specific networks, the next step in the solution. On the bottom of the page (not pictured) there is an image to be shared specifically on Pinterest, (marketing to moms) while the rest of the items are almost exclusively to be shared via facebook.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Proof A3 The Mott’s website features a recent activity bar (at the bottom of the page rather than at the top , like CreerEs,org. The site also has a featured “window” on the main page, connected to Facebook, for ease of management. When a giant company needs to reach out to the public it uses social media exclusively, usually, with a bit of “real” human interaction, like the Red Bull Girls or the occassional handout of a new coconut water drink by the Metro station. The Creeres. org page contains a whole “featured” page, with hand curated content, to emphasize the “local” feel , which Mott’s does not have. It feels friendly, but it still has the vibe of being a huge corporation, and does not speak any specific civic duty or inspiration: just “happy”.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Notes I find writing stuff down is a great way to understand it more thoroughly. These are notes about the site as I was building it.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Site Map Here is the conceptual site map showing how the website will function. The “submit” page was eventually replaced by a “featured” page, with a submit option within it. The “submit” link at the top was taking up too much real estate that could be used for a better purpose, such as a “featured” page.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Up and Running The screen shot higher on the page shows the home page of the website. Notice the visible branding and mild color palette to provide a rest for the eyes in the media heavy page.

A Twitter stream is present on the left side of the page, so one can see that we are in fact an active organization. This encourages quick sharing of the site as well. Above the Twitter stream there is a filter option. Such filter options include: NOVA, VIDEO, INSPIRATIONAL, EVENT, SUBMISSION. This makes the task of browsing a snap.

The social media presence is reiterated on the top right of the screen. Three custom social media icons, designed by Allison Nambo are present. This shows the visitor that we are on Facebook, Twitter, and we have an RSS feed that one could subscribe to.

The bottom screen shows the “about” page. Participants at an event can be seen on the right sidebar, while other even photos populate the main page. The page closes with a “Creer Es” to vote image. Reinforcing our message to the visitor.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Problems Process Book : Travis Poffenberger



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Some Small I helped create content for the Twitter page. I noticed that our tweets were not reading as human, more news articles and stuff that went along with our research was tweeted than questions or stuff that sounded like “people”. The human element was key to the whole idea, so I started using hashtags and asking followers human questions. The amount of followers we gained was substantial after the change was made in the dialogue of the Twitter page, proving the importance of human involvement or presence in the design plan. I made a hashtag strategy, consisting of #inspiration #NOVA #DMV #believe, and of course #CreerEs. these were the main one’s utilized. I also began asking the people what they “vote” to do for the weekend, or the evening etc. I used “The Vernacular” strategy frequently on Twitter. When I talked about voting, I used terms like “speaking up” or “expressing”, When I talked about

Later I also noticed none of the tweets were in Spanish, so I asked the only native Spanish speaker in our group to translate some phrases and hashtags for us to use with Twitter. This was a bit late in the game to gauge any results, but I believe given time this tactic will draw more followers.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Some Large

Ethics in Design I ended up in the midst of a moral crisis during this campaign. I began to feel uneasy about the fact that we had to “pick a race” and change the way they behaved. This seemed colonial, racist, and morally reprehensible. Working on a campaign to encourage “voting” while ignoring the greater socioeconomic constructs effecting people in the United States began to seem unimportant. Thanks to this crisis though I learned more than I may have ever during this semester. I thought that myself and my group were doing something wrong, but I realized that it is mainstream advertising who are walking on questionable ground when it comes to targeting a “group”. This helped wrap up any loose ends in the Creer Es campaign, and reinforce our main concepts.



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

More Writing

I Wrote My Thoughts Down... Again

than one day etc.) and it is difficult to support a basic right put into context of biased circumstances. What if one can’t get a few hours off to make it to

I feel that honesty is first and foremost crucial in any righteous venture,

the polls? That essentially erases one’s right to participate based on class

granted ventures are not always righteous, but I believe this to be one;

or circumstance. I feel that the fact that this campaign had to be “non-

ideally. Get folks out to vote! What could be wrong with that? At first,

partisan” is contradictory to the entire concept of it. To me, at least, being

nothing came to mind. Embracing the liberties and rights one has as an

“non partisan” is defined as not taking either side, or encouraging others to

American is an ideal close to my heart, and I believe everyone should

do so. Whether it be in politics, sports, or literally any other activity. Today,

truly embrace their liberty. Somewhat ironically, in the same vein I believe

on a national television network, I saw reporters discussing Axl Rose’s

people have every right to decline involvement, in any sense of the word.

declination letter to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This

The Founding Fathers of America created a place where weighty agenda’s

struck a chord with me in my present examination of the country. Why

weren’t forced down the throats of the citizens, a place where people could

should everyone care when this one guy declines a ceremonial honor, and

be free to do as they chose, and fear not of being oppressed.

no one really gives a damn when ton’s of people aren’t voting? There is no

I have a strange feeling referring to “our community” or “us” when it comes

better way to show a group of people that you don’t care about them than

to the campaign as I myself am not in the 1st tier of the target demographic,

to ignore their strange behavior, even if it could help you win a campaign.

“Hispanic Americans”. Why not all Americans? One of our campaign goals was to get “Hispanic Americans” to feel more like “Americans”. I believe this will never be accomplished when greatly diverse groups of people are all labeled under the giant umbrellas of “race” (which has a negative connotation) and as “Americans” (which has a positive connotation… sometimes; at least in this situation it does.) I believe that fragmenting our audience via race was a setback from the beginning, at least in hind sight. The US census data gathering system is old. It is based on racial lines that mean nothing more than a pebble in a stream. Mushing totally different groups of people into one big mass to make them easier to label is disgusting. Most people think the government doesn’t care about them. Some wanted to vote, but were felons and could not. Some had a pessimistic view on society, and saw voting as pointless. Many people expressed excitement involving President Obama. One guy even said he voted for random candidates he was so unattached to the whole process. I don’t want to make these people vote. I want to provide them with deeper inspiration to get involved in community first, and government second. I feel right about putting up a website, social media, literature etc. , Which encourages social participation as a whole, but nothing specific. I think the specific nature of the voting process is one that is already flawed to an extent (not being a holiday, on a weekend, more page


Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

Solutions Process Book : Travis Poffenberger



Corcoran College of Art & Design | Junior Studio 2012

The Answers

A New Method Moving past all of the issues I found with the government, and the project, I started to realize something I had previously forgotten. Creer Es was drastically different from all of the other campaigns, it was started with good intentions, is not imposing, but is enriching. It’s like a library of information in some aspects. The main problem I had with addressing a ‘race” of people was the notion that it is wrong to dictate them to do something based on their race, but we are not dictating, we are asking. Creer Es means “to believe in” we allow the audience to influence the meaning. We are not telling them what they believe in, they are telling us. Providing a vessel for self expression is key in making campaigns that speak directly to the community. Interaction is everything now a days. Computers are being used more and more, so interaction is expected in everything, even campaigns. I feel glad to have this knowledge now.

The Future I hope to be able to share my knowledge of problem solving with the world. I watched severally racially biased advertisements and read articles about them over the course of this project. If someone is trying to reach a group of people, it is essential to have their input. Not only surveying and research, but having them directly influence whatever the campaign is themselves. Allowing the group one is trying to reach to physically influence the narrative of the campaign is the only way to make it unbiased. That is the beauty of Creer Es. Physically putting one’s mark on the logo shows that one owns it. It belongs to the person who spoke up, who expressed themselves, who voted to change the campaign the way they wanted it to be. This is the only way to “target” without “stereotype”. Provide a platform, and let the people express themselves.



Creer es | Process Doc.  
Creer es | Process Doc.  

Personal process highlighting involvement in the Creer es campaign. Insights into strategy, and what goes on in my head.