Monster Mashup: Mixing it up to create new ideas.

Can creativity be taught.

Well, yes and no. Coming up with “creative ideas” is a skill that can improve with time. And one of the basics of concepting new ideas is two mix two familiar ideas to create a third new one. Call it the creative mashup if you will.


And that’s what my family did on Halloween. We participated in a trunk or treat at our church, an event where people decorate their cars and costumes in a parking lot and the neighborhood kids visit. We were Skarif or Bust, a Star Wars visits the tropics theme. We had surfboards and a jet tail on the Millennium Van. I was Princess Lei. (Creative mashup + bad pun.)


So what are examples of creative mashups?

Night before Christmas + Halloween

Night before Christmas + Halloween

Classic movie monsters + high school drama

Classic movie monsters + high school drama

Santa Claus + Halloween

Santa Claus + Halloween

So the next time you're trying to come up with an idea for a blog post, promotion or even a Halloween costume, try mashing it up!

Happy writing!  :)




Scaling your story for social media.

I had the pleasure of being the guest on Dr. Mary Beth McCabe's Social Media / Mobile Marketing webinar series.

Catch the webinar here.

We talked about:

  • How the advertising/marketing game has changed
  • More businesses have the tools, but they still need the know how
  • Storytelling draws you in by your emotions
  • Scaling your story for social media
  • Social media platforms are tactics, not strategy
  • We also talked a little bit about my graphic recording practice
  • The importance of simplifying ideas in a 24/7 world
  • Sketching is a took for thinking.

Of course I made a sketchnote after our discussion.





About pages I love: ADAY

I don’t click on Facebook ads too often, but I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on an ad from ADAY, a line of technical/everyday/sporty clothes. Cute styles. Great writing. I loved their about page which was found under the navigation tab: Our Story.

ADAY’s about page opens up with a big airy headline that states their purpose: We wanted to simplify our wardrobes (and our lives). So we set out to create the wardrobe of the future. This line not only explains what they do (make clothes) but explains their  Why: (make life simpler.) This is the theme of their entire message.

Then a dotted line draws your eye further down with each descriptive adjective serving as a headline: technical, seasonless, sustainable. Great whimsical touch. The headlines make these three paragraphs very scannable.

Handwritten type adds sidebar facts and tidbits about the company. But it’s possible to get the gist of the company if you don’t read these captions. The not-quite-as-legible font encourages you to take a moment and read the captions.

Next a paragraph is set off against a simple photo. The headline is a Heart Grab, communicating that the founders of the company are like their customers: Because we value our lives like you do. And then they go into describing their backgrounds.

At the bottom of the page there are a couple of different calls to action for careers, be a test wearer, and an invitation to stop by their studio. A great headline sets up this section: We love meeting people who share our vision, so let’s get to know each other better.

I’m loving the copy and art direction on this site. Also loving the Something Borrowed Shirt.

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Happy writing!


TEDxSanDiego 2016 – The Age of Wonder

I recently  had the pleasure of attending TEDxSanDiego. This year's theme was The Age of Magic, a celebration of those things in life that fill us with a sense of wonder and awe.

Each talk is less than 10 minutes but each speaker works with a presentation coach to help them hone in on their story and presentation.

Spoken word artist Gill Sotu shared about the things in life that create ordinary magic.

Janelle Ayres, assistant professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, proposes that we have been approaching infectious diseases from the wrong perspective. She asks: how can we survive the infection, not just fight it.

Thomas Albright, Professor and Director, Vision Center Laboratory at the Salk Institute, lists three reasons why eyewitnesses fail: uncertainty, bias, and confidence. 

Dawn Barry, Vice President, Applied Genomics at Illumina reminded us that our DNA is not our destiny.

Natalie Kaczorowski, aka Comic Connie, asked what if being a super hero was normal.

Lex Gillette, 4-time paralympic world champion and world-record holder in the long jump, says there is no need for sight when you have a vision.

Justin Brooks, founder of  the California Innocence Project, once walked 712 miles from San Diego to Sacramento to convince the Governor to use this power to free 12 innocent people.

Scott Klemmer, co-founder and co-director of the Design Lab at UCSD, said prototyping was like a time machine to the future.

Regina Bernal, Entrepreneurship Manager, University of San Diego School of Business looked at the collaboration between Tijuana and San Diego as an example for the rest of the world.

Navrina Singh, Head of Qualcomm ImpaQt, encouraged us to think of oursleves like a SmartPhone: every day is a chance for a new version of yourself! 

Productivity expert Ellen Goodwin has made a study of the dive bars of San Diego—and the people that frequent them.

Kelly Mellos is an artist who encouraged Israeli and Palestinian teens paint portraits of each other and in the process everyone gained more empathy.

The rise and complete domination of live video.

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Social Media Marketing World here in San Diego. The big takeaway: live video is here.
Facebook Live gives you the ability to broadcast live to your friends, your business page or to a group. This creates an easy way to share live events or broadcast to your following. Facebook thinks so much of live video that they are giving Facebook Live top priority in their algorithm. Yep, if you want attention: go live on video.

Other interesting developments: looks like a fantastic alternative to Google hangouts and lets you talk with up to four people on screen and integrates text comments.

  • YouTube Connect is coming
  • Instagram increased the length of videos to 60 seconds
  • 39% of 18 to 32 year-olds are on Snapchat


Are you ready for a noisier stream?

When it comes to making a human connection, nothing beats video. You can give behind the scenes looks at what's going on. Having a commanding presence on live video will become an even more important business and social skill.

But just think how much longer it takes to watch a 30 second video than it takes to glance at a shot on Instagram. A lot of people just like to hear themselves talk. I see an even increasing need for filters. It will be interesting to watch the balance of authenticity and media overwhelm play out.


Yeah, I'm on Snapchat: @annemccoll

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All the #smmw16 sketchnotes:



What Luke Skywalker taught me about the big idea.

Why is Episode 4: A New Hope the most popular Star Wars movie. (Other than the fact that it was the first one?)

It has a strong storyline. Sure Episodes 1, 2 and 3 have bright shiny technology, but they lack story. Let's take a side-by-side look at Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Episode 4: A New Hope. Comparing the storylines of the two movies got me thinking about the importance of the big idea when telling a story. (Whether you should begin with the prequels or original trilogy is a whole other blog post.)

The original Star Wars, A New Hope, is a classic story of good vs evil. We follow the quest of young Luke as he grows as a young man.  The end of the movie is an adrenaline rush as we watch Luke and the other pilots make the assault on the Death Star and blow it up.

Contrast this with the ending of Episode 1 The Phantom Menace. Who are we rooting for?

  • The froggish Jar Jar Binks leading the Gungans into battle against the Trade Federation battle droids.
  • Then we have Princess Amidalaleading the capture of the palace.
  • Anakin ends up in the sky and blows up the control ship thus disabling all the droids.
  • And finally, Qui-gon Jinn and Obi-wan Kenobi battle Darth Maul.

Did you get that? Now imagine if this was a marketing campaign. With A New Hope, you can name who the hero is – Luke Skywalker.

Now quick, who's the hero of the Phantom Menace?

If you stuff too many details in your messaging people end up remembering nothing.

May the Fourth be with you.

When online and offline collide: Sharing your Instagram shots IRL.

With 300 million users uploading 21.9 billion photos on Instagram last year, we’re taking and sharing more photos than ever before. But the funny thing is, we’re printing fewer and fewer of them. Instagram may have the highest engagement of any social network, but you can also engage people by printing out your Instagram shots. The intersection of online and offline is my favorite place to hang. Here are a couple creative ways to share your favorite photos.

An Instagram business card.

Sue B. Zimmerman is The Instagram Expert, a high-energy entrepreneur who helps growing businesses find and connect with their audiences on Instagram. Is it any surprise that her business card is an Instagram shot of her in an Instagram frame? Sue's contact information is printed on the back. These are Mini Squares printed by Social Print Studio, a fun online studio that prints your Instagram shots. (I am not an employee, I simply love their products.) And yes, several months after meeting Sue again at #smmw15, I still have her business card pinned up on my bulletin board. How's that for brand engagement?

Cards Against Banality.

Branding expert Liz Goodgold is a speaker and author of How to Speak Gooder: Brand-New Rules for Public Speaking in a Digitally Distracted World.

Liz’s talks are the epitome of  “edutainment” – blending information, education, humor, and real-world examples. She is known for her Words of Lizdom, a collection of wise and punny aphorisms. As a holiday gift I designed a card set of her Words of Lizdom. (Large format Squares from Social Print Studio.) I know Liz got a big kick out of them and appreciated the personalized gift.


The Word Book

In the writing world, November NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month where writers commit to writing the first draft of a novel. While I couldn’t commit to writing 1,600 words a day, I could commit to writing 1 word a day. So every day for a month, I created a word image on mobile devices, using a combo of photo, Over and Brushes and posted the word image on Instagram. At the end of the month I printed a tiny book, My Favorite Words.

I sent My Favorite Words out as a holiday promo to my clients. It was a big hit, many even shared the book on Instagram. Now, over a year later, when I visit their offices, many clients have the tiny book stuck on a filing cabinet. (The back cover contains a magnet! Yep, printed by Social Print Studio.) This is the beauty of print, if you create something precious, people will keep it, providing a lasting branding message.

Do you have any crafty Instagram ideas? Share them on Instagram and tag me: @annemccoll.

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