Shawn Nesaw

Today, we salute 10 technologies we swoon over and can’t live without. Simply said, we heart you and couldn’t live without you!
1. Smart phones
At A. Bright Idea, we truly appreciate the iPhone and Android abilities to stay connected, the endless social media capabilities (for FourSquare mayoral battles) and the organization and support, including the new Siri application for iPhone and Google connections with Droid.
2. Bluetooth headphones
For work and workout junkies, Bluetooth now allows our smart phones to connect in our cars and our headphones to listen to Pandora while you run or take phone calls, not to mention your car and headphones will now read you text messages when they come in. It’s multitasking at its best!
3.  Tablet
With a tablet you can watch a movie, read a book, check social media, browse photos, write a report, play games and more. Better yet, this technology fits into any small space and can entertain children and adults alike for hours.
5. WiFi
No excuses anymore now that everywhere provides free WiFi. No matter your location, you can check email, social media or browse the web with ease.
6. Augmented reality
Imagine holding your phone up to a photo and a video automatically starts playing or a doctor practicing a surgery as if it were real life through a computer-generated sensory program. With this technology we can now experience a real-world environment virtually.
7. 3D at your fingertips
Like a 3D movie at the theater in your living room, televisions with 3D technology make watching movies and gaming a real experience. Harnessing 3D technology for other applications, like websites and animations, makes it hard to miss the message!
8. Video conferencing
Staying connected face-to-face has never been so easy, and coast-to-coast creative meetings have never been so productive, thanks to iChat, FaceTime, GoTo Meetings and Skype!
9. Search Engines
You know you’re getting the best when Google, Yahoo and Bing are fighting to come out on top with the latest, greatest and fastest in search engine technology, not to mention the new competitors released each month. This is especially important considering the how often we use search daily. Imagine finding information without it! We also rely on search technology for optimizing website content so you generate better results for your site.
10. Peer-to-Peer Gaming
Even with a busy schedule, peer-to-peer gaming such as Words with Friends or Hanging with Friends allows a little entertainment at anytime. Looks like this technology is replacing the traditional “game night” but with the same old-fashioned competiti

Shawn Nesaw

1. Custom Design Approach
Always our passion, we predict an increase in custom illustration and photography when it comes to graphic design. Like we’ve said for years, stock imagery can be used by all and doesn’t evoke the same attention or connection that a hand drawn look can bring. See if you can spot the added touches and effects of illustration and photography through advertising and marketing collateral this year.
2. Growth in Half Off Deals
Don’t count Groupon, Living Social or Restaurant Deals out just yet. Some reports say the fad may be dying down but we can see these consumer favorites keeping up with their historic growth through 2012. The consistent growth in popularity should be recognized as a mentality of the audience. People do love a good deal!
3. Targeted advertising
You think you connect with ads now but just wait for this year’s interactive advertising, complete with features including 3D interaction, audience response and demographic-specific advertising everywhere you look, including your Google mail, web browser, cell phone and more. Watch what you search because a simple vacation browse will leave you open to tourism and travel agent advertising overload!
4. Bing at #2
Coming up quickly, we see Bing making it to the number two spot this year, just behind Google as a top search engine. Bing’s quick and reliable search makes it easy for users to navigate the web and their marketing strategy far surpasses competitors who use to hold strong to the top positions.
5. New web development
With new technology in web programming and coding, we predict you’ll have the opportunity for more interactive online in the coming year. We’re envisioning 3D websites, more video and photos that viewers can personally interact with, not to mention live video chatting.
6. More banks adding mobile
As the need for convenience continues to consume us, we predict a rise in mobile banking applications in 2012 but not just from your national banks, but community and local banks as well. In fact, mobile banking demonstrated 10% market penetration within the past two years.
7. Multi-level Design
The separation between print and interactive continues to grow thin and in 2012 we see more cross-platform compatibility moving in to play. In the realm of graphic design, it’s not just about designing for print anymore; you need to consider web, television and even mobile. Making a design fit multiple platforms this year will help it to expand across more mediums, reaching more of the target audience.
8. Make it green
The eco-movement grows more and more with each year but in 2012 we predict a trend in people moving past just recycling in the office and think more outside of the box when it comes to keeping out planet green. If you’re looking to put another foot on the eco-movement and helping this trend succeed, consider printing on recycled paper or switching from water bottles to a water cooler in 2012.
9. New social media
Yes, it’s possible. There is a social media world outside of Facebook and Twitter and we see it having more of an impact as 2012 continues. Pinterest stands as a great example of a social media platform already gaining an impressive audience and buzz among social media users. The trend this year will definitely be the quick to learn and quick to use social media. Pinterest is a winner because it takes literally no effort on the users part yet your still interacting with a social network; you simply look at photos for inspiration and ideas on any and all subjects imaginable. If you want, you can like, repin or add posts, otherwise you can just browse at leisure!
10. Subtle colors
Each year unveils a popular color palette. For example, according to, 2011’s color of the year was honeysuckle – uplifting and optimistic. For 2012, we envision the trend to fall with a more subtle color palette, maybe with a brown or slate hue as the color of the year. After all, this would go right along with the number eight trend – Make it green – by promoting earth tones.

Shawn Nesaw

The holiday season brings out the best in American classics, with movies set decades past or those from recent years. This year’s December top 10 pays homage to the best of holiday movies from every generation.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A box office flop, this classic didn’t gain popularity until 30 years later when it started airing each year on television. Now a classic tale, It’s a Wonderful Life reminds us to appreciate our loved ones and the life we have.
2. A Christmas Story (1983)
“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” And don’t forget the leg lamp, something every family should have.
3. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol (1992)
Kermit, Miss. Piggy, Gonzo and the gang tell the classic story with a small twist of adult humor.
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
The Griswolds taught us all simple is better. Over-the-top light displays aren’t always necessary.
5. Home Alone (1990)
Kevin McCallister was every kid’s super hero, living life in a big house with no parents and conquering the bad guys with some hilarious tactics.
6. Elf (2003)
What’s not to love about an adult (not to mention giant) elf entering the real world? “Everything really is better with syrup.”
7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Inspiring miracles keep the real Kris Kringle alive in the hearts of all. This classic also ties in the famous Macy’s Day parade and New York City excitement at Christmas-time.
8. The Polar Express (2004)
With heart-warming talent, including Tom Hanks, children experience a whirlwind adventure on the Polar Express, where St. Nick and the spirit of Christmas truly come to life.
9. The Santa Clause (1994)
Don’t fret! One Santa may die but Tim Allen jumps in to rescue Christmas, whether he wants to or not. This hit tells the story of family, believing and embracing holiday cheer no matter the circumstances.
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000)
Whether you love the cartoon version or Jim Carey’s Grinch, Whoville’s Whos tell a great tale of family and community strength, even turning the Grinch into a Christmas believer.
Holiday Bonus – #11
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton shares a scary interpretation of The Grinch with a ghoulish twist, yet a movie that you just can’t turn off when it’s on.

Shawn Nesaw

In the Thanksgiving spirit, this month’s top 10 list focuses on the items we, at A. Bright Idea, are most thankful for this year. We hope all of our clients, community members, family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  1. Strong family

Not only the family at home, we’re also thankful for our work family. We laugh together, we cry together, we fight and we love each other like family!

  1. Good friends

We often say our clients are like friends and it really is true here at A. Bright Idea. This year, we’re thankful for all of our clients, you are our friends.

  1. Health and babies

In 2011 the next generation of A. Bright Idea creative talent was born with staff babies including Matthew Mauldin, Jr. and Silas Maxton Dietrich.

  1. Community relationships

After another year of supporting organizations such as the William E. Proudford Sickle Cell Fund, the Harford County Public Library Foundation and Sonoma Valley Teen Services, we truly cherish the organizations within our community that help others and we’re thankful for the opportunity to support their efforts.

  1. New clients

This year we’ve been grateful in welcoming our new clients, including Highview Memorial Gardens, Power Cleaning, Sonoma Valley Teen Services, RoarITech, Live Well Family Chiropractic, Delaware Restaurant Association, St. Francis Winery, Upper Chesapeake Health and Harford County Public Schools.

  1. Creative talent

Our growing team of talented professionals – the people that make A. Bright Idea – are something we’re very grateful for this year! Their out-of-the-box thinking continues to wow.

  1. Growing in new areas

With our office in Sonoma, California and expansion in Bel Air, we’re thankful for creative space and new neighbors!

  1. Technology

Where would we be without technology? We’re so thankful for our iPhones, computers and Internet, not to mention the people who know how to make them work!

  1. Inspiration

At A. Bright Idea, those “ah ha” moments are what we live for and we’re so thankful for each and every one!

  1. Coffee

This is an obvious one! We’re thankful for the coffee that gave us the extra jolt to write this blog.

Shawn Nesaw

Last October we brought you the Top 10 Most Creative Halloween Costumes and we’re keeping the spooky spirit alive this year with A. Bright Idea’s Top 10 Halloween Candies. Share your favorite at or stop by our office for a treat from our purple candy bar!
1. Starburst
Isn’t life juicy?
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s
3. Bit-O Honey
Suck ’em slow or chew ’em fast, the fun on your tongue was made to last
4. Good ‘N Plenty
Plenty Good
5. Kit-Kat
Give me a break
6. Butterfinger
Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger
7. Hershey’s Bar
The great American chocolate bar
8. M&M’s
Melt in your mouth and not in your hand
9. Twizzler
Makes mouths happy
10. Snickers
Hungry? Why wait?

Shawn Nesaw

The change in weather can be hard, but the sweet smells (and tastes) of fall are what make it one of the best times of year. Of course at A. Bright Idea we have our Top 10 Fall Foods and their delicious recipes. Here’s hoping your fall is full of your favorite traditions, shared with friends and family!
1. Pumpkin Spice Latte
Don’t be fooled, this isn’t an easy one to make at home. With all of the coffee lovers here, we recommend Starbucks for this warm treat.
2. Apple Pie
Don’t forget to serve it warm and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
3. Butternut Squash Soup
A dinner party starter to please all
4. Cinnamon Pancakes
Easy breakfast to start the day or enjoy on the weekends
5. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Perfect for a rainy, fall day
6. Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Comfort food at its best
7. Vegetable Soup
A warming favorite with a twist of French cuisine
8. Chocolate Pear Cakes
The perfect pear for a fall treat
9. Beer Can Chicken
Meat and beer – it doesn’t get much better
10. Sliders (Mini Burgers)
Tailgate approved!

Shawn Nesaw

Every once in a while there’s a commercial that makes us laugh or cry harder than the show we’re watching. As true fans of creative, we’re sharing our top 10 favorite TV commercials. We hope you’ll laugh, cry and love them as much as we do!

  1. With football season on the horizon, this classic reminds us that rivalries run deep.  Without college sports, this wouldn’t be disgusting
  2. An old school classic, playing on one of the biggest brand competitions ever, without using a single word. Pepsi Dissing Coke
  3. Shot with over 100 cameras across the country of the same sunrise in one day. That takes some incredible planning, coordination and cooperation from Mother Nature. Sunrise
  4. Showing the longevity of the brand and pulling on your heartstrings, this spot takes nostalgia to the next level. Love is Forever
  5. American pride with a twist of family love, this commercial tells a terrific true story and Morgan Freeman’s voiceover is flawless. Go World
  6. This one will make you literally laugh out loud. The best part – you know his facial expression, even with the mask on! Darth Vader Kid
  7. We love Ray Lewis, not to mention the randomness of the bear in this spot. Bear

10.  Animated drawings, old school music, this one actually makes you feel five again!    Rethink Possible – Birthday


Shawn Nesaw

We’ve all heard them – the marketing lingo and phrases that are anything but innovative. In hopes of helping you spot these overused marketing terms, we’re calling them out and providing some fresh alternatives to make your copy clear, concise and relevant.
1. State-of-the-art –noun – forward looking, unconventional
A term used since the 80s, it’s still cliché today.
Alternatives – breakthrough, first of its kind
2. Unique –adjective – unshared by others
There are a number of things that make something different. Just use a new        word to describe it.
Alternatives – exclusive, rare, incomparable
3. Experts –noun – person skilled in a particular area
Unless you have “expert” in your title, try to use a different term to describe your experience.
Alternatives – ace, consultant, specialist, savant
4. New Media –noun – media emerging above traditional options, using technology advancements
It’s not new anymore now is it!
Alternatives – grassroots, social, interactive or evolving media
5. Personalize –verb – to perceive as different
Everyone can make something their own, but what makes your own better than someone else’s?
Alternatives – distinguish, define, specialized
6. Specialty –noun – a distinctive mark, state or condition
You offer incomparable services and want to be recognized for them, so make them incomparable with a new marker.
Alternatives – forte, calling, thumbprint
7. Quality –adjective – characteristic or feature describing a product or service
One person’s level of quality can be completely different than another’s, so try describing what your quality means to the end user in terms of benefits.
Alternatives – superior, genuine, enriched
8. Leader/Leading –noun – guide or influence
Everything has a leader, so make yours stand out by giving them a more influential title.
Alternatives – spearhead, motivating, director, chief
9. Creative –adjective – something artistic and imaginative
Clarify your creativity by describing what it is that makes it creative.
Alternatives – inspired, visionary, clever
10. Cutting-edge –adjective – forefront or leading initiative, idea, product, service, etc.
Unless you are inventing something completely new and different, it’s likely NOT cutting-edge.
Alternatives – new take, upgrade

Shawn Nesaw

Creativity and inspiration can come from the unexpected sometimes. The summer months offer up the best unexpected discoveries in the form of yard sales. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. So while some clean out their closets and garages, here’s a look at our top 10 yard sale inspirations.
1. Old print or letter press
We are a creative shop so this is the ultimate find for our designers with their love of quality paper and craftsmanship.
2. Historical pictures and portraits
These range from famous people, familiar places or just neat shots to use as art around the house on in the office. Plus, there’s something alluring about the untold stories.
3. Hometown classics
For you Baltimoreans out there, anything from the Baltimore Colts or Orioles remains an instant must-have, or even keepsakes or interesting finds from the Domino Sugar factory and National Bohemian –some of Baltimore’s most famous brands.

4. Books
From children’s books to American classics, yard sale books provide the perfect nostalgia. Check out how the children’s book Dick and Jane inspired this illustrated invitation for a local nonprofit.
5. Home decor
The craftsmanship and stories behind unique or era pieces make them a great accent at our office, conversation starter or starting point for our sketchbooks.
6. Instruments and music
Finding old albums, records or classic music can be fun for kids and adults. For our creative team, the perfect tune or unique melody can be truly inspiring toward our next big idea.
7. Vintage cameras and photography equipment
Gain perspective of the past with vintage photography equipment, including cameras, flashes, lighting, film and processing materials. Who knows, you may find your old camera has undeveloped film with pictures lost in time!
8. Sports equipment
Great finds for teaching new sports to children, playing around in the backyard, or advertising campaigns. Keep an eye out for pogo sticks, tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks, goals, pads and bikes!
9. Handbags
Ladies, you can find brands including Coach and Louis Vuitton at yard sales for pennies on the dollar – what a deal! Vintage bags often tote a strong combination of colors and patterns, making each unique and personalized toward an individual personality!
10. Furniture
Nothing is more inspiring than a comfy couch. You never know where you’ll find that next piece of furniture you can’t live without. Our own chill area features soft, green leather to help keep the ideas flowing.

Shawn Nesaw

Graphic design remains an integral part of our strategic and collaborative approach at A. Bright Idea. Graphics lingo can often overwhelm those outside of the industry. So, for this month’s Top 10 list, A. Bright Idea demystifies 10 graphic design terms.
1. White Space
White space, or the empty space within a design, allows the viewer to absorb all of the information by moving their eye throughout the layout, without being overwhelmed by content.

White Space Example

2. Typeface
A typeface consists of a series of fonts (light, bold, italic, condensed, extended) and a full range of characters, such as, numbers, letters, marks and punctuations within a design or document.
Typeface Example

3. Concept
The end result of the creative process – the concept. After going through the brainstorming, experimenting and exploration, designers execute and evaluate many concepts as potential solutions to the design problem before narrowing to a handful of solutions for the project.
4. Creative Process
There are four steps to the creative process: Preparation (research, collect data, pull from other sources of inspiration), Incubation (percolation, review material collected and brainstorm connections between thoughts and ideas), Illumination (the a-ha moment when an idea is developed) and Implementation (execution of the idea, and evaluation if it’s fits the problem). Designers use this creative process to develop ideas and solutions to all projects.
5. Vector
Vector graphics allow expansion or reduction of artwork without any loss in quality using curves, points, lines and polygons. Typical vector file formats are EPS, PDF and Ai (Adobe Illustrator).
6. Mockup
A re-creation of the original design at actual size, and sometimes on the actual paper the final piece will be printed on. Mockups show how the printed piece will fold, align and trim, and remains helpful in seeing actual image and text size. Although not color accurate, a mockup proves useful when provided to print vendors so they can ensure the final piece will match designer’s specifications.
7. Grid
The composition of a document and the arrangement of images, text, colors, graphics and illustrations on the page comprise the grid. Designers often use a grid to layout a document, in order to maintain consistent column widths and graphic alignment. This remains especially important when designing a multi-page document.
Grid Example

Two different types of color mode – CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, the colors used in the four-color print process. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue, the colors that make up the light spectrum for viewing on-screen, such as computer monitors.
9. Offset/digital
Digital printing remains best for fast, customized small-medium quantities, and offset printing best for high quality pieces at large quantities. Offset printers can print on individual sheets of paper, with a variety of papers to choose from, while digital printers are generally limited to a smaller sheet, selection and size. The clarity of a piece printed offset uses a different printing plate for each ink color. A digital press uses one high resolution file to electronically print the piece, like a copier.
10. Widow/orphan
Widows and orphans are the words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. A widow describes a paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the remainder of the text. An orphan can be one of two things: a paragraph-opening line appearing by itself at the bottom of a page/column; or a word, part of a word, or very short line appearing by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Widow/Orphan Example