5 Questions with mono

Minneapolis design firm mono doesn’t have a promo budget, nor does it actively tout its credentials. But its killer apps and other online toys have turned heads ’round the world.

In the September 2010  issue of HOW magazine, creative firm mono shares their story of how one holiday e-greeting called monoface was originally meant for about 250 friends and contacts. But, this online version of Mr. Potato head quickly spiraled into a worldwide viral hit. Since, the firm has churned out several other favorites, including the Younicorn app and Monoclops, similar in popularity to the original accidental promotion.

Read the complete story in HOW. Meanwhile, check out 5 questions with mono’s creative co-chair and founder Chris Lange.

HOW: Any advice for job seekers looking to promote their talents to a studio like yours?

Michael Hart and I have worked together for 15 years at various agencies and have always sold ourselves as a package deal. Earlier in our careers, we found it worthwhile to look for jobs as a team because we work so well together. We had separate resumes, but our portfolio of work was the same, so it made sense. Now that I’m a business owner myself and am responsible for recruiting people, I see the value of having a known package that can hit the ground running.

HOW: Who does self-promotion the best?

Chris: Bruce Mao wrote the ultimate self-promo piece, Massive Change, a book about beliefs in design and change. The other classic image that comes to mind is Stefan Sagmeister with the AIGA poster scratched into his flesh. It’s iconic and it’s all him. What I also find interesting about him, is that he takes a sabbatical every seven years. He takes a year off to go explore something different.

HOW: Does a good promo have a shelf life?

Chris: Not if it’s good work. Early on, we printed up some small case studies and sent to potential clients we felt were like-minded. One piece collected dust for two years on someone’s credenza at Herman Miller and then they finally called. You can’t expect instant results from these things. Sometimes it takes years. We’re not sure what will happen with Younicorn, but it’s not like unicorns have an expiration date.

HOW: Does social media come with new rules?

Chris: Once there were three TV networks and a handful of radio stations, but those days of having a captive audience are over. Now you have to be much more targeted. You have to create a filter that allows people to be in the right mindset or the right place to react the way you want them to. Think about what you want out of it and what your audience wants. If you haven’t thought those two things through, don’t hit the send button.

HOW: Have you ever turned down a big client?

Chris: MTV called after we did monoface, wanting us to do something similar for them. We told them we’d be happy to help them figure out the best way to achieve their goals. But they were set on doing this face thing.  We didn’t take the job.

Jenny Sullivan is a writer in Washington, DC. jennyssullivan@verizon.net




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