Stanley Hainsworth of Tether Talks Great Design

When I first discovered Stanley Hainsworth (while perusing the modern geniuses of design), I was immediately struck by his knack for communicating the heart of the matter in his design work, print to digital.

A veteran creative with a rockstar resume that includes Starbucks, Nike and The Lego Company, Stanley worked in every creative capacity and across all mediums before he founded the renowned creative catch-all that is Tether Inc. Bluegrass-born with a touch of Southern flair, Stanley has a reputation for motivating his teammates and igniting a fire in a room. (Check out that amazing hair!)

Stanley Hainsworth, Tether

If you happen to stumble into Tether’s Seattle’s office around 3:00pm PST, you’ll hear the gong sound and find Stanley’s team participating in a series of push-ups, planks or wall-sits to jump-start the afternoon. Pick your passion.

Tether’s Stanley Hainsworth on Great Design

Stanley’s steadfast approach to design as storytelling is perhaps what makes his work so compelling. His genuine, inquisitive bent on the process of branding and identity design is part of how he’s made his mark on the industry – and why he’ll be speaking at HOW’s In-House Management Conference, part of HOW Design Live, this May 12-16 in Boston.

Anxiously awaiting the biggest design event of the year, we caught up with Stanley to get the story on his latest work at Tether – and what gets him going each day…

So, Stanley, what’s been one of your fondest projects as of late?

Stanley Hainsworth on great design, Awake A little company that introduced a caffeinated chocolate bar – AWAKE. We were able to bring all the things we love creating to the table ­– positioning, naming, identity, 3D design, packaging, social media, advertising, video, etc. – to bring this brand successfully to life. And because we had lots of fun with it, it shows in the work we did. And importantly, the brand is very successful.

Having fun really shows in the work that you do. How about a pet project or charity to which the folks at Tether donate time or design expertise?

At Tether, we dedicate our pro bono time to an amazing organization called Free The Children. Founder Craig Kielberger’s story is so incredible it makes you cry. Besides the strategy and design work we’ve done for them, I was able to take my family to Kenya this past summer and work in one of the villages that benefits from the organization.

Wow, that sounds life-altering…

So how about when you aren’t inspired with work or life in general. How do you break out of a creative rut?

Go for a run, go for a walk, go shopping, read a book, go talk to someone, anything to break the linear thinking of  “I’ve got to solve this problem.” I can get inspired by something by walking around the block or by watching a movie or by reading a book. It’s all about looking at things with a ‘problem solving’ outlook.

This is excellent advice! Thinking about the span of your career, can you tell us about one event, or one piece of advice, or one mentor that made a significant difference to you?

When I was at Nike, I was able to create a non-traditional way of touching our consumer. It was for the launch of the Nike Presto shoe. We rented an art gallery space and put the Presto shoes on the wall and called it art. We invited the art world to the opening and put no branding on the space or on the wild postings around town. Shoes as art. It was eye-opening to the company to see that there were other ways of promoting a product other than at retail and with advertising. And it opened a non-traditional approach for me that I’ve loved following since that time.

Tether Inc.

Okay, last question. What’s your favorite:

1) App – Zite. I love the curated nature and the surprises within my interest guardrails.
2) Website – NYTimes.com. I read it daily on my iPad or iPhone or computer. Inevitably I find something that inspires me, informs me, educates me. I find myself referring back to things I’ve read daily. And I am continually sharing articles I think have merit to co-workers, clients and friends.
3) Book – The latest book I just read continues to be my favorite one. I just finished Mark Binelli’s Detroit City Is the Place to Be and found it fascinating and inspiring. The creation and devolution and recreation of a city. It was and is a huge design project.

Designers like Stanley Hainsworth make HOW Design Live unlike any design event of the year. Don’t miss your chance to grab The Big Ticket and catch ANY session all week long! Hurry, and save some serious coin by registering now.

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