Last night was my first event with Refresh Charleston, and by “with”, I mean I was sitting in the audience, drinking a beer, and repeatedly dropping my stubby Staedtler 3B. Refresh events are sort of like micro conferences. They’re meant to inspire and connect local creatives, and from what I gather, have somewhat of a digital emphasis (welcome to 2013).

The first talk last night at Blue Ion was “Man vs Magnet vs Work: Giving Yourself First Hold”. Matt Smithson (aka Man vs Magnet) discussed avoiding burnout by managing your work-life balance. The advice was familiar (say no, give yourself first priority, “go outside and elsewhere”), but it’s the sort of message the falls out of my brain weekly and needs to be repeated over and over until I finally start taking multivitamins and walk breaks.

Yay things about “Man vs Magnet vs Work…”

  • “I am a human being…not a human doing” — Deepak Chopra. BOOM!
  • The She++ project, one of Matt’s clients, aims to level out the gender imbalance in the computer science industry. There’s several social reasons why we don’t see as many ladies in tech, and I am excited to see what She++ does.
  • This entire animation was done in a week, with just ONE long night at the office. The power of work/life balance.
  • Charleston is still a small city, and the creative industry occasionally feels like a small inbred family where everyone knows each other. It was AWESOME seeing work from someone I’ve never met before, and I’m excited that there’s still more talent to discover in my city. And if you do one thing, watch "Battle of the Album Covers"

Kelsey Jarett (of BlackBaud) and Ben Wong (BlueIon, formerly BlackBaud) gave the night’s second presentation, “How Dr Seuss Can Help You Rock Digital Storytelling.” They explored how the familiar fictional story arc can be used as a model for building brands online.

In a nutshell:

  1. Introduction. This sets the scene and defines the status quo. A bit like, “what is life like without the brand?” Using characters (specific names and places!), even if they’re real people, helps.
  2. Conflict. Interrupts the status quo. Kelsey and Ben say that a problem correctly introduced “creates doubt about the outcome.” The user will wonder, “if don’t [buy this/support that cause], then maybe [undesirable thing] will happen.” Oh, psychology.
  3. Climax. Shows how the brand will change the status quo defined in the introduction. Encourages user action.
  4. Conclusion. Results of the action. The audience should feel as though they had a hand in this outcome = customer loyalty

Yay Things About “How Dr Seuss…”

  • "The Silent History", a location-based, collaborative novel
  • Introduce new characters when a brand starts to feel stale. They should align with the brand, but add something new (ex: State Farm “Mayhem” character)
  • One audience member mentioned that on a recent project, they individually surveyed each of the client’s team members to see what they though their company story/personality was. In the commonalities lies truth (or at least a collective illusion but wow that’s another conversation).

Looking forward to see what inspiration and camaraderie the next Refresh brings. Check out this list to see if Refresh is in your city.