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30 Days of Creative

Creative Like Us is the
marketing consultancy firm of Curtis Johnson:

Brand Director, Digital Professional, and Experience Designer


Progress is everyday effort

Our world has changed drastically in the past month and I'm taking the current "stay at home" mandate as a challenge to make steps forward with my brand, Creative Like Us. I'll be documenting this effort through a 30 Days of Creative project on my Instagram page (and this NEW website) by highlighting my branding philosophies, favorite projects, and creative partners throughout my 15 year career. Thank you for visiting and I hope you follow along. #staysafe


30 days of creative

The idea for this project ties directly back to my days at 4O1! Creative, specifically March 30, 2012. This is the date that Facebook updated their interface of business profiles to include a cover image. I've always been fascinated on how you can twist use a platform to create a unique art experience and since we didn't have anything planned for our company holiday (April 1 = 4O1!) the team embarked on a journey to create new art everyday in April. #30daysofcreative


From the clouds to the stars

Velaspan is one of my two anchors clients and I hold a position as their Director of Marketing. Although I had worked with them through an agency previously, starting with creating the name, it's been eye-opening to work client side. Being able to be a part of the team and curate the culture has been a totally new and very rewarding experience. One day I mocked up our anniversary logo on a can of beer. It turned into an award winning campaign. #eatsleepwifi


Being part of a legacy

I moved to Lehigh Valley in 2005 and quickly fell in love with the region. It was a great honor, when in 2011, that 4O1! Creative was approached to design the annual poster for the nation's largest free music festival, MusikFest. Even better, was when the entire team got to see Stone Temple Pilot's late singer, Scott Weiland, grab a light-up mug and lead the crowd in a sing-along to Interstate Love Song. We got to perform an encore with the 2012 poster. #musikfestmugs


Create your own path(s)

I've always pursued my goals vigorously. Sometimes to the point of not realizing they weren't my goals anymore and mostly out of fear that if I didn't accomplish them that I'd be a failure. Don't be afraid to change your mind, your direction, your heart. I never imagined my career as it is today and I couldn't be happier. "Go that way. Really fast. If something get's in your way... Turn." #yolo


Bacon goes viral

I've helped produce close to a dozen microsites for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs but my favorite remains the first, Smell the Change - 2014 Uniform Reveal. It's the only time I've ever pitched a website concept as a write-up, the idea that a "Single Pitch" tells a story. As much as I'd like to say the project went viral because of our custom photography and website, I think it had to do more with the fact that America loves bacon. #smellthechange


Swing into something new

Lehigh Mining and Navigation is my second anchor client and I hold the position of Director of Interactive & Digital. Formally Spark, the owners have been mentors of mine from the very beginning. They agreed to meet for coffee and sent us a small project (I believe Flash banner ads for B.Braun). My first project as an official member of the team was last year's redesign of Blue Grillhouse & Event Center's website. Delicious. #digdeeper


Seeing the bigger picture

My approach to design has evolved throughout my career as projects became more technically challenging. This was the case for Coordinated Health's Athlete of the Week voting contest. Starting with flowcharts we designed a solution that managed voting on mobile apps, a dedicated website, and a third party website to increase overall reach, boost weekly vote totals, and centralize the management of content and data. #pingpongisasport


Forging a relationship

Sometimes you work with a client on a project and that's it. Other times it becomes a long term relationship. Metallix was one of our first and longest clients spanning over a decade in which we provided everything from photography to branding, websites and videos. Those are my favorite client relationships, the ones where you feel a part of the brand and see your impact on the company over time. #preciousmetals


Friendship at 45mph

I was introduced to Lehigh Valley Grand Prix at our very first 4O1! Day in 2007. Let's just say we hit things off immediately and the next year's 4O1! Day was held at the track when we launched their new website. Since day one I was in Mike's ear about holding an annual outdoor race and in 2017 it became a reality as Steel Stacks Grand Prix. Sometimes business relationships merge into great friendships. #honotherlevel


Can't stop, won't stop

I knew this project would be challenging as it's easy to overthink every post and spend way too much time obsessing over the details. But I simply have to remember this project is the sum of its parts and flexibility is key to my own perceived success. My motivation has always been to create cool sh*t with awesome people. So with that said, here's some random cool sh*t. #justhavefunwithit


The first big break

In late 2006 4O1! got lucky and caught the attention of Dr. Lorraine Cole, President of the YWCA USA. She saw an interactive Christmas card we did for a DC client and after a few small projects together partnered with us on Enough!, the Week without Violence national campaign microsite. The highly interactive website garnered a lot of attention to the very serious subject material. #beeskneescatsmeow


Preserving a legacy

One of my favorite branding projects was for Vault 634, the historic Lehigh Valley Trust Building that transformed into a luxury event center in the heart of downtown Allentown. We drew influence from the stone lions that decorated the facade and interior of the building for over a century. The end result is a logo that pays homage to its heritage while being modern enough to remain timeless. #putaliononit


Dedicated shopping experience

Although I had prior experience with e-commerce, Gertrude Hawk put me in a unique mindset of impulse buying and gift giving. The first goal was to isolate the shopping experience from their other B2B divisions (Ingredients and Wholesale) to provide a seamless path; from first impression of the home page offerings to the checkout confirmation message, to the inevitable email marketing that follows. #allyouneedischocolate


This too shall pass

As I hit the halfway point in this project, I'm reminded of all of essential workers and first responders that don't get the luxury of waiting this out from home. As much as I hate the circumstances of this moment, I just wanted to acknowledge and say Thank You to everyone that has put themselves at risk to keep a semblance of society together and help those in need. #missingmyhomies


Discovering Lehigh Valley

Home is where you make it and working with Discover Lehigh Valley to market the region helped me realize I was there. From 2007 through 2017, we helped build a platform of dynamic content that populated over 50 microsites, each with their own unique purpose and design. The sum of its parts remains the largest overall project I've worked on and it's hard to imagine one that will. #homesweethome


Surround yourself with the best

Perhaps the best part of having career in creative is the people you get to work with. Ryan Lynn is an uber-talented designer and illustrator that I had the privilege to work with daily for four years. It was a luxury collaborating with him on numerous projects and trusting in someone else that held the same high standards. On his last day, he gave me a custom Lego mini-fig of yours truly that's quite the spitting image ;) #thewhistlemix


Brand new user types

My years with Weidenhammer provided me with a ton of new opportunities, application design being one of the most important to my growth in UI/UX. These projects ranged the gamut of consumer facing experiences to utilitarian reporting dashboards but one thing remained universal, make it easy and dare I say it... Fun to use. #appsappsapps


Getting back to awesome

I get to learn about a lot of different industries in my line of work. Sometimes they also come with a taste of adventure. Every Summer I make sure to visit my friends at Pocono Whitewater, Pocono Biking, and Skirmish Paintball to create some new memories with my family and friends. Let's hope that next adventure is sooner than later. #bigdayout


Excited, flexible, complete

The re-branding of Weidenhammer while VP of Creative remains my favorite branding project to date. I remember kicking it off with the design team by having a simple black circle, the previous icon was a circle or orb, and cutting away at it with a mask. The new icon created a through-line in the narrative that this was an evolution, paying homage to their past. #flexiblebrandstrategy


Empowering a community

I've worked on a few community driven websites in my career, none of which compared to the size and potential of AllergyEats. They have the largest user-generated database of reviews on the allergy friendliness of restaurants throughout the United States. The secret is having an audience that is passionate about the subject and incentivized to contribute meaningful data. In the case of their users, it really is about life and death. #weareinthistogether


Because I love this

You're not something till you say you are. I have the heart of an artist and mind of an entrepreneur, which helps explains starting a design company with zero previous experience and never owning a computer. Or perhaps it's something more simple than that. Maybe I just didn't like being told what to do. That would explain the decade long soul patch. #themeaning


Building platforms

I'm passionate about helping organizations build digital businesses. The types of websites that grow and change daily through user generated reviews or unique editorial content. Platforms that grow revenue through on-site advertising or partnership programs. Rich experiences that help them connect with their audience. #letsgetdigital


Navigating commerce

Over the past couple of years I worked to refine my user experience skillset in the commerce space. I loved being able to get into the mindset of the end consumer and understanding the balance between brand building and usability. There is an art in guiding the user through a catalog of products in order to get them through checkout. It's a much easier and satisfying KPI to measure yourself against. #datdigitaleconomy


Better together

There isn't a week that goes by without someone asking me how/what Brian Wcislo is doing. My identity has been and will forever be linked to the one I nicknamed Bocalicious. We created 4O1! together and still collaborate on occasion. More importantly are the Boyz nights with our sons, T$ and CAJ. He's taught me so much but most importantly to never stand still. #exceptwhenmeditating


In the endgame

The month, and by definition this project, is hurdling towards its end and yet I have so much left to say. This morning I went through more than 100 past clients and projects and at least two dozen of which I would love to revisit and showcase. But it's not really about that is it. In the end I decided to feature three creative bucket list projects: video game, liquor bottle, billboard. #creativebucketlist


Let there be light

In 2018, I spent a majority of my time with Hinkley Lighting, redesigning their online presence and getting to know the various personalities there. It's somewhat of an agency cliche to say that I felt like an extension of their team but in this case the feeling is genuine. Getting to participate in their culture and working with their brand remain some of my favorite experiences. #teamhinkley


Company of brothers

I've never been so jealous of someone as I am Ryan Johnson. There is no one that has as much raw talent as my brother, an incredible blend of artist, developer, musician, and philosopher. He is the introvert to my extrovert but once he trusts you it all comes pouring out. This website, a PWA, is a product of brothers. Thank you for coming on this journey with me. #thepixouls


Creative like us

I purchased my domain over ten years ago. Besides the cleverness of utilizing the .us extension I thought one day we might rebrand 4O1! to something inclusive to the whole team. Although CreativeL!keUs is a consultancy of one, everything I do still requires a team, from the clients defining their vision to the contractors I partner with to elevate the final product. Together, we create really cool experiences. #afewofmyfavoritethings


Tomorrow is coming

So here we are thirty days later and still in quarantine. Although the world is changing, I'm inspired by everyone finding creative ways to be productive and move initiatives forward. This project is coming to an end but there are plenty more ahead. Thank you for coming on this journey with me and I can't wait to see you on the other side. #youaintseennothingyet