In Focus: Interview with Daniel Brown, Executive Creative Director at True North Inc.

Michelle Tang | Muse Awards 2018
In Focus: Interview with Michelle M. Tang, Visual Designer
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Ulf Westmark-Højelsen | Connected | Muse Awards
In Focus: Interview with Ulf Westmark-Højelsen, Creative Director at Connected
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Daniel Brown | True North | Muse Awards

Daniel Brown

Daniel is the ECD at True North, and he is responsible for the "Makery." What's the Makery you ask? The Makery is their department of creative, production, technology, and project management teams. What bonds them together is that they make things, and they make them together.

His love of creating art and design that you can reproduce over and over is what led him to advertising. For the past 17 years, he has had the fortune of working with a very diverse set of brands. From consumer (British Airways, Disneyland Resorts, Prestige Brands), to entertainment (Disney Channel, Disney Junior, ABC), to B2B (Pitney Bowes, ExpressScripts, Constant Contact), to Publishing (LA Times, Economist, Glamour, Newsweek), to non-profit (ASPCA, Doctors Without Borders, Make-A-Wish, WWF), he has spent years helping to enrich their culture of creating, and it's been his business to make sure they have a good time while they're at it.

He has dedicated much of his attention over the last 8 years to nonprofit advertising. Creative strategy and campaign development have been at the center of his work for some super recognizable organizations. Video and content development are also central to his toolkit since there are more places than ever to feature video in advertising. His philosophy is to never stop moving. Still water only breeds mosquitoes.



True North Team | Muse Awards

Interview with the 2018 Muse Creative Awards Winner - Daniel Brown

1Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
I'm Executive Creative Director at True North, a full service ad agency. What's special about my team? We build brands, and also drive action across EVERY channel. For real: from TV to print to direct mail to social, we pride ourselves on 360 campaigns.
2Congratulations! As the winner of the 2018 Muse Creative Awards, what does winning this award mean to you and your team?
Winning the Muse Creative Awards has validated the hard work and creativity that my team and I put into everything we do. It's easy for a small agency that often has to work with small budgets to get overlooked or buried by the PR machines of the big agencies. What's exciting about winning Muse Creative Awards is seeing great ideas get recognized regardless of whether our name is on the side of the building.
3Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
When people ask me where creative will go in the next 5-10 years, it's a trick question. Technology will change, formats will evolve, and the devices we consume creativity on will morph. But what makes something truly creative will go unchanged.
4What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
My favorite things about the industry are: - Concept sessions with smart people - Dry erase markers - Sketching an idea, and then finding yourself on set a month later to turn it into a reality
5Who has inspired you in your life and why?
There are so many people that have provided inspiration in my life professionally, but I'll highlight three people who built my foundation: My printmaking professor in college was Tomas Vu Daniel, a brilliant Vietnamese-American artist with an incredible life, story, and ability to get the best work from his students. He taught me to lean into what makes my work unique, trust my ideas and to never stop pushing them. I was a competitive springboard and platform diver for 13 years. Gordon Spencer was my coach for the whole time, and he taught me passion, hard work, and to never not have fun. I've always strived to be the coach to my team that Gordon was for me. Lastly, my dad, Josh Brown, is my greatest influence. My whole life, my dad would be up until 2:00am drawing, writing, and smoking a pipe. He has taught me that making things is work, but it can be joyful, calming, and sustainable. And he's taught me that retiring isn't really an option when you are creative. At 68, he's still making new things and always will.
6What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
The United States is very regional, so I can best describe what makes New York City unique in the creative industry. First, it seems advertising creativity is in the water in NYC. There is a certain history and mentality that is simply inherited when you're working in New York. It seeps into your bloodstream. It's not so much that New York City is the center of the world, but rather when you live in NYC you think you're the center of the world. That arrogance can breed incredibly brave ideas and a confidence that provides the ultimate creative freedom.
7If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in creative industry, what would it be?
Honestly, students leaving school today are SO much more prepared for the industry than I was. When I graduated, all I had was a portfolio of drawings. These days, when I interview graduates, they have polished websites, fancy business cards, and sometimes CEO titles for their own freelance businesses. My one piece of advice would be: don't put a photo of yourself on your homepage. As much as people will tell you that YOU are a brand, you are not. You are a chameleon. Skip the photoshoot of yourself, and instead make sure that your portfolio is diverse and that you can create work for every category you can think of.
8What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the advertising industry?
Lynda.com is a great resource for picking up new programs and teaching yourself new skills.
9Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I'm a pretty open book, so I'd have to make this question an N/A.
10Finally, what is your key to success?
My keys to success are: captivity and isolation. My best ideas, most creative thoughts and productive moments have occurred when I've been on a train without service, a long flight, or late at night when my family and co-workers are tucked in their beds for the night. It's hard to turn off and tune out, but when you're truly isolated and focused, it's just you. My other key to success is to write and sketch every idea I have. The bad ones, the dumb ones, the hacky copycat ones; get them all on paper. And do it by hand. Map your ideas out and let your hand feel them progressing. When writer's block hits you, just trace your way back and start building branches off of all the other ideas you've written. You're a shark, you've got to keep moving.


Winning Entries

Breathtaking!

Breathtaking | Muse Creative Awards
The goal of the Orabrush campaign is to reach affluent millennials who want to avoid social embarrassment by educating them on the source of bad breath.... (read more)

One Moment

One Moment | Muse Creative Awards
Frequently in the non-profit industry, an air of melancholy, despair, and heartache, overwhelm fundraising campaigns. Organizations leverage these themes for a very simple reason... (read more)

Breathtaking!

Breathtaking | Muse Creative Awards
The goal of the Orabrush campaign is to reach affluent millennials who want to avoid social embarrassment by educating them on the source of bad breath... (read more)

One Moment

One Moment | Muse Creative Awards
Frequently in the non-profit industry, an air of melancholy, despair, and heartache, overwhelm fundraising campaigns. Organizations leverage these themes for a very simple reason... (read more)

One Moment

One Moment | Muse Creative Awards
Frequently in the non-profit industry, an air of melancholy, despair, and heartache, overwhelm fundraising campaigns. Organizations leverage these themes for a very simple reason... (read more)

Responsive Spaces

True North


True North is an independent ad agency that was started by Tom Goosmann and Steve Fuchs in 1994. Today we create advertising for commercial and non-profit brands that tie every available channel together. We're a small but mighty agency that handles all strategy, creative, media buying & planning, technology and insights in house.

We coined the phrase "Actionable Branding" and it perfectly captures what we stand for at True North. We not only build and elevate the brands we work with, but we also move people to action through our advertising. Whether that's a donation, a purchase, or a like, we make sure that what we create is not only exciting to watch, but also moving the needle.


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