Happy Anniversary!

In April, we celebrated our birthday; Johnny Lightning Strikes Again is two years old.

While we’ve been working in the branding, design, and marketing industry for much longer, we can honestly say that the past two years have been the most fun, most productive, and most creative of our lives. We’d like to thank everyone that has been involved in helping us reach this milestone – your advice and support have been invaluable. We’d especially like to thank our clients, both for trusting us with your brands and allowing us to be partners in your businesses. We’re honored.

Here’s to many years to come!

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Kansas City Small Business of the Year Nomination

We are proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, Johnny Lightning Strikes Again has been nominated for The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Mr. K Award.”  The Mr. K Award, named after famed Kansas City entrepreneur Ewing Kauffman, is given to The Chamber’s Small Business of the Year and is based on business growth, exemplary employee relations, and a strong record of service to the community.

We’d like to thank The Chamber and say that it has been a privilege serving businesses in the Kansas City area for your branding, web design, graphic design, and marketing needs!

About Johnny Lightning Strikes Again
Johnny Lightning Strikes Again is a full service creative agency in Kansas City, MO that specializes in solving business problems through strategic branding, design, and marketing.  Our core strength is web design, and our core commitment is to provide creative that works — the kind that demands attention, increases sales, and builds brands.  We focus on strategy that leads to results, because we know that great work doesn’t matter if it isn’t the right work.

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Clients who understand branding

Branding is a word that is used a lot – not just in our industry, but in the business world as a whole. But what is branding? It’s a slightly difficult question, because branding is often defined not by what it is, but by the most common applications of it. Branding is when you design a logo. Branding is when you design a website with a look-and-feel specific to that company. Branding is when you mark an animal with a branding iron. While all of these statements are true, none of them can really serve as a proper definition of branding.

Branding is the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. It is a communication tool, used to capture the message of a company and deliver it through visuals. It is not something that a company does once and then checks off their list; it is an on-going process that enables businesses to increase their visibility and achieve their goals.

Lucky for us, we have clients that understand what branding is and what it can do for them. Because they know that branding isn’t over once we’ve launched their website or designed their logo, we often have new work to announce that builds on work we’ve already done. Today is one of those days. Our client exclusiveMD, a concierge medical practice in Kansas City, recently realized that their practice was best communicated in three divisions – family healthcare, medical weight loss, and medical spa & aesthetics. This provided a unique opportunity to reassess their brand and determine how to best communicate those specialities, while not diluting the brand of the practice as a whole.

After careful consideration, the solution we arrived at was to design a family of logos that both stand on their own and work as a whole. Each of them are designed to communicate the nature of the specific division, while still adhering to the overall brand and aesthetic of exclusiveMD.  Here are a few images of the work, which you can also see in our design portfolio, our Flickr set, and in a few weeks, on the website that we originally designed and developed for exclusiveMD.

Concierge Medical Practice, Meet Creative Agency

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Al Capone did what here?

If you are from our hometown of Kansas City, MO and keep up with what’s happening in local fine dining, you’ve almost certainly heard about the recent opening of The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. If not, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange is a phenomenal new restaurant in the Crossroads Art District with a very rich history (guys – if you visit, be sure to use the restroom and see the plaque describing what Al Capone has done in there). What does this have to do with branding, design, or marketing?  Well, we had the privilege of producing the website for The Rieger, which you can check out here: http://theriegerkc.com/. While you’re there, be sure to look for the key and unlock some information about one of The Rieger’s (and Kansas City’s) best little secrets.

Thank you to Ryan Maybee and Howard Hanna for bringing this restaurant to life and allowing us to be a part of it. We’re confident that you’ll be a Kansas City landmark for a long time to come!

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Are you having fun?

When a company engages us to solve a problem facing their business, one of the questions we have to answer is, “Does this company LOOK like who they are and what they’re doing?” Team Cocktail, a clothing and accessory company, asks a similar question to people who are out to have fun: “Do you LOOK like it?” If not, they offer a full line of products, designed by Johnny Lightning Strikes Again, for sale on their e-commerce website, also designed and developed by Johnny Lightning Strikes Again.

To call this project fun would be an all-time understatement. Not only were we able to brand Team Cocktail from the ground up (logo design, clothing and merchandise design, print collateral design, web design, web development), but we were able to work hard alongside a great new company. If that weren’t enough, our first strategy session involved a very memorable road trip to South Dakota, and who doesn’t want to road trip to South Dakota?

Sometimes businesses need to exist to remind people how to have fun.  Sometimes creative agencies need to exist to make sure those businesses have a great brand and great stuff to sell.  This is why Team Cocktail and Johnny Lightning Strikes Again are such a good fit for one another.  They epitomize fun; we design accordingly.

To fully explore the project, visit our portfolio of web design, graphic design, and branding work, our Flickr set, or the Team Cocktail e-commerce website.

Make it snow
When the road hurts…
Concierge Medical Practice, Meet Creative Agency

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Make it snow

Scotwood Industries is the largest supplier of ice-melt in the nation.  If you live in a part of the country where snow and ice regularly assault your winter months, you’ve almost certainly used their products.

There’s a lot you can learn by exploring their website, which as you may have guessed, was utterly designed and developed by us.  You can also use your cursor to make it snow (is that like making it rain?), which we think is fun.  To check out the work, visit our web design, graphic design, and branding portfolio, our Flickr set, or the Scotwood Industries website.

When the road hurts…
Concierge Medical Practice, Meet Creative Agency
New web design and development project – Apple Bus Company

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It isn’t just a matter of Flash vs HTML5

Jamie Kosoy wrote a great article that puts the HTML5 vs Flash “conflict” into perspective wonderfully:

Pretend you were that student of mine, and pretend you started school 4 years ago. It’s your senior year now. In your freshman year, Twitter had just started. Facebook was approaching its first birthday – everyone was on MySpace. There was no whiff of a rumor of an iPhone. The mobile revolution was a pipe dream. Multi touch and gestural navigation wasn’t even a remote possibility.

He explains how it isn’t simply a matter of how viable either of the technologies are, it is a matter of the attitude with which you approach the entire digital ecosystem.

It’s gotten easier and it’s gotten harder simultaneously. There is only one way to maintain in that landscape, and that is to keep an open mind.

And the best part is these attitudes are important to everyone – client, designer, and developer alike.

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Logo mistakes

Branding and design aren’t topics normally discussed by media outlets like CNN and BBC.  But when Gap rolled out a new logo, found out that everyone hated it, and took it back, that’s exactly what happened.  While this was big news for people like us who make a living by steering brands in the correct direction, we realize that it was probably glossed over by the majority of people who are rightly more concerned with things like international policy, the recession, and whether Brett Favre’s consecutive start streak was going to come to an end.

For that reason, we wanted to point out an article that not only summarizes the Gap debacle, but provides an interesting look at some other notable logo disasters (by disaster we’re referring to public outcry; some changes, like Tropicana, we actually kind of liked from a design standpoint).

Gap clothing company has ditched its new logo after only one week, due to an online backlash. So what are the perils of changing a company emblem?

Read the full article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11517129.

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Wisdom worth repeating: creative play is necessary

Creative play is a powerful activity, one you should work to make time for if you hope to remain nimble, energized, and (hopefully) innovative. It’s an idea that can be arrived at via diverse routes; people explain it differently, justify it differently, and engage in it differently.

Recently I wandered into Paddy Donnely‘s article on doodling.

What I want to talk about is the escaping from the real world/daydreaming/letting your mind run free/keeping yourself sane aspect of doodling. Switching your brain on standby from the real world is a tough but worthwhile activity that you should indulge in whenever you can.

It’s a great article. He’s clearly a card carrying member of the “play” club, and he’s put some TLC into his article to enhance the content and add value to the whole endeavor. Bravo, sir.

Read the rest of the article here. While you’re there, check out another favorite article of ours, It Needs To Pop.

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Pretty or effective?

We posted an article a few weeks ago that was called, “Effective or pretty?”  The point of it was to question whether designers had become so focused on being fancy strategic experts that we’ve lost sight of the fact that sometimes it works to just make something look pretty.  We concluded, of course, that you simply have to be focused on both aspects of great design – if something is pretty but not effective, it will fail.  If something is founded in sound strategy, but doesn’t look good, it will fail.

Since the last article reminded us of the value of aesthetics, we thought we’d share a great article that reminds us of why we can’t forget strategy.  Read it here.

To conclude, as a designer and when designing certain websites, your goal cannot just be to make a website aesthetically pleasing, but also to make the functions of your website easier to work with, and to integrate them together to appear as a whole system rather than appear as multiple pieces that do not connect.

With that in mind, we are not saying to eliminate the aesthetics point of design, but rather to keep an even balance of thinking about both. As with design, focusing fully on aesthetics can result with poor user interface results and vice versa.

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