PAWS & More, also known as Washington County Humane Society, is a private, adoption-guarantee shelter located in Washington, Iowa. The organization needed a redesigned website with a strategy-based architecture to highlight its resources.

The new design includes a capital campaign microsite that enables PAWS & More to communicate the shelter’s growing needs, including more space and funding to support its mission.

This new structure, redesign, and microsite are built to expand and adapt based on existing and future needs, giving PAWS & More endless pawsibilities.

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The blog below was written with Writer AI as an experiment on what makes this technology so compelling. While it’s well written, the downside to AI-generated content is the lack of authenticity and perspective from an experienced professional. This is true for imagery as well. The above image was created with Deep AI. A simple prompt to generate an author typing on a computer was used in a cyberpunk style. As you will notice, the image lacks any personality and has some serious issues rendering a full-figured face. While this technology will continue to improve, my approach to AI is simply to check for grammar and use generative AI for image backgrounds or touchups. We want our product to be a representation of YOUR brand (not what data thinks your brand should be).

As technology continues to advance, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more commonplace in our lives. From automated customer service to self-driving cars, AI is increasingly being used to aid humans in a variety of tasks. Now, it has even begun to take on the task of writing blogs.

AI-powered blogging platforms are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. For one, they are able to produce content faster than traditional methods, allowing for a much quicker turnaround time. Additionally, AI-generated content can be optimized to reach the desired audience, helping to increase engagement with the post. Finally, because AI-generated content is often more accurate than humans, it can be used to produce high-quality content quickly and reliably.

When it comes to actually writing the blog posts, AI works much like a human writer. It begins by researching the topic and gathering relevant information, then uses that information to inform its writing. In some cases, the AI may actually be able to generate original ideas or content, though it is typically best to provide some guidance so that the post is on-topic and relevant to the desired audience.

AI-powered blogging platforms are still relatively new, but they are already becoming increasingly popular. As more companies realize the benefits of using AI-generated content, it is likely that the use of AI in blogging will continue to grow. For now, AI-powered blogging is a great way to quickly produce high-quality content for any website or blog.

Educational Advertising Awards from HMR Publications recognized Creative Mellen with a 38th Anniversary Sliver Design Award for its work with the Iowa School of Music and their redesigned Alumni Magazine. The new Iowa brand standards and a unique cover were highlighted in the redesign.

I’m humbled and honored to win this award along with our writing partner, Leah Grout Garris. Special thanks to School of Music director Tammie Walker for her partnership and guidance.

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Working at Creative Mellen has been the final step in my college journey, and I’d argue it might be the step that’s prepared me the most.

In the 5 years I’ve been at the University of Iowa, I’ve come a long way. I started off as a business analytics student before being exposed to design & advertising through an internship. Since then, it has consumed my college and personal life and plays a huge part in all my current goals. Design classes, marketing classes, freelance work, and personal projects have all provided me opportunities to grow as a designer and as a person, but left out an important piece of the puzzle — collaboration. Critiques in my design courses, client meetings in the Marketing Institute, and networking for freelance opportunities all got close to filling the gap, but going into the final summer I was still struggling with the idea of sharing the design process with another. 

For this reason, I couldn’t asked for a better capstone than Creative Mellen to round out my college experience. Kevin doesn’t just run the design studio, he works alongside you at every step of the way. Working here feels more like a partnership than an internship, something I will never take for granted in the future. It has given me an entirely new perspective on what it means to collaborate in design and has shown me the importance of doing so. 

There’s a reason that companies are always looking for “team-players” while hiring. Thank you Creative Mellen for providing me the space to grow into that role!

Starting Creative Mellen in 2012 has been quite a journey. Who would have thought we could work with one of the top retail companies in the country, travel to Italy to help rebrand a study-abroad program, partner with a startup to market its products on Amazon, and establish a long-term relationship with an innovative containment company in Pennsylvania?

Spanning a variety of industries—from a local doggie daycare and actors in Los Angeles to a growing cybersecurity firm—we continue to collaborate with clients from coast to coast. From short-term relationships to clients we’ve partnered with since our inception, we thank you for a decade of creativity and success. 

Our partners, the local community, and other supporters have allowed us to sustain this work. A special thanks goes out to other marketers, the Iowa City Area Development Group, and the talented team of developers, writers, and photographers we collaborate with. They’ve allowed us to grow from a single coworking desk to a small studio. We’ve had top-notch employees, interns who gave us a spark of creativity, and partners who delivered quality and experience in everything they do. All of this results in agency-level work from our small footprint. 

Staying small is still part of our future strategy. The flexibility of a small staff and trusted partners has given us an advantage in customizing our offerings. It allows us to weather the ups and downs of business, especially during the pandemic. While there will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, we look forward to our continued relationships and the journey forward.

After 38 years of working with some of the most kind and creative people in health care, education, and beyond, I am excited to jump into my next chapter—retirement.

Working with Kevin at Creative Mellen has been the highlight of my career across varied disciplines including nursing, writing, editing, design, marketing, and strategic communications. Watching Kevin’s remarkable branding and design skills come to fruition with the opportunity to be part of his team has been an honor.

For now, you’ll find me not behind a computer or in front of a client but out in the wild, blue yonder—exploring this beautiful planet of ours.

With all good wishes,

Graphic Design USA recognized Creative Mellen with a 58th Anniversary American Package Design Award™ for its work with Mission Meats and their new brand of premium dog treats, Prosperity Pets. More than 2,200 entries were submitted and only the top 10% were selected.

We are humbled and honored to win this award along side of some great brands such as Amazon, Clorox, Colgate Palmolive, Dell, Disney, Dole, General Mills, Hershey, Hilton, Kellogg, LEGO, L’Oreal, Mattel, Microsoft, Xbox, VIZIO, Wrigley, and many more.

Special thanks to Mission Meats for their great collaboration and products.

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Do you struggle to communicate to a specific audience with a clear and concise message? Does that message need to create a different response or action from other audiences you serve? Consider developing a landing page. This page is best designed and written when it speaks directly to your audience.

A landing page allows you to:
CIMBA Study Abroad Landing Page Targeting Undergraduate Students | View Page

For example, we worked with CIMBA, targeting undergraduates to their study abroad program and how they can benefit from its experience. While serving both business graduates and undergraduates, CIMBA’s programs and experiences differ for each group. Focusing on undergraduates allowed us to speak and design directly to a younger audience, highlighting specific experiences from past and current students through video and social feeds.

Do you want to effectively reach a specific audience or need to improve your current approach? Let’s chat.

Stop motion is an animated, filmmaking technique where objects are moved in small increments between photographs, so that they appear to be moving when played back in sequence.

Instead of objects, you can incorporate live actors in a frame-by-frame technique sometimes called pixilation. The subject poses or moves while being photographed in succession.

In a recent project for Urban Acres Real Estate, we used this stop-motion, pixilation technique to give each agent a unique portrait that shows off their personality and interests. We used this approach so we could isolate just one area of the photo to animate while selecting the best “still” portion of the portrait, such as the best smile or lighting within the series of photos.

We worked with each agent on their ideas, ensuring the movement could be seamlessly and continuously looped by our team once photographed. Working with photographer Jill Christine at each location, we helped art direct each element of the scene and animation. Then a series of burst images were taken while the agent (or other subject) made their movement. We did several “takes” to ensure we had a smooth series from which to work.

Selecting the best series of images, we used a combination of Photoshop and After Effects to put everything together. Each frame was carefully manipulated to isolate only the area we wanted to animate. Since these animated portraits would be displayed online, we used a minimal amount of frames possible to keep the file size low. Some of these animations have only three frames.

The final adjustment we considered was the speed between frames. We adjusted the timing between each frame to create a natural motion throughout the animation and its loop.

In the end, we created animated portraits that help tell a story about each agent in an innovative and fun format. This approach further enhances the overall brand of Urban Acres.

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