Through a Designer’s Eyes: How to Build an Interesting Advertising Concept

Take a walk through the process of concepting with our Senior Art Director Kolleen Kilduff.

Good advertising is so much more than pretty pictures and clever words. The foundation for a great campaign is an attention-grabbing and strategic concept. But what exactly is a concept?

From Merriam-Webster: concept: n. something conceived in the mind; thought, notion; an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances

In the world of advertising, a concept is an answer to a client’s question. How do I reach certain customers? How do we increase client retention? How do I boost sales? It all starts with a concept.

Concepting Basics: Where to Begin

To develop a great concept, advertising agencies like Devaney & Associates begin by taking a deep dive into your brand. This typically starts with a discovery meeting to uncover what makes your brand unique, what you want to accomplish with your campaign, who your target audience is—the list goes on and on! The more you share with your agency, the easier it is to get a concept that meets your needs and your budget.

From there, your agency will develop a creative brief that distills what problem the campaign needs to solve, what key messages need to be communicated, who those messages need to reach, and oftentimes what media will be used to reach them. For example, will the campaign be primarily digital, which, while highly effective, gives you very little creative space to work with? Is TV involved, which gives your campaign the luxury of 30 to 60 seconds worth of messaging? Your media strategy can greatly influence how “conceptual” your concept can be.

Creative Briefs, Brainstorming, and Blossoming Ideas

The brief is then given to your agency’s creative department, where there is further research coupled with team brainstorming sessions. During the brainstorming sessions, the department’s designers and copywriters bounce around ideas on how to solve the client’s problem as outlined by the creative brief. Team members will throw out ideas, allowing others to add to their ideas or thoughts, helping to develop them more. From there, those small ideas begin to shape into broader concepts. Any and all ideas are welcome during brainstorming and the number one rule of brainstorming is that there are no bad ideas. While notes from brainstorms can be a bit messy and scattered, each scribble is a seed that could blossom into a full-fledged idea.

Adding Words and Design to Bring Ideas to Life

Once all ideas are on the table, it’s time for the team to narrow down the ideas into a short list of potential “winners” and then get to work refining them. The process typically starts with the copywriters, who transform the scribbled notes into well-formed campaign messages with clear calls to action.

Then the ball is passed to the designers to establish a visual look for each concept, including color palettes, photography styles, typography, graphic design elements, and more.

At Devaney & Associates, the finished concepts are packaged into a “concept document” that’s presented to the client and helps them understand how each element within a concept tells a piece of a story or conveys a specific emotion. Each creative decision serves a greater purpose. Clients are always given a choice of concepts—typically three—so that they can choose the idea that they feel is best suited for their brand and their marketing objectives. 

With a winning concept in hand, the creative team then gets to work applying that concept across the campaign’s media plan. Whether it’s print, digital, TV, radio, billboards, or something in between, each medium has different requirements and best practices that the concept must be adapted around.

Kickstart your campaign

While a concept is the glue that holds everything together—making sure that the verbal and the visual work together to achieve a common goal—your marketing team is the brains behind the operation. Are you ready to kickstart a campaign that gets your brand noticed? We’d be happy to help! Contact us today to meet our team and get to work!

Getting Schooled by Your Interns: 3 Lessons Our Intern Taught Us on How to Make Your Internship Programs More Successful

Internships aren’t just about what you can teach the intern; they’re a two-way learning street. Allowing your company to bring on an intern means you’re giving members of the next working generation a real-life look into their future career, while your team members gain the opportunity to guide and collaborate with an innovative young mind.

In honor of the back-to-school season, here are three things we’ve learned about improving your student internship program based on our experience and exit interview with our latest intern, Jester Hutchison

The Workload Will Be Real—Leave the Coffee Runs to Dunkin’

During the interviewing process, it’s important that your company is upfront about the intern’s workload. Modern media often portrays student interns as being the “unofficial coffee runners,” but that could not be further from the truth at our agency. We presented Jester with real-world work from day 1 because we valued their input and knew they could handle the projects—something that initially took them by surprise. If you fail to explicitly state what type of work your intern will be doing, there’s a great possibility they might get overwhelmed or think they can get away with doing the bare minimum.

Have a Plan in Place for an Intern’s Downtime

It’s inevitable—those times when there’s not much work for your intern to do. We found that giving Jester a “capstone project” allowed them to always be continuously occupied with something when their workload was light. We suggest finding something that really interests your intern and putting a spin on it, so it relates to your company. Due to Jester’s interest in TikTok, our creative director tasked them with creating a “TikTok for Marketing” Lunch & Learn. With a budget, a deadline, and an expectation that they would present it to our agency, Jester felt that the TikTok assignment was valuable as a learning tool and as a “real-world pressure” situation.

Introduce Your Intern Early on to Your Daily Tech

Add a technology meeting to your week 1 agenda with your intern. Our agency uses Sharpspring—a Growth Revenue Platform—for sales, marketing, and more, but we didn’t think to introduce it to Jester until later in their internship, when we had an actual Sharpspring assignment to give them. When you get your intern acquainted with your company’s day-to-day technology right off the bat, it ensures they have something to learn about during the first few days—plus, they’ll already be familiar when you give them work to do with it.

Want to learn more about Jester’s summer at D&A? See the experience through their eyes here.

What Is Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection?

A Beginner's Guide to the Email Marketing Apocalypse

Big tech’s privacy crackdown is getting ready to deliver another devastating blow to marketers. 

The weapon of choice: new Mail Privacy Protection from Apple.

Announced in June as one of the new features of this fall’s release of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection will give users the option to select from two options—”Protect Mail Activity” or “Don’t Protect Mail Activity”—when they use the Apple Mail app.

Given that 96% of Apple/iPhone users are opting out of the ad tracking feature that Apple launched in April, it stands to reason that most users will choose to protect their privacy when it comes to email as well. Yikes. 

So, what exactly does this mean for your marketing? We’ll break it down. 

Let’s Define “Mail Privacy Protection”

To understand Mail Privacy Protection, let’s start with Apple’s official definition of the new feature: 

“In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

Translation: Users can block their email data from you.

So as a sender, you will no longer be able to determine who opened your email, when they opened it, or where they are—all valuable data you’ve come to rely on. 


Naturally, the open rate is not your only metric for email success. But it is a big one. Without clear open rates, it’s going to be difficult-to-impossible to execute many of your key email marketing functions.

Source: Ryan Jones

That includes being able to monitor deliverability, user engagement, and the health of your email list; run A/B tests on subject lines; optimize your send times; create real-time personalization; build re-engagement campaigns targeting engaged users (users who open your emails); and build automation campaigns triggered by email opens.


This big change only applies to users who check their email using the Apple Mail app. You’ll still have access to data from users on other email clients, like the Gmail app/interface or the Microsoft Outlook app/interface.

However, don’t let that fool you! Because Apple allows users to sync the Apple Mail app to accounts from multiple email providers, including Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, AOL Mail, and Yahoo! Mail, the significance of this privacy move is far-reaching. In fact, if you combine all iterations of Apple Mail (iPhone, iPad, and desktop), it accounted for more than 46% of all email opens in 2020, making it hands-down the biggest email platform in the world.

How To Prepare for the FALL 2021 Change 

According to Jay Schwedelson of Worldata*, there are 3 steps you can take to try and maintain a sense of your open rate after Mail Privacy Protection launches this fall:

  1. Identify NOW how many of your subscribers open your emails on an iOS device
  2. Benchmark your open rates NOW to know what baseline numbers you want to measure against
  3. Once Mail Privacy Protection goes into effect, take your new open rates and adjust them based on the data collected in steps 1 and 2

This solution will help you gain a sense of what your new open rates mean to you. That’s good in the short term. But longer term, we have to accept the fact that open rates could be toast. So, we would also recommend adding the following steps to your immediate to-do list… 


Start A/B testing your subject lines, content, and creative (if you’re not already doing so) to see what works and what doesn’t.

Clean up your list. Get rid of dead weight that’s driving down your engagement and your deliverability, since it will be much harder to spot without an accurate open rate.

Evaluate your click-through rate. Make sure you’re measuring it as clicks compared to emails sent (not emails opened). The click-through rate has always been the most important metric anyway because it measures conversions…and isn’t that why we do this?


As marketers, we are a naturally creative bunch. And, as with every big tech change, we will use our creativity to adapt to and overcome the roadblocks that Mail Privacy Protection presents. And, as consumers ourselves, we can probably all agree that more privacy is a good thing. So, let’s embrace this challenge and celebrate it for what it is: a step in the right direction.

Need help mapping out your next email marketing move? 

*American Advertising Federation Baltimore Webinar: Do This, Not That: NEW Email Marketing Techniques Working Now, July 29, 2021

Make a Mark That's Positively Powerful: 3 Tips for Successfully Reframing Your Brand

If you find that your clients have difficulty connecting with your brand, understanding what your brand does, or are siding with your competitors, it might be time for a rebranding. When you work with Devaney & Associates, we uncover the positively powerful differentiators that make your brand stand out from the rest.

Check out the work we did with Chase Brexton Health Care—helping them transform their LGBT Health Resource Center into The Center for LGBTQ Health Equity.

Tip #1: Talk to the people who know you best

Successful rebranding almost always starts with interviewing your staff and clients. After facilitating a discovery workshop with Chase Brexton staff and gathering dozens of client testimonials, it became clear that the LGBT Health Resource Center was doing more groundbreaking research, advocacy, and education than anyone realized. They needed an elevated brand to match.

Tip #2: Get to know your audience on an emotional level

Knowing how your audience feels on a gut level enables you to forge authentic connections. For Chase Brexton’s audiences, identity can be a deeply emotional journey. Through peer and cultural research, we developed a clear and consistent brand language that could speak to the center’s diverse audiences in a way that was inclusive and affirming.

Tip #3: Be open to changing more than just your name or tagline

To be all that your brand can be often means changing the way things have always been done. Beyond our naming recommendations, Chase Brexton’s leadership was open to making organizational changes, updating its menu of services, and adopting a mission statement to more clearly define the center’s brand and role in LGBTQ advocacy.  

Result: A rebranding that you and your audience can believe in

“Our rebranding was about giving people a better understanding of what we do here every day,” explains Sam McClure, executive director of The Center for LGBTQ Health Equity at Chase Brexton. “We have an incredible team of visionaries who are doing game-changing work to end LGBTQ health disparities in our community and on the national and international stage.”


Ready to build a brand that truly connects to your audience? Contact us today to get started!

National Intern Day: Our Intern’s Summer Spectacular

In case you’ve been wondering who was behind some of our agency’s recent blog posts, such as Devaney & Associates Head Back to HQ, we’ve got an exclusive from the author themself–that’s me! 

Greetings from beyond the keyboard! I’m Jester, this summer’s copywriting intern who had the great pleasure of working with D&A the last few months. With my time here nearing an end, and so close to National Intern Day, I’ve been asked to do one last write up on my experience during my internship.

Expectation vs Reality

When I saw the words ‘copywriting intern,’ I had no idea what to expect. I would consider myself a writer primarily versed in fiction, but I saw this as an opportunity to learn a new style of creative writing. In that respect, it did not disappoint. 

From day one, it felt less like I was an intern and more like I was a student with the bonus of hands-on experience. I was assigned writing projects such as blogs, newsletters articles, and social media posts within week one! I was also invited to sit in on several company meetings, giving me a true feel for what it’s like working at Devaney & Associates.

Virtual But Involved

While my internship was intended to be entirely virtual, I was never shut out from the rest of the team. I met everyone virtually within the first week, and I later met them all in person when I spent a day at the Devaney & Associates HQ. There was also plenty of communication between me and the creative team, whether it was a million new projects or a simple update at the end of the day. I felt most a part of the team when I came in for a second visit, though that one came with a catch…

The TikTok Project

One thing I didn’t expect to mention during my interview was the fact that I had 150k followers on TikTok (now over 300k but who’s counting?). This ended up becoming a huge part of my internship when I was asked to create a presentation about TikTok as it relates to marketing and brand promotion. In between drafting articles and writing Facebook posts, I was researching the very app on which I developed a following and always thinking about how it could benefit a business. 

Once the presentation was complete, I went back to the HQ and treated the team to a TikTok education (while they treated me to Noodles & Co). Maybe we’ll see some D&A TikToks go viral in the future!

Summer Only Lasts So Long

As my time here comes to a close, I am nothing but grateful for having been given this opportunity. I learned so much, especially about writing for a specific audience and the revision process. I thank everyone in the business, especially my supervisors, for mentoring me these past few months and giving me the chance to work in the real world of writing. 

So long for now!


Using TikTok as a Marketing Tool

Get Your Business Trending with Today’s Fastest-Growing Social Media Platform

“Hey yo! Have you seen this TikTok?” has become an increasingly common question these days. Many know TikTok as a new social media platform on which all the young’uns post videos of themselves dancing, but there is more than meets the eye. What if we told you this “dancing clock app” could help you grow your business?

This past week, our summer intern Jester Hutchison made an educational presentation about the marketing potential of what is currently the hottest social media app. Sitting pretty on over 300k followers themself, Hutchison gave us insight into how the app works and how to best use it for marketing a business. Now, we’ll share what we’ve learned with you.

So, What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video sharing app on which creators can easily create fun, eye-catching videos with popular music or amusing sounds. During the last couple of years–and especially during the pandemic–TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms in world. Its primary purpose lies in entertainment and creativity, but the ever-growing user base and unique sharing software make it a rising star on the marketing stage. 

Why TikTok is Great for Marketing

What do you expect to see when you log onto a social media app such as Facebook or Instagram? Posts by people you follow, correct? For a person to gain an audience on most social media platforms, they must build up a following of friends, family, and fans. 

This is not the case with TikTok.

TikTok’s main feed is called the For You Page (FYP), and it is similar to the Explore Page on either Instagram or Facebook. The FYP uses an advanced algorithm to provide viewers with content that is assumed to be within the viewer’s interest. More often than not, a viewer is shown videos of people they don’t follow on the FYP.

Why is this great for marketing?

A business does not need a huge following to get in front of the audience!

All they need is a good idea, an entertaining video, and a little help from the FYP.

Tips For Getting on the FYP:

  • Making videos brief and to-the-point
  • Use popular music or audios
  • Keep up-to-date with what’s trending and use it for your content
  • Put on a performance that’ll keep people watching
  • Use trending hashtags or hashtags that pertain to your ideal audience

How Your Business Can Leverage TikTok

With a monthly audience of 689 million users internationally and 100 million in the U.S. alone, TikTok is an untapped well of clientele. Any business looking to promote their services can hop on and start their own TikTok account for free! Once they start pushing out content and finding their audience, they can watch their customer base grow from behind the camera.

For a more direct approach, a business can also get a TikTok for Business account. This paid membership gives businesses special tools that allow them to collaborate with popular creators, start trends, and even put advertisements directly onto the FYP. 

No matter which type of TikTok account you start for your business, one of the best ways to promote your brand is by collaborating with TikTok creators. Vessi Shoes, a waterproof shoe brand, worked with @kallmekris to incorporate their shoes into her content. With 31.6 million followers and plenty of videos already on the FYP, Kris’ videos expanded Vessi Shoes’ audience and increased their exposure.

You could also use TikTok for Business to collaborate with creators on a larger scale. PaintYourLife, a family-based portrait company, used the Creator Search tool to find creators with families or family-related content. These creators were asked to make videos with a portrait done by PaintYourLife, and several of these videos went viral. These collaborations totaled 770k Views, 120k Likes, and a 13% Average Engagement Rate.

With so many different ways to engage with your audience, TikTok can be your new secret weapon in promoting your business.

Ready to Get Started?

Here’s 3 easy steps to begin your TikTok journey!

  1. Download TikTok to your device
  2. Create an account for you or your business
  3. Create videos and share them with the world!