Behind the scenes with Toolhouse creative: the key to great work



The Toolhouse creative team of designers, writers, producers and illustrators follow a key tenet in their work, providing the foundation for award-winning initiatives. What’s their secret when it comes to creating exceptional digital experiences? Find out in this behind-the-scenes peek.

You just never know where a good idea will come from. Having everyone sit in on these Big Idea meetings—I think the least important person at the meeting is the creative director, and I’d guess that makes Toolhouse a little different.

What is that one simple thing that leads to great work?

“Trust. More than anything, trust,” says Toolhouse Creative Director, Chance Martenson. He believes it’s the trust Toolhouse employees have with each other that enables Big Ideas to surface in early brainstorming sessions for a project. That’s only the first step, however.

In order to escort those ideas from imagination to reality, our clients need to see their value, and believe in the ability of those ideas to deliver against business goals. Chance says that, again, it all comes back to trust. “Our best work has always been when there’s that trust with a client,” he says. “When the client is participating on all levels, and there are no walls, no boundaries. I think that’s what enables really good work to happen.”

How does the Toolhouse team come up with Big Ideas?

When we launch a project at Toolhouse, it’s time for a little blue-sky thinking from everyone. We all gather in the conference room we affectionately call “Biggie,” (not to be confused with its cousin down the hall, “Smalls”) and start brainstorming. The room is full of creative minds from every department in the agency: account directors, writers, designers, strategists , producers, developers, and more. “You just never know where a good idea will come from,” Chance says. “Having everyone sit in on these Big Idea meetings—I think the least important person at the meeting is the creative director, and I’d guess that makes Toolhouse a little different.”

Meet Toolhouse Creative Director, Chance Martenson

Marketing has changed tremendously over the last decade: has that re-focused the work at Toolhouse?

The digital landscape has morphed into an amazing array of platforms, screen sizes, and technologies, but throughout the onslaught of this disruptive technology, Toolhouse has remained medium-agnostic. The goals of our clients—and their customers—as well as our focus on creating smart, engaging and innovative work, guide Toolhouse’s strategic and creative efforts. “At the end of the day, we aren’t selling a website or an app,” Chance says. “We are partnering with clients to take a 360-degree view of their business and their objectives, and then delivering whatever will help them reach those objectives.” That user- rather than technology-centric approach is why our clients trust us to keep their work current, as well as relevant.

Has content changed somehow, in the face of these new technologies and a social Internet?

It looks like everything that’s old is new again. Chance says that modern design is based on strong content; that it’s returning to where it started, with a focus on good writing. He adds that there’s also a growing importance for narrative. “A lot of the storytelling you see in film is trickling down into the digital world, into websites and apps,” he says, adding “While modern websites are getting more and more simple aesthetically, I think the content is really getting sharper and richer,”. Social media has mandated another important change for brand efforts. Authenticity. The Toolhouse creative team takes this storytelling mandate and the need for authenticity to heart, helping clients stand out with content that, in the end, delights and engages users, and develops trust in the brand.

How would you describe good work?

Each brand is trying to tell a story, but so often their stories are complex, and the Internet hates complex. Users want simple, easy-to-access, digestible content. They also want compelling, authentic experiences. At Toolhouse, we make complex stories easy to understand, but we don’t stop there. “Good work is the unexpected, right?” asks Chance, adding, “It’s innately unexpected and fresh. We want to reach out and grab somebody on behalf of our clients.”

Enough said.

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embrace@toolhouse.com | (360) 676-9275