Insights into Creativity and Entrepreneurship from Revved Design’s Paul Stadnyk

Earlier this year, when I decided to ditch the MarketersStudio.com blog and brand in favor of relaunching it as Serial Marketer, I had the good fortune of reconnecting with Paul Stadnyk, my former colleague at 360i. I always respected the work he did for brands like Oreo, Oscar Mayer, and Coca-Cola. He had since gone on to found creative shop Revved Design, and we discussed how we could work together.

He shared ideas for what he could do with Serial Marketer. He was instrumental in launching this brand, including crafting the site from the ground up. He even contributed in areas I wasn’t expecting. For instance, I had already worked with a designer to create a logo before I reconnected with Paul, but Paul pointed out some elements with it that needed fixing and then shared his own approach. The current logo improved considerably thanks to his handiwork.

To learn more about his creative process, his experience launching his own business, and what inspired his thinking for this site, I sent him some questions that he answered for this exclusive interview.

What’s your creative process like? Can you encapsulate this in some way?

Paul: Every new challenge deserves some measure of amnesia, and a somewhat naïve approach that if done right, a masterpiece could result. Aiming high is nothing new, but approaching an assignment with fresh, unbiased eyes allows for an essential early stage to occur: playful exploration. And we always want to take a shot at making something lasting, something deemed beyond reproach years later. Ultimately, this is the greatest value we can provide our clients.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on, and what makes them stand out?

Paul: From a creative and personal standpoint, Adidas was a huge success. When the question was asked, “How would a world class brand and cultural sports icon do baseball?” — everything just started to appear in my head as if it already existed. It didn’t hurt that I had a personal connection to both the sport and the brand, but one thing I’ve learned is that when the creativity starts flowing, go with it.

What do you like most about being out on your own?

Paul: Location, location, location… of any kind, that is. My clients would probably be surprised to know that I have literally met major deadlines from the beach, and also other less-glamourous places. The drawback, of course, can be that the lines between work and life get blurred. But “always on” is where service industries have gone, so we like to stay competitive.

Is there anything you miss about agency life?

Paul: Yes, and I find it compelling that over time, many agencies domesticated the workplace by building lounges, game rooms and even bars within their walls. But there are just too many talented people willing to work remotely and on their own schedules not to view the distributed agency model without merit.

The agency world that we both come from is obsessed with awards. How much do you think that award-winning work is the best work out there? Are there any award shows that you think have a great track record at recognizing creative achievement?

Paul: As a matter of inspiration, it is always essential to dip into the assortment of top work presented at Cannes, SXSW or the One Show. But that’s all I personally use it for — an unabashed tab-keeping on who’s doing great work and what that looks like. I’ve long abandoned obsessing over awards. Agencies use them as a means to bring in bigger clients. My greatest reward is the client brought in by a strong recommendation.

What advice do you have for creative professionals considering joining an agency or going out on their own?

Paul: I learned that in commercial arts, making a personal mark is the exception while a shared vision is the rule. So, have a side project as a creative outlet, because as much as this field gives creatives the opening to express themselves, there are many stakeholders, and the KPI is nearly always sales. I’ve come to embrace this notion with our tagline “move the needle” which infers that everything we do on behalf of our clients is tied to a tangible outcome.

Before we even spoke, were there things right away that you were hoping to improve or fix on my site? What was really glaring?

Paul: If you went to a fine dining establishment in flip flops and a wife-beater you would rightfully be the subject of a great deal of scrutiny. My goal was to get your blog dressed up appropriately for your audience a represent it as professionally and respectfully as the person behind it.

You were itching to polish up my logo. The changes you made were fairly subtle but impactful. What were those changes that you made, and why do you think changes like those matter?

Paul: Details really matter. Even if most people can’t see them, they tend to be felt if they’re missing or neglected and can have an incredible impact on perception of value. The initial branding for Serial Marketer was okay but I wanted it to feel more exceptional and timeless.

What do you offer your clients that keeps them coming back?

Paul: I’m selective in taking on clients because I tend to become vested in their success, fulfilling a role more akin to a financial advisor or personal tailor. As a result, much of Revved Design’s growth comes from referrals, because if you are in marketing, everyone loves to know a strategic and creative person whom they can call on at any time and have them deliver.  Having managed nearly every stage of the creative process and touched every aspect of a marketing mix makes me uniquely qualified to help brands and professionals level-up, no matter what the ask. And I have geared our offering towards rapid response, not only because we often traffic in timely social content, but because when the realization comes that creative is falling short, it can’t be shored up fast enough.

For more about Paul or to contact him, visit RevvedDesign.com.