A Puppy Petting Party!

Last year during Design Week Portland, Owen Jones brought you the sweet, fuzzy joy of a Kitten Kissing Booth. That’s right—a Kitten Kissing Booth. In which you could kiss kittens whilst having your picture taken. We asked ourselves, “How can we possibly top that?”

The answer: A Puppy Petting Party.

Stop by Owen Jones on April 25th in Old Town for cold beer, good times, sweet pups, pooch-related treats, and an inside look at the agency’s finest work. Even better, it’s all to support the Oregon Humane Society, who’ll be supplying the guests of honor. That means you’re very welcome to adopt your paw-recious new friends. (There might even be pugs.)



Owen spent the past few months developing and producing an online video campaign for our longtime friends Prometheus Real Estate Group. The mission? Expand the group’s I Am Home brand while avoiding the doldrums of real estate video content (boring property tours, low production values, lame music). Oh, and come up with a solution that’s repeatable for all of Prometheus’ more than 70 holdings up and down the west coast (without getting repetitive or predictable).

Writer Peter Dean and Art Director Brandy Shearer set upon the task. The solve in this case was a series of how-to videos, each highlighting a different aspect of the brand experience from an unexpected angle. After storyboarding, Production Manager Michelle Majeski enlisted our partners from previous video projects, Kamp Grizzly.

The one-day shoot happened in and around one of the Prometheus’ Portland properties, utilizing both Owen and Kamp Grizzly staff as talent. The first series of three videos served to prototype the production process for future rollout to more cities and more properties. Mission accomplished? We think so (and so does Prometheus).



We loved it until we hated it—until we loved it again.

Branding & Optimal Distinctiveness Theory

Holy shit. Have you heard Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling?

People, disco is back.

And by that we mean back again.

If you’re above a certain age, one of the last things you and the rest of the world agreed upon regarding 70’s disco was that it sucked.

But, the truth is, it actually didn’t. And really, neither did any of its several revivals since.

The original Disco evolved from funk, soul, pop and salsa. None of those suck. The early adopters came from the club scene and included a cross section of the gay, African American, Italian American and Latino communities.

Disco was a kick-in-the-ass answer to the social malaise of the early 70’s, which followed the incendiary late 60’s. And for the communities listed above (and plenty other people) it was as empowering as it was fun.

No, disco didn’t suck—until it did. And then didn’t again.

The question is why?

The answer might be this: It just got too big. Trends (and brands) that get too big, will eventually begin to see a decent (and sometimes catastrophic) level of rejection.

Bigness dilutes in two important ways: First, quality drops off (listen to “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward ). And second, when everyone loves something, then loving that something is no longer a unique way of being. It begins to say nothing about who you are as an individual.

It’s called Optimal Distinctiveness Theory.

One aspect of the theory goes like this: People will seek the balance between inclusion (group identity) and distinctiveness (individual identity). And for the most part, most people don’t like it when that balance gets out-of-whack.

When something gets too big (the group) it loses its ability to positively drive personal distinction (the individual) and so we abandon it. Sometimes permanently, sometimes just for a while.

Optimal Distininctiveness TheoryResurrected brands, like PBR, are the proof-point for that “sometimes just for awhile” scenario (and it’s always just for a while).

Translated from social science-speak, the theory states that we love, say, Taylor Swift until “too many” people love her—then we hate her until enough of us hate her, so that it becomes safe enough to recognize her genius.

And so on.

Any good branding professional will offer the basic advice of being distinctive—but do many have the courage (or understanding) to actually explore and discuss sameness?

Sameness (represented by the group identity or brand tribe) is the angel and devil; it can drive more inclusiveness and growth—until it doesn’t.

Solid brand strategy—especially for start-ups—needs to also consider the relativity of a brand and its position. Is there a drafting effect that can be leveraged? How is the brand the same, but different?

Inversely, solid brand strategy—especially for larger, established brands—needs to consider strategies to create growth that does not overinflate sameness and reduce distinction, because the tribe has become so large that it’s diffused.

Where is the brand, relative to the delta of optimal distinction? And if we’re getting too big, what can we do about that?

The whole game, in other words, is a balancing act. And that balance has strategic implications for both building and sustaining brands.

And for the record, I love disco—at least until I don’t. And then I will again.

Note: The theory of Optimal Distinctiveness was introduced to me during a Friday evening Double Mountain Brewery Beers & Theories back-n-forth with my good friend and former creative partner Brian Hennessey. Brian’s ever-curious mind, sharp intellect and ability to connect things is worth a million times the number of beers I hav

Kitty Kissing Booth, Thank You!

Our Design Week Portland Open House last week was full of kissing, kittens and plenty of new friends!

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.58.32 PM

Thank you to everyone who came to our event supporting the Oregon Humane Society. We raised some serious kitten cash and helped adopt out all five beauties that visited our office.

Don’t forget you can donate to the Oregon Humane Society anytime on their website.

Check out everyone’s smoochy kitty face on our Kitty Kissing Page.



If you missed out on our open house or want to get in touch, we can be reached at (503) 481-5415 or info@whoisowenjones.com.

Brand Storytelling Deserves A Great Chair (Of Course)

We recommend viewing this video: Owen Jones on Copywriting, with a drink in one hand and preferably a bowl of Bananas Owen in the other. This last reference will make more sense shortly. Video voice-over by none other than ECD Peter Dean.

If you would like to find out what chairs we here at Owen Jones & Partners use to craft the brand storytelling messages for our clients, we can be reached at (503) 481-5415 or info@whoisowenjones.com. Or, just leave a comment on our blog.

A Flavor for Every Imagination: Owen Jones Announces Home Cranked

Pick a flavor. Every flavor.

Sometimes our projects aren’t just a tasty design challenge, they’re plain, old tasty. When our good friends at Naia asked us to help launch their new product we jumped at the chance (well, they did send us a few cases of Bar Gelato to help sway our decision).


Home Cranked is a premium ice cream base that allows anyone to easily make literally any flavor they desire conveniently in their own kitchen. Great ice cream starts with a quality base, and making a real ice cream base takes time and skill. Trust us, even the “easy recipe” looks like all work and no fun. Home Cranked takes the hard part out so you can focus on the fun part: coming up with your own perfect flavor of ice cream.


Owen Jones helped Home Cranked develop its brand narrative and ethos, brand identity, supporting brand elements, packaging and website. We were lucky enough to collaborate with Mette at the Bureau of Betterment who has been a long time partner of both Owen Jones and Naia.


Packaging as fun as the finished product

Home Cranked will be launching in Whole Foods Markets this spring, so get out your homemade ice cream maker and fire up your imagination. If you can’t wait until then, rumor has it Owen Jones will be making its own homemade flavors at our Design Week Portland Open House.


Available in Whole Foods Markets and your favorite browsing device