Monthly Archives: March 2012



If you’ve been in the design world in the last decade, you probably know Extensis. They’re that software company that brought you all sorts of plug-ins years ago. And, of course, they wrote the book on font management with SuitCase. In the last few years, they’ve focused their efforts on font management, digital asset management, and now web typography. While transitioning to the new, tighter focus has gone well – and nearly every product release has been solid – the excitement and spark seemed to be lost with their brand. They never really acknowledged, internally or externally, that they’d dialed into the right business, the right mission, at the right time.

And they knew it. So, they called their digital agency, Blue Collar Interactive (, to help rekindle that flame. And Blue Collar called Owen Jones.

Owen started by writing some lists: Who has an opinion about this? Who are the influencers? Who is going to care if Extensis changed? What would we want to know from them?

Then we turned our ears on, and we started dialing.

We listened to everyone that would take our call, including Extensis customers and partners like Adobe, Microsoft, and Publicis, and a slew of Extensis employees from nearly every department both here in the United States and abroad.

The State of the Extensis Union according to all these people?

While Extensis enabled creativity their brand didn’t feel creative itself. They seemed stuck between two very different markets: Creative Professionals and IT Professionals – not exactly two groups that hang out after work all too often.

And that, on the surface, is a scary spot for a brand: Being caught in the purgatory of their in-between-ness.

Owen’s take: The between is exactly where Extensis makes perfect sense. They’re keeping both sides of the business of creativity progressing. They help creative professionals make the most of their digital tools and information professionals make the most of their time. Neither world is very productive without each other, and Extensis is their yin and yang enabler. They lighten IT’s load, while helping creative people find the right assets – the ones that inspire the most – to create the best work.

OK, but how do they do that? With all of the below. The Extensis Brand Attributes.


Quality means you get what you pay for, with zero buyers remorse. It’s part of everything Extensis does, every product they make and every interaction they have with every customer.


Creativity isn’t exclusive to the artists; it’s utilized by all. Extensis puts it to use every day, and their products enable those creating the visual and experiential world in which we live.


Technology doesn’t sit still. Ever. Extensis doesn’t sit still either. They’re constantly evolving, and it’s good for their soul. It keeps them thinking, striving and growing in the only direction that matters: forward.


That’s a big word, we know. But, it captures one’s true passion for what drives you. Love is central to Extensis. They love creativity. They love type. They love design. They love making it all interact seamlessly. They love what they do.

We showed these concepts to the teams at Extensis and asked: Is this who you are? Do these inspire you in the right directions?

The answer was a resounding “yes”.

And so, with the concepts and language feeling good, we moved on to visual work. Boy, did we know that this was a brand that would be scrutinized with aggravating detail by our peers. Imagine, if you will, the discussions that ensued as we threw these up on the wall over the next several weeks:

Not surprisingly for a company that loves typography, a typographic solution was in order. We’re really happy with the direction that our good friends at Extensis chose. A custom piece of lettering makes up the “e” mark, and gives the brand personality and playfulness. The logotype was also customized, with some help from Thomas Phinney at Extensis, beginning with the Adelle typeface.  The two together create something both beautiful and unique, and speak to the creative yin and business yang. We couldn’t be happier. And it appears, neither could Extensis.

CLCK HERE  to check out what they’re saying about their new mark. 




What would an artist do to visually represent Owen Jones and our agency mantra of Show, Don’t Tell? CD Mark Rawlins came up with the idea to pose that question to his friend, Dan Christofferson (aka Beeteeth). After a few sketches shared over email, we bought Dan a plane ticket, a nice hotel room in Portland and about two dozen jars of paint. Dan, Mark and filmmaker Jacob Hinmon spent a long weekend together. Here are the results.

We sure love it. Thanks guys.

Check out our collaborators here:


Cal Humanities came to us with a few challenges—not the least of which was, “How do we explain what the humanities are?” In research we found that we never, ever got the same answer twice. Owen’s strategy recommendation:  “Don’t explain them, help people experience them.” So we renamed them, gave them a new brand platform “A State of Open Mind”, and are helping them to democratize and proliferate the best California-centric humanities experiences they can create, find, or enable through grants.



Ryan Donahue, our Boise Office Creative Czar put this video together with Mr. Gregory Bayne on the camera. Besides being an ode to Adobe and some of the fun motion design, video, and other work, we combined some cool C4D 3d into After Effects. Those bowling pins exist only in Ryan’s head and on a hard drive. It’s a fun demo of some of our skills.


Owen Jones Co-Founder Rusty Grim has made a vow: He will pin only stuff that he (or we) have created. That’s a vow for  creation over (at least in this case) curation. We’re not saying one is better than the other – just a personal challenge to keep making things. Below is a look at some – but not all – of those pins in one big, fatty-fat image. Sorry about the load time. In advance. That is, if you’re still waiting. Or, if you’d like, just click here to see it live on Pinterest.



For many years adidas running has been one of the primary sponsors of the venerable Boston Marathon. Over the course of the last several years, Owen has helped adidas to take a thorough look at the experience for runners of the world’s most famous footrace – and supply the adidas team with as many great ideas as possible. We’ve always known that Boston was a big deal to runners – but our eyes were opened in 2006 when we came up with the idea to put a video camera in the adidas village and ask people to express their own personal reasons to run. What we got back was remarkable. Close to half of those we got on tape had a difficult time expressing themselves without beginning to cry. Boston, it was clear – was deeply personal. Some people ran for their moms, some ran to overcome disease or health issues, for friends, family – all sorts of reasons and all of them very close (not ironically) to their hearts. Every year we’ve worked on Boston we’ve tried to bring that same heart and passion to our ideas.

The work you see below begins with outdoor / out of home work. Because many people come from out of town, we wanted to great them a Logan Airport with a big, inspiring message – and continue to inspire the before (in adidas village) during (inspirational course signage) and after the race (finish line messaging). You can also watch a 7-minute video that we produced with old Boston footage. We wrote “Reasons to Run” and the video visually and aurally (pay attention to the pace of the soundtrack) follows the course. It’s a long video for sure – but runners stood in front of it for the entire length – and came back to it after the race on YouTube for continued inspiration.


The experience began at Logan Airport with inspirational “Reasons to Run” banners

As runners made their way downtown from the airport they saw more messages in bus shelters and on cab tops


At the adidas village pre-race event we came up with the idea for an interactive “Haile wall”

Runners could walk up and turn the cubes around to learn more about the fastest marathon runner in the world.

The above video played in the adidas village. The video is a combination of “Reasons to Run”, and a trip through the entire 26.2.

In the adidas village shoe store we had the entire race course mapped out on the floor

We filled the course map with facts and fun markers of the famous (and some infamous) spots along the 26.2 miles

People could finish early by jumping in front of pre-printed finish line. Note the personalized finish message above Tammy’s head.

We had people fill out an inspirational message on a tag, and hang it up on a huge board.

At the end of the pre-race event all of the tags that had been hung spelled out the message “Impossible is nothing”