How to DIY a Respectable Headshot with Your Phone

The situation: You need headshots for your website, but you’re out of budget and too pressed for time to hire a professional photographer. Hey, it happens. Although you’re always going to get the best results from a professional, taking the DIY route is better than foregoing photography altogether—for digital applications. (We’re bound by our Hippocratic design oath to tell you that this is a no good, terrible, very bad idea for print.) All you need is your iPhone and a basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts of portrait photography, which, lucky for you, this post is all about.  Continue Reading

How We Make the Big Idea Happen

It’s easy! We lock ourselves away in a dark office, drain a Madison-Avenue-sized bottle of single-malt Scotch and then stumble out five minutes before the big, important client presentation with the Eureka moment in hand.

The truth is a lot less romantic and always involves 99 percent Thomas Edison-like perspiration. Big ideas are more likely to emerge when a group of passionate, fearless and creative people – focused on a common challenge – generate lots of smaller ideas that in many cases can add up to something truly unique, remarkable, relevant … and big. Continue Reading

Want Great Work? Start by Falling in Love with the Problem

Whether you’re a designer or a developer, working in an agency boils down to solving problems. (How can we get people to buy more? Click more? Share more? You get the idea.) Ideally, this is a two-step process:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Solve the problem.

Seems straightforward enough, but does it always happen like that? Not by a long shot. Continue Reading

Creating a Bulletproof Brand Guide

Consistency is crucial to the health and success of any brand. But maintaining a consistent brand presence can be a major challenge, especially when you’re working with a large team or collaborating with partners outside of your organization.

Without an internal reference point for your brand, discrepancies and confusion become inevitable, and that can seriously affect how your customers see you*. On top of that, if you constantly have to clarify what’s “on-brand,” you’re really wasting a lot of time and not arming your team with the tools they need to do their best work.

*Life Pro Tip: There’s nothing wrong with trying new things, but don’t be that guy trying to bring back frosted tips in 2017. It’s not gonna happen. Continue Reading

You Can’t Sell to Everyone—and That’s Okay

Marketing is not like throwing a birthday party in first grade. So hold back on that value pack of Lisa Frank invitations, because you won’t be including the entire class.

But.but.but. Why wouldn’t I want to cast a wide net? I could be missing out on a potential sale, and that feeling would be worse than realizing you left the freezer door open and all the ice cream has melted. Continue Reading

3 Ways Discovery Sets The Stage For An Awesome Agency Experience

Garbage in, garbage out.

In everything from mathematical computations to creative endeavors, the output is largely influenced by the input. For marketing projects, that means the energy invested and the quality of details collected at the very beginning of a project will directly affect the entire project lifecycle and ultimately, the end result. Continue Reading


It’s Time to Stop Marketing by First Best Guess

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
– Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics

Stronger strategy, better targeting, more effective messaging, improved customer service—your success in these areas is strongly linked to your ability to accurately understand your target audience and engage with them in a way they find meaningful.

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Illustrator Shannon Viox accepts the Benny Award for the Grove Roots Brand material

CNP Rounds Up a Passel of Wins at the 2017 ADDY Awards


Last Friday, AAF Polk County hosted the 2017 ADDY Awards (and we were jes’ so proud to be there).

Part of the nation’s largest advertising competition, the annual event offers local agencies and in-house teams an occasion to kick up their boots and celebrate exceptional creative work.

This year’s Grand Ole ADDYs theme saw the Lakeland Center’s Sikes Hall transformed into Country’s Most Famous Stage, complete with live entertainment and tasty vittles.

By the time the final curtain fell, CNP had corralled an impressive number of wins, including five Gold ADDYs, four Silver ADDYs, a “Best in Category” Benny and a Judge’s Choice award.

We love what we do and it’s an honor to be acknowledged by our talented industry peers.

Many thanks to our clients for giving us the opportunity to work on so many fantastic projects. We love you so much it hurts. 

Check out the highlights of our ADDYs wins below —

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Custom Illustrations in the Real World: From Sketch to Screen

I was always drawing as a kid. I would get ideas in my head and would just have to draw them. Now as a professional designer, my favorite projects include that hand-drawn aspect; a personal touch before moving on to the computer. It makes designs more flavorful and posed to stand out, and I get a chance to flex the illustration muscle for a client. It feels good when everyone is proud of the outcome.

Custom Illustrations for a Homegrown Brand

Illustrations contrast with the digital world we’re surrounded by. The traces of human involvement will always be more interesting than an algorithm generated by a machine. For Grove Roots Brewing Company, we had the opportunity to use custom illustration in posters for each of their flagship beers. The brand is based on celebrating the historic citrus industry in Winter Haven, so lead designer, Tiffany, and I found our style inspiration in vintage postcards. Often for illustrators like me, who aim to capture each project’s individual aesthetic, custom illustrations are a chance to explore a new style. In Grove Roots’ case, it was a reminder of an old style. We reckoned the audience would be drawn to the familiar, nostalgic quality of the vintage postcard style.

Grove Roots Brewing Company is the first brewery in Winter Haven–a fresh and welcome establishment!–so juicy custom imagery was an opportune branding decision. (Drawing people in? No problem.)

Shannon sketches a truck

An early sketch of the vintage Ford inspires the label for the 6am Pickers beer.

The Process

In the beginning stage, I gathered reference images and made sketches. I started with the illustration for 6am Pickers, because the truck was a bit of a challenge. Tiffany and I wrangled with finding the correct perspective of the road, after I drew the truck from scratch, sans-road … so we took the bumpy route, but we got there.

Shannon vectorizes a custom illustration

The sketches become vectorized.

Using my references, I drew with the the pen tool in Illustrator and began layering the pieces to build the scene. Highlights and shadows were added. After tweaking the details and perspective to our satisfaction, we were on the road (pun intended) to a strong poster design.

Tiffany, who designed the Grove Roots branding, had the colors mostly picked out ahead of time. We added a few more once we got into final stages of the illustrations and realized they needed a little more depth. Enter: vibrant greens!

The final result was a unique combination of fresh and nostalgic, just like Grove Roots Brewing Company. The 6am Pickers poster is one in a series of four flagship beer representations, but it is one of my favorites for the challenges we overcame to breathe life into it. Plus, it’s delicious if you’re into coffee stouts.

For more great Grove Roots illustrations, check out our case study, Crafting an Identity for Winter Haven’s First Craft Brewery.

A Finishing Touch: Using Tactile Design

Some people think print is dead — that fewer people are printing things and it’s all going digital. But there is still a very large portion of your brand that calls back to traditional elements.

Each month, I get a water filter in the mail from a company called Soma and the packaging is beautiful. The design of the packaging creates an elegant, quality experience. In the end, it doesn’t feel like something you regret buying.

Our sense of touch is really important. It’s one of the first impressions you make with your audience and they’ll notice when things are well thought out. At the end of the day even the smallest details are noticed – from the type of paper you choose to the size and dimension of a printed piece. Maximizing these details will ultimately connect with them. Continue Reading