Interview with Marc Stress
Creative Director, Professor of Practice

Marc has worked in a variety of markets including consumer goods, B2B, not-for-profit, finance and technology. As a veteran Creative Director, he has worked on brands such as 3M, Anaren, Blizzard Entertainment, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Dummies Brand, EMS Technologies, Food Bank of Central New York, Ingersoll Rand, Saab-Sensis, The Salvation Army, Welch Allyn and Würth to name a few. In addition to developing thoughtful solutions for brand identity, digital and print communications, Marc has designed solutions for mobile applications, email marketing, social media and digital interactive software. His experience includes 17 years managing a design firm collaborating with clients and creative teams on multi-tiered campaigns with budgets ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. Check out Marc's work with 76West here. As a Professor of Practice, Marc works with a team of design educators fostering the next generation of communications designers. In addition to work in the classroom, he has developed an employment portal for the school connecting students to industry opportunities.
Hi Marc, would you introduce yourself and your design process with 76West?
Hi I'm Marc Stress! Co-founder and Creative Director as 76 West and Professor of Practice at Syracuse University. We've developed a brand process as 76 West framework for developing a brand called Brand G.P.S. We created Brand G.P.S. because we feel that there's a gap in corporate communications. Too often we found companies are missing opportunities to realize long range returns in favor of short term goals. The name Brand G.P.S. is meaningful for this process because it helps businesses stay focused on where they're going while allowing for course correction along the way. Brand G.P.S. is our process that creates a strategic framework to provide a plan for a company to manage and evolve a brand with tactical goals to capitalize on untapped revenue potential. We approach Brand G.P.S. in three phases assessment, analysis and action during assessment. We identify the four pillars or waypoints of a modern brand that include category performance, identity and emotion in the analysis phase. We review the competitive landscape identify, growth potential and create a balance intersection of business story and aesthetic. These define unique brand proposition and become the foundation for all strategic brand communications finally in the action phase we develop a long term roadmap and a strategic plan for the evolution and growth of an organization.
What first got your into design? What still challenges you about this field today?
What first got me into design... I was really really young when I discovered design. I started becoming aware of logos on cars and typing in newspaper. I barely had words, words for it at 12/13 years old and then I discovered there was people behind those things that did that and got paid to do it for a living and I thought that was one of the coolest things that you could do as a profession. So that's where I started chasing at a really young age designed my first thing in eighth grade was a cover of a yearbook for my junior high school and I haven't looked back since. So what challenges me about the field... Well I think one of the things that I realized early on about being in this in this field is the opportunity for doing new things all the time. Whether that is the influence that technology has on corporate communications or new tools that come about or new processes that you create or discover along the way. And to me that's still what is exciting- and the fact that we don't know what's going to come down the road next. And then we have an opportunity to shape communications and and develop brands and identities for corporations and help people discover their own unique things along the way is what really inspires me today.
What are your preferred tools? Pens? Pads? Programs? What do you design with?
What about preferred tools? Well whether I'm doing design or I'm working on a project around my house or on my cars or motorcycles I mean I guess I just love tools, of all kinds. And you know my dad taught me that you've got to have the right tool for the job and you've got to know more than the tools. I can hear my dad's voice echoing still in my head with those with those axioms as far as design goes. I think like a lot of people, I start out sketching on kind of whatever I have nearby. I'll sketch a quick something with it with a pencil or a marker today. That very quickly evolves into something digital whether that's in you know a tool like Adobe Photoshop or some of the cool new apps that are coming out on our mobile devices that allow us to do design literally anywhere we are with with with the device. So it's transforming what paper means we have these digital devices that act like paper but give us the advantages of having things digital especially things that we can create as vectors that allow us to scale to any size that we need.
What industries do you typically design for? Is there an industry you would like to design in more? Shout out a brand or company you would like to work with.
What industries do I typically work for? Over my career I've had a huge range of opportunity designed for the video game industry, higher education, not-for-profit institutions, financial, life sciences, business to business and I think that's allowed me a really interesting insight to all those different types of organizations. And an opportunity to take lessons from each of those industry categories and apply it across those sectors for really kind of exponential results. Too often I think that companies focus on what's happening in their own industry and they forget to look outside their own kind of category for inspiration. As far as who I'd like to work for. I've always had this dream to work for an Olympic Committee and do a branding for Olympic Games or something at that scale. I think that would be an amazing opportunity to create a brand identity for that kind of thing and have that be part of the part of the history of an organization like the Olympics would also love to be more involved in automotive. I had a short stint for an automotive magazine where I was writer and art director for the magazine and it would be great to be in that industry working for some of the great automotive marquees- Audi, Mercedes Benz and GM and I also see some of the fun things that are happening at at Target for instance. You walk through the aisles and see all these great designer collaboration that they're doing at retail and that would be a tremendous lot of fun to be involved in that and walk through the store and see work that you did at Target on display in stores across the country.