Creative Director
Art Director
Brand Designer
Idea Generator
Mentor

Designing the type of moves that connect brands with people.

Q+A

ME INTERVIEWING ME with MY MOST ASKED QUESTIONS

I currently live in Virginia after spending most of my life in Ohio, where I played, went to college and later founded an agency called Mitchell Allen Group in Cleveland. As a creative director and art director, I’ve specialized in brand design, strategy and uncovering the voice of companies to help them move and grow. My guiding principles revolve around values like empathy, honesty, courage, and humor, shaping not just my work but also my leadership style.

Q: How did your journey in the creative industry begin?

Bob: My path into the creative industry took an unexpected turn during my college years at Kent State University. Initially a math and chemistry major, I had a revelation when a college art professor recognized my potential for creativity. This realization resulted in my first pitch deck and presentation to my helping-me-fund-college parents. A task, by the way, in which I quickly discovered that I was pretty good at. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Kent’s Visual Communication and Design Program. My journey continued through various design firms and ad agencies until I took the bold step of founding my own agency, Mitchell Allen Group. Which, by the way, was named after my son. It was at a time of doom and gloom on Wall Street. Companies were looking to save money and better ways of marketing. One way was to pump more money into their budget. A better way was to hire firms like mine to pump more brains into their branding. Because all the money in the world won’t save a bad idea. Ever since, I’ve been dedicated to creatively enhancing brands and positively impacting people’s lives – a testament to the foresight of that art professor.

Q: Could you identify your primary creative strength?

Bob: I like to think I’m good at putting myself into the shoes of different people. Empathy is essential in the creative and design process, and I always strive to understand various perspectives. I’m careful not to overuse rationale and allow creativity its place. Finding the right balance.

Q: In a continuously evolving creative landscape, how have you remained relevant and continue to grow?

Bob: Staying relevant in a dynamic creative industry revolves around maintaining a genuine sense of curiosity and embracing the diversity of the individuals you work with. It’s having the curiosity to adapt, learn, and explore what matters most. The creative field is always in constant flux, and cultivating a mindset of openness allows for continual adaptation and the exploration of novel ideas.

Q: With all the new platforms available, how does one actively create effective content in each realm?

Bob: Realistically, I see it to be similar for digital platforms or any marketing touchpoint.The amount of time spent living on new  platforms doesn’t necessarily determine how well you can create content for it. Knowing the potential of any platform is important. And understanding the audience and creating an experience based on their needs is crucial. Being curious and empathetic enough to put yourself in their shoes allows you to create content that resonates with them, regardless of the platform or how much time you spend with it personally. The moral of the story: both digital platforms and classic mediums can work for you, but neither can save a bad idea. Smart ideas, understanding your budget and knowing what your audience wants are what count to create an experience based on their needs. Then let the right platform do its thing.

Q: How would you define creativity, and what significance does it hold for you?

Bob: Creativity is like looking at life from a different angle. It’s about jumping between thoughts, spotting connections, and seeing possibilities that others might not. It’s not limited to just one field – it’s a mindset you can apply anywhere.

Q: You have a history of success using creativity to solve challenges and capture audience attention. How do you get clients onboard?

Bob: In order to sell an idea, first you need to believe in that idea yourself. Conviction is key when presenting. Truly believe in what you are presenting, and your passion will shine through, making it more convincing for others. I use presentations as an extension of the creative process, to help others to buy into new ideas. In short, I make sure that all involved understand and believe in the ideas so that they own the ideas, defend them and live by them.

Q: Can you walk through your typical creative process, particularly during the ideation phase?

Bob: Whether I’m working alone or with others. On projects big or small. My creative process tends to start with various mind-opening exercises I’ve learned over the years. It can be a bit messy at first, but I need that freedom to let ideas flow. I often find inspiration can come unexpectedly and from anywhere. The next step is a funneling step, where the smart ideas tend to surface and take shape. The creative ideation process is normally with others, so my goal is to always help create a culture and process where unique, diverse and brilliant people want to share, create and grow.

Q: How do you determine when a concept is ready?

Bob: A concept feels right when it aligns with the strategic perspective. Yet creatively engages in a fresh and unique way. By identifying the client’s needs and ensuring the concept addresses those needs, you can be confident that the idea is on the right track for execution.

Q: Your perspective on staying attuned to emerging technologies in the creative industry?

Bob: I always get excited about new technologies, both personally and professionally. I initially went to college as a math and science major. I graduated with a BFA in visual communications and design. Those early interests are probably what fuels my interest in strategy and technology. I’m always looking to see how technology can enhance the creative process. Embracing new tools and techniques has always been at the forefront of innovation and delivering fresh and compelling work to clients.

Q: What does the future look like?

Bob: To continue to enjoy and do what I do best. After years working across design firms, advertising agencies, and my own design agency, I’m looking to join other teams and continue to help define, design and build brand engagement. That may be in a freelance or a staff role. With expertise spanning client-facing services, concept ideation, design, and strategy to hands-on production execution, I can quickly step in to strengthen marketing and creative teams as a flexible and seasoned team player, collaborating with teams across diverse disciplines. The advantage of experience is I can add efficiencies through decision-making and inspiring others. The prospect of teaming up with smart people to creatively solve business and impact people is what excites me, whatever the role. If the situation calls for it, my network of skilled professionals are there as well. And who knows, maybe I can even help win a few awards for all in the process.

Q: Final thought.

Bob: If you’ve made it this far, and I sound like a good fit for your team, maybe we should at least meet, right?

I’ve helped small companies look big and big companies look smart.