With more than 30 years experience in the advertising and marketing industry, Scott is known for taking complicated, sometimes controversial, subjects and distilling them down to simple, easy to understand messages. He has built his reputation as a branding guru with a distaste for the mundane and an obsession with disrupting the status quo. Throughout his career, clients have relied on him to build brands that differentiate themselves in the market and make a positive impact on audiences.
In addition to his love of branding, Scott has a passion for contemporary art and architecture as well as nurturing young talent through Screamer Co.’s intern program and as an industry educator teaching visual communication, basic design, art direction, and typography. Scott has had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of clients from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, nonprofits, and government agencies. From technology clients like Luminex, Asuragen, Xenex, Obsidian, and Navtech to healthcare leaders like Ascension, Seton Healthcare Family, SMV Scientific, and Central Health to fun favorites like Starbucks, University Federal Credit Union, Bird’s Barbershop, and Alamo Drafthouse, Scott has guided clients through every aspect of brand creation and implementation.
HTA - Tell us about your personal/professional background?
I was born in East Texas, but my family moved to a small town 60 miles south of Houston when I was five years old. I can summarize my childhood by saying it was a mix of Leave it to Beaver and King of the Hill. Basically, my childhood was classic Americana and my family dynamics were eerily similar to the characters in King of the Hill – and yes, I was pretty much Bobby Hill. I’ve always been a maker, creating things out of odd parts I’d find or save, drawing, sculpting, etc., so I decided to study art when I went to college.
The summer before my senior year, I landed an internship at an advertising agency in San Antonio. After the summer, they asked me to stay on and ended up hiring me full-time before I graduated. From there I worked at a couple of agencies and design shops in Texas before going to work as an Art Director at BBDO Chicago. Following that I went out on my own as a freelancer and have never looked back.
HTA - What inspired you to create Screamer Co.?
“Inspired” may not be the right word. “Challenged” is a better fit. After leaving Chicago and coming to Austin, I began doing some work for one of the healthcare systems in town. Over several months the projects kept coming (and growing in size and opportunity) and eventually I was offered the entire account worth over $1.2 million.
Historically, I had seen myself as a creative, not a businessman. However, when the opportunity to presented itself, I decided I wanted to challenge myself and expand my skillset/experience. I was honored by the faith and trust they put in me. The organization fronted me over a half a million dollars, I hired a team, and opened Screamer Co. We had the account for nine years.
HTA - When it comes to marketing/branding, how is the healthcare industry different? How is it similar?
Marketing/branding in the healthcare industry is not significantly different from other industries. The same best practices apply.
However, there are some key differences. They include:
- Marketing is limited by government guidelines, licensing boards, and insurance restrictions
- It’s harder to stand out because most people assume the same or similar level of quality because providers are licensed
- Many healthcare consumers don’t know they have choices when it comes to their healthcare providers
- Healthcare is an industry that embraces technology related to patient care, but is slower to adopt technologies and best practices in advertising and marketing
HTA - How is branding/marketing different in this digital age?
Our industry is far more complex in the digital age, but the biggest difference is in how advertisers and marketers communicate with audiences and track results. For decades we simply “pushed” information to consumers.
Today, marketing is more of a dialogue and its effects are measured at a level of detail we never thought possible when I started my career. The amount of data we can collect, analyze, and use to refine our efforts is massive. An entirely new data science industry has evolved because of it.
HTA - What are your thoughts on consumerism in health care?
If we define consumerism in healthcare as a movement to involve patients in their healthcare choices, it is WAY overdue. Over the last decade we’ve seen massive shifts in how healthcare systems treat the patient, from hospital stays to treatment options, healthcare consumers are being empowered to participate in their treatment and recovery.
The days of “doctor says and patient does” are shifting to a model where the patient and provider work together in making decisions.
HTA - What are some of the biggest mistakes companies make with branding/marketing?
For branding, the biggest mistake is trying to say too many things about yourself. When you try to say everything, you end up saying nothing. For marketing, the mistake is setting unrealistic expectations on what can be accomplished with your budget and timeframe.
HTA - Can you describe Screamer Co.'s strategic process for branding a company?
Re-branding or starting from scratch, the process is basically the same.
1. Research – foundational information for effective branding
- Review past marketing efforts, collateral, positioning, and messaging to evaluate what worked, what didn’t work and why
- Review the competitive landscape
- Define your audience – use surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. (listen to them!)
2. Plan – analyzing data and building strategies
- Identify the problem your organization is trying to solve
- Establish the brand’s personality
- Establish your value proposition (think about the functional and emotional value your product or service provides)
- Define the Who, What, How, and Why of your brand
- Determine the top 2-3 messages for each of your audiences
3. Build – creating the brand’s visual language (seriously, think of this as a language)
- Name the organization
- Write a tagline
- Design a logo
- Establish font usage
- Determine appropriate imagery
- Document everything in brand guidelines
- Internal launch – company buy in and communicate to stakeholders
- External launch – update everything (create a plan, this ends up being more complex than most people think)
HTA - As a brand, how do you balance "fitting in" with "standing out"?
All agencies tell a similar story and offer similar services. So in our initial contact, it is our name and personality that stand out. The name “Screamer Co.” seems to grab people’s attention and when they find out it’s a combination of my first initial and last name, we generally earn points for being clever and creative (desirable characteristics in our field).
Once we engage with a client, we differentiate ourselves by how we work and perform. Transparency in our processes, budgets, timelines, and communications builds trust with our clients.
HTA - What's the secret to great marketing campaigns?
There is no silver bullet for developing a successful campaign. However, I can share with you the three questions I ask before we take on a new client or project.
1. Do we want to see more of this product or service in the world? It’s vital for us to believe in our clients and what they’re doing.
2. Do we like and respect the people we’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis and is that shared by the client? Some of this is based on individual personalities, but a big part of it is ensuring the client has the right people in place to facilitate on their end.
3. Does the client have a budget to facilitate what they want to accomplish and allow Screamer Co. to be profitable?
When the answer to all three questions is “yes” we have always been successful. If the answer to even one question is no – we respectfully walk away.
HTA - How do you learn?
I’m a visual learner. I have to see and do something to retain it.
HTA - What are you reading?
I’m a huge sci fi and fantasy geek – always have been. Two of my favorite writers are Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card. I’ve read almost everything they’ve written. Currently though, I’m reading Game of Thrones. I love the series on HBO, so I thought I’d read the books – they’re even better.