The Montana Brand and Marketing Strategy: Working Better Together

The Montana Brand and Marketing Strategy: Working Better Together

This week I had the pleasure of joining 100 or so other Montanans who are incredibly passionate about this amazing place we call home at the gorgeously restored boutique Hotel Arvon in Great Falls. I am leaving with more confidence than ever that I am beyond fortunate to live in the company of great minds, and even better hearts. I’m even more confident we were gifted an incredible marketing opportunity in the Montana brand – a powerful draw for visitors and businesses around the world.

The theme of the Montana Ambassadors Annual Conference was “Working Better Together”; a concept that absolutely defines what I believe makes Montana the Last Best Place. In a state that is nearly 150,000 square miles with just over 1 million people total population, I couldn’t possibly feel more surrounded by genuine companionship and true community. For all the times I find myself solo in wide, open spaces I never feel alone.

Why? Because Montana has a culture of rolling up our sleeves to do what’s needed to help our friends and neighbors when they could use an extra set of hands. Car trouble on a sleepy country road? No problem; it’s almost guaranteed the first (and possibly only) person to come by will stop and help. And you’ll probably get a good cup of coffee and some great conversation to share while you wait for a tow. As my friend and colleague from Leadership Montana Chantel Scheiffer said in this beautifully written op-ed about the importance of civility “what we hold in common often outweighs our differences…Montanans believe in the importance of hard work and an honest living…We raise barns, mend fences and if we see a ranch fire, we all pitch in to help.”

Damn straight we do. We pitch in and collaborate because of love, and work ethic, and pride. Because we see the value in ourselves and each other; and because we know Montana has a rich past and an even greater future. Keynote speaker and fellow HATCHer David Yakos of Salient Technologies followed with another powerful point that resonates so deeply with me: “We work in Montana to live in Montana.” We are incredibly fortunate to live in a culture that values balancing adventure, family, and creative expression with profitability and business growth. That balance makes it incredibly fulfilling and exciting to be growing a marketing agency with a head full of ideas and a heart full of the desire to explore more and live fully.

Thank you to all of our hosts and even organizers for helping us work better together.


Creative Inspiration & Powerful Connections At The First HATCH Latin America

Every so often in life the Universe delivers an invitation too amazing to pass up. When HATCH Founder Yarrow Kraner e-mailed an invitation to participate in the inaugural HATCH Latin America this winter, I knew immediately it was time to make room in my personal and work schedules to spend 10 days in Panama with a tribe of 150 creative catalysts and game changers.

Getting on that plane and being part of HATCH Latin America was unequivocally one of the best choices I’ve ever made. And I am so incredibly grateful for the creative inspiration, renewed business focus, and soulful recharge that took place during 4.5 days at Kalu Yala, and 5 days of decompression at Selina Hostels Playa Venao.

Here are my takeaways:

– Authentic, heartfelt connections and strong human relationships are where the real world changes take place. Let’s keep focusing there.

– Stepping away from the office and off-grid is the scariest/best thing I can do as Spur’s CEO and Lead Strategist. Coming back from HATCH, I’m more motivated than ever to do great work for our clients so they can keep doing great work for our communities and our world.

– Creativity is a muscle that needs to be continually trained and strengthened. I’m grateful I get to work with my clients whose projects challenge and strengthen that creative muscle regularly.

It was incredible to be in Panama with such an amazing and powerful network. And it’s fantastic to be back in Montana doing what I love from a place I’m grateful to call home. I love this intersection of adventure and forward momentum.

Cheers, Shannon

Golden Moments: Spur wins four 2014 ADDYs

As the principals of this creative agency, we wake up in beautiful Bozeman every morning knowing that we’ll be challenged and made stronger by our work. That we have another twenty-four hours of opportunity ahead of us to do what we love for people we admire. That we’ve found that beautiful confluence of good luck, hard work, and true fulfillment that feels an awful lot like the definition of success. This is what drives us and energizes us. But, if we’re being honest, it still feels pretty amazing to celebrate validation every now and then.

This past Saturday Spur was honored to receive four gold ADDYs from the Montana chapter of the American Advertising Federation. It was a high-five moment for our team. It was a fun night of acknowledging and appreciating what we’ve achieved in our existence as a creative agency. But, most importantly, it was an opportunity to reflect on the fact that we’ve been inspired to do some great work by clients who appreciate originality and give us creative free reign.

The gold ADDYs were for the Choose Montana and Innovate Montana branding and marketing campaigns developed for the Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development; for the promotional campaign and website developed for Confluence Design | Build; for the launch campaign developed for fly fishing e-retailer FlyBox; and for the brand identity developed for ReThink Dentistry.

Each of these projects allowed us to explore new angles on messaging and how to convey that messaging through imagery. Every step along the way our clients supported our vision, and appreciated our commitment to forsaking good work for great work. That support is how we won these awards, and why we’re so excited about the next opportunities visible on the horizon.

In short, we are incredibly grateful to these clients and many others who have given us the opportunity to prove ourselves. We are also incredibly humbled by these golden moments of celebration.

Montana Impact Event

Today Montana Economic Developers Association brought together a great collection of Big Sky Country’s top economic development officials and business leaders in the Capitol building rotunda. Spur was proud to see all of the trade show displays and promotional collateral we’ve developed for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) on display in this gorgeous setting. This was the first time we’ve seen so many of the Choose Montana brand materials in one place, and it brought us big smiles to see how well they integrated visually, allowing for greater impact and memorability. Maybe it was the sun that had broken through this morning – allowing for a much-needed dose of Vitamin D – but with the positive feedback we received and the creative plans sparked by the setting, we’re feeling mighty inspired and grateful for this opportunity.


re·flec·tive rəflektiv/


1. relating to or characterized by deep thought; thoughtful.

2. providing a reflection; capable of reflecting light or other radiation.

On this December 30th, looking back at all that 2014 brought Spur and all that awaits on the horizon I identify with both definitions of such a lovely word. Today outside my office window in Bozeman, Montana it is a sharp -6 degrees (up from the -20 degree reading that greeted us this morning). While this weather may not be ideal for skiing, it is perfect for studying the snow-coated peaks against a cerulean sky and taking stock of the mind-bendingly amazing things that happened this year. And, of course, feeling incredible gratitude for all of the heart-warmingly wonderful people who helped make them happen.

I came back from maternity leave right after ringing in 2014, equally eager to get back to the client work I love and curious about how I would balance a growing business with the needs of a brand new babe. Coming back into the office that first day, I thought Spur would tiptoe into the year. Just shy of 12 months later I can happily report it was an all-out, exhilarating sprint of marathon proportions. The kind of long, fast run that surges adrenaline and seratonin through your system, leaving a smile on your face at the end. In 2014, we were honored to work with clients of all sizes from diverse industries – and every engagement gave us the opportunity to dig deeper, learn more, and expand our capacity. It was challenging and exhilarating.

As mountain-loving adventure seekers, this was the kind of year that’s right up our alley. A huge, sincere thank you to all of the clients that had faith in the talent and work ethic of a young agency with big vision; and to all of the friends and family members who provided child care, late night pep talks, and countless cups of coffee to make it all happen. You know who you are, and we truly hope you know how much you mean to us.

That brings us to the radiant properties of “reflective”. We’ve been so incredibly fortunate to bask in the light of other creatives and business leaders since taking the leap with Spur Studio two and a half years ago; it’s time to share that glow. As we scan the horizon of 2015, we’re setting our intention of continuing to shine light on the people, places, and projects that inspire us most. We’re actively filling our creative wells by getting out of the office, into the mountains, and among the people in our communities who are effecting positive change with noble business ventures that raise the collective tide of prosperity while protecting the wild places that expand our hearts and minds. We’re choosing to eschew good work in favor of great work; knowing that if the words and images we create don’t spur action or a strong gut response, we simply need to do better for our clients and ourselves. That excites us and drives us forward as individuals and as an agency.

Cheers to this life that empowers us to do work that matters for people we admire.