Saturday, November 24, 2007
Sponsored by Toys 'R' Us.
I have never really been sure of the purpose of bad design as the norm in Minor League Baseball, but thought that after following the design of many amateuristic looking minor league designs the past ten years, it was time to blog on the subject, Again.
Does a product marketed to families and kids have to look "juvenile"?
I suppose that somewhere, the head marketing guru or licensing exec for Minor League Baseball has sales results that confirm that when a minor league team changes it's logo and merchandise, there are increased sales. But that's simply common sense. When a product (like cars for instance) rolls our their new lines annually, the public senses new, different and improved. Or at least I assume that's why the big automakers ascribe to the need for change.
Somewhere, Minor League baseball saw the need to dumb down and design to an audience of 8-year olds. I completely can understand the logic. The Happy Meal of Major League Baseball would certainly be a proper analogy.
I don't agree. So I decided to take action and see what gives?
I've reached out to a smart and nice gentleman named Brian Engle at MiLB a few years ago.
I introduced Gameplan Creative and the work we've done over the years for the NBA, AFL, MLB and other large sports properties. Brian was both cordial and impressed. Brian explained that Minor League Baseball has established a "preferred" design vendor network of four firms.
Whoops! That was the first indication of a serious process flaw. Because unless there was a real difference in the firms participating, this Disney-like, busy, overdrawn style would reign supreme. But I persisted and asked if we might be considered for a fifth slot. Seemed like we'd have little chance because there's only over 120 teams total in the minors and how often do they change their identity after all. A numbers game?
He asked us to send a capabilities presentation to him and he would be in touch.
A few weeks passed and when I reached out to Brian he confirmed that yes, Minor League Baseball would use their network of vendors. One of the designer actually, Todd Radom, is one of the most talented and relevant logo designers in all of sports. And he has been used once for the Brooklyn Cyclones identity. Evidence that in fact a minor league identity can look professional. The other firms have really talented "illustrators' but none with a deep understanding of "team branding" nor a grasp of performance attributes in the uniform design process athletes need.
A look at the new Reading Phillies identity provides ample evidence of a Toys 'R' Us style lettering font hooked into a overly beveled star icon. I simply think it's bad design compounded by a late '80s font (see the Orlando Magic design from 1988).
My summation: "Minor League" does NOT have to be taken literally. MiLB, try something different and create a "Major League" look to a minor league brand. You might be surprised how effective, fresh and PROFESSIONAL it looks!
This blog has a lot of personal interest for Gameplan Creative. Heck, their new TB hat design was originally by our firm back in March of 2003! Look for a case study soon on our updated web site. www.gameplancreative.com. If you ever want to see the work-ups we developed, I'd be glad to send you a link to the work. Some pretty cool stuff.
But onto a bigger question?
Do the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Tampa Bay Rays, Florida Rays or whatever their latest name have any brand value as a professional sports franchise?
Well, not yet. But that's not a bad thing if your the DuJour Rays.
Fundamentally changing your identity ever three or four years would seem to be an expensive,
inconsistent and consumer confusing process in any business. I mean changing the Coke logo or the Apple mark over and over and over would destroy a corporate organization's brand recognition and trust.
However, in the case of the Devil Rays, a team only entering its' 11th year of existence, you have little to no down side to change because you do not have any established identity, players nor traditions (except for change) to speak of and thus continually changing your outfit brings new opportunities to someday "get it right".
Teams like the San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and now the D-Rays have made numerous changes to their original identities. Collectively, you have One World Series Championship to speak of in 120 some years of on-field competition. So there's really no turning the teams back on great teams or winning traditions.
So have fun Tampa, and change like the wind. What's the downside afterall? A losing season?
Friday, February 16, 2007
Under Armour Signs Advertising Signage Deal for Outfield Walls at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cubs have entered into a sponsorship agreement with sports apparel company Under Armour that includes signage on the ivy-covered outfield walls at historic Wrigley Field. The Under Armour logo will appear on the two doors in left and right field, and the company will also have signage rights behind home plate.
Financial terms of the two-year deal were not announced.
Built in 1914
Venerable Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark in the country. Built in 1914, the famed ivy-covered walls were added during a renovation in 1937, and the two outfield doors that lead to the bowels of the stadium were painted green to blend in with the ivy.
The decision is bound to cause some debate.
But baseball diehards -- particularly Wrigley Field denizens -- will almost certainly decry the advertising creep taking place. After all, it was a group of Cubs fans that for years fought the good fight to keep night baseball out of Wrigley after the Tribune Co. bought the team in 1981 and announced its intention to add lights. The lights were finally added in 1988, in large part because Major League Baseball threatened to move any potential playoff games to a site that did have lights.
But baseball historians will note that stadiums regularly featured advertising on outfield walls during the heyday of the game, including the famous "Hit Sign, Win Suit" ad at Ebbets Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the 1940s and '50s.
"I think everything we do is very measured. We certainly do keep the fans in mind, the aesthetics in mind, and that's why you haven't seen this before or more advertising than this," said Jay Blunk, the Cubs director of marketing. "At this particular time in the organization's history, these revenues go directly to payroll."
At this particular time, the Cubs are spending money and need the influx of sponsorship cash. Chicago, which has been mired at the bottom of the National League's Central Division the last few years, spent $300 million in the off-season on free agents to bolster the team, including $136 million for outfielder Alfonso Soriano -- who, coincidentally, is an Under Armour endorser.
Moreover, of the teams in Chicago's division -- St. Louis, Houston, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh -- all have moved into new stadiums within the last five years, giving those franchises additional revenue streams through naming rights, luxury suites and more.
'Norman Rockwell painting'
"We play baseball in a Norman Rockwell painting every day," Mr. Blunk said. "[Wrigley Field] is a tremendous asset to the organization but it takes millions of dollars to maintain. Our challenge is to find these new revenue streams to compete."
Mr. Blunk said it was important that the outfield signage be related to baseball and competition, rather than doing a deal with, say, an insurance company or car company. Under Armour, which also has its logo on the famed "Green Monster" left field wall at Boston's Fenway Park -- the nation's oldest ballpark -- is launching a new ad campaign this spring, done in-house, that touts its new baseball cleats.
"The timing was right for everybody," said Steve Battista, VP of Baltimore-based Under Armour. "I talked about this two years ago with [Cubs president] John McDonough, but the ball club wasn't going in that direction then. But the tide has really turned and there's a new way of thinking."
It's the first time the Cubs have allowed any ad or sign on the outfield doors. Jay Blunk, director of marketing and sales for the team, said the Cubs have been approached by other companies wanting to use the space. He said Under Armour was the "right fit."
"For us, marketing-wise, to have our logo and Wrigley associated with it is tremendous," Blunk said. "The brand represents performance and athletic achievement at the highest level."
"The Cubs have an impeccable track record of tastefully adding signage," Blunk said. "No question, there's been a change in the culture here. It's an aggressive culture. That aggressive culture means always maintaining the integrity of Wrigley Field, but how do we still win? This helps us in that regard."
This topic is tricky for me. I've worked with the Cubs Marketing Department for four years now. They do a great job and are as nice a people as you'll find in the industry. Initially however, like any traditionalist, I saw the Under Armour signage and cringed... Yipes, our beautiful green doors, our lovely ivy covered walls, blasphemy. Noooooooo....it can't be.
It's taken a while and I'm slowly coming around (okay, begrudgingly) to accepting the change knowing that the Cubs really are committed to winning a World Series.
Wrigley Field is a special place. It's the perfect ballpark. Fenway Park is a distant second. Sorry BoSox fans. I believe it's such a special place that my only child's middle name is what else: Wrigley. So any change comes with a huge amount of skepticism and resistance. Heck, it's personal... But give the Cubs credit. The organization has made evolutionary changes to this great old guy slowly, carefully and in nearly every instance, successfully.
In August of 1988, I was their for the first night game 8/8/88. And yes I went with a great deal of skepticism. I was opposed to the lights. No lights were one of the things that made Wrigley unique. Ferris Bueller's Day Off, cutting work, going out and having a few cold ones is a passage of life...the glorius self indulgence of "hooky".
In the last 5 years, the Tribune Company (the team's owner) has made more evolutionary changes like LED ribbon boards on the first and third base fascia to go along with LED ribbon board under the center field scoreboard, refined the luxury suites (I use the word luxury loosely). The Cubs also added four new rows of top end seats right behind home plate which were blended seamlessly into the old configuration. And the Cubs went the route of the behind home plate rotating signage a few years ago. None oo this has not hurt the look of Wrigley.
Last year, the Tribune Company rehabbed the famed bleachers by basically demolishing the decrepit old seats and replacing everything but the actual brick structure that comprise the outfield walls. Well, the new bleachers are tremendous. Clean, roomy, accessible, and more amenities. When the bleachers are full of fans (every game), you barely notice the changes.
So, while it's going to take a little getting used to see "Under Armour" as another Cubs home run leaves the playing field, when the Cubs finally win the World Series (and it will be soon) the motto will be CHANGE IS VERY GOOD. Go Cubbies!
Monday, February 12, 2007
Fred Bowen-Washington Post
The Washington Wizards unveiled their new alternate uniforms recently: a shiny gold top and black trunks, with lots of black stars on the sides and shoulders. The new uniforms are, in a word, ugly -- possibly the worst in the league. They look like circus costumes.
The team's new fashion statement got me thinking about sports uniforms. Some uniforms are cool. Some are not so cool. Let's look at the good, the bad and the ugly of sports uniforms.
National Basketball Association uniforms are all starting to look alike, but my favorite is the Phoenix Suns'. Royal purple is a strong color, and the circle around the number on the front of the jersey is a nice touch. Of course, maybe I like the Suns' uniforms because I love the team's run-and-gun style.
The Chicago Bears have the best uniform in the National Football League when they wear their dark helmets with the red "C," dark shirts and white pants. That's when the Bears look like the "Monsters of the Midway." When the Bears wear their orange jerseys, they look like the Chicago Pumpkins.
The Seattle Seahawks have the ugliest NFL uniforms, especially when they wear a single color. By the way, what is that color? Green? Blue? Gray? Or greenish-blueish gray? I can't find the Seahawks' color anywhere in my box of 64 crayons.
Lots of NFL teams have great helmets. I love the look of the helmets worn by the Colts, Falcons, Broncos and Texans. But the Miami Dolphins' helmet is dopey. A dolphin leaping out of the water wearing a helmet doesn't make the team look tough at all.
In college football, the Penn State uniforms are perfect: blue and white with nothing fancy. The University of Oregon's uniforms are a fashion nightmare. The Ducks wear green and yellow with some kind of crisscross pattern on the shoulders and knees .
Hockey uniforms are either terrific or terrible. I love the fiery red "C" on the Calgary Flames' jersey. The Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild have cool jerseys, too. But I'm not crazy about jerseys with cartoon characters on the front such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes wear .
Of course, uniforms shouldn't matter. They don't help you score points. Still, uniforms are important to kids. Lots of kids have lucky numbers and favorite colors, or colors that they just can't stand.
One season when I was coaching, I was late picking up the shirts for my fourth-grade boys basketball team. The recreation department had only one color left.
"They're pink!" one of my players yelled as I handed out the shirts. "They're light red," I insisted.
The boys weren't so sure. It didn't help when the scorekeeper at our first game asked: "Why are you guys wearing girls' shirts?"
The next day the recreation department found my team new shirts. We played the rest of the season in blue. Just like the Wizards should do.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is an author of sports novels for kids.
I basically agree with everything Fred Bowen covers in this Washington Post article on the Washington Wizards alternate uniforms? Shiny gold on a professional athlete. Looks better as a lounge singer in Vegas or the football helmet of the Fightin' Irish... but has no place in the NBA.
Here's the low-down from the Pirates Vice President and Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Tim Schuldt:
"Staying true to the Pirate brand is important to us," Tim Schuldt, the Pirates' vice president and chief marketing and sales officer, told the gathering of die-hard Pirate fans. "Black, gold and (red?) are our colors. This is consistent with our color scheme and it fits with the team: youthful, exciting and improving."Branding a sports team is not about just about sales. It's about the intrinsic connection and civic obligation you inherit when working with a team. Teams with a long heritage like the Pirates should not be easily swayed by adding alternate jerseys/caps without understanding the emotional connection fans make to their colors.
Sadly, the Pirates went for the look away from their history and now their fans are seeing RED.
If I were the Pirates I'd retire the red after one season and stay true to the yellow and black.
E-5 if you're scoring at home Bucco's.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Stern admits introduction of new ball was mishandled
-with Permission from the Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Commissioner David Stern acknowledged Tuesday that the NBA should have sought more input from players before introducing its new game ball.
"It's an improvement in many ways," Stern told the New York Times in a story posted on its Web site Tuesday. "But if our players are unhappy with it, we have to analyze to the nth degree the cause of their unhappiness."
Stern said he will address the players' criticisms with Spalding, the ball manufacturer, but some are ready to get rid of it.
"I don't think anybody would complain if they take it away, I'll tell you that," Miami guard Dwyane Wade said. "Hopefully, we'll get back to the other balls."
Heat teammate Antoine Walker said Stern needs to take action.
"Saying and admitting that you're wrong is not good enough," Walker said. "Right now we just need to get back to the old ball. That's what guys are comfortable with and are used to playing with, and what we prefer."
Players have complained about the ball, changed from leather to a microfiber composite, since training camp began. They argue the ball bounces differently than the old one, both off the floor and the rim. The new synthetic material is more sticky when it's dry, but players say it's more slippery when wet -- which the league and Spalding deny.
"Everything is on the table," Stern told the paper. "I'm not pleased, but I'm realistic. We've got to do the right thing here. And, of course, the right thing is to listen to our players. Whether it's a day late or not, we're dealing with this."
The lack of player input about the new ball prompted one of the two unfair labor practice charges the union filed with the National Labor Relations Board late last week.
"I think it's never too late from a league point of view," Seattle guard Ray Allen said. "From a player point of view, at least we know it's not falling on deaf ears. At least it's trying to be handled and worked with."
Some of the league's biggest stars, from Shaquille O'Neal to LeBron James, have been among the most critical of the ball.
"You worry about that ball, and it kind of keeps you from doing what you have to do with it," Suns guard Raja Bell said. "I let that go. But I do think they should have probably asked guys. If you aren't going to ask the whole league, at least ask your superstars, the guys who make you the money."
Stern said he understands why the players feel as they do.
"I won't make a spirited defense with respect to the ball," Stern told the Times. "In hindsight, we could have done a better job.
"With respect to the ball, I take responsibility for that."
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The players' association filed two unfair labor practice charges Friday against the NBA over issues with the new ball and the league's crackdown on player complaints.
The charges were filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
"I think that's right within the NBA's wheelhouse," Dallas owner Mark Cuban said. "They say the NBA stands for `Nothing But Attorneys,' so we're going to be great at dealing with those issues."
A number of players publicly have complained about changing the ball from leather to a microfiber composite. Although players are adjusting to the new ball, they're having a much harder time with the crackdown on reactions after the whistle, often referred to as a "zero-tolerance policy."
NBA commissioner David Stern enacted the policy, saying players were reacting too strongly after calls, and it has led to an increase in technical fouls called this season.
"It takes away from your natural reaction, the things that make basketball what it is," said Jerry Stackhouse, the Mavericks' player representative. "You think Bill Bradley never hit the support after he was called for a foul? That's the model citizen of all former NBA players. It's just a natural thing to do."
With players fined for each technical they receive, union director Billy Hunter told The Associated Press last month that legal action could be the next step if Stern didn't tell the referees to "back off."
There have been 175 unsportsmanlike technicals called through 225 games this season. There were 120 through the same number of games last season, though the number is on par with the amount from two years ago.
"Our obligation to represent our membership dictates the filing of these actions," Hunter said in a statement. "There is virtual unanimity amongst the players about their concerns and intense dislike for the new synthetic ball and the 'zero tolerance' policy.
"After extensive consultation with our membership and player leadership we determined that this was the appropriate course of action."
Some players still seem most upset about the first change to the game ball in more than 35 years.
"Honestly, it gets to a point where, you can change the way our shorts are, you know, you can change if our wristbands are too high, you can change the dress code," LeBron James said. "That's something that's controllable. But when it gets to the point where you change the basketball which, this is what we use every single day. Every single day, every single minute, 82 games. Plus preseason, plus playoffs. It just kind of didn't make sense.
"The only thing that we love the most is the basketball. That's your comfort. I mean, without your basketball, it doesn't work. That was my biggest problem, was, why would you change something that means so much to us? It didn't make sense to me at all."
Added Seattle's Ray Allen, one of the NBA's best shooters: "Every guy I've talked to, to a man, is in disagreement about the ball. The bottom line is we're out there playing and the ball is not going in like we know we're capable of putting it in, or like we've done in the past."
NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said the league was "reviewing what they have filed."
The players feel they were entitled to have input on both changes before they were put into play. In its release, the union said the "zero-tolerance policy" was implemented without any consultation or advanced notice as required "according to the terms of the National Labor Relations Act and the 2005 NBA/NBPA Collective Bargaining Agreement."
"You never want to feel that the NBA's a dictatorship," Wizards veteran Antonio Daniels said.
The section of the CBA regarding On-Court Conduct, states, in part:
"Prior to the date on which any new rule promulgated by the NBA becomes effective, the NBA shall provide notice of such new rule to the Players Association and consult with the Players Association with respect thereto."
The crackdown isn't a new rule, however, but rather a point of emphasis. Under Stern's directive, players are fined $1,000 for each of their first five technicals. The fine increases by $500 for each five after that, capped by a $2,500 penalty for each one starting with the 16th. A one-game suspension also comes at that point and for every other technical thereafter.
"To give a technical foul, it's giving money back," Stackhouse said. "If it's a technical foul, all right, penalize the team. But don't take guys' money for natural reactions toward heat of the moment things. We're not robots. They would say they don't want us to become robots, but that's what it's becoming.
"Everything doesn't have to be we're going to show you by taking your money away. A thousand dollars is a thousand dollars, no matter whether you are making $9 million or $30,000."
Players also argue they weren't involved in the decision to use a new ball. The league unveiled it in June and sent one to its teams and all players before the start of training camp. It also was used in the All-Star game and during summer league play.
Superstars such as Shaquille O'Neal and James are among those who have blasted it, and many others have complained that it feels and performs far differently than the old leather ball, criticizing the way it bounces off the floor and the rim.
"I was surprised when they announced that they were changing the ball," Sacramento's Shareef Abdur-Rahim. "That shouldn't happen without some input from the players. I've never cared for the new ball, and I'm a big guy. When ballhandlers like Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are complaining about it, that says a lot."
Why change the NBA basketball?
You tell me? I would love to hear your thoughts. I really am stumped so I'd like to open it up to the group and hear you ideas and comments.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
PB- I just wanted to say thanks for your columns on sports branding as I find them fascinating and inspirational.
SBS- Thanks for reaching out to us. I greatly appreciate your kind words and interest in our work. We really love this business (usually) and Gameplan Creative provides us a chance to develop identities for clients that help build their brand awareness and business.
PB- As a designer for a sports marketing company up here in Toronto, I’m always trying to seek out new avenues that provoke thought in designing for the big brands (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR).
SBS- Yes, Pete, it’s interesting that a high profile industry like sports marketing and branding has pretty limited resources as it relates to books, materials and case studies on how marketing challenges are turned into strategic solutions. Tells you that a book on the subject might be a very valuable resource right?
PB- What is it that you look for when trying to create and/or design a sense of history of a team brand (ie. The legends of the Chicago Bears, the New York Yankees alumni, Boston Celtics legends)?
SBS- You’ve helped to answer your own question a bit on this one. Yes, digging into archives, fans/league/team web sites and sports branding blogs such as SSUR.org (run by Donovan Moore, the team identity and pantone savant in the industry is an ideal place to begin) or on boards like the Sports Branding Society is a great jump in point.
PB- Does your colour palette change at all from the teams colours or do you add certain colours to reflect history?
SBS- This can be such a long answer and watch how nebulous I can be but...it depends...great answer huh? Really, it does depend.
No, you would not be wise nor being fair to the brand to change the colors of say the Bears (navy blue and orange) , the Yankees (navy blue and grey) or the Celtics (green and now a touch of black). Let me give you some scenarios on how teams go about changing their identities:
-1. New Ownership: (most common/See Anaheim Ducks and Anaheim Angels).
New ownership wants to signal a change at the top. Teams will develop new logos and uniforms and often colors. Does is break a brand identity and tribal chain link. Absolutely and by design.
-2. New Building: (See Phoenix Suns // America West Arena, 1992-93).
There’s an article on the archives on the Sports Branding Society about the Suns. Great way and reason to freshen things up. This is a great case study of moving a team from the 70’s to the new millennium in a change. One of the best identities in my opinion, ever.
-3. Break away from losing tradition: (New Jersey Nets 1995-96) Great change and very successful. New look Nets earned major kudos and the team began winning. Was it the new identity. Of course not. Did it hurt. Absolutely not. Cleveland Cavaliers is a case where the owner who wanted to sell the team, Gordon Gund, wanted a better looking identity before he sold. Like fixing up a house before putting it on sale and thus the wine and gold was re-established...and then along came James.
4. -Make more merchandise money: (Urban legend).
Teams share licensing revenues so if the Yankees changed everything, there would sure to be a spike in the sales of their new products, but since all 30 MLB teams licensing revenues, the Yankees wouldn’t see a dime more.
5. -Tweak the identity: (Celtics ideal case study).
Add colors to the primary, add a secondary logo and add alternate jersey:
Back to the Celtics. In the mid-ninties the team change hands but the tradition of green and the leprechaun was too strong to alter. So, the team tweaked the primary logo, added a Celtics shamrock (in a circle) secondary, and added a touch of black into an alternate uni:
Celtics original logo:
Was changed to this:
And our NBA Creative Services group added this as a secondary logo:
In 2005, the Celtics introduced an alternate jersey (hmmm? Well, we all have our own opinions)
I hope I’m being clear enough and yet not too imposing.
Again, thanks for your interest and I really appreciate your questions. Feel free to stay in touch.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I've been outspoken about the silliness/goofiness/wackiness of minor league baseball team branding. My issue is that minor league marketing executives believe that the success of a minor league logo is all about being "cartoony and quirky". This seems both simplistic and short sighted to me.
While fully understanding Minor League baseball marketing is all about affordable family fun, I am in disagreement that every identity needs to look like a cartoon (or a heavy handed complicated illustration). The following examples are NOT provided to condemn the designers (who are paid to meet team objectives), they are just the providers of the illustrations, not the enablers (the team marketing executives take the blame) of this brand business. And it iseems to be getting sillier every change.
Here's my Top Five Silly Sampling
1. Toledo Mud Hens (I'll take my eggs over easy)
2. Modesto Nuts (Okay, I'll admit you start with a name like Nuts and you're doomed)
Kid: "Hey #8... are you Nuts?"
Player: "Nah kid, I'm just a Nut, okay?"
Kid" Oh, okay, kinda nutty huh?"
3. Lansing LugNuts (You cannot comment on Nuts without commenting on LugNuts...)
Uniform: Yes, it says LUGNUTS..
4. Vermont Lake Monsters (kinda just rolls off your tongue doesn't it?)
I'm sure the state of Vermont is proud of their Lake Monsters? Huh?
5. Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (There is nothing silly or cute about this is there?)
Okay, I'd easily accept Iron Horses in honor of all-time great Lou Gehrig's nickname. But please Iron Pigs?
My point being a large percentage of minor league logos look so minor league that they hurt.
Then, there's the Springfield Cardinals brand identity. Wonderful. Sharp. RELEVANT!
A major league look for a minor league baseball team. This is branding nirvana.
New cap design: http://yhst-19154367504327.stores.yahoo.net/cardinalhat.html
How relevant is this minor league identity. Let me delightfully count the ways.
1. The Springfield Cardinals major league affiliation is the St. Louis Cardinals.
2. Springfield Cardinals color scheme: classy and traditonally sharp.
3. High socks with beuatifully striping. Outstandingly cool.
I want to applaud GM Matt Gifford for providing clear concise wonderful evidence minor league teams can look professional, have a personality and tie directly to the MLB pro team.
Hey minor league logo designers take note, do your research, but away the Disney sketch books and create something wonderful.