MailChimp Design Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:24:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What does it take to make a Freddie? Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:49:08 +0000 In a recent DesignLab post, Jane talked about our Reply All vinyl Freddie giveaways. The plan was to have a new video for each new vinyl Freddie, revealed at the beginning of each giveaway.

The first video and giveaway featured classic Freddie, which was a challenge. Weird is easy enough to do, but how do you bring new meaning to a mascot who’s been around for more than a decade


Initially we had a very Dada-esque non-sequitur idea that slowly evolved into someone making prototypes of Freddie, which parallels the actual creation of the first vinyl Freddie.


To get to any final product, it’s best to make iterations that lead to better options and ideas. Which is the same arc we followed with the video: taking a raw idea and figuring out where it might lead. A creative process video about the creative process, if you will.

Which makes this a creative process blog post about the idea of the process of creating a video about the process of creation. Yeesh.


Anyway, we tried to take a wide-eyed, childlike approach while producing something that was modest in scope and budget. We put a lot of time into storyboarding the video, which kept our brains from melting on the actual shoot day. While figuring out the conceptual phase, Troy and I tried to stay focused on 2 main ideas: 

 “What’s the silliest thing we can come up with?” and “What would make us laugh and have a good time?”


We storyboarded for a couple days and prepped different versions of Freddie. We casted Jane as the hand model, keeping everything internal. At the end of the day we ended up with a fun interpretation of how a vinyl Freddie is created. In doing so, we learned about ourselves and how we make things together.

So, what does it take to make a Freddie?
Snacks and power tools, mostly.


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Replying All With Freddie Thu, 19 Mar 2015 19:54:32 +0000 At MailChimp, we love partnering with people who are doing creative, interesting things. You may have seen one of our video spots at a conference recently or heard one of our podcast ads. One of those ads is for Reply All, a podcast about the internet. Given its audience of creative, engaged e-citizens, we thought it would be fun to use our ad space to…wait for it…reply all to listeners with vinyl Freddies.

The idea was pretty basic: Reply All’s hosts would announce vinyl Freddie giveaways on random episodes. Listeners would then visit, watch a video, and sign up to get a Freddie. Since they’re limited, listeners would have to make with the quickness. The goal was to create a fun experience while generating excitement for future giveaways.

The goal was to create a fun experience while generating excitement for future giveaways.

We kicked off the design with 3 components in mind: a video, a signup form, and the Freddies. Working with some of Ron’s illustrations, the layout explorations began.



An issue I ran into early on was balance. Plopping down every single design element cluttered the screen. Hiding the video and signup form from the landing page gave too minimal of a view. What to do? I did what I often do when I get stuck: bump up the type to an ungodly size.



This helped me move forward, but I was still lacking organization and a clear hierarchy. In a fit of frustration, I stretched out the Freddie illustration way more than I was comfortable with:


Who could resist that big ol’ toothy grin!? After throwing in buttons to sign up or preview the other Freddies, and adding some Cooper Black for good measure, we had our giveaway site. One of our developers, Alan, worked his magic with subtle transitions and animations.

“Everything about Jane’s design said ‘fun’ so I immediately set out to make the experience match with quick, fluid animations and changing color palettes,” says Alan. “We also wanted people to enjoy cycling through the Freddies on their touch devices. Using all SVGs also meant Freddie could be scaled, keeping him looking sharp on any screen.”

The simple pathways convey a simple message: either we have Freddies left or we don’t, and you can always browse the future Freddies to whet your appetite. Check out the site at, and make sure to watch Freddie’s origin video. Stay tuned for a post from Jason on how to make a Freddie.

Did you miss out on classic Freddie? Fear not! We have 7 more giveaways coming up, with Freddies in all different colors. Act fast when you hear about it on Reply All!

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MailChimp Series Two Thu, 12 Feb 2015 18:58:08 +0000 Growing up, I loved baseball cards. I even created my own using a 35mm camera and fragments of other cards. My dad used to frequent the trade shows, and we shared many weekends opening packs and collecting cards together. Recently at MailChimp, we were working on some assets for the recruiting team to hand out at job fairs, and we wanted to make something that would show potential recruits what kinds of jobs are available. 

Mark, our head of marketing, thought sports cards would be a lot more fun and memorable than a list of job descriptions. Naturally, I was overjoyed to hear that we were embarking on our version of trading cards.



1990 Score Jason Travis Rookie Card / Jason trying out all the sporting props


As we started discussing the project, I looked back through the card designs of the ‘80s and ‘90s—the time when I was collecting and when trading cards were at their peak. As a kid, I had no sense for design. I played baseball for 8 years, and I just liked what I liked. Looking at them now, I realize why I was drawn to certain kinds more than others. The photography, typography, and color choices played a huge part. I notice now that certain brands feel elevated. I sent a bunch of samples and references to one of our designers, Jane, and we discussed design components that would complement the photography and vice versa.



Early card designs


“I stepped up to the plate with a completely different perspective in that I had never in my life held a trading card in my hands,” Jane says of the process. “Luckily, I had Jason to give me a crash course on Topps and Upper Deck, and how their design changed over the decades. We played around with type and colors until we arrived at something we felt demonstrated the MailChimp spirit, while paying homage to the cards Jason knew and loved.”

After some classification I started casting our sportraits.

Moving along, I started connecting technology with athletics. We wanted to show employees from different departments and highlight the roles they play, strengths we encourage, and otherwise unique skills. After some classification I started casting our sportraits. I did some prop shopping and selected employees from around the office, doing my best to capture their winning attitudes.



Sportrait outtakes


Final design


The results were hilarious and informative. Jane finished up the design and layout with help from Austin, one of our writers. He adapted the descriptions on our jobs page into bite-sized qualifications on the backs of the cards, sprinkling some sports references on top.


Series Two


After the seventh inning stretch, Mattiel designed the packaging, and we had them printed up. The cards, along with The Chimpington Post, have gone a long way in our recruiting efforts. They were fun to make, and fun to give away—a real team effort. Here’s looking forward to the next round!


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Redesigning MailChimp’s Guide Covers Fri, 06 Feb 2015 19:25:25 +0000 One of our writers, Brandon, completely overhauled—rewrote, consolidated, eliminated, and generally updated—MailChimp’s guides recently. The guides have been a helpful tool for our users, and with these updates, they’re positioned to be even more helpful in the future.

In addition to the content, the guide covers were in need of a facelift. Some of them had been on our site for years, and were getting a little long in the tooth.

Instead of slowly designing a cover or 2 in between projects, our team tackled them all at once. We divided them up amongst 4 designers and set aside a week to work on them—each afternoon was DedicatedCoverTime™. Our creative director regaled us with stories about the old covers, we explored ideas and techniques, and by the end of the week, we had a whole set.

Below, our designers talk about a few of the covers we made.


Common Rookie Mistakes

For Common Rookie Mistakes, I was reminded that sometimes, the design process begins by throwing things together, pulling them apart, and crumbling them up again just to see what happens. To create the effect of a misused copy machine, I created a digital design and repeated a process of printing and scanning to roughen it up.

Mattiel Brown


MailChimp for Designers

The Designers cover was more difficult than I anticipated. I’m a designer—shouldn’t be too hard, right? But my ideas were all convoluted clichés, or illustrations too in line with current design trends. It needed to be something that would ideally last a few years. Once I simplified my assets down to basic colors, shapes, grids, and techniques, things quickly came together.

David Sizemore


MailChimp for Musicians

For the Musicians guide, I immediately thought of my friend Stephanie who’s been in a band and touring the globe for years. To me, she embodies the heart and soul of working musicians. We caught up at The EARL (Atlanta’s best rock ‘n’ roll venue) to snap some photos of her holding a cassette. The only thing missing from this guide is the audio version!

Jason Travis


Getting Started with MailChimp

Initially, I was stuck on journey imagery: maps, planes, packed bags, even a space shuttle. But then I thought more about how people use MailChimp—as a daily activity, rather than a single event—and it clicked. Why not connect it to the most important—and best—meal of the day?

If you’d like to make your own pancake Freddie, I roughly followed this method.

Jane Song

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The Chimpington Post Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:04:11 +0000 Back in college, I attended a total of one career fair. I wandered around a room full of company reps standing behind tables and passing out glossy marketing materials, picked up a few business cards and pamphlets, and never gave them a second glance. I remember thinking the whole thing was a wasted opportunity. I didn’t find any jobs I was interested in applying for, and I doubt the companies—who all blurred together—were able to interest many applicants.

So, when I was tasked with designing MailChimp’s own collateral to hand out at career fairs, I really took it to heart. At MailChimp, we’re not only incredibly proud of what we do, but we also have a lot of fun doing it—and it was important to communicate that to any students who moseyed on over to our booth.


Luckily, our art director, David, was on the same page. No glossy, uninspired pamphlets would come from us. He had a better idea: We would create an entire newspaper ‘bout that MailChimp life. And we would make it awesome.

Our team brainstormed some ideas for content—everything from the lead news story to the back-page crossword puzzle—and then I hit the ground running. While I threw around typefaces and experimented with colors, one of our writers, Rachael, was busy writing out articles and periodically sending design inspiration my way.


This was not only the first newspaper I’d designed, it was also the first big project I worked on at MailChimp, so it was definitely a learning experience. Every few days, when Rachael sent me a draft of an article, I would drop it into the layout and send a screenshot back to her. I was also sending screenshots over to David, and we’d occasionally print pages and post them on the wall for all to see. It was like a productive game of Pong, but I can’t say I wasn’t nervous about it. I had to learn to be OK with letting people look at super rough drafts of my work, which usually freaks me out. But this is the way most things are done at MailChimp: We work quickly and collaboratively, keeping ourselves open to feedback from our teammates.

I had to learn to be OK with letting people look at super rough drafts of my work, which usually freaks me out.



Once all the stories were in and I’d made the last tweaks to the design, we used Newspaper Club to print 2,000 copies of The Chimpington Post. We scattered some around the office, and it brings me so much joy to see visitors in our waiting area reaching for the paper after they’ve looked at every app on their phones. I’ve even seen some of my coworkers (who, duh, already work here) flipping through the pages, too.

Most of the newspapers, though, went to our HR team. At career fairs, our recruiters talk as much as they can about MailChimp in the few precious minutes they have with students. They leave the rest up to The Chimpington Post, confident that whatever they couldn’t fit into the conversation, we’ve got it covered. If someone reads through and chuckles, we’ll consider that a win. If it makes them love MailChimp enough to join the team, even better.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle, re:loom Wed, 14 Jan 2015 15:56:34 +0000 As I was cleaning up MailChimp’s swag inventory, I noticed a spreadsheet tab called “Discontinued Items” with more than 1500 of our grey Freddie t-shirts in two sizes: unisex XXL and women’s medium. I asked around, and it became clear that a) there was no plan for the shirts, and b) no one even knew they were in storage.

Oof. I needed to get them out of inventory, but in a unique way.

Asking around, a colleague eventually put me in touch with Lisa Wise, the Executive Director of re:loom. It’s a program created by Atlanta’s Initiative for Affordable Housing that hires adults who are struggling to secure and maintain jobs and trains them to be weavers. The weavers design and produce handmade products out of all kinds of donated materials including plastic grocery bags, bedsheets, denim, and, of course, t-shirts. They can create anything from billfolds to area rugs.



Incidentally, MailChimp’s office is relocating soon, and an area rug made out of old Freddie tees sounded like the perfect piece to bring into a brand new space.

The shirts have to be cut into what the re:loom staff calls “hulas,” then wound into balls like yarn before they can be woven. A group of employees loaded their cars with 1000 of the shirts and drove them to the re:loom Weavehouse to meet the weavers and help with some of the initial shirt slicing.




A few weeks later, Damber, one of the re:loom weavers, completed our rug. We love how sketch Freddie turned into a lovely black abstract pattern. We’ve already unrolled it several times just to admire it! And yes, one time so I could wrap myself up like a burrito.


Lisa Wise, Executive Director of re:loom

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Orange You Glad You’re Platinum? Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:27:37 +0000 MailChimp’s benefits team wanted to reward employees who reached the top participation level in our health insurance app. The app tracks fitness and health goals, and advancing through all the levels—Bronze, Silver, Gold—on the way up to Platinum isn’t easy. It takes time and dedication, and our benefits crew thought if there was a fun prize, maybe we’d be all the more motivated.

We’ve wanted to make a coach’s jacket for a while, and I realized that piece of clothing matched well with physical activity. I began ~mindjamming~ about bold imagery that might complement a dynamic orange jacket. I wanted to make something I’d be excited to wear.

I had also just attended the Brand New Conference in Chicago, where I’d seen a bunch of inspiring speakers. Sebastian Padilla of Anagrama struck a chord in particular. In “Design by Collision,” he discussed building concepts and executions based on the development of separate creative pieces. The end product, in his process, resulted from the collision of objectives and ideas.

I started contemplating design through collision of things I enjoy. Movies, comic books, drawing, photography: What if I took bits and pieces of all of them? I’d been reading comics and thought it would be fun to recreate our mascots—Freddie and Manny—as superheroes. I’d also been influenced and fascinated by Mad Max and The Walking Dead’s post-apocalyptic aesthetics. Childhood favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and He-Man, Planet of Apes: nothing was off limits. With all this in mind, I photographed 2 employees and started drawing based off the photo.


Unsurprisingly, the final product is a mix of everything above, and I’m super pleased with it. For the jacket’s front, I adapted an unused mark created by one of our designers, Mattiel. The back has my artwork. We printed the jackets with Terminus Tees.

It’s a true design collision that I had a blast making and love to wear.

Hopefully, it’s a prize my coworkers will strive to obtain. But for those who don’t quite make it (or, heck, don’t even work here), there’s a downloadable color version for mobile devices & desktop wallpapers.

(For jacket photos, I shot former Real World/Dawson’s Creek star [and MailChimp human resource recruiter], Danny Roberts. He’s got superheroic good looks.)



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Resourceful Mon, 03 Nov 2014 16:43:27 +0000 Not long after I started working at MailChimp, I was asked by our creative director to set up a photo resource site. I created a Tumblr called West Side Design Lab. It serves as our go-to place for social media imagery (MailChimp Twitter, MailChimp Facebook, MailChimp Instagram, etc). This way, anyone in the office can pull photos, and we never touch stock photography.

It’s also become a useful source for our designers to mock up comps, print ads, and other weird ideas. For 2 years now, it’s helped with countless projects. For example, a random photo once led to a recruitment ad campaign. Another time, the West Side Design Lab Tumblr was the main resource for our annual report.  It’s also become a place for documentation of process, finished products, and film snapshots around the office. I comb through my photos and update it at least once a week.

Our designers also look to the site for inspiration, reference, and laughs. And now, you can do the same.

See the full archive view HERE





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Art Party Fri, 15 Aug 2014 16:14:30 +0000 Earlier this year, I was working on a design for a MailChimp kids’ T-shirt. Searching for inspiration, I thought, “How would they design it?” So I decided to find out.

Fortunately for me, lots of MailChimp employees have children. I had my co-workers ask their kids to draw their very best versions of our mascot, Freddie, and to practice writing the word “MailChimp.” I asked them to use their favorite materials and to let their creativity take over.

Knowing that my own mother has always treasured my childhood drawings, and remembering how much her artistic encouragement has meant to me, I thought this would be fun for parents and kids alike. When the entries started piling up on my desk, I was overjoyed by how eager the young artists were, and how brilliant, unique, and strange their work was.

When the entries started piling up on my desk, I was overjoyed by how eager the young artists were, and how brilliant, unique, and strange their work was.

We received an Alien Freddie, an Underwater Freddie, a Freddie Made of Plastic Beads, and everything in-between. Some of my favorite pieces were the more “modern” representations of Freddie, which were limited to simple, colorful scribbles. I had planned to use the best entry for the T-shirt, but there were too many to pick just one. I took a few of my favorites and used them for our latest Krog Street billboard design, and picked out some of the most colorful scribbles for the T-shirt itself.

Considering that the drawings were all too good not to share, we decided to throw a special gallery show in honor of our talented artists. We turned our Coffee Hour space into an art gallery, displayed every single drawing by every single kid, and invited all our co-workers and their families. We served snacks and drinks (grape juice for the kids, wine for the grown-ups) and everyone milled around, admiring the works on display.

Amongst the balloons, chimp hats and T-shirts (of course!), it was ever-inspiring to see a group of artists, humble but confident, who were truly proud to share their work.


Check out our Tumblr archive of Freddie drawings.

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Drips Thu, 19 Jun 2014 19:32:12 +0000 Australian design conference, Analogue/Digital, recently asked us to create a short video they could show throughout the day during their event. As usual, we started by experimenting. First, I made a short video with someone answering a phone in French while a large, wooden MailChimp logo appeared out of thin air. It was pretty loose, and partially inspired by the delightful French new wave cinema of the 1960s. It didn’t quite hit the mark, but it got us thinking—and iterating.

I wanted to go bigger. A high-frame-rate video to capture super slow motion. Paint splashes. Interesting colors flying all over our wooden logo. But how could we achieve something grand, with a quick turnaround, and a modest budget? Something that could be simple in execution, yet effective and unique?



Mattiel and I started by researching different uses of paint. We realized that when paint drips slowly, it’s captivating. Not so long ago, we painted props for another video. We tried pouring the leftover paint on a flat surface we cut from foamcore. The first iteration showed potential, so we kept moving.




We had one of MailChimp’s UX developers, Jason, print a few 3D logos. Then, we adapted our foamcore platform to allow for a slow, steady paint waterfall. After a few attempts (feeling out the amount, the timing, the colors), we had something we were stoked about. We hit “record” and let the good times flow. To round out the video experience, we added a soundtrack by my band, Sealions.

We hit “record” and let the good times flow.



As a bonus, a few weeks later, we printed out a still photo for our front desk, and then a couple billboards that are up near the office. The feedback’s been great. And hey, maybe we’ll get to that French new wave homage next time.



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