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The Right Conversation Changes Everything

WundermanJust like musicians calling it “having ears”—the ability to listen through noise to find soul—graphic designers fine the human truth in the clutter of information. So when BJ Zink (BFA ’02) started work for Wunderman (Chicago) in 2007, he understood that design creates powerful conversations between clients and customers.

“At Wunerman, those conversations often end with the production of award-winning creative work. But that’s because they always start with listening. Customers tell us what they want. We listen, respond, listen some more and adjust,” expresses BJ.

After graduating from Ohio Northern with a major in graphic design, BJ first worked for Core Group, a retail product and packaging design agency located in Elmhurst, Illinois. “As a junior designer,” reminisces BJ, “I created a lot of packaging design for new product development and many package redesigns for clients. I was even engaged in new design initiatives for corporate branding and identity product development, marketing communications, advertising and promotions. Budget guidelines and deadlines were always pushing me to stay on schedule.”

Two years later, BJ was hired as a lead designer for IMI Cornelius located in Glendale Heights, Illinois. “I got a chance to work alongside account and product managers to strategize, conceptualize and design product-specific materials for our clients, including promotional flyers, posters, direct mail and brochures. In some cases, we updated product merchandising for a fresh and a more appealing consumer and brand relevant appearance.”

While at IMI Cornelius, BJ was devoted a lot of personal time to learn Flash to benefit the firm. He created user-friendly and effective interactive presentations, sale tools and Web designs. He was aware how closely designers needed to work with internal and external customers to build strong creative relationships. Some of those relationships included clients such as PepsiCo., Coca-Cola, Starbucks, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W Restaurants, and 7Eleven.

“We worked closely with a variety of US and global marketing teams to create and establish new brand and communications media design,” explains BJ. “We set the blueprint for brand guidelines. Corporate identity, internal and external collateral, catalog sheets, ads and presentation materials all needed to strategically correspond.”

“Even at Wunderman, I see myself as a goal-oriented designer,” concurs BJ. But it was his educational experience at ONU’s department of art & design that he gives special credit and thanks.

“My education at ONU opened my eyes and removed the blinders from my one-track mind. My professors introduced me to art and design methods that I had never been exposed to. Over the years, I became more engaged and encouraged to learn and achieve more. I didn’t want to leave [Ohio Northern].”

“The ONU design program integrates technology with its classes,” explains BJ, “but includes a strong focus on design thinking. That’s really important because my clients want results. I am responsible for streaming projects from concept through completion with a strategic intent. Our powerful conceptual skills and collaborative brain-storming are strengths of our firm.”

As a premier advertising agency specializing in print and interactive development, Wunderman translates “information into successful communication. We’ve even been known to call data sexy. So it’s not just ‘What are people saying in focus groups?’ It’s about listening to what people are saying and doing everywhere,” explains BJ. “Because after all, capabilities don’t matter. It’s what we do with those capabilities. As designers we use that knowledge to start conversations and continually evolve those conversations.”