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Ken Braun, a.k.a. the ‘Big Idea Man’

New York, August 30th, 2016

Ken Braun, founder and Chief Creative Office of New York based Lounge Lizard started his creative career at the tender age of seven after an infectious mononucleosis rendered him unable to attend school for months.

“When I was ill, all I did was draw pictures of the Peanuts characters, then advanced into original drawings and turned myself into a really good illustrator,” says Braun, “I did this while growing up well into my teens when I discovered advertising art and design.”

Ken-Brown-Lounge-Lizard-agencyHe then went to a vocational school for advertising art and design in 11th and 12th grade where he discovered the potential career of working as an art director in NYC ad agencies. He was granted a partial scholarship to The School of Visual Arts.

After college Braun landed a job as an assistant art director in a big agency and his career was launched.

While gaining experience in the agency was great, Braun’s inquisitive mind wanted more.

“Back in the mid 90’s I had a great job as an art director in a promotional agency working on the Jose Cuervo account,” Braun recalls, “I really like designing marketing materials for this brand. My designs were wild and wacky and it was just fun. While at the agency I tried sending out a promotional mailers to liquor manufacturers selling my freelance design services under the name Lounge Lizard Graphics. Get It? LOL. I didn’t get any business.

“The need for really good animated banner ad designs hit the Internet big in 1997. At the time agencies like Razorfish, Blue Marble, Blue Dingo were flourishing.  The time was right for another crazy name so back came Lounge Lizard. I bought a $50/month text link on a site called as a professional banner ad designer and the work poured in real fast and I was the go to guy for high click through rate banner ads. I was netting about $20,000/month while trying to maintain a job as a Sr. Art Director at a digital agency in NYC. All the money went back into where I basically bought their entire ad inventory and Lounge Lizard netted 1 Million dollars by 1998 and boom! a company was born.”

His concept of creativity is apparent on the work his agency carries out (see some case studies here).

“I’m an ex-Madison Avenue creative guy and “Big Idea” is everything to me,” confesses Braun and adds, “Without that, a Website is “Just a Website” and a mobile app is “Just an App” When you have that they next thing is creative execution that best represents the “Big Idea” and is unique, and created with modern day design trends.”

Day-to-day, Braun is inspired by change and the knowledge he gets from the industry, in particular from the entries submitted for some awards where he participates a an expert and judge.

“At Lounge Lizard we have many different types of clients, within a wide variety of industries. It’s inspiring learning about new types of companies, different sets B2B and B2C target audience groups. It’s also awesome working with new people.

“I am also a judge for the prestigious Webby Awards and inducted member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. I’m exposed to and have access to ‘bleeding-edge’ award winning show submissions from around the world and access to upcoming trends in Website and mobile app design that push today’s design standards. The award show winners I judge are by far the best in class Websites and mobile apps that have pushed the envelope in usability, UX design, user engagement, social sharing, community building, user acquisition, and user retention. I use this knowledge as the benchmark and push my creative teams to create designs that are better.”

Ken-Brown-quotesWhen it comes to connecting specific emotional responses to the visual form, time, according to Braun, is of essence. “In seven seconds a Website must immediately convey the companies brand-positioning statement followed by the unique selling propositions and be delivered with world-class design. These messages need to resonate with the target audience and separate your client from the competition.  They also have to be delivered in a unique and creative way that creates interest and keeps users on your site. The strategic brand workshop Lounge Lizard conducts is invaluable and critical to building our clients brand online and generating new business leads, brand awareness and increase sales.

“Unfortunately the industry of Web design and development has produced millions of Websites that are cookie cutter and have zero emphasis on producing online brands and more focused on producing a commoditized template-driven product for a cheap price. At Lounge Lizard, we are strategic and smart marketers that believe brand communication, brand differentiation and the “Big Idea” is a critical component in Website design and development. Without that, site visitors will not be engaged within those critical (7) seconds and move on to another Website. Opportunity Lost!”

Despite all his amazing business sense, we discovered that Braun is an idealist at heart. What’s his favourite app? The “Cheery Network.”

“This brand is special to me because I created it, and it is bringing good positive people together. The philosophy behind this app is to solve the problem of negativity that has arisen on all of our social networks and negative news we are all exposed to on TV and the Internet. This social networking platform mitigates negativity and focus only on positive postings. Users can enjoy the fun of adding positivity and encouraging words, posts and comments to the site. They can gain levels and share posts with friends and family to help fuel the Cheery Movement. Finally, they can report negativity and flag bad posts to help keep the community itself cheerful and happy.”

By Geny Caloisi.

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