Founded in 1910 when Joyce Clyde Hall started selling two shoeboxes of postcards in Kansas City, Hallmark take creativity seriously. You might think they have to because they design about 19,000 new greeting cards every year, and each card costs about £40,000 to produce and is expected to generate some £85,000 in sales. But these days they are not just in the business of cards they are, according to Paul Baker, senior vice president of creative development, in the business of developing ‘emotional content’ that can be sold as greeting cards, on the web and through its own Hallmark TV channel.
Hallmark’s philosophy, work environment and development programmes are designed to encourage creative thinking. Their global headquarters is still in Kansas and their 800 in-house creative staff is based there. They have access to the world’s biggest creative library with some 20,000 volumes and 175 current periodicals. They also have programme of visiting speakers. Recent visitors have been the acclaimed writer Maya Angelou and Dutch nature artist Marjolein Bastin. Their staff development programme is diverse including on the one hand courses on working with Hallmark’s colour management process but on the other hand including classes on sculpting and even doll-making. They have a ‘creative renewal programme’ for staff who feel they are losing their edge. Kearney Farm, an old farmhouse set in a 172 acre estate, is their own creativity ‘retreat’. It boasts its own art studio and regular creative brainstorming sessions are held there. It also organises research visits to overseas countries so that staff keep in touch with ‘emotions’ in different countries. However there is a hard edge and slogans on some office walls remind staff how much a card that does not ell will cost the company.
The company takes trend spotting seriously and employs staff to constantly scan the environment to monitor new developments. Modern innovations include e-cards that can be...
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