I spent 6 months at Stokefire, a brand strategy and design agency in Washington D.C. Although Stokefire had no open positions when I applied, they hired me as an intern to explore how a small advertising and branding agency can integrate ethnographic methods to better understand their clients and create better-designed campaigns and brands. By applying ethnographic research methods to understand the Stokefire brand and the people behind it (as well as the community surrounding it) I created a document with suggestions of what could be improved/adjusted. Additionally, I helped in marketing efforts and focused on creative ways to communicate their brand.

During my time at Stokefire, I worked on different projects, including creating a daily collection of events and happenings in the industry and their clients. I created multiple videos to show the design process of some of Stokefire’s most successful campaigns and brands. I wrote regular blogs, assisted with marketing efforts and managed the social media presence for the firm. I also created an ethnographic research report of the company’s changing internal organization.

While at Stokefire, I was given the opportunity to get a unique insight into the workings of an evolving and changing agency.  When I first started with Stokefire it was a growing company but within a few weeks of starting, it became more clear to the leadership that they needed to return Stokefire to its “strategic roots” and within a couple of months and some re-structuring and re-focusing, the staff returned to the core team members (+me), and the focus of the work shifted back to strategic branding. I knew that in order to maintain my focus on the “Design Ethnography approach” during this time of change, I had to adjust and quickly shift my focus to match the situation. So I went from predominantly studying the relationship of Stokefire to its clients and partners, to observing and investigating the relationships and structures within the company and among its now very intimate core team members. The key take-away is to always stay flexible and alert.

Brand Strategy // Graphic Design and Logo Design // Video Filming and Editing // Online Marketing and Social Media Management // Championing Ethnographic Research in a New Environment

Branding and Advertising Agency (Design Ethnographer in training / Intern)
January 2012

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