Six Questions with Hyperquake

For Cincinnati Design Week’s 5th birthday, we wanted to give it a nice birthday gift — A much needed makeover. While we love the look that our friends at We Have Became Vikings gave us, we have been using it for 3 years now. With so much change going on in our city, we thought it was time for CDW to see some change too.

After having our largest Design Week yet in 2015 (to the tune of over 1,400 attendees throughout the week) and a growing membership (over 400), coming up with a new brand for something like Cincinnati Design Week is not an easy task. It’s a redesign, for a celebration of design, being served up to designers. Thankfully, luckily, and happily, Hyperquake was up for the challenge.


AIGA Cincinnati is pumped to have Hyperquake as our branding partner this year. It has been such a joy to be working with such a talented group of creatives that understand that CDW is more than a week of events, more than a group of AIGA events, it’s a celebration of community. It’s a week where we bring together talented people from different agencies and organizations to learn, grow, and celebrate being creative in Cincinnati. Hyperquake was thrilled to help us further our mission of making our community a better place, one where design thrives. To learn more about them, we asked Holly Shoemaker, Design Director at Hyperquake, six questions.

How did Hyperquake come about?

Hyperquake’s roots go back to 1986, when Steve and Jeanne Bruce founded Bruce Design, a design studio focused primarily on print and packaging. They saw a shift coming, recognizing the rise of digital experiences and growing needs of our clients, and founded Hyperquake in 2000 to focus more on experimental digital experiences and interaction design. In 2004, the two companies merged, keeping the Hyperquake name, and today we are a Brand Evolution Agency helping businesses to create and evolve their own brand experiences.

What makes Hyperquake different than every other agency in Cincinnati?

Well, there’s certainly no shortage of creative branding partners here in town—each with their own unique culture, processes, and skills. We embrace that and respect what we’re all doing to grow this community. The fact that we bring provocative strategic thinking and great design to the table isn’t enough. That’s like asking a builder to make sure walls are square and the house won’t fall down—I expect that. What people want is a great partnership, incredible strategic thinking and design that actually drives results.

People are a big part of what makes any agency different—after all, we’re building trusted relationships as much as we build brand experiences. I think our real differences are our ability to be provocative and humble at the same time, to take on any challenge while knowing our limits, to blur the lines between both brand and business success, and 30 years later, we still embrace the same core values that got us here.

Why did Hyperquake decide to rebrand Cincinnati Design Week?

We believe in AIGA, why they exist, and what they stand for. Over the past few years, we’ve really been engaging more and more with the design community and AIGA in numerous ways, and have been fortunate to benefit from our relationship with AIGA. It’s not enough to just participate—we wanted to do more. So we began to host various AIGA events and participate in many events throughout the year, from agency crawls to portfolio days, and events like Design for Good, WomanUp, the AIGA Retreat, and Design Week. We really just started to change the conversation from “What can we get from AIGA?” to “What can we do for AIGA to impact this incredible design community in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky?”

Tell us about the coolest thing Hyperquake has done this year (besides the CDW branding).

This has been a big year for us, especially for a such a small team. We’re celebrating 30 years and have hired some amazing people to be a part of our team—but I think the coolest thing we’ve done this year has been becoming more uncomfortable. That may sound odd, but we’ve challenged each other and forced ourselves to have an opinion and get out and talk about it. We’ve had the opportunity to speak publicly both within the community and at a national level (WomanUp, ACI Conference, NewCo, and The Brand Strategy Innovation Summit to name a few). Everyone here is a leader in some way, and we’re asking people to get out and engage—whether a designer, strategist, director, or owner. We’ve led projects in China and the UK, and have taken on industries we’ve never worked in before. We’ve worked with many new partners. It’s challenging and exhilarating at the same time. It’s easy to work in our comfort zone—it’s smarter to take a risk.

What does Hyperquake see in the Cincinnati creative community?


This creative community continues to grow and change every single day, and it’s humbling to be a part of. There are more creators, entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and creatives raising their hands around here to make this community better in whatever way they can. There are more murals on every corner, buildings being rehabbed, businesses making Cincinnati their home, risks taken, and people moving around to build dreams in this town. The Cincinnati Renaissance started years ago, and it’s not slowing down. We have seen so much growth and unapologetic creativity coming from so many different people, and the rest of the world has noticed. The future is incredibly vibrant in this town, and we’re glad to be immersed in it.

What keeps Hyperquake Motivated?

We say it every single day: Evolve or Fade Away.

It’s on everything we do from our presentations and website, to our t-shirts and sketchbooks. This is not just for our partners and clients, but also for ourselves. Our motivation is the people who depend on us for new thinking and execution—it’s really exciting to have such a great team who is always willing to push each other to be better at what we do. There’s always someone out there working hard, with brilliant ideas, that wants to take our jobs—and our partners depend on that mindset. They believe in us and come to us for 2 things: when they’re in the midst of a shift (with their brand and business), or when they want to create one. We embrace our underdog mentality and love the fight to constantly strive to evolve or fade away, and help our clients solve challenges to impact their business in a way they can’t get from anyone else. This is what keeps us motivated.

Be sure to join us and Hyperquake during Design Week on Tuesday, September 27th, as they hold a workshop to ensure that you get the most out of your AIGA membership and better connect with your creative community. Get your tickets for the workshop here:


By aigacincinnati
Published January 25, 2018
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