Kennedy InterviewAn Interview with Innovairre Creative Director (and Label Man) Matt Kennedy…

Interviewer: Hi, Matt. How are you today? Thanks for agreeing to take some time out to talk.

Matt: Of course! I am well and excited to get started with the questions. Fire away.

Interviewer: Tell me, Matt, what do you do?

Matt: I design creative packages for Innovairre’s fundraising clients. I have worked with veterans’ organizations, humanitarian causes, health and hospitals, environmental groups, advocacy – come to think of it, I am pretty sure there is no type of nonprofit for which I have not developed creative. And at this stage after more than 20 years, I am considered an “address label guru.”

Interviewer: Wow – no doubt you have many adoring fans. We know you work on many different types of packages and programs; why the guru of address labels?

Matt: Address labels are an inexpensive way to reach a targeted audience and generate donations. They’re still considered one of the most predicable and scalable formats in today’s fundraising efforts.

I have designed and tested just about every subject, shape, and sized address label that can be done, and now I’m able to introduce our clients to the new frontier of digitally printed address labels, where personalization and image selection can change while on press without stopping for plate changes.

Interviewer: What do you consider during the design and conception stage?

Matt: First, of course, targeted demographic: Is my audience male or female? How old is my audience – 65/+ or younger? What is the non-profit’s mission/cause?

Interviewer: Okay, let’s talk more about gender and age . . . and not ours, because of course we are both aging gracefully.

Matt: After initial testing over a decade ago I started with gender splits, and after huge, record-breaking success in initial testing it soon translated to the entire acquisition model. My love for labels was born. I grew from creating designs predominately targeted to females and entered a whole new world of label exploration with the gender-split file. It was time to test and have some fun! Gender-based images that work well for males include nautical, hunting, and general Americana, and for females they include floral, gardening, and feminine patriotic.

Today in the direct mail vertical, audiences fall mostly into two categories: older at 65/+ and younger at 55-64. Some trends for the younger of these two audiences are contemporary imagery and bright colors including foil, and trends for the older audience include imagery that they can reflect upon, as well as the use of gold and silver foil.

Interviewer: What role does the client’s mission play in your designs?

Matt: You might be surprised to hear that over the years I have found that the non-profit’s cause does not necessarily need to be strictly conveyed in the designs and concepts. For example, I would consider a puppy and kitten label for a children’s hospital, or a series of backyard songbirds for a cancer research organization. However, one can never rule out that for certain organizations illustrating or alluding to the mission can lend to the overall design impact. For example, veterans’ organizations tend to be heavily patriotic-themed. Wildlife and conservation will depict imagery of wildlife and wilderness. Animal rescue will depict imagery of dogs and cats.

Through testing, I have also found that charity logo branding has not worked as well as the themed imagery. So I always consider the donor: “What will he/she enjoy using?”

Interviewer: Where do you find inspiration?

Matt: As a designer I find inspiration everywhere. I am influenced by retail trends, marketplace ideas, trade publications, industry events, and of course through brainstorming and discussion with clients and colleagues. Collaboration is key to a successful campaign.

Interviewer: Okay, Matt, almost done. How would your closest colleagues describe you?

Matt: I think they’d say I’m committed, outgoing, and that I can take and value feedback and critique of my work.

Interviewer: As your coworker, I would agree and maybe add that you’re always up for a challenge when it comes to design. Last question for the fans out there: Where can we find you when you’re not designing your next winning campaign?

Matt: Spending time with family and friends, and I am always outdoors, skiing the slopes in the winter and in my RV on the coast in the summer. But right now, back to work.

– Matt Kennedy is Creative Director at Innovairre, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For more information about successful label programs or Innovairre, contact us at