John Dohner has been with Monigle a whopping 22 years. In his time here he’s held various roles, worked on countless clients and could undoubtedly divulge an embarrassing tale or two. Primarily, John serves as a designer and program director for our Branded Environments department (we call it 3D). In addition to many proposal and content-based internal tasks, he’s responsible for developing and facilitating environmental graphic design projects from start to finish while maintaining client and vendor relationships. Around the office John can be relied upon to answer all your bike and beer questions, but when you look at John, you just know there’s more than meets the eye. We took ten minutes to get a snapshot of John’s personal brand. What we got was a shocking lesson in hockey and music and found out which of our clients he loves so much, he uses their product every day.
Monigle: You have a great office among all the 3D creatives. There’s a stuffed bird hanging in the corner, tons of pictures and, oddly, many CDs. What are you listening to while you’re working away?
John Dohner: I really work well to SKA music. I love The English Beat, Buck ‘O Nine, all those bands. I’m also a big 80s fan, so a little DEVO goes a long way. I listen to today’s music because I have a daughter that points me in that direction. So, a lot of The Lumineers. But Rush is my favorite band.
Monigle: Okay, I wasn’t expecting SKA or Rush. It makes me wonder what other secrets you have. If you hadn’t started working in branding, what would you be doing?
JD: Well, I was really struggling with engineering school when I stumbled on design. I would probably find something in the home renovation field. I love working on my home.
Monigle: But you are here, thankfully, so what would you say is the best project you’ve worked on while at Monigle?
JD: There are two projects side-by-side that took up a considerable amount of my life. The first would be the launch of the MINI Cooper and the second would be, of course, Sports Authority Field. MINI was an exciting project. It’s not very often that an environment drives a brand launch. We set up an entire dealership in the office, we brought all of the US dealers in and sold them on the concept and investment of the MINI and the dealership model before there were even cars in production. We helped in developing products that went into BMW dealerships to generate consumer excitement well in a year of advance of the launch called “make waiting fun.” I was exposed to the differences and similarities between the BMW and MINI brand cultures. The MINI brand is infectious, having the experience of driving one of the first six production vehicles I always knew that I would own the brand.
Monigle: Is one of the Minis in the parking lot here yours?
JD: Yep. I have the little red convertible.
Monigle: So what about working on Sports Authority Field?
JD: Well, how amazing is it that you can touch a brand as impactful as the NFL stadium in your own back yard. How may millions of people have witnessed my work, that’s pretty cool when you think about it; [developing] a brand for one of the most impactful pieces of architecture in Denver. The whole idea of a local company sponsorship, a local sports franchise, and a locally designed and built piece of architecture. This is a piece of work that I see every day. I am incredibly proud of the breadth of work and scale of the pieces. The Main ID sign on the South Entrance has more square footage than my house. We worked on standard sign elements, video display boards, paint schemes, gate signs, large format experiential messaging, and lighting elements that generate game day and event excitement. As a result, I know more about candelas, lumens and glare than I ever cared to know. But on game day, there is no mistaking the power of the Sports Authority Field brand, a brand that in a matter of weeks was known nationally.
Monigle: Your department does such cool work. Okay, I’m going to switch gears. You have a family, live in the suburbs and love home renovation. Describe a typical Saturday for you.
JD: Saturday I wake up early, which drives my wife crazy, usually wait until 8:00am so I can start the lawn mower or some other power equipment around the house, do a little yard work, look for things to fix, maybe wash the car, sit down around the fire pit while it’s still cool and have a cup of coffee. From there my day gets really busy with running around with my daughter for hockey.
Monigle: Are you involved in hockey every Saturday?
JD: And Sunday…And Tuesday and Thursday.
Monigle: So you are a hockey dad four days a week.
JD: I am, and actually I’m more than a hockey dad because I put a lot of time into hockey with the state. I was the vice president of women and girls’ hockey in Colorado for four years and am now the SafeSport director for the State of Colorado to keep the kiddos safe. I’m also a board member on the association my daughter plays for. I am a Tier I director. I played hockey when I was young for about eight years. Then I became a gymnast and never looked back. [pulls out the image below]
Monigle: A gymnast?! This is great. So with all that you’re involved in, what makes you most proud to be you?
JD: Anybody who knows me or works with me knows that all I talk about is my kid, my family.
Monigle: Okay John, our ten minutes are almost up. My last question, with all of your many passions, you still manage to fit in a full workload at Monigle. What makes you love branding?
JD: I look forward to the opportunities I have in branding to work with some amazing organizations, see their internal culture and try to make significant changes in their market perception and visibility to the public. I have had some great experiences, traveling internationally, presenting in city zoning meetings in my own state like in front of hundreds of residents opposed to what we were proposing and finding a good compromise solution. But most importantly are the people at Monigle that have toiled side by side through deadlines, difficult client situations, impossible design problems, volleyball leagues and bike rides. As I look back over 22 years here at Monigle and see the core individuals that keep this organization running, there is no question as to why we are successful.