The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. -Vince Lombardi
A brand strategy and communications design collaborative based in Atlanta, HOT° takes a bare‑knuckled, no bullshit approach to shaping brand experiences in an era of ongoing change.
Led by a dynamic team of brand experts, strategists, copywriters, designers and developers, and supported by a dedicated core resource network, HOT° assembles custom project teams that nimbly uncover, evaluate and problem-solve each client’s unique marketing challenge.
This hybrid business model forms the essence of the agency’s DNA – making HOT° uniquely cool.
Creating great work is not formulaic. Neither is it epiphany or an act of Divine intervention. It is what happens when a group of talented, freethinking individuals step into a room to solve a business problem using breakthrough ideas and lifetime experiences.
We seek relationships with companies that believe with us in the power of design thinking to multiply and grow business. Our most successful client partnerships are with those that understand, engage and promote client+agency collaboration from day one.
We value our clients’ trust and input, and we respect our role as stewards of their brands.
Pairing old school Discovery with new world Workshopping, HOT°'s proprietary Platforming model is designed to define and build a strong, ownable Brand Platform. It's what a brand Stands On and Stands For, and how a brand can Stand Out in today’s intensely competitive marketplace. More
The Naming process blends art, science, countless hours of brainstorming and a certain amount of serendipity. The yield: hot, medium and mild options ranging from in-the-box to out-of-the-box to off-the-wall. With hundreds of corporate monikers, products and services successfully (re)branded and launched, naming and nomenclature is one of our signature disciplines.
The most public and prolific signature of a brand, the logo mark is a brand’s coat-of-arms – evoking the values, spirit, quality and persona of an organization. Profound amounts of strategy and creativity go into identity creation. The result is beautifully conceived logos that personify a client’s brand, break through marketplace clutter and stand the test of time.
Web, Mobile & Apps
We specialize in creating refreshing digital experiences. In a one-size-definitely-does-not-fit-all medium, clients rely on us to define the right solution that delivers unique and engaging results. Our commitment to focusing on the user is key – and ensures that the right message and ideal experience is delivered seamlessly across multiple devices and platforms.
In-store graphics. Digital content design. Signage systems. Menu boards. History walls. Signature fixtures. Prototypes. We've helped create environments for one-of-a-kind restaurants, airport concessionaires, hospitality groups, financial institutions, upscale retailers and big box superstores. Our understanding and expertise of communicating to consumers in dynamic, properly branded environments is another sweet spot.
Whether it’s full-page advertising that captures eyes and grows market share, thoughtfully designed direct mail programs with custom die-cut printing or corporate collateral systems that communicate an organization's history or product and service offerings, we have a passion for all things print, no matter the media.
Every relationship begins with listening. First, we listen to you, to determine what you need. Then we listen to your clients, customers and constituents. Methodologies vary from focus groups, intercepts and in-depth interviewing to quantitative online, phone or geo-triggered mobile surveys. Once the findings are captured, we vet the data and deliver actionable insights that help clients set business strategy and drive bottom-line results.
The most visual, tactile and immediate expression of a brand, the package is the final opportunity to capture the heart of the shopper in "the last three feet of the sale." For 25 years package design has been our true passion, evidenced by work in the food & beverage, health & beauty, toy & game and wine & spirits industries, among others.
HOT° is a strategy and design collaborative – with strategy very purposefully placed at the very front of our business description. A strong strategic platform comes before - and is the very foundation of - an intelligent, engaging, results-driven marketing program. The trickiest and often most challenging part of setting strategy at an organizational level is defining, communicating and aligning around shared principles and objectives.
That’s why we created the Platforming model. A proprietary strategy-setting, step-by-step process for building a strategic blueprint for an organization.
During the Platforming process, expect focused, high energy client+agency collaboration that includes one-on-one and small group discussions and an all-day session with phones off, minds on and no such thing as a bad idea. HOT° will study the client’s organization, industry, noteworthy trends, their internal culture and the competitive landscape.
The result: together, we will define what the organization Stands On – the unique selling proposition, or the definition of the business offering. We articulate what the organization Stands For – the core values and beliefs that guide the business. We uncover what the key business challenges are, and from there, HOT° begins crafting a strategic plan for how the organization can Stand Out – namely, identifying key opportunities for stronger branding, marketing and enhanced communications so that the organization can stand apart from “industry sameness.”
Douglas E. Strickler
Founder | Chief Executive
Entrepreneur. Rainmaker. Mentor. Epicure. Traveler. Golfer. Doug is known for his uncanny ability to marry strategic insight with stand-out creative. Clients rely on Doug’s experience to define and execute brand strategies designed to maximize business results.
Doug founded and successfully operated Adrenaline, Inc., a full-service marketing agency in Atlanta, for 11 years before selling it to a client. Previously, he enjoyed positions with some of the most creative design firms and distinguished ad agencies in the country. He's had the privilege of working closely with leading local and global organizations including Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Fifth Group Restaurants, Gillette, Hilton, Macy’s, Maserati, Mattel, Nabisco, Pillsbury, Taco Mac and Whole Foods, among many others.
What's Hot: New Year’s Resolutions. This Is Us. Keto.
What's Not: Texting While Walking. The Sudden Passing of Close Friends. www.
Laura’s strength lies at the intersection of creativity and order. What she brings to every project is a special ability to create organization and form in the often messy (in a good way) world of ideas and innovation. A writer by trade, she’s not afraid of transforming huge amounts of information into clear, compelling content.
Laura brings a perspective that comes from experiences on both sides of the agency/client table. She began her career at Young & Rubicam in New York City, and has worked with The Coca-Cola Company for many years, most recently as Communications Lead for the Workplace 2020 headquarters renovation project.
What's Hot: Bullet Journal. Millennial Friends. Sleep.
What's Not: The Polar Vortex.
Michael S. Bienhoff
Mike may be the most whole-brained person you'll ever meet. As comfortable with InDesign as he is with Excel, Mike's work includes agency and account management, business development, brand and implementation strategy, digital engagement and resource planning. Educated and trained as a graphic designer, Mike has created countless logos, websites and retail environments that have won client accolades time and time again. He is passionate about leading project teams for clients that seek stand-out creative.
Hailing from Kearney, Nebraska, Mike’s career has taken him from Omaha and Phoenix to Atlanta, allowing him to work with leading brands including AT&T, Cannondale, GT Bikes, Ferrari, Pfizer, Synovus Bank and Wells Fargo.
What's Hot: VR. Blockchain. OpenAI.
What's Not: Image Crafting (we can see through it).